Monday, 31 March 2008

Yea! Online again!

I am sitting here in front of my NEW computer, connected last night and functioning well this morning - it is bliss to have it going. The bits had been sitting in four very large boxes since last Friday as I worried fearfully about how to put it all together and if I could deal with the new Windows operating system (Vista-which people told me was complicated and full of unnecessary gadget type features) which is quite different from the old XP that was on the previous machine. A chance meeting on Saturday night with a friend who uses this system led to us to broach the boxes and confront the various cables, ports and plugs. It actually was not that difficult, though one instruction book entirely in Arabic was a bit daunting until we found one in multiple tongues.

So - it works, but there is a little way to go..... My email is functioning after having to ring the BigPond people to check my user name and password - I seem to have so many it is confusing to know which is used where! I am yet to connect the printer and speakers, and am somewhat puzzled by one error message that still appears whenever I log on, but hopefully the solution will be revealed with a bit more rummaging in the help files. I hope that all my documents, many photos and my email address book can be salvaged from the hard drive of my deceased machine, and until I sort out a photography program, there will be no photos of what I have been making over the last two weeks. None the less it is great to be back, and thanks to those who have visited in the interim!!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Vale my computer.......

Just a very short note using my generous neighbour's computer. My own has died, the local fix-it man tells me it is the result of numerous power outages and then power surges when the power returns, and its innards have burnt out. I am trying to decide what I shall buy to replace it, as I'm finding being computer-less is like having one arm missing, and only hope that the numerous photos etc that had not been backed up can be saved from the hard drive. In the meantime, there will be no further posts or come back in a week or two when, hopefully all will be back to normal.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Sell the farm syndrome....

I'm told I tend to over-react to disasters, disappointments and things that go wrong - hence the title of this post, a response when I think whatever has happened may mean I cannot continue to live where I do, on almost three acres of land with my dogs and chooks. There have been a few incidents of this in the last few months, and yesterday there was another of sorts......

I had used the computer in the morning, it was OK, irritatingly slow as usual, but working. In the evening when I went to check my mail, the monitor was dead - I could not understand how such a thing could happen so suddenly, when no one had been near the computer all day, so of course presumed this machine had given up the ghost, or was beginning to fall apart. After all, it is ancient in computer terms although only about seven years old in real time! Previous thoughts about getting something better galvanised into action, I rang my son to discuss options, and was working out in my mind where and when I would go to buy a new one - today! My Son outlined possible causes for the monitor failure, and counselled me to check various things before leaping to conclusions of terminal failure and rushing off to replace the whole machine. He quoted the principal of Ockhams Razor which can be paraphrased as "all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best."

Having detached and replaced all the relevant cables, it seems he was correct. Somehow one of them had become loose, and hence the problem. As you can see from this post all is now well, and thankfully I shall not have to purchase a new computer - yet.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Recycled Kimono

When I lived in Melbourne I had a smallish house on a smallish block that could be completely weeded or organised in a single day. Consequentially I had a lot of time to sew or do other things such as visit every quilt shop in the metropolitan area, or scavenge at Op shops and markets for essential treasures and useful things. In addition to quilts, I also enjoyed making numerous patchwork bags of various sorts and different functions, much to the despair of my daughter who continually encouraged me "to get a life!" and feared more for my sanity with each new creation.

In the three years I have been here, I have not made a single bag - until yesterday. It was far too hot to be outside, so I started to sort and tidy my sewing room - something I could do without too much thought, when I came across a lovely piece of kimono fabric in the box of Japanese goodies. This is the simple bag that I made in the afternoon, and used today when I went with friends to Castlemaine.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

From Little Things Big Things Grow

The oak tree is revered in many cultures, representing strength, endurance, durability and fortitude. Oaks are often used symbolically to represent the very core of England, the power of the king and his spiritual connection to the land. One speaks of people having hearts of oak, oak has been used in the construction of ships, churches and other buildings in ancient and modern times. Oaks were sacred to the early Celts and Druids and there are connections to Thor, the Norse god of thunder as these trees are often struck by lightening, but survive. Acorns were often carved on banisters and bell pulls to ward off lightening the house.

My response to Sharon's challenge is a piece in praise of acorns because the acorn represents the huge potential of small things and it too has been used in decoration and symbolism for hundreds of years. Well known quotations I have found include these: -

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
The oak sleeps in the acorn.
When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.
Thomas Carlyle
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. Ralph Waldo Emerson

This journal sized piece is mainly made from photographs of my own lichen covered English Oak tree, printed on silk and calico and pieced with a couple of commercial fabrics. It was fine until I tried to machine quilt it using the stitch regulator on my sewing machine, and I am not happy with the final look. None the less it is done, and I was more than happy with the concept.

Finally, the name of the piece comes from the title of a song written by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody which tells a story about a very significant event in Indigenous Australian history. In the 1960s, Aboriginal stockmen went on strike at the NT Wave Hill station. Led by Gurindji man Vincent Lingiari, they walked off the job and set up a camp at a place called Wattie Creek. The dispute over wages and conditions turned into a demand for land rights. It dragged on for years before eventually being resolved by the Whitlam government.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Friday Photos....

I am planning to sew today, and in fact have just been outside taking photos of leaves that may be used in the piece I'm going to do for TIF. More of that later when I have something to show.

There has been a little rain this morning, and I was side tracked by the rain drops that remain and took some shots of other things while they still glistened. Someone asked if I'm using a macro lens on the camera - I have a very simple Nikon digital camera that only has 4 megapix, but a good menu of settings so I'm using just a normal shot as well as a close up setting for my flower and bug pictures. There is a lot of trial and error and many are deleted!!

This is a David Austin rose called "Heritage", it is very fragrant as well as beautiful.

I bet you can't guess the next one - its the flower of an Aubergine or Egg Plant. I have several plants and they are laden with wonderful purple fruit that is nearly ready to harvest.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Cyclamen hederifolium alba

Only about three inches tall, this is the first of my white Cyclamen hederifolium to flower. There is just the tiny flower at this time, but it will soon be followed by lovely dark green patterned ivy-like leaves. There are pink ones too, but the white is less common and I think more beautiful. They are growing in a woodland area, under Silver Birch trees, and are freely multiplying each year so they will make a gorgeous carpet of colour in time.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Sharon B's March TIF

Do you ever notice the little things, the small moments, the details in life? This month's challenge is to do just that, pay attention to the tiny details. Sometimes the small things become emblematic for something larger.......

This is the challenge, or the option as usual is to use the suggested colour scheme below:-

Previously I have chosen to work with the colours, despite spending much time thinking how one could interpret the themes, so as these colours do not readily bring any idea to mind, I'm going to think small, details, symbols of something larger, transitions.....

Monday, 3 March 2008

Photo for today......

When I first spotted this Praying Mantis on my rose bush it was wrestling with a large bee - a great photo opportunity I thought, however by the time I returned with my camera, the bee had escaped, and avoided being eaten for lunch.

Another glorious Autumn day here, spent lazing around and reading my latest book - Stitch Dissolve Distort by Valerie Campbell and Maggie Grey. In January I helped friends decorate for a wedding held on a large stud farm near here, and was asked to nominate a book as a thank you gift. It is full of wonderful ideas, photos, information and techniques. Can't wait to try some.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

TIF at last

One could say there has been a spanner in the works this past month, with almost two weeks away from home, and the need to take things gently for a while now that I am back again. It was great to have the daughter here to keep me in order, but she and her appealing dog have now returned home, and I must once more do all the boring tasks myself - one could become used to having a slave...... Blow the housework, not being able to work in the garden is the most frustrating thing as Autumn is the perfect time to be gardening, and there are so many tasks needing attention, but at least it means I shall be able to spend heaps of time sewing without feeling I should really be outside.

Yesterday I finished my TIF piece for February. Despite spending the whole month thinking about things remembered from early childhood and developing many ideas of how they could be portrayed in textiles, I eventually took the easy way out and used the colours - I thought it might be quicker as I really wanted to have something to show before the end of the month, and it is only two days late. I wanted to try making silk paper again, so this is the basis for my 8.5 x 11 inch piece which is machine quilted and hand embroidered. The colours may not be quite right, but they were just what I had at hand.
Don't ask me what it is, it just sort of evolved along the way, though I think it looks a bit like something geographical! Any suggestions for a title are most welcome!