30 September 2009

It is such a small world

The world of blogging has not only opened up many opportunities for me, but has also enabled me to meet new friends. Usually, this 'meeting' is an online experience, but last month I had the opportunity to really meet Helen Conway. Deborah and I joined Helen and her quilting buddy, Lesley, for a meal in Birmingham. (Thanks for the pic, Helen.)

Helen has a shiny new website. It's so fabulous I want one too!

29 September 2009


are there so many temptations in this world? I was totally oblivious to this wonderful book until Sarah waved it under my eyes this afternoon.

OK, it's not in English, which makes it tricky for me since I don't know much German. Just in case you're wondering, Liesels Funfecke means Liesel's Pentagons and the book is full of ideas for these intriguing shapes. I am seriously hooked already.

I love making pieced blocks with a single template. Rose Star is one such block that I've blogged about before. Since the shapes are all the same, it comes down to the colour placement and arrangement of the pieces to create different patterns. Such fun. Liesel uses the English paper piecing method, but I think life is too short for that so I choose to hand piece.

Sarah could see I was itching to study the book in detail so it is having a holiday in my house. Sigh. So many things to investigate, so little time...

28 September 2009

You are invited

A new gallery is opening in Braidwood on Saturday 3 October. Owned by friend Kate Marshall, the gallery will sell textiles and jewellery, all handmade by talented Australian artists. The official opening by Helen Godden will be at 11am.

Thanks to Kate, this gallery will offer wonderful opportunities to local textile and jewellery artists. Congratulations, Kate!

27 September 2009

Such fun

Drawing these blocks is such fun. This is the first of my geometric designs, drawn in EQ6. I love the beautiful radiating shapes in this block. All the seams are straight stitching.

I've combined four blocks to show you the secondary patterns that emerge. Magic, isn't it? I need to modify some of the shapes to make them more straightforward to piece and, after I've done that, I'll sew a sample block to test it. Stand by!

26 September 2009

I may be becoming

a wee bit obsessed with these patterns. This book, Islamic Geometric Patterns by Eric Broug, is even more wonderful than the one I showed a few days ago. I discovered this title in my library yesterday and have been having fun with the drawings ever since.
Note to Cinzia - I'm loving the geometry!

25 September 2009

More free-motion

Thanks to everyone who told me about this wonderful blog - 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs. Not only does Leah Day show us a different design each day, but she also provides a short video showing exactly how to stitch it! Oh, and thery're sorted by difficulty level too. Highly recommended, especially for free-motion beginners like me.

24 September 2009


Many moons ago, I was taught geometry in school. It was incredibly boring to me and I couldn't understand what use it could be. Well!

Why didn't they teach me interesting stuff like this? Since I developed an interest in some of the patterns seen in Islamic art, I've been doing a lot of reading about it. I came across this little book and my copy arrived yesterday (from the wonderful Book Depository, of course).

There's whole lot I need to understand, including terms that I've never heard before (what's a dodecagon* when it's at home?). It is worth pursuing, though, because some of these shapes would be wonderful to interpret as pieced quilt designs.

The strength of this small book is that it shows the underlying structure of the designs. Most are drawn on a structure of overlapping circles, which is a new way of thinking of block construction for me. Lots to learn and lots of drawing and redrawing to be done. I love that there is always something interesting in this world to learn!

* A dodecagon is a polygon with 12 sides.

23 September 2009

No, I haven't moved to Mars

but this is the view from my front door this morning at 6.45am.

The colour is accurate. We are in the midst of a massive dust storm. The colour in the sky is created by the topsoil from the west of our state being blown towards the coast. Bad for the condition of the land in the west, bad for people who have breathing difficulties, but it is still totally spectacular. I'll be staying inside today.

22 September 2009

I want to live in Bath

or at least snoop around inside these buildings.

Stunning from the outside - I wonder what they are like inside?


Such a glorious world heritage city. Sigh....

21 September 2009

Thanks for the comments

I always appreciate comments on my posts (don't we all?), but it was terrific to receive some encouraging tips about my foray into free-motion quilting.

Anonymous: I agree about the need for regular repetition of the motions. Muscle memory is a powerful tool and I intend to do a little quilting each day.

Kim: you are very encouraging and that's why I wasn't scared to try!

Sue: Good point about keeping my hand moving. Since I am continually doodling, that shouldn't be a problem.

Quilts on Bastings: Hello Karen! Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot from such a fantastic machine quilter as yourself.

Helen: I did try Kim's Machingers in the class. I quilted half the time with them and half without. Can't say that I noticed much difference, but we were only working on 12-inch sandwiches. I will follow up on Patsy Thompson's videos - I have heard good things about them.

I did stitch for half an hour yesterday and another this morning. I'm getting bored with stitching plain sandwiches (I have a short attention span) so I think I might stitch a few postcards for variety. That way at least I will have some small pieces to swap!

Keep those tips coming please....

20 September 2009

Yesterday's adventures

Never say that I'm afraid to show you things that (perhaps) should have stayed hidden! Yesterday I spent the day in a beginners' machine quilting workshop taught by Kim Bradley. I enjoyed the experience because everything I stitched was totally new to me. I have never tried free-motion quilting before (I know, it's sad.) This is my first piece with two exercises: apple blossom and leaves. Hmm.

The next three shapes are on this next piece: grape leaves, a blobby shape and a wavy line with dots. Double hmm.

This sample has line fillers (decidedly wonky) and my albsolute fave - pebbles. I love stitching those pebbles!

Then Kim freaked me out by letting us try feathers (with some other shapes like the ginko leaves). Awful. I was pleased that I stitched my name, though!

This is my second feather and I think some of the curves are actually curved on this one so that has to be an improvement, right?

In about six weeks we have our second lesson, when we'll be stitching a single sampler piece. Now that will be scary. I'd better get practising - Kim recommends at least 10 minutes a day, but maybe I need a couple of hours instead! Any tips from experienced free-motion quilters will be gratefully received in the meantime...

17 September 2009

Baskets of colour

One of the most noticeable things about the streets of London were the exuberant baskets of flowers. Every street we travelled was decorated with glorious collections of flowering annuals, cheerfully celebrating summer. I loved the way that this made the city bright and inviting.

16 September 2009

Start with a block

- the gorgeous Rose Star block.

Make a few more....and then - a quilt!

This lovely quilt was made by Trish Gibbons from my Slow Burners class at Material Obsession. Doesn't it look wonderful? This is a fun block to hand piece, because all the pieces in the block are cut from a single template - how clever is that?

15 September 2009

The grammar of ornament

This is the title of an amazing book by Owen Jones, an English architect of the nineteenth century. My first introduction to his work was at the V&A Museum, where I saw the original edition of The Grammar of Ornament and many of the original drawings prepared for the book (and got over-excited straight away).

How could I have been unaware of this brilliant resource? I was immediately attracted to the Persian and Moresque designs - they are pieced patchwork blocks waiting to happen and I will be drafting similar ones as soon as I can.

My copy of The Grammar of Ornament arrived today (thanks to the wonderful Book Depository) so the next few months will allow me to absorb new patterns and shapes. I just love the fact that there is so much to learn in this world.

If you are interested to learn more about Owen Jones, read the Wikipedia article here.

14 September 2009

Pattern blocks

When I was at the Liberty shop, I couldn't resist taking a photo of these wooden print blocks of classic Liberty designs. How wonderful it would be to use these to create different layered patterns on cloth. I would love the opportunity to use them for stamping and rubbing.

13 September 2009


Fairfield City Museum often hosts intriguing exhibitions in the Stein Gallery. This afternoon, Brenda and I ventured there to see Artcloth: Engaging New Visions, a collection of pieces by 20 international artists. The day was sunny and warm and we treated ourselves to a pub lunch before crossing the road to see the exhibition.
All the artists were invited to create a piece of art cloth approximately one metre wide and three metres long. This made for a reasonably coherent presentation. In any exhibition, I always find that there is one piece of work that calls to me. In this instance it is Breathe Deeply by Claire Benn from England, a profoundly calming work. Pity I can't show you a pic!

The exhibition is open until 11 October. More information may be found here.

12 September 2009

Girl power

I've finished my Goddess Roseus textile piece for this fund raising activity instigated by Deborah at Down Under Quilts magazine and I'm eagerly anticipating seeing the others. The objective is to raise funds for breast cancer charities. See the Bid-4A-Cause blog to see who is participating and remember to check back regularly for updates.

If you are going to the Brisbane Craft & Quilt Fair in October (21st to 25th) you will be able to see all the artworks up close and personal - what a treat!

11 September 2009

Taking a step

I've always been a little scared of free-motion quilting. Doing it, that is. Well, I plan to change all that on Saturday 19 September when I will be taking a workshop with the wonderful Kim Bradley. I've heard there are still a couple of places available, so if you're in Sydney phone Material Obsession on 02 9817 2733 to reserve a spot for yourself. If you do come long, I'll be the very quiet one in the corner, trying not to create shaky stitching!

10 September 2009


After yesterday's sad news, I felt compelled to write about our visit to Stonehenge. Just to prove we were there, here's Deborah and I looking quite windswept.

The sky was an amazing colour on the afternoon we visited and a strong breeze was blowing. Yes, there were many buses and cars in the parking area. Yes, the souvenirs were tacky. Yes, there were hundreds of people there. But, you know what? It didn't matter.

Stonehenge had a strong appeal to me. A connection with the land, a sense of all the people who have gone before us in this world. People who were born and grew older; worked and had families and then died. It was simply extraordinary. I felt peace and calm in this place of reflection.

09 September 2009

Goodbye Narelle

Sad news filtered its way through the Australian quilters' network today. Narelle Grieve, who had been ill for many months, passed away early this morning.

Narelle was an inspirational quilter. After returning from a stint living in the USA with her family in 1986, Narelle began teaching patchwork and quilting. She subsequently became President of The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. Narelle had such an influence on the Australian quilt world - she instigated judged quilt shows in Australia, valued quilts and began a teacher accreditation programme for the Guild. Narelle wrote for Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine for over 15 years, won many prizes for her quilts and taught widely.

In 2004, Narelle was made a life member of
The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. The following year, she was the inaugural recipient of the Rajah Award, an award made for an outstanding contribution to Australian Quilting.

I have known Narelle for many years. She was cheeky, with a naughty sense of humour. You could always count on Narelle for calling a spade a spade - she was never backward in coming forward with her opinions. She was always encouraging and urged people to try new things. I was at the award dinner when she won the Rajah Award and I remember how totally flummoxed she was. After she made a dignified acceptance speech, she spontaneously burst into tears and was sincerely amazed that she had been honoured with the award.

Thank you Narelle for all that you gave to the quilting world and all the advice (often unsolicited!!) that you gave to me. Rest in peace - I will miss you.

08 September 2009


At the Festival of Quilts, I was thrilled to meet Catherine Nicholls and Linda Kemshall who, together with Laura Kemshall, produce thr3fold: a journal of creative vision.Even though I had heard about this journal, I had never actually held it in my hands. Oh my goodness. Such an amazing creative resource - no wonder reviews have been so positive.

It was interesting chatting to Catherine about the work she was doing and learning how the three artists collaborated to create thr3fold. Of course, it's always quite exciting (and humbling) to actually meet such highly respected textile artists in real life!

07 September 2009

Too cute

I couldn't resist this lovely card from Liberty. A tiny wire coathanger, a hand-knitted top and a skirt made with a scrap of Liberty fabric. I'll be framing this - simply gorgeous

06 September 2009

Liberty of London

Being long-time quilt makers, Deborah and I had Liberty of London on our list of must-sees when we were in London. So we took ourselves off the bus in Regent Street and immediately started to drool.

Just look at the stunning building. Doesn't it invite you to come closer?

We had imagined that the contents of the store would entice us, but firstly we had to drag ourselves away from window displays like this:
Aren't those pineapples divine? (Just ignore the feet reflected in the window. They are mine.) I now have a preoccupation with pineapples (this is a story for another day, along with my other pineapple photos). The exhibition called Prints Charming had nothing to do with my clever friends Kirsten and Cath but instead, it showed all the amazing creations top designers had made with Liberty fabric.

This gorgeous young lady was featured in another window. It took about 20 minutes before we entered the store and once we did we were captivated.

Several hours later we emerged, blinking, into the street. To have visited such a legendary store was, for us, like having been on a pilgrimage. We restored ourselves with a delicious lunch in the pub across the road and ventured onwards to the V&A Museum. It was such a blissful day...

04 September 2009

Oh Harrods!

My dear friend Sue (hi Sue!) is living in England this year. I was lucky to be able to catch up with her in London, when she whisked us off one night to that wonderful institution - Harrods. What a visually amazing experience it was.

I took these two photos in the food hall. There were astonishing mosaic designs on all the walls including this one.

Aren't they brilliant?

Then we spent some time cruising through the exclusive womens fashion floor, the shoe department (have you worn your new boots yet, Deborah?) and the other floors of luxury. It was a place that filled us with delight and wonder.

03 September 2009

Lines and lights at KL

Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia is a designer's wonder. Plenty of lines and lights to attract the eye. We were there twice - once on the way to London and then on the trip home - both times in the night and at dawn. Scrupulously clean and efficient, the KL airport is quite inspirational.

02 September 2009


I've spent the past couple of days working on a small textile piece, working to the theme of Goddess Roseus. This, along with other A4-sized textiles, will be auctioned next month as part of Bid-4A-Cause, organised by Deborah and Down Under Quilts magazine.

Mine is hand stitched, made with silk paper and has foiled shapes. Here's a peek...

01 September 2009


To celebrate spring, I've spruced up the blog (it's not blue any more!) with a fresh new header. One of my loves is the tulip - in the garden and as a design element. I love the elegant shape of the flower and the colours of the petals.

Over the past couple of years, I've been interested in the way tulips have been used in Turkish textiles (it is the national flower there, after all) and have been collecting information. The latest addition is this textile I saw at the V&A Museum. I am so in love with these shapes.