Cats & Quilts - a match made in heaven... (except maybe those stubborn little clouds of fur that latch on to the fabric!)

Kitty Quote of the Day

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul. - Jean Cocteau

Thursday, December 29, 2011

SSCS Parcel I Sent

My partner that I sent to in the Secret Santa Swap was Lori from Lolastitchida. Lori showed very similar tastes to me in her SAL choices so after checking out her blog I figured she would like something similar in fabrics & designs to what I like.

So I got out some patterns from my favourite designers & finally decided on The Loving Home Wall Hanging from Natalie Bird's book From The Heart. The fabric is called A Fine Romance by Moda.

I am happy to say that Lori emailed & posted on her blog today that she is very happy with her gift. That is wonderful, thanks Lori. xx

Thanks also too our Swap Mama, ChookyElf who does an amazing job organising the swap and getting us all to make deadlines. I would have thought that after your SAL duties all year you would be happy for a break come Christmas but no. Thanks very much. I'm sure it is greatly appreciated by all us swappers & SALers and hope you realise what positive things you add to our blogging & swapping experiences. xx

Now back to my SKOW SAL blocks before the whip comes out in 2 sleeps time!

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

SSCS Swap Parcel I Received

At last Christmas Day came & it was time to open the Secret Santa Christmas Swap pressies. From my partner Kristi from kj's Weblog in the USA I received a gorgeous Pincushion Organiser & Zipped Pencil Case. Kristi can obviously tell I need to be a bit more orgnised & tidy - just kidding, but it's so true.

In her letter Kristi told me when she saw the fabric Whiskers & Tails that she knew it was just perfect for me. And she was right, totally PURRRRRFECT!

It includes a pincushion on the top & a woollen piece for needles, a nice pocket where I can put my sewing needles to remind me to change them more often, a pocket for scissors & the quick-unpick, both which Kristi included in my gift. Hanging down is the very important bin for my errant threads & off cuts. I am going to put all my tracing pens, Frixion pens & glue pens in the pencil case so I am not looking all over the place for them like now.

A gorgeous & useful gift that will be put to work by my sewing machine for many years to come. I had one down on my to do list too so now can rule that one off. Thanks very much Kristi, an awesome gift. xx

Happy New Year to all!
Tracee  xx  Brutus  xx  Hun-bun  xx

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Swaps Update

Firstly I want to bless the Canadian post man who finally managed to deliver my Secret Santa Christmas Swap present to Lori of Lolastitchida blog. It took a month & is one of the last to show up so I was getting pretty apprehensive about it - just ask Chooky. She would have given a sigh of relief to see it was delivered & know I would now stop emailing to ask.

Below is Lori's snowman ornament up in her Christmas tree. I told Lori Mr Snowman was no doubt very happy to now live in Canada as it is no fun being a snowman in Perth at Christmas. The forecast isn't as hot as usual for Christmas Day but 30 degrees isn't a snowman's best environment. This pattern is from Rosie Quinlin's little Christmas Book 'Petit Noel'.

Only 3 more sleeps & all us SSCS swappers can open our main Christmas presents. I can't wait to show you Lori's main present. I think it turned out beautifully & hopefully judging my Lori's choices in the SAL's she will love it too.

I also took part in the Rainbow Charm Square Swap hosted by Sharon of Lilabelle Lane. It was based on the colourwheel & all 16 of us were allocated 5 spokes of the wheel & had to provide 16 x 5 inch charm squares to match those colours. Sharon then did her magic & sorted all the sqaures (1280 of them!) so that every member received a rainbow of 80 charm squares. Here's the end result. Now to think of what I am going to make with my rainbow of fabricy goodness. There are going to be more charm swap so so if you are interested contact Sharon & join in.

And for the third swap, here's a look at the pressies I sent to Marie in the Santa Sack swap hosted by swap-mama Cheryll of Gone Stitchin'. I really need to remember to take photographs before I send things but as this was a parcel a month that would be a few photos whereas Marie has a nice group shot.

Marie is just starting out on her sewing obsession so I tried to feed it with a couple of books - Tilda's Summer Ideas & Sew by Cath Kidson that includes a little kit. There is also a couple of pieces of jewellery, bookmark, notebook, clock, teatowels, soaps & an angel.

I sent Marie a little Christmas cushion using one of the SAL blocks from Tis The Season.

And because she loves Babuska dolls, a pattern & thread to stitch some small dolls and a table runner made with Babuska fabric.

I didn't have a pattern for this but made the four squares & then tried to decide how to put it together. Side by side seemed a little boring & adding too many complimentary fabrics would have been very bright so I got an idea from a recent table runner swap Shez did & decided to put them on point. When it came to doing the binding I was wondering how to do the inner turns but when in doubt, search on Youtube & there was the answer. It took awhile to bind, lots of folding, trying to hold the fold, dropping, refolding & a quick stitch to keep in place.

By the final stitch & press I thought it looked pretty impressive & Marie likes it so happy, happy, happy. It has been fun opening all out pressies, like having two Christmas Days. If you didn't get involved this year, look out on Cheryll's blog for next year.

I also received this beautiful card with a kitty on Santa's knee & a duckling needle holder & three little kitties to add to my brood from the very kind Melody of The House on the Side of the Hill. Melody hosts Tuesday Treasures each week where we can show off the things we love & that make us happy. Maybe on our first January post we should all post about the Treasure that is Melody & the acts of kindness she sprinkles lovingly on all of us. Thank you Melody! xx

Work is over for the year now & we are closed until Monday 9th January. I now have some last minute shopping to do (pressies for the furboys!) & the food shopping for Christmas Day. Of course there is the cleaning to do too. A trip to the pool shop to see if the salt cell needs replacing AGAIN.

Then I have to get some sort of system in place to remember all I have signed up for in quilty blog land for 2012 & get things underway. First I need to get all the December blocks sewn for the Some Kind of Wonderful SAL with Chooky & make lots of practice sandwiches for SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge that starts 1st January & for the online Machine Quilting class I am doing. Of course, I still have some Christmas gifts to finish sewing too. All good fun!

Merry Christmas
Tracee xx Brutus xx & Hun-bun xx

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Finish For Secret Santa at Work

We have a secret santa swap at work too & unless I am stumped as to a great gift to make that my partner will appreciate, I try to make this one too so it can be personal & one of a kind.

My partner this year was Carol, a beautiful lady who manages our indigineous playgroups for some school funding. The success stories that have come out of these groups make me realise how little I know about how some people just get by in our affluent society. She is rightly proud of her heritiage & having seen lots of beautiful aboriginal fabrics in the past, I wanted to make her something using some. As she flew off to France (including Paris!) on Friday to meet up with her daughter who is on a student exchange there, I thought a bag would be just the go.

I had come across a very handy pattern called the 12 Pocket Bag on the blog of SewCalGal. It has handles made of webbing so is very sturdy & able to hold a good load too. My bags always seem to be overloaded & weigh a tonne so I like that in a tote bag. The instructions made me think a little but I haven't made many bags so that is not a reflection on the pattern & I eventually did the lining slightly different so it was boxed like the outer bag.
I went to 2 shops for fabric & Murphy's law, all the beautiful fabric I had seen had disappeared in to others stash's at home. After much digging I finally found this dot painting one in the $6 pile at Spotlight (the Joondalup store sould really do with a good cleanup in the quilt material section!).

Unfortunately on the day the gifts were given out I was at my quilting group's Christmas party so didn't get to see Carol open it but was told she loved it & was taking it away with her - yippeee!

I can assure you it doesn't take very long to make. After having had a busy week I started sewing on Wednesday after the Calsthenics AGM at 11pm. I had cut the fabric one night previous when I couldn't sleep but ended up recutting the dot print fabric as it was printed on a very obvious angle (not so obvious when I originally cut it at 3am one morning!). It was finished & in it's Santa bag by 1.30am ready for giving the next day.

I can see me making this up again in so many different fabrics & have a couple of colour requests from workmates already. Time will tell whether there luck is in or not!

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa Paws is Coming to Our House.....

Santa Paws is due at our house in 9 sleeps my time, about 47 sleeps according to the furboys. The outcome doesn't look good judging by the look on his face above but maybe Santa Paws should take into account what Brutus & Honey have done with their Christmas money this year.

A week ago on Facebook we saw a story about a privately run cat shelter in Milwaukee that is now home to Daniel, a stray brought to the shelter who has 26 toes, 8 more than our normal furbabies. The shelter was run in a shopping centre ( a very strange concept to us in Australia) and their rent was to be doubled in January so they urgently needed to raise funds to secure a new home and to continue rescuing cats & kittens. The shelter takes in animals that would otherwize be euthanised then works to find them a loving forever home.

Daniel, happy & healthy, just with more toes than usual.

They came up with a brilliant marketing plan, asking cat lovers the world round to donate $26, one dollar for each of Daniel's toes. By 9th December they had raised about $50,000 from Daniel's donations & $45,000 in the four days since the news coverage. Now with other donations $120,000 has been raised & they have found a new home. Naturally the need is ongoing year round so donations are still being gladly accepted for any amount on their website.

Brutus & Honey-bun donated their $26 between them so know Christmas pressies will be a bit leaner this year but can be proud they have helped less fortunate kitties to have a Merry Christmas & hope for the years to come. Daniel was going to be adopted out but is now the mascot for the shelter & has found his forever home helping other abandoned kitties.

Here's Daniel's official Christmas Photo, waiting for Santa Paws to visit him & his shelter kitties

So if you have happy & healthy furbabies in your life, consider making a donation to others as a show of thanks for our lives being so blessed. Donations can be money but also time, food, unwanted items for charity shops or supplies used in the shelters. Also consider buying gifts from that on offer for friends & families furbabies year round so the shelters can put the profits to work for them.

For RSPCA Australia who saves all feathered, furred & other animals donate here.

For Cat Rescue Australia you can Donate here.

Or search for your local charities, ours in Perth is The Cat Haven, donate here.

& not forgetting our canine cuties, there is Pet Rescue to donate to here or in Perth the Dog Rescue to donate here.

If you are not a domestic pet person & love our native animals, they need help too especially now we are in bush fire season so you can donate to Native Animal Rescue WA here or search for one applicable to your state.

Another one of my favourites, Save The Tasmanian Devil Program you can donate to here.

For our canine cuties reading this (haha!), don't worry there is a special Santa Paws coming to you too & he looks much friendlier than the kitty Santa Paws.

Enjoy Christmas 2011 with your Family, friends & furbabies
Tracee xx Brutus xx & Honey-bun xx

Friday, December 16, 2011

SSCS & Santa Sack Swap

I received my Secret Santa Christmas Swap parcel this week from Kristi from Tuscon, Arizona.  I don't know what her blog name is so can't link to it but Chooky who organised the swap may be able to tell me. We are opening our Christmas decoration now & the rest is put away for Christmas Day.

Here are my gorgeously wrapped parcels & card. See one says 'Open Now!'

And here is my Christmas decoration, a beautiful & colourful felt Babuska doll. I love it! Thanks Kristi, looking forward to opening my pressies xx

I also received my final Santa Sack Swap & we were all opening our 13 parcels yesterday. My swap partner was Marie who does gorgeous scrap booking & is a new sewer. I got the most beautiful santa sack followed by all these gifts.

It wasn't easy keeping them in tact when some had been in the cupboard since early July but I hid them a way to ease the temptation.

Look at these two happy characters. Maree loves Babuska dolls & this tin (now empty of the chocolates it came with) is now my second and she will be put to good use in my sewing corner.

I received many beautiful gifts; Here is my new pattern, Garden Path, 4 fat quarters & 4 lots of matching floss.....

A very fine cat mug, Bless Our Happy Home tin plaque, lovely smelling soap....

A gorgeus trinket box with the bird on it, a vanilla candle in a mosiac glass holder, 3 scented drawer bags & on the left is a scone set with recipes, tea towel & round cutter (on the 'to-do' list to try)....

Sorry my photos are a bit shonky from her on but there is also a gorgeous sparkly notebook, a set of 3 handcreams, a kitty hanky & a wooden scrapbook frame to embellish.

Thank you Maree for your most beautiful & thoughtful gifts. Also thank you to Cheryll from Gone Stitchin for your hard work organising this wonderful swap. To see what lots of other happy swappers got, click on the link above to Cheryll's blog.

Marry Christmas
Tracee xx

RIP Jason Richards

I am very sad to hear that the V8 Supercars driver Jason Richards has lost his battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 35 years of age, leaving behind a young family.

I have never met Jas, have watched him race once at the track & many times on TV & like most fans who welcome him into your home on a regular basis via the TV feel like he's one of my mates.

What made Jas so special to me though is that he is from my little home time of Nelson, New Zealand. To think that at the age of 8 he drove his first go-kart while not far away I was a 15 year old going to Nelson College for Girls & working after school at the local supermarket.

Jas was a champion in waiting, making his way quietly through the ranks. I have always been very proud of my fellow Nelsonian & one of the V8's gentlemen.

At the time of his diagnosis & stepping back from racing Jas was driving for another gentleman, Brad Jones who had the following tribute;

A statement from the Brad Jones Racing team indicated how keenly missed he will be.

"In the competitive world of V8 Supercars Jason was a rare breed - a driver that could tread the fine line between rivalry and friendship. He was never secretive, selfish or bad-tempered and had endless enthusiasm and energy for his job and team."

"The history books will not do him justice. Given the right equipment JR was easily a front-runner but chose team loyalty over personal gain, determined to work with his crew to reach the front of the grid together."

"Through the highs and lows of racing, JR's uplifting presence and casual, self-effacing wit were unwavering and his effect he had on team morale is irreplaceable."

"He will forever be a member of the Jones family and this is a tragic day in the team's history."

Rest in Peace Jason, the world is a lesser place without you.

Sad Day
Tracee xx

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Win, A Buy & A Swap...

Here's a update on a great win I recently had from Cheryll of Gone Stitchin'. Cheryll very kindly offered up a Christmas stocking with a whole bundle of goodies in it.

Isn't it amazing how things show up just when you need them most. I was feeling quite down when I got home from work that Monday, my first back at work since the jury duty so had been over the details many times with those who asked about it. Waiting for me at home was not only the furboys but a few other treats that brought my spirits right back up to where they should be & more.

Here's my beautiful parcel

And all the lovely little parcels inside, with the most gorgeous stocking

And after the OK from Cheryll that I don't have to wait for Christmas to open them, here's all the goodies!

So many precious things. I'm so happy I have no patience as much of it can be used to decorate for Christmas so I get to have these gorgeous things around me for the next few weeks.

At the back is some applique panels with old fashioned Santas, the book with the cotton reels on it is a 2012 Diary, nice & light to carry with me, a plastic box for little treasures, 3D Chrissie tags or parcel decorations, wooden JOY decoration, a tree decoration with a reindeer on it (& the red pom pom), a gorgeous Christmas tree decoration, some Christmas ribbon, a teapot with a ped on the back to stick important papers & 'Must Remember' on the front (can definately sue that!), a lovely tissue holder for in the handbag & a pack of 6 wine glass charms (that I think would make great Christmas buttons for a stitchery - button deprived in Perth).

Thank you so much Cheryll. I was so lucky to win & appreciate it greatly.

Also on my doorstep that Monday was my latest purchase from the Book Depository UK. Friendship Stripes & Scraps by Edyta Sitar. I have an online order in at my local library to receive an email of all new craft books in quilting, sewing & knitting . When I find a book that I love & has many useful patterns I think I will make, I go ahead & buy it. This one uses 1 - 2.5 inch strips to make up the houses, baskets & shapes that make up the quilts & table runners. There's a table runner added to the 'to do' list to try this method out.

Also on my doorstep that Monday night (good thing the neighbours are honest!) was a swap parcel. Shez & I joined in with SewHappyGeek in the UK to do a Wall Hanging or Table Runner Swap.

My Wall Hanging that I angonised over & am pleased to report my partner Jen loved was blogged about back here. That lime green, black & white colour scheme is really growing on me. Mind you, my car is lime green so it has long been a favourite.

It was an anonymous swap so I had no idea what I would receive or from whom. I gave my favourite 3 colours (of the moment) as red, white & yellow. We all posted teasers of our projects on the Flickr group page so there was about 3 that fitted my colours & request for a table runner. Funnily enough, one I coverted, ended up being Shez's swap present - we do love similar colours & fabrics.

My partner who sent to me is Kwooten2, a mum from the USA, currently living in Germany. She designs T-shirts & sells them on her website & has the best named Facebook Group - I Don't Have A Problem, I Have A Well-Rounded Fabric Stash. But if you don't there is plenty of tips on where to get bargains & whose having sales & where to win things on the group wall.

Now to my table runner - it is beautiful, big, bold & I am just loving it.

Machine embroidered with lots of lovely freehand machine quilting. Just lovely & I can see it being brought out for amny years to come for Christmas decorating. Thanks again Kris!

So I hope tomorrow is a Happy Monday in your household like this one was last Monday in mine.

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Photos of Christmas Past - Join In!

I thought it might be fun if we dug out some photos of Christmas's past either of ourselves or the kids, other family, precious pets, what ever you like.

Here's a couple of mine;

Thats me in the middle in the very fashionable 'Holly Hobby' dress at about 7 years of age in 1973 with two of my precious cousins who would have been about 3 & 4 at the time. I can't quite work out why we had that little tree behind us as from memory it was taken at my Aunty & Uncles place where there was always a live Christmas tree that reached from the floor to the top of their 20 foot ceiling. Maybe it was just a filler in a spare corner. Our Christmas's were magic & we were totally surrounded by family, great food & lots of love. I loved that dress!

Easy to tell when this was, 1974, aged 8 in McKays Department store in Nelson, New Zealand. Thank goodness the pudding bowl haircut had departed but the ample sprinkling of freckles were still with me. Holly Hobby was but a memory & I had started in to my 'blue' clothes phase to match my eyes. Poor Santa's looking a bit jaded, no doubt thinking 'oh no, not the bigger kids, me knees are killing me already!' I imagine that was about when I kicked the sitting on Santa's knee habit too.

So how about you - any fashionable secret santa sessions to share with us? Type your details in to Mr Linky so we can all come visit & share in some Christmas cheer. This is my first time using Mr Linky so let me know if any problems, it's been another learning curve!

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tuesday Treasures..

Here's a treasure I never expected to have.

This year I commenced doing the accounts & Treasurers role for a Calisthenics Club where a friend & work mate is the Co-President. In August each year a Family Concert is held where all the age groups from 4 years old to adult perform their competition routines for family & friends. It was my first time watching & it was stunning. I was so proud & the tinies made me cry they were so cute, especially when they tried to skip across the stage & curtsey when introduced. That skipping sure is the hardest steps to master.

The funniest thing ever though was to happen straight after interval. I was helping clean up after we served refreshments to VIP guests when I was told 'Tracee, your wanted on the stage'. I burst out laughing & said 'no, I'm not!' To which I was told firmly but politely to get my self in to that auditorium & up on that stage NOW. After all those pretty wee things that I had watched earlier, I was wondering what on earth is going on?

Anyway, accompanied by a bad case of the shakes, I did enter the auditorium to hear a President speaking about my dedication to the club even though I don't have kids involved. Eventually I did manage to get up on to the stage & was presented with the Presidents Award for 2011 for my time & effort put into the club. It seems kind of ironic that after all the hard work put in by so many people I came home with the biggest trophy of the night. I get to keep that for a year then it goes on to the next recipient who will no doubt be less surprised than I was. The champagne flute is engraved & I get to keep that to remember the honour they bestowed on me. The flowers of course, were beautiful & much appreciated.

Join Melody at The House on The Side of The Hill for more Tuesday Treasures & join in!

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Machine Quilting Online Course

First an update - thanks for the lovely comments & emails re my 'little man' Brutus. It looks like the news is all good & maybe he just had an abscess on his face. The swelling is reducing along with his lion looks & his eye has gone back to oval rather than round which is good as it was very freaky to look at.

Sticking so close to home & being a purrer not a fighter in his later years it has been a long time since he has suffered an abscess. Maybe he & his little 'big' brother got a little boisterous in one of their play fights & he got a nick on his little face. So at the moment no surgery or growths to worry about - yippee! He is currently having a nice nap on the bed, electric blanket on 1, in the far corner trying to get as far as possible away from the ducted air-conditioning while I try to sit under a vent to avoid the 33 degrees + Perth is having again today.

So back to the Machine Quilting Course mentioned in the heading. I would love to be able to finish my smaller items myself, like table runners, wall hanging etc but even after doing a 3 hour group workshop just don't feel confident enough to do so. I keep telling myself to practice but like most things, it is when I have a postal deadline that I suddenly want to be able to finish a project with some semi-professional looking machine quilting & can't.

So when an email from Craftsy popped up in my inbox for an online course at half price I decided to check it out. There looks to be about 5 hours of online video that I can go back to time & time again as well as access to the teacher Wendy Butler Berns & an online forum. All this for $29.99 USD.

It's the fact I can go back as many times as I like, repeat sections or the whole lot until I am confident that gives me hope this might work for me. So this is my plan for over the Christmas break. My company closes for 2.5 weeks so on a regular basis it will be aircon on, fabric I no longer adore sandwiched & ready to destroy, machine ready, bobbins filled & away we go. If I can produce one little mug rug in that time with machine quilting I am proud to show you all then it will be time & money well spent. I know I am not alone in this phobia so check out the course preview by clicking on the link above.

I've had a bummer of a week! I've done my civic duty doing four days of jury duty but while the process was interesting the actual case was my worst nightmare. Even the judge said it was the worst of cases - multiple child abuse charges over four victims, the earliest 50 years ago, the latest 26 years ago, lots of detailed testimony from the women involved who at the time were between 5 - 11 years of age, an 84 year old defendant with only his wife to testify for him and no other evidence either way other than police and their interview videos. Fortunately the interviews were damning although the defendant denied everything. After 5 hours of deliberation we found him guilty of all 11 charges. Now it just feels like it will take quite awhile for the nastiness to leave my mind & body. What annoys me is why am I feeling worried about such an old man going to jail, or his wife who was knowledgeable of the offenses being left alone, missing their 60th wedding anniversary etc. It makes no sense but I guess it's a lot different when its actual people rather than just the concept.

On a positive note, I told the two furboys on Thursday morning that mum would need lots of extra attention that night as I was bound to be upset by our final day in court. So Hun-bun who avoids my bed as it is closely guarded Brutus territory has come on the bed with me each night since, lay across me & had a cuddle for about an hour. Bless his little heart, but my 7kg donkey cat is heavy, though I have enjoyed every minute of it & Brutus has let it happen.

Brutus, who always sleeps beside me had his own quirky way of alieviating the tension for me. I went straight to bed when I got home Thursday night & watched episodes of True Blood on DVD to try & stop thinking about it (Vampires always help!). Brutus came up to nap beside me & every time I looked at him he winked at me, which cracked me up. This went on for hours & I even checked his eyes for something irritating them but he was OK. Even now as I type this & am getting upset again, he has come out of the bedroom & is sitting beneath my office chair leaning on my leg. Bless my little fur angels! And thank goodness there is now a rule that you only have to do jury duty every 5 years. I love crime fiction but I really don't want to hear sordid & sad details like that again.

Some nice binding to be stitched later tonight & two more True Blood episodes to watch. Looking forward to a normal, happy work week to come & lots of evening stitching.

Happy stitching
Tracee xx