31 December 2006

A surprise in the garden

My garden continually surprises me. I was given this pot of begonias earlier this year by a friend who moved. They duly flowered in spring and then I just admired their leaves. This week, I noticed these purple flowers start to open and realised they were attached to a totally different plant in the same pot. I should have realised this earlier - Stephanie loves to plant more than one type of plant in a pot - but it took me unawares. My question is: what is the name of the plant? Can anyone help me with identification?

30 December 2006

Zen again

Having finished reading Zen and the Art of Quilting, I have to confess my disappointment. The concept promised so much, but the book didn't explore the theme as well as it could have. There were tenuous links to the principles and the book was full of tedious anecdotes that stated the obvious. What a let-down for such a (potentially) meaty subject! I would love to tease out the themes myself. Will put my thinking cap on.

Today was a perfectly relaxing day, topped off with yum cha with my Dad - all those delicious dumplings stacked up in bamboo baskets that entice with their contents. We filled ourselves with delicacies and green tea - what a wonderful way to dine.

29 December 2006

The power of friendship

Today my friend Monica visited for the last time before she leaves Sydney to travel to the USA to start a new stage in her life. She is going to a place where snow is a normal part of winter. Leaving the middle of summer to arrive in the middle of winter, she is looking forward to the challenges ahead. Here she is, holding a small quilt I made to cheer her during those wintry days. Simple sunny flowers to lift her spirits.

There were tears, but the most emotion was shown when I passed over a friendship quilt that Brenda had made on behalf of Monica's friends at The Quilters' Guild of NSW. Each circle on the quilt had a personal message to Monica - some written, some embroidered. Brenda appliqued the circles to squares and pieced, quilted and bound the quilt. Monica was stunned and thrilled to receive such a treasured gift. Thank you Brenda, for the time you took to make Monica's quilt. It is a quilt that shows the power of friendship.

28 December 2006

Dyeing discovery

Thanks for the comments about my simple dyed fabrics. I've been doing a little research this morning and have discovered a fabulous site called Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing.

It is heaven! Including short videos of techniques, Paula has assembled masses of information that will keep me busy for a very long time! Sometimes I don't know what I want until I see it, but I have certainly seen plenty here. I'd love to know of any other dyeing sites you'd recommend as well.

27 December 2006

Simple pleasures

I confess I am pleased by simple things. Today I experienced such a pleasure when I dyed more fabric. It's truly magical to watch white fabric turn into a coloured treasure, right before my eyes. I had five metres of fabric to dye, but soon whipped through that, so I had to rummage around in the stash to find some more. I guess I ended up with about seven metres in the end. I dyed larger pieces than before - I tried to do half-metres or larger. Here they are drying on the clothesline in the dappled sunshine of a Sydney day. All together now - aaahhh.

26 December 2006

Zen and the art of quilting

Now when I read a sentence like this - "A Zen quilt is one begun out of a desire to make it rather than to have it." - I just have to read the rest of the book. So far I've read a couple of chapters and although all the stories are from the USA quilting scene, I think I will be able to draw some universal truths from it. Stand by...

25 December 2006

A Sydney Christmas


Christmas day is here and in Sydney it is unseasonally cool. Just the right weather to be eating too much food, unwrapping pressies and lolling around. To make a perfect day even better, it may even rain. Happy Christmas to you all.

24 December 2006

New blogger

I took up the invitation to convert my blog to the new version of Blogger today. Relatively painless, but I haven't worked out how to add buttons to my links yet. I've been a bit bored with the look of my old blog, so updated to this beautiful, clean design. To me, the colours are soothing and restful - but hey, I'm always going to choose blue if it's an option! What do you think of the new look?

Rain, glorious rain

Not only has it been raining since last night, but we have just experienced a series of thunderstorms that dumped even more water on us. My garden is looking temporarily bedraggled, but it is soaking up this unexpected pleasure. What a wonderful gift for Christmas.

23 December 2006

Rosemary and Thyme

One of my favourite tv series is Rosemary and Thyme, an English series about two women who set up a gardening business and go around snooping into other people's business. Oh and they solve lots of mysteries along the way.
Not only am I a sucker for any show that allows me to vicariously traipse through some stunning gardens, but also I love strong female characters. Oh, and I can also wish that my poor garden looked so divine! And did I mention I want hair like Felicity Kendal's?

22 December 2006

Hello holidays

The first day of my holidays has been spent with a sleep-in to recover from yesterday's party. The mystery was revealed at 1.30pm - we went barefoot bowling at the local lawn bowls club! What fun it was, starting with a lesson from a club member, Richard, who was quite polite even when we did stupid things. Divided into teams, we played game after game and some of us didn't win a single one! (guess who?) Here's a photo of some of my workmates on the green.
Followed by general socialising and a barbecue (and liberal numbers of drinks - it was very hot), we celebrated the end of our working year. I left about 9.30pm, but there were still others going strong!

So the holidays are here and I am ready for lots of r&r.

20 December 2006

Party time!

Tomorrow is our end of year party at work, and where we are going and what we are doing is secret. Not only don't we know what's happening, but that age-old problem has been made even harder - what should we wear?
Indoors or outdoors? Near the coast or inland? Do we have to travel? These are dilemmas that can't be solved until 1.30pm tomorrow, when we are told where the party will be held.
It will be a long day. Starting at 1.30 and going into the night...there may be some tired and emotional people by the end of the day.
I have a wrap-around blouse that I am thinking of wearing but only if I can work out how to hold it all together at the top. A small brooch may be in order, or maybe I'll just flaunt it. Sometimes clothing decisions are just way too hard to make.

19 December 2006

Two more sleeps

Two more sleeps. Two more sleeps. That's how close I am to the holidays. I'm hanging out for a break from work so that I don't have to think about a deadline for anything. I can smell the holidays from here...

17 December 2006

Background noise

I'm not a fan of background music while I'm stitching. I find it distracting and after a while it annoys me and makes my sewing lines crooked (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Listening to the cricket, however, is an entirely different story.

Cricket and sewing go hand-in-hand. With the Ashes on at present, I find that the television coverage, turned down low, is the perfect background. You know that if a wicket is claimed it will be shown about 10 times on replay so you don't miss out on the action. Test games take up to five days, so there are plenty of boring bits too.

Last night, though, the cricket had my full attention as the Australian batsmen showed how to score runs. Absolutely fabulous viewing - and yes, I did finish the small quilt I was working on!

16 December 2006

Keeping secrets

How difficult it is to keep a secret! I am stitching a small quilt as a gift, so I can't show you a picture until after my friend receives it. This is killing me - keeping my sewing private and not sharing - but maybe I've just made it worse by offering a tease?

I was at the local shopping centre bright and early this morning to buy the items on my list. Aaaarggghh! What a nightmare shopping centres are at this time of year. I was there before most of the crowds and I fled after an hour but it still took nearly 15 minutes to leave the car park. I need a soothing cup of tea to settle myself...

13 December 2006

Japanese diversity

Remember the quilt I am handpiecing from Japanese prints? Well, it has been a while since there was any progress, but now I have some new fabrics to add to the diversity. My friend Monica gave me these pieces the other day while I was helping her sort out her stash. They should add to the visual interest in the blocks, don't you think?

12 December 2006

Yipee!

Tonight I set up my brand spanking new broadband access. Yipee! It is sooo much faster than the old dialup - of course! I can't believe how excited I am about another piece of technology...

09 December 2006

A change of interest

Last week, a friend was clearing out a pile of old quilting magazines. I was lucky enough to be given first pick of any that I wanted to keep, before I passed them onto others in our quilting group. I've spent the past week browsing the magazines and there weren't many that I kept.
The magazines were English and American patchwork magazines. It was interesting to see, after I'd put aside the pages I wanted to keep, the sort of subjects I'd selected - not a single pattern, but just articles about technique.
Obviously, my interests have changed. In the past, I may have opted to keep the odd pattern or photo of an appealing quilt. This time, I was hungry to learn more about HOW to do certain things. Amongst the articles I kept was one on dyeing techniques and one on various applique techniques as taught in the City and Guilds course.
It's always intriguing looking at quilting articles. It seems be be true that whatever you are interested in, somehow, some way, the information and inspiration you need will present itself. Do you find that is true for you, too?

06 December 2006

Christmas ATCs

I have a fondness for making and swapping ATCs with friends. They are such a fun size to try out different techniques. Last weekend, I acquired these lovely Christmas-themed ATCs from friends - Brenda, Monica and Sandra (shown in order from top). Aren't they the most beautiful little pieces of textile art?

04 December 2006

I am so thrilled

No, I didn't make this quilt. It was stitched by my dear friend Chrissy as a gift for me and it arrived in the mail today. I knew she had made it because she told me months ago, but I hadn't seen it until I opened the package this evening. It cheered me up so much!

The hearts are made with Chrissy's own created fabric and it is extensively machine stitched, embellished with hand embroidery and beading. It is simply exquisite and I am so thrilled to have it here as a tactile reminder of a very close friend who lives across the sea. How lucky I am.

03 December 2006

Soft and pretty

Perhaps it is because I am feeling frail and wobbly after a nasty dose of food poisoning, or perhaps it is because it is cool and showery here in Sydney, but today I had the urge to start something soft and pretty. I don't usually do pretty, but I cut a whole lot of 2 inch strips from the stash and made the blocks shown here. This is the arrangement for today, but I will probably change my mind later. Very simple, mindless sewing, but also very soothing. I have the absolutely perfect spotted fabric for a border, once I reach that stage.

Yesterday I was physically at the Christmas meeting of the Quilters' Guild of NSW, but without much energy. Pity - there was much to enjoy with a change in the format of meetings and a wonderful afternoon tea (none of which I touched). Crawled home afterwards and was asleep by 6pm. Never have I loved my bed so much!