Friday, 29 April 2011

Daybook entry #8

Outside my window ... man, who's got time to gaze out the window?! Just as well this week has been short, because it's been way too busy. When last I had time to look, I saw this:
I am thankful for ... my time across Easter with my husband's family. He is from a large family, and it is increasingly difficult for everyone to make it to family gatherings. They are easy, fun company.
I am thinking ... about my brother who is being ordained into the Presbyterian Church tomorrow. He is 5 hours away, and I am really sorry to be missing his ordination. 

I am impressed by ... this amazing quilt, stitched by my 'relatively-new-to-quilting' sister-in-law for her daughter. I took lots of photos of this quilt on the weekend, so I will be back soon with more details!
Tonight, I will be ... enjoying my Friday night champagne, and curling up to read this gorgeous tome, delivered late this afternoon. Sarah is visiting town in a couple of weeks, and I would give my eye teeth to be in her class. For one reason and another, I can't be - grrrrr!
From my picture journal ... two of many fun sunset shots I took of my kids over Easter. 
These were taken within a five-minute light window, with me awkwardly prostrate in the paddock. I have the green ant bites on my belly to prove it!
Enjoy your weekend. Bloom x

Friday, 22 April 2011

The calm before the storm

The cousins are coming ... the cousins are coming! My mother-in-law is turning 70 on Easter Sunday, and the family are coming to stay.
We are accommodating and catering for twenty-five across the weekend, including a small army of children, so the last week has been a flurry of activity. I sneaked a quiet walk around the farm garden before the family descended and the rowdy fun begins!
We will roll from one meal to the next, enjoying easy company. Tents will be set up in the garden, and the hammock slung between trees for some serious 'chilling out' time.
There will be lots of tennis, and paddock golf. Trees will be climbed, and the garden explored. Easter eggs will be hidden, and excitedly found and consumed!
There will be time to get to know a new baby cousin, and time to catch up on the family's news since Christmas.
And there will be time to reflect on the place of Jesus in history, and in the hearts of Christians the world over.
I hope you have a happy time with family and friends across the Easter break, and that you too will find a moment for some quiet contemplation of life, the world and everything! Bloom x

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sewing Accessories PDF pattern

The pattern for my sewing accessories set, the companion set for my sewing machine cover, is finally available at the shop! This pattern, 'Beyond Measure' Part II, was originally published in the January 2011 issue of Australian Homespun magazine.
The set consists of a sewing machine mat, thread catcher and pincushion, made from a linen/cotton blend fabric and the vibrant 'Hope Valley' by Denyse Schmidt 

The machine mat is designed to sit beneath your sewing machine. I have been surprised at how the mat has reduced vibration of my machine, and helps to prevent my sewing from slipping off onto the floor! The quilted mat has a pocket panel, which overhangs your workspace, providing lots of storage nooks for your sewing tools of trade. It has piping trim, and is embellished with a twill tape, printed with 'measuring tape' markings.  

The thread catcher attaches to the mat using magnetic clips. It is removable for emptying. It sits conveniently at my right hand, ready and waiting for my snipped threads. Of course, if you're left handed, you could simply switch it to the other side of the mat. It has simple running stitch embroidery and pearl button embellishment.  
The pincushion is a simple, rectangular design and has a handy scissor keep at one end. It is embellished with running stitch detail on the side panels.
Details of the exact sizes of these accessories can be found in the shop listing.

As for my machine cover, I made up a second set in a contrasting set of fabrics. I have maintained the same linen fabric, but have used Moda's Martinique line, for a different look:
The 'measuring tape' twill ribbon I used in these projects can be purchased at The Home Patch, who readily do mail orders. They sell the ribbon in metric and imperial markings.
And I changed the button detail to a 'bloom' alternative:
Both 'Beyond Measure' Part I and Part II are available in the shop as PDF downloadable patterns for AU$8.50 each. 

For a limited time, if you'd like to purchase both patterns, you can have them for AU$15! Just click on the 'Bloom' sale link in my shop if you'd like to take advantage of this offer.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The peace of a garden

How quickly the first term of school has flown by. It has been a busy time in our household. But it is the destruction, natural and manmade, in the wider world in the last three months that has left me overwhelmed and seeking shelter in my garden. I took some photos in the late afternoon sun on Friday, drawing breath and seeking some serenity! 
 Diaphanous diascia!
 French Delbard rose,'Camille Pissarro ...
 ... bathed ever so briefly in the warm light of a setting sun.
Nodding heads of the David Austin rose, 'Lichfield Angel'.
Pert prettiness of the lovely 'Jane McGrath' rose.
 Lipstick pink salvia, making a bold and saucy statement ...
... matched only by the drama of some hot red snapdragons!
But these dwarf, showy wannabes will soon be eclipsed by the brilliant autumn colour that is developing with Acer x freemanii 'Autumn Blaze'!

How's the serenity, eh?!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Oo-oo-ooh ... do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be, yeah!

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments on my last post. I really enjoyed reading every one of them!

I need to say that my 'dumbing-down' post wasn't borne of any direct criticism of my work. In four years of blogging, I've had not one negative comment about what I do. I am very thankful for that. My post was a simple response to the debate and I took the indulgent liberty of some navel gazing!

Such was the wisdom expressed in your messages, that I've pulled together a list of helpful reminders from your comments, hitherto referred to as the 10 Commandments Things to Try Hard to Remember:
  1. Thou shalt quilt what makes you happy!
  2. Want simple, do simple. Prefer to be engaged in the art of precision work, then do so. 
  3. Those starting out quilting should be encouraged and admired for their efforts, and those who can produce a pickle dish of breathtaking precision should be held up as the artisans they are.
  4. Do what you love, post how you want 
  5. Your blog, your way!!!
  6. Be happy and supportive of one another whatever we choose to make.
  7. Quilt and guilt should never occur in the same thought.
  8. If we lose sight of the pleasure quilting is, what's the point?
  9. Don't ever lose the love of how seemingly disparate fabrics can come together in a dance of colours that bring joy to those who get to wrap themselves in it!
  10. Who cares what 'they' think, let's go quilt something!
As I read through your comments, the overwhelming sentiment seemed to be 'do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be'. This is the chorus from a 1971 The Master's Apprentices song. Yep, I'm showing my age ... awww, I was only five! I found the original film clip, and though the other lyrics have sweet nothing to do with the topic at hand, it made me happy. So here it is. I hope it makes you happy too! 

I think I will go make myself a nice cup of tea, settle in to some quiet stitching and wait for the storm to pass! Bloom x

Friday, 1 April 2011

The dumbing-down of quilting?

This post has been rattling about in my head all day  - perhaps it should have stayed there. Perhaps I would be wiser not to buy into the debate raging in quilting circles right now. At issue is whether quilting is being over simplified to the point of sacrificing technique and quality. 

In an attempt to summarise this emotive subject, here are some of the thoughts being debated:

As a quilter, are you:
  • extending your skills, or contenting yourself with simple designs?
  • working with triangles? Are you adept at constructing a pinwheel block?
  • sewing with a consistently accurate 1/4" seam?
  • choosing your own fabric combinations for quilts, or buying pre-cuts where the choice is made for you?
  • are you striving for accuracy, or disguising the lack thereof with 'wonky, improvisational' blocks?

As a quilter who blogs, are you:
  • doing your readers a disservice by sticking to simple designs, focussing on quantity, rather than quality?
  • glorifying the simplest of quilting achievements, in order to have your ego stroked?

As a pattern designer, are you:
  • trying to make a buck from selling over-simplified patterns? 

My, what a minefield! And do you feel the pressure? I feel guilty of several of the points at issue, and I feel a somewhat irrational need to defend myself! Many of the projects I am drawn to right now are simple and understated. This is purely a result of the stage of life I am currently in. With school-age children, I simply do not have the time to pursue complicated designs or the money to attend workshops to extend my techniques. I most certainly have the desire for these things, but not the wherewithal right now. And I don't think I'm the only one in this situation!

Has this issue caused a lack of confidence in my work and whether it is blog worthy? Well, yes. I feel like I should be getting my Dear Jane out again to justify my claim as a quilter! But it is a momentary lapse of reason, to be sure. To beat myself up with guilt or to turn myself inside out seeking the good opinion of others is not what being creative, or writing a blog is about. Quilting for me is a creative release, a therapy amidst a busy life. My blog is not about showing-off or seeking praise. It is a precious way of connecting with like-minded women. 

If you'd like to immerse yourself in the great 'dumbing-down of quilting' debate, just Google it!
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