Monday, December 15, 2014

Mother Nature Is One Fickle Dame

Saturday morning was fair but cool and Mr Shoestring and I sashayed forth to the monthly Matamata market where I was very satisfied with my purchases.  (One might also say smug and smirky.)  The deepest blood red/purple trailing geranium, not to mention various unusual perennials (I always love it when the vendor tells me I have made good selections, though to be honest why would they not say that?), and my very first Carlton wear piece.  I have always loved Carlton wear but as per usual a lot of other people seem to share my passion and it is ridiculously expensive.  This foxglove plate may be showing signs of wear but it was inexpensive, and as it had been languishing on the stallholder's table last time the market was held it was obviously in sore need of a good home, so it came away with me.

For months I have been idling around the stall where a man cunningly crafts cut outs in old coins into jewellery and torturing myself as to which piece I would choose.  This weekend I threw caution to the wind and snapped up this one, cleverly using two coins

and just as I was turning away with my purchase clamped in my hot paw I spied this very pretty enamelled spoon, transformed into a pendant.  The blue and pink shades in the sky are so intense and realistic, I couldn't resist it.  

Having happily dragged my treasures home to my lair I spent the afternoon tossing compost and coffee grounds about in the garden, murdering slugs and watering my new treasured plants.  I noticed with satisfaction that some lilies had already opened and a lot more were promising to do so any day. 

Imagine my horror when I woke up in the night to hear the wind howling and the rain lashing down on the roof.  In the morning most of the lilies were horizontal rather than vertical, the wind kept up its pace, and the rain continued to beat down upon us.  I could only be glad that I had planted my new plants while I had the chance and hope that they survived, and weren't ripped from the earth. Luckily I had picked the last of the roses and some fragrant pinks, but it wasn't much of a consolation.

 And true to my promise from last week, here is a picture of The Infinity Quilt in her glory, finally completed.  

She really isn't that bad and she did use up all the scraps from a favourite fabric I used to make dresses for my daughters all those years (decades) ago

Here is a the back, and you can see the way the edge is cunningly finished and the way I had to create miniscule triangles (and diamonds too, though they aren't in the photo) to complete it.  You have to be extremely dedicated and patient to accomplish this - I wouldn't recommend it to anybody unless they were making their master work.  

 I couldn't resist putting in a couple of pictures of this embroidery from an op shop which uses only the most simple of straight stitches but gives such a feeling of movement in the fabrics of garments, also in the trees and windmills.  Look at the little patch pocket on the brown trousers!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

To Infinity And Beyond

Hoorah!  I can finally report that what became known as "The Infinity Quilt" because it seemed to on forever and I despaired of ever coming to the end of it, has been completed.  In fact it was completed on the first weekend I returned from my travels abroad - I decided that too much was enough and that come hell or high water, its time had come.  Needless to say there was a lot of stitching and a teeny tiny bit of swearing and cursing involved, but we got there in the end.  I am ashamed to say that it feels something like what I imagine not loving a baby would feel like - after that long gestation, all the blood sweat and tears which went into The Infinity Quilt, when it was finally completed I put it on a bed and secretly thought to myself that I wouldn't care if I never saw it again.  I do go and visit from time to time and I think gradually a glimmer of affection is developing, but it isn't my very favourite thing in all the world, which is usually the case with every new quilt I complete.  So onwards and upwards, I should have listened to a more experienced and expert quilter (Madame La Poste) when she recommended to me that if I really wanted to get on with other things, I should just square off Infinity and have done with it.  Oh no no no, I knew better and was determined to be all tricksy and have intricate finishing techniques (never before tried by me) and be so clever!  Sometimes it is better not to out-clever oneself it turns out.

The best part about having completed Infinity is that it has freed me up to turn my attention to completing other much neglected projects.  The current favourite (don't tell Infinity) is this one, which I work on in the week days in town.  For a long time she was innominate, but she has recently been known as Big Red because my enthusiasm was such that I cut far more hexies than will ever be needed and she is shaping up to be one substantial quilt.  Much better a too big quilt than a skimpy one though, I always think.

Big Red is a buxom creature who grows by the day

And then there is this woefully neglected piece of needlepoint which I estimate must have been lingering around for a good 25 years - fortunately no moths have attacked it and this weekend I hauled it out of exile and stitched away furiously on it.  I can't help but try to estimate how long it might take me to complete, because there are several others waiting in the wings for their turn and my fingers are itching to get onto them - several of them are far more beguiling and interesting to stitch.  It's funny how your tastes change over time, but since I am on this big using up old wools and materials project it's sensible to use everything up on these half done projects. 

Getting back from our holiday I was thrilled to find not all the bargains had been snapped up in our absence.  My collection of priceless landscape paintings is ever-growing and this beauty only set me back $8 at the local annual church fair.  Mind you, I did have to go in a silent auction which was a bit nerve wracking as I was convinced I would be pipped at the post by another art lover.  
 Here is a close view and you can see the Turner-esque clouds, most attractive
Here is the whole scene, the colours are a bit brighter than in "real life" but you can get the general impression.  

At the local markets Mr Shoestring found this adorable little Hose Mending Pack (probably never to be used, but very picturesque) and odd but colourful little floral picture

I was very pleased to get back to the garden and surprisingly things had taken good care of themselves in my absence.  I think the secret is to pack in as many things as you possibly can, so that there is less space for weeds to get a toehold.  That's my philosophy anyway, and it is more fun than trying to plan too carefully because when you see something new which you MUST have, in it goes.  The fuchsias which I bought as tiny babies last year from Le Maison Rouge for $2.50 each have rewarded me by not only surviving, but thriving.  They were unexpected stand out successes, though I need to learn how to prune them as they are tending to have their ideas about shapeliness and height.  

I can only show you a few of them because that wretched Mr Shoestring had a new toy to play with this weekend, a powerful water blaster, which he used on pretty much everything in the confines of our garden as far as I can tell.  The end result is that most things in the garden are befurred with a fine layer of black sludge which gives them a spotty appearance which is less than satisfactory.  But don't tell him I am complaining or he may withdraw his labour and favours.  

Even along the front by the path things have thrived while I was away (it almost makes a poor gardener feel surplus to requirements) and the pinks have put on a wonderful display this year.  Also the rose which used to sulk by the front gate has finally decided it's time to prove itself and covered itself in pale pink blossoms.  (But I can't show you any of those because they too are affected by water blasting detritus.)  

Happy gardening/stitching/whatever warms the cockles of your heart.  Next time I will steel myself to take a photo of the completed Infinity Quilt, just to be fair.  Also the way it is finished around the edges is rather interesting, if a little tedious to do.