Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Magpie at the Birdbath

Until now I had only seen crimson rosellas at the birdbath here, but today a magpie came for a drink:
The pictures are taken through the window, and from a bit of distance so I wouldn't frighten him away. I know it's a "him" because of the very white feathers. The females are more grey than white.
He drank quite a bit, and walked through the water, but didn't take a bath.

Australian magpies are not related to European ones, they just got the name because they were black and white.  And their scientific name has changed recently. They are now Cracticus tibicen, instead of Gymnorhina tibicen which I have labelled them in previous posts.
If you aren't Australian and have never heard this bird sing, you should go to this page: Australian Magpie, and down the right-hand side of the page under "Calls" there is a sound file you can play.
Let me know what you think of it if you've never heard it before!

Monday, February 27, 2017

More Quilting

I'm still chugging along, quilting my Berry Delicious quilt. Today I did the top left block:
And completed the bottom right block:
So the three largest blocks are finished, and all the other blocks have some quilting. But with lots still to do and February ending tomorrow, it is unlikely this UFO will be finished this month.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Belladonna Lilies

First "naked ladies" or belladonna lily flowers opening:
Amaryllis belladonna

There are some white ones, too, but no sign of them yet.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Eyes on this Rose

On Thursday when we put together the baby quilt, a quilting friend brought along this "Eyes for You" rose flower to show me:
It has perfume, an unusual colour arrangement, and quite a pretty form. It is lovely! It had lost a few petals in transit, and unfortunately the rest of them dropped off as I was rushing to get to my train on the way home. But when I got home I popped it in a vase, and today the little bud opened up:
Reading up on it I discovered that it is also supposed to be unaffected by blackspot and mildew. I will keep an eye out for one to add to the garden (and protect from wallabies) in winter.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Group Baby Quilt

Sometime over the last month, I made this:
Which seems like an odd thing to make all on its own.

Today I took it to my Melbourne CBD get-together, where it joined a bunch of similar strips:
Last month here we bought a pattern, Baby Nine Patch Stripes by Baby Aardvark, and that yellow alphabet fabric which we each took a piece of to incorporate in our strip. And although we all worked individually, many of us put the feature fabric in roughly the same place in our strip.

A bit of strip re-arranging and re-sewing went on to re-distribute the elements:

When the strips were joined together this is what we had:
One of our number is a professional long-arm quilter, so she will quilt it for us before our next meeting. Another has an embroidery machine and will make a label for us. Another will machine on the binding, so we can all do the hand stitching at the next meeting. Then it will be ready to present to the manager of the café where we lunch each month, before she stops work to care for her impending new arrival.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I filled in the rest of this block with a few lines on the table and basket, and outlines around the cherries:
Not a great photo again. Hopefully one day soon I can take it outside and photograph it in good light.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Piecing Day

I enjoyed my first "Sit & Sew" day of the week, and got all the prepared units pieced:
Vivienne who runs the group set two challenges for us to complete during the year! That wasn't in my plans, as I intended concentrating on existing projects this year rather than starting any more. Now I'm trying to think of very small pieces I could make that would fulfil the requirements.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I needed to take a break from quilting, so today did some simple piecing:
This is four of about a dozen units I made of Bonnie Hunter's "Carolina Chain" pattern. In the final quilt the units are assembled into blocks like this, then set on point. But I'm just making units, not blocks, at the moment.

In the coming week I have four "Sit & Sew" days! Four in one week is a bit much. They are all events that only happen once a month, but it would be better it they were spread out through the month. The first one (Tuesday) is at a venue where I can take my machine, so I cut all the components to make a bunch more of these chain units:
Now I need to find things to do on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

More Background

Finished quilting the background of another block:
The quilted shape is meant to be similar to the shape of the petals of those flowers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Brom Flower

Beautiful flower opening on a bromeliad in the back yard.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Background Done

For this block, at least. There's plenty more background quilting to do, but I won't be doing any such time-consuming work on the other blocks. I used Lori Kennedy's Grid Pop design, but doing it around appliqué was slow work:
The top photo is with the flash, which flattens it out. Below without the flash:
A bit indistinct due to camera movement, but you can see the textural effect of the quilting. And you can also see that the foreground is going to need a bit of work.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Filling Spaces

Having outlined the appliqué I'm working on filling the background:
Once I finish this grid I'll be filling in some of it as well. It is slow going.

Because this is Esther Aliu's design, it seems appropriate to link it to her WIPs on Wednesday this week.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Garden Goodies

This bed has my dahlias, and a few other bits and pieces:
Including the one Mystic Star dahlia that made it here from my old garden:

Elsewhere in the garden are two small zinnia plants, each with one flower:
All that came up from a whole packet of seeds. And they are both the same colour!

Someone's been having fun with the welder, making a garden sculpture for me out of some of the left-over metal bits from various concreting jobs:
That won't be its permanent home, it was just put there so I could see it without going outside

Time for a Change

I'm slowly working my way through quilting Red Delicious. My first step in each block is to outline the appliqué, but it doesn't help when this happens:
Thread spontaneously shredding itself. But I changed the needle, and all went smoothly afterwards.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Losing Weight

Not that sort of weight!

Yesterday I went hardware shopping and bought a bunch of pipes and pipe bits, and these:
These Quick-Grip clamps are amazing. They open with just a light touch, rather than having to be squeeeeezed open. The occy straps are not quite what I needed, but they were the only ones about the right length. But I will need to head back to the shops to find something a bit better than these ones.

Today all the bits went together to make this:

And what they do is amazing!
With the quilt suspended like this, manoeuvring it is so much easier than I would have believed! A lot of the weight is gone, and jerks caused by the quilt falling off the edge of the table are eliminated.

Cost of hardware bits: $99 and some cents.
Easy quilt manoeuvring: priceless!

What's Been Eating the Roses

Some of the rose bushes are doing fantastically, covered in flowers and reaching for the sky. Others don't seem to grow, and in fact almost go backwards:
Where are the leaves? Obviously something has been eating them, but there's no signs of caterpillars or even half-eaten leaves. No leaves lying on the ground like they were when the rosellas attacked them. Whatever is eating them is stripping whole leaves off the bush, and eating them.

This morning at breakfast time, a glance out the window lead to the answer:

"Who, me? Cute little me?"

Yes, you! Caught red-handed:
Apparently, wallabies like roses! But not the bushes close to the house (so far).

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Everything has been so dry lately, that today's rain was very welcome!

As the weather station says, it rained cats and dogs! By the time it stopped we'd had 25.2mm. Hooray!

The garden says thank you:
Dahlia "Mystic Sparkler"

And this slightly eaten dahlia flower answers a question:
Back in 2012 I purchased a "Marie Antoinette" dahlia tuber. The flower was meant to be purple-coloured, but was actually orange. The company sent me a replacement tuber the next year. In December that year I posted a picture of both of them in flower. Since then, of course, they have moved house and climate and had to live in pots for a year. Last year I don't think either of them flowered. And then some time over winter, one of the tubers got wet and rotted away to nothing. I didn't know until now if I had lost the original orange one, or the purple one.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Strange Stitching

Don't tell anyone, but I'm going to cheat on the UFO game again this month. The number Judy has drawn out of the hat is 9, but I'm going to keep working on my 1 instead. Funnily enough, my 9 was originally En Provence, which I swapped for last month's number.

I've stitched-in-the-ditch around the blocks, and now I've started stitching around the appliqué. But today I had a couple of problems with the stitching:

These pictures are of the back of the quilt. The snarls of thread are the upper thread. The first photo shows one I didn't really notice when it happened, except there was a bit of an unusual sound to the machine. The second photo I was more aware there was a problem. As well as the sound, the upper thread appeared to be split or kinking up somehow. The direction I was sewing in was from right to left here, so the snarl at the top right happened first, then the one further down. After the second one, the machine seemed to start sewing correctly again.

I did a bit more trouble-free sewing later in the day, and the only change I made was to slow the machine down. I had been sewing with it set at 30%, which is what I normally use for free-motion work, but you might notice in my samples that the stitches are pretty short. Today for whatever reason I wasn't moving the piece fast enough for that speed. I slowed the machine to 25%, and managed to do quite a bit more quilting without having more of these tangles. So I don't know if there might have been a bad section in the thread which I am now past, or if the speed made a difference.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


I haven't seen an echidna for a while, so it was nice to spot this one while out walking with the dogs.