30 November 2008

Hail storm

Yesterday evening, a huge hail storm hit our area. It only lasted about 15 minutes (although it was building for hours), yet it was quite dramatic. All the white stuff you can see in the first photo is hail stones. Not only did they cover the ground, but they shredded leaves from all the plants. (By the way, the strange shape in the first photo is my hessian bag full of potato plants. I have surrounded it in chicken wire so that the possum can't eat the foliage. Works a treat, but looks odd.)

This is a closeup of the hail and shredded leaves. I love the texture the storm created. Maybe I can use this image to print an interesting pattern on cloth? Must play around with it in Photoshop.

29 November 2008

Casting off and increasing

This has been a huge year for me. I decided to stop working full time in a paid job so that I could de-stress and spend more time doing a variety of activities. Of course, I still need to support myself, so it was challenging to work out a pattern of working part time that would allow me to do so. So far, so good.

I've also been enjoying using materials in my stash to make quilts. I have an awful lot of fabric, some of which I had even forgotten buying, and it has been very satisfying to use some of it in a creative manner.

I have focused on developing my EQ6 skills and have taken courses to facilitate that. Yesterday I enrolled for the Quilt University course EQ6 Advanced Layouts with Fran Gonzalez, which starts on 2 January. Fran was an excellent teacher in the previous course (EQ6 Building Blocks) so I am looking forward to practising in her lessons.

Finally, just this week, I have unsubscribed from a particular internet quilting list that had been wasting my time. I decided that the list provided so few messages to enrich my life - I had to stop.

So here's to casting off old habits and increasing the focus on the positives in life. Will you join me?

26 November 2008

EQ layouts

Thanks for the comments about my Garden of Stars layout. I enjoy the flexibility of using EQ to preview potential quilt layouts and to colour them with real fabrics. I am learning more about the flexibility of EQ and am slowly developing my skills (though I think the EQ forum is probably hoping I can acquire skills more quickly!)

I'd like to recommend you pop over to visit Judy Butcher's blog, Virtual Quilter. As she says on her site:
"The quilts featured on this site are virtual quilts, designed on Electric Quilt. No stash has been harmed in the process."
Judy has designed some fantastic quilts and it is an inspiration to me to see how she combines blocks. Hi Judy, and thanks!

25 November 2008

Challenge progress

Now I can show you detail of part of my challenge quilt. It needs hand sewing now, but I'm pleased it will make the deadline. Once I finish this quilt and send it off, I need to finish the labels and hanging sleeves for my journal quilts so they can be sent off in December.

I find all these finishing details tedious, but necessary. I'll feel pretty virtuous once they are done!

24 November 2008

Garden of Stars

Here's the Rose Star block in a virtual quilt, designed in EQ. What better name to give it than Garden of Stars?

Mmm, cherries

Anticipation highlights the pleasure to come. Cherries - so delicious.

23 November 2008

Words

Words can often change lives, sometimes for the better. Often they allow us to take a different direction in our lives as we encounter previously unknown circumstances. The power of words is obvious in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Words in books, words in letters and words in action.

You may have realised I love this book. I love the matter-of-fact way that the horrors of war are recounted. People just deal with their circumstances in the best way they can, no matter how horrible the times. Words forge a sense of connection.

This book is a gem. The words of the authors bring the characters to life; so much so that it makes us want to travel to Guernsey to meet them. Words, words, words - where would we be without them?

22 November 2008

Rose Star

I've finished hand piecing my Rose Star block and here it is in all its glory.

This is a one patch block - there is only one template needed. The outside edge of the hexagon is 8 1/2 inches (unfinished). You can buy the perspex template from Material Obsession or email them - tell them you saw the block here!

21 November 2008

If the cricket's being played

it must be nearly summer. It is day two of Australia versus New Zealand in Brisbane. Considering the battering Brisbane and southern Queensland have taken from massive storms over the past few days, it's reassuring to know that life (and the cricket) still goes on. I hope that Brisbane-based readers are safe. My thoughts are with you.

19 November 2008

Embossing

Fun with glue and embossing powder on cardboard letters for my challenge quilt.
I love the shape of letters and want to include more fonts in my work. I planned to arrange them to spell three particular words, but now that I've seen them jumbled I think I like them better this way. Can you work out the three words?

18 November 2008

Potted delights

I have a row of potted African Violets on my kitchen windowsill. They cheer me every day as I fuss over their wellbeing. When I discover new flower buds developing, it thrills me as if I am personally responsible for their birth.

This is today's photo of one of these plants. This one is in full flower and is simply gorgeous. All my African Violets love the north-facing window and reward me with stunning flowers. It's a wonderful way to greet the morning and I feel happy whenever I see them.

17 November 2008

Self portrait

So here's the thing. I want to enter a challenge with a theme of self portrait. I don't make pictorial quilts or quilts with realistic images - that's not my style at all. So what to do?

This is a design I drew in EQ and will be my starting point for my small quilt. I have to include the challenge fabric (an old Jinny Beyer print) so I'm not yet sure how I will work it into the design. Stand by - I have my thinking cap on!

16 November 2008

Cut off

I love using the internet to stay in touch with what other people are creating. I read all my subscription blogs through Bloglines because it is an easy way to see who has posted recently. So, when Bloglines refused to provide me with feeds of any blogs for 24 hours, I felt cut off from my usual fix.

Things happen! People keep creating and I want to know about it! Thankfully, my feeds are now starting to come through so I can catch up. Whew.

One thing that has changed is that Sharon has moved her blog from In a Minute Ago to a new platform and given it a new name - Pin Tangle. Looks terribly swish!

15 November 2008

Passionfruit

Growth in the garden occurs whether I am looking or not. Today's discovery is flowers on the passionfruit vine - at last! This is the Nelly Kelly variety; a heavy cropping vine with black-skinned fruit. The flowers are stunning!

13 November 2008

If it's November

then it is jacaranda time in Sydney. It doesn't get better than this.

You can see more of my jacaranda photos here.

12 November 2008

Rose Star

I have spent ages this afternoon fussy cutting the pieces for this Rose Star block. It is an interesting one patch block (yes, there's only a single shape) and I have laid out the cut pieces so I can see the full impact of the design. I suspect this will be a challenge for me to draw in EQ6! Now the stitching begins.

10 November 2008

Regaining equilibrium

My favourite place in the whole world is my home. Over the past two weeks, I have spent way too much time away from home - mostly working, but also a flurry of other activities. It's not good for me, so today I tried to regain my sense of balance by doing simple things at home.

Now the washing is clean and fluttering outside in the sun on the clothesline. I have smoothed fresh sheets onto my bed. I have ironed a small bundle of new fabrics. Best of all, I have sown a multitude of vegetable seeds in my seedling tray and given them lifeblood - water. Watching the seedlings emerge will be one of my greatest pleasures over the next couple of weeks.

08 November 2008

The influence of others

We can never really know the impact our words and actions can have on other people. All we can do is be honest and open, and accept every person as they are.

I saw this in action today, at a talk by author Kate Forsyth as part of our library's writers' festival. The audience was composed of children and adults. Most children were there because of their love of Kate's stories, while most adults were there to glean knowledge about Kate's writing process.

Kate spoke for an hour or so, tailoring her talk to the audience. All were bewitched by her, as she produced the exercise books in which she, as an eight year old, had written her first books. They were hand written and illustrated; with a contents page and laid out in chapters. She told us stories about her writing; how she saw life and the moments that she gathered together to spin into novels.

Afterwards, she listened carefully to each person as she signed their books, and took care to engage with each person individually. I watched one young girl tell Kate about her own stories, written on lined pages, and listened as Kate gave encouragement and support to the girl's dreams.

These types of actions influence our lives in ways we can't always imagine. I think how lucky I was to have been there.

06 November 2008

Knitting fabric

Can't show a pic here, but if you hop over here, you'll see the cutest fabric for any knitters you know. I'm imagining a knitting needle roll, or a beautiful bag for carrying a current project. Hmm, and it's limited edition fabric printed in Australia. Tempting...

04 November 2008

Anticipation

Oh joy! This morning I received an email newsletter from Alexander McCall Smith. If you would like to subscribe to these, visit his website. They are beautifully written (just like his stories) and feel as if they are written by an old friend.

It contained two pieces of news that excited me. He's coming to Sydney in January! Didn't say where or when, but I must not miss his talk. If I can possibly be there, I will.

The other news is that this book, The Comfort of Saturdays (an Isobel Dalhousie novel) has been published. Naturally, I ran straight to the bookshop and purchased a copy.

I will not start reading it yet. Instead, I will touch it, read the back cover and simply admire its existence. I will wallow in anticipation of what will be yet another divinely satisfying episode in Isobel's life. Oh, the pleasure.

03 November 2008

Diamond hexagon

It's funny how one thing leads to another. This is my latest pieced block, using Matilda's Own templates. Called Diamond Hexagon, it has itty bitty triangles and diamonds, which I enjoyed hand piecing.

As I was pulling some pieces for this block from my stash, I realised I did not have a large collection of lime green fabrics. Then, when I liked the colour combination of blues and greens so much, it led me on a quest for those colours.

Now I badly want to make a quilt in this combination, simply because it brightens my day.

02 November 2008

Whew

I've been non-stop this week. It started with the opening talk of our library's writers' festival on Tuesday night (Di Morrissey - she was extremely engaging and generous with her stories) and finished with the quilt exhibition at the Quilt Indulgence Festival today, with four days at work in between!

The quilts were interesting and there were a variety of styles on display. I found many to admire for the skill shown with various techniques and some designs just blew me away. It's always interesting to attend a show with a friend, so to hear Lois's take on the quilts added value for me.

Part of the exhibition showed quilts from the Gee's Bend collective. Now, I've known about the Gee's Bend quilts for a long time now, and have followed the effusive praise that has been heaped upon them as they have toured from gallery to gallery. So it was an excellent opportunity to see them in real life on their first visit to Australia.

I also know that a lot of quilters simply don't 'get' the Gee's Bend quilts. They are often poorly stitched, with pieces that don't line up nicely. They are often made from fabrics that aren't purpose-made for quilt making; fabrics such as corduroy. They are rarely squared up and usually have wonky edges. They are what they are. Amongst the quilt making fraternity, Gee's Bend quilts are adored by some, while being totally unappealing to others.

I swear that if I was arranged to my best advantage, and well-lit from the right angles, I would look terrific too. Just shows what a bit of strategic, cosmetic arrangement can do. But I'd still be me.

To hear some people complain that these quilts should have been shown under gallery conditions, in an artificially 'arty' environment, belies the real nature of these quilts. They are what they are - real quilts made by real women with the resources available to hand.

The quilts weren't bought to Australia by a gallery - they were bought here, at enormous cost (you should have seen the price of the insurance) by a quilter, a woman who wanted to share them with other quilters. Yes, I used to work for her company, so you may think I have a vested interest in saying that. You'd be wrong.

It was her idea to ask for the quilts for display in Australia. She bore the risk of bringing the quilts here. She took the step of making something happen. Would you have done that?

Of course, these are all my opinions. If you disagree with me, I really don't want to hear it, so don't bother leaving a comment. I think we need to congratulate, support and applaud people who are willing to put their money and their time out there for the pleasure of others. What we don't need are petty whiners.

I am now ending the weekend with a sore throat and constant sneezing, so I'm going to retire to my bed for a snooze. Somewhere during the past busy week, I've picked up a cold so rest is in order. I have a lovely pieced block I finished on Thursday to show you - maybe tomorrow...