Monday, December 30, 2013

Wrapping things up for 2013

This year has been a good one for my family and myself, challenging in many ways but I feel good about how we met those challenges. We've all come through it happier, healthier and with a better perspective.

Looking back on the year I would say I've met some vague resolutions I had about trying to spend more time with people and not so much time on my PC! I definitely spent less time watching TV which in turn led to more time for quilting, crafting and designing resulting in a happier me which in turn resulted in a happier family.

This year, one of the best decisions I made was to join my local Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG), and make an effort to attend meetings and get to know the members.
I've not only learned a heap about quilting and appliqué techniques, but I've started to get to know some AMAZING gals. I am looking forward to spending more time with them all next year :)

So, while we're talking New Year's resolutions I thought I'd tell y'all about this little book I purchased recently. It's called 2014 Create Your Amazing Year Life and Biz Workbook by an Aussie gal named  Leonie Dawson.
Basically it is a management tool for those of us who want to achieve particular goals in our personal and/or business lives. But don't let my description put you off because she has really made it fun and easy to visualise and identify what you really want out of your next trip around the sun.

My 2014 Create your Amazing Year Life & Biz workbook by Leonie Dawson (unfinished baby quilt in background using the gorgeous Fort Firefly fabric collection by Tegan White)

I am a very easily distracted person. Squirrel! Where? Yeah, stupidly easily distracted.
Sometimes this works for me as my mind flows from one idea to the next which means I'm rarely lacking in inspiration, but a lot of the time I find it hard to concentrate on one thing and follow it through to completion. And the worst aspect of this distractibility is that I forget things, sometimes really important things like breathing - almost not joking there! So I need lists, charts and general reminders to keep me on track to where I should be headed and not chasing endless images on Pinterest - yeah you know what I mean by that don't you?

So I haven't tried this wonder diary before but I will be using it during 2014 and to keep myself accountable will be reporting back on how it has been going and if I think it is worth the dosh.
I bought myself a printed edition but you can also get ebook versions of them. It is a very pretty colourful creation and it encourages you to think about what is important to you, what you must invest more of yourself into, what you should celebrate and what you need to let go of. I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot out of this little workbook :)

On the home front, Christmas was GREAT! Lots of good food and great company. Spent some time on my new fabric collection (name still pending) - am so excited about it and can't wait to share it! Spent a few days with a Horrible virus but back to normal now.

We are awaiting some family members visiting from the UK and Ms. B was itching to get her cupcake baking set out (thanks Santa) and make some welcome to Aus cupcakes.
Sticky Gingerbread cupcakes with Chocolate icing - and she really has the technique of the icing bag mastered already!

All the very best for 2014 everyone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

From Russia with Love (& Tractors)

Hey everyone!

I'm very excited to share with y'all a quilt I've been working on for the past few months.
I chose a design from a wonderful book I purchased earlier in the year, Making Quilts by Kathy Doughty.
The book is visually spectacular but also provides easy to follow instructions for a variety of quilt designs. And I really do mean variety! There are some very modern quilt designs like the Wagga and then some modern takes on tradition designs such as slave quilt Antebellum Bling and Doves in the Window. Every quilt has an explanation of what inspired it's creation, whether that was a childhood home, middle eastern ceramics or quilting mentors dear to Kathy.
My absolute favourites from the book have to be Uzbek Patches and Turkish Crush for their exotic "made someone far from here" feel. As soon as I saw Turkish Crush, I knew it would be the perfect quilt design to use for my new fabric collection From Russia with Love (& Tractors).

The collection started developing in my mind after I borrowed a wonderful book from my local library called Russian Textiles - Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia by Susan Meller (textile historian extraordinaire!). After borrowing the book 5 times I shelled out for my own copy!

As the title suggests, the book is an exploration of the history of textiles traded between "Western" Russia and the marketplaces of Russian Turkestan (a geographical area including Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan amongst others). The styles and colours of these fabrics were driven by the Central Asian love of bright tones and floral motifs which were very often used as linings on ikat woven silk robes worn by both men and women.
Two wonderfully inspiring books by two equally inspiring women

Some of the more unusual designs included in the book were propaganda pieces designed to promote Communist ideologies. Unsurprisingly, these particular designs were never very successful with a subjugated population but their corniness is quite appealing to those like myself in the modern western world who have never lived with the horrors of a communist dictatorship.

My designs for From Russia with Love (& Tractors) are a celebration of the seemingly absurd combination of pretty textile and industrial might. I steered away from any overtly communist symbolism as I know it can still cause great distress to some people including some of my family members.

So, I've just finished the quilt top (see above) using my From Russia with Love (& Tractors) fabric collection and some co-ordinating solids and a hand dyed indigo cloth I made myself.

For a backing I used a wonderful new print from the incredible Anna Maria Horner, Postage Due in the Toast colour way from her new collection Dowry. I'm sending it off the the delightful Ms J to be quilted in an allover pattern. And when that baby gets back to me I will be hand finishing the binding (my favourite part - best more enjoyably accomplished with chocolate and a glass of wine!) in front of some terrible Christmas reruns.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fabric Finds - Vanity Sets

This week I want to show you a gorgeous find I had at my local recycling centre.
I've seen these vanity sets in their  post production state; embroidered and cut.
I hadn't thought about how they started, and the possibly that they were sold like the embroidery kits of today. I was pretty darn pleased when I came across these in a little plastic bag.
Oh, and my apologies for the wrinkled state of them, I only iron things when I really need to!

They are all printed onto fine linen that has shapes defined by ladder stitch. These shapes are supposed to be cut out and crochet added to the edges. Once the design has been embroidered they are placed upon your dressing table (remember those things?) and you set your hairbrush, comb and mirror down on them. It's interesting to think back to a time when people had hand mirrors because they might not be able to afford a larger wall mirror and they may not have had a bathroom with running water. We have changed our morning ablutions drastically in the last 100 years or so.

My favourite of the set is this Art Deco design, which leads me to think the vanity sets are from the 1930's. Second favourite is the design below with what appears to be bean or pea flowers on a vine. 
It looks quite Australian to me, it reminds me of the Sturt Desert Pea, a native Australian flower.

I'm not sure if I'll ever complete them, I kind of like them how they are. Hmmm, maybe I could embroider them and turn them into a quilt? or a small window curtain? a quirky skirt perhaps? Or maybe I should do a giveaway?
Any ideas?

Friday, November 29, 2013

New mugs in my shop!

I received my first batch of Mugs from Society6 today, Hooray!!
You can see all of the available designs here.


Polka Dot Tea

A few weekends ago I spent a whole day with my local Modern Quilters Guild (CMQG) members in a local community centre. Just a bunch of us with our machines, irons and teacups!

It was lovely to have the opportunity to come together and learn from each other (I did all the learning and none of the teaching!) and get to know one another a bit better.

I was lucky enough to receive a door prize from one the sponsors of the day Polka Dot Tea, a pack of fat quarters from Yuwa's Live Life and sixty-eight collections!

Here are my little treasures:

door prize from Polka Dot Tea - fine fabrics for the modern quilter

It can be difficult to find a good range of co-ordinating fabrics but at Polka Dot Tea, they do the hard work for you and all you need to do is buy the bundle and get busy sewing!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Free Printables for You! - From Russia with Love (& Tractors) Notepaper

To celebrate the launch of my new design collection "From Russian with Love (& Tractors)", I'm giving you a free printable pdf of my Ditsy Flowers patterned notepaper.
I'm always looking for something pretty to write "thank you" notes or just "Hello" notes, you could even use it for your shopping list if you needed some prettiness to get you through another trip to the grocery store.

Just sign up to the Bee & Lotus newsletter here, and I'll send you a link to your printables.
If you're already receiving the newsletter just follow the link, you won't get duplicate emails.

You can see the whole collection of designs in the "From Russia with Love (& Tractors)"on fabric and wallpaper here, and select designs are available on mugs here.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you like your free printables!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fabric Finds - Mid Century Fabric

I found these two items in the same recycle centre but at different times but they somehow fit together.
They are both fabric designs from the mid-century and both are half made skirts (one is half finished and the other has been half de-constructed!).

The first one I found was being used as a rag in a knitting machine box, just a tiny piece of it was poking out but I knew I'd struck gold! It had a lot of soiling and oil stains all over it but nothing that didn't come out after a good soak in bucket of hot Sard Wonder Soak!

The design is of quaint little postcards/photos from what appears to be Spain or a Spanish colony on a grey background.

The second (the half made skirt) is of a faux Egyptian design in Yellow and grey/blue &navy with with a supposed to be hieroglyphs. There are pockets sewn onto the skirt and it is ready to be pleated and a waistband applied.

My pick of the two is definitely the postcards print! It also needs to be re-pleated and have a waistband applied. It's currently in my UFO pile :) I'll be sure to report back if and when it gets finished.

What thrifty treasures have you found lately?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ruby Red Shoes

I found THE cutest book at the library the other day: Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp. The kids both approved, I read it to them to settle them down after a crazy morning, it worked a treat!
Kate is an Australian Illustrator and Author who lives in Queensland.

Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp - the tale of a white hare who lives with her Babushka in a gypsy wagon.

Just a sample of the delightful illustrations Kate Knapp's Ruby Red Shoes

The lovely Babushka Galina Galushka

one of the many small delightful illustrations in Kate Knapp's Ruby Red Shoes

It is a tale of enjoying life's simple pleasures and caring for each other, a perfect book for boys and girls from 2 to 8 years old. Can't wait to see more books from Kate Knapp! She has another book coming out in November 2013 called Ruby Red Shoes goes to Paris, which is bound to be just as gorgeous as the first book.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fabric Finds - Roses & Polka dots

I've had some really good finds in my visits to op-shops (thrift stores) and recycling centres lately.
Here are some of the fabrics I've found which will be making their way into quilts and clothes.

Vintage linen roses & irregular taupe polkadot gauze

Olive green cotton sateen & aboriginal dot screen print

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Quilt for Myla

I have finished the binding on another baby quilt for my gorgeous little baby niece!

I'm really happy with the quilt which I made using my Kantha & Granada collection fabrics available in my shop.
The backing is a vintage cotton doona (duvet?) cover with a diamond that echoes the front design made from the offcuts left from the front piecing.

The binding is actually one of my Granada WOFSYs that I cut vertically to give a scrappy looking effect. The quilt was machine quilted by the Quilting Platypus. I hope M & F love it as much as I do, and that baby Myla treasures it when she is older and I am old.

My little quilt tester inspecting the latest quilt

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Welsh Coast is here!

Hooray!! I have something fun to share with you all this post.
My latest completed fabric collection Welsh Coast is all finished up and available in my Spoonflower shop here

The collection is based on an imagined trip to the coast of Wales Circa 1962.
I've used a retro colour palette and in keeping with the theme you will find motifs of the coastal flora you would find on those breezy walks along the cliffs and hills, a basket weave pattern that could have been used in a fantastic plastic woven picnic set from the time, a Welsh tapestry blanket design with paper cut sea-life motifs and lots more! The mood I've tried to set with this collection is one of a slower, simpler type of holiday where all you needed for a great day out at the beach was a pair of togs, a thermos of tea and a few egg sandwiches. Ahhh, the good ol' days!

You can see all of the collection in my Spoonflower shop under Welsh Coast and Welsh Coast Co-ordinates

Welsh Coast & Welsh Coast Co-ordinates collection by Bee & Lotus

Below you will find snaps of my Welsh Coast WOFSY (Width of Fabric Strip Yard) available in three colourways, Coral, Kelp & Urchin. Each yard of printed WOFSY will give you 7 strips of fabric (5 inch wide) in different designs. I make my designs available in WOFSYs for quilters and crafters who like a mixture of co-ordinating fabrics for projects.

Welsh Coast WOFSYs by Bee & Lotus available in my shop!

Welsh Coast WOFSY in Coral colourway

Welsh Coast WOFSY in Kelp colourway

Welsh Coast WOFSY in Urchin colourway

Detail of Welsh Coast WOFSY in Kelp colourway

Hope you like them!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Springtime in Canberra

We are visiting Floriade today, Canberra's annual flower festival.
Such a beautiful day for it and I'm sure it will give me some ideas for new fabric designs.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Inspired - Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl in his chair in the writing shed at the bottom of the garden

This week marks the birthday of one of the greatest storytellers of our time, Mr Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990).
Pronounced Roo-ahl, he was named after a famous Norwegian polar explorer.

Roald Dahl was not only an incredibly imaginative author, he was also an inventor.
When his infant son was injured in a freak accident he utilised his creative mind to help create a new medical valve that would reduce the pressure in his sons brain, thus saving him.

The world that he created in his children's book is one that I keep very close to my heart.
My favourite book as a child was George's Marvelous Medicine, and now that I am revisiting his books with my own children my favourite it Danny, the Champion of the World.

The gypsy wagon that Roald Dahl wrote Danny, the champion of the World in.

I find it interesting that many of the protagonists in his tales are orphaned at a young age and quite often end up in situations where they must think and act for themselves without intervention of a grown up. Perhaps this kind of freedom with responsibility is what appeals to children?

One of the best purchases I have for the children has been a CD set of Roald Dahl books read by various British actors (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie etc.). It has made some long, otherwise boring  journeys very enjoyable.

Happy Birthday Mr Dahl and thanks for all the stories!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Cubby House

Since the weather has started warming up, the family and I have been spending much more time out in the garden. We finally have the posts in for the long-awaited cubby house in the corner of the garden.
I've been dreaming and scheming up ways to incorporate recycled building materials into the cubby.
Currently I'm planning a wooden shingle roof made from fence offcuts, a rail made from silver birch branches from my parents garden and ship lap style cladding, again from old fence palings.

Some other additions planned are:
- a trap door in the floor
- a bird feeder
- a window box for strawberries and flowers
- a periscope or telescope
- an old fashioned weather vane with cockerel
- a flying fox that sails from the top of the garden to the cubby door step

It sounds like the kids have gone a bit wild, but in all honesty these are my crazy ideas!
I think I'm looking forward to it more than they are :)

Here are some of my favourite playhouses and tree houses found on the interwebs:

Hope they have inspired you to think about creating a fairytale inspired place for your kids or yourself!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Spring has sprung!

Man, this weekend we had the best weather we've had for months.
We were fortunate enough to have the most glorious sunny-with-no-wind two days for ages.
In between going to a house warming party, fathers day breakfast and kids party we had plenty of hanging around the house and garden, reading, playing and of course doing some crafty stuff.
To top it all off, before bedtime the kids snuggled up with me on the couch and we looked through our library loan copy of Material Obsession 2 by Sarah Fielke & Kathy Doughty. All of us oohhhing and aahhhing at the designs and colour combinations and the kids asking every second page if I would make one of those for them, to which my answer was always "of course". :)

Feeling very lucky to have this little family of mine.

Snugglepot & Cuddlepie in their own gumtree