Monday, 29 September 2008

New quilts

Posted by PicasaDespite having said in the last post that I may not be making many more traditional quilts as I have cupboards full of them and want to try different textile things, today I am once more thinking along traditional lines. These were made when I was away with a great group of quilting friends for a weekend recently, and when complete, the quilt will eventually hang on a wall in my very large living room - I have made all the alternate simple blue and beige blocks needed, but still have to make a dozen more of the ones with the red corner stones. They are only 9 inches square and a bit fiddly. I also thought I would not have enough of the red fabric, but thanks to one of my friends, we managed to cut all I needed from a scant fat quarter.
The other idea I am working on is a smallish challenge quilt for the Goldfield's Quilters' exhibition to be held in October in Castlemaine. This must be made using only one traditional block, it can be in different sizes, distorted and embellished, but its origins must still be obvious to the beholder. I have considered many fabrics, several options, tried a couple, discarded them and have now settled on something - I will not surprise anyone to know it too will be blue!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Geelong Fibre Forum

An absolutely wonderful day spent travelling, with other members of the Embroidery Guild, by bus to Geelong Grammar School, where the TAFTA Fibre Forum held an Open Day for visitors to view the various works completed in a wide range of classes during the previous week. The work was inspirational, and I rarely use that word as a descriptor, but I came away with many ideas rumbling round my brain, and itching to get home to start experimenting. There were also several specialist silk and fibre vendors with stuff that one usually has to buy online, so of course the plastic card had a little exercise, and many very creative people selling their work in the very grand main dining room of the school - think Harry Potter and you would not be far out. There were several exhibitions by other textile artists, but those that impressed were Joy Smith with her woven tapestry exhibition Time Traveller, and After India, works by people who had been on a tour of India in 2006 to a Natural Dye Symposium - gorgeous textiles dyed with natural products giving a wonderful range of earthy colours. I came away thinking that I will go to this forum next year as a participant, and with the decision made that my days as a traditional quilt maker are limited - this all looks like so much fun.

After this we went to the Geelong Wool Museum to see Expressions 2008: the Wool Quilt Prize another collection of really beautiful works - none of them made in the traditional way with recognisable blocks, but beautiful woollen fabrics, many recycled from clothing or blankets, combined with linens, silks and cottons - mostly dyed with natural dyes or rust processes and embellished with hand and machine stitching. All just lovely. As part of this there were many Waggas from the 1940s, and it was great to see them included as works of art and part of Australia's history. I would strongly recommend for anyone within reach of Geelong to go and have a look at this excellent exhibition - the Wool Museum is fascinating too.

Friday, 26 September 2008

A wee bit of wool.......

On my way home from Castlemaine earlier this week I visited all the Op shops, but it was a little disappointing in terms of what I found. I think Op shops are moving to another level somehow, two of them in a local town are now looking very up-market - one has moved to another shop with more space and is very neat and tidy, while the other has everything colour co-ordinated, as if a window dresser had planned it all, and neither now have lovely piles of stuff through which to fossick or treasures to find. There was an article in the paper yesterday about a woman who runs bus tours of Melbourne Op shops, while at the same time complaining that they are becoming more commercial and in competition with other vintage clothing shops, with fewer good seems to me she is contributing to the problem...

This huge skein of wool made me smile, so I bought it for a couple of dollars. I think it is wool - as it does not melt when lit, and smells like my carpet if the fire spits an ember and it is scorched. The yarn is a bit coarse for a jumper - perhaps it was for carpet weaving.... but the ball weighs just over 1.1 kgs or more than 2 1/4 lbs. Don't ask me how I might use it - I have no idea, but I'm wondering if it would shrink and felt if knitted.........BTW, those are Maggie's toes on the top step - I did not notice them before, or else I would have cropped the photo.

This is another of my unknown Daffodil varieties, multi-petaled and very fragrant.

The gorgeous thing below is a wood anemone - Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana" tiny, a vivid blue and happily spreading in a patch under some birch trees.

This one is a Paper White, just beginning to bloom now as other varieties are fading. It is also very fragrant.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


When I made my tree-change move three years ago from Melbourne, to this little country town, I thought I was in for a quiet life with my dog and my huge garden, endless quilt making punctuated with occasional visits from family, and if I was lucky enough to make some friends nearby then that would be a bonus. I have done so much better than that – I have found a place with a group of wonderful friendly and caring people – we share a love of gardens, dogs, food and wine, and look after each other; so tonight, when invited for a quiet birthday drink with one couple before I head off for a quilting weekend, perhaps I should not have been so surprised to see a whole lot more turn up bearing flowers, gifts and wine, but truly, I had not expected a mini party in my honour. What a great bunch of people, and how lucky am I to be part of them. I wouldn’t live anywhere else for quids!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Lucky me.....

Because it suited most of us, my children, their partners and three extra dogs gathered at my place over the weekend for a family celebration - my birthday, which actually happens later this month. It was just great to have them all here and we had a wonderful time doing not very much at all – certainly no sewing or gardening.

My son did most of the cooking; we had Atlantic salmon for dinner on Friday night, and then very slowly roasted venison with roast vegetables for dinner on Saturday. The birthday cake was made the next day by my daughter, a delicious Carribean Spice Cake with cream - we would have had no room for it on Saturday in any case, and this helped extend the food fest for the whole weekend. It was a totally indulgent, with champagne and other wines at the appropriate times and I felt both very lucky and very spoilt.

My son spent some time doing various chores for me – things I cannot do myself, or for which I do not have the tools. I now have a chicken shed door that no longer sticks when the wood gets wet and swells, a gate latch that no longer blows open in the wind, a shrub securely anchored to the ground and no longer likely to blow over, a potting bench no longer likely to collapse, steps with anti–slip tape on them, and big rocks in a garden bed just where I wanted them.

There were gifts as well, some computer software, flowers, a gorgeous coffee mug with a design that looks as if it comes from the medieval tapestry of the lady and the unicorn, and finally, knowing that I have a soft spot for owls, my clever daughter made me this:-

He was christened Owliver Cromwowl, but somehow I think may be just Oliver, and will be watching over my sewing room from now on, encouraging me to stop procrastinating....

Friday, 12 September 2008

More Daffodils and a ???

Three more daffodils, unfortunately the labels carefully written with their variety when they were planted are now blank, details washed off by the rain I guess.
No sewing today, too nice outside and visitors coming for the weekend. Have a good one yourselves.

This came from seeds given to me by a friend, and he called it Red Broccoli, gorgeous but looks more like a Cauliflower to me! I have not eaten one yet so don't know how it will taste.Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 11 September 2008

What if?/ Crazy quilting

I preface this posting by saying that I admire the workmanship and traditions of vintage crazy quilts, and certainly the skills with which contemporary ones are made, but I have never been tempted to try it myself, as it is a bit too fussy for my taste. However, I do love what is happening when people disregard the rules and try their own thing in a very original way, and some of the work being posted on various blogs is most intriguing.

Over on Jude's second blog 'What if?' people are revisiting crazy quilting and doing things in a non-traditional way, with unusual fabrics and getting some great results. I even had a go myself! I asked:-
what if the block had no seams at all?
what if the colours were subtle with a matt finish instead of shiny or glitzy?
what if it was made from woollen felt and woollen tops using an embellisher?
and worked from the back, but embroidered - minimally - on the front?

Finally - being ever pragmatic, what do I do with it now?
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

This is for Jenni

For ages I have been trying to get a close up shot of one of the five Kookaburras that are living in my garden, but they will not let me get close enough or fly off before I can even try. Each morning when I open my curtains there they are sitting in various trees, very still with eyes peeled, watching the grass below, and then suddenly swooping down to pluck some grub or worm from below, before flying up onto another perch and doing it all again. Today this fellow was sitting in the big Chestnut tree in corner of the back garden and I managed to sneak out without disturbing him and take these photos. I only wish I could add the sound they make when they call to each other.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Banongill Station

Yesterday as part of the Open Garden Scheme, with friends, I visited Banongill Station near Skipton in the Western District of Victoria, 120 kms from where I live. It was spectacular and well worth the hour and a half's drive to see such a place and enjoy its history.

Banongill Station which was first settled in 1853, where the original bluestone cottage is now part of the homestead kitchen, has had only 6 owners in the time since, with one family owning it for over 100 years. The property is a working station with over 17,000 acres of productive land specializing in fine wool, beef cattle, lamb production and crops. The very large homestead is surrounded by over 14 acres of garden that was originally designed by

William Guilfoyle in the 19th century – it features wide lawns sweeping down to Mt Emu Creek, formal garden beds, wide gravel pathways, unusual plants, massive European trees, garden beds with roses, shrubs and succulents, the most wonderful wisteria covered pergola, and bluestone terraces filled with bulbs. There are also wild areas where the grass has been allowed to grow long, full of more Spring bulbs, an orchard, and a formal vegetable garden. The brownish pinky colour is the creek, covered with a water weed that gives it that colour.

Despite its size, this garden was immaculate, no doubt the result of constant hard work by the three gardeners who care for it and the commitment of the present owners to safe guard its history and protect it for future generations. This kangaroo sculpture was made from the same brushwood as is used for fencing common in South Australia, and was about 7 feet tall. Some bright spark has placed a single daffodil under his arm, so he looks very much part of the day.

It was a great day out, with morning tea on the way there, and a late picnic lunch on the way home, followed by a quick visit to the Skipton Cemetery to locate the grave of one of my friend's great, great grandfather who had settled in the area in the 1850's.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Spring Colours

I posted a better photo of this little bulb last year (here) - It is called Chionodoza sardensis and is a tiny relative of the Bluebell family. I think the snails have been munching as it popped trough the leaf litter, but it is still gorgeous.

This is a new shrub recently planted in the ongoing development of my garden. It is called Mahonia aquifolia and I found it at my local town's monthly market. It will ultimately reach 2 metres tall, and has leathery evergreen (except in winter when they go this beautiful red) leaves. The flowers are not yet fully open, and will be followed by purple berries. It will make quite a statement when it grows a bit more.

I have hundreds of these particular daffodils, they were here when I bought this place, and I do not know the name of the variety. I was told they are a very old variety, and are most unusual in their multi petalled flower and lime green colour as the buds open. I have planted several thousand bulbs over the last three years, so you can understand why I love this time of year - I promise more pictures as they begin to bloom.

These little ones are called Tete-a-Tete - they look like a normal yellow daffodil, but are miniatures, only about 20 cms tall. They seem to have more than one flower per bulb so have an impact despite their size.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


I decided that I need to be at home for a while - too many things happening that take me elsewhere - computer class, walking group, Embroidery Guild activities, Quilting Group, local community committee, appointments in the big smoke, meetings with see what I mean? It is great to be busy, I cannot imagine being bored but one needs to stop and take a break sometimes, and that was today. I have not been outside my gate, I did not collect my mail from the Post Office, I spoke to no-one on the phone, and I have been in my very scruffy gardening clothes all day - it was bliss and I plan to do the same tomorrow.

No sewing, but I achieved a good deal in the garden, weeded, transplanted, tidied, sprayed and even mowed some grass, also for the first time this season. In another month or so, mowing will be a tedious time consuming weekly chore as it takes a full day to do the whole property. Today the weather was wonderful, blue skies, sunshine and it was almost warm - in fact today was the first day for several months that I allowed my slow combustion fire go out. It is my only form of heating, and I use about 12 cubic metres of firewood a year as it burns any the time it is cold, and 24 hours a day during winter, so that is another mark of the changing season.

Anyway, Spring is officially here, some of my daffodil and other bulbs are in flower with lots more in bud and this year's show will be good as we have had so much rain. Some shrubs have new leaves showing, and the roses have lovely new red shoots developing, while the fruit trees are covered in buds that will be blossom soon. I think the sunshine, different light and the fact it is not raining has done wonders for my state of mind. Here's to lots more of it.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Passing on the award ........

How on earth does one choose just a few blogs to nominate for an award? My blog roll is a bit out of date as I now subscribe to almost 60 blogs via Bloglines. They are all different, all interesting, all written by clever creative people willing to share ideas, techniques, their lives and their art. However, I need to select just seven of them, so these are they – in no particular order, just ones I enjoy for a variety of reasons. I am sure there are also heaps more out there that I have not yet discovered........

Bittersweet – because I love the colours of Morna’s textiles, her funky dolls and use of old things - woolly jumpers recycled into lovely felt penny rugs, old linens and other textile creations.

Allie’s – I’m sure she has received many awards, but I’m listing her because she is inspired by her beautiful garden and I love seeing the way she constructs and works the flowers on her crazy quilts.

LAM’s blog - I met Lynn when I was doing an online course last year, and know she designs and makes beautiful quilts, and teaches free motion quilting online as well as working with other textile arts and multimedia.

· Jude’s
what if? Where Jude continues to experiment with stitching and ask questions which may prompt others to do things a little differently. Her generous spirit and willingness to share shine clearly through. Others are invited to contribute their ideas and works as in a sub-section called CQR.

Dogdaisychains – another award winning blog, and one where I was lucky enough to win a recent giveaway. Jackie is an embroiderer who has had work included in WOW, and who has a couple of very useful tutorials on her site, as well as links to gorgeous photos of her work and her own Etsy shop

Moonstitches – sometimes written in both German and English, by a person living in Japan. It is full of Liberty fabric quilts, knitting, photographs and a wonderful collection of fabric owls with a tutorial showing how to make them.

Magsramsay – and English biologist who uses things from the natural world to inspire her art, textiles and award winning quilts. I particularly like her Thin Blue Line one.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Silly me.......

Yesterday was my good friend’s 60th birthday, which was to be celebrated in grand style at a well known and rather upmarket restaurant. Friends had helped by designing beautiful witty invitations, name tags, place labels and by doing the floral arrangements that graced each table and the dining room. My small job was to collect her birthday cake on Saturday morning as she was at a conference, and to keep it until she came and got it later the same evening. Instead we all met at another friend’s home where the Birthday Girl had a glass of champagne, received a gift and did not remember to come and collect the cake – which had been carefully stored in my very cold laundry, well out of reach of my dogs. On Sunday morning my car was needed to transport the flowers to the venue, so all dressed in our finery, this was done well before lunch, leaving us plenty of time to stooge around until the party began, so we were able to sit, chat and enjoyed the elegant surroundings for half an hour or so.

It was only when my friend arrived with her family and other guests and we were wishing her a Happy Birthday that I realised that I had forgotten the cake. Out of sight – out of mind, it was still sitting 25 kilometres away on the top of my washing machine. There was no option other than return home and collect it, or else the day would be ruined, so off I flew. I was back before we all sat down to lunch and will privately admit to doing quite a lot more than the speed limit, all the time berating myself for my stupidity and having the memory of an ant......I’m only glad that Greg, our local police constable had not chosen to lurk behind a gum tree with his speed camera – at least I did not see him. I think it takes about three weeks for the blue notice to arrive in the I shall be on tenterhooks until the end of this month.