More new designs happening

I'm a bit of a recluse and quite happy not to leave my nest. Since Christmas I seem to have been out more than at home and this week was much the same.  There was only one day when I didn't have to go out, but thankfully three of my trips were quick ones, so I was able to spend a good amount of time designing and stitching. I spent nearly a whole day on one design, did all the preparation, applique etc and then threw it all out!!! The dream and the end result were two very different things on that one!

This one, on the other hand, has come together even better than I imagined.  I've been working on the appliques and stitching detail in between other projects and now it's all pinned ready for hand-quilting:

It uses the great new fabric range from 3 Sisters, called Double Chocolat. I'm rather fond of their fabrics and just couldn't resist this range.

Talking of fabric ranges, I had a small amount of Butterscotch and Roses fabric by Fig Tree left over after I had finished the new free BOM "Apples of Gold" quilt. There was just enough to make this lovely set which will be off to a magazine soon:

And here's another new design!  Our very talented daughter in Japan thought I needed a new business card to go with my new website.  She was right of course, and then she turned around and designed this for me:

Love it!

Don't you think it is really me?!

 We've had the Australian Open Tennis tournament on TV this week, so it was a great opportunity to try out these gorgeous silk threads from Kacoonda which I received just before Christmas. I don't know about you, but I could never watch TV without having some stitching in my hand. 

The threads were just beautiful to work with and I had a number of different weights of thread which I used in my design. The colours produced by hand-dying are just delightful.  You couldn't NOT do beautiful work with these threads! I can't wait to try out their ribbons and felt now.

At the moment, I'm looking out the window and wondering what weather we are in for next.
You've got to love Australia - bushfires one week, floods the next! Our drought has broken and we have had LOTS of rain and now we're going to be hit by tornadoes! All on our Australia Day weekend too! Sounds like good stitching weather!

Have a great week.

A different view

I have a different view on life this week - new glasses!  They are super-light, have a little bit of bling on the side, cost an absolute fortune, give me a fantastic wide angle view, hurt behind the ears and I can't see my embroidery!  Oh well, back to the optometrist tomorrow for some more adjustments.

As usual, I have three or more projects on the go at once.  This week I managed to get a couple of them finished BG (before glasses!). I showed a little bit of one of the stitcheries of my Facebook page, but here's a different view:

I'm always happy with a needle and thread in my hand!

You may have heard about the terrible bushfires raging all around Australia.  We had our own version on Bribie Island a few kilometres across the water from us.  Thankfully no homes were damaged, but the smoke hung around for quite a while.

This was the very different daytime view down our street - not a thunderstorm threatening but the heavy smoke pall.  It was quite eerie:

This little guy, a Willie Wagtail, has had a different view for the last couple of weeks.  He must be able to see himself in our tinted windows so hops back and forth along our brick windowsill, chatting away and keeping me entertained, just a ruler's length away from me. He still doesn't seem to have gotten the idea that the bird in there is not responding. It's a poor photo taken through the glass, but you can get the idea.  He does make me smile:

We've had lots of very hot weather and no rain so my once lovely green lawn has quite a different view and is looking decidedly brown. However, I've been keeping the water up to my vegetable boxes and the plants are doing well.

One of my lovely blogging friends, Linda, talked to me this week about the free BOM 2013 "Apples of Gold" quilt. Now Linda is totally opposite in her tastes to me.  She is not at all fussy and frilly like I am!  So we talked about how the design could be used with a more modern, simpler layout.  Of course all the stitcheries can stand alone and could be used for projects on their own - on a cushion, the front of a bag, on a needle case, a small wall hanging etc.  Anyway, I gave it a bit of thought and have come up with a different view for you.  (Excuse the rough sketch, but time disappeared down the plughole this week and I don't have any fancy Quilt Designing software.)

If you are interested in this different view of the Apples of Gold quilt, then you can download the file with the layout details here.  A couple of the appliqued blocks have been resized to fit, so there is a larger tree for Block 1 for you to download with the sketch.  I'd be interested to hear from you if this alternate layout suits you better.

 A change is as good as a holiday, so I hope you have some different views this week!

Happy stitching

Free Pattern Launch - Apples of Gold

It's time to launch my 2013 free Block of the Month quilt pattern. Last year we made a quilt which had as its theme our "Thoughts".  This year we've gone the logical next step and the focus is on Words.

The new quilt is called 
"Apples of Gold".  

The title is taken from this verse in the Bible:  

The right word at the right time is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  
Proverbs 25:11

Our 2013 quilt has seven embroidered blocks with proverbs about "Words", each embellished with some sweet stitchery.  Then there are just three appliqued blocks, so lots of stitching and just a little bit of applique this year.  It's all tied together with some simple, fun piecing.  The design is ideal for using lots of scrap fabric from your stash.  I had fabric left over from the lovely Butterscotch and Roses fabric by Fig Tree Quilts, so I decided to use that.

So here it is:

Apples of Gold

Our talented daughter, Annette who lives in Japan, did some digital scrapbooking for me and put the photo on some lovely background paper which came from Lesley, the generous Australian lady at Scrappiness Downunder.  This lovely lady designs wonderful scrapbooking kits and then gives them away free!  The apples came from Crafters are such generous people, aren't they!

"Apples of Gold" measures 34 x 36 inches and I have broken the pattern up into ten sections, plus one pattern with the finishing details.  Each month over eleven months, I will give you another block pattern, so if you keep up, you will have a gorgeous Christmas present ready for that special someone.

Today I have made available the Materials list and Block 1. 

As you can see, the applique is a tree.  That comes from a verse in Proverbs 15:4 "Gentle words are a tree of life, but cruel words crush your spirit."  Soothing, gentle words are like a beautiful tree, giving shelter, shade, fruit, refuge, lifting the spirits.

The design is completely free, but I would love it if you would put my "Apples of Gold" button in the sidebar of your blog with a link back to (Just right click and "Save Image As" a jpg file onto your computer, then upload it to your blog.)  Or you can advertise it on Facebook, or any other way you can think of.

The pattern for Block 1 can be downloaded here.  The patterns will remain available for the whole year. I hope you like the pattern and that you will join in downloading these blocks each month.

I don't seem to have accomplished very much this week - Doctor's appointment, Ultra-sound, Optometrist appointment, Funeral, Music practice ... but I did go shopping to spend my Christmas money.  You mightn't think much of my present but I am very happy with it - a very large wooden garden box.  We don't have anywhere to dig a vegetable garden, but do have room to have a box.  I already have one which is full of Tomatoes, Capsicum, Lettuce and Silverbeet, and I love growing my own vegetables, so decided that another box would be the perfect gift.  My husband screwed it all together yesterday and half of it is already planted out!

I did manage to preserve eight bottles of peaches and finish a pretty little stitchery, but this post is long enough already so I will show you that another time!

Happy stitching!

New year - new concepts!

I'm not into making New Year's resolutions - I would never keep them - but there have been a few new things happening this week within Val Laird Designs!

I have a commissioning for a Bag to be made by the end of this month and I really wanted to make something that I hadn't tried before.  Out came the tape measure and the pen and paper and I had soon worked out the sizes to cut the various pieces.  I decided it would be sensible to make a sample seeing it wasn't a tried and tested pattern ... and we have a new bag!

I was very pleased with how my satchel turned out.  I'll probably do that pattern to the death now!!!

The next BIG NEW thing that has been happening is that our daughter has been stirring the pot about my old website!  She is studying a Masters degree in Leading Innovation and Change!  I don't know about the "Leading" bit - I think there has been a bit of pushing and shoving - and she sure has been on about Change! 

I had to agree with her that the website needed a bit of an update, so hours of work on the computer ... and we have a new website!

You won't have to look far for it, because it's all attached to this blog.  Can you see all the headings under
 "Finding your way around"
up on the sidebar?
That's where you will find all my patterns now - much easier to access, bigger photos, quicker downloads, easier for me to maintain. I hope you'll have a browse and give me some feedback. Now, it is NOT finished yet.  I still have a few things to do on it and a couple of problems to sort out, but if you find anything that doesn't work or that you hate, please let me know!

You will find a new section too, "Ready-mades". This is the place where I am selling some of my hand-crafted originals.  So if you run out of time to make a gift for someone, this is your opportunity to purchase a unique one-off item.  And I am offering free postage worldwide!

The other NEW thing to talk about is the

  2013 FREE Block of the Month quilt.

It will be launched next week, so as usual you can expect one new block at the beginning of the third week of each month.  I have really enjoyed designing and making this new project for you and I am quite delighted with how it has turned out.


So keep an eye out next week when I will show you the completed quilt.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

I had better go and do some more work on the website now that I've told you to go and have a look!

Have a great week.