Sue’s visit

29 12 2014

Those who follow me on Facebook know that my good friend Sue (from San Diego) flew out to Australia to spend 8 days with me over Christmas 2014. She also spent a couple of days in Sydney and Hawaii on the way to and from Western Australia, but this post is about her summer Christmas visit to the southwest corner of Western Australia.

Here’s a summary of what we did (this is for her information as much as mine, as she didn’t keep a travel journal). I may not have all the dates/places exactly right, but they’re close enough!:

  • Friday 19 Dec – Pick up Sue from Perth airport, visit a friend of mine in Perth, travel home, visit the local kangaroos and watch the sunset over the Leschenault Estuary.
  • Saturday 20 Dec – Big day of touring today — some 400 km of driving. We started with Gnomesville, where Sue left the gnome she brought all the way from California. Next was the Donnnybrook Market and bakery and roadside cherries (to die for!), then Balingup (Tinderbox, Mystic Gems – antique section, lunch at Mushroom Cafe), followed by Bridgetown (where we called in on friends), Karri Gully where we hugged some magnificent big trees, Cambray Sheep Cheese (near Nannup), and Simmo’s Ice Creamery (near Dunsborough) for some ice cream.  Our second last stop was spending an hour or so visiting friends at Yallingup, then getting to the Busselton Jetty just on sunset.
  • Sunday 21 Dec – Bunbury Farmers’ Market, Woolies supermarket (supermarkets in other countries are always interesting — you can see new products and be amazed at how much you recognise from your home country etc.), Bunbury and its beaches.
  • Monday 22 Dec – Coles supermarket, lunch with my parents in Eaton, play some pool at a local tavern.
  • Tuesday 23 Dec – Dolphin Sea Kayak Tour (with Dekked Out Adventures), where we paddled down to where the Collie River empties into the Leschenault Estuary, across the estuary, and out through The Cut into the Indian Ocean. There were heaps of dolphins just around from The Cut (‘The Lounge’), and they swam between us, next to us, under us, and emerged close to us. Just a magical experience!
  • Wednesday 24 Dec – HaVe cheese (Harvey) and camels, shops, Buffalo Beach, and Belvidere on the Leschenault Peninsula.
  • Thursday 25 Dec – Jetty over the estuary, Buffalo Beach
  • Friday 26 Dec – Wellington Dam (near Collie), Big Rock on the Collie River below Wellington Dam, where we were very lucky to see about eight very endangered red-tailed black cockatoos. Sunset excursion to see the local kangaroos.
  • Saturday 27 Dec – Drove back to Perth via Southwest Highway, stopping in at Cohunu Koala Park in Byford, where Sue held a koala and fed and patted kangaroos and wallabies; Fremantle cappuccino strip and Fremantle Markets; Port/Leighton beaches to Cottesloe, Kings Park
  • Sunday 28 Dec – Drop Sue off at the airport for her flight back to Sydney.

When I asked Sue about some of the highlights (in addition to the stuff we did above), she said: big birds (especially the noisy galahs, cockatoos and others from the parrot family), horizons stretching forever, flat land/undulating land, plantation pine and gum trees, crystal clear blue skies (NO pollution/haze), eucalypts, countryside, farms, cattle, sheep, horses, kangaroos in the wild.

Her one word to sum up our little corner of Australia: ‘pastoral’. Her multiple words said often over the week: ‘Oh. My. Gosh.’

Here are some of the 300+ photos I took during the week. Click on a photo to view it larger.


Arriving in Perth


Standing among some of the thousands of gnomes at Gnomesville


Jerome Gnome from San Diego, left by Sue


Hugging a karri tree (Karri Gully park, between Bridgetown and Nannup)


Cambray Sheep Cheese — cutting the Manchego wheel


Busselton Jetty at sunset


Hugging ‘Mr August’


Learning about Nuytsia floribunda (Western Australian Christmas Tree)


Experiencing dolphins up close and personal near Bunbury


Marvelling at the endless sky, water, horizon, and beach near The Cut on Leschenault Peninsula


Local Pink and Grey Galahs in a neighbour’s front yard; native grass trees behind


Buffalo Beach


Endless summer at Buffalo Beach


Trying out free motion quilting for the first time! There’s a lot of concentration happening here 😉


Some of the many local kangaroos (mum and joey emulating a Qantas tailfin logo)


Emulating a lizard basking in the sun at Big Rock near Wellington Dam


Getting very up close and personal with ‘William’


Feeding a wallaby

And here’s a map of some of the places we went: map_of_sues_visit_dec_2014   While Sue thoroughly enjoyed her visit, I also thoroughly enjoyed having her here and seeing parts of my own backyard I hadn’t seen or experienced before.

Graffiti quilting samples

15 12 2014

When I was in the US, I met the lovely (and so terribly young!) Karlee Porter at Houston and then again at Salt Lake City in the Handi Quilter offices. Like many others, I bought her book ‘Graffiti Quilting’, and yesterday I had some time to practise some of her designs and methods. I was pleased with my first efforts!

The first two pictures below are of my practice sandwiches I used to test each of her motifs, and the final two are of my ‘real’ piece. I used a variegated Silco thread in red, green and white.

For those not into quilting, all the designs were stitched ‘free motion’, meaning no computerised control over the designs, no markings, and no rulers. It’s basically doodling with thread 😉

Thanks Karlee!





Rearranging the sewing room

15 12 2014

Getting the new window treatments installed was the impetus for me to rearrange the layout of my sewing room. I now seem to have much more open floor space — shifting the cutting table next to the sewing table removed a ‘pinch point’ as you walked in the door and another when you tried to get to the stored goodies in the wardrobe, and putting the ironing board in front of the window lets much more light into the room (even if I didn’t have the new verticals). I still have plenty of light on my sewing table and the view is just a small turn of the head away.

That white record/CD cabinet holds lots of fabric — the CD drawers are the perfect size for fat quarters. The portable design wall (not shown) is on the opposite side of the room to the window, and the wardrobe is to the left of the white cabinet.

My Sweet Sixteen lives in the living room 😉




New window treatments

15 12 2014

When we bought our current house, the three spare rooms had very wide and very heavy slimline venetian blinds. While I don’t mind the look of them, their sheer weight made them a pain to raise and lower, and they were pretty useless for ventilation as the windows open from right to left, not bottom to top like the venetians. So if you wanted some privacy AND some fresh air, you had to endure the rattle of the wind in the venetians and had to either raise them fully to access the window handle, or push your hand between the slats (thus bending them) to grab the window handle and open the window.

This photo shows one angle in my sewing room from 2011 — you can see part of the floor to ceiling venetians.


I bit the bullet and had all the venetians in these rooms replaced last week! I loved the look of some of the blinds on offer, but like the venetians, they just weren’t practical. Those that opened sideways that I particularly liked (e.g. panel blinds) couldn’t be adjusted for light, ventilation, or privacy — they had to be partly or fully open OR shut, and there wasn’t really a middle ground to satisfy my requirements for letting in some light as well as fresh air, while maintaining privacy. Even though I’m not a big fan of vertical blinds, they met all my needs (and were the cheapest option, though that wasn’t a primary consideration). I got the blockout ones as two of these windows get direct early morning sun. And to minimise the ‘look’ of verticals, I chose a colour to match the paint on the walls.

Since installing them, what I like is that I can pull them back to let in much more light, AND have the window open to get fresh air, or close them up fully or partially according to the light and breeze.

You can see from these photos that I had to clean stuff off the sewing table! It’s the cleanest its been since we moved in 😉 In fact, it was the impetus for shifting my sewing room around





Community Quilt 176

7 12 2014

This is likely my last Community Quilt for 2014. It was the last of the most recent bunch I had received, and I won’t get any more until I go to Perth on Dec 19 to pick up a US friend from the airport. As she’s staying with us until Dec 28, I doubt I’ll get any/many of whatever is coming to me in the new batch.

Like the previous quilt, this was a ‘busy’ scrappy quilt of many colours and wonky log cabins. I decided to soften the geometric lines by doing an all-over circular motif in red thread, opting for my ‘open headbands‘, which are lodged in my muscle memory 😉

(Click on a photo to view it larger)






Threads used:

  • Top: Floriani (40 wt, rayon, colour PF188)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin


Community Quilt 175

7 12 2014

There were a lot of scrap fabrics used in this quilt, so detailed quilting would have competed with, or overpowered, those fabrics. I opted for a simple ‘cathedral windows‘ design instead (just in the small squares, not the larger ones, which I left unquilted).

I left the first border unquilted too, and did a large stipple in the outer border.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Robison-Anton ‘Taupe’ (40 wt rayon, colour 2298)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan)


Summer is coming…

1 12 2014

If the temperature changes didn’t tell me that summer was coming, my garden would! From late November into December (at least), the agapanthus put on a fine display, and some of the varieties of yucca flower heads are starting to die off.





Point Peron

1 12 2014

We had to go to Perth last week for an appointment in Rockingham. On the way home, we took the scenic route to Mandurah via Shoalwater and Waikiki, detouring into Point Peron.

These are some of the views from the lookout at Point Peron. The first looks back to the suburb of Shoalwater; the second looks out past the reef to the Indian Ocean.



Community Quilt 174

1 12 2014

This was a BRIGHT quilt top!

I started by stitching in the ditch around the centre diamonds (and found out not all were diamonds…), then the borders.

As the centre panel was so bright and busy, I just did a simple angled straight line in the centres of each diamond (in red thread), filling in the diamonds in every second row with a filler design.

What to do with that expanse of cream fabric in the large border? I decided to try something new — a motif I’ll now call ‘Blowing in the wind’ as it reminds me of swirling winds. I stitched a sweeping line/S curve out to a curved pointed end, then echoed a couple of times, then started a new sweeping curve. Once I’d finished them all, I echoed around the entire design, then did a perpendicular up/down filler to make the wind swirls ‘pop’. I quite liked the effect and will add this to my repertoire. It was pretty easy to do and didn’t take long.

For the outer border, I echoed stitched about a half inch away from the seam, and then marked the width of my Line Tamer ruler from that stitched line and stitched another line to give me a space to work in. I then measured and marked approximately every 4″ across the length of each border between those stitching lines, and created diamonds from them, reflecting the diamonds in the centre panel.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)









Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Cardinal’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 70001); Fil-Tec Affinity ‘Wheat’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, [variegated] colour 60300)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin


Community Quilt 173

1 12 2014

I liked the vibrancy and colours of this quilt.

How to quilt it? Well, it was very geometric with harsh lines, so I decided to soften the look by doing a more organic, rounded all-over spiral motif.

I didn’t stitch in the ditch, just started in the centre and worked my way out. However, I decided to use a 12 wt cotton thread and I had all sorts of trouble with it poking through the back. I think that was a combination using a size 20 needle for this weight thread, AND using a bobbin thread that matched the backing fabric, not the top thread. No matter what I did with the tension I had ‘pokies’ on both sides of the quilt — yellow poking through the navy, and black poking through to the top. I wasn’t happy with the back at all.

Lesson learned: When using a heavy weight thread and a large needle, make sure the bobbin thread matches the top thread, no matter what fabric colour is used on the back. That way any pokies will be less obvious.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Yellow ‘pokies’ on the back


Black ‘pokies’ on the front

Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Fruitti (12 wt, Egyptian cotton, colour FT01)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (black)