Australia – Fabric and Friends

Oops, I meant to post in the middle of the week, but its was kind of busy around here this week.  I blame it on this little guy:

Thimbleanna: Winston

TheFirstChild and SweetiePie were gone for a week and we got to dogsit.  Cute little Winston is still a high-energy puppy and he took up all of my extra time.  We had lots of fun taking walks, playing with his cousin dogs, and taking a few pictures.  He did NOT want to wear those goggles, poor little guy!  (But, ever the gentleman, he’s always wearing his bow tie.)

Anyway, one last post from Australia.  I saved the fun stuff for last.  Kellie took me to some beautiful shops.  First up was Sunspun — not a fabric shop, but since I love to knit, just as good!

Thimbleanna: Australia

What a fun little shop — packed FULL of pretty yarns and samples.

Thimbleanna: Australia

Yarn shops confuse me.  I can’t buy yarn like I do fabric — maybe because I’m not a scrap knitter like I’m a scrap quilter.  I have to have a specific project in mind when I buy yarn.  So, in spite of all the beauty, I walked away with just a pattern book.  I’d like to chalk it up to self control, but confusion is the true story!  It was a wonderful stop though.

Thimbleanna: Australia

Then we were on to Amitie where we met up with Jan.  And I met Louise – SO fun!  Oh, and Judy Newman was there too, so it was really fun to meet her.  I know I’m forgetting someone else — I was in a fabric stupor.

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Look at all that gorgeous fabric — and all in Amitie style.  Shelves of Liberty!

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A pile of fabulous quilts, with our star, The Aunt’s Quilt on top of the pile.  I don’t know what I was thinking — WHY didn’t I get a good picture of THE quilt???  Or any of them, for that matter!

Thimbleanna: Australia

Here’s a shot of the lucious quilts in the front window.  I was so busy looking at everything and just enjoying it all and I’m sad that I didn’t get more pictures.  ;-(  It was SO amazingly inspirational though — I was overwhelmed.  Amitie certainly lived up to her reputation!

Thimbleanna: Australia

After Amitie, Kellie, Jan and I had a fun lunch catching up and then Jan took me for the afternoon and evening.  I have to stop here for a minute and rave about the food that Kellie and Jan made for me while I was in Australia.   We don’t eat much lamb (well, any, really), but in Australia they have it quite a bit.  The first night Kellie made delicious lamb chops (I bought some for TheManoftheHouse to try when I got back and they’re not called lamb chops but that’s what they look like — it’s more like a roast) and roasted potatoes.  Later in the week, Kellie also made lamb strapback (I hope that’s what you call it) with the most delicious fruit salad I’ve ever had — she drizzled it with some sort of basalmic molasses (that I sadly can’t find here).  Words just can’t describe those delicious meals!

Then, the night Jan took me to her house, she plopped this jumbo bowl of grilled pineapple and prawns in front of me.  I thought it was our main meal, but it was the appetizer.  And, being from the landlocked midwest, it was my first experience actually peeling the shrimp, which Jan’s girls thought was hysterical.  They were probably wondering how I escaped from my corn field!  Dinner was a delicious roasted lamb (which I thought was beef until the next day) with roasted pumpkin and vegetables.  And THEN, Jan had invited Meredithe to dinner and it was so fun to meet her.  We were so busy talking that I didn’t get any pictures of all of her beautiful quilts. (And trust me, that’s a tragedy.  Because, you guys.  These girls are all Australian quilters.  By default, all their quilts are beautiful!)   Since we were having an all Aussie dinner, Jan requested that Meredithe bring an Aussie dessert, and what’s more Aussie than Pavlova?  It was amazing — I LOVE bananas and raspberries — maybe I was an Aussie in another life!

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Such a fun night and I was sad to leave the girls, but time was short and there was much to do.  The next day, Kellie took me out to the country.  We had the best day and went to another beautiful little quilt shop.

Thimbleanna: Australia

Mill Rose is just full of fabric.  Feast your eyes on all that Liberty!  There was some serious drooling and fondling going on in this room.

Thimbleanna: Australia

Another big room of fabric — behind that brown row of fabric is another double-wide aisle of beautiful prints.

Thimbleanna: Australia

Thimbleanna: Australia

What a fun little quilt shop.   After all that fondling and shopping, we were parched and hungry, so we went next door and had a delicious lunch in the Mill Cottage.

Thimbleanna: Australia

I didn’t buy much fabric.  It’s easy to be restrained — not that I didn’t LOVE all the fabrics, but we’re so spoiled with prices here in the states — we pay less than half of what fabric costs in AU.  I couldn’t resist buying just a little though, so, here’s a picture of my purchases.

Thimbleanna: Australia

From Mill Rose, the six prints on the left are Terra Australis by Emma Jansen.  Can you see the boomerangs, kangaroos, and Australian continents?  I had to have a little souvenir!  And the prints on the left and across the bottom are from Amitie — just some low volume prints that I loved.

So, that’s it.  Whew!  What a fun trip, made all the better because I was able to see Australia with friends.  Kellie is always so good to me, and I miss her and her cute little family.

Oh, one last picture. You can’t take all those road trips and fondle all that fabric without some sustenance. I now have two new candy favorites (which I can’t find here boohoo!) — The fantales are sort of like a big milk dud — caramel and chocolate, what’s not to love?   And the Babies are like Gummi Bears — only WAY better. Way, way better. And, in case you didn’t know, they’re pronounced “Baaayyyyybies” — as in “The Dayngo ayte mah Baaayyyyyby!”

Thimbleanna: Australia

XOXO,
Anna

The Aunts’ Quilt

I’m interrupting my last Australia post so that we can get the Aunts’ Quilt quiltalong started.  Are you ladies that are playing along ready?  Most of you should have your patterns by now, so, let’s lay out a plan, shall we?

Thimbleanna: Aunts' Quilt

I originally thought we would do one pieced block and one applique block per month until we were done.  But, upon further inspection, it looks like we need to do two pieced blocks and one applique block per month if we want to finish this quilt in a year — and we DO want to finish in a year, right?  That way, you can be done and ready for quilting before Christmas, next year.

So, here’s a schedule that I thought we could follow:
Month 1: Block 1 and 2 pieced blocks
Month 2: Block 2 and 2 pieced blocks
Month 3: Block 3 and 2 pieced blocks
Month 4: Block 4 and 2 pieced blocks
Month 5: Block 5 and 2 pieced blocks
Month 6: Block 6 and 2 pieced blocks
Month 7: 4 inset triangles
Month 8: 4 inset triangles
Month 9: 2 inset triangles and 2 corners
Month 10: 2 corners and construct quilt and attach border background
Month 11: Side scallops
Month 12: Top and bottom scallops

I’ll be here to remind you of the schedule each month and generally cheer you along. We’ll base our months on the 15th of each month — so the first month will be Oct. 15th – Nov. 15th (we’re late already!). I debated about taking a month off during the holidays, but instead, I think we’ll just keep a schedule and if you get behind, you can use the slow winter months (I don’t think we have any participants from down under, do we?) to catch up.

I’ve also debated about ways to share our progress. For those of you who have blogs, let me know you’re playing along and I’ll add your blog name to the side bar. If you don’t have a blog and you want to send me pictures each month, I’ll be happy to share them here, on my blog. AND, if you have instagram, let’s post progress under the hashtag “#theauntsquilt” — there are already a few pictures from Australian quilters under that hashtag.

Also, a few of you mentioned that you are new to applique, so I thought I’d show you my favorite way to make the bias strips that we’ll need for the stems on our applique blocks. Years ago, I used to do needle turn stems and, one day, MeMum showed me this technique and changed my applique world. It’s SO much easier than any other method I’ve seen.  You’ll need a set of bias bars.   I’ve seen them in metal and nylon and either kind work just fine.

Thimbleanna: Making Bias

You need to cut bias strips of your stem fabric.  To calculate how wide to cut your bias strip, take the finished size of your bias stem, multiply by two, and add 3/4″.  So, if you’re making a 3/8″ bias stem: 3/8″ x 2 = 3/4″ + 3/4″ = 1 1/2″.  You would cut your bias strip 1 1/2″ wide.

Here, try another one.  If you’re making a 1/4″ bias stem: 1/4″ x 2 = 1/2″ + 3/4″ = 1 1/4″.  You would cut your bias strip 1 1/4″ wide.  Make sense?

Fold your bias strip wrong sides together.  (Don’t make the mistake that I make when I’m on auto-pilot and sew right sides together or you’ll be unpicking.)  Then, stitch a generous 1/4″ from the raw edges.

Thimbleanna: Making Bias

If your finished bias stem will be 3/8″ or smaller, you may need to trim your 1/4″ seam just a little bit.

Thimbleanna: Making Bias

Insert the rounded end of the bias bar into your tube of fabric and shift the seam toward one side of the bias stem.  Press the seam flat, shifting the bias bar along the length of the tube as you press.

Thimbleanna: Making Bias

When you flip your bias stem over, you won’t be able to see the seam.  In the blurry picture below, the wrong side of the bias stem is the top strip, and the right side is shown in the bottom strip.

Thimbleanna: Making Bias

Pretty slick, huh?  When you applique your strip down to your background fabric, the raw edge of the seam will be enclosed by your two rows of stitches.  I love this method because there’s no fabric turning involved — it’s quick and easy!

Thimbleanna: Making Bias

Ok kids — get to work. I hope choosing fabrics will be easier for you than it is for me. The only decisions I’ve made so far are the green stripe for the stems and the same Kei dot fabrics that Gina used. I’ve pulled a bajillion fabrics from my stash and can’t decide on anything. Also, if you have any suggestions for the quiltalong, I’m all ears!   Good Luck!

XOXO,
Anna

Oh P.S. — Here’s a little tip — when you have your fabrics pulled each month, you might want to cut a few of the scallops — it will save a lot of time at the end when we’re making the scalloped borders!

Australia – Uluru and Kakadu

As I mentioned in my previous post, Kellie and her family invited me to go on their school break holiday (that’s vacation for us in the US!).  The holiday started out in Uluru where we spent 5 days, followed by 5 days at Kakadu — both National Parks, for those of you not familiar with Australia.  I debated giving you a blow-by-blow accounting of what we did, but one can only endure someone else’s travel pictures for so long.  So, I’ll just hit the highlights here, and, like I did with my Iceland trip,  I’ll eventually post more details in the travel section of my blog.

If you’re like me, I didn’t really know what Uluru was and I certainly didn’t know that Australia is mostly desert.  My Australian friends don’t live in a desert, so I didn’t really have any reason to suspect that such is the case.  Anyway, Uluru is a big red rock smack dab in the middle of Australia and it’s a sacred area to the Australian Aboriginal people.  We were in the area for five days and it was Oh. So. Hot!  We mostly did things in the mornings, hung out at the pool in the afternoons and then did things again at night.

We saw and hiked around Uluru:

Thimbleanna: Australia

Went on a camel ride: (Did you know Australia has the world’s largest feral camel population?  I thought it was all koalas and kangaroos!)

Thimbleanna: Australia

Had a dinner in the desert, watched the sunset and enjoyed a spectacular evening under the stars:

Thimbleanna: Australia

Hiked around the Olgas:

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And saw a hat tree out in the middle of nowhere.

Thimbleanna: Australia

What we didn’t see were kangaroos, in spite of the traffic sign!

Thimbleanna: Australia

After Uluru, we flew to Darwin and spent 5 days in Kakadu.  Kakadu is at the northern end of Australia and if Uluru was Oh. So. Hot., Kakadu was Hotter. Than. Hades.  It was around 100 degrees everyday and because it’s pretty tropical, it was humid.  Our schedule here was much the same as in Uluru — afternoons near the pool!  A wetter climate in Kakadu means that there was a lot more wildlife to see, which I loved.
The first day we were there, we took a river cruise. There were two boats on our cruise — the other boat was full of cute little aboriginal children who were being taught about their heritage:

Thimbleanna: Australia

Thimbleanna: Australia

We saw LOTS of crocs in the water and on the river banks:

Thimbleanna: Australia

The rest of our outings at Kakadu were hikes in different beautiful areas.

We saw a TON of bats hanging from trees:

Thimbleanna: Australia

Amazing birds:

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Enormous termite mounds:  (Look!  Native Australian Children!)

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Stunning scenery:

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Warning signs everywhere:

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Aboriginal art:

Thimbleanna: Australia

And, on our last day in Kakadu, I asked a park ranger where oh where could we go to see a kangaroo in the wild.  He said they only had wallaroos in Kakadu and they generally didn’t come out until dusk.  So, we headed to a billabong at dusk.  It. Was. Divine.  It was so fun to see all the wildlife that seemed to hide during the heat of the day — it was like a scene at an african water hole that you see on National Geographic (minus the big animals!).  We even saw a few wallaroos!

Thimbleanna: Australia

Whew! Tired yet? Thanks for sticking it out through all the pictures.  My pictures don’t even come close to doing justice to the beauty that is Australia!

Just one more Australia post left — Fabric — and Friends!
XOXO,
Anna

Australia — Melbourne

Ok kids, this is the part where I tell you about my trip to Australia and you very politely try not to nod off.  (Or, just skip it altogether!)

It’s so hard to even know where to start, but my trip sort of neatly divided itself into parts, so I’m going to follow it’s lead.

Some of you may remember that last fall, Kellie and her family visited the states and I met them in New York City for a few days and we had a blast.  So, when Kellie invited me to come on their Australian vacation with them, it was an offer that was too hard to resist.  I spent the first four days of my trip in Melbourne, seeing a few of the sights and just playing and having fun with Kellie and her family.  I was also thrilled when it worked out that I was able to spend an afternoon and evening with Jan (who came to market with Kellie three times) and an hour or so with Kathy (who came to market with Kellie once).  The best part of the trip was visiting and catching up!  So, I’ll tell you about the Melbourne part of the trip first, and save the vacation, fabric stores, and food for another day.

Kellie picked me up from the airport in the morning and immediately took me to a super cute little garden center that had a tea shop.  We had scones with jam and clotted cream and I was in heaven — I felt like I was back in the UK!  Did I take any pictures?  No.  I was too busy rolling my eyes over the delicious mile-high scone!

We did see a kookaburra right away though.  At least Kellie assured me that it was a kookaburra (and it sure looks like the ones on the internet) but I was skeptical.  I mean, does that look like an old gum tree to you???

Thimbleanna: Australia

After our morning tea, Kellie took me to Williamstown where we walked around and saw some beautiful views of the harbor and Melbourne across the bay.  We also had a delicious lunch of fish and chips while in Williamstown — fish and chips … scones … where am I???

Thimbleanna: Australia

Thimbleanna: Australia

I loved seeing all the houses — the architecture is so different from ours here in the midwest.  The only thing I knew about houses in Australia is what I saw decades ago on The Thornbirds (ha!) so it was fun to see so many verandahs with fretwork.

Thimbleanna: Australia

The next day, we went fabric shopping and met up with Jan.  Jan then took me on a whirlwind tour of downtown Melbourne.  More confusion with the mother country — London style shopping arcades.

Thimbleanna: Australia

 

Thimbleanna: Australia

And c’mon — tell me this doesn’t look like a European pastry shop.  Oh My!

Thimbleanna: Australia

Lots of fantastic artwork in downtown Melbourne.  I didn’t get a lot of pictures — it was crowded and we were hustling.  I did want to remember the flying pig and the one-eyed monster though.

Thimbleanna: Australia

 

Thimbleanna: Australia

The third day was a fun fabric excursion (more later) and on my last full day in Victoria, we left Melbourne for the country to see some animals.  When Kellie asked me what I wanted to do while in Melbourne I jokingly said “Hold a Koala and see a kangaroo in the wild” (Yeah, yeah — you Aussies can make fun of me now!)   My wish was her command, although the kangaroo in the wild part proved to be a little problematic.

Anyway, I have no idea where we went (I really should have paid attention), but we went to a small animal park somewhere out in the country.  You’re not allowed to actually hold koalas in Victoria, but you can get close to them and pet them.  The picture below is my very favorite, even though it’s blurry.  (It’s a running joke with my camera — whenever someone offers to take a picture of me, the focus almost always ends up on the background.  If you’re the person who took the pictures (and you know who you are LOL), in your defense, the others were in focus but I look much better blurry ;-D ).

Thimbleanna: Australia

Lots of kangaroos — even if they’re not in the wild.

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And we think we have problems getting our kids to leave home.  This little guy was really crowded in that pouch — no room for his feet in the house!

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Is that an Australian Emu?

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Because this is what Americans think of as an Emu.  ;-P

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And sheepies.  Australian SHEEPIES!!!!  Look how cute.  That one in the front has a little curly top and the one in the back must be the male — he’s bald.

Thimbleanna: Australia

The scenery in the countryside was beautiful.  Unfortunately I didn’t get very many pictures — I was always too busy talking.

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And back to Melbourne — I’d had no idea it’s such a big city!

Thimbleanna: Australia

I know that doesn’t seem like a lot for four days, but there was a lot of fabric and talking tucked in there. More on those later. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

XOXO,
Anna

P.S. All you Aunt’s Quilt ladies should be starting to get your patterns in the mail. Use this week to gather your thoughts and fabrics and whatever else you need and we’ll get going in ten days or so. If you didn’t get a pattern and want one, don’t despair just yet — I still have a few that haven’t been claimed, so we’ll see what happens in the next few days.

Jet Lagged

Holy Cow Kids — I’m Tired!!! DIDYAMISSME LOL???

This jet lag is killing me. I’ve been home now for 6 days and I’m still pooped and waking up a lot in the middle of the night. Going to somewhere as close as Europe is jet lag child’s play compared to this. According to Wikipedia, you’re supposed to allow one day per time zone difference for recovery. Since I’m pretty sure I traveled through 500 time zones, it might take awhile. Actually, according to their calculations, it should take me 10 days, so, maybe I’ll be alive by next weekend.

I had a great trip and I’m planning to tell you about it, but I’m still weeding out pictures. In the meantime, I have a few housekeeping items that need to be tackled. (Not counting the shambles of the real house — SOMEone needs a maid!)

Thimbleanna: Aunts' Quilt

First up — I brought The Aunts’ Quilt pattern back from Australia! I really want to get the quiltalong going by the middle of this month, so these patterns need to get mailed. If you expressed an interest (via blog comment) in joining the quiltalong, you should have received an email from me about your pattern. If you sent me an email, I’m sorry, but it’s been eaten, and you need to let me know again that you’d like a pattern. I didn’t bring very many patterns back with me and I’ve put the extras in my little etsy shop. First come, first served until they’re gone. More patterns can be ordered from AU, but international postage will have to be paid. And if any of the reserved patterns aren’t claimed by the end of the week, I’ll put those in the etsy shop too.

Thimbleanna: Aunts' Quilt

In case you’re still trying to decide whether to join us, here’s a picture of the fabric requirements. This quilt is a fun combination of applique and piecing and I think it’s perfect for someone who is new to applique. We’ll plan on doing one pieced block and one applique block (or more half blocks) per month until we’re done — I’m estimating it will take about a year.

Thimbleanna: Aunts' Quilt

I’ve started to pull a few fabrics, but this is just the surface. I know I’ll be adding and subtracting and generally indecisive as we go along. That’s the fun of it!

Thimbleanna: Aunts' Quilt

I’m really excited about this quilt — I hope you’ll join us — it should be fun!

Also, it’s way past Oct. 1st and we need to have a winner for the Faux Taxidermy Knits book that I blogged about a month ago, right?

Thimbleanna: Faux Taxidermy Knits

MARSHA, Miss Cute Stuff Inside, Come On Down!!! Send me your address so you can claim your prize. And if you make that fox scarf in pink, you KNOW we want to see it!!!

Ok — off to try to avoid taking a nap!
XOXO,
Anna