Festitalia Italian Festival, Brisbane, 7 October 2016

On Sunday we went to have a look at Festitalia, an Italian Festival held this year at Spencer Park in Brisbane, which “celebrates the richness of the Italian culture in its entirety, from the spirit and passion of its people to the romance of its language, its inimitable fashion, the radiance of its arts to the luscious wines and regional dishes acclaimed the world over” (visit http://www.festitalia.com.au/ for more info).

From the wonderful cars (Lambourghini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat) to the lovely food stalls (woodfired pizza, calamari, lasagna, cannoli, gelato); from the beautiful Venetian face masks to the tarantella dancers and Italian flag throwers; from the cooking demonstrations to the wine appreciation sessions, it was a great chance to experience and appreciate just a little of what Italy has to offer.  (My brother-in-law is Italian, so we were in good hands for the day 🙂 )

The flag throwers were spectacular with their colourful costumes and huge flags, which they tossed and (mostly!) caught with ease – have a look at these action shots:

I was particularly impressed with this young man, who managed to juggle THREE of the huge flags, throwing them up and catching them with each hand and one leg or the other with equal dexterity:  pretty amazing!


(Trying to actually capture shots of throwers with flags in the air – I always seemed to be too early or too late – has given me new respect for the likes of sports photographers who get those amazing action shots! 🙂 )

Tonight my sister and I are off to something just a little different … her daughter gave her a voucher for a “Cork and Chroma” night, so we’re off to work on our creativity!  Here’s a picture of what we’re supposed to be painting (from scratch) tonight:


Given that on a scale of 1 to 10, I’ve always rated my drawing and painting skills at about -5, you may or may not get to see the result of my endeavours … 🙂




Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show, October 2016

craft-and-quilt-show-programme-1For the last seven years, my sister and I have been going to the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show, held annually in October at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. The show runs for five days (although next year it’s been reduced to four), and for the first few years we focused solely on looking at the quilts.  As you can imagine, with over 600 on display, we were very happily occupied for a whole day 🙂

After a few years we decided to go for two days, and take in some of the free workshops which are offered.  As you will see from the programme below, these are many and varied, covering all sorts of crafts; they also include some Make and Take classes which you have to book in for, and pay a fee for materials, etc.



This year we carefully studied the programme, and selected these workshops:

  • Unique Quilts with Just One Fabric
  • Quilt as You Go, Reversible Scrap Quilts
  • Magic Half and Quarter Squares
  • Versatile Scrap Crazy Template Projects
  • Quilting with Templates at Home
  • Australian & Indigenous Designs;
  • Quilt as You Go; and
  • Easy Applique (not listed on the programme shown).

Of all the workshops we attended, only one was a disappointment (and I won’t embarrass anyone by naming which one); all the others were very informative, with plenty of tips, advice, ideas and suggestions, time for questions, and hands-on samples passed around or pinned up for closer inspection.  Most of the presenters were excellent, knew their stuff, and knew how to communicate to and connect with their audience.

In order to accommodate so many workshops, and see all of the 600+ quilts on display, we figured we would need to purchase a 2-day pass.  Pfft!  By the end of day 1, we had done 5 workshops, but only managed to get round maybe a third of the quilt show.  By the end of day 2 we had done another 3 workshops, but had still only seen approximately half of the quilt display. So a third day was deemed necessary, in which we focused almost solely on the quilts, managing to see them all – and to puzzle, again and again, just why this fabulous quilt had received no prize, but that so-so quilt had won a third, second or even first place ticket (What??  Are you kidding me??!).  Neither of us has any intention of ever entering any competitive quilt show, but we both felt very strongly that it would have been helpful to have had some indication or comment alongside the prize winners as to why they were chosen.

Not only that, but we’d also love to see the quilts unobscured by any entry number, information sheet, or prize ribbon.  We adhere very carefully to the instructions not to touch any of the quilts, but we love taking photos as we go round, so we can look back on them when we get home and discuss what we like about this or that quilt, how we might attempt such a project, what we might do differently, what fabrics or colour schemes we might use, etc.

There were some fabulous quilts on show, and I’d love to share some photos with you, but there was a big sign to say photos of the quilts were not to be posted on the internet or other places without the artists’ permission.  (I have posted some in previous years, I know, but now try to respect artists’ rights when requested.)

So instead, I thought I’d just share a few photos of some of the goodies I picked up over the three days – after the first two days we were determined the third day would be purchase-free, but … well, you know what can happen to good intentions! 🙂

Day 1:


Goodie bag from the Scissorman stall – with many pairs of scissors, naturally! 🙂



Half-metre fabric swatches, reduced to from AU$7 to AU$6 each if you bought 6 or more



Applique mat and 2 patterns, bought after our applique workshop

Day 2:


Purchases after our Versatile Scrap Crazy Template Projects workshop



Jelly rolls and Fat Quarters from East Coast Fabrics stall

Day 3:


More East Coast fabrics, plus purchases following our second Quilt as You Go workshop

We came away at the end of the third day well satisfied with what we’d learned and seen (not to mention what we’d bought …), and already looking forward to next year! 🙂

Retirement: so far, so good

One week ago last Thursday (29 September) I retired after 19 years and 4 months working for Christchurch City Council.  I hadn’t quite reached the magic age of 65 by that date, but near enough that I was ready to call it a day 🙂 (Besides which, I had a date with my younger sister for the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show in early October, and didn’t really feel like having to go back to work for only a couple of weeks after that.)

Two of my work colleagues arranged a fantastic farewell afternoon tea, where I was presented with some delightful gifts:  a lovely scrapbook full of photos of fun times at the Council; not one, but TWO certificates to commemorate the occasion; gift cards for two local coffee shops (to ensure I make a trip or two into town for a catch-up); a beautiful scarf; a couple of soft toys which have special significance (and tales to tell …); and a wonderful, wonderful basket full of fabrics.  Here’s a montage of some of the scrapbook and other photos:

It was a fun afternoon:  lots of good food, good friends, and good stories 🙂

The following day was spent preparing for my holiday in Brisbane (including persuading Henry Lee that he really did want to go to the cattery ‘holiday camp with Auntie Lisa’ while I was away…), before I flew out of a damp, foggy Christchurch early on the Saturday morning, to arrive to brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine in Brisbane a few hours later:  fabulous! 🙂

It’s been a year since I last saw my sister, although we Skype reasonably regularly.  In the last couple of years she’s also taken up quilting, and I was delighted when she presented me with yet another retirement (and early birthday) gift:  the most gorgeous, colourful African quilt  – have a look at this:

african-bed-quilt-1  african-bed-quilt-2  african-bed-quilt-3

Isn’t it stunning??!!  We’re the last two of seven children in the family, and were both born in Zimbabwe (the rest were born in England), so this is a very special reminder of our life in Africa.  I shall take great pleasure in snuggling under it at every opportunity 🙂

In my next post I’ll tell you about our three days at the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show this week: inspiring, educational, and very fulfilling for my stash and quilting resources! 🙂


Pleasingly productive

September sure was a good month for me project-wise:  not only did I finish off my OMG project on time, but I also managed to complete another two projects as well 🙂

The first one was a set of four little mug rugs for some of my work colleagues, to say thanks for all their support during my time at Christchurch City Council (I retired yesterday, after 19 years of service – I’ll post about that in a couple of days).

I had one made-up DNP block left over from my OMG project, so I unpicked it to give me four quarter blocks to use as starters for the mug rugs; added a strip of different fabric to each; slapped on some batting and a suitable backing (different for each to give that individual look); did a little bit of FMQ (again, different for each) to decorate; and finally bound each of them with a different strip leftover from a jelly roll used in another project.  (Good use of just a little more of my stash 🙂 )

Here’s how they looked from the front:


and the back:


It took me a couple of days to complete them, which I thought wasn’t too bad, given that I kept being distracted by the rugby and cricket on TV … nothing like a cry of, “Bowled ‘im!!” or “Yes!! He’s over the line and that’s a great try!” to pull my attention away from the sewing machine! 🙂

The other project which I managed to complete was my August OMG:  that lovely strip triangles quilt which I had initially intended to be a donation, but then fell in love with and decided I couldn’t let it go (not just yet, anyway … 🙂 ) – here’s how that turned out:






Love it when everything goes well with planned (and unplanned) projects:  I feel a distinct glow of satisfaction … 🙂


September OMG: done!

OMG buttonI really enjoyed working on my September project:  the fabrics I used were colours that I love, and I also enjoy making DNP (disappearing nine-patch) quilts, they’re quick and easy and offer so many different ways of putting them together – I sometimes find the hardest bit of all is deciding just how to turn the blocks once I’ve cut them 🙂

The only disappointing thing about this project was that after I posted about it here at the beginning of the month (when Heidi’s link to the OMG goal-setting wasn’t quite ready), I totally forgot to link up once it was available (duh!).  No matter, I still got the quilt done and ready in time, so that’s the important bit 🙂




Simple straight line quilting – perhaps I could have done a little bit more of that, but in the interests of getting it completed on time I took the ‘less is more’ route 🙂  I do love the rich colours (look at that backing fabric, doesn’t it just glow?) – those autumn shades sure do sing to me!

So even though I didn’t link up at the beginning of the month, I will do so at the end (once Heidi has the link available) 🙂


World of WearableArt®

At our Christchurch Quilters meeting at the beginning of September, we were thoroughly entertained and impressed by a presentation by two ladies from NZ Blood Service.  What on earth does donating blood have to do with quilting, I hear you ask.   Abso-bloomin-lutely nothing, is my reply 🙂

The two ladies in question had come up with the idea of using more than 80,000 discarded plastic items from their work at the blood bank, collected over a period of about nine months, to create entries for the World of WearableArt®, known as WOW®, a renowned international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries from all over the world.

Here’s a little bit of the story of WOW® from the official website to set the scene for you:

“The Finalists compete for over $165,000 in prize money plus internships with leading creative companies such as Weta Workshop.

Using the human body as a blank canvas designers create works of wearable art to be exhibited in the annual Awards Show. Designs are brought to life in this spectacular stage performance – a world where theatre, fashion and art collide. Held each year in September in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, this unique event draws an audience of over 55,000.

The World of WearableArt® competition has encouraged an explosion of creative activity, inspiring designers from a wide range of backgrounds including art, fashion, textile and industrial design, jewellery, architecture, law and home making, to name a few.

The range of garments produced for the event is simply breath taking, as the rules of competition mean that anything that is in any way wearable can find a place on stage, as long as it is original, beautifully designed and well-made.

WOW® gives entrants freedom of expression without the constraints of commercialism it encourages lateral, original thinking and provides the opportunity to be innovative and inventive.”

In other words, anything goes! 🙂

Here are some photos (courtesy of our club’s newsletter editor) of what our two guests designed and created:




plastic-cloak-9-cropped  plastic-cloak-6-cropped


I think what really struck me (apart from the sheer ingenuity of stringing together thousands upon thousands of little ampoules, tops, lids, clips to create the garment) was that all those little pieces of plastic, each weighing so little on their own, added up to the incredible weight of 65kgs when it came to freighting it from Christchurch to Wellington for pre-acceptance consideration.  Which was possibly one of the reasons that, sadly, the entry wasn’t selected to go forward for judging – imagine the poor model having to carry all that weight as she flossied up and down the catwalk 🙂

It was fascinating to see how they had combined colours and shapes so effectively – and the thought of having to drill over 80,000 little holes so they could string everything together just blew me away!

Have a look here if you’d like to read a little bit of the history of the awards – amazing how it’s grown from such humble beginnings to an event which attracts thousands to Wellington each year.  Now that my son is living in Wellington, I might just have to consider making a trip up there one year to experience the show – it sure looks wonderful!

Harbingers of Spring

It’s been a beautiful day today, and I thought I’d share some photos from my garden to show you that spring has really moved in – particularly welcome after the cold blast we experienced last weekend.  From daffodils to plum blossom and pussy willow, from rhododendrons to forsythia to promising lilac buds, it’s all happening! 🙂

And to finish off the day, tonight (starting in about three minutes, so I need to get this finished off and posted lickety split!), we have the All Blacks playing the Springboks:  go, the ABs!! 🙂 🙂





































For those of you not familiar with the World of WearableArt Awards, held annually in New Zealand, here’s a link to a brief history of how they all started:





One thing leads to another …

Bitterly cold weather on Friday and Saturday has meant some quality quilting time indoors, which in turn means good progress on my September OMG project – here’s a photo I took yesterday:


I decided late yesterday afternoon that I needed one more row of blocks, so I made those, added them on, and then auditioned the backing material I had in mind (yup, looks good), and the binding (ditto).  This morning I started assembling the quilt sandwich, which I always find the most tedious (and my least favourite) part of making a quilt.

“Take a break”, my inner self urged.  So I did.  Grabbed a cuppa and plonked myself down at the computer to have a look at some quilting blogs – and that’s when Distraction Struck.

I came across a post from a blogger who was making a convergence quilt (Ricky Timms is a master at these), with brief details on how she was doing it.  I’ve always been keen to have a go at this technique, so you know what I did, don’t you?  Uh-huh.  I immediately abandoned the OMG, grabbed four small squares of fabric, and proceeded to waste creatively spend the next hour (plus …) making this:


It’s kinda cute, don’t you think?  My original squares were only 4.5″, so I could only cut three different width rows (1″, 1.5″, and 2″), but I reckon it was time well spent in that it showed me (a) I could do it; (b) I need more practice at fiddly sewing and matching seams (definitely room for improvement there!); and (c) I really want to make a bigger one of these 🙂

So, as my post title says, one thing led to another … oh, how easily I can be distracted from the task at hand!

Inner self is now reminding me there’s a quilting sandwich awaiting my attention, and that I’d better get back to it if I want to get the project completed by the end-September deadline – slave driver … (mutter mutter mutter …)