"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UFO's, another Mini-Quilt finished, and more biking!

I sat and pondered this morning about all of you and UFO's.
When I first started quilting and embroidering in 2005 it seemed a ludicrous thing that anyone could possibly amass UFO's in their crafting. I stitched every day after discovering the delights of what needle and thread could make for my home, family and friends, and what it did for my mental state of being - that constant need to create which until then only found it's expression in my love of the culinary arts. Unfinished projects simply did not exist for the first two years of my stitching journey. As soon as a project was planned, the cutting of fabric done, and the thread colours chosen, it was head down-bottom up until it was completed. Satisfaction followed soon after.
However, like all good stitchers and quilters, bad habits crept in. The fondness for fabrics of all colours and designs was soon apparent and a hefty stash began to inhabit drawers, bookcases, and plastic tubs. With the purchase of these fabrics came ideas for projects - some were quickly begun, others left to simmer in my mental photo stream. Those which I began (but never finished) gradually increased and one day I discovered I too had succumbed to a life of ever increasing UFO's hidden away and no longer filling the excitable spaces of my mind. Guilt ensued. Shame followed fast as I tried *not* to calculate the expenditure made on these projects that no longer saw light.
And then an answer. Stop.
Stop buying more fabrics. Stop starting new projects. Stop looking ahead, and turn your time to what is already before you.
Relief soon followed.
This is a recipe I can highly recommend. A key ingredient to this recipe was donating as much fabric, patterns, and 'bits and bobs', as I could over the last six months. I gave some to friends, some to New Beginnings, and the rest to our local op-shops. It was freeing indeed, and even though I loved most of that fabric, it had sat there for too long unused and I knew that realistically it would not be chosen for anything in my current style. Once gone, a weight lifted, and I was finally able to set about making my creative space (shown HERE and HERE). Everything I now have will be used, and I still do not need to buy any more fabrics for a verrrrrry long time.
Now, back to UFO's.
These are my UFO storage drawers. There are 10 of them, so 10 UFO's live within.
Gradually I am making my way through each one, and the first UFO completed just last night was this Huswif, a free pattern from Kaaren...
I had all the stitchery done, but needed to add the felt, ribbon, wadding, backing, and then bind it. It took me an hour and I now have a gorgeous new sewing caddy - with fabric that has been crying out for a stage.
On Saturday night I chose fabrics for the second of my 12 mini-quilt challenge projects from Sarah's book. (You can see my first one HERE.)
Mine is very different to Sarah's original with the American stars and stripes effect...
 As I began to cut the fabric and make the templates for the triangles I was struck by images of a circus tent. So I present to you, my version of 'Rebel with a Rotary' - 
"Saturday at the Circus"
This mini-quilt is 16 inches square, and I LOVED making it. 
Lessons learned: 
* How to make a plastic template (and not be afraid to use it after years of just rotary cutting)
* How to cut the stacked strips accurately with 45 degree angles.
* How important it is to make the quilt 'my own' with fabrics of my choosing - to not be influenced by the fabrics and colours chosen by the quilt designer. 
On Sunday Mr E and I rode with the Townsville Ullysses Club for a Poker Run up to Tully Heads. As we have an extra 260 klms added to our day's riding due to living in a different town, Mr E and certainly had tired bodies that night. We did a 700 klm round trip, leaving home at 6.45am and arriving back 11 hours later. 
A Poker Run is fun. There are five checkpoints on the ride, and at each checkpoint you choose a card from the deck of cards and that card is recorded in your 'hand' by Rhonda...
At the last checkpoint we each have our poker hand and the three with the best hands get the prizes. Our checkpoints were Yabulu, The Frosty Mango, Ingham, Cardwell, and our destination Tully Heads. 
Our stop at the Ingham checkpoint was McDonalds and the poor staff did not know what to do when 25 bikes arrived and the riders and pillions are piled inside for some breakfast! 
Mr E and I didn't win any prizes, but we had a great day - his smile says it all. :-)
Have a lovely week!
(and maybe make a plan for your UFO's...)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Two finishes...

Finish 1:

I completed my first of twelve mini quilts from Sarah Fielke's book, "Quilting from Little Things"! This 12" square quilt comprises all 1" squares and cross-cut triangles. I hand quilted with Perle #12 threads, and have the needle-pricks on my fingertip to prove it. ;-)
As I progress through all twelve of Sarah's mini-quilts I will learn new skills and lessons. From quilt 1, the lessons learned are - patience, wear a thimble when quilting, don't think that because something is small it is quick to make.
The next mini-quilt in Sarah's book is this one, and it will be my June challenge to self....
Finish 2:

The second finish today is that of my creative space. Yesterday I completed the other side of our verandah area, normally referred to as my office. Our bedroom opens up through French doors into this area...
 I am feeling organised.
I love that feeling.
Now to create!
Have a lovely weekend,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blossom turns 17, and time for a creative space...

Sweet Blossom had a birthday yesterday, her 17th.
We began the day with her traditional breakfast of home-made cinnamon scrolls at 6.30am...
...followed by the opening of the gifts. This year Mr E wrapped them in boxes filled with balloons!
The first box was huge and after hunting through the balloons Blossom found a DVD course on SLR photography, and inside one of the balloons was an 8GB SD card from her older brother.
In the middle size box were more balloons, with a box of chocolates at the bottom...
...and finally the small box, without balloons, that held her extra special gift!
We gave her the day off school, so no surprises what she did all day. I'll share some gorgeous shots she took of the two of us when she sends them over to my computer. :-)
I was so inspired by Lisa's blog post about her creative studio that once Blossom dissapeared with her camera for the day, I got to work putting my own creative space in order.
I am a soul who needs structure and organisation so I can see what I have, and be reminded about it! I was like a kid in a candy store yesterday discovering 'lost' fabrics, notions, trims etc, all put somewhere 'safe' but then misplaced.
I made use of what I had for storage, but did spend $24 on pretty boxes at the local '$2 shop'. My books of French General and Cath Kidston labels also helped with keeping track of what was to be housed in the boxes.

Now to tackle the other side of this front verandah area (my office)...more of that tomorrow.
Have you set up a creative space?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The old mining town...

Sunday ended up being a good day for a ride after all. The Townsville Ulysses Club (a biker club for people over 40) were riding west to our town (Charters Towers) for morning tea, then heading south east for lunch in the historic mining town of Ravenswood.
I wondered what the locals thought when our conga line of motorbikes rode through the quiet main street, but it seems they are used to this and thought it was great. The local pub is under new ownership and were pleased for the extra lunch crowd!
The pub is very old, and the owners have many original pieces still in use, as well as beautiful stained glass fittings...
This old headless rocking horse would have been beautiful at one stage...
After a hearty lunch with all the Ulyssians...

...we headed across the road to the antique/pottery/collectables store.

The owner drives this equally antique car everywhere, declaring she'll be buried in it one day.
The town is still a gold mining town, and she makes fridge magnets from pressing findings from digs around the area into her clay.
Some of them are mine markers from the 1800's.
I  bought this one...
I hope this isn't one of her mine findings. He'd sure make a huge fridge magnet!

The rain finally began to head our way so Mr E and I said goodbye to the Townsville Ulyssians and rode the 80klms home just in time for the heavens to open with an all-night shower.
Our Sunday rides are so special!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My book challenge, and some sneak peeks...

The other day I shared with you that I had given myself a challenge for the next twelve months, and the inspiration for the challenge came through Sarah Fielke's latest book of gorgeous quilts, "Quilting from little things..."
This book is not just a book of 12 amazingly creative and funky quilt patterns, but it also teaches techniques. Before you make any of the larger quilts in the book, Sarah shares a pattern for a mini-quilt as a practice of the techniques she'll be using in the main quilt.
There are 12 large quilts, and 12 mini-quilts - all different, all lovely, some incredibly gorgeous!

As I am a self-taught quilter and stitcher, this book offers me 'classes' in new (to me) methods and diferent blocks that will gradually challenge me as I work through the levels.

The first mini quilt is 12 inches square, and consists of four, 6 inch pieced blocks. Every square in the block is a mere 1" completed, so this particular challenge is one of patience and care with tiny piecing.

One finished, only three more 6" blocks to make!
The finished 12 inch mini quilt will look like this...
 I intend making 1 mini-quilt per month, and perhaps next year I'll make on the large quilts?
If enough time can be found next week I'll finish this and show you. 
Just a thought, but if you also have the book perhaps you'd like to join me in this (ad)venture?? Leave me a comment if you can. :-)
The reason my time is scarce has more to do with some deadlines I have than with home and school at the moment. I have basted my newest quilt design, "Circles of Life"...
...finished the machine quilting...
...and begun the hand quilting.
The plan is to have it finished for June. I can't wait to show you!
A few other things taking my time are this sneak peek of a Christmas project...
...and finishing all the available blocks for "Things We Love" BOM previously shared by myself and the other former Gum Tree Designers. 
This one is Dawn's...
...and this is Fee's. 
I have done my borders and sewn the two top rows together...
When it is finished it will be a lovely remembrance of our time together. Don't forget, the blocks will only be available from the Gum Trees blog until June 1st. You can get them all HERE.
It's constant rain here today and tomorrow so Mr E and I are lamenting a no-riding weekend. Bother. Bother indeed.