Saturday, June 25, 2011

Turquoise Table Runner

Another (small) finish to start the weekend.


I had an idea to mix lots of neutrals with a pop of turquoise, and this is what eventuated. The blocks were 5 inches square, 4.5 inches once sewn together.  I used a variety of turquoise scraps and yardage, including some lovely linen sent to me by Diana at Sticks and Bubbles. The turquoise edging is only 0.5 inch once joined. That didn't leave much room for slightly off seams (plus some of my neutral squares were linen which has a tendency to stretch) so I used thicker strips and then cut the blocks back to size, which worked nicely.


I'm quite fond of the back too, and can see the flip-side being used quite often. I used random 1.5, 2 and 2.5 inch strips and cut in some blocks of colour.


Favourite back detail is this little fella.


I quilted using organic straight lines across the neutral part of each block (running parallel with the stripes on the back). I love how when you're too lazy to rule straight quilting lines you can just call it 'organic'.


Binding was going to be scrappy until I decided to stick with this Michael Miller fabric, which I think ties it all together nicely.


I'm very happy with this one, I love it when they work out just as you planned.


Bon weekend, tout le monde!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spring Trip: Bavaria

Germany was the second last stop on our Spring Trip, where we spent three days in Munich before heading off to Switzerland.


I wish I had more photos to share but by this stage of the trip (after such big days in Italy and given I was 6.5 months pregnant) I was absolutely knackered. I had to be put to bed each afternoon with the toddler which seriously cut into my sightseeing. However it didn't stop me eating my own weight in pretzels, sausages and schnitzels.


The first morning we hit the English Gardens in the centre of Munich. These massive, beautifully maintained gardens have playgrounds, music, places to eat, running/riding tracks and, my personal favourite, nude sunbathers.


Do you know how hard it was not to take photos? So, so difficult.

Loudest whispers in the world: what you hear when your two eldest children suddenly realise they are walking amongst nude sunbathers.


We also found this rather cool permanent standing wave in the Gardens, complete with (fully clothed) surfers strutting their moves.


The next day we visited the Deutsches Museum, which I thoroughly recommend. I loved the photography and textile sections while the kids rated the toy, aircraft and watercraft sections as well as the special kids area.


On our way from Munich to Switzerland we stopped off at the very famous Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles near Füssen.

Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle was King Ludwig II's childhood home (while his dad, Maximilian II was ruler). Neuschwanstein Castle was the fantasy palace Ludwig built himself within spitting distance of Hohenschwangau when he became king.

Neuschwanstein Castle (the inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty's Palace) in the distance.

Unfortunately we missed the last tour of Neuschwanstein, but we did take the half hour tour through his boyhood home, which was as amazing as you would expect a castle to be.


Hohenschwangau is still privately owned by descendants of Ludwig II, and photography is prohibited within.


However there was still plenty of castle goodness to photograph around the grounds.


King Ludwig II's life story is a very interesting read. He blew Bavaria's budget on new castles, was sacked as a result (by reason of insanity) and then drowned mysteriously with his doctor several days after his deposition. Hmm, very odd indeed.


If you get the chance, don't hesitate to visit Bavaria. The beer is cold, the countryside is spectacular and the sunbathers are nude. I ask you, what more is there to life?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fort Buoux

Thank you for all the pencil case love after my last post. The cases were used in the raffles rather than sold on their own. A mother who'd won one was nice enough to ask after who'd made her prize and came across and thanked me, which really made my day.

We managed another small trip this weekend - a drive through the Luberon Valley on Sunday to visit Fort Buoux.


We were really hoping that the lavender would be in flower throughout the Valley, but it's still a bit early so we made do with medieval ruins.


This fortress was built in the 13th century and was used as a Protestant strong hold during the Religion Wars of the 16th century.


Eventually the fort was ordered to be dismantled in the 1660s by Louis XIV who was doing away with any rural structures that could be used by local resistance.


We saw house remnants:


Church remnants:


Grain silo remnants (which are thought to be considerably older than the fort):

You know your wide angle lens is good when you get your belly in the photo.

And lots of defensive works:


This fort is perched on a very high, sheer cliff top. It would have been a fantastic defensive position and a nightmare to try and attack. It is a bit of a hike up to the top (sensible shoes needed) and there are no railings of any sort on either the ruins or the massive cliff drop-offs that are all around.

Sheer cliff drops past the ruined wall.

Walkways with drop offs and no guard rails.

Needless to say, if you have children that you can't control DO NOT take them up here. Unless you are hoping to get rid of them.


The hike up is probably not suited to some 36 weeks pregnant women either, but I am fairly fit and took it easy. Plus I'd just seen the obstetrician on Saturday and he said I was in great shape and he couldn't see this baby coming early.

My ginormous belly shadow.

He also said I have a fine cervix, but I bet he says that to all the girls.

The views from the top are impressive. You can see Mt Ventoux on the horizon (with its white stone cap).


There is a hidden staircase you can use to descend, however the guide book advised against the elderly, pregnant women and small children using it. Given the mister is a ripe old 38 now, we ticked all three of those boxes so we came back down the way we came up.


I found some time for sewing as well this weekend, just something small as it seems to be all my pregnant brain can handle.


This is destined to be a table runner. Quilting is complete and I just need to bind it.


Hope you all had a great weekend!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just in case.

Because you can never have too many pencil cases.


Well, that's a lie. Which is why I gave these away.


School is almost out here in southern France (we finish in 2 weeks) and both the big kids' schools are having what they call a kermesse.


We'd call it a school fête in Australia (to raise money for the next school year). Not sure what you 'Murricans call them (if you have them?)


These pencil cases are also based on the Noodlehead tutorial I mentioned previously. I used 18 cm (7 in) zippers for mine and went from there.


The best part is choosing the fabrics - coordinating case, lining and zipper - tons of fun (the sewing-inclined will know what I mean). The not-so-good part is sewing up 7 of the buggers.


Taking the photos was also a joy (as you can see, I took too many again).


I was tempted to go all patchworky on these, but quilting fabrics these days are such awesome little snippets of art on their own I didn't really see any need to. Plus I felt like they would appeal to more folks if they were kept on the simpler side. Some people just don't get patchwork.


Well, another Friday has rolled around, hope you all have a fabulous weekend!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Into Austria: Ambras Castle

More on the Spring Trip that never seems to end. I promise we're nearly there!

The city of Innsbruck, Austria

After our day in Verona and overnighting in Trento, Italy, we drove on to Munich. Our trip took us through Austria around lunchtime and thanks to our GPS we stumbled across this gorgeous place in Innsbruck.


Ambras Castle, or Schloss Ambras as it's known in German, was built by Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria in the 1560s for his wife Philippine.


There's a bit of a love story here as Philippine was untitled and not considered suitable for Ferdie II by his father, Ferdinand I.  They were only allowed to marry on the condition it was kept secret and she become his morganatic wife (which meant she and their children had no claim to any of his titles or property).


But marry they did and he built this gorgeous castle for her, out of the public eye. They had four children together and although she died before him and he married again (a woman of suitable rank*), his wishes were to be buried alongside Philippine. *sigh*


The castle is set in beautiful grounds, both manicured gardens and more bush-type trails through the forest which the kids loved (especially the playground we found).  There was also plenty of avian life around the grounds: ducks, water fowl, peacocks and hens and some honking big geese (which I avoided because they looked a bit feisty).


Also found - this grotto. I think Ferdinand II was a bit of a righteous dude as he had the grotto built to play drinking games with his guests.


There is a restaurant (shown below, next to converted stables) where we had a nice meal sitting outside, and also a museum which looked very interesting but unfortunately we didn't have time to explore.


Kids and grown ups of all ages would love this place - we would certainly recommend it.


*His second wife was Anne Catherine, his sister's daughter (i.e. his niece). Eww. They married when she was 16 and he was 53. Double eww.


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