01 November 2014

Hello November!

November's here and that means we can smell a Sydney summer on the way. Before we swelter in the heat and humidity, let's welcome the penultimate month of the year.



The jacaranda trees have opened their blooms to the sky and, before the leaves form, all we can see is the majestic shape of the trunk and branches and the purple haze of flowers. This tree is a block from my house and I photographed it on a balmy day. Aah, November - you are very welcome.

28 October 2014

Yes, I'm sewing - here's proof!

I've been in a sewing slump (I'm sure you've all been there at some stage). Overwhelmed by the tsunami of quilt photos that swamp my social media feed, I've felt uncreative and inadequate.

Then I remembered that most of the quilts I see are created by professionals - the people who earn their living from designing and making quilts. They need to continue their output so they can make money to support themselves and their families. The pressure to create is enormous.

Fortunately, making quilts is a hobby for me. So, if I don't make one for ages, that's okay. Whew!

 
Now I am ready to sew again. I cut these pieces on the weekend for another tulip block, so I can start hand piecing. Ready to go!


They will be pieced to make little tulips like these ones I made earlier in the year. They look so sweet, arranged in rows but they look much more exciting sewn into this block.


What a fabulous way to show off my Liberty Bloomsbury Gardens fabric! I don't have much of it (and I guess it's difficult to buy now?) so each piece is precious. I probably won't be able to get a third block out of the scraps I have left so I'll need to think how I can set two of these blocks (unless you can tell me where I can buy charm square sets?). Aah, I think my sewing mojo is back!


The block is called Timeless Tulip, made with templates from the Meredithe Clark Signature Collection by Victorian Textiles. I fell in love with it the minute I spied it - can you blame me?

25 October 2014

Five ways to enjoy blogging

Do you remember when you first started your blog? How it all seemed exciting to be sharing your thoughts with the world? I wonder if you still feel that way.


I started this blog in 2006, which seems a long time ago. I was working full-time as Editor of Down Under Quilts and was enjoying sharing the stories and projects of Australian quiltmakers in the magazine. I discovered that it was the storytelling that enthralled me the most - how was a quilt made, what did it encompass, why did people make particular decisions. 

I realised that I had stories, too. I started Creative Dabbling to share those stories.


After blogging for so long, I know that 'blog fatigue' is real. It's so difficult to keep writing but it's also a great pleasure. Here are five ways that may encourage you to keep sharing your stories with the world.

1. Don't apologise for being yourself.

This is my most important advice. You are unique. Many people may not like you nor agree with what you say and that's okay. I write this blog for pleasure, not to make money or to influence people. I'm not in a competition and my idea of 'success' may not be the same as yours. That's okay, too.

Don't compare yourself to other bloggers and stop reading blogs that make you feel inadequate. I wrote a few months ago about resisting peer pressure. Just be yourself.
 

2. Be multi-dimensional.

I've never met a one-dimensional person because they don't exist. Everyone has a range of interests, experience and expertise. Let these come through in your writing. If you want to focus your blog on a single subject, you can still do that but not to the exclusion of the other parts of you. We are all human and have multi-dimensional lives.
 

3. Plan your posts (or not).

Decide what works best for you. After eight years of blogging spontaneously, I started planning my posts last month. It's working well for me so far because it is giving me the illusion that I have some control in my life (and because I like printing a calendar of each month and filling it with words - shallow, I know!).

I'll continue to do this until the end of the year. By then I should know if it works for me. Try it and then decide - that's my motto.

4. Love your workspace.

I always find I can write better in a well-organised workspace. I sit on a comfortable chair at my computer, which is on a white desk. I love the strong contrast between the black of the computer and the white of the furniture. I'm happy there, sometimes with a mug of milky coffee but, more frequently, with plenty of water.

You may prefer to work on a laptop ot tablet in a public space, with the sounds of conversations around you. It's your choice.

5.  It's your blog so enjoy it.

If you don't enjoy writing on your blog, why are you doing it? There are plenty of different activities you could be enjoying instead. Think about your motivations carefully - you may decide it's not for you any more. That's your choice.

If you do decide to continue (or start a new blog if you haven't done it before) - take pleasure in it. Write mindfully, share what you want to share and, most importantly, enjoy it! 


Do you enjoy blogging? Leave a comment and share your stories, too.

21 October 2014

Textiles Tuesday

I've collated 19 textile discoveries since my last post and I hope you find something of interest among these links.



* Call for entries: Lest We Forget Quilt Challenge. Entries close 6 March 2015 and quilts will be on display at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne, 16-19 April 2015.

* Fancy a hand-stencilled scarf? Jessica Jones shows you how to make your own.

* Fascinating: Carol Milne creates beautiful glass sculptures depicting yarn-like strands that loop around knitting needles.

* Do you want to learn fun and easy textile surface design techniques? Well, you need Lisa Walton's ebook, Fun and Easy Textile Surface Design Techniques. 

This is the first in Lisa's Creative Journeys series of ebooks. Because it's a digital resource, you can download it straight away.

* Call for entries: Dare to Differ 2015. Juried selection, open to all Australian quiltmakers. Entries close 10 July 2015.



* Call for entries: Braidwood Quilt Event Blue and White Challenge, hosted by Canberra Modern Quilt Guild. Entries close 14 November.

* AQC class details now available. Bookings open online on 28 October.




* Interesting articles about Susie Gillespie, who creates textiles from the flax she grows herself.

* Do you like podcasts? This one with Kristin Link (from Sew Mama Sew) and Kathy Mack (from Pink Chalk Fabrics) sounds good! 



* The first issue of the new emagazine, Inspirational, is now available for purchase through John Hopper's blog.

* Learn to create your own fabric designs with these tutorials for beginners from Spoonflower.

 
* Call for entries: Darwin Patchwork and Quilters - Cyclone Tracy 40 Year Anniversary Quilt Challenge. Entries close 1 December. 

* Techniques to try next time you are stumped for a creative idea - from TextileArtist.org

* See photos of the winning quilts from the 2014 Queensland Quilt Show. Congratulations to all the winners!  



19 October 2014

Sunday shapes

Today's adventure involved spray-painting a plant stand. I say adventure because I have never sprayed paint from a tin before (a graffiti artist, I am not!). It was remarkably easy but appallingly smelly. 



After I'd finished, I spotted a spider's web that had been sprayed. Perhaps I should have put on my specs for the closer work? 



The lines and shapes made by the pieces look so interesting with shadows from Sunday's early morning sunshine falling across them. 

Sunday bliss on a perfect Sydney day...

16 October 2014

Five novels that made me cry




Novels teach us a lot about human interaction: how we behave in particular situations, how we react to crises, and how we deal with our emotions. I have learned so much from fictional characters - thank you to all the authors who have created them!



This is a beautifully-written story about the grief of the headmaster and his wife, who live in an enclosed world. Their unravelling is harrowing.

Read about this book on Goodreads.




This provides such a wonderful look into the life of Frank Derrick. It's a funny, sad, yet uplifting story about an ordinary life. Let's face it, most of us live ordinary lives yet many don't live to be 81. Really shows that everyone responds to a kind gesture.

Read about this book on Goodreads. 




This is one of my all-time favourite novels. The story of a teenager's murder, recounted by the teenager herself, it could be soppy but it's not. Beautifully written, it is full of the complexities of family relationships and the need for answers.

Read about this book on Goodreads. 


 

This story combines moral dilemmas with a woman's urge for fulfilment and her husband's conflicted desire to understand. It is so easy to be swayed by the decisions each of them makes.

 

Read about this book on Goodreads. 



If ever there was a story that demonstrates how resilient we can be when challenged, this is it. Written as a series of exchanged letters, this novel celebrates the human spirit.

Read about this book on Goodreads.


Well, these are my top five novels that made me cry. What are yours? Please share in the comments section so we can all sob along together!


13 October 2014

My life in a marshmallow

A couple of winters ago, I bought a new dressing gown. Although I hadn't planned to purchase anything, it called out to me as I walked through a store. Made of rich, deep velour, the gown was begging to be stroked.

It was only after I wore it at home and looked in the mirror that I realised I looked as if I was enveloped in a large, jade green marshmallow.


We use our sense of touch all the time, don't we? It's our most basic sense and found all over our bodies - in our skins.

When I wrap myself in this luxurious gown, it feels warm, cuddly and oh-so-soft against my skin. Wriggling against it, I attempt to experience its cushiony embrace against as much skin as I can. It makes me feel sensuous - well, as sensuous as a marshmallow can be!

Our sense of touch is pervasive and primitive. It's the first sense we experience as we are born and the final sense we lose before we die. Amazing, isn't it, how much we take this complicated network of sensory receptors and nerve signals for granted? 

Do you have any clothing that relaxes you? This gown is first choice when I need comfort. Being surrounded by its embrace is soothing and I feel cosy and cosseted - just the reassurance I need when I feel vulnerable.

Even if I look like a giant marshmallow.