Friday, December 8, 2017

Aqua Returns

This week does not look like summer:

It didn't feel like summer, either! This is week 28 of my temperature-based year quilt. Here are the daily maximum temperatures at our place, which determine the colour of each day's hexagon:

8/12/2017    17.7    green
7/12/2017    19.8    green
6/12/2017    19.6    green
5/12/2017    17.0    green
4/12/2017    14.0    aqua/teal
3/12/2017    12.9    aqua/teal
2/12/2017    11.5    aqua/teal

Nothing very warm about that, was there? However, after this return to cool colours, the week ahead is likely to include yellow, orange, and red days.

Not linking to Sarah's Weekly Weather Report, as she unfortunately has internet problems this week.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Seeds, Flowers, and Dead Branches

This morning I finished sowing the last of the TreeProject seeds:
We have quite a mixed batch this time, with a eucalypt, two different acacias, a hakea, a melaleuca, and one I've never seen before, Calytrix tetragona, common fringe myrtle.

My first dahlia flower is opening:

But the most exciting thing this morning was this:
Do those dead tree branches look like they have eyes? Zoom in for a closer look:
Definitely eyes! Eyes that follow you around without appearing to move. They belong to an adult (on the right) and baby tawny frogmouth, Podargus strigoides. The adult is a perfect dead branch, but the baby is still a bit fluffy to be convincing.

They were in a tree across the road from our place. Their nest may have been somewhere within sight without us ever realising. The birds are nocturnal, and can be very hard to notice during the day because they blend into the forest so well.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Challenge Revealed

Tonight was the Ballaarat Quilters' Christmas do, where our annual challenge pieces were revealed. The challenge involved making something using only the colours of the birthstone and flower associated with the month of your birth. As my stone is emerald and my flower is lily of the valley, that gave me only green and white to work with.

I decided to be quite literal, and make a representation of an emerald. Using a free downloadable program called Quilt Assistant and starting with this picture:

I created a paper foundation pattern for an emerald-cut emerald. And then at the AQC in April I saw Kat Jones's Bling, a giant cushion-cut diamond done by paper foundation piecing. In that post I wrote, "No one will believe me now, but one of the challenge pieces I'm working on this year is somewhat similar in concept to this. But I really did start working on it before I had ever seen pictures of Bling." There is really no comparison between Kat's diamond which is over 2 metres square and my 40cm x 60cm emerald. But as paper-pieced representations of precious stones, they are similar in concept!

Here's my emerald:
I used nine different green solids, plus white.  Here's a photo taken during construction, which I posted in June:

I quilted the whole thing with a variegated green and white thread. It is all straight lines, about 12mm apart on the stone, and 2 or 3 mm apart in the background:
This photo previously appeared on my blog in August.

I tried adding a facing to the quilt to give it a modern look, but it just didn't work with the matchstick quilting. I couldn't get a sharp edge when I pressed the facing back. In the end I removed the facing and added the binding instead.

It was fun to see how other people tackled this challenge. No-one else was born in the same month as me, so there weren't any other green and white pieces to compare with. The winning piece was a gorgeous cushion-cover in orange and aqua hexagons, which more than one person told me they thought was mine. But that quilter was born in December so had turquoise and narcissus (daffodils) as her colour source.

The winner gets to choose the next challenge. It  will be interesting to see what she comes up with!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Planting Preparation

A small scale working bee to get the TreeProject kit ready to plant. Two people (under the shade sail) filled tubes with potting mix:

Then I moved the filled boxes to their table, compacted the mix and topped up any that were a bit low:
With three of us working on it, it didn't take long to get all seven boxes ready for sowing. By the end of the day some also had their seeds, but I didn't get a photo before it got too dark.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bright Spots

We now have the full shade sail in place:
But the sun has barely come out since it was installed! We sat under it with the neighbours and had a drink this afternoon, pretending it was summer.

Despite the wintery weather of the last few days, there are lots of bright flowers around the garden.

Daylily Black Plush
There are many different daylilies in the garden, but there are also a lot of slugs. The flowers are a bit munched before they even open. I am patrolling regularly, and picking off the slugs to feed to the chooks. So I hope there will be some nice flowers to photograph before summer is over.

This canna was a surprise bonus that grew out a patch of clivias we were given. It didn't manage to flower before the frosty weather last year, but this time it has started much earlier:

The abutilons are covered in flowers this year:

A white penstemon:

We have paper daisies in a few different colours:

My hanging baskets have grown a lot, but nothing is actually hanging from any of them yet:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Second Mystery Clue

I spent the day working on the second instalment of the "On Ringo Lake" mystery, making lots of flying geese.

Cutting everything took quite a while, but here are my pieces piled up ready to sew:

The right-hand triangle is sewn on first:

Adding the left-hand triangle to the pressed units:

And by the end of the day I had a whole flock of flying geese:
I still have to trim off their bunny ears. As I do that I'll check them for size. I wouldn't be surprised if I find that some are a bit wonky and that I need to make a few replacements.

When the clue 2 link-up happens on Monday I will add the link here.
Here it is! Check out the gorgeous colours people are using. This is going to be a lovely quilt.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy Summer

Here it is, the start of summer, and the weather bureau are warning that today and the weekend will deliver "unprecedented" rainfall, with widespread flooding. Here's the weather radar from early this morning. I'd just been outside to let the chooks out, and came in to see how far away the rain was. The Bureau handily include Lal Lal on the radar map. Look to the west, just north of the centre line, between the 100km and 50km lines. It turns out our first lot of rain was just about to arrive:

One of my quilting groups was planning to hold our end-of-year break-up tomorrow, but it has been postponed for a week due to the weather warnings and recommendations that people don't travel tomorrow. There is a high likelihood of flooded roads, and disruptions to public transport. So tomorrow I will stay home and work on the second mystery clue instead, which will be released overnight some time. And because I'm using the treadle machine, it won't even matter if we lose power in the storms.

Here's week twenty-seven of my temperature-based year quilt:

Not as warm overall as last week, although Thursday was our warmest day so far:

1/12/2017      20.4    yellow
30/11/2017    32.2    red
29/11/2017    33.7    red
28/11/2017    28.9    orange
27/11/2017    20.1    yellow
26/11/2017    25.1    orange
25/11/2017    29.6    orange

And although we are now officially in summer, the coming week is going to be significantly cooler. There are no orange or red days in the forecast, and one day which could even take us back to aqua!

Linked to Sarah's Weekly Weather Report, where all the northern hemisphere folks are starting to feel the cold.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Meet "Creepy"; an Aldi special this week. Tool or toy?
I don't normally name machines, but this little guy seemed to need one. He creeps along, with his little whiskers spinning around, collecting up dog hair and other detritus. He is a bit like a crab. The dogs aren't very impressed with him, but they tolerate him better than the regular vacuum cleaners. And he did find several of Dot's balls that had disappeared under furniture, so that made her happy.

What do you think? Tool or toy? My initial thought was "toy", but he can get under beds and cupboards that a regular cleaner can't reach, so maybe...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Time for a Mystery

After a busy weekend, yesterday I could finally start sewing for Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, "On Ringo Lake". She announced the colour scheme a few weeks back, and as I have plenty of fabric of all the colours she is using I decided to stick with her scheme. The first clue was released at about 10pm on Friday, so I've been thinking about it all weekend. And I've seen lots of pictures around the internet from people who have finished this clue already, or at least made a good start.

For previous mysteries I've added to the challenge by converting the measurements to metric, or changing the measurements or the colour scheme. This time I considered making a miniature version, but then discarded that idea when I saw the first clue. My challenge to myself this time is to sew all the clues on the treadle machine.

Getting the correct seam allowance was the first challenge. I have a couple of magnetic seam guides, but they won't work for patchwork, as they can't be positioned close enough to the needle. The foot gets in the way.

So I stuck this (used up) gift card to the bed of the machine with some double-sided tape. I had to adjust it after sewing a few strips together, because they weren't quite right.

All seemed to go well, until it was time to assemble the strips into 9-patches. I just could not get the seams to line up correctly:
The machine seemed to push the seams out of alignment no matter how well they were nested when I fed them through. I tried loosening off the pressure on the presser foot, but that didn't solve the problem.

After a day of tearing my hair out, and a lot of thrown out pieces like the one above, I had very few acceptable units:
This morning I started with a new needle, which helped a bit, but I was still getting misaligned seam intersections. I sent a cry for help to the Southern Cross Quilters mailing list, and a very helpful quilter sent me a link to a YouTube video all about presser foot pressure.

That gave me a few ideas. It turned out that when I lessened the pressure yesterday, I hadn't done it nearly enough. So I lessened it as far as possible, then gradually tightened it until I was getting good results.

Here's how far out of the machine the pressure screw ended up when it was sewing nicely:
Much further than it was when I started.

With that problem solved, it took me very little time to complete my desired quantity of this week's units:
As I have done for the last few mysteries, I'm making half of the specified number of units each week.

Bonnie is hosting weekly link-ups as usual each Monday. Here's the first one, where there are already about 150 links:  Monday Link-Up . I particularly enjoy seeing the different colours people are using. Check it out!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

TreeProject Pick-Up

Only 11 days after last year's TreeProject trees were taken away, today was the first distribution of kits for this year's. The distribution point is in Kensington, so we offered to collect kits for the growers in the Ballarat area with our ute.

I forgot to take any photos of the pick-up. When we got back to Ballarat we delivered kits to three growers to save them coming to our place to collect them. Still no photos. But here's our kit:
Only one kit this year - 7 boxes which will potentially hold 336 trees.  They are for the same landholder as the last lot, and include a few of the same species. I hope we get better germination this year than last.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Geelong Quilt Show

The Geelong Patchwork and Quilters Guild show is on this weekend. Lots of guilds have patchwork car covers that they pop on a car outside their show, but this was the first patchwork bike cover I've seen:
I presume there was a bike or a motorbike under there. I didn't check.
Cute, anyway, and more manageable than a car cover, in terms of making, storing or deploying it.

Inside the quilt show there were lots of signs stating that no photos should be published anywhere without the quilt-maker's consent, so I didn't even take any photos. There was one quilt I really would have liked to show though. It was made entirely of shade cloth!

Added Later:  Fortunately Jeanette was smart enough to ask at the desk, so she has pictures of the shade-cloth quilt on her blog. Check it out here. It is amazing.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Warming Up

This is week twenty-six of my temperature-based year quilt:
This was the warmest week so far, but there hasn't been any really hot weather yet:
24/11/2017    29.7   orange
23/11/2017    32.6   red
22/11/2017    30.9   red
21/11/2017    30.5   red
20/11/2017    28.8   orange
19/11/2017    27.2   orange
18/11/2017    27.4   orange

And here's how it will look when I finish stitching it and join this completed row to the previous ones:
Half a year already! Started on my birthday, and the first half completed on my son's birthday.

Today our first two water-lily flowers opened:

This warm weather has brought a need for some summery clothes. Today I finished sewing this tunic top of a very light-weight cotton lawn:
I'd make a few adjustments to the pattern if I make this again (those sleeves are a strange length), but it is light and comfortable and is sure to get a bit of wear through the warm months. According to my records I bought this fabric from a 2nd-hand store in Tyabb in Dec 2010, so I think after 7 years in my stash and who knows how many in someone else's, it is time it was used!

Linked to Sarah's Weekly Weather Report.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Around the Garden

Things are happening in the garden as the weather warms up.

My sweetpeas have started flowering:

I was late planting them (I put them in in early August, instead of in March), so they haven't grown as tall as they might have if they had been growing all winter. It is nice to see and smell them again.



These graffiti geraniums , which were a Christmas gift last year,  are filling out nicely:

And this is something new:
Buddleja globosa, orange ball bush (although it seems more yellow than orange). The bees like it!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Horizontal or Vertical?

Today I finished stitching down the binding on my "What's in the Box?" mystery quilt (designed by Susan-Claire Mayfield of Gourmet Quilter).

But one question remains: Should I hang it with the wavy lines running across the quilt:
Or up and down?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Storm Casualty

We had a huge amount of rain over the last day or so, and sadly the giant echium collapsed as a result. Last night it was lying flat on the ground. The stem wasn't broken, but the roots had pulled out of the mud. In an attempt to keep it going, it's been tied to a stake:
The leaves are looking quite droopy though.

The flower spike looks not too bad, considering.
I hope it keeps flowering. The bees love it, and it is quite spectacular.