29 October 2006

How much we take for granted

It's intriguing how much of our accumulated knowledge and experience we take for granted. I was recently asked by a friend to teach her how to use a sewing machine. She badly wants to make a quilt, but realises she needs to know how to sew with a machine first, so she decided to make a cushion cover for her new home.

Yesterday afternoon, she arrived with fabric, masses of fabric, because she had no idea what she was going to do. She had no concept of how a cushion cover could be constructed.

To be brief, she did make the cushion cover, using my sewing machine. She threaded the machine and she stitched, with me explaining every step of the way what to do and why. She knew absolutely nothing about the process before she started, yet after a couple of hours, she left with a perfectly functional and very attractive cushion cover. I haven't seen anyone that happy for a long time.

The exercise was interesting for me because, as someone with many years of workplace training experience, I was able to unconsciously apply that knowledge to teaching different skills. Having enjoyed teaching adults in the past, I realise that I still do find it satisfying. How much we take for granted.

28 October 2006

This is becoming obsessive...

A friend wanted me to show her how to make silk paper, so today we had a how-to session. She happily made several sheets with a range of colours, but what did I make? Pink and yellow!
Now I'm itching to stitch this piece. It is smaller than my usual sheets (about half A4) and looks a bit like fairy floss.

27 October 2006

What a treat!

One objective achieved today - to purchase a copy of The Right Attitude to Rain. This is the third novel in the Sunday Philosophy Club series by Alexander McCall Smith and, even though I haven't read it yet, I know it is a story to treasure.

This series is set in Scotland and the carefully-phrased prose reveals many of the area's delights. The stories are very intelligent and provoke us to think more deeply about human interaction, while also being totally entertaining. Can you tell I am a huge fan of this series?

I will probably fondle and look at this book for a few days before starting to read it - prolonging the anticipation of the delight to come.

26 October 2006

A long weekend

I am absurdly excited at the prospect of a long weekend. Tomorrow is a day of annual leave, so the weekend seems to stretch forever. So many options - where to start? Tomorrow I promise myself to: take a long walk; buy a new book; do my tax return; plant some seeds; and start quilting Watermelon Summer. Check back Friday night to see how many of these I achieved.

23 October 2006

Eternally optimistic

I love the look of lavender plants. I have always wanted a large, lush lavender bush in my garden; one that will flower profusely and attract masses of bees. In the past five years I have planted and killed seven lavender plants. Different types of lavender, different spots in the garden - they all died.

Ever the optimist, I bought another one yesteday and planted it in a large terracotta pot. I took this photograph to remind myself that, for one brief moment in time, I had a flowering lavender bloom in my garden. Let's see how long this one lasts!

22 October 2006

Stage 2

Here's stage 2 of Watermelon Summer. It's ready to be sandwiched and quilted, but I am not sure what I want to do. I'm inclined to do machine quilting that just blends into the background, but I'm not sure. Stand by for the next stage...

The company of friends

Yesterday I performed my duty as tea lady at the meeting of The Quilters' Guild of NSW. It was the annual general meeting, which meant that new office bearers were elected for the coming year. It is also the meeting when all the Guild's Challenge quilts are displayed for the first time and the winners are announced. What a variety of theme interpretations there were! Photographs of the winners will be posted on the Guild's website in due course.

More importantly, for me, the Guild meetings offer the opportunity to catch up with friends I may not have seen for a while. This is when ideas are sparked, plans are made and we are stimulated by each other's work. Just to give you an idea of yesterday's discussions: Brenda gave a demonstration of her free-form curved cutting technique and we all coveted the portable sewing table she had; I showed my silk paper and we started planning a weekend away together where we could 'play' with silk paper; Monica, recently back from the USA, gave me a set of US stamps featuring the Gees Bends quilts and we all started talking about those designs; Pamela shared her latest piece of work she's making for a friend (lovely chiffon binding); Fiona told us about the workshop space and accommodation her sister has in Braidwood (maybe this could be a venue for the weekend?); and we swapped ATCs.

All-in-all, it was a most satisfying day. I returned home, stimulated by all the talking and eager to get stuck in to my current project. Such is the company of friends.

16 October 2006

Latest ATC

Tonight I finished off my latest batch of ATCs in preparation for a swap next Saturday at the NSW Guild meeting (I am the official tea lady at these meetings - hey, we all have some skills to offer!). This ATC is made of felt that I've drawn on with my beloved oil pastels, then l've blobbed copper-coloured paint on top. Finally, I used one of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine to stitch a pattern. I like this one too much to give away, but at least I can let you look at it!

15 October 2006

No progress today

No more work was done on Watermelon Summer today, for a variety of reasons. This is frustrating because I have the next section planned and laid out on the table.

Susan asked if the lines were stitching - yes they are, with perle thread. The photo is of the left-hand side of the quilt and the strips of fabric are hand stitched to the background. I have the right-hand side pieces laid out, but not yet hand stitched.

14 October 2006

Stage 1

Remember those pink and yellow fabrics I bought last week? I am making a small 12-inch quilt with them and here is the first stage. The name of the quilt is Watermelon Summer and if today's temperature is any indication, that is exactly what we will be having once summer arrives this year. It's 38 degrees at my house right now. More tomorrow...

More on silk paper

Here are the promised photos of the silk paper I made last weekend. I am not keen on solid mats of felt-like substance - I prefer the lace-like effect of colours and shapes. One of the pieces is very see-through and when I stitch it to a piece of coloured fabric, there will be another dimension of colour to enjoy. All the pieces were photographed against a white sheet, so you can see white through the gaps in the silk paper. Enjoy!

10 October 2006

Silk 'paper'

I really shouldn't talk about this until I can show the photos, but I made four sheets of silk 'paper' on Sunday. Made with silk tops, teased out and arranged to create lacey patterns, my pieces are simply gorgeous (if I do say so myself). Stand by until I can take photos - it will be worth the wait!

08 October 2006

The border is on

The first border is on! All those little fish, swimming around the blocks. I am planning double rows of blocks around the outside and started to piece them yesterday. Five blocks down and many more to go...

07 October 2006

Still on pink

Here's the luscious fabric I bought today - aren't they the most cheerful colours? Certainly not colours I would comfortably work with but hey, that's part of the challenge. Let's see what I can make with them...

05 October 2006

Pink musings

It's taken a few days, but now I understand why pink and yellow have been infiltrating my creative thoughts lately. Here's a photo I took last weekend. My standard Seduction rose is in full bloom. I cut an armful of roses - some fully open, while others were still closed buds. Once I'd filled a vase with them, I took a series of photos. My aim was to capture the colours, not necessarily the detail, so I made them slightly out of focus. It is these colours - the shades of pink, the soft white and the yellows - that have stayed within my brain since.

The miracle of the subconscious has worked its creative brilliance and processed the image. This quilt has to happen soon - I can feel the idea of these colours forcing themselves out. Truly, the brain is a miraculous part of us all.

04 October 2006

Colour urge

I have an extremely strong urge to use vivid pinks and yellows together in a small quilt. Where did this come from? Is it from the same source that creates a craving for a particular type of food? Will this colour combination satisfy something that's lacking in my life? Well stand by, because I'm shopping for fabrics in these colours on the weekend and nothing else will satisfy the hunger that's appeared. Any theories?

02 October 2006

A new friend

Last Friday, I was a guest speaker at the opening of the Novocastrian Quilt Show. It was a wonderful show and I met many friendly quilters. The President, Maureen Deering, kindly presented me with a thank-you gift - here he is! It was the funniest moment. Once you press his hand, he starts singing the Swans club song and waves his scarf around his head - much like I do when I'm at the games! I modestly declined the invitation to sing along in front of the very amused group of Novocastrian quilters and their friends. Thank you to Michelle Gatenby and Maureen for a wonderful night.

01 October 2006

One day in September

It has taken me 24 hours to come to terms with the one point loss of the Swans yesterday. Today we went to the SCG to welcome the team home and applaud them on their effort - here's a photo of the team today. I know many people just don't 'get' football or the effect it has on fans, but let me attempt to explain.

This is my tribe. It is human nature to belong to groups - families, friends and groups of like-minded people. AFL is in my blood - my Dad and his brothers played it when they were young men and I grew up watching the game on TV and local Sydney games. When the Swans came to Sydney 25 years ago, we adopted them. We sat through 26 losses in a row. We cheered for them and did the only thing a crowd can do: we showed our support. We wear the colours of out tribe, our family - I am a member of the Bloods.

Like any footy fan says: there's always next year.