Posted by: maureenc | April 28, 2016

SCC: Round Robin

Glasses case block

Glasses case block

It’s just as well I nominated to be a “tortoise” in the current round robin on SouthernCrossCrazies, because I would surely be nominated as the slowest of the slow.

I must admit that stitching hasn’t been a priority the last month or so, as I adapted to being on the executive of a Ladies Probus group and needed not only to organise an Installation , but also to find new meeting facilities and plan an Installation Luncheon.

I also needed to get some inspiration to stitch and embellish the several naked blocks comprising a needle book,a pin holder, a scissor keep and a gorgeous block destined to continue its life as a glasses case!

I was the first to receive A’s blocks and no matter how hard I tried, inspiration just wasn’t coming to me!

(Particularly for the Glasses case block.)

Finally, I planned to back stitch heart outlines and fill them with silk ribbon flowers and a few beads for extra effect.Unfortunately, the heart outlines were swallowed up by the silk ribbon flowers I added.

This plan also gave me the incentive to dye some silk ribbons, something I haven’t done for the longest time. I dyed some pansy , Lavender  and blush pink. I still had sufficient green ribbon from previous dyeing days

Below that seam treatment, I used two strands of Marlitt Decora in a turquoise to chain stitch  above and below the seam line. In each curve I then stitched a turquoise seed bead flanked by a pearl “rice grain” bead.

Just when I thought I had finished with this block, I remembered some pale grey tatting that I thought might help the eye to travel down from the beige broderie motif I had added in the upper right hand corner! Now it was time to stop and leave room for my other “tortoise” friends to stitch up a storm

Glasses case block

Glasses case block

Time to tear myself away from this block, and start on the Pin-keep block!

Arlene constructed a circular block consisting of four segments, with finished diameter of  three inches for the Pin keep..

So easy to be over enthusiastic and cover the entire block!  But I restrained myself 🙂


Using an Edmar (Iris) thread  # 167 I chain stitched a dusky pink stem to which I added blossom pink SRE  rosebuds and leaves, plus silver charm leaves.

Then  nearly perpendicular  to that seam I  again used the turquoise Marlitt thread in a fly stitch.

A gold cat charm was then added over some blossom pink petals on the palest fabric block.

Arlene's Pin-keep

Arlene’s Pin-keep

Finally, I stitched the Needle-book block!

In retrospect, it was actually the first block I worked on, rather than last.

Using a variegated green Iris/Edmar thread and using SharonB’s CQ stencils, I  stitched some baseless triangles above a seam. Below each “hill” I added a trefoil in palest pink rice beads, whilst in the “valleys” simple lazy daisy flowers were added….again using Edmar (Iris weight) threads.

A cream braid was laid over the seam line of the cream patch, and small pearl beads  added to the centre of the braid.

There is still a fourth naked block that I have not stitched upon: the Scissor keeper!

Because the patches in these blocks are so small, I felt that I shouldn’t hog all the blocks. (So easy to do, when the patches are so small. I hope Claire and Arlene are content with the areas I have left untouched!

Now to send the blocks travelling again. It will be interesting to see the completed project in a month or so.

Posted by: maureenc | March 20, 2016

And now it’s Sunday

Dendrobium Biggibum

                 Dendrobium Biggibum 


Back in 1989 when my sister was visiting from W.A. I took her to an Orchid Show, and she gifted me with my first Cooktown Orchid, the floral emblem of Queensland since the 1890s.

It loves to bloom just before Easter, and this is part of the display in my back “garden” at the present time.

There are eight sprays of blossom on this clump of plants, and the  pot at the other end of the garden is showing


1-DSC03385 2-DSC03390

Posted by: maureenc | March 17, 2016

Update on scissor keep

I  “destructed “my first attempt at a foundation block for a scissor holder for my proposed chatelaine, and this is the result:

Scissor holder Mark 2

Scissor holder Mark 2        I must admit, that when I used a black stitching to outline the block, I was more satisfied with the result.



Yes , I KNOW that the white machine stitching is only to map the outline of the block. But I’m sure you agree that black thread throws the block into  better relief.

Maybe I have time for a mark 3 block!

Posted by: maureenc | March 15, 2016

Don’t you love online friends!

Maureen B and I have been online friends since about 2002, and she is one of the reasons I blog my stitching attempts, because I know that when I have a technical problem, she will always be able to offer some sound advice.

Below is an email I just received with comment on my chatelaine blocks.

And you know? she was spot -on in her comments!

I could live with the Pin holder and the needle book cover, but the Scissor keep ..

Anyway, read what Maureen suggested. and then read my reply below her comments.


I just viewed your blog and chatelaine set.  I thought the triangle worked in well and I like the floral centerpiece too (in both pieces).

I wondered about the scissorkeep though.  The floral piece could disappear altogether when turning after the seam is sewn or embroidered over.
Is it possible to expose it a bit more?  which would mean shifting the tacking too.

Just my two bits which you can totally ignore.

I took prints of Sharon’s freebie CQ blocks, mininized them, cut them out and near became demented as I could not get them right. In the end I scrapped them, did my own thing, with lots of trial and errors as, like you, it’s been a loooong time since I did something as small.  I stuck with Linda’s 5 sided piece in the centre too.

I hope you don’t think me rude, so I’ll send a hug along as well and the interference

My reply :

Hi Maureen
Not interference at all! What you said is PRECISELY the reason why I want to remake the scissor keep. Maybe I get position that floral piece centrally and then I have a “theme” showing in all three pieces!
You should know by now that I always appreciate your input.
Every time I get constructive criticism like this, I know how blessed I am to have friends who will share their knowledge and friendship.
Thanks Mii.




Posted by: maureenc | March 15, 2016

Returning to an old love

I knew that I had been remiss in blogging regularly this year, but it was a shock to see I have been absent for two months according to Mr WordPress.

I have been attempting to keep up with the weekly TAST assignments, but even those went on the back burner, because I acted much as I’ve done other summers and been in an hibernation type mode.

As I wanted to return to hand-work, in particular, Crazy Quilting ,  I thought that this year I would reduce the number of Postcards I’d make for swapping, and I can honestly say I succeeded at that. I don’t think I have made one card this year!

I put my name down with SouthernCross Crazies  to participate in a short Round Robin where we will embellish  each other’s naked patches .to eventually make a Chatelaine.

It’s a long time since I created any naked blocks, and it would be the longest time, since I made any quite so small!

Boy ! It that  was a shock to the system, working on pieces measuring, in one case,   dimensions of four by three inches, for the front of a proposed Needle book  cover.

The pin holder is  circular , with a diameter of three inches,and the scissor holder will be roughly a three by five inch triangle.

I’ve stitched up the blocks and am not really satisfied with them, so if I can squeeze in the time, I’ll try another set in a completely different colour way.

Needle book Cover

Needle book Cover


Scissor holder

Scissor holder

Pin keeper

Pin                  keeper                                                                                                                      I find the round and square pieces acceptable, but that triangular piece seems “out of whack”

I think my mind is still enjoying the goodies I bought recently from the Thread Studio. Luscious ribbons and  threads that are more suited to art quilts than CQ.

Maybe I should have chosen more vibrant colours for the chatelaine. But I thought that small pieces needed pale colours.

Back to the drawing board!

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.

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