Sunday, October 19, 2014

Shades of purple


When we arrived home from our overseas trip, in amongst the mountain of mail that greeted us were our lovely Australian craft magazines. Some of them had my projects in them, one of which was the "Gathered 'round the Christmas Tree" Candle Mat:


This year I decided to go with non-traditional colours for my Christmas designs. I love how rich purple is. The fact that it goes well with either silver or gold just gives more reason to use it for Christmas! Then, of course, Radiant Orchid is the Pantone Colour of the Year so that was inspiration enough. I had so much pleasure in making this design. I'm very fond of felt and using it for applique is just a delight.


We live quite a distance from any craft stores, so I rely heavily on what is in my cupboards when I'm producing projects. I was very disappointed when I went looking for some gold star charms to top the trees and found nothing in my stash. I was thinking I would have to embroider some when I had the brainwave to look in the button drawer. To my delight, I found eight purple star buttons which were just perfect for finishing off the trees.


You can find the pattern in the latest Patchwork & Stitching magazine Vol 15 No 11.

Springtime in the Australian bush is quite spectacular. We saw so many beautiful wildflowers during our recent time away: 


The intricate detail is mind-blowing:


I always say that purple is obviously one of God's favourite colours:


It's one of mine too!

Happy stitching.
Val

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 10


We are finally home from all our adventuring! Last week, we finished off our holiday with five days out in the Australian bush. It was such a change to Yokohama where we felt we were surrounded by the nearly 4 million people who live there. We found it very peaceful and refreshing to enjoy God's creation and be spotting birds with a lovely group of people from our local Birdwatching Club. 

Now we are hoping that life will resume some sort of normality in the lead-up to Christmas! The first thing to get back on track is to give you the next pattern in the 
free block of the month pattern. Now that all the mini-quilts are accounted for, it's time to show you how to construct the pockets.


You can find the instructions for Pattern 10 here.  Next month I will give you the final details for finishing your wall quilt. 

I had just a couple of free days at home between Japan and 'the bush', so I uploaded two more Christmas patterns to my Craftsy Store -  a table runner and a cushion.


The Ding Dong Merrily Table Runner is ideal for using up Jelly Roll strips. It has the first two lines of the carol embroidered down the long edges.


I love the Joy to the World cushion - some easy applique and a little bit of stitching combined with some scrappy squares and you have a beautiful decoration for your home. The pattern is only $5 in my store.

There are a few more Christmas patterns you might like to look at too. There's plenty of time to do some sewing - Christmas is more than 10 weeks away!






My fingers are starting to "itch to stitch" now that we're home so I'm just about counting the hours to when all the washing, ironing and cleaning is done and I can open up the sewing machine again!

Happy stitching!
Val

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