Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Tuesday evening

One really should not try to write something of significance when one has been out to see friends and had a wine or two.......one ends up posting an empty entry! This is the second attempt...

Just back from being part of a group helping a friend design invitations for her 60th birthday party in a few weeks. It began with a common quotation from said friend..."It's my turn to cook, so........let's have dinner....... at the Pub." Very typical for this special friend who never has much in her fridge and works long hours. It should be a good celebration, with many of her lifetime friends attending, and I shall be priviledged to be part of it all.

Thanks to those who left comments about the July TIF - all most appreciated. I plan to write something about the Fibonacci numbers, as mentioned by Kay as it something that has fascinated me for some time and I was thinking about as I made the piece. In the TIF piece, only the smallest of the squares and rectangles are the same as this number sequence, but more of that later.

An interesting day today, spent half of it in the local Neighbourhood Centre as I have enrolled in a computer graphics class where (hopefully) I shall learn to use such free public programs as GIMP, Inkscape and Blender which may help with some of the ideas I have for textile works in the future. I thought I would try these first before outlaying $$$ for the more well known ones, and getting to know the terms and techniques can only help if I need to upgrade.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent taking the fan out of my slow combustion heater to see why it was making such a racket. Intermittent problems are the most difficult to solve - this noisy fan only occurred when the heater was really hot - obviously something expanded and then hit something else. The service people are not available to come this week, and as I cannot be without the air circulation provided by the fan, I fixed it - again. This involves lying on one's stomach, and unscrewing wing nuts at arm's length underneath the still burning fire - a bit warm, but OK if care is taken. Then, removal of the fan unit, checking it for dust and debris, making sure that nothing is obviously out of place, a gentle tap on the fan with a hammer to make sure the fan has not migrated down the spindle (as advised by the distant service man), and then reassembly. All quite tricky, time consuming and uncomfortable, but it seems to have worked - for now. Fingers crossed that it stays that way, it is far too cold where I live to be limited in how one can use the heater.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

July TIF - Two Halves

In the days when I lived in Melbourne, I subscribed to the MSO concert series, and regularly sat up in the Gods to listen to watch and listen to the wonderful music being performed on the stage below. Sometimes my eyes would wander around the 1982 Concert Hall looking at the amazing acoustic baffles on the walls and ceiling with the idea of one day copying the repeating squares and rectangles that had a common factor in the length of their sides, in a quilt – but I could never remember how the blocks fitted together, so it never happened.

The TIF for July involved the concept of a Half-way mark, and for the life of me I could not think of a way to convey that beyond the obvious...it being half way through the year, something being half empty or half full, half way through a journey, or one’s life or a task, or a sporting event.......then I remembered the Concert Hall and came up with this, which is a little similar.

I have also used the colour option in this Journal Quilt, and all the pieces are half the size of the next biggest piece. Only half of it is quilted by hand, making marks with stitches using soft variegated pearl cotton that is half blue and half green. The vintage buttons have no significance at all, they just seemed to finish it somehow.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Koala again....

This fellow came to visit again this afternoon - here he is in the big Eucalypt tree about four metres from my house! While they may be a bit cumbersome on the ground he climbed this very quickly, and is now sitting right at the top almost out of sight. I have not seen it since the photo a week or so ago, but hope his second sighting means that he might be living on my property somewhere.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Helpful Tech Persons

A big vote of thanks to two anonymous technical assist people from Dell, somewhere in Malaysia. Yesterday while working with this three month old machine, it crashed and I could not make it do anything it was supposed to. I rang tech support, and the first man patiently talked this computer illiterate through the process to run the necessary diagnostic programs, at least half an hour's worth of instruction. Then the machine ran the tests, which took almost three hours, and this morning I had to ring them again to finish the procedure. Another quietly spoken fellow spent another half hour while we checked the results and he made some changes to the system so now all is working well again. At one stage there was a connection between his computer and mine, and he was operating my mouse - very strange to watch from this end, but obviously just what was needed to fix the problem, and I'm delighted to be back online.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Bendigo Wool Show

Four of us had a wonderful day today at the Bendigo Wool Show - got there early, parked directly across the road, the sun shone, it was not too cold, bumped into some Embroiderer's Guild friends, there were no crowds, bought a yummy treasure trove of wool, silk and alpaca fibres, prefelt bats, and hand dyed embroidery wools. Chatted with these cute alpacas, had great lunch in a previously unknown cafe called the Epicurian, and came home. Bliss.

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

Luscious Lichens

I have been following the creation of the floral quilt by Allison Aller, and recently admired the photos she posted of her lovely garden that is her inspiration. This morning I went to have a look around mine, hoping to find something to bring into the house, but in the depth of winter there are few flowers and little colour in the garden. The promise of Spring is not far away, but there is beauty to be found if one looks carefully. The first three photos are of lichen on tree trunks, followed by seed cones and catkins of an Alnus cordata (Italian Alder), then the early flowering Euphorbia characias 'wulfenii', Heleborus argutifolius ( Corscian Helebore) and some soon to bloom Daffodils.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

I should be so lucky.......

Currently Melbourne water storages are at 29.9%, and stage 3a water restrictions are in place until November at least. Restrictions in other country areas are much more severe, and water conservation has become a way of life for most of us. I guess in view of this it is almost blasphemous to complain about having too much rain - but sorry, personally I am sick of it.

In this town there are no water restrictions beyond the basic statewide permanent ones, and although the locals tell me the rainfall is far less than usual, we have had almost 80mm of rain this month, with nearly 320 mm this year so far. The 22,000 litre rainwater tank is constantly overflowing down the driveway, it is too wet to work outside in my soggy garden, the unsealed road outside my house is once more a quagmire, the car is covered with mud, I'm sick of my living room looking like a Chinese laundry with damp clothes in front of the fire, my dogs are longing for a good walk without getting mud up to their chins, and my white chickens are a waterlogged mud colour! I could add to this list, but I'm sure you get my drift. No doubt though, by the time summer comes again I shall be wishing for rain like everyone else, so perhaps I should just grin and bear it.

Despite the grizzle, I had a very pleasant day stitching at the Embroiderer's Guild AGM, and seem to have found my way onto the Committee for the next year. It should be a great way of getting to know a few more people and being involved in the planning and preparation for the biennial exhibition to be held next year.

Monday, 14 July 2008


I would hate to perpetuate the myth that Australia is over-run with wildlife, and that kangaroos are to be found hopping down the main street........however where I live in Central Victoria there are various animals that co-exist with us and are seen occasionally. I have heaps of kangaroos that visit the garden, but these? Not so often.

My two dogs bark when there are visitors, kangaroos on the grass outside at night, and when my neighbour's cats come through the fence to use my garden beds instead of their litter tray - a habit I find most annoying, but about which I can do little. At about 8 am this morning when I was still padding round in my dressing gown, I glanced out to check what was the cause of another ruckus and saw this little fellow wandering through the garden, so I threw some clothes on, grabbed a camera and followed. The photos are not brilliant as it was still a bit dark under the trees, and the flash has caused that awful glass eye look.

In the three years living here I have only seen a koala on two other occasions, although I know they live in the surrounding area and can sometimes hear them growling. Usually to be seen by day and on the ground, indicates that they may not be in the best of health, but this one looked quite young and in good condition.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Floppy Bun

Spurred on by my daughter's garden creature below, yesterday I made this floppy eared bunny for a young man called Jack who is about to travel to the US, where his clever Dad has been appointed to a very important position with a well known multi-national company. Today there is a farewell luncheon for the family, and as I had purchased a tiny bunny rattle for his yet to be delivered sibling, I though he needed something too. Hope he likes it as it is not really very cuddly, but may soften a bit with some small boy treatment.

I have also done a little journal quilt - meant for the Aust/NZ Art quilt group, due in May so it is only a little bit late, and I'm only two months behind! The theme was to be curves, circles, and recycling. It is made entirely of old stuff, except for the thread - black linen, Liberty and other cotton shirts, backing and batting scraps from other projects. It is also the first time I have tried using a fancy stitch for applique, like Patsy Thompson but I think she has a different brand of machine, as mine does not have exactly that stretch stitch. I have called it Many Moons Ago.

Friday, 11 July 2008

A Garden Beastie

Nothing new from me today despite the fact I have been at my sewing machine all day - just this lovely beast made by my very clever daughter as a gift for a friend's baby. Don't know how she could bear to consign him to Australia Post and a distant destination in the US - I would have kept him close to home.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Little Landscape

This little piece is the one started on Monday, and finished today. It measures only 4 x 3.25 inches. Woven on top of even thread linen, with wools, silk and cotton threads and some specialty yarns. A few knots added for more texture. Now - what will I do with it?

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

First Snow!

This is the first snow of any significance this year, about an inch so far - just enough to cover the grass and make everything look lovely. It has lasted a few hours, but looks like it is now warming a little so is very slushy, and we may not get a lot more today. The locals are chattering about it, and the kids in the park are throwing snowballs - there is a special delight in the quiet beauty of it all. A good day to stay inside by the fire!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Nifty Needles

A miserable cold and wet day today was spent warmly inside with a group from the Embroiderer's Guild learning how to work small woven images on fabric, following the ideas of English textile artist Hilary Hollingsworth who has been featured several times in Stitch magazine. It is a fairly simple technique, time consuming but gives great results. No pictures yet as my little landscape has not been finished, but I will post a photo when it is complete. In the meantime check out her website and you will get and idea of what her work is like.

I see that Cecile from Unique Stitching is running another Art Quilt Challenge to raise funds for the NSW Cancer Council, and this time the theme is to do a self portrait, 10-12 inches square. I did the self portrait below for the Southern Cross Quilter's Retreat in Bendigo in 2007, but it will not suit this competition as it is too big - the quilt, not just the bottom! There is a portion of the piece I did for last year at the top of this page. It is still travelling, having been to the Australian Quilt Convention in February, and then to Townsville, Perth and Sydney. It will soon be back in Melbourne for the coming Craft and Quilting Show this month and them comes home. I look forward to seeing it again.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

TIF - July colours and concept.

I have not been very productive with my stitching recently, there seem to have been other things that demanded my attention and time, but hopefully creative sewing will start again soon. I spent almost two days sorting and tidying my working spaces, as I seem to have spread everywhere in the house, with every possible surface covered with fibres and fabric used in working the lesson samples for the Embellish, Stitch and Enrich class over the past five weeks. With the prospect of house guests this weekend, and a party of sorts in a week or so, I decided that it was time to clean the slate ready to make a fresh start. Now, with the purchase of several plastic bins of various sizes, there is order from the chaos, and the satisfaction of finding treasures in my stash of stuff that I had forgotten I possessed. Somehow I find tidiness and organisation conducive to a new beginning, even though once in progress, I am capable of making the most amazing mess.

A starting point will be this month's TIF, where Sharon has asked 'What is it to be at the half way mark?' As usual this can be interpreted in any way, using what ever techniques one likes, in a project of one's choosing.........but also as usual, I have no great ideas yet. The optional colour scheme is appealing as it contains my favourite muddy blue and a limey green.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Fourth of July

Most people know that the Fourth of July is Independence Day in the United States, a national holiday that marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on July 4th 1776. Some people may know that it is also the birthday of Queen Sonja of Norway or that the Henley Regatta takes place in England at this time. Another bit of trivia for you to store away is that in 1997 the Mars Pathfinder space probe successfully landed on Mars on this date.

For me today is a date that I always remember, as it was the day my parents married in 1940 in Scotland. My father at that time was a Squadron Leader in the RAF, based in Shropshire at the Central Flying School as Chief Flying Instructor, and responsible for teaching many of the soon to be Battle of Britain pilots how to fly – he was only 27 years old. My Mother was only 23, and had been studying to become a domestic science teacher at the
Glasgow School of Domestic Science – commonly known as the Dough School. Because of the war, she did not complete her training, and married so that if my Father was posted overseas, she could go too. She was a superb cook and dressmaker all her life, passing on her love of sewing to me. I still have her original well worn recipe book from those days as well as her books of sewing samplers, embroideries, and some small garments made at that time. I shall try and post some photos a bit later as the stitches are tiny and they are beautifully made.

This is a photo of them on their wedding day – I believe Ma’s outfit was a light blue.