Sunday, October 9, 2011

The "spoilt dog" in Spoilt Dog Quilts

There wasn't enough room in my profile to explain the spoilt dog in the name of my blog. The spoilt dog refers to my (dear departed) silky terrier, Minnie. Min has been in doggie heaven now for almost four years but I miss her every day. DH and I could not have children together so Min became my surrogate child.

We were livng in Wyandra, 100 km south of Charleville (about 1 000km west of Brisbane) in 1993 and I was  transferred out to Birdsville in far far SW Queensland. Our previous dog Max, a Smithfield cattle dog, had met an untimely end and we were offered the choice of our neighbours silky terrier pups. I went next door and chose Minnie and she was the most fantastic dog one could ever have.

Min was very loyal and lots of fun. Barry was in and out of a wheelchair for the five years following when we were given Minnie and Minnie stayed by his side all the time. Considering that we were living in the Outback where social services are non-existent, Min looked after Barry during the long hours when I would be at school.

Min loved sitting on my quilts when I was trying to sew them and the first two quilts that I made, both log cabins, were claimed by her. The photo above shows Minnie laying in a basket of quilting fabric waiting to be folded.

The photo above shows Minnie laying on some rows of a row by row that I was working on and hopefully I shall finish that UFO in the next couple of months!

Here's another photo of Minnie, looking very stressed out - not! And yes, that is more quilt fabric that she is laying on, with a dresden plate quilt in the background.

Okay, here is yet another photo of Minnie laying on a teddy bear quilt made for a friend's daughter:

Minnie died of end stage kidney disease, poor little thing. She was one of those dogs with a huge personality and everyone who met her just loved her. I could not do a blog about quilting without including Min, hence the name of the blog. I originally was going to call the blog Killerdog Quilts because an old Aboriginal bloke out in Birdsville nicknamed Minnie Killerdog but someone said to me that that didn't sound like a good name for a quilt design company (which is what I hope to eventually start up), hence the name of my blog now. Old Albert called Minnie Killerdog because she used to bark ferociously at him when he walked past the schoolhouse (where we were living in Birdsville on his way to the pub). Albert's thongs/flip flops used to make a loud noise when he walked past our house so hence Min would bark at him. As she was only small (about 5kg and not even a foot high) she could only bite you up to your ankles, so  the name was a bit of a joke. RIP my little hund (German for dog), Killerdog, mutt, four-legged human ... we called her all sorts of names, most of which she answered to!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Out of Africa quilt challenge finished to the quilting stage

Yesterday my good friend Dolly helped me finish the border of my Out of Africa quilt challenging for my online challenge group, Challenging Ourselves.

The blocks are mostly from a swap I did about ten years ago with my online Southern Cross Quilters group (Scquilters for short). I sent out feature fabric that I had bought in bundles from the Unique Spool quilt shop in the US. These are what I call African tribal fabrics, made in Africa with African themes and bright colours.

My own block that I sent out with the African tribal fabrics is the yellow sunburst block, which is the third block from the left in the second row from the bottom of the quilt. I just love making the sunburst blocks and they are dead easy using paper piecing.

The challenge for me was to "edit" the blocks that I received back in the swap, even though some I wanted to keep in. Unfortunately the blocks with turquoise in them just did not fit, as gorgeous as they were. I then made up a series of square in a square, friendship stars and nin patch to make up for the blocks that I had to take out.

I interspersed the pieced blocks with the African tribal prints and some suitable batiks and I am quite happy with how the quilt has turned out. I will say that I got lots of exercise running around the bed in the guest bedroom, constantly swapping the blocks over to make the colour balance work.

Dolly has now taken the quilt top up to her home to quilt for me as she has a lovely Happy Jack quilting frame/machine. I just have to piece the backing, which will consist of the spare blocks from the front, scraps from the front and also some bright fabric and African-themed print fabric, to make the quilt back. I learned from Adina Sullivan many years ago to try to make my backs match my fronts.

I am going to name the quilt " I know a place in Africa: in memory of Karen Blixen (author of the book Out of Africa)" since I loved the book and the film and more importantly Karen's spirit. The book was written in Karen's pseudonym of Isak Dinesen but I preferred to use her real name in the title of the quilt.

9/11 10th anniversary

R.I.P. all those who lost their lives in, and as a result of 9/11. My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost family and friends as a result of this horrendous act and with those who survived the many attacks of that day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Quilting Blog contest entry - Vietnam War and PVA quilt

I am blogging about an old quilt of mine for the Quilting Bloggers Weekly Quilt contest. This week's theme is Patriotic quilts and so I thought I would enter my quilt "They Served - We are proud of them". If you like my quilt please vote for it by clicking on the Quilting Bloggers link down the right-hand side of my blog.

I made this quilt for the Partners of Veterans' Association ( national quilt exhibition back in 2006 but the quilt was made as much for my husband Barry, a Vietnam Veteran, as it was for the quilt exhibition. It was later published in the PVA-produced book of the exhibition (which travelled around all States of Australia and also New Zealand).

My husband is slightly older than me - thirteen years older in fact - and so I was six years old when he went to fight for Australia in the Vietnam War. The learning curve in terms of living with an ex-Army soldier and Vietnam Veteran has been very steep over the last twenty-plus years - in fact it hasbeen almost vertical. I had never even heard of the term PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) before I met my husband, who has this condition as a result of his war service.

What I have learned during my years with Barry is that those men and women who served (and continue to serve) in the Australian Defence Force did so, and do so, willingly and without counting the personal cost to themselves or to their families.

However, we, the wives and partners, well know, our men and women came back somehow different to the people they were when they left Australia. Even now, after more than forty years on from the Vietnam War, there are many Veterans and their wives/partners who are still discovering just what has caused their loved ones to return aktered in personality, with many wounds not always visible - hence the phrase "Not all wounds are visible" along the top of my quilt.

These wounds need to be acknowledged, not just by their partners, but by the government that sent them off to war and related duties (because it is not just war-related service that can cause PTSD in the Armed Forces), and by the general public.

Several years after meeting my husband I went to a social event run by the Vietnam Veterans' Association of Australia ( . The ladies there were all talking about their husbands, whose characteristics and personalities all sounded similar to what I experienced with my own husband. For the first time I felt that I was not alone in being baffled by my husband's nightmares, extreme and sometimes unexplained temper, rages, responses to loud unexpected noises ... the list goes on.

It is through the unity and "lack-of-needing-to-explain" found within such organisations that the wives and partners of our Veterans can find understanding, support and help for their veterans and for themselves.

Sadly,war and peace seems to always exist in this world side by side. However, the public tends to attack those men and women who serve their country in the Defence Forces rather than confronting the politicians who make the decisions to send troops

In making my quilt, I have chosen to pay tribute to those men and women who have served and continue to serve in the military. I am very proud to be the wife of a Vietnam Veteran, especially one who continues to give to his country and fellow ex-servicemen and women. For many years Barry was a Pensions Welfare officer, assisting ex-military to gain their rightful entitlements and medical/psychological needs from the government and community organisations. He served as Queensland State Vice-President, then President of the Vietnam Veterans Association (VVAA) for approximately six years, as well as resurrecting the South Burnett Sub-Branch of the VVAA.  Upon moving to the Sunshine Coast in late 2003, Barry subsequently became involved with our local RSL and has been on the Sub-Branch and Club Committees, serving as Sub-Branch President for the last 5 years. This is a big Sub-Branch with over 1 200 members so it does keep Barry busy but occasionally he does find the time to go fishing!

Yes, I am proud of my husband and I was especially proud to stand close to him when he received an Order of Australia medal for his services to veterans and the community back in 2005.

As for the quilt I made, the background fabric in the body of the quilt features wattle blossums, the golden wattle or acacia tree being one of Australia's most beautiful trees and also our national floral emblem. The dove in the centre of the quilt carries a wattle branch in lieu of the traditional olive branch.

The corner fabric is from (the now defunct but very wonderful and creative company) Oz Dye~Art fabrics and quilts. It features our wonderful Australian flag.

The phrases around the outside are mostly well-known phrases to do with war but the phrase down the right-hand side of the quilt "If you were there you'd understand" is one that Barry and I came up with.

The photos all are from the Vietnam War and it was critical to Barry that all three services be reperesented. For those who are interested, my husband served in the Australian Army from 1968 - 1974 as a regular Army soldier. Barry served in Vietnam from 1970 - 1971 in Nui Dat in Headquarters 26 Coy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Out of Africa quilt

I thought that I would showcase one of my older quilts, "Out of Africa" which I started circa 2000 and finished in 2007. At the moment I cannot think why it took so long to finish the quilt but probably work, a long illness and moving house a couple of times had something to do with it!

I have long had a love affair with African animals, especially lions (I'm a Leo) and elephants. As my stepdaughter Anne-Marie, loves tigers I decided to make a quilt for her which is virtually identical to my Out of Afica quilt except that hers has photos of tigers in all of the windows, where I have all sorts of different animals in the windows in my quilt. Note to self: ask Anne-Marie to take a photo of the tiger quilt that I made for her.

When I was making my Out of Africa quilt I had a large selection of fabrics to choose from (some of my friends say that I have enough fabric to open up a quilt shop but then, they are not quilters and do not realise that one can never have enough fabric ... vbg ... )! I wanted my windows to include different animals but looking at the quilt now I missed out on adding in a lion - something which I must rectify. Maybe I could applique a lion on the bottom right hand corner looking up at the rest of the animals ...

I do so love prints that remind me of Africa so I had a great time playing with fabric and fussy-cutting the elephant, giraffe and other animals. One thing I learned from another quilter years ago was to make my quilt backs related to my quilt fronts so have a look at my quilt label and the backing fabric below. Don't you just love the backing fabric?

I have decided to enter my Out of Africa quilt in the weekly quilt contest at this website: . Do go and have a look at the quilts entered in this competition. I love looking at other people's work and deciding whose quilt I am going to vote for and then I go and have some fun surfing some blogs designed by the entrants in the competition.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Challenging Ourselves challenge quilt

I am way overdue with starting this challenge quilt but ... life is like that sometimes! Now that I have gotten to the stage of sewing the binding on my Birdsville quilt I can allow myself to work on this challenge.

My aim is to make a scrappy quilt using the colours for Challenge No. 5 which were orange, blue and purple. Guess who set the colours for this challenge? Moi! I love happy colours and my favourite colours just happen to be purple, orange and blue.

I have long been interested in all things Celtic and so I decided that I wanted to include Celtic sympbols in this quilt, which is to be an armchair quilt (which I irreverently am calling a "bum" quilt because that is what it is for ... to sit my tush on)! So I have been having lots of fun checking out websites featuring Celtic symbols and have just discovered that there is a Celtic astrology which I did not know about.

I have been busy cutting out fabrics and it is exciting to be cutting into my "holy" fabrics - you know those precious fabrics that you collect for a special project... Well, this quilt is going to be a special project and I am happily going down memory lane as I cut into these fabrics, remembering where I bought them (several from my travels to New Zealand) and what other quilts I have used the fabrics in, already.

Here are some photos of my holy fabrics and the strips cut up ready to sew.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ANZAC Day and sewing

ANZAC Day (April 25) saw hubby and I getting up at 3.30am and in to the Caloundra RSL by about 4.30am. DH went on to the Dawn Service and then back to the RSL where I was on breakfast duty with the Women's Auxiliary. Then it was back down to Kings Beach ampitheatre for the main service then again back to the RSL.

(Thanks to the Caloundra Journal for the pictures. I was handing out free flags (from Bunnings Hardware who donated the flags to the RSL) to people in the crowd so had no time to take photos.

(ANZAC Day commemorates all those who served in all wars and conflicts but especially the ANZACs - the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp who fough in World War 1. Google ANZAC Day for more information.)

Once DH and I had finished our official duties I went home with my good friend Dolly and we did some sewing and other related things.

I had to fix my sewing machine as it was going all skewiff (spelling ... ?) and not stitching satin stitch for me properly. However, with a change of needle (I had been using a Universal needle and changed to a blue tip needle) and the problem was solved. Then I was able to re-do the label panel for my Birdsville quilt (see earlier messages about my Birdsville quilt). I just felt so much better knowing that there was not a serious problem with my sewing machine (it's a Janome 6500P which I just love).

Dolly was very productive and so I took photos of the bags that she made below. The small bags are insulated lunch bags that she made up from a pattern from and the tote bag is one that another website (AllPeopleQuilt) but I cannot locate the pattern, sorry to say. Aren't Dolly's bags so cute? She is making more of the lunch bags for her sister to raffle to aid breast cancer patients (one of Dolly's sisters has breast cancer and my Mum had breast cancer in her 70s - she is now in her 80s so the cause is close to both of our hearts).

The photo below shows a tablecloth that Dolly has made using souvenir teatowels that she bought on a trip to Tasmania (our most southerly state in Australia).
By the way, Dolly's DH Graeme is a very talented country singer. His website is . If you go to the Discography page on Graeme's website and click on some of the albums listed there,  then you can hear some MP3 files of his music. He is not just a talented singer but also a fantastic songwriter. Graeme wrote a wonderful song for my DH Barry a few years ago called This Land My Home and it is such a patriotic heart-felt song. Another favourite song of ours is This Old Photograph.

Four-legged humans

Since I haven't done a lot of sewing of late I thought that I would post a message showing some  of the dogs that I mind (I work part-time as a dog minder for a wonderful company called Don't Fret Pet!). So below you will see photos of some of the four-legged humans I have been minding. Hubby and I just love our canine guests but I must admit I am still not ready to have another new "baby" since the passing of dear little Minnie (who is the spoilt dog in Spoilt Dog Quilts) three years ago. So ... meet Nelson, the miniature schnauzer who belongs to good friends of ours in our neighbourhood, Phoenix a Belgian shepherd and Roxy who is a Shetland sheepdog and who comes on holidays to our place a couple of times each year (and bonus ... her Mum Carol is a quilter as well ... ). Enjoy ... !

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Old UFO that I am going to start working on

Having finished the thirty glasses' cases that I made for my Women's Auxiliary reunion, tomorrow I am going to dig out my oldest UFO (besides my two Birdsville quilts) and make a start on it. Here's a picture of it below.

The row by row was a swap one that I took part in about 9-10 years ago at least, as part of the Scquilters' online patchwork group, which is the Yahoo group dedicated to Aussies and Kiwis no matter where they live. I have been a part of this wonderful group now for about 13 years.

I supplied the background fabric which I must take a photograph of (wish I had bought more and I have no idea who the manufacturer was, as I cannot find a selvedge in what fabric I had left, with their name on it. I love the fabric because it reminds me of the ocean. The row that I made was the row with the square in a square block in it, fourth from the bottom. The cat row I remember was made by a lovely lady, Leonie Gittins (also a very gifted patchwork teacher) who lives in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, about 40 minutes drive from where I live.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update on the Birdsville quilt & glasses' cases

I thought that I would post an update on my Birdsville quilt. I have re-sewn the mini landscapes back on to the larger landscape. I had re-framed the photo looking out of the aeroplane window with cream fabric (right-hand sie of quilt, second block down) rather than black which I think looks much better. I have started sewing the quilt label strip on the back but I am toying with taking this off, ripping off the pictures (leftover from the main part of the quilt and also things to do with my time in Birdsville) and re-sewing them on to a new label strip.

I had put a false back on the back of the quilt when I originally finished it but that false back was a patchwork-print of green, red and cream hence I appliqued the quilt label etc on to the label panel in a variegated thread with those three colours in it. Now that I have decided to stay with the original backing (Aboriginal prints but not featuring green, red or cream) I think that the stitch colour which I had sewn the quilt label on, looks at odds with the background fabric and the Aboriginal prints. If I were to put the quilt in a show, then I think that I would be better off ripping off the label panel and re-sewing the label etc on with a neutral thread. Let me know what you think please ...

The last photo is a picture of the glasses' cases that I am making for my RSL Women's Auxiliary annual reunion next week. I offered to make the table prizes some months ago but am just getting to them now. I have to make 40 of the cases but it is fun making them as I get to remember the quilts that I have made with the scraps that I am using.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This is my first quilt in over two years. I have had a lot of illness over the past couple of years including surgery, so it is great to have finally completed a quilt after a long absence.

I have learned heaps from making this quilt - especially what not to do. I'll tell you about those things another day! I like making my backs "pretty" or suited to the quilt hence the photo of the backing fabric! I added the 3D animals to the quilt because I like a touch of whimsy to my quilts if I can work out how to do it. As the glue is still sticking down the wolf I could not take a photo of the label so I have added it in below.

Alaska 2005 by Bern Johnson, January 2011

My husband Barry and I visited Alaska in 2005, travelling from Vancouver, Canada to Whittier by cruise ship and then on to Anchorage by train. These photographs were mainly photos that I took during this trip. Here are the subjects in the photos going down each column, from left to right:

1.Mendenhall Glacier somewhere along the Inside Passage enroute to Whittier
2.Barry and I in Ketchikan with a couple of “locals”
3.Lake Hood Seaplane Base – I believe this is the largest floatplane/seaplane airport in the world 4.Alaska welcome sign
5.One of the many harbours in Alaska
6.Amvets Post 2 in Anchorage (like a smaller version of the RSL here in Australia). It was here that we met a lovely lady (the wife of a Vietnam Veteran) called Linda Oliver. Linda and her lovely daughter Corey (and her sons) showed us a few sights around Anchorage in our last two days in Alaska. We still keep in touch with Linda and Corey and swap photos.
7.Salmon swimming upstream at a stream in Anchorage that Linda took us to. This photo is significant in that it took me something like two hundred photos just to capture one photo of the salmon jumping up to the next level of the stream!
8.Bears playing in a pool in a wildlife sanctuary.
9.Sea otters – how could one not love them?

I wanted the quilt to look like photo negatives hanging up in a darkroom, hence the cut-outs (they took ages and the fabric distorted when I cut it out and sewed it but I have thought of a better way of getting that effect without the distortion). Ideally I would have had pegs holding the negatives on to a line (in the darkroom) but they would have weighed it down so I discarded that idea.

Like I said before I have learned heaps from this challenge and I am glad that I was able to make it so personal. There are more Alaskan quilts to come (I bought heaps of fabric when I was over there). DH and I were very good at finding quilt shops in towns along the route of our cruise of the Inside Passage but I think I need some easy sewing to do for a while after this quilt! The negatives were the hardest thing - measuring, then drawing the squares then sewing around the square, then cutting the squares out, then zigzagging around each one. Sew 1cm, rotate, sew another cm, rotate, again and again ... aargh! This might be why this was a challenge quilt ... in more ways than one!