Posted by: maureenc | January 25, 2016

Colonial Knots (part two)

If at first you don’t succeed in posting the photos you wish to share, try



White on white  Colonial Knot stitch

White on white Colonial Knot stitch

Hopefully this  photo will defeat  those pesky gremlins .

Posted by: maureenc | January 24, 2016

Colonial Knot stitch

I think it was about 1984 when I was first introduced to Candlewicking, and I loved it!

Whilst my husband was “busy” watching televised sport, I would keep him company and stitch away happily. Several quilts were made that way: I would be sitting in the car while he was “I won’t be a minute ” in the male nirvana-land  known as Bunnings Hardware in Australia, quietly whiling away the time and not getting fussed that five minutes turned into 45 more often than not.

Along my stitching journey I dabbled with many genres, even going so far as to move to the dark side  (machine embroidery) for a while. And now , for I think the third consecutive year, I’m attempting to follow SharonB with her Take A Stitch Tuesday and her PINTANGLE where she gives tutorials on the stitch of the day.

I think I warned you in an earlier posting that I would not necessarily follow Sharon’s list, but the Colonial Knot stitch evoked memories of many happy hours spent getting knotted  ! (Sorry folks, I just couldn’t help myself  :-)

The only technical detail I will give about the colonial knot is that it is sometimes referred to as a “figure of eight” stitch because of the way it is wound around the needle. Sharon gives a wonderful tute over at Pintangle and it is easy to follow.

I have returned to a group of (mainly naked) Crazy Patch blocks I constructed quite a while back and hopefully they will be all stitched up by the end of 2016  (fingers crossed) with stitches tried out in the 2016 TAST.

I have unearthed an old Candle wicking pattern representing a tulip and I am stitching it in  Arbee brand Candle wicking cotton threads that have languished in my cupboard for far too many years:

Some 16 hours later!

First attempt Colonial Knot stitch

First attempt Colonial Knot stitch

Well! You are seeing a “warts and all” posting.  The above piece was stitched on a CQ patch, using Arbee brand candlewicking cotton and I am not happy with the result, so I pulled out a piece of unbleached calico and returned to the “traditional” look of white on white , in using the Arbee thread

White on white Colonial Knot stitch

White on white Colonial Knot stitch

I think you will agree that a plain calico fabric shows the Colonial Knots in better definition.  Between the dark and light coloured fabrics, plus the texture of the white fabric, I think that the stitching lost its definition.

My preference is definitely for the lower sample !


White on white  Colonial Knot stitch

White on white Colonial Knot stitch

White on white  Colonial Knot stitch

White on white Colonial Knot stitch

Posted by: maureenc | January 23, 2016

TAST and Twisted Chain stitch

Once again I am endeavouring to keep up with the weekly Take a Stitch Tuesday,  I “plan” (to tackle all the stitches that SharonB shares with her followers, but I know that they won’t be done in the same order that Sharon blogs.

Twisted Chain Stitch (or rope stitch) is listed as Stitch 25 of Take a Stitch Tuesday 2016 . And already in the last day or two, she has added a tutorial on Colonial Stitch which is worked like a figure 8 and is so beloved by stitchers who love doing Candlewicking embroidery.

But I digress…….Tuesday I decided to stitch a sample of twisted chain stitch:

I used #8 perle cotton for the motif that I sketched on my fabric—–just a free hand drawing roughly representing an eye.

Twisted chain stitch

Twisted chain stitch in #8 Perle thread      I was disappointed in that I felt I did not achieve a “rope” effect.

Maybe, if I used  thicker ply threads which had an inbuilt lustre………?

It was time to use some Edmar (rayon) threads.

These threads have become a well loved addition to the stashes of threads employed in Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery, and although at first they can be a little tricky to work with because they have a “Z” twist rather than the
“S” twist found in most  cotton embroidery threads and I also stitch left handed. So  I need to remember when using the Lola thread, which is a heavy weight  three ply thread with a tight twist, that there is a right and a wrong end to sew with!

(I determine this by gently sliding my thumb and forefinger down the thread: if it feels smooth I knot the bottom end and sew with the top end. If it feels rough , I sew with the bottom end  and knot the top end because I want the smooth direction of the thread to glide up through the fabric )

I also prefer to use a Milliner’s needle for most stitches because they do not have a bulging eye and you need for the needle to be able to slide easily on the thread.

So there you have a smidgeon of information about Brazilian threads! Back to that “Twisted Chain stitch”. Because I wasn’t stitching a designated Brazilian dimensional stitch involving Bullion or Cast on, I used a Chenille needle with the Lola thread.

The thicker thread certainly  resulted in a better “line” and the shine of the rayon thread gave a better “body” to the motif.

Split chain stitch Using Edmar Lola

Split chain stitch Using Edmar Lola

And if Mr Picasa keeps co operating with me, the next photo should show a comparison of the two stitched versions. I think you will agree that the second attempt produced a slightly better result than the first.


Now to complete  my version of the Colonial stitch!


Posted by: maureenc | January 8, 2016

Dark, grim and gruesome!

I don’t normally include  book reviews on my blog but I had to make mention of the novel my Book Club read for January :

“Dark Places”  by Gillian Flynn


I think I would be honest in saying that I’m a voracious reader, and generally enjoy most genres, with the emphasis being on mystery and historical fiction.

The blurb for DARK PLACES , declared that it was a mystery novel, published in 2009 and dealing with class issues in rural America , intense poverty and the Satanic cult hysteria that swept the US in the 1980s.  How true that is, I don’t know as I’m neither an American citizen, nor have I ever lived there.


I found the book to be dark, grim and unbearably gruesome. The praise heaped on the book was rather over whelming to me, and the comment I felt most comfortable with came from  Big Issue, Scotland  : “Dripping with ominous atmosphere, complex psychology and moral ambiguity”.

This is not a novel that can be read easily or for enjoyment. In fact it was only because it was my book club’s January read that I persevered in completing it.

The basic plot line was “interesting”……..the youngest daughter in a single-mother-of-four-family is the survivor of the family slaughter, and then testifies that her fifteen year old brother is the killer. He is sentenced to long term imprisonment.  Twenty five years later, facts emerge to make Libby question everything she’s ever known about her family’s murders.

I could find no sympathy in me for the character, despite her horrific history and I found her to  be selfish, grasping  and lacking in humanity towards others.

However the “flashback” chapters told from the perspective of the son and his mother were factors that kept me reading to the end, when all I wanted to do was cast aside the book and find something more enjoyable.

The mystery is finally solved after the author had laid out all the pieces of the puzzle. YES! I was surprised by the result, but it didn’t cause me to like the book any better.

Certainly Dark Places was not like any other run of the mill murder-mystery and not my choice of reading matter at any time, particularly as holiday reading. This is the second book of Gillian Flynn’s that I have read; the other being “Gone Girl” and I can safely say that I am no fan of hers.


Posted by: maureenc | January 5, 2016

The falling leaves drift by my window…………..

The falling leaves of red and gold!

My first six fabric postcards made in 2016, and hopefully my last!

After some ten or eleven years of making and swapping fabric postcards, I’m ready to move on.

These cards were my final commitment to Round 23 of Postmark’dArt, and the theme was AUTUMN.

Since my late teens, when I lived in Perth, Western Australia, where we actually had autumn colours (NOT like sub-tropical south-east Queensland!) my favourite song has been Autumn leaves.

To set the scene of leaves of red and gold, I went into my photo albums of 2009, when I spent a month savouring the Autumn colours of Japan. The background fabric was printed from a scan of photos taken in Takayama, and the free standing leaves were printed from scans of dried maple leaves from the same time.

Initially I set the leaves behind bridal tulle, but that did not give the effect of glass in a window, so then I added clear template plastic.2-Scan-001 I used black ” stained glass “adhesive bias tape to form the window frames.

"The falling leaves drift by my window"

“The falling leaves drift by my window”

5-Scan-006 In two other cards, I introduced broderie anglaise edging to represent curtains draped around the upper edges.


Finally there was a card that featured a piece of fabric I printed a few years back. It also had a Hakea leaf as a feature point. The colour of the leaf is not a natural colour for the species, but a commercially dyed leaf.

Posted by: maureenc | December 24, 2015

So this is Christmas

A severe thunderstorm prevented me from attending the Christmas Vigil Mass tonight.
I hope tomorrow morning the weather is more gentle.

I would like to take the opportunity to wish my family and friends the blessings of Christmas for my Christian friends, and a Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends.

Many. many years ago when I was attending a Technical College, I was privileged to have as a teacher a man of Jewish faith………..he taught me so much about Life and acceptance of other people’s religious beliefs. Every one needs a Mister Zines in their life.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and good health and happiness for the year to come.
Be kind to yourself, and to others.

Posted by: maureenc | December 20, 2015

Christmas is coming

Fabric coasters

Where has the year gone? Only five days and it is Christmas!

And Christmas means gifts…….for other people!

Apart from family, I have a few friends that I like to surprise with small parcels; Some small hand made quilted or stitched piece and a selection of home baked sweet or savoury  biscuits (as we call cookies down here in Australia) and maybe a jar of home made jam or pickles to keep the friend’s husband happy at being remembered!

Fabric coasters

Fabric coasters: Whether they are Christmas themed, or just sewn according to the colour way chosen, Fabric coasters are a personal gift to tell someone that you “care”

Take SIX 5" squares

Take SIX 5″ squares of fabric: Choose a theme (Christmas) or a colourway (Autumn was my choice)

Leave TWO squares UNFOLDED! These will be the base of your block’

Fold the remaining four squares across the diagonal  into  triangles(see photo)




Lay two folded triangles on the base to form a square

Use the remaining two (folded) triangles across the first triangles to cover remaining corners.

Interweave these triangles, so that one section is in the superior position and the other goes UNDERNEATH the partial triangle that it covers.

Repeat in reverse for the opposing (large) triangle.

Fabric coasters

Stitch around the square outline, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Clip across the corners of the square to reduce bulk of seam.

Fold the triangles IN on themselves, until all raw edges are contained within the square. Use a steam iron to press the shape firmly.


Susan asked for placemats, but she is getting these heart shaped pot holders in her favourite colours.

The placemats will be gifted, “sometime” in 2016!

Three heart potholders

I found the pattern via Heart shaped potholders

But I wasn’t happy with the instructions and adapted them to suit myself as I found the directions a little vague (as you might find mine) VBG

The initial directions a la Martha Stewart were to cut three 12 inch squares of cotton batting;

12 inch squares of cotton fabric

then there are THREE templates:  One to provide TWO full hearts  (fabric)

One, slightly smaller, to cut the batting

One to serve as template for the sleeve or smaller section.

I found that the initial templates were wasteful and  I adjusted them to suit my needs .I also found that the directions given were not clearly explained, but, who cares! I used the templates “my way” which meant that one potholder had pockets to enable using it as a pot mitt. and the other two were not so adaptable.

I have not given alternative measurements, because I assume that my blog readers are capable of adapting  patterns to their requirements.


I constructed three potholders for Sue:  One I forgot to allow seam allowances (red face)  It resulted in a slightly smaller size than the other two. (only by roughly one quarter inch over all)  No big deal.

I used a button to “anchor” the loop (for hanging)

I felt it gave a point of interest to a rather bland patchwork piece.

The fabrics were purchased via APQ site and bought because of their toning/blending patterns and (colour) shades.

I have enjoyed using them in both the place mats; the Coasters, and the potholders.

I have yet to employ the blue toning fabrics, but…. I plan on using them shortly for another set of PlaceMats


So, that’s my Christmas stitching complete. Time to making the edible goodies:!  One recipe I’m looking forward to trying out is a (vegan) Mango Turmeric Cheesecake. The weather looks like being hot! hot! HOT here. So no hot meals. Definitely no (hot) Christmas pudding.

I think the cheesecake should go down a treat……….Hi ho ! It’s off to the kitchen I go.

Posted by: maureenc | December 20, 2015


DSC03360 DSC03361 Two of the place matsSuch a silly way to get side tracked! A couple of days ago, I changed the tablecloth from my usual colour scheme, and in doing  so, realised I had no placemats that toned in with the cloth!

So, instead of staying with my plan to complete a 10 inch square quilt that needs to be completed by November 30,

or making those half dozen post cards theming Autumn………..

I created havoc in the sewing room, and the dining room by auditioning fabrics to make a set of place mates. Yes…..I knew the colours I wanted to employ, and YES I had a rough idea how I would stitch them. What else did I need!

(Time is the answer……….in case you were wondering!)

I chose to feature a block of a floral fabric on each of the mats

I chose to stitch  the strips of fabric to the batting and backing fabric to achieve a “quilt as you go” effect .

(WHY do extra steps when you can be economical with your time!)

I used a straight cut, rather than bias cut binding strips to “finish” the edges.

These mats were made with practicality rather than “art” in mind, so all finishes were machine stitched. That way they can be tossed in the washing machine rather than requiring gentle hand washing.

As a result of seeing the mats, one friend asked for a set to be made for her in similar colour way.  NO place mats for her at the moment, but some cute coasters have her name on them for Christmas. Maybe the New Year will see her receive the place mats.

The coasters and  some “practical” pot holders feature in the next post

Posted by: maureenc | November 28, 2015

Catching up

Some time back, I gave myself permission “not to blog everyday!”

Since I last wrote, I travelled to Western Australia to visit with my brother  who is not experiencing good health: Five months back he was told to get his affairs in order as amongst other  “things” he had “multiple pulmonary  metastasis”.

He has now experienced three months of  Chemotherapy involving three weeks of “horse tablets” twice daily and several hours of receiving a chemical cocktail via IV. Last Wednesday I accompanied  him whilst he had the monthly

IV infusion. The treatment is progressing smoothly with no upsetting side effects for him. He was back at work the next day! This week he is due for some Ultra-sound and MRI to chart how and if the “nasties” are reacting to the treatment, and naturally I’m sending messages of positivity to him.

In between “real life” Dave and Dee took time out to introduce me to Kalgoorlie. I had travelled through there a few times in my life, but never really seen the place.

I’m sure that most of you have heard of Kalgoorlie as  The Golden Mile, where once, after heavy rains, gold nuggets could be picked up in the streets. Now the City of Kalgoorlie/Boulder is dominated by the Super Pit     2-DSC03221

Drilling prior to blasting

Drilling prior to blasting at 1 p.m. daily.

 The derelictCornwall Hotel

The derelictCornwall Hotel

Unfortunately the hey days of earlier times have slowed and there are FOR SALE signs on many houses as well as moth-balled mining equipment stored in light industrial properties all over the place. It was interesting driving to the old town site of Kanowna, which once boasted a population of 10,000 people, and all that remains of those people today is a cemetery which is returning to its original bush state.

Kanowna Heritage Trail

Kanowna Heritage Trail

2-DSC03247 3-DSC03242

So sad to see my country’s history disintegrating into dust and rust assisted by not only the elements of nature, but vandals also.

A visit to the  Western Australian Museum  Kalgoorlie-Boulder was a most interesting time for me, as it  showcases the rich history of the Eastern Goldfields and the city’s mining heritage. … Explore the largest display of the State’s collection of gold bars and nuggets, To do the display justice, one really needs plan to spend a day or two visiting in order  to step back in time and see the collection of gold bars and nuggets  in the Vaults, and  how the prospectors searched for gold in such a barren land.

There is also displays of camps set up by men harvesting the indigenous sandal wood trees, and the Afghans and their camels/ships of the desert used for transporting goods.

So much work was done around the state of Western Australia, from the Kimberley’s to the Goldfields by these men. Remember this was the 1890s when neither roads nor railways had yet come to this vast state.

Mining Museum

Mining Museum


And now it is November 28! WHERE has the last three weeks disappeared to?  Update on my brother is that he is experiencing some very miserable making side effects and consequently his chemotherapy has been suspended  until his body is coping better.

If you are a praying person, please remember him in your prayers. Not so much for a cure, but for him to be comfortable and pain free.


A couple of days ago I went to see the movie “Last cab to Darwin”. It features Australian actors in Australian settings:  Broken Hill, Oodnadatta, Daly Waters, Mataranka and Darwin, all places I have visited over the years.

The film itself deals with the possibility of legalising euthanasia in the Northern Territory, and at times, due to my brother’s health problems, I found the film upsetting and very personal.

Years ago, in the Northern Territory, there was a GP, Dr Philip Nitsche  campaigned successfully to have a legal euthanasia law passed in Australia’s Northern Territory and assisted four people in ending their lives before the law was overturned by the Government of Australia.

I think that the film was loosely based on his story, and being  Australian script writers they introduced

humour in order to lighten the tone of the movie. I couldn’t say that I enjoyed the film, but it certainly did give the audience food for thought.

Posted by: maureenc | October 13, 2015


the landscape dreams in wisps of mist and mystery

Source: Dreams

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