Sunday, October 4, 2015

On being an apron-wearer

I'm an old-fashioned apron-wearer! I have lots of aprons and I wear one just about every day when I am preparing meals. I'm a messy cook and so it's better for me to get a mess on my apron rather than my clothes! My very favourite apron is one in a pinafore style, which our daughter gave me many years ago. Unfortunately, it has reached its use-by-date. It is sitting in my sewing room waiting for me to cut out a pattern from it so I can make another one. It is such a great design because it covers the whole front of me but doesn't have a neck strap as I find them really uncomfortable.  I'm just waiting for a clean slate so that I can get to make a replica. I always think there is something very homely about wearing an apron. 

I've been thinking about Christmas and I definitely need an apron when I am doing Christmas baking! This is my "All the Trimmings" Apron. My favourite bit is the tree on the pocket made from Suffolk Puffs:

The Pattern is in Handmade Magazine Vol 34 No 2:

 I've gone back to red and green this year for all my Christmas designs. There is something just so right about that colour combination, isn't there, and it lends itself to choices other than the traditional shades. 

With Christmas approaching, I thought it was about time I put some of my newer designs in my Craftsy Store. The Ham bag pattern is now available. It's a great way to keep the Christmas ham fresh:

Here's some more red and green, but this is totally NOT Christmas! This is my "Hanging by a Thread" needle packet case which I showed you a few months ago when it was first published:

I've finally got round to making the pattern available here.

It makes so much sense to me to keep needles separated in their groups rather than trying to work out which is what when they are all stuck together in a needle-case. I guess that is because I treat needles like the specialised tools they are and I find using them for the purpose for which they are designed makes stitching so much easier.

 Now that my computer is all happy again, I've had a chance to begin catching up on some of my stitching. I have four or five projects on the go (What's new!) all at different stages of development. I'm a finisher, so I'm always focusing on the end product while I enjoy the journey.

Now I had better go and pop on the apron and make my husband some lunch!

Happy stitching!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Playing Leap Frog

 In line with one of my recent projects, I feel as if I've been playing Leap Frog over the last couple of weeks! I'll show you the project first before my tale of woe!

My clever grandson was showing me how he draws frogs, and I thought this one was so cute it deserved to be made into a wall-hanging:

The Leap Frog pattern is in Patchwork & Stitching Vol 16 No 12.

The computer problems that I talked about in this post went from bad to worse! There were many more problems for me to leap over! My computer eventually was delivered back, supposedly fixed, after a week in the workshop. After many hours of trying to reinstall all my files, programmes, drivers, fonts, printers etc I was having lots of problems. Eventually I worked out that two of the ports on the computer were no longer working, so it was back to the workshop. Yes, they had forgotten to install the correct drivers so that was another day without my computer while that was rectified.

A dear couple who knew of my woes, brought me these gorgeous irises to cheer me up:

But there were more troubles to leap over - the computer was still not working properly. It was so slow that it was absolutely painful. 

Then God sent me an angel. It was our grand-daughter's wedding last Saturday and so we had some of our lovely family with us, including our clever, patient IT expert son who lives 1700 kms away. God had it all worked out for me as our son and his wife had booked airfares to come a couple of days early to spend time with us before the wedding. He set to and patiently spent 10 hours correcting yet another major workshop error, sorting out all my problems and fixing the computer back to what it should be. (Reminder to self: Take computer to different workshop next time.) I am so happy to have it all working again!

We were almost doing some literal leap-frogging during all these traumas, as we had our driveway resurfaced. What was supposed to be a two day job dragged out to seven days because of rain so there was plenty of mud to jump over for a while!

Now on a happy note - the wedding of course was just beautiful:

It was the first of our 15 grand-children to be married, so very special:

It's been quite a round of celebrations for us lately, on top of the wedding we have attended a couple of birthday parties, have another invitation to attend tomorrow and we've had quite a few visitors. I am looking forward to some sort of normality again so I can start on projects that I have promised to editors!

Happy stitching!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 9

Need some encouragement in a time of difficulty? I have just the verse for you, 

"Don't quit in hard times" 
(Romans 12:12 The Message)

And wouldn't you know it, I had to prove it myself this week! The hard drive on my computer crashed - had a fatal heart attack. Very often in a crash like this, the technicians can rescue all the data and programmes and settings and drivers and fonts and everything else that lives there, but not on mine - it was terminal!

The computer has been at the workshop for most of the week and I'm still waiting anxiously for its return. Thankfully we have an old laptop so I've been able to read emails and look on the internet, but that's about its limit. What then could I do about Block 9 of the free Keys to Contentment quilt that I promised you? It was my first job on the list for last Wednesday but without my computer programmes, it was impossible. My reaction was to quit and give up!  But how could I do that, when I am giving you "Don't quit in hard times" to stitch!!!

I managed to download to the laptop the two programmes that I needed, found my backup files on the Cloud, loaded all the missing fonts, and got it all working enough to produce the file for you. So I've put into practice our verse and here it is - Block 9:

I love the shading on these flower sprays:

Of course, there is a key on the block, and yes, I do have a great sense of contentment that I was able to complete the task and not quit!

The pattern is available here for free in my Craftsy store, along with the other eight patterns in the set. Next month I will give you the instructions for putting it together as a quilt.

The bonus to not having a computer is that I drew up three new patterns and have already stitched and assembled one of them. I've been really dragging the chain with my designs lately. Inspiration has been there, but the "get-up-and-go" hasn't, so this week has been the motivation that I needed!

My week to come has a lot to look forward to - a birthday party, a wedding so lots of lovely time with our family; a visit from friends; and having my computer again, though I can't say I am eager for the job of getting it back together how I like it.

Happy stitching!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wildflower cottage

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about how I was addicted to cottages. You can see it here.  

The fact that I've used Cottages in my designs two or three times in recent months, probably means I'm still in love with them!

Wildflower Cottage is a large pincushion (7 inches), plenty big enough for lots of pins and needles:

Around our home, we see lots of birds sitting on roofs. Because we live near the sea, there are lots of large birds like ibis and herons and they seem to just love perching on our neighbours' roofs. Maybe they sit on ours too, but we can't see them when we're inside!!! Of course my cottage just had to have one on its roof:

I had fun with the felt flowers. They come alive with a bit of embroidery and a bead:

The pattern is in Patchwork & Stitching Magazine, Vol 16 No 11.

Another felt design I've been playing with is this cup and saucer pincushion:

It's back to the drawing board with this project as it is nothing like what I originally had in mind and I'm not at all happy with it. The concept was good but the execution just didn't cut it. One day I might get motivated to have another go.

Body and brain have been on a bit of a "Go-slow" strike lately and I was behind with my Craftsy block of the month quilt that I have been making. I finally faced the challenge of complex foundation piecing and got stuck into the two blocks for August. I can't say I enjoyed the process as it's so time-consuming cutting out all those little bits of fabrics in odd sizes. Then there was the usual unpicking and resewing so it took me about three hours to complete the block. I do, however, love the accuracy of this type of piecing and it's rewarding to have all the points so "pointy"!  

The second block only took me half the time so I learned from my mistakes!

Keep an eye out next week for the last block in the free Keys to Contentment quilt.  All the blocks are still available - go to my free patterns page for the download links.  

Meanwhile, happy stitching!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A stitcher's attempt at cardmaking

One of my friends is an absolutely brilliant card-maker. Her creations are amazing, so when I want a card for an extra special occasion, I commission her to produce one of her delightful masterpieces.  

As a stitcher, my attempts at card-making are pretty ordinary, but occasionally I have a go with some silk ribbon embroidery. I do it with the thought that the card can live on after the event and be a pretty picture to display, or even be placed in a small frame and bring ongoing enjoyment.

Recently, I made a set of three cards using the beautiful Kacoonda silk ribbon:

There's something lovely about hollyhocks:

Fuschias are one of my all-time favourite flowers. In our previous home, the climate was great for growing them and I had a number of beautiful hanging baskets full of their delightful blooms:

They are a delight to make in silk ribbon:

I guess it's not a bad alternative to growing them:

Another plant that I can't grow in the sub-tropics is Wisteria. The courtyard in our previous home was an amazing sight each Spring:


I haven't quite captured its beauty but at least there's a little hint:

and roses ...

Again, the climate was perfect for growing roses where we used to live. Now I have to be content to produce them in stitches and I do love making them with the beautiful silk ribbon:

You can find the pattern in Embroidery and Cross Stitch magazine Vol 23 No 2.

Meanwhile, I think us stitchers can learn so much from scrapbooking artists. Their use of layers makes their work stand apart, and I am sure it is something that I could adapt into my world of stitching. I just need the patience and effort to think about how it can happen in my projects.

I taught a workshop for the local quilting group last week. It was a fun time together with delightful ladies. They made the Flit and Flutter Pincushion:

Now I'm working on a new design to teach a workshop at the local Community Arts Centre. I enjoy the teaching but getting 30 kits together took me for ever!

Happy stitching!