Saturday, January 29, 2011

This week I...

Took Carli's package down to our village post office - it was closed. Drove to the next village, whose post office was also closed. Listened to the radio: all post offices in Bouches-du-Rhône are on strike. Sigh, of course they are. This morning I trekked over to the next department and finally sent off Carli's canvas. Bon voyage!

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Cracked and visited neighbouring town's bakery after my failed posting attempt. Why does this feel like confessing to an infidelity? Who could resist this Cranberry and Almond bread loaf? Tasted good on its own, even better toasted with butter.

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Realised my 'followers' had passed the 100 mark! Hello everybodeeeeeee! *Grover wave* I need to sort out my side bars and put up some links and follow back (I always forget to 'follow' as I use the Google Blog Reader).

Enjoyed some play time.

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The toddler, at 16 months, finally decided to toddle.

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He can get into twice as much trouble now.

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Freaked out a bit about all the unfinished projects I really need to finish, so I poured a cuppa, wrote a list and got a grip on myself.

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The mister's going to know I've been into the truffles again when he sees this. 

Received the most awesome, generous package which has me chomping at the bit to start new projects like this:

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Received a lovely award from the even lovelier Diana over at Sticks and Bubbles. Thank you Diana!

Diana has a fabulous eye for colour and makes the most amazing fabric matches. Like this, or this, or how about this. And this is just soooooo nice. One inspiring lady. Plus she blogs in English even though she's Romanian, which is bloody hard work.

Cut a bunch of half-square triangle blocks.

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Finally finished the hand binding on the minky baby quilt.

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And saving the most exciting 'til last (no offence Carli and Diana ;):

Found out our first routine ultrasound scan was normal and that baby number four (eeeek!) is doing well and due mid July. A French summer baby? Mais oui, merci!


Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

It's coming to a close at home - I hope you've all had a wonderful day (probably at the beach or having a BBQ) in the warmth.

Best wishes for a happy Australia Day from Provence!

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Vegemite baguette. Vive l'Australie!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Auction Results

The highest bidder was the lovely Carli, who blogs over at Carli's Clan. (She also just happens to be Toni from Make It Perfect's sister. Small world, huh?)

We have already been in touch and I will have her prize in the mail by the end of the week. My canvas is looking forward to finally seeing its new home!

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Don't forget the raffles are still open for another twelve hours or so. For just a $5 donation you can put yourself in the running for some great prizes. Check out Make It Perfect for the raffle master list. I bought myself a fistful of tickets this morning and had a great time choosing the raffles I wanted to participate in.

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Congratulations Carli and thanks again to all those who bid and helped in some way to raise money for disaster relief. You're all ace!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I can has design wall?

Today is the day - the auction closes at 9pm Paris time tonight.

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In breaking news, Carli has come in with a late bid and now has the lead! With six hours to go, anything could happen. Phew, I'm a bit excited by it all.

I'll tell you what else has me excited - finally getting myself a design wall.

I'd been reading around the traps that flannel sheets are the way to go - their fuzziness holds your quilting blocks in place and then you can move them around to your heart's content.

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I hung my sheet with picture hooks along the top (sorry landlord). Then I used some nails to pull the sides tight (toight like a toiger, as Goldmember would say).

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I was very tempted to just get the sheet up as quickly as possible, but instead I sewed in button holes for all the hanging points to strengthen them.

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Hopefully it will last a bit longer now.

First trial - a quilt for the little girl of the house, who is a huge fan of pink and yellow if you hadn't guessed.

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It's supposed to be morphing from pink to yellow across the diagonal.

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I'm a few blocks short though, so more sewing required.

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The next post will announce the auction winner.
Thanks so much to all those who've been digging deep across the internet for the disaster victims.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Final Auction Details

It's almost time for the final push in the auction to support the Premier's Disaster Relief Fund. Toni has suggested that folks end their auctions at 9pm rather than midnight, for the obvious reason that bidders and hosts alike would probably rather be in bed at that hour. Can't say I doubt her logic, so I will be doing likewise and closing the auction at 9pm on Monday 24 January, local time (see side bar for Paris local time).

I'm not sure if I mentioned payment details, but no money goes to the individual auction hosts. Auction winners pay their amounts directly to the Premier's Disaster Relief Fund and then provide the auction host with their receipt number. 

Hosts are then free to release (or post) their winnings to them. Easy peasy.

Because I have been out battling the January sales all day I have no crafty photos to show you, only these ones of the goings-on in our back yard.

Have a great weekend every one! 

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Cherry tree buds, the wood pile up close, dew drops on prunings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to sew with minky or minkee (but not minke)

I'm back, fresh from wranglin' the minky.

 Minke Whale. The quilting world's shameful secret: where minky really comes from.

Jokes, jokes. I mean this stuff:

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Soft and damn slippery. That's nice if you're with a lady, but it ain't no good if you're in the sewing room.*

I know a few of you were interested to hear how I got along, so here's how it went.

I must firstly send out endless thanks to the magical interwebs which gave me plenty of advice.

1. I washed and low-heat tumble dried all materials to take shrinkage out of the equation.
2. I pinned super thoroughly

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Pin overkill? Yeah, possibly. But that sucker wasn't going anywhere.

3. I went for a larger needle, the largest I had was a 90.
4. I lengthened my stitch to 4
5. I found I had to reduce my upper thread tension
6. Put your walking foot on
7. Sew with the minky side down, so your feed dogs can get a good grip on it.
8. Be prepared for a mess when you trim the minky back; it kinda snows on you

And then off I went. I was surprised it went well, for reasons I will further outline below.

I quilted simple straight lines on the diagonal, 5 inches apart. When I was done I sewed all around the edges, as close as I could, to help prevent slippage when I came to sew on the binding.

For once I thought ahead with regards to the binding and decided to sew it onto the minky side, so that when hand finishing I would be sewing into the cotton side. I didn't fancy hand sewing the binding to the minky.

Again, I would recommend lots of pins.

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Not enough pins

I had to unpick two of these sides when I was done as I found the binding had slipped and ended up too close to the edge for my liking. Just the action of pulling out the pins slid the binding over the minky.

My hint would be to pin like this:

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The perpendicular pins keep it all together and make sure your binding doesn't pucker. The parallel pins (set far enough away not to interfere with your walking foot) will stop the binding from sliding as you pull out your perpendicular pins. Whew, complicated. But worth the extra effort.

Another option would be to pin your binding a quarter inch towards the middle (rather than flush with the edge as I have) and trim back afterwards. Then it won't matter so much if it slides (within reason).

I like to iron my binding open before I hand finish - if you do too, make sure your iron is set for polyester and not cotton or you might melt your minky (there's a joke there somewhere. It will come to me.)

A bit of hand sewing and I'll be done.

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The reason I'd been dreading sewing this is I've been having some troubles with my machine. Her tension is causing me tension and I must admit I am about done with her. As soon as I get back to Australia I am trading her in for something else.

Despite constant fiddling with the tension dial, changing needles, upsizing needles, changing threads, I still get this quite frequently:

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See that rogue looped stitch. I could figure out what to do if they were all like that, but just one in every line is starting to really annoy me. I have lost count of how many quilting lines I have unpicked this year.

End whinge.

Hey, have you heard that Make It Perfect's auction for the Premier's Disaster Relief Fund has hit $45,000? How awesome is that! Thank you so much to everyone who's had a part in it. Just goes to show, if we all do a little bit it can make a big difference.

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Now to schedule in some hand sewing time.

* If you haven't seen Good Morning Vietnam this will be lost on you.

Try around the 1:40 mark.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Little Projects...

I ordered the fabric you see below right to make some more baby blankets for all those virile friends of mine who seem to be popping out wee ones left, right and centre.

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Warning: gratuitous unfinished canvas photo opp.

The prints are all Riley Blake's - the bottom two are cotton from the All Star line (to go with the super soft chocolate minky you see in the middle). The top three are from his recent All Star 2 and the large dots are flannel. The top material was meant to be the binding, but as is my God-given right I've changed my mind and gone for a dark turquoise instead (like the one half star you can see poking out there).

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I've been procrastinating on the bottom blanket after reading comments about how hard minky is to sew with, but after reading some hints here I'm ready to go. I just have to wait for it all to come out of the washing machine.

Another UFO awaiting some love is this quilt top made in Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush.

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I'm going to back it in some flannel, which arrived a few weeks ago and also needs a spin in the washer.

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I picked up a few Amy Butler Lotus fat quarters as well because there was still room in the flat rate envelope, and I like to make the most of my postage dollars (like I needed an excuse).

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I wanted to pass on another way that people can help those who have been devastated by the recent floods in Australia.

Romance Writers of Australia is collecting new/near new books to distribute to those in need. Water and books don't go well together, so there are plenty of people out there who have lost the contents of their bookshelves. Not to mention those still languishing in emergency accommodation who could use a good book to escape into for a while.

So if you have some books that you're done with, or have no intention of reading (bad Christmas gifts anyone?) please consider donating them to the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal.

Thank you!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A few little projects.

I haven't made any New Year's resolutions as such, but I do have some aims (I like that word, it sounds very businesslike but can't really hold me accountable for anything). I want to finish up the five or six UFOs (unfinished objects) threatening to spill out of my book case and start some projects that I have had in mind for a while (but for some reason keep putting off).

In this vein, I've finally sewed the binding on this quilt for my son, which I started about a year ago! I shelved it when summer came and kind of forgot to get it done in time for winter. But I figure he'll still get plenty of snuggles out of it before the weather heats up too much.

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I see some hand sewing in my future. More photos once it's done. 

I also finished off the little quilted baby mat I made for some friends' new baby boy.

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I used all the left overs from my little sister's baby quilt. This one was a great deal simpler in design and went together quickly.

I used a single piece of the Riley Blake All Stars in Paisley, which I adore, to finish off the back.

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And the binding was also from the All Stars range.

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I think my favourite print is this Henna Garden. Too bad I only had one square left. Can you spare a square? 

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Another sortof resolution I have made pertains to my sewing/quilting books, of which I have a few. Several of them, for shame, I have yet to make a project from. I would like to complete at least one project from each of my books before I buy any new ones. It doesn't have to be the exact project, it can be an 'inspired by' and still count. Then I can be happy I made a good purchase (and won't have to feel guilty if I buy another!)

Thank you to everyone who has bid on my canvas, I am so happy with the money raised so far. I have no idea if the bidding will go higher once the auction list is released Sunday night (Aussie time) on Toni's site, but it feels good to have done something from so far away.

Thank you so much for helping me do that! Now get back to your weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Let the Auction begin!

Toni at Make It Perfect is encouraging us to get our auctions up an running, so here we go.

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I am auctioning this piece of art, made from a cotton artist canvas, quilting fabric, with some acrylic paint and sand paste for texture.

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This little canvas is 22 x 27 x 2 cm (8.5 x 10.5 x 0.75 inches) in size.

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I will pay for postage anywhere in the world.

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The auction will run here, from this very blog post. (To see an example of how it goes, see Toni's own auction here).

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Folks leave a comment with their bid amount and their contact email. Bids need to increase a minimum of a dollar.

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All bids are in Australian Dollars (AUD).  You can get an up-to-the-minute exchange rate here, but to get an idea:

1 AUD = 1 USD (or very, very close)
1 AUD = 0.76€
1 AUD = £0.63

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The auction will start from now and will finish midnight on 24 January. I am going to run it on France time, otherwise my brain will hurt. To make this easier for international visitors, I've put clock and calendar widgets on the right that show the date/time in France.

I hope I haven't forgotten anything, please ask if you have any questions.

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All the fabrics used are commercial quilting cottons from my stash. I started this with the intention of using only scraps, but ended up cutting into lots of fresh yardage because I was just enjoying seeing it come together. And I only had to cut a teeny piece (surely it can't hurt).

Three of my Provence fabrics made it in, too, for those of you wanting a little bit of France on your wall:

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Blue and yellow fleur de lis, one of the first fabrics I bought in France

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Another little yellow flower? shape

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More tiny flower motifs, this time in red (to the left there)

I am starting the bidding off at $20 on behalf of the mister, who is rather fond of the piece.

My brother has escaped relatively unscathed. They had water through the ground floor of their home, which they had built in to make a guest room. All the main living and sleeping areas upstairs are fine, and they have power, which is great. And of course, most importantly of all, they are all safe.

No word yet on our home from the agency we are renting it through, but we are holding firm to the 'no news is good news' adage!

Thinking of everyone in Brissie and the long, painful clean up they are about to undertake. 

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