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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Win 2 Tickets To The Craft & Quilt Fair

Here's a nice competition most of us would like to win. The prize is only worth $30 but what quilter doesn't want 2 tickets to The Quilt & Craft Fair in yor nearest city. There is a double pass up for grabs for Launceston, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane & Adelaide.

The competition is being run by Quilters Companion magazine who unfortunately haven't heard of the internet yet so you have to enter by snail mail. This is from the latest issue of Quilters Companion  No 53, Yearbook 2012, page 18.

The following is a direct copy from the magazine;

To be in the draw send an envelope addressed as follows;

Universal Magazines
QC#53 Treasures
Locked Bag 154
North Ryde NSW 1670

On the back of the envelope write your name & address. Most importantly, tell us  in 20 words or less why you would like to win. e.g

Brutus Beefkitten
Quiltkitty Kingdom
Awful Hot Perth WA 6666
I would like to win because.......

Draws are open to Australia Residents only. Entries will be judged and winners chosen on the basis of orginality. Letters must be received by Wednesday 14th March 2012.

Good luck! I'll be after the Perth tickets, it's the highlight of the quilting year seeing so much new & yummy stuff in one place. My credit card will be polished, walking shoes brought out & the girls all rallied for a fun day out.

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where Does The Time Go....

Nine days without a post & the days have just rushed by. I seem to be achieving things in other areas but blogging & machine sewing has missed out. It has been a good start to the year at work, busy but plowing through things. There is great excitement as we are expecting a new baby girl (at work that is - Regina may be the mother, but it is now a group thing). Now we know it is a girl expected in June, baby gift making plans can be made.

On the home front, I am a terrible pack rat (thanks mum!) so slowly & quietly I have started having a bit of a sort - a box for Freecycle, a box for the op shop, a useful box to keep & another box to keep 'just cause'. It's the 'just because it might be needed one day' or' just because its too good to get rid of' or 'just because it has emotional ties ' boxes that are the problem. As long as more is going out than coming in then I am having a win.

Little Brun & Honey have to sort through their toy boxes too & donate some to the kitties that don't have forever homes yet. Little Brun is very well after his operation with the hydration & antibiotics resulting in him not looking a day over 110 in cat years any more, not bad for a boy who will be 140 on April. He enjoyed a bit of ice cream during recuperation but decided while mint choc chip may be muma's favorite flavour, he prefers vanilla.
I'm licking not poking my tongue out at muma

On the hand sewing front I am making progress. I now have 3 blocks finished from the Some Kind of Wonderful Stitch A Long for the My Favorite Things quilt with one more just needing the words stitched on. My green suitcase needs travel destinations so rather than use what Anni loves I'll put my own favourite places. Another block features 3 patty cakes & I am going to try drawing a nice big slab of cake instead to substitute as my favourite sweet thing. It was a sad day to learn I'm not that good at needleturn applique but by the time the 24 blocks are done, I will be a lot better at it than when I started. I hope to do some of the piecing that goes between the applique blocks on Sunday, can't wait to see them put together.

I am slowly entering the world of free motion quilting to satisfy that goal this year. So far I am still at the drawing stage & watching as many videos on the subject as possible. However, a stack of quilt sandwiches are made & the darning foot needs to go on real soon so I can put thread to fabric like a real FM quilter.

My mug cosy for the Keeping It Cosy Challenge on the Facebook page 'I Don't Have A Problem, I Have A Well Rounded Fabric Stash' page is now done. It doesn't photograph well on the mug so here's the result flat. Sorry, I have stretched the truth a wee bit too - I have never met a jelly bean I didn't love!

And finally, another new quilty area currently being pursued. I go to a Thursday quilting group here in Perth & last year four of us brought copies of Electric Quilt 7 design software. Mine went untouched until last Thursday when the four of us met to start our self-training in digital quilt design. We covered the basics on making a quilt from the blocks already contained in EQ7, assigning fabrics to the pieces, getting the fabric requirements list & ending up with a personalised block quilt.

Today three of us met again & we worked together (one on keyboard, one online & one reading from the Drawing book) to draw our own quilt from scratch. We used as inspiration a pattern Marie had that she wanted to extend & change to fit a King Size bed, so drew the blocks, changed dimensions & coloured in fabrics to match those she wanted to use & added borders. It was fun to do all this, then to redesign, change sizes & fabrics so that we got something that was possible with the fabric amounts on hand, to match the existing bedroom decor & so all the pieces were straight forward to cut & not all 1/8th measurements . It was brilliant & together we prevailed & tamed the scary software dragon. Now to fit in time to do some real designing for fabric I have on hand. First I might see if I can design something spiffy for my Ruby layer cakes & yardage that is better than what I have in mind already. That fabric really is too nice to cut up small so some big blocks would be pretty.

The only sad news at the moment is that after a month, my Secret Garden fabric I ordered from the USA (Etsy) for the SewHappyGeek quilt a long hasn't shown up. So block 5 is now released & the blocks uploaded to the Flickr group are amazing & varied but I haven't started yet. I picked some fabric from my stash last night to use but will wait one more day to see if it shows up tomorrow as it was so pretty. Fingers crossed!

Now I just need to put aside some time to read blogs & find out what you have all been up to!

Happy stitching
Tracee xx Little Brun xx Hun-bun xx

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brutus is HOME!!

Little Brutus finally had his surgery today after a days delay. It was decided yesterday to put him on fluids for 24 hours & postpone his surgery 1 day. Of course, that meant an automatic lengthening of my anxiety & a night at the vets for little Brun. Every time I turned around last night my little boy wasn't there & after 20 years of having my little shadow if felt very strange & totally wrong. My darling Hun-bun was around but he is a very self sufficent boy so he makes random visits but isn't always by my side like little Brun.

The vet rang at 1pm to say all was well & the operation was quick & straight forward & little Brutus had woken up naturally. He stayed on fluids until 6pm to aid the anesthetic leaving his body & then at 6.45pm I finally got to see my boy. Brun's vet at Vet West Whitford City (gratuitous plug as I love these people) is called Rudolph, a new one to us as evidently the female vets on shift today that we have seen before didn't want to operate on such an old cat (who has such a sooky muma) - can't blame them! He went through so many details of little Brun's tests with me which was wonderful & showed he is quite a healthy old cat. We will keep an eye on his kidney function but that's to be expected in such an old fella.

So now little Brun is home. (big sigh) He is a bit unsteady on his legs, has teary black eyes but was desperate for a snack. Now he sits on the carpet watching me type & making chirping noises so I give him a pat every few minutes, as he does nearly every day of his life. It is so good to have life as we know it restored in the Quiltkitty household!

I can't express how thankful I am to have friends such as those through the blog, on Facebook, my 'old' friends & workmates who have shown such kindness & caring of me & the little fella during our ordeal. Thank you for the supportive emails, messages & talks (& to Michelle for the chocolates!). It all helped immensely. I am thankful for every one of you. xx Big purrs to you all from little Brun too.

May this bless you all!

Now on the agenda for tonight is to go spoil my boy with non-stop attention & cuddles.

Big purrs
Tracee xx Brutus xx Honey xx

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dress Up Your Roll Competition

I figure if I am going to be up in the middle of the night stressing about little Brun's surgery tomorrow I might as well be catching up on some blogging.

Here is a new challenge that Jane from Want it, Need it, Quilt is running. If you are looking for something different from the usual mug rug, table runner, quilt block challenges then check this out. The mission, should you accept it, is to make a cover for the humble loo roll. It can be pretty, comic, embellished - anything you want. Jane has a tutorial on her blog today too to give you ideas.

Here's a link from earlier on Jane's blog to go to the rules, important dates (we have until 1st March to complete ) & prizes. Yes, a $100 voucher could be yours as well the infamy of being the 2012 Loo Roll Dress Designer of the Year.

Blog about it & you can win packs of Aurifil thread too. So when next you are in the loo, contemplate the fate of that lonely, naked loo roll & how you can pretty it up!

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Little Brun's Operation

Well the time is come for Brutus (my Little Brun) to have an operation to have a tooth removed. If you remember a post last month where his face was swollen up all wonky, well it has happened again. After my observations the vet has no doubt it is an eye tooth that needs removing.

The vet last month stated that at his age having an anesthetic is something he is unlikely to survive. The vet this time figures it's a 50 / 50 chance & they will take every precaution, starting with a light dose, only keeping him under for as little time as possible etc.

In little Brun's favour is that after the last lot of antibiotics he has got a new lease on life, put on 300 grams (now 3.4 kgs - little old man) & is looking quite healthy. His appetite is constant & it's all in one end & out the other. So all these factors add up to a healthy kitty who should survive careful surgery.

Napping beside muma Wednesday night

Every time he turns around at the moment I have a camera in his face not that pictures will be any consolation if the worst does happen. So we have had a week of waiting while the antibiotic injection works again & he is at his fittest for Monday 9th. I take him in on my way to work at 8.15am (my first day back & boy am I going to be a great employee that day!), he then goes on a drip for maximum hydration & goes in to surgery about 11.30am. Soon after I should get a call to say tooths out, all went well, kitties awake & not very happy. I can then pick him up after work so they have many hours to check on him. There will be tears in the vet clinic when he is back in his muma's arms & that will be even before I pay the account.

The boys obviously know it is a serious situation as the last 2 nights little Brun has sat on the couch with me while I stitch & last night his little 'big' brother Hun-bun came up for a cuddle too then slept on the carpet at our feet. A change of behaviour for both of them that is freaking me out but hoping it's just because they can sense my nervousness.

Regardless of the outcome we three are very grateful that little Brun celebrated his 20th Christmas this year, that the tooth isn't giving him pain or stopping him eat and that we have had most of the last two weeks all together.

So I know God may be eyeing up my old kitty & thinking it is time for the old boy to rest awhile in my mum's arms but I ask please let him rest awhile longer in his muma's arms instead. Funnily enough, little Brun didn't like my mum picking him up even though she was as cat obsessed as me. She used to get quite upset & ask why I could just sling him over my arm & carry him around for ages with him totally relaxed & yet with her he didn't tolerate longer than about a minute. It's just because I'm his muma & he loves me as much as I love him.

He knocked specifically on our door when he was about 6 weeks old & walked in, did a big climb up on to the couch, sat on my knee, purred & has never left since. So the bond is a strong one both ways. For many years he was an only kitty too so we rely on one & other. So I am hoping God & my mum will hold Brun tight as he goes through the surgery but then give him back for awhile longer. It's a lot to ask for a cat of almost 20 but he is still loving life & his brother & I are still loving him.

So Monday please send healing vibes, prayers & love to my little kitty as he jumps this next hurdle in his long, happy & much loved life.

Purrs from us all
Tracee xx Little Brun xx & Hun-bun xx

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Year That I Have Planned........ (It's a long one!)

What have I got myself in to? Lots of fun I think, & lots of beautiful projects being made I hope....... So this is what I have planned for 2012, so far;

1. Improve my Free Motion Quilting

Can't get worst, lets just say current skills are fairly non-existant. I did a half day course years ago but didn't keep it up. Now I am tired of finishing small items by stitching in the ditch or doing a few straight (or almost straight ) lines. So I have 4 quilt sandwiches made so far, a new bottle of spray basting brought & a lot of out of favour fabric to use up.

This is now a 3 pronged attack;
a. Doing the Machine Quilting Course online on Craftsy. Currently in the setup stage, talking about machine settings, threads etc. (I'd like to do the crochet one over winter too but see how I go.)
b. The Free Motion Quilting Project Blog is running a weekly QAL starting at basics - Stitching a wiggly line.
c. The 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge run by SewCalGal on her blog & on Facebook. The first video is up & I have been practicing drawing leaves on paper first. Next to actually brave it & do some machine work. Wish me luck!

2. Some Kind of Wonderful SAL

My second Stitch-a-long with Chookyblue & the girls. My Tis The Season Quilt looked beautiful displayed for Christmas, so great to have such a gorgeous finish up & on the wall. Chooky's whip cracking skills are immense!

That said, because of Christmas I am a bit behind in the schedule so far but will soon catch up. It is a bit unnerving to find needleturn applique is a bit of a challenge. This will be a quilt where I can see my skills improve from block to block I think. So by the end of January I need to have done 7 blocks. So far I have finished 2, have two more ready to stitch & have nearly finished cutting out the 420 little squares & lots of 2.5 in strips that make up the borders around the blocks.

3 Style & Stitches Modern Sampler QAL

The Style & Stitches Modern Sampler QAL is being run by Jenna at SewHappyGeek who I did the Table Runner / Wall Hanging Swap with late last year. Her swap was able to stretch me as a quilter. The wall hanging I made was the modern one that had me trying new colours & new techniques in raw edge applique. You can see my wall hanging made here.

So now I am ready to try something new again. As I am a stitcher at heart I haven't done much in the way of piecing other than borders around my stitcheries & the occasional block for Snugglybugs. So over the next 10 weeks we will do 12 blocks & aim to have a completed quilt block by mid March. I have picked the most gorgeous modern fabric - Secret Garden by Sandi Henderson for Micheal Millar Fabrics & a pic of the quilt plan is below too. The only downside is the first two blocks were posted on Tuesday & my fabric is still with Mr Postman so I can't start.

This is the starter pack I brought. To this I added more basics in coral, charcoal & green - YUM! 

4. Name Game Swap

I have signed up for my first swap, the Name Game Swap with Samelia's Mum. If you look at Samelia's Mum's blog header & see that it is actually a small quilt, that is what this swap is about, making a small quilt that symbolises your partners blog or real name - their choice. Seeing who has joined up on the Flickr group, this could be a difficult one but also one that draws on designing skills as well as sewing & stitching. I guess mine will include a kitty or two.  >^,,^<

5. Facebook Group - I Don't Have A Problem, I Have A Well Rounded Stash!

I have joined this group on Facebook where we share information on sales, bargains, tutorials, our blogs, other blogs, competitions, current projects & join challenges etc. It was started by Kris in Germany who sent me my gorgeous red & white machine embroidered Table Runner in the SewHappyGeek swap mentioned above.

The challenges aren't compulsory so I will fit them in when I can but as I seem to have the urge to dip my foot in the design pool at the moment I have decided to do the first challenge. It is called The Keeping It Cosy Challenge and you can make a tea cosy, mug cosy or sleeve for a take away cup. So I decided to do a sleeve for my travel mug & take away coffee cups that burn the hand. I came up with an idea, got out my new pad & pencils, drew up the concept & started cutting the fabrics. Now there is a bit of applique & stitchery happening & a bit of machine sewing to follow. Check out this group on Facebook & join up too!

6. Dress Up Your Roll Challenge

Now this really appealled to me as something different. The Dress Up Your Roll Challenge is being run by Jane at Want It, Need It, Quilt. For something out of the ordinary we are challenged to make a cover for the humble toilet roll & if anything needed prettying up that is it. There is currently only 13 people joined in the Flickr group so the chances of getting your hands on the $100 voucher prize are great. Just ending up with something pretty, whimsical or down right silly to cover the loo rolls will be enough on its own though. This starts on Monday 9th & doesn't finish until 1st March so heaps of time to come up with a great idea. Jane is posting a tutorial on the 9th too to give us a starting point.

Of course this gets us to last years works in progress that are still on the agenda;

7. Vignette Hexie Quilt - 80 of 140 made
8. Life is Beautiful Quilt - 12 out of 32 stitcheries done
9. Retro Nine Patch - 5 stitcheries done now just to piece it

I'd also like to make some new Christmas decorations each month especially out of felt..... Now where did I see that Christmas Decoration Group........

Plus I have started a couple (make that about 6!) of small projects late last year that I want to finish ; )

& I am tossing up between the free BOM's on  Jenny of ELEFANTZ blog, Val Laird's BOM which hasn't been released yet but the peeks were gorgeous, Melody's Home Sweet Home Penny Rug BOM which isn't released yet either, but I have always had a soft spot for penny rugs & love working with felt.

Not much time left for the real world! I think I am forgetting that I work 3 days a week, am about to get extremely busy with the registration for the Calisthenics club & my Treasury work and that I have to read at least 2 hours a day, not to mention the time lost on facebook, time well spent reading blogs & tutorials, time at my quilt group & WA Quilters Guild, friends & family outside quilting, shopping, the dreaded & much neglected housework and of course many hours playing with the furboys. Makes me tired just thinking about it, think I need a cup of tea, a muffin & a 30 minute read to recover!

So have you dove headfirst into your quilting plans for this year too? I really need to get an Excel spreadsheet organised to plan how to deal with all of this - a timeline, checklist, graphs, macros, LOVE IT!!

Happy Stitching
Tracee xx

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Gifts

Here are a couple of gifts I made in December for Christmas.

Needlecase & Pincushion for Megs;

Needlecase & Pincushion for Trish;

This is a pattern is by the talented  Lisa of Cubby House Quilts that appeared in Homespun Magazine 12.9 earlier this year.

I received the following ornament from Megs who is an amazing cross stitcher. It is gorgeous in pink with shiny beads & a pink thread hanger. Being pink also means that I don't just have to bring it out only at Christmas so I have it on one of the bedposts at the head of my bed.

Here's is the official portrait of Brutus's 20th Christmas. He has just opened his stocking & is indulging his mother by posing with his pressies & wearing his Christmas necklace that he is so not keen on. He's knows by now, better to do what's needed & get it over with quickly.

Five year old Honey is not that smart so no pose for him, had to chase him around the house until I finally got a portrait as he sat in his favourite sunny spot, very close to the escape hatch of his cat door.

Happy New Year to all!
Tracee xx