Monday, May 22, 2017

Ship Ahoy

This past week I have been buried under swathes and swathes of fabric whipping up a cubby house fit for a pirate. One of my friend's little boy, Eli, celebrated his first birthday. I exciting!! Of course turning one demands a fun gift, a gift that will bring oodles of make believe into a little boy's day.

And.....what better way to encourage a little make believe into a little boy's day than to fashion a cubby house with a pirate theme. I decided to stitch a cubby house that fits over my friend's kitchen table. Every little boy wants to sail away on the seven seas.....right?? Every little boy wants to go a-sailing with the thought of adventure upmost in his mind, to explore distant lands, to perhaps happen upon "that" island and the treasure that is marked with an "X" on his map. Every little pirate wants to find fame and fortune.

When I worked in childcare, one thing I always noticed was that kids love to make cubbies out of all manner of things....sheets, blankets, chairs, tables, boxes.....whatever they could lay their hands on. Children love to hide away in a small, snug place, a hidey-hole where they are safe and cocooned away from the world; a place where their vivid imaginations can run wild.

But back to the pirate cubby house. A while ago I borrowed a craft book titled, "Belle and Boo Book of Craft" written by Mandy Sutcliffe, where from cover to cover there are wonderful crafty ideas to make for children. I was rather taken with the pirate theme cubby house. Isn't it sweet??

The rudimentary need of a pirate if he is to sail the seven seas in search of adventure in far away lands, is a ship. But....before I chat about the 'building' of the ship, let me first introduce you to the birthday boy, One-Eye Eli. He is the sweetest little boy, always smiling and has the most placid of personalities. Though, the waving of that cutlass from ear to ear, by our swashbuckling buccaneer seems to belie that sweet and innocent expression.

I wanted "One-Eye Eli" and his big sister, Ari, to feature on the ship. I took photos of the both of them and then printed these onto fabric, whilst seeing to it that they were dressed in appropriate pirate attire. One-Eye Eli is the master of this ship. With his cutlass and his beguiling smile he will protect his sister and his ship. =)

The main part of the cubby was stitched in a blue canvas-type fabric representing the sky. For the bottom of the cubby I found a cool, ocean theme fabric for the water where a magical, underwater world glides and swims below. I fashioned the ship from strips of old jeans with the masts of the ship in a black cotton fabric. Every pirate ship has portholes. These I fashioned out of a clear plastic. It is of upmost importance that  every pirate keeps an eye on what is happening outside whilst sailing the high seas. A pirate must always be on the lookout for marauding and pillaging pirate ships sailing on his horizon.

Parrots, swords, bunting, peek-a-boo portholes, a jolly roger, anchors, fish........., Eli's cubby is a place where the imagination can escape to far away lands. It is a fun place to play, or in those quiet times a place to perhaps have a nap, or perhaps take time out to have a book read to him. 

Anchors aweigh! The 'door' that entices each child into the magical, cubby world of all things piratey reveals the anchor diving deep, deep down into the sea.

For the table top of the cubby, I found a fabulous print of the world with fact after fact about different countries. Not only can "the pirates" pretend all things piratey, they can have fun with some 'learnin'!'s party time. Sooo......much fun to be had!!

With the party over, with the auspicious celebration at an end and the guests having kissed sweet One-Eye Eli goodbye, hopefully there will be many, many imaginative trips to faraway lands where swashbuckling escapades are to be had. Hopefully there will be many, many moments of magical, pirate cubby house, play to be enjoyed by li'l One-Eye Eli and his fellow bucanneers. "Yo Ho! Yo Ho! 'Tis a pirate's life for me!"

As I sat and stitched Eli's cubby this week, my mind ran away with me. How fun it would be to fashion a cubby with a castle featuring knights and dragons and sweet maidens; or perhaps a sweet, little cottage complete with pretty curtains peeking from behind the windows and of course sweet, pretty flowers hugging the cubby all the way round. Aah yes.......the stuff of a fanciful imagination!

Until the next time..............

Sharing this week with lovely Jann's, Share Your Cup.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happiness is a flower.......or two!

This last little while I have been having a rather relaxed time. I have been playing ladies enjoying tea parties and have been playing with pretty ribbons; with other such genteel pursuits thrown into the mix of everyday.

The husband of a dear friend of mine has been feeling poorly of late and has gone through some anxious moments. As she lives in Sydney and I live way down here at the bottom of the world, I thought I would send her a basket of flowers. Not the kind that putrify into a pongy bunch of organic matter, but the kind that never fade away, the kind that will put a smile in my friend's heart forevermore. Yes indeedy, I thought another flower cushion, Kim style,  would be the perfect gift to sprinkle a little sunshine and love in my friend's very worrying days.

Yet again, I gathered an assortment of pretty ribbons and fashioned pansies, roses, fuchsias, chrysanthemums and leaves. I thought this pretty fabric with butterflies fluttering allover would be perfect for the cushion. After all butterflies and flowers are the best of friends. My friend loves the hue blue, so pretty, blue flowers feature in the basket.

Sitting in my sewing room, with the morning sunshine radiating warmth and contentment I happily coaxed pretty ribbons into flowers stitching as I went, cinching each flower here and there. For the basket I weaved raffia-type ribbon in and out. This ribbon really adds the texture and feel of a bone fide basket.

After auditioning the arrangement, popping a  pansy here and a rose or two there, some leaves sprinkled throughout tucked away peeping from behind pretty blossoms, I began to stitch. I know you have seen my cushions of baskets filled with dancing flowers before, but every arrangement is a little different, is it not??

With the fashioning of my basket of overspilling flowers complete with a few little changes here and there, I stitched the cushion. I changed the ribbon for the bow as I think the darker pink looked a li'l spiffier. Actually, the finished arrangement is a little different to that above, but that is what happens when you play with pretty, ribbon flowers; one always changes a flower or two.

On the back of the cushion, a lovely sentiment stitched on a doily to my lovely friend.

I have gifted many of these cushions to friends. Though a bouquet of fresh flowers is one of the most delightful things to receive, I always think a forever bouquet of flowers sitting ever so prettily in a ribbon basket is the perfect gift.

Hopefully this little basket of ever-flowering blossoms will put a smile in my friend's heart.

Just because 'we' are waxing lyrical about a flower or two, let's talk about Hydrangeas and their glorious autumnal, petal dresses. The bushes that grow under the canopy of trees have mellowed into the prettiest of autumnal shades. Being protected from the frost under the cover of trees, they have been allowed to change slowly without being burnt to a crisp by Jack Frost. Indeed they seem to have escaped his icy clutches.

With the garden being now bare of any pretty colour, I picked a few last remnants of Hydrangeas. They too will soon disappear, and won't return till November. I cannot believe I have been continually picking bunches for seven months. Hydrangeas truly are the most wonderful flowers.

I love the pretty autumnal-hued Hydrangeas against the soft shades of a vintage Italian coverlet.

Then again, I love the soft autumnal Hydrangeas as the star attraction against sumptuous folds of Fuchsia pink velvet. No matter the backdrop, Hydrangeas or indeed any blossom, shine.

Indeed a pretty flower fashioned by the twirling and ruching of ribbons, or a freshly picked flower from the garden always touches my heart with a smile. Either the fresh new beauty of Spring or indeed those that bloom beautifully even though their flowering season is drawing to a close, fading with their autumnal beauty; no matter which, a flower or two always puts a smile in my day.

As it is Mother's Day this Sunday, I would love to wish all you lovely mums the most blessed of days. For me, as it is with some of you, Mother's Day is bittersweet. For those of us whose darling mums are no longer here to celebrate the day with us, it is a day of sweet remembrances. Oh, how I would love to give my lovely mum one more hug, to be embraced with her sweet smile that always warmed my heart one more cry with, to laugh with, to chat with, to enjoy that cup of tea with. So, so many happy and beautiful memories to be cherished in my heart. So, so many love-filled times that will always be held close to my heart.

This Mother's Day may all you lovelies enjoy a little sunshine, much love and many happy memories spent with your loved ones.....oh, and enjoy a li'l flower or two.

Until the next time.......

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Hallelujah Chorus

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! HAL-LE-LU-JAH!!!

Image result for pictures of angels playing instruments

Can you hear them?? Can you hear the ensemble of angelic beings singing and playing the Hallelujah Chorus?? Violins, harps, trumpets.......the whole mellifluous orchestra strumming those strings, trumpeting those brass instruments, whistling those woodwinds, clanging those percussion instruments..........the whole kit and kaboodle......all joining in a triumphant symphony to herald the completion of my Cathedral Window quilt!! You see these angelic beings have been waiting in the wings for a very, very long seems almost an eternity!! Oh, and those tintinnabula are ringing in unison. Yes indeedy, those church bells are 'ding-donging'  joyously celebrating the completion of my Cathedral Window quilt! Oh my goodness, there is a terrible din down here at the bottom of the world.

If my memory serves me correctly, it was in  March 2014 when I first began to stitch this quilt. I wrote about this pretty here. Oh my giddy aunt, three years ago!! How time flies when you are having fun.....NOT!! Let's just say that my Cathedral Window hasn't been my most favourite quilt that I have ever stitched. Though I like the overall look of the quilt, it is filled with too many imperfections for my persnickety sensibilities. When looked upon as a whole I am happy-ish with my Cathedral Window...BUT....when my beady li'l eyes look at a lot of the corners I am not so happy. It is finished and for that I am ecstatic; indeed I am elated to have stitched the last stitch!! I suppose this quilt will be filed under the heading of  'Satisfactionism' and not 'Perfectionism'!!

Now how to photograph this quilt?? With the absence of cathedrals of the ilk of Notre Dame in Tassie, me and my good husband set off one morning for a little basilica-ish building search. There is a church which I have always loved in Launceston. When we first arrived in Tassie it was for sale. Wish oh wish my purse was deep enough to purchase this amazing property....but my little purse did not, nor never has contained enough pennies for my name and signature to be on the Deed of Property. I know, terribly, terribly sad as I can sooooooo see me in this building! It isn't used as a church anymore but a design company, Walker Designs, now owns this building from which it operates its business. I love the cracking and peeling paint, the rusty iron balustrades and gates, the array of gorgeous windows, the densely matted tufts of lichen and moss which are seen here and there on the facade; I love the shabby and ruinous feel of this glorious building. Love, love, love this building; 'tis the perfect backdrop for my little Cathedral Window quilt.

I fear the 'windows' in my Cathedral Window quilt are a little pale as the photographs were taken in the middle of the day when the sun was aglow with brilliance. We did set off on our photo shoot early in the morning when the clouds blanketed the sky, but the billowing mass of white, vaporous matter decided to disappear to let Old Man Sun shine upon us. Of course Old Man Sun's beaming smile is always a welcomed event in Tassie......just not on photo shoot days. =D

I did suggest to my good husband if he could perhaps scale the walls Quasimodo-like, with my Cathedral Window quilt draped around his shoulders, to one of those lead light windows on high. Just imagine how very cool my Cathedral Window quilt would look dangling from one of those lead light windows. Alas, he said no!! Unbelievable!! Is his refusal grounds for divorce???? I mean really, I contorted my venerable body into the most interesting of positions, even to the point of almost lying prostrate on the pavement for that one, perfect shot. And....I might add providing much comic relief to many a passerby. Was it unreasonable to ask him to clamber up this towering building and swing from parapet to parapet???? I can only suppose his and my sense of the dramatic and theatre of a photo shoot are not on the same page! Oh, how I would love to climb the interior staircases of this building and explore all those quirky little nooks. Just imagine the architectural treasures that would abound!!

Just across from the church is a beautiful park filled with the most amazing, ancient trees with bent and gnarly, verdant branches enveloping everyone and everything; and, there just happens to be the most delightful of fountains as serendipitous. Once again, the perfect backdrop for my little Cathedral Window quilt.

Another church, another backdrop; admittedly it somewhat lacks the gorgeousness of my favourite church building; nevertheless it is a fine structure.....and it just happens to be white. As you know I LURVE white. Oh, and there just happened to be a divine little cafe nearby, so all was not lost. At least that is what my good husband thought as he is always ready for cake and coffee.

When we set off early in the morning, I really, really wanted a glorious stained glass window for my photo shoot. As none of these churches were open, my good husband and I decided to call into our little family church on the way home and take a happy snap or two of the Cathedral Window, hanging pride of place in front of a little stained glass window. Small I know, but beautiful nonetheless. I have often asked the powers that be if perhaps I could take this window home with me, but they weren't terribly enthused with my suggestion. I don't know why not; surely they could insert another window.

I started stitching this quilt with the intention of making it big enough to drape over a queen size bed with the sides nearly touching the you can see I have made it as a bed topper with just a hint of it down the sides. This quilt is very heavy and I found it punishing to add each finished strip of the windows to the quilt as I went along. For the sake of my shoulders, back and sanity, I decided a bed topper would be wonderful, thank you very much.

This is not the first time I have have uttered these words......."with my hand on my heart, I am never, never going to stitch a Cathedral Window quilt, ever, ever again"! This quilt is filled with too many imperfections and was fraught with botheration the whole way through.  I will just have to consider the stitching of this quilt as a giant learning curve. I think upon reflection, I would fashion this quilt with no batting and a little trick I read somewhere (after I had finished the stitching) to sew down the offending corners so they do not move. Perhaps then, and only perhaps after a good many visits to a therapist and sinking into a red leather couch, revealing my dark and hidden secrets about all those stitching inadequacies of mine, would I ever begin to consider stitching another. BUT.....just between you and me it would be safe to say I have attempted one Cathedral Window quilt and that is one too many!! =D

I am so very, very happy to tick this pretty off that list which I don't keep. My next quilt is going to be a FUN one. Again, one filled with oodles of scrappy delight. One that doesn't exert the pea brain, strain the shoulders and one that is a joy to stitch. I am delirious with great joy that in the coming weeks I can now stitch some fun pretties.

So there you have it, my Cathedral Window quilt is finished. HALLELUJAH!! Let me leave you with a basket of beautiful Dahlias. The Dahlias will soon be but a beautiful memory. Jack Frost has reared his ugly and frigid head yet again and has taken out his displeasure on the Dahlias, sprinkling icy shards everywhere! Yes indeedy, Autumn is in full swing and the grim and bleak arrival of Old Man Winter is not too far away.

Until the next time.......wishing you the loveliest of days.