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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Christmas Projects

I love Christmas projects & always have a big list of things I want to make each year and so far always fall short of that. Some are bigger projects, some are small felt decorations & some are knitted goodies. So this year I found an incentive to make progess and joined up with Narelle and a talented bunch of bloggers & crafters to do '1 Christmas Item A Month'. Please go and check out Narelle's blog Pins & Whiskers (another kindred spirit - kitty muma) to see what has been made so far.
So I started off & racing, the first project started over Christmas holidays, before January even began. I have always got a bad case of the 'ahhhhhs' when ever any one posted a picture of a knitted Christmas bauble so that was my number 1 January project. I brought this book;
And I love it. It may take a few years but if I can get the 55 done I will (unless I buy another book with a new improved obession - yes I am a fickle crafter & a bookaholic - $20.01 delivered it my idea of fun!). Next problem - In the past my attempts to knit on 4 or 5 needles had been very slow and nothing to blog about. Thank goodness for YouTube. I watched a few videos, knitted along and was soon ready to tackle my first ball.
I started with a variegated yarn for my inaugural ball. No colour changes, no fancy pattern, just a sweet, simple ball. With a bit of a hole here, a few dropped needles and sitting directly under the air-con vent, Ball No 1 was soon done. I was so surprised I did Ball No 2 exactly the same just to prove I had the hang of it.
They turned out bigger than expected and have hung for over a month on the handle of the treadmill (glad it served some use!). So now for Ball No 3, still no colour changing, but feathery yarn - ohhhh. All I can say is that I am glad you can't see the stitches on this one. It turned out fine but not being able to see the stitches as I knitted I am sure they are all rather hicklety picklety underneath. It turned out even bigger too. If I gave this to big, bad Hun-bun to play with he would be shaking in his paws with fear! It is cute though & very fluffy.
Now on to the real thing - Ball No 4, my first two coloured ball. It is called Snow Crystal & although it has a bit of a hole here and there where I moved from needle to needle, I am happy with it for my first proper Christmas Ball (or bauble as is is unanimous us girls would call them). It is small & delicate and the size I expected for a Christmas decoration (about the size of a small orange). I guess all that colour winding makes the stitches tighter and pulls it together.
So these four masterpieces of knittery were completed by mid January, goal met, deadline met and then I got busy & didn't do a post about them. So very belatedly, these are my January Christmas projects.
So on to February. I think when everyone saw  Anthea's cushion either on Narelle's Christmas Project page or on Anthea's blog Hibiscus Stitches, we all fell in love and wanted one of those cushions too. It is a beautiful cushion by Natalie Bird.
As I said in my last post I used some favourite red robin fabric I brought at Ballarat Patchwork while over to get in to mischief with Shez & Melody. I cut the hexagons from the side that had the name of the fabric so can't tell you what it is called or who by. It is lovely & I am loving grey being a popular colour again. Hexies, stitcheries & quick, easy machine sewing - a dream project!
So here is my February Christmas Project
It's a definite Tracee special but anything accomplished in the last few weeks is a bonus. My stitcheries are placed a little wonky on the grey conversational print and I don't particularly like that fabric under the stitcheries with the hexie grey any more but I still think the end result is quirkily me. So thank you to Anthea for her inspiration, Shez for her help & Narelle for our great Christmas club.
So its night, night from Hun-bun
And night, night from me!
Tracee xx

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday Night Sew In.... and a Present...

Last night was Friday Night Sew In as hosted by Heidi from Handmade by Heidi. There are currently 54 bloggers on her list to visit to see what beauties were being worked on Friday night.

I was doing my favourite thing, stitchery, especially redwork stitchery, on my February - 1 Christmas Item A Month - a cushion by Natalie Bird. Anthea from Hibiscus Stitches wowed us with her version of this Happy Christmas Cushion in January so now I think there is a few more versions in progress.

I have been looking for a special pattern to use some of my special fabric brought in Ballarat last November & this pattern is perfect to show off my tiny red& white robins on grey background.

I did my hexies in a red & white Christmas print & white tone on tone, along with my red robins on grey. In the middle panel I used white Christmas words on grey. This is where the little stitcheries will end up when finished & attached by scary needleturn.

The cameras has washed the greys out a bit but you can see it is quite pretty. I can't wait to get it finished. There are only three stitcheries to go & the night is young (only 9.17pm here in WA).

On the home front now that little Brunnie is gone, Hun has realised that my bed is open for kitty occupation and is taking advantage of it. We have had a week of visits at various hours of the night, which wouldn't be my choosen way to continue my single cat parenthood but things are evolving. Last night the nocturnal visits were limited to one at bed time & one early this morning.
Hun's not as photogenic as his brother but he is enjoying the attention even when I wake him up to try to photograph him. Now to the present, that I expect was from Master Hun-bun as a thank you & to show his joy in snuggling with muma. When I pulled back the doona to hop in last night, this was waiting for me....

OMG - he is deceased & only about 5cms long but Hun-Bun - please no presents in the bed! It is the flash that makes it look like I have bright orange sheets, they are actually pale pink.
Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Taking Better Pics For The Blog

One thing I would love to do is be able to take better pictures for my blog, be able to set up better tableaus, make everything look more vibrant,

I want to be able to style my pictures better. I look at the pics on favourite blogs like Lilabelle Lane, A Spoonful of Sugar, A House On The Side Of The Hill and the very talented Lisa at Cubby House Crafts & wish I knew where to start.
So tonight when I saw I had received an email from Craftsy for a Valentines Sale in their online courses, I took a browse through to see if there is anything to add to my wishlist.

I like doing online classes, they are a good price, I can go back to the information over & over again so learn at my speed, redo sections and I can do when it suits me - so if I want to start the next lesson at midnight so be it. It's hard to find an in-person class offered then! Every class also comes with a 100% money back guarantee.

I also learn much better by watching & doing so I can go away & try out what I have learnt before moving on. I signed up for the Free Motion Quilt class last year but didn't get far due to work commitments & the excitement of too many swaps. Never mind, it's still there ready for me to commence back again - just roll over that New Year Resolution..... It is called Machine Quilting, Free Motion & More and is 50% off at $19.39 in the sale.

So back to my photography dilemma - it's been in the back of my mind for ages so when browsing Craftsy tonight & I saw their new course 'Shoot It!' A Product Photography Primer - I was ├Źn like Flynn' as my mum used to say. 

This is how Craftsy described the course;

Shoot It!

A Product Photography Primer

with Caro Sheridan

You don't need expensive software or a super-fancy camera to take great photos - just the knowledge you'll get in this essential class,

If you've ever noticed the beautiful photography on someone's blog, book, published patterns or Etsy page, and wondered, "How do they DO that?" this is the class for you. Quality photos make the difference between marketing that sings and stuff that makes you look like a total amateur.

Knitter and photographer Caro Sheridan explains it all - from planning before the shoot to editing afterwards, and all the details in between. Whether you're looking to shoot product pics, or just want to learn more about photography, you will benefit from Caro's upbeat, irreverent and detailed instruction.

What You'll Learn in Shoot It!

  • How to plan and execute a photoshoot from start to finishMaking a storyboard and shot list to create the story you want to tell
  • What a pro keeps in her tool kit - from lipstick to legal forms
  • How to capitalize on the fancy features of whatever camera you have
  • Directing your model and getting the hero shot
  • Photo fundamentals like composition and color
  • The basics of digital editing - without expensive software

It is usually priced at US$49.99 but until Sunday midnight US time it is only $19.99. 


To check out this course & watch the video preview click Online Product Photography Class. Fingers crossed this leads to some better photography of my projects, decorating & Hun-bun.

A 'before the class' photo - see what I mean!

While you are there check out the free courses Craftsy offers on useful subjects like Sewing Machine Feet, Creative Quilt Backs, Bag Making Basics & my favourite, The Craftsy 2013 Block of the Month. I need to get more practice piecing & while I may not make the whole quilt, a few blocks that I can do at my pace & with a tutor and class mates to ask questions of is a fine idea. The price is definitely right too! 

I love Craftsy so much and recommend them highly so I have signed up for their affiliate program. That means if you purchase a class via my links, I get a commission to put towards more classes. If you would like to do this too on your blog or web site, then join the Craftsy Affiliate Program too. It's free, easy and they are quick to approve and get you started.

Happy learning
Tracee xx

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Treasures

Hi everyone, I don't have one treasure to celebrate today but many that I am very thankful for. My treasures today are all of you, the old friends, family, work-mates, bloggers, Facebookers & new friends who have touched me deeply by their kind words & caring thoughts on the loss of my little Brunnie.

I'm sorry I haven't yet been able to reply to all the messages individually but please know how much you have helped & how surrounded in love & support I have felt at this very sad time.

Many people will walk in and out of your life, 
but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. 
[Elenor Roosevelt]

With the constant support of a dear friend, Hun-bun & I are grieving our little man while keeping busy, establishing new routines, starting the next chapter of our lives and looking forward to sharing so many more happy times & fun posts with you in the near future and for a long time to come.

Visit one of our treasures, Melody at The House on the Side of the Hill to see what others are treasuring today.

Many thanks
Tracee xx

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No More Weekends With Brunnie =^..^=

Dear friends, it is the end of an era for me. Today Little Brunnie went to heaven to be with his Grandma. 

The last couple of weeks he has been loosing weight rapidly & showing signs that things were deteriorating. Last night at 1.30am he had a very long seizure and took a long time to recover from it. He & I slept on the couch together having big hugs which was a fitting last night for my darling boy. This morning he appeared to have a new lease on life but by 11.30am was seizing again. I couldn't let my little man suffer further so a call to our vet & Rudolph fitted in an appointment for us at 12.30.

Rudolph confirmed what I already knew, it was time to let my little man go and start celebrating all the time we have spent together & all the memories we have made. It was a honour to hold my little man as he very peacefully slipped from this world to be bundled up in to his Grandma's arms. You won't be able to wipe the smile off Grandma's face now.

There was no doubt that Little Brunnie was a pampered puss cat, had a long and happy life and was very well loved. His purrs were loud, his bed time cuddles legendry and the memories his daddy & I have of him make us smile and laugh and always will do.

Little Brun's fairly new found love of blogging certainly falls in to that category. Thank you all for your indulgence of our funny posts. He really was a kitty who loved a good keyboard and was quite appreciative of a little fame at long last.

Rest in peace my little man. You made muma's heart brim with love & laughter and will continue to do so forever more. xx Big purrs from Hun-bun who will miss you greatly. xx

Happy memories
Tracee xx

Monday, February 4, 2013

Two Ideas I Love

I've seen some great ideas in cyberspace recently, two I think worthy of sharing.

On my travels over Christmas I found a link to this tutorial on the site Always A Project. It is called Hoopla & is a tutorial to make a fabric container using an old wooden screw together embroidery hoop to provide the stability & hanger for the basket.

I thought that was a great idea, stored it away for later use and forgot about it until I looked at the blog of a new visitor to my Friday Night With Friends post. Brenda saw this idea too but took it 100 steps further. She made a heap of the containers, colour coded the bag liners to match the main fabric colours, hung them all on a rod on the wall and now has the best & prettiest scrap storage solution around.

(photo courtesy of Brenda at Ladybug Dreams)

Is this not ingenious? The purple scraps go in the purple basket, the orange in the orange one etc & what a great wall feature. I don't have wall space like that but I can see them looking just as good in small groups like on the kitchen rails from IKEA or even on individual hooks. Brenda even covered up the wooden hoops to make them even prettier.

Thanks for letting me share the clever use you made of the Hoopla tutorial from Always A Project Brenda! I can always do with ideas to make me a little tidier & to make using scraps easier. Go visit Brenda at Ladybug Dreams for more pictures too. On the latest post on Ladybug Dreams check out all the 2.5 inch squares Brenda cut during Friday Night With Friends.

My second find is the latest Missouri Quilts Video Tutorial for Phoebe's Quilt. Being a stitcher who makes lots of small projects I am itching to make a couple of quilts & who would have thought - ones without stitcheries or applique. I am yet to make myself a bed quilt or a snuggly lap quilt for on the couch in winter. I think this tutorial might just be lovely for my lap quilt. I haven't done a lot of piecing & roller cutting for hours is not me either so this looks like a good quilt for me.

Now my only problem is what fabrics to use. I have a gorgeous jelly roll just waiting to be used in California Girl by Moda but nothing for the sashing, borders & binding.

But I am also thinking a winter quilt so maybe I should use my long stored stash of Robin Pandolph 'Roses de Noel' - delicious. I would need to buy something for the sashing where Jenny uses the solid grey but it would be a very pretty & wintery quilt. But ALAS is my heart still in these fabrics, I do so like the fresh, summery fabrics with the white backgrounds... 

Lets face it - I'm not one to rush so no immediate decisions need to be made. I will no doubt change my mind a dozen times & then be dazzled by the next Missouri Quilt tutorial and decide to change the pattern too. We are spoilt for choice in our crazy, fabricy world!

I'll leave these fabrics on my cutting board for the next week or so & see how they speak to me in that time and decide whether they will find a place in my winter quilt or back in the storage bad for them.

I had a brilliant day at the WAQA Applique Group Sunday & have almost finished my next SKOW block. That means I can piece a few squares in between and have another row done. The ladies of the group do phenomenal work, 2 are teachers & work in quilty shops, one has won best in show and the others were doing elaborate William Morris appliques - ekk! but all had lovely things to say about my SKOW as I was lamenting my pre-school level needleturn skills. I was told a couple of things to watch for so hopefully my shattered confidence is slowly back on the upward trajectory again. Quilters can be such top class chicks!

Have a great week all. I'll be at work but at least I will be loving the very chilly air-conditioning.
Tracee xx

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Birthday Love Stash Presents

I have joined up this year with Wendy at Sugarlane Quilts for her Birthday Stash Love group to try & keep on top of birthdays, occasions & presents I want to make & get out on time. So far things are not actually making it into my present stash box, just being finished & into the postbag for mailing. 

First there was the mug rug for Uncle Gordon. I did a sneaky on this one too. Twice I have had money stolen out of cards I have sent from Perth to Nelson in NZ so learnt the hard way that the days of doing that are long gone. This time I put a temporary label on the back of the mug rug & put $50 behind it before I sewed it on. Then I sent my cousin the secret instructions to snip the stitches on the label  to recover the rest of the present. Uncle Gordon was very happy to get $60 NZ when he went to the bank. He will be 90 next year so better start planning that pressie...

You may have seen this next present on Mel's blog (The House On The Side Of The Hill) already. Sneaky Melody opened her present early as her birthday is today, Sunday but hey every day is worth celebrating. I'm celebrating the fact the parcel got to Mel on time & that she loves it.

I was pleased how this applique turned out. I saw a picture of a similar applique months ago & instantly thought Mel! so kept it ready for Mel's birthday gift. She loves her little girly-whirlies so much (& Max) so there can be no better home for a pretty pup than at Mel's house on the hill. Her little eyes turned out really well.

 She sat on my cutting table in the laundry for a week before I got to make the cushion & every time I walked past I could see her pleading with me - is it time to go to Mels yet? I'm sure she looks happier now she is there. Little Brunnie was a bit worried too - 'why you stitching a pup muma?' until he heard it was for Aunty Mel. Happy Birthday again Melody! xxx Jump over & wish Mel happy birthday if you haven't already.

My scarf from the last post can rest in my present box for two weeks while I make the next gift then it will be in a postbag too. February used to be a big month for birthday's for my family with my mum & Aunty celebrating 5 days apart. Now they have both passed it feels like I am forgetting something even though February looks pretty busy on my to-do list so far. 

And to think I was just looking at another BOM on Wendy's blog - check it out on the link at the top. There is a choice of applique or stitchery and being an Aussie quilt it looks to be a beauty. Might have to try to fit it in, though I so want to get a few UFO's to stop circling planet Quiltkitty
 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 (Brunnie's helping - think that means 'Hi friends'. Or he's smarter than I think and sending messages in binary code) 0011111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Friday Night Knit In

My Friday Night Sew In turned into a Friday Night Knit In. My plan was to play with some half square triangles from a charm pack of Central Park. I was thinking of making some placemats and a table runner so deciding whether to make each mat an individual colourway or mix all the colours up together.

I didn't get home from work until nearly 7pm so by the time I fluffed around on the computer & decided I needed some dinner before 9pm, I realised that they were replaying episodes of My Kitchen Rules. I had forgotten to watch until a conversation with the lady serving me at the petrol station on Tuesday (Number 8 please - $53.86, any vouchers - yes please - did you watch my kitchen rules -  no, has it started? - yes, the Tassie boys were on last night - Oh I wanted to see that one!....)

So by 9pm I was on the couch, bacon sandwich in hand, cup of tea at the elbow and knitting ready to go. What I didn't realise was that it was a replay of all three episodes so it was around 1.30am before I was off to bed. I have made this scarf before with yarn from Spotlight, Paris by Panda. 

It is soft & stretchy so snuggles the neck & I like the autumn tones with a splash of raspberry. Mine's still going strong, hanging on the rack waiting for next winter so this one is for my present box.

So now I have another pressie for the Birthday Stash box and am up to date with my MKR's viewing. So like everyone watching this show I am looking forward to Monday's episode and hoping the Spice Girls might get a small lesson in how to be a little more humble and respectful. It is fun though watching the two pairs of cocky youngsters who are happy to boast they know everything and can see the faults in each others behaviour but not their own. I loved seeing where the Tassie boys lived in Deep Bay, right on the water, just down the road from one of my favourite spots, Cygnet in the Huon Valley. More country venues I say!

To see oodles & oodles of Friday Night Sew In posts, go to the links on FNSI-muma Cheryll's blog and read on....

I have the WA Quilt Guilds Applique Club meeting tomorrow so tonight it's back out with my very neglected SKOW quilt. If I can finish one more block then that is another row that can be machine sewn & only another one & a half rows to go.

Happy stitching
Tracee xx