Friday, 6 December 2019

Bushfire awakening

In my last post I talked about my visit to Braidwood to pick up a raffle quilt that I had won and where I spent a wonderful couple of hours visiting with the ladies of Braidwood Quilters.

My drive out to Braidwood almost didn’t happen because of a large bushfire in Nelligen.  While I visited Braidwood we talked about the terrible drought afflicting New South Wales.  One of the ladies commented that visitors to the Exhibition were lower than normal because farmers are doing it hard at the moment and there is less money to spend.  A dry State means lots of fuel for fires.

I managed to get up Kings Highway which was thick with smoke from the bushfire and made it to Braidwood.  However, since then a new bushfire just outside Braidwood has spread and the Kings Highway is often closed.  It is a tragedy and very distressing to think of the farmers and other people living in the region who have lost property.

Here in Rosedale we are getting a lot of smoke, but so far, no fires.  The nearest bushfire is about 40km away from us.  But a 30km firefront can chew up 40km very quickly.  We keep up to date with the Rural Fire Service to make sure we are aware of anything getting closer to us.

Our fire plan is to leave sooner rather than later.  Bags are packed, dog leads and food are in the car, cars are parked in the driveway in the direction we need to take off in, and we have important documents backed up on the laptop.  

Lives are more important than property.

Baby quilt in the making

Browsing the Internet I came across an inspirational post from Allison at New Every Morning Patchwork and Quilting.  She blogged about a baby quilt she had made on commission for a friend.

I really like the snowball block and have started to make my own version.  The background fabric is proving challenging.  I don’t know where I got it, and I won’t have enough for the whole quilt, but I don’t intend tracking any of it down.  It frays terribly. So my blocks will have scrappy backgrounds of grey on white.
Not perfect … but good enough for me!

I don’t know what I will alternate the block with – hearts maybe?  I’m not sure if the new baby will be a boy or a girl, so I am just going with an all-over colour palette.

It’s keeping me away from hand sewing for a while and I hope the quilt will be put to good use next year!

While sewing, and writing, I’m thinking of all those caught up in the bushfires, especially the ladies in Braidwood.


Thursday, 28 November 2019


My Red Centre blocks: tinkering with the layout

It's been a lucky week.

First, I finally managed to break back into my blog after six months of trying to get Google to recognise who I am.  I have no idea how it worked after months of trying old passwords, creating new passwords, new profiles, etc, and I’m happy to be back.

Second, I went to a small country town called Braidwood in New South Wales for their annual ‘Airing of the Quilts’.  Amazingly, I won the Raffle Quilt – the second quilt I’ve won this year.  See my last post about the Berry Quilt.  I could hardly believe it.

Third, when I went to pick up the quilt I met a wonderful group of ladies from Braidwood Quilters, shared a cuppa and a gorgeous chocolate brownie with them, and got to discuss a couple of issues I have with my hexagon quilt with two very talented hand quilters.

But before I pass on their tips, here is the quilt I won. 

Braidwood Quilters Raffle Quilt celebrating 25 years of the Airing of the Quilts 2019

The centre applique was donated to the group several years ago, and when the ladies were discussing ideas for the raffle quilt, someone suggested using the applique block.  After tracking down the donor, who agreed to its use in the raffle quilt, the group got together and designed the rest.  This beautiful medallion quilt was pieced by one group member and quilted by another.  I have an invitation to go back to meetings any time (Braidwood is an hour's drive away from me) and I fully intend to do so.  

I love the antique look and style of my quilt.  It’s not something I would make myself which makes it all the more desirable because it is so different. It takes pride of place on the back of the sofa in my small guest apartment.  Now others can enjoy it too.

The Braidwood exhibition was wonderful and demonstrated a wide range of quilting styles.  Once again I was astounded, and mildly jealous, of the talent and flair displayed by so many people.   I always come away from these events full of ideas and wondering how I might fit in new projects!

The local market swelled with a few retailers selling fabric and notions.  I came away with a few fat quarters for the Giant Hexagon quilt. 

Hexie dilemma

I came across a pattern for this vintage hexagon quilt in a 2010 issue of Australian Patchwork and Quilting (Vol 18 No 9).  This is a vintage quilt circa 1950.  I've been tinkering with the layout of my own blocks (above) to recreate this look.

A vintage hexie quilt circa 1950.  I love the layout.

I’m fascinated with the illusion of tumbling blocks, stars, triangles and zig-zag ribbons.  So, I’ve decided to abandon my original idea to join the blocks with red connectors.  I’ve been going off that idea for some time now because I think the red dominates my blocks too much.

But I’m not fond of white for the connectors.  The main reason is that I dislike seeing the seams on the underside of white blocks.  The other reason is that I’m a bit messy with cutting the hexagons out and I really can’t bear the thought of seeing uneven seams on the underside!

The ladies in Braidwood suggested a good quality cream quilters muslin for the connectors and red for the diamonds. 

We also discussed whether or not I should hand quilt it once the top is finished. The Braidwood ladies advised that I should consider it. One lady commented that one of the judges for the Braidwood Exhibition liked to see that hand pieced quilts were also hand quilted to carry through the hand made theme.  I like that philosophy.

So, there are many more months of work ahead.  I have 5 full blocks, 6 half blocks, and 4 quarter blocks to go before I start on the 1,219 hexagon connectors and 644 diamonds!

Thanks to Wendy at Wendy’s Quilts and More for advising me to keep blocks that are double-ups, or which didn’t quite turn out how I wanted them to.  They will be used as fill-in blocks.  

I have two of these that will be perfect to make two half blocks.  That will cut down sewing time a bit.  However, much as I want this finished, I am conscious of making the quilt the best I can make it, and not settling for just getting it done.


Saturday, 18 May 2019

Berry lucky me!

My friend Belinda and I went on another road trip to Berry in New South Wales this month.  This time we went to the RedBerry Quilters Quilt Show which was held in the historic Berry School of Arts. 

I’d say that around 50 quilts were on display (though I didn’t count them) with a diverse range of quilting styles – from traditional, to modern, to art quilts – and I came away with quite a few ideas.  As if I didn’t have enough already! But it’s always good to wonder at the imagination of others, and to see the finished work.

I asked permission to take a few photos of quilts that inspired me so that I could use them as a reference point, and I would have liked to have blogged about them and why they inspired me.  But, alas, I forgot to photograph the names of the quilters and I don’t feel I should publish pictures without acknowledging them.

Except I did record the name of this wonderful quilt and its maker. 

Flora Australia by Denise Griffiths is a stunning celebration of Australian wildflowers that she designed and sewed.  Denise teaches her wildflower applique at Berry Quilt & Co and I plan on signing up for some workshops soon.

There were half a dozen trade stalls at the show (remember this is a small regional show) and I came away with some booty.

You might remember that I am making a giant hexagon quilt which requires 192 hand-pieced pyramids.  I’ve used up all suitable scraps for the pyramids and I was on the hunt for charm squares, as once again, I want to use as many different fabrics as possible. However, I found it very difficult to find 5 inch charm squares (or indeed any size charm squares that weren’t modern fabrics which is not what I am looking for at all).  Local patchwork shops don’t stock 5 inch squares, and in any case, as the packs usually promote a new fabric line, they often contain two or more of the same fabric.

Imagine my glee at finding a pack of 100 different fabrics, which I brought home only to find that they are 4.5 inches and are too small!  

Sheesh – more scraps I don’t need.

But the best booty of all is this.  

The quilt is stitched by RedBerry Quilters member Carolyn Collins and is professionally quilted by Carol Tabone.
I bought three raffle tickets for $5.00, and much to my amazement I got a phone call from the President of RedBerry Quilters to tell me that I had won the Raffle Quilt!

I am over the moon because I’ve never won a raffle prize this special before, and the quilt is not one that I would sew myself, so I am doubly pleased at the different style.  The applique and quilting are gorgeous.  This will hang in my hallway.

I am berry lucky!

And I’ve started to sew my Pretty Little Pots.

Linking up with Wendy's Quilts and More Peacock Party.


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Four day quilt bliss ... day 2

I hate to admit this, but against my better judgement (what’s that to a quilter I ask myself) I started another project before I’ve even begun the flower pots.

This brings my current projects up to five.  I say current, as there are a few UFOs in boxes that are haunting me.  I’ll need to get to them some time I suppose, as I hate waste, but sometimes it’s hard to bring the original enthusiasm back to the job!

So, staying focussed on the current projects, I notice that in addition to never having had that many going at the one time before, three of the projects are hand-sewing.

This tells me that I just don’t have enough time to get to the machine during the day.  I’ll have to figure out a way to adjust that. I’m not sure how other quilters manage it. Maybe they are just more dedicated or more ruthless about getting distracted?

The good news is that Winter is on the way, and that does give me more time in the house.

Giant hexagon 

What did I start, against my better judgement?

The colours look a bit washed out here - that's my camera skills I'm afraid. The pyramids sew up quickly!
I came across a hexagon (sigh) pattern in an old Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine back in January.  I don’t like the fabrics in the original quilt, but I’m intrigued by the concept of making one large hexagon as the centrepiece, and then, using hand-pieced pyramids, creating one giant patchworked hexagon for the six sides of the centrepiece.  The borders will be machine-pieced.

The original quilt uses 5-inch charm squares to cut the pyramids from.  I don’t have any of those and am busy working my way through scraps.  My only rule is to use flowered fabrics in the pyramids, so I may have to purchase some fabrics some time down the line.

Scrap  vortex

Today I finished the first ‘panel’ (which can be any size) of my scrap vortex quilt.  Any size scrap can be used, and some of mine are only 1.5 inches,  while others are much larger.  I’ve also sewn a couple of orphan blocks into this one which were left overs, or ‘failures’, from other projects.
There are all sorts here - Kaffe Fasset, animal prints, novelty prints, florals, polka dots, geometric patterns, and some vintage fabrics whose origins are a mystery.  Some fabrics bring fond memories of other quilts.  Some fabrics will be finding a new home after this as I am heartily tired of them!
The idea behind this quilt is to just get to the sewing machine when I can, and sew scraps together, a la Crazy Mom, until I have enough panels to sew together into a lap or throw that can just be tossed around the house or beach without being too precious about who’s using it – i.e. husband, dogs, visiting friend’s grandchildren, etc.

Now that I’m creating Indigenous fabric scraps as well as more modern scraps from the sort-of-modern quilt, I need to make sure that I mix them up otherwise I will end up with obvious panels of fabric sewn together.  I’m sewing the scraps together fairly mindlessly as I don’t want to end up dithering over fabric too much. 

Sometimes I think things can be overthunk! 

I hope that statement doesn't come back to haunt me at the end of this project.

The  sort-of-modern quilt 

The sort-of-modern quilt is already haunting me.  I’m not nearly as motivated as I was when I first started this, and I don’t understand why.  
Four blocks of each fabric, interspersed with a connecting background fabric, make up the quilt. 
Why has the excitement dwindled? Is it because I’m questioning my choice for the background fabric? That aqua polka dot was expensive, and I’ve already used it in the blocks.  Maybe I should think about making the connecting blocks in a solid aqua?

These blocks are the reverse of the ones above.  I've done 64 blocks and I need 17 more.  Each fabric is different.
Hhhhmmm.  Something to mull over.  It’s far too early to relegate this quilt to one of the UFO boxes on the basis that it is not worth the effort to complete just because I can’t quite capture my original excitement for it.

Get yourself in hand girl!


Dave, the handyman, stopped by.  He reckons he can fix the kitchenette cupboard for a couple of hundred dollars, as he will need to remove the bench top, pull it out, make sure there is no mould behind the cupboard, and then put in a new backboard before putting it all together again.  I'm waiting for the paper quote with fingers crossed.

And I'll take the opportunity to paint the cupboard doors while the cupboard is in pieces - another project waiting in the wings.


The dogs, missing my husband, are on super-alert at the moment. They are being driven mad by the possums that are chowing down on the Feijoa which is now fruiting just outside the pergola.  I tried a couple of the fruits myself today.  They have a sort of strawberry taste, quite delicious.  My tree is small and I'm not sure what variety it is.  I guess the possums will have most of them.

The Lilly Pilly hedge will soon have ripe berries.  I've decided to try and make Lilly Pilly gin this year!


Monday, 1 April 2019

Four day quilt bliss ... day 1

I can’t believe it.  I didn’t sew a single stitch today.  

First off, as we let the dogs out for their morning ablutions, the eldest and silliest (Teddy) took off through the gap in the fence where the plumbers are installing the new rain tank.  My husband ran out after her, in his pyjamas, and managed to catch up with her half way to the highway.  I was following in my ratty dressing gown and caught up with both of them on their way back to the house.

That put paid to getting any breakfast together before showering and leaving for the airport at the planned time.

We got to the airport only to discover that the flight was going to be delayed for two hours.  Flight delays are common, according to the travel agent who is arranging my trip to Hawaii and California later this year.  So much so that she recommends flying to Sydney the day before any connecting flights. 

I was disbelieving.  The Eurobodalla Shire has a growing population and real estate agents espouse the proximity of a local airport to new buyers who may want to commute to Sydney and Melbourne on a regular basis.  It’s hardly a great sales pitch if, in fact, you have fly up the day before your business meeting is actually taking place!

Plus, for me, it means overnighting in Sydney which adds considerably to cost which I am keen to rein in. I may be getting the dreaded coach instead.

Anyway, this morning we asked the people at the airport to take my husband’s mobile number to phone him closer to the time of departure so that we could pop into Moruya for coffee and breakfast instead of waiting in the tiny airport lounge.  I had planned to just drop him off, kiss him goodbye, and hot foot it to tennis before coming home to sew.

He took off … eventually.  I missed tennis and dropped in to see a friend before getting a few groceries and a bottle of wine to celebrate four days of sewing, and then headed home.

I’d left the lower back door open to let the plumbers use the downstairs bathroom, so I came in that way and noticed a musty smell.

This is what I found when I opened the cupboard in the kitchenette.

It seems we have had a slow leak in copper piping behind this wall that actually leads to the bathroom on the ground floor.  Luckily the plumbers managed to locate the leak in a cupboard above that.  

They’ve repaired it and ripped out that cupboard lining to get to it. This will need to be relined.

Now I will have to rip the kitchenette cupboard lining out and somehow figure out a way to put a new back in without removing the entire cupboard and bench top. Mice and rats arrive with the Autumn looking for somewhere warm to nest, so I have to replace that backboard in case they find their way into the downstairs unit via the cupboard. With other house renovations going on we simply can’t afford to put a new kitchen unit in.  We know a local handyman and I will give him a call later to see what he can come up with.


It was such a lovely Autumn day that I decided to tackle the enormous dogwood rose growing in the small backyard and prune a large hibiscus that’s blocking access to the gate.

The thorns on the dogwood are wicked, and despite wearing leather gloves, I’ve got several cuts and scratches. I even got one in my head and one thorn managed to work its way under a fingernail.  Ouch!  I’m hoping that I haven’t cut the rose back too far.

The hibiscus had a big haircut.  Unfortunately, I’m removing a fair few blooms, which don’t last long in a vase of water sadly, but I’m tired of fighting my way past the shrub.  Last year this particular shrub suffered a lot with hibiscus beetle and many of the buds were munched off before they flowered.  It’s been lovely to see it flowering this year.

Next gardening job was weeding. If you’re wondering why I’m out in the garden instead of sitting at the sewing machine (the original plan) its because we have had quite a bit of rain and weeding is much easier in wet soil. And this week is garden waste day so I can get rid of all the pruning as well as the weeds.  (The next thing on my wish list is a mulcher.  We missed out on a second-hand one recently, but I think it was too small for our needs).

After all that, and a quick vacuum and sweep so that I can actually sit down at the sewing machine without a trace of guilt tomorrow, I am relaxing with that glass of wine watching My Kitchen Rules, and I'm surrounded by dogs who are missing their favourite person (my husband).

Me too.  He's enjoying his glass of wine on the shores of Sydney harbour, and I'm not the least bit envious!


Bushfire awakening

In my last post I talked about my visit to Braidwood to pick up a raffle quilt that I had won and where I spent a wonderful couple of h...