30 April 2008

New book

Material Obsession: contemporary quilt designs is the first book by my friends Kathy and Sarah. In it, they describe their philosophy of quilt making and provide instructions for 23 of their quilt designs.

I was in the shop with Kathy this morning when their delivery of books arrived and it was terribly exciting. Unpacking boxes of beautiful books is one of life's great pleasures (sniff that new-book scent!), but when the book is written by friends - well!

Kathy's husband John took all the photos for the book and they are simply stunning. The book is a visual treat and makes you immediately race off to sew. Congratulations to Kathy and Sarah - well done and here's looking forward to the second book!

Material Obsession: contemporary quilt designs is now available from all good bookshops!

29 April 2008

Mark Marking in Stitch

This week's excursion was to the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery to see the exhibition Mark Making in Stitch with Fiona. The exhibition showed stitch and fabric collage works made in response to a workshop by Ilze Aviks in 2007. There are some stunning textile pieces in the exhibition and we enjoyed the inspiration that hand stitching, some quite intensive, added to the cloth. The exhibition is on until 25 May.

Fairfield City Museum and Gallery has interesting textile exhibitions, the next of which is Eyeline, by the members of tACTile. Eyeline is on between 31 May - 27 July 2008. The Gallery is on the corner of The Horsley Drive and Oxford Street, Smithfield. I missed seeing these quilts last year so I will definitely visit them this time.

I never know what is going to linger in my mind and influence me. Today, for example, was a glorious autumn day. The sky was a clear, deep blue and the wind was chilly - perfect for walking. We were both exhilarated by the weather and that made the day even more memorable.

Thanks to everyone who has left a comment on my blog. It gives me a thrill to know that I'm not talking to myself! Please stop by to say hello any time you like.

28 April 2008


I've written before about the pleasure of Alexander McCall Smith's novels. He writes the gentlest, most well-observed stories and, if you haven't tried them, you are missing a treat.

Of course, his new stories aren't published often enough so in between we have the pleasure of his newsletters. Again, beautifully written, when they arrive it seems as if they may even be written solely for the receiver. Back copies of his newsletters are here so you can enjoy the pleasure of his words and sign up for delivery by email.

27 April 2008

Highs and lows

The high: today I harvested my first mandarin from my tree. I have a bumper crop of 10 fruit this year - not bad for a young tree. The golden fruit look delicious, so let's hope they taste as good.

The weather is not as good today. There's a gusty wind from the north-west, which is drying, but it is bringing down many branches and flinging loose things around in the garden. Tomorrow there will be plenty to clear up.

The low: after two hours of game time, the Swans and North Melbourne game was a draw. Frustrating, exhausting and totally deflating. Perhaps next week, a win?

26 April 2008

Today's pleasures

All today's pleasures are a result of the glorious autumn day. After 13 consecutive days of rain, today has been sunny and we have seen a sky full of blue. It's simply brilliant.

There's nothing like a line full of washing, drying in the wind. All my windows and doors are open and a gentle breeze is airing the house of all those musty scents.

I spent most of the day in the garden, repotting plants. The ground is still wet, but I planted sweet pea seeds, to grow up a lattice near the roses and flower in spring. The fragrance of sweet peas is divine and I love the old-fashioned ruffled flowers.

Ever the optimist, I sowed Italian parsley seed in safe-from-the-possum places. I reserve judgement on whether this was a good move.
The odour of garlic is embedded under my finger nails, after I spent considerable time removing the cloves from the papery coverings. I then planted them all in the garden and hope they all grow into fat clumps. There is nothing like sweet, home-grown garlic, although I will have to wait until next summer to enjoy it!

Joyful moments - they are everywhere if only we take to time to notice them.

25 April 2008

25 April

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. Today we remember the men and women who went to war; those who never returned; and those who came home, damaged by what they had seen and done.

25 April is a sacred day in Australia and New Zealand.

We will remember them.

24 April 2008

Creative spaces

At last my copy of this special issue has arrived and I've been able to sate my internal voyeur. Looking at sewing studios and enjoying the creative clutter of other people is a great pleasure. I love seeing how people store their fabrics and other creative tools as I imagine all the fun times that could be had in those spaces.

It's not really sad, is it? Don't you enjoy this too?

22 April 2008

More than 400

Since the late 1980s, I have collected every issue of the American magazine, Quilters Newsletter. Initially it was because I was totally ignorant of the ways of patchwork and quilting and I soaked up everything I read. I continue to read the magazine because it always had some article that interested me.

I received issue 402 today. What a wonderful cover! I know from personal experience how difficult it is to continue to find interesting content for a quilting magazine, so I admire the longevity of this particular title. I still find items of interest within the pages, but I have to confess I have never made a project from any of the issues.

In issue 402, there is a double page spread showing nine landscape quilts by Australian quilt maker, Gloria Loughman. The quilts were made between 1997 and 2007 and all have great energy. Worth a look if you aren't familiar with Gloria's work. The colours are divine.

21 April 2008

Cleaning up

Not much stitching done over the past week, so nothing to show you today. My head has been full of calculations and unfamiliar terms while I dwelt on project instructions. So now that I have completed the bulk of them (only five to go), it was clean-up time.

Not only does this help clear the mind, but I think dusting and organising my desk makes me feel I am actually making progress instead of just plowing through masses of paper. I feel ready to face the next lot tomorrow.

19 April 2008

Cruising blogland

One of the great pleasures of blogland is discovering new and interesting blogs. Over at Sharon's blog, In a Minute Ago, she's taken it one step further by compiling an enormous list of blogs written by textile practitioners and designers. As you can imagine, it is an enormous list and she is currently up to those starting with the letter D. You can see the list here, where there are also links to the A, B and C lists. I was thrilled to have my blog included in the list!

Another blog I have just discovered is True Up. This blog is all about fabric and is written by Kim Kight, self-confessed fabric aficionado. It's early days yet, but may be worth keeping an eye on this blog.

Are there any blogs you'd like to recommend to me? I'm always looking for another excuse to go cruising!

18 April 2008

The sun is shining somewhere

This little photo of a house always makes me smile, which is why I have it propped up next to my computer. I love it because of the colours - blue and terracotta, what's not to like? I imagine that the shapes of the windows and the door give the house a look of surprise - what can the house see that makes it go 'ooh!'?

It's been chilly, grey and rainy here all day, so I am reassured that the sun is shining somewhere.

17 April 2008

Erica versus the possum

Regular readers may recall that I am struggling to grow parsley in my garden because there is a sneaky possum that eats all the tasty leaves and leaves me with the stems. This creature also enjoys my lettuces and silverbeet leaves.

I'm sick of providing meals for this possum, so this afternoon I devised a possum-proof (I hope) planting. I transplanted the stumps of the lettuces into a large tub and I sprinkled coriander and silverbeet seeds around them (I thought I had parsley seeds, but apparently not!). Then I made a tepee shape with three garden stakes and covered it with netting. It's secured all round with no gaps to let possums get through.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that this works. If the net protects my crops, I may extend the idea to my veggie bed. I will win!

15 April 2008

Selvedge flowers

My brain needs relief from thinking, so I thought I'd show you a glimpse of my selvedge flowers.

So far, my plan is to applique the flowers onto linen and make a small quilt. That's as far as I have planned - I told you my brain needs to stop thinking!

Another squishy envelope arrived from Lissa today, this time full of flannel selvedges! They are very soft and nice to stroke. Thanks Lissa!

14 April 2008

How little I know

It's such a challenge to learn new skills. I'm currently spending time writing instructions for machine embroidered projects. I know NOTHING about machine embroidery, but slowly I am delving into an unfamiliar world.

Who knew there was so much to learn? Already I'm astonished by the number of products involved, especially stabilisers. Amazing. I feel as if a parallel universe has just opened up to me as I realise how little I know!

13 April 2008

Compare and contrast

Do you remember that many questions in English literature exams used to start with this question? Well, I've recently read two novels that have quilt-related themes and the contrast between them has never been clearer.
The first is The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. Published late last year, it is a slight novel in the Elm Creek Quilts series. I can't see the value in its publication, except to cash in on the series' success. So much of the story rehashes events and relationships from past novels. The story line makes little progress. Very disappointing.
By contrast, Tumbling Blocks by Earlene Fowler continues the story of Benni Harper and her life in San Celina, California. Although only vaguely quilt-related, the story line does develop and, as always, I enjoyed the tale. Each of this series is named after a traditional quilt block. Recommended.

By the way, Electric Quilt has a series of Benni Harper mystery quilt designs, which teach how to use EQ skills for each block. They look like a fun way of learning.

The question "compare and contrast" also relates to last night's Swans game at Homebush . The Swans played extremely well, while the West Coast Eagles did not. We won by 63 points but the win was marred by a brain snap by one of our forwards, Barry Hall, who is sure to be disqualified from playing for a month or so for a left hook to a West Coast player. If that wasn't enough, he then went on to break his own wrist as he ran into the boundary fence in the last quarter. Aah, footy....

11 April 2008

My other blog

One of my new tasks this year included setting up and maintaining a blog for Quizzles® interactive quilt patterns, designed and distributed by Australian quilters Helen Stubbings and Tracey Browning. The blog is called The Daily Quizzler, and I am gradually adding content to it.

These patterns are quite nifty. You can buy some of them on CD or you can download others from the website. Once they are installed on your computer, you can have fun changing the colours of the patterns to suit yourself. You can have a free trial to see how it works by visiting the webpage.

I've enjoyed customising many of the patterns into different colour combinations (there are quite a few blue ones there - what a surprise!) - it's fun and quite easy. Once you decide on your colours and save them, all the fabric requirements and diagrams are changed to reflect your choices - you don't have to remind yourself that your choices are different to those printed in the pattern. Very cool.

This is from the Trellis Rose pattern - I called my version Aqua Rosa.

Pop over and have a look around The Daily Quizzler, where you can see some of my colour arrangements. While you're there, vote for your favourite quilt making technique in the question of the month. Let me know that you visited by leaving a comment too - just so I don't feel lonely!

10 April 2008


Thanks to Brenda, I have the most delicious pile of Kaffe Fassett selvedges. I have big plans for these, just need the time to get started!

09 April 2008

Finished quilt top

What fun! Here's the finished Barry's Tank quilt top, gracefully draped over a chair in my house and being observed by my Sydney Swans gnome. How well colour-coordinated they are!

The quilt is actually larger than it appears. It is three blocks across and five blocks down - 140cm x 210cm including sashing and borders. Those little monkey faces still make me smile.

(Kit with these fabrics is available from
Material Obsession now.)

08 April 2008

Joyful moments

I've had lots of responses to yesterday's post about looking for the positive moments in each day. Today I'm taking it one step further - here's my image that celebrates these joyful moments. Feel free to take the 'Joyful Moments' image and add it to your own blog - tell all your friends! Let's focus on the positive moments in life. I'm sure we'll all be the richer for it.

Today's joyful moment is looking at these Funky Monkeys and smiling at their silly faces. They are on the quilt I'm making - the Barry's Tank pattern. I'll show you the quilt top once I get it all together, but, in case you can't wait, you can buy a kit with these fabrics
from Material Obsession now.

07 April 2008

Accentuate the positive

I am becoming increasingly intolerant of the way newspapers and television news programs focus on negative issues. Story after story forecasts gloom and doom. This only builds negativity upon negativity and in the end people begin to think that only terrible things happen in the world.

Well they don't. Every day, moments of pleasure occur. They may be fleeting or they may last for hours, but they happen to us all. We need to grab them when they occur and we need to savour them as long as we can.

My day included several positives. I bought Jennifer Chiaverini's latest Elm Creek novel for a bargain price from someone I'd never met before. Now I can anticipate how the story may unravel. I spent several hours cutting and sewing a quilt top for someone else, using the types of fabrics I would never have chosen. This was liberating. I made and enjoyed a delicious meal for dinner. Yum.

Life is overwhelmingly good for most of us, so let's accentuate the positives and stop talking ourselves into fretful states. Tell me about the positive moments in your day, so we can all celebrate these treasured moments.

06 April 2008

Pretties for play

Lucky me! These lovely selvedges were given to me by Kate and Jean yesterday at our SCQuilters sewing day. I have also received sets of selvedges from Brenda and Lissa. Thanks so much! I feel an attack of the pretties coming on...

04 April 2008

Now this is seriously weird

Dear blog reader from France,
I do hope you weren't terribly disappointed when you found my blog after completing a Google search on "Michelle in chocolate pantyhose". You didn't linger on my blog - I wonder why?

03 April 2008

Today's pleasures

Lunch with Lisa started at 12 noon. We ate Lebanese food in Concord and talked and talked. And talked. Suddenly (it seemed) it was after 3 o'clock. We made our way back to our cars via the newsagent where we admired Lisa's quilt on the front cover of Down Under Quilts magazine (the April issue is my last one as Editor). Look out for Lisa's quilt - it is called Oranges and Lemons and very vibrant!

It's handy having a friend who can provide fabric.
For the binding on my string quilt, I needed some more of Lisa's red hand-dyed fabric, which she delivered today along with a surprise pack of strips! I feel other string projects coming on.

02 April 2008

Sometimes I think

I have too much time on my hands! Last week I bought a set of hairclips from a local el cheapo shop. I did actually want a couple of them to keep my hair out of my eyes, but the main reason I bought the set was because they are so pretty. (I'm easily distracted by shiny objects.)

I took a photo of them today so I could play with the colours in a quilt design, but then I thought I'd see how they looked with a filter. I've entertained myself for a while this afternoon, trying the filters in my photo software. This is my favourite image, using the polar inversion filter. How gorgeous are they now!

Thanks for the comments on the tree shape in my last post. This idea is still incubating so it may be a while before I can show you any progress on the design.