Wednesday, 1 October 2014

the most amazing needle book in the world!

Well, it has certainly been a while since I visited my own blog! All is well - life has just been so busy that things like blog posts get left off the list of things to do.

A while ago (ahem, three months ago) I participated in a needle book swap hosted by Amy. I shared the needle book that I sent to my partner and have been looking forward to sharing the needle book that I received. It is the truly the most amazing needle book in the entire world. And I do not embellish when I say this.
My partner - Lazy Bee Garden - showered me with gifts. I felt so special that I was sniffing back the tears as I unwrapped all the packages. I was surrounded by three of my four children (12 year old boys aren't really interested in mail addressed to their mother!) who were well aware that I was eagerly awaiting a package. And they were as excited as I was.
 So as not to spend two hours of your time, I will show you a selection (there were even more than this!) of the gifts bestowed upon me. My partner sent me two fat quarters, one of them being the fabric used for my needle book (and it's coordinating accessories!).
 A log cabin ornament. This will look great on the tree at Christmas time. For the rest of the year it hangs on a knob on my hutch in the living room. I love it!
 A skinny pinny. With the most amazing butterfly embellishment. I have always wanted a skinny pinny! Actually, this is my first pin cushion - thank you partner!
 A letter 'J' sticky note pad. I love sticky note pads - by this point I was wondering how my partner knew me so well.
And then the most amazing needle book in the world. You will need to sit down before you look at the remaining photos. I nearly had to breathe into a paper bag when I first saw it. With such an uncommon name as mine I have never had anything personalised. I am deeply touched to have my name so beautifully embroidered on the front. And look at that adorable needle!
Look at this beautiful page.
I adore the butterfly pin.
 There is a packet of embroidery needles in the pocket on the left. Yes, it's a pocket!
The second page reveals more felt pages, that are black and smaller. My partner is so creative.
 This is the third (and middle) page of the needle book. Look at those fancy pins. I have fancy pins! Oh, and while I don't claim to be the best photographer, my foot is supposed to be in this photo. I wanted my very talented needle book partner to see that I love the combination of black and red.
 My partner designed the entire needle book, which measures 7" x 6" when closed. It closes using a press stud, which is sewn with perfectly neat stitches. I am continually filled with awe when I see the craftsmanship of my needle book.
 The last page is the ultimate. A zippered pocket with a lovely zipper pull.
 Stunning embroidery scissors. Another first for me.
 Beautiful embroidered details. Now that would probably take me an hour to sew.

 I knew that I would be receiving a needle book as a participant in the swap organised by Amy, but I didn't expect it to be so overwhelmingly fabulous. Neither did I expect anything other than a needle book. Can you feel my gratitude? Thank you Lazy Bee Garden - I love and appreciate your hand made goodness. I am immensely touched by the time that you took to make such beautiful things just for me. As I was writing up this post Zoe came over to see what I was doing. In reference to you, my wonderful swap partner, Zoe said "She is awesome." I agree. You are awesome.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

mable monkey

Lily loving her Mable.
I am so pleased to have finished Mable monkey. She is the third Mable I have made. The pattern pieces for all three were cut out at the same time (over a year ago!). Two were completed, but Lily's Mable just didn't get finished. I think she got a bit lost under the mending pile next to my sewing machine.

I am pleased that I have finished something on my Finish Along list for the third quarter of the year, but even more pleased that Lily is delighted with her very own Mable monkey.

Finish Along 2014
Incidentally, isn't it a curious way to spell 'Mable'? Mable came from a Softies book that I absolutely love.
Softies Only a Mother Could Love - ed. Jess Redman and Meg Leder
The softies in this book are adorable with a slight quirkiness.

Here is Lily's Mable monkey hanging out with Eli's Mable.

And here is Mable's tail after I reattached it. It lasted about 45 minutes the first time around. Lily made the yoyo underneath the button. She also stuffed all of Mable's body parts.
So, no more Mables for me for a while!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

hula hoop rug

One of the activities on our school holiday list this hula hoop rug. It is lovely and soft - and easy to make - though I think it is more of a mat than a rug. More pot-holder-for-a-bottom size than floor rug size.
We put the hula hoop rug on our list after seeing this on someone's Pinterest board. Who wouldn't be inspired by an activity that repurposes worn out t-shirts that are only good for the bin and uses a hula hoop to do it?
Photo from Spoonful.
We didn't actually have many t-shirts that weren't good for anything else but cutting up. I managed to round up two, which we used for the 'spokes' on the hula hoop. For our weaving we cut strips of jersey fabric purchased at the op shop for a nominal amount and then sewed the ends together to form loops.
I would recommend using the largest hula hoop you have (or can borrow. Call in any circus act contacts you have.) and making sure that it is not one that is made of reinforced cardboard. Only use the solid hula hoops, as anything else will bend with the tension of the 'spokes'. Also make sure that each 'spoke' goes through the centre of the hula hoop. You can see in the photo above that the middle of the 'spokes' should actually be a bit higher. If the centre of the 'spokes' is not in the middle it will reduce the maximum size of your rug.

The tutorial we followed had great step by step instructions. The tutorial uses a 33" (84cm) hoop; we used a 23" (59cm) hoop to yield a rug that is 16"(41cm) in diameter.
The rugs very quickly took shape.
Progress slowed a little as the weaving circle grew bigger.

 Keeping the 'over, under' pattern was not as easy as it sounds. Particularly when two, ten year old girls are chatting and giggling!
 I was concerned that we might not have enough strips of jersey fabric for weaving. The tutorial suggests a dozen t-shirts, but as we made our own loops out of yardage we just had to estimate.
 I didn't need to worry. We had so many that we will be able to make at least one more rug.
 The finished rugs.
 This is an excellent school holiday activity. It isn't one that can be undertaken on the spur of the moment, but if you plan ahead and collect your t-shirts (and source a hoop) you will have one day of the holidays sorted!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

surprise mail

 I had some lovely mail arrive recently. I was very fortunate to win a set of Aurifil threads in a random drawing as part of the Blogger's Quilt Festival recently hosted by Amy's Creative Side. I had totally forgotten about them, so it was a complete surprise when they arrived. Packages are always very exciting.
After posting my 2.5" squares to my allocated Confetti Swap partners I received 5 squishy envelopes in return. Squishy envelopes are just as exciting as packages.
Australia Post has released a lovely new stamp booklet containing the floral emblems of each Australian state.
 I love self adhesive stamps and always carry a booklet with me in my wallet. When I was a girl I remember licking the backs of stamps before sticking them on the envelope. I also remember having lots of sticker books like that too, except they tasted a lot better than the postage stamps (they reminded me of the taste of root beer actually!). Is this how stamps are presented in other countries? Self adhesive stamps in booklets? Just curious.
I also received an extremely unexpected envelope containing these.
Bee blocks. From the Rainbow Bee that I finished a year and a half ago. I didn't receive two of the blocks (though another Bee member kindly made an extra two so I wasn't short) until now!
What's curious is that the stamp isn't postmarked.
 It would have been interesting to know when these blocks were posted so I had an idea of how long their journey had taken. They came from Queensland - on the other side of the country, but I think a year and a half is still beyond the time needed to travel that far. The only clue I have as to when they were posted is the value of the stamp. The cost increased to $1.40 earlier this year.

You are probably thinking that I could just ask the sender. It would also be nice to thank her. Alas! She doesn't appear to be active on Facebook any more.

So, have you had any exciting mail lately? The kind of mail that immediately makes you smile?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Finish Along {Q3}

Finish Along 2014
I made progress on my Finish Along list for the second quarter, but I didn't actually finish anything. I got very side tracked with other sewing projects which, fortunately, I did finish. Mostly. But that's okay - it just means I have lots to choose from when I make my list for the third quarter of the Finish Along.

Want to see it?

 1.  The improv cushions that Zoe, Eli and Lily designed. These are in various stages of progress, but they're only pillows right? Pillows are much smaller than quilts, so I should be able to finish these.
2.  Poor Mable Monkey. She was on last quarter's list and didn't even get looked at, let alone finished. I think she will get done this time; the kids are on school holidays and Lily has started pleading with me to finish Mable. Lily can help me.
3. And because a list is not really a list with only two items on it, my second Scrappers Delight. This is my second because I cut an excessive number of strips for the first quilt!
4.  This one is on the list because I'm a dreamer. My Scrappy Trip Along.
5.  This last one is on the list because I'm feeling the pressure. Lily's Star Wars king single bed quilt. I've done two blocks...

So, these are my lofty goals for the next three months (amongst all of the projects that will pop up along the way. I really do have a concentration span greater than that of a goldfish!).

I love lists. Are you a list person?
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