Dolphins hunting!

30 01 2015

So, I’m driving into town late yesterday afternoon to get my hair cut. As I’m turning at a bend in the road to get to a T-junction, I see something splashing furiously in the estuary close to shore. It’s not a windsurfer, a kite surfer, a rambunctious dog, or a human that I can tell. It looks like a HUGE fish — perhaps a shark or dolphin? A couple of walkers see it too and stop to watch. I turn onto the main road, park, grab my phone (my camera was at home), watch for traffic, then run across the road and down an embankment to get closer.

It’s a dolphin! Actually two dolphins, but only one was herding/hunting in among the black swans. The other stayed out a bit, though I saw it’s dorsal fin few times. It was high tide, but the estuary is fairly shallow so the water where it was hunting was probably not much more than a metre (yard) deep. It swam through the flight of swans, causing them to scatter and get out of the way.

I took as many photos as I could (almost into the sun, and with the pressure of a looming appointment time), and downloaded them this morning to see what I was able to capture. I only got one clear photo of the dolphin splashing, but it’s proof I really did see them 😉

dolphins03 - small

What’s so remarkable about this for me is that I didn’t know that dolphins came that far up the estuary. In the map below, (1) represents where I *know* they hang out, (2) is where I saw them (some 4 km into the estuary from where they hang out in the Indian Ocean), and (3) is where I saw them again on the drive home from the shopping centre about two hours later — they were still there, again with one hanging around and the other making a BIG splash (I didn’t get any photos of this second sighting). A couple of years ago I saw a couple of dolphins in the estuary near where the ‘C’ is for ‘Old Coast Road’ on the map, near the ‘Bunbury Golf Club’ label, but I’ve never seen them this far up.


Upside-down blinds – such a practical solution!

29 01 2015

When I visited a friend in Seattle a few years ago, he was housesitting a fabulous house. He showed me the upside roller blinds in the kitchen/dining area, which I thought were just brilliant for letting in light while maintaining privacy. With normal top-down blinds, you have to pull them all the way down to get privacy, and that can block out light, especially if they are block-out blinds. But with these bottom-up blinds, you pull the blind up to the height you want to give you privacy, but there’s enough space above to let in light and air.

As I needed to change the impractical slimline metal venetian blinds we had in some rooms, I looked at window treatment options that would maintain privacy, let in light, and allow the window to be open to let in fresh air, without the window treatment impeding any of those things. For the spare bedrooms, I choose vertical blinds as they fitted all the criteria.

But for the second bathroom and toilet, I had to think outside the box. Verticals, curtains, and side-opening honeycomb blinds weren’t practical for either situation, and top-down roller or Roman blinds would have impeded air flow and only given privacy if pulled all the way down.

I remembered those bottom-up blinds in Seattle! So I went searching on the internet and in local blinds stores and found that all the local retailers were unfamiliar with bottom-up roller blinds, but most had a honeycomb (aka duette, cellular) blind option that could be opened from the top or bottom — or both. In all cases, they didn’t sell many — possibly because they are fairly new to Australia, but also because they are MUCH more expensive than the usual top-down honeycomb blinds.

But that’s what I wanted.

They were installed yesterday and I’m very pleased with them. They are VERY practical. In the second toilet, they allow ventilation through the top opening of the window (the old venetians either blocked this, or rattled a lot whenever there was any wind), and can be pulled open from the top to allow privacy, while also allowing light. In the second bathroom, there’s a large fixed window with a small left-opening window at the top. This type of window is ideal for this sort of blind as the blind can cover the main window (thus offering full privacy), without covering the top section — thus allowing light and air into the room.

Thanks Craig for showing these to me in Seattle!



Community Quilt 184

29 01 2015

This was quit a large quilt, but fortunately it didn’t have any bias edges and most of the seam joins were nice and flat. First, I stitched in the ditch along every diagonal strip (painfully tedious, but had to be done).

Then, because there were a lot of floral scrappy fabrics in this quilt, I stitched an 8-petal flower motif in the centres of each each on-point block. Instructions for doing these flowers are here:

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Deco Bob (80 wt, DB 414)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan)


Quilting an 8-petaled flower

27 01 2015

In a recent Community Quilt (blog post to come), I stitched heaps of 8-petaled flowers in the centre of each on-point block. I took some photos and with some (very) rudimentary computer drawing skills, I’ve tried to describe how I stitched it (I still don’t have the hang of videoing anything!! and my computer-drawn lines leave a lot to be desired…)

Basically, you start in the centre, loop out to a corner, then back down through the centre to the opposite corner in a fat-topped figure eight fashion (let’s assume you do the first one vertically), then scoot back through the centre and make another figure eight going on the other plane (e.g. horizontally). You don’t stop and start for the entire flower, just cross over in the centre point.

After making your two big figure eights, you swing back to the centre and make two smaller and narrower figure eights to fill in the gaps between the large one.

Then you swing back to the centre again and echo stitch inside the fat figure eights so that there’s a double line for them. And that’s it.

It’s certainly much easier to do than to describe! Hopefully the pictures and the diagram below will help.

This is what the finished flower looks like:


And this is how I got there. First, start in the centre and loop out to a corner, swinging back to the centre.


Next, finish the bottom of that figure eight.


When you get back to the centre, keep stitching and loop out to the horizontal plane, doing another figure eight to the left….


…and then to the right (or whatever feels most comfortable for you).


Swing back through the centre again, and this time stitch a smaller, narrower petal in between two of the large loops.


Swing through the centre again and repeat on the opposite side.


Next time you come back through the centre, swoop to the left to make another skinny loop, and repeat on its opposite side. (no photos for this figure eight — however, you can see the stitching in the photo below)

After completing all eight petals of your flower, add some extra oomph to the large petals by echo stitching about 1/8 to 1/4  inch inside each one — you don’t have to be precise!

Swoop back down inside one of the large petals and echo stitch it from the centre, around the loop, and back to the centre.


Keep on stitching through and echo stitch the opposite fat petal.


Swoop back through the centre and echo stitch inside the last two petals, forming yet another figure eight through the centre of the design. Again, unless you are using plain fabric, you don’t have to be perfectly precise with where your centres cross — the crossing point will get lost in the fabric design.



And you’re done! Here it is all stitched out:


And below is a really basic drawing of the stitching lines — each colour is another figure eight loop/infinity symbol, with all crossovers occurring in the centre of the block.


In light of SkyMall folding…

27 01 2015

For those of you who have never travelled on a domestic flight in the US, there’s a magazine in the seat pocket of most planes called SkyMall. Well, an announcement was made last week that SkyMall was filing for bankruptcy.

So what was SkyMall? Basically a mail-order shopping catalogue of cheap (and not so cheap), tacky, crud that most people most of the time would never use. But it was always worth a chuckle while waiting for the plane to take off, or while in the air.

I was going through some photos recently, and was reminded of SkyMall because I took a photo of this page on my last trip to the US around mid-October (i.e. just before Halloween). It’s an example of all that was tacky about SkyMall 😉 A remote-controlled tarantula. Yea, just what I need… NOT!


What the…?

27 01 2015

I was working on a Community Quilt yesterday (separate blog post to come), when I happened to turn over to look at the stitch tension on the back. I was close to the edge, and this is what I saw on one selvedge:


This is what I saw on the other selvedge:


Now, I don’t know about you but my immediate reaction was ‘What the…?’ I can understand the copyright on the fabric (though how on Earth a ship’s wheel and some stripes relate to The Wizard of Oz movie is beyond me… And yes, that’s ALL that design was – just more of what you see in the pictures above), but the ‘License is required for any use beyond individual consumption’??? What’s up with that?

So I researched it a little bit and found some interesting articles on the internet, none of which I can take as more than opinion, though the Tabberone one looks reasonably authoritative:

I still don’t know what all this means for the consumer or for the shop owner that sells these ‘licensed’ fabrics. I particularly don’t know what the ‘license required for any use beyond individual consumption’ statement means to either consumers or shop owners. And whether the licence is for just one country (which one?) or many (which ones?) or all? It can’t be ‘all’ as every country has different copyright and trademark laws.

What does ‘beyond individual consumption’ mean? If you have purchased fabric for a project and have cut it up and used it, does that mean you’ve individually consumed it? Or if you sell that item or give it away, is that still classed as ‘individual consumption’? Or are the lawyers having a lend of us all and scaring us into submission with words that sound scary but may well be meaningless and unenforceable?

Personally, if I saw that ‘personal consumption’ statement on the selvedge of fabric I was intending to buy, I’d ask the shop owner to explain, and if I couldn’t get a satisfactory explanation, I’d refuse to buy it AND I would ask the shop owner to tell the manufacturer’s agent why customers weren’t buying it. If I was able to remember the manufacturer, I’d also drop them an email asking them to explain what it meant AND telling them why I wouldn’t buy it when the meaning is not at all clear.

And what if the fabric had been cut by a store into fat quarters and offered for sale without selvedges? How is the purchaser to know that some weird restriction or limitation may exist on the use of that fabric?

This sounds like a legal minefield! Surely designers want to design fabrics and manufacturers want to sell those designs, but if they start putting restrictions on the use of the fabric, then they won’t have a business. And only the lawyers will have won. Again.

It’d be like buying a dozen eggs and then being told that legally you can only use them for yourself and no-one else. Stupid.

If anyone can shed some light on what these printed license and copyright statements on fabric mean to the final purchaser of the fabric, I’d appreciate it if you could add your comments below.

Making plans…

26 01 2015

I’m off to the US in a month or so, and I realised that my calendar was getting chock-a-block full of activities — I think I’ll need a holiday by the time I get home 😉

  • Day 1: Drive to Perth (2 hours), fly to Sydney (5 hours), overnight at Sydney airport
  • Day 2: Fly to Dallas Forth Worth (16 hours), go to a concert that night, overnight at DFW airport
  • Day 3: Fly to San Antonio, stay overnight with friends
  • Day 4: Friends take me to Texas Hill Country where I’ll check in for my quilting workshop
  • Days 5 to 9: Five-day quilting workshop, show and tell etc. in the evenings
  • Day 10: Friend shows me Texas Hill Country, then back to San Antonio airport to fly to Miami and meet up with another friend
  • Day 11: Friend and I board our cruise ship
  • Day 12: At sea, relaxing
  • Day 13: Cozumel, Mexico – spend day at a beach resort
  • Day 14: Trujillo, Honduras – spend day on a walking tour  of a nature park (shore excursion)
  • Day 15: Belize – spend day at Mayan ruins 2 hours from Belize City (shore excursion)
  • Day 16: At sea, relaxing (do a cooking class on board that day)
  • Day 17: Key West, Florida – likely bike riding, stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking, visit Hemingway’s house, have Key Lime Pie!
  • Day 18: Disembark at Miami; possible culinary tour of Little Havana?
  • Day 19: Everglades private tour; culinary tour of South Beach
  • Day 20: Fly to Pittsburgh, have dinner with friends
  • Day 21: Day off in Pittsburgh — nothing planned as yet
  • Day 22-24: Attend and speak at conference in Pittsburgh; participate in evening social networking activities
  • Day 25-26: Fly from Pittsburgh to Dallas Fort Worth to Sydney to Perth then home (no overnight stays, except on the plane from DFW to SYD)

I wonder if I planned to fit in too much? 😉

More locals

25 01 2015

On my morning walk I see lots of livestock (horses and cattle mainly) and birds. The cattle usually hang out in a couple of paddocks and are often quite some distance from the path. But this morning several of them were close to the fence, and while wary, didn’t run away when I approached with my phone to take some pictures of them. Unfortunately, photographing black cow faces is as hard as photographing black cats 😉






New locals

25 01 2015

Sometime around Christmas, a neighbourhood property (5 acres) got a few new residents. First were two miniature horses, followed a few days later by about six Dorper sheep (one ram, some ewes, and some juveniles). The horses are very friendly and will come running to the fence when I walk by on my morning walk.

I got to meet the owner this morning, and he said they just love carrots and he would be fine with me bringing some to feed them when I walk past. He also told me the names of the horses — Sandy (the female with the blond hair and tail) is about four years old, and Angus (brown mane) is about a year old. They are just the cutest things!!!





Community Quilt 183

25 01 2015

Some quilts (like #182) sing to you; others make you want to get them off your machine table ASAP… #183 was one of those. I didn’t like the fabrics (I suspect some were quite old), the colours, or the HUGE amount of biased edges and wonky blocks. It was one of those quilts that has to be stitched into submission.

Normally for a smallish quilt like this, with this many fabric variations, I’d just stipple it all over nin a neutral thread and not worry about stitching in the ditch. But it was obvious as soon as I put this quilt on the machine’s table that I’d have to stitch in the ditch otherwise I’d end up with massive puckers if I just stippled it, even if I started from the centre (as I usually would).

So, even though I wanted this one off my table ASAP, it had to remain on there long enough for me to stitch in the ditch for almost ESS (‘every stinking seam’), and then for the stippling.

I was glad to be done with it. Fortunately, it was small and didn’t take too long.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)



Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Harmony ‘Spring’ (40 wt, cotton, colour 14062)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)