Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Australian Quilt Convention 2014

It was with excitement and a sense of freedom that I ventured off on my own to the Australian Quilt Convention (AQC) on Saturday.  The slow train journey in to the City was wonderful.  Following on from three days of continuous rain, the skies had turned blue, the sun made a debut and the suburbs I travelled through were littered with trees and fence palings that had transformed from a typical light brown, to a deep dark umber, due to the rain soaking in to their depths.  It truly was beautiful.  Of course, it wasn’t all trees and attractive fencing… there was a lot of graffiti and run-down buildings on the way too, but they’re all part of the charm from being on the tracks, aren’t they?!

I got off the train at Parliament station.  The platforms are in the depths of the City where two steep escalator rides ascend you to the surface.  The station reminded me of the London Underground, except it wasn’t anywhere near as cold. 

AQC 1

Then a short walk to the Royal Exhibition Building where the AQC was being held… through the established Carlton Gardens to be greeted by this view:

ACQ2

It really is a stunning venue!

AQC Kathy Doughty

I hadn’t been inside for very long when I discovered this very talented lady… it’s Kathy Doughty from Material Obsession! She was really lovely, exuding a gentle confidence and chatting with the most delicate American accent, I was a bit star-struck to be honest! 

AQC Leanne Knell

Now let me introduce you to my sweet friend, Leanne Knell of Petals & Patches.  She was guest designer over on the Blue Willow Cottage stand, we had time for a chat and I squealed with delight when I picked up a pattern I’d been coveting on Facebook only to realise that it is one of hers… so I embarrassed her and asked her to sign it for me!!  I’ll show you the pattern shortly.  Leanne has some beautiful block-of-the-months… I fell in love with her latest release and will share more about it in the near future, Leanne has promised to send me some photographs to share with you.  Do you see the blue sign in the centre top of the photo?  It reads:  “Your husband called, he said buy ANYTHING you want”!  Ha ha!  Love it!

After a coffee it was time to wander around the Quilt exhibition.  I took my IPhone but the battery was wearing down really fast so I had to be selective with the quilts I photographed.  These are a few of my favourites:

AQC Jenny Bowker 1

This amazing work of art is by Jenny Bowker and is titled:  Sandstorm over the White Desert.  It won the Rajah award in 2013.  It was inspired by a sandstorm Jenny encountered while living in Egypt.  The gentleman depicted in this quilt was a friend and guide who was apparently, always very calm, and obviously well-liked.  Jenny was particularly taken with the change in colour of the land and sky as the storm travelled over, and I simply love the movement she has captured in this piece.  I also love the quilting in the sky and the pixelated piecing of the sand in the air.  I attempted a close-up:

AQC Jenny Bowker 2

Isn’t it absolutely utterly and undeniably stunning?!  In fact, there were quite a few of Jenny Bowker’s quilts on display and I fell in love with them all.

AQC Jenny Bowker 3

I’m sorry not to have taken the names for the next few of Jenny’s. This artist really has a gift for capturing the essence of a person, their warm and cheery expressions are, I’m sure, a reflection of her own disposition.  Not that I’ve ever met her, but I don’t think anyone could convey such warmth without feeling it and ‘being’ it themselves.

AQC Jenny Bowker 4

This next quilt had a much larger area of the overall pattern, it was stunning and I’m so sorry I didn’t capture it as well as it deserves to be, in this photo:

AQC Jenny Bowker 5

This next quilt is by the ever-wonderful Pam Holland.  Do you follow Pam on Facebook?  I do and I can tell you, her photography is Amazing with a Capital A!  She travels profusely and captures the most amazing moments… I’m hoping that one day she will produce a coffee table book full of her prints.  But I’m also very  happy to look at her quilts!  This one is an older quilt of Pam’s from when she first started out on her quilting journey.  It is called:  “1776, Heartache, Heritage and Happiness”

AQC Pam Holland quilt 1

The detail is incredible.  It took 9558 hours to make and has won three Best of Show prizes.

AQC Pam Holland quilt 2

This next quilt is the last for me to show you and is by Sue de Vanny and titled:  “Tram Route no. 10”

AQC Sue de Vanny

Sue de Vanny created this quilt for this, the tenth anniversary of the AQC.  The no. 10 tram used to travel through the city to the World Trade Centre which is formerly the home of the AQC.  Although the tram no longer runs, it is a symbolic connection with the former and current venues of this exhibition.  I love the perspective and the luminescence of the tram against its wintery passionate background.  I attempted a close-up photo:

AQC Sue de Vanny 2

After being entranced by the exhibition I headed back to the stalls for some more eye-candy (as if I hadn’t had enough!!).  I headed over to Faeries in my Garden and met the delightful Lesley McConnell.

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I could have chatted to this lovely lady for hours!  I discovered that Lesley’s designs are a personification of herself… gentle, sweet, unassuming and utterly charming.  She really does love her craft with a passion!  I follow Lesley on Facebook as well, and she is prolific with her work as well as with sharing her knowledge.  There’s so much detail in her designs and if you are a romantic at heart - you are in for a treat!

As the exhibition came to a close I was still chatting away, and you’d think me a real names-dropper if I mentioned all the talented women I met and spoke to!  But here is one lady whose talents I’ve been admiring for a few years… we walked past each other and I thought, I know that face!  It was a very excited Paula Storm from Sew Little Fabric.

AQC Paula Storm

Excited, because Paula has just released her very first book, Sew a Little Fabric, at the show… and literally as everyone was packing up their stalls for the day, I got a quick flick-through and it’s fantastic! The photo of Paula and I (above) was a selfie taken on my phone and as you can guess, I need a bit more practice with selfie-taking!!  So I borrowed a pic of Paula’s book from her Facebook page…

Sew a little fabric by Paula Storm

Paula is currently working on her second book, and that sounds fantastic too!!  I love the cover photo don’t you?  The colours and the simplicity marry so well.

So I literally walked out of the door of the Royal Exhibition building with everyone locking up behind me!!  Through the parkland again I trotted, admiring two recently-wed couples being photographed… which is always a bonus!  Then home for cuddles with my family… all good stuff!

Okay, so would you like to see my loot?!  I know I would!!  I love looking at people’s loot! (smile)

AQC Goodies 1

I bought some neutral fabrics with different textures, Osnaburg, Linen and hessian-coloured Hanky Linen.  The cross-stitch ribbon and linen trim were purchased at the L”ucello stand, the online shop can be found here.

AQC Goodies 3

I bought these two patterns.  The first is Pipkin’s Pincushion, featuring the cutest little mouse (which if you’ve been reading my blog recently, you will know I have a love of!) and it’s ‘the’ one I was telling you about, by Leanne of Petals & Patches.

AQC Goodies 5

The Other is a zipper pouch pattern by Helen Stubbings of Hugs n’ Kisses.  It was one of a few patterns that belong to Helen’s ‘Hexie Club’ and it contains the zip and the half-inch dissolvable hexie papers to make the project.  I also purchased a pack of 50 hexie papers for future projects and some Precencia threads to try out, also purchased from Helen’s stall.

AQC Goodies 2

This 5in charm pack had to come home with me too! I can’t remember the place I bought it now, but I do regret not making any more purchases from there.  It was so cute and a really good price, it’s called Sweetcakes by Riley Blake Designs.

Ahhh well… it was such a great day out! I hope you enjoyed reading about the quilts?!

Till next time – happy stitching!

Vikki xo

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Debutante Ball

We are almost at the end of Week One of school holidays.  There have been play-dates and movies and a little sleeping-in during the morning hours as well!  It is nice recovering from a hectic week that was… but what I am busting to share with you is the experience of being a proud mum at my son’s Debutante Ball.

Aaron Bianca Deb 6

But first of all, let me introduce you to my sixteen year old son, Aaron, and his gorgeous girlfriend of two years, Bianca.  Don’t they make a cute couple?!

Aaron Bianca Deb 7

These beautiful photos were taken by Bianca’s step-mum, Sharon, she’s an amazing photographer!  In fact, she’s pretty amazing at whatever she puts her hand to – cooking, baking, hair-up-doos… you name it.  But the photography?  Wow!

Aaron Bianca Deb 8

I may be biased, but I think she has very good subjects (wink)!

Aaron Bianca Deb 3

Thank you for fixing up his dickie-bow Bianca, and to both of you for looking out for each other as you do! x

Aaron Bianca Deb dance 3

Aaron and Bianca were the first of 31 couples to walk out of the curtains, down the stairs, and present themselves to the Federal Member of Deakin, Mr Michael Sukkar.

After the couples had all graced the floor, the girls in their amazing dresses and stunning hair-styles, and the boys all looking so debonair in their ‘tails’, the formal dancing began…

Aaron Bianca Deb dance 2

And this mum lost it… I was so overcome by how grown up they all look, how graceful they moved, and how these two kids look in to each other’s eyes…

Aaron Bianca Deb dance 1

And I cried… in happiness and love bursting in my heart… because I love them so dearly.

I wish I could share more of the photos but I don’t like to share without permission from the other Deb couples in the pics. 

The boys all did a dance, which was fantastic!  Then the girls followed suit with a dance of their own… and the finale was the couples dancing to two more songs, with beautiful choreographed moves.  Aaron and Bianca were chosen to give a speech on behalf of the other Debutantes and partners, and they did a great job!

Then, a very special and poignant moment for me – the first dance with my son as a young adult… and his childhood flashed before my eyes as it dawned on me just how quick it all goes.  I love the sensitive funny young boy that he was, and I love the kind and intelligent young man he has become.

Aaron Bianca Deb 12

I’m so proud of you Aaron!  You are the perfect son for me!!  And Bianca, you are a sweetheart and everything I could hope for in the choice of Aaron’s heart!  Love you, kids!!

When I was at school in England, we never had anything like this.  I was surprised that Debutante Balls were a big thing in Australia because I had always thought of them as being American.  I think it’s so special that these young people learn how to dance and present themselves so gracefully – what an amazing – and confidence-boosting opportunity!  Have you had any experience with such occasions?

Okay… best go dry my eyes… 

I hope you all have an amazing weekend!  I’m off to the Australian Quilt Convention tomorrow and I’ll take my camera!

Much love, Vikki xo Smile

Monday, March 31, 2014

Woodland stitching… and sweet pets!

Gosh it’s a lovely day today!  The sun is bright and the sky is blue.  I’m sat at my desk in a cool room being thankful for the perfect temperature! The house is quiet but for the whirring of a grass mower down the street… I’m having one of those “ahhhhh” moments.  Just soaking up the serenity that doesn’t come my way as often as I’d like, but when it does it feels all the sweeter.

I thought you might like to see a sneaky pic of my ‘Deer Cabin’ table-runner design?  It has been sent off to Creating Country Threads magazine and is due to be published in the next month or two.

Deer Cabin sneak

I used some of Lynette Anderson’s ‘Scandinavian Christmas’ fabric… although it is so versatile with its love-hearts, stars and cute little mushrooms, that it needn’t be saved just for Christmas projects alone.  I drew the deer from photographs, and with the woodland theme in mind, thought that Log Cabin blocks would be the ideal choice to accompany them.  I’ll show you the full project when it is published, and will release the pattern at the same time so that if you live overseas and would like to make it, you can do so.  (smile)

Well, the serenity didn’t last for very long people… my little dog is barking her head off at everyone who walks by – and we have a hard rubbish collection on our nature strip (grass verge), so people tend to stop and linger… gosh I love Kayla, and she is doing a very good job of guarding her family… but sheesh, she is driving me nuts!

Kayla 2

Butter wouldn’t melt, hey cutie?!

If you were reading my blog a few months ago you would have been greeted with a sweet pic of my young Rosie’s little pet mouse, Nibbles.  She was such a dear little thing, but she became very ill only three weeks after we brought her home.  I took her to an ‘exotic’ vet as not many vets will treat mice.  Turns out she couldn’t go to the toilet and although she was given medication, she wasn’t given the diagnosis of a good outcome.  The vet thought it was probably an anomaly the young thing was born with.   Little Nibbles lived in my hands for hours at a time, I hand-fed her and gave her medication.  I just sat and cradled her, she must have liked the warmth from my hands as as soon as I tried to put her back in her cage, she would run back on to me.  Just as we thought there might be a chance that she would come good, we lost her.

Both Rosie and I (and dad and brother) were so incredibly upset.  I think there is something about helping an animal to survive… you get so attached.  I was shocked at how tearful I was for two days straight.  Rosie wanted to give Nibbles a good burial, so we decorated a box, and put her inside with her favourite things – some food, a toy, and some toy-stuffing to keep her comfortable.  It was so hard seeing Rosie heartbroken, as we stood out in the rain, in the garden; but in a strange kind of way we also bonded in our grief.  It’s hard to explain, but it felt wholesome. 

We now have two new pets… Cheeky and Tickles.  Rosie didn’t want the late Nibbles to feel like she was being replaced, but I explained that because Rosie was such a good owner, Nibbles would love for some other mice to have the pleasure of being looked after by her.

Cheeky 1

So many of my friends cringe at the thought of owning pet mice.  One friend in particular said she would rather touch a spider than a mouse!  But I think they make amazing pets.  They are so tame.  I must admit, that before we got Nibbles I had my doubts about housing mice, I was so worried about the smell.  But I’m quite happy to clean them out twice-weekly… Rosie helps out and we have special time together.

Tickles and cheeky 1

Cheeky 2 

Anyhow, it’s time I headed off to continue with some stitching!  Ooh – and I’ll set up a photo-shoot with my toy sewing machines as I know a couple of you are interested!

Until next time, hope you get to enjoy some serenity!

Vikki xoxo

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Antique finds

It’s been a busy ole’ week in the SUDs household, but I found a capsule of time sufficient enough to take photographs of the recent vintage finds that I had the good fortune to make. (smile)

Antique cotton spool

First up is this vintage spool that I discovered on my visit to Frances Pilley in Fitzroy, I chatted about it in my last post.  I have been coveting these kind of spools for a very long time but until now, they were just too expensive to justify.  The price in the shop ranged between $15-$25 per spool dependant on size, which I thought was pretty good!  One of the smallest spools came home with me, big enough for my purposes.

Antique stamp stand

Next up are these cute finds from my local antique shop (which is, more often than not either cheaper or offering the same rates as my favourite Op shop!) Doileys, a china tea-cup, and a cast Iron office ‘stand’ – I presume it was for storing inking stamps.  I’m not sure… do you know?  It now sits on my sewing desk.

Antique doileys

I really loved this doiley with its delicate satin-stitched flowers.  Do you ever wonder what – in 30 years time - will be the most sought after hand-made items from our generation?

Antique Peter Pan sewing machine

I’ve had this little Peter Pan toy sewing machine for a while now, but thought it would be a good time to share!  It is missing a few of its parts, but I still love it.  My little collection of antique and vintage toy sewing machines grows gradually, I have 19 all together.  Some are made of Iron, most of metal, and one of plastic.  Would you be interested in seeing them all?  I’ve been thinking for a while that I should write a blog post with a brief on each of them.  Do you collect any sewing memorabilia?

Antique lead light window 

The last item I have to show you is this dilapidated old window.  It has taken me 12 months to find one that I liked, was inexpensive and not too big!  I had originally planned to get a window without glass and just use the weathered frame as a feature piece.  But I came across this find and thought I’d remove the cracked panes and keep the feature glass which is still in good condition.  It needs some bracing to make it safe, but after that I’m not sure where I’m going to display it!  It may end up in the garden if our side-board remains too ‘busy’!!  I’m running out of space in my home.  Does that sound familiar?!

Antique window 2

On the home-front, I’ve spent some time crafting with my sweet young Rosie, and will show you more on that next time, she’s such a creative little soul!  I have been stitching too… lots and lots of stitching! 

What have you been up to?

Warm wishes! Vikki xo

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A day out in Fitzroy, Melbourne

In my last post I mentioned about a really fun day I had out in Melbourne!  Well, at last I’ve updated all my photos and gathered my links together to share with you – because if you’re ever in the area there are some GREAT places to go!

The day started out with Wendy, Joy and I meeting up in the foyer of our hotel, waiting for any takers for a day out in Fitzroy.  Call ourselves Billy-no-mates but no-one else turned up – so undeterred - off we went!

We braved the trams… (being the only Melbournian of the three I wasn’t any the wiser for how to board or ‘pay’ for the journey)… but we made it.  We may have been shouted at by a passing motorist… but we made it!

Wendy and Joy on tram

Wendy and I on tram

Here I am with Wendy… all very excited about our pending adventures!

Wendy and Joy cafe

We were headed for Rose Street Market, but needed to take a long walk down Brunswick Street to get there.  We were all gagging for coffee!  Know the feeling?  Joy and I had to lure Wendy away from one rather dodgy-looking watering hole… bless her, our naive Wendy didn’t notice the shady characters hanging around as she was so intent on getting a decent brew (coffee not beer!!!).

We found our way in to the cutest and warmest and most vintage-y-est little cafe called Argos loves Company.  If you look in the above photo you will see silverware and an Art Deco window displayed artfully in the background.  The food was AMAZING and when we saw everyone else's plates full of the most wonderful delicacies, we wished we’d ordered lunch rather than opting for just sweet treats. 

IMG_2043[1]

But when the sweet treats arrived we oohed and aahed over the china plates so much we momentarily forgot anything else… except for the coffee of course, one never forgets about the coffee! (wink)

Pug love

Okay, so there are a few things I love more than coffee… and right up there with family and friends is… dogs!  I adore dogs!  I am a crazy-dog-person.  So much so that when I developed pug-love, I just had to ask the owner if I could have a photo!  This adorable little pooch was sat outside our cafe… and his owner kindly fed him some ham off her plate so I could get a good photo – it was win-win for me and the Pug, but his owner was sadly at a loss for ham to go with her eggs!

I can tell you, there were some seriously CUTE dogs on the streets of Fitzroy… but so that Wendy and Joy didn’t disown me for being completely crazy, I refrained myself from asking for any further pics! 

Wendy taking pics

Talking of pics, between the three of us girls, we took A LOT!  There was so many interesting things to see, like the children’s park behind Wendy… that had the cutest Matroyshka sculptures!

Matroyoshka park

And then there were the shops we came across… check out this Lion in the window of Mark Denver Vintage & Industrial:

Day out shop lion

It’s made out of wood that’s been combed from beaches.  We took a look inside the store.  There were quite a few stuffed animal heads on the walls… a giraffe of all things!  I’m not really into taxidermy, but it was an unusual sight.  I LOVED the vintage globes on display everywhere…

Day out globes

We took our time, enjoying the ambience and the sights, and eventually got to the Artists Market…

Wendy and Joy market

Wendy and Joy were admiring the jewellery, while I was admiring…

Chairs

… the chairs!

Artists market

There were lots of lovely stalls and some delightful people to chat to.  After browsing around (and feeling quite hot with the sunny weather), we decided it was time for lunch, so went to the accompanying cafe, and promptly took a selfie.

Wendy Joy and I at cafe

After enjoying our food and people-watching, we headed out of the market and in to a couple of other quaint shops.  This is one store that we all fell in love with…

Day out shabby shop

It is called Frances Pilley and is full of, as the business card puts it: “Exceptional products chosen for their quality, beauty, uniqueness and luxury”.  And that’s exactly what was inside!

Day out shabby shop 2

Laces and textiles, wooden spools and buttons, mannequins and Victorian clothing, old feed-sacks, chairs and just so much “stuff” that you just wished you could take home with you!

Day out vintage feed sack

Day out shabby shop 3

I made one purchase – I’ll show you next time!

Day out street view

Heading through the streets we saw some amazing graffiti-art.  Wendy has many more photos on her blog that you can see here.

If you look closely at the building facing you in the above picture, there is a gigantean Cupie doll just sat there on the front!  I love the sky… it really has so much character doesn’t it, with those fluffy clouds?

Day out De Vinci art

Day out moped

One thing that really did steal my heart however, was this scooter.  Isn’t it divine? (Should I be calling it something like a moped or a Vespa?!)

As they say, all good things must come to an end.  (Don’t you hate it when “they” say that?!!)

Our feet were aching, our joints were sore from walking… and we all agreed that we felt at peace having enjoyed the most amazing day out. 

Waiting at the tram stop for our journey back to the hotel looked like this:

Day out waiting for tram

My gorgeous companions won’t be seeing Melbourne for a while, but as for me, I don’t plan to go back to Fitzroy any time soon.  The memories created with these two girls are precious and I don’t want to taint them by attempting to repeat the journey.  Does that sound weird?!

However, if the Pug asks me out to join him for a coffee and some ham… how could I resist?!

Till next time!

Vikki xoxoxoxoxo

 

Stop Press: I have been advised that Joy is the naive one – it was Wendy pushing Joy away from the dodgy cafe!  Oops, I have a weak memory!  (But it’s ok Wendy, although you’re not as naive as our cheeky friend, you are indeed very sweet! x)

 

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