March 8   Episode 36

Posted by

1 comment

Episode 36: Once more unto the quilt block a month breach, dear friends

Completed Solstice Quilt top (before borders)

Cosmos quilt – Jinny Beyer

Join my craft circle:


Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group

Instagram: girliejonesadventures

Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein

Facebook: Quilt Block N’ Swap

Tags: , , ,

Posted by


Episode 30: Garden update and Space Cadet mini skeins baby sweater

Virtual Design board – My Virtual Quilt

Space Cadet Creations Mini Skeins Club

Check out my Instagram for photos of the jumper project!

Join my craft circle:
Ravelry: girliejones
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
Facebook: Quilt Block N Swap
Instagram: girliejonesadventures

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by


Episode 29: Farmer’s Wife Quilt

(and singing from the toddler in the background)

More talk of the Farmer’s Wife.
And Quilt As You Go

Check out my Instagram for photos of this unfolding project!

Join my craft circle:
Ravelry: girliejones
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
Facebook: Quilt Block N Swap
Instagram: girliejonesadventures

Tags: , , , ,

Posted by


Episode 27: I’m Back!

I’m back after illness and a serious case of podcast block.

Some things I mentioned this episode:

Dear Jane Quilt – and my Dear Jane Pinterest board

Farmer’s Wife Quilt

My Mug Rug Pinterest board

Closed Facebook group – Quilt Block N Swap

My Instagram: girliejonesadventures

Join my craft circle:
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
Facebook: Quilt Block N’ Swap

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted by


Champagne and Socks Episode 26: Packing dilemmas

The crowdfunding project I refer to is – Defying Doomsday.

What did I say I would pack?

– fingerless gloves project

– hot air balloon quilt project

– Twelfth Planet Press scarf

– Rainbow bear blanket

Deadlines tea cosy (for The Blackmail Blend prelaunch):

Bit wonky but logo on tea cosy

A photo posted by Alisa (@girliejonesadventures) on


Current WIPs in focus

A photo posted by Alisa (@girliejonesadventures) on

Join my craft circle:
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein

Tags: , , , ,

Posted by


Episode 25: Quilt and Craft Fair 2015 Special

Quilt and Craft Fair

Wonderfil thread


Head to my Instagram for the pics of the quilts I loved

Here is the hexagon one:


Quilt and Craft Fair 2015

A photo posted by Alisa (@girliejonesadventures) on


Join my craft circle:
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein

Tags: , , , , ,

Posted by


The Solstice Quilt, Part 1


Jinny Beyer’s Solstice Quilt Kit
Subscribe to her newsletter here – she often has sales, subscriber only offers and free patterns.
Jinny Beyer’s Block of the Month has moved to Craftsy in 2015.

You can view my finished blocks of the quilt on my Pinterest page.
Here’s the Beyer video of how to cut the mitre border strips without using maths!

And here is how I accidentally cut the outer border strip – yes, I was being careless and was cutting a fabric without completely unfolded it first.


Champagne and Socks Podcast is a twice weekly podcast of all things craft – dropping Tuesdays and Thursdays. Join the craft circle and tell us what you’re working on this week.
Email me at or find me on Twitter as @champagnesocks and find me on Ravelry as girliejones.

Finally, photos and links for this episode can be found in the shownotes at

Tags: , , , ,

December 13   Black Friday Sales

Posted by


photo 2

Well, I tried to be somewhat restrained during the sales at the end of November. I can’t say that I feel bad (that I wasn’t) now that all my loot is arriving.


My favourite fabric store is the Fat Quarter Shop. I get their daily newsletter. That’s not always a healthy life choice. From their Black Friday sales, I grabbed these:

photo 3 photo(216)

The fabrics on the left are a fat quarter bundle called Sewing Studio. They will go into my Farmers’ Wife quilt which I think I’m probably still collecting fabrics for, maybe. The ones on the right are just a grab of stuff I liked. The hot air balloons print is for the baby’s room, Paris map!! (I am collecting fabric maps of Paris for some reason – oh yeah, PARIS), tea cups, coat hangers and lingerie for the Farmers’ Wife quilt, coffee for a coffee themed quilt I’ll make Someday Maybe, flamingos for whimsy and more bras on the far end.

Just exciting enough to make me want to start a new project RIGHT NOW.

photo 1

I also grabbed some fabrics from Jinny Beyer from her sale. My mum and I went halvesies on postage and ended up picking the same yards for 3 out of 4 of our choices (8 yards to the flat rate postage). The two prints on the end on the right are the ones we differed on. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the fussy cutting techniques I learned this year from Beyer’s Solstice quilt and so I bought more of her mirror image fabrics and some border pieces. Not quite sure but I might try some of her other stars in her big book of patterns with fussy cut piecing. The thing that makes the Solstice Quilt work, though, is the accompanying fabrics she ties in to the fussy cut pieces. Shall be intriguing!


I actually ended up being rather restrained on the yarn front this year.

  • Firstly, we all know I don’t need any more yarn.
  • Secondly, I don’t need any more yarn.
  • Thirdly, Deb and I have plans for our own knit along thing next year with a whole heap of indie yarn companies we want to try so I maturely decided not to add more stash to the pile when I already feel yarn overload.

Yeah, I dunno, weirdly I was in some kind of ruthlessly realistic mode that Friday. Also, I screwed up one of the sales pretty early on and decided that was it from me for the buying. And, that’s the third year in a row with that particular store that my Black Friday experience has been less than awesome so … I might sit next year’s out. HOWEVER, look at the most gorgeous yarn I bought from them … so …

photo 4
The middle skein is Tough Love Sock yarn in Snapdragon from SweetGeorgia Yarns and I’ve been eying off that colourway for YEARS. It’s just divine! I kinda feel like it should become socks for me but then I’ve been disappointed with the socks I’ve been making of late. Maybe a shawl? (How many shawls does one person need, do you think? Is it more or less than 26?)

The two skeins on the outside are a whim that I bought, to try something new (I’m in a yarn rut, have I mentioned this previously?). The yarn is by Yarn Love in Elizabeth Bennett (Merino/Silk/Bamboo blend) in the colourway … wait for it … Fairy Tale. TELL ME how you don’t buy that??? Again, socks?? Meh. I’m in a knitting rut too.

I think I’m only waiting for one more parcel of yarn.

Artisan Jam

And not yarn, not bought on sale or on Black Friday, but that finally arrived – OMG artisan jam!!! OMG.

photo 5

This is by Just Add Moonshine and OMG. Deserves a post of its own. With tasting comments.


Today’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses (no photo!)

Today’s total word count: 408

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 13 795

Progress on: TV watching (Doctor Who, Jane The Virgin), Dream in Color Shrug, decluttering the dining room

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

November 26   Where to start?

Posted by


I don’t even know if there’s any point taking the mind map I did of goals I’d like to focus on for 2015 and turning it into a list. I think it might just be quicker to work off the 2013 one. Of the 25 items on that list, I can tick off “Commence PhD” but I guess trade it for something PhD related. I can cross off the “Through Splintered Walls Art Project” cause we did that one – thanks to Lee Battersby. A couple of others could be rolled into themselves and I might leave learning how to use a sewing machine for another year. But you know, that takes the 2013 list down to like 20.

I could sit here and feel crappy about myself or I could crack on. I’m of course going for the third option which is a feeling crappy about myself/cracking on combo. Looking at my to do list, with 2 more years of striving to practice GTD under my belt, I realise these are not goals. They’re *at best* vision statements. Maybe. They’re feelings in the direction of wanting to have achieved something with no real way of either doing or auditing the done. No wonder almost none of them got done. I’ve decided to spend the last month of the year (what? we’re not in December yet? Are you sure?) preparing to be able to be awesome in 2015 aka set myself up for success.

I picked one item on the list at random and am in the process of defining the “what” in order to be able to start some SMART goals and figure out the “how” or the “what next”? And then I’ll work through the rest one at a time. This’ll be fun, no?

First up, this great goal: “Reduce fabric stash”. I’m rewriting it to be “Finish quilting WIPs” and am also going to allow the starting of new projects as per below. So, first focus is to finish things that are started but also to work on projects I’ve been meaning to do. I like starting things, I like the thrill of the New Project. As it happens, I also like finishing things. So in theory, a nice balance between the two should be great. I’ve actually only ever finished one quilting project. I was thinking to myself the other day that it might be enthusing to have other projects I’ve finished about the house and in use to encourage me to push past the less fun jobs to finish projects?

The obvious question was, “What are my WIPs?” The answer to this question nicely dovetails into another MUCH BIGGER task elsewhere on this 2015 list and involved sorting out my craft room cupboard(s). This meant I had to be able to get into the damn room in the first place so some tidying up did happen there. And now I am in the process of pulling everything else, cataloguing/itemising it and defining it. Is it reference material? Tools? On a Someday Maybe list? My cross stitch WIPs got catalogued and put away. They aren’t a 2015 to do. Some nice clear borders have been erected. And in a post to come, I’ll have a lovely photo of my newly organised craft cupboard (it’s still in progress and I have to do my Knitting WIPs list first).

But here is the Quilting WIPs list, in three photos. I pulled out everything and stacked related things on my dining table. This was an interesting process in itself. I found myself thinking, “Wow, this isn’t as many projects as I thought.” So that was one obstacle overcome. And then I realised that that was a double edged obstacle – I thought it was more, so hadn’t tackled it, when I realised it was less, I worried what I would do if I finished all of these. Yes, I worry about being finished with things and having nothing to do. Seriously. I’ve even slowed down on the Solstice quilt because I can’t imagine what I will do when I’m not working on it anymore. So many years in therapy, so many more to go.

Here’s the final list:



That gives me at least a starting point to audit back to at the end of the year. I’m already further ahead than in 2012! At least now I’ll know if the number of to do items doesn’t change but the actual to do items does. And facing up to what this list actually looks like, not a small task, I’ve realised fabrics I like but currently have no plans for should not be considered, nor listed as, “projects”. And thanks to Anna, I now have an “Orphans” box so the hexagons in the lower right hand corner went there instead of as a “I should do something with these WIP”.

I also found large pieces of fabric that I’d bought during sales. These got assigned to completed quilt tops, which got sized and I now have a Next Action list for Spotlight/Textile Traders to buy wadding. I was also a bit surprised to find the Friendship quilt, the Monochrome and the Charm quilt tops were all smaller than I’d remembered. Quilting them might not be quite as scary as I’d imagined.

My current tasks for this now are:

  • creating a fabric stash filing system to separate actual projects from vague ideas and inspirations
  • shopping trip for supplies
  • sort out Next Actions for remaining projects (I could just leave them all on a Projects list and come back and pick one out one by one but I have a feeling knowing what the next action is on each before I file them away will mean a greater chance I come back and pick up the next project. Figuring out where you were up to or knowing there was a problem and you abandoned instead of solved are big obstacles to finishing)
  • finish organising the craft cupboard


Today’s drink: Austral Tea from Monstrositea – pic here

Today’s total word count: 772

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 1360

Progress on: 2015 Quilting goals.





Tags: , ,

October 27   Maybe

Posted by


Maybe I’m just incapable of finishing things?


In knitting, it’s called Startititis – the urge/disease/need to start new projects, usually before finishing ones in progress and usually more than one or three or five at a go. It’s no breaking news story to say I love starting new projects. I love the thrill of thinking of something new – the “can we?”, “would it be possible to…”, “what if?” I love pitching ideas to people, bringing them on board. I love the possibility and potential that new projects bring. I love the idea that I could be the person on the other side of starting a new habit or routine, the person who just is or does [whatever]. But I’m not so good at follow through. I’m not so awesome at taking things through to the finishing line. My most classic example might be my first postgrad attempt where I built the mathematical model, I played with it for 2 or 3 years, even published a paper in a pretty good academic journal, then I saw the problem I was solving through to the end *in my head* and I was good. I knew how the story ended. And I lost interest. Anyone will tell you the thing about a PhD, the thing the actual piece of paper says, is that you can complete something.

In my life, I’m surrounded by half started projects. Let’s see. I’m sitting at my coffee table. Let me tell you what I can see by looking around and without getting up or moving in any way –> to my left there is a started quilting project (the top was finished more than two years ago but never made it’s way to being quilted) and a block of my Solstice quilt with half a border. Panning right is a bookcase that is only partially sorted and some wedding gifts yet to be homed. In front of me are about 6 TV series I’ve started but not continued (yet). And on the table are pieces 4 different craft (quilting and knitting) projects, the rest of the TPP financial bank statements etc from 2014 that are yet to be formally processed (balanced against records, entered into financial software packages and spreadsheets and royalties statements), a book I finished reading and want to write a Goodreads review for and a whole pile of To Do Lists in various states of untidiness. On the printer is a shopping list for a cake I want to bake for Mothers’ Group on Weds. And to my right are receipts that were partially sorted a few days ago.

And I’m not even sitting at my study desk.

But I’m always striving to hope towards being better. You know how it is. As I mentioned previously, a couple of weeks ago we signed up for a program to help us organise our house in a structured way. We aren’t moving at the pace of the program but we’ve made enough progress that I’m starting to get inspired and hopeful we might be turning a corner. The other Alisa lives in a Vogue magazine spread. In whites and eggshell blues. I can see though that when you start to *feel* like you’re gaining control, that helps you gain momentum. It’s quite interesting how important it is how you feel rather than how it is for this stuff. In the GTD school of thought, just sitting down and corralling your to dos makes you feel accomplished. You don’t even have to do any of the items, you just feel back in control simply by emptying your head and itemising them in some way.

So with this thinking in mind, I decided last week to try that piece of advice (was it Mark Twain?) – eat the frog first. Find the thing you least want to do, that you are most avoiding or will be the hardest, and do that first in the morning. Normally, and in Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT, that’s supposed to be exercise. Get it out of the way up front etc. And look, I’m not that person so I’m not even going to pretend to myself that that’s what it will be. But last week, every day, I tried to start the morning, especially over my first cup of coffee, to do something I had been seriously avoiding. And wow! That was an interesting exercise. Not every task when completed made me feel awesome. Some things you avoid because you know you have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear. But getting it over and done with was good. And it wasn’t quite as confronting an exercise as I thought it would be. I actually got a lot of things done. And progressed things that had long been shelved. And it did open up a bit of a floodway in that last week was the first week in a very long time that I actually had really long moments (hours) of feeling “in the flow”. I’d forgotten how great that felt! So productive! And exciting!

It had the additional result of having me think about *why* I was avoiding particular things. One of the things I’ve noticed about how my email inbox can build up is that I don’t like making decisions. Not that I’m indecisive or incapable of making decisions but the act of sitting down and actually thinking something through to a decision feels like hard work. “Oh that requires *thinking*. No time for that now!” But actually the thought process ends up taking less than 5 minutes when you finally sit down and do it. Sure, it might mean you have to admit there are 5 or 25 actions that are required but … you know, otherwise, you don’t really want to do whatever it is you are looking at. And usually, once you itemise the actions required, you find yourself doing them without even noticing. Like, “Oh well I need to email … may as well just do that now …” etc. Or the admitting you have to tell someone no or that you can’t do something. That for me is usually the hard bit. Once I’ve done that, I can actually write the email or make the call. It’s the admission that is hard.

So I’ve found that for me a lot of the procrastination is in the required thinking through of something and making a decision on how to act. Once I’ve done that … whee … I’m in flow.

Building onto that is what I’ve been focussing on over the last few days. Is it true that I just can’t finish things and if so, why? I’ve noticed that I can’t finish a novel, for example. That I haven’t finished a book in over two years. Even books I’m enjoying. And a friend of mine mentioned to me one day last week that a mutual friend of ours is now reading 3 books a week just by not doing anything else. And I thought, wow, when did I last finish a book and is it because I “distract” myself with things like TV and craft etc? Have I given myself a short attention span by not staying long attention fit? And … is this the issue I’m having with my reading for my PhD? And … what about all these other things I start but don’t finish? What do I lack? Is it attention? Is it staying power? Commitment? Who am I? And where is my mummy?

The only thing to do was to challenge myself to finish a novel. To just keep bringing myself back to that task. And I did it! (See finished book above!) I finished a book. Wow. 1 frigging book. I proved to myself that I can in fact do it. Good. Though this isn’t enough. But I think shows that I’ve shortened my attention span in the way I interact with things in my world. Yes yes I mean Facebook and Twitter. And only half reading pretty much any article I click on. So I’ve challenged myself to finish a whole bunch of started projects in my house. For the rest of the year. And then I’m going to post a list as my end of year summary – what did I actually finish this year.

And as with all things, it’s not so hard. It does involve thinking through why I’m not finishing something and figuring out what the next action is and sometimes holding my hand though the decision. Here’s the quilt top that was finished over two years ago but not ever actually progressed further. It turns out, I just needed to admit that backing material I’d bought was in fact backing material and the world would go on if I cut it up. And then I just needed to measure and cut. And layer batting in between. And then pin it all up. And get out the quilting hoop. And then … begin quilting.

photo 2

Time taken to get to this point? Over two years.

Time taken to do all the above? Less than 15 minutes.

The trick it seems is to ask yourself “What is next?” and when you brain says “I can’t do X because I still need to do Y”, to then ask yourself, “Well, what do I have to do to get Y?” It’s usually not as hard as your brain likes to pretend.

Here are last week’s finished Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt blocks. The bow tie ended up too small and I’ve fixed this by just creating a new (third) border size to frame it (and several others that are also undersized) to bring it up to the same size. It’s not perfect but it will do.

photo 1 . photo 3 . photo 4

Tags: , , , ,

Posted by


This post is late not because I have fallen behind but rather because I haven’t had time to post an update. Ahh how times have changed. Right now I’m grateful for having sat down last weekend and planned out a bunch of weeks ahead as I was able to just grab envelopes with precut out blocks both last week and this week. Most helpful as I might be offline next week.

Anyway, this last week’s blocks and letter! Week 2’s letter was written by Mrs E. M. L. who is very pro marrying a farmer. I have say though, all her reasons are really similar to marrying into the Navy, living an hour from your family and running a small press from home, well apart from the bit about the satisfaction of hard work on the land and providing for one’s own dinner from the fruits of said labour. Apart from that, it’s exactly the same.

Reading matter? All you want and any kind, brought by the rural carriers. [Australia Post]. Music? Classics and comics, any and all kinds for Victrola and other”players”. [iTunes and Comixology – see what I did there?] Clothes? Ordered from a dozen catalogs [Modcloth, The Iconic] and a world of pleasure in ordering [Oh yeah!] Over the telephone [Internet] and also close connection, with any needed aid in the event of illness….And there are picnics [Coffee in Perth], camping trips, and the “going-to-see” more distant friends [We’ll call this conventions]

Work? Plenty of it and this is the best part…

Children? Of course…

See what I mean?

Except she does lose me at enjoying getting up early in the morning. Probably I couldn’t really marry a farmer at all.

The blocks this week were, Country Path (number 24)

and Silver Lane (block 79)

This one looks crooked only because of the angle of the photo.

I also have started quilting as I go. Last weekend I went with my mum to get sashing fabric and also wadding. I’ve decided that it’s perfectly fine to start out with the thinnest wadding there is. Perth is hardly cold and I can always use several quilts if it’s really cold. And if the thinnest wadding helps me skill up on quilting such that I actually finish the job? Well finished is always better than perfect. And so I actually started this:

I watched a couple of Youtube vids on how to quilt and I’m working on the rocking motion as well as consistently sized stitches. At first I was trying to get the smallest stitches and the closest together but I’ve realised that since I’ve bought fancy coloured variegated thread, it’s ok to make the thread and stitching a feature not a bug.  And that’s allowed me to have a bit more fun. I actually did quite a bit of quilting on this first block – quilted a bunch of the stripes and then also outlined each of the objects in this block. It was not to bad – kinda fun, didn’t take as long as I thought and I think I got better as I went. Making it small by just being this small block is definitely a real incentive and also in no way daunting!

My goal will be to sew the 2 blocks per week of the project and then also quilt the two blocks of the week before. That way when I finish sewing all the blocks, I’ll almost have finished the quilt. And if I get good enough at this, I’m thinking of doing the Solstice Quilt quilting of each block before I piece the whole thing. Speaking of which, I did manage to finish Block 9 of the Solstice Quilt this week as well:


Tags: , ,

Posted by


And so I have begun! My intention was to post finished blocks on Fridays and I was really determined not to meet that goal on the first week. Which was really good because it’s pushed me to finish off one of the blocks in time for this post! The format is working!

So first up, the excerpt from the letter for this week, titled “Living in God’s Open Air” is by Mrs J E F, from Valley County, Montana. In her letter, Mrs J E F says that had she been asked the question (if she had a daughter of marriageable age, would she encourage her to become a farmer’s wife), 50 or even 20 years ago, she would have said no. But she says yes for having been asked in 1922. Firstly she cites the healthy lifestyle and also that the town lifestyle can be [well she doesn’t say bitchy but that’s what she means]. But then she goes on to say that she loves living on the from because it gives her an opportunity to make her own money from her eggs, from churning butter and from having her own veggie patch. She feels like this enables her to contribute by buying almost all the things for the house. Bit of a feminist answer out of the gate. I especially like the closing:

How beautiful our home was! It was only of logs, covered in summer with a wild clematis vine. I told out doctor that after five o’clock on winter nights we became New York millionaires for we had our easy chairs, a big fireplace and good books. We could not have had more in a mansion.

Indeed that does sound cosy!

So my plan for the quilting was that I would print out the templates I need as I go (there are 100 or so and are provided as PDFs on a CD that came with the book – 1 template per PDF. That’s a lot of paper. Definitely a downside to being provided this way). Anyway, I’ve seen that these little blocks are nice portable projects so I thought that it would be great to set up the 2 I needed for this week’s goal and then perhaps get ahead and set up a few blocks going forward.

You know what happened next. Yup, I started working on the third block cause it looked more fun than finishing the first two. This means I don’t actually have any in reserve either! Posting on a Friday with the week’s work is good for me because it forces me to actually finish two each week!

And here they are (excuse the lighting, I tried to get them done before the sun moved, didn’t happen).

Block 26: Cut Glass Dish

54: Kitchen Woodbox

I am hoping to get wadding this weekend so that I can experiment with Quilt As You Go and also so I can see how much fabric I’m left with after taking out for backing, as I go. Sadly I do not have as much fashion fabric stashed as I led myself to believe. That will need to be rectified …

One thing missing from the book is why Hird chose the blocks to go with the letters. I think that would have made a nice addition.

I’m now thinking I might like to read up on the history of quilt blocks. Do you have a recommendation of a book I should read?

Tags: , ,

Posted by


I promised myself as reward for finishing publishing projects X and Y, I could start playing with a new project. Well … I finished project X yesterday and maybe setting myself the goal of finishing two books in one day was a tad overreaching. So … I’m going to play with this new project anyhow.

On the weekend I popped in to the Perth Quilt and Craft Fair (and by that I mean that my husband shoehorned me out of my pjs and dropped me at the train station to make me go). I had a quick race around all the stalls – a lot of them are the same each year and this year I’m not feeling the buying things without a project intent. I grabbed some tools and ok, maybe some fat quarters just because.


I then wandered through the quilt exhibition and enjoyed quite a few quilts. I really liked this one, which looked like a really example of the kind of version of Farmer’s Wife Sampler that I want to try (more on that in a bit).


And then I had a chat to a friend who pointed out one of the special quilts on display – a Dear Jane quilt. And this is possibly the thing that made the whole event for me. The Dear Jane quilt is very similar to the Farmer’s Wife – it’s a pattern of sampler blocks, in this case it reproduces an original quilt made by Jane A. Blakely Stickle, and finished in 1863. The one on display at the Quilt and Craft fair was made by Angela Davis and made out of a collection of Liberty Fabrics over time and using a technique I’d never heard of before called Quilt As You Go (QAYG). This is quilting each block as you finish it and then sewing them together at the end and voila quilt is done! She had used the fabric she used in each block as the backing for it. This meant that the back was a gorgeous display of the collection of fabrics. This really appealled to me in the sense that if you use fabrics you’ve been specially collecting, it’s a nice solution to the cutting it all up to use it problem. Also, I LOVE the idea of QAYG because I hate quilting so much that I not finished any of my quilts yet. I have a nice pile of finished tops. I think I could attack quilting just one block at a time and also I assume this would give me the chance to improve across the project.

You see where this is all going, don’t you?

The eagle eyed will have already noticed I went and bought myself some fancy quilting thread before I left the show.

Some time ago, I bought myself a copy of the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt. I loved the idea of it – a sampler quilt with a block each dedicated to a letter that was written to the competition run by the magazine The Farmer’s Wife: A Magazine for Farm Women in 1922 to answer the question, if you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you want her to marry a farmer? I’ve never actually been particularly interested in sampler quilts, they look so busy to me. But I love the idea of a quilt with a story and I thought it would also be a good opportunity to try a bunch of traditional blocks (yes, that is the point of a sampler quilt, ahem). And so the book has been on my shelf for a year or two as I’ve wondered how to make this project work.

On the weekend I decided that it might be fun to actually do this quilt. And do it with intent – as a blogging project. I also think it might be the best solution to try and use my fashion fabrics I’ve been collecting which I don’t want to cut up, and would rather have displayed in some way, yet don’t want to do straight blocks with borders with them. But they also don’t really all work in one cohesive colourway. The sampler quilt might get around that. Plus I get to keep the pieces whole for the backing and maybe improve my quilting.

The fabrics I’m thinking of using (funny how the collection wasn’t actually as many fabrics as I had thought I had, in my mind).


In 2013, I picked up the Jinny Beyer Block of the Month project in 2013 with the idea that I would like to have a project where I finish one block on a regular basis. At the time I was knitting more than I am now. But when I’d been part of quilting circles, they had kept me honest about working on a smaller project and finishing it each month. And I really liked that.

So here it is. The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt Project – it’s about 111 blocks, each 6 inches. I’m going to work on finished 2 a week which makes this a one year long project. And I’m going to post the finished blocks every Friday (is the goal) and read the excerpts of the letters as I go along.

Tags: , ,

Posted by


The latest block in the Jinny Beyer Solstice Quilt kit was a long time in coming. I must admit that I don’t enjoy the circular sewing as much (this does not bode well for my project sitting on the design wall to be finished – the New York Beauty). The other reason it took so long is because I’ve become obsessed sewing the log cabin alternate blocks. I’m driven to do nothing but sew them til they are finished. *shakes fist* The will be finished! I’ve completed 3 of the 12. 9 to go and I don’t seem interested in working on anything else really.

These fabrics photograph so well, I don’t think they look quite as spectacular on the design wall.

Course when I said I’ve been doing nothing else, that wasn’t entirely true.

MINISKEINS! OMG I LOVE miniskeins, I can’t get enough of them. So I’m making this blanket, each miniskein makes just over one of these granny squares. So colourful. At some point, I will have enough squares and I will have to stop collecting miniskeins (though once you get into a collecting jag, it’s so hard to stop – I keep forgetting I’m no longer collecting for my monochrome quilt for example). The rule is that miniskeins must be converted to squares as a top priority so that I DO NOT amass a miniskein stash.

I managed to get a pair of socks for the baby out of the leftover sock yarn from Socks #2. They don’t spend much time on baby’s feet, however.

And there this is this quilt. It’s a scrap quilt and it’s going to be the map of the Tokyo Subway from Oh Fransson. But this first block has such a long story! I thought I would be able to easily sew this without marking the squares, if I cut them all correctly with a quarter inch seam and sewed straight. I took the pieces of the first block with me to Conflux last year and then on to Tehani’s house afterwards, where I stayed for a bit of a rest up. Well, I realised about halfway into this block, at Tehani’s, that I was not in fact sewing straight and that the squares didn’t line up. So it went into the suitcase and then into the back of a cupboard for a while. A long while. Until I was doing some GTD around the house and realising that really the next action was to unpick the sewn block so far and start over. To cut out a proper template, suck it up, mark each square and move on with my life. Which I did. And then voila, block 1 below, I sewed the two halves the wrong way round. Sigh!

Tags: , , , ,

Posted by


For my birthday, I allowed myself to buy a yard of a bunch of fabrics at the Fat Quarter Shop that I’d been leaving open in tabs in my browser.

So uh, yeah. I have a Paris thing going on. I’m adding these to a stack I already have. For a um, as yet non defined project. And quilt shop fabrics – it’s so meta I had to get it.

Ballet fabrics. Also a theme I am currently unable to resist collecting. I’m hoping the pinks work together so I can just make the one ballet themed quilt. Two is probably overkill.

I had to do a big thing and unpack the fabrics for these photos. It took me a couple of days of “can I really do that?” but  think I’m ok about it now! And I might even start thinking about what I’m going to do with these! I suspect a long time ago I made a rule about not starting new projects when the textiles came in because I might have a tendency towards startititis. You’re shocked to read this, I know. But the rule seems to have set in so hard that I now am leaning towards scary hoarder who buys stuff and then just never unwraps it or looks at it but stacks it in the ballooning back room.

I have a cute idea for the fashion fabrics I’ve been collecting which may or may not extend into using some of these. I’m going to let the idea percolate.

Meanwhile, my March KnitCrate finally arrived, and a little worse for travelling as it looked like customs had to pack it into a plastic bag, it having come apart at a seam. I was sad because a couple of my friends had already got theirs and I couldn’t yet agree that I loved the pink yarn but not the shawl pattern (now I can agree on both). The indie yarn this month is from Hazel Knits – a new dyer to me. And I can’t believe we got two skeins – that would make two pairs of socks if I went that way. Instead, I’ve cast on a little sweater/shrug for the baby. I’m going to think about what I will do with the second skein later. And MINI SKEINS (10) in Hazel Knits various colourways too.

The baby yarn is LanaMundi Yarns and is spun with a thread of silver which is exceedingly cool! I don’t fancy the little baby slippers, especially after seeing how quickly baby socks got schlepped off this morning. The kit came with ideas though – apparently silver threaded yarn makes mittens that can still navigate an iPad! Goodies in the kid included some boiled lollies and these two lovely knitting needle rulers. Can never have too many of those!

My finished piece this week has been the first (of 12) of the alternate blocks for the Solstice Quilt. They are log cabins with a fussy cut centre. 6 will look like this and the other 6 have a different centre. I’m sewing these sort of in batches but the lead block is finally done!


Tags: , , , , ,

March 23   Crafterly Update

Posted by


I’ve been posting these blocks of my current quilting project on Facebook as I finish them but here they are all in one place. These are the individual blocks of the month from 2013 Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt – Solstice. C bought me the kit for my birthday last year and I was so hoping to work on just one block a month as they got emailed out to me. It seemed like such a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, I got carpal tunnel with the pregnancy and ended up not being able to sew at all for most of my confinement. This was very devastating – being cooped up at home with time on your hands and being expected to loll about on the couch watching TV and NOT being able to craft!

The other obstacle with this project which I now know I should have tackled differently is that at the very beginning of the project, before the first block, Jinny sent out the in between block pattern which is a basic log cabin with a fussy cut internal square. You have to make 12 of them and the instructions suggested making them up whilst you wait for the first block. I took that to me, finish these before you make the star blocks. And that would have been well and good had I been machine sewing and not hand sewing because 12 log cabin is actually more than 1 month of hand sewing. And it took me a long time to let go of finishing these before starting the project. (I’m still sewing these damn log cabins!). But I’m very proud of myself for wading in and attempting this project. Yes I made mistakes on the fussy cutting but making mistakes and having a quilt is much better than never starting for fear of failing, I ended up buying some extra fabric for the fussy cutting and now I can cut away with error room to spare.

Block 1

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Here’s a close up of the fabric that is being fussy cut for the details in the stars (colour not quite this purple in real life)

And the fussy cutting – cutting out exactly the same diamonds etc across the fabric to produce the extra patterns when sewn together. I’m thoroughly enjoying this process. It requires precision and exactness but the payoff is amazing. I’m hoping to do this by myself in other projects when I’m finished this one.

And!!! Because the socks in 2014 project plods along, here is Sock Pair # 2!!! A gift, so clearly not my size!

These are made from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Rocking Sock Yarn, with a Mille End in mediumweight. I’m not sure I’ve knit in medium weight of theirs before and I was surprised by how much leftover yarn I had even with making these socks in a few sizes bigger than mine. I love this colourway so the baby is getting a pair of socks from the leftovers!

Tags: , , ,

March 4   Birthday Weekend

Posted by


I have the sad, sorry withdrawal come down that follows a birthday weekend. Luckily for me, I’m going out for a work session this afternoon which means I get to to try out another cafe (I’m behind on those posts too). Course, the come down means I had a great time!

I wasn’t really sure what was happening with my birthday this year. I didn’t organise anything. It’s kinda sad how the older you get, the less shiny and exciting your birthday becomes. I knew that there was a family dinner organised for the Friday night but C kept telling me that my present would be given to me then, not on the day, and in the calendar, he had a mysterious note “Tell Wife a Secret”. No matter what I tried, he refused to give away any hints! I had a meeting with Julia over Skype late Wednesday night and as soon as I hopped off, it was Thursday, and my birthday and he revealed the secret: he’d taken a day of annual leave to give me a day off. He’d remembered that I had a philosophy of not working on my birthday – something I picked up from the crew back in my Wetlands days. We’d all take annual leave on the day and frankly, if you can do that, it’s a really nice thing to say to yourself – I give me the day off! So C gave me the day after off and stayed home to look after the baby on Friday and sent me off “wherever”.

Thursday, my actual birthday, I had breakfast with my sister and mum and then hung out at my parents for the afternoon. I madly rang around local day spa places near my home to see if somewhere could fit me in. I had no idea what to do on my sudden day off and I didn’t want to waste it.

The Urban Day Spa in Rockingham could fit me in at 10am and I got to sleep in (after doing the 6am baby feed!) and then roll out of bed and head out for a full body massage. Hidden upstairs in the cafe strip on the foreshore, it’s a very lovely day spa. The massage was excellent – I was so sore from baby lifting etc – and the mood was dim lights and music and so relaxing. And then afterwards, they served refreshments on a balcony overlooking the ocean. I was still so very sore but definitely more relaxed.

photo(92) photo(93)
Afterwards, I headed to the Kent St Deli, a street back, and my favourite local place, to have a couple of uninterrupted hot coffees. It was very busy and not the most pleasant place to hang and the service wasn’t really as good as it’s been before, nor the coffee. But nonetheless, I hung out for about 2 hours, drank coffee and juice and ate lunch and worked on my PhD quietly. And even though technically that’s working, it’s been such a long time since I could sit for two hours and just work without stopping, following through processes, jotting down notes and actually developing a methodology for my stats collecting. And not being able to do such things had been stressing me out. I had a really great time working on my PhD.

I was still sore and still had time to spare so I headed home to have a long luxurious bath (this particular bath bomb made the bath look like the pee of someone who needed to badly rehydrate!). I listened to Norah Jones and read a book. Divine!

And then! I still had some time before we had to leave for dinner, so I finally sat down and tackled the stumbling block on my quilt project. I’d stalled back when I was pregnant due to pregnancy brain meaning I could no longer fussy cut without stuffing up and my carpal tunnel eventually stopped me crafting altogether. It’s taken me this long but I finally got back to it. I had to recut one template and then fussy cut those 8 diamonds and then a bit of sewing over the weekend and voila! Done!


Then it was time to head up to family dinner. Everyone came along and they had all pooled my birthday money to get me one giant day spa package omigosh! You know the kind that has EVERYTHING and you have to be there for like half a day! Oh yeah! Now to decide when that day is going to be! I cannot wait! And we had dinner. And Cake:


Because it was a public holiday on Monday, we got a long weekend as well! We checked my post box on the way to dinner and I discovered my swift had finally arrived! So Saturday, I managed to work it, and wind up yarn!


This should keep me going for a while:


That’s a couple of balls of sock yarn for the year of sock knitting, one scarf and the TPP pink shall be a shawl.


Tags: , , ,

August 11   Design Wall of Awesome

Posted by


Design Wall Aug 11 2013I am really liking my design wall. My charm quilt is almost finished – all the hexagons have been pieced together and now I am sewing the final panels together. I almost think I might miss all those teeny tiny triangles, now that I’m done.

All the while I’ve been working on this quilt, I’ve been looking forward to pulling it down and using the design wall to get a good look at my WiPs. And today was finally the day. I’ve only just begun pulling out everything from my craft cupboard and all the other nooks and crannies I’ve been stashing projects in progress. It would appear that either my design wall is not big enough, or I might have too many projects. My husband and I disagree about which it is :)

As I was pinning up projects, I began to see the real benefit of a permanent design wall. I liked it for the charm quilt to be able to piece it and then rearrange and try out different layouts til I was happy with the overall look. The same will be for each of the quilts shown here but I also like it for being able to find all the bits and pieces of partially cut out and sewn blocks and keeping them in a place where they don’t get lost. It reinforced my long held desire to have my own studio. I really really want a proper workspace where you can keep things up and together and not spread all over the house.

I think one of the reasons why I am so bad at finishing projects is because I lose where I’m up to and it feels too difficult to sit back down and re-figure it out. That was partly why I was excited about bringing my craft into my GTD system. In theory, that shouldn’t happen anymore. And I can see that using a design wall for projects in progress will also help that. And I think both will help me keep my momentum and interest alive enough to focus on finishing projects before moving on. It will be interesting to see whether my overall WiP project count changes over time. I’m thinking of tracking that :)

Currently up on the design wall are 7 quilts. Though the cameo with log cabins (lower right hand corner) was actually going to be 1 of 3 and probably now just needs to be quilted and bound. I also found 1 additonal finished quilt top and another that I’m going to completely pull apart and redo cause I hate it. And I still haven’t finished auditing my craft room yet. (Let’s not even discuss the knitting WiPs!)

I think another reason why I am so bad at finishing projects is because I fear not having anything left to do. I fear final completion. When dissected, it’s really quite ridiculous. Firstly, actually using all your stash and doing all your queued projects gives you permission to buy or start new ones. And WiPs are a debt on future time. Claustrophobic if I think about it too hard. Secondly, my actual list of dream / intended projects is going to be, when I sit down and make it, based on my current stashing alone, already probably another decade’s worth of work. Thirdly, the problem with finishing quilt tops is the having to buy wadding and backing which is expensive and then having to quilt them. I do hate the additional expense that finish garners. And also, I have come to admit, that I don’t actually like quilting. Not by hand anyway. And right now, I don’t have a sewing machine so I don’t have the option to do it that way. I’ve decided to pay someone else to quilt my quilts. And that’s also going to be something I have to balance against the fact that we have a baby coming and I have become a full time student. But … otherwise, what exactly is it that I am doing here? I might have to save up to get them quilted slowly over time. But at least now I have a plan and a way forward, so that feels good.

Next up, after auditing just what exactly all my craft projects are is to make a next actions list. Stay tuned for more finish-it-up-itis around these parts.

Tags: , ,

Posted by


Charm Quilt ProgressI’m unlearning everything I thought I knew.

I guess somewhere along the line I joined the cult of David Allen’s GTD. And it involves rolling out management systems to increase your productivity across all of your life. The goal is to have a mind like water and in order to do that, you need to feel like you’re on top of all aspects of your life – all the projects you’re working on, the ones you want to be working on at some point in the future and be able to take a step back and see it all at a glance whilst also being able to view your life’s goals and dreams all in the one go.

It’s taken me a while to get all those systems into place but I can see how once they are, and reassessed regularly, how your mind gets calmer and you feel less stressed. Even though, you don’t have any less work to do or are any less busy. You just get to stop thinking thoughts over again, having to remember things or having to figure out what you have to do when or what your priorities are.

One of the techniques I’ve used in the past to remind myself of things I have to do or to get myself to do things is to leave them out in front of my face – piles of paperwork on my desk when I really prefer  clear desks, things out on countertops and tables, craft projects in progress out on chairs and by my bed and all over the place. My thinking was if I put them away, I’ll forget that I was working on them. Or because I prefer clear, clutter free space, I’ll work on or do whatever is in the way so as to get the reward of clear spaces. Thing is? Your mind desensitises itself to the clutter so you get numb to it. But only numb enough so that you don’t notice it at a glance but not so numb that it doesn’t create background white noise stress.

It never occurred to me that there could be another way of keeping track of what I wanted to get done. Or that living in organised, clear spaces would energise and motivate me. I thought that was the goal rather than the means to the end.

Allen says that everything should have a place and that everything should be in its place. And the process of working towards that requires an assessment of just what exactly each and every “everything” is and a decision about what should happen to it – does it need something done? What’s the next action required for it to be done? Do you need it? Is it to be filed? Trashed? Does it need to be found a place. And then you put the next action on your list of actions and you put it somewhere, maybe away, cause you already have a stake in the ground so you no longer need the item itself to trigger a reminder for you. You have a system now.

I always thought that order and organisation and systems ruined/prevented creativity. I’m not really sure why I thought that. Considering I actually really love to feel organised and I thrive better on routine, or rather am a person of habit (just usually bad habits). I suppose I thought that my natural tendency is to want to *create* order through *doing* and that if there was already order, I wouldn’t be motivated to *do*. It never occurred to me that order and feeling organised and on top of things would actually energise and motivate.

It turns out, it feels fantastic to be able to put things out of way and know they aren’t out of sight and won’t be forgotten. A huge relief. A massive weight gone. And I can’t describe how it feels to start to see my house begin to look how I always imagined a grown up person’s house to look.

And the bit about creativity? I don’t think my brain has been so clear and able to work, effectively and productively, in a very very long time. I find myself writing paragraphs for my PhD randomly and with ease. And I’ve been working solidly on the quilt in the picture here.

In May, I took apart the whole quilt top that I’d assembled on this project so far as well as well as all the rest of the hexagons I’d pieced (which was enough for the rest of the quilt top, except I hadn’t decided that yet). It took me nearly a week to unpick all the hand sewing which I’d done over the course of maybe two years. And then I picked a new pattern. The original pattern, you see, didn’t work out – I had wanted to work with more colour play – light, dark and mediums to create a sense of shadows and movement. Except, I’d pieced the hexagons with related materials rather than in true charm square style – randomly – and it just didn’t work. I decided to abandon the original plan and just go with something else.

I pieced all the new hexagons first because I knew that what I needed to do was lay them all out and work out how I wanted to piece them together for the quilt top, rather than do it ad hoc as I went along. As I normally would have done, eager to see “progress” as I worked. But I stuck with it and I really did piece all the hexagons first. And then I got my husband to help me rig up a design wall. My very first design wall. And I’m addicted to it now! The freedom it’s given me to be creative has been amazing. I threw all the hexagons up, in a rainbowish layout. And then I spent a few days rearranging them all til I got the quilt to look balanced. I’ve never done that before. I’ve never worked on the overview as well as the fine scale at the same time, knowing where I was going as I was going. I thought working like that, on craft, would reduce the feeling of creativity – the knowing how it was going to look by the end at the very beginning. I thought it would take all the fun out of it. But actually, it’s given me focus and direction because at each step, I’ve known what the next action was. There’s no need for procrastination because I don’t need to think or improvise what happens next. I don’t need to put it away for a year to think about how I’m going to make it work.

And before the end of August, I’m going to have finished this quilt top. I’ve never worked on a project this way before. I’ve never finished a project this quickly before. And I ended up with colour play in the end after all. Adding the white triangles to create a star around each hexagon has added a sense of movement. The rainbow (a layout I have formally always detested as I felt it was pedestrian) actually gives the unmatched pieces a sense of uniformity and pattern. And the dark and light layout for each hexagon actually gives some shadow affects too.

The process has been really enlightening. Both for how I will approach crafting going forwards but also for much bigger life projects.

And normally, I panic when I am so focussed on one craft because I feel like it means I’m never going to be obsessed with the other one again. My old knitting versus quilting war. And I have a lot of knitting WIP projects there to be done. And also a lot of quilting ones. But now I have a “Craft Projects I Want to Make” list. Which I am still building. And now I have a management system that I am looking forward to trying out, once I’ve finished the Charm Quilt, to see if it will ease my distress over choosing my craft obsession :) We shall see! I suspect there will be some serious finishitupitis going on around these parts in the next few months.

Tags: , , ,

Posted by


I finally admitted a small truth to myself the other day.

I’m going through a stage of quiet raw honesty. I think it was kickstarted through various elements and chores for the wedding but it also comes from trying to bring myself into an operating GTD‘er. In GTD, you first need to sit down and figure out what you really want or need, what the outcomes of that look like and then design steps of actions to get yourself there. And I think a lot my often wandering around in a muddle is because I am not clear and honest about what outcomes I want.

But also…this process involves being honest about what and who I like and don’t like. Seems like an odd thing to say. Don’t we all know what we like and don’t like? Turns out that I don’t. I think it comes from being a people pleaser and not wanting to rock the boat. It’s just easier to think you like someone or something than to cause trouble by being the dissenter.

So a random example, the other day, I realised I don’t like praline. Which is weird because how do you wake up in your mid (cough) thirties and suddenly realise all your life you have not liked pralines? As a kid, at home, my dad would buy expensive chocolates and then dole them out as a special treat. Maybe you’d get offered to choose one from the box after dinner. And a lot of the time, those special, eat them one at a time, chocolates were pralines. And so … if something is prized, you kind of approach it with awe. There was ceremony – first I’d get offered to select from the box, then my sister. And you’d like pick the seahorse or the prawn cause it was bigger and you got more chocolate etc. But the other day, I was eating a praline from a stash of chocolates I bought for the day job team from Paris. And I thought “I HATE pralines. I really really dislike them. WTF?”

And the less I quash the “I don’t like …” feeling, the less quietly it whispers. I’m hearing it louder and louder everyday and am quite surprised by what I am discovering.

On the flipside, I’ve discovered I like a bunch of things I thought I didn’t … so that’s cool too.

And so we come to this:


This is a charm quilt I started a couple of years ago. It’s meant to be a sampler of all the fabrics that I come past and a bit of a memory quilt to keep a sample of some of my really faovourite pieces (so that I can go ahead and use them in something rather than collect them for the sake of just liking them). It was based on this gorgeous quilt I slept under when I stayed with Tansy for Christmas/NY 09. Hers has this lovely depth and movement to it in the way she has pieced dark, light and medium colours. I wanted mine to not be an exact copy of hers so I played with it a bit. And I got this.

But this project has been stalled for over a year.

As part of GTD, I am looking at my project inventory and deciding on the next action to progress each project forward. Or trying to figure out why the progress is stalled – what is the desired outcome, what action is next, what barrier needs to be removed to be able to do the next action etc. And looking at this project, I realised. I hate it. I really don’t like the way it is progressing and there is no enjoyment in working on it. And further, I realised that finishing it won’t help cause then I’ll just not like the finished quilt.

There’s really nothing for it but to admit that the next action is to completely unpick the whole thing and start again. I think I know what I did wrong – I tried to keep sets of fabrics together when really, it should have been much more random.

And that feels so much better to admit.

Tags: ,