Sunday, 21 December 2008

Seasons Greetings

Christmas is nearly upon us, and soon will be a memory again. A bit like this Blog which will soon fade into cyberspace as the transfer to Wordpress seems to be going well. There are things about the new host that I really like, but a few issues to yet sort out.

Do come and have a look, I would hate to lose any of my regular readers, and you can subscribe to the new site at........

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Trials and Tribulations....

I have been extremely irritated and frustrated by Blogger in recent times, formatting of the written word is often tedious, needing several attempts to get it right. What looks good in the preview does not look the same when posted, so one has to do it again - and again. Photos upload in strange places and need further fiddling to get them in the correct spot in the text, and sometimes as in recent days they refuse to upload at all! A change was required, so I have just transferred my blog to Wordpress, and am going to trial it for a while. I shall not close this down just yet, but for those regular readers please note that the next few postings are going to be here:-

It looks a bit different, and I'm not yet sure how to make it more individual, so shall be learning as I go along. Hopefully it will be better in the long run. Any comments or suggestions welcomed!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Continued ............

Can you hear me screaming......??
Stupid and irritating Blogger again!! This was supposed to come with the post below, but for some reason was left behind! These are the ones I was hoping would be forest green! I think the gremlins are watching me at the moment!

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Recent Dyeing Results

I did these a day or two ago, I was trying for bright reds and forest greens - not raspberry and yukky mustard brown! The blues are OK, in fact I really like the one with lines, it has some lovely effects on the bits you cannot see. I obviously need to do a bit more research on colour mixing. I think the problem may have been that the dyes I used were not pure ones, but premixed by the manufacturer and I'm not sure what the various letters in the labels really mean..........

The purple H is my TIF offering for November. The theme was to use some typography in some way - I wonder if just one letter will count? This is made with silk fibres on felt that had some foil applied first, various snips of other fabrics, and punched with the Embellisher. Appliqued bits and some embroidery - when completed it will be the front of a journal cover for a friend for Christmas.
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This is an experiment to see if Blogger will let me post any photos. Have tried using Internet Explorer, and Firefox, but nothing happens. These are being uploaded directly from Picasa. If it work, they are shots of the centre of a lily, and an Oriental Poppy, with one of my girls on the way in to collect pollen.

Hooray! It worked, but this is a cumbersome way of doing it. I shall to hope that whatever is happening, the computer geeks at Blogger fix it!
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Sunday, 14 December 2008

Blasted Blogger............

I have been trying to post more photos today -close ups of flowers and bees, fabrics I have dyed, and TIF for November. All to no avail. Getting this blog to look good takes some time at the best of times, adding photos means heaps of fiddling and formatting the lines etc etc, and for some time I have been thinking about changing the host site. Today it will not let me upload any photos - yesterday it was OK, but not this afternoon or now. Most frustratingly aggravating, so until it is fixed or fixes itself, there will be no new photographs.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Couture and Cameras

Yesterday I went to the Bendigo Art Gallery to see the current exhibition - The Golden Age of Couture which will run until March of next year. It would not be exaggerating to say that this is one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. More than 100 garments by Dior, Balenciaga, de Givenchy, Balmain, Norman Hartnell, Hardy Aimes and many others, made between 1947 - 1957 with photographs and films of the era, plus textiles, accessories, and other archival materials.

Conservation of the textiles is obviously the reason, but it seemed a bit dark and I would have liked a little more light to see the fantastic fabrics, details and designs. Nonetheless it was just great and I shall be going again and would recommend it to anyone who has any interest in textiles, sewing or fashion. One delight I had not expected was a series of dolls, made of wire and plaster, about two feet tall wearing couture garments as well. One had a total wardrobe from lingerie and silk stockings to mink coat and travelling accessories, with everything else in between - she was amazing.

As a pre Christmas treat to myself, I purchased a new digital camera. My current one is being held together with a fat rubber band, and will eventually fall apart. This afternoon, despite the pouring rain - more than 60mls since yesterday morning, I have been playing with it. A couple of close up shots of - you guessed it - roses and the centre of a poppy! Love the rain drops on the rose petals.

Monday, 8 December 2008


I have said it before and happily admit that I am a dreadful scrounge, and I love hunting and gathering stuff no one else wants. You may recall my good fortune in February when I found a dusty old bottle at the local tip, which turned out to be this Swedish glass decanter, for which I was charged only 20 cents. Yesterday I returned to our tip shop to find this grotty old cupboard, for which I paid $10.

Look what a good scrub and a couple of coats of paint did for the old thing. If there was space in my sewing room it would be moved in there, but instead it is destined for the garage and will hold all the dyes and associated clobber I seem to have acquired........

I also spotted this ladder when I went back to collect the cupboard, having needed to clean out the car so it would fit inside. As I had left my wallet behind on the second trip, all I had in the car was my collection of parking meter coins, a total of $3.50 which was less than the nominated price, but enough to satisfy the friendly tip attendant. It is quite sturdy, a bit heavy, but just too much of a bargain to leave behind! If I were into shabby chic country decorating, then it could be used as a display rack of some sort - but I'm not, so it may just remain a functional piece of garage equipment.
Roses for today..........
David Austin's 'Ambridge Rose'

David Austin's 'Radio Times'
Another David Austin - 'Brother Cadfael'

Sunday, 7 December 2008


In 1981 no-one went anywhere on the night this amazing serial of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel was screened on ABC television for the first time. I remember it as being like nothing I had seen before, a captivating story set in the 1920's in the most wonderfully beautiful places, with actors of great reputation and no expense spared by Grenada who produced it. According to the reference above the cost at that time was officially more than four million pounds, and despite various criticisms represented "quality British television". It is supposedly full of symbolism - religious, nostalgia for things past, wealth, class differences, homosexual passion, Waugh's mysogeny and a heap more. I have wanted to see it again for years, and thankfully ABC2 is at long last screening it again. Having just watched the second episode, it is every bit as good as I remember - despite the criticisms of the past and the wisdom gained since I was first entranced.

Today's roses.........and yes, all my roses are chosen for fragrance as well as colour and form.

Apricot Nectar
PeacekeeperGold BunnyThe wonderful Albertine

Windrush - a climbing David AustinThe miniature Cecile Brunner I do love this time of year.........

Friday, 5 December 2008

What I'm reading and doing.

About a week ago Averyclaire tagged me for a Bookworm Award, where one has to nominate the book closest to you and quote from page 56, then pass the award on to five other people. While I thank her for thinking of me, I'm afraid I'm not going to play and pass it on, but am happy to mention one book I have been reading in recent times.

The Surface Designer's Handbook - Dyeing, Printing, Painting and Creating Resists on Fabric by Holly Brackman, is a fairly technical and academic book about colouring fabrics in many ways, as well as embellishment with foils, embroidery and beads, heaps of recipes, instructions, tips and tricks. Page 56 features this photograph of a scarf made from black rayon yarn with a discharged woven shibori resist and then dyed. Not sure what that means or how one does it, and don't particularly like the colours.......

Why this book? Well a few weeks ago I purchased about 20 Procion and Landscape dyes at a local market, some were unopened jars and others had been used, but they were exceedingly cheap for what I paid. Yesterday I had my very first attempt at dyeing fabrics, both PFD cotton and a couple of bits from an Op shop woollen blanket, plus some threads and these are the results.

I was quite pleased with these, and can understand how people become hooked on dyeing stuff. I love the mottled woollen fabric, and can imagine something stitched in the matching woollen yarn. No doubt with practice one learns the way dyes react with each other, and with careful discipline and record keeping can predict and replicate colours. For me at present it is definitely hit or miss, and I fear today's efforts may be less appealing - the fabric is still soaking and looks a bit sludgy!

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I've been an absent blogger for a while - no reason really, nothing much to say and certainly little in the way of stitching, quilting or sewing of note though I have not been totally idle. The garden continues to thrive, warm weather and rain is making everything, including the weeds grow at a great rate.

Pictures from today are Poppies:-

Papaver orientale, a perennial Oriental Poppy and its hairy bud. This flower is about 5 inches across.

Papaver somniferum - I have these big voluptuous things in pink, purple and white, some single blooms and some with double frilly petals. A relative of those that are the source of opium, and I'm never sure if it is legal to grow them, but I have done so for years, and love the seed pods almost as much as the flowers!

I keep bags of potting mix in an old plastic rubbish bin near my potting table, and this afternoon, when I went to get some mix in which to plant some Helebore seeds, I found this tiny frog in the bin - it was only about an inch long from nose to tail. The bin's lid is slightly broken, and there is a small hole thorough which I guess it comes and goes. I left him in peace once I had taken this shot.

Friday, 28 November 2008

A Rose by any name.......

The roses are just beginning to bloom - it is cooler here due to the higher altitude so the growing season begins later and ends earlier than in other places in Victoria. Many have been planted over the last few years, but not all have survived the winter frosts, those that have are spectacular.

This is an old fashioned climbing hybrid tea rose called 'Meg' that has superb red hips in Autumn.

I think this beauty may be 'Sharifa Asma' - a rose by David Austin

One of my all time favourites - 'Renae' - a repeat flowering climber that has small double blooms, and a gentle fragrance. Vigorous growers, they can reach more than 12 feet in height and two have been planted to grow up the front of my house, then along the roof-line. This one is now about six feet tall and growing strongly. The other one is only 18 inches tall, but valiantly smothered in blooms.

This is really the true colour of 'Altissimo' - a French bred climber with large (4-5") flat blooms. I'm growing it on a trellis in the hope in time it will hide a neighbour's ugly outbuildings!

Obviously not a rose, but Nigella or Love in a Mist - a great annual plant that self seeds, good for filling in spaces, but a potential nuisance if allowed to go too wild.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Visitors galore.......

My sitemeter tells me that there have been more than 50 visitors to this blog today - an all time record to be sure. I cannot say that fame for the standard of writing or my wonderful textile creations has been the attraction, but acknowledge that being the first in Sharon's list of Blogs beginning with the letter 'P' (despite not always being about stitching!) is far more likely to be the cause. Anyway, glad that they did, and hope they may return again - but be warned, this blog is not just about quilting or other textile stuff - that is only a small part of my country existence, so you will find other things that may be interesting........or not!

Today has been warm and sunny - so different from last week, and a walk round the garden this afternoon revealed more new flowers and busy busy bees on just about everything, but in particular on those with blue or purple flowers. I checked the hive a week ago, it is full of new brood but no honey being made and stored yet, so I will not be able to harvest any until the end of summer. I gave a lot of it away, and now have only two pots left of last year's bounty - 12 kilograms - and I plan to keep one until I can compare the taste with this year's batch. It will be interesting to see if it tastes differently as the bees may have been feeding on different plants.

These Common Foxgloves or Digitalis purpurea are a favourite of mine, they remind me of my childhood in Devon in the UK, where I could roam the local farmer's fields and they grew wild in the hedgerows every year. In Australia they need to cultivated until they become established, but will then self seed and reappear each Spring.

Love those speckled throats.......

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Cool Country Climate

Summer officially begins in Australia on December 1st. Today in this area there has been torrential rain, hail, sleet and the temperature has not yet reached 5 degrees Celsius ( about 40 degrees Fahrenheit). The unsealed road outside my gate is once more like red porridge, the car has mud up to the door handles, the huge rainwater tank is again overflowing, the chickens look very soggy and bedraggled, and the fire is burning fiercely. You may well guess where I have spent most of the day!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Great DVDs

I was lucky enough to borrow these two DVDs from the Embroiderer's Guild Library on Wednesday and have now watched them for a second time, I shall probably view them again before I return them and take some notes, particularly of how Jean Littlejohn works with soluble fabrics. If you are interested in their take on contemporary textile work, then they are well worth tracking down to see how they do it and what they are really like, which is more difficult to judge from their books.
People asked about the Echidna, yes it has spines on its back and sides, which look very sharp. The one I have seen around the place is probably a male as it was much bigger than those I have seen previously - probably about 18-20 inches (45-50 cms) long from the tip of his nose to his tail. They are usually very shy, and according to what I have read, are not usually out and about by day, so I was lucky to see him.