Sunday, September 28, 2014

home again jiggety jig


As in the nursery rhyme, we're "home again, jiggety jig". We had 25 amazing days visiting Japan, fun times with family, making new friends, being immersed in such a different culture, finding our way around the huge city of Yokohama and feeling like little children where we could neither understand the language nor even read most of the signs! We have hundreds of photos and many beautiful memories to remind us of a wonderful holiday.

And now we're home, sweet home. We were greeted with lettuce, tomatoes and silverbeet ready for picking in the vege garden, a pile of mail, projects returned from editors and a phone message asking do I have some more!

The suitcases were a bit heavier on the way home as there were some lovely things in the shops that I couldn't resist. I am picturing some lovely silk ribbon roses on a purse to go in this frame:


How cute are these little hat buttons? I haven't worked out the significance of the rainbow button but I'm sure it will come in handy somewhere!:


I took heaps of stitcheries with me to work on in the evenings, but of course hardly did any. Daughter produced 20 skirts and pants that she wanted remade as she had lost weight. They were far too good a quality to throw out, so mother of course obliged!

We went shopping for some fabric to brighten up the kitchen window in her new apartment:


... just enough to pretty it up, without losing all that wonderful natural light - a rarity in many parts of Japan's high-density living: 


 The obi, Kimono sash, is a perfect width to make into place mats. This beautiful pure silk obi was bought for a song at a second-hand store and a week later it was transformed into seven elegant place mats, ready for dinner guests:


A lovely new friend presented me with my own obi to do the same.

There were a few magazines waiting for me when I arrived home. Patchwork & Stitching Vol 15 No 10 has my bag on the cover:


 It's called Annie's favourite because it uses one of the simple blocks I rather enjoy making, Annie's Choice:


 I like the yellow and black combination and love the touch that the lace and antique button give it:


 One would expect that I would come home after such a wonderful experience with heaps of inspiration ... but I haven't! There's not even one project floating around in my head at the moment! I had three projects in various stages of completion before I left, so I will get back into designing slowly by tackling them one at a time. Edison reckoned that Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, so we'll start at that end! 

Happy stitching!
Val


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 9


Hello from Japan!  
It's time to give you the next mini quilt in the free 
block of the month pattern. I prepared this before we left Australia, and just as well, as we've had so many exciting adventures that we haven't had much spare time in the couple of weeks we have been in this amazing country!

The last of our mini-quilts has the simple message “Commit” - a modern word but a very old concept! You can apply it to whatever situation you find yourself in, but you can’t go wrong if you commit your way to God.


You can find the free pattern here. Next month I will give you some instructions for making the actual wall hanging.

One of our sons and his older son have been holidaying with us in Japan and it has been so much fun to do lots of sightseeing together.  We visited the Nogeyama Zoo and were surprised that there is no entry charge.


Yokohama is a very modern city as you can see from  this diorama:


However, here and there you can find some of the "old" Japan and its interesting architecture. This is just down the road from where our daughter lives: 


We spent a magical evening at the Sankeien Gardens which are also within walking distance. Each September they have five evenings where the gardens are open for the Harvest Moon viewing. We sat out in the open to listen to a string trio playing the beautiful music of Bach, then wandered through the gardens which were delightfully illuminated:


We paid a visit to the Sand Art Exhibition and were blown away by the incredible detail that the artists have been able to portray, just with sand.


These are really huge sculptures, much larger than life:


We've made some new friends and caught up with some old Aussie ones, reminisced and laughed, learned how to find our way to and from the city, got lost a few times and have had great family times together, making happy memories. It will be sad to say goodbye to our son and grandson tonight. We hope we can negotiate our way around for the next 10 days without their expert reading of maps and the GPS while our daughter and son-in-law are at work!

I brought lots of stitching with me but I have done a miniscule amount. As is usual when I visit our daughters, I have been given a pile of mending and alterations ... accompanied by a big smile! I've just finished making some kitchen curtains and I'm told there is still more on the "to do" list!

Have a great week.
Val

Sunday, August 31, 2014

All kinds of weather


We've been packing for our big trip away tomorrow and seeing it's the beginning of Autumn in the northern hemisphere, we're trying to cater for "all kinds of weather". Thankfully, the forecast is looking good with lovely warm temperatures, which will be a pleasant change after our long cold Winter. I'm never a light traveller, so I'm rather proud of the fact that my suitcase weighs less than half of my baggage allowance! It may not be that weight on the way home!

Talking about "all kinds of weather", there's a really great verse in Proverbs 17:17 - "Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble." Isn't that a fantastic statement and just so totally true. 

I thought you'd like to see the cushion I made using that verse:


The ruched flowers took for ever to make but the effort was really worthwhile:


Here's the stitchery with the verse:


I rather like the double layer of Prairie Points:


You can find the pattern in the latest Country Threads magazine:


Volume 15 No 7:


I hope you have some great friends who will stick with you through all kinds of weather. We are blessed to have some of those. I'm always happy when I can bless them in return, even if it is only in a small way.  My vegie garden has kept us supplied in lettuce and tomatoes for weeks, far more than we have needed, so it's been great to be able to share some of the produce. I picked the last of the tomatoes and turned them into some yummy tomato relish. Hopefully some of the baby lettuce that have germinated with the recent rain will be just about edible size by the time we arrive back home!

I'm looking forward to writing again from the other side of the world!

Val


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Free mini classes


You know the old saying - 
if it's too good to be true, then it probably is!

Well, there is an exception - 
the fabulous Craftsy organisation! 

I joined nearly two years ago, (and it is totally free to be a member), and my experience with this brilliant group only keeps getting better. Not only to do they have the most fantastic online courses, but they also allow independent designers like me to sell my patterns on their website - and they don't charge any commission!

I want to tell you today about their free mini-classes.  I am enrolled in a few of them and they are really ever so useful. This bag-making one sounds great - instructions for two bags and lots of great tips:


Or maybe you would like some ideas for making birthday cards. You'll find a few in this free class:


I'm definitely going to enrol in this sewing machine basics class. I've been sewing for years and yet I'm always picking up new information that I have never heard before:


There are 35 free Craftsy mini classes available in an amazing variety of crafts - jewellery, drawing, cooking, cake decorating, knitting ... Hop over and have a look:

There's only been one thing on my mind now that our visitor has gone - Japan! I've been preparing my applique/stitcheries to take with me. I am so pleased with this new design. It's going to take me for ever to complete because there is so much stitching in it - but that's what I love!


I've found my bag tag ready to put on my suitcase. Isn't this just the cutest?


I've had my hair cut, revised some Japanese phrases, and now it's the mammoth 'last week' countdown. I've got my "to do" list all organised - now to tick off all the jobs!

Have a great week.
Val 


Disclosure: If you become a Craftsy member after clicking on my links, then I will be paid a small commission.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt Pattern 8


The months whizz around so it's time to give you the next free mini-quilt in the Shining Like the Dawn wall quilt.

The word for this month is "Delight" - not a noun, but a verb! It comes from Psalm 37:4 which is another of my favourites:
   
"Delight yourself in God and He will give you your heart's desire."  
That sure is the secret to a contented life!

You can find the pattern here.  I hope you enjoy stitching this little quilt.


Burlap/hessian and lace is such an incongruous mixture ... but it works! I called this bag "Widdecombe Fair" as it was designed as a quick bag to make for a fete or fair. The name is a throw-back to my childhood when we learned the Devon folk song at school. The words and tune are still fresh in my memory!


The pattern can be found in Handmade magazine Vol 32 No 10:


 We have twins in our family - boy/girl twins and these delightful young people have just turned 21! Last weekend we had a wonderful family party to celebrate. Our talented younger daughter made the cake: 


All that lacework, and what looks like cupcake papers, are made of chocolate. There were further surprises when the cupcake 'papers' were removed to find all sorts of goodies inside:


You can see some of the other cakes Janelle has made here.

Not much stitching happening in my neck of the woods at the moment, as we've had a visitor staying with us and I am also counting down to our trip to Japan. This stitchery did get completed:


One of the 'must finish' jobs for this week is to prepare nine little applique and stitchery blocks to take with me. I would never enjoy a holiday if I didn't have some stitching to do, though I don't expect to get much done as daughter has already booked me to do some of her sewing!

Happy stitching!
Val