Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Photos of Completed Quilt.

I can hardly contain my excitement! It's finished, it's finished ! Started in August last year my Boys' I Spy Quilt made of 284 individually pieced and bound hexagons is completed today after hundreds of hours work over the last 6 months. It is single bed size. As always I can't get the photos just as I want so I have shown you the quilt in several different poses. ( I must study how Gwen Marston had her quilts displayed in her Collaborative Quilting book ...they looked fabulous.) I now have to complete a little hex shaped label I am hand stitching, ( solid black) so it won't distract. In my next post I will tell the quilt's story.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Summer's Heat and Colour

Humidity in the low 90s is making things rather sweaty here.( it's all that rain going back up again! ) We can almost hear things growing....including the lawn which I began mowing early before breakfast, but it was still hot. When first mowed it looks good but not for long. The big gum trees behind the house are shedding bark and leaves continuously at the moment. Bright and perfumed delights keep me being a gardener.The purple Eucomis ( pineapple plants ) look good and the lilies smell so good especially in the evening wafting in the open window. Having worked hard all morning I hope to sit in the shade later( either on the deck or my red garden seat ) and sew, sew, sew. Nearly there!
I hope you ladies of the Northern Hemisphere; where snow abounds can enjoy the green delights and heat of my NZ summer garden.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Little Yellow Jewels.

The sun is shining again here in NZ and today I picked the 2nd little lot of yellow jewels, or little pear tomatoes. I pop them in my mouth whole they are so sweet. The plant has many more and I noticed the other varieties are colouring up too. Money Maker ( a medium sized red ) and a new sort called Dynamo.( big red )Oh Yum.
Some treats come via the Rural Delivery ( mail ) as well. My sister Ruth gave me a subscription to NZ Healthy Foods magazine, and it is a wealth of recipes, hints, advice, letters and useful information.( that's the 23rd issue in the photo).They have a web site as well.
We also get on subscription the NZ Listener. It has the best articles,( one this time on early onset Dementia), World News, TV and Radio programs and puzzles as well. Very good value. Often overseas visitors comment that it is a wonderful read and why don't they have something similar in their home country....fine praise indeed!
For my quilting fix I also received my copy of the Newsletter from Country Flair ( at Ngongotaha near Rotorua ) one of my favourite quilting shops. Which reminds me I must go visit them shortly as I have a generous gift voucher from my son in London to spend at their store.
This morning I found a good method to get the beans picked, without getting a sore back...pick for 5 mins then quilt for 10 then pick for another 5 mins etc till it's finished. ( it worked! ) Be happy everyone, what ever season and weather you are experiencing in your little corner of the world. ( I do appreciate how lucky we are here and that some of you are freezing, some sweltering ) Laugh and sew is a good recipe!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Picnics and Meetings.

It wasn't too hot and it didn't rain so 18 of our P & Q members met in a local park for the Annual ( apparently ) Picnic. It was a pleasant time but involved a lot of fetching and carrying for a very short time where mostly chat and a little eating and drinking were the order of the day . Some efforts was made by everyone to try and all do some hand sewing but not a great deal was achieved. I guess it was a bonding and relaxing session. ( Notice how green the grass is with all the recent rain! )
Prior to the picnic we had our 1st Committee Meeting for the year; on the other side of the city ( who had that bright idea ) . As a new member I tried to go with the is all very informal and I think that has inherent risks , but we'll see. Few of the previous comm members are still on board and I think that wastes a lot of time with new folk making that link .( Someone needs to know what has happened historically ) I have already started my job as the librarian for the group. That involves me collecting magazines that are on order from a local shop; ( some are sent ), cataloguing, numbering, making cards, pockets and pockets for the patterns. That is all fine; I've done it before. The perk of the job is I get first look at all the mags that come my way.There are a few other responsibilities and at group days - I have to issue books and check off returns . Firstly I intend having an amnesty for all the ones which are missing.....forget fines just bring the mags or books back please.There are between 300 and 400 books and magazines already in our Library cupboard so it is a good resource and should be used. Obviously some books are more popular than others.
I'm looking forward to another good year for our group and want to help where I can.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Been ( Bean ) Busy.

Rain, rain, I'm trying to sew, sew, sew. Between the showers I have been bean picking.....Oh my, Oh My! See what I got. Both the Scarlet Runners ( the bigger fat ones,on the left , that grow up a frame ) and the Chef's Choice ( low growing ) are producing well. Too well, when I am the picker! I'll have to try and give some away; ( don't really care for freezing them ), as it is we are eating them every dinnertime. Sorry , my dear friends who have snow piled up at your doors; you'd probably love some fresh green beans...( come right over ) My Mother said not to put beans in my ears, beans in my ears...what a silly old song that sprang to mind!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Collecting Fabric.

If I had known I was going to be a quilter I could have started collecting fabrics many years unlike some I don't have a huge stash, but I am building quite a collection of certain types of fabric.For many projects buying fat quarters is useless cause if you really like a fabric you will need yards of it. Not all projects are like that though.Scrap quilts aren't and nor are I Spy quilts.They both require small amounts of a huge variety of fabrics.
For My boy's Eye ( I ) Spy Quilt many of the fabrics would be termed children's prints. My current project has meant I have expanded my collection of those prints.( so I intend later to make a girl's I Spy ) Some fabric is a really good buy if you can fussy cut several different motifs from one fabric.( the clown faces are like that; there are 10 different ones ) In the photo you can see 4 new fabrics I got today, which should give me the variety I am seeking to make the final row of Hex on my quilt a bright interesting one. When I last laid out all the hex to see how it was looking I noticed that the final end had too many duller coloured backgrounds needed more green and yellow. As I am still sewing together row 14 ( of 21 )I can do a little swapping around and insert some of the new ones to get the colour blend overall that I desire.

I have decided:
1. If you see it and know you have a use for it and can afford it, buy it now won't be there later when you go looking for it.
2. If you love it and just have to have it, buy several yards ( if you can afford ).( we all need a few of those )
3. If you don't like the feel of it or something about it leave it there; it won't improve.
4. If you have a project in your mind's eye that you hope to make, start collecting suitable fabrics in advance.
5. Never pass up the opportunity to visit a fabric shop just for a look!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Hate It When That Happens.

Rain showers on and off all day ( over much of NZ ) means I get to sew! The orchard work will still be there and have to be done( another day ) but I desperately need a sewing day as I haven't had time for me for ages. It is dull so it's lights on or sit by a window to see. Here's where I started working early with a coffee at hand and my last few hex that I have just cut the backing fabric for, ready for me to work on.( the ones at the front have to have the backing turned to the front. The pile at right back are pinned ready to hand sew. I have also machine quilted a few that were ready. Now I am back to sewing row 11 Hex to row 12 for some variety of activity.
There is no easy solution to my little problem ( blog title ), I know that; but it doesn't stop me trying to find one. On the 27th of this month we have 2 invitations for the same time, same day. One friend is having a small gathering to celebrate her 60th Birthday, in Taupo ( about 1 hour 50 from here ), another younger friend is having a new house warming party and 20th Wedding Anniversary combined party.( about 10 minutes away from here. ) D H saw the words music and dancing on the 2nd invite so he doesn't want to go there.( he has this thing where he won't / can't dance and it terrifies him that someone ( not me, I know better ) might expect him to dance.) I have known both friends equally long and really like them both so it's a hard call. We don't get that many invitations So I hate it when that happens. I need 2 copies of myself so I get to go to both functions!
The book I am reading now is really annoying me, I think because the author has made the 2 main characters so real and flawed. It's called, " You Gotta Have Balls," by Lily Brett. ( Picador ) It's set in New York. Has anyone else read it?
Back to the sewing now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ah, Hot Bread.

My savoury Focaccia bread is just out of the oven and it smells so good. Good enough to eat . Many kitchen and cooking smells are delightful but hot bread and freshly ground coffee have to be up the top of my list. I made almost all our bread for a couple of years but now buy Vogels again and Molenburg cause they are great; but I still make My version of focaccia and keep some in the freezer, so it is always on hand. I have added sliced black olives and freshly grated parmesan to the usual rock salt topping.

Here's the recipe. I make the dough in the bread maker on the dough setting ( but it could be done by hand if you have the time and no machine )
*1 tablespoon of olive oil; 1 tablespoon of sugar; 1 teaspoon of salt; 3 cups of high grade flour; 2 teaspoons dried oregano; 2 teaspoons of dried yeast granules; 1 1/2 cups of warm water.*

When dough is ready tip onto a baking paper covered oven slide , with floured fingers pat out to cover the slide in an oval sort of shape( and if you wish to cut in half later make a depression across the middle ) and leave to rise. ( will depend on the temperature how long it takes. ) Pre heat oven to 220 degrees centigrade. Brush a little oil on the topof the dough then sprinkle rock salt; sliced black olives and freshly grated cheese ( parmesan or tasty ). Cook 15 - 20 minutes. When cooked it will sound hollow if tapped . Remove from oven onto cooling rack ( inhale delicious smells! ) If cutting in half wait till it's cooled. Enjoy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Green and Pleasant Land

Happy New Year - 2007.
Over night the last 1.5 mls of gentle rain fell, making the total rainfall for 2006 1514 mls ( or 5' 3'' ). That's about average for makes New Zealand ( in our area anyway ) " a green and pleasant land." I know we are so lucky!

I have always been a record keeper and to some extent so has HD ( maybe it's catchy ). He keeps the weather records and has done since the 1980s. We find it useful for orchard decisions but also as a general record talking point and comparison of years.

So 1st January is a day to add up the last years totals, like rainfall and books read and other things written in notebooks. A time to put up new calendars, always a difficult decision when there are so many lovely ones to display.( 8 ) One showing Wild and Beautiful Scenes of Alberta, sent from friends in Lethbridge, wins pride of place closely followed by one with scenes of our own green and pleasant land!
The final book I read for the year, was a compelling read - The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.( Penguin /Viking ) ( recommend ).

Other progress to report, although slow, my Hexagon Quilt is now halfway assembled. The photo shows it face down on the table, so that is the backing pattern - it's a lot of handsewing but I work at it most evenings. Yes I'm hiding the feature's looking fabulous but don't want to display it too soon and spoil the final finished shots.
I wonder what pleasures and delights, sorrows and troubles await us all in 2007? A mixture as always I'm sure. I don't do New Years Resolutions, don't find them useful. Note books of records ; photographic records and lists of to do , I do find useful. 2007.