A productive weekend

Well the retreat was yet again a wonderful time away just chatting and catching up with friends while we busily tried to get through as much sewing / knitting / painting / stitching etc as we could.
My position for the weekend was not too different from last year … and even though I thought I was being more selective in my selections I think I ended up taking even more up than last year.

Packing for the retreat

This year my focus was to get some sewing done.. to finally finish my sampler quilt top and then see what happened. Friday saw the quilt top finished without too much effort but a lot of whining on my part about how hard the mitred corners were. I know they weren’t that hard but they were fiddly. I am quite surprised at how large this top has turned out it is well and truly at least a DB size and is now proving to be quite a daunting prospect for quilting.

completed sampler quilt top

I thought I had ideas about what I wanted to do for the quilting but really I am still at an incredible loss as to where to start. Just how are you meant to go about selecting a quilting design.. I think the technical aspect of it I will be able to work out but the design selection… that has left me completely at a loss and not just for this top.
The other big achievement for me this weekend was I started and finished the space quilt kit that I picked up at Pick up Stitches in Kyneton… the thing that tipped me over the edge finally in starting quilting. I mean really who can go past space and glow in the dark stars! Friday afternoon and evening was all the panel trimming and getting the pieces ready.. lots and lots of measuring to be sure before cutting as the kit did not have much excess fabric if I made a mistake… in some instances there was no room for error. There is one alteration in the fabric which is a substitution of a deep purple border rather than a bright orange around each of the picture panels I mean really there is no way I was putting bright orange in this quilt.

Saturday I got everything pieced and stitched together and then Sunday before having to pack up and go I managed to get the borders done… so there we go a completed top form start to finish in one weekend… that sure was a surprise.

Space Quilt Top

As with the other one I have no idea where to start with the quilting on this… the centre panel is one large piece so just in the ditch won’t be enough it will need some kind of filling design… what and how to do it.. that really is the question. Maybe I’ll ask my head of science (who is a quilter) to help me with some inspiration and help. I know that if I don’t take these in to school on Monday for show and tell I’ll be in trouble 😀

In addition to these there was a little bit of stitching (i’ll update a picture of violet soon I promise), some reading, and absolutely no knitting … woops.
There is already talk of doing this again next year but we may try a new place I have a lead on a similar set up down at Apollo Bay… stitchy retreat with a view of the ocean.. Yes Please!

The beginnings of a tradition?

So last year the usual suspects and myself went on a little retreat you may have read about it here.

Well all good things should happen more than once and we all decided that a repeat of the even was in order. For a while it looked like the place we went to last year would be booked out but fortune favoured us and well we got a booking for this coming weekend. It has been a long slow buildup but finally it is the eve before the retreat and I am uber excited.

I have packed way too much stuff (not everything) but still way too much. There are at least three no four quilting projects o_O some knitting and even some stitching as well as a whole bucket load of food (and we said we would take it easy with the food this time lol). The tequila, lime, cointreau and salt are packed, cider, wine and even some non-alcoholic beverages are along for the ride too.

What will I work on…who knows? Originally I had hoped to sew some garments this weekend but I have been very ill for just over a week so didn’t get myself kitted out enough for that really (aka no zippers, interfacing and all the essential bits to make a garment all garmenty).
So… what does that leave me with.. A LOT!
I have packed the space quilt kit that tipped me over the edge on the whole quilting thing even though I haven’t even started it yet, my hexie templates and fabric for the quilt I talked about last post… my sampler quilt to hopefully finish those corners and the spare fabric from said quilt to make some extra blocks for practicing the whole final quilting stage. Hmm there is also a Jinny Beyer table runner kit and that’s just the quilt bits.

Last year I thought I packed a lot.. this year well I’ve simply out done myself .. it’s good to have options though .. right?

So wish me luck who knows there may even be a few updates on projects long forgotten when I get back.

This was where I started from last year.. I hope we all fit around the table this year 😀

Retreat beginnings 2012

Tending toward the surreal

I am a big fan of optical illusions, as a teenager I often traced or copied numerous pieces of M.C. Escher’s art into my diaries or just coloured in photocopies of them. I really can’t remember how many times I have played around with the devils and angels metamorphosis. It isn’t just Escher’s work though I have always loved looking at images that create optical illusions. Some work on me some don’t because of the whacked out focal problems I have with my eyes but to me all are fascinating… the way that the brain can take a set scope of information and twist it and interpret it in different ways.

What does this have to do with anything… well since falling down the rabbit hole of quilting I have toyed with the idea of doing a tumbling blocks quilt, there are a number of beautiful examples that can be found here. I also had in my mind that the next quilt I did I wanted it to be in reds/ greys and blacks and be predominantly made from a single repeating block. So skip to a few weeks ago (ok maybe longer) with a need to procrastinate from a number of other things including tackling the mitred corners on my sampler quilt border and it became imperative I play around with quilt ideas NOW!

I had a puzzle box template and a variety of different templates for pieces hexagons from when Sharon and I visited the Australasian Quilters Convention so I decided I could feel good about my purchases and start using them. I played around with the scanner and photoshop trying different layouts for hexies until frustration drove me to coloured pencils and some old school cut and paste. I think it really was essential to map out how this design was going to look on paper first as the effect is all in the shadings of the fabrics and the way the pieces come together.

Sharon and I were set to have a sewing day so a detour to GJs for some retail therapy and stash enhancement saw me determined to select fabrics for my design. It took a long time and eventually I came home without two of the colours I needed (the lightest grey and the mid tone red) thankfully a quick rummage through my stash sorted out that problem by providing the perfect light grey batik and a blood red fossil fern that was exactly between the other two I selected at the store.



After seeing them together I am really happy with the colour choices. The hexies are ~6inch final size once pieced (including seam allowances on each outer edge) and I have decided to do what I think will be a 10 x 12 hexie quilt. 120 in total and so many corner seams to line up will be tricky.

I’ve started cutting the pieces and have decided to cut everything out before starting to ensure I have ample of each of the fabrics. Last thing I want is to get almost to the end and discover I don’t have enough and the fabric is no longer available. (I have already ordered an extra yard of the light grey as I only had 1 yard in my stash and it was short by about 20cm from what I needed).

The Beginnings

As you can see in the above picture I did sew one hex together to see how my fabric selections worked. It was a tricky beast and I will need to figure a few things out if I am going to be happy with the results.. you can see on the bottom point where the red and grey join that one of my seams is not quite right… something to work on. The colours though I am super happy with and think it will make a really impactful design once all 120 are tiled together. The 3D effect will hopefully be truly visible giving that optical illusion I was after.

As of today I still have quite the ways to go with cutting. The light grey pieces (240 of them ) are completed with about 100 of the mid grey done and 55 of the mid red. Holding the templates and cutting makes for very sore hands after a while, about 120 pieces in one cutting session is my limit so there is a long way to go before the construction of the project really gets going. Yet another very long term project to add to my collection. I guess I’ll need to stop procrastinating on finishing that sampler top and deciding on some quilting designs to get it all finished in between hexie hell.

Not so headless Shaz

Hello… yes well umm that was June.. I did have a wonderful weekend away in Sydney and then it was just sheer crazy form that moment on.
Hopefully I will get some pictures uploaded soon and a brief run down of the highlights.. there were many. So this month has basically been exam marking reports more reports subject selections for next year which was all a little stressful and more complicated than it has any right to be, more work and generally mad running around. I did get a really nice thank you card from the head of my faculty though and some great feed back from both parents and kids.. it’s that which makes the days worth it really.

So.. that means holidays and of course I got sick a few days in. It seems to be clearing quickly though which is nice since there is so much to get done this break not in the least another crafty retreat *squee*

There is big news though as you may have guessed from the post’s title.. Shaz has a head, in fact in a mad push to get her done I finished her off today!.. completely, well except for a very well needed bath and some framing. It is still somewhat surreal to think she is done, it has been over a decade (although I will need to do some digging to come up with the exact date I started her it has been many a year.

Shaz close up

I still love the Sudden storm Jobelan fabric I chose to do her on and am glad that I did the conversion even if I am sick of the sight of her. Now just to get her framed and sent up to Jenny for her Birthday, at least that’s not until Novemeber.

Rose of Sharon Mirabilia Designs


Oh and that little task of trying to figure out what to work on next. There is a new patch work project in the works that I need to post about and of course I still need to finish my sampler quilt.. I have batting and I know what I am using for the backing and have a few ideas on quilting designs but it still has a long way to go. Oh well I might just bask in the joy of finishing a long long term work in progress for a bit. Hopefully I will catch up with you all again sooner rather than later… there are goals to set for July after all… wow July already!

A quick getaway

Hello just me flying through.

It has been another one of those weeks but in amongst it all I have had a few ups and downs so lets catalogue them here in point form so I can get to the airport for a weekend away in Sydney woohoo! Not that I’m a big fan of the place but the line up for this weekend should be awesome regardless of the city 😛

So ups

+ I did below the line and managed to raise $400, go me! it was hard and bland but I managed it even in the face of people trying to give me cake and other goodies. I resisted and came out triumphant.

+ I got my sashing sewn on to my quilt and have started the final part of the top… the mitred corner borders . Hooray!

+ I got the exam finalised the absolutely have to do marking done and all told had a very productive week at work.

+++ having a weekend away from work

now for some downs

– I lost my cool at work and had a go at a co-worker

– there is still way too much to do (but then there always is)
– Sharon’s an my excuses for getting together every two weeks and sewing is now all finished*pout*

– There are too many of my friends having a tough time of it lately and too little I can do about it.

Ok well that’s it but all in all a pretty good week I think and well I’ll fill you in on my adventures this weekend when I get back.

It’s Friday!!!!!! … (oh and I am not working this weekend!!!!!!!!)

Below the line – a worthwhile cause


Well this is something a little different for my usual blog fair but I thought it might interest some and well.. what is this blog for if not cataloging my adventures. This week I will be participating in Below the line.
It is an awareness campaign more than anything else but also raises funds for those living in extreme poverty in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia. The links my current employer has to Cambodia and the service projects the school runs there has been very enlightening to me over the years and it really is amazing how much difference a seemingly small amount of money can make.

I don’t usually like to ask or send out what I consider spam but I did send out a few emails this week to raise some funds but mostly to draw attention to this program.

The idea is that participants live on $2 a day (1 pound in the UK) for food. It is a big ask for individuals but the more people you get working together the better your diet can be. It lasts only for 5 days. The way the program encourages you to band together with friends and form a team in order to be able to afford more interesting food stuffs etc is interesting. The way it highlights the importance of community is a great additional educational point in my eyes as it points out how important villages and communities are essential to the support or those living in extreme poverty.

This won’t be the first time in my life I have lived on this kind of budget, in fact I have lived on less for much longer. It is a good reminder to me just how good I have it now compared to other times in my life. I am lucky and so very very thankful for all the opportunities my life affords me and the luxury I take for granted more  often than I should. This is my way to give back a little … everyone deserves the chance to thrive. So my main idea behind this is to put the usual household food budget in as a donation it is a significant amount of money when I think about it.. the food budget here is not exactly what I would refer to as tight.

So for the next 5 days this household including Mr B will be living below the line… $20 two people 5 days, lets see how we manage.

My profile page is here if you want to follow how much I raise… or even contribute 😛

below the line

Why yes, that is a pillar you see

Well although I didn’t pick her up at all for the past three weeks I did manage a bit of progress on dear old Shaz earlier in the month.

So here’s a quick update picture.. a bit dark and moody since I am leaving for work before the sun gets up and getting home after it has set of late. The evil flowers over the arch are pretty much done and I have even made it to the bottom of the pillar on the left hand side. That seems like cause for celebration to me. 😀

Shaz at the end of April 2013

Wave goodbye to April and the year wooshes by

I’m not sure if anyone else is finding this but 2013 is just zooming by. Which of course means I am at the super hell time for my work and if I thought I was busy and working long hours before  … well things are just going to get worse.

But really I am getting used to the crazy cycle it’s only the burn out I fear now.

Enough whining though I’m here to report on my progress…

Some of you may have noticed that flickr and I are having a somewhat troublesome relationship at the moment, images are not uploading but then turning up a week later, or as seems to have happened to the post blow they  DO upload but then a few days or sometimes only hours later they disappear. This means that after battling once again with flickr and iphoto I don’t have any update pictures ..yet.

My may Goals were:

  1. 600+ Stitches in to Shaz Yep.. I sure did although it was all at the start of the month (pic to come soon)
  2. The last seven blocks for my Quilt top ready for sashing and background to go on in the last few lessons. Amazingly I managed this one too.
  3. pick up a knitting wip and make some headway (not sure which one yet) – nope didn’t even look at anything
  4. Make a new dice bag for Mr B I got the fabric out… does that count? (this is a no go too really need to work on that)

So a bit of a mixed bag for April. Now May… this is the month it will be lucky I see my home let alone my craft but I’m going to give it a shot anyway.

Goals for May are

  1. Finish Sashing on the quilt top ready for borders to be added
  2. Borders for quilt top
  3. Dice bag (really it is 10 minutes work)
  4. 400 stitches in to Shaz

Ok that will do me… especially seeing as I am already ten minutes late for leaving for work… wooops.

I promise to be back soon with an update picture of little miss Shaz.

Catching up on events

Hello … me again. I’ve put down my work for today and decided I might try and catch up on a few details of the past two weeks.

You’ve seen the framing and the quilt blocks but how about some pictures of stash enhancement and some amazing inspirational quilts. Two weeks ago Sharon and I decided to indulge our latest hobby and attend a day at the Australasian Quilt Convention. While we didn’t have time to organise to attend any of the two day classes or even the one day ones we did intend to sit in on some of the seminars (note I say intend).

We got in at a reasonable time somewhere between 10 and 10:30. My intention had been largely to get a couple of tools I felt would be useful for my emerging plans for new quilts (after the class one is finished of course). I was also on the look out for sashing inspiration or backing for the class quilt. While I love looking at all the fabrics at the shows the ones I like are not usually available in lengths at the shows so I find myself with a large number of fat quarters that I am still wondering if I will ever use.

Well you know what they say about intentions. I did get the tools I was after, a 12.5″ square ruler as well as some strip rulers in various widths but then there was also a bunch of templates, diamonds, hexagons etc. Within the first half hour I had spent what I had intended to be my entire budget for the show lol. I even went back later in the day and picked up a curved nine-patch template thanks to the quilt displays.
Templates, patterns and more

Against all my best intentions I also found myself picking up quite a bit of fabric, a lot of the pieces were half metre or 60cm cuts which are nice but of course a few fat quarters jumped in as well… who can resist skeletal dinosaurs?! no me that for sure.

Abstracts and  greys
Halves and Quarters
Quilt Show Loot FQ's

After the first round of stalls we ran in to one of the ladies I work with (technically one of my bosses I guess she is the head of the senior science faculty). We sat down and shared what we had bought and had a quick chat over coffee before heading our separate ways for more stash enhancement. I had also taken a long my blocks from the class for a quick bit of show and tell. It is interesting seeing people’s reactions to my colour choices, they certainly couldn’t be considered conventional or conservative I guess but I didn’t think they were that wild or out there especially on the sampler… Oh well I guess people will be even more weirded out later when I start pulling out more of my Halloween / skeleton / goth style fabrics. Each to their own and lets face it I am used to being a little left of centre 😛

A good portion of the day was spent looking at the display quilts there was an amazing display of 12×12 art pieces as well as a section devoted to Quilts brought over from Korea. Sharon and I took lots of photos for inspiration, I was particularly interested in seeing the different quilting patterns to try and get some ideas for what to do with my sampler once the top is fully pieced. I am thinking of hand quilting using different motifs but at this stage I have no idea which and how to go about planning which ones would best suit the blocks. Or perhaps I will just go an all over design this time with just something different on the borders and sashing… only time will tell what the final decision will be. rather than putting the images all here I have uploaded a selection of them to flickr. You can see them in full if you click through on the mosaic. There really were some amazing pieces there, well beyond where I ever hope to be but inspiring all the same.



Next Year I think we might try and sign up for a couple of the classes. There were some great looking beginners courses and two day courses dedicated to particular techniques and patterns that looked like they would be really helpful.

Worth the Wait

Sometime ago now… lets say almost two years ago, I celebrated my transition into a new career with the purchase of some beautiful original artworks.

The artist was Stephanie Pui-Man Law and I was so happy to have the opportunity as I had been a fan of her art from as way back as about 1998 or even earlier. I have a number of her pieces as prints and way more than I would care to mention as HAED charts, having an original though had always been a bit of a dream. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase two of my favourite cards from her Tarot deck – The Hermit (this is a card that I love in pretty much every deck I own) and the Four of Pentacles… my choice of this one was all about the Dragon and his little fairy chameleon companions.

With the artwork purchased the intent was always to get them framed as soon as they arrived, but well you know the story about the best intentions right… So of course they have sat on the shelf for almost two years and my guilt over them just sitting there has grown steadily. I know I have expensive tastes when it comes to framing and I wanted to get museum quality glass on these due to the delicate nature of the water colours so I kept putting it off.
I did make it up to the framers just after returning from Sweden but unfortunately they were close for renovations until February and then life got in the way. Finally though about 4 weeks ago I got them up to the store and spent a good amount of time with the framer selecting mat boards and frames, not just for my poor neglected Tarot originals but also for the gorgeous little ‘Perfect Poison’ that I had bought from the whimsical Annie Rodrique.
She was the hardest to fiddle with to get the mat and frame combination right and the one I probably love the most for the overall effect. Apologies for the photos particularly the one of the Four of Pentacles the light here as always in Melbourne at this time of year is a little gloomy and he is hung away from where any natural light comes in.

SPML Tarot - Hermit

SPML - Four of Pentacles

Annie Rodrique - Perfect Poison

There was a small problem with the frames initially when I collected them.. just above the bottom edge of the frame there was text visible, this turned out to be the glass certification for the museum quality specifications. I took them back up to the framers though and they fixed it up straight away which I was really happy with. No questions no problems just fixed right there and then 🙂

Now I have all my pretties home with me and just need a few more hooks up on the walls so they can all be displayed proudly.

It really was worth all the wait.

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