31 October 2007

Houston winners

The winning quilts from the quilt show in Houston have been announced and you can see photos here. They look sensational - I can only imagine what they look like in real life. I am in awe of the skill involved in making such amazing pieces.

I'm especially thrilled that so many Australians won prizes (yeah, I know that's my bias showing through, but hey - if we can't congratulate our own local talent...). I'm going to drool over the photos some more now.

29 October 2007

Leaves

Since I haven't made anything new this week, I'm going to revisit some of my earlier work that I don't think I've shown here.

In 2004, Nola and I decided to make journal quilts so that we could try out different techniques and just play with ideas. Our quilts were A3 size, because we wanted something smallish, but still big enough to show off whatever we chose to try.

This is my second journal quilt. It has fused leaves on a background fabric; it is hand stitched with perle thread and free-motion machine quilted. What did I learn from this quilt?

1. Don't hand quilt with perle thread through fused fabric. Extremely sore fingers will result.
2. This is the first time I tried free-motion quilting. That's why I'm not showing you a close-up photo.
3. This is the first time I sewed mitred binding. All the bindings on my other quilts are made with strips on top and bottom and then strips on the sides.
4. This was the beginning of my orange phase. I still don't know where that urge came from.
5. Orange and purple - oh yes!

Nola went on to make more journal quilts than I did. I started a new job and suddenly didn't have the brain power to be creative at home. I did, however, make three other journal quilts that year and will show you (as soon as I can find the photos). So I guess a total of four in the year isn't that bad after all?

27 October 2007

In praise of the jacaranda















These two trees are at the end of my street. Yesterday we had a fantastic thunderstorm and the effect of the rain is evident in the jacaranda flowers on the grass. Jacarandas grow brilliantly in Sydney and when they flower, it heralds the hot weather yet to come. Thunderstorm season is here and so, sadly, is the humidity, which won't leave now until March. I'm not a happy little vegemite in the humid Sydney summers.

But I digress. Jacarandas not only have glorious branch structure, but the haze that the flowers form is amazing to view from above. To fly over Sydney during this time is one of the world's best treats. I leave you with these photos of this stunning tree, taken about an hour ago.











































23 October 2007

My social life

Do events in your life cluster in groups? I go nowhere and do nothing for weeks and then suddenly I'm going out to dinner three times this week (with different friends) and seeing another couple on the weekend. I decide to go to Braidwood on 24 November to see the outdoor airing of the quilts and suddenly we are having a Federal election on the same day and I have to remember to vote (somewhere). Why can't everything be spaced out ?

Another one of my recent events: Brenda has a photo of some of my ATCs on her blog (and I didn't even think to take a photo!). Last Saturday, I talked about my collection at the NSW Quilters' Guild meeting. I think there may even be a few converts to swap cards at the December meeting, so my collection can grow some more. I think I have about 80 now, and I'd like it to reach 100 by the end of the year. Can it be done?

21 October 2007

Sprucing up

It must be a spring thing (although it was way too hot today for spring) that motivated me to change the look of my blog. I'm feeling a need for clean, crisp white and that ever-necessary colour - blue. But then again, it could be the IKEA catalogue I've been reading...

Does a tea towel make you buy a magazine?

If it does, please explain! I am a regular purchaser of Notebook magazine because I enjoy reading stories about other women's lives. Last week I bought the latest issue and it was, strangely, bundled with a Notebook tea towel.

Do these sort of things actually increase sales? A tea towel?

20 October 2007

Living the Creative Life

I always get excited when I hear of a book that explores the idea of creativity. It's an endlessly fascinating theme for me. For this book the author, Rice Freeman-Zachery, has chosen to interview 15 artists about their creative processes. One of these is Susan Shie, whose quilts have a style that has always attracted me.

There is a lot to find interesting in these stories. Thankfully, the word 'art' does not start with a capital A. It always makes me cringe when I read people saying 'I make Art' or "I do Art' - it seems so self-important.

The stories in the chapter about creative childhood were fascinating, with the suggestion of being a creative mentor to a child something to consider. Of course, my favourite chapter was about work spaces (I love seeing where people work).

After finishing dipping in and out of the book I realised that reading about other people's processes is really a form of procrastination for me. I need to stop doing this and start stitching. So if there is any value for me in Living the Creative Life it is the message to just do it.

18 October 2007

On the first Saturday of the month

I get together with my quilting friends at a hotel in Sydney's northern suburbs. We met through an online group called Southern Cross Quilters (aka Scquilters) and some of us have known each other for over 10 years now (I'm talking about you Jan!). We talk, eat and sew and, of course, have show and tell.

Now you can share the show and tell too! This week, Pennie decided to set up a blog for our group and added some photos she has taken over recent years. Here's the moral of the story - always smile for photos because you never know where they will turn up!

Check out the Sydney Scquilters blog here.

15 October 2007

Challenge results

Last March, I was given some materials for a challenge. It's taken me this long to decide what to do with them! Here's the original post, with a photo of the materials. And now, this is what I've made:

It's a small textile piece, with woven strips of homespun plus the strips of paper, all stitched. Stamped on some of the fabric. Metallic coils as tassels on the sides. It now has a place on my cork board in the sewing studio.

14 October 2007

Stitching

Just back from the NSW Embroiderers' Guild 50th anniversary exhibition, with many new ideas and a couple of skeins of gorgeous decorative threads. My goodness, there was a wealth of inspiration at that exhibition! Guild groups from around the state were represented at the show and there was a lot of really exciting textile work with intriguing hand stitching.

As I love the effect of hand stitching on my quilts, I now have a multitude of new ideas buzzing around in my head....

13 October 2007

Citrus fling

I'm still working the orange out of my system with this latest batch of ATCs. The base is my hand-dyed fabric, which has blotches of yellow and red dyes. Then pieces of a multicoloured yarn, encased under a layer of orange/pink organza to give a shimmer. I love these ones. The difference in the mottled effect on each piece of hand-dyed fabric makes each ATC look quite different.

12 October 2007

Looking for fabric

I am looking to buy some more of this fabric, preferably in Australia. It is called "Romance" by Patricia B Campbell for Timeless Treasures. I bought it years ago, so it may not be still around. The number on the selvedge is #PCAM-C-3828. I want a couple of metres, if anyone can help?

The result

Finished this batch this afternoon - 14 ATCs is the result!

Weaving therapy 2






I've finished weaving the 1/4-inch strips together to make this piece. I've started stitching along the strips - it sure takes a lot of thread!

Once the stitching is finished, I'll cut this up and make ATCs from the pieces. I am in love with this colour combination at the moment and want to use it in everything!

08 October 2007

Diary pleasures

Stationery excites me. The most exciting form is a diary and I have been on a life-long quest to find the perfect diary.

I usually buy a diary about September, for the next year. I like to have one week to a double page spread and, since I carry it everywhere, I like it to be a compact size. Not those teeny, weeny ones but about 15cm high. I like a spiral bound diary and I require it have essential information such as last year's and next year's calendars. Anything else is a bonus.

Last year, I discovered Debden's Swiss Cheese range and thought I would try one. Loved it instantly, because it had a blue cover (so superficial) but mainly because it has a double page monthly planner at the beginning of every month. Perfect for anyone who works to deadlines, like I do!

So, of course, September rolled around and I started looking for a 2008 diary in the same range. I automatically went back to the store where I purchased this year's diary.
"When will your diaries be in stock?" I asked.
"If we had any, they'd be over there," I was told.
"That's not what I asked," I said. "I can see there aren't any there. I'm asking when they will be here."
"If they're not on that shelf, we don't have any," came the reply.
"You mean you don't know the answer to my question," I said, quite nicely I thought.
"Umm, I suppose not."
Duh.

So I returned every Saturday during September and had exactly the same conversational exchange each time. October arrived and I started to worry. What if I couldn't buy one of the same type of diaries for 2008? I had important dates to note for 2008. I had things to plan; deadlines to record! How much longer would I have to wait; would I have to settle for an inferior diary?

You'll be pleased to know I purchased my
Debden's Swiss Cheese 2008 diary last weekend (this time with a lovely green cover). From a different store. All is well with the world.

07 October 2007

Lessons from a Campanula

This photo is for you, Michelle. It's amazing how many things I have learnt from this plant.

I bought this Campanula at least 10 years ago. I had it in a hanging basket on my balcony and the plant formed a tight, green mat of foliage for most of the year. Tiny, jagged leaves were all I saw most of the time until, once a year, it burst into glorious bloom.

Once had a proper garden, I divided up the plant and planted pieces of it in different pockets of the garden. Some pieces spread, while others withered. It rarely flowered. This year, my
various Campanula plants are covered in tiny, bell-shaped flowers. I love it more than ever.

So what lessons has it taught me?
1. How to focus my camera for close-up shots. I've only achieved that skill today.
2. How I adore blue flowers.
3. How to be patient and persistent.
4. How to appreciate what is here today.

02 October 2007

Combining two favourites

I love a dead body in my reading matter. Combine that with my interest in craft and this book is a perfect match. Murder Most Crafty is an anthology of 15 short stories all with a common element - mystery with a crafty angle.

Not usually fond of short stories (because they often start to get interesting just before they end) I will make an exception for this collection. Non-demanding reading, dead bodies galore and crafty women who have noses for sleuthing - it adds up to stories perfect for bedtime reading. Haven't come across a quilting-related story yet, though.

To AJ (who asked what an ATC is): ATC stands for Artist Trading Card. These cards are 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches and, if made by textile artists, they are constructed with fabric and other embellishments. You can see some examples of my last ATC swap here.

01 October 2007

Weaving therapy

It's a ghastly day, weather-wise, here in Sydney. Over 30 degrees, wild gusty westerly winds and low humidity - we all know those conditions result in bushfires. Sure enough, fires have broken out on the northern and southern outskirts of the suburbs. If this is spring, I'm not looking forward to summer.

To escape the weather (and to ease the accompanying hay fever), I've spent the day sewing. My first batch of ATCs is completed and I've started to weave fabric strips for the next.

This is a very time-consuming process, but I also find it quite soothing. Therapeutic, really. The act of weaving quarter-inch strips allows my hands to do the work while my mind wanders. As you can see, there's a long way to go before I've finished these strips. Then I'll fuse them to the interfacing and start the stitching along every strip - horizontally and vertically. So it will take a while, but eventually this piece will end up as another set of ATCs.

Thanks to everyone who looked at my blog yesterday. I've changed the type of counter that's on my blog so you can see how many visitors (scroll down and look at the right-hand side of the screen). Next time it gets near a number with a zero, we can count up together!

I get so excited when people leave comments on my blog. Assuming that other bloggers might feel the same, my new aim is to leave more messages. Imagine the fun if we all did this!