Friday, 28 November 2008

A Rose by any name.......

The roses are just beginning to bloom - it is cooler here due to the higher altitude so the growing season begins later and ends earlier than in other places in Victoria. Many have been planted over the last few years, but not all have survived the winter frosts, those that have are spectacular.

This is an old fashioned climbing hybrid tea rose called 'Meg' that has superb red hips in Autumn.

I think this beauty may be 'Sharifa Asma' - a rose by David Austin

One of my all time favourites - 'Renae' - a repeat flowering climber that has small double blooms, and a gentle fragrance. Vigorous growers, they can reach more than 12 feet in height and two have been planted to grow up the front of my house, then along the roof-line. This one is now about six feet tall and growing strongly. The other one is only 18 inches tall, but valiantly smothered in blooms.

This is really the true colour of 'Altissimo' - a French bred climber with large (4-5") flat blooms. I'm growing it on a trellis in the hope in time it will hide a neighbour's ugly outbuildings!

Obviously not a rose, but Nigella or Love in a Mist - a great annual plant that self seeds, good for filling in spaces, but a potential nuisance if allowed to go too wild.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Visitors galore.......

My sitemeter tells me that there have been more than 50 visitors to this blog today - an all time record to be sure. I cannot say that fame for the standard of writing or my wonderful textile creations has been the attraction, but acknowledge that being the first in Sharon's list of Blogs beginning with the letter 'P' (despite not always being about stitching!) is far more likely to be the cause. Anyway, glad that they did, and hope they may return again - but be warned, this blog is not just about quilting or other textile stuff - that is only a small part of my country existence, so you will find other things that may be interesting........or not!

Today has been warm and sunny - so different from last week, and a walk round the garden this afternoon revealed more new flowers and busy busy bees on just about everything, but in particular on those with blue or purple flowers. I checked the hive a week ago, it is full of new brood but no honey being made and stored yet, so I will not be able to harvest any until the end of summer. I gave a lot of it away, and now have only two pots left of last year's bounty - 12 kilograms - and I plan to keep one until I can compare the taste with this year's batch. It will be interesting to see if it tastes differently as the bees may have been feeding on different plants.

These Common Foxgloves or Digitalis purpurea are a favourite of mine, they remind me of my childhood in Devon in the UK, where I could roam the local farmer's fields and they grew wild in the hedgerows every year. In Australia they need to cultivated until they become established, but will then self seed and reappear each Spring.

Love those speckled throats.......

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Cool Country Climate

Summer officially begins in Australia on December 1st. Today in this area there has been torrential rain, hail, sleet and the temperature has not yet reached 5 degrees Celsius ( about 40 degrees Fahrenheit). The unsealed road outside my gate is once more like red porridge, the car has mud up to the door handles, the huge rainwater tank is again overflowing, the chickens look very soggy and bedraggled, and the fire is burning fiercely. You may well guess where I have spent most of the day!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Great DVDs

I was lucky enough to borrow these two DVDs from the Embroiderer's Guild Library on Wednesday and have now watched them for a second time, I shall probably view them again before I return them and take some notes, particularly of how Jean Littlejohn works with soluble fabrics. If you are interested in their take on contemporary textile work, then they are well worth tracking down to see how they do it and what they are really like, which is more difficult to judge from their books.
People asked about the Echidna, yes it has spines on its back and sides, which look very sharp. The one I have seen around the place is probably a male as it was much bigger than those I have seen previously - probably about 18-20 inches (45-50 cms) long from the tip of his nose to his tail. They are usually very shy, and according to what I have read, are not usually out and about by day, so I was lucky to see him.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

200th Post

This is my 200th Blog posting - and while some bloggers celebrate such milestones by a give-away of sorts, I hope you are not disappointed when I say it is not going to happen here - perhaps I will do something when it reaches a really remarkable number! I had thought to mark the occasion by changing the way my blog looks, with a new header, a belated Spring clean and generally sorting, however Blogger is not cooperating, and although it looks a bit different, it is not what I wanted and is therefore not yet in its final state.

I’ve been busy with the Studio Journal course, and hope to post some photos soon. By the way, Sharon has renamed and moved her blog, so it is now called Pin Tangle and still contains all her previous posts and information about stitches, tutorials, challenges and classes.

There has not been much sewing done here recently, as the garden has needed my attention and there have been visitors, but I have completed this prototype of a small bag just big enough to carry car keys and glasses – ideal when visiting neighbours for our Friday night drinks! It was made with a piece knitted in gorgeous silk yarn on huge needles, then machine embellished onto black felt, with added silk velvet bits embellished from front and back. The small velvet pieces still shed fibres, and I think it could have been improved with a bit of hand the next one might be different....

I spotted a moving brown blob in a distant part of the property the other day, and when I realised what it was, grabbed the camera and took these photos. This is Australia’s answer to an anteater, the Echidna, a mammal that lays eggs. This one was quite large, moved very quickly, and responded to being disturbed rapidly burying itself in the ground.

" Go away one can see me so I'm not really here.........."

It did the same thing when I found it in a different spot yesterday.

Friday, 14 November 2008

In the early morning........dark.....

It is 1 am on Friday morning. There has been the most tremendous rain and thunder for the last three hours - through which sleep was impossible.....particularly as one small dog tried to sit on my head as she shivered and shook in fear. I have given up until it all passes over, so here I am again, checking mail and printing out the latest Studio Journal's lesson in the early hours of the morning!

If trying to use your own photos for the kaleidoscope site, they must have a url - mine are posted on Flickr, and one locates the url by right clicking on the photo, which gives you a drop down menu, and then one clicks on Properties to see the web address of the photo of choice. Highlight and copy the web address and then paste it into the space on the Kaleidoscope site. You can do this with any photo on the web, but it needs to be copyright free.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


It seems a long time since I blogged, and it reminds me how much time I usually spend at this computer if there is nothing much to distract me - probably too much if the truth be told........

I see I have a second follower as itemised by Blogger - hello and thank you to the two Carols! I know there are other regular readers, so greetings to you as well, and thanks for the comments and encouragements.

Doreen asked how much my tangled bundle of Bunka yarns cost me.......a total of $2! I used some today when playing with the embellisher, and they look great - a subtle bit of shininess amongst the other fibres, and well worth the untangling effort.
Averyclaire asked about the photo grid - this is done using Picasa, but there are other free photo manipulation software programs that do a similar thing.

I have been busy with the Studio Journals course, and another lesson will arrive tomorrow morning while I'm asleep - I believe this week it will focus on using a digital camera for design purposes, and I'm looking forward to that. Hope my little Nikon will hold out, it has issues with hinges on both the battery and memory card gates, and is currently held together with a hefty rubber band. That will teach me not to drop it! One of the techniques we used last week was based on this fantastic site about kaleidoscopes.
Here. The idea is to make a kaleidoscope using a photo image, and then isolate parts that could be developed into a design for textiles. Be warned, it is highly addictive. These are some I have made using this shot of an Aquilegia in the garden today:-

Some other ones I really loved, these were from photos of quilts:-

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Scrounging Rules

Rule #1 - Never pass an op shop without checking what is inside....

Rule #2 - Use your imagination when assessing potential treasure....
What can it be used for?
Can it be fixed?
What would it be worth if.......?
Do I need it? Not really but it is too good to leave behind.

Rule #3 - Patience and perseverance pays dividends.......(not much else does at the moment!)

Two hours of television watching, and some gentle unravelling produces this - 30 skeins of 6 yards each of Bunka yarn - rayon knitted crepe thread made in Japan, and initially part of a needlepunch kit. Obviously the person who owned it previously got fed up with the tedium of needlepunching and threw it all out - fabric, yarns, two bent needlepunch tools and the frame to which the design had been pinned. The yarn is fairly thick, shiny and slippery, so in fact was quite easy to separate. Not sure how it will be used, but I'm sure I shall find a use.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The colour for today is.......


Posted by Picasa

Purple is the name for a range of shades between red and blue, and is made by mixing these primary colours. Although there are many different names for the various shades, such as mauve, liliac, puce, amethyst, mulberry, and heliotrope, on the colour wheel purple is situated between, magenta and violet which are considered colours in their own right.

It is a colour often associated with Royalty or the nobility as in ancient times purple pigments were difficult to achieve and therefore expensive, and worn only by those who could afford them. Feelings of love, courage, spirit and wisdom are often expressed in shades of purple, and it can also represents death and mourning . In Victorian times a light mauve or lilac was the first colour widows could wear after the traditional year of wearing black – often antique quilts will feature what were known as mourning prints such as the purple in this block from the 1860’s.

The word purple is also used in language as a descriptor, for example:-Purple prose – meaning exaggeration or imaginative writing. Purple speech – raunchy language or swearing. Purple haze – drug connotations. Purple cow – something remarkable, eye-catching or unusual.

Then of course, there is the poem by Jenny Joseph.......

When I am and old woman I shall wear a red dress
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves........

I meant to add these colour sites earlier............ have a look they are good fun.

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Great Pink Hunter

There is a mouse in here somewhere............

Posted by Picasa

November TIF and other stuff....

Thank you to those who left comments for Ma's Birthday, they were very much appreciated.

Time for another TIF. I can hardly believe that the year is nearly over and there are only two more challenges left. What is more surprising is a sense of satisfaction at having something for every month so far, and not falling by the wayside during the year.

As said by Sharon:-

"This month the challenge is to use typography as inspiration for a piece. Many designers are inspired by letter forms, in other words it is the forms of the letters and words themselves that they find visually stimulating. It is not using text, as in using a quote or a sentence that they find stimulating but the look of the letters as a design element."

The colour option is to use this palette.

These are very much my sort of colour, so I may just try and combine the two.

Yesterday when working on exercises for the Studio Journal course, I took a series of close up photographs of tree trunks to show the different textures, colours and lichens, and put a few of them into a grid. Aren't they amazing?

Then I went through my stash to match colours with threads and fabric with a view to translate them into textiles, and this is what resulted. It probably needs a few more of the creamy browns and better proportions of each colour, but it was great exercise to do.

And just because I have just discovered the photo grid tool, here is another to brighten what is here, a very overcast and gloomy day.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Happy Birthday Ma

Had my dear Ma still been alive, today would have been her 91st Birthday. She died in 2000, but never a day goes by that I do not think of her in some way. She was a very creative person, a sewer, potter, basket maker and gardener and I have her to thank for teaching me my early sewing skills and fostering a lifelong interest in things textile and growing.

So today, I’m posting a couple of things she did when she was a student at the Glasgow School of Domestic Science in the late 1930’s when training to be a teacher. There is a posting on July 4th this year that explains why she did not complete her course. ( here ) I have two of her sample books ( Subject titled "Housewifery") where she noted how to do French, flat or run and fell seams, darning of linen damask or knitted socks, plackets, patching, attaching tapes and many other techniques, and then with a sample on the adjoining page..... The stitches are minuscule, and would have taken ages.

This pair of camiknickers are made of the finest pale pink cotton lawn, the rolled hem and seams are less than a ¼ of an inch wide, and the sides have lace inserted into strips of pin tucks. There are darts at the back, and a waist band closed with three tiny buttons down the side. They were never worn – perhaps because I think they would have been very draughty!

The little girl’s blue petticoat is made of the same type of cotton lawn, it is finished to the same standard, has a scalloped bottom, lace edging with a placket opening down the back and five little buttons. Sadly this is not in as good condition as the knickers as my teddy bear wore it for a while, and it also has a few rust stains.

To finish today, photos of my Ma, when she was very young, this one was on my very first post.

and as I remember her.