28 February 2009

Royal Canberra Show

Remember I showed you a brooch Fiona made for me? Well my very clever friend has just won the Grand Champion Craft Exhibit prize at the Royal Canberra Show for one of her exquisite beaded necklaces.

This award is judged from the winners of the 22 different craft categories at the show, so you can see how wonderful it is to receive! Doesn't she look happy? If you are in Canberra this weekend, drop in and view her divine piece of workmanship. Congratulations Fiona!

25 February 2009

Paisley!

For a very long time, I have been on the lookout for a green and blue print on a white background. I love using white in quilts because I think it always looks crisp and fresh.

Imagine my pleasure when this new fabric arrived at Material Obsession today. It is actually called Fresh - how perfect! Full details: Fabric product ID - 19284-17, Fresh range by Deb Strain for Moda Fabrics. This particular colourway is called Posie Paisley White.

You can see more in the range on the Moda webpage. Drool.

24 February 2009

Fiona's gift

My friend Fiona dropped in this afternoon for a couple of hours. As well as bringing yummy Chinese cakes for afternoon tea, she gave me this wonderful brooch, which she had made for me. The large blue sections are Fiona's felted beads and they are joined together with wire and glass beads. I love it!
Fiona also bought me a copy of her notes for her Curvaceous Squares workshop. I was planning to be a guinea pig for her first run of this workshop last month, but my dodgy knee prevented me going. She's since run the workshop for Queanbeyan Quilters and it was a great success. You can see a photo of the quilt in Fiona's gallery. I'm sure she'd like to run a workshop for your group!

23 February 2009

It's come to this

After a particularly irritating day, when I kept taking my reading glasses off and then leaving them in different places - always a different place to where I wanted to use them - I have resorted to wearing them on a string around my neck.

That makes it official: I'm an old woman.

Now the string gets tangled in my earrings and I keep swiping at something creepy on the back of my neck. When I lean over to do the washing up, the glasses that had been bouncing on my chest only seconds before, now dangle in the soapy water. It's all down hill from here...

22 February 2009

The sea, the sea


Yesterday was our quilting guild's market day, where members can sell products to other members. Brenda and I shared a table, where we had the results of our respective studio clean-ups on offer. Books, magazines and fabrics - the lure of every quilter - covered our table. I purchased these gorgeous offcuts from Brenda for a quilt that is still in my head. Just perfect!

Judy asked where she could buy Kim Bradley's Quilting Designs book. I suggest the best way is to email Kim.

18 February 2009

Bubbles

I don't machine quilt large quilts. My definition of a large quilt is anything over A4 size, but I am working my way up to machine quilting a cot-sized quilt soon, so stand by. That should be quite an adventure.

Instead, I asked the wonderful Kim Bradley to quilt my Sunshine on Roses quilt. We chose a King Tut variegated thread and the Bubbles pattern. Sunshine on Roses will be published as a project in Down Under Quilts magazine later this year, so I'll show you the completed quilt then.

While I was picking up my quilt this afternoon, Kim showed me a copy of her latest guide to machine quilting - Quilting Designs by Kim Bradley to Stimulate and Inspire. Of course, I had to buy one immediately because it shows, in simple words and diagrams, how to machine quilt. Just what I need! Kim will be selling these at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne next week.

17 February 2009

Morning movies

I always think that going to the movies during the day is tinged with naughtiness. It feels as if I am enjoying the pleasure of the big screen while other people are hard at work. So it was a fun excursion today, a morning movie with Lisa (we saw Ghost Town), followed by a big bowl of laksa and good conversation.

Does anyone else feel the same way? Are movies more pleasurable during the day?

16 February 2009

More crafty women

Last Saturday, the first class in my Slow Burners series started at Material Obsession. I love small group teaching and it's been a year or so since I had the opportunity to do some more. Slow Burners is a hand piecing class, where we use perspex templates to fussy cut gorgeous fabrics to create blocks.

From the range of blocks on offer, most students opted to make this block, Queen of the May.

It is a glorious traditional block, with plenty of straight lines and some gentle curves. After seeing the fabrics that were being cut, I can't wait to see the combinations in finished blocks at our next session.

14 February 2009

Crafty women

A couple of days ago, I facilitated a new knitting group at our library. I was terribly anxious that no one would turn up for the session and that I would be stranded there, surrounded by yarn. I shouldn't have worried. Eight women arrived and we had a happy couple of hours, knitting squares for Wrap with Love Inc.

Do you know this group? It is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that co-ordinates handmade knitted wraps for people in need. Our group is knitting squares to be sewn into wraps and we plan to meet once a month. Even I can knit a 10-inch square! (Actually, I've made two in the past week.)

I enjoyed meeting the women who came along to the library. It was so casual and friendly and we chatted easily. There was a range of ages there and we hope to increase our numbers each month. It is really satisfying to know that something so much fun can be so worthwhile. If you'd like to start your own group, you can find details here
, and patterns here.

13 February 2009

Relief

It's raining. After several weeks when temperatures have often been over 40 degrees, it is finally raining here in Sydney. Proper, soaking rain. Life-giving rain. My garden is soaking it up; luxuriating in the pleasure of unlimited water. There's nothing like it.

12 February 2009

Another focus

I'm not going to write anything more about the bushfires. I will still be thinking about them; their aftermath and their impact. But I just can't bear to write any more.

Instead, I want to introduce you to my current reading matter. I discovered the novels of Louise Penny in that time-honoured way - through browsing. I read her second novel, Dead Cold, first but then I realised it was part of a series so I then read the first book, Still Life. I am now reading the third, The Cruellest Month.


Louise Penny is a Canadian, whose first novel won two Best First Novel prizes and whose second novel won the Agatha Award for Best Novel. I am totally captivated by her characters.

All the books are set in the fictional Canadian town of Three Pines. It is a place that attracts people who are lost in some way; needing nurturing. The characters are well-developed and multi-layered.
Ostensibly, the books are murder mysteries that owe their existence to the much-loved type of stories as written by authors such as Agatha Christie. However, as Louise Penny explains about the fourth book, The Murder Stone:
"The book...isn't about murder at all. It's not about evil or jealousies or festering resentments, though all of those exist in the book. At its heart, The Murder Stone is about choices, and hope. And love. Enduring love."

Isn't this what life is all about?

11 February 2009

Our grief

Readers of any Australian blogs will be struck by the outpourings of emotion that are flooding cyberspace. The scale of the Victorian bushfires is so shocking and the impact they have had upon all communities is horrific. I live thousands of kilometres from the fires, but it is still having an impact on everyone in this country, whether they know anyone who has been directly affected or not.

Every day since Saturday, the death toll has risen as more bodies are found. Today, the number confirmed dead is 181. There are still many more to be found. It is being reported today that 1 in 5 is dead in the town of Marysville. Such a huge loss.

If you are reading this overseas, you may not realise that the fires are being fought mostly by volunteers. We have a huge contingent of ordinary people, highly-trained in bushfire-fighting skills, who volunteer their time, energy and, sometimes their lives, to protect their communities. These are the true heroes of Australia.

Money is needed to support the bushfire effort and the survivors. If you are able to contribute anything at all, please visit the Australian Red Cross website where you can make an online donation.

It is difficult for me to worry about the trivial matters of everyday life when more horrors are being revealed each day.
Focus on the good things in your life and hug the people you love. I am now returning to cutting out triangles for my current quilt project and I will treasure every moment.

10 February 2009

Triangles

Cutting fabric was a soothing pastime today. These triangles are for my next quilt project, which I am just about to start stitching.I can't bear to ever cut all the pieces for a quilt before I start sewing. Although I have designed this quilt in EQ6 and have a fully coloured diagram, who knows what changes I may make along the way?

Sadly, 173 people have now died in the Victorian bushfires and the toll is still increasing. If you are able to help, here are some contacts.

09 February 2009

Sue Spargo in Sydney

Another quilter from the USA is visiting Sydney this year. Sue Spargo will be here in April and will be presenting a couple of workshops. Sue will also be teaching in other states as well. You can see all the details here - I imagine that places will fill quickly.

Further to yesterday's post, there are now 107 people confirmed dead in the Victorian bushfires. It is so terribly sad. Edit: the toll is now 131.

08 February 2009

February dragon

February is often the cruellest month for bushfires in Australia. This February is only young, yet the fires are devastating the country already and have shattered many lives. So far, 65 people have been confirmed dead in Victoria as fires have roared through country towns and destroyed them. And it's not over yet.

I was going to link this to a photo of my Fire journal quilt, but that seems terribly inconsequential today. Australia has a harsh environment and we are used to bushfires and floods. But it still strikes our hearts and makes us weep every time it happens.

To read more, visit the excellent ABC news website. Meanwhile, it's still over 40 degrees here.

07 February 2009

Saturday at the pub

Thankfully, we were in an air-conditioned room at the pub for our monthly Sydney Scquilters get together today. It is a HOT day - we hit 40 degrees again. Much laughing and happy faces. Pennie is probably in the process of loading photos of the day to our blog, including three versions of the Double Delight mystery quilt designed by Bonnie K Hunter. There was lots of show and tell again, but all I did was talk. It's a really relaxing environment where busy hands can stitch or, like mine, wave around in the air to make a point.

It is still HOT - did I mention that?

05 February 2009

Slow burners

There are still a few places available in my hand piecing class that starts on Saturday 14 February at Material Obsession in Sydney. We will learn how to use Matilda’s Own perspex templates to accurately cut fabric; how to select fabrics for maximum impact; and how to hand piece straightforward and intricate blocks.

I'm exited about this class, because I see it as a peaceful couple of hours each month where we can hand piece blocks and enjoy the slower pace of creating unique quilts. I'd love it if you could join us.

To see some of the blocks you could make, click here. To book your place, email Material Obsession or phone 9817 2733.

04 February 2009

Online reading

Are you familiar with The Australian magazine, Down Under Quilts? It is Australia's first patchwork and quilting magazine; first published in 1988. I remember how excited I was then, to find a quilting magazine that showed quilts made by Australians and had ads for local shops. It was an enormous thrill.

If you haven't seen
Down Under Quilts in your local shops, you may like to read it online - for free. You will see exactly the same content that is in the print version but you have the advantage of clicking on the hyperlinks to go directly to any websites you see. How cool is that? Anyway, to arrange your free six-month subscription, click here.

If you'd like to read more of my ramblings, turn to page 8 of any issue of
the magazine. Sometimes it's a challenge to write a monthly article, but blogging most days is certainly good practice!

03 February 2009

Vikki Pignatelli in Sydney

How exciting! Vikki Pignatelli is coming from the USA to Australia in May and will be giving a workshop and lecture in Sydney on Saturday 2 May. The organisers, The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc, have announced all the details here. If you don't want to miss out, book your place now.

02 February 2009

Superior threads

Did you know that Superior Threads has a regular newsletter, choc-full of interesting and useful information about their threads? It's text only and not weighed down with photos that chew up bandwidth. The link is here.

Now there is a Superior Threads blog to provide even more information. Check it out here.