Saturday, 12 April 2014

Granny squares and cute knitted animals

I've made 12 granny square blocks thus far (Very slow quilting progress, I know *embarrassed*). Still have a long way to go. 

My mom has been knitting the cutest stuffed animals from the book "Knitted Toy Tales" by Laura Long. Below is the frog prince, little piggy and a mousey. 
Here is the complete menagerie, including the rabbit, teddy bears, birdy, owl, piggy, frog and mice. My mom says they are relatively quick and easy to knit, although one must concentrate, especially when knitting different colours. Aren't they adorable!

Monday, 7 April 2014

I love roses

Camille Pissaro (DELstricol) - no scent
I have quite recently discovered (since buying our first house 18 months ago) that I love gardening and growing roses. We have a very small garden (less than 60 m sq), but I've managed to squeeze in 33 rose bushes. We are fortunate in the Western Cape, South Africa, to be able to grow any type of rose, but European-bred roses tend to grow excessively vigorously (huge!) in our warm Mediterranean climate.
Soeur Emmanuelle climbing up our front fence
Our backyard filled with hybrid teas
Currently, my favourite roses are the romantic French roses bred by Delbard, which are all available from Ludwig's Roses South Africa. These include: Camille Pissaro (a.k.a. Rainbow Nation); Soeur Emmanuelle (a.k.a. Towering Rose Magic); French Panarosa; Souvenir de Louis Amade (a.k.a. Threads and Crafts); Comtesse de Segur (a.k.a. Comtesse Panarosa); and Candice. They are extremely vigorous, have excellent disease resistance and most of them are highly perfumed not to mention stunning!
Soeur Emmanuelle (DELamo) - Strong anise-rose scent
French Panarosa (DELcien) - Strong grape-fruit fragrance
Souvenir de Louis Amade (DELalac) - Spicey-rose scent
Souvenir de Louis Amade (DELalac) - fully opened bloom
Comtess de Segur (DELtendre) - slight apple scent
Candice (DELudice) - moderate honey scent
I also have many old garden favourite hybrid teas: Avon; Bewitched; Blue Moon; Buxom Beauty (a.k.a. Parole or Garden Queen); Cleopatra (a.k.a. Peace of Vereeniging); Fragrant Cloud (a.k.a Duftwolke); Fragrant Hour; Harmonie; Marijke Koopman; Miss All American Beauty (a.k.a. Maria Callas); Mister Lincoln; Paul Shirville (a.k.a Heart Throb); and shrub roses: Regensburg (a.k.a. Buffalo Bill); My Granny (a.k.a. Bossa Nova); and Granny's Delight; and climber Pink Cloud.
Avon - Strong damask rose scent
Bewitched - Moderate damask rose scent
Blue Moon - Intense turkish delight scent
Buxom Beauty (Parole) - Moderate rose scent
Harmonie - Strong tea rose scent
Cleopatra - slight tea rose scent
Fragrant Cloud - Intense fruity scent
Paul Shirville - Strong rose scent
Marjike Koopman - Slight tea rose scent
Miss All American Beauty - Tea rose scent
Mister Lincoln - Strong damask rose scent
Regensburg - no scent
My Granny - no scent
Granny's Delight - no scent
Pink Cloud - Slight rose scent
I also have a few modern roses (released after 2010) which were bred to look old fashioned but which flower continuously and have excellent disease-resistance: Annique; SA Garden; Sympa de Bellvue; and Tuis. 
Annique (KORquanni) - no scent
SA Garden (LUDsheitan) -  Strong lemon scent
I've got four English roses bred by David Austen: Abraham Darby; LD Braithwaite; The Prince; and Getrude Jekyll. Thus far, they have not produced many flowers, but they have shown very good disease resistance and have amazing fragrances. The blooms don't last very long in the vase, but they are all relatively young rose bushes.
The Prince - Intense damask rose scent
Abraham Darby (AUScot) - Intense fruity scent

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Back from England

Coventry Cathedral (ruined during 2nd World War)
I've been in England for just over half a month for work; visiting Coventry University and also a quick trip to London. I managed to squeeze in a visit to two National Trust properties in Warwickshire; Baddesly Clinton (a moated 700-year old house) and Packwood House (a 500-year old restored house) near Lapworth. Totally fascinating.
Baddesly Clinton
Packwood House
In my short visit to London I made sure that I visited Liberty, home of Liberty Art Fabrics and also stockists of Rowan yarns and fabrics. At 22 GBP per meter (around R 420 or $37 USD p/m) for their quilting cotton, I did not feel tempted to buy any but just looked at the beautiful designs, and bought myself a small neck scarf in Angelica print (pictured below).
Liberty, Regent St., London
Liberty Angelica Print
Although an expensive city (especially since the South African Rand is so weak recently), London has many wonderful free art galleries and museums. One of my favourites was the National Gallery, where I saw Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Cypresses, and several of Monet's Water Lily works. So bright and vivid in real life. The Tate Britain also contained some fantastic Turner and Constable exhibitions.
View of Big Ben over Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery London
I also thoroughly enjoyed the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, although I was quite disappointed that there was none of Kaffe Fassett's work on display. I did however recognize some of his inspiration at the museum.
Victoria and Albert Museum glass exhibition
London's Gothic architecture is amazingly intricate, I really enjoyed Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
Westminster Abbey, London
Houses of Parliament, London
 I will have to to back again to take in some more!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

French nine-patch finished and 500 quilt blocks fun

In my summer December vacation, I finally had some dedicated time for quilting again. I managed to finish basting and quilting my French Nine-patch quilt top, made with a couple of different Moda French General charm packs.
I backed the quilt with some Moda 3 Sisters Paris Flea Market fabric that was on sale from Hancocks of Paducah (my favourite online store, their prices, shipping costs and customer service are unbeatable). I did simple stitch-in-the-ditch quilting only on the large patches, which has made the quilt nice and soft.
I recently bought a fantastic little quilting book (at the university academic book store?!) called 500 Quilt Blocks by British authors Lynne Goldsworthy (http://lilysquilts.blogspot.com/) and Kerry Green (http://verykerryberry.blogspot.com/). This a fantastic book with excellent instructions and beautiful examples using modern and vintage fabrics. 
I find this book very inspiring and I would like to make a sampler quilt with my Kaffe Fassett fabric stash sometime soon. At the moment I'm playing around with Granny Squares block from their book with my small floral prints fabric stash.
Of course Sweety-Bird is assisting me: by pulling out all my pins and throwing it on the floor, and using the cotton reels as toys...

Monday, 11 November 2013

Spring inspiration

I haven't been quilting much lately, but I have been gardening. Spring was late this year in the Cape due to all the cold, wet weather we had, but all the rain paid off in beautiful flowers! Over-flowing lobelia, verbena, dianthus, salvia, pansies, and snap dragons.
The climbing roses (Soeur Emmanuelle - DELamo) have also finally put on a show! And they smell divine! I love French roses. It's hard to believe that this rose is not even 1-year old yet. 


Inspired by spring, I made myself another dress with New Look pattern 6776. The fabric is by Free Spirit - Deena Designs London. As it was 31 degree C (87 F) today, I wore it to work :)