Advent Activity Calendar

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I was inspired by the advent activity calendars that I saw on so many craft blogs last Christmas so as November drew to a close I sat down with my daughter and made a list of activities we could do as a family. It wasn't easy coming up with 24 ideas that we'd be able to work into our daily schedule but we got there and it has been a roaring success. G wrote all the activities on index cards in her beautiful 6yo handwriting and we placed each card in a numbered red paisley envelope. I cut down a cardboard box, covered it in white wrapping paper, dressed it up with a ribbon and we were done. That makes it sound like a much quicker project than it actually was, G was determined to write every card herself so we did it over the course of a day doing just a few cards at a time. Truthfully, I was pretty over it by the end of the day but I am glad we stuck it out and I adore seeing her handwriting each time we open an envelope.

Today's activity is making rice shakers for the kids to play with when we are at the in-laws for Christmas. I've got plenty of toilet paper rolls, rice, christmas wrapping paper and contact set up so that we are ready to start when G gets home from school. Hopefully we'll be able to get it done in the precious window of time before babies need feeding and bathing!

A long time between drinks

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It has been far too long between posts, I never really got the blog properly underway before it slipped into the ether of my 3rd pregnancy. I had so many pojects and plans for 2006 but the one I am most proud of and excited about when I look back on the year is the only one I wasn't anticipating.

C was born on October 6 and it has been delightful to watch her grow over the past 9wks and to see how wonderfully her big brother and sister have taken to her. We knew that G would enjoy having another baby in the house but J has taken us by surprise. He is very proud of his little sister, taking everyone who comes to the house by the hand and leading them down the hallway to the bassinet when she is sleeping. He coos over her, kisses her softly on the cheeks and comes to find me as soon as she starts crying to let me know that she needs me. He is a very gentle little guy and with his 2nd birthday this Sunday we want to make sure it's extra special for him. That means cupcakes and bubbles... lot's of bubbles!

I finished the castle quilt, it is all hand pieced, quilted and bound and J loves it. I still haven't embroidered a dragon against the main castle wall yet but I need to get hold of something other than DMC cross stitch thread to do that. My attempts so far have resulted in lot's of shredded thread, it just doesn't hold up to being pulled through the batting.

Look ma, no hoop!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Do you like the toile I used for the backing fabric? I was going to use some as applique on the front of the quilt as well but I decided to stick with embroidery.

We watched Capote last night and I worked away on my freeform fans while enjoying the movie. I have struggled with fitting the hoop on the borders and managing to hold the fabric tightly enough to end up with even stitches so I went hoop-free and it worked beautifully. If the weather doesn't heat up too much I should be able to finish the border in the next couple of weeks! I can't wait to put the final stitch in the binding and give myself a little pat on the back for completing a quilt. But, I mustn't get too far ahead of myself, there are a lot of stitches to sew before I get to that point.

I bought a linocut from Littlest Flower for Mr Duyvken for valentine's day and he loved it. The japanese paper is so delicate, I must make an effort to visit Ikea to get one of the ribba frames to put it in so we can get it out of the post tube and up on the wall. She was incredibly generous and included another of her prints as well so we now own two beautiful pieces.

Back on track!

Monday, February 20, 2006

I have two pieces of exciting news today. Firstly I am 8wks pregnant and suffering hideous morning sickness which is the norm for me, unfortunately. But, it doesn't last forever and
I can't wait to hold this new little life for the first time. Secondly, after a pregnancy and heat induced hiatus I have picked up the quilt again and have started the free form fans on the border. This is HUGE for me as I seem to have developed a fear of quilting borders and sewing on binding. It may not be perfect but at least it will be done!

Friday, January 27, 2006

This is the quilt that first got me interested in trying quilting for myself. It was made by family friends to mark the occasion of our daughter's birth 5 years ago. They live in Chicago and worked on this together while I was pregnant and it arrived just a few weeks before G was born. It is a friendship stars quilt and I was taken with the way the blocks merge together to form connecting stars. There are very few fabric repetitions, a beautiful stars and moon fabric for the border and a soft flannel backing. Thank you D's!

Future Projects

Monday, January 23, 2006

I have a few things lined up to do and a few ideas running around in my head so I thought I would start a projects list. I am looking forward to conquering my fear of borders and binding so that I can complete projects 1 and 2 and embark on the fun process of selecting fabrics and seeing an idea come together for the rest of the list.

1. Quilt the border and bind the baby quilt.
2. Quilt the border, embroider Jem's name and a few creatures and bind the castle quilt
3. Make the Bareroots 'You Are Loved' wallhanging for G from the pattern Mr Duyvken bought me from a gorgeous little quilt shop in Berrima. This should be a good opportunity to learn applique and to practice my embroidery.
4. Make some of the Stargazey daiziez blocks and become friendly with a rotary cutter.
5. Make a pirate wallhanging using Lazy Gal's free pieced letters. Plenty of phrases like X marks the spot, take 3 steps west, 7 steps north and dig, ahoy me hearties, etc.
6. Make a few table runners to play with designs and colours on a small and manageable scale.
7. Do something with brights on a black fabric.
8. Make a pieced circles wallhanging using aboriginal fabrics.
9. A white wallhanging with 2 pink vertical lines set slightly to the right of centre.

What a wonderful break!

We had a great time up north despite the fact that it rained for the first couple if days. It cleared up enough for us to enjoy a swim in the breaking waves (G loved it, J hated it) and a stroll through Forster. G went to see Chicken Little with Oma while Mr Duyvken, J and I visited Sugarcreek Toymakers. Everything is so beautiful! The wildflower faeries, the chickens, the bride and groom, the owl, the chunky toys, etc but my hands down favourite is the nativity set. Everything is made by hand and you can see into the workshop from the small store. I haven't yet bought anything (amazing given the number of times I have been in) but that's simply because everything is so desirable it's almost impossible to settle on just one thing to bring home with me.

We drove to the Hunter Valley on the way back to Sydney and stopped at the Hunter Valley Gardens. The entry fee was more than we'd anticipated ($18 per adult, $9 per child aged 6 and over) but we figured we're on holiday so we might as well just enjoy it. They have a story book section for children featuring popular, rhymes and children's stories. This is G tumbling down with Jack and Jill.

We also visited Coopers Winery and the Binnorie Dairy store to buy some of our favourite marinated feta. We also bought a jar of labna and some herb and garlic fromage frais. Last time we bought the feta we devoured it in one sitting so we're hoping for more restraint this time around. I see a wine and cheese night in our future!

I didn't do a stitch of quilting but it was a wonderful little holiday.

Quilt #1

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This is the quilt I started making in 2004 and which, as you can see, is not yet finished. Cutting the border fabric nearly drove me insane, I really need to get a rotary cutter to help me out with cutting in straight lines. Who knew that would be so difficult?! So it has a delightfully wrinkled effect around the edges and I've been uncertain as how to quilt the borders as a result. So, once the castle quilt is finished and bound I will move on to finishing this one before I start any new projects.
We are heading up north for a few days and are hoping for a return of the sunny summer that's still lingering in 2005. See you on Saturday!

Major discovery today

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This is almost embarrasing to admit but I have been stab stitching all my hand quilting - no wonder it takes me so long! I was looking through a quilt book in the bookstore this morning and it showed how to hand quilt using a hoop but using a rocking motion to get several stitches on the needle at once. *Insert sounds of hand slapping forehead here. I haven't tried it yet myself but I think it will make the whole process quite a bit speedier. My mother-in-law took some beginner's quilting classes in 2004 and showed me what she had learned after each class but I got to the sandwiching and quilting stage before she did so I had to figure it out myself. Clearly I skipped an important page! I am looking forward to trying this out.

I love Tonya's suggestion to include a dragon in the quilt. I have quilted some rays around the sun and a cloud in one of the blocks but because I have used cotton quilting thread it doesn't stand out unless you are looking closely at it, see what I mean? I think I will use embroidery thread as per Lazy Gal's suggestion and try my hand at a dragon and a knight in the castle section and a couple of windows and a door on the other buildings. Now to go through the colouring books to find a basic dragon outline I can use!

In other very excited news our oven, which hasn't worked since before Christmas, was repaired yesterday and we baked brownies to celebrate. Mr Duyvken and G had some fun in the kitchen together and we have been enjoying the fruits of their labour ever since. The recipe was recently given to us by a friend from Mr Duyvken's triathlon club and it certainly lives up to it's name:

The Ultimate Triple Chocolate Brownies

125g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate
1/2 cup caster cugar
2 eggs beaten lightly
1 1/4 cups plain flour
180g white chocolate, chopped
125g milk chocolate, chopped

Grease 19cm square cake pan, line base and sides with baking paper.
Combine butter and dark chocolate in medium saucepan, stir over low heat until melted.
Cool 10 mins.
Stir in sugar, eggs then flour.
Mix in remaining chocolate and spread into pan.
Bake 180C oven for about 30mins.
Cool in pan.
Slice and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Making good progress

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quilting continues apace! I have made some good progress today with the quilting and should be ready to start on the borders before the end of the week. Then I get to try my first attempt at binding. I'm not too concerned about sewing the binding on, although I am not looking forward to all that straight line stitching, but I am a little worried about cutting and sewing the strips together to have a nice straight piece of material to start with. I liked Tonya's comment about the 'quilt police', I really want this new craft to be something that is just for me and I hope I can avoid needing other people's validation. Of course, for me that is often easier said than done...

Went to the pool this afternoon and managed to do 6 laps of the 50m pool, I really need to work on getting back in shape! Mr Duyvken did a cool km and could have swum longer but the kidlet's teeth were chattering so we hauled him out of the water. It started raining just as we arrived so we have the place almost to ourselves which was lovely. J really enjoyed the water and G enjoyed practicing her swimming and showing daddy how much she learned in her swimming lessons over the last 2 weeks.

Blogs are always more fun with pics so here's a photo of G and her cousin at swimming lessons last week.

Art naif, folk art, outsider art

Sunday, January 15, 2006

whichever way you choose to name it I just love this artistic style. I was lucky enough to travel to London and Paris in August to visit my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and while in Paris visited this wonderful gallery in Le Marais. Galerie Naifs du Monde Entier contained many treasures and Nic and I spent quite a while browsing through all the pieces and chatting with the proprieter. I particularly liked the work by Arthur Zurabian, I was tempted to attach myself to some major debt to take home a piece of a boy offering a donkey a carrot. It was so beautiful, I still think of it frequently. I would love to try to capture his colour palette in a quilt made of pieced circles. Definitely one for the future project's list.


I don't have much quilt progress to report (far too humid this weekend to sit with it draped over my lap) but we have had such a wonderful weekend. Mr Duyvken finished up at work on Friday and is off for 2 1/2 weeks so we are looking forward to a couple of very relaxing weeks. We will drive up to Forster to visit the in-laws who have had a sea change and are retiring up there. They have a small property on Wallis Lake that we all refer to as 'the farm' and the kids are very excited about having a ride on the tractor and counting the cows.

In the top left corner of the quilt is a block that I pieced to look like a banner in which I am going to stitch either J's Castle. I'll have to find a nice sharp needle with a bigger eye to get a few strands of DMC through so that it shows up nicely. I was going to embroider it but I think quilting it through all three layers will be more serviceable and will make it look folkier. I may also quilt some squiggles onto the buildings to give them more interest. Or I will stick with the original plan and echo quilt doors and windows. I guess I'll see what mood strikes when I get there!

One of Mr Duyvken's projects for his holiday break is to finish the cot he making for our first nephew, Callum, who was born in November. Mr Duyvken has made some beautiful things for us, including a bed for G and a cot for J, and also made this beautiful jewellery box as a Christmas present for his sister in 2003. He plans on making a few more boxes this year as they are good practice pieces, don't cost a lot in materials and you don't need a whole room to keep it in when it's finished! I look forward to having beautiful boxes throughout the house.

My work in progress

Friday, January 13, 2006

I did some more stitching in the ditch quilting last night and am fast approaching the point at which I need to decide how to quilt the borders. I love the way Lazy Gal Quilting does freeform fans and it fits with my ethos of putting together something playful and relaxed for my son to enjoy so I think I will work them 4 or 5 deep around the perimeter of his quilt and see how they turn out. Quilting this has made me see all the sections where my measurements and cuts were a few mm out but I am pleased with it nonetheless. I love the colours in it, particularly the green, and think it will be a nice cheery thing for him to snuggle up to when the cooler weather arrives. The photo shows the quilt in it's current state pinned to the curtains in my bedroom, not the best way to photograph a quilt, I have discovered ;-) It really does lay flat, I promise.

I have been reading Modern Quilt Workshop by Ringle and Kerr and enviously eyeing their colours combinations and designs, I look forward to having the skills to attack some of their patterns. It has also opened my eyes to lots of things that more seasoned quilters already know e.g. you don't always have to stitch in the ditch (hooray methinks), you shouldn't always assume that a quilt needs a border and that the repitition of one block pattern across an entire quilt can be truly stunning. I must see if I the library has a copy of Color Harmony for Quilts, it also looks like a wonderful book.

castle quilt

Thursday, January 12, 2006

castle quilt
Originally uploaded by duyvken.
Welcome to my little weblog! I started quilting in 2004 but am only on my second project and I think I have fallen in love with this noble and liberating little art. I don't own a sewing machine so it is all hand work and, therefore, rather slow but I think having a blog will help me maintain momentum with my projects so that I have something to share and also to explore some new things I would like to try this year. I have a sampler quilt that needs to be bound and a castle quilt that I have almost finished quilting for my 12mth old son.

Still fiddling of course and trying to learn how to include photos hosted at Flickr but I am sure I will get there in the end!

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