Friday, March 31, 2017

West of the Walls

This morning it was only 2 degrees when I got up - a sign that summer is over, and hopefully the end of the march flies! I really enjoyed doing a bit of work in the garden without the fear of blood-sucking insects.

While I've been hiding inside, stuff has been happening outside. Today the second and third of these bench seats were finished and attached to this wall:
The plan is that this part of the walled garden will have a pergola over it, with wisteria and other climbers shading the seats and the path. For now those pots need some greenery in them.

On the western side of the other wall, the first bed has a nice brick edging:
So now it is time to get planting. This bed will be hot and dry in summer, so should be ideal for succulents. You can see we have quite a few in pots ready to be planted out.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

MIFGS 2017

It has been three years since my last visit to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.  Here are a few of the things that caught my eye today.

I loved these elephants. I'd probably even have room for them:
 Just probably not the bank balance.

I still don't understand this sort of thing:

Or this:

The over-the-top Indianness of this made me smile:
I've never seen a display by ISKCON here before.

There were a couple of things on this stand that I might have liked for the garden:
But they were a bit pricey. Those succulents are spiral aloe, Aloe polyphylla, and were $200 each. And one of the planters I liked, which is right on the left of the photo, was $400. Of course the only reason I didn't buy either of them is that they would have been too awkward to bring home on the train.

Of course the Show Gardens are inspirational
 and interesting
 But here's what it is really like trying to get a good view of them:

Lastly a few quirky entires in the hanging basket competitions.

A hobbit house under a bonsaied oak tree:

An Asian gentleman fishing under a bonsaied fig tree:

And a succulent helmet? hat? hairstyle? created by turning the hanging basket upside-down:
It was a great day out!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Good-Bye, Old Car

After 14 years of faithful service, it is time to say good-bye to our old car:
It is no longer registered, and not road-worthy due to a cracked windscreen, but today, (with a special permit) it left our property, and drove down the Midland Highway to Geelong. This was its destination:
YouTurn is an educational establishment for kids who are disengaged from regular schooling. Here they learn literacy, numeracy and trade skills.
Donated cars are used to teach skills such as servicing and repair, panel-beating and spray-painting. Some cars are fixed up and given to needy families, others are used for parts and recycled as much as possible. Whatever happens to our old car, it is better than it sitting here rusting away.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dot and the Kangaroo

Not just one
But two kangaroos
Hopped past our windows this evening.

Dot kept a close eye on them until they hopped away:
(Note that the Monstera which took seven months to grow one leaf, now has ten of them.)

When the movie of Dot and the Kangaroo came out, I wanted to see it but didn't have the confidence to go on my own. So I took along a young girl I used to babysit. But if I'd waited until now, I could just watch the whole thing on YouTube!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Making a Start

I couldn't really put it off any longer:
Celtic Solstice finally under the needle. It's a bit of a handful. I have the ironing board set up beside me to take some of the weight, and the suspension system is helping too.

For starters I am just doing this design through all the four-patch units:
Once that's all done I'll work out what to do with the rest of it.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Chain Rows

Started assembling my Carolina Chain blocks:
Rather than sewing them into blocks of four as per Bonnie Hunter's pattern, I'm making diagonal rows, then sewing those together.

What I'm avoiding doing, apparently, is quilting the selected UFO for this month. With only about a week to go in March, I haven't quilted one stitch in it yet.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trip to Town

Today was my regular trip into Melbourne to meet up with some quilting friends. My wait for the train was accompanied by the screeching of a huge flock of corellas in the tops of the tall pine trees beside the station:
I thought they were probably eating pine seeds, but all these ones seem to be grooming themselves. So maybe it was just a nice place to stop and have a noisy gathering.

In the city, one of our number sewed an embroidered label to the quilt we all contributed to, and then it was finished and ready to present:
(I should have photographed the label.) If you enlarge the photo you might be able to see the cute elephant design it is quilted with. The recipient was surprised and touched, I think. Her baby is due in a couple of months, so we all hope the little one will enjoy our quilt for years to come.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rain Casualty

Ten days ago I posted this photo:

Here's how that crepe myrtle looks today:

Heavy rain added so much weight to the branches that the trunk split. Fortunately there is one small branch below the split, as there was nothing that could be done to save the top of the tree. That's been removed and is now in a vase inside so at least we can enjoy some of the flowers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Scary Wash

After I completed quilting my "Berry Delicious" quilt (Red Delicious designed by Esther Aliu), it had developed a bit of a wave or bulge across the middle. I presume that was caused by the quilting, which is quite dense in places and less in others. The quilt was flat before I started quilting, anyway! I hoped that washing it would enable it to lie flat again before I add the binding. And as today was forecast to be possibly our last warm day for a while, I had to be brave get it done. I should have taken a "before" picture, but here's an "in progress" shot:
Quilt spinning in the washing machine.

I was very nervous about washing the quilt. I pre-wash my fabrics, but red fabrics can be a problem even if they have been washed already. On top of that, some of these fabrics were small pieces given to me by a friend, and I wasn't sure if I washed those small pieces or not. It was all a long time ago! So I used cold water, and took the precaution of adding a couple of "colour catcher" sheets to the machine. I've never used them before, and never quite understood how they could work. But I found a scientific explanation on the Guardian website here, and that convinced me they were worth a try. I used two sheets, and here's what they looked like when they came out of the machine:
They were white when they went in. Apparently that colour is dye particles that got stuck to the colour-catcher rather than potentially lodging somewhere unwanted in the quilt. Hooray!

The next challenge was finding somewhere flat to spread the quilt out to dry. Who knew a ute had so many uses?
It allowed me to spread the quilt flat to dry in the shade. The heat and breeze did the job quickly. The quilt looks much better after its wash - flatter, and also brighter. The background fabric had probably picked up a bit of dirt during the appliqué and quilting processes. Now on to the binding.

Friday, March 17, 2017


The challenge for one of my quilting groups this year is "Out of Africa". I wanted to use some African fabric in mine, so with the help of the internet I purchased some South African shweshwe fabric:
Shweshwe fabric is traditionally starched stiff, and has to be washed before use. Here's my collection on the line today:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Begonia Festival

The Ballarat Begonia Festival was actually last weekend, but the begonia display is still open:
And now it's not full of people.

Amazing blooms that look almost unreal:

There's lots to see outside in the Botanic Gardens, too, such as these flower baskets on sticks in the lily pond:

And topiary hiding in the garden beds:
 A pair of elephants above, and wallabies that won't eat roses below:

Across the road at Lake Wendouree, a white-necked heron kept an eye on us as we walked past:
 And a swan came over to either chase the dogs away or see if we had food for it:
I didn't notice until I got home that the camera had helpfully focussed on that little bit of dead grass instead of the swan. But that doesn't matter too much, because the important thing in this photo is how much duckweed was on the surface of the water. You know it is duckweed, I know it is duckweed, but Dot found out the hard way that it wasn't a lovely green lawn she could run across. The funniest part was that she tried it three times before giving up! Jack, who loves to splash in puddles, had to swim when he tried the splashing trick elsewhere in the lake. That was a deep puddle!

Fortunately it was a nice warm afternoon, so the two wet dogs dried off before we got back to the car.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Books on Shelves

It was like re-encountering old friends as I unpacked ten boxes of books this afternoon, and placed them on the newly-painted shelves:
At least another ten boxes to go (let's hope they all fit) but it feels so much nicer to walk past clean shelves of books than having the wall of boxes here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Painted Stuff

Yesterday this happened:

Painted bookshelves! Since we moved in, all our books have remained in boxes because the shelves needed painting. Now the shelves are painted and back in the house. They'll need a little time to ensure the paint is completely dry before the books are unpacked, but this extended summer we are having should help with that.

And today, this:
Sewing room door, also painted!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mystery Flower and a Hakea

Today I was presented with this mystery flower:
Hibiscus-like, but we don't have any hibiscus in the garden. I thought it must be an abutilon, as we have several of those, but that was wrong. It isn't from the flower garden at all, it's from the vegetable patch. It is an okra flower!

And the last of the TreeProject species has started germinating:
Desert hakea, Hakea mitchelli. It is nearly three months since the seeds were sown, so we had just about given up on seeing any hakeas. But I guess it makes sense for a desert plant not to germinate until autumn.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Crepe Myrtles

There are two more crepe myrtles in flower, and both of them are pink:
We thought we had mixed up the colours a bit when the five trees were planted out. The first one started flowering in January. It was the one at the southern end of the line. Now the next two are in full flower, and we have three pink ones in a row. They are all slightly different shades of pink though! There are not even buds on the two at the northern end of the line. One of them must be white, and the other must be purple, but it doesn't look like we will find out which is which this year. However we intend moving the one at the northern end in winter, as it is very unhappy where it is.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Begonia Quilters Show

A few favourites from the Begonia Quilters show open in Ballarat this weekend:

For everyone who has ever photographed a tiling pattern thinking it would make a nice quilt! This is apparently the tile design on the first floor of the Ballarat Town Hall. I like the simple quilting, which basically outlines the "tiles". Quilt by Maxine Rousch.

I loved the quilting on this one:
 Made by Lindy Hoffmann, professionally quilted by Brenda Clark.

Two striking quilts by Kerry Gadd:

Beautiful original designs and amazing precision piecing.