Passing on the genes

My mother and father were both very talented people, able to produce all sorts of things with their hands, tackling concepts they had never done before, always with great success. I am so thankful they passed on the creative genes to me - there is something very fulfilling about being able to express one's creativity.  

Our four children are a bunch of high achievers and our 15 (yes fifteen!) grandchildren are a hive of creative, talented activity whenever they visit our house!  Of course I'm biased, but what can I say, the genes have been passed on!

For my recent birthday, one of our daughters, Janelle, designed a stitchery which her four children then stitched and Janelle coloured.  They definitely have the stitching genes!  This by 12 year old grandson: 

10 year old grandson's work:

9 year old grand-daughter's delightful cat:

and look at the fabulous back-stitching on 7 year old grand-daughter's pretty butterfly:

I am so delighted with such a lovely gift in which they were all involved. Don't you think there's a lot of potential there for the future?

My husband and I had a lovely week away last week with our local Birdwatching Club at Rainbow Beach, quite a pretty area.

The weather was perfect and we saw lots of beautiful birds: 

and something we shouldn't have seen - a car in very good condition - stuck in the sand. One or two incoming tides later and it was no longer pristine:

I haven't done any stitching to speak of for two or three weeks but I'm reaping the benefits of doing lots of sewing about six months ago, as a number of magazines are coming out now with my designs in them.  There are enough photos on this post already so I'll show you some of that at a later date.  And I have a gorgeous photo of a completed "Thoughts in Thread" quilt (my 2012 free Block of the Month quilt) to share next week.

Have a great week.


Off on a Tangent

Life has been a bit "Off on a Tangent" in the last couple of weeks!  On top of all my birthday surprises,  we celebrated our wedding anniversary and have had various members of our family staying with us for some extra time.  It's all good - but different!

Various magazines have been arriving in my letterbox and I've hardly had a chance to open them.  I did have a look at Country Threads Vol 13 No 12 because it had my table runner on the cover:

and you can see what I called it - "Off on a Tangent":

It has ric rac swags between the needle-turned flowers.  With all that cream fabric, it even looks a little bit modern - probably the closest I'll get to that style of quilting!

In between all the family visits, I packaged up four designs for Australian magazines. I was very happy to have all the patterns, samples, templates etc completed by the deadline, because my hubbie and I are going away for five days with our local Birdwatching club.  It's always more relaxing when I don't have the "Things to do" list hanging over my head! I'm also looking forward to catching up on some craft magazine reading while we travel :)

I'm giving the record for the fastest stitching of one of my free designs to Marie Christine who writes the most delightful comments in French on my blog. Just eight days after I had shared the Watering Can stitchery, this photo arrived in my e-mail box:

Thank you for showing us your lovely adaptation of my pattern, Marie Christine. I love seeing what you all do with my designs, so feel free to share them with us.

I hope you have a great week with lots of stitching!

Free BOM - Apples of Gold - Block 4

Here it is - I'm still on Cloud 9, (see previous post!) but have had a chance to get organised.

 Block 4 in the free "Apples of Gold" block of the month quilt:

Another ever so practical verse from the Bible this month:

Gentle words deflect anger.  

The rest of the verse goes on to say, “but harsh words make tempers flare.” 
Proverbs 15:1  

I vividly remember an incident one year when we were travelling on holidays.  A Bikie gang came up behind us, and one of them passed us on the WRONG side of the car.  My husband didn’t see the bike, seeing he was passing us on the inside. At the same time, we were turning in to a Petrol Station, so nearly wiped the bike off!  Next thing, this huge big guy, shoulders raised, chest out, lumbered up to us. I was sure we were going to be the next statistic in road rage!  

All I could think of was this verse!  “Gentle words deflect anger ...”  I quoted it to my husband about three times as he got out of the car, just in case he was going to tell the bikie that he was in the wrong!  Hubbie had no intention of doing that, considering he was about one third of bikie’s size!  Hubbie’s gentle apology that day (it didn’t matter that it wasn’t him in the wrong), deflected the anger. I have no doubt that it would have been a very different outcome if harsh words were spoken and voices were raised!   

I hope you like the little snow-drops tucked in there.  They are a favourite childhood memory of mine.

You can download Block 4 from here, and if you missed any of the other blocks, they are all available on my free pattern page.

I've spent the day checking patterns, templates, samples, invoices etc. and now there are four patterns all packaged sitting waiting for me to get to the Post Office to post off to Magazine Editors.

Two of them are Christmas designs:

You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Christmas designs (or maybe there are six) that I have produced in the eight years I have been designing. I'm not sure why really - maybe it is all too much to have to think about Christmas again when you have just got over the previous one!  Well this year I have been inspired by the lovely Cinnamon Spice range of fabric.  It's not Christmas material, but it is in the right colours.

I have enjoyed using it so much that I am making another design.  Hopefully I will finish the stitchery tonight so that I can put it all together tomorrow.

Happy stitching!

Surprises, Surprises!

I've had a week full of surprises! 

A few months ago, one of our daughters asked me what did I want to do to celebrate my birthday this year. I replied "have my family around me".  We have one son who lives near us, a daughter who lives three hours away, another son a couple of thousand kilometres away and then a daughter living even further away - overseas in Japan.

I was overjoyed that our nearby son and his family and our 3-hours away daughter and her family were all coming for my birthday dinner on Tuesday, and because it was school holidays, I was going to see them on and off for the rest of the week. My talented daughter, Janelle, presented me with my first surprise - this fabulous cake she had made:

Isn't it just gorgeous?  She modelled it on my Calista Cottage wall-hanging which was very special as it was my one hundredth design to be published:

My next surprise was that the doorbell rang just after 9 in the morning - rather early to have someone at the door. What I received next was an absolutely HUGE surprise. There on the doorstep was our daughter from Japan, with her husband and oldest son!!!! How it was all organised for them to be here, without me having even the slightest hint that anything was going on, I will never know.

 Can you imagine how lovely it has been for me to have so many of our family around?

Saturday morning, the doorbell rang again and I was in for yet another BIG surprise. On the doorstep this time was our son from Melbourne! Again, I was totally in the dark and didn't have a clue that he was coming.  He was able to stay for the whole weekend, so it was party time again - not that it had ever stopped as we seem to have been celebrating the whole week! To be able to spend time with all four of our children has been just so special.

Janelle produced yet another surprise.  She couldn't have her brother miss out on sharing in a birthday cake, so she had made another cake, and hidden it away to be produced just at the right time:

This one is based on my "Fan-ciful" design:

It's definitely been the best birthday I have ever had!

One day I'll come down off cloud nine and do some more stitching and give you the next block in the Apples of Gold free quilt pattern!


Over the rainbow

It's all about colour! Early on in my quilting journey, I read that a good guide when making a quilt is to use no more than four colours in any one project.  I have found that to be quite a good recommendation. Here is my Gifts of Grace quilt with four colours - pink, yellow, blue and green applique and embroidery:

I also learned by experience about choosing threads for my stitcheries.  In my early excitement, I selected gorgeous threads in colours, that all worked together beautifully.  The finished stitchery looked wonderful, but then I had to find fabric to tie in with it, and that's where everything collapsed. It is so difficult to find just the right fabric, matching the shades, tints, values and scale in the right proportions.

I was a quick learner and I soon realised that I was doing things 'back to front'.  First things first - select the FABRIC!  It is SO much easier to match threads to the fabric, than vice versa. With the quilt above, I started with that lovely floral fabric, then found pink and green to match to use for the sashings. A dig through the 'small bits' boxes and I soon found suitable fabrics for the appliques. Then it was an easy task to lay the floral fabric along my Stranded Thread colour chart and select matching threads:

 A couple of years ago, one of our daughters gave me two sets of bright fat quarters - 56 of them. I don't normally gravitate to bright fabrics but I could see the potential in these. Some of them turned into the "Making Daisy Chains" bag:

Quite a few more went into making the "Peak-a-boo" Puzzle quilt for toddlers:

What if I combined a whole lot of different colours - like a rainbow?  It's a long time since 1939 when Judy Garland first sang "Somewhere, over the rainbow" in the all-time classic movie "The Wizard of Oz". The song has been ranked as 'the greatest movie song of all time' and is number one on the 'Songs of the Century' list, so of course I had no other option than to use the title for my bright, colourful "Over the Rainbow"  travel bags!:

One of the reasons this project works, in spite of having so many colours, is the fact that they are all tone-on-tone fabrics with no contrasting prints.  When I was auditioning fabrics for this, I was also looking for colours that blended well together. There were quite a lot of rejects before I came up with this combination.

The pattern for these ever so practical bags can be found in the latest edition of Patchwork & Stitching, Vol 14:2.

I love rainbows. My most moving experience with rainbows was on the day my husband was to have major heart surgery. I was very anxious and prayerful that morning.  I stepped out of the building where I was staying and there, right across the sky, was a magnificent rainbow.  I knew it was another evidence of God's love and assurance to me that He was in control and He would be faithful as He had always been.  And He was!  and is!

One final word before I finish.  My friend, Jenny, has relaunched her E-zine.  It's a delightful read, with lovely patterns to stitch, all for a very reasonable price.  You will love it - read about it here.

Happy stitching.