Thursday, 14 August 2014

The story of a quilt

I guess every quilt has a story, reflecting what is happening in the quilt maker's life at the time.

I turned 40 in July ... eight years ago! My Mum said she'd make me a birthday quilt.

A pattern was chosen: a simple design called 'Coventry' by Brenda Riddle, from her book 'Comfort and Joy'. I am a sucker for star blocks, and that double border of tiny red squares was calling me.

Source

The fabric was chosen: the same fabrics used in Brenda's quilt, 'Roman Holiday' by 3 Sisters for Moda.


But in May 2006, my Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. The quilt was shelved, and the next nine months of Mum's life were focussed on caring for him. He passed away in February 2007.

So now, eight years later, my 40th birthday quilt has been dusted off. In that time, a background fabric was chosen, a dusty blue sprig on cream, from the 'Rural Jardin' range by French General for Moda.



In the last school holidays, Mum and I worked together on my quilt. Mum sewed, while I cut and pressed. 


When Mum and I sew together, we get places! We had 36 star blocks whipped up in no time. Admittedly, we had some help. Inspired by Rita in this post, I invested in a set of Bloc Loc rulers to help with our flying geese blocks. 



While these rulers are expensive, I would highly recommend them. They made an enormous difference to the speed and accuracy with which our blocks came together. 



So my birthday quilt is well underway. The blocks are all done, and pinned to our design wall (aka red fleece blanket). Mum has rolled it up and taken it home to finish piecing the top. I'll keep you posted on its progress. Mum? ... Mum? How are you going with it?!

This is a favourite photo of my Mum and me, taken about 1985 when Mum was 40! Yes, we were milking sheep ... but that's a story for another day.

Monday, 4 August 2014

In my winter garden

I don't know if every gardener would agree, but for me, winter is the busiest season. I have been lost in the garden; busy with pruning, mulching and generally tidying up. 


A winter garden is often dull and uninteresting because so many plants are in dormancy. Over the years, I've intentionally searched for winter-flowering plants to brighten up the dull spots and challenge the gloom. I found this sweet little gem, unlabelled, in a toss-out bin and it has become a winter favourite. I think it is a cuphea.


Cuphea hyssopifolia 'Rob's Mauve' (below) is as common as muck, but it earns its place in the garden for its prolific winter flowers. It is a great filler for arrangements too.


While I'm not a huge fan of pelargonium/geraniums, Perlargonium hortorum 'Rose Mega Splash' is very pretty right now.


Euryops pectinatus 'Little Sunray' is true to its name, radiating cheerfulness with its simple yellow flowers ...


... As does this little yellow buttercup that pops up out of nowhere at this time of year. I don't know what this plant is. It came from my Mum's garden, and dies back for most of the year until its fleshy foliage emerges in the winter. Please tell me if you know its name.


Even some of my verbenas are holding up to the cold weather, and sending out defiant blooms. This is Verbena 'Twinkle Crimson'.


Of course, some of the winter bulbs are starting to flower, with the appropriately named Jonquil 'Erlicheer' leading the charge.



I've recently discovered that what I've always called snowdrops, are actually snowflakes! I know, earth-shattering and all! I have Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake or Loddon Lily), while a true snowdrop is Galanthus, quite a different plant all together. It's OK, I've been called a botanical nerd before :)
  
 

I am very excited about seeing the blooms of this little plant for the first time. It is Leucospermum glabrum x tottum 'Carnival Red', planted last September.



While I continue to search for winter blooms, it is this time of year when foliage can take more of centre stage.




I love this variegated euphorbia and how it contrasts with the dark green of the oyster plant.



Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’ gets to strut its stuff, with its tiny burgundy leaves.



I've tried over the years to create contrast in plant colour and form in my garden. (Yep, more garden nerdiness right there!) I feel like I'm slowly getting somewhere.


Even after the winter pruning, I am starting to see different shapes emerging;  spheres, cones, spikes, etc.


Any gardener will tell you that a garden is never finished. It is constantly evolving, as plants grow too big, or die, or clash badly with others around them. This isn't a failure on the gardener's part; merely an opportunity to plant something else! The garden below is 12 months old. We had to pull down three enormous Leighton Green conifers because they were diseased. They left a gaping hole in the garden, but with it, a whole lot of new sunshine and a chance to plant new things.


My garden is a source of constant pleasure to me, and I am forever looking at it and analysing how next to make it better. I know you gardeners out there will get that! Best wishes, Bloom x

Saturday, 14 June 2014

'Baled Up' knitting set

Do you remember this teaser from a few posts ago? This was a clue to my most recent project in last April's issue of Australian Homespun magazine.


This project was borne of my childhood memories of woolsheds and stencilling wool bales at shearing time. It ended up as a three-piece knitting set called 'Baled Up'. Homespun did a really lovely job of the styling; very country meets city!


Initially, this idea took form when I was brain-storming about gifts I could make for my brothers. I had intended to make cushions for them and I wanted to stencil the names of our childhood properties on linen, in a similarly rustic way as we stencilled on our wool bales.


When Homespun asked me to submit a project for their magazine, I decided to broaden this initial concept. And so, from a vague germ of an idea, spawned not only a stencilled cushion, but a wool caddy and a knitting needle roll.


And so Madam Knitter, you may sit at your 'knitting chair', with your personalised cushion warming your back. The caddy is designed to sit by your chair and hold your wool. It is fashioned to look a little like a wool bale. It is fully lined and has inner pockets to hold scissors, a tape measure, or in my case, my glasses :)


The needle roll unfolds to reveal various sized individual pockets for all your needles, crochet hooks, gauges etc.


This project was published in Australian Homespun No. 131 in April 2014. The magazine is available as a digital download through Zinio. And no, my brothers still haven't got their cushions!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cuddle up

My Mum has been keeping herself busy making cuddly, shaggy quilts for her grandchildren.


One of the grandsons has claimed this one.


This quilt started life as a dog's breakfast eclectic pack of eye-spy charm squares. On first seeing them, I wasn't sure how we could pull them together. There were whites, brights, muted country colours and everything in between. 


But we surprised ourselves. We pulled out tone-on-tone prints from the stash, and bordered each charm square. We chose a pale green abstract print for the backing, and the whole thing came together quite nicely! 

 

I employed my Boy to help me take these photos. He's 15. He loves to help his mother with quilt photography :)


The day was dull and blustery. We were having trouble getting a shot, with each gust of wind blowing the quilt every which way.


But then, genius that he is, Boy said, 'Mum, you realise that if we put the quilt on the other side of the gate, the wind would blow it flat" ...


Aaaah, much better. At least one of us was thinking! Thanks Boy ;)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

For Jessica ... or is it Jessika?

I sewed up this little quilt not long ago for one of my nieces. Jessica has just turned one. While it was intended as her birth gift, I figure she wouldn't have appreciated it much earlier ... would she?!


I have used my 'go-to' baby quilt, the smaller quilt in my 'Abracadabra' pattern, simply because it can be made up so quickly. I have used an assortment of Aneela Hoey fabrics with some Denyse Schmidt prints, and an Amy Butler dot.



Jessica's big sister Kate also has a version of this quilt, so now they can snuggle together wrapped in love from Aunty Ros. 

Their mother, on unwrapping Jessica's gift, looked at me straight, in all seriousness and gasped, "You realise it's Jessika with a 'k'?" I momentarily died a thousand deaths until I caught the cheeky glint in her eye. Naughty!!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Well hello!

You can be fairly sure that when my blog is quiet that there is stuff going down at home. Well, a lot of stuff has been going down lately, most of which is mundane and not very interesting. However, the thing that has been consuming my life recently has been the health of my youngest daughter. We have entered the murky realms of an eating disorder with her. We have kept her from serious harm through sheer blood, sweat and tears. But we are now seeking professional help, and to say it is challenging for all concerned is an understatement! I won't go into details for her sake, but suffice it to say that life is pretty tough right now. We will all be OK. We are exhausted, but determined! It would be sensible to walk away from my blog for a bit, but I feel like it is my one small luxury right now. I do have some sewing and gardening news, and I will share it as I can.


Here is a photo taken in my garden a couple of days ago, 
just to keep you going ... and me! Best wishes, Bloom x

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Daisy Chain quilt tutorial

I have had a couple of enquiries about the Daisy Chain quilt I made for my daughter (see previous posts here and here). I have put a quick tutorial together on how I made this quilt, and what cutting measurements I used.


Cutting:
Cut 4.75" strips across the width of your chosen solid and print fabrics. You can use as many print fabrics as you like. I think I used about 20 different prints. You will need at least 98" (2.75 yards or 2.5m) solid fabric.


Construction:
Sew half of your fabric strips together as shown below. Crosscut these strip sets at a 45 degree angle into 6.5" units (as shown). If you piece and cut carefully, you should be able to cut four units from each strip set.


Sew the other half of your fabric strips together and crosscut as shown below.


You will need 80 units. Lay your blocks out in ten columns of eight units each until you are happy with the placement. Join the units to form vertical columns.


Unpick the top solid fabric parallelogram from each of the odd-numbered columns, flip the parallelogram over and sew to the bottom of each of the even-numbered columns. 


Join the ten columns together. Square up the top and bottom edges of the quilt by trimming the excess as shown.



These measurements will yield a quilt 60" wide by 84" long.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A kind of hush

I've been very privileged to have some of my projects published in Australian Homespun magazine over the last few years. My latest quilt design is in the March issue (No. 130). It is a soft and pretty number, called 'A Kind of Hush'.


It is made from a layer cake of Figtree Quilt's 'California Girl', plus some yardage. I get serious satisfaction from working out how to make a pre-cut go a long way. If, like me, you have a layer cake stash in the cupboard, then this quilt could be for you!


You can purchase Homespun magazine in Australian newsagents or download an electronic copy from Zinio. There's even a blurb about me in this month's issue which I think I can share with you without breaching copyright. 


And if it doesn't rain it pours - I have a second project coming up in the April issue of Homespun. You'll never guess what it is! A mad idea that I've had rattling about in my head for ages came to be. Here is a clue, just to tease:


Have a good week. Bloom x

  


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