24 February 2007

Community of crafters

The sense of community is often experienced through gatherings of like-minded people. Mingling with other crafters at the Prints Charming shop in Sydney today, I was thrilled to meet Alison Brookbanks, the author of a wonderful blog, sixandahalfstitches. Alison is one of the bloggers featured in a must-have new book, The Crafter's Companion: tips, tales and patterns from a community of creative minds.

I love this book. To quote from the editor, Anna Torborg:
"...why do we bother to make things by hand when we live in a world where our every material desire can be fulfilled by ready-made, shop-bought items?"

The book includes seventeen bloggers who share their personal responses to this question and it has prompted me to examine my reasons for crafting by hand as well.

Hosted by Kirsten and Cath, the creative forces of Prints Charming, the launch was informal and more like a gathering of friends. Of course I had to snap up a copy of the book and a beautiful piece of hand-printed fabric to fondle on the way home. Here's a photo of Kirsten, Alison and Cath in the courtyard at Prints Charming. It was a very hot Sydney summer day, and I'm sure we were all touched by the sun (and a little tipple of bubbly). What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

23 February 2007

Hello world!

Statistics are endlessly intriguing to me, especially when they relate to this blog. Can you believe that one whole quarter of the hits to my blog come from the USA? One of the fun things about the Site Meter statistics is that I can see where the hits are coming from - and the USA ones are not all from my friend Monica in Michigan! 49% of hits are from Australia, which doesn't surprise me since that's where I live; 5% are from each NZ and the British Isles; and 1% come from each of Korea, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. The balance are from 'unknown' countries.

Hello to all you people in 'unknown' countries! Why don't you leave a comment and tell me where you are? I'd love to know!

22 February 2007

Alternative lives

Whenever I have a case of the blahs, I try to step into one of my fantasy lives. My favourite way of doing this is to read about the lives of other people - sometimes through novels and other times through magazines. Immersing myself in stories is a way of enriching my own life and exposing me to worlds I may never otherwise experience.

One of my favourite magazines (I have many) is this one: Country Living (the British edition). There are always inspiring photographs of intriguing gardens, peeks into other people's houses, yummy recipes and always someone who works creatively with their hands. Imagine my surprise when I opened the January issue and saw an article about well-known quilter Lynne Edwards. Now I love this magazine even more! (I must not forget the apple and sour cream cake recipe - the photo looks delish.)

18 February 2007

It's happened again

I was so optimistic that this year I could change some things to make more time for sewing but now it is past the middle of February and it just hasn't happened. My head is so full of stuff and I have so many trivial things to do to make sure my life continues to function that I can't seem to get to that creative time I enjoyed so much during the holidays. This is really frustrating me.

On a more optimistic note: I have decided that I actually DO have a quilt to enter into the Sydney show this year. All it needs is binding (and a hanging sleeve and a label) - surely I can finish those by June? However, I have to fill in the entry form and take a photo of the quilt and send it all in by 1 March - that's just another one of those things clogging up my head. Will reward myself afterwards with some mindless piecing to work off my frustration - yes Susan, the Japanese hand-pieced quilt is still in progress!

17 February 2007

Remote control

Another remote control has come to live in my house. It seems as if all entertainment technology today comes with a remote control. Last night my television set died. It was old and its time had come and thus not worth repairing. Imagine my astonishment when I bought a new one today and it cost less than a third the price the dead one cost me over 10 years ago.

Sometimes I wish someone could just point a remote control unit at me and press 'on'. There are days when I really don't feel like thinking, but would just like to do what I have to do to get through the day. Wouldn't that be handy?

Today was such a day. I haven't drafted my block yet - and no, Sheila, it is not original. It is a block I liked in BlockBase (the Electric Quilt program which has all the blocks from Barbara Brackman's encyclopedia), but I want to alter the proportions of some of the pieces. I will do that in EQ if I can work out how, otherwise I'll resort to that old standby - pencil and paper.

15 February 2007

Enchanted by a block

Just ignore the colours, because I can't figure out how to change them yet. I think this block is going to interest me for a while. It is called Cog Wheels and I think I want to make the hot pink spokes shorter and fatter, the centre piece larger and the outside spokes smaller. So apart from changing all the pieces and using different colours, it will look like this. Go on, use your imagination (I'm obviously using mine! ha ha). I'll show my version once I draft it up.

12 February 2007

Rain, glorious rain

In the past 24 hours, my suburb has received 61mm of rain. It has also rained over the catchment area for the dam that supplies most of Sydney's water - and for that we are all grateful. It doesn't mean the drought is over, but it gives us a reprieve.

The dust has been washed off the buildings; the oil has been washed off the roads; and the gardens and open areas are greedily drinking all they can. All this is brilliant, but you have to wonder why the run-off is not being captured for recycling. Why is it all allowed to flow out to sea?

11 February 2007

Creating pattern

Yesterday Sharyn Hall was the guest speaker at my Guild's meeting. Sharyn had travelled from Queensland to share her works with us and to provide a two-day workshop to members. It was a most inspiring day, as Sharyn shared samples of patterns made by applying colour to natural fabrics. She uses thickened fibre reactive dyes and different textile paints in a variety of printing methods. Sadly, I couldn't attend her workshop, but here is a description of it to give you an idea of the type of techniques that were covered. To see one of Sharyn's quilts, click here. I definitely have to play with some of these ideas.

10 February 2007

Did you miss me?

Here I am, back in the land of technology. All I can say is that it wasn't my fault and it wasn't my service provider's fault - it was that wonderful provider of phone lines that we have here in Australia. Doh!

I visited the Stitches & Craft Show in Sydney yesterday and bought a book I'd had my eye on since I first read about it. It's not new, but it came home with me anyway. I don't know about you, but I LOVE looking at other quilters' sewing areas. Probably because it allows me to picture how they work, but also because I often pick up good ideas for my own studio. Do you think the term 'studio' sounds a bit pretentious? Or should we all accept that 'sewing room' is a bit outdated, bringing to mind images of doing the mending?

Anyway, the book has great photos of work spaces. The one I like the most so far is a converted double garage where the roll-up door has been replaced with French doors and the whole space is used to accommodate a husband and wife who both quilt. Wish I had that much space!

08 February 2007

A break in transmission

No, I haven't dropped off the earth. I just haven't had an internet connection at home for a few days now. Please cross your fingers and send positive thoughts to the technology gods so that I can get back to normal soon. I have blog withdrawal!

03 February 2007

Strawberries make me happy

Or they will, once they ripen up ready for eating. There are three plants in this pot, along with oregano and thyme and they have produced about a dozen tiny strawberries at this stage. I'm sure the fruits are feeling a little nervous with me hovering about, waiting to devour them!

01 February 2007

Six weird things

One woman's weird may be another woman's normal. Remember I said that! Here we go:

1. I love the smell of printer's ink and glossy paper. In my past life as a librarian, there was no smell better than the one that emerged from a box of brand new books. Now that I'm in the magazine game, I sniff the new issue as soon as it arrives each month. They think I am mad at work. I am convinced the smell wears off once it is exposed to air.

2. I cannot swim. I know that this is a seriously weird thing failing for a Sydney-born girl but I could never get the hang of coordinating my arms, legs and head work together in a steady rhythm. Does this make me un-Australian?

3. I love to sing very loudly, often, even though I cannot sing in tune. Many years ago, this was very shockingly made clear to me by my three year old nephew. We were playing singing games when he suddenly put up his hand and said: "Don't sing anymore. You are really bad." I ask you! A three year old!

4. I am very shy. You may not think this is weird, but after all the years I've been on this earth, don't you think I should have gotten past it? So don't think I am aloof; I'm just shy.

5. I love to hang wet washing on the clothesline and admire it. There is something very therapeutic about seeing it flap gently in the wind as the sun dries it out. The smell of the cloth absorbing the air is another scent I adore.
It gives me a great sense that everything is right in my world. Of course it is even more exciting for me when the washing is composed of newly hand-dyed fabrics.

6. I can't use chopsticks. Gave up trying years ago because I could never get the things to work in my hand. I used to eat at Chinese restaurants but now I go to Thai ones more often (they don't use chopsticks!).

So how's that Kathy and Sarah? Am I weird enough to still be your friend?