Thursday, September 27, 2007

You Spin Me Right Round Baby

I've wanted to try a pinwheel block for a while and thought I'd experiment with some of the gorgeous Michael Miller fabric I bought a while ago from Equilter.

I love it - it's not perfectly pieced, but hey, that's not the point! (geddit, geddit?)

Busy, busy, busy week here again. My parents arrive tomorrow night from Melbourne to spend the weekend with us - we're off to Floriade again, so we hope it's beautiful spring weather like we've had all week. It's a public holiday on Monday, but unfortunately I'm going to have to work again. I'll take a couple of days 'in lieu' down the track after our annual review is out. Then I can breathe a bit more easily :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Golden Flower

Here's another little tease for the doll quilt I'm making for the swap. Did I tell you how much I enjoy quilting by hand? I find it very soothing (apart from when I prick the underneath finger).

Also, here's a snap of Romily, aka Dora the Explorer. She dressed herself like this...crazy kid! If you look very closely you'll see her gory split lip. Poor little love tumbled off my bed the other night when I was getting out of my work clothes and landed on her face on the wooden floor. Blood everywhere (mostly on me) and lots of tears and cuddles. She was fine and a shot of Panadol helped take the edge off for her. Fortunately it's not bothering her at all - it's just horrible to look at while it heals!

What a bugger, I had to work today. I am responsible for producing my organisation's annual review and I'm on a very tight publication deadline. I tried to get the first draft finished during the week, but didn't get there. I spent around 9.5 hours in the office today...boy it was quiet! I got lots done, but I'm quite tired now. I really hate working on the weekend, but you've got to do what you've got to do. It just means that I only have one day this week with Romily and no down time. We'll have a nice relaxing day tomorrow and hopefully I'll feel refreshed enough come Monday.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Three Cheers for Gail!

The lovely, lovely Doodlebug Gail has found some time among her many competing demands and done a photo tutorial on how to insert a zip into a seam. Thank you Gail - your instructions are much clearer and easy to follow than in my Janome instruction manual!

Ladies, get your zipper foot ready and click here to learn all about it.

Thanks Gail!

(photo from Gail's tutorial)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Breast Cancer Site - Please Click!

With both grandmothers having died of breast cancer and an auntie on each side of the family having beaten breast cancer, research into understanding and eventually overcoming breast cancer is dear to my heart.

Of course I am not the only one who has lost loved ones to this horrible disease. There are many people out there doing 'their bit' to help the cause. I used to donate money every month, but now we are on such a tight budget, I don't have the spare cash - I still sponsor a child in Malawi in Africa and Carl supports the Boys Town charity - so I try to support the fight against breast cancer in other ways. One way I've just discovered today is this website - The Breast Cancer Site. You can help with the donation of free mammograms by just clicking on their website - it won't cost you a cent, just 10 seconds of your time. Sponsors agree to pay for mammograms if enough people click on the link. You can click once a day and it will add up to making a difference.

The site is legitimate and I encourage you to show your support!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ya Big Tease!

I've been an active member of an online Australian parenting forum for about two and a half years now. I joined when I was a couple of months pregnant with Romily, as I found I had a thirst for information about pregnancy, labour and life with a newborn that just couldn't be satisfied by books or my mother! The first because they don't go into enough detail (I'm a details gal) and the second because after three children and the passage of time my mum couldn't remember a lot of the finer details.

I found the (mostly) girls on the forum to be warm, welcoming, funny and very happy to share their experiences and advice. Most of the time everyone plays nicely, but occasionally you get the odd, opinionated so-and-so who hides behind the relative anonymity of the internet and says mean, hurtful and/or spiteful things. However, most of the women don't stand for it and they're usually quickly on the outer. It's an interesting social experiment, that's for sure!

What I didn't know was that there is a chat room within the forum just for crafty mums! I discovered it a little while back when surfing some blogs. It's funny that I had to learn about the craft room on the forum I've been frequenting for years from crafty blogs which I'd not previously visited! Hooray for the internet.

Within the craft room is a thread just for quilters. They're a lovely bunch and with completely different styles of quilting. They're very generous with sharing ideas, fabric and information and have set up various swaps. When they decided to do a doll swap, I thought I'd join - my very first swap! I'd been keen to make a doll quilt, so this is the perfect opportunity.

Of course when I actually sat down to plan patterns and fabrics I found all a little overwhelming! Also, the prospect of someone else handling my work and scrutinising every stitch was a little daunting, but the girls are so lovely that I think all will be well! As with most swaps, I'm not allowed to post progress shots, but I am allowed to tease...just a little!

Here's one snap for you. I can't show you any more right now! All I can say is that I have pieced the top and sandwiched the quilt. I have also started marking out my quilting lines and have chosen the thread. I'm quite happy with how it's coming along and think it will be well received by my swappee! Fingers crossed anyway!


Thanks for all the lovely comments on the dress I made for Romily :) I have discovered I'm not the only one whose best friend isn't a zip! I am determined to master it though and Doodlebug Gail has offered to do up a photo tutorial! I hope she finds time to do it soon - she's very busy with an exciting new project now, so I'll take Cathy's tip and stick with loops and buttons for the minute :)

I also forgot to add that I upped the difficulty level on the dress by 'lining' it with another layer of the white poplin. I decided the fabric would have been a little too transparent for my liking and you would have been able to see Rom's nappy, and we all know that's not a good look! Since I have no idea how to do lining and it was beyond my capacity to learn it and make the dress at the same time, I just cut doubles for the front and back and sewed them behind each panel. So I was stitching through double layers for all seams, trying madly not to let the fabric shift around too much. I was much happier with the result than I would have been if I'd stuck with only one thickness :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

No wallflower

I'd love to say I 'whipped up' this little number in no time at all, but setting the zip had me completely undone! I ripped it twice before getting out my Janome instruction manual and going through the sewing a zip instructions step by step. I ended up having to unpick the entire back seam to do this and found the whole process tiresome and frustrating!

However, I am now quite happy with how this hibiscus print contrast dress turned out. It's from a Burda 'Easy' pattern (number 9740) and has matching pants and a little bag. I'll be making them next. I also have plans to make this dress and pants in different fabrics, which I have already bought - naturally! I love how the manufacturers describe the pattern as 'very easy' - it certainly is...if you know how to sew zips. There were zero instructions other than 'sew zip'. Very useful...not!

Getting a good photo of the dress was no easy little model was highly uncooperative and I managed to get quite a sullen shot and quite a silly shot, with Carl doing the corralling honours.


We're having a nice, easy, relaxing weekend so far. We caught up this morning with some friends and their 8mo baby this morning - they are about to head off to the UK for three years - Coach won a scholarship to do his PhD at Cambridge so they're packing up and disappearing. It's hard to believe Romily will have started school by the time they return to Australia! Campbell, their son (the baby I made Wonky Geese for), is just gorgeous - the spitting image of his dad - he'll be nearly four by the time they get back! Crikey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back from Melbourne

And we had a lovely time!

We did have a little trouble getting out of Canberra after I finished work last Thursday - there had been a terrible fatal car/motorbike accident on the highway heading south and the police had closed the highway earlier that day. We thought it might have been cleared three hours later when we headed that way, but after queuing for about 20 minutes we were turned around and had to head back into town, up the northern highway to meet up with the Hume Highway (the major north-south arterial in Australia) - all this ginning around added an extra two hours to our journey - what a pain. Although of course an extra two hours is only a little inconvenience when you put it in perspective. Anyway, we ended up staying overnight in Albury, the border town between New South Wales and Victoria.

The next morning we headed south-west to Bendigo, where my father-in-law lives. We had a lovely catch-up with him and his partner, staying for lunch and dinner. After our meal we jumped back in the car and headed to Melbourne, arriving at my parents' house two hours later. We were all quite tired, but Romily had had a nap in the car, so was ready for a bit of a play before finally being put to bed at around 10pm - we didn't last much longer!

In the morning I took apart at the waistband and side seams the jeans I made for my nephew Zach - I rang my sister-in-law, who told me that his waist was 51cm - not the normal 63cm I'd catered for! I redid the side seams and reattached the waist AND added elastic to the back waist, finally getting them to approximately the right size. That's the last I want to see of those pants!!

We headed round to my brother Jim and sister-in-law Jacinta's place in the afternoon so Romily could see her four cousins again. They had a lovely afternoon playing together, along with my cousin's daughter and a one-year-old girl, the daughter of my brother's friends. The kids all played tea parties and dress-ups while the adults had coffee and cake. It was the most gorgeous day and so lovely to spend it relaxing with family.

Romily's tea party

A pensive but gorgeous Cody

The Darcy & Cody Dragon

After a quiet night in at my parents' house, the lot of us headed off to the Melbourne Zoo on Sunday to celebrate my twin nephews' 2nd birthday. Darcy and Cody are just gorgeous - non-identical but oh so similar! We had a great morning, followed by lunch and a cake. My other brother Bill and his partner Kate came too. Romily and her 4-year-old cousin Sam adore each other and held hands for a good deal of the time - which was great, as it meant our little bolter was less inclined to run off (again and again and again). She was very taken with the elephants, who have the most incredible enclosures - they are moved around quite a bit and have huge areas with swimming pools, piles of dirt to roll around in, toys to play with and a great 'elephant wash'. The elephants came from Thailand recently, where they had been working elephants. They are living the high life now in their retirement.

The transformation of the Melbourne Zoo over the past 20 years is simply stunning. Gone are the horrible cages of yesteryear and now all the enclosures are much more closely modelled on the animals' natural habitat. If there has to be a zoo, it should be this kind. I'm still in two minds as to whether there should be zoos, but I think they do serve an important educational service. I think. I'd much rather see no animal locked up, but the reality is that they are. If they are, then they should all be looked after so well.

Romily and Huppa in the butterfly enclosure

Sam, Romily, Huppa and Zachary

Sam and Rom

Sam and Zach

Cody and Uncle Carl

Darcy and Uncle Bill

We had a quiet afternoon back at my parents' place before brother and sister-in-law brought their four boys around for dinner. All the kids really enjoyed seeing each other and I enjoyed being with my family again. It's hard being so far away, but it's great when we're all together.

We drove back yesterday, taking around eight and a half hours. Bashka was VERY happy to see us when we picked him up from the cat boarding place and has been the biggest sook since then.

It is nice to be back home again.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

En Vacance!

We're on the road again - heading south for a flying visit to family for four days.

We'll be back early next week.

Enjoy your weekends!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Finish and a Start

Well I bit the bullet, so to speak, on Sunday and made a start on the single bed quilt I'm going to make for Romily (she won't be moving into a full size single for a while yet, so I have plenty of time!). I cut lots of strips of aqua and lime green and sewed them into stripes in preparation for chopping and rearranging for an internal and external border. It's funny to start from the border, but that's where I need to start.

Post-modern seaweed?

I calculated I need 400 inches (!) of strips for all the borders, which worked out at 30 strips all up. I tell you what, an afternoon of sewing in straight lines sure made a lot more progress than an afternoon spent making jeans for nephews!

Speaking of nephews, I finally finished the softie bears I have been making for them also for their birthdays. I had almost finished one of them a while back, but I just couldn't get the face right, and had ripped it out twice, so was a little disheartened. I finally got around to attacking them again tonight and tried something different - I am much happier with the end result. I decided close enough is good enough, as, no doubt, these toys will be discarded with all the others once the excitement of the birthday has died down!

It's nice to have finally finished the softies - they were fun to make (well mostly, anyway), but I much prefer sewing clothes and quilting. Much prefer!

I definitely have the sewing bug though. I have bought around 10 metres of dress fabric for pants, skirts, dresses and jackets for Romily, as well as a bundle of patterns (and that's in addition to what's in Ottobre!). I am NOT ALLOWED within 50 metres of any real or online fabric shops until the end of the year! Not with the way my credit card looks at the moment, at any rate...

So that means the doll quilt swap I've joined with the EB Quilters (there's a link in the right menu bar) will have to be made from stash - actually that's quite an exciting prospect, as for the first time I have developed a stash! It's tiny, to be sure, but it's a stash nonetheless :)

A very cruisy start to the working week this week - I've spent the past two days on a 'working in teams' workshop. I've been working in teams for the best part of 20 years, so have a lot of experience, but not a lot of understanding of the theory behind it. I like doing these workshops every now and then - they're kind of a touchstone and remind you of the most effective ways of working with people coming from different backgrounds/values/outlooks than you. Very useful. And, as I am taking this Friday and coming Monday off, I only have two days left in the office this week and a short week again next week. This is a very good thing, coming on the back of one of the busiest months I've had at work in recent memory :)

However, I unfortunately did not make it to the movies last night - I discovered the French film of Lady Chatterley's Lover (see previous post for links) runs for three hours! That's three hours of subtitles on a Monday night after a long day spent in training, resulting in mushy brain syndrome - no thanks! It'll keep for DVD!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Good Weekend

This weekend feels like fun. I am relaxed, happy and enjoying my life. With work calming down a lot this week, a lot of the pressure is off.

We are taking it really easy this weekend (meaning we are doing no chores other than cooking and washing up), as tomorrow is Father's Day and we are having a happy family weekend.

Nice kitty

Today was a glorious day in Canberra - perfect for the first day of spring. After a short lay-in and giving Carl a haircut (number two all over - it's not that hard I promise) I took Romily to the zoo (again) so Carl could have some time out and then while she was asleep I got busy with the sewing machine and whipped up the second pair of pants [Kwik-Sew 3211] for my nephews' second birthday (which is tomorrow - happy birthday Cody and Darcy!).

A detail of the knee - it's a fabric insert in each knee, which 'pops' when they're walked. Too cool for school I say!

My sister-in-law likes to dress the twins in the same clothes, but different colourways. Happy to oblige! I'll try to get a photo of them in their new pants. They are just adorable boys.

I think I should make all projects twice - the second time around takes half the time of the first! Then we all went out for a 'cino (me a hot chocolate, Carl a flat white and Rom a babycino) and a romp around the playground. A lamb roast for dinner and then a bit of doodling around and fabric washing to top off a pretty fabulous day.

Tomorrow Carl will have a sleep-in, followed by a yummy cooked breakfast and then we'll head out at a leisurely pace for a bike ride around part of Lake Burley Griffin, followed by another round of 'cinos! I'm hoping to get a bit more stitching done tomorrow too. Can't decide whether to do more work on my Christmas projects, a new dress for Romily or her new quilt. Decisions, decisions, decisions! Life is pretty good at the moment :)

I'm also looking forward to heading out to the movies on Monday night by myself for some time out of my own. Am going to see the premiere in Canberra of the French version of Lady Chatterley's Lover. It's a fundraiser for the ACT Writers' Centre, where I used to be a member...and may be again one day if I ever have the time to write!

Here's to a Happy Father's Day for all the dads celebrating tomorrow!