Inspiration Islands.

At the New Zealand Quilt Symposium in January 2015, I had the privilege of listening to a lunchtime lecture  by Sheena Norquay from the United Kingdom.  Sheena’s  talk was for 45 minutes, and it was inspiring.  I could have listened for another hour at least as her photos (80 or more) and the information imparted was fascinating.  The lecture was titled ” Quilts and the Orkney Influence“.

From symposium catalogue it says

”  the lecture shows how the landscape, seas, skies and wildlife of the Orkney Islands, where Sheena was born, has influenced her work. Sheena finds Orkney’s colour palette and special quality of light very inspiring, as well as its rich Viking heritage; in particular, Norse myths and legends which she often incorporates into her pictorial quilts”. 

The talk gave me an insight into how living in such a remote location can influence your quilting – both in design of a quilt and the quilting designs.  It made me think about the Australian and New Zealand landscapes and the colour choices I would make.

I must admit I had never heard of Sheena Norquay until at the shop, I came across some of her thread selections.  We have in stock her Autumn Selection in Ne 50 (Kit Art box 1300m) and small box (200m) plus her Seascape Selection in 1300m and 200m boxes.

Recently we ordered another thread box “Linen and Lace” – a mixture of linen threads,  floss, Lana wool and cotton mako Ne 12.  I am very tempted to buy it for myself! (email us if you want more information about this collection)

Aurifil Pack

Very very nice colours inside!

Inside Aurifil Pack

When the Symposium catalogue arrived, I noticed that Sheena was one of the tutors, and I had hoped that I could do a class with her when I put in my preferences for tutor selection.  Sadly I couldn’t get into a class (but was very happy with the tutors I did learn from!) and  I did get to see some of her work close up though  (sorry about the photo – it was hard to stand back far enough to take a distance photo – plus the two quilts were long and narrow).

Sheena Norquay

The tutors exhibition had this wonderful piece of work on display – the detail in the quilting is amazing. I want to run my hand over the stones – they look so realistic.  The colours merge from one piece to the other.

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and another (just lower down on the same quilt). Look at the little birds.

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Thank you Sheena for your inspiring words and making me research the islands you love so much.

Hearts for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching and heart-shaped items are everywhere at present. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t ignore the importance of the heart as a design shape and most of us would have used it at some point in our projects.

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Hearts feature in my quilt Baltimore Basket (designed by Sheri Wilkinson Lalk)

 

 

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One of the blocks in my Queen Square quilt (designed by Sue Ambrose)

 

I recently came across a sweet little pattern on the internet that I am currently making. Designed by Cheryl Fall, it is available to freely download. http://embroidery.about.com/od/Embroidery-Patterns-Projects/ss/Paisley-Hearts-3-Piece-Pattern-Set.htm#step-heading

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My pattern printed from the internet download.

Rather than the traditional red colourway used in the original embroidery, I am stitching mine in blue as this fits my decor. I am also using cotton fabric as my background in place of linen.
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Using Aurifil 12 weight thread for embroidery.

You are only limited by your imagination here. These designs would also look terrific made with wool felt using Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) thread.

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Stitching on wool felt with Lana for a different look.

 

I tried a number of different products to transfer the design, but had trouble seeing them. I required a mark I could clearly see, yet one which I could successfully remove at the end of the stitching.  I remembered a friend telling me about the “Frixion” pens, so I gave this a go and found it worked well.  This is a product by Pilot, available in a range of colours and nib sizes. Heat removes the marks, so ironing will take the marking out. If you don’t want to flatten your work with the iron, just hovering over it would probably work.  I did not try using warm- hot water. Marks can apparently reappear at below freezing point (I don’t plan to be in such an environment!) , so if you accidentally remove marks before you are ready, I imagine a short while in the freezer will restore them!  As with any marking item, use with discretion. This tool worked brilliantly for my purpose here, but I would probably be loath to use it on heirloom items, because I don’t know its long-term effects.

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I have a little way to go before I am finished, but the beauty of these small items is that they are easily achievable and I might even complete these in time for Valentine’s Day (this year!)

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Stitching progress so far.

 

Maybe a little stitching before dinner….?

 

 

Woolly Things for Winter

Here in Melbourne we are in the grip of winter, where the weather specialises in dull, dismal, damp and often draughty days.

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A typical wintery day in my back yard.

 

It’s the perfect time of year to indulge in some handcraft of the woolly sort!

Each year I usually knit several adult garments. This year I have made a jumper for hubby…

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8 ply jumper which is actually a darker purple than it appears here.

…and a jumper for me.

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This is much greener than it appears!

I have also just completed a cardigan for myself.  When sewing on the buttons, I always use cotton thread, not the wool in which the garment is made, as this is too thick for this purpose.  With 270 colours in the current Aurifil Cotton Mako range, I can find one that’s just right.

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Sewing on the buttons with Aurifil thread.

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The completed cardigan.

I always have a number of different knitting projects on the go (just like my sewing!!!).  One of the things I am currently working on is a jacket for a friend.  When her mum died a few years ago, she inherited some yarn which she asked me to make up for her.  It must be 70s-80s yarn, a wool, mohair and nylon mix, and although the band says 7 ply, I am knitting it to an 8 ply pattern. I had to do a bit of research and “trial and error knitting” to get the size right.

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Because this yarn is so fluffy and uneven in texture, it would be a nightmare to use for sewing the garment together, so I will use Aurifil Lana (50% Australian wool/50% acrylic blend) to sew it up.  The Lana slips through the seams effortlessly.

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Sewing up a sleeve with Lana.

Another current project is a beanie for my husband to use on the boat (the last beanie went west on a previous fishing excursion).  There was a bit of trial and error involved with this item too, as I had a request to make it a bit bigger than the pattern, so that it wouldn’t sit too tightly on the head.

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A friend showed me her current project, a scarf using some fabulously soft Alpaca yarn in a rich mulberry shade. Just beautiful!

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Another friend showed me her hat, made from knitting 2 strands of carpet wool together.

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In addition to my knitted woolly projects, I am also preparing for a couple of items using wool felt.

The first is using a Quilted Crow Girls pattern .  http://www.thequiltedcrow.com.au/

I’ve selected Cotton Mako 28 for use with this.

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 The other project will be a small 15 inch wallhanging using these materials.

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This time I will use Lana (wool blend) thread.

For more ideas about using wool and Lana see http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/tuesday-treats…-wool-applique/  and http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/the-flavour-of…-month-is-felt/

So while the temperature outside may be in low figures, the sun may be hidden and the wind whistling,  I’m snug indoors surrounded by my wonderful woolly things!!

 

Wednesday Wonder: Windflower Embroidery with Aurifil Lana

I love seeing projects that people have made using Aurifil threads, so it was a treat to have Janet Kerton call into the showroom today.

Janet is the owner of Windflower Embroidery, where she specialises in creating & teaching embroidery, particularly wool embroidery and applique.

Windflower-embroidery

This delightful folding book design can be used as an embroidery compendium, or as jewellery storage folder, and it is one of Janet’s current teaching projects.

The felted wool applique has been embroidered with Aurifil Lana, a wool blend thread that is ideal for hand embroidery, applique and embellishment.

A selection of the 180 colours available in the Aurifil Lana range

A selection of the 192 colours available in the Aurifil Lana range

With the wonderful colour range in the Lana wool blend there is plenty of choice for creating  beautiful projects.

Spools of Aurifil Lana, wool blend thread

Visit our online store to see the range in greater detail, or to purchase your own set of threads.

How to find Aurifil at the Australasian Quilt Convention

It is less than a week until the Australasian Quilt Convention opens so we have been madly packing threads for the various teachers, using Aurifil in their workshops, and the patchwork stores where it will be sold at the Expo.

Each exhibitor will stock the particular Aurifil thread weight that relates to their patchwork style and patterns, so take note of the retailer’s stand number, and the Aurifil product line, so that you will know where to find the thread weight that you wish to purchase.

The latest thread kit from the factory.... a set of 4 piecing colours in Cotton mako' 50

Cotton Mako’ 50 will be found at:

Stand No: 43      Cherry Pie Designs

Stand No: 23      Needles and Pins

 Aurifil-mako-parcel-blog

Cotton Mako’ 40 will be found at:

Stand No: 45       Elm Grove Patchwork

Stand No: 58       Somerset Patchwork & Quilting

Yummy flower colours for broderie perse

Cotton Mako’ 28 will be found at

Stand No: 21       Fifi’s Fabricology

Stand No: 55      The Quilted Crow

Aurifil Lana wool thread, in two spool sizes

Lana will be found at

Stand No: 181    Millrose Quilting & Gallery

Unfortunately none of the exhibitors will have the Cotton Mako’ 12 for sale this year, however you can always place a special order with us for collection at the Convention.

Cotton Mako' 12 is the thickest thread in the range

Cotton Mako’ 12 is the thickest thread in the range

PS:  Contact us before midday Tuesday 8th if you are wish to pre-order a particular thread weight or colour so that we have time to arrange for a collection point for your order.

 

2012 Calendar Quilt finally finished

You may remember us posting stories about the 2012 Aurifil embroidery block of the month…. Judysew4th made her quilt using Cotton Mako’ 12 and a lovely linen fabric.  Her quilt was finished months ago.

I, on the other hand, used Lana 12, and a softly felted wool fabric,   and only finished my quilt recently.

My 2012 embroidered quilt is finally finished

My 2012 embroidered quilt is finally finished

In fact, it really isn’t quite finished as it still needs some quilting in the borders.   I had an incentive to get it to this point so I rushed the “finishing” to have the blocks together for a trade show in June.

As the wool fabric made the blocks bulkier than the original plan I decided to keep the piecing simple. I put a frame around each and then sashed them altogether with a setting stone in the corners.

the blocks were framed, then set with sashes and cornerstones

The blocks were framed, then set with sashes and cornerstones

The woollen fabrics used for the frames have been sourced from my stash of “recyclables’.  I can see two old skirts from seventies, pieces gifted to me when friends have been cleaning out their cupboards and even a piece from my husband’s old dressing gown.

The blocks were framed with recycled wools

The blocks were framed with recycled wools

Talking of husbands,  I had a light bulb moment when he asked why I had stitched the word “Summer” with a wool thread. When I explained that the blocks made up a northern hemisphere calendar he wanted to know why I hadn’t made it a southern hemisphere calendar.  Duh!

I had already changed the embroidery medium that had been used by the designers of this quilt. Why didn’t I think to re-arrange the blocks into a southern hemisphere calendar?

Well I don’t plan to unpick the quilt (it took me long enough to make one quilt!! I don’t plan to make it a second time.) but I thought that I could re-arrange the blocks in a photo-montage.

Here, the blocks are re-arranged to make a southern hemisphere calendar with winter in the middle of the year

Here, the blocks are re-arranged to make a southern hemisphere calendar with winter in the middle of the year

If you didn’t collect the patterns last year, they are still available on the website for free download.

Both the Lana threads and the Cotton Mako’ 12 threads are available for purchase from our online store.

It is never too late to start a new project, and this calendar is not date specific so it can be stitched at any time regardless of whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Welcome to our new Aurifil retail outlets

It has been a little while since I updated the list of retail outlets so I thought that I should give a shout out here to let you know about your LQS who have recently become  Aurifil stockists.

Late last year Somerset Patchwork & Quilting in Mount Waverley , Victoria,  added Cotton Mako’ 50 threads to their store. Somerset specialises in reproduction fabrics and patchwork designs so the Cotton Mako’ 50 is the perfect choice for their patchwork style.

Millrose is a pretty store with a gret cafe next door, so it is worthwhile planning a road trip with friends

Millrose is a pretty store with a gret cafe next door, so it is worthwhile planning a road trip with friends

So far this  year we have set up, & sent, Lana thread display stands to Millrose Quilting & Gallery in Ballan, Victoria,  and All things Patchwork in Waimauku Village, Auckland, New Zealand.

We have also sent a Cotton Mako’ 50 display stand to The Quilter’s Store in Salsibury, Queensland.

And the latest store to join the Aurifil stockist list is Calico Crossroads in Exeter, Tasmania.

Calico Crossroads

Calico Crossroads

We welcome the new stores to our stockist list and encourage you to visit, to shop in person. Each store has it’s own personality so it is fun to visit and explore their stock.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

At this time of the year I am in two minds …looking forward to the new year with anticipation, but still looking back at the old with surprise as to what we actually achieved in the past twelve months.

We wrote about exhibitions we enjoyed,

July is the month that everyone looks forward to the popular  Victorian Quilters exhibition in Melbourne. This year we sponsored the challenge with Aurifil prizes for the winners

Fran won first prize with her entry “The Jungle & Totem Poles”

Another exhibition that we enjoyed was Quilts in the Barn. It is an annual fund raising exhibition that is well worth visiting.

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and we wrote about our stitching projects,

We featured Hand quilting  with cotton Mako’28  in a lot of our posts

Crosshatching quilting all finished

Crosshatching quilting all finished

We shared our differing versions of the 2012 Aurifil Embroidery Block of the Month .

Judysew4th stitched her blocks with Cotton Mako’ 12,

MY Summer colours

MY Summer colours

while I stitched mine with Lana.

The February Aurifil Block of the month stitched with Lana wool thread on a felted wool fabric

I even wrote a post about  how to replace other threads with Aurifil thread colours  so that you can stitch your embroideries with your favourite (Aurifil) thread.

Ladybirdee used Lana for a lot of her stitching projects this year,

Some of the threads I used - perfectly blending in with the felted wool.
Some of the threads I used – perfectly blending in with the felted wool.

Judysew4th joined the machine quilting challenge and

The February FMQ Challenge

The February FMQ Challenge

KnitsnQuilts worked on a lot of her favourite appliques

The finished cushion.

The finished cushion.

 We shared posts about our customer’s stitching.

We love seeing (& sharing) the projects that our customers are making with Aurifil

Zoe’s embroidery pattern uses Cotton Mako’ 12

Zoe Clifton's beautiful embroidery design stitche din Cotton Mako' 12

Zoe Clifton’s beautiful embroidery design stitched in Cotton Mako’ 12

This motif below is part of a beautiful hand embroidery  stitched with Lana thread by Jeanette,

A beautiful beetle

and for a change of pace, Marlene’s machine embroidered quilt is stunning

The bottom corner of Marlene's quilt

The bottom corner of Marlene’s quilt

and Juliet sent us a photo of her  pieced quilt. As you can see it is a star!

Juliet's "Star" quilt was stitched entirely with Aurifil threads

Juliet’s “Star” quilt was stitched entirely with Aurifil thread

We posted tutorials about techniques that we have used this year,

Knitsnquilts showed us how to transfer the design to the fabric to simplify the placement of applique pieces:

Cut out windows for the placement of bias stems leaving some bridges.

Cut out windows for the placement of bias stems leaving some bridges.

We shared a post to show you how to make a quick wrist pincushion and

My raggedy old wrist pin cushion was made from four small half-square triangle blocks

My raggedy old wrist pin cushion was made from four small half-square triangle blocks

how to make a simple cushion cover

Our cushion with a seaside theme

Our cushion with a seaside theme

We even wrote a post about how to edit photos for your blog

To speed up the page loading time it is a good idea to resize photos for blogs

To speed up the page loading time it is a good idea to resize photos for blogs

and we wrote about events where we represented Aurifil.

The Summer & Winter Australian wholesale Quilt Markets are highlights on our annual calendar.

We decorated the side wall with Ladybirdee's glorious quilt

We decorated the side wall with Ladybirdee’s glorious quilt

These are smaller events than the USA Quilt Markets, but they are just as important for us, as they allow shop owners to visit with the Australian textile craft wholesalers in the one location, and are a great opportunity to see the latest & greatest products.

We enjoy using these opportunities to introduce the new Aurifil products.

The new Kit Art Collection of Aurifil threads from Edyta Sitar is very appealing

The new Kit Art Collection of Aurifil threads from Edyta Sitar is very appealing

So what is ahead for us in 2013?

Find out by bookmarking our blog so that you can keep up with our activities in 2013.

Or even better,  subscribe to our blog so that you have each post emailed to you as soon as it is published. (Simply fill in the subscription form found on the menu above and to the left)

Tuesday Treats: Ideas for working with Wool Applique

Following on from the mention of the Quilted Crow , a shop that specialises in wool fabrics and applique, in our last post I thought it was worth mentioning a few other sites that have great information for starting applique with wool fabrics.

Wool applique can be fun, especially if you use Aurifil Lana for the stitching

Paula, from Quiltmaker magazine, has put together a great tutorial about wool applique that can be found on the, “Quiltmaker Blog“.

The instructions are well illustrated, and easy to follow, and include valuable tips about using paper backed fusibles.

There are some more interesting ideas for holding the applique pieces to the backgound fabric on the “Quilt with Us” blog.

To finish, if you want to make your own quick wool project watch the “Quilty” video below to make a heart with Marianne Fons

And of course, don’t forget that the Lana thread from Aurifil is a perfect compliment to wool fabric.

Happy stitching!

I love finding, & sharing, well written tutorials for textile techniques.

A feast for the senses!

Each year in October, Linda Collins hosts “Quilts in the Barn”  (http://quiltsinthebarnaus.blogspot.com.au/) at her lovely property in Wonga Park, on the north-eastern edge of Melbourne.  I have been going to these quilting exhibitions for a number of years and am always impressed and delighted.

Linda and her group of helpers work extremely hard to run an event which is very well organised.  From the time you drive along her road, marked by signs and colour  balloons, to parking your vehicle as directed by friendly husbands/sons and other men pressed into service, and to the yummy food served so efficiently, you feel that attention has been paid to every possible detail.

Entry to “Quilts in the Barn”.

Each year has a particular theme, this year’s being  “Infinite Variety Revisited – an Exhibition of Red and White Quilts” and the variety of styles and fabrics was certainly extensive.  Whether or not you are particularly drawn to red and white quilts,  the display was stunning.

A pattern is available for this eye-catching quilt.

I was particularly drawn to this quilt because of the fine applique and the hand-quilting.

Hand applique and hand quilting.

Close up showing hand quilting.

More lovely applique.

It is interesting to see how quilters find inspiration from various fabrics.

This quilt was designed around the pattern on the fabric.

The quilt displays are always arranged very artistically.  Some of the props are as much admired as the quilts!

This miniature furniture was coveted by many visitors.

And speaking of miniatures… there were many small quilts on display too.

Lots of little quilts too.

I loved this miniature hexagon quilt with fussy-cut centres.

Don’t forget to look up too.

To satisfy our urge to stash-build, there is also a visiting shop.  This year, as in 2011, the “Quilted Crow” came over from Hobart.  www.thequiltedcrow.com.au/ 

Deidre and Leonie from the Quilted Crow serve eager customers.

The Quilted Crow specialises in applique designs featuring felted wool, although you can also create the designs using cotton fabrics if that is your preference.  Of course if you are using wool, Aurifil Lana (50% Australian wool and 50% polyester) makes a good choice for sewing thread.  It is available in 192 colours, including some variegated shades, and is suitable for hand and machine work.  To check out all the details and see some examples of Lana in use, check out the Always Quilting website www.alwaysquilting.com.au/ (Click on Thread on the left hand side, then Lana).

Another  draw card to Quilts in the Barn this year was the inclusion of a number of antique quilts from the collection of Mary Koval from Pennsylvania, some of which were for sale alongside some fabrics. Mary designs for Windham fabrics.

More beautiful quilts.

The only disappointing feature of Quilts in the Barn was that I did not get a phone call to say I had won one of the raffle prizes.  All money raised from the exhibition, refreshments and raffles goes to support breast cancer research.  It’s such a worthy cause even without the incentive of a beautiful prize.  Never mind, better luck next year.  I’m looking forward to it already!!