Thursday, November 30, 2017


Meet "Creepy"; an Aldi special this week. Tool or toy?
I don't normally name machines, but this little guy seemed to need one. He creeps along, with his little whiskers spinning around, collecting up dog hair and other detritus. He is a bit like a crab. The dogs aren't very impressed with him, but they tolerate him better than the regular vacuum cleaners. And he did find several of Dot's balls that had disappeared under furniture, so that made her happy.

What do you think? Tool or toy? My initial thought was "toy", but he can get under beds and cupboards that a regular cleaner can't reach, so maybe...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Time for a Mystery

After a busy weekend, yesterday I could finally start sewing for Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, "On Ringo Lake". She announced the colour scheme a few weeks back, and as I have plenty of fabric of all the colours she is using I decided to stick with her scheme. The first clue was released at about 10pm on Friday, so I've been thinking about it all weekend. And I've seen lots of pictures around the internet from people who have finished this clue already, or at least made a good start.

For previous mysteries I've added to the challenge by converting the measurements to metric, or changing the measurements or the colour scheme. This time I considered making a miniature version, but then discarded that idea when I saw the first clue. My challenge to myself this time is to sew all the clues on the treadle machine.

Getting the correct seam allowance was the first challenge. I have a couple of magnetic seam guides, but they won't work for patchwork, as they can't be positioned close enough to the needle. The foot gets in the way.

So I stuck this (used up) gift card to the bed of the machine with some double-sided tape. I had to adjust it after sewing a few strips together, because they weren't quite right.

All seemed to go well, until it was time to assemble the strips into 9-patches. I just could not get the seams to line up correctly:
The machine seemed to push the seams out of alignment no matter how well they were nested when I fed them through. I tried loosening off the pressure on the presser foot, but that didn't solve the problem.

After a day of tearing my hair out, and a lot of thrown out pieces like the one above, I had very few acceptable units:
This morning I started with a new needle, which helped a bit, but I was still getting misaligned seam intersections. I sent a cry for help to the Southern Cross Quilters mailing list, and a very helpful quilter sent me a link to a YouTube video all about presser foot pressure.

That gave me a few ideas. It turned out that when I lessened the pressure yesterday, I hadn't done it nearly enough. So I lessened it as far as possible, then gradually tightened it until I was getting good results.

Here's how far out of the machine the pressure screw ended up when it was sewing nicely:
Much further than it was when I started.

With that problem solved, it took me very little time to complete my desired quantity of this week's units:
As I have done for the last few mysteries, I'm making half of the specified number of units each week.

Bonnie is hosting weekly link-ups as usual each Monday. Here's the first one, where there are already about 150 links:  Monday Link-Up . I particularly enjoy seeing the different colours people are using. Check it out!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

TreeProject Pick-Up

Only 11 days after last year's TreeProject trees were taken away, today was the first distribution of kits for this year's. The distribution point is in Kensington, so we offered to collect kits for the growers in the Ballarat area with our ute.

I forgot to take any photos of the pick-up. When we got back to Ballarat we delivered kits to three growers to save them coming to our place to collect them. Still no photos. But here's our kit:
Only one kit this year - 7 boxes which will potentially hold 336 trees.  They are for the same landholder as the last lot, and include a few of the same species. I hope we get better germination this year than last.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Geelong Quilt Show

The Geelong Patchwork and Quilters Guild show is on this weekend. Lots of guilds have patchwork car covers that they pop on a car outside their show, but this was the first patchwork bike cover I've seen:
I presume there was a bike or a motorbike under there. I didn't check.
Cute, anyway, and more manageable than a car cover, in terms of making, storing or deploying it.

Inside the quilt show there were lots of signs stating that no photos should be published anywhere without the quilt-maker's consent, so I didn't even take any photos. There was one quilt I really would have liked to show though. It was made entirely of shade cloth!

Added Later:  Fortunately Jeanette was smart enough to ask at the desk, so she has pictures of the shade-cloth quilt on her blog. Check it out here. It is amazing.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Warming Up

This is week twenty-six of my temperature-based year quilt:
This was the warmest week so far, but there hasn't been any really hot weather yet:
24/11/2017    29.7   orange
23/11/2017    32.6   red
22/11/2017    30.9   red
21/11/2017    30.5   red
20/11/2017    28.8   orange
19/11/2017    27.2   orange
18/11/2017    27.4   orange

And here's how it will look when I finish stitching it and join this completed row to the previous ones:
Half a year already! Started on my birthday, and the first half completed on my son's birthday.

Today our first two water-lily flowers opened:

This warm weather has brought a need for some summery clothes. Today I finished sewing this tunic top of a very light-weight cotton lawn:
I'd make a few adjustments to the pattern if I make this again (those sleeves are a strange length), but it is light and comfortable and is sure to get a bit of wear through the warm months. According to my records I bought this fabric from a 2nd-hand store in Tyabb in Dec 2010, so I think after 7 years in my stash and who knows how many in someone else's, it is time it was used!

Linked to Sarah's Weekly Weather Report.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Around the Garden

Things are happening in the garden as the weather warms up.

My sweetpeas have started flowering:

I was late planting them (I put them in in early August, instead of in March), so they haven't grown as tall as they might have if they had been growing all winter. It is nice to see and smell them again.



These graffiti geraniums , which were a Christmas gift last year,  are filling out nicely:

And this is something new:
Buddleja globosa, orange ball bush (although it seems more yellow than orange). The bees like it!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Horizontal or Vertical?

Today I finished stitching down the binding on my "What's in the Box?" mystery quilt (designed by Susan-Claire Mayfield of Gourmet Quilter).

But one question remains: Should I hang it with the wavy lines running across the quilt:
Or up and down?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Storm Casualty

We had a huge amount of rain over the last day or so, and sadly the giant echium collapsed as a result. Last night it was lying flat on the ground. The stem wasn't broken, but the roots had pulled out of the mud. In an attempt to keep it going, it's been tied to a stake:
The leaves are looking quite droopy though.

The flower spike looks not too bad, considering.
I hope it keeps flowering. The bees love it, and it is quite spectacular.

Friday, November 17, 2017

No Aqua!

For the first time in 25 weeks, there were no days where our top temperature was in the range of 10 - 15 degrees. No aqua required!

And if that wasn't enough excitement, this week is also the first appearance of red:

Two red days:

17/11/2017    22.4    yellow
16/11/2017    19.7    green
15/11/2017    25.8    orange
14/11/2017    31.0    red
13/11/2017    32.2    red
12/11/2017    25.3    orange
11/11/2017    27.3    orange

 I think that means summer is around the corner. Here's more proof:
 Today was my first Christmas break-up do.

Linked to Sarah's weekly weather report. Not surprisingly, everyone else's weather is getting cooler as ours heats up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


This is what yesterday's posts were for:

Providing a bit of shade to the front windows. The windows are designed to stop the sun coming in on the longest day of the year, but now, and later in summer when the sun has some heat, it is at a lower angle so does come in.
This shade sail is a temporary one - if it seems to do the job we will get one made to fill the space between the house and the poles. The sail and poles are removable so when they are not required they'll be packed away out of sight.

Little Trees

Last year our TreeProject trees were forgotten by the landholder, and didn't get collected until 3rd November. I don't know what happened this year, but until today we still had these:

There were meant to be 14 boxes of seedlings, but the germination rate was very low on several of these species, so we ended up with only about 8 boxes.  And now it is way too late for them to be planted out this year. The landholder came and collected them today, but she is planning to re-pot everything and keep them alive until autumn to plant out then.

Good luck, little trees!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Digging holes - another use for a tractor:
Proving yet again it is a tool, not a toy!

Here the tractor is being a wheelbarrow, carrying bags of cement:
And two posts are installed with invaluable assistance from our neighbour Reg.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Most of the peony's petals fell today:
The colour change of this flower since it began opening ten days ago has been amazing, from deep coral to almost white.

Elsewhere in the garden, the first nasturtium flower opened in one of my hanging baskets:
There's always something happening in a garden!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Big Sick Weekend

This weekend there were too many events on. Ballarat Gardens in Spring. Creswick Garden Lovers Festival. Ballarat Show. Quilts in the Garden at Gordon. There was no way to see and do everything. And then I got sick, so could see or do very little.

I visited the Ballarat Show on Friday, but I snapped these two photos of the display this afternoon when I went to collect the quilts I had in the competition. It was nice to get shots without the reflections in the glass that normally covers the displays. My Berry Delicious came second in the "Traditional Quilt: no commercial quilting" category, and won the "Best machine quilting" prize:
The earth-toned quilt to the left of mine came first in the category, and won the "Best hand quilting" prize.

My En Provence was unloved by the judge. Her main criticism related to the fabric I used for the back, which I hadn't thought might be important. Oh, well! I'm lucky I wasn't competing against the quilt closer to the camera here:
That's the quilt which was viewers' choice runner-up at our quilt show last weekend. It is beautifully made and embellished, but was professionally quilted, so was in a different category to my quilts. It's not surprising that it won first prize in its category.

Yesterday I visited two of the gardens open for Ballarat Gardens in Spring. The first is one we drive past regularly, so I really wanted to see what was behind the hedges. Mt. Boninyong, as the property is called, is apparently one of the oldest surviving domestic gardens in Victoria, having been planted in the 1840s.

We entered the property just on 11:00am, so we paused for the minute's silence as a bell tolled from the house - not many houses have an operating bell-tower!

Lots of old-fashioned flowers in front of the house:

Several trees are on the National Trust register of significant trees, including a couple of 180-yr-old Magnolia grandiflora:

Fruit trees and gardens behind the house:

The second garden was quite a contrast. It was interesting to see what the owners have achieved in just 13 years.

The ceanothus "Blue Pacific" hedges are amazing:

Views to forever:

And enclosed spaces:

The garden is still developing, as can be seen in newly constructed sections:

A patch of Flanders poppies was appropriate for the day:

Today we visited a third garden. This one is on a grander scale, with garden beds metres across, a 4-hectare lake,
 an entire landscape (note the carved grass on the far side of the lake):
surrounding an amazing house of rammed earth:

It's not surprising that the owners are architects, who designed the house, landscape and planting scheme as a whole.

Our neighbours visited some of the other open gardens, and raved about one in particular as the best garden they'd ever seen. We'll have to hope that one is open again some time in the future, because I wasn't up to going to it today.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How Big is the Peony Flower?

Jeanette asked in a comment how big the peony flower is. It is not easy to take a photo holding the camera in one hand, the flower in another (because the weight of it needs to be supported), and a ruler as well. A couple of photos taken this morning with my hand in the shot might give you an idea:
 It is huge!

This evening, after another warm day, its colour has faded more. The petals are becoming limp, so this might be the last chance to get a photo of it with a ruler:
Not a brilliant shot, but if you might just see that the flower is about 20cm across.