30 October 2008

Quilt exhibition starts tomorrow

Quilts from the Gee's Bend collective, along with a large collection of quilts featured in magazines in France, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, go on display tomorrow at Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney until Sunday. More details are here.

It's very exciting to have such a large quilt exhibition in Sydney at this time of the year. After the Sydney Quilt Show in June, we enjoy a variety of smaller, local shows, but not an exhibition of international quilts on this scale. I'll be wandering around the show on Sunday, feasting my eyes and being inspired. Oh, and did I mention there may be a little shopping involved?

29 October 2008

Clever!

I love having clever, creative friends. Helen has won big time in Houston. You can read all about it here!

28 October 2008

Knitting by Anne Bartlett

I have been working my way through a selection of novels about knitting. I've read novels about knitting shop owners, novels about knitters who solve murders and novels about women who knit as part of their everyday lives. When I finish compiling my list, I'll post it on my blog.

This morning, I finished re-reading one of my favourites, Knitting by Australian author Anne Bartlett. I recall reading it several years ago when it first published, but this re-reading has reinforced what a beautifully written story it is. A story about several women and the way they come to terms with their lives, it is not cloying nor trite. It is a glorious, life-affirming narrative that left me feeling soothed and positive. I highly recommend this wonderful story.

27 October 2008

Dyeing December journal quilt

Lisette asked whether I used indigo to dye the fabric I used in my December journal quilt.

I folded half a metre of fabric into a parcel and then immersed the piece in blue Procion dye. Please don't ask me which colour, because I can't remember and probably couldn't replicate it f I tried. I really should write these things down! I like the folded effect, so I plan to try it again next time I dye.

Triumph!

I have to confess that drawing pieced hexagon blocks in EQ6 has been a challenge for me. The hexagon blocks that are in the EQ library all have a strip at opposite sides to make the block fit into a square. I didn't want these strips in my designs and have struggled to draw a block without distorting the pieces. At last, I have drawn an accurate pieced hexagon block using EasyPatch.

This is a Pinwheel Hexagon, based on block number 264 from BlockBase. The block is 8 inches high and 7 inches wide - obviously not a square. To draw it, I printed an outline drawing of block 264 on paper. I cut off the side strips, which made the block the shape I wanted. Then I scanned the drawing and saved it as an image.

In EQ6, I set up a drawing board 8 inches by 7 inches and then imported the image for tracing. It was simple to trace the drawing to create a block with the correct proportions. I coloured it and this is the result.

Now I am able to use this block in a variety of quilt layouts, so that I can audition the designs before I start sewing. I love EQ6, and I'm so pleased I persevered. It is enormously satisfying to learn how to draw what I want and not just take the blocks that are in the EQ6 and BlockBase libraries.

Now I will use the same approach to get the correct proportions in the Curved Star
Hexagon that I have, so far, been unable to draw correctly. Fingers crossed that it works.

25 October 2008

Laying out the blocks

I have made 16 blocks now. After taking out the blue and yellow ones because I have decided that a second quilt, in those colours, would be divine, I am left with these 12. They are on my design wall and I like the diamonds that are formed where the blocks touch. A fabric for these shapes is yet to be found (although I have been drooling over a suitable fabric at Material Obsession for two weeks now. Maybe if it is still there on Wednesday, I will have to acquire some.)

I've played around in EQ6 with this and have mocked up this layout for the quilt. I still haven't managed to draw the blocks correctly (they have an elongated look), but at least it's an idea.

24 October 2008

Statistics

Why oh why did four times the usual number of readers visit my blog yesterday? Was it something I said? Most of you were from the USA. If you've made a return visit since Thursday, please say hi in a comment - I'd love to hear from you!

23 October 2008

December journal quilt

My final journal quilt for exhibition at the Australasian Quilt Convention in February is complete. Desert Windows was inspired by a dot painting called Possum Men of Yirtjurunya by Anatjari Tjakamarra, which I saw at the Australian Museum earlier this year.

My quilt is made from a piece of my hand-dyed fabric, which was folded while dyeing. This resulted in the square-ish dye pattern, which reminded me of the painting. I dyed this piece many months before seeing the painting, so it was really meant to be, I think.
I machine stitched square-ish shapes with Madeira Black Jewel thread. This has a metallic tinge, but is an absolutely delightful thread to use because it doesn't snap. The close up photo below shows that I have hand stitched in some areas with irregular stitches. I used Superior Threads King Tut cotton variegated thread for this. Lovely thread - I must buy some different colours.

Now I have to finish the labels and hanging sleeves on the quilts and then prepare a description of each one. I'm really pleased I committed to this project. Making small quilts (they are the size of an A4 sheet of paper) has been very enjoyable and allowed me to play with ideas that may not have worked on a larger scale.

22 October 2008

Learning from the experts

I've just discovered a wonderful resource that will surely help me improve my machine quilting. I was browsing through the current issue of Sew Inspirational, the online sewing newsletter from Bernina Australia and New Zealand when I saw an article by the wonderfully talented Kim Bradley. If you don't know her work, I highly recommend a visit to her site. I first met Kim several years ago and immediately recognised that she has extraordinary talent and has worked hard to develop her skills.

But back to my inadequate machine quilting expertise. Kim has developed four pages of quilting exercises that I am keen to practise. Maybe you'd like to try them too?

21 October 2008

The quest for Timtex

Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that real people run companies and are employed by them. It annoys me when some people think companies employ 'faceless' staff who don't care about what they are doing. This is rarely the case.

I'm also annoyed by rumours and assumptions. Why believe a third or fourth hand story when you can ask the right person and get the correct answer?

Why am I telling you this? Recently there have been vague posts on an overseas internet list about Timtex
(a stiff interfacing, often used by crafters to give body to items such as fabric bowls). Now I've discovered this blog post, which explains why production of Timtex was ceased. It also explains the quest for a substitute and how dogged searching resulted in a suitable manufacturing source being found. It's an interesting story, written by the person who did the work.

While you are on that blog, check out the other posts. It is the blog of C&T Publishing, which most quilters would recognise as a major player in the quilt book publishing field. I'm looking forward to many other interesting stories there in the future.

19 October 2008

That which is old becomes new again

Back in the 1970s, I was a nifty macrame crafter. I made the obligatory owl to hang on the wall (what was I thinking??), but I also made many extremely useful plant hangers. Several of these hangers are still in existence (I only do quality work!) and I still like them.

I have the urge to make more and to incorporate lovely large glass beads in them. Of course, I no longer have my basic patterns (cheap paper disintegrates over 30 years - who knew?) so I was sad I couldn't recreate the styles I have.

However, the internet didn't exist in my life in the 1970s. Now it does, and I have located several nifty patterns that I can adapt to make my new batch of plant hangers. I'm extremely excited about this and will go shopping for cord and beads tomorrow.

As if I need a new hobby!

18 October 2008

More quilts are coming to town

I love a good quilt show with plenty of diverse work to see. Even though I am drawn to certain styles of quilt, I am often taken unawares by other quilts that call to me. Sometimes I don't know what I like until I see it!

That's why I am so excited about the big exhibition that will be in Sydney at the end of this month. It will will have quilts from the Gee's Bend Collective, which is reason enough to visit. The Gee's Bend quilts are for sale, too. But there are also masses more quilts, including 30 from each from Quilt Mania (France), Patchwork Tsushin (Japan), New Zealand Quilter (New Zealand) and Down Under Quilts (Australia) magazines.

Deborah is one of the organisers of the event and she sent me these photos from last weekend, where the exhibition was shown in Brisbane. The photos don't show the full show, but they have given me a taste of what I will be able to savour.

The exhibition is called the Quilt Indulgence Festival and it will be held at Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney on 31 October and 1 and 2 November. If you're in Sydney, why not pop in for a visit?

16 October 2008

Selvedge extravaganza

This has been the talk of the craft blogs this week, but in case you haven't seen it, go there straight away! Jodie has made the most amazing frock (not a dress - this deserves a much classier name) from selvedges. Hop over there now!

15 October 2008

Queen of the May

I'm becoming just a teeny bit addicted to using Matilda's Own perspex templates to cut pieces for traditional blocks. You all know about my adventures with the Curved Star Hexagon (I've made ten blocks now). Well, now I've discovered the Queen of the May templates. Look what I made with them!

There are only four templates in this set, but don't they make the most gorgeous block? (Yes, I know it's blue. Just can't help myself.) Hand piecing the block was very relaxing.

When I stopped by the shop this afternoon, Kathy showed me the quilt top she had made with these blocks. So beautiful. You can see some of Kathy's blocks here at the design wall stage. Don't they look totally different in bright colours? Love the ric rac.

Anyway, back to the Queen of May templates.
You can buy them from Material Obsession, of course!

14 October 2008

Celebrating Australian fabric designers

Over at Meet Me At Mike's, this is the week of interviews with Australian fabric designers. So far, there have been interesting insights into Lara Cameron, Tiel Seivl-Keevers, Prints Charming and Pippijoe, as well as glimpses of their fabrics and crafts.

I'm enjoying these interviews - you may too? All the links are on the Meet Me At Mike's blog, so I won't repeat them here. This is one shop that I must visit if I'm ever in Melbourne - have any of you been there? Tell me your experiences so I can drool vicariously!

13 October 2008

Gold

Lunch with Lisa today was a great opportunity to hear stories of her travels in Europe (the stories that aren't on her blog, that is!) and to see some show and tell. Especially interesting were catalogues from a couple of exhibitions she visited in England.

Lisa gave me this spool of metallic gold thread. While staying with a quilter and former knitter in England, she was given a pack of these spools of very old thread. Wound onto large wooden spools, each nearly nine centimetres high, the thread is easily broken and may not be suitable for stitching. It will be great for using in small pieces in embellishments, though, and the spool is an interesting ornament in itself.

12 October 2008

Crochet - here I come

Yesterday I attended a beginners' crochet class and after four hours this is what I had to show for it.
This C-shaped piece of work was supposed to be a straight line, not curved. It was supposed to have the same number of stitches in each row, not vary up and down each time. It was not supposed to take four hours.

In other words, my crochet skills leave a lot to be desired. One problem was that I kept trying to use my hook (see Lindi - I used the right word!) like a knitting needle and the other problem was that I should have been using a larger hook to get correct tension. Now I know the problems and how to fix them I am motivated to persevere. Today I bought two larger hooks and a how-to-learn-crochet book, complete with large diagrams of each stitch, stage-by-stage. The adventure continues.

After the class, I spent a lovely afternoon with Fiona. We had a leisurely lunch, where we each displayed show-and-tell and caught up with each other's news. Fiona's latest news is that she is featured in the current October issue of Down Under Quilts magazine, where you can see photographs of her quilts and read her story. How exciting!

11 October 2008

Amy Butler's coming to town

Sydney and Melbourne, that is. Amy will be here in November and you can book tickets now.

When I first discovered this, thanks to Real Living magazine, I got terribly excited, but now I'm thinking I might keep my $45 in my pocket for other purposes. However, I may change my mind again...

09 October 2008

Hello selvedge lovers

Welcome to all readers who have visited my blog after reading Karen Griska's Selvage Blog! I'm pleased you have found the time to visit and I hope you will make my blog a regular stop on your list of blogs. As you can see (below right), Karen is a follower of my blog and I invite you to join her.

Earlier this week, Karen featured my selvedge tulips on her blog - thanks Karen! Although I have many more ideas for my selvedges (many friends have passed on bags of the lovely things), I have been busy with other projects since I made my tulips. I plan to get back to sewing with them soon.

08 October 2008

Gee's Bend quilts in Australia

If you are in Brisbane, you will be able to see an exhibition of quilts from Gee's Bend, USA this week at the Quilt Indulgence Festival. This is one of the few times these quilts have travelled outside the USA and the first time they have visited Australia, so it's a great opportunity to see some of these vibrant works.

Don't know about these quilts? You can click here to read about the Quilts of Gee's Bend and see photos of some of the quilts. There will be 40 of these quilts on display. In addition, there will be exhibitions of quilts from four international magazines - Quilt Mania (France), Patchwork Tsushin (Japan), New Zealand Quilter (New Zealand) and Down Under Quilts (Australia).

The Quilt Indulgence Festival is on 10-12 October (that's Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at the RNA Showgrounds, Fortitude Valley. The entry fee is $10 for an adult. More information can be found here.

As for me, I will am waiting until the quilts come to Sydney at the end of October (31 October to 2 November). I have reserved a whole day to soak up the details of the quilts, so that maybe I will be motivated to finish off my Gee's Bend-inspired quilt, which is still waiting to be quilted!

07 October 2008

Great progress

It was one of those days when lots of small tasks were achieved.

Four more curved star hexagon blocks cut out for hand piecing. Now I can settle in front of the TV tonight and enjoy the process.

Finished my tax return. They owe me!

Bought a crochet needle (is that what they are called?) in preparation for a beginners' class on Saturday. I'm the beginner.

Finished hand piecing my Japanese scrap quilt - finally. Bet you've forgotten about this quilt.

Machine pieced the backing for that quilt. Confirmed that I hate the process of manipulating large pieces of fabric through the sewing machine. I will never machine quilt a large quilt because there are too many more satisfying things to do instead.

Oh, and I broke a sewing machine needle on my finger. Ouch.

06 October 2008

How to waste an afternoon

This curved star hexagon block is driving me crazy and making me wonder why I am attempting to use EQ to draw it when I have perfectly good templates that fit together well. Of course, I can answer my own question by saying that I don't want to draw the block in EQ for the templates or the fabric yardage or any of those other wonderful functions that EQ has to offer. I just want to be able to place the block the way I want it in a variety of quilt layouts on the screen.

This is how the people at the EQ forum drew the block for me.
EQ sees this as a square block and I want to eliminate the top and bottom pieces. I traced my templates, scanned them, imported them and traced the shapes using EasyDraw. The block is still not right - I have distorted the angles of the cones and the triangles between them - they should all be the same size but in my drawing they are not.
I have had enough. Some things are not meant to be. I will just have to play with the actual blocks I have sewn on the design wall until I find a layout I like and until I have developed my EQ skills further. So frustrating!

05 October 2008

Read Write Ryde

The library where I work in the City of Ryde has an annual writers' festival, where published authors are invited to give talks about their books and run workshops. This is the third year of the festival and the first opportunity I have to be involved.

The first talk is by Di Morrissey on 28 October, with other talks by Paul Brunton, David Levell, Kate Forsyth, Jon Drane, Neil Cadigan, Michael and Christine Morton-Evans and Anita Heiss. Workshops are with Irina Dunn, Robin Morrow, Greg Bastian and Patti Miller.
If you'd like to see the full program, click here for a pdf file. The activities are free to anyone who wants to make a booking.

The program is very exciting and now all I have to do is work out which sessions I can attend!

04 October 2008

Current inspiration

So many interesting inspirations abound at present. I am absorbed in this new book from Wakefield Press - One magic square: grow your own food on one square metre. I have a copy from the library, but as soon as I started reading it, I knew I had to have my own copy. Neither my local Borders nor Dymocks had it in stock this morning, so perhaps I'll order it direct from the publishers.

What's so inspiring? Well, it's practical and realistic. No glossy photos of the ideal vegetable garden, with rows and rows of lush green vegetation. The author knows that local wildlife loves to eat vegetables and she has practical advice on how to stop it happening. (If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I am competing in my garden with a possum, so I hope some of the advice works. Sadly, they are protected animals in Australia - don't know why, they are real nuisances. Just ask New Zealanders how they feel about Aussie possums!)

Anyway, contributing to your own food supply by growing it in your own backyard is becoming more important. You can grow without pesticides and poisons and stagger the sowing to avoid gluts. Eating food grown a few metres from your kitchen is incredibly satisfying. If only I can beat the possum to it...

02 October 2008

For Stephanie








Tall bearded iris
from Stephanie's garden
now flowering in mine.

01 October 2008

Some stitching

Stitching phase one. This is a detail pic of the stitching I have done on my next journal quilt. I can hear you saying to yourself - hey, this is machine stitching! She said this quilt would be hand stitched - what's going on?

Well, I did indeed hand stitch half of the quilt. I didn't like the effect, so I then spent a while unpicking it all. Using the divine Madeira Black Jewel thread, I machine stitched the whole thing yesterday afternoon. I love the subtlety of it.

Now I need to look at it for a couple of days until I decide whether to stitch any more. Not sure. Any comments?