A little friend for Molly

After the sad loss of Millie and Hector within such a short space of one another we were not in any hurry to get another cat, but it left poor Molly very unsettled. Just over a week after we had lost Hector our amah came to me and said that her neighbour had some kittens. I was very reluctant to commit to anything because I still felt it was too soon, but I said I would go and look, but when I went with her we couldn’t find the kittens. I went back several days later with my husband and this time all four kittens were there, and we were immediately smitten. Two of the kittens stood out, one a little grey and white boy and a very pretty little multi coloured female. The female was the first one who came to greet us and seemed the least timid of them all, she was also the prettiest, so it wasn’t really difficult to come to a decision.

Suzie's first day at home

Suzie's first day at home

 Molly is only five months old and not fully grown but she seemed large in comparison to the little kitten, who spent most of the first day trying to hide in various dark corners. It didn’t take her long to settle though and within a couple of days they were playing together and racing all over the house.

Looking pretty on one of my old patchwork quilts

Looking pretty on one of my old patchwork quilts

 We named her Suzie after our friend Sue who’s birthday it was on the day we got her. She is quite a different character to Molly, very sweet and gentle and she likes to curl up on my lap when I am sewing or doing stuff on the computer. She can stand up for herself though and she and Molly have great mock battles.

Battles over the cat bed (the other cats used to go inside this little house, but these two prefer to lie on top of it)

Battles over the cat bed (the other cats used to go inside this little house, but these two prefer to lie on top of it)

It didn’t take long for the pair of them to start invading my sewing studio and turning everything upside down.

My waste paper basket seems to hold a strong attraction.

My waste paper basket seems to hold a strong attraction.

"I wish I was a little bit taller"

"I wish I was a little bit taller"

"This looks interesting"

"This looks interesting"

Best of friends now

Best of friends now

R.I.P. Millie and Hector

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Millie was rescued by my husband eighteen months ago, a tiny scrap of orange on the side of the busy main road. He at first thought she had been hit by a car because she was so motionless, but she was just petrified, and when he stopped the car and scooped her up she quickly responded with loud purring. He brought her home and to the disgust of the two elder cats she soon settled in and made herself at home.

She turned into a beautiful cat with unusual amber coloured eyes.

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As a kitten she loved to play in boxes

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 and as she grew older she liked to sit with me in my studio propped up against my sewing machine.

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She never got the chance to grow old; last week she went down with a virus and by the time we realized she was seriously ill it was already too late. The vet did what he could and I did everything I could to save her but to no avail and she died last Thursday.

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Just over a week later on Friday morning our beautiful, gentle cat Hector died. He was almost seventeen years old and we noticed a sudden deterioration in his condition when we got back from the Philippines at the end of December. We found several small lumps on his body and then these rapidly grew and several of them burst. We got the vet to look at him and he gave him some attention but he was unable to do anything more and didn’t really tell us what the problem was. I’m guessing that he must have had cancer.

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Hector was also a cat we rescued from the street and brought with us to Brunei from Spain where we were living at the time. He was the gentlest, sweetest natured cat that I’ve ever come across. He really hated to do anything to offend and I don’t think he ever killed anything apart from the occasional lizard; even then he was very gentle and didn’t really seem to want to harm them.

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He was a very elegant cat, and also everyone described him as long, and he was almost a metre nose to tail when stretched out on the sofa or bed. He was also a constant companion in my studio and I will miss him very much too.

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Luckily we still have little Molly the black kitten and she is a great consolation.

Flowers after rain

Looking for new design inspirations I took my camera out into the garden this morning.

white allamandas against an early morning sky

white allamandas against an early morning sky

It was still a little overcast after a predawn shower and the flowers and plants were wet from the rain.

Heliconia flower

Heliconia flower

The garden isn’t looking at its best at the moment as I have been too busy quilting lately to devote as much time to it as I should. Everything grows so quickly in this climate and the garden can very quickly get out of hand. Perfect for small cats to play hide and seek in!

No one can see me here if I keep very still

No one can see me here if I keep very still

The bougainvilleas also grow into huge shrubs here, and are in constant need of pruning.

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Of course, Millie isn’t the least bit interested in gardening and thinks it is a complete waste of time as long as she has somewhere comfortable where she can lounge and keep an eye on things.

Millie looking contented with life

Millie looking contented with life

 Madagascar periwinkles grow almost like weeds and crop up all over the garden, but they are pretty and add a bright splash of colour wherever they turn up. I have used them for inspiration for both a cross stitch design and a small quilt, so maybe it is time for another one.

Madagascar Periwinkles

Madagascar Periwinkles

I have yet to make a quilt featuring a Bird’s Nest Fern, but we have a beautiful specimen in the garden, and the best thing now is that the spores have been carried on the wind and we have new ones cropping up all over  the place. I love the delicate curves of the new leaves as they unfurl.

Birds Nest Fern

Birds Nest Fern

My favourite colour is green and I love using it  in my quilts. I have a large selection of fabrics in every possible shade of green and I’m working on my thread collection so here is yet another possiblity for a new design.

A pretty pair of toads

A pretty pair of toads

These toads were taking an early morning bath, but nice as they are, I’m not planning to put these into a quilt, unless of course, someone specially requested it. Frogs are very popular, and I have sold a large number of my tree frog wall hangings but I don’t think toads have quite the same appeal.

Well, that’s all for now. I think I have given myself some new ideas to think about once I have done my final craft show tomorrow.

Molly – the black kitten

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Just over a month ago we acquired a tiny black kitten as a companion to Millie our one year old ginger cat that my husband rescued from the side of the road last June. Our other cat Hector is sixteen years old and takes a dim view of being pounced on and generally  treated with disrespect so we felt that Millie needed someone nearer her own age to play with. My friend Karen just happened to mention on Facebook that one of her sons had just brought home another rescued kitten; I know that she doesn’t normally part with any of her rescued cats but I thought I’d ask anyway and was delighted when she said I could have the kitten if I wanted, so Molly came home.

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She was very tiny when we first got her, and  a little bit weak, but it didn’t take very long at all for her to find her feet and for Millie, the ginger cat, to accept her as a playmate. Millie seems huge in comparison but nothing deters little Molly, and she seems to have incredibly long spider like legs, all the better for kicking and grabbing.

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It has transformed Millie’s life and she seems to be so contented now.

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She loves her fluffy mice, and this tunnel arrangement keeps them amused for hours.

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It didn’t take her long to make herself at home on one of my patchwork quilts.

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Or another! This is one that never got finished as I wasn’t happy with the quilting on it, but the cats don’t seem to mind the unbound edges.

Molly-stash

Of course, it didn’t take her long to find her way into my sewing room.

Journal Quilt Timed Challenge

I spent almot all day Friday working on a journal quilt for a timed challenge for my Janome Internet Challenge group. We had eight hours to complete a journal quilt from start to finish and weren’t allowed to look at the theme until we were ready to start.

When I looked at the theme I almost decided not to bother because all the images it conjured up just don’t go with living in hot, humid Brunei. The theme was “Hearth and Home” and I immediately thought of log fires, warmth, comfort, sleeping cats, and dark, warm colours, just the things one doesn’t associate with Brunei, apart from the sleeping cats! I also thought of the wonderful Christmas story by Dickens, “The Cricket on the Hearth”, but decided that was a bit obscure. I started off by looking on the internet and finding some clipart images of sleeping cats and fires, but this seemed like cheating, and a bit too easy so I rummaged through my shelves and found a few old magazines for inspiration. I started ripping out a few pages here and there, but the image that stuck in my mind was of a cat staring out of a darkened window, all it needed was a nice warm fire so I scanned in a few images and then played around with Photoshop until I had a composition I liked. Meanwhile the clock was ticking away and I still had to draw out the design, find fabrics and then quilt the whole thing.

I don’t really like raw edge appliqué but with the time limits this was the only alternative and as I started pulling out fabrics with an idea in my head of what I wanted, the whole thing started to fall in to place, and I was enjoying the process. No time for lunch, luckily there was a bit of pizza left over from last night, and I carried on working through the day. Once the initial design was fused in place I added the batting and backing and then started to embellish with threads and free motion stitching. I used mostly rayon threads as they are the only ones I have in a wide variety of colours.

before-quilting

With the hands of the clock starting to speed up I finally got to the point of finishing and adding the binding and with just two minutes to go off the eight hours my journal quilt was finished.

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If I’d had more time I would have like to have added some foliage and flowers in the area below the window and maybe also I might have written the title of the piece.detail-of-fire

I’m glad I did the quilt, it was a real challenge, not just the subject matter but the time limit also, and I was quite pleased with how it turned out and maybe there is even potential for a larger and more detailed quilt there. As the challenge went on over the weekend it was interesting seeing everyone elses journal quilts and how each person had interpreted the theme so differently.

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Cats at Sunset

I recently completed a small wall hanging that I was asked to make for some people who are shortly leaving Brunei and the design was based on one that I had made several years ago of one of our cats sitting on the patio wall at sunset. The original wall hanging was one of my earliestart quilts and because it featured one of our cats was too special to part with, and I’m so glad that we did keep it because very sadly Aicha the black and white cat featured in the design passed away two weeks ago. She was sixteen years old and still quite active but had been unwell for some time. I will always be able to remember her sitting on the wall with the tropical sunset and watching everything going on.

The photoshows the work in progress on my original wall hanging with Aicha keeping a close eye on it. The sky was hand painted and I decided to do the same for my recent piece. I haven’t done any fabric painting for a while so it was fun to get my paints out again.

This was the fabric I painted for the tropical sunset sky.

My recent design was a little different from the original one as there were to be two cats on the wall, one of them a tabby. The tabby was quite a challenge as the people who wanted the quilt were going to bring me a photo but then were too busy so I had to just use my judgement and hope that I would get it right. I chose a grey subtly striped fabric and then used a fabric marker pen to draw the stripes.

The two cats on the wall, everything pinned in place and ready to stitch. I used invisible machine applique to stitch the design as I didn’t want raw edges.

 

The finished design, two cats beside each other on the wall, dense vegetation and the tropical Brunei sunset in the background. I used a narrow accent border of deep red print batik to create contrast with the outer dark green border and to pick up some of the colours of the sunset sky.

Quilted cats

This week I have been busy completing various quilts and working on my new cat design.  I have been commissioned to make the design as a cushion but I thought while I was doing it I would make another separate one as a wall hanging. I found some lovely mottled grey fabric which was just perfect for the cat; the fabric has a subtle gradation from one edge to the other so I was able to get a bit of variation in the colours. I used invisible machine applique to construct the design on a background stabilizer which I removed afterwards.

The finished cat pillow

The finished cat pillow

The wall hanging using different colours for the background.
the finished wall hanging

the finished wall hanging

A close up of the cat’s face, I’ve used more detail on the wall hanging than the cushion because it won’t be receiving any wear and tear.

close up detail of the cat

close up detail of the cat

Festive Fair

Earlier this week I attended a ‘Festive Fair’ in the capital and sold some of my wall hangings including the ‘Forest Giant’ and the ‘Male Pied Hornbill’ which I have only just finished. It was a long day and I was fairly exhausted by the end of it but is always interesting meeting and chatting to new people and old friends at these events.

Since then I have been busy making some more gecko cushions and then today I started drawing out a  pattern for a new cat design which I have been commissioned to do.

This is the picture of the cat and then the design drawn out in EQ6 and ready to be stitched.