Bring on the needle and thread

The needle and thread had plenty of work this week!  We have had so much RAIN. On Wednesday we had 189 ml (7½ inches) in one day, with a total of more than 530 ml (21 inches) just this week. That's much more than the total annual rainfall of where we used to live in South Australia!  Needless to say, I had a great excuse not to get out and do any gardening, and it was no use washing my floors, so bring on the needle and thread!  Add to this some very late nights watching the Australian Tennis Open, and you can see it was a good stitching week.  Most of the time was spent on the project I am making for a charity - but more about that another day.

This little pincushion appeared in Handmade magazine recently:


This design combines so many of the things I enjoy. I love working with felt, delight in making pretty yet practical items, and of course I can never make enough bullion roses!


Don't you love the new layout of Handmade magazine? I still get excited about seeing my designs in print, no matter how many times it has happened.

Speaking of felt, this is a reminder that I will be conducting an online Workshop at Patchwork Posse in March. The pattern is a sewing set consisting of needlecase, pincushion and scissorkeep and I'm big on the purple side of the colour wheel this year - it's called "Lilac Love".


It is very reasonably priced, and I'd love to have you in the workshop, so hop over and have a look here.

It's been lovely seeing photos of the first block of "Thoughts in Thread" popping up around blogland.  Here is Melody's:


 and Penny H. sent this (and told me I could share it if I told you not to look too closely!):


Fabulous job, ladies, and I'm amazed that you have already finished them and there are still two weeks to go before block 2 comes out!

Our fruit shop had peaches on sale for a great price again this week (only $1.95 a kg), so, yes, I bought another case and preserved some more.  I have to keep telling myself while I'm on my feet for a couple of hours, peeling skins and slicing peaches,that it's all worth it for the benefits I will gain for the rest of the year!


Hope you have a productive week.
Happy stitching!
Val

The empty nest

We farewelled the last of our family on Tuesday, so all the chicks have gone and we are back to the empty nest. That nest needed a fair bit of attention so I've had a busy week of washing, cleaning, putting things away and generally tidying up. Most of the window flyscreens and tracks have been cleaned, some of the furniture has been polished and I even cleaned the silver! 


I love that doiley - one of many that my mother made me.  Even the spoon collection had a spruce up:


We've started on the gardens and yard.  There were much better things to do than gardening while we had family here, but I've put a reminder to self: "In future do not leave garden without attention for four weeks in sub-tropical summer."!!!

When I went to restock the pantry, our local fruit shop had some beautiful peaches at a very good price.  I bought a case (10 kgs), and spent Friday afternoon bottling them.  That now means I have 26 bottles of plums, peaches and pears in the pantry, so that is a good six months supply of lovely fruit to have on our breakfast cereal.

In between getting the house back in order, I started work on a project that I am designing for one of the Australian charities.  I haven't progressed very far as every time I sit in my "stitching" recliner after tea, the eyelids droop and in a couple of seconds I am off to sleep!  Seems the rhythm of life hasn't quite resumed after the Christmas holidays.

Now, someone who definitely has their act together is Joan.  Just four days after giving you the pattern for the new free BOM quilt, "Thoughts in Thread", there in my Inbox is a photo of Joan's completed block! Joan is using the colours of her family room where she is going to hang the quilt:



And while we're talking free BOM quilts, Penny has sent a photo of her version of the 2010 "Consider the Lilies" quilt, which she has modified to fit the wall in her sewing room:


Thank you, ladies for sharing these photos.  I always love to see what you have done with my patterns, so keep sending them in please.

Magazines have been arriving thick and fast in my mailbox.  The current issue of Creating Country Threads Vol 12 No 8 has my tribute to Australia Day (26th January) with my "This is my Country" wallhanging.


and on the inside:


I'll show you some more next time!

I had better go and tackle some paperwork now, so that I can sit down later with some stitching and a clear conscience.

Happy stitching!
Val

Free Pattern Launch - Thoughts in Thread


Today is the day!!!  My 2012 free Block of the Month Quilt design is officially launched!  Thank you to everyone who entered my poll to see whether you wanted the quilt to be revealed now, or month-by-month.  Of the 433 people who voted, 70% said they wanted to see the complete quilt right at the beginning.  That is an overwhelming response, so, close your eyes and scroll down if you don't want to see it all now!

Thoughts in Thread:


"Thoughts in Thread" is a wall quilt measuring 34 inches square and consists of nine blocks. Each month over nine months, I will give you the pattern for each block, then in the tenth month you will receive the finishing instructions. If you keep up each month, you will have a gorgeous Christmas present ready for someone special!


The concept of this design comes from a wonderful verse in the Bible: Philippians 4:8 -
 
Summing it all up: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly—fill your minds with these thoughts. 

You can see that it is all about Thoughts, hence the title - "Thoughts in Thread". I hope you will really come to love this verse as we stitch our way through it in 2012.

The first block focuses on true thoughts.  I used a violin for this block because it is such a beautiful instrument.  However, if it is not truly in tune, or the notes are not played truly, it can be quite painful to listen to!  It's a reminder to me to only allow things that are true into my mind - not hearsay, or gossip or half-truth.


The applique is surrounded by some simple piecing and of course it wouldn't be my design if it didn't have plenty of stitching embellishment!  I hope you like it!


The design is completely free, but I would love it if you would put my “Thoughts in Thread” button in the sidebar of your blog with a link back to http://val-laird.blogspot.com. (Just right click and Save Picture As a jpg file onto your computer, then upload it to your blog.) Or you can advertise it on Facebook, or any other way you can think of.  Here is the button, designed by my lovely daughter, Janelle:



Now, over you go to my website where you can download Block 1- scroll down past all those patterns till you come to the bottom of the page. (I don't mind if you click on some of the patterns as you go past and have a good look. They are all available as e-patterns - ie you will receive them in your e-mail Inbox within 24 hours of purchasing them.)

Keep a watch in the third week of February for the next instalment and I hope you have fun choosing your fabric and starting on my new design.

Happy stitching.
Val




She sells seashells ...


Today I'd like to introduce you to one of my projects which is in the latest Patchwork & Stitching magazine Vol 12/10.  It's a little dilly bag for taking to the beach, along with a matching sunglasses case.


We live near the beach and I just love to walk on the sand and I always have my eyes open for any shells that might have washed ashore. Years ago, in fact when we were courting, my husband and I were avid shell collectors and we spent a lot of our time working out which shell was which and classifying them.  We still have some of the rarer species of our collection and they have survived our six or seven moves!  So you can see where the inspiration for this design came from.  I called it "She sells seashells" - were you taught this tongue twister too?

It's hidden a bit on the front cover:


and here it is on the inside:



Thank you to those who have already entered my poll.  There are still 6 days to let me know whether you want to see the new free BOM quilt at the beginning of the year, or have it revealed as a surprise each month.  So far, most of you want to see it now!  I might have to work out a compromise to keep the people who "like the mystery" happy!  I better hurry up and finish the quilting and get some binding on this week so I can take some photos!  Not to speak of the pattern writing!  If all goes to plan, I hope to give you the first pattern next week. 

We farewelled six of our family on Wednesday and another six this morning, so we are down to just six left now. The place is rather quiet without little children running around!  It has been a very special time all being together.  I'm not quite back in my sewing room yet, and I feel as if my mind is still going round in circles (forgot to make a loaf of bread this morning for lunch!), but the new quilt is top of the list this week.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a great week!

Happy stitching
Val

Please answer this question for me

I decided to have a poll to see how you would like me to reveal the new free 2012 Block of the Month quilt.
The question is whether you want to see the whole quilt now or would prefer it to be a surprise each month.

I have put a poll button on the sidebar and would LOVE it if you would give me an answer on what you would prefer.  It will only take a second to click one of the answers and it would help me to gauge what the majority want.  So PLEASE vote!!!

Thank you ... and happy stitching.

Val

I don't do New Year resolutions!

Happy New Year!  I hope you have a wonderful 2012 filled with many blessings.

Years ago I faithfully used to make my New Year resolutions, only to find a week later that I had already broken them and didn't have a hope of sticking to them.  So, why bother???!!!!  Now I don't do the NY resolution thing and don't even have any big goals for the year.  I am happy to plod along doing whatever comes to my hand to do each day, and to stitch and design as I have inclination, time, inspiration and whatever else is needed. That's one of the advantages of being retired! There is a great sense of freedom in my life and I LOVE it!!! 

That's not to say the diary is empty!  There are already 11 magazine commissions, a design to produce for a charity, a workshop being organised and an online workshop at Patchwork Posse.  I wouldn't be happy if I didn't have plenty to fill in my days!

I have a couple of projects that came out in magazines during December that I haven't shown you yet.  This one is my Trail of Roses Scissor Pillow, made from Silk Dupion.  It is like a pincushion attached to your embroidery scissors with a pocket on the front to keep them in between usage.


and here it is in Australian Country Craft and Decorating, Vol 23, No 3:


  We had an amazing Christmas with all 25 of our family members present.  We worked out that this was the first time this has ever happened!  Can you imagine the fun ... and madness!


Eighteen of us are still together so there hasn't been much sewing done, BUT I have done a bit of hand-quilting on the new 2012 free Block of the Month quilt which I will be making available in a couple of weeks. I am really pleased with it.  It is one of those designs that just came together beautifully first time.  The "Consider the Lilies" 2011 pattern has been taken down from the free site in readiness for the new 2012 quilt.  It is now available for purchase.

Time to go and play another game of 500 - our nightly entertainment!

Happy stitching!
Val