Shady Pine

Shady Pine

Shady Pine26th December 2014 – 30th November 2015

When I brought stuff home from my parents house three light shades were tossed into the car. I intended to put them in an op shop, but they went missing each time I bundled stuff up to be delivered.

One day I had to move them, and instead of stacking them upside down and inside each other as I had done up until them I stacked them right side up, sitting on top of each other. They formed a triangle a bit like a Christmas tree, and an idea was born.

( I really need to make more Christmas trees, as five-year Jake counted 13 two years ago, and decided there was still only 13 as a seven-year old a few days ago, but he was anxious to see if we had any electronic games he could play. I opened a tray of wooden blocks and tipped them out and told him to put them back in. Took him a while, but he told his Mum that it was a cool game!)

Two of the light shades had cream covering and I thought I could use them as they were, but on closer inspection the fabric was starting to rot, the glue holding the cover to the frame was starting to lose its grip, and they were rather dirty. New plan was to rip the covers off which took about 15 minutes.

(Thinking about it, Mum probably covered those frames when they moved off the farm … they lived in the town for quite a while … must find out when they moved!)

So, found some soft green furnishing fabric in the stash, and started a new project before the end of 2014 … hoping it will be finished in time to put away with the rest of the decorations … or next Christmas!

Now, I forgot to take photos before I started work, but maybe I could draw something in EQ to show what I hope it will look like! Another collection of Christmas tree appliques to be added to the collection! What do I do first, make the tree or do the drawings? I will try to concentrate on the real one … the virtual ones can wait until the real one is finished and in storage!

Update 31st December 2014

Copy of 2014 Light Shade Tree 1

Two light shades covered …

Copy of 2014 Light Shade Tree 2

… one more to go.

30th December 2014

All light shades covered, and the stick which will hold them up too.

2015 1 Shady Pine in Progress for web

Next step is to work out how to hold the stick/trunk upright!

Also the virtual designs are ready to be used in virtual quilts.

Shady Pines 1

The second in the top row is what I am planning for the real light Shady Pines.

Shady Pines 2


The rest are overkill!

All could use some decorations when they go into a quilt design.

Update November 30th 2015

Shady Pine

Click for a closer look!

The tree is holding up … by an out dated reference book … book hidden by matching fabric wrap … with glass bead drops tied on with ribbon. The finishing touches have only just been added and the tree put together, but after Christmas it will come apart again, so the light shades can be stored inside one another. Even the trunk will come out of the base to save room in the storage space.

One of few decorations which is allowed out of storage this year, as Butch will be on crutches from early December, and although he has been practicing, he is not too steady on crutches, and he hasn’t got a foot in plaster yet! Don’t want him to fall into a Christmas tree … he might get lost amongst the angels on there … or damage the tree!

Tree Hangup


A few years ago I acquired a piece of net. I thought it might make a hammock for a doll. It became just another bit of the clutter in the sewing room, but didn’t take up much space, so just got squeezed into a corner and stayed there well after I decided none of my dolls, or even the bears, needed a hammock.

Earlier this year we helped to cleaned out a friend’s house, and I claimed a rolling-pin. Mind you, I try to avoid cooking, and I already had a rolling-pin, so I claimed it purely because I was thinking I could use it without soiling it with food!

One day I took out the net, and hung one end on a hook, and pulled out the bottom, and it became a triangle … and pretty much any triangle looks like a Christmas tree to me … so … something to hold the bottom out a bit was required. The rolling-pin was waiting for me to work out how the attach some cookie cutters to it to hang in the kitchen … but then the two ideas meshed into one.

The border motifs from a panel (which had already become a swag) needed something to hold them up, and the net was available, along with that lovely old rolling-pin.


Now, I need another rolling-pin to hang the cookie cutters from though! Or inspiration for another way to use the cookie cutters … without soiling them with food!



Tasselling for the Wassailing Season



May 2015Tasselling for Wassailing Season

I saved the thread when I fringed out the tablecloth below … now that thread is a tassel.

Down Under Quilts Tree Trims

January 2015

2015 1 DUQ Tree Trims


Some front covers of the first 20 issues of Down Under Quilts, Australia’s first patchwork magazine, plus two Women’s journal covers, from ads for back issues.

They have been glued to hand made paper back to back, and ready to hang next Christmas. May be turned into a banner to hand across the doorway, and if so, could remain there all year.

I had articles published in these early issues.

Faux Feathers and the Family Jewels

2014 New Faux Feather Tree and the Family Jewels 05

The new tree was going to be the home for a wide variety of different decorations, but finally it wears the family jewels … broken and discarded jewelry from assorted family members, including my Mum, sisters and daughter, along with a few trophy medals won at golf by the Man of the House.

2014 New Faux Feather Tree and the Family Jewels 07

Looks impressive, but not a lot of diamonds and pearls!

Faux Feathers Christmas Tree

Jan – Feb 2014


Another addition to the forest completed!

Another combination of a broom handle, wire, beads and yarn held up by some old books covered with fabric.

Now testing decorations at it looks like it will be a home for handmade items which are predominantly red, tied on with red ribbon.


Or maybe I will use red yarn to tie decorations on.

5 foot 2 tall, 18 inches wide.

Flat Pack Parcel Tree Trims

January 26th 2014


The packages are squares cut from some plastic packaging, the ribbon was part of the wrapping for less flat items.

Love the fact that they are see through!

Hardest part of the project was getting the glue off my fingers.

Loopy Crocheted Tree

Mid 2012 – November 2013


Did the wire cutting and crochet in mid 2012, then got side tracked by a wedding. The wedding date was end of November, and by the time we got back from Canberra no new decorations were made, and only part of the collection made it out of storage.

In October 2014 the tree in progress resurfaced and was put together.

The gold balls were removed from another tree and hung on the new addition to the Christmas forest.


I am happy with this one!

Loopy Table Top Tree

January 2014


When other people had their decorations back in storage I started putting together some new trees.

Some loopy crochet over wire branches, held upright by a dowel glued firmly into a pile of books.

I am thinking the books will get a coat of paint.

Decorations on this for now are heavy metal … copper, pewter and brass bits and pieces.

Update Jan 2014

The Book base has been painted dark green, and the current decorations will be replaced!

Packed it away before a photo session.

Tree Top with Strings of Beads

November 2013


In 2004 I was given a tree to use in a display and the owner didn’t want it back even after I had tidied it up somewhat.

It had foliage all the way to the bottom at that point, but as I put it away early this year the bottom branches just fell off!

I tried to work out a method of putting it all back together again, and I think I could have but with the help of all the King’s horses and all the King’s men. They were busy elsewhere, and as I also wanted a tree top to use as above I had the perfect excuse to make something I wanted anyway!


I wrapped the now naked tree trunk with fabric strips over the bare timber dowel.

The small beaded drops had been waiting for a tree to hang about on, so they came out of the cupboard, then I made the strings of beads to fall from the lowest branches all the way to the bottom of the trunk.


The star on the top was used on the tree before it lost its lower foliage.


I found the ribbon tied to the trunk at a car boot sale in Loxton when I went through there on my way to the Renmark Quilt Exhibition after I had the rest of the tree ready for Christmas.

Wonder how many more lives this tree will have?

Building Block Tree Decorations


I have used a lot of small toys as decorations on a Christmas tree, and had some small wooden blocks sitting around.

A bit of sorting, and a bit of stacking, some wood glue, a small screw in hook, and something to tie them onto the tree.

Some spell out words, some are just random letter or number blocks, and even when there is a word on one side, the opposite side is random!

I have single blocks, plus stacks of 2, 3 and 4 blocks scattered over the tree, mixed with other small toys and some snowball pompoms.


Simple but nice!

Oh, I used red yarn to tie them onto the tree.


Look at the second photo again … the tree has fabric foliage!

I make my own trees too.

The pompoms were made the same year the tree was made, but the original decorations were looking jaded, which gave me somewhere to put the toys.

Broken Glass and Bead Tree Trim … another one!

Bigger piece of glass, more beads, longer wire …

… now I have a mismatched pair.

These will go onto the main tree because of the family connection to the origin of the glass.

However, I have lots of broken glass which will meet the same end, some with a family or friend connection, others from a piece of glassware which had seen better days.

Broken Glass and Bead Tree Trim

A piece of gold wire, some beads and a piece of broken glass rescued from the dirt on the farm where I grew up.

More importantly, I have made something … from scratch!

But it is rather difficult to get a photo.

Plastic Cookies … Laminated Edition

Some time ago I published some pattern books intending to give them to great nieces for Christmas.

However, before I had finished putting them together I realised, when I touched a page with a wet finger after washing off some paint,  that I would need something a bit more childproof in households where some of the users are not yet going to school!

So I reprinted the pages, placed them back to back and laminated them before stitching them together.

The final step was making some of the items following the instructions from the book and stitching them onto the pages of the book.

The finished book will store much better than the first edition, and will still stand for display.

Very limited edition of three were printed, one for me, with two completed, one for each of two families with under ten year old children for Christmas 2010.

The third one is for me to keep as a reminder of how to make more in the future.

(I also have the one and only First Edition … if I sign it will be even more exclusive!)

PS While making the decorations I created some scraps.

Before adding most to the bin I cut a few plastic icicles to add to the collection of designs. I now have to work out if I can easily add a page to the second editions … I know I can add to the original, the only problem is matching the paint colour exactly!

Christmas Card Garland

8th January 2011

Packing up Christmas decorations usually involves some alterations and mending.

This year there is some of that to do, but decided that something new would be fun to find in the collection when the decorations go up again in November.

Nothing too demanding … paired up Christmas cards from the last few years to find matching pairs, trying to match up sizes first, then hoping I could match themes as well.

I glued them back to back then joined them together with thread so I can hang them over a door. (Or narrow window.)

The best part is that they are reversible, or if in a window they can be seen from both sides!

Now, I usually forget new post Christmas projects so this will be a surprise when I open the box next year.

Tinsel Alternative – Scruffy

June – October 2010

I have long been searching for a really fluffy green yarn to make a Christmas tree, and found the perfect type of yarn while on holiday early this year, but it doesn’t come in green!

Sullivan’s Scruffy Fashion Knitting Yarn, 100gm, 93% Viscose Rayon 7% Polyester, length not stated on label ….. and I didn’t measure it before starting.  (That would have created a pretty big tangle!)

I bought some gold to play with anyway, and couldn’t decide between making alternative tinsel with a single chain or loopy chain … so combined the two. The yarn could also be used as an alternative to tinsel without any changes at all.

I crocheted 6 to 12 inches of single chain, followed by 6 to 12 inches of loopy chain.

Final length 15 metres, 16 yards

Enough for several trees, or to drape around a large room!

Christmas Toys

A collection of cards, pictures from magazines and some of my sketches of anything related to Christmas and toys to put under Christmas trees.

The card on the right with the rather ragged fairy was the inspiration for my Fairy Nice, and I have finally stuck it firmly into a scrap book.

Photos of Santas made while we lived in Yorketown, 1990 – 1995, a sketch for a doll I have never made, and some paper dolls from a magazine.

Magazine pictures, and Christmas cards … possible inspiration for toys, decorations and quilts.

More scraps saved from magazines.

You Can’t see the Forest for the Trees

Wherever Judy and Butch live

This book is about Christmas decorations.

I would be happy t to decorate the whole house

just for me,

even if no one came to see the display,

and we will not be home for Christmas Day.

Christmas is really about celebrating

a special birth,

and it doesn’t matter if we are

Christians, Atheists, Moslems, Jews,

Hindus or whatever,

we all celebrate the birth of a child.

The most important part of the celebrations

focus on families and friends,

And I am lucky to have the best collection

of family and friends

to make all year special,

not just Christmas.

Decorations are just my way of making

the Christmas period different

to the rest of the year.

When I was growing up Mum and Dad managed to give us every thing we needed with very little money, but we didn’t know just how poor they were. They managed to buy most of the presents we needed, even some we wanted, and there was an abundance of great food on the table, courtesy of a budget wise housekeeper who doubled as a great farm cook. There was also something new amongst the decorations every year. Mum obviously wanted to house to look the part to go with the presents and food.

Christmas is Catching

Decorating the house for Christmas was always important to me, and though Brian still plays it down, I think he has caught the bug. He doesn’t like to stop putting up lights outside until he runs out, and invites friends to inspect inside the house,

Start of a Tradition


4 Gale street, Woodside, about 1984

In Woodside we lived in a dead end street, along with several other young Married with Kids. Nigel was one of the oldest, Megan was one of the youngest, and there about 25 kids all up.

We took our two to the Christmas pageant in Adelaide when Megan was about 2, and she sat on Dad’s shoulder all the way through. The next year we didn’t get to the pageant, because Brian was on call. Kids wanted something special if they couldn’t go to the pageant, so I asked if putting up the tree would be a good idea. They fell for that big time. The tradition started!

So, on pageant day , the two kids sat down and watched the pageant on TV, while I put together the Christmas tree and added the lights. Then we decorated the tree.

The next year we didn’t got to the pageant again, so I set up the tree while it was telecast. Got the lights on just in time, because word had got around.

Some of the neighbourhood kids were at the pageant, but the rest arrived on our doorstep just as Father Christmas entered the Magic Cave in Adelaide. Some of the kids were little, so they added whatever they could grab to the low branches. Some were tall so they decorated the top. The middle sized kids decorated the middle. Five minutes later the tree was decorated. It looked fabulous. Even if we had a movie camera the action was too fast for any movie! Besides, the tree disappeared in the crowd there for those few minutes.

The kids stood back, had a quick look at their handiwork, decided it looked great, and went outside to play!

I still put up the tree, make that trees, on pageant day, or make some start to getting the decorations out of the cupboard, even though the kids have grown up, moved and live far away.

Up in Lights

When we arrived in Kadina we both looked at the big blank walls which faced the street .

Brian bought the lights, then asked me to what we could do with them.

I laid out strings of lights in a tree shape on the lounge room floor, drew up the plan , and Brian put it on the front of the house.

More lights made another tree on the end of the shed.

Before we had moved into Bordertown Brian had decided that he could put lights up on the water tower next to the house.

More trees in lights were attached to the house to add to the trees inside.

I won blocks in a Christmas draw years ago, and the name of the quilt was Can’t see the Forest for the Trees. That is a great title for our display of decorations inside and out.

PS This year the water tower has not been dressed for Christmas, as last year Brian repaired lights three times, and there was still three sets of lights which had been chewed throught by birds. A lot of work for him climbing up the ladder, and expensive!

Santa Collecting

One day I went to Kadina shopping and found a tiny Father Christmas. He was meant to be a cake decoration, but I loved him anyway!

When I got him home I put him on a shelf, but he was so small he just got lost, so I went looking in the cupboard for something to draw attention to him.. I found 18 more father Christmas’ so sat them on the old treadle sewing machine near the front door..

Now I had a small collection, it started growing . The first additions were all quite small, and eventually I decided the display needed a centrepiece. Keeping the budget in mind, as larger Santas cost larger sums of money, and I was designing and making rag dolls for pocket money. I designed a rag doll, and called it the Santapiece. He was joined by Merry Christmas, and most doll bodies I created after that got a Santa makeover.

Twenty years later there were 220 Santas, including one Brian bought for me, and one tree was decorated with 60 of them, in addition to those on shelves, filling the dolls house and on the floor. Even broom handles got the Santa makeover!

Tree Trims

When we first got married there was little money to spend on Christmas decorations, so I made some with whatever I could get.

Our first tree decorations were matchboxes covered with used Christmas wrap with some gold thread to hang them on the tree. Gradually the wrapping and the trims on the matchboxes became more elaborate, and when the boxes got crushed they were replaced with shapes cut from Styrofoam packaging.

While we were living in Snowtown I made an angel to go on top of the tree, and entered the tree in the local Christmas Tree Festival, with all hand made decorations, including a few Styrofoam ‘boxes’. It won the competition, but was more pleased that finally the tree had no commercially made decorations.

Most of our Christmas trees still have hand made decorations, using fabric and thread, paper and glue, ribbon and lace, new and found objects. I have made most of them myself, and I have designed many of them as well.

Others are decorated with items purchased for the purpose, though not all of them were intended to be placed on a Christmas tree by the manufacturer.

I use very little tinsel, but make alternatives from yarn to match the theme or colour of the other decorations.

Even some of the trees are handmade, using broomsticks, Dowels and cotton reels to hold wire branches, which in turn hold fabric, yarn or string foliage.

Moving Christmas

We have lived in many different areas of South Australia, moving after just 12 months or staying 8 or 9 years.

It is always nice to know before the decorations go back in the boxes if we will move before the next Christmas. It takes just a little bit of extra time to pack the decorations away with a little more packaging around them to keep them safe during the shift. When the real packing of all our goods and chattels starts there are all those boxes of decorations ready to go!

Decorating a different house can be very time consuming, trying to fit decorations tailor made for a previous address into the current one, so I use what I can, and then make some new ones. Over a few years I usually manage to incorporate most of the older decorations plus the new ones into a house …

And then start again at the next address.

Magnificent Obsession


Magic Cave

My sister Sue says I have an obsession, but I can only think of it as a magnificent obsession. It was the same sister who unwittingly encouraged me to carry on when she told me that the Jamestown Magic Cave had been decorated with donations from members of the community, so when I no longer want to deck our halls with all I have, I will look for a Magic Cave to take the excess.

She also asked me if I had considered opening the house as a Magic Cave for Mums and Grandmas, though Father Christmas should be given a room to meet and greet the small kids too.

Perhaps there will be one or more in the family circle who will give the boxes and boxes of decorations and a small forest of trees a home! My Mum always made the effort to put something up even when they were going to be somewhere else on Christmas Day, so perhaps its in the genes, and it may be showing up in one of her great granddaughters, Rachel

Christmas Mail

As we have moved around we leave family and friends behind, but though they may not be a part of our day to day lives anymore, we like to keep in touch. With each move the list has grown, and in 1989 I started publishing the Butcher’s Bulletin. It has become an annual addition to the dozens of Christmas cards we send each year, much assisted by a computer after the first few years.

The Bulletin is simply a brief overview of what we have done through the year, incorporating as many word beginning with ‘B’ as I can , so Brian playing ball games and me making blocks and adding borders is a consistent source of news each year

Many of the cards are recycled into decorations. To hand on trees and walls and sit on windowsills.

Christmas in July

In 2002 I exhibited Christmas collectables and hand-made decorations in a ‘Christmas in July’ Exhibition in the Ascot Building in Kadina. I had so many tree trims I had to borrow trees to hold them all.

Glenice brought in grandson, Matthew, who spotted Brian’s old boots which I had painted green and used to display tree sticks, pop-up dolls and heads on sticks. He asked me if they were meant to belong to Father Christmas, because if they did they should be black.

Angela brought her then 8-year-old and very crafty son, Sam, to have a look. She looked at the sewing collectables on a tree and spotted the little reels of cotton and said she had just thrown some out. Sam piped up “I rescued them. Knew they would be useful.” I copped my share of criticism because I had a big embroidery hoop up too high, and he thought small decorations should go up high, big ones down low. He’s right!

Angela had just given away a doll’s house, and was lamenting while looking at Megan’s dolls house full of my Santa collection. Sam said “The whole trouble with you, Mum, you just don’t think things through. You could have used it in the shop!” (The shop in question being Country Crafts and Fabrics in Minlaton, which is a favourite spot of mine.)

He asked me how the cork trains were made, and I explained that I had cut the corks with a sharp knife, and if he wanted to make them he would have to get Mum or Dad to cut them. Angela shook her head and told me he had claimed a craft knife about two years earlier because she didn’t do exactly what he wanted.

That Saturday night they went to the pub, and Sam fronted up to the bar to ask for some corks, counted them, went back for more, and made cork trains for everyone for Christmas that year!

Five years later I was teaching a ‘Three Santas’ workshop in the Barossa Quilt and Craft Cottage, when one of the girls asked me if I was the one who had been responsible for the ‘Christmas in July’ exhibition in Kadina!

Wonderful to be remembered.

Christmas Gold

14th January 2005 to 2.25 pm 16th December 2006

In 2004 the Golden Harvest Quilters presented me with quilt blocks with a Christmas theme as a farewell gift when we moved from Kadina to Bordertown

Before the blocks became threadbare from me playing with them, in Jan 2005, I put the small borders around each one and got them together, two days later. the project was left a bit rough around the edges for more thinking time while I planned the border. It was not until the day the Golden Girls celebrated their 20th birthday on Wednesday 13th September 2006 that it became less ragged, and while the Golden Girls were celebrating at the 2006 Christmas Party, I completed the top, sandwiched (with out the filling), and quilted and within days it was completed and on the bed.

It looks absolutely wonderful, and every time Brian wiggles a toe bells ring! (I’m not telling you what is going on when the bells ring for extended periods of time, but we will have to curtail that sort of activity while we have guests!)

I am delighted with the results, and will be sad to put it away during the colder months, but what a thrill it will be to get it out when the Christmas decorations come out for their annual airing. It is unlikely that I will ever forget the Golden Harvest Quilters, but I have no doubt that the memories will come back every Christmas despite age and old timers disease!

The pages were printed from the computer then glued to thick cardboard, painted and decorated with scrapbook trims.

Thick gold wire was bent into rings to hold the pages together, and a bunch of ribbons and yarn was tied together and glued to the front cover.

For more Christmas stuff, every day of the year click here

Tinsel Alternative

When we could afford to spend a bit of money on Christmas decorations (after a few years of no spare money for such trivialities) it was the disco era, and tinsel was widely used, readily available, and very, very shiny. It got bigger and brighter by the year. In defiance of the trend I wanted something a little less in your face so that the decorations I was making wouldn’t be overpowered by the tinsel. I had a couple of  lengths of skinny tinsel and refused to add the big, bold new varieties.

To add a bit of colour (red) I used three strands of 8 ply yarn knotted together about every 12 inches, and the kids made a few red pompoms to match. (Unfortunately the pompoms were not tied together very well and disintegrated within a couple of years. Must make some more red ones….. I have already made white ones.)

Some time later I used red and white 8 ply yarn to crochet a chain and draped them around the tree. Then I worked out that if I did a double crochet every five to ten chain stitches and then continuing with the chain it looked much more interesting. Found instructions to do loopy crochet and found some bumpy yarn to make loopy strands of tinsel alternative.

Then came fancy yarns ………… the faux feathers yarn was a bit one sided as it was, but as a single chain …….. beautiful. Then ostrich, and even some with tinsel like bits mixed into the yarn. Perfect!

I found a card with 20 metres of Craft Fibre in Cheap as Chips a couple of years ago. It has some sparkle, and similar to some of the sparkly knitting yarns around, but much finer.

I have just sat down for about half an hour with a crochet hook and worked it into a single chain. There is a little bit of the thread at the top of the photo.

It looks like a subdued version of tinsel, and still being fairly fine it will be suitable for a small tree, though there is about 6 yards or five metres, so maybe there is enough for two small trees!.

The hard part will be deciding which small tree to put it on!

This photo shows it on a tree in the garden and it is so light it hasn’t bent the fine tips of the new foliage. Next time you see it it will be as part of the decorations on a small indoor tree.

The Christmas Tree who fell to pieces…..

Just like an old quilter!

I store Christmas trees in a cupboard with bags made from old curtains and sheets over them so they don’t get tangled together. (There are about a dozen in there.)

The biggest one is store bought, and comes apart for easy storage. However I store it in one of those bags standing straight and tall. Six feet tall. I removed a couple of smaller trees and started shuffling the big one out of the cupboard, and thought a little lift might be good weight training and assist getting it out of the cupboard into a small hall space already cluttered with previously removed trees.

I did say the tree would come apart for easy storage, didn’t I?

Well, it also comes apart when you lift by holding one of the upper sections. And come apart again when I tried to lift by gripping it a little lower, but still above the bottom section. I had managed to wedge myself in the cupboard to make more room for the tree in the limited space outside the cupboard.

The tree was still in the bag, but totally out of control, and sort of collapsed in a bent and twisted shape in what now looked like a body bag containing a very broken body, in this case held together by not one, but three, sets of lights.

At this point the five foot tall tree which had already made it’s escape from the cupboard, and the bag which it had worn over it’s head for ten and a half months, decided to join the party and fell over the big bagged tree and landed back in the cupboard to embrace me.

You are going to have to picture the scene all by yourself.

The camera was out of reach until I managed to get Humpty back together again. And thankfully there were no witnesses.

Bit tree with Handmade Tree Trims

This is what the tree looked likefor a previous Christmas, and all the decorations are still on there even after I untangled the lights and got it all back into one piece. Wonder if superglue will hold it all together. Or perhaps a few screws ……….