March ALYoF – done and dusted!

ALYOF logoThere were times when I thought I wasn’t going to make the deadline this month, but I did! And now that I consider it further, I’ve actually achieved more than I set out to do at the beginning of the month, in that I was aiming for a flimsy, but have managed to finish off the quilt completely 🙂

I’m really pleased with the end result – my favourite autumn colours, a new technique (wonky blocks), some stitch in the ditch quilting, which I’ve never tried before, and another go at quilting on my 35-year old machine instead of tieing to finish it off.  The marathon binding session last night nearly did me in as my hands started to cramp up, but regular breaks and stretching got me through, so today it was just tidy-up work, concealing thread ends, cutting off stray threads and giving it a final once-over before declaring it finished and ready for the photo shoot 🙂

So here’s the end result, with a woohoo to go with it!

DSCF7354  DSCF7356


Dreaming big …

At the risk of boring you all to death with yet another post about the 2015 Cricket World Cup, as we count down the hours until the game starts in Melbourne at 4.30pm this afternoon there are two things I just want to share with you.

Martin CroweThe first is an open letter written for ESPN CricInfo from Martin Crowe*, arguably New Zealand’s finest cricketer, who was part of the New Zealand cricket team when the World Cricket Cup was last co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, back in 1992.  Crowe was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma about two years ago, and has since been diagnosed with a rare blood disease called double-hit lymphoma.   Only  5 per cent of patients live up to 12 months, and Crowe is reported as saying that he did not expect to live until the end of 2014, but was determined to survive to see the Black Caps in the World Cup tournament.  Earlier during the tournament Crowe was inducted into the ICC (International Cricket Council) Hall of Fame, and yesterday he paid this moving tribute to the Black Caps and what it means to him that they have reached the final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup:

The second is an advertisement from one of the major supporters of cricket in New Zealand, the ANZ Bank.

Go the Black CapsSlowly this ad has wormed its way into my heart and my soul, to the point where I almost cannot watch it without shedding tears of pride and joy, so much does the Black Caps’ achievement means to me.  As Brendon McCullum says at the end of the ad, “Dream big, New Zealand” – and we are, Brendon, we are!!  Whatever the result of the game today, it has been a wonderful tournament for the Black Caps.  A win this afternoon would be the icing on the cake – and I truly believe we can achieve it.

*And, yes, Martin is the cousin of actor Russell Crowe.

One more, just one more game!

Over the last six months or so I have become rather smitten infatuated besotted obsessed intrigued by kaleidoscope or one block wonder (OBW) quilts.  I am fascinated by the look of the intricate patterns that can evolve from judicious cutting and re-piecing of fabric slices or wedges.  Take this example which I discovered while blog surfing the other day at

Jim's OBW

And this beautiful one at caught my eye as well:

Dance of the Water Lilies

(The border fabric in each of the above examples is what the fabric actually looks like before it’s cut up and reassembled into hexagonal or octagonal shapes – isn’t it amazing how different it looks?)

Anyway, I now have two of my own OBWs under way, one started while I was holidaying in Brisbane last October, and the other started last weekend.  (I know, I know, I’m supposed to be finishing off my March ALYoF project, but sometimes the creative spirit just takes off on its own little adventure, you know?)  And so today, when I stopped in to Lincraft to pick up some quilting tape and thread (so I can work on that ALYoF project this weekend), and saw that they had 50% off their craft fabrics, well, how could I resist??  Quite right, I couldn’t!  So there will be another two OBWs in the works at some stage, and in due course I will share photos of my progress on all of them 🙂

In the meantime, though, the March ALYoF project is progressing well, and I’ve actually achieved more than my stated aim (to get it to flimsy top stage) at the beginning of the month:  the quilt is now ready for quilting, which I will start this weekend.  Whether I manage to get it completed over the next four days is a little doubtful, but you never know – I say doubtful because there’s a bit of a stumbling block in the way come Sunday, when there’s a rather important cricket match on  …  Yes, the NZ Black Caps managed to beat South Africa in a thrilling semi-final match on Tuesday (oh, what a game it was!), and last night Australia beat India in the other semi-final, which means that we get to play Australia in Melbourne this Sunday, to see who will win the 2015 Cricket World Cup.  Australia have already won the World Cup on four previous occasions, while this is New Zealand’s first time in the finals, so the odds are a little stacked against us.  However, given the way the Black Caps have played in the tournament so far (8 wins from 8 matches, including a win over Australia in the pool play leading up to the finals), I am nervously hopeful of a victory for us.  My sister in Brisbane, of course, is hoping for an Australian win:  however, we have promised that we will still talk to each other at the end of the game 🙂  Go, Black Caps, you can do it!



Go, Black Caps!

Back the Black CapsA HUGE day ahead for New Zealand, as the Black Caps take on South Africa in Auckland in the first semi-final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup:  after a stunning performance against the West Indies in Wellington just 3 days ago, the country is ready for more of the same 🙂

It’s been raining in Auckland this morning, but the forecast is for showers to clear by the time the game starts at 2.00pm – the last thing we want is a stop-start affair which may result in a shortened match with the dreaded Duckworth-Lewis system coming into play, so I’m crossing my fingers that this doesn’t happen!  I’ve arranged to have the afternoon off work so I can come home and watch the game on TV – let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be doing any work if I was at work anyway!

So, once more into the breach, Black Caps, you’ve got the country with you all the way and we’re all dreaming big:  go get ’em, boys!

Good reading and good cricket!

I’ve read two really good books lately, one of which was recommended on a fellow blogger’s “Best Reads of 2014” list, and the other in a recent library blog.

Here’s the blurb from Christchurch City Libraries about the first one, All The Light We Cannot See:

All the Light We Cannot See

“The epic new novel, set during WW2, from Sunday Times Short Story Prize-winner Anthony Doerr. Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in. Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence.”

I absolutely loved this book!  It took me a little while to adjust to the storyline hopping between the two main characters, Marie-Laure and Werner, and the different years in which the story plays out, but once I paid a little more attention to sorting this out it really gripped me, and I found it very hard to put the book down … midnight, 1am … you’ve been there as well, I’m sure 🙂  Beautifully written, loved the way the story threads were slowly drawn together with some being resolved and others not … this was one of those books I really didn’t want to end.

The Soloist

The second book is the true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who becomes schizophrenic and homeless, and his friendship with Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles columnist who discovers and writes about him in the newspaper.

A humorous, engaging, sad and thought-provoking book which I also found hard to put down.  Mental illness and its impacts can be so brutal, and it’s sad that society so often appears to want to ignore those who are affected by it.  Nathaniel’s story is powerful and emotional, and Steve Lopez’s account of his interaction with the homeless musician is well written and moving.

I’d definitely recommend both of these reads.

The Cricket World Cup has now moved into the quarter final, knock-out stage, with the first match taking place today between South Africa and Sri Lanka.  I have to confess to being in two minds as to which team I wanted to win:  my African heritage meant that half of me wanted South Africa to come through, while the New Zealand side of me preferred Sri Lanka, as we have already had the better of them more than once in recent months.  In the end I think it would be fair to say the match was far more one-sided than most pundits predicted, with S. Africa bowling Sri Lanka out very cheaply and winning by 9 wickets.  Tomorrow’s game sees India vs Bangladesh, to be played in Melbourne – I’m picking India to win that; Friday sees Australia vs Pakistan, in Adelaide – I’m picking the Aussies to take that one; and then New Zealand play the West Indies in Wellington on Saturday – and there are no prizes for guessing who I’m picking for that one! 🙂  If we make it through to the semi-final stage we will play South Africa in Auckland on Tuesday 24 March, with the final in Melbourne on Sunday 29 March.  There have been some great games to watch, and I think what has really impressed me is the great spirit in which it has been played so far – competitive, yes, but definitely without the nasty side which seems to have crept into the game over the last few years.  Go, the Black Caps!

A lovely exciting parcel arrived in my letter box on Saturday:  fabric from Hancock’s of Paducah!!  (Happy Dance, Smiley Face!!)  I just love the fabrics from this store; mostly I’ll aim for the special offers, free shipping, or bargain sales of backing fabric or batiks or similar.  Here’s what I got this time round – some beautiful batik fabrics, and some lovely extra wide red and green backing fabrics:

DSCF7347 DSCF7346

No particular projects in mind for any of them, for the moment they will simply be added to my stash and taken out from time to time to be stroked and admired … 🙂

In the meantime I’m making good progress on my March ALYoF project, although I’m a bit short on one of the fabrics I want to use for one of the borders – visited my usual three fabric stores earlier this week to see if I could get some more of the fabric I want, but no luck, so I shall have to improvise and make it a mix and match border instead of using one single fabric.  I’m still tossing up whether or not to include the fourth border which the pattern has, and might just leave it at three.  Oh, and just to let you know, I chose Option 5 layout (see my previous post here for the options I was considering) 🙂

Anyway, time for bed and my latest read:  Educating Alice, by Alice Greenup, the true story of how Alice gives up her city-chick persona to embrace a new life in the Australian bush and all that comes with it:  horses, cattle, the obsession with rain – and the correct way to wear a hat.  All goes well until one morning when a routine muster goes horribly wrong …



A non-quilting weekend!

Can’t quite believe it, but it looks as if there will be no quilting done by me this weekend!  I didn’t plan it this way, believe me; weekends are normally my prime quilting time, given that work occupies me Monday to Friday.  Yesterday, however, I set to on another clean out of books, and by the end of the day had managed to reduce 6 shelves (each with a double row of books) to 2!  And there are now 7 boxes of books in my car, ready to take to my Rotary friend for their annual book sale 🙂

As well as the book clean out yesterday, there was wall-to-wall sport on TV for the times when I needed a break … 🙂  Two cracker games of cricket:  South Africa vs Pakistan, and Zimbabwe vs Ireland, both games absolutely gripping and with surprise results – wins for Pakistan and Ireland.  Gotta love this World Cup!  Today the action is NZ vs Afghanistan (the game started  15 minutes ago, and Afghanistan have already lost two wickets with only six runs on the board), and Australia vs Sri Lanka, which should be interesting to watch.  Sri Lanka have been a bit hit and miss of late, while Australia have been scoring heavily, apart from their modest 151 against New Zealand last weekend in a game which – sorry, I have to say this again – they lost! 🙂

Later on this afternoon the NZ Breakers take on the Cairns Taipans in the second match of a three-match final series of the Australian National Basketball League.  The first match was in Cairns on Friday night and was won convincingly by the Breakers; the second match this afternoon is in Auckland, and if the Breakers win this one there will be no need for the third match.  If they win, this will be their 4th title in 5 years, so it won’t take much for you to guess who I’m backing! 🙂

In the meantime the Lazyboy and cricket beckon, with Henry Lee happily asleep on my lap as I type this on the laptop in front of the TV – hope your Sunday is as much fun as mine is shaping up to be! 🙂


My March ALYOF project

ALYOF logoI decided I needed a break from working on WIPs I have on hand (I like to think of it as time off for good behaviour in the first two months of this year), and have chosen to start a new quilt for my March ALYoF project 🙂

DSCF7149 croppedI fell in love with the autumn colours of these fabrics last year, and have taken them out many times since my purchase to stroke and admire them – as I know you all do with fabrics which speak to you 🙂  And then while I was looking through some patterns today, trying to decide what to do for my March project, I came across one for a Wonky Block quilt, and immediately thought of these fabrics, which I reckon will be just perfect for it.

So I’ve made a start this evening on a twin size quilt, and my aim is to have it completed to at least the flimsy stage by the end of the month.  If I get further than that, all well and good, but there are still a lot of cricket matches to go in the Cricket World Cup, which doesn’t finish until Sunday 29 March, so I didn’t want to add extra pressure by saying I was aiming for a totally finished quilt! 🙂

And talking of cricket, I am excited and delighted to say that the Black Caps won the match against Australia yesterday!  To quote from one of the reports:

 “The game had everything: perfect weather, a full house, a flurry of early boundaries followed by eye-popping collapses, sensational swing bowling, clever spin bowling, and perhaps the calmest batsman in the world hitting one of the fastest bowlers in the world for a straight six to seal a one-wicket victory for New Zealand.”  It was so exciting (and also stressful at times, particularly towards the end!), poor Henry Lee got quite sick of me yahooing and carrying on when the Australian wickets were falling and Brendon McCullum (our captain) was smashing the ball here, there and everywhere! 🙂   Of course it wasn’t so much fun when it was our wickets that were falling, but Kane Williamson kept us on course, hit that wonderful six to win the match, and the whole country breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The Black Caps have a week off now, with our next match on Sunday 8 March, against Afghanistan, in Napier on the east coast of the North Island.  The extraordinary summer we’ve been having has encouraged good crowds at the matches, although I have to confess I prefer to watch it in comfort at home, where I can turn on the fan when it gets too hot, and get up to replenish my drink without having to squeeze past a row of people and hike up and down countless steps and wait in a queue 🙂

Thanks for putting up with all my cricket comments – I’m just enjoying the World Cup so much I can’t help myself! 🙂