Friday, 18 April 2014

Eggy Dyeing

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It's not often that someone comes for lunch and brings two dozen hard boiled eggs, but today our family get together for Good Friday was coupled with some egg dyeing.  We were at the Prahan Markets last weekend and came across a stall with some wonderfully coloured eggs and Julia, our sister who lives here in Melbourne, picked up a couple of sachets with the thought it would keep the younger kids occupied while our fish pie was baking in the oven.



The dye colours are red and green and we could tell from the moment we mixed the solution that we really didn't want to get this stuff on our clothes - the depth of colour is amazing and so we were thankful for aprons and did everything we could not to get it on our hands (it's perfectly edible, but green or red fingers are not ideal!)


Little hands spent a considerable amount of time drawing on the eggs with wax crayons, wrapping rubber bands and gluing on leaves with egg white to see which would give the best effect when dipped in the dye.  We thought the rubber bands were best, but it didn't stop us trying everything we knew, just to see what happened. We cracked some of the eggs so that we could take the shell off to see pretty patterns and we even melted candle wax on to one, which was pretty effective too.

Once the eggs had been dipped in the dye for a few minutes we dried them on some paper towel on a foil wrapped tray.



...and then we had an edible, and somewhat festive centrepiece for our lunch.

Happy Easter 

Deb


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Friday, 11 April 2014

Memories of Arkansas

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Memories of Arkansas
I have never been to Arkansas although I have heard that it's quite lovely .. 
My memories of Arkansas are of shopping with Deb for quilting fabrics to make the Arkansas Crossroads quilt.  

We both shared a passion for vintage, scrappy quilts and this was going to be the vintage-est and scrappiest of them all.  We hunted down all the fabrics and made a start but then life got in the way.  Deb and her Husband had the most amazing opportunity that saw them settle in the wilds of North Yorkshire in England for a few years and then onto Melbourne and by this stage, very little remained of our quilting days.
At long last - ready for quilting

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when Deb says that she has a piece of our Crossroads quilt and would I like to finish it.

(We like to think that it has been waiting all these years for the right sewing machine to come along.)


I quickly added a border and I was set to go.






Starting with Stipple
Whilst it was never going to be the gorgeously large Queen sized quilt we had envisioned it was the perfect size for a sweet table runner and I thought it would be the perfect project to practice my stipple stitch on.   From what I have seen and read, the stipple stitch is a 'must have' in the repertoire of the machine quilter.  

All I really had to do was quilt it.   I was trialing a new thread (Isacord) and it came together really well.  Aside from an issue with the top thread snapping every now and again but nothing a change to a new needle couldn't fix.  We had left a fair bit of bulk in the quilt and at one point my needle snapped trying to get through it all where a number of seams joined.  It was easily fixed - I just avoided the joins.  The Isacord has a lovely sheen to it which catches the light and highlights the quilting.  






A great tutorial for this block can be found at The Virtual Quilting Bee.  It has, after-all, been over 15 years since Deb and I pieced this quilt so my memory of how it all pieced together is a little fuzzy.

I love this table runner.  I loved quilting it and watching it become something at long last (It's been an incredibly long WIP).  It's memories of Arkansas but it's also memories of when my children were younger, memories of quilting with Deb and memories of many, many happy hours.

Happy Quilting,
Louise

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Monday, 7 April 2014

Welcome to Melbourne Scarf

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My parents are currently visiting from Perth and so I thought it only fitting to make my mother a scarf to help keep off the chills while they are here in Melbourne, where the temperatures are generally cooler, the rain more rainier (not sure if that's even a word) and the sun less sunny.  Naturally now that I've crocheted a scarf, there is a strong likelihood of an unseasonal heatwave...you have been warned!




 I've still been working my way through the large stash of Panda Riverdale I purchased on sale recently (I made a Vintage Shell Wrap a few weeks ago with this very yarn) and I've been determined not to let it sit and gather dust, so when I saw a granny strip scarf I thought it would be a perfect way to use up some of my stash.







While my yarn is a much thinner ply than Jennifer used at Fiber Flux used, I think the pattern was very effective and I just added enough stitches to make the scarf the width I required.


Now I just have to find some sort of pattern that my Dad might like.  I'm tempted to ask him to help me thread my weaving loom as a welcome to Melbourne gift, but I think I might get more enjoyment from that than he would!

Happy Crocheting

Deb



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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Crochet Flower Egg Cosy

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As the days start to get shorter here in Melbourne, it's hard to believe that the long Summer is finished and the Autumn leaves will soon be falling.  Even though Easter is very late this year, my thoughts have still turned to all things eggy at the usual time.  Hot Cross Buns have been in the shop for months already and the shelves of Easter Eggs seems to be growing every time I head to the supermarket.

When I think of egg decorating though, it's not dyed eggs I think of but lovely egg cosies to brighten up breakfast time.  Louise and I have made a few different designs in the past (we've got Gnome on the Range, Daisy Egg Cosy and our  Sampler Egg Cosy ) this time I thought I'd try something a little different and try crochet flowers instead.

The cotton I used is Paton Regal 4 ply in "Greens Print" colourway.

Pattern:  With a 2.5mm crochet hook

Chain 5, form into magic circle.  Slip Stitch 1 into circle.
1 single crochet into circle
1 double crochet into circle
1 treble crochet into circle
1 double crochet into circle
1 single crochet into circle

repeat a further four times to form flower, slip stitch into circle. end.

Make a total of six flowers and sew together.


I've gone for more masculine colours for this egg cosy, although I can't help but think lovely pink tones would be really lovely for the breakfast table.

Happy crocheting

Deb

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The pattern I decided on is:
Chain 5, form into magic circle.
*Slip Stitch 1 into circle
1 x Single Crochet into circle
1 x Double Crochet into circle
1 x Single Crochet into circle
repeat from *4 times to form flower
Slip stitch into magic circle
- See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/search?q=crochet+hair#sthash.JDEuGqI3.dpuf
The pattern I decided on is:
Chain 5, form into magic circle.
*Slip Stitch 1 into circle
1 x Single Crochet into circle
1 x Double Crochet into circle
1 x Single Crochet into circle
repeat from *4 times to form flower
Slip stitch into magic circle
- See more at: http://fitzbirch.blogspot.com.au/search?q=crochet+hair#sthash.JDEuGqI3.dpuf

Monday, 31 March 2014

Coasting along with Free Motion Quilting

Pin It For about 3 weeks now (the same amount of time that I have had my new machine), our dinner time has become a routine of sitting at the table with all my quilting stuff pushed to one end of the table with the 3 of us squashed together eating at the other. 

Everyone is tripping over the sewing machine cord and bumping into the ironing board which is now permanently left set up next to the table.  It is creating chaos in our dining area - but I'm as happy as a lark.  

Once dinner is finished and the dishes done, I just move everything back to the centre of the table and I'm ready to go.

I have a few practice pieces of quilting on the go .. I do a dummy-run of the design that is in my head before I go anywhere near the quilt.  It's quite nerve wracking to put the first machine stitches into a quilt top that you have spent not only hours making, but hours designing in your head.

I thought that I would use these practice pieces to make something and the idea of drinks coasters came to me when Peter made me an after dinner cup of tea and put it on the table next to me .. and it left a white heat mark.

I simply traced around a coaster that I had, to make 4 squares - each with a bit of the design and, just like a mini quilt, made a binding and voila! drinks coasters.

I did try to do a fancy stitch around the edging but in the end, the binding gave the neatest finish.

Happy quilting,
Louise

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Friday, 28 March 2014

Top 5 Free Wrap Patterns

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Now is the perfect time of the year to start thinking of those in between items of clothing that are perfect for if the weather is just starting to cool down or heat up.  A wrap, poncho or capelet are ideal items to thrown on or have handy and can be so much more versatile than a plain old jumper.  Here are our top 5 free patterns:


Summer Rose Capelet

This is one of our most popular patterns of all time!  It's a beautiful piece which is perfect for a more formal occasion and the knitted roses really add a lovely romantic feel.







We love this Wrap for its Downton Abbey styling and lovely detailing.  The mini cables and toggle button add a vintage feel that wouldn't look out of place having afternoon tea in the drawing room with Lady Edith.










A figure eight wrap using a vintage shell stitch and retro colours really makes this piece pop!  Wear it as a wrap or an infinity scarf and you'll be loving this versatile addition to your wardrobe.










Loom Knit Wrap

If you're the proud owner of a knitting loom then this Wrap, which we've made in the softest baby alpaca, is easy to make and a pleasure to wear.  In neutral tones with wooden toggle buttons, this piece can be finished in a weekend.









Asymmetrical Easy Crochet Poncho

We love anything with the word "Easy" in the title and this asymmetrical poncho, made entirely in Double Crochet and is perfect for beginners.  Throw it over jeans and a top for a super stylish look.



Happy Wrap Making!

Deb and Louise



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Monday, 24 March 2014

Adventures in Free Motion Quilting

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Last  week, my fiance surprised me by buying the sewing machine of my dreams .. and then hiding it so I would find it unexpectedly.  He thought long and hard and thought he knew my routine when I come home from work.  So he hid the machine in our toilet room. However, I came home and changed the routine and he had to wait an hour and a half before his gift was discovered.  I know that the thought of finding a sewing machine in the littlest room in the house doesn't sound romantic but I thought it was one of the most beautiful things anyone has done for me.  Not only that, but he bought it on the Friday before a long weekend so it was Nirvana for me.


The machine he chose was a Pfaff Expression 150 Anniversary model.  I had been looking at one, decided it was the one I wanted and set about saving up for it.  I should have twigged when he asked which one I had chosen.  I thought he was interested.  He wasn't - which makes the gift all the more wonderful.  He has no interest in sewing or sewing machines.  He bought it to make me happy - and it does.

It's the perfect machine for quilters and comes with all the accessories you could possibly want.

I started off with some machine quilting on my 'Game of Thrones' quilt.

My practise piece.



The moment of truth .. 





























... End result 




However, even though I was thrilled with the machine quilting results, I was very keen to try my hand at free motion quilting.   It was very tricky .. 

My first practise piece .. 



Much worse than I could have imagined - BUT! always remember to lower the presser foot.  








Things got much better once I remembered to do that.



Now, it's all systems go not only for piecing the quilts, but also for the actual quilting.  

Firstly though, someone deserves a cup of tea - in fact, this machine has earned Peter cups of tea for the rest of his life.

Happy quilting,
Louise


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