27 February, 2012

Oh yeah it's Monday!

And I did say I'd choose a name on Monday didn't I! So names duly chosen by the random generator - my old method of using my little bit of randomness to choose doesn't work anymore because she's at school. And do you see what I did here, I decreased the pool by one for each run, thus increasing your chances. And let's face it, with only 21 entries they were pretty good to start with! I guess not many people are feeling the love for the DS Quilts fabrics, which of course is good news for those of you that do.

Screen Shot 2012-02-27 at 10.26.33 AM

And because at Hazelnuts you're not just a number you're a name, that would be Shelly, Barb and Cheryl. My draw for previous commenters came up with Lyndy - which seems right somehow given that she's sent me many lovely fabrics over the last couple years!

ETA: Oh and look, this is my 600th post!

25 February, 2012

The wrong side

Perhaps for the same reason that bad boys are so attractive, the wrong side of patchwork always excites me. I know it's impractical, I know it won't last, but I do love it.

24 February, 2012

Seminole patchwork journal cover

Last year I came across this stunning pillow using Seminole patchwork, done by Lucie Summers. I'd seen Seminole patchwork around but it always looked so not my thing, bright colours, completely symmetrical and repetitive, that I'd dismissed it out of hand. When I saw it reinterpreted like that I fell in love and took some books out of the library and bought myself an ebook from The Book Depository. I finally got the chance to try it out myself when I came to cover the journal that Helen gave us last month at a modern quilt gathering she had. And even better, I got to use up some of the scraps I'd generated, and bitched about, with the last MBOM block. Of course, it took a heck of a lot more fabric than just those scraps, and I generated some more, but what the hey! Like someone said for the MBOM block, we need to be less precious about cutting that fabric up!


It was very time-consuming because I was just winging it, and so I had to add bits on and take them off and make up more, but I got there in the end and learned a lot in the process! Things to remember for next time - think a bit more about colour placement for overall effect, use more thinner strips, make the straight strips wider to start with so the finished strip is too.


But what a fun process and I'm definitely going to do some more. In fact, Hazel was so taken with it this morning that she asked if I could make a cover for her and could she choose the fabrics this afternoon and it could have a heart on the top like so, with another one inside, and then another one underneath. But the patchwork had to be just like this, though in a different colour. Or as my SIL Kate would say (after a trip to Thailand) "same same...but different"

I also need to work on my journal cover construction techniques. After seeing about a gazillion online and in books it would seem I couldn't actually find one when I needed to! (ETA: I found this great tutorial at Bloom via Pinterest, source of all things good. Will definitely use it for the next attempt, especially since it will remind me to put in a bookmark ribbon!)  I may go back and hand-sew the top and bottom middle bit so the seam isn't there and fix that, but annoyingly I didn't extend the batting far enough because I was worried it would add extra bulk. Otherwise I'm very proud of my pretty-much-entirely-winged-journal cover because I don't often do that! It was so hot and humid with pouring rain here yesterday I basically just said "screw it" and sewed instead of doing the things I was meant to. No such excuses today!

22 February, 2012

SMS MBOM January

I got the January block done the day before the February one came out, so technically I'm keeping up!

SMS MBOM January

I enjoyed doing this one, although I put the left-hand strips in upside down so ended up with a larger piece of grey in the top left corner instead a triangle of the blue dot - took me ages to figure out what I'd done wrong! I had to shift the position of the two last strips quite drastically to get things to work out - I consistently seem to have this problem with these blocks and I'm really not sure if it's me or the pattern. This time it was to such a degree that I have no idea what happened. One thing that I'm becoming increasingly unhappy about with this BOM is the wastage of fabric. I cut a huge amount off the edges of this block, and that's fabric that possibly won't get used up in anything else. As someone at the AMQG meeting last night pointed out when I complained about this, when fabric is just a few dollars a yard in the States perhaps wastage doesn't matter but damn, it's not that cheap here! I'm also becoming increasingly unsure as to whether these will make even a vaguely decent-looking quilt when they're all put together. Oh well, it's an interesting process and I'm learning all sorts of things! I think that if I ever do another one though, I'll pick something that has been designed to make a single quilt, rather than a random assortment of different styles.

20 February, 2012

The fun stuff

Quite awhile ago I decided that I'd do a little something when I hit 500 followers - it seemed like a far-away and unlikely number! Then it started getting closer and I thought I'd better get myself organised and maybe a giveaway would be good. I was in Spotlight one day after a conversation with a friend about the Denyse Schmidt fabrics they carry and I thought perhaps they would be suitable fodder. I was hoping to get some of the Spotlight-only prints and I did find a few of them which was nice. In the meantime the followers jumped past the 500 mark and now there are 507 of you lovely people - and of course the RSS feed readers of whom there are an unknown number - hello to you all! I'm still astounded that so many people have taken the time to add me to their blog rolls and of course very flattered!

So what do I have for you?

DS Quilts bundles

 There are three bundles of 8 metric fat quarters (0.5m x half the width of fabric), and they all contain two of the NZ/Oz-only prints. One of the bundles is for someone who has commented on my blog in the last month, I appreciate your comments so much! The other two bundles will go to two people who leave a comment below, international entries welcome! One comment per person, I'm not looking to publicise this, or gain more followers or anything like that. Doesn't matter what you say, but make sure I have some way of contacting you. If you can't get Disqus to work (and I know some of you have problems with it at times) please send an email to me (you need to type the address in manually, it's just a image so I don't get spambots picking it up) and I will add you in! I will use a random number generator to pick names from the two pools (and yes, if you have commented previously you can most certainly put your name in below for a second chance) and announce the winners next Monday morning NZ time.

19 February, 2012

CameraBag 2 review

Last week Nevercenter asked if I'd like a review copy of their photo editing desktop app CameraBag 2. I had a look at the intro video on You Tube and thought it looked interesting so said why not and they gave me a copy. Initially I wasn't entirely sure why they approached me but I suspect that they are aiming for the "in love with Instagram (or Hipstamatic) and want to do it on my computer" set - and I admit I've looked for Photoshop filters that would allow me to replicate some of the filters I like on Camera + or Magic Hour. And woah does CameraBag have filters! Filters up the wazoo.  I could put in some screen shots of it in action, but actually the 5 minute 'How To' video is probably the best way to get an idea of how it works and it will save me a lot of explaining!

So, what do I think? I think it's fun and useful but there are some important things that are missing. First the good stuff!

Filters, filters, filters and more filters! I'm sure if you're a Photoshop whiz you can do these things easily enough, but I'm not and I can't - not even a vignette, so I'm pretty excited about these.

This is some of them:
Screen Shot 2012-02-16 at 9.41.59 AM

And there's even more of them here:
Screen Shot 2012-02-16 at 9.45.23 AM

All up I counted 102 individual filters, and then within each of those there is a huge variety of settings. It's a little overwhelming! Luckily there is the quick look option which lets you see them all at a glance.

There are also the usual exposure settings of brightness/contrast/saturation etc. etc.

Screen Shot 2012-02-16 at 9.40.25 AM

Plus some frames (something I've never been able to figure out in Photoshop!)

Screen Shot 2012-02-16 at 9.43.26 AM

So all of that's good and great and I'm really enjoying it. But what can't it do? (and I do stand to be corrected on this if anyone knows differently) Well it can't sharpen, and that's a major failing in my books. I use unsharp mask a lot, even on photos that are pretty sharp to begin with. Other online photo editing programs do a good sharpen - Snapseed on my iPhone does a super-good job, so its lack in CameraBag is a bit puzzling. It's the difference between this:

and this:

The other thing that I like to use a lot is a clone stamp or similar to get rid of pesky lamp posts or wires or trees. There are iPhone apps that can do this (eg.Filterstorm) - but not CameraBag. So instead of getting all lovely cloud courtesy of the seriously cool 'content aware' fill function in Photoshop (cloning could do it too, it's just much more labour-intensive):


You get this

CB cloud

Boo - trees and powerlines!

In the course of trying to figure out where sharpening was, I discovered another issue - the lack of a decent help function. The website offers a few video tutorials and some FAQs and that's about it. There is no comprehensive help guide, or any way of searching on a topic if what you want to know isn't contained in the FAQs. This suggests they aren't really expecting anyone to want to use this program seriously, or to experience anything outside the completely ordinary and expected. As a Photoshop and iPhone photo app junkie user it wasn't really an issue for me, and the controls are pretty intuitive, but still.

Overall I'm really enjoying the app and even if I had spent money on it I think I'd be pretty happy and looking forward to using it; but it's not perfect. I suspect what I'll be doing is some basic editing in Photoshop, particularly sharpening, and then taking it over to CameraBag. I've got my iPhoto set up to edit using Photoshop anyways, so it should work fairly smoothly. At the moment CameraBag 2 is US$24 and you can get a month's free trial for either Mac or PC, which seems to me like a bit of a no-brainer - you can evaluate it yourself. And if you find a way to sharpen I'd love to know!

14 February, 2012

I Heart You

Yes you! And all the lovely people who read this blog - I can hear you breathing out there you know ;) And I need your help with this post! A few weeks ago I came across this very cute tutorial for making a heart on a pillowcase with little dots of fabric paint and somehow, some way, I managed not to Pin it, or bookmark it or anything - just stowed it away in my memory and got the supplies. Of course, when I went to do it I couldn't find the webpage and just had to wing it based on my memory. So if you have seen this heart before and know where the tutorial is could you let me know so I can credit it properly?  Yay! The tutorial has been found and it's over at V and Co., thanks to Lyndsey and Jocelyn. It's a bit like Chinese whispers looking at my effort and the original - the things I'd remembered and forgotten.

The heart turned out very cute despite all that, my memory must be better than I realised (aside from the fact it was done on a tote bag in the original!).

It wasn't quite as easy as I'd thought, my technique with the end of the pencil was a bit lacking at the bottom and lots of the circles had no paint in the middle. Then I figured out that if you lightly dab dab dab it in the paint for each dot you get a much nicer circle. I also think I could have gone for less of the darker pink, but I was aiming for three colour changes as in the tutorial and was too timid with adding the white so my gradations weren't as obvious. I like the more subtle ombre effect of mine too though! One thing I did do is waste a lot of paint because I was adding white to the existing pink at each change and it takes a HECK of a lot of white to make an increasing amount of pink lighter! In the end I started scooping out a small amount of the pink and lightening that. I still went through most of a bottle of white paint before I figured that little trick out. And yes, I have a PhD, though in my defence it's in archaeology, not painting :P

This was the first time I'd used freezer paper and I'm a total convert! It was so easy to iron on and the edge, though not perfect, is pretty clean and sharp. I definitely need to try more stencilling with it.

12 February, 2012


I haven't been doing anything interesting lately, though I do try and fake it on Instagram. I love making my life look all arty and cool.

Instagram February

I've yet to try printing any photos off in a serious way - anyone have a good experience with a printing company? I printed a few off on my printer but I think I'd have to glue the photo paper to cardboard to stop them curling in the humidity. I created these mosaics over at instagrid.me, and they link up to printstagr.am who have some cute options, but I haven't investigated the international shipping. One never knows with US companies - sometimes they're fine, other times they seem to regard the existence of the rest of the world as offensive in some way and the shipping is so exorbitant you'd expect the item to show up carried by Daniel Craig in an Aston Marton. I think I've just convinced myself that it would be a good thing if Printstagram was in the latter camp... ;)

Instagram February

08 February, 2012

A finished quilt

No, that's not the fun thing I promised for yesterday - it had to take a raincheck for a couple more days.

I do think that finishing a quilt is fun though, partly because it means I can get on to something else! I see from the photo from when the top was finished that it's been sitting around since JUNE last year. Yeesh. Anyways, it's done-diddly-done!

Batch of Brownies

The Spotlight basting spray washed out fairly well, although I think there might be a bit left - it's hard to tell to be honest. It certainly feels less stiff! So a reasonable substitute for the mythical 505 spray for those of us downunder. The back was put together from three sections of the linen, hence the two long lines between the two smaller bits.

Batch of Brownies - back

I love the back.  The front...I don't know. I'm not a bright quilt kind of girl, so while I love the linen, and the design (Batch of Brownies by Elizabeth Hartman) and I'm pleased with myself and all that I'm not in love with it. It sort of reminds me of this little little ditty by Tom Brown:

I do not love thee, Dr Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not love thee, Dr Fell.

Everyone seems horrified that I don't love it, but it must happen right? Tell me your story!

Part of the reason the fun stuff has taken a raincheck is that this little guy has made an appearance in our lives -


He was dumped at a park and has been attacked by a dog. Hazel and her friend Jessica found him and captured him and made us grownups look after him. So here we are with a shared bunny named Sniff. He's been checked over by the vet and at the moment he's at Janet's in a borrowed hutch while we decide if we want to be bunny mummies or not. We don't have a decent back yard for him to live in sadly, so not sure if it'll be us looking after him longterm or not. He sure is a sweetie though!

04 February, 2012

The handwriting meme

handwriting meme

I saw this over at Meet Me At Mike's and of course it was super-cool so I had to join in!

The questions I'm answering are these:
1. What is your name
2. Blog URL
3. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
4. Favorite quote
5. Favorite song (at the moment)
6. Favorite band/singers (at the moment)
7. Say anything you want
8. Tag 3-5 bloggers

I'd love to see your handwriting if you would like to do it - it's something we all miss in this digital age I think! My handwriting has become a lot messier than it used to be, partly through dis-use but also because it's only me reading these days! At some point I switched from cursive (all my Uni notes were written in it) to some sort of hybrid printing/cursive thing - prinsive? I read somewhere that some schools are discontinuing teaching cursive but I think that would be a massive shame to be honest - how are kids going to develop a decent signature for one?

Stay tuned for something interesting on Tuesday - the first day back at school for Hazel and the first day of freedom loneliness for me. Ahem.


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