Sunday, November 28, 2021

Blue and Green Should Always Be Seen

Hello lovely lovelies♡ Welcome to my little place♡ 'Tis Sunday again, which meant a lazy kinda day. A very early, morning stroll through the garden was enjoyed, picking a flower here and there until my basket burgeoned with blooms. My pickings today were mock orange blossoms (oh....the fragrance ♡), ixias, hebes, love-in-the-mist, rhododendrons and roses; all plonked artfully arranged into vases. Truly, the fragrances wafting from room to room in my humble abode is divine♡

I spent a good part of my day in my sewing room. As I sat looking outside the windows, the thought occurred to me that the end of spring is nigh and summer will soon be floating in; in a rather relaxed fashion. I always think spring is an explosion of vivid and audacious colours; intoxicating all the senses. Spring always makes me giddy with the continual parade of heady colour and fragrances. I am always a little sad when spring begins to think about making its journey to the northern hemisphere, but the thought of summer waltzing in gently always perks me up. Just the thought that there will soon be a sea of blue hydrangeas everywhere causes me to smile. Throughout the garden the hydrangea leaves are flourishing and little flowers are beginning to peek from behind the leaves. Why, just outside  my sewing window, the hydrangea bushes have grown like topsy. They will be a spectacular sight when all those gorgeous blue mop heads appear. I cannot wait. It will make happy stitching days in my sewing room even happier♡

And....speaking of hydrangeas, let's talk about my little Hydrangea Cobblestones quilt, shall we?? A border was needed, but I was in two minds about two fabrics. A difficult decision as I rather love both. The first choice was a pretty Kona blue which looks lovely, but then I have a pretty green fabric with butterflies flittering allover. Being a gal who rather loves busy, busy, busy swirling everywhere in a quilt, I decided upon the butterfly fabric. It is actually a fabric in the Cottage Bleu line, as is the hydrangea fabric, so of course they would play together beautifully. I am in love with the blue of all the hydrangea cobblestones bordered by the green fabric♡

Do you remember the phrase "blue and green should never be seen without a colour in between?? It is a phrase I have heard all my life, but have never really taken any notice, because throughout all my days of playing on this sweet earth blues and greens have always hit it off fabulously. Together, they dance in rhythmic cadence and have always been soothing to my eyes. Why, here at my little place there is blue and green everywhere. Blue, blue sky and green, green trees. Happy, blue love-in-the-mist, with wispy green granny bonnets and dainty green leaves.......forget-me-nots smothered in bright green leaves.....and then the queens of the garden, the hydrangeas surrounded by green, green leaves.  But, enough of the nonsensical notion that blue and green together are an aversion; let us have a bo-peep of the progress of  Hydrangea Cobblestones.

Stitching a thin green border around the blue cobblestones, I then stitched the green butterfly fabric to the quilt. To add a little unexpected interest to the border I thought octagon flowers flourishing around the border would look rather spiffy. So, today I have been making stems, leaves and octagon hydrangeas in readiness of appliqueing them to the border. How fun♡

Hopefully when next you visit the hydrangea flowers skipping around the border, will be finished. Love, love, love the blue hydrangea fabric dancing alongside the green with blue butterflies fabric♡ I had the best day today, whipping up a creative storm in my little sewing room. It was one of those perfect,  blue sky, kinda days, where sunbeams brightened the room all day. Thank you for stopping by my little place♡ 'Tis always a delight when you visit♡  May you, this week, look for the beauty in the little moments of the everyday♡ Sending you all a little love♡

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

Linking this week to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Just One Of Those Perfect Spring Days♡

Hello lovely lovelies♡ I'm sitting here in the little fernery, peaceful and contented, among the happy flowers. I am completely knackered after a rather exhausting, though wonderful day. With pretty teacup in hand, and my Hydrangea Cobblestones quilt nearby, I wonder at the silent conversation between the flowers.  I wonder what secrets, what conspiratorial whispers are shared in the secret language of flowers. Each flower blooms in their own exquisite way, not competing with the flower beside it; just content with it's own loveliness. The flowers seem to love this little hot house; both by day, where the sunbeams shine through the windows; and by night, where the flowers sometimes bask under the glow of candlelight. They are such happy blooms; in this quaint little building.  I am sitting here in my pyjamas. Aren't they fab?? Covered with hexies in a grandmother flower pattern. Now, if anyone should have jarmies with a smattering of colourful hexies, it should be me. =) Why, me thinks every self-respecting, hexie obsessive, should have a pair. They are rather wild, though. =) So comfy, too.

I have enjoyed the best day. A Sunday spent wandering around other peoples' gardens with two of my favourite people..... Pete (of course) and my beautiful friend, Trish. It is that time of the year where all the grand old houses and gardens swing open the gates to the flower-loving public, showing what their green thumbs have perfected throughout the year.

Meandering along flower-lined paths with flowers nodding; swaying in the gentle breeze and smiling at us as we strolled along. We three, smiling too, as it was one of those perfect days where Old Man Sun and Lady Spring combined and pulled out all stops to gift one of those 'tis-good-to-be-alive' kinda days. Oh, the colours. Oh, the scents. Heady, intoxicating fragrances wafting through the air. Garden after garden overspilling with floralicious delight, wherever the eyes roamed. Cottage gardens flourishing with lupins, granny bonnets, clematis, peonies, lavender, poppies, foxgloves, sweet, so many blossoms to drink in. So, so many flowers to ooh and aah over. Oh, I forgot the roses. Oh my goodness gracious me, garden after garden revealed the most exquisite roses. Roses...some the size of dinner plates. Amazing!  It is not often one sees so many roses in myriad of colours, all at once. Truly, it was a joyous sight to behold.

A little stitching has been  done on my Hydrangea Cobblestones quilt this week. All the octagons and squares have now been stitched and the edges have been evened. I finished the edges early this morning before I left. Now I have to stitch a border all the way around. I am thinking I might add appliqued octagon-shaped hydrangeas, skipping all the way around. That could work. =)

Before I go, I would love to thank each one of you, lovely lovelies, for your beautiful words re Pete's story, when you last visited my little place. Your beautiful thoughts both overwhelmed; and humbled me. Pete too, was overwhelmed by your kindness. Why, there was a tear or two in his eyes when he read each comment...thank you all so much♡

'Tis very late here, downunder. I will blow out the candles in the little fernery and take myself off to bed.  My oh-so-comfy bed is looking very tempting tonight. I will snuggle under my A Stroll Through Pete's Garden quilt and dream sweet dreams of magical gardens....of secret gardens where enchanting flowers grow. May you find beauty in the everyday of your week♡ May your light shine bright in your little world♡

Until the next time.......

Linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching

Sunday, November 7, 2021

A Stroll Through Pete's Garden - A Quilt Finish

The story♡ Where do I begin?? The story of my quilt, A Stroll Through Pete's Garden, (yes, I have named her) I suppose, began many, many years ago. Why, it is a story which began before I was a twinkle in my father's eye. It is a story where the seeds of single letters germinated into words, the words then flourishing into sentences, burgeoning into paragraph after paragraph, sometimes ambling, other times skittering across the page; one after the other. Chapter after chapter of the re-telling of everyday life, travelling through the years; when all of a sudden, a story has been written. A story where the first chapters were authored in the mysterious and pulsating places of India; and as the years slipped by, travelled with the protagonist through the space of time to Australia.

The inspiration for my happy flower garden quilt begins with a little boy whose life began in the melting pot of Calcutta, India. The little boy, Pete, (my husband) at six months of age was taken to an orphanage/boarding school, Dr Graham's Homes, a school founded by a Scottish missionary in the earlier part of the 20th century, providing a home and school for Anglo Indian children. Dr Graham wanted these children to find acceptance and worth within a school setting because the caste system, Jati, considered Anglo Indian children to be definitely on the bottom rung of the Jati ladder. This school which has been buzzing with the sounds of children for over a century, is located in a town called Kalimpong in the district of Darjeeling, nestled in the foothills of West Bengal, where the snow covered Himalayas rise majestically to soaring heights, kissing the sky, keeping a lazy eye on all the daily goings-on of school life. Pete's mother was a nurse and because she had to travel far and wide every day, there was no-one to care for him. All his older brothers and one sister boarded at the school too, though he didn't really see them much, as they were busy with their own friends and they boarded in different cottages. Pete's mother didn't much care nor love Pete, a fact which to this day nobody knows the reason. Indeed, through all the years, Pete's mother made it perfectly clear that she didn't like nor care for him.

Although Pete found a home with all the other children and teachers, and even though life at school was more agreeable than day after day in the streets of Calcutta,  he was a bit of a scallywag. In his little child's mind, in his heart, there was this nagging feeling he was never quite good enough. Pete was quite often in the middle of some fracas. More often than not, Pete found himself in the principal's office bearing the brunt of some nasty discipline, because of his shenanigans and hijinks. Let's just say that the Malacca wood cane figured greatly in Pete's school days. Oh my goodness, the stories Pete tells of discipline in India, in the fifties! But then, I suppose discipline in the 1950's was draconian and rather over the top, the world over. One story comes to mind of a male teacher sticking drawing pins into his head because of some misdemeanor in class. I know!!!!

One day, for punishment, after many a failed attempt to corral Pete's disobedient and 'adventurous' spirit,  an exasperated teacher at the end of his tether, took 14 year old Pete out to the garden and ordered him to pull out every single weed and not to go back to class until he had done so. A horrible task for most but to Pete, within the confines of the garden; with the kitten faces of the pansies smiling at him, the delicious scents of the roses sprinkling upon him.....and all the other flowers sashaying with the joy of life before him, he found his tribe. He discovered a sense of the magic of the flower kingdom. Digging his hands into the earth, pulling out the cantankerous and ornery weeds, he found joy. He found delight in the beauty and stillness; the peace of the garden. He found patience in waiting for the slowness of nature, perseverance with the challenges which a garden presents day in, day out. Something deep within him began to stir. Pete loved 'his' garden.  Within the environs of the flowery little plot of earth he found a quietness that nature always gives. Like all who have ever tended a garden, Pete discovered life skills that would hold him in good stead in his later years. For gardens are the very best teachers of all. Indeed, gardening is a life-long education; for those who tend a garden are always learning. Pete loved to spend time within the boundaries of the garden. Needless to say Pete was even naughtier in class, because he knew as punishment he would be sent to the garden. He was a clever boy, was my Pete.

Let's just say that over time, the garden was a sight to behold; not a single weed in sight, with happy plants thriving. Why, because of his care and love for his garden; Pete's garden more often than not won the annual 'garden of the year' prize among all the cottages. Each cottage had a garden. Pete tended the garden and the garden tended his soul. As a little boy Pete was filled with dreams of creating gardens when he was older and indeed, throughout his life, gardens, both for pleasure and employment have been his mainstay, his joy.

Throughout his school days in India, Pete was sponsored, through World Vision, by a little church youth fellowship in Canada. It touches my heart to think that for years a group of  young people prayed for a little boy thousands of miles away in India, contributed money for his schooling; and sent wonderful packages and letters to him throughout the year. For a lonely little boy the arrival of much anticipated packages through the year, bursting with fabulous surprises from far, far away, filled with such love and prayer  was to Pete, the things of such joyousness. Why, it brings tears to my eyes just to think about it. To think those prayers covered Pete like a warm cloak throughout his life, strengthening him, bolstering him, building him up, urging him on to face life's challenges; indeed, hugging him. Aahh....the wonderful provision of our Heavenly Father. God, truly had Pete in the palm of His hand, unbeknownst to Pete, of course. Why, God has had Pete in the palm of His hand all his life.

Fast forward about fifty five years Pete (who had waved goodbye to India and emigrated to Australia at eighteen years of age), with his wife (that would be me) and daughter, moved all their worldly goods and chattels to live in Tasmania, a little island at the bottom of mainland Australia. Tasmania........the land of the proverbial  'milk and honey' least rich, red fertile soil and plentiful rainwater. Though Pete created a garden wherever he lived, he thought this was the place where perhaps he could create that one beautiful garden, the stuff of an Indian boy's dreams all those years ago.

So, the dream of that one beautiful garden began to be. Did I say "Tasmania.......the land of milk and honey"?? Well.....that wasn't quite true of the plot of land where we found ourselves. Why, I remember uttering to Pete on the morning of our arrival at this rather humble place we now call home "are you sure this is the house we bought"!! But......that is many, many more chapters to another story!

Alas, before Pete's dream of a beautiful garden could be more than a pipe dream; a figment of his rather fertile, horticultural imagination, he had to first extricate trailer load after trailer load of tetanus causing, rusty car parts, debris, junk, concrete slab after concrete slab, and whatever else the previous owner had decided to bury in the backyard. I must say those first few years of the rather underwhelming plot of land resembled an archaeological dig. Unfortunately for us, no treasure was to be unearthed! Blind Freddy could see that the previous owner adored and worshipped all things concrete and junk. It seemed this bloke just 'lurved' to plant concrete! The tragic thing is that the previous owner lived here for forty years!! In my mind's eye I can see the beautiful trees that could have been planted. I can imagine all the green as green, gorgeous flowering trees that could have been planted; beauteous buddleias, magnolias, rhododendrons, weeping cherries, tree gardenias........oh, and an ever bountiful orchard with fruit trees that just keep on gifting. Why, my head gets dizzy just thinking of all the aged trees that could have welcomed us on our arrival. 

Not to be deterred and with the heart of a lion my husband slowly began to create his garden. It took a couple of years to manually dig up all the junk and take it to the tip, the place of refuse. Day after day, month after month, year after year Pete lovingly worked with the plot of land before him. Many a chapter has been written by me about the beautiful garden Pete has imagined and then created. Many a chapter has been written about  'the pond' an oasis where dragon flies zip here and there, gold fish dart in and out of the water lilies, and from time to time there seems to be a little romance among the lily pads where frogs serenade their croaky love songs to one another. Much has been written and many a happy snap captured of the garden; where trees grow happily, reaching to the sky and below the canopy of the trees, shrubs and flowers thrive and bloom joyously throughout the year. Irises, poppies, lilies, foxgloves, daisies, gladioli, cosmos, agapanthus, ajugas, lilacs, dahlias, daffodils, jonquils, lupins, love-in-the-mist, forget-me-nots, bluebells, ixias, azaleas, rhododendrons.......just to name a few, all take to the flower stage and bloom at their allotted time. Every season there is something new, something different that wasn't seen the previous year, as gardens are never static, they are always changing. Pete is always adding to the garden; always changing, always improving; always trying out new ideas. It is a garden where the wind blows seeds wherever it will and flowers pop up in the most unexpected places. And.....I might add that nature always gets the placement of these rogue seeds just right! We both love wild and disobedient gardens that hug you, grab you as you pass by. Pete's garden is a garden where an intoxicating potpourri of gorgeous colours and heady fragrances, together with the glorious sounds of nature....sweet birdsong, quicken the senses. 

Why, Pete's garden is a garden which through the years has healed us both physically, mentally and spiritually. It is a safe cocoon from the troubles of the world. Why, one can almost forget about the travails that happen outside the parameters of our little garden. It is a secret garden where one can hide among the trees and flowers and never be found. This magical place is where we have bent our heads when there were no words in our hearts and have heard the loving whispers of God.  Oh, I could go on and on and on about Pete's garden and the joy and peace; the calm this little patch of paradise gives to our days, but enough said. Let's just stroll through a few photos of the miracle that is Pete's garden; shall we?? 

A Stroll Through Pete's Garden, quilt had swirled around in my imagination for a very long time. I had dreamt about it for so long that I could see it in my mind's eye. I had been day dreaming of fashioning a quilt with blossoms flourishing all over, inspired by the garden which embraced me, in which I strolled and delighted in, every day. But, though I could see the quilt in my imagination nothing was certain. I just wanted to play with design, pattern, fabrics, colour, movement and texture, and see where all my playing would lead me. I wanted the quilt to be a wild garden, much like Pete's sometimes wild and disobedient garden, where flowers of the seasons danced together in one quilt.

I had never really totally hand appliqued a quilt before. Oh, I had fiddle-faddled with applique in the past but now I wanted to grow up and join the big girls; those clever girls who hand appliqued the most amazing quilts. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and design, hand applique and hand quilt a flower garden quilt of my very own. Somebody else's pattern didn't interest me. I didn't want to copy anyone else's work, I just wanted to go with the flow and see where my playing took me. And, I must say that at the beginning the thought "what am I doing??" did cross my mind.....but only fleetingly. =)

A Stroll Through Pete's Garden, quilt is a happenstance quilt. I say this because at every juncture I just happened upon the very fabric I was looking for. I wanted to evoke an impressionist feeling to this quilt as Pete's garden brings to mind an impressionist garden. I adore the artists of the Impressionist era; my favourite  artist being Monet. It was a happy day indeed when I happened upon the soft green fabric with just the hint of smudges of tiny watercolour flowers for the grass, and the sky of soft painterly, batik dancing in pastel shades, reminiscent of those soft, whispering, early morning, misty skies that greet me as the sun rises each day. The backing fabric was a serendipitous find. The daffodils and all the other spring flowers dancing all over is perfect. The border fabric, too, of blue and lilac hydrangeas dancing around the flower garden is pure serendipity.

Morning after morning awoke; and I designed and played with freezer paper, glue; fabric flowers, butterflies, bees, birds; all magically finding their way onto my quilt. Time marched on. The procession of  the seconds, the minutes, the hours;  slipped into days, weeks, months, seasons....and yes, years.  I stitched on.  Contented.  Always thinking. Always designing. Sometimes wondering if the last tiny hand stitch would ever be stitched.  As I looked outside my window the changing garden inspired me.  Why, the flowers flourishing on the quilt  are those which bloom in the garden, during the seasons of spring and summer. A magical packet of flower seeds sprinkled onto the quilt and before my very eyes the garden grew. The fabric flowers began to bloom. Cosmos, daffodils,  anemones, granny bonnets, pansies, daisies, tulips, foxgloves, hydrangeas, water lilies, and my arch nemesis, the wisteria!  Gosh, the wisteria was a pain in the royal proverbial, but it was essential that the wisteria panicle flowers cascaded from the top of the quilt. I suppose the crowning glory, if you like. It didn't matter one iota that each wisteria flower took an age to fashion. Pete's garden evokes an impressionist feel, as does A Stroll in Pete's Garden. Care to take a stroll around and see A Stroll Through Pete's Garden quilt sashaying happily amongst the flowers which were the inspiration??

Just a little aside; the first three photos of the field of golden daffodils were taken at my beautiful friend, Christine's house. Truly, her home is filled with whimsical delight...and beauty; and as for the garden...just divine. The two photos of the ancient rhododendrons are unfortunately not flourishing here in our little plot, but at a guest house nearby. Oh....and because the wisteria here in Pete's garden is not flowering at the moment (it is very, very late in doing so this year) I captured some happy snaps of my pretty quilt in font of an ancient wisteria growing along a road. I of course screeched "STOP" to Pete, hopped out of the car and  happily clicked away. Truly this wisteria's branches of vertiginous height are stretching and climbing high, high into the blue sky. It is breathtaking. So please excuse me for my artistic you know me. is all about the look. =)


A Stroll Through Pete's Garden is finished♡ I sit here amazed at the finished quilt before me. I sit here amazed at the flowers, the bees, the birds, the butterflies; all singing the happiest of songs, dancing in a most beautiful, rhythmic fashion. A quilt, inspired by a beautiful garden that a man dreamed and then constructed, with  faint whispers echoing of a long ago garden in another country. A time where he found peace and contentment within the confines of a garden. I often wonder about that youth fellowship in Canada who for all those years prayed for a lonely little boy in India and gifted him with their kindness. Their faithful prayers have been answered. God has always held Pete firmly in the palm of His hand. Funnily enough the mischievous scallywag of a boy grew into a wonderful man, husband and father who throughout his life has served others and his God. He has that rare, God-given gift of  really listening to people, to put others before himself. My Pete is a humble man. I suppose it is because he was once a troubled youth all those years ago in India. I don't know why I am amazed that this should be so, as I know God works His miracles in the everyday happenings. All his adult life Pete has mentored and worked with young people with an uncanny ability to relate to troubled youth. It is as if he has channelled all those memories of the hard times in the days of his youth in India, and turned them into something positive and good. When we moved here, Pete found employment as a chaplain at our local district high school where day in, day out he chats to young people, encouraging them to be their better selves, helping them work through life's hard times. Sadly, at the end of this year he has decided to retire, which saddens him.....but that just means more time spent in his beloved garden. =) 

Phew.....that was bigger than Ben Hur!!!! =) If you are still here and managed to read to the end.....THANK YOU♡ The story behind my little quilt is a long story....which I have wanted to tell for some time now. A Stroll Through Pete's Garden is my very favourite quilt of all time and will be forevermore. I don't think any other quilt I fashion will touch my heartstrings quite like this one, as the back story with which this quilt came into being is so very special to me♡ It is a story that will ever be held tightly within the deepest part of my being. But for now, this pretty quilt is done; the story behind the quilt has been told and the photoshoot is over......thank goodness for that, I hear you say. =)

Bye for now...........until the next time, much love to you♡