Friday, 31 October 2008

Insane brain......

Living Down Under means one is slightly out of step with what is happening on the other side of the world - time wise. The fifteen hour difference in time means that while I am typing this post, it is still yesterday in New York, the home of Joggles who are releasing the lessons online for Sharon's course every Thursday for the next few weeks. Last week I waited very impatiently on Thursday (here) until I could download the lesson, forgetting the time difference was so great, and eventually doing it on Friday morning when I got up - that was fine, though kind of frustrating knowing that while I slept, others would already be enjoying first glimpses of the lesson and challenges. Sometimes I don't sleep well, and though I did not consciously plan it, today I woke at Realising that the lesson would be available, and knowing I would never get back to sleep until I did, there I was logging on, downloading, changing printer cartridges, and putting the pages into a folder - then back to bed with a cup of tea to read them all. My mental alarm clock was working well. Insane!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Follow the leader...

There has been a lot of chat on another list about leaders and enders, and the great way one can piece a quilt without trying too hard. Not knowing too much about idea, I checked out the site mentioned - Quiltville- and decided to give it a go. I have cut up a zillion two and a half inch squares and am busy leading and ending my piecing for my other quilt with a pair of them. It seems very easy, and already there is a growing pile of blue (surprise, surprise!) and creamy coloured bits - I would love to end up with enough to do one like this as made by Bonnie Hunter of that site:-

More blues - Aquilegia are among my favourite perennials in the garden - their feathery leaves and tall stalks of fairy like flowers fill any corner with colour. They cross fertilise and self sow, so next year there might be another variation in colour or shape, an added bonus.

And finally - the fickleness of the financial world - today's graph - fingers crossed for all those watching it.......

Monday, 27 October 2008

The long term value of investing in a stash

A quiet day spent piecing some more blocks for the current quilt shown several posts mind churning over with ideas for about future projects, wondering what this week's journal exercises will be, listening to some music, the news and occasionally checking my email.....then I saw this on the ABC news site, in bright colours of red, orange and green, against a classic black background.

Inspiration for some stitching? Another textural rubbing? A quilting design?

None of those. A very depressing graph to show how the Australian All Ordinaries Index closed at the lowest point for four years following more losses on Wall Street and other world markets due to the financial crisis and fears of recession. The Australian dollar is also at a five year low - so no more buying of needlework books from overseas for me for a while! In fact it is really a bit of a worry as I and many others, helplessly watch the value of our supeannuation go down the gurgler. Perhaps that is one really good reason for having a stash of fabric and other textile goodies - I can still make things and ignore the gloomy forcasts in the media until it, hopefully, gets better.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Thanks for the comments and emails, good to know your thoughts on this thorny question, which has now been dealt with.

I have been working on some of the exercises for Sharon's course, and having a ball doing stuff I have not done since my children were young. The task was to try what I used to think of as brass rubbing - where one places paper over a textured image and gently rubs with a pencil, or in the case of traditional brass rubbing, a wax heelball. Sharon called this frottage, but when I googled to check the definition I came up with something completely different, and I was not doing that!

Anyway, I was amazed at the number of very ordinary objects that resulted in an interesting texture that almost looked like a photograph or two dimensional image due to the different shading. This was a collage I made, and can easily see it as a stitchery or in fabrics....The items used were the chimney of my slow combustion fire, the top of a tupperwear container, a cedar weatherboard of my house, and some Eucalypt leaves.

I'm a sucker for old books, and rarely pass anything that is vaguely stitching or needlework of the kind I favour, so this little book had to come home with me from a local market this morning - a bargain at only $2! I don't actually do much canvas work any more, but the ideas and designs inside would work as well for other stitchery or textile projects.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Studio Journal - a Designer's Workhorse

A few people have commented (thanks for that) about the tidiness of my sewing room. I think they must have failed to notice that I mentioned it was only tidy because I had finished one project and had not started another! Generally the mess made when working on something leaves it look like the Augean stables and a major clean up is required before starting again.....However, it may stay tidy for longer than usual as I expect that there may not be a lot of stitching or sewing done over the next few weeks because I’ve started another online course.

This time it is a little different - Studio Journals with
Sharon Boggon in Canberra, via Joggles in New York State, with participants from all over the world. How is that for a wonder of modern technology? Reports from those who have done this course before have been very positive, so I hope to get as much from it as they seem to have done and that there will be some achievements I can share, and that a lot is learnt.

By this point in my life, I should have known that one should always go with one’s gut reaction, or follow the maxim that if in doubt – don’t. When tagged recently for a meme, initially I was not sure if I wanted to do it, and certainly if I wanted to pass it on as the rules stated. For a variety of reasons, I don’t forward those supposedly funny emails that one receives, or those that promise great luck, joy or happiness (and imply the reverse if you do not) and these are not much different, even though they are meant to be fun.

In the end, so as to cause no offence, I completed the meme and later forwarded it to those known only through the Internet – ironically perhaps causing some offence or sense of intrusion for them. Many of us write under a pseudonym out of a wish for privacy, security, paranoia or any number of other of reasons, and are careful about what they post, and this particular meme asked for personal information. I guess respondents can choose what to write and reveal, and some have chosen not to participate, which is absolutely fine by me.

It is probably not worth a lot of angst, but I would not do it again. I’m wondering what others may think?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Tag - You're it!

A week or so ago I was tagged by Embellisher for a meme, to which I duly responded - here. The rules are outlined on that post, and I now I need to pass it on to seven other people.

Today I decided to nominate the last seven people who have kindly left comments on my blog. I hope you don’t mind, are happy to play along and pass it on to seven more. I have actually added an eighth person just in case someone chooses not to continue the thread, and that is OK too. Those nominated are:-

Judy B at
Avery at
Paula at
Doreen at
Sue at
Jane at
Linda at
Carol at

I look forward to learning a little more about you all.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

October TIF

The topic for this month was to think about our workspaces, how we feel about them and what part they play in our lives.

Theoretically my workspace is what would otherwise be a bedroom – it measures about three metres square, is carpeted and the three door hanging cupboard now sports sturdy shelves for storage of my stash and other necessary items. I have a work table with my Bernina on it, an ironing board and a small desk for the computer, a very crowded bookshelf, and a large design wall that also functions as a notice board and currently displays this year's journal quilts. The old desk was mine when I was at school in the 60’s, and under that melamine extension bears the marks of endless nights doing homework for school and uni, rings from coffee mugs and the occasional bored doodle in the wood. It returned to my care when my parents died, and I’m very glad to have it as a reminder of times past.

I’m fortunate to have a designated space to work where I can leave projects without having to tidy up and put everything away. However – this space is often too small, and then I spread out to the main room of my home, the dining table and the kitchen benches, the veranda or wherever is most suited for my activity at the time. I would dearly love to have a much larger area, without carpet and sometimes consider converting my garage into a wonderful light filled studio, but that will probably never happen. I think then I could call it a studio, as it is, this space is just a sewing room – often very untidy and sometimes used as a dumping ground when I need to make the rest of the house spick and span. By the way this is tidier than usual having just finished the last TIF piece and reorganised everything ready for the next project!

My October piece was actually done about a year ago, when doing an online course with Jane LaFazio and the lesson focussed on making an art quilt as a Shrine to something that was special to each of us. Because life is fairly hectic at the present time, and I’m not doing a lot of stitching, I’m going to cheat a little and use this as my October TIF.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

September TIF at last.......

The topic for September’s TIF was Lists.

Let me admit that I am a list maker from way back, I love them. I’m a fairly organised person, and in fact seem to remember that the tendency to make lists is one of the characteristics of a Myers Briggs ISTJ personality – and I’m one of those! Lists help me keep track of so many things – what I need to do, to buy, to make, to fix, people to ring or see etc, in fact I have a long thin spiral notebook that lives near my telephone in which I write things to do and jot phone messages so they don’t get lost. Other lists may be scrappier, on a whiteboard, bits of paper, the back of an envelope or a sticky note. I even have a little gadget on my computer desktop, just like a small pad of post it notes for the same purpose. There are many other less obvious lists one uses all the time – phone books, post codes, colour cards, plant catalogues, computer favourites, television programs, stitch directories ......the list of lists could be endless.

The September TIF has been top of my sewing list for weeks, and now I can finally cross it off. This is a literal interpretation of lists, nothing clever like
Whale makes List but represents several of my typical scribbles, and a bit tatty like some of the papers that might be used.

It consists of scanned lists of various sorts printed on fabric, a scan of my DMC thread chart, and some selvedges, the lot is quilted in variegated thread supposedly to look like words on paper. The yellow post it notes are fabric fused at the top only. Where better to photograph it than on the Fridge with a lot of other bits and pieces!

Sunday outing

A two and a half hour bus trip on Sunday with a local horticultural group took me almost 200 kilometres away, to the Strathbogie Ranges in northern Victoria, to visit three very different but beautiful gardens.

Two of them were on working farms, the first was the creation of one woman over the fifty years she has lived there, and the other developed by a couple from an empty paddock during the last thirteen. Both of these were large, informal but carefully planned and each where places one would feel immediately comfortable and at home. They were filled with easily recognisable plants and trees in clever combinations, and while one featured a number of Australian native species, the other had mainly deciduous European trees, mature rhodendrons, cornus, viburnam species and other ornamentals as well as iris, aquilegia and too many other perennials to itemise.

The third garden, Sunnymeade was in another league all together, more like something one would find gracing the pages of a glossy English garden book than in country Victoria. Craig Irving is the man who designed the garden and built all the stone structures that add to its character. Check out the link for more information, it was certainly worth the visit and his garden is open again in early November if you should be in the area.

These are some my photos:

Not sure what this one is - a small shrubby Eucalypt of some sort I think...This is a prostrate dwarf Banksia, the flowers looked like a crop of furry mushrooms or hairy dwarfs!This is Banksia ericifolia
Betula pendula underplanted with Helebore and variagated Lunaria (Honesty)Seedpods of Telopea (Waratah)Trunks of Prunus serrula ( Tibetan Cherry)Clematis speciesEucalyptus caesia
Cornus florida ( Flowering Dogwood)One of the amazing stone stuctures at Sunnymeade.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


What a difference a day makes - the small dog had a long overdue haircut in preparation for warmer weather.

Posted by Picasa
I prefer the scruffy hairy yak look, much nicer to cuddle.
I see that I only need a few more visitors and I have had 5000 hits on the blog - how good is that? Thanks to all who visit and leave a comment, it is much appreciated!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Magnolia 'Elizabeth'

These are for Kate, who gave me this young Magnolia tree, to show the first gorgeous creamy yellow flowers......The tree is about a metre tall, but there are eight or nine flowers or buds.

And this one is for Ian to show my working girls.......

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Lovely people, lovely quilts.....

When I got home today from a long day of helping organise and hang more than 70 quilts for our show, I found this little bouquet on my doorstep with a note. I had happily demonstrated the many capabilities of an embellisher machine to a lady who has boutique in this town. She designs and makes wonderfully individual garments but did not know about embellisher machines, but was very taken with their potential once she had played with mine. The note was to tell me that she is now the proud owner of one and I really look forward to seeing what this very talented lady will do with it.

Putting quilt stands together and hanging quilts is tiring business, but well worth it as the show will be great, and there are some wonderful quilts to see.

This one,

in several parts is absolutely wonderful - made by my friend Beverley, I think it is the most original, artistic and the best one there. I would have liked to take a few more photos of others I liked, but the owners were not present so I had no permission to post any photos - those who live nearby will need to go and have a look. St Mary's Hall in Castlemaine is the place - Friday, Saturday and Sunday.........

These are a couple of mine, sorry if you might have seen them before........This is called "The Country Life is a Less Quilty One". It features twelve garden themed embroideries designed mainly by Bronwyn Hayes but done in my own colours. It began with just one stitchery, but I became hooked on them, and it is particularly significant to me as it was put together while my house was being ripped apart during renovations, and I was living upstairs with everything I possessed in chaos around me.

And this one is supposed to be me...but actually does not look like me at all!

The Log Cabin was done for my favourite Daughter a few years ago.

While this is called Liberated Nine-Patch with 48 Liberty fabrics, mostly scounged from Op Shops over several years.

Apologies for the poor photo quality.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Quilt for today......

Tomorrow I journey to Castlemaine to help with the cleaning of a large church hall, and then the hanging of the quilts for the Goldfield's Quilters Exhibition. As mentioned previously there will be a few of mine on show, only one is relatively new as my creative stitching is fast going in another direction. One of those now in its bag in a friend's home, waiting for tomorrow, usually hangs in my big living room, and will one day be replaced by another currently under construction. The absence of the red one caused me to haul this one out of the cupboard and hang it instead; I was reminded that I rather like it, so may leave it on the wall for while. It is the quilt made from signature blocks exchanged at the very first Southern Cross Quilters Retreat I attended in Sydney in 2005, at which I met a great bunch of creative women and made some very good friends.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Blogging Break

I have not blogged for more than a week – where have those days gone, and what do I have to show for it? Not a lot really. There have been things I needed to do that did not involve sewing, visitors and a house guest over the weekend, a visit to Melbourne, time spent with my kids on the way, and when the weather is good, lots to do in the garden. It is always a choice as to how my time is spent – sewing or gardening............. gardening or sewing, when I’m doing one, I’m thinking of the other........and sometimes I just think about both and do very little or read a book. That is one of the joys of being retired, independent and able to do as I choose.

I have not mentioned it before, but my career as an apiarist was severely challenged by the loss of all my bees towards the end of winter - I think very cold days, several with snow and many many severely frosty mornings caused their death. When it became obvious that there was no action around the hive during the early sunny days of Spring, I opened it and was sad to find they were all inside, but very dead. Perhaps they also had too little stored food, but I know from the Department of Primary Industry who licence all bee keepers, that many apiarists lost bees this winter. The really good news is that once more my hive is occupied and the garden is buzzing with busy bees, as my bee keeping friends from Melbourne came on Sunday with box of bees that had been captured in the SE suburbs somewhere when an unwanted swarm landed in a backyard tree. I’m very pleased to have them again, and will make sure that next winter they are able to be kept warmer.........little quilts for each one? Woolly socks and hats? I’m sure there will be a way!

I was surprised this morning to find that I had been tagged by
Embellisher for a meme and not knowing what this meant, I googled and found this interesting site where there are definitions and many examples of the ideas and questions which spread on the Internet like a virus – their term, not mine. Anyway the rules of this one are as follows:-

1.Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Now I’m willing to share 7 facts about myself, though I’m not sure it will interest anyone, but not sure about passing it on – I shall think on that, after all, the Daily Meme says that rules tend to mutate as the memes go around.

  1. I was born in Hampshire in the UK, and came to Australia as a migrant in 1960.

  2. I went to 9 different schools before I was 14 years old. No - I wasn't expelled from them all for being naughty, I was an RAF kid and the family moved frequently.

  3. I'm a list writer, so should have had no problem with September's TIF, but I am yet to start it.

  4. It follows, I procrastinate!

  5. I collect owls.

  6. When digging in the garden I collect cockchafer grubs for my chickens.

  7. The very first sewing machine I had was one of these, a Christmas present in 1954 when my family was living in Virginia Beach in the USA.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Starry Starry Night

The quilt guild to which I belong is holding its biennial exhibition from 17th to 19th of October, and today has been spent getting my quilts ready to show, and completing the small one made for the challenge. This needed to be based on one traditional pieced block, which could be repeated more than once, distorted or made in different sizes as long as the original block remains recognisable. Despite being the one who suggested this theme many months ago, and having wonderful ideas about what I could do, my well established tendency to procrastinate resulted in me leaving it to the last minute as usual.

One idea was to do an asymetrical log-cabin using a single green silk fabric thinking the weave of the silk would give it texture and different shadings. Tried it, but the silk was too fiddly and the whole looked very boring.

Another idea was to use a star block in sizes from 4 to 8 inches, cleverly coloured to get some optical illusion happening. Tried to, but very small pieces of fabric resulted in corners and points not meeting despite great attention to detail, so it also ended in the bin.

Now with time short, I began again yesterday morning and finished a short while ago. Based on a traditional star block, it is actually appliqued not pieced (not time and too small) and slightly distorted. Not blue as originally planned, and not really my usual colours at all, but made with a single piece of very brightly hand dyed fabric from my stash. It is most unlikely to win any viewer's choice, but as there were only a few entries for the challenge, one more is good.

Somehow one does not expect large dogs to be sooks, but mine just a great big softy. She loves to lie on things - shoes, socks, dirty clothes left on the floor, jumpers thrown off in the garden when it gets too hot - anything really. She kept me company today as I stitched, and these are bags with quilts inside, all ready to go to the show..........

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Crochet basket

This little basket was made last night with the giant ball of carpet wool that was mentioned a few posts back. It is about six inches in diameter and four inches tall, a useful size for keeping things in........ I hoped that it would be stiff and strong, but despite being washed in very hot water and dried in the clothes dryer, it did not shrink or stiffen up - if anything it stretched a bit and became a trifle softer. I shall have to find some way of making it more functional - perhaps some strong starch? The other things I made with this coarse woollen yarn were a series of long thick crochet cords - with the intention of using them in the garden to tie up tall annuals or tomatoes or other leggy things. I think it should work, they will be environmentally friendly and hopefully last outside for a season.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Colours of Spring

A brief walk in the garden during a break from sewing reveals new growth on Japanese Maples, the last of my daffodil varieties to bloom and the first blossoms on an ornamental cherry. I love this time of year when everything is clothed in fresh new greens, and all the leaves are perfect. My neighbour is out there on his mower, and I should probably be doing the same thing but I'm running out of time to meet the deadline for our Quilt show, so I need to keep stitching........

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Edible sculpture

Emails of strange origin or suspect in some way are rarely opened on this computer. I feel the same way about those supposedly funny ones that are forwarded with good intention, but with everyone's email addresses still attached for all to see, they usually end up being deleted and I probably miss out on a giggle or two. A friend recently sent me what I though was a business type email, but instead she had attached several photos which I find amazing. I do not know where they originated, so cannot give credit to sculptor or photograper, and hope I am not breeching anyone's copyright. I think they are very clever.

While you are at it, you might like to check this blog I found when wandering the WWW - more superb photographs, but this time of birds and other wildlife in India.