It started with an All Blacks game…

It started with an All Blacks game, and ended with a kelpie.

The Bridge Cafe, a restored church and school combined into a cool cafe in the Manawatu Gorge.
The Bridge Cafe, a restored church and school combined into a cool cafe in the Manawatu Gorge.

It had been a wonderful weekend up until this point, having spent Saturday drinking coffee at the Bridge Cafe, visiting a school gala, and picking up a little cupboard to contain my hand sewing supplies from an antique shop in Woodville.P1070522

On Sunday morning, we were seated in front of the tv watching the All Blacks demolish France quite satisfactorily, when the phone rang.

Now, we are not a rugby-mad household, but there is sort of an unwritten rule that nobody rings when a game is on, especially when we are winning so magnificently. My church even cancelled the early Sunday service, after only three people indicated they would attend at 8:15am, the rest watching the rugby. Our Pastor was quite relieved, being the biggest fan of all.

Sure enough, the phone call involved the words “Mother, Hospital and Stroke”, and so a very busy week started. It turned out to be another TIA, so there was no permanent damage, but I still stayed a week to keep an eye on her.

I took some handwork with me, since I initially thought I would be dog-watching while they kept her in for a few days. Instead, three hours after leaving home, we arrived just as they discharged her from hospital.

Stella's cushion, another re-purposed Art Recycling block.
Stella’s cushion, another re-purposed Art Recycling block.

I took with me a couple of little projects, the first of which was a little cushion for a niece, whose name I stitched on the border (Stella).

One thing I don’t mind about visiting Mum is the opportunity to pop into her LQS, In Stitches. They have shifted premises since I was last there, and have more room for fabric! The staff are very friendly, and they try to keep prices down, since many of the local quilters are apparently retired, and so, on limited incomes.

Since Stella is only two, bunnies seemed a good idea for the cushion back.
Since Stella is only two, bunnies seemed a good idea for the cushion back.

I bought some bunny fabric for the cushion back, and some samples they had acquired from their local fabric rep, who had left the business. I now have some Alison Glass Handcrafted and Downton Abbey Egyptian samples, just big enough for some lap quilts, or something scrappy.

Alison Glass fabrics. I have been waiting for these to reach NZ!
Alison Glass fabrics. I have been waiting for these to reach NZ!

So, where does the kelpie come in?

22281We walked my sisters dogs while she was out of town, a lovely huntaway/collie cross, and a newly acquired kelpie. My sister was in a bit of a flap over the kelpie. Having only arrived the preceding weekend (from my Father’s farm), the kelpie had staked a claim to the house, the people and the food supply.

Given that the other dog had been a dearly loved fur-baby for 9 years, this meant the kelpie needed to be re-homed. The Hubbie quite liked her, but I was reluctant and sort of concentrating on nursing the Mother back to health. Our last dog (an Alsatian) had a few issues, due to being a breeding animal for a puppy farm. As a result, I am a bit reluctant to take on other people’s problem animals now. Luckily for me, the kelpie found a home with an agility expert, and all was well for two or three days. But she staked a claim as boss of that household too, and was shipped back to my sister…..who panicked and rang us, pleading….

After much discussion, we decided to put it to a family vote. In her favour are our rapidly expanding waistlines. Some people don’t mind coasting into middle-age carrying a little extra baggage around the middle, simply buying a bigger belt occasionally. This is the approach we have taken till now. Denial is a powerful weapon in the war on obesity. With a family history of diabetes and stroke, this is not a good long-term option, and we have reasoned that owning an active dog will force us into the activity we are currently avoiding.

On the downside, kelpies are active animals, escape artists, and get bored easily, in which case they can cause trouble!

After much discussion, we decided to adopt the dog. So, this weekend will consist of a drive back to Taranaki, a brief trip around a few gardens in the Taranaki Rhododendron Fringe Festival, and then a long trip home. We have made up a kennel, bought a doggie seat belt, and argued over a name (Miko).

Of course this means we will be away from home during the Rugby World Cup Final (NZ vs Australia), but I suspect it is being played on free-to-air tv, so if we decide to test our nerves, we can still watch it live. The last final four years ago almost ended in heart attacks, so this one might just be listened to on the radio instead.

Meanwhile, I am now a week behind in the 1930’s Farmers Wife QAL, and have three blocks to catch up on.FarmersWife1930sBanner-200px

I am also planning to finish quilting my Mothers Christmas quilt, and bind another small quilt I finished quilting while looking after Mum. While trying not to fret over the dog’s arrival.

linking up to WIP Wednesdays.

Applique for cheats

I have just finished my first hand appliquéd quilt…without doing a stitch of appliqué. Clever me!P1070512A few months back, a trip to the Arts Recycling Centre coincided with a delivery of donated quilt materials. The delivery resulted from the clean-out of the local Quilt Guild’s back room, and a decision to get rid of “old-fashioned” donated blocks.

Not knowing this, I gathered up the quilt blocks from the ARC and ran back to our Guild, announcing I had intercepted a whole lot of blocks, and could we use them at our upcoming charity quilt event. P1070511After the committee member had a good laugh, I got to actually keep the blocks and fabric I had intercepted. All for the princely sum of $4.10.

P1060654
Quilt #1 from the ARC fabrics and blocks.

This little quilt is the fourth block I have re-purposed from the dozen or so blocks I intercepted, the others being made into cushions and a quilt.

I surrounded the block with a selection of the 2 1/2 inch squares I had cut months ago from the intercepted fabric. I spent several weeks washing, ironing, and cutting, to transform the pile of dusty scraps to fabric squares of a useable size. Given a charm pack is $25 at my LQS, it seemed worth the effort to make my own charm squares. After several weeks of hard labour, $25 didn’t seem such a bad investment after all!

Stash enhancement by adopting unwanted fabric, especially browns, is a public service to the quilting community.
Stash enhancement by adopting unwanted fabric, especially browns, is a public service to the quilting community.

I used a Centennial Solid I purchased from Hancocks of Paducah for the border of the quilt. Brown is not usually my favourite colour, but this one is the shade of rich, dark chocolate. I am on a chocolate fast, so anything chocolate is looking good at the moment.P1070515

I also used an extra puffy polyester batting for the first time, since I imagined this as a baby play mat. I started some hand stitching around the main appliqué, but the batting was simply too thick, so switched to machine quilting using my walking foot. While my free-motion foot has now come out of it’s wrapper, we are still not well acquainted.

P1070517
Bit hard to see the stitching since it’s raining. That or I did a magnificent job of thread matching!

I kept the quilting to a minimum, since I want the quilt to stay bouncy and soft.  I stitched around some of the main components, and the inside of the leaves. P1070520The extra thick batting made putting on a binding a little more difficult, and one corner is a complete train-wreck, but babies aren’t usually too fussy about these things. The quilt ended up 36 x 28 inches in size, hopefully big enough for a newborn to play on, if not a bigger baby.

P1070509

This quilt is off with last weeks effort to a local charity, if they want it. I haven’t actually approached them yet. In the meantime I shall enjoy my garden and plot my next finish.

Linking up eventually with Scraptastic Tuesday,  WIP Wednesday, and Lets Bee Social.

1930’s sort of on schedule

FarmersWife1930sBanner-200pxOne week into the QAL and I was behind already. The good news is that today is Bathurst Day, i.e the day the Hubbie stops and watches cars go round and round and round…for 1000km of racing.

Given his temporary enrapture with motor racing, I have caught up. So, here are the next two blocks Betty and Caroline, plus an experimental Betty. It’s amazing what a shot of pink does! I think I’d better get back to blue and green for the next few blocks, since I want this quilt to be restful.P1070508

Have a good weekend.

Fast food finish

In the spirit of continuing from where I left off yesterday, today saw me pulling out all the stops this morning to finish my happy scrappy quilt.P1070489

The tutorial is quite complicated, but I shall summarise as simply as I can.

First, make a Postage Stamp Quilt using the tutorial by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts.

The Postage Stamp Quilt
The Postage Stamp Quilt

Next, realise your 2×7 inch strips are doing a “Fishes and Loaves” number on you, and make two Coin Quilts form the “leftover” strips.IMG_0002

Lastly, in sheer desperation to be rid of the strips which have hanging around for over a year, sew all the remaining strips together to make a quilt top. Do not add borders or strips between the rows, or you will still not be rid of the strips.P1070491

The last step is to find someone willing to take the resulting, rather chaotic mess, off your hands. I will deliver this one to it’s new home next week.

I have just a handful of strips left, thankfully not enough to make anything else. To make sure the strips don’t continue multiplying, I shall donate them to the Arts Recycling Centre. They can continue multiplying in someone else’s scrap box!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Link a Finish Friday.

Fast food quilting

I’ve been craving some fast finishes lately. It’s partly a reaction to having a number of long-term quilts on the boil, and partly just post-holiday blues I suspect. It’s always hard to return to grey, cold days, after a taste of the sun and warmth on your skin. It’s also hard to return to budgeting and making pennies meet, after the fun of spending freely on holiday (five quilt shops in 6 days!!!). Of seeing the same four walls, after taking in new vistas every day.

Fireworks over the Brisbane River on our last night on holiday.
Fireworks over the Brisbane River on our last night on holiday.

It took my husband a week to settle back into work, but it’s taking me a bit longer.

I tried to move the purple quilt along, sewing a backing and basting it all together, but that wasn’t enough to bust me out of the quilting doldrums.P1070265

Next I took a piece of “cheater fabric” and attached some borders top and bottom, basted it together as well. I will gift this one as a lap quilt for my Mother for Christmas I suspect. But this still wasn’t enough, I needed more.

The cheater fabric, designer unknown.
The cheater fabric, designer unknown.
The backing fabric. I'm using up some precious fabrics here, so I must be quite fond of my Mum.
The backing fabric. I’m using up some precious fabrics here, so I must be quite fond of my Mum.

As a last resort I found my pile of 2 x 7 inch strips left over from the postage stamp quilt. I sewed them randomly into pairs, fours, eights and so on. From there into strips, then a quick quilt top. Daughter #2 has labelled it uncomfortably close to polar bear vomit, i.e. too garish, uncomfortable, cheap and chaotic. Sort of like junk food. Quick to make, but not comforting or nourishing for the soul.

A happy scrappy quilt.
A happy scrappy quilt.

I might make one more really quick quilt this week, using some fat quarters I got today from Spotlight. At four for $10, it seemed a good opportunity to get enough to make a babies floor mat. Not that anyone I know is pregnant yet!

Cute, unisex baby fabrics for a play quilt.
Cute, unisex baby fabrics for a play quilt.

I’m not sure how to get out of this funk, maybe I need another hobby, or another holiday. I wonder if I could hitch-hike my way to the International Quilt Festival, I know AirNZ flies directly to Houston now….anybody have room in a suitcase?

Linking up with lee at Freshly Pieced.

An unexpected change of plans

I had it all planned, my first QAL. Instead of starting and completing the quilt 6 months after the QAL ended, I was committed to participating in a timely manner.The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt - jacket art

My plans lasted the period from when I discovered the QAL, blogged my intention to join…..to when I left for overseas. At this point I fell behind, since I was sans sewing machine and fabric. So, I failed my first QAL, pretty much right from the get-go.

What’s a girl to do but pick herself up, dust herself off, and change her plans.

So, I have joined the second version of the 1930’s Farmers Wife QAL, hosted by Gnome Angel.

FarmersWife1930sBanner-200px

My aim with this quilt is to make sufficient blocks for a cot or small quilt, in a mixture of old-fashioned florals with a definite feminine vibe. I’m probably not going to complete all the blocks, and may make some of my favourites twice.

I’ve collected together a mix of fabrics including some vintage Cranston Printworks scraps from a vintage fabric sale held last year, some small florals I won early this year, and some 1930’s reproduction fabrics from Moreland’s Fabric that I picked up for a song.

This week’s three blocks were pretty simple to make, requiring only a little time with a rotary cutter and sewing machine.

First up was Becky…IMG_0192

Then Bonnie…IMG_0194

And finally Aunt.IMG_0189

I was tempted to stick with a more limited palette in the blues and greens, but I threw some pink in the Queen block. The idea after all is to produce something with a scrappy, yet restful vibe. Some yellow will join the mix, but I’ll stay away from purples and oranges. Ideally this would be the first quilt for a niece, but I’m just waiting for my siblings to decide to present me with one. I’m one of seven children, so the odds are pretty good for another niece eventually.IMG_0197

The trip to Brisbane for our anniversary went well. Quilt shops were visited, as was IKEA (a big deal in a country with no IKEA). I even came  back with some IKEA Numbers fabric to back a quilt. It ended with a spectacular fireworks display on the Brisbane River on our last night, unfortunately the photos don’t do it justice. Near a hundred photos, and I mistimed all of them with the fireworks. Go figure!

Hope your weekend is going well. Apparently we will be experiencing gale force winds tomorrow, so kite flying sounds like a good option.