31 March 2008

Bare bones and symmetry

I'm not normally drawn to symmetrical shapes. I like wonky and distorted shapes because they are unpredictable and make my eye move around a piece of work.

However, symmetrical designs are often soothing to me. One of my new projects will feature a tree and I sketched the bare bones of it today. Tomorrow I'll look at it again.

The picture on the left is a scanned freehand sketch where each shape is different. The picture on the right is smaller and has one half of the sketch mirrored (and, to my eye, slightly distorted).

In the interests of gathering outside opinions, I welcome comments about which one appeals most to YOUR eye and why. If both sketches look the same to you, I'd be interested to know that too!




29 March 2008

Passwords

Why is it that everything I do these days needs a password? How many stupid letter/number combinations can a single brain remember? In my case, it seems to be one (or three on a good day). And don't get me started on things where you need a user name AND a password. I can certainly understand why some people have the same password for everything and never change it.

The human brain is not meant for such trivia. It is designed to remember important information like 'where did I buy that blue spotted fabric' and 'measure the fabric carefully before you cut it into 16 strips that are the wrong size'. And, of course, 'where did I hide the last Easter egg?'

28 March 2008

Friday's ATCs

In January last year, I took a Quilt University course called Structured Fabric, taught by Dena Crain. This week, I discovered the piece of structured fabric that I had constructed and decided to cut it up to make a batch of ATCs. Here's the result - 18 quite different designs. You can see more about my fabric weaving experiments here.

27 March 2008

Da da!

Here's the photo you've all been waiting for - my refurbished kitchen cupboards and bench top. Just in case you've forgotten how ghastly it looked, you can see a before photo here.

Only two cupboards, one bench top and all the walls to go.

25 March 2008

Hand piecing blues

I have been hand piecing blocks for a quilt for what seems like forever. Now I have just realised that the last 38 blocks I made are the WRONG SIZE. Grrr. Where's that stitch unpicker?

Later that same night: perhaps I have done too much sewing in the past week. The blocks are perfect - it's the cut borders that are the wrong size!

24 March 2008

Getting it right

I have been organising my sewing studio for some time now, trying to arrange the best workflow. My ironing board and cutting table are at the opposite end of the room to my sewing table so that I have to get up from my chair and move regularly. I am very happy with the height of my cutting table because it is comfortable for me to stand there when rotary cutting.

However, after the hours of machine sewing I have done in the past week (more than I have done in the past year), I knew there was a problem with my sewing table setup. My back was aching.

My sewing machine sits on top of a table - it does not sit flush with the table - so since I couldn't take my chair up any higher, I lowered the table. The legs on my table are adjustable, so after cleaning and removing the tabletop, I adjusted the height so that my sewing machine is at an ergonomically sound height. I no longer have to reach up to the bed of the machine.

Today I made another quilt top; this time with simple strips. And without back pain!

Lindi: you can see some of the fabrics I used in my batik quilt here.

23 March 2008

Finished top

I've finished the top of this quilt today. Since it's too big for me to competently photograph, I'm showing you the EQ6 design instead. I've learnt new EQ skills designing this pattern and have appreciated making the complete top from my stash. I suspect I will probably be able to finish the quilt from my stash, too.

Since I don't enjoy struggling with large quilts on my machine, I will probably hand quilt it with brightly-coloured perle threads. That means it won't be finished for ages!

Sadly, we lost a close game last night against St Kilda, probably because I wasn't in the crowd in Melbourne to support the Swans. Next week our game is in Sydney, so my efforts will be heard!

20 March 2008

Making quilts (in theory)

Since I've had more time, I enjoy playing with quilt designs using EQ6. It saves sewing together masses of blocks only to discover that I don't like them! I've finished joining the 36 blocks in the centre of my batik quilt, using the dark grey thread I bought at Win On Trading on Tuesday. Very good thread for piecing.

Now, though, I don't like the outside border I planned, so I played around in EQ to see what alternatives I had. So far I have three different borders, but tomorrow I may have even more.

I'm not an expert EQ user, so when I couldn't find a way to extend borders the way I envisaged them, I posted a question to the EQ forum and within a day, I had an answer. Excellent resource!

19 March 2008

Big day out

Well, where do I start? Yesterday Brenda and I ventured out again.

Early yesterday morning, a bus fell on the railway tracks at Epping, messing up Brenda's plans to travel to Sydney by train (plan A). I received a phone call: I'm driving down to your place, will be a bit later than planned (plan B). Some time later, another phone call: I'm nearly there but my car's overheated and I can't drive it, can you come and get me? (plan C).

Eventually, we made it to Canley Vale (plan A), where we splurged on threads at Win On Trading. We'd been tipped off about this unpretentious shop by Lisa. This is a small selection of the threads I bought, nestled in their "sushi box". Did I mention that each 1,000 metre spool costs $1.20?


Since we were so close, we decided to next visit Cabramatta to fossick through the Vietnamese fabric shops (plan D). These shops are amazing. They are crammed with rolls of the most extraordinary fabrics - no 100% cotton fabrics there! I was hunting mesh for ATCs and finally found these beauties.

We ate lunch at a Vietnamese noodle shop and then drove to Liverpool Museum to see the Odyssey Quilt Project (plan A). The three quilts in this project tell the stories of 11 women of Dutch origin. Each panel narrates their vivid emotional and physical journeys from the Netherlands via the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) to Australia. The exhibition is on until 24 May. The coordinator of the project was there, and she told us some of the stories behind the quilt panels (plan D).

We travelled back to my place to collect bottles of water to fill the radiator in Brenda's car (plan E) and then drove to her car (plan E). We decided to visit the QuiltLove shop at North Rocks and drove in a convoy of two (plan F), stopping along the way when Brenda's car overheated again (plan G). Brenda phoned several car repair places to find one that could repair her car and finally arranged for it to be fixed today at Artarmon (plan H). We continued in my car to QuiltLove (plan I). In the meantime, Brenda planned to stay the night at my place (plan J) and then decided it would be better to drive in short trips to Artarmon outside peak hour traffic and stay with a friend closer to the repair place instead (plan K).

I dropped her back at her car and went home. Brenda made it to North Sydney (plan K),and I know it involved a tow truck, but she can tell you that part of the story herself.

I'm staying home today. This week has had too much excitement already!

17 March 2008

It looks different today

Rearranging blocks on the wall is endlessly entertaining. This is today's configuration. Finally I'm using some of those gorgeous batik prints I have been collecting over the years!

16 March 2008

New on the design wall

Just a glimpse of what's on the design wall today. It's early days for this quilt and who's to say whether the blocks will stay arranged in this pattern?

14 March 2008

Today's excursion

was to Avalon Beach, a return trip of over 100 kilometres. Goodness - that's further than I thought it would be! Avalon Beach is on a peninsula north of Sydney and is one of the suburbs in the area called the Northern Beaches. On a gloriously sunny day like today, the trip was invigorating.

Lois and I travelled there to see the Avalon Quilters' quilt show - a lovely, small show that had interesting quilts. Then we visited The Cottage Quiltworks at Bilgola and fossicked through their fabrics. I was very restrained.

We met and chatted to many friends along the way and finally found ourselves a relaxing spot at the Newport Arms for lunch and more talking. Aah, what a way to spend a day.

13 March 2008

Image of the day

While on my morning walk, I passed this amazing fence and gate. Old, ornate and rusted. Those curvy lines in the squares would make an interesting quilting pattern.

This afternoon, I drew my first block using the Easy Draw function of EQ6. I then designed and coloured two new quilt designs, one using that block. If only making the real quilts took the same amount of time! I'm thinking of developing some patterns for sale - any advice from anyone who's had experience in that area?

12 March 2008

I could really get used to

days like today. I drove to Gladesville to drop in a birthday gift to Kathy (whose 50th birthday celebrations have been going for two-and-a-half weeks now!) and stayed for a really good catch-up. Kathy's one of the owners of Material Obsession, a fabulous patchwork shop, so of course I had to have a prowl around the bolts of fabric on the shelf. I had a special preview of Kathy and Sarah's new book, which is on sale in May. Delicious!

Then I zapped over to Eden Gardens to meet Angela for lunch. Eden Gardens is the most wonderful garden centre - they have a fabulous cafe, an art gallery, gift shop and book shop, as well as a really interesting nursery. After lunch we wandered through the plants and I purchased some mixed lettuces, ready to plant in the veggie patch tomorrow.

I dropped by the Macquarie Centre shopping complex on the way home (just to check out whether Borders had any new books I had to have - they didn't) and discovered a Kikki K shop that I swear wasn't there last time I visited.

Of course, when I saw these BLUE clips and pins, I had to have them. A set of 40 paper clips, 30 push pins and 10 mini pegs, stored in a screw-on three-set container, all for $2. How could I say no? I so love stationery.

So that's my day! How was yours?

11 March 2008

Sloth

I've discovered a definition for sloth that fully describes the day I'm having:
a disinclination to work or exert yourself.

I'm sure it's related to the warm temperature of the day. I just want to rest on my patchwork quilt covered bed, read an interesting book and allow the gentle breeze to waft through the window. So I think that's exactly what I'll do right now...

09 March 2008

Healing hearts

Two simple hearts, fused and stitched on to six-and-a-half-inch squares, will be sent this week to fellow SCQuilters who have been experiencing some challenges and are in need of a kind word.

07 March 2008

I've been tagged

I've been tagged twice recently - by Di Jobbins and Pam Holland - so I guess that really means I someone wants to know seven things about me!

These are the rules...
1. When tagged, place the name of the person and URL on your blog.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 7 things about yourself.
4. Name 7 of your favorite bloggers.
5. Send e-mail letting those bloggers know they have been tagged.

So, here we go!
1. Blue is my favourite colour. I guess, looking at this blog you would never have guessed that? Not all blues are created equal though - my absolute fave is beautiful cornflower blue. The only reason my current car isn't blue (earlier one was) is because the blue that was available at the time was a horrible metallic shade. Ugh!

2. Although I own a wonderful sewing machine and have used it most days this week, I prefer to hand stitch. There's something totally relaxing about the rhythm of sewing by hand that soothes me. It's a form of meditation for me.

3. I love my garden to be a bit wild. I hate gardens where the plants are regimented in rows and are forced to grow in straight lines. I love it where plants grow into each other so that the colours of the flowers make a show of their own.

4. I love pruning. No, this does not contradict the previous item! I have a devilishly sharp pruning saw and a set of telescopic pruners, which I am always keen to put to good use. I have been known to take them to other people's gardens, just so I can get a pruning fix.

5. My sewing studio is the best. It is such a luxury to have a whole room so I can arrange all the sewing paraphernalia
to suit my purpose. I am enjoying spending a lot of my time in the sewing studio at present.

6. I love people's stories. This is why I read so many fiction books - the stories allow me to experience a vast number of different lifestyles and to dream about the life I am creating for myself. The best part of my previous job was to meet other quilters and learn about their creative journeys. It was an absolute privilge
to then write their stories.

7. I am addicted to reading blogs. For the same reason as item 6 plus there are usually wonderful photos as well!

So now I tag:Judy in the Dyes - Judy is my 'neighbour' on the Artful Quilters Web Ring
Monica in Michigan - Monica moved from Australia at the beginning of last year and I miss her
Joan - Joan is in Western Australia and makes some really interesting textile pieces

Did I mention that I'm not good at following rules?

06 March 2008

More strings

Another eight more blocks on the design wall. They are eight-and-a-half inches unfinished and this is as many of this size that I will get from the bag of strips.

I can make something smaller from the remaining skinny strips later.

05 March 2008

Stripping along






This is seriously fun. I've arranged my first eight string-pieced blocks on the design wall, just to see the pattern that the strips make. How good is this? Now I'm rushing off to make some more.

04 March 2008

Making strings

I think it's because I've been creating with selvedges that I have fabric strings on my mind. I have the urge to keep working with skinny strips, so today I pressed a bag of strips in preparation for sewing.

Lisa gave me a bag of her hand-dyed fabric off-cuts, some of which are shown here. Aren't they the most gorgeous and interesting colours? Let's see what I can do with these, without adding any other fabric!

03 March 2008

We have been invaded

Don't these look as if they are moving down the hill (from their space ship) to invade us?

02 March 2008

Match the handwork

Yesterday I went to our monthly quilting get together and, although the group was smaller than normal, we had a lovely day, sewing and talking. Pennie took a photo of of each person there and a photo of their handwork. Can you guess which handwork belongs to whom?

Visit the
Sydney SCQuilters blog to see how many you can match. I'm sure you will all guess my creations!