Monday, October 31, 2011

Cheerful Bunch

Went to visit a friend who has been unwell, and took along this little posy of nasturtiums to brighten her day.
Actually she has a fantastic garden of her own, so this was probably more of a gesture than anything else.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Least Wonky

Finished the quilting in the 84 pink triangles. This one (back view) was the 80th one I quilted:
It's not perfect, but the sewing just seemed to flow, and I thought I finally had got it. Unfortunately numbers 81 to 84 were not as regular as this one. But they are all done, and sometimes finished is better than perfect.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Past Times

A day out to visit the Ballaarat Quilters' exhibition with Mum and a friend lead to some interesting discoveries.
The show was held in the old Ballarat Mining Exchange building, which has great natural light. The quilts were easy to view, and there was a great variety on display. The photo shows the opposite end of the building from that I posted last time.

At the show I met someone from my high school days, who now lives (and quilts) in Ballarat. I was a bit stunned that Jan recognised me; is she unusually observant, or have I just not changed as much as I would like to think I have? If she hadn't spoken to me, I wouldn't have known her. Jan was looking elegant, and nothing like a kid in a school uniform! She had several quilts in the show, which were great to see.

Later at afternoon tea, I learnt that my mother's father, who died many years before I was born, had grown roses. He not only grew them, he showed them and won prizes. This was amazing news; I'm not the first gardener in my family, after all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eye-Level Flower

Do you recognise this flower? The blurry green shapes in the background might give it away. It's my kangaroo paw (probably Anigozanthos flavidus, the tall kangaroo paw) which is as tall as me this year. Last year it flowered in December.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The book I've been waiting for from Germany:
Liesel's Pentagons: Inspiration and Instructions for Pentagon Projects, by Hilde Klatt and Liesel Niesner. I bought it direct from the author here.

This book is fantastic! It is full of so much inspiration using the pentagon shape I've been playing with. I've been looking for a new take-along project and didn't really want to do more hexagons. The possibilities of this shape are amazing.

No, I don't speak German, but fortunately the book is full of photos and diagrams. Experience making Burda magazine patterns back in the days when the whole magazine was in German may be helping too. Google Translate is useful for the occasional word I really need to understand.

I can see lots of these pentagons in my future.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apparently They're Not Great Spellers, Either...

I almost laughed out loud at this piece of vandalism. I don't know how clear it is but it has the odd spelling error (or six). What made me laugh was the "there" and "their". Perhaps if they had written that sentence just one more time they'd have used they're.

Probably not, though.

PS: Edited to remove my own typo! Thanks to the discreet person who pointed it out quietly. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting There

So far I've quilted half of these triangles.

In general they are becoming less wonky, but I still haven't got one perfect one.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bee Babies

Today it was time to open the two hives in my backyard and see if they have laying queens. When we last looked, there was no sign of brood in either hive. That could have been because their new queens were still not mature, or because they didn't have queens.

Here's what's happening in the hive with the swarm caught on 25th September:
Definite eggs and larvae there! They've also completely filled the available space and have started building comb in the lid, so later tonight they are going to get an added super.

The original hive has more developed larvae and capped brood, which are pupating to become adults. 
So it looks like they also have a successful new queen, who has been laying for at least a week longer than the swarm queen.

Any suggestions for names for these hives? Now that there are four hives, I need a better way of referring to them. It was easy when there was just one, but now there's the first hive, my hive, my swarm hive, and the giant swarm hive.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Teeny-Tiny Stripy Guy

A tiny stripy moth critter sitting on a hydrangea leaf. He's only about 1cm long. Anyone know what he is?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mock Orange

This beautifully-perfumed shrub is just beginning to flower.
Philadelphus - but I don't know which species it is. The petals have a texture like firm plastic. I'd think the flowers were fake if they didn't smell so good!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Take Two

The huge swarm from Monday spent only about 18 hours in the box we caught them in, and then they did this:
Fortunately they landed somewhere reasonably accessible, and last night we went through the whole "catch the swarm" routine again. This time they have a bit more room, and some honey and brood taken from the hive they originally left, to encourage them to stay in the new hive.

I didn't sleep well last night; too many bees in my head both waking and sleeping.

As of this minute, they are still in the hive, although I can't get close enough to get a good picture. I hope it means they are going to settle down. I think I've done enough swarm-catching for now!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Some Free-Motion

It's a little wonky, but I'm sure by the time I get to the 84th one I'll have improved!

Monday, October 17, 2011

How Many Bees... you think there are in this massive swarm?
Not my bees, this time.  But my new bee suit came in handy again!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Shape

A bit of an experiment for now:
While I wait for a book I've ordered from Germany. More details when it arrives!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quilting Practice

Today I finished quilting the grid between the blocks of the quilt that was giving me so much trouble the other day. But rather than jump right in to the free-motion work on it, I did a little practice.
Note use of (not really) specialist equipment: Hyflex gloves from the supermarket.  But I am using one expensive piece of quilting gear. Notice the shiny white surface under the quilting? That's a Supreme Slider. (If you follow that link, try and ignore the fact that they don't know the difference between "lie" and "lay"!)  It is said to be "zero friction", and I have to say, it is easy to move a small piece like this around on it.  The top surface is Teflon, and underneath it is a tacky (not in the bad way!) layer which stays where you put it by gripping the machine. It will be interesting to see how it works when there is a whole quilt being moved around, rather than this little 30cm square.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Colourful Pair

As I walked past this tree on my way home tonight I heard loud parrot noises. 
Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus). It's amazing how much noise two birds can make!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Red, White, And Blue In My Garden

Callistemon "Burgundy Jack" is more of a burgundy colour than it appears in the photo.

My snowball bush (Viburnum opulus - 'Sterile') is looking its best.

The first flax lily (Dianella) is starting to flower. I have some others which appear to be a different species, which have only small buds so far.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stitch In The Ditch

Today I pulled out my oldest UFO (Un-Finished Object) to bring it a step closer to completion. I quickly remembered why I hadn't worked on it for a while.
Feeding something this size through the machine is a pain. I'm just stitching the grid to hold it together at this stage, nothing fancy, but to stop the drag I have to make sure the quilt doesn't hang over the front of the table. That means having a huge amount of quilt bunched up between me and the machine. Then my arms are reaching over the top and down into the hole, and my shoulders start aching very quickly.

How do other people manage this?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tails Up

Last night I used my new bee suit in a real-life, protection-required situation; moving the swarm bees out of their temporary box and into their new hive.

Everything went smoothly, and so far the bees seem happy enough in their new home. The flash has frozen these bees in action, but the wings of the bees with their tails up are actually a blur to our eyes. They are fanning pheromones into the air to let the rest of the bees know where the hive entrance is.
The bees at the top left of the picture, who fell beside the hive instead of inside it, are following the pheromone trail to get back inside the hive.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary

Visit to the La Trobe Indigenous Plant Nursery and then a walk around the wildlife sanctuary.

The day was grey, and so was much of the wildlife.
Male Eastern Grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) in foreground. The one in the background may be a male as well, it was about the same size.
Female Eastern Grey kangaroo - much smaller than the male.

Mother duck and five ducklings snoozing in a fleeting patch of sunshine:
Not sure what species they are, but they were well-hidden. Very hard to see unless they moved.

Noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala) are very territorial. It seems one of them strayed into territory where he didn't belong:
That's seven against one. The victim (who is upside down with its legs in the air) was being held down by one bird (the one whose wings are spread out towards the camera), while the other six darted in and pecked him. Just after I snapped this not-quite-in-focus shot, the victim broke loose and flew off, with the others in pursuit. And yes, they were indeed very noisy.

The wildlife sanctuary is definitely worth a look if you are in the area. Entry is by gold coin donation, which makes it a cheap outing.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Busy Saturday

Busy day with a slow start due to a car battery deciding it had had enough.

New battery installed, it was time to get going. First stop, Bob's Beekeeping in Eltham, to buy a hive for the captured swarm to live in, and a new outfit for me:
What do you think? Fashion forward? Here I was just trying it out later in the day - notice a bee sitting on my head? Others sat on my feet and on my gloves, but no worries about stings. Hooray!

While in Eltham, I popped in to the NOTYQ quilt exhibition, where I bumped into a couple of friends, and enjoyed wandering among the quilts.

This afternoon the new hive has been assembled; tomorrow night the swarm bees will be re-homed in it. Stay tuned for updates...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Decision Making

The swarm of bees which has been in my plum tree for the last couple of days reached a decision today, and took off to their new home. (If you've never read anything about how bees make that decision, Google it and prepare to be amazed.) I was lucky enough to be out in the back yard when they left. This time I didn't bother running for the camera, knowing that they would all be gone very quickly. And they were! In less than 30 seconds they had taken to the air, and headed off in a north-easterly direction. I hope whatever they've found works out for them.

Meanwhile, I've finished the last of these blocks. Now I've pinned them up so that I can play with their positions and decide on the final layout.
I wonder if anyone has formulated any sort of law about how fabrics in scrap quilts work? If not, here's Vireya's Law of Scrap Quilts: No matter how careful you are about layout, you will always find two pieces of the same fabric beside each other after you have sewn the whole quilt together.

I can already see that there is one block I need to move to stop that happening. The trick is to not create more problems while trying to fix the one you notice!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Around My Garden Today

What a lovely day! I spent some of it in the garden, and some in my sewing room. Here's a few shots of happenings in the garden.

Several callistemons are bursting into flower. I especially like this pinkish one.

Gladiolus flowers popping open.
I don't know what species this is, but it may be Gladiolus carneus.

Bearded irises opening a couple of weeks earlier than last year.

Around the middle of the day the back yard was suddenly full of incredibly loud buzzing. I looked up, and saw a swarm of bees flying around near the back fence. I ran inside to get my camera, but by the time I got back they had disappeared. I thought they had flown off, but an hour or so later I realised that in fact they had settled in one of my plum trees:
They are far too high up for anyone to try and catch them this time. I hope they find somewhere to fly to before my neighbours call the council again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bird Orchid

Common Bird Orchid (Chiloglottis valida) at Lal Lal today
These tiny flowers are easy to miss amongst the twigs and leaves on the ground. To give you some idea of the scale, the flower is about 3cm across, and is only about 5cm tall.