Sunday, February 26, 2012

To have or not to have ...

This week I made a decision, then I changed my mind, then I changed it back again!  It's all about Word Verification and commenting on blogs.  I have found the new Blogger system of having to type in two words to verify you are not a robot, to be quite a pain.  One time I had to type in the words FOUR times before I guessed the letters correctly!  I love to receive comments, so I decided that I would turn word verification off, so my readers would find it easier to make a comment.  Knowing that Blogger had its spam detector working, I thought it would be fine.  But I was wrong!  I have been inundated with spam (well, a steady stream of it) in my blog comments!  It didn't take long for that to drive me crazy, needless to say.

So word verification went back on.  But then I thought there has to be a better way.  So I turned it off again and now have anything coming from "Anonymous" going straight into my deleted box in my e-mail programme so that I don't even see it anymore.  Unfortunately, this now means that a comment from anyone who is an Anonymous "no reply blogger" will no longer be seen by me. So if you are one of those, and have something you want to say, could you please e-mail me direct. I'm sorry for the inconvenience to a few, but hopefully it will make it a lot easier for the majority.

On a happier note - my photobook has arrived.  I am so pleased with it and it's a great substitute for what would be a very poor attempt at scrapbooking by me!


I managed to get quite a few jobs ticked off the list this week.  There's a new free pattern for you on the web.  If you are wanting something quick and easy to make for a fete, these little bags are ideal and can be made up in about an hour.


Go here to download the pattern.

I also managed to get a couple of projects finished this week. A much larger quilt has gone off to be quilted professionally and a little stitchery has been posted off to a magazine editor. In between stitching, I preserved another two lots of plums. They wouldn't win any prizes in an Agricultural Show, but they sure taste good!



I have a case of peaches sitting in the kitchen now waiting to be attended to. When I finish them, I will have enough beautiful bottles to keep us going with fruit on our cereal for 12 months. I love being able to have stone fruit the whole year.


You all know how hopeless I am at free motion quilting.  Mostly I choose to do any quilting by hand because I have never been able to conquer the machine process. Yesterday, I don't know what possessed me, but I decided to have another go at FMQ on a baby quilt I am making.  I thought I would try something really simple - a four-petal flower in the centre of each block - and if it didn't work, I would just pull it out and do something else. I drew a template so that at least I knew where I should be heading. My first attempt wasn't too bad so I just kept going and did all 20 blocks.  They are certainly not perfect but for once I would give myself a pass mark!  I was so excited with my success I then decided to do something a little bit more complicated in the border.  I can't say I am a convert to FMQ yet, but it is now on the list of possibilities!


And here's a project I haven't shown you before - my Trio of Trivets, which appeared in a recent edition of Handmade magazine.



That's about all I have to tell you this time.  Have a great week.

Happy stitching!
Val

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lots of smiles


Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway.  I had a busy couple of weeks reading all your lovely comments - you blessed my socks off and made me smile!  Trusty Random.org chose our winner who is Katie Q so the parcel of goodies will soon be on its way to New York.

I've had a fun week looking through 50 years of photos!!!  I am going to a Bible College 50 year reunion soon and we've been asked to put together an album of what we've done since we lived and studied together so long ago.  It's a lifetime of course - everyone who is attending is now retirement age.  I've been digging out photos of our wedding, our babies, children's weddings, grandchildren and the work in which we have been involved. As I'm not good at scrapbooking, I decided to make a digital photobook online.  The company I use have a 30% discount open till tomorrow, so that was an incentive to get it done. The scanner worked overtime and then there was the fun part of choosing backgrounds and layouts and putting the photos in ... and there were lots of smiles with so many happy memories. Now I am trying to wait patiently till the postman brings my lovely book.

Here are some more things that made me smile.  I was looking through photos of some of my designs that were published late last year. You might remember these. The fabric in this quilt is just amazing:



I thought it was about time I put this pattern up on the website, which might be helpful for those of my readers who want to purchase it and are unable to find our fabulous Australian magazines.  These designs are on the website now as well:





I really got carried away with my dove from the Thoughts in Thread Quilt and have made a quilt top with some of these doves appliqued on. It's looking quite sweet and now I just need to get it quilted. Then my design for Fresh Hope charity is also finished.  I always smile when I get projects finished.  I just wish I wouldn't have so many happening at the same time!
While I was binding my charity design, I took the opportunity to take lots of photos and did up a tutorial on how to bind a quilt, as well as one for binding odd angles, other than 90 degrees.  I know there are hundreds of these tutes out there in blogland, but now there's another one here!  You never know, you might just learn something different! Go to my Tutorial page for the links.

Something else that makes me smile - coming up with a design for children:

This is my Peek-a-Boo Puzzle quilt. My lovely daughter gave me a box of bright fat quarters which were ideal for making this design.  Each of the stars are on a flap which lifts up to reveal a removable mini quilt underneath:

I can think of all sorts of games that could be played with toddlers - lifting the flap, guessing what is underneath, hiding the kite or the bear, finding the train, or the boat ....


It was published in Patchwork & Stitching Vol 12, No 11.

One last reminder - the online workshop at Patchwork Posse will be commencing in a couple of weeks.


Go here for details.

I hope you too have a week with lots of smiles!
Happy stitching
Val



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Free pattern Thoughts in Thread - Block 2

We're halfway through February already, so it's time to give you Block 2 of the free BOM "Thoughts in Thread".  It's been lovely hearing that lots of readers want to follow this programme each month. You've all seen my lovely logo button (and thank you to those who have put it on their blog) - I was so pleased with my little dove in block 2 that it was given pride of place as the logo for my quilt.


 As soon as I started thinking about how to convey purity, immediately the white dove came to mind. How wonderful that in the midst of a world where there is so much evil, we can fill our minds with pure thoughts.  I hope my little white dove will be a reminder to you as you stitch this new block.  Here is the complete block:


I'll include here a close-up of the dove. For my first couple of years as a designer, I was very careful to stick to the status quo and stitch "according to the book". After I had had 20 or 30 designs published, I decided I would break free and stitch in whatever way the design was calling out to be stitched, even if it wasn't the way things were normally done. I went off on a tangent in quite a few areas and the dove is an example of that. I have blanket-stitched around with matching cream thread. I could have used red but I didn't want lots of colour encroaching on the edges of the fabric.  However, I DID want to highlight the outline of the bird, so over the top of the blanket stitch I have backstitched just the edge part of the stitch in red. I just love the effect that this creates.

As usual, you can download the new block on my website.  Scroll down past all my wall-hangings till you come to Block 2. I'd love to see photos of your completed blocks. I have set up a Thoughts in Thread Flicker group where you can upload them. Click on this link:


Quite some time ago, I bought a metre of lovely blue floral fabric when it was on special.  It's been sitting in the cupboard and I really had no idea how I could use it, till one day the inspiration hit!  I combined it with the most unlikely fabric - a burgundy and white check and a bit of burgundy solid and my "Cook with Love" oven mitt and trivet was born. Here it is in a recent edition of "Handmade":


The binding cut on the bias really lifts the design I think:


Last  week we looked after four of our grandchildren while their parents were on an overseas business trip.  The children have all been working on and off on one of my blocks from the Gifts of Grace quilt. The oldest, our grandson who is 11, decided his goal for the week was to finish it while I was there - and he did!


I am very proud of him.  He has done really good stitching - neat backstitch, great lazy daisies ... and have a look at his French Knots.  I had more success teaching him to do them than I have had teaching ladies at craft workshops! In future when I am teaching them, I will break it down into small steps as I did for him as it worked so well.  The knots on the butterfly are inside little backstitched circles:


Thank you for all the sweet comments that you have made on my last post.  The giveaway is open for another week, so if you haven't entered, you can do so by commenting at this link:


Have a great week.
Val

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Celebrating 500!


On Thursday, my follower button turned over to 500!  I am really excited to think that so many people like to read about my life and my craft. You are all such an encouragement to me. 

It was always my dream that one day my work would be thought worthy of recognition. I was over the moon when my first design was published when I retired in 2005. 

and I still like this project!

The last seven years have been an amazing journey with my designs regularly appearing in so many Australian craft magazines. The icing on the cake is to be able to share that journey with my lovely blog readers.  I feel totally blessed.  

Reaching 500 followers definitely calls for celebrations!  I've gathered together a sweet little parcel of goodies for a
GIVEAWAY!  

There's this country version of my Herb Garden wall-hanging:

I just love the fabrics in this.

and a sweet little Etui:


  which looks like this when open:

(Accessories not included)

Then there's this gorgeous pack of 42 five inch charm squares of Grace, by 3 Sisters for Moda.


It is a totally gorgeous range and I had to think about ten times whether I could bear to part with it!

Then there are a few charms and buttons to embellish your stitching.


All you need to do to enter is to leave a comment on this blogpost.  Of course, I would love it if you became a follower if you're not already, or "liked" my Facebook page, or put this little button below on your blog and told your friends about it, with a link back to my blog - or did all of them! - but it's not a pre-requisite to enter the giveaway.


The competition will close on Saturday 18th February at midnight (my time).

How are you going with your "Thoughts in Thread" block?  Penny P has done a striking block in black and white:

 

and look at Sharon's lovely muted version:


Look out next week for Block 2.

We're looking after four of our grandchildren in their home this week while their parents are overseas on a business trip.  They're all at school, so hopefully there will be time to do lots of stitching in between all the housework.  It's a long time since we had six in our household!

Happy stitching!
Val