All through my life I have loved books and reading. Growing up I had quite a vivid imagination (and still do) and I enjoyed getting lost in the fictional stories I read. Throughout High school, I would often escape to our public Library where I would browse through non-fiction books about art, history, and the natural environment. I also discovered a love for poetry and begun collecting my favourite poems and quotes in notebooks, which I still have today.
I like reading a variety of genres from romance and drama to historical fiction. I have recently started enjoying fictional stories set in the outback, or on ranches…give me a cowboy love story with horses in it and I’m happy! I have read a few biographies, I enjoy reading about other people’s life journeys be it about art, craft, making, baking and gardening. I haven’t delved too deep into classics, but do enjoy Jane Austen. I admit I was late to the party when it came to Harry Potter, but I’m a massive fan now. Likewise, I didn’t discover a love for The Lord of the Rings until my twenties, admittedly after I had seen the movies. I’m not too much into fantasy and sci-fi, I tend to enjoy human lead stories, but a little bit of fantasy is ok.
I knew when I had my daughter Matilda I wanted to encourage in her a passion and love for the written word. I started reading to her at night whilst I was pregnant and continued to read to her nearly every day after she was born. She is now three and we both look forward to the half hour before bedtime when we read some story books together. I admit I get a little bit bored at reading the same book over and over again, as like with most young children I’m sure, Matilda has her favourites that she is happy to read every night while it is the flavour of the month!
Now that she is getting older I thought it would be nice to introduce her to our local Library. I signed her up and she now has her very own Library card. Of course, a trip to the library means you need to have a Library bag, and so I decided to make one.
I searched on Pinterest and found this great free tutorial for the Library Tote Bag by Amanda Niederhauser of Jedi Craft. The two main fabrics I bought on our Victoria Roadtrip last year and paired them with fabric from my stash. I decided to hand embroider with some variegated pearl thread the initial ‘M’ and of course the bag wouldn’t be complete without some signature mini EPP, so I made two 3/8” hexie flowers which I appliqued on.
I’m really pleased with how the bag finished. It was pretty quick and easy to whip up and Tilly loves it. I’m planning our first trip to the Library soon. A morning out with some books, reading and maybe a hot chocolate and some cake…what could be better than that?!
Last year I discovered the wonderful world and community of Knitting and Crochet Podcasts. I immediately fell down the most amazing rabbit hole as I discovered so many beautiful and talented makers, designers and dyers. All of a sudden I was exposed to beautiful hand dyed yarn, the colours and textures dazzling and surprising me. Here was this whole variety of yarn outside the realm of the commercial yarns I had been buying at my local big box craft store. I also discovered many amazing crochet & knitting designers and patterns and I rode the wave, collecting projects on my Making Wish List.
I can’t remember how old I was when Mumsie first taught me to crochet and knit, but I do remember it didn’t ‘stick’ with me the first go around. I had already discovered my passion for English Paper Piecing which was starting to take over my life! Like many mums-to-be, I first picked up a crochet hook again when I was pregnant with our daughter, Matilda. I wanted to make her a blanket, a cardigan and a toy (to start!). Instagram had shown me the wonderful world of Amigurumi and it was at this point that I fell in love with crochet. I hadn’t yet discovered podcasts at this point, so knitting still flew under the radar for me. I always considered crochet to be the easier of the two as dropped stitches seemed easier to fix and mistakes hid better!
One of the first podcast I watched was lovely Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet. Watching her talk about the projects she was sewing and knitting was very inspiring and she is such a delight to sit and chat with while I sew. Soon I also discovered Sandra of Cherry Heart Podcast, Dani of Little Bobbins Podcast, Sam of Betsy Makes Podcast and Molly of The Homespun House Podcast. I noticed a similar thread…they all knit or crocheted, and they were all knitting socks….beautiful patterns and designs from equally beautiful, stunning hand dyed yarn. I needed them, I wanted them. I had to have them. What an utterly indulgent item of clothing to have! So for the second time, I asked Mumsie to teach me to knit.
We started out with learning the basics, garter stitch and knit stitch using cheap acrylic yarn and bamboo needles. I have to say, not very thrilling or enjoyable. I found my tension to be really tight with the bamboo needles and the yarn a bore. Mumsie suggested my tension might loosen up with metal needles, so I gave that a go and it felt much better. I was still bored though. I thought I might enjoy the learning process better if I actually made an item from some nice hand dyed yarn. I decided to knit Matilda a simple garter stitch scarf with some 8 ply hand dyed merino yarn from Jazzy Makes. I cast on 30 stitches and used size 4.5 straight needles. After plodding along for some time I started to get a bit bored. My tension was going well and I hadn’t dropped any stitches, but I needed the project to be over and I was itching to learn more skills. I decided that the scarf was probably a bit too wide for Tilly but that if I was to join the ends together it would make the perfect size cowl for her, so that’s what I did.
I am proud of my first finished object, and the yarn is scrumptious. Tilly really likes it too and I’m sure it will get a lot of use this winter.
For my second knit project I thought it would be good to make something using circular needles, knitting in the round that included increases and decreases…to prepare me for knitting socks! So I found a simple beanie pattern on Ravelry called the Lollypop Hat by Elena Nodel. I picked a skein of The Australian Wool Store, Merino, Silk, Nylon 8ply, 100g, 180m, colour Mint Santelmann to use as mint green looks lovely on Tilly. Mumsie helped me to get started and then I used YouTube tutorials to learn how to transition from the circulars to DPN’s and how to close the top of the hat. I am super happy with how the beanie turned out, only there is one problem…it’s a bit too small for Matilda. I can get it on her head, but it doesn’t really go over her ears properly, which I think is necessary for a beanie.
So, with my new found knitting confidence I cast on another beanie, this time making a larger size. I chose to use a soft acrylic yarn as I thought it would be a safer choice for Tilly as she will be able to wear it outside playing or at school. The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly Cofter Baby Fair Isle Effect DK in colour 0159. It was quite nice to knit with being a soft baby acrylic yarn. I had a fairly easy time knitting the second beanie, given it was my second go at the pattern and I started to get in to the knitting groove, developing and practicing my own knitting rhythm and technique. I still find it a slow process, much slower than crochet. I watch my mum knit and her hands flick the yarn and move the needles so fast I feel like it’s going to be years before I get to her level of knitting! I know that practice makes perfect though. Tilly’s second beanie is a tad big for her, but I’m super pleased with it and a bit of growing room is always a good thing with a hand knit item for a child.
My two beanies done, it was time to try socks and so that is what I’m currently working on…and loving it! I bought some Fiber Lily yarn a little while ago with the intention of making socks with it. I chose her Aussie Sock, 80% Australian Merino SW 20% Nylon in colour Carousel. I love how it’s knitting up. I’m using Mumsie’s Vanilla Sock pattern. We have the same size feet which is super convenient. We did a long tail cast on of 54 stitches, followed by 14 rows of 1×1 rib and then 42 rows of knit to the heal. Today Mum started teaching me how to knit the heal. I’m using Addi Sockwonder circular needles size 25cm/2.5mm with Knit Pro Zing 2.5 DPN’s.
So far I’m super pleased with how they are turning out. My tension is really good…Mumsie is quite proud of how well my tension is going, particularly considering how tight it was when I first started learning!
I can’t wait to get my first pair of socks finished. There are so many beautiful sock patterns out there I would like to try and so many stunning yarns to knit them in! However, my next knit project I’m going to try is the Dirty Lace shawl by Truly Mrytle. Mum and I already have our yarns picked out as we are going to knit it together. So stay tuned for more adventures in knitting!
To echo the words of Claude Monet “I must have flowers, always, and always.” Having fresh flowers in our home brings me so much joy. They instantly lift a room with their sweet scent and colourful petals. They nod happily at me every morning, greeting me with their showy smiles.
Monet was an avid garden enthusiast and his garden and home in Giverny is on my bucket list of places to visit. I too love gardening, although I am still trying to find my way and un-earth my own garden. I love watching gardening shows, especially anything by Monty Don who just happens to be my gardening idol. This year I would like to visit more gardens. I want to take leisurely strolls through the plants and flowers, marvelling at the wonders of nature.
Garden Path at Giverny – Claude Monet. I can picture myself strolling down this path, taking in the sweet scents and colour parade.
Madame Monet and Child – Claude Monet. Yes, I can think of nothing more pleasant than sitting amongst the flowers and doing some stitching!
Just as I love and must always have real flowers, I also cannot be without the English Paper Piecing kind of flower, the always iconic, hexagon flower. When I received a bundle of Liberty fabrics from Westwood Acres for their Monthly Liberty Club last year, the package was full of so many pretty florals I knew instantly that I had to create something with hexagon flowers.
I wanted to create a miniature quilt inspired by strolling through a flower garden. I used nine of the liberty floral prints to make the flower petals and three different solid liberty fabrics for the flower centres. I played around a lot with the placement of the flowers before finally settling on the final design.
I decided I wanted to connect the flowers a bit differently. I wanted the flowers to stand out as individual blooms and not to have their petals touching each other. I used diamonds and hexagons in soft green cotton fabric to separate the flowers. These green shapes both represent the leaves of the flowers, but also the crisscrossing pathway through them.
I decided to hand quilt, using coloured embroidery floss that picked out a colour from the flower fabrics. I hand quilted around each flower petal, as well as the cross seams of the hexagon diamond motifs between each flower. Lastly, I had quilted around the entire outer edge of the pieced quilt section.
I used a soft buttery yellow fabric for the border and binding to represent the sunshine that twinkles through the leaves and trees down to the garden below.
I really love my finished hexie flower garden. It feels happy and calm, and whilst it’s no Monet painting, for me it brings the beauty of flowers and gardens into my craft studio where it hangs.
Paper Pieces Used – ¾” Hexagons, ¾” 60 degree diamonds, ¾” half hexagons, ¾” triangle (diamond cut in half)
Last year a lovely friend commissioned me to make a dolls quilt for her little girl for Christmas. She had been inspired by my large scrappy hexagon quilt and was after a scaled down version. Naturally, I was happy to do this.
My friend had made a patchwork quilt for her daughter and so I asked if she had any fabric left over from that quilt and I would incorporate the prints into the dolls quilt as well. Knowing my friend was a lover of Liberty fabric, I also included some special floral prints as well as some other fabrics from my stash. I also pulled some fabric from the stash of scraps my friend had given me from her children’s clothing business Ecolier Kids.
I decide to use ¾” hexagons. This is a nice versatile size, the perfect scale for a quilt to go on a dolls bed, which measured 41 x 26cm. After I had pieced the hexagons to a size that would allow the quilt to hang slightly over the sides of the bed, it was time to quilt.
I chose simple quilting in straight lines vertically down the quilt that dissected the hexagons in half. I chose fabric from my stash for the backing in a lovely soft pastel brocade floral design.
For the binding, I also raided my stash to find a plain soft creamy yellow that went nicely with the backing fabric and didn’t overpower the quilt front.
Of course, I decided that you couldn’t have a dolls quilt without a pillow as well, so I made a ¾” hexagon flower using lovely liberty fabrics and appliqued it to a square of the same binding fabric. I made a two piece overhanging slip back from the quilt backing fabric. I then made a stuffed pillow that was sewn up all four sides to slip into the pillowcase.
My friend loved the finished quilt and the extra pillow. More importantly, her daughter loved it and has been busy putting her dolls to bed with their new quilt and pillow.
It is such a wonderful thing to create something so special and to know that it will be treasured for many years to come. I think it is a very true statement when someone explains that an item was stitched with love. I like to add that something was stitched with joy as well. Sewing gives me great pleasure and enjoyment, but the act of sewing something for someone else and seeing the joy on their face when they receive, well that’s one of life’s most beautiful and simple and pleasures of all.
Sometime after finishing my first Miniature Quilt ‘Garden of Patience’ I started what would turn out to be a long term quarter inch hexie project. I decided that I wanted to make a giant hexagon flower. Each petal would be a different colour of the rainbow and would be pieced from quarter inch hexies. Now I didn’t record the date I started this insane idea, but I’m taking a guess that it was approximately seven or so years ago.
This year I decided that I was going to finish all of my English Paper Piecing WIP’s because I have quite a few of them! I had a rummage through my WIP basket and came across a couple of finished and half-finished petals for my hexagon flower quilt. Straight away I knew this was one that I had to get finished. Over the next few months I pieced together the individual petals, finishing the ones I had already started and starting the colours I hadn’t yet begun. At last I had all seven petals pieced.
The project gained steam now as I could start to see it coming together. The petals pieced I began to sew them together, first attaching each petal to the centre white pieced hexagon, and then piecing the sides between each petal. That done I needed to decide how I was going to finish off the flower. Did I want to leave it as just the centre and petals? Did I want to square it off and add in a multi-coloured arrangement of quarter inch hexie flowers with borders? I spent a bit of time weighing up my options before settling on adding diamond shaped blocks pieced from more quarter inch hexies in white and cream fabrics. This allowed me to create one giant pieced hexagon shape with six straight edges.
The piecing complete, it was time to attach it to backing fabric. I did some stash diving and settled on a neutral pale cream cotton fabric. I used a large square of visafix to adhere the piecing to the backing. I then also did some thread basting along the sides to help keep the work in place and to try and avoid distorting the backing fabric while I hand appliqued around the six sides of the piecing on to the backing.
The applique complete I then had to decide how to quilt it. I knew I didn’t want to do any kind of visible quilting over the top of the pieced quarter inch hexies as I thought it would detract from the overall look and design. I didn’t want all of my painstakingly pieced hexies to be hidden under quilting stitches! In the end I decided to hand quilt very tiny stitches along the sides of each petal. I’m going to try and explain this as best I can. I would do a very small stitch in the corner of an individual quarter inch hexie piece, then bring my needle up in the next corner of the hexie piece. I would continue in this manner along the edges of each petal joint. What it created was virtually invisible stitches on the front and larger stitches on the back. It has had the desired affect though. The piece is not interrupted by quilt stitches, but it has done the job in connecting the front of the quilt through the wadding to the back of the quilt.
I then decided to hand quilt small visible quilt stitches following the outline of the whole pieced hexagon. That done the whole project sat for two months waiting for me to come back and finish it off properly. I had left a border of the backing fabric so I needed to decide how I was going to quilt that. I decided to machine quilt it and drew three lines of quilting following the hexagon sides and radiating out. The first quilt line measure a quarter inch out from the piecing, the next line measure half an inch from the first quilting line, and the third measures three quarter inch from the second quilting line. This has then left me with about a half inch of border fabric before the binding which measures quarter inch. I was pretty pleased with how that symmetry worked out.
The binding is hand sewn on to the back. I stash dived for both the backing and binding fabrics. I trialled a couple of different binding fabrics before settling on the neutral taupe colour.
And just like that my ‘Flower Power Mini Quilt’ is finished. I love it! It brings such a happy burst of loveliness to my studio wall. It feels great to finally get this piece finished. It’s really quite satisfying to see all the time and effort that goes into something for it to then bloom in front of your very eyes.
Without further ado, here are the quilt Stats:
Finished Quilt Size: Each hexagon side = 11.5” Width = 23” x Height = 20”
Finished Pieced Size: Each hexagon side = 8.5” Width = 17.5” x Height = 15.25”
Binding Size: ¼”
Hexagon piece size = 1/$”
Hexagon Centre and Petal individual hexie count = 127
Total Count (7 Petal Blocks) = 889
Diamond individual hexie count = 42
Total Count (6 diamond blocks) = 252
Grand Total Quarter Inch Hexie Count = 1,141
Hexie Prep = 7.5hrs (cutting out and basting the hexie pieces) (that’s pretty conservative really, probably a lot more time than that!)
Hexie Flower Piecing: Individual Petal = 15hrs Total for 7 petals = 105hrs