Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Good-Bye 2019

The second-last day of the year was our first day of Extreme Fire Danger for the summer. Image from the CFA website:
High temperatures, strong winds and extreme dryness make for a dangerous combination. We went down to Ocean Grove for the day. It is a strange feeling leaving home in the morning, with a bag of essentials, and wondering if your house will be gone by the end of the day. As it was, only one fire occurred anywhere near our home, when a tree was hit by lightning and burst into flames about 5km to the north. The fire was stopped from spreading, fortunately. However, many other parts of the state and the country have burnt and are still burning. The images and video in the news reports are dreadful. And there are months of summer ahead of us.


In happier news, here's part five of the Frolic mystery quilt:
This was kind of funny because two weeks ago the clue involved making blue and neutral half-square triangles. But because I had swapped the colours around, I made berry and neutral ones that week. Then this week the clue was to make berry and neutral units, so here are my blue and neutral ones!

In my last post, on Boxing Day, I was wondering if I would get the wonky stars quilt finished by the end of the year. I finished quilting it on Sunday, so it just needed binding. I was considering what colour binding to use, when I remembered that a few months ago someone from the quilt guild gave me some scrappy binding she had left over. She thought I might be able to use it on one of the quilts I was quilting for the group, but I was giving those quilts to other people to bind, so I didn't use it. This quilt of scraps will be donated too, so using her scrappy binding seemed ideal. There wasn't enough for the whole quilt, but I knew that amongst my scraps there were several pieces of my own binding off-cuts. I joined them to hers, and here's the binding ready to sew on:
That seemed very appropriate for this quilt which is almost entirely out of my scrap basket. And here it is this afternoon, finished:
The sun was so bright the shadows show you the quilting more than the colours. Here it is inside without the shadows:
So with that, every quilt I started this year was also finished this year (except the on-going Frolic mystery, of course). Hooray! It doesn't mean I have no unfinished quilts. I have a list of those, which I'll do a post about in January, as I intend to make that list shorter by this time next year.

After I'd finished the binding, I even sewed labels on these last three quilts (Sew Many Strips, Butterflies and Sunflowers, and the Wonky Stars):
In the past the guild has printed their labels on purchased bubble-jet printable fabric. They are reasonably expensive, and very hard to sew on by hand. I had the idea last year of getting them printed on normal fabric by Spoonflower. I only had an A4-sized pdf file of multiple labels, not the original artwork, but I managed to create the fabric you can see at the top of the photo. I bought it when Spoonflower had a free postage deal, so 99 labels (which is what fitted on 1 yard of fabric) cost $24.36 at the time. This was less than half the cost of the printable fabric labels, and they are much easier to sew on. The print is a little less clear than I had hoped, but that is probably to do with the method I used to create the file.


Stash Report for 2019

At the beginning of this year, I started recording the use of, and additions to, my stash of fabric and thread. I said then that "I want to make sure that by the end of the year there is less than there is at the moment." How did that go?

Quilting Fabric:
Purchased: 8.15m
Given: 8.53m - this is a category I hadn't anticipated, so I had to add it to my spreadsheet.
Used: 19.28m
Result: I have 2.6m less fabric in my stash now than I had at the beginning of the year.

Garment Fabric:
Purchased: 6.75m
Used: 11m
Result: 4.25m less fabric

Purchased: 1 spool
Emptied: 19 spools
I'm happy to have used up all that thread, but it didn't make a noticeable dent in my thread stash.

What I've learnt from this exercise:
It is much easier to acquire fabric than it is to use it up! Cutting pieces for quilts really doesn't use as much fabric as I had imagined, and buying even one metre of fabric adds considerably to the amount of patchwork needing to be done to use that metre. Looking at all my tubs of fabric, I now know that I have more than I can ever use. I have STABLE - Stash Totally Above and Beyond Life Expectancy.

I will continue keeping track in 2020, and do my best to remove fabric from my stash, either by sewing it up or giving it away.


Best wishes for 2020 to all my blog readers. Happy new year!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Boxing Day

A quiet day. I basted then started quilting the wonky star quilt top that I assembled three weeks ago.

Can I get this quilted and bound before the end of the year?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Dining Al Fresco

For once I remembered to take some photos at a family gathering:
My parents and my sister and the remnants of Christmas, under a shade canopy in my sister's back yard.

It was a pleasant place to sit on such a warm and sunny afternoon:

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Fourth Frolic

First a bit of Christmassy cheer:
This is Leptospermum "Rudolph", a hybrid tea tree. Nothing to do with tea, and a shrub rather than a tree. Plant names can be very misleading. I love its flowers!

The fourth Frolic installment involves sewing a bunch of sets of triangles together:
Then keeping them together with a bunch of different triangles in the same colours.
Very intriguing!

A bit more garden colour - more gladdies opening this morning:
The colours of both flower pictures are a bit more golden than they should be. Bushfire smoke is giving everything a golden tint today, as well as making my eyes water.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Another Finish

"Sew Many Strips" quilted and bound:

A section of the back so you can see the quilting:
This one will be donated.

Possibly my last finish of the year?

Friday, December 20, 2019

Not Fun

Today was our first Total Fire Ban, and first day of Severe fire danger of the summer. So many parts of the country are burning already, but until now our weather has been relatively mild. Today's top was forecast to be over 40 (it got to 41.9), so it was a day of being prepared, and watching the Emergency website.

"Go bags" ready to go:

I spent the morning in my sewing room, doing some quilting. Around the middle of the day I was thinking to myself, no emergencies yet, maybe everything will be OK. And just as I thought that, my phone started alerting me to a fire right on the southern edge of my "watch zone", at Meredith:

Initially it was a hay shed on fire:
And up to 16 fire vehicles were involved in trying to stop it spreading:
I'm not sure what happened, whether a spark from this fire ignited another, or a separate fire began to the west of this one (and if so, did someone deliberately light both of them?) but somehow a grass fire broke out. In the map below, from several hours later, the hay shed fire is in the small yellow area at the top, and the grass fire is the black section in the orange area. The red area is the area potentially at risk from the fire by then:

Because the wind was from the north, there was no danger of it coming towards us, at least until the expected cool change this evening. The evening was spent watching the "Victorian Observations" weather page to see where the wind change had reached, and the Emergency page to see what was happening with this fire. And I forgot to take any more screen shots. Up to 66 vehicles were working on this fire, trying to get it under control before the wind change. The whole map to the right of the fire became a warning area, as once the wind changed the fire could change from being a narrow front heading south east, to a very wide fire front heading north east. We love our cool changes, but they can be very dangerous when fires are burning.

Post Script:
Two days later, this fire is under control, and firefighters are working on hot spots and trying to ensure it stays under control. Across the state there are much worse fires still burning out of control, and the news of fires in other parts of the country is all bad.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


Out early this morning doing a bit of watering before the sun came up and the temperature began to climb (to 38.3 eventually). The first of the gladdies are opening:

Monday, December 16, 2019

More Progress

Sandwiched and began quilting my "Sew Many Strips" quilt, which has been a top since July:

Another one which will be donated when it is finished.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Garden in December

Here's what's flowering in the garden today. Be warned - there are a lot of pictures of flowers here!

Parrot's beak (Lotus berthelotii):


The bergenia still has a few flowers:
I will have to split this clump soon, it is taking over this corner of the garden.

The pansies are not doing brilliantly this year:
Something seems to be nibbling the flowers before they open properly. This one is hiding under the leaf of a hellebore. None of my hellebores flowered this year!

Geraniums and pelargoniums are flowering profusely in a few spots round the garden:

Rugosa rose:

Daylilies are popping out all round:

Three in one photo - penstemon, kangaroo paw and lamb's ears:


Red hot pokers that are actually yellow:
There are red and orange ones elsewhere in the garden.

This orange freesia surprised me as I didn't know it was there:

Tag is buried somewhere in this mass of flowers. A native like billy buttons:


Can't find the tag for this one either:

A bee and a skipper butterfly of some variety enjoying nectar from a succulent:
The skipper on its own:

A bee in one of several salvias starting to flower:


Cistus petals looking like they need a good iron:

A surprise agastache growing behind a shed:
I didn't know it was still there! Two or three were planted a few years ago (before the shed was there) then disappeared. I assumed they had died but apparently one was still growing behind some other plants.

This escallonia was a gift from the next door neighbours:

Phygelius aequalis "Yellow trumpet":

One of several echiums flowering, with a bee gathering pollen:

Almost the last of the pigface, with a surprise caterpillar visitor:

English lavender with bonus skipper butterfly:

Other plants flowering but not shown here include waterlilies, sweet peas, hebes, citrus trees, aloes, philadelphus, and probably others I've forgotten. The first gladioli are just peeping out of their buds and will be open in a few days. And I didn't even go into the fruit and vege garden, where there are sure to be lots of other flowers happening.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Third Frolic

Week three of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt Frolic is again quite simple - a moderate number of half-square triangles.

However my planned colour scheme could be an issue. I interpreted Bonnie's two blues as two separate colours. I decided to use raspberry as the dark blue, and a lighter purple instead of medium blue. But it seems that is not quite what Bonnie meant. So this week when the units are meant to be neutral and blue (all blues), I had to stop and think for a bit. Eventually I decided to stick to my plan and hope for the best. I made half of these units with raspberry and half with purple:

I used a quick way of making them, the "magic 8" method.
 Fabrics paired and diagonal lines stitched, when cut apart each pair gives eight:
This is so quick, I had all the sewing and cutting done before lunch, and that included a trip in to Ballarat for a bit of shopping!

After pressing, ready for trimming:
A mixture of berry colours, which I hope will work in the final quilt.

Comments change: I have changed to a pop-up comment window, as a test. In general the pop-up windows annoy me, I'd prefer to just comment in posts. But apparently some browsers (particularly Safari, but also others depending on the settings) block the cookies required to make the embedded comments box work. So this is a test to see if comments work better or not for you! Please let me know if you experience any problems commenting with this change. My email address is in my profile if you don't already know it.