Monday, September 21, 2009

Hanami Picnic (under the cherry blossoms)

It’s springtime in the Wairarapa and we’re making the most of it. Yesterday we grabbed lunch and headed to the cherry orchard for a picnic.

One day I will look up Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) etiquette. I’m not sure if it includes sitting on the grass, eating and playing catch. We felt a little shy and were worried about being culturally insensitive when a Japanese tourist came and took some photos. However, it was a beautiful day and we’ll certainly be back next year.

Lots of Little Dresses

Little E has been getting some quality time in dresses lately. I’m searching for the perfect summer outfit, that doesn’t get in the way of toilet training. I’ve lined up tutorials to work my way through.

The bow on this one proved too intriguing. E was found dress-less 20 minutes after putting it on and the dress was somewhere on the floor.

Yesterday, it lasted a little longer. Well, actually all day. The dress tutorial can be found here. It’s brilliantly simple and very fast. If you look closely you can even see E mutteringhte word “fast” as she speeds by. She has habit of putting on her best performance, and in this case her fastest, when the camera comes out.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


As the weather has been getting better, we have been having a few more outdoor adventures. E has discovered the joys of bare feet. The shoes come off and she climbs into the garden bed to feel the dirt between her toes or takes off down the drive to scoot. The basin of warm water comes out for washing up before we go back inside. This part has become almost as exciting as the bare feet itself.

Last week, after washing up she took off to the bathroom and returned with her bath toys. Then she ran past with the bread. “I hope you weren’t planning to have sandwiches for lunch” my dearest quipped as he went to investigate.

Of course, even bath ducks need feeding sometimes.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Big Reader, Little Reader - a Map

I’ve been getting excited about books. While I never really fell out of love with them, having a two year old makes you see them afresh. As a result, I’ve decided to start writing a bit more about books that are featuring in ours lives. I'm calling it Big Reader, Little Reader. Sometimes the picture books we read together, sometimes the ones by my bed, the ones by my sewing machine or even just the little things we’ve noticed along the way. I’d love it if you could join me. I’m starting this week with Dorothy Butler, the woman who rekindled my interest and reading “in the middle of the muddle”.

I heard snippets of a recent interview with Dorothy Butler talking about her new biography and was left wondering who she was. I raided the stack of my local library for copies of “Cushla and Her Books” and “Babies Need Books” to find out more.

If you ever need convincing that reading can be miraculous, read “Cushla and Her Books”. It’s the story of Dorothy’s grandchild, Cushla, and how books along with the intense support of her family gave Cushla chances doctors never dreamed possible. It all sounds very disability of the week, but it is all true and very human. The tale is simply and beautifully told and a pleasure to read.

“Babies Need Books” is just that. What has stood the test of time however is the accessible breakdown of types of books suited to different ages. Technology has moved ahead, rendering the pages of details on how to find a book are out of date and many of the books mentioned are out of print. I will be hunting down Dick Bruna alphabets for Miss H, Alfie books for E and hoarding “beastie” fairy tales in anticipation of turning three.

Most of all I adore the importance she places on books and whole heartedly agree with the following justification for taking a 30 minute break to read with your children at the beginning of the day, after breakfast, after work departures and before launching into every thing else. A time she calls "in the middle of the muddle"

"Don’t worry about leaving the dishes, or any other chore undone at this point; nothing is more certain that that the dishes will be washed and the next meal prepared, whereas no certainty at all attaches to the inclusion of story sessions unless they are placed firmly at the top of the list. ...Train yourself to smile confidently at neighbours’ and relations’ disapproval; tell them, if you need to explain yourself at all, that you would be ashamed to neglect your children whereas you don’t feel emotionally involved with the breakfast dishes. You will get through as much work as they, in the end, and the profits of your good sense will be as obvious to your critics as to yourself. With any luck, some of them, at least, will join you.”

(taken from Babies Need Books, Dorothy Butler, Penguin 1988 pg 64-65)

More Stash Adoration, More Park Slope

That little dress a few weeks ago started something. After finishing it I felt entirely justified in returning to the store and buying a quilt’s worth. There were none of the pinks from the range so I have improvised here a bit. You can find even more stash adoration over at 1/4 inch

The fabric is now cut into strips as I put together a scrappy hedgerow quilt using these instructions and the remnants from the dress. I already have something planned for the remnants of the quilt too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Introducing the Anzac Bee

I have been plotting and scheming. While admiring all the wonderful virtual quilting bees that are going on at the moment, I wondered if there were any local ones. It appears, so many are only open to residents of the US and international postage from NZ can get quite steep. I got to thinking and the Anzac Bee was born. This month we are kicking off 8 months of bee hive activity spanning between New Zealand and Australia.

To see our progress, you can visit out flickr group here. To read more about some of the individual members you can visit the Australian members below:
Blue Tulip
Novi 73
Unpicking is the Pits

Fellow New Zealand quilters were a bit slow off the mark to reply to the flickr messages on Quilting Bee Blocks, so I convinced some of my friends from the Tuesday night quilting group classes to join me.

To get the ball rolling, I am first up. My fabrics should be in the post tomorrow and they look a lot like this:

Anzac Bee Mail Out

My Anzac bee fabrics are cut and ready to go. As I have fallen totally for this book, I am asking for a string pieced blocks.

The Blocks

I am asking for two 12.5” blocks (12” when sewn in) using any form of string piecing. All the fabrics in the pack can be used in the strip piecing. To tie the blocks together, if your block has a background, please use the blues.

I have put together some ideas of string pieced blocks below:

1. Spider Web Quilt in Progress, 2. String Tulip Quilt, 3. Kaleidoscope - a colorful string quilt, 4. Doll quilt so far..., 5. Sugar Sack Star, 6. String Star Quilt Block Playing with quilt patterns, 7. Emoh Ruo, 8. Sue's HST Star, 9. String Quilt

I prefer not to foundation piece when doing string quilts, but if you are that way inclined, here are some links to foundation pieced string tutorials:

Film in the Fridge - foundation pieced method for crosses

Quiltville - foundation pieced spider web quilt

I haven't been able to find any tutorials for Gwen Marston's method of string piecing, but will try to describe what I have done, as best I can, in words.

For my sample blocks, I cut the strips into 1” to 1 ½” widths. Some strips were then cut shorter and joined with other strips of the same width. Then, the strips were all sewn together to create two wider strips of fabric. The blocks were then made using this fabric as my patterned fabric and the larger pieces of blue as my background.

The Fabrics

The fabrics are all plain Lecien cottons. I adore these Japanese cottons. They are just a little bit finer than your usual homespun and have very little loss of colour when washed. To keep me from scooping up every colour in the store, the colours for the bee are based on a traditional amish colour scheme. This scheme is greens through to reds with no orange, yellow or yellowish greens. There is enough fabric to make two blocks in each pack. If you would like, you can add from your stash but please keep it plain and no yellows.

As I cannot find a foundation free string tutorial, I am sorely tempted to make my own, so watch this space.