Out trip gave me time to catch up on my Afghan squares project which has languished somewhat in the hot weather. It's very hard to knit when its 30+ degrees all the time!
The first square (which I can't seem to capture the colour of, its darker than this) is in a stitch called Inverness diamonds. Then with time to spare and no pattern on hand I did a simple stocking stitch with purl stripes. Its probably called something particular, but you get the idea. I've got a nice nine inch block happening now, which is quite satisfying. I've got the bug again now and I'm thinking it might be time to give cable knitting a go. Or maybe another more detailed lace pattern...
One thing I do know, its time to learn to block and how to sew in the ends properly! My squares aren't so much squares yet but parallelograms.
Back last night from our party weekend and straight into a fast week. My darling J and D turn 9 on Friday and lots of things on the agenda before then. Amongst other things, on Thursday I need 60 cupcakes for school, on Friday I need some presents wrapped and ready! And there's something called Easter happening around then too ;-)
It was lovely to spend time out with family and friends in their rainbow of hairstyles at the Birthday wig-theme party on Saturday (Elvis was there) and a perfect recovery walking on Sunday at my SIL's bush block where the muted colours soothed our sore heads.
My old sewing machine broke down again recently, and I only had it fixed a year ago. I've had my old Janome for a looong time. In fact I got it for my 21st (way back in the mists of time!). I've been quite proud of the fact that I had resisted so long trading it for a new model. Make do and mend and all that.
Its followed me around through share houses, travel, marriage, babies. I've made baby blankets and dressups on it, I've made clothes and cushions and sewn on a lot, a lot of tea towel labels!
For a while now though I've been putting up with a fair few bad habits it had picked up along the way. It didn't like going backwards or changing stitches and made a tangled mess if I tried.
So... I think I've earned my new one - please meet my new best friend, the Janome DC2101 :-)
After looking for a good second hand machine I lashed out and bought it in the Janome sale. It is computerised and I think my very favourite thing is the needle up, needle down button. Do you have one? How great is that. Or maybe its the speed setting on the front. Or maybe the accommodating way it changes stitches without making a ball of thread. I've hardly got it out of first gear yet and already I love it.
On Tuesday I had a lovely time sewing a pincushion or two for this lovely swap I've joined via FoxsLane (button on left). I spent the time dreaming of all the future projects I can tackle now, including this rough layout I made and photographed recently. Its an idea for a quilt, based on my Aqua RickRack fabric. If I can work out how to do it (and any/all advice or inspiration pics/tutorials very welcome). I'm sure I'm choosing the hardest design possible but there's something I like about the random layout. (I'll show you the quilter I'm inspired by next week.)
We are away this weekend at J's sister's birthday party out west. Can't wait. A bit of bushwalking and country air. I wish you all a fun weekend. I'm going to drag out my knitting for the car trip - its that time of year again.
Oh and thanks again to everyone for your support of the Show & Tell interviews :-) We've had lots of visits, lots of wonderful comments and some sweet emails. The next one will be in four weeks time, and I've got another fantastic blogger already lined up, you're going to love it. Ooh exciting!
I've been really dying to post this second Show & Tell interview! I know you are going to really enjoy learning more about my guest, the talented Rita Hodge from Red Pepper Quilts. Rita's beautiful quilts exemplify the Fresh Modern style through her exciting use of whites and solids and her wonderful colour and pattern choices.
I'm sure you'll be as interested as me to read what her future plans are (!), find out which of her beautiful quilts is her favourite (I couldn't choose) and follow the links she's generously provided to her favourite inspirational quilt artists. Sadly I can only share a few of her beautiful images so make sure you follow her links to see more of Rita's lovely work and buy her quilt patterns and quilts.
Rita Hodge location
Melbourne blog http://www.redpepperquilts.com shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/knitknat http://www.sewnsell.com.au/storecatalog.asp?userid=280 flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/redpepperquilts/ flickr group - red pepper quilts http://www.flickr.com/groups/1337794@N23/
Short description of your blog/style/work
I am a quilter with a love (addiction) for fabric. My quilting style is fresh and modern, using really simple and often traditional design ideas to make colorful quilts. My blog is a journal of my creative self, and I hope to show readers that easy to make quilts can be really striking, and that by taking small risks in fabric and color selection the final product won't disappoint. It is all about sharing my knowledge, and I hope inspire others to pick up the rotary cutter and use their fabric stash.
1. Why blog? How did you start?
I started blogging in April 2009. My family and friends are fans of my quilts and fabric stash and encouraged me to start blogging to keep up with what I was up to.
2. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
I am a self-taught quilter, although I have always been surrounded by a crafting family. My mum always had a crafting project on the go - when I was really young she enjoyed cross-stitch, but has since dabbled in many crafts including knitting, crochet, folk art, pottery, and quilting. My sister is also a keen quilter and long arm professional machine quilter, but it wasn't until my two children were in primary that I decided to give quilting a try. Right from the word go I loved fabric and have been building my fabric stash since. I am also blessed to have a Mother in Law who is a talented seamstress and enjoys both machine and hand piecing quilts.
3. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
My workspace is the dining table right in the middle of our open plan kitchen/dining/living room area. There is ample seating at the kitchen bench for our meals, and as such the dining table is rarely clear of my quilting supplies, or my work in progress.
4. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
My blog name does not have any real significance. I set up a business name in 2008 when attending the Houston Quilt Market, and have continued to use this name for my blog and online stores since then.
Apparently this droolworthy stash doesn't include all Rita's solid fabrics, kaffe fassett and amy butler fabrics and anything larger than 1/2 yard!
5. Favourite medium to work in?
Favorite medium is definitely fabric.
6. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
My future direction is perhaps in teaching some workshops or patchwork sewing classes.
7. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Am I neat and organised? I think I am neat and organised, perhaps my family think otherwise… Admittedly when I am working on a quilt, I do tend to pull out lots of fabric, without putting it back or even folding it. So at times there might just be a huge pile of fabric on the table spilling onto the floor. No matter how meticulous and careful I am there are always threads and fabric scraps on the floor.
8. Favourite handmade item you own?
There are a few quilts that I have made that I am very fond of. At the moment I love the custom made quilt that I made for a blogging friend, Kate from One Flew Over [shown at the top of the post]. It is pieced from Half Square Triangles, using a green/grey color palette, again not complicated, but so effective.
In terms of wearable items that I have made, my favorite would be the Laminaria Shawl. I do enjoy both crochet and knitting, and I am particularly fond of lace knitting. This lace shawl was a little challenging, and although green is not a color I wear well, I do wear the Laminaria shawl often.
9. Favourite food/recipe?
Our favorite family meal is a baked macaroni and cheese with lots of vegetables. Mushrooms are a staple for most of our meals also. Dutch (salty) licorice is my favorite confectionery, and find it hard to get through the day without a strong coffee.
10. Favourite colour?
This changes often! Looking at my fabric stash the most often purchased fabric is green. I stay clear of purple.
11. Star sign?
12. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
New York City - As a family we have visited NYC numerous times and feel very comfortable and at home in the buzz of this big city. We use the public transport system to make our way around, and seek out all of the yarn and fabric/craft stores on all of our travels.
A favourite place, Rita and her beautiful kids in NYC at the Rockefeller Center in 2007.
13. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
No tricks, sorry, but I do try to remind myself to get enough sleep.
15. Three words to describe you?
I find this really hard! Loyal, determined and unselfish.
16. What do you like to do besides creating?
Besides quilting I enjoy knitting and crochet and usually carry my knitting project around in my handbag. I love reading, and read most nights. As a family we enjoy traveling abroad.
Way back in the mists of time (well, November 2007) I bought a hat, a beautiful orange spotty hat. I bought it from a lovely woman called Sue on Etsy. I had only just opened my shop on Etsy and Sue and I emailled back and forth a bit, she was very sweet and encouraging and she cheered me on as I started to have some success with Flower Press. Sue is a very talented seamstress - I think she could make anything - but eventually she decided to concentrate on her wonderful hats, in a new shop called aptly McHats where she sells hats and patterns made from her fantastic original designs.
Back then, in November 2007, I talked to her about the dreams I had to make my own fabric. I told her that when I did it would be great if she would sew something from it, combine our talents! It seemed like a lovely dream.
Fast forward to 2010 and its very wonderful to me that that dream has been fulfilled. One of the first things I did when I got my bolts of shiny new fabric was to send some to Sue. And now she has sewn this beautiful little dress for me, using RickRack fabric in Aqua blue :-)
In other exciting news, my Show & Tell interview series continues on Tuesday next week. I've been formatting the post today and adding photos and I know you are going to really love it!!
It took me a short while of drooling over photos and a long time waiting (a year's preorder) to get the beautiful and delightfully named Rosette Delizy rose (I pronounce it Rozette Delizzee, though I'm sure its probably more properly Rwah-sette de Lizée!).
And after all that it sulked. Buds balled and fell off, bugs loved it and ate half of every flower, I slowly lost my excitement. Rosette Delizy was usually a short lived disappointment of browning and stunted yellow blooms.
This autumn it has finally got its mojo happening and it is well worth the wait! Like the lovely Mutabilis rose the flowers change as they age, starting a yellowish pink and turning a rich barbie pink
When I came to style one of my new tea towels today - the Chrysanthemum design in Rose pink - I had lots of girlie satisfaction photographing it with a vase of fat roses including Rosette Delizy, Baronne Henriette de Snoy and Gloire de Dijon, my pink teas. If that's your thing too, its in the shop now, but you might have to wait longer for the rose.
Happy Birthday Mr Flowerpress! I had a rush of blood to the head in the cake section of Coles the other day and bought this blue buttercream in a can! Mr F is a mad fisherman and I thought the picture on the can looked a bit like waves.
Miss A found Luke Skywalker in fishing pose but missing his light sabre and then the green monster turned up while I was looking for a model boat. I couldn't resist this dramatic tableau, the red icing is blood as the [quite cheerful] monster takes his boat and companions to the deep :-)
Oh, and please mind the crumbs and the chinese temple candles - the really important thing is that's rich mud cake underneath, yum! Cake wrecks eat your heart out!
(An editor I used to work with used to say HB Susie, HB on my birthday. So cool but a touch world weary!)
There's nothing I love more than a big new batch of screenprinted tea towels, and its even more exciting when they include new colours or designs.
I was taken a bit by surprise over Christmas. I sold a lot of tea towels! So many that my stock of linen tea towels ran out. The good news is I've finally restocked the shop.
This batch is full of old favourites like the Filigree pattern in Ocean (formerly royal blue), Chalk on unbleached linen, Tomato on unbleached linen and new favourite Ink on white. (As you can see some of tea towels have new names, I thought it would be fun to give them more interesting colour names)
There are a couple of new colours in this batch too, which I will reveal as soon as I can take photos and post them in the shop.
One of them I did manage to grab a quick pic of is up now. Please welcome the new Chalk on Black linen tea towel! Don't you love it here with my fifties bowl. The graphic pop of the Filigree design in stark white against the black towel is really striking. I've only got a few of these so be quick if you like it.
From the beginning I've thought about this as a bar towel. I see it drying whisky glasses or with a raft of champagne flutes stacked drying on it, in a lowlit bar, the glint of glasses and bottles above. I think this one would make a great gift too, wrapped around a bottle of bubbly with a big red or silver ribbon!
On Friday I finally got my laptop back - yay! - with a crispy new, brand spanking hard drive. It wasn't that way for long - I spent the weekend loading it back up with all my junk! I am trying to turn over a new leaf though and put things back in better order... I always start with good intentions. In the meantime the fairies have been out in the garden, painting the leaves and such. I've said it before but there's something about the way the light changes at this time of year that inspires me to pick up my camera again. (Oh and I cheated a bit with that first shot, I moved the little mushrooms in amongst the little grassy plant. I think they look cuter like that :-)
Last week Tania from Myrtle and Eunice wrote a really compelling blog post. To me it articulates so beautifully the struggle many of us have juggling our family, creative and business priorities.
To get the full brilliance of her post you should read through the comments too, there's such a lot of wisdom there, so many women in the same position applauding her for letting go of one piece of the puzzle to make it all work :-)
My job description this week has included so many and varied things, like driving across Sydney to meet a new printer, calculating PAYG, paying bills and wages, backing up my dying laptop and installing a new colour printer, computer work, an evening school band meeting, planting seedlings for the other school's fair and helping set up a science experiment. I pushed an overladen trolley round the supermarket, got small people to band, instrument and winter sport practice and sent them back to school with their homework complete and notes signed. And in between I tried to be a good and present mum, wife, friend, daughter, neice and neighbour (except to that crazy woman across the road who feeds the pigeons and lets her dog bark!).
I often find myself with an overcrowded brain, and heart, (and a very messy desk!) but (on good days!) I see it as part of the compromise made to have so many wonderful facets to my life (it's a good day - can you tell!).
Also this week I spent time in my garden watching the plants embrace the changing of the seasons as we gratefully slide into the mellow chill of Autumn. I'm sure I'm not the only one who won't be sorry to see the back of those summer months of record heat and humidity. I hope the slide into spring is as much a joy to those of you in the northern hemisphere who have suffered such an extreme winter.
The other day Brisbane Flower Press stockist Daniele sent me these photos of her lovely shop Lace and Bark to share. I must say I wouldn't mind some of those tea cups coming home with me! Have a look at her website to see more of the exquisite handcrafted furniture and homewares they make and sell, and the interiors of her beautiful shop. Or, even better, if you live locally go and see them in person at 18 Station Street, Nundah. Just don't tell me, I'll be extremely jealous! I love the fact too that their furniture is made where possible using reclaimed and recycled timbers.
I'm hoping to get organisised and expand my stockist network this year. It's one of the things on my to do list. It's been there a while but you know, I think its getting closer to the top!!