30 June 2007

The blues

I couldn't go past these beautiful yarns from a stand at the Sydney quilt show. They are small balls of leftovers that are perfect for embellishing ATCs. I felt them calling to me through the crowds - Erica, we're blue and soft and we're over here! There was a pack of pink and yellow yarns, too. I resisted on Wednesday, but may not be so strong tomorrow when I return to the show.

I love the yarns that are on sale at the show. I very nearly bought a kit for a divine cardigan with set-in sleeves - so tempting. I imagined how luscious it would be to wear some of the colours - the soft aqua, the deep mauve or, of course, the sapphire blue. Again I resisted....

25 June 2007

Early excitement

The Sydney Quilt Show starts on Wednesday and already I am hearing lots of excited talk about the quilts in the show. Only in general terms, like: 'there are so many stunning quilts' and 'you don't want to miss the show this year' - as if I would miss the biggest quilt show in my city?

So I'll just repeat what I've been told - don't miss the Sydney Quilt Show!

24 June 2007

Challenge top

Finally, an opportunity to do some sewing. After weeks of not having any time at the sewing machine, I have finished the top for the challenge I am doing with a few friends, inspired by the Gees Bends quilts. Very liberating. All I have to do now is decide how to quilt it...

23 June 2007

Putting things off

Do you ever postpone fixing things until they become so irritating that you leap into action? Okay, so it's just me. I don't know why I pretend that denying something will make it fix itself. It never does.

Today is one of those days when I decided to take action. Job 1 - the clothes dryer. My dryer is elderly, but has served me well for nearly 20 years. Three weeks ago, it stopped blowing hot air. Plenty of cold air, but that doesn't dry clothes very well. Since it stopped drying, we have had two consecutive weeks of heavy rain and wind. Of course we have. I arranged for the dryer to be fixed today. It is a beautiful, sunny day today and the clothes are happily hanging outside on the clothesline. At least the dryer will be ready when I need it.

Job 2 - the abutlion plant. Poor thing, it was damaged on the first day of the rain and has been looking trampled and broken ever since. Today I went to the hardware store and bought a very strong stake and staked it up. It looks much happier now that the multitude of flower buds are out of the mud. I'll take a photo once they open.

Job 3 - the house number. I have a large white house number on my front wall. Last month, I thought it looked dirty, so tried to clean it but instead shattered it. Oh well, it has been there for six years. While I was at the hardware store, I bought a new one and screwed it in place once I arrived home. Then I stood and admired it for five minutes.

I am easily pleased, especially by simple things. These three jobs, now that they are completed, have brightened my spirits considerably. It doesn't take much to make me happy!

19 June 2007

Feathered Star

I promised a photo of my Feathered Star quilt, which took me ten years (or so) to make. Here's my disclaimer about the photograph before I recount the story of the quilt:
it is actually a queen size, square quilt with wide blue borders. Due to
1. the difficulty of photographing a quilt this size, and
2. my lack of skill with Photoshop,
the photo has been cropped after I had a nasty run-in with the Magnetic Magic Wand. For these reasons, the quilt looks wonky and the borders look as if they are different widths. Sigh. My technological deficiencies will always let me down. Trust me - the quilt is square and looks much better in real life.

Anyway, here's the story.

I fell in love with Feathered Star blocks many moons ago after buying Marsha McCloskey's first book about Feathered Stars (1987). I always thought they would be too hard for me, but decided to try to make a block (yes, a single block) by hand piecing. I chose the Radiant Star block from that book. It is a 15-inch block. I loved my first block so much, I thought I'd make some more. As you can see, I hand pieced nine blocks.

Then came a quandry. Most of the blocks I saw in quilts were laid end to end and I felt that the star effect was lost with that layout. I pondered for years about how to set my blocks until I finally decided to sash the blocks. I then had to work out the mathematics for the sashing pieces and that took me a while. Then I pieced the sashing and the blocks.

I pieced the white and then the blue borders but they were awfully wavy, so I unpicked them all. Remember, this was all hand pieced. I re-measured, re-cut and re-stitched.

I toyed with the idea of hand quilting it and even basted the quilt. Then I decided there was no way I would ever finish quilting it, so I unbasted it and took it to a local professional quilter, Joanne Knott, who quilted it brilliantly for me. You can't see the quilting in this photo, but it is excellent. Finally I put the binding on (in 2005). It still doesn't have a label.

I am still in love with Feathered Stars and want to make some more (maybe not in a quilt this large!) And yes, I will hand piece again.

16 June 2007

In print

In my role as tea lady for the Saturday meetings of the Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc, I spent today safely inside, away from the winds and rain that have been so prevalent over the past week. We had the pleasure of seeing quilts made by Mary Transom, a quilter from New Zealand who was the Guild's guest speaker. Oh how stunning they are! Mary creates glorious quilts, full of colour and overflowing with brilliant appliqued and embellished flowers. One of the best parts of these meetings is the opportunity to touch and closely examine such beautiful work.

The Guild's 2008 calendar was revealed today - here's the cover.

All 58 quilts entered in the calendar challenge (including mine!) are included in the calendar, but the 13 prize-winning quilts boast full-page photographs (not mine!). The cover quilt is Christmas Bells by Merelyn Pearce. Of course I bought a copy, as did most of the other members at the meeting. The quilts will be on display at the Sydney Quilt Show in a couple of weeks. Copies of the calendar may be purchased at the Show, or from the Guild. Be quick!

14 June 2007


I'm at home today, a working day, because I have a stuffed up head and a nose that won't stop dripping. Not a good look. It's about 12 degrees, the cloud has come over and it has started raining. It looks as if it might snow (just kidding - I've never seen snow here in my suburb). Can you tell I'm feeling sorry for myself?

I have dressed myself in my favourite slobbing-around clothes: fleecy track suit pants, oldest t-shirt, big, soft velvety jumper and, of course, thick socks and ugg boots. It's comfort dressing at its best. The heater is on, so I'm snug. It would be a perfect day for sewing except my brain doesn't seem to work properly (probably something to do with all that sneezing). So, a DVD is calling me. Let's hope I don't fall asleep and miss it all.

10 June 2007

Just what you've been waiting for...

My first quilt. Made in the mid 1980s, during a beginner's course at The Quilting Bee, a wonderful shop in Gordon, NSW (which is no longer in existence). Everyone else in the class made a sampler quilt, but I didn't like that idea, so I was encouraged to try a medallion quilt.

This was back in the days before we had template plastic or rotary cutters. I drafted the block from a book (it looks like a Jinny Beyer block, doesn't it, but I can't remember what book it was from) and then cut the templates from sandpaper. It was hand pieced and hand quilted - the quilting is probably better than the sort I do these days. I do love cross hatching.

The most obvious thing about this quilt is that it is BROWN. There were very few ranges of patchwork fabric to choose from then - today I would probably use different colours to liven up the brown, but then monochromatic was the way to go. I resisted the pressure to make a 'lovely' apricot and green sampler - I was very into brown in those days. I even had chocolate brown sheets on my bed!

I still quite like the centre block, but I imagine the types of borders that could surround it instead of those very plain ones. It has the feel of an Amish design about it, don't you think?

07 June 2007

Fun day

Sometimes my working life allows me to have wonderful encounters. I won't say any more here (you'll have to look at my other blog - which has inexplicably lost its header - to read more) except that here's a new friend I made today, Kaffe Fassett!

06 June 2007

At last

I've been waiting for this book to arrive! It is a workbook, with exercises and homework in each chapter, to help develop design skills and make art quilts. As the authors say:
Art quilting is both art and quilting - both aspects should be balanced, and yet the definitions of each should be stretched.

The book focuses more on the art in art quilts and assumes that the reader has certain basic quilt making skills. I've just had a quick browse through the book, so I'm not sure yet how much I will learn from it, but I'm going to work through the exercises in my own time. This could be quite an interesting learning experience.

04 June 2007

Bromeliad beauty

Hey Stephanie, look at this! I mastered the camera (this time) so that I can take close up photographs that are actually in focus. What a great leap forward. This is one of the bromeliads that Stephanie gave me. What a stunning flower spike it is. There are several more emerging as well to make this plant an absolute delight to admire. It has several pups coming off the side, so I'll pot them up after flowering to make some more plants. Lovely!

PS Yes, I am still maintaining the rage about blind umpires. Maybe the AFL has a gag order on players and coaches, but it can't enforce ones on fans.

03 June 2007

How to umpire an AFL game

Here we are, my Dad and I, last night at one of our favourite places - the Sydney Cricket Ground, during the half time break at the footy. We look pretty happy because, honestly, there's no place better to watch our beloved Swans. Thanks to Jackie, our neighbour at the footy, for taking the photo.
However, it is a great mystery why the AFL continues to employ umpires who are blind and deaf and don't appear to know some of the rules. In an attempt to add to their education, I will explain a few of the basics.

When a ball is taken over the boundary line, it means the play stops. The boundary umpire, whose sole function is to blow his whistle when the ball goes over the boundary, is meant to blow his whistle. He is not meant to ignore a ball which is taken over the boundary and allow play to go on so that a goal is kicked.

After the siren goes for the end of a quarter, the field umpire is meant to put his arms up in the air and blow his whistle to indicate the play is over. When this occurs, dear umpire, if a ball goes through the goal post, it does not count. So why did you award a point after you had signalled that the quarter was over?

Umpires are meant to be impartial. They simply apply the rules (however stupid some of the rules are, such as the new hand-on-the-back rule that the autocratic AFL bureaucracy has imposed on the game this year - but don't get me started on that). Umpires are not meant to allow certain players to have the privilege of free kicks simply because they grace the football field with their presence.

I am available to assist the umpires with their training, if required. I cannot guarantee, however, that I will be as polite as I have been here today.