Saturday, February 28, 2009

Koala Quilt Give- away!

Here is my latest finish, a UFO from a year or so back. I began it for a class then changed my mind short of the border on this little quilt, & used something else instead. I think that it has turned out to be a darling wall hanging for a Koala lover!
I designed & quilted it with 100% cotton fabric & batting, it measures 22" square & has a rod pocket on the back for hanging.
I had sort of forgotten about it but pulled it out in view of the tragic fires in Australia & decided to finish it & offer as a gift on my blog to draw attention to the plight of the victims & survivors both human & animal.
At the top of the sidebar you will find a list of websites with more details of the damage from this disaster & the many ways in which any of us from anyplace in the world can offer help. There are lots more organizations & individuals that have set up ways to help if you want to do more internet searching, but I wanted to put together a selection of sites that make it easy for everyone to find one that appeals to them.
The Australian Red Cross & Australian Salvation Army are two of the main volunteer organizations helping out.

As with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the need for assistance will linger for years & there is much we can do from donating supplies[especially for locals in Australia] to contributing money, or items for auction to raise money, as on eBay & Etsy. If you purchase from one of these listed vendors their profits or a percentage there of go to the Australian Bushfire Appeals.

210 people are so far confirmed dead and 37 still missing as workers continue to search the ruins.
Estimates of the animal carnage range between one & two million.
Three weeks later more fires continue to burn & new ones break out, the situation is still desperate as thousands of fire fighters from Australia & New Zealand battle to prevent another round of firestorms.

If you would like to be in the running to receive this little quilt, just leave me a contact link under comments, either your blog or an email where I can reach you. Don't forget because I can't find you if I don't know where you are!
I'm going to leave the offer open from today, February 28th. through 14th.March to give everyone a chance to hear about it and then I will mail this quilt to the one whose name my DH will draw on March 15th. [the Ides Of March] no matter where in the world you live!
Thank you for taking the time to read, I hope that you have learned something new today!

Friday, February 27, 2009

QOV #3

Here is the final QOV for the week. I actually had it off the LA Thursday afternoon but didn't get around to taking a photo until Friday. I struggled with the thread breaking even though it was the exact same stuff I had used on the previous quilt just a different color. I changed the needle & fussed with the thread path & finally got it to run better but I had to slow down quite a bit from my usual "pedal to the metal"!
The A-1 machine adapts to most threads if you make a few adjustments for the difference in weight & viscosity, I haven't found one I cannot use though I have to slow waaaay down if I use BL in the top.
I was playing around with a freehand variation I had in mind for a change of pace-I am not wild about how it came out but perhaps I need to play around with it some more & tweak it before I reject it absolutely! I think this quilt would have done well with the geometric design I quilted on the last two but I was burned out after two in a row, going through the same motions- I get bored very easily!

Then I quilted a border for a darling little UFO wall hanging that I am planning to give away here on the blog, but more about that in the next day or so. I have finished said wall hanging & it is ready for display.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday

A Silver Tradition.
Here it is VTT again, so check out Suzanne's blog for all the other participants & their Vintage Thingies collections!
This week I have three generations of tradition to show, things that are now out of favor in most places, or at least out of date!

Here is my Grandmother's "cruet set" that she had as a young bride in the early 1900's & I remember every meal in her home it sat on the table with salt, pepper, mustard, oil, vinegar etc.
No one else wanted it so.... you guessed it, I was happy to have it & have shlepped it around the world with me for 40 years beginning in Australia! It holds about a hundred years of history & oh the family meals & fun & all the rest that it survived through their 9 children, & about 20 grandchildren.

This is my parents Silver Wedding Anniversary teaset, February 1967.
Again, no one wanted it so I own it to pass on to my sons.
My oldest son was the only one of our children present at this event, he was only 8 weeks old but perhaps he will want to have it.

This is my own silver teapot & creamer, I am not sure now what happened to the sugar bowl or if I ever had one! What you see was a wedding gift from college friends.
As a young bride it was considered only proper to have a silver tea set to serve morning & afternoon teas, along with the required scones, cucumber sandwiches & pikelets etc, [pikelets are really mini pancakes served at room temperature with buttter or clotted cream & jam.]  I have quite a collection of bone china cup, saucer & plate sets that were also requisite for a proper "tea", but those I will save for another VTT.
I do treasure all these things with their memories but if only I could find a way to prevent them from tarnishing- polishing silver, well, not my favorite thing!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

QOV #2 for the week

Here is the second QOV for the week, I start the third today.
Like the first one I quilted a freehand geometric design again, it just seemed to ask for it & the piecing pattern was the perfect template so it went fast & easy- Meredith's tops are always so nicely pieced.I have no idea what I will do with the third one, probably not until it is pinned on & ready to go this afternoon!

Bath day-for the dogs!

This week I am puppy sitting for DS#1 & DIL while they are cruising, they have entrusted me with the care & feeding of their two little Yorkies one of whom is on my lap at this moment. They're about 5 & 6 lbs. Jake is 5 yr's old & I call him the 5lb. Napoleon, because boy does he have a 'tude!
He looks sort of pathetic here, though doesn't he? But he is just a growly little fellow, he will come up to me all smiley & when I pick him up he'll begin to growl it's so pitiful coming from him that I have to laugh!

Abby is a little more mellow, she reminds me of a butterfly the way her ears go & all the hair hanging off them, very cute right & very feminine looking?
Button gets along great with them, she's very gentle as if she knows that they are fragile & they all play together well & they love the daily walks to the park & the freedom of our enclosed yard which they don't have at their own home because of all the wild critters that could carry them off!
On Sunday we put the little dogs in their crates before we took Andrew & Lana to the airport, then we went on to church & lunch. When we arrived home instead of effusively greeting us as she normally does, Button ran right up to Abby's crate & began scratching on the door for me to let her friend out. I thought that was so sweet of her to be worried about her buddies!

This morning I bathed all three & here they are all clean & fluffy & sweet smelling!
I know they all look as if they are related but they aren't. Button is an Australian Terrier, & at 13lbs. is about twice the size of these Yorkies . Her ears have not been stripped of hair as they would be for show- DH just likes it the way it is!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

An orange QOV

Here's the first of three QOV's from my QOV partner in CA. who loves batiks, I quilted it today with my new favorite free hand overall design, the Greek key sort of motif.

I have quite a few spools of Valdani variegated thread & one looked just right on this fabric so I decided to use it but I had a bit of a struggle getting the tension right. The thread doesn't come off the spool very smoothly so I tried a couple of different thread paths, a thread sock, liquid silicon & several bobbin tension adjustments before I found an acceptable combination. Valdani threads are very nice & I would like to put these to use but they seem to be a challenge for me to use on the longarm & I spent a long time today trial & error until I got it right. I find it very frustrating to be making thread adjustments when I could be quilting. I used the solid orange in the bobbin.
The backing was already pieced but it was just short of the needed size so I pulled out a yard from my stash that blended really well & sewed it on one side of the backing, that's another yard out of my stash!
I loaded a second QOV on the longarm tonight, hoping to get that quilted tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tennessee Waltz and a Vintage Missouri Daisy

The Tennessee Waltz quilt above belongs to a client & I quilted it earlier this week with leafy wreaths in the open areas & continuous quilting in the star blocks. It is a lovely quilt, makes my work a joy! I was pleased with the result and the quilt's owner was very happy & that's what counts!
The Missouri Daisy quilt below was a new one to me, but a bit of surfing around the 'net brought forth some good information. I found a couple of patterns for the block & even some quilts for sale. However I did not find this exact setting of the MD blocks with the larger open blocks & intersecting squares set on point, it appears to be rather an unusual setting. I had none of this info. when I first wrote this post so I am adding these new titbits as I discover them!
Most I saw were around the same size, this one is 63" x 77" quilted.
I loaded the daisy quilt top on the machine, knowing that it would present a few challenges as these vintage quilts always do. They sit in storage in various & sundry places, are toted around as the owners move, are often passed from hand to hand & generally suffer from aging 70 or 80 yrs.

This a photo before quilting so I will add the completed quilting pics. later today or tomorrow after I get it bound. The maker appears to have used various shades of neutrals in the 4 piece blocks & you can see there is also some age discolororation in places but a careful laundering may remove some of that. The original cutting & so the hand piecing are both a little irregular in places, back then the scissors weren't always very sharp, there were no nice templates like we have now, no rotary cutters etc & no daylight bulbs!
As you can see the petals are 3D, a more difficult technique for the piecer to have produced & according to one writer, only attempted by experienced quilters. It would also be much more difficult to sew by hand rather than machine, it must have been quite challenging & I would not want to have to do it that way myself.
The petals are gathered onto the adjoining pieces which are also for the most part gathered onto the center circles. Now I freely confess that I know little about this pattern so I don't know if the pieces surrounding the petals are meant to be gathered? Some of the patterns appear to be that way but the quilting shown for them is only outline. If anyone has personal experience with this pattern I would love to hear from you, because now I am quite curious!

The gathering was more generous in some blocks & other areas were fairly flat. That said it became impossible in some areas to avoid little tucks, though I spritzed the worriesome areas & applied the hairdryer [it can produce varying degrees of success in easing the fullness] then stippled around patting & manipulating the fullness to distribute it as best I could. I didn't want to apply any chemical products to the quilt such as starch so the water/ hairdryer trick was my only option to try & reduce tucks in the excess fabric. Fortunately the fabrics are busy little 30's prints & I am using an off- white thread-Signature Parchment- so the occasional little tucks are not very obvious.

Because of it's age a few minor repairs were necessary to seams & in a couple of areas where one part of the outside block didn't quite reach all the way to the edge.
I decided to quilt a leafy wreath in the larger open areas, it's a bit more forgiving than feathers & less formal & I like the way it helps to draw the eye around & gives overall gentle movement to the quilt. It's such a charming quilt & so unusual that it deserved something a bit different to set it off. Spending time on this old charmer has me quite besotted with the design so I am now searching for a top of my own to quilt-& keep!

Here the quilting shows up nicely on the back.
It's all bound, now I can mail it off to the owner who is no doubt anxious to see how Granny's quilt turned out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday

Postcards From The Past
It's VTT again so mosey on over to Suzanne's blog & you can follow the other VTT blog contributions.
Here are a few of the postcards my Grandad sent to Grandma during WW1. My sons have more & my Dad has more still of these.
Grandad was inducted into the Australian Army in 1915 [they had emigrated there from England in 1912] & shipped off to Egypt & then the foxholes of France.
He was a young man in his early twenties with a wife & two infant sons all of whom he missed terribly. I also have a small diary which my Grandma gave him before he left & his wallet & photos that he kept with him throughout his deployment.
He wrote poetry in the diary & some Arabic & French which would lead me to believe he was trying to learn a few words of these foreign languages, along with his duty postings & dates of shipping out, military movements etc. He also recorded names of fallen comrades & addresses so that he could visit their families when he returned to Australia.

To begin,here is a photo of Grandad in uniform......

Grandma & his two little sons.......

the two boys, my Dad on the right, uncle on left, my Grandma made all their beautiful clothing.
These are original photos, my Dad is now 98 yrs. old.......

some postcards........
the backs of those postcards......

"There's a girl I left behind me
The One the very Best,
Till I get back beside Her
I won't get any rest.
Two Darling Boys are with Her
Their Dad & Mother's joy,
Oh how I long to see them
No more to say Good Bye." Sgt. Frank Brooker, Aug.27th. 1916
Grandad's wallet & diary..........

his attempts at Arabic & French......
and the inscription from Grandma in the front of the diary.

A four generation photo of Gr.granny,Grandad,my Dad & me in 1943......

and one of Grandad, Dad, oldest son Andrew & me at our twins Baptism in 1968.

I love this collection of my family history & I enjoy browsing through these items from time to time.
Our oldest grandson [almost 14] recently studied WW1 at school & was fascinated to see his Great Great Grandad's military records & other documents & photos from that era. We documented 4 generations before him who have served their country in the military during wartime & peace, Gr.Gr Grandad, Australian Army,Gr. Grandad, Aus. Airforce, Grandfather[DH] US.Army, & his Dad our son, currently active duty US Army. He looked at me in awe & said " Grandmother, I am holding history in my hands, these are almost 100 years old, & no one else in my class has anything like this!" I was so happy to know how much it meant to him that these things have been preserved & to see how it actually brought history alive for him, that is SO valuable-what is it, "If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it"!
He took copies of several documents & photos to add to his report for school & was pleased to get top marks for it!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Baby Shower

Friday was devoted in greater part to prepping the dishes I needed to make for the baby shower.
I promised sausage rolls and Pavlovas as my contributions, both rather unfamiliar to most Americans but well known and loved by Aussies and New Zealanders alike.

In case I have made you curious - and perhaps hungry- I will attempt to explain!
The sausage rolls are fairly easy to make, especially taking advantage of purchased puff pastry and lean bulk Italian pork sausage combined with Italian turkey sausage with a small amount of Italian bread crumbs added to the mix.
This is the process in pictures........

roll out the dough and the sausage..........
roll into tubes and slice...........

then bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, illustrating just how simple they are and oh so yummy served with what we Antipodeans call "tomato sauce" [ketchup in the USA].
Where ever you go in Australia you will find them in somewhat varying sizes and flavors, this is my version which my family thinks is just as good as those found DownUnder!

Pavlova is a dessert that was created to honor the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during an Australasian tour in 1930's.
It is not quite so simple to produce though it is in fact egg whites [with a few additions] baked into a meringue style base. The preferred result is a lightly crisp exterior and an interior more the consistency of a mousse, not an easy combination to produce. My Aunt Marjorie was the queen of Pavlovas in our family, she seemed to manage to have them come out perfectly every time & if there were ever any less- than- perfect we never knew of it- Uncle Jim must have eaten them!
Growing up in Australia it was customary to have a special decorative ovenproof "Pavlova plate" on which to bake and serve the delicacy- this is the one my Mum gave me in 1965.

Below is a baked meringue base before the addition of the toppings, the picture came out a bit dark due to lack of flash!

The meringue is then covered generously with whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit, bananas, kiwi and strawberries and passionfruit poured over all. Unfortunately passionfruit are very rarely found in the USA , I usually just buy my passionfruit in cans on my visits DownUnder. I had none left and the Pavs were passionfruit-less but yummy nonetheless so on our next trip south of the equator in May you can be sure I will replenish my supplies of both passionfruit and Vegemite!
I know, I know Americans just don't get the whole Vegemite thing!

Here are the finished Pavs, decadent and delicious! And yes it's all gone!

So now that the baby shower is over it's quite obvious that baby Matthew will be the best dressed and best outfitted baby [not to mention most beautiful] around! He received a plethora of lovely gifts from his generous admirers and I can see from all the equipment apparently needed for a twenty first century baby that he will be taking over the entire home!
His baby swing, we were informed, can be connected to an iPod, oh my what next!
This is the special label made by my friend DeeGee for Baby Matthew's quilt and sent all the way from Texas!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday

Here it is Thursday again, and I have just a few things to show, photos I took last week. Then hop on over to Suzanne's blog and you can check out all the Vintage Thingie offerings.

First is this cool looking vase. It was my Mum's, she got it as a 21st. birthday present in 1939 & I always adored it so I am thrilled to have it.
It used to live on a hall table with fresh flowers in it, whatever was in the garden that week, all year round, my Mum could always find something from her garden to enliven her home. Whenever I would visit home there would always be something fresh from the garden in a vase in my bedroom, it was something Mum always did. I wish that I had told her I noticed these little kindnesses & that they were so meaningful to me-but she knows now!

This dear little plate one of a set of four, belonged to my Grandma, Dad's mother, and each of us girls, my sisters & SIL received one from my Mum. She always loved & treasured them so I treasure mine. I am guessing they are circa early 1900's.

This little shoe has been around since my very early years-it always stood on my dressing table as a child, I would keep my little treasures in it and now as an adult it is in the china cupboard. It's probably 60 yrs. old & I think my aunt gave it to me.

Finally this tiny Wedgwood cup & saucer-the cup is no more than 2" tall. I found it at a church rummage sale when I was 14, I think I paid around the equivalent of 25 cents for it.

Quaint little things with so many memories attached-I wonder, will anyone care about them after me?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Baby Matthew's quilt

I finished the binding last evening, & I'm relieved that I finished it before the hand surgery in case I am temporarily hand-icapped[pun intended,lol] by the operation later today. I can usually manage to sew anyway even with only one hand-it's pretty hard to keep me away from sewing & quilting I get so bored!

This is the fifth baby quilt already for 2009!
The quilting doesn't really show on the front, which is to be expected with those busy fabrics, but it's sort of a Greek key, square spiral thingie which I did freehand using white thread.
It measures 50"x60" so it's a nice size to stay in the crib, & now I plan to put together a smaller cuddle quilt from the left overs though I'll have to add some other fabrics to it. Perhaps a white on white- I have a beautiful gingko W onW that would work well, in fact the label is being made on a piece of that very fabric by kind offer of an online friend who digitizes on her embroidery machine.

This close up shows the quilting a little better. It went pretty fast & was quite fun to do- so much so that I was kind of disappointed when I got to the bottom of the quilt.

The backing is white dot minkee which quilted up like a dream & the batting is Dream Angel. The quilting really shows up here on the backing doesn't it & I love the way it looks- I think Madeleine will be pleased.
I only had two full motifs out of the left over fabric from the middle, so I had to piece two more for the corners. Once I finished the quilting I really had to search for the pieced blocks, they blend in so well that you can't see where I had to join them.
I didn't know if I'd like it but after it all came together I decided that it's an elegant baby quilt for a very special little fellow.