Monday, 30 June 2008

Visitors in the early morning light

This morning there were seven or eight kangaroos in my garden feeding quietly in the grey dawn. I think they are the same small family group that grazes the area around the few houses where I live during the night, and often spend the day lazing in a nearby paddock. They will not let you get close, but despite the ruckus that my dogs made, these stayed around for a couple of hours. I managed to take this photo of a young female just outside my front door. She was in the company of a much larger male who was just out of the shot, and they both bounded away within seconds. They don't do much harm in my place, as they only eat grass, but they have no respect for garden beds often just hopping through them, so that can cause a bit of breakage to shrubs and things. I have lost a couple of very small trees out on the grassy areas, and I think this was probably due to them fighting and knocking them over.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Spam rant.

If I were still working, I could retire....... according to the nine emails received today at the address for this blog, I have won many millions of dollars, euros and pounds sterling, as there are emails from the National Lottery, the Canadian Award Department, the UK Lottery Board, BMW awards and the National Liverwood Lottery asking that I make contact to claim my prize. I wish. I am also asked to contact Ahmad Harith, Dribrahim Gazeta, Dorothy Moore, Mr Pinkett Griffin and Sarah Armstrong - all urgently, and with respect as they have urgent messages for me. It seems this address somehow attracts a heap of spam emails and for this reason it is once more being removed from the page as I'm fed up having to delete them all and do not want to risk being infected by a virus or Trojan horse or some other email transmitted disease! If any genuine reader wishes to make contact, then please leave me a comment and we will figure out how to do it.

On a more pleasant note, this is a piece of crewel work that I completed many years ago, and came across when organising my sewing room recently. It has just been laced onto a piece of acid free mounting board and tomorrow will go to to be framed. Then I shall add it to other bits of framed needlework hanging around the place.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Winter Solstice

I read with interest that 30,000 people gathered at Stonehenge this morning to watch the sun rise at 4.58 am, in celebration of the longest day, or Summer Solstice, also referred to as Midsummer Day.

In Australia we have our shortest day, the Winter Solstice, and that means we are halfway towards Spring and warmer climes even though July is likely to be the coldest month of the year where I live, and there will be snow at some stage. The temperature did not get much above 7 degrees today, and the sun shone briefly between the mists and showers, before it became totally overcast and dull. So far this month we have had more than 65mm of rain, and driving on the dirt road outside my house is like making a slow progress through porridge, leaving my car looking as if it had completed weeks over land in the London to Dakar car rally.

The reason we have solstices, and seasons, is because our planet is tilted at 23 degrees. In June, the southern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun and the northern hemisphere tilted towards the Sun; in December it's the reverse. In March and September, the hemispheres are not tilted at the Sun, but at right angles to it.
As a result of the tilt, in winter the Sun rises later and sets earlier, leading to less daylight. It also tracks a lower course through the sky, meaning its rays hit Australia at an oblique angle. These factors mean winter is colder.

The (winter) solstice is the point where the Sun reaches the furthest north it will go in the sky, and then it turns back, and the days begin to lengthen. “Solstice" is Latin for "sun stands still" (sol "sun" and sistere "to stand").

There endeth the lesson.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Wet and soggy again

Cold, wet and soggy underfoot where I live today, so I was very glad to stay inside in the warmth, stitching. I have been trying to follow this week's Embellish Stitch and Enrich lesson, and spent most of the morning creating a small piece using a photograph as inspiration. I found a colourful shot taken at the National Rhododendron Gardens some time back and used that - but the result was truly awful and I chucked in the fire! Then I did an exercise in creating fabric, cutting it and weaving it back together - this was better and has the potential to be OK when completed, and embellished in some way.

Then I made these bookmarks, which I plan to give to a much loved couple on Sunday for their birthdays, and these I think are OK. They are made with wool and silk fibres on brown felt with some running stitches, and the gum (Eucalypt) leaves were made separately from silk on green felt, cut out using a leaf from one of my trees, embroidered and attached with the Embellisher. Coincidentially they are also the colours for the June TIF, so I am going to take the easy option and call these my effort for this month's Take it Further challenge.

The last photo is of my latest Op shop booty, proof that one should never walk past a good Op Shop. A pile of silk scarves found in another town, mostly hand dyed and of various sizes - total cost a couple of dollars. They will be used in future projects to add texture and colour. Silk is such wonderful stuff to work with, and the Embellisher loves it.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Busy is as busy does..........

This is just a note of appreciation to all of those who take the time to read my Blog and to leave comments about my various pieces of work or photos or whatever. It is very much appreciated, even if I am not able acknowledge it at the time. One has the best of intentions to blog regularly, about things of interest, show photos of successful projects, respond to comments and generally keep it all happening, but sometimes life just gets in the way and then it is a too bit late or redundant as the moment has passed. I guess it is a reflection of the busy lives we can lead, which is good - and bad. Today is no exception - I spent a great day at the Embroiderer's Guild with wonderful creative women, then arrived home to an invitation to join others tonight in welcoming friends home from a month in Europe - a lovely evening spent enviously hearing their tales and adventures. I think I must stay home all day tomorrow, or else the dogs will forget what I look like, and I shall run out of clean clothes!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Winners will be warm.......

Usually on Saturday mornings members of local community groups in this small town sit outside the Newsagent's shop at a card table, selling raffle tickets to raise funds for their club's activities. Depending on the season it can be very cold and windy, but it can also be a pleasant way to spend a morning, catching up with locals or visitors and engaging in friendly banter as you encourage them to buy and support whatever cause it might be. The deal is that any change left over from buying the papers is then spent on a ticket or two. I have done it for the committee of which I'm a member, when the prizes were four new car tyres, a car battery and some wine and we made nearly $1000. During the winter months, the Lions Club raffle a trailer load of red gum firewood every three weeks, and I have just had a phone call to tell me that I had won this weeks prize. As my only heating is a large slow combustion fire which currently burns all the time, I am absolutely delighted!

These are some experiments from this week's Embellish, Stitch and Enrich class. The focus was to make surfaces for further embroidery, or for them to be cut up and used in something else. For the first time we used metallic foils attached to the base felt with iron on webbing, painted webbing and fine chiffon which could be treated by a heat tool. I still have lots to learn as they run the risk of just looking .......messy!

This piece is felt with painted vlyesofix, silk and wool fibres, silk fabric and thread snippets, covered with chiffon, needled with the embellisher and then treated with a heat tool so the chiffon melts away in places. No further embroidery yet, or it may be cut up and included in something else.

The second piece is similar, but has gold foil applied to the base felt, and the chiffon was just worked with the embellisher. Embroidered with knots and some chain stitches.

This one is foiled felt, silk and wool fibres, silk fabric and thread snippets, covered with chiffon and embellished. Additonal made fabric attached with the embellisher, and then embroidered. I think this may become a book cover.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Felix's new friend

Busy busy busy with lesson 2 from Embellish, Stitch and Enrich, my only problem being that there are no more spare needles for the embellisher, I've broken several so far and that means I must be careful until I get some more. Nothing finished yet, but this lesson is fun - embellishing, using foils, burning back and embroidery to make a sumptuous surface - I hope.

There was news this morning of a new grand-nephew born yesterday, and to be called Felix. This furry little fellow has been posted off as a gift to welcome Felix to the world and I hope he will enjoy it when a little older. My own two dogs were most perturbed when the toy appeared on the kitchen bench, and for a short time, until they were allowed close enough to sniff it, they jealously behaved as if he was real.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Blog thoughts

Nine more hits on my blog will make it 3000 - a milestone of sorts seeing I have not yet been blogging for a year, and often wonder about who reads what I write. One of my earliest wishes when I began was to find this blog listed on the blog roll of someone else as a favourite; I can report that this happened some time back, and that I was delighted at the time - a bit pathetic really, but I guess we all seek and enjoy approval at times, no matter how grown up we might be! There are so many wonderfully creative people out there in cyberspace and it is very easy to spend hours wandering from site to site looking at their varied and inspirational creations or witty writing- some of my favourites are listed here, but since I have discovered Bloglines, this list is a bit redundant.

No photos today as it was spent in Ballarat, I went to purchase some embroidery threads at the wonderful Sovereign Needlework who stock a very extensive range of wool, cotton, silk threads, fabrics and other needlework ephemera. The small collection of variegated silks and wools I purchased almost look too good to use! On the way home I also went to the Creswick Woollen Mills where I found a big bag of wool and alpaca mill ends for $5 - these will be great to use with the embellisher and although my pieces are fairly small, they have larger bits and dyed wool for felting along with all the other lovely rugs and alpaca products. Well worth a visit if in the area.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Needlefelted Pieces

As my beloved Bernina is still in the repair shop, this cold and damp weekend has been spent playing with the Pfaff embellisher and working on last Wednesday's first lesson from Dale Rollerson. The first one is my answer to her challenge to make something using the first techniques we learnt. It is made from felt embellished with silk and woollen tops, then cut and woven together and stitched with simple running stitch. The flowers are similar, but have an additonal layer of pink prefelt on white felt, and then silk needled into it, the flower shapes cut and needled onto the base and then embroidered with french knots.

This little landscape, which is just bigger than a postcard, is again felt embellished with wool and silk tops, some knitting yarn, crewel wool and embroidered with knots, stem and straight stitches.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Chewed, Chomped and Buried

The dogs were given big bones this morning, and I just had to post these shots of Bella, she obviously had a wonderful and grubby time with it before burying hers for later on....

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Felted Bag

I have just completed my smallish bag, using the piece of felt made a week or so ago, so this is how it turned out.

Now that I know more about how this sort of prefelted batt works, if I were doing the same again, I would have taken more care about a surface design and its placement, as well as how it would be embroidered/embellished before I started; about getting the edges straight while the felt was wet, and would have checked more carefully that it was felted evenly all over. But this was a workshop and I was there to learn, so next time will be better. This little bag will be used for something, perhaps to store my clean hankies in the two internal pockets. One of the teacher's samples these pockets secured by zips, that looked great and would keep small items safe, but I decided not to do this because the felt is a bit thin in places . It measures approximately 7 x 11inches. The photos are of the outside front, front and back outside unfolded, and inside showing pockets.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Embellish Stitch Enrich

This morning I downloaded the first lesson from Dale Rollerson's Embellish Stitch Enrich online workshop which will run over the next six weeks. This will focus on learning how to use an embellishing machine to get the most from it, and various ways in which it, and different fibres can be used in textile arts with a pleasing result. There are several names on the list of participants that I recognise from their Blogs, Stitchin Fingers and other online groups so it will be most interesting to share ideas, see how others work and what they create. It may be a bit of a challenge to stay up to date as I'm still doing TIF, and several other stitch related activities which means I shall have to prioritise and plan my time, but then I always did work better with a little stress........

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

June TIF - stories that are and those that are possible........

Sharon's concept for TIF this month relates to one's stash of textile materials, fabrics, threads or whatever, purchased or scavenged - they can tell a story, they can be used to tell different story, or they can be used to make something new and thus take on a different meaning.
Now, I really am not sure what to make of this or how best to tackle the challenge..........sure, my stash has a history, I am sure I could find brown pieces from the very first real quilt I made in about 1980 something, a great many of my favourite Liberty fabrics have been scrounged from Op shops over the years, as well as other vintage fabrics, like feed sacks from the 1930s - all could tell a story if they could speak, or I could make one up. As Sharon also said, a stash is full of endless possibilities, and oddly, because of this I am sometimes reluctant to cut into something special in case it does not work out and the opportunity for creating a wonderful piece is lost.
Each month so far I have made a journal sized quilt for TIF, and have used both the concept or the colours at different times. My preference is for the concept, it is more of a challenge, but I will have to think long and hard about this one. The alternative, the colours, are these, which came from her photo of a pile of old sinks at a tip. My first impression is that they are a bit like army camouflage colours...........but I might come up with something more inspired in time.