Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Best wishes to all for a wonderful 2013.  Did you stay up and watch the fireworks?  I was at work until 9.30 last night, so it was simple to stay awake and welcome in the New Year (although to be really truthful I was reading a book with the TV in the background).

As always at this time of year I reflect on the happenings of the previous one and I can only say for me it was a very full year.  Lots of changes, challenges, work, pleasures and fun spent with great family and friends.  Already I've got lots of plans for 2013.

First up however, I must acknowledge my wonderful partners in the Chookyblue Secret Santa Swap for 2012.  I've previously posted about the Swag I made and sent to Lyn  who lives in New Zealand.  Lyn sent me a lovely email just before Christmas letting me know she'd opened my parcel early because she was travelling to Australia to spend Christmas with her Mum in Sydney and she loves my gift, so now I can share it here. 

 The instructions for the Table Topper came from the book "On The Run" by Heather Mulder Peterson and seeing it display on my garden table, I'd really like to make another for myself!

Sadly (because I've seen the photos) I've yet to receive my gifts from Wendy.  Patience has never been one of my virtues and the postal service has let us down - I'm not happy!  I had the perfect spot to hang the lovely little quilt Wendy made me - but it will look just as good in 2013, once it arrives.   I know how disappointed Wendy is feeling right now - in the 2011 Swap my partner in Chile didn't receive her gift from me until February, despite me posting it in the first week of November!  I actually gave up and posted a second gift although happily both did eventually turn up.

My thanks, gratitude and admiration must also go to Chookyblue for arranging the swap.  I can only imagine the work and time involved in coordinating the swap.  I love participating - from the planning of what to make, the pressure of actually finishing the gifts to get them in the mail on time and most especially reading all the blogs of the participants (the downside of which is that I'm forever being inspired to be more creative and start more projects) (Is that really a downside???)).

Best wishes for 2013, Bev


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Time's Flying.....

It's been a busy couple of weeks as it always is in the lead up to Christmas.... Not many opportunities for sewing, but I am hoping to find a little time this coming weekend. 

Most exciting this past week has been the arrival of the Class Booklet for the Taupo Symposium 2013 Fabric Art Festival. My friend Peggy & I purchased our plane flights when they were on sale in July this year to go there next year, our accommodation has been booked, we've just been waiting to find out what classes were available, knowing there is a fantastic line up of tutors.  We've not been dissapointed - all the classes look wonderful and I've felt a bit like a kid in a lolly shop, but I have chosen and sent in my application, now I need to be patient as I won't hear until the end of March which classes I've actually been allocated.

Neither of us have visited New Zealand before so it really is especially exciting. I work with several Kiwi ladies and they are all full of advice as to where we should go and what we must see. They are also enjoying the thought of me, a true Queenslander very used to the extremes of heat visiting New Zealand in the middle of winter! Little do they know just how many coats I own, and I think the cold will just add to the charm (and I'll appreciate coming home even more).

Anyway, I must be off.  As I've got no sewing to share this post, I thought I'd share a picture of one of my favourite quilts from the Tokyo International Quilt Show where I visited in January this year.  Sadly there were no English labels so I can't tell you who the maker was, but I do love her work.


Friday, 30 November 2012

It's Time to Decorate for Christmas

Well, I've always been told that that's when you start, and on a day that's forecast to be around 38degrees it seems like a great plan, not to mention that it's done indoors with the aircon turned on.  I also have plans to catch up on a couple of BOM's I've joined in so this is a short post so I can get into it!
Lyn my SSCS partner sent me a message letting me know that my parcel turned up, so now I can share photos of one of the gifts I made.

I tried taking a picture hanging outside but the sun/shadows weren't right, so here it is on the dining table inside -

the pattern is appropriately called "Aussie Xmas Swag" from Popcorn Tree Designs which I purchased at Patchwork Paradise in Rockhampton about 12 months ago.  I thought it would be lovely for Lyn - born in Australia, but lived across the Tasman for the past 20 years. I've even made a spare one for myself which as yet remains unfinished!  Perhaps another job for the weekend.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Moving Along...

Life's been busier than ever lately - it always is as we get closer and closer to Christmas and the inevitable end of yet another year. 

This past weekend we travelled to tropical Townsville (North Queensland) to celebrate a very special birthday with my brother-in law, Roy.  It has been a year of highs and lows for him, his health has not been great, so it really was wonderful to celebrate with him and his extended family.  Our accommodation was just behind the Strand so the balmy sea breeze and beautiful scenery more than compensated for any heat! (Actually I think it was cooler there than it is at home now).  A most beautiful place to visit.

But, before I left last Thursday, I raced off to the Post Office and posted the gift made especially for my Secret Santa Swap.  I can't share photos yet, but I am checking her blog and as soon as I get the OK I will post photos.  I was especially happy with the gifts I made and think I will have to make another set, just for me!

So my immediate sewing priorities are over, I'm not sure which of the many WIPs I have I will start on - I think I may have to shame myself by listing them all on my blog in the hope that this will motivate me to finishes.  It would be nice to cross something off as it's done.


Sunday, 4 November 2012


I've been busy lately but it's not an excuse.  I plan in my head the whys and wherefors of what I want to do, allocate time and get into it only to find it takes me so much longer than I'd anticipated to actually get the thing done!  What's with this - is it related to age?

I cut this block out a week or so ago and as I was cutting it out, quietly getting excited thinking how much I liked the way the fabrics were working together etc,  so decided to cut another.  Then knowing I had plans the next day, I thought I'll just go and quickly stitch the block to confirm my thoughts.  Well I still like it, in fact I love the way it turned out, but it took me all day to get just the one block stitched!

The one on the left is waiting to be stitched (when I get to it, I'll plan to have the whole day to do it this time).  The one on the right is stitched, and I know all the outside seams don't match, but it's deliberately made bigger so I can trim the sides to be sure I get all the corner points in.  Here's a closer picture so you can see the fabrics I used...
Anna Maria Horner in the centre followed by some Amy Butler and I can't remember the two outer diamonds, but I like them and the outside fabric is one of the Pallete Pleasures from A Day in the Country.  Yummy!
The colours remind me of old movie posters from the 1950's - African Queen or Rebel With A Cause
so I might have to persue this when I get to cut more blocks.
This past weekend I've been working on secret projects (SSCS - sorry I can't post pictures yet) and again I've found I seriously underestimated the time it would take me to stitch them, so maybe my problem is simply that I should plan less and do more!
On that note I'm off to the sewing room.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Home Again...

Been away again,  catching up with family and to attend the  Queensland Quilters Quilt show for 2012 (you can see all the winning quilts by clicking on the link) and Stitches & Craft.  As always it's wonderful to go to these  shows, not just for the inspiration you receive from all the quilts but it's really great to see all the traders and their wares, not to mention catching up with the friends you haven't see for a while!

Here's my quilt all finished and on display -

I'm really looking forward to it coming home, then maybe I just might have to do a little redecorating in my bedroom.  Anyone else ever changed the room to suit the quilt?

I've long admired the work of quilter Robyn Ginn and someday everything is going to align and I will make it to one of her workshops!  In the meantime, I particularly loved this quilt - Welcome to the Village Green.  (Another of Robyn's quilts won second in the Professional category and you can find it via the Qld Quilters link above).
Slightly closer up -

Another of my favourites was a stunning little miniature by Margot Kitchen - Scraps Into Jewels.  This little quilt was I quess about 18inches x 12inches and I can't image the precision nor the patience you'd require to make it!

Most exciting at the show this year was finding two new (to me) patchwork shops located in Queensland.  The first Voodoo Rabbit is close to the CBD in Brisbane (well a short taxi ride anyway) and stocks a lot of fabrics you generally don't see, and the second shop is at Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast - Fifi's Fabricology.  With fabrics I like, I'm sure to find my way there in future.  Apart from my fabric purchases from them... some Reece Scannell shot cottons made their way home to join my small collection (yet another for one of these days....), new rotary cutter blades from The Scissorman and some stabilizer from Floriani ... and some lovely little Christmas stitchery patterns (that I now realize I've left at Mum's place).  I made the most of the day that I had there!


Monday, 1 October 2012

Heading West for Infinite Horizons

I hope everyone had as lovely a weekend as I did this past one!

The highlight was a trip to Barcaldine, 3 and a bit hours drive west of here to visit the Infinite Horizons Quilt Show.  This time I remembered to use the camera I carry with me  and this sight greeted us on entry -

 I can't tell you just how excited I was to be there!  These quilts are just delightful and I applaud everyone involved from the organisers of the collection to the quilt makers, the booklet producers with lovely stories from all the quilt makers to the helpers who have transported and displayed the collection in so many distant places with thoughtfulness and consideration.  You have all done a wonderful job!  Any money raised from the display of quilts goes to Aged Care in each of the participating towns.

I know the final display for this collection of quilts is to be at the upcoming Queensland Quilt Show at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17 to 19 October and I can only say that if you haven't already had the opportunity to view it, it is well worth any effort involved to see it.  Speaking for myself who happily travelled the less than perfect highway for over three hours to attend and has the luxury of two patchwork shops in the town I live,  I am in awe of the creativity, determination and generosity of the quilt makers.

I'd better also mention that whoever did the catering on the day also did a wonderful job as did Sandy's many volunteers who presented the show with such friendliness and enthusiasm and due to rain had to move it at the last moment!

At this stage I'd better confess.  I'm in the middle of the photo above with my great friends Peggy and Evol and we had the pleasure of working together to make this quilt.  It was only here in Barcaldine that we discovered we hadn't done quite as well as we thought we had.  In our haste to get it made and quilted in time to send to Mount Isa we haven't quite finished the quilting!

Of course a trip to Barcaldine wouldn't be complete for me without a trip to The Silver Thimble and Sandy graciously opened just for us!  I've already packed away most of my purchases so they don't distract me from what I've been working on, but they're calling!  In particular the two patterns I bought, and the wonderful collection of Christmas fabrics I need for my SSCS12 project.

Finally on the way home I stopped to get a couple of photos of the wildflowers.  Evol told us all the names (which I don't remember), and isn't this just beautiful?

I think the last bush is a hop, and it had a deeper colour than the photo displays.  I thought any of the SSCS12 participants from overseas might like to see the countryside!  Emerald where I live is about 3 1/2 hours west from the eastern coast of Australia along the Tropic of Capricorn, Barcaldine is about 7 hours from the coast!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Little Show and (I Shouldn't) Tell...

Once a month I get together with a few friends to make quilts that we give away, not because we don't want the quilt but because there are so many reasons to make someone happy from the simple gift of a quilt. The quilts are given anonomously and we don't seek thanks, nor do we want recognition simply because the gift has really been ours in the planning, construction and especially in working together.  It is a wonderful priviledge to be able to participate in this craft of making quilts, particularly doing so in the company of friends. 

Our rules are simple, we all have wonderful stashes of fabric, and speaking for myself I doubt I'll ever be able to use all that I've accumulated (and continue adding to) in my lifetime, so we use what we have and then because between us we also have quite a collection of inspiring books, we take turns to choose a design from one of our books - we try to find a book we haven't already used and that is what we work on each month.  With a couple of us cutting, another stitching, someone pressing and most importantly putting the design together, we are amazed at what we get done in the day.  So far the quilts have been simple designs, but who knows what we'll get to next!

Bearing in mind what I've already said about anonimity, I'm going to share a couple with you, because I just love how they turned out!

This past month we worked from Judy Martin's Log Cabin Quilt Book.  The pattern is called Stone Cottage and sadly we didn't have enough of the blue bali fabrics to make the wonderful border that is on the original, so we're going to leave it simply with a solid fabric.

This photo really does no justice to the lovely fabrics we used.  There's just so much detail in each fabric and it makes me feel quite relaxed, even refreshed just looking at it. 
Next quilt I've shared on the blog before, but here it is completed with quilting and binding.
Quilting really adds a whole new dimension to the quilt, doesn't it.  Sadly it's quite overcast and the colour isn't as good as it could be, but it is a lovely quilt and we will be proud to pass it on.

That's all for now, I'm up to adding the binding on my growing up quilt.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Highs and Lows.....

I've always been here, just not blogging. Sorry friends. Not much to say lately and as always too much to do.

I'm madly racing to finish My Growing Up quilt but I keep getting distracted.  I have managed to get all four borders on and now I only have the binding, a hanging sleeve and tidying up to do. 

One of the wonderful distractions was attending the Infinite Horizons travelling Quilt show last weekend, hosted by the local Emerald Patchwork group.  The show was wonderful!  The red & white quilts were magnificent as was the display of quilts from local members.  However I was so busy having such a wonderful time that I didn't get a single photo!  Fortunately, Peggy, Evol & I had already planned a trip to Barcaldine at the end of this month when the quilts are there, so I will be sure to get lots of photos then.  I have copied the picture below from a magazine, but it will give you an idea of what was on display. 

One of my favourites was a quilt called Westpac Recycled, by Joan Robinson of Mackay.  I stood looking at it wondering why the maker had two beautifully made 'house' blocks in the middle of many stars and it was only after I checked the catalogue that I looked closer and realized that she had used her daughters uniforms from when whe was working for Westpac at Mount Isa and Normanton to make the blocks.  I too worked for Westpac back in the 1980's and I had the same uniforms.  They were lovely fabrics, what a shame I didn't see far enough to keep mine and make something like this.

I promise I will take photos in Barcaldine.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Planning ....or Procrastinating?

Not much sewing  here lately, but I did finish this little decoration -

the photo is deceptive, it's only about 3 inches long.  Started in a class at The Quilters and Embroiderers Store in Brisbane when I went down for Melanie's uni  graduation. We both enrolled and I'm looking forward to seeing what she creates. The kit and pattern from Catherine Howell were part of the class fee and I'm planning to make several more using the various silk ribbons and threads I've collected over time.

On the patchwork front, I've just not had time to turn the machine on.  This is a sad state of affairs - because while I've not been sewing I have managed a bit of spending lately and these three books are the latest to join me (and I won't mention fabric) -
  1. Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters, lovely book with lots of advice and great pictures and diagrams
  2. Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nuberg & Cheryl Arkison, lovely quick quilt ideas and I'm going to hit the stash soon
  3. Zakka Style compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  This last book is a different style for me, but while I was in Japan I brought home a collection of beautiful Echino prints that I've been looking for a project to use them with and this book delivers.
Sorry, I've given up trying to insert the photo - my computer is not playing the game. !@#$$%

Catch you later,

Saturday, 28 July 2012

No Sewing Happening Here....But

Congratulations to Melanie
who graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Nursing last Wednesday (25 July).

From where we managed to get tickets it was quite dificult to find her amongst the 300 graduates from the School of Health awarded on the night! 

We did help her celebrate after the ceremony.  

 Chris and Melanie, most unco-operative subjects, thanks for letting me take one reasonable photo.

Monday, 9 July 2012


Rarely do I get a chance to just go to the cupboard, pull out fabrics, give myself permission to not worry what goes with what and get into it.  My turn came around last Sunday, home with nothing else I was going to do, I started work on this quilt, a gift for a special person.
No work today meant I’ve been able to put the final borders on this morning!  I’ve used the pattern before, it’s from one of my favourite patchwork books - Geometric Gems by Cathy Wierzbicki.  Unfortunately it’s too wet and cold to go outside to try for better photos and these certainly don’t show it well, but it measures 57” by 76” so it’s a useful size.  I like it!
Just to celebrate, I might just go raid the stash and cut out another.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


You know how it goes...misguided, feeling so pleased with myself last week for almost finishing a quilt I started back in 2009 (it's now back in the pile), I grabbed yet another of those UFO boxes (from 2010 this time) from the cupboard and thought I'd get into it...started back here  as a Mystery Quilt. 

It surely would have been kinder if one of you had simply hit me over the head.

Shall I say that after many, many hours of cutting half square triangles, carefully, carefully, carefully pinning and then stitching to get all those points and seams to match this is where I'm at...

I'm slow, but it's taken me until now to really read the instructions properly and realize that I've got green where there should have been blue and vice versaa.  My choices now include:
  1. Continue and make it up as I go
  2. Spend a lot of quality time with Mr Unpicker
  3. Put it back in the box it came from and hide it at the bottom of the cupboard
Help! These two friends are no help at all...(although Sara Lee is doing her part)

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Kevin & I recently went on a bit of a road trip. Amongst other things we were lucky enough to be given tickets to the State of Origin in Sydney. This is our son Chris proudly displaying his support for the Queensland team. We weren’t victorious that night, but the next match - in a couple of weeks will certainly prove interesting.  Even though our team didn’t win it was wonderfully entertaining just being part of the crowd of 83101 (I’m pretty confident that at least 83000 of them were NSW supporters)!


Co-incidentally for me it just so happened that the game was on in Sydney on the opening day of the Sydney Quilt Show!  Winning quilts can be found on this website -  But all the quilts were wonderful.  I particularly liked seeing those from the featured quilters – Judy Hooworth & Shirley Gibson.  I remember some of the fabrics in their quilts - I think I may still have some in my own stash.  It was great to see their progression through style & colour to the quilters they are today.

One of my favourite quilts – because really I admire both the quiltmaker and the subject, was a quilt made by Jenny Bowker to honour Margaret Rolfe.  In glorious bright gold & yellow it really stood out.  I’ve unsuccesfully prowled the internet trying to find a picture I could share, the best I can offer at this time is the following link to Jenny Bowker’s website where the quilt was under construction -
Another highlight of my brief trip to Sydney was the chance to visit Material Obsession.  I had no trouble getting there by public transport and it really was worth it!  I wasn’t quite sure where to look – so many gorgeous fabrics and quilts, and to top it off Wendy Williams was there and remembered me from the workshop I attended with her in Toowoomba!  I happily showed her photos of my own Growing Up quilt and promised to send her a picture whenever I finally complete it – as the saying goes I must pull my finger out….

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

While I’m At it….

The nights here are cold (days are lovely) and there's nothing better as the day closes than to come home from work to the wonderful aroma of a meal that's been slow cooking all day. So prompted by Chookyblue's post a few weeks back I thought I'd share one of my favourite winter recipes. It's from the book Slow by Allyson Gofton - mouthwatering recipes for the slow cooker & crock pot.
Chicken & Lentil Curry - serves 8
cooking time low 6-7hours, high 3-4hours, plus extra 20 - 30 minutes
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp (I could only buy tamarind puree at the local, so I use this)
8 chicken leg & thigh portions - I use chicken lovely legs &/or skinless thighs
1 - 2 red onions, peeled & thickly sliced
1 cup red lentils
400gram can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander, optional
2 teaspoons ground cumin, optional
3 - 4 bunches fresh spinach
If you'd prefer a curry with more kick add 1/2 -1 tablespoon of chilli powder.
Scatter the onion and lentils into the slow cooker. Put the chicken pieces on top (I put mine in straight from the freezer, and then cook it on slow for the day. The chicken holds it's shape and it doesn't become overdone or stewy, as it might if the chicken wasn't frozen.)
In a jug, stir together the tamarind & chicken stock then add tomatoes, curry powder, garlic, ginger, coriander & cumin. Stir and then pour over the chicken and cover with the lid. Cook on low for about 8-9hours (only if the chicken is frozen, I’d reduce the cooking time if it’s fresh or defrosted).
Tear the spinach leaves from the coarser stems. Rinse and stir into the curry. Cook on low for a further 20-30 mins until the spinach has just wilted and the curry is hot. The recipe advises, you can then serve it with a little chopped onion & chopped fresh coriander or toasted cashew nuts (but I don't bother, by this time I'm hungry and can't wait) before serving with plenty of rice on the side. It is delicious and I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.

Who likes half square triangles....

Sorry, I know it's been a while - Peggy keeps reminding me!  I have been busy - a bit of quilting, a bit of travelling, a lot more work and suddenly I realise it's a couple of months since I've posted. 

In between times I've been ditch stitching this quilt - a real favourite of mine.
For those of you who might not know, back in 2009 I owned a Patchwork shop with my friend Peggy (which we closed in 2012) - Peggy and Bev's Place.  For fun, we decided to invite our friends and customers to join us in a mystery we called the White Elephant Swap.  The rules were simple, no-one was told or shown the design until the day of the swap only that if you wanted to join in you would need 28 fat quarters to make the quilt,  14 dark & 14 lights.  Further, we then asked all participants to choose 7 each of their darks and lights and package them in 2 brown paper parcels marked either light or dark which were then swapped randomly.  Whatever fabrics you received in the swap must be used in the quilt and finally, somewhere in the design you had to incorporate an elephant.
What a leap of faith.  It surprised me that not many joined in, in fact most of our friends decided not to participate giving lots of reasons but mostly I think because they weren't comfortable with the uncertainty not knowing beforehand what the pattern was to be, and not able to trust that all that was required to consider was whether the fabric was light or dark.
It really was a great exercise.  Peggy chose well when she decided on the design as it simply worked!  In the end we only had 7 participants and to my knowledge only three of us have completed our quilts, so far.  This is mine and it really is special to me.  (I  admit that I was one of the doubters, but I decided to go along anyway).  The lunch when we swapped our packages and the pattern was revealed was a very fun occasion - I especially remember my friend Christina who had decided to make hers in just blacks and whites, she loved the fabrics she'd chosen and decided to hide the parcel in a special place so no-one could get them!  Being the multi-talented lady she is, she did eventually relent and the exchange was made.  Peggy received what I considered to be some especially ugly fabrics in the swap, but wow she made them work beautifully.
Here are the three completed quilts - Peggy on the left, Christina in the middle and then mine:

and the elephants (mine is pieced into the bottom corner):

It's taken me some time, but I really wanted to quilt this one myself, so here I am only a few more rows and then I've got to decide what to do with the outside border.  

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It's Good to Go Back....

A friend came to visit this morning and I brought this quilt out to show her.  Completed a while ago now, it's still a favourite of mine (shame I didn't take the time to press it before taking the photo).  The simplest of piecing from a selection of bali dyed blues surrounded by a white border with lots of free motion quilting.

More recently, this is what I've been slowly working on.  Now the centre section is all pieced and quilted - I've done it quilt as you go so I could stitch it with my  Bernina 440.  It's time to start on the borders.  I've decided I'd like to use this on my bed so I'm going to add a wider border at the bottom of the quilt both to add length, but also because I love those gorgous big flowers on this print - LouLouthi from Anna Maria Horner.  I've used many fabrics from this range in the quilt and the more I work with it, the more I like it!  Incidentally the pattern is Growing Up by Wendy Williams.

Last photo has been put in for my daughter Melanie - see my constant companion Louie the Sheltie here watching over the process, the only surprising thing is that he's not actually sitting on the quilt.  He considers any fabric that goes on the floor to be his personal sitting space!

Till next time - Bev

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Finally, a little sewing..........

Life's been pretty busy over the past few weeks so it was wonderful yesterday to actually do a little cutting and stitching.  I signed up to receive a Block of the Month - Gypsy Wife from Amitie Textiles in Melbourne.  I'm really enjoying the liberty it gives me in that I don't have to choose the fabric or the design, each month an envelope arrives in the mail and I can just sit down and make the block.  It's fun and the colours are not those I would normally choose, so it's even more delightful.  What do you think?

Here is Block 1 & 2.  I used Marti Michell templates (from set A) to cut the pieces and I'm pleased that I did.  Not since we closed the shop have I made a block with so many points to match!  I even dragged out the fork pins from the drawer to use - I really enjoyed making them.

Regards, Bev

Friday, 13 April 2012

To Start???

I have started a new job - it's wonderful to be in a paid postition again after the past few years, and while I admit I am really enjoying it, I will admit it is taking it's toll on me.  When I last blogged, I had just completed all the applique and nine-patch blocks for my Growing Up quilt and blithely planned to quilt a panel each day.  Well six weeks later, I'm up to the fifth one, with one more to go before I can start the borders.  It does look good and I hope to have the panels finished by the end of next week.  Here's to staying on track.

Did you have a lovely Easter?  Mine was spent at Bribie Island.  The weather was just beautiful and we had a marvelous time relaxing.  I even managed to read a couple of books - always a pleasure.

I'm afraid that's all I have time for now, I do hope to post again shortly - with photos!

Cheers, Bev

Sunday, 11 March 2012

OK , Slow to Post Again........

I have an excuse.  My laptop died.  I was calmly sitting here a few weeks back, the screen flickered, a few messages came up and that was that.  Just over two years old and it was gone.  Fortunately for me the local IT guy was able to back up some files and get some of the data off, but gee I don't want to do this again. 

Moving forward I guess I should tell you it's been quite liberating - I'm amazed at the amount of work I've done.  I finished all the panels for my Growing Up quilt and have started quilting them (far from my favourite pastime), I've even started planning which project I finish next (yes, I do have a few).   Disappointing however, I haven't been able to start working on the FMQ Challenge for February.  The tutorial was done by Diane Gaudynski and I bought her book Quilt Savvy - Gaudynski's Machine Quilting Guidebook a few years ago and refer to it often.  If you haven't seen or read it, it is well worth getting a copy.  I will, I will, I will make time shortly.

This past week has been particular fun.  Sandy from The Silver Thimble at Barcaldine mentioned on her blog that the Mt Isa quilters were convening a quilt display of red & white quilts with any funds raised to be donated to their local aged persons facilities.  I think this is wonderful, so my lovely friends Peggy, Evol & myself  have gotten together and have now put two quilts together to send them.  Here's our sweatshop-

(I'm very good at telling them what to do - much better at this than actually doing it myself - LOL!)

And... here's today's efforts...
(Oops, I think I have it on the wall sideways).

Evol has already started quilting our first quilt, so we should make the March 30 deadline to have them in the post.  I've got to tell you it has been a lot of fun to work with two very talented ladies on a project such as this.  If you're wondering, the design was inspired from a quilt we saw in the book "9-Patch Pizzazz Fast, Fun & Finished in a Day by Judy Sisneros, a great little book I've had in the cupboard for a couple of years just waiting for a wonderful opportunity such as this.

Cheers, Bev

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Slow Progress - but progess none the less

More squares completed over the weekend, so I decided to sew one of the panels together to see how it looks beside the applique.  I like it!  I have another 6 squares to make (which I then cross cut to give the set-in triangles), and a little more applique on the other panels, so to work I must go! 

The original quilt is Growing Up by Wendy Williams, which I started in a class at Precious Time in Toowoomba last September.  I'm making my quilt larger - to fit my own bed, and I decided to add the little squares because I saw something similar at the Quilt Show in Japan.

Monday, 13 February 2012

A Little More from my trip to Japan

Day 4 of our trip Melanie & I headed to Nippori or Fabric Town.  What an experience, shop after shop (the map lists 86 separate shops) with rolls and rolls of every imaginable kind of fabric, shops full of buttons, trims, furs, leather and lace.  Everything I could ever possibly want - I knew I was in trouble with limited luggage space. 

Proceeding with caution (although Melanie couldn't help herself) I made it all the way to Tomato Select before I found fabric that just had to come home with me.  Actually there's five separate Tomato shops in Nippori, each totally different from the others with several floors of  amazing collections of just about everything sewing related.  But back to Tomato Select, upstairs is a wonderful collection of  Japanese fabrics - lots of beautiful, romantic Yuwa that has that wonderful soft feel, Echino, gorgeous designs from Joshiko Jinzenji and many more.  Stupidly, I now realize I don't have a photo to share, because the fabric I purchased was a gift for my Mother - who loves it.

From Tomato Select we continued our way down the street, totally enthralled with the experience.  These trims were purchased from Tomato (Notion).  Aren't they lovely?  At about 700yen ($8.50au) a metre, I thought they were a bagain and am now quietly planning how to use them!

I can't remember the name of the shop, but these Echino fabrics cost 1680yen for 2metres - about $20au, a real bargain!

My final fabric purchase was actually at the Quilt Show.  I really loved all the fabrics on the Yuwa stand, but these three had to come home with me.  The top two are voile and the bottom a linen blend.  I have 1.5m of each, so these will be added to the stash until I decide what to do with them.

Have I convinced you that a trip to Japan is a must and certainly a trip to Nippori - a truly enjoyable experience.
Enough for now, but if you would like to see more about the Tokyo International Quilt Show 2012, I found this blog - Jan has attended the Quilt Show many times and I've really enjoyed all that she's written.  Be sure to check it out!

Regards, Bev


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Been a While.......

Seems to be a storm brewing here today, it's hot, humid and I am struggling to stay interested in anything at all.  Mind you I was flicking channels on TV before and an episode of Anne of Green Gables was on so that very pleasantly passed an hour or so!

I'm sorry I haven't shared much from my trip to Japan yet - I had a wonderful time, thoroughly enjoyed myself and the Tokyo International Quilt Show was even more than I expected.  I have over 300 photos to edit, so I will get around to it - just not today.

I've been working on a quilt for some time now - lots of hand applique, which I'm slowly getting through, with 9 patch blocks in between.  I did get all these blocks made through the week and now I've got to decide what to use for the set in triangles.  This is what I've been doing today -

I started with 1 1/2" strips and it's really been a challenge to keep away from the creamy, yellowish fabrics I have in my stash.  I didn't realise how many I had!  I need to cut this diagonally twice to make my triangles, and then I need to make another 9....mmm I think I'll have to go shopping tomorrow, I know I don't have enough of the lighter fabrics I need.

I love the 9 patches - here's a couple already in place on the design wall -

Hope you are enjoying your weekend


Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Sneaky One from Japan

It's my last night in Japan and I've managed to borrow Melanie's lap top - no small feat, believe me. I've been trying to pack my bags and convince myself that I only have 23kg (baggage allowance) in my bag.  Unfortunately I have no way of checking until I get to the airport tomorrow night, and it's too late to go to the Post Office to post excess home to myself.  I've decided to post some notes for myself on the blog so I can throw out all the brochures, maps and information I've collected to cut down on weight,  I will post photos and add to this when I get home to my own computer.

Anyway, as I know I won't be allowed to have the laptop for long,  I'll get into it.

Day 4 - Nippori Street - what an experience!  Amazing fabric, haberdashery, everything sewing related street.  Wonderful bargains to be had - I especially liked the Yuwa and Echino fabrics, but more about this later.

Day 5 - Slow day, had about 6inches of snow fall overnight and it's very different for someone from Queensland to lay in bed and hear the sound of crunching as people try to navigate the very slippery, icy footpath outside.  Headed to Akihabara- electronic district where I brought a new camera, and Melanie found a shop called Super Potato with all kinds of electronic games - even the old Super Nintendo and older.  Found a great shopping centre - lovely to wander around out of the cold.  Melanie indulged her passion for shoes with yet another pair of dangerously high heels and both of us enjoyed time in Tokyo Hands with it's wonderful collection of cute stationery and stuff.
Day 6 - Dynamic Tokyo Tour - wonderful experience with exceptionally friendly guide.  Tokyo Tower Observatory, Traditional Tea Ceremony at Happo-en Garden (yes, I even joined in - the tea was very bitter), a traditional garden in the middle of Tokyo.  500year old Bonsai! Lunch was a traditional Japanese style barbecue at Chinzan-so another stunning Japanese garden created ~ 1860's.  Imperial Palace Plaza and Nijubashi bridge, Sumida River Cruise, Nakamise Shopping Arcade at Asakusa and drive through Ginza.  Big day, but very enjoyable.
Day 7 - Quilt Show Melanie visited Ueno zoo to see the pandas, then we both found our way to Ikebukuro for some serious shopping that evening.  Found a Post office - posted a surprise parcel to myself!
Day 8 - Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Kyoto,  Flew past lots of heavily snow covered areas and was fortunate to see Mt Fuji.  We were told that due to cloud and mist it could only be seen about 60 days each year, and we've seen it twice in our short visit.  Also very interesting to see the countryside.  It appears either very flat or very mountainous.   Afternoon - Kyoto Handicraft Centre.  Pm New Miyako Hotel (Very nice!!!)
Day 9 -  Kyoto Morning Tour - Nishi Honganji Temple, Nijo Castle - Tokugawa family home of the last Shogun (stunning) and Rokuon-Ji Temple - The Golden Pavillion (Budhist Temple).  Exceptionally cold day - very hard to take in all the information given, as it is so cold!  My fingers hurt to bend and I think my nose is running and I have no control over it.  Surely it will snow later today.  We leave to return to Tokyo on the Shinkansen, mid afternoon.  Dinner - little Ramen store just down from Hotel.  Great food and very cheap!
Day 10 -
and home to Australia.

That's all for now.
Cheers, Bev

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hello from Japan...

Where do I start?  I went from an incredibly hot, humid day in Brisbane feeling - decidedly uncomfortable in the humid heat, to a wet, overcast, cold day in Tokyo where agin I feel decidedly uncomfortable in the cold, with only a few hours travel in between.  But how wonderful it is.

The morning we arrived (I'm here with Melanie, my daughter) there were even snow drops falling.  We are staying in Bunkyo Bunkyo near the Japan Medical & Dental Universities at a place I found on the internet.

We had a choice of 'western' rooms, but by accident I booked a traditional Japanese room.  We enter a little foyer where I almost feel I should bend because the ceiling is quite low.  Off to the right is a tiny bathroom - the toilet is in an area smaller than a closet, and the bathroom contains a traditional Japanese bath - about 90cm deep and maybe that square, with a tiled floor.  You're supposed to wash yourself off with the handheld shower beside the bath before immersing yourself.  I've got to admit, I haven't tried the bath yet - the shower works just fine and I'm not sure there'd be enough hot water for me to try a bath just yet.

After the foyer we enter what I'd call the sitting room.  There are tatami mats on the floor (you must take your shoes off and leave them at the front door), rice paper screens over the windows and dividing the room from the sleeping area, and a small low table with two cushions on the floor where we sit.  We sleep on futons in the next room.  It's all very thrilling, and although Melanie will tell you I've grumbled a bit about getting up and down from the floor, I'm sure I will be much healthier and considerably more flexible when I get home to Australia.

Travelling around Tokyo is not proving an issue at all. They have an amazing train and subway network (fortunately Melanie seems to manage it all very well), and this is how we get around. It's very cheap, clean and efficient! 

Day 1 we head to Ikebukuro looking for a shop we'd read about called Loft. Despite me seeing it written on top of a building (a few stories up), we spent several hours wandering around (very happily) many shops without finding it.   I did find a wonderful shop that sold the most beautiful paper I have ever seen and everywhere we went people greet us as we enter and call out (I'm assuming to thank us as we leave).

Day 2 we head to the Tokyo Dome for the Tokyo International Quilt Festival. I have many, many photos but if you'd like to see some check out Melaniemade on flickr (I'm not sure how flickr works, but if you google melaniemade flickr, I'm sure you'll find something) - she's loaded many that she took. The quilts are breathtaking in the detail that is included and most are hand quilted in amazing patterns. Initially I was surprised by the lack of colour, however this isn't a true description. In Australia, I think we use quite dramatic, hit you in the face type colours and designs, where here the work and colours are subtle, drawing you into the design which is very complex and precise. I feel very humble when I think of my own patchwork efforts.
This isn't the best picture, but I'm hoping you'll get an idea of the size of the Quilt Show.  The Tokyo Dome is mostly used as a baseball stadium and this is taken from the top of the steps going down to floor level.  We got there very early in the morning and already the crowd is huge. 

It's very cold today and that night as we are sitting very comfortably in the heated room, I open the screen to see what the strange noise is.  Would you believe it is snowing!  Being Queenslanders we have to grab our coates, shoes and camera and head down to actually feel it!  I've just realized that I've managed to lose the photos (not happy), but I do have the one I took fom the top of the Hotel the next morning.  Already the hotel staff have swept away most of the snow, but you can still see it if you look closely.  I've got to tell you however that that tiled floor is incredibly slippery with ice.

Looking over the balcony, you can see what remains on the street.  Already everyone has been out cleaning the road and the footpath.  Apparently there was about 6inches of snow fall.

Day 3 - Harajuku - a fun shopping destination for Melanie.  Lots of amazing little alleyways and shops with lots to look at.  The focal point of Harajuku's teenage culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street) and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.
We were there on a Sunday, when many young people gather around Harajuku Station and engage in cosplay ("costume play"), dressed up in crazy costumes to resemble anime characters, punk musicians, etc.

  See how narrow the street is.

Just south of Takeshita Dori is Omotesando, a broad, tree lined avenue sometimes referred to as Tokyo's Champs-Elysees. Here you can find famous brand name shops, cafes and restaurants for a more adult clientele. The stylish Omotesando Hills complex is home amongst many other designer brand shopes, to Jimmy Choos and it took some time to drag Melanie awy from a devine pair of shoes that just weren't meant for her! 

Melanie's just growled and reminded me I'm not supposed to be writing an essay, so I'd better get going, we've off to Nippori the fabric district today and I suspect my luggage limit on the airplane may just be stretched.

Cheers, Bev