Monday, 7 November 2016

Auckland Festival of Quilts

A whirlwind trip to Auckland (to buy a new car for DH) allowed me to visit the Auckland Festival of Quilts. Here are some of my favourites:

Minecraft is important in my day job :)

A featured quilter

Love the thread painting, what a stunning piece altogether!

The colours pop!

This quilt reminded me a lot of the candlewick quilts Donna from the BMQG enjoys making

I wouldn't want to piece all of these, but a fascinating quilt to admire!

An incredible piece, look at all the detail in the quilting!

Yellow challenge - some of our Northland and ex-Northland quilters represented 

Teeny-tiny blocks!

Mine were there of course, too :)

This was one of the most stunning pieces, unfortunately I missed out the label:

I want to try out this black stitched outline around the applique shapes, it looked great (click on image to view larger)

Probably my favourite quilt in this show:

What do you think?
I need to find a better photographer, I can't read it but it's obvious the judges liked this quilt, too.
Enough inspiration to last a while...

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The problem with blogging...

... is that you need to have something to blog about... This blog is about quilting, and it gets quite boring (at least to me) when I have nothing new to write about!

After our most recent move late February I set up my sewing room in Bedroom No. 4 (leaving only the small 'office' for youngest DS - sorry!) - you can see some pictures in this post. What I was missing was a design wall, and there wasn't really any space for it - except on the wardrobe doors:

I have since covered both doors.
Leftover cotton batting, a staple gun and lots of swear unkind words and I have an approx. 2x2m design wall! This is what it looks like right now:

Just one issue with it, you can't get into the wardrobe / cupboard while you have blocks going over the middle...
What you can see is the second half of middle DS' video game quilt I started earlier this year. I had run out of material, and it's not that easy to get a big range of Bella Solids locally. I had not been to Country Dawn in Whangarei before, but they were happy to order the majority of my fabrics in, and most, through not all, matched the old batches very well. The remaining half meters (or in this case half yards) came from the Fat Quarter Shop in the States, together with some 2 1/2" squares (which I can't show you because they are inside the cupboard!).

That's as far as I had gotten back in April
While the design wall is not wide enough to have all blocks up, I had a little play with photos to get an idea of how it might look all put together:

Some of you might be aware that digital technology and e-learning are an important part of my day job. Moving photos from iPhone or iPad to the laptop to insert into blog posts can be a pain. I use a free app called Flick (available here) to move photos between devices, which makes things much easier.

So what else have I been up to:

Aotearoa Quilters have organised two challenges for this spring - Yellow and Floral challenge. I have entered a quilt for each:

Winter Blossoms on the left, and Tree of Life on the right.
With a bit of luck I might make it to the Festival of Quilts in Auckland this weekend and get to see them again.

While the damask whole cloth quilt is still unnamed, it has been on my bed for several weeks now:

Damask wrinkles...
Pastellation would just be a little too small for my 2x2m bed without the damask one underneath.
I am still on and off  quilting Opal Essence, I think I might have about a third of the boxes done now:

Still quite a bit to go, though it isn't 'hard' work (except burying threads, I've fallen behind again!)
Suz and I have been working on our Vintage Quilt Revival Sampler Block Exchange (what a mouth full)! My blocks are safely inside the cupboard, so I am sneakily copying some of her photos from her blog:
Suz' version...
... and mine
Suz' version...

... and mine
I'm not exactly sure what our current count is, but somewhere in the 20s, definitely beyond half-way :)

Other than my sewing our family are enjoying spring, DH had done lots of chainsaw pruning through the overgrown garden that came with the house and we have started planting and mulching - I'll have to get some of his before and after photos for another post. My BiL made a start at acid-washing the concrete around the pool which makes a huge difference, and I have water blasted the majority of the decks. DH and our youngest DS have built a chicken run and last weekend these cuties moved in:

4 lavender and one black Araucana, hopefully all hens and no roosters! They will probably be joined soon by another hen and her chicks.

'Shady dude' aka youngest DS and one of his new friends
DH has been working since August now which is not only a great help financially, he enjoys being out and about again. Unfortunately last week on the way home from work someone crashed into the back of his car. He was fine, but the car has been at the panelbeater's since and we will hopefully today hear the verdict (looks like a write-off...).

My work situation has changed, sadly my school has decided not to employ me again next year... Onwards and upwards, as usual for this time of year it seems I am back hunting for jobs... well, there's always tonight's Lotto jackpot of course! My body seems to tell me that I have worked too hard lately, I was off work on Friday and then took my back out! I have a couple of days off again as well as enough painkillers to supply have a village. The upside is that I managed to complete this and an e-learning blog post.

The boys are doing well, oldest DS has turned 16 and has agreed to try and get his Learner's Licence as well as practising to drive! His last day at school is this Friday, he will still have 4 exams to complete but that is all until February. If it was up to him that would mean staying at home for the next 3 months playing computer but we'll see what we can do. The other two still have school until early December.

That's about all I can think off for now. Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The trouble with the day job...

... is that it really eats up my 'me time'! As I have mentioned previously, I have returned into the classroom, teaching 6-8y olds - a challenge in itself you could say, and especially so when it's my first time teaching at this level. There are many things I enjoy - letters and pictures that say "you're the best teacher", hugs from students when they race into the classroom in the morning, an "ohh" when you tell them you'll be away the next day - it really is all about relationships. The learning happens when relationships are in place, and I am very proud of the progress they have made. However, it does come at a price, it impacts on time with family, on time spending online in my area of passion, teacher PLD, and especially it affects the time I have to be creative myself - and to blog about it! Every now and then I have put an image up on Instagram, feel free to check out my posts here.

Over the last few months I have mainly worked on our Vintage Quilt Revival Sampler, right now I have 14 blocks sitting here. Suz and I are not following a schedule religiously but we generally aim at one block a month; at the rate we are going, we should have our 40 blocks each together by the end of 2017 :)

While we have learnt a lot about what NOT to do when deciding on a feature fabric for a block exchange sampler quilt (wow, there's a mouthful!) as Suz has written about here, I am really pleased how it is all starting to go together. I can see though that I'm starting to run out of sizeable pieces in some colours, so when budget allows I will have to go back and by more yellows and reds I think. 

I have had a really good play with my Moda Solids and so far ended up with this:

Next step will be to buy another half meter of each of the colours plus a dark blue to border it with. This will allow me to turn it into a double size quilt (a certain 13y old does not seem to stop growing...)

I have also sandwiched the damask whole cloth quilt (damask from MiL's hope chest) and started the straight-line quilting. It's been sitting there for a little while, would be great to get it completed these school holidays.

DH has complained for quite some time that I haven't been making any 'arty' quilts but I wasn't in the right headspace. The inspirational Charlotte got a group of us together to encourage each other with entering Aotearoa Quilters challenges, so this might get me back into it? I am interested in entering both the yellow and the floral challenges,  but I haven't found the right inspiration(s) just yet.
Should I play with silks?

There's also quite a few yellow scraps...
I'm glad there are two weeks of holidays to help me get my creative fix - might keep me going for the next 9 weeks of term time? How do you keep yourself going when time is scarce?

Happy Sewing

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Blogger App Monopoly

So there I was, typing away busily in the Blogger app on my iPad. I did not go over Start aka press Save Draft and straight went to Jail - my beautiful post simply vanished! That should teach me - again...

So here we are, 5 months later, and it has been an incredibly busy 5 months. We packed up the house and belongings in Brisbane and moved back home to New Zealand where despite a rather dire rental market in the local community with the help of family we managed to get a lovely rental. While it only had 3 bedrooms (meaning the two younger boys had to share a room) and NO DISHWASHER, it was in a lovely, quiet neighbourhood with a beautiful view of the Kerikeri Inlet.

I was lucky enough to be offered two jobs and accepted a position as classroom teacher in an innovative, small, rural primary school about 45min drive from home. It has been an incredibly steep learning curve for me, this is the first time I have taught at this age level, and we had a number of changes to organisation and class composition during term 1 which meant lots of adjusting and putting in very long hours. Currently it's the school holidays, and we have been busy setting up a new classroom environment because from term 2 we will be team-teaching two year levels together.

The boys have settled into high school life incredibly well, even middle DS who had complained about moving to Australia in the first place and then complained when we decided to move back. All three attend the same local high school, have made friends, and teacher feedback is very positive. They are very lucky as their bus stop is the first one from school which means they leave after 8am in the morning and are back before 3:30pm. DH has been organising the household and boys and is job hunting.

We sold our previous home in Okaihau at the end of January, and as if life wasn't busy enough yet we did a little house hunting. We literally looked at only 3 houses, fell in love with the third, and when the bank gave us the go ahead, we bought this property. At the end of February we moved yet again - but we promised ourselves this will be the last time for a VERY long time. This new home has 5 bedrooms so - I have a sewing room / office again! Please excuse the night time shots:

My big corner sewing desk is up again, with the butcher block / cutting station currently to the left, and a handy pressing station on the desk.
The shelf sits to the right of the corner desk, and on the next wall is my newlarge desk which doubles nicely for laying out blocks - when there isn't too much school work spread out :) Note the furry helper!

On the remaining wall are two closets: The one further to the left (out of shot) is open with shelves (not organised yet), the other is this double wardrobe which now contains most of my sewing and craft items: Threads and notions tucked around the left, current projects and bags of scraps on top of the metal shelf, stash in the middle (that needs better organisation...), more material in the roller box (with space for my fabric painting box to the left), and some future projects below.
I've found it very tricky this term to concentrate on sewing for any length of time, but lately I've had a little more breathing space again, and with better organisation it's easier to pull out projects and work on them.
  • Suz from All the Good Ones Are Taken and I are still working on our #VintageQuiltRevival Sampler Blog Exchange (much easier now with just 20odd km distance versus across the Tasman!).

Just a random layout for now; 11 down, 29 to go
  • Still quilting the #GiantChevron - I'm a bit over it, it takes a looonnnggg time, and I still have problems with random thread breaking and stitches skipping; I'm thinking I need to really observe what I am doing to see what is causing this...

  • Haven't looked at #OpalEssence in a while, but I think I might pull it out this long weekend, it's quite soothing to merely quilt shortish, straight lines...
  • The blocks of my #MetroRings are still in need of getting pieced together. I can't quite decide if it bugs me that the curves aren't all even or not - might have to come up with a clever quilt ing design to make this work?
During my tidy up, I rediscovered a number of my quilts, so will get DH onto setting up some hanging space. Our new home as sarked timber ceilings, he was talking about using fishing line and timber rods - no more drilling holes in the walls! I also found a number of pre-cuts and little - or bigger - collections of fabric for future projects. One of them is Bella Solid bundle, themed around 'Postage Due' from Dowry by Anna Maria Horner.

My middle DS selected it as it reminded him of his beloved video games, esp. Super Mario. Originally I wanted to use lots of squares and rectangles for a pixelated effect, but after some discussions with Suz I'm thinking about some pluses, or maybe sth. similar to this?

I saw this block pattern advertised one someone's online store just recently but couldn't remember where. To find it, I did a Google Search for the image, and I had to laugh when the results was Best guess for this image: super mario bros 2 toad sprite
Another little find during unpacking was this beautiful damask from MiL's hope chest - she gave it to me 3 years ago for making duvet covers. I think it's very precious, and have been thinking about clever ways of using it. It's about 1.25m wide and there's about 7m of it I think; I'm wondering if I could use this to make a large 'cover' / valance for our bed to showcase smaller quilts on it? With a now California King (2x2m) even my 100x100" quilts can look a bit small.

Hmm, should have ironed it first...

Lots of things I could be doing - might have to tend to the washing first though! I hope you, too get to enjoy a happy long weekend of sewing!