Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spring Holidays

Grevillea Lavendulacea

Some wearable sewing - for me!

Eureka Lemon


Sunbathing snapdragons

Crested Hawk/Pacific Baza

Local paper photo shoot

Spring and school holidays make for a wonderful combination for colour and activity. A new visitor to our backyard was yesterday's Crested Hawk, also known as the Pacific Baza (caught on camera by one of the children). Our two week school/homeschool holiday is over half way through - a fact I will try to ignore for now, enjoying each life-filled day as it comes.

Sharing at Wild Bird Wednesday, SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hand Quilting with Silk Threads

Beautiful soft cotton fabrics and smooth, colour saturated silk threads are a very satisfying combination to work with. I have begun hand quilting 'Peaceful Night' with the delightful silk threads I shared about last week. Silk thread is strong, smooth, soft and durable, maintaining its integrity much better than cotton, allowing you to use longer lengths and to undo and restitch a section when needed (I'm a bit fussy with my stitches). 

Silk's natural reflective lustre makes it appear to change colour according to the angle of the thread and light, a feature which I find adds to its interest and appeal. For this reason I have found it best to choose thread colours by daylight as the silk's shininess makes it hard to accurately choose colours even with my full spectrum Ott-Lite lamp. Laying a length of thread over the fabric gives a better idea of true colour effect than judging by looking at the entire spool of thread.

The silks do tend to catch easily on any roughness, including hardened skin on fingertips and nail corners, proving to be good motivation to look after my hands with more care.

Hand quilting with silk truly is a pleasure to both the eyes and the skin, one which I will be continuing to enjoy for a few weeks.

Thread Notes: As shared here last week I'm using Quilter's Silks 16 wt from Superior Threads and also Gutermann Buttonhole Twist Silks 12 wt which I sourced on eBay. Any difference between them is imperceptible once quilted so I choose the colour which works best with each section of my quilt.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Life is a little more interesting when I use my imagination.....

(Enjoying today's grey skies in a new light)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Silk Road

The lustre and wonderful smoothness of silk thread is amazing. Last week I mentioned I was waiting on the arrival of some silk threads with a view to hand quilting Peaceful Night. Silk seemed to be the perfect choice, being a natural thread yet also having a shimmering effect. My first order of silk threads came all the way from Superior Threads in the US. The Quilter's Silks (above) are a  beautiful, soft 16wt thread and although they come in 36 colours, this seems rather limited once you try to colour match. The White, Grey Stone and Black should work perfectly with Peaceful Night.

I chose just one card of Buttonhole Silk, also a 16 wt but twisted a little more tightly (above left) and a spool of Superior's Kimono Silk which is a 100wt thread (above right and in the photo with the Quilter's Silks). Each of these 100% silk threads are made in Japan and feel absolutely wonderful.

A few days after ordering from Superior Threads I stumbled upon some Gutermann Buttonhole Twist silks (R 753) in a 12 wt on eBay - in Australia. I was delighted to scoop up a variety of colours at a reasonable cost, giving me the opportunity to colour match to my EPP stars. These are also 100% silk but have been made in several different countries. I'm not sure if these are still available for purchase in Australia but did manage to find a retailer in the US ( NO international shipping) and another US retailer who ships internationally and stocks Gutermann R 753 in 400m cobs only (very good value).

Yesterday I finished stitching the edge sections to Peaceful Night, spurred on by looking at all my beautiful, new, shiny silk threads! I can hardly wait to baste this quilt and begin the fun of hand quilting with these sumptuous silks.

These beautiful natural threads look and feel wonderfully luxurious. Lines from Beatrix Potter's Tailor of Gloucester run through my mind. Silk has indeed been recognised as a luxury thread for centuries, indeed thousands of years! I think there will be much more silk in my sewing future!

Superior Threads generously provided me with a gift certificate at the perfect time to assist my purchase of something new and special from their extensive range of threads, needles and notions. 

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It Must Be Spring!

The Scarlet Honeyeaters have returned for a second year! Not only have they increased in number but they are also less timid than last year. The Scarlet Honeyeater is the smallest honeyeater in Australia but any lack in size it sure makes up for with a rather loud, pleasantly piercing call and the highly visible bright scarlet feathers of the males. 

A sunny ranunculus was my happy impulse purchase last week while choosing all our gardening supplies. I attempted growing some a couple of years ago but no flowers resulted. We've watched one beautiful bloom open during this week and there are at least four promising buds.

Another little cactus has produced a flower spike with delicate little yellow flowers.

Master T had his 15th birthday this week, surrounded by his five sisters. Times like this are much fun yet we also miss his big (but now shorter) brother and eldest sister who have both left home for college/uni this year. 

Early this morning we took Miss N to our local airport again. She is on her way to Sydney for a busy  day of cricket training, flying 'home' to our next bigger city this evening. In the meantime there's a matter of some washing and food shopping I need to attend to.....and listening to wonderful bird calls too!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stitch by Stitch

My sore fingers are letting me know good progress has been made since last week! I'm finding the Gutermann Extra Fine polyester thread brilliant for sewing the darker sections to the lighter edge sections. Most of the sewing of this quilt was completed last year, before Extra Fine was available in Australia. 

It's interesting seeing how my hand stitching has changed over time, not only with finer thread and tinier needle but smaller and closer stitches as well. In many ways our quilts tell a story beyond the primary one we intend, providing a snapshot in time of fabrics, techniques, progress and change.

This is the first quilt in which I glue basted the fabric to the papers. All the paper pieces were hand cut to my design from copy paper using quilting rulers and an older rotary blade blade. The larger papers are very easy to remove, some loosening just with handling of the quilt in this large and awkward stage. So far I have removed about half of the papers without any difficulties, leaving others in to give the quilt top some body and help prevent creasing. 

The crosshatch in charcoal for the binding has arrived and a variety of silk threads for hand quilting have been ordered, I can hardly wait to see what they look like. I've never sewn with silk thread - any tips from those who have would be most welcome.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Practical Learning

The children had plans for a week of spring cleaning and gardening. They had lots of ideas and the energy required to see them through to completion. It was indeed a very productive week (except for some troubles with the floor cleaning/polishing, which necessitated me attending to some re-oiling and not a very good ending). Still a work in progress, some tidying up and the pool to prepare for swimming.

The best bit is that we now we have many months of anticipation, nurturing, learning, fine tuning and hopefully harvesting ahead of us.

Garden details: 
The raised beds were bought from Aldi. I had been watching for these in their catalogue after reading of Ock Du Spock's success with them here.
We placed weed mat over the entire area and also lined each garden bed with weed mat (from Bunnings).
We used 11+ bags of potting mix to fill each bed, buying 60 in total so as there was some left for planting directly into the weed mat also. Thankfully it was on special at our local supermarket which is only a few blocks away. Bought over 4 trips in our family bus.
River stones, man made and natural stepping stones, seeds and seedlings also from Bunnings.

* Congratulations to Marijke who is the winner of the Sliver random draw! You seem to have some great plans for using these wonderful threads - I have sent you an email with details.

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