Friday, April 27, 2018

Last Row Begins

I think it is a while since I showed my full year quilt rather than just the weekly rosette. The completion of the 7th row is a good time to rectify that:
Forty-seven weeks of weather. It is interesting seeing how the colours have changed through the year. Our winter temperatures were much more stable than the rest of the year. Summer highs in particular bounced up and down over a very wide range of temperatures.

And here is week 48, which is the beginning of the final row:
Not stitched together at all yet!

Here are the temperatures that determined the colours of each hexagon:

27/04/2018    15.6    green
26/04/2018    16.3    green
25/04/2018    20.1    yellow
24/04/2018    22.3    yellow
23/04/2018    26.3    orange  - probably the last appearance of orange.
22/04/2018    22.8    yellow
21/04/2018    24.3    yellow

My ginkgo is now almost completely yellow, and glows in the sun against the dark tree-trunks behind it:

My wind-flowers have started opening. This pink one is surprising - I wasn't expecting so many petals, or the shape of the petals:
I also have a white one, (thanks, Jeanette) which is just starting to develop buds.

Speaking of buds:
It looks like the tree dahlia could have flowers this year! That's the first time since we moved here. Grown from a cutting from the city garden, it has grown taller each year. I hope these buds get a chance to open before we get a frost.

Linked to Sarah's weekly Weather Report.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Carolina Chain Quilted

After all the problems I was having with the So Fine thread, I swapped to a cotton quilting thread and finished the last sections of this quilt today:
"Carolina Chain" designed by Bonnie Hunter.

A section of the back so you can see the quilting more clearly:
Apart from the thread problem, I really enjoyed quilting this quilt. It has pieces of so many different fabrics from my whole quilting career.

It will be a while before I can tackle the binding as my regular machine is still out of action, and I don't have a walking foot for either the treadle machine or the Featherweight. The Elna is booked in for repair on the 8th May, so this quilt will get its binding some time after that.

Monday, April 23, 2018

"So Fine" Thread

I don't like it!

Because this keeps happening:
The tread un-plies itself, separates and kinks up.

And when I lift the needle, you can see there's a problem underneath:

This is the sort of mess I get on the back:

Co-incidentally, this very appropriate pin badge arrived today:

I seem to have spent more time unpicking than actual quilting over the last couple of days. I've slowed down, changed the needle, brushed out lint, everything I can think of. I'm using the correct size needle according to the thread manufacturer's website. If this was the first time I'd had problems, I wouldn't necessarily blame the thread. But the previous time I used this brand of thread (although a different spool) I had exactly the same problems. Shredding and creating knots on the back.

So, is it just me? I find lots of rave reviews for So Fine around the internet, and I haven't found anyone else mentioning this sort of problem. But I've used 2 spools of this thread on two different quilts, and had the same problem both times. And in between I have used lots of different threads without these problems.

Added Later:
After writing this post, I did a search for "So Fine" on a Sweet 16 facebook group. Here are a few snippets from the results:

"My Tiara is shredding thread. I am using So Fine. I've changed the needle, cleaned and oiled the bobbin case, re-threaded, checked tension - stitching looks fine. Anyone else have this problem?"

"What can be causing my thread to fray? Superior thread so fine"

"I've been having some issues with the top thread shredding. I'm quilting fine for 10-20 mins and then I get some loops on the back and the top thread shredding. I'm using So Fine"

"Here's the problem: everything is good as far as tension, but the thread is shredding just above the needle! I'm using "So Fine" on top and bottom. Why is it shredding?"

"I am quilting with Superior So Fine thread and all of a sudden I am having a problem with it shredding. My tension is fine, any suggestions?"

"I'm having issues with the thread shredding & breaking as well as skipped stitches. I've cleaned the machine, changed the needle, triple checked that the needle is in the right way, still having issues. Any suggestions? I'm using So Fine"

"Unfortunately my machine wasn't happy with the So Fine thread by Superior Threads so I had to stop using it."

All of this confirms my suspicion that there is something about So Fine thread that is causing the shredding, rather than it being me.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Thread Storage

Yesterday at Bunnings in Geelong I was browsing through the storage area, and came across these containers:
They are "Stackable Caddy Organisers" that clip together so you can lift several with the top handle. Each one has three different sized compartments. I thought they could be handy for sorting out and holding the various types of thread I currently have all in one big tub. But I couldn't find a shelf label with a price anywhere. I took them up to the front counter just to ask the price, as they looked like they might be a bit pricey. I was quite surprised to be told they were only $8 each, because they were discontinued. (Regular price $25 each, according to Mr Google.) So I snapped up all the remaining stock. And here they are with all my different quilting threads in them:
That freed up the thread-holding tub, which now holds my quilting rulers. And the container that was holding the rulers now has some other bits and pieces that were sitting round without a home. So the nett effect is that my sewing room is just a little more organised.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Emerging Sweetpeas

My sweetpeas are starting to come up:
I don't remember exactly when I planted them. I know it was later than St Patrick's day - maybe a couple of weeks later. But whenever it was, it was obviously a little later than I should, because look at this:
These are sweetpeas from seeds that fell onto the gravel path. They sat in the gravel all through summer, then germinated and started growing when they were ready.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Week Forty-Seven

This week started with a taste of what is to come (Saturday was cold and wintry), but ended with beautiful sunny days:

20/04/2018    23.3    yellow
19/04/2018    22.3    yellow
18/04/2018    20.9    yellow
17/04/2018    13.9    aqua/teal
16/04/2018    17.4    green
15/04/2018    13.3    aqua/teal
14/04/2018    10.6    aqua/teal - brrrr!

Days like the last few are why autumn is my favourite time of year. Cool evenings and mornings, and beautiful days of warm but not hot sunshine.

Instead of photos from my garden this week, here are a couple from the garden of a friend I visited today for a sewing day:
Strong contrast between the bright sunshine and the shaded parts of the garden. Her house does have a roof, it is bleached out of the photo by the intense light. The sky was really a beautiful clear blue.
Perhaps we should have sat out here for our sewing!

Linked to Sarah's weekly weather report. Sarah is not enjoying her weather much at the moment.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


I went to Bendigo, and I ate some of this:
Chips and gravy! Central Victoria's signature dish. The slightly orange cast is due to the orange umbrella we were sitting under.

Of course the chips and gravy wasn't the main reason for the trip to Bendigo. Really I was there to meet up with some friends and see the Marimekko exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. It is on until 11th June.

You will have to imagine my two friends in that photo. One was taking a photo of the facade. The other was taking a photo of the first one taking her photo. I tried to take a photo of the second one taking a photo of the first one taking a photo of the gallery, but stupidly announced what I was doing so they both jumped out of shot!

I swapped to my phone for the photos inside the exhibition, as it handles ambient light better.

As well as the expected swathes of fabric:

And shift dresses:

The exhibition includes lots of "behind the scenes" pieces such as original artwork, fabric swatches and designer notebooks. There are also accessories, magazine articles from the early days of the company, and homewares.

I didn't know this existed:
The Finnish name of this glassware translates as "Socks Falling Down".

The exhibition was first shown in Japan, so there is quite an emphasis on Japanese designers who worked for Marimekko. But the last room of the exhibit is new for Australia - it shows the most recent designs, including how the classic prints have been re-sized and re-coloured for new uses.
Such as this bag and dress based on the "Strawberry Mountains" furnishing fabric on the wall. Fabric from 1969, dress from 2001.

In this room was the one garment I could see myself wearing:
The dress closest to the camera - Reima - designed in 2018, from fabric designed in 1968. Wonder if I could find a pattern to make something similar for next summer?

Here are links to the blog posts of the two friends who I went to the exhibition with:
Skipping Stitches
It is interesting to see the different things we each focussed on.

Monday, April 16, 2018


You know those round bales of hay or straw you see in paddocks, but never up close?
Well you can't fit many of them in the ute at once!

This is wheat straw to spread around the orchard:
In just a couple of rainy days the ground had become pretty muddy. The straw will keep the chooks cleaner and make it a bit easier for us to walk around in there too. One more bale will cover the whole orchard to a nice depth. Of course it will rot down and get muddy, but the straw was only $12 a bale, so topping it up won't be a problem. Apart from the issue of getting it off the ute and into the orchard, that is.

The chooks seem happy. Here's 5 of them in the straw:
Some of them look a bit ratty because they are still going through their autumn moult. And some of them are just old! The black Australorp in the centre is about 10 years old. You can see her in her prime 8 years ago here. The ISA brown in the front is 8 years old. See her as a pullet here. Behind her is a Barnewelder looking very ratty, which is 3.5 years old. See her when she arrived here. The two in the rear are a silver-pencilled Wyandotte and a blue Andalusian, both of which are about 1.5 years old. Their arrival here.

The newest chook is not in that photo, but here she is in the foreground with the blue Andalusian:

She is a Dorking. I haven't posted a picture of her before, but we have had her for a bit more than a year. She will look prettier when she finishes growing all her new feathers.

Speaking of pretty, here's my Mystic Star dahlia looking lovely in the sunshine today:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sewing Bee

We started the day with donated blocks, roughly sorted into piles of warm, cool and neutral colours:
And ended the day with 12 or 13 assembled quilt tops of various sizes:

Along the way there was a lot of:


Shuffling of blocks, and arranging them on every flat surface.
including the floor.

Sewing machines included my Singer featherweight, a 70s Husqvana, a couple of Pfaffs, several Janomes and a couple of Berninas.
Eleven machines in all (one not visible), and two more volunteers who concentrated on cutting, pressing, and making cups of tea.


Then lots of finished tops.

And happy quilters! Particularly me, as I had been worried that no-one would turn up, or that everything would go wrong and the day would be a complete disaster. But in fact there were lots of volunteers, and everyone seemed to have a good day. Phew!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Summer's Last Gasp?

This was a week of summer temperatures. Looking at the weather forecast I thought we might even have a red day or two.

Red like the leaves on one of the crepe myrtles:

Or the red starting to appear on the liquidambar:

As it was, we got within one degree of a red hexie, but had to be content with a bunch of orange.

Orange like this abutilon flower:

 Or like this Echeveria "Topsy Turvy" flower:

By the end of the week the temperatures had fallen back to yellow.

Yellow like the leaves of my ginkgo glowing against the grey of the bush:

Or the heart-shaped leaves on my redbud, Cercis canadensis:

So here is week forty-six of my temperature-based year quilt:
(Only half sewn together, which is why that piece of thread is visible. Sorry if it is driving you nuts wanting to pick it off!)

And here are our temperatures:

13/04/2018    20.5    yellow
12/04/2018    24.6    yellow
11/04/2018    29.3    orange
10/04/2018    28.7    orange
9/04/2018      25.6    orange
8/04/2018      28.1    orange
7/04/2018      23.8    yellow

I don't think the weather will be this warm again before my year quilt is finished. It's probably good-bye to summer, as the forecast for the week ahead is all green and aqua.

Linked to Sarah's weekly weather report.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Finally began quilting the quilt I basted a month ago:
I need to get this done, because after Saturday I'm going to potentially have a heap of charity quilts to quilt.