Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Embroidered Boxes

I will take the time today to share two little embroidered boxes I have done.  The little box [etui] in the above photograph was stitched some time ago.  I had to cut the cardboard pieces myself, I did not have an etui kit.  The instructions and pattern are included in a book I purchased, Hardanger - Fundamentals made Fancy, by Janice Love.  I have used 22ct hardanger fabric, with #5 and #8 perlรฉ thread, rather than the stated 30ct linen, which made her box measurements pie in the sky for my piece!!!

The design on the top of the box is so pretty.  Indeed, many of the fillings I had not seen or tried before, and I had not given any thought to the use of pearls or beads with this type of work.

I hope some of these shots will give you a good look at the lovely way Janice has used these unusual fillings.  Each of the bands were to have a different filling, but as usual, I picked the ones I like the best and went with them.

I particularly like the flower design that has been given the name of Edelweiss.  It is just beautiful when it's done, and with concentration, not all that difficult to achieve a pleasing result.

I hope this shot shows you the box with the panels open.  I thoroughly enjoyed the stitching process with this project, but I have to say, I am not, and never will be a fan of glue, card, or paper, so I doubt I will make another of these little sewing accessories.

I would also like to share this wooden box with it's blackwork knot garden lid.  This blackwork pattern was designed by Mary Hickmont, and again, I did my own thing, using a variegated thread for working.  The whole piece has been done on 18ct aida, using 1 strand of DMC cotton.  The gold stitching is also one strand.  For some reason I found it hard to get a good photograph of this - still learning with my new camera.

This is the box opened.  I purchased it from Janie Hubble of The Cat's Whiskers in WA.  It is a beautiful box, quite large really, with the top recessed area just perfect for the stitching I'd done.  It is lined with black felt, and the bottom also has black felt attached to avoid scratch marks on one's furniture.    I feel quite privileged to own such a lovely piece.

My friend Dian has some lovely examples of stitched knot gardens on her blog.  You can see them here:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunset Sunday

On my sidebar you will see a blog related to photography [Finding Another View].  The blog owner, Scott Law shares some of the most amazing images.  Please take the time to go to his blog occasionally and enjoy his work - 

Each week he posts a photo related to sunsets [or sunrises].  I've been trying to organize myself to do a 'Sunset Sunday' for some time, so today I'll share this one with you.  This is not the most amazing shot by anyone's standards - goodness, I didn't even take the time to see that the grain bins were left out of the frame!!  My main purpose for using this shot was to try some photo alteration again.  I will share the same image, cropped and altered using two different free programs I have.  One is IrfanView, and the other is GIMP. 

I have used IrfanView here to simple solarize the image, then I cropped it a tad [to remove those offending grain bins!!].  I love the pinks and greens that resulted from the alteration.  I think it needs cropping again, as those two trees on either side are annoying me a little.

This one has been altered a little more using GIMP.  I sharpened the image, did an oilify, and then cropped it again.  Nothing drastic, but then, that's really not what I was aiming for with this photograph.

I am hoping to have a new computer in a few weeks, and then I can finally load my Adobe program and have some more fun.  I'm particularly fond of altering floral images, for using with textile work.

I hope you enjoy the sunset play, and please take a look at some of Scott's work.  His equipment and approach to photography is so much more professional than mine, but then, that is what his blog is all about. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Goodies to savour

Yesterday's mail brought a package I had been expecting.  Some time ago I ordered the complete pallette from Vicki Welsh's first Colour Pallette project for 2011.  You can read more about it on her blog -

The fabric in the photograph above is one part of the Pine Boughs selection.  I am also finding myself drawn to the February project, but in all honesty, must restrain myself.  Vicki is fabric dyer numero uno!!!  She took the Pine Boughs colours from a photograph, and arrived at each of them because of her skill in formulating colours.  I have done some dyeing, learnt to mix colours and such, but not in an organized way such as this.  I get what I get, but I do know that this precision takes a lot of patience, practice and skill.   

The other part of the Pine Boughs pallette is here [please disregard cork flooring!!].  The 'mottling/marbling' in these hand dyes are lovely, and I'm really thrilled with them.  The 3CS ladies are running challenges again this year, but unfortunately, just at this point in time I'm not in a postion to take part.  Perhaps later in the year, when I have a few other stitching commitments under control.  You can also see some quilt design possibilities Vicki has worked on using this pallette [on her blog].  I have to say the price is very good too, at $15/yard!!  I received 3 yards posted here for less than $20/yard, which I feel is extremely good for the quality product I'm getting.

At the end of last year I also won another of Vicki's fabric postcards.  Due to the flooding in our area, my mail was held up for almost a month, and then of course I had the camera drama.  I tried to photograph the PC with my phone, but the image colour was very far from the truth!!  I've finally been able to share this PC with you now and I hope you enjoy seeing the lovely card I received.  Thank you Vicki.  I love all the cards that came my way due to my involvement last year with the 3CS projects.  I learnt so much, and met ladies whose talent I so admire.

And, to add to yesterday's fun, I also found out I had been chosen as the winner of a fabric give-away on the blog of Frances Leate [].  I'm sorry I just can't get the page to load this morning so I can actually 'link' it here, forgive me Frances.  I am looking forward to that parcel.  All fabrics are made most welcome in my home...........LOL.........

I am still quite busy stitching on my hardanger, but nothing worthy of sharing just at the moment.  It is shaping up to be another hot day here in our part of the world, and I believe tomorrow is to be worse. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Boys

It is no secret that dogs play an extremely important role in our lives here.  They do the work of several men at times, and are worth their weight in gold.  Today two of our good workers are celebrating their 11th birthday.  They are part of a littler of ten we bred.  Sadly, their mother [a short haired border collie] is no longer with us.  Their father, well, you've seen him on my blog previously, resting comfortably in a most precarious position..........LOL...............

This is a still shot taken from a video.  I think you will see how dangerous the work can be for these dogs.  This shot is a little grainy, so I do apologize for that.  Sadly, my upload speed here is not sufficient for me to post a full video of the dogs at work, which is a shame.  Perhaps in time, it will improve.   Hank [birthday boy] is the dog on the left.  Tag [on the right] has sadly left this world.  He was a workaholic, and there is a gaping hole in the arsenal since his departure.

I took this shot of Tex after he'd had some 'surgery'.  He became entangled in a disused barbed wire fence [whilst working], and needed ten stitches in his back foot.  I think the way he's looking at me he's wondering if the camera is some sort of food reward for not biting off his bandage!!!   You will notice his eyes.  One is brown, the other a pale blue.  We have a few with this characteristic. 

I hope you enjoy seeing these two guys.  They both have wonderful dispositions, wouldn't hurt a fly, just an obstinate beast.........LOL.................  They don't go to work every day now, and will be like their father, ie live out their days in retirement.  We owe them that much at least.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Friends are Growing

Thank you sincerely to everyone for commenting so favourably on the giant quilt.  I do appreciate the feedback.  The purpose of this post is to share the progress of some of my 'friends'.  Now, I have to tell you all, a gardener I'm not, and my house/garden will not be appearing on the cover of Country Style magazine any time soon.......................  But, I have some very special plants that are flourishing at the moment, plants given to me by my friends, so they have been affectionately named after them.  The birds' nest fern above was given to me four years ago today.  When my friend brought it here, it was a small lopsided 'baby' that she'd pulled off her larger plant.  I simply could not get it into the full frame, it has grown so much.  It measures more than two metres across now.  This time last year the fronds had unfolded and looked lovely and fresh, and then we had days where the temperature was in excess of 40°C.  It doesn't get a lot of sun, but at the time, the fronds just burnt badly.  Not so this year with our milder summer.

Another that I love is this cardboard palm [Zamia furfuracea], which was given to me by another friend.  It was a housewarming gift when we moved here in early 2005 [my friend knew I had been searching for one of these plants].  Again, I really can't get the whole plant into the photograph.  It needs to be repotted I feel, but I can't see it being a one man [ahem......woman] job, so that will have to wait until I can get some help.  It was only a very small plant at the time.  Both of these plants have dressed up a rather untidy service area around the house.

Of course, I could not post about 'my friends' without sharing the owls.  As I've told you, we were fortunate to have three more babies for the season.  That makes five young ones this couple have shared with us this summer.  I feel privileged to be part of their world.  They sit so quietly in the trees during the day, and swoop down  quite close to our big glass doors each night as they gather little frogs and grasshoppers for their food.  Most mornings I 'find' them and have a little chat.  They offer a peace of mind I really can't explain.  The photograph opposite was taken with the little borrowed camera [only 2x zoom], so I hope you can see the babies clearly enough.  On Saturday I tried the largest zoom on my new camera.  The following photograph shows the largest of the three.  It certainly has grown and will soon be on it's own way I expect.  

Thank you for taking an interest in the things that are happening in my part of the world.  It's nothing glamorous, but most of the time it's a peaceful way of life, ie no crowds, no traffic, no noise...........................

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Giant Quilt

At last!!!  I've finally finished the sampler quilt.  My goodness, it's a giant, measuring approximately 95ins square.  I had to use the step ladder to take this photograph, which still doesn't quite show all the quilt.   Thank you all for the interest shown in the previous post, and this time I hope the finished result will please those who read my blog.  The design layout for the quilt is mine, but of course, the blocks and applique are taken from various sources I have here.  The curvy centre has been taken from a book I have by Joyce Schlotzhauer - Curves Unlimited [templates purchased with the book].  The applique is a design from a Quilters' Companion magazine, and many of the other blocks have been taken from the books Ultimate Book of Quilt Block Patterns [ Judy Martin], and Mariner's Compass Quilts [Judy Mathieson].  I did all the maths!!!

For the technically minded, just about every corner has been mitred, and the triangles used for setting the blocks on point have been cut so that the edges are on the straight grain of the fabric.  I couldn't stand it if those were bias edges, too much give for my liking.

If I was asked which blocks were my favourites, I'd have to say that I particularly like two blocks.  This one is from Judy Martin's book, and is called Carnival Ride.  It has been foundation/paper pieced.  I love star blocks, and star printed fabric [you think!!].  I've made this block a few times and it looks great in all colours and combinations.

The other block that I particularly like is this one.  It's a complex block to piece, using partial seams, quite a challenge actually.  I have to say that it was worth persisting with.  The first one I made using the dark colour in the corner.  When I saw it I realized that none of the other blocks were like that, so decided I'd go with three more of the same, and use them in the corners.  I've taken a photograph of the block in progress, so perhaps you can see the partial piecing concept.

As I mentioned in my previous post, most of the fabrics came from my stash.  The only fabric I purchased was the dark royal blue/navy for the very outer border.  I had three metres of the beige with navy/maroon stars - purchased one day at a sell out.  And, to complete the stash busting saga, even the fabric for the backing came from 'stock'.  This was purchased almost fifteen years ago, for $2/metre.  It's a very nice polished cotton, 150cm wide, and I bought what was left on the roll - 5 metres.  I have to piece it for the backing, but that's not an issue really.  The green in it is slightly different, but as it's a type of patchwork design, I thought it would work with the quilt.  At least it's a second side that can be used for 'every day', and the 'good' side turned up for 'show'.............LOL......

So, there ends the patchwork saga for a while.  Back to the blue hardanger........

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Patchwork Preview [+ Playing]

Sorry to have been absent for a few days.  I have been having a few computer/internet issues, which has limited my time here.  I thought I would have a little play with my new camera, yay!!!  I have purchased a compact camera again, this time a Nikon.  It seems 'friendly' enough at the moment, but I have a lot to learn.   After some gentle urging from my patchwork friend Neitta,   I've revisited a quilt that I started about three years ago.   At that time, our patchwork group members decided that they'd like to do a sampler quilt.  I suppose I do the most talking in the group, so somehow I landed the job of organizing.  To say I dislike sampler quilts is an understatement, but I thought why not, but decided to try a layout much different from many I'd seen.  I am not long off finishing it, perhaps this time next week, but wanted to share a small preview of what has been going on.  The above block is one of about 20 pieced blocks which will make up the quilt top.  It's been stitched using the paper piecing method, which really helps keep those sharp points neat and tidy!!

This is a small section of some of the machine applique which I hope enhances the look of the layout.  I'm not really into machine applique, I'd much rather do hand blanket stitching, but at the time I thought machining would get it done..............not so.  If I'd gone with the hand stitching, I'm sure I would have had all of these pieces stitched on a long time ago.  This shot is also one of the first 'macro' images taken with the Nikon.  Stay tuned for the final product in a few days.  All of the fabrics I've used have been taken from 'the stash', with the exception of one piece I purchased especially for the final border, so in essence, it's a scrap, sampler quilt.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Katherine Wins

I've finally had a moment to pop the names in a hat and draw out a winner for the sewing caddy give-away.

Congratulations to Katherine, and a thank you to her for her friendship.  She has always encouraged me with my blog.  She is also a very hard working young woman, with a young family.  Their houseyard was inundated with floodwaters recently during the Victorian episode, so I hope this small link between friends/bloggers/embroiderers will be of some comfort to her, and  a tangible keepsake.

I love reading all the comments, and know that people enjoy my rambling.

Please spare a moment today to think of those people in North Queensland who now have the task of rebuilding their lives after 'Yasi' swept through last night.  I am not sure yet as to the full extent of the carnage, but wish everyone well, and I am sure more generosity will be needed, and indeed given in the next few weeks.  Surely this has got to stop soon, enough already!!! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Paddock to Plate

We've had a busy couple of days here.  The men decided it was time to call on the 'mobile butcher', so  I've been up to my elbows in prime beef.  It's not the most glamorous job going, but someone has to do it.  Thankfully, I don't need to pay any attention to the meat section for quite some time, as we have enough in the freezers to keep us going for quite a while.  It's not your lovely 'two sweet little rib fillets on a polystyrene tray', but it is literally paddock to plate.  Yesterday, after the cutting up, we had eye fillet for lunch........................melt in your mouth stuff.  It's grass fed, and free of chemicals.   It's also nice to be able to stand outside the coldroom and ask for the cuts to be dealt with the way that suits you best.

Thank you all for the comments on the give-away crazy patchwork.  I'll be doing the draw first thing tomorrow morning and will hopefully post the winner shortly afterwards.  Good luck to all who cared to comment, whether you are a first timer, or a regular.  I thank you all for taking the time to read my blog.  Without such support and friendship I would not have continued.