Monday, November 30, 2015


Spent a few hours today (and a big chunk of my monthly NBN data allowance) upgrading my computer to Windows 10:
That photo was taken an hour and a half into the process. Fortunately the 1% is a little misleading. It was only another 60 - 90 minutes before I could actually use the machine. Now I have the fun of figuring out how to do things all over again!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mystery Step One

Bonnie Hunter released the first clue of this year's mystery last night just before bed-time. So of course I spent time thinking about the quilt when I should have been asleep.

This year as well as choosing my own colours (here's the post about that), using metric measurements, and only making a quarter of the pieces, I'm making another change; I'm making the individual units larger. Bonnie bases lots of her quilts on 3" pieces, which translates to 7.5cms. That's not a problem, but making pieces that finish half that size (which she often does) involves cutting in quarter centimetre increments, and that doesn't thrill me. So I've decided that where Bonnie uses 3 inches, I will use 8cms. It's not  big difference, but half of 8 is a lot easier to deal with than half of 7.5.

So on to the sewing!

I like to use the Magic 8 method to make my half-square triangle blocks, but I wanted to get lots of variation so I adapted the method. So that I would get two sets of four matching blocks from each "magic 8", instead of eight all the same, here's what I did:
This was my test piece to make sure it would work. I cut a square from the brown fabric (my constant), but rectangles half the size from two neutrals. Here's the result of that test:

That worked well, so I continued on the same way and made a few more:
They went together quickly. And I've made a note of what size I cut them in case I need to make more at the end.

When Bonnie activates the link-up on Monday, I'll add the link here so that you can check out everyone else's mystery bits!
Here's the first link-up.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Geelong Walk

Spent the day walking around Geelong, and took almost no photos.

First up was the Geelong Patchwork and Quilters' Guild exhibition, which I enjoyed but took no photos.

Then I went to the Wool Museum, to see the the Art Quilt Australia 2015 exhibition. An added bonus was the "Visions of Chieri" exhibition of textile art pieces from Italy.

This is a tiny part of a work by Judy Hooworth, Rainy Day Dora Creek #11 which I thought was the best use of variegated quilting thread ever:
The alternating light and dark thread evoked falling raindrops brilliantly.

The museum's carpet loom wasn't operating while I was there:
But I did see someone buying a long panel of the carpet in the gift shop.

The thing that made me smile the most on my walk was seeing a Muslim woman taking her little girl to see a shopping-centre Santa.

I visited two quilt shops, (where I may or may not have purchased small amounts of fabric), and also found a Handi Quilter dealer who are probably the closet to me now. And there I couldn't resist this reindeer decoration made on an embroidery machine:
He'll be going on my tree this year.

I was tired when I got home, and my feet were hurting, so I didn't go out on the nightly walk with the dogs. Look what they saw when I wasn't there:
Four kangaroos!

Thursday, November 26, 2015


This is the same koala as last Thursday, but in a different tree. And this time I spotted him before it was too dark.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wild Visitors

Just after I wrote yesterday's post, we discovered something exciting but couldn't get a good photo of it until today:

 OK, maybe still not a great photo. But those are the footprints (and tail print?) of something which hopped
 across the grass(?) in front of our house. In the photo above, you can see where it first landed, and its second and third hop.  Then it seems to have realised there might be something to eat here, and it stopped and rested on all fours in a few places:
 You can see an imprint of its two small front paws and two long back feet just below halfway down on the left of the photo above. Some time yesterday either a wallaby or a kangaroo came within a few metres of our house!

And then this morning, as I sat at the table, a crimson rosella came for a drink at the birdbath just a couple of metres from me.
I picked up my camera very carefully, so as not to startle the bird, and clicked without looking in the viewfinder (had to do it without moving my head). So it's not straight, it's not in focus, but it does show a crimson rosella in the birdbath!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Now Showing

This afternoon I popped in to M.A.D.E. (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) to check out the "Songs of Freedom" quilt challenge exhibition:
The challenge entries are displayed in the Saltbush Kitchen cafe:
It was fascinating to see how other people interpreted the theme, and the different approaches they took.
It's an interesting exhibition, worth a look if you are in the area.

The other big event today was this:
Finally, a working NBN connection at my Ballarat unit. It was actually installed last week, but today the electrician came and installed this powerpoint for me so that I could plug in The Internet. It is the slowest connection available, but feels super-fast compared with what I'm using at the house - I may even be able to watch YouTube videos again!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mystery Colours

Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt starts this weekend. See the details on her website here: Allietare Mystery. She announced the colours about a month ago, and even though a couple of them are colours I like a lot, and wear frequently, I wasn't inspired by them for a quilt.

Today I sat down and worked out the percentages of Bonnie's colours. Based on her yardage specification, the quilt will be approximately:
40% neutrals
19% red
19% black
12% gold
10% grey.

Here's my mock-up of what that would look like:
White represents the neutrals. The red looks a bit more orange in this picture than it should. It looks like a colour scheme which could result in a very graphic quilt, given the level of contrast between the neutrals and blacks. Here's a fabric version of the colours:
I have very little gold fabric. Those two bits might be about all I have. And I don't have enough of any one grey fabric for it to be a constant throughout the quilt. This colour scheme isn't going to work for me.

Every day I look out from my sewing room at this view:
Blue sky (not so much today), grey and green trees, a touch of black in the remains of the burnt stumps, lots of "neutral" soil, and bits of green where the grass and my garden are starting to grow. So I wondered if I could translate my view into the mystery colour scheme:
Black as the constant, sky blue instead of gold, grey instead of black, and green instead of red. This is more like what I want, but I have very little black fabric, and most of it (as here) includes grey so may get lost amongst the grey fabrics.

Here's a mockup of that scheme, and what I changed:
I dumped the black, and added instead a red-brown as my constant. I see red-brown in my view where trees are injured - when cockatoos pull off bark to get at grubs underneath, or when a koala climbs a tree, or when a branch blows down in a storm. For a while the injured spot is red-brown, before it ages back to grey.

Here's how my second scheme looks as fabric:
I'm planning to make my quilt only about a quarter to a third the size of Bonnie's, but I have enough of that brown to be a constant for a full-size version. That means if I love the final quilt and want to make mine bigger, I'll be able to. Let the mystery begin!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Daylily Flower, and a Wallaby

This morning the first flower appeared on one of the rescued daylilies:
Someone asked me recently what colour the flowers were and I had to admit I had no idea. But I know for one of them now!

This evening while walking the dogs we spotted some more wildlife:
A wallaby! This is the third of fourth time we've seen a  wallaby, but the first time I've had my camera with me. I'm not sure what species this one is, or even if all the ones we've seen were the same species.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Workshop with Linden Lancaster

This weekend I am doing a two-day workshop with art quilter, Linden Lancaster.  I've met Linden before, as she was a fellow student in the workshop I did with Jenny Bowker in 2013. Since then I've seen her quilts win a few prizes. Lots of her pieces were displayed around the classroom:
 To inspire, and also illustrate the principles she was teaching:
I loved having the opportunity to get a really close-up look at her work, as she explained techniques, design principles, and her use of colour.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lovely Surprises

I had two lovely surprises today.

First, I discovered that the peony root rescued in August  has started to grow:
I was very excited to see this tiny bit of green. When the house it came from was sold, some of the plants were dug up and taken away, including a few herbaceous peonies. But last spring a peony shoot appeared, so I knew something had been left behind. It disappeared amongst the weeds of the untended garden last summer, but when the house was about to be demolished, the remaining peony root was something I really wanted to find. The root we found was about 40cms long, and must have broken off when the main part of the plant was taken. We put it in the garden in Coburg with the rest of the rescue plants, until it was time for them all to be dug up again and brought here. At that point the peony root had started sprouting a couple of new rootlets, so I knew it was still alive. I put it in a pot and hoped that it would stand being uprooted again. And here it is!

Later in the day, I was given a wonderful surprise gift:
An old enamel advertising sign from India, to hang up in my sewing room! I first saw this sign for sale over 4 years ago, and every time I have visited the shop since, I've checked to see if it was still there - hoping no-one had bought it, and also hoping the price might have dropped to something more reasonable. But I don't have to worry any more, because now it's mine!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Seen at about 8:30 tonight across the road from our place:
Again I did not have my camera with me, but it wasn't far to go home and get it. So here are two not brilliant photos of a koala by torchlight. Above, with the camera flash, and below, hand-held without the flash.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Up On The Roof

View out the back door this morning:
Just noticed Jack and Dot lying in the sun on the right-hand side. You'd probably have to enlarge the photo to see them, though. Not much of a clue as to what is happening, although the top of a ladder is just visible leaning against the other side of the shed.

A couple of hours later when I had to go out:
Racks installed on the shed roof.

And when I got home, several hours later:
Solar panels!

For the full effect you need more of a side-on view:
A lot of solar panels!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ballarat Gardens in Spring 2015

This weekend there were five gardens open for Ballarat Gardens in Spring. We visited two of them today.

The first was in Scarsdale, a treed area a bit like Lal Lal, so it was interesting to see how they had integrated the garden with the surrounding landscape:
 The shrubs between the lawn and the trees seemed to be mostly westringia of some variety, clipped into balls. There was a circular theme throughout the garden. Here are more clipped balls, and some circular doo-dads on a fence:

One side of the lawn area was defined by a lovely row of climbing roses, with lavender not quite in flower in front:

I was interested in this wall which has a lovely rose garden behind it:
 We were planning a brick wall of a similar height around part of our garden, but the engineers specified that it needed foundations 2 metres deep and 600mm wide, with piers every 2 metres. As that was going to be ridiculously expensive, we have a wire fence for now. This one is longer than we were planning, has no piers (except at each end), and has no evidence of wide foundations. I would also be very surprised if it has 2-metre deep foundations.

In the orchard, some of the trees have arches of conduit over them that are presumably to hold bird-netting later in the season:
I don't know the purpose of the straw bales around each tree. They may be to hold in mulch, to protect the tree from rabbits (would that work?) or to actually be mulch.

Native shrubs in another garden bed:

I liked this raised herb garden beside the house:

The garden we visited after lunch was on a larger-than-average suburban block. I liked their displays of succulents;

Their espaliered fruit trees:
 And this shady arbour which looked very inviting:
It was a lovely day for visiting gardens, sunny but not too hot.

Here's a link to last year's blog post. Ballarat Gardens in Spring 2014 for comparison.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Garden Swing

This swinging garden seat was made for me for my birthday this year:
When the house was under construction we arranged the provision of two places to hang it; this one under the back verandah, and another in the outdoor living area. A couple of days ago it was hung up, and at last I got to swing on it! Today it got a coat of protective finish, and once the second coat goes on I will be able to sit on it again. Doesn't it look lovely?

Now that it is up, we're thinking maybe instead of moving it from spot to spot, it might be good to have two seats. So that's next year's birthday present sorted out, I guess!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ballarat Show

Melbourne Cup day wasn't a public holiday in Ballarat, because Ballarat Show Day is instead. So to celebrate the holiday appropriately today, we went to the show.

There were animals:

A champion cow:
 A bull getting a haircut:

There were sideshows and rides, including this:
Zorbing on a pool. The kids looked like they were having fun.

I always enjoy the cooking and craft sections. Traditional anzacs and scones:

Knitting. How would you feel if you had knitted a whole Noah's Ark of animals, and were beaten by one (rather amazing) horse?

I loved this crocheted horse:
I wondered if it was a pattern, or the maker's own design. Google helped me find this page which has a link to a Russian site with instructions, but I couldn't load the Russian page unfortunately. Not that I need to take up crocheting again, but that horse is adorable...

Of course I had to see the quilts:
where a few people I know had won prizes.

There were displays of farm machinery, old steam engines, and a model railway, but this one grabbed my attention:
The "Sew What" travelling sewing-machine museum! This machine was a treadle chainstitcher. They had lots of old machines, toy machines, and a few machines I'd never seen before.

After all that, we needed some refreshments. The CWA (Country Women's Association) to the rescue:
Devonshire tea in the refreshment rooms. Yum! Whoever made these deserved to win the scone prize.

I hope you've enjoyed these glimpses of the show!