Saturday, 14 January 2017

New year, new goals, and new dreams

Welcome to another year. For me it will be a year full of new goals, new ideas, and new dreams.

Goodness me..... I cannot believe it was six months ago that I made my last blog entry! Sadly, both my blogs were neglected for the latter half of 2016. Somehow there seemed to be less hours in my days to achieve all the things I had planned and my list of priorities kept changing on a daily basis. So here we are planning for another year already.

What are your goals and dreams for 2017? Will you be stitching more? Travelling? Creating? Designing? Will you join a new group? Participate in a challenge? Commit to a BOM? Stitch for a charity? Try a new craft or technique? I would love to hear what my readers have planned for 2017 and maybe share in the progress of your goals for 2017.

Hopefully, I will be able to share my new goals and progress with you a little more frequently in 2017. But before I move onto my new goals for this year I thought it would be worth a little recap on my achievements for the latter part of 2016.

The OWO and I spent the majority of 2016 travelling around the country in our new A-van - in fact we were home for less than four months last year. Of course that had an impact on the number of projects I was able to complete throughout the year.
The year started with all good intentions, setting goals that seemed achievable at the time with the intention of completing some "projects-in-progress" (PiPs). Readers may recall that the OWO assisted setting my goals by drawing two numbers from a basket that represented craft drawers where the PiPs were stored, in their various stages of completion -- that dreaded Drawer 3, remember ? I certainly do!

I am pleased to report that the majority of those projects in DD3 were either completed or received some attention during the year. Drawer 6 contained blocks for a beautiful quilt and all those blocks are now complete and ready to be built into a quilt in 2017!  The two drawers are not empty perse, but progress was certainly made.

Maggie's First Dance BOM
In my last post I showcased a block from the online BOM, Maggies First Dance by Jacquelynne Steves that I started in July. Sadly I am still working on those blocks with an estimated finish for early February. It has now become a PiP for completion in 2017.

My first quilt for AHQ
The online BOM was not the only challenge I signed up for in July. I also joined the team at Aussie Hero Quilts and Laundry Bags, a not-for-profit group that makes quilts and laundry bags for our Defence personnel serving overseas. My first contribution was completed in August (photo below), which I was very proud of as I designed and machine quilted that quilt all by myself. I struggled a little, to say the least, to finish the quilt on my Brother domestic machine but I persevered and was very proud of the end result. I hope the recipient loves it as much as I do. I shall continue to contribute to this lovely group in 2017.

More travelling
At the end of September we were once again off and travelling, this time to Tasmania for ten weeks to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Plenty of time for hand stitching - or so I thought! I did get some embroidery done but nothing special. Unfortunately due to severe bad weather we decided to shorten our time in Tassie and returned home two weeks earlier than planned.
BONUS as far as my creative persona was concerned. Two reasons for that - more time to complete my Xmas gifts, but more excitingly, I could finally have my special anniversary/early Xmas present delivered and set up! Yay, hooray!

Home for two days and the lovely Marilyn from MK Sewable and her very helpful man arrived with my special package - a brand new HQ 'Sweet Sixteen' quilter.
Oh my, am I going to have fun with this little beauty - and just in time to finish a special Xmas present, Master Landon's quilt. Yep, more finished quilts will be leaving the 'Cave' in 2017.

There are still many, many PIPs in my 'Cave' but that will always be the story for this Creative Miss. Surely isn't that what retirement is all about - accepting new challenges to make life interesting?  So maybe if the OWO ever decides it's time to "retire" from travelling this vast and beautiful country, there will be more time for activity in the "Woman's Cave" -- I can always dream!
The first of many - I hope - on my new "play thing"
So here are some of my "finishes" for 2016. (in no particular order of completion or progress) There were many more made for Xmas gifts, but sadly no photos!

 .......... May there be many more challenges in 2017.......
'Love Letters' Quilt blocks now complete -
Drawer 6 item - one more block to go!

Framed embroidered owl for my
lovely friend Heather in Tasmania
Heather & Graeme
Another quilt -3 more appliqued
blocks completed in 2016

Variety of placemats, runners and
cushion covers were completed


Embroidery completed - what next??

Beading now complete -
just needs frame
"Miracles by Appointment"
Wallhanging - D3 item

This was a special table center - "An Aussie Christmas"
by Smee Designs - made for Miss Heidi in the UK

"Subversive Santa" by Smee Designs
I couldn't part with this one!

Completed quilt for Master Landon

One very happy recipient!
Do you think he liked his quilt?
Oh, I think so!!!
Until next time --  Hugs - and - Happy stitching!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Online BOM

Four blocks from 'Cosy Afternoon' BOM 2015
Many of my regular readers may recall that in August 2015 I blogged about an online BOM that I was taking part in -- 'Cosy Afternoon'. It was a delightful project created by +Jacquelynne Steves @ The Art of Home. The BOM only ran for six months so it was a "can-do" project for someone like me who always seems to be neck deep in projects! Because it was an online BOM when we were travelling away from home for long periods I could still receive the block and work on the project in my own timeframe.

Jacquelynne is offering another free online BOM and I have just completed Block 1 which was released on 6th June. This year's project is called "Maggie's First Dance ".

As with the previous BOM the Center of each block can be completed with appliqué, embroidery or just a feature fabric. I have again elected to embroider the centres, as I did with 'A Cosy Afternoon ' .

For me the hardest part of any new project is choosing the fabrics. I often think it takes me longer to decide on fabrics and colours than it takes me to make the project!! Perhaps it didn't take me quite so long this time as I was restricted by the fabric available for me to choose from-- remember we were still away from home when the first block was released in June and my "travelling " stash was somewhat smaller than my "at home" stash!!!!

However, I ended up with TWO colourway choices.
Colourway 2
Colourway 1

Some of these fabrics were in the 'bonus'  box of fabrics Miss Carmel was kind enough to give me in May, and some I purchased whilst on our travels. So what do you think about the choices? Might have to make TWO projects!!!!

I have actually completed TWO embroideries for Block 1. Why? Well, the first one I worked on white fabric  but when I placed it against the other fabrics I had chosen to complete the block I thought it looked too stark. So I started again and this time I used a cream background. Much happier with that!
Embroidery on white
Embroidery on cream

Cushion cover front
I used a few different embroidery stitches as I tend to get "bored" with just backstitch. The stitches I used included Portuguese knotted stem stitch on the petals; French knots and straight stitch for the centers; flystitch for the leaves; and raised outline stitch for the stems (this was a new stitch for me but easy and very relaxing to complete).

Time and effort was not wasted as the  offensive white block has been "recycled" into a dazzling cushion cover front.  Voila-- nothing wasted in this 'Woman's Cave'.

Here are the steps in making Block 1 and the finished Block.
Making the snowball block
Completed snowball block
Making the 1/4 square triangles
Joined 1/4 square elements

White centre trial - too stark
Cream centre trial - much better
It might not look much difference in the photos, but it was definitely TOOOOO white!

And the finished Block

If you like my version of Block 1, and you are interested in participating in this free online BOM, you can still join the group at this website--

Next post I'll bring you an update on my progress with those PiPs from DD3 and Drawer 6 as well as the additions to my Xmas gift box.

Until then --
Hugs - and - Happy stitching!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Back in the 'Real' World!

Travelling Box
Hello fellow crafters and blog followers. Wow! More than three months since my last post. Many of you will know that the OWO and I have been on a wonderful adventure with "Ada" our A-van. We have been exploring the far north region of our wonderful home State, Queensland, since the end of February. (You can follow our adventure on our travel blog - The Rambling Retirees ).

We are still not home as we are currently housesitting in Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast until 8th July. I have to admit it took about ten days for me to settle back into the 'real' world in a 'real' house after roaming the countryside in 'Ada'. But I am finally settled and appreciating the comforts and space of the beautiful home we are looking after.

Sooooooo ........ What has been accomplished with my stitching projects whilst travelling? You will recall from a previous post that I packed a small box with hand stitching projects including one or two from the Dreaded Drawer 3 list of UFOs (actually I prefer to call them PiPs).

When I sat down and looked at the projects I had managed to complete, I rather surprised myself (and the OWO!,).  The wall hanging, 'Miracles by Appointment ' -- that was a fun project -- was completed,

and I completed all the embroidered pieces for  the other 'wall-hanging', "Written in Thread" -- not sure what I am going to do with the latter as the individual pieces are not the same size as the original pattern! -- but it was an accomplishment anyway.
"Written in Thread" embroidered pieces
Both of those from DD3 project list. There has also been progress on the 'Love Letters' quilt from Drawer 6, with another block completed.  I also kept busy working on some of the cross-stitch PiPs that I packed in that purple box. Although not completed there has been progress! I'll include photos of these in another post next month when we get home.

Now some of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that the 'Miracles' wallhanging has been FULLY completed, with fabric sashings, backing, binding, and machine quilting. How you may ask, did I achieve that when we left home without my trusty Brother (machine that is)? Well, here's the story.

At the end of April, around ANZAC day, we travelled from Cloncurry to Townsville for our annual stopover at the Pera Court Hilton, before travelling onto Nairana for our Caretaking commitment. I look forward to this annual sojourn as I get 'girl time ' with my beautiful "sewing sister", Miss Carmel. We have a wonderful time - card making, stitching, shopping, chatting, and going to lunch-- leaving the 'boys' to their own devices.
"Stitching Sister", Miss Carmel
Girls Day Out
On day three of our visit Miss Carmel was kind enough to loan me her light weight Janome to work on a table topper using fabric that we had chosen together the day before. Over dinner that evening the conversation somehow revolved around our shared interests and how much time we spend stitching and crafting, and I made comment that a light weight machine would be a bonus to travel with. Next thing the OWO says, "Well, go buy one tomorrow before we leave for Nairana." Of course, I didn't believe he meant it, but the next morning he insisted Miss Carmel drive me to Lincraft to buy a machine! And so, I now own a lovely Toyota Quilter - light weight to travel with anytime with all the quilting attachments -- and a bargain to boot, as it was 50% off in the Lincraft sales! Isn't the OWO wonderful

As there is no radio, television, or internet at Nairana I usually spent my evenings, and 'rest' days, hand stitching, reading and writing. Bonus this year -- I had a new 'toy' to play with and At the end of the first week I had made some small items using some of the fat 1/4s purchased in Townsville.
A new scrappy block

Mug huggers and mug rug - no iron!
I was very happy with my machine, but I now had two problems.

1. No iron -- ever made blocks for a table runner or placemats omitting the pressing stage? Trust  me, finger pressing just doesn't cut the mustard!
2. There was now a fabric shortage -- never occurred to me that I would need more fabric for the month at Nairana. Nearest fabric shop? -- Clermont - 168 kms away!

Miss Carmel and the lovely Paddington Bear to the rescue! They had decided to make a short visit to Nairana and would not only bring us top up grocery supplies but if I sent a list with a working budget, Miss Carmel would bring me fabric and an iron to boot. Not only did she bring the required items but there was a bonus box of fabrics handed over from her own stash -- many pieces of which you can see in the finished items below.
An Australiana runner - maybe a Xmas gift?
Reverse Australiana runner
Red, white & black table runner

Reverse using scraps for RW&B
We had a fantastic three days together, stitching and chatting whilst the 'boys' went about Park duties during the day and I have to say it was a bit of a "downer" when they left.

I am very happy with my table runners that will be added to my Christmas gift box of goodies.

Before I close off my post I would like to show you a couple of photos of the little vest I made for our youngest grandson who turned one at the beginning of March. I used two different fabrics and the vest is completely reversible.
London front view
London view back
Back view 1
Front view 1

Next post I will have something different to show you. Until then --

Hugs - and - Happy stitching!