Sewing Bee TV

My guilty pleasure for reality tv these days is the Great British Sewing Bee. Gosh even spelling that out feels daggy, but seriously if you like a little bit of friendly (and they really are so nice to each other) competition, I recommend a watch. I just finished the 3rd season which you can see on youtube easily, just 6 episodes or so. It’s always good to know how to whip up a quick kilt at the last minute, isn’t it?

Truthfully I spend most of the time admiring Patrick Grants amazing outfits (he’s a Savile Row tailor and all round British styler). As well as Claudia Winkleman’s (the host) silly jokes and baggy mens shirts. May Martin’s keen eye for kindly pointing out mistakes is also wonderful.  It won’t give you the same thrill as the Walking Dead, but when that timer counts down and your sleeves aren’t hemmed you’ll break a sweat too, I’m sure.

Happy Easter : )

Dear Spring

Please come soon spring! We cannot take much more of this chill. It’s no surprise March is always miserable in the Northern hemisphere, it’s the month we’re all secretly hoping could be warmer. But alas, it probably won’t be nice for another month at least.

I have been slowly sewing together the blocks with sashing for my Farmers Wife quilt. Yes it’s been years in the making this thing, but I’m so happy to see it come together in all it’s pastel goodness. Such strong memories in this quilt, when I used to sew on the coffee table and pack all my fabric into one plastic bag. The sashing makes it all fit together well, but I’m thinking of adding some kind of border too, just to give it that nice full coverage of the bed- insane? A triangular border? Yes, but this quilt is worth it. Have I mentioned I’ll be hand quilting  the whole thing? Definite never ending story, cant even imagine what to use for the back, but I’ll get there.

In the mean time I made a super fast baby quilt for friends of Ange’s. They had a baby boy who spent a couple weeks in and out of hospital so Ange thought the little guy needed a snuggly blanket asap. I used mostly Indian Summer and some Cotton and Steel prints for this one. Really simple squares are sometimes quite effective. I did some crisscross quilting and used a japanese cotton for the back, hopefully they like they colours! It’s always a tricky thing to make quilts for a) boys b) people you don’t really know.

I’m hoping to teach a good friend some simple quilting this month! I’ve got lots of ideas for easy starter patterns so we’ll see what she wants to try first. It’s a slippery slope of fabric hoarding though! I’ll have to practice my French so I can explain to her properly what it means to be addicted to fabric!

Biggest treat this month was a trip to see the Orchestra of Montreal with the incredible pianist Nikolai Luganski perform Chopins- Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11. With fun conductor, Juanjo Mena and the orchestra also playing Tchaikovskys- Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. I’m fortunate enough to have an amazing client who is a violinist in the OSM who sometimes offers me bargain tickets to terrific events such as these. This is the first time I’ve been able to go, but I’m looking forward to returning to see more great concerts in the future. Such a fun night out and check out our seats!!

Hello Janome

Despite being hit with some ridiculous tax numbers this year, I couldn’t take the old Singers tension issues anymore and splurged on a new machine. A Janome 2030. Yay! Such a happy, exciting day. Now I’ve had old machines all my life and they are awesome, they can run forever if taken care of, but I thought it time for a treat- something I never do for myself (it’s mostly thanks to Ange actually). This Janome is quite inexpensive for a computerized machine, so it doesn’t actually have tons of features, but it is quiet, which we’re all quite happy for!

I set it up and tested out a few of the new features and then promptly had no idea what to sew.

I did however, finish up the baby quilt commission. My Goddaughter helped me clean it and I’m glad that I waited for the pretty bird fabric to arrive from out West. It’s a lovely soft cotton and I think the orchid colour goes good with the front. I like to make baby quilts that are not too babyish so that they can be used for as long as possible. I snuggle under one this size while watching TV so it should go nicely from baby to grown. (Excuse the poor lighting.)

I’m pinteresting quilts like crazy for my next few makes and inspiration, some biggies coming up. One for my parents with a ton of Liberty, I’ll let you know about it soon! Hope this week is off to a flying start for you all. xo

Back to it

Getting around to some sewing for 2015! Starting off with a little diamond chevron quilt for a friend of mine who wants to gift it to a relative expecting a little girl soon.

I really love working to a brief, as long as it’s not too constraining!  The colours requested for this quilt were pink, purple and yellow. Definitely not colours I would normally put together, so it was a bit of a challenge getting a nice balance. I’ve loved this arrangement of half square triangles for a while and knew adding the white would be a good touch to break up all that colour! I tried to use a mix of lights and darks in each colour just in case the bedroom is pastel and/or bright.

I’ve ordered some lovely backing material so I’ll be finishing it off hopefully next weekend.

It has been beyond freezing here, lots of days well below -20 celsius which I am sure now I’ll never get used to. The sharpness on your face is like nothing else, layers upon layers of clothing are always needed.  On a day around -9 you find yourself musing to others how lovely it is outside.

It does make for some beautiful sparkly ice, snow and frost though, if you’re in the comfort of a warm space it’s a really pretty view.

Twenty Fifteen

Well hello everyone! I begin the year again with disbelief! February already! Ha! What a whirlwind my last and first month of the years were. Good ones though. Australia, my beautiful homeland did not disappoint. I spent quality family time trying to catch up as much as possible with the people I love and miss there, but there’s never quite enough time to fit relaxing in too. Lots of pressure for each day to be full, maximize the time available, squeezing moments out of people to hang on to for the year ahead without them. A strange thing to be split between counties.

First up, a short 12 hours stop in Hawaii, overnight. Not so well planned out, because Hawaii is incredible!! Wish there had been some time to spend there. Did you know there are no walls in the airport in Honolulu? The breeze and sunshine sure make for a bearable airport waiting experience. This photo is taken from  just outside our boarding gate!

We had enough time to stay the night in a hotel, which meant a meal and a proper sleep before getting back on the plane for another 12 hours or so. The jet lag worked in our favour, waking up around 6am meant we could stroll to Waikiki for breakfast before heading back to the airport. After years of flying all the way from Montreal back to Canberra in one long slog, this was certainly a treat compared!

Arriving in Sydney too late at night for a flight to Canberra, my excellent Dad picked us up instead and we drove back to the ‘berra in a smooth few hours with pies and beers in the truck. We woke to a lovely warm summer day on the farm with much excitement!

Christmas meant meeting my niece time!!! What a sweetheart!

Ange and I snuck down to the coast for a few days too, so we could get in some much needed beach time. Sun! Sand! Salt water! All the things I love. We like to drive from beach to beach, Ulladulla down the coast to Tathra stopping wherever we like, looking for rock pools and creatures along the way.

The big event besides Christmas, 3 birthdays and niece time, was our families first wedding, my baby sister had a sweet little wedding on the farm and then in an old barn in town. I finished the hand sewing on her wedding quilt just in time.

I had a lovely trip to the National Gallery on my birthday to see one of my all-time favourite artists retrospective, James Turrell. And in a blink, we’re back on the plane after teary goodbyes, into life and work in snowy Montreal.

Even though I’ve travelled so many times across the Pacific I am still always amazed at the possibility of such a voyage. I feel so fortunate I can save some time and money and transport myself such a monstrous distance so relatively easily! Incredible. Happy 2015.

Premier Décembre

Wow a post a month, not so good is it!? I know it’s not just me who gets insanely busy round the end of the year. Who knows why, the time still continues in January! But I’m extra busy at work (everyone needs good holiday hair, I love this time of year) and trying to get a lot of pressie projects done. The quilt top for Kelly’s wedding quilt is done and I’m in the middle of doing some sewing for my Mum, who’s birthday is dangerously close to Christmas (which means often last minutely-remembered!!)

Not the best lighting for this picture, but you get the idea!

I’ve been making bread weekly! It sounds harder than it is. I don’t know about you, but I am a massive carb lover. My weakness, bread, cakes, croissants – baked goods of any sort. I could literally eat an entire loaf of freshly baked bread with no second thoughts.

It’s mostly just time you need, but if you can put it in the mixer and then let it rise while you do other things, it really is simple.

Here’s the recipe! It’s actually an old Challah recipe but I find it so tasty for every day bread. You can leave out the eggs if you’re vegan.

  • 1 1/4 cups of water (lukewarm – so the yeast can feed)
  • 1 sachet of dry yeast (I think it’s roughly 7-8grams)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (whisked, set aside a little of this for brushing the loaves, use about 1.5 eggs in the bread mix, or you can just use 1 egg, with no egg wash)
  • 1 Tablespoon vege oil (or melted butter)
  • 4 cups flour (sometime you’ll need 1/2 c more or less)

Place the warm water and 1 tsp of the honey into a bowl with the yeast. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast is frothy. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Add the flour a cup at a time, just so that you can stop when the dough has come together nicely, you may not need a full 4 cups.

Knead the dough for 8 – 10 minutes until it’s nice and smooth and elastic feeling. Then place it in a lightly greased bowl for an hour or so with a clean dry tea towel over top. It should rise and double in size. At this point you can divide the dough into 3 parts and roll out each and braid it, or you can roll it into little balls to make buns. Whichever you decide, place them on a lined baking tray and cover with the same tea-towel for another hour.

Once the loaf or buns have grown again, preheat the oven to 180C or 350F and lightly brush the egg you set aside previously, over top of the dough (this is not necessary, the buns in my picture above aren’t egg washed). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes (a whole loaf) or 15 – 20 minutes for buns.

I’m not going to make my usual selection of Christmas cookies this year – too much to do in too little time, but maybe I’ll make New Years cookies instead!

November

I’m rarely sick, but this weekend I’ve been hit. It’s good it’s over the weekend because it won’t impact my clients, but it’s a bit sad too. Nothing to be done. It’s nuts to think it’s already mid-November, but easier to believe now that there is snow falling outside my window as I write. Where does time really go?

I finished a simple plus quilt for my friend Adri. Her baby came early so I posted it off pronto for little Beatrice.

I really like the simple cross pattern. It’s a goody if I’m not sure of the tastes of the parents. I’m all about pattern and tons of colour usually, but I definitely know that’s not everyones bag. I always put a little ribbon loop now, for hanging, and a tiny signature too.

I’m super excited to be going back to Australia for the holidays. Lots of family business to focus on this year, nieces to meet, weddings to attend!!

I’ve recently been missing doing glass, it’s been a long time now. I think I’ll try and find somewhere in 2015 to tinker in, wish it wasn’t such a pricey endeavour.

I’ve also been missing Japan. I’ve spent lots of time there over the years, it really is a wonderful place, so much to explore packed into such little space.

Does being sick make you nostalgic? My Mum always used to say, “health is a crown on a well mans head that only a sick man can see”. But I’ll be fine in a couple days, I’m just going to watch tv in bed, drink juice and tea and sleep. It really could be worse!