A Special Treat to Banish the Cold

It is always a special treat when a customer brings a project that they have stitched with Aurifil into the store for “show and tell”.

windflower-scarf

This delightful scarf has been designed by Jan at Windflower Embroidery.

It is just perfect for those wintery days that we are experiencing, a lovely soft angora wool background trimmed with wool applique autumn leaves embellished with Lana wool thread.

Just the description is enough to banish the chill air.

windflower-scarf-detail

Jan has heaps of information, including an Embroidery Stitching Guide for free download, on her Windflower Embroidery website.  Well worth a visit.

If you want to work your own winter embroidery with Lana wool thread, visit our Aurifil Thread Australia website to find a local retailer.

Read more information about Lana wool thread.

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The seasons they are a changing ….

It is not officially winter but it certainly feels that way.

autumnI spent much of my life living in places where there wasn’t a visible change from summer to winter, so I really enjoy the autumn colours.

I am not so fond of the drop in temperature, and the rain, but if it means that I get to change my shoes from sandals to boots it can’t be that bad.

shoesBut best of all I get to start a new winter stitching project!

In the past I’ve worked on a variety of projects using Aurifil Lana wool thread for my winter project.

A traditional embroidery stitche dwith aurifil Lana

A traditional embroidery stitched with Aurifil Lana

Machine embroidery blocks for my Wagga.

This Lana embroidery has been going for sometime but it is also close to being finished.

This Lana embroidery has been going for sometime but it is also close to being finished.

Hand embroidery

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

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

Applique

Miniature "Granny Squares" crocheted with Lana wool blend thread.

Miniature “Granny Squares” crocheted with Lana wool blend thread.

And I am not the only one playing with Lana in winter, judysew4th had a great time crocheting miniature granny squares for a scarf one year.

lana-project-2015I found a pattern for this sweet little woolen envelop for carrying my sewing essentials, so I think that I have found my project for this winter. I’ve hunted out some fabric and a selection of Lana wool threads for the embroidery so I am all set up.

If you want to try your hand at a project using the Aurifil Lana thread checkout the full colour range on the website.

While you are browsing have a look at the patterns as well to see if there is something to tempt you to start a new project.

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.

closeup 2

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

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

Gathering in the Barn

Last month I treated myself to a day at the Gathering in the Barn held at Linda Collin’s barn in Wonga Park, home of the Quilts in the Barn exhibitions held annually. Leonie Bateman of The Quilted Crow was the presenter for the day. http://thequiltedcrow.danemcoweb.com/

When we arrived our first task was to find our seats, meet friends old and new, and indulge in the yummy morning tea.

Camera file jan2015 121

As you can see, the barn was decorated with many of Leonie’s quilts and treasures and she had her pop-up shop there as well, so there was plenty of visual feasting too!  Leonie’s specialty is using felted wool applique.

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Leonie’s quilt “Betsy”, 54″ square.

 

At each place on the table were our gifts for the day, four new patterns designed by Leonie, and a kit wrapped up and temptingly labelled “no peeking”.

 

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I’ve already peeked!!

 

Gathering in the barn 004

Four new designs.

The kit we received is called “Cornflower Blue – Doorstop” and includes the pattern and materials required to make this cute little doorstop. The  background fabric is hanky linen, with felted wool applique. Leonie provided Aurifil Cotton Mako 28 on each table for the blanket stitch.

Camera file jan2015 136

Leonie’s Cornflower Blue Doorstop.

Before very long all participants were busily and happily engaged in the creative process. The felted wool and Aurifil thread are both beautiful to use and the stitching process is very soothing! I decided I preferred a thicker thread for the embellishment at the top of the flower.  This was easy: I just chose Cotton Mako 12 weight in the same colour.

 

Camera file jan2015 135

My doorstop underway.

Leonie’s technique involves the use of a water soluable gluestick to hold the components in place and then stapling (yes stapling!!) them until stitching is complete. The felted wool is not marked at all by this.  However I am quite happy to use a few tacking stitches and this works well too. (I don’t have a very big stapler).

The day went very quickly and by home time I had completed all the blanket stitching. At home it did not take me long to assemble the doorstop.

Gathering in the barn 001

 

Gathering in the barn 002

Joining the doorstop components.

 

I enjoyed myself so much I immediately set out to make 2 more doorstops as gifts. This time I used wool felt rather than felted wool.  It has a firmer feel but works very well too. As an alternative thread, you could use Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) for the blanket stitching.

 

Extra doorstops

Two more doorstops, as yet unfilled.

And now I’m off to pack my bags so that I can catch a plane and deliver these gifts in person!

Doorstopx3

 

 

 

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

Camera file jan2015

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.

Camera file jan2015 068

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.

woolly things for winter 004

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.

woolly things for winter 007

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.

woolly things for winter 013

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.

woolly things for winter 001

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

woolly things for winter 003

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

woolly things for winter 002

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 https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/tuesday-treats…-wool-applique/  and https://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!!

 

The flavour of the month is …….felt

It seems as though the patchwork world has discovered the joys of working with wool felt. Some of us have been doing this for many years, but it is lovely to see this in patchwork items more and more. I have made bags,

Bag with felt flowers and table runners

Christmas tablerunner

and small wall quilts over the years,

camelias and have quite a collection of felts – some hand dyed wool felt, some quite thick, some thinner and some more like wool suitings.

Part of the felt stash

Part of the felt stash

This year I didn’t attend the Australian Quilt Convention in Melbourne, but a friend did – and she had booked into a workshop with Wendy Williams to make a cushion. I had a while ago purchased one Wendy’s colourful cushion patterns, so I decided to start stitching it (is that called living vicariously through a workshop?!!).

Cushion Pattern

Of course, I didn’t choose colours that went with my decor – I wanted to try some new colours and began selecting the basket colours first and using similar backgrounds (black and white) to the original pattern photo.

Fabrics

Then the fun starts – choosing all the gorgeous felted wools to go into the flowers and leaves. I had quite a few at home to choose from, and did buy one or two to add to my felt stash.

I used Wendy’s idea of putting fussy cut floral fabrics or graphic patterns as the centres of the flowers (a good way of making ‘cheddar cheese’ out of fabric!).

Closeup

Having a selection of Ne 12’s and Lana threads to choose from was great – however I found I wanted to purchase some more as I didn’t quite have the ‘right’ colour at times. (a good way of extending my thread collection!).

Aurifil threads

I don’t think you can have just one new cushion – so I am going to make another one, using similar colours (another chance to buy some more fabrics??).

I haven’t got to the quilting stage – but I may hand quilt it in Ne 12 – or – on second thoughts, I may machine quilt it in Ne 28 or 40 to ‘puff’ up the flowers and leaves. The possibilities are endless!!

Nearly finished

I just have to complete the quilting, make a cushion backing, buy an insert and I’m finished!

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