30 July 2008

20,000

Thanks to all who read my blog. Visitor number 20,000 has come and gone during this morning, and I didn't even notice! It took eight months to go from 10,000 to 20,000, so let's see if the next 10,000 ticks over more quickly.

My two blueberry plants arrived in the mail today, both securely packaged and ready to be planted in the garden. I am slowly redesigning the garden to accommodate more fruits and vegetables and the blueberries are my first berry bushes. The broccoli plants are looking healthy and I also have seed potatoes to plant. Soon it will be time to sow tomato seeds so I can have tomatoes to eat by December.

I bought by blueberries from the Diggers Club. They have some useful articles on their website, including a guide to becoming self sufficient with vegetables and one on how to convert your front lawn into a food garden. I'm not at that stage yet, but it makes for interesting reading!

29 July 2008

A little diversion

There are fun things on the internet that are endlessly entertaining. Wordle is definitely one of these. Enter your own text and Wordle will make word clouds. You can change the colours and the layout to make a pleasing arrangement. I used the words of the Sydney Swans team song, of course!

28 July 2008

Hand piecing delight

Last week I discovered some templates for a wonderful block called Curved Star Hexagon. I made a sample block for a display and loved the impact that the gentle curve added to the design. Today I kept warm, put on a DVD (Meet Joe Black - I'd never seen this movie before; how could I have missed it? Simply delightful), and started hand piecing some blocks for a friend. (I've made two Sarah!) This has to be one of the nicest ways to spend an afternoon.

Look here to see the Matilda's Own templates (good Aussie product) and a block. I LOVE this block and plan to make this my next hand piecing project, since I don't have any handwork on the go. I couldn't find this block in my EQ6 library, so I may try to draw it myself with my new-found EQ skills.

27 July 2008

Don't you hate it when

you plan to get your hair cut but when you go to the hairdresser you've been going to for at least 10 years, it's closed down? I was stopped in my tracks today when this happened. I guess it shouldn't really be a surprise because the shopping centre is being redeveloped and shops are closing, moving and reopening as the building work requires, but still! Now I have to regroup and find a different place to have my hair cut this week. This could be a stressful experience.

25 July 2008

More brooches

Since the nights are so cold now, I find it warming to keep my hands moving with stitching. These are three of the needle-woven brooches I have made this week. I like to use variegated yarns so that a range of colours and shades are used. I also like to include some fluffy yarns to add texture.

21 July 2008

I'm tempted to bead again

after watching Lisa's new DVD, which came with the current issue of Quilters Companion magazine. I love the quilt she has made - Aurora - and the beading techniques are so simple that my fingers are itching to bead again.

I enjoy seeing techniques demonstrated as well as reading about them. Lisa made the beading look so simple, it's inspirational. So now I'm fossicking through my multitude of beads and starting to plan how I can use them to embellish some textile pieces. Like I need another distraction!

20 July 2008

This is my life

That was the theme for the 2008 Kambrachallenge. The quilts in the challenge were revealed yesterday, when we had a chatty and inspiring get together at our favourite pub, the Blue Gum. My quilt represents the two seasons in a year of my life - the footy season and the non-footy season.

Footy, in my case, means the Sydney Swans Australian Rules team. The competition begins each year in March and finishes in September, so for six months of the year I am involved in supporting my team.

The blue strips on my quilt represent the non-footy season. They are stitched in horizontal lines because mostly my life is even. But in footy season (the red and white strips - the colour of my club) the stitching represents the ups and downs of belonging to such a club.

This was evident today, when the Swans played a close game that had us on the edge of our seats in the last quarter. We finally won by two points - definitely one of the peaks shown in my quilt. This is also doubling as my July journal quilt.

If you'd like to see some of the other 2008 Kambrachallenge quilts, click here. The challenge for next year is to use these charm squares in a quilt - any size and, thank goodness, with no particular theme.

19 July 2008

New art quilt magazine

Can the market support another art quilt magazine? From the USA, the magazine Art Quilting Studio will be launched in 2009. Published by the company that produces Somerset Studio and Belle Amoire, the new magazine is now calling for content. Will we see the same names and techniques rehashed, or will we see fresh and non-derivative work? I guess that's up to us, so if you are interested in submitting to the magazine, you can read about it and the company's other proposed new titles here.

18 July 2008

Bubble stamping

This is a simple piece of surface design, made by painting bubble wrap with paint and then stamping it on fabric. My first reaction was that it looks like wattle flowers. My second reaction was that it is FUN. I am now collecting different pieces of bubble wrap so that I can try different sized bubbles.

16 July 2008

This is the life

Having time to be with friends is one of life's great pleasures. Today's lunch was with Lisa and a visiting quilter from Adelaide, Jenny. I left home at 10am and returned home six hours later - where does the time go? In our case, the following things were involved: show and tell (extensive), eating Asian food (delicious), drinking coffee and indulging in chocolate at a nearby chocolate shop (yum). In between, we talked and talked and talked...

15 July 2008

Play day

A little therapy today with Brenda and Pamela. Painting, stamping and using rubbing plates and stamps were our indulgences as we made a wonderfully creative mess.
This is one of my pieces (and my fave) - oil pastel rubbings on black fabric. More pics to come later.

14 July 2008

Challenge completed

In July last year, I was invited to take part in a quilt challenge. The idea was that we would have a whole year to make a quilt on the theme 'this is your life'. We are meeting next Saturday to reveal the challenge quilts. You guessed it - I started mine today.

I'm also pleased to say I finished it today. It is small and can also double as this month's journal quilt, but I can't show a pic until the weekend. I'm not overly thrilled with it, but at least it's done, so that's satisfying in itself.

13 July 2008

Treading water

A week of working and socialising, starting with Monday spent with friends from Switzerland, followed by a day of pottering around. Four days of work next, topped off with a friend's 40th birthday party last night and a disappointing game of footy this afternoon. It's week two of my EQ6 Building blocks course and I haven't attempted week one's lessons yet. I've printed them out though - does that count?

09 July 2008

Brr..

The temperature peaked at 13 degrees today (for a short time) so it was stay-inside-out-of-the-cold weather. I had an article to write, so to break up my tasks I cut and sewed some more pink and yellow blocks in between tapping on the computer keyboard. Here's the view of my design wall.
I haven't joined any blocks into rows yet, because I am constantly rearranging them - I think that's half the fun.

08 July 2008

Cutting and cutting...

My system for cutting pieces of fabric for my quilts is simple - I cut until I'm bored. This doesn't usually take very long and I often stop cutting as soon as I have enough pieces to make a few blocks. (Note to self: must work on my low boredom threshold.) Today I feel virtuous for cutting about a hundred yellow and pink pieces this afternoon. I think that's a record for me.

Do you cut all the pieces for a project before you start sewing? Is cutting a favourite part of your quilt making process? Perhaps I need to find a complementary quilting partner!

07 July 2008

Powerful words

Many readers will know Sara Paretsky as the author of the V I Warshawski series of novels. This book, however, offers a totally different perspective on Sara's writing. It is the fearless, articulate work of a writer who is a citizen of the USA - a woman who uses the power of words to fight against the repression of free speech in her own country.

This is engrossing writing. She traces her personal development through a challenging childhood in rural Kansas, through her years as a young adult and into her adult years. She was involved in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and embraced the blossoming feminist movement of the 1970s.

I cannot rate this book highly enough. I was riveted to her finely-honed prose and gleaned much from understanding how her own experiences were reflected in the character development in her novels. There will be many readers who won't agree with her opinions, nor her conclusions. However, I rate this as a must-read.

04 July 2008

Learning in July

Another month starts, so does another Quilt University course. This time I have enrolled in EQ6 Building Blocks with Fran Gonzalez. I skipped the sampler course because I already have basic knowledge of the program. I want to learn how to make the most of the EasyDraw and PatchDraw capabilities of EQ6, so this is the course for me. Then there's the EQ6 Advanced Layouts course starting next month, so that may end up on my to-do list.

02 July 2008

Exhibition!

I am always grateful that I live in such an interesting city. There is always something stimulating to kick start my creative juices. One such exhibition opens on Saturday - Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert. This special display is at the Australian Museum (I haven't been there since I was in primary school!) and explores the special meanings of Papunya-style dot patterns and their stories of land and culture.

Of course no one in their right mind will go anywhere near the Museum while the Pope, his entourage and associated visitors are in town from the 15th July (the Museum is next to Sydney's Catholic Cathedral), so I have pencilled my visit in the diary for late July. Can't wait to see these paintings!