Archive for May, 2011

Sewn Toy Tales

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Step into the vibrant world of Melly & Me to discover sewn softies that re utterly irresistible.

Colourful fabrics, personality-packed characters and lots of fun details make up 12 distinctive designs. Girls of all ages will adore Lou-Lou the panda and shy mouse Mabelle. Little and not-so-little boys will want to make friends with Harry the monster and cuddly alien Alvin. With expert advice about choosing fabrics and sewing techniques, all you have to do is decide who you’d like to meet first!

$35 for a 128 page book, what value! Click here to buy.


Pattern Princess

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

What’s hot in the House of Blueberries

Monica Poole’s Beautiful Bows

Well my loyal subjects, this week I’m going to talk about the latest to come out of Moon Shine Designs, by our very own Monica Poole.

‘Beautiful Bows’ is Monica’s latest pattern, a very fetching design that’s part 3D with ruffled bows and a ruffled border.

Jackie’s already made it up in her own choice of colours, which is the one shown in the picture. ‘Beautiful Bows’ is available for single sized quilts in these same colours.

The pattern retails at $20 and the kit for $200.

Click here to purchase the pattern ‘Beautiful Bows’ or click here to purchase the Kit.


Big ‘n’ Bizarre

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

A road trip of Australia’s fiberglass monuments

The Big Wine Cask

Q. When is a Big Thing not a Big Thing?
A. When it’s a water purification plant.

Here’s another Big Thing that causes controversy among purists, mainly because of its abovementioned double life. The Big Wine Cask’s true identity as a water purification plant at the Stanley winery is something that causes heated and bitter debates amongst Big Things believers across the country. That, plus the scandalous fact that it isn’t even made of fiberglass.

The Stanley Winery is located in the south western NSW town of Buronga, which is actually just a quick chuck across the Murray River from Mildura in Victoria. Back in 1969 when it first opened, someone thought it’d be a great idea to put the winery’s ugliest feature right smack dab at the public entrance so it’d always be the first thing every visitor saw. And so for almost 15 years the drab, 11m x 7m x 8m building rudely greeted guests like a big smelly concrete bouncer.

Then one day someone on the marketing team had the bizarre but brilliant idea of turning the building into a huge cask of wine. As it was already vaguely cask-shaped, all this transformation required was a coat of paint and a nozzle. A group of local artists did the paint job while the nozzle was constructed by Scholley Industries, a company that made the bladders inside casks. Normal-sized casks, that is.

The Big Wine Cask was officially unveiled in 1983, instantly providing an eye-catching and iconic greeting for all Stanley’s visitors, while quietly continuing in its other job as a water purification plant. It’s estimated that if this oversized Chateau de Box was real, it’d hold about 400,000 litres of wine, which, coincidentally is the same amount the average Australian consumes in a normal year. Imagine all the trips to the bottle shop you could save if you had one of these in your back yard.


Show and Tell

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Show us the item and tell us the story

Susan Carr takes five

What was your inspiration for this quilt?

It was actually one of the ladies in my class, Anna, who had made a scrap quilt with her leftovers and it looked great. The pattern is from book called Take Five, which Blueberries sells.

Did you customise as you went?

No, not really. All my leftovers were from the one range so I was lucky because they pretty much all went with each other. All I had to do was find one consistent colour for the squares and that’s the red.

How long did it take you to complete?

There was a lot of chain piecing so it was a very quick quilt. I did it in one weekend.

How long have you been a sewer?

For about thirty years now. I started out as a very small child sewing weird creations for the family like cushions and dolls’ clothes.

What’s the next project?

My aim now is to go through Take Five for some new projects to work through more of my scraps. The book appeals to me because there’s so many things in there that I can do. There’s a really terrific quilt in there using a design with maple leaves. A lot of the quilts in this particular book are unisex, too, which is another huge bonus. All regular quilters know that it can be hard finding good boys’ designs.

Click here for more information on Take Five or to order a copy.


Blueberries Kitchen

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Culinary adventures with Carmel

Easy Minestrone Soup

This popular Italian classic is perfect fare for those cold winter’s days, plus a great way of getting children to eat vegetables.


Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup small pasta
6 cups chicken stock
3 medium cloves garlic cloves
4 rashers of bacon
2 small brown onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
5 small zucchinis, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a baking sheet. Toss the pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the chicken stock.

In another saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until it begins to brown. Add the garlic cook for about a minute, then add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.

Add the chopped herbs. Raise the heat to high. Add the beans, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes and stock. Bring to boil then and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender, skimming any foam off the surface.

Season generously with pepper. Add salt, to taste. Just before serving, add the cooked pasta.

Serve with warm crusty parmesan rolls.

Will make 8 to 10 servings.


Big ‘n’ Bizarre

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

A road trip of Australia’s fiberglass monuments

The Big Trout

This 10 metre high fish is the third big piece of seafood we’ve encountered so far in our round up of Australia’s Big Things, after the Big Prawn and the Big Oyster. Located on the shores of Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains town of Adaminaby as a tribute to the area’s fishing traditions, the Big Trout was first erected in 1973, making it among the oldest of Australia’s fiberglass sculptures.

The Big Trout was built by local artist Andy Lomnici with funding by the then Adaminaby Lions Club, Snowy River Shire Council and Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority. Up close, the Trout appears to have real scales. This effect was deliberately created during its construction by covering the structure in wire mesh, adding another layer of fiberglass and then removing the mesh before the fiberglass had set. Instant scales.

The Big Trout’s official opening coincided with the very first Adaminaby Trout Festival, which is now known as the Snowy Mountains Trout Festival. For almost 40 years the huge fish has been gracefully poised in mid flap, gazing skyward as tourists availed themselves of the iconic backdrop for their happy snaps. In 1984 the Trout received a bit of an upgrade in the form of a new coat of paint in slightly different colours.

Recently the Lake Eucembene Chamber of Commerce has turned its attention to the Big Trout as a marketing and promotional brand for the area. ‘Friends of the Fish’ is a working group that’s been formed by local and regional communities, council workers and business people. The Oceania Fly Fishing Championships are scheduled to take place in Adaminaby in November 2011 and everyone wants the Big Trout to look its best for the salubrious occasion. Unfortunately, this is going to cost about $60,000 so the group certainly has its work cut out for it.


Show and Tell

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Show us the item and tell us the story

Phyl Sparks’ 330 hours

What attracted you to this pattern?
I suppose it’s the simplicity of the design that really attracted me. It’s an embroidered blanket and I made it for my daughter in law’s 40th birthday.

How long did it take you to complete?

I can be exact about that. It took me 330 hours. Someone else had asked me how long it took so I did the maths to get a precise number.

How long have you been a sewer?

I’ve been a sewer for about ten years. I’ve done mostly quilts. I love patchwork quilting and I also enjoy embroidery, which is much more involved. This particular creation has quilting fabric underneath, but most of those 330 hours were spent doing the embroidery.

What’s the next project?
I’ve got three at the moment. I’m working on one of Monica Poole’s designs, another one is for a friend and another one I’ve been working on for about five years – hand-embroidered roses and pansies. I’m also looking forward to making quilts for my wonderful granddaughters.


Big ‘n’ Bizarre

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

A road trip of Australia’s fiberglass monuments

The Big Tennis Racquet

In the extended family of Big Things, this particular member is a mere toddler, having made its first appearance less than two short years ago in October 2009. It comes with its own Big Tennis Ball and, rather unexpectedly, can be found in the tiny grain-producing community of Barellan, population about 400, deep in the heart of the agriculturally rich Riverina.

So why a Big Tennis Racquet instead of a huge fiberglass wheat stalk?

Two years ago the town was searching for a special way of marking the occasion of its centenary. The townsfolk decided to combine a celebration of Barellan’s first 100 years with a celebration of its most famous resident – tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who conquered Wimbledon for the first time in 1971 at the age of just 19.

Goolagong Cawley’s tale is a true rags to riches story, but with much more sweat, hard work and fouls than Cinderella ever put in. As a young child, Evonne started her tennis career practicing barefoot, hitting a ball in a back lane wearing a frock made from an old sheet and using a tennis racquet carved from a fruit crate.

The Big Tennis Racquet, however, is made of much hardier stuff. Standing 11 metres high on a 45 degree angle, it’s 13.8 metres long and made of solid steel. The idea was the brainchild of local farmer and tennis aficionado David Irvin. As a youngster, Irwin had once been gifted with a brand new wooden Dunlop racquet autographed by Goolagong Cawley herself. The Big Tennis Racquet is a scale replica of this most cherished childhood possession.

The construction and instalment of the Big Tennis Racquet ended up costing Barellan over $40,000, but the townsfolk consider this to be money well spent. The town has always been immensely proud of its favourite daughter. As a child and teenager the entire community had thrown its support behind her, providing her with racquets, clothes, transport to tournaments and raising money for coaching. Her dazzling global career and triumphs at Wimbledon must have been the sweetest of rewards for the town.

Incidentally, Evonne Goolagong was officially ranked at #1 in the world for a fortnight back in 1976, but because of a computer error, this was never made public. The error was only discovered in December 2007, over 30 years later.


Material Girl

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Jackie’s tips, hints, advice and info on fabrics and products

‘Sweet Sixteen’

This week I would like to feature a fabric range called ‘Sweet Sixteen’ by Laundry Basket Quilts.

‘Sweet Sixteen’ is a beautiful collection of European reproduction prints and includes a classic wallpaper column stripe popular in Europe in the early 1800s. The earthy, muted greens, greys, browns and mauves give the range a nostalgic rural feel.

Reproduction or antique quilt makers will definitely have to add some of this collection to their stash, and you can quote me on that.

Click here to view or order from ‘Sweet Sixteen’.


Show and Tell

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Show us the item and tell us the story

Anna Mackay’s triumphant first quilt

What was your inspiration for this quilt?
I was attracted to this design because I had a lot of left over scrap material and this pattern seemed to have a lot of components to it. I especially had lots of red, and there was a lot of red in this pattern.

How long did it take you to make it?

Not long at all, about three weeks. Everyone says that’s so fast and that I must have done it without sleeping, but I can go very fast when I’m really absorbed in something.

How long have you been a sewer?

Off and on for many years. I’d done other sewing, like making kids’ pyjamas and things like that. But this was my first quilt.

Who was the lucky recipient of this quilt?

My youngest granddaughter. It was a present for her first birthday. It’d been my idea to make the quilt. Her mother didn’t even know.


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