29 November 2009


for my Stephanotis flower buds to fully open. Definitely a sign of summer. How glorious are these blooms?

28 November 2009

Lisa's open studio

What a lovely way to spend a morning - talking with quilters at Lisa's open studio sale. This was the studio, all neat and tidy before it started at 10am:

Another view. Wonderful studio space for designing, sewing and having workshops!

Note all the yummy beads in containers on the bookcase! Lisa had a scoop nearby and while I was filling my plastic tub with my selection of beads, I felt as if I was in a lolly shop. The colours and shapes were divine.

Yes, I did give in and buy a few things. Three pieces of hand-dyed fabrics and a tub of beautiful beads, including leaf-shaped ones in two different greens. Hours of playing pleasure ahead for me.

If you couldn't make it today, Lisa is continuing her open studio tomorrow. Full details are here, and there are also some specials on her blog if you can't make it to the studio in person (though you really should pop over if you are in the area between 10am-4pm - feel the lure of those hand-dyed colours).

27 November 2009


The piece of fabric I need to use in my 2010 challenge quilt arrived today, thanks to Brenda. Yikes - what a challenge!

The challenge is organised by The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc and, thankfully, isn't due until August. I do have an idea already, but whether my quilt ends up like that may be another story.

To see the winning quilts from the 2009 challenge and to find out about next year's challenge, click here.

26 November 2009

Bid-4A-Cause auction

Here's a closeup of my Goddess Roseus A4-sized textile piece, made and donated to Bid-4A-Cause to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

I used a layer of pink and gold silk fibres over hand-dyed fabric and hand stitched it all over with pink cotton thread to add texture. The universal female symbols are created with metallic foil in purple, the colour of spirituality. I used these shapes to represent the eternal challenges of women.

If you hop over to the Bid-4A-Cause blog, you'll see more of the textiles that have been made specifically for this purpose and will be able to explore links to the artists involved.

Bidding for the textiles starts on Friday 27 November, so please consider whether you can help raise much-needed funds to support this charity (and become the owner of a unique textile piece by an Australian artist). Your support is gratefully appreciated.

24 November 2009

Magazine junkies

I'm very pleased I'm not the only person addicted to magazines. I was Editor of Down Under Quilts magazine for four years, so I know how much planning, effort and time goes into producing jam-packed issues that are eagerly awaited. I also know how much juggling goes on and how stressful it can be!

All the more reason for us to appreciate the quilt magazines we have today and the efforts of the people who work for them. That's why I appreciated the comment that Angie Hodapp left on Sunday's post about my quest for Quilters Newsletter. Angie is the Editor-in-Chief of Quilters Newsletter and she suggested a contact in her office who could help me track down issues I missed. Thank you for getting in touch, Angie!

Through our online connections, it is easy to make contact with quilters all around the world. Yet is also simple to forget that real people are at the end of all those blogs and emails. So let's all celebrate the generosity of real quilters with whom we interact, especially those who create the magazines we love so much.

23 November 2009

Bid 4A Cause bidding starts on Friday

It's time! Get ready to support the Bid-4A-Cause fund raising activities for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. On Friday 27 November, the auction will begin, so please help spread the word to all your friends.

There are 14 unique A4-sized textile
artworks available. Wouldn't you like the opportunity to add an artwork to your textile collection by any one of these Australian textile artists?

Sue Dennis, Helen Godden, Lisa Walton, Wendy Bailye, Dijanne Cevaal, Jocelyne Leath, Caroline Sharkey, Sarah Louise Ricketts, Robyn Kennedy, Nic Bridges, Erica Spinks, Brenda Gael Smith, Dale Rollerson and Olga Walters.

All money raised will be sent to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. There are no administration or artist’s fees, so every cent you spend will go to this extremely important and worthwhile charity.

Click here to read more and to see photos of the textile pieces. Don't forget - bidding starts on Friday!

22 November 2009

Mad for magazines

Just can't help myself. I have always been addicted to magazines (is there any wonder I'm a librarian?) and will go to great lengths in pursuit of them.

I have been collecting and enjoying Quilters Newsletter magazine (the lack of an apostrophe in that title drives me crazy - that's the writer in me showing itself) for over 20 years. I started buying it at a local patchwork shop (which is no longer), dabbled with a subscription for a few years and, for the past seven or so years, from another patchwork shop. For all that time, I've pined when it hasn't been delivered when promised.

Now, before you all tell me how incredibly reliable overseas magazine subscriptions are, I have to say that has never been my experience. I have no problem with magazines within my own country, but every time I have a subscription to an overseas magazine, it has been totally useless. Late, irregular and often not arriving at all. So I've sworn to only buy magazines locally from now on.

Locally, of course, has a flexible definition. Last week, I travelled to several different shops in several different suburbs in pursuit of this issue of Quilters Newsletter. (That's because I didn't buy it when I first saw it in a newsagency because I was waiting for the patchwork shop to send me my copy. When I phoned to ask whether it was on its way, I was told they were still waiting on their subscriptions. Of course they were - I should have known.)

I was so happy to finally track it down and spent several hours happily reading. Until next issue...

20 November 2009

Open days

It's coming to the end of the working year in Sydney. Yes, I know it's only November, but things slow down now until they come to a complete stop by the start of the summer holidays. We don't really come back to life until February.

How do you know summer is approaching? Open Days. Here are three great places to visit in Sydney in the next couple of weeks.

The first is the wonderful shop of Kirsten and Cath, Prints Charming. I probably can't say it better than this:

In the same vicinity, Lisa of Dyed and Gone to Heaven is holding a wonderful sale at her studio on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November.

You can read more about Lisa' sale here.

The following week, on Saturday 5 December, is the annual Material Obsession Swap Day. I defy you to read about it here and not want to rush straight over! Loads to see and do.

Don't you wish you were going to be here?

18 November 2009

Solitude and creativity

I've been reading about the quilt makers who each won a major prize at the IQA show in Houston this year. I was struck that it was important for many of them to work in solitude. I'd really encourage you to comment on this.

I'm referring to the short profiles of the winning quilters in International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine. Caryl Bryer Fallert (Best of Show winner) said: "While I love the whole quilting subculture and all of the great friends it brings into my life, the actual making of a quilt is, for me, a solitary activity."

Fusako Takido (The Founders Award winner) said: "Quilting is a solitary activity for me, although I do attend Keiko Miyauchi's lectures."

Liz Jones (The World of Beauty Award winner) said: "Quilt making is not a social occupation for me as I find I have to concentrate fully when doing machine applique or quilting."

Denise Havlan (The Fairfield Award for Contemporary Artistry winner) said: "...my creative spirit is most alive when I am alone, with no distractions other than the sounds of the lake, fresh air, and sometimes music."

Hollis Chatelain (Superior Threads Master Award for Thread Artistry winner) said: "Quilt making itself is more private, but once the quilts are out there, it's a very social thing."

I relate strongly to these comments. Thinking, designing, drawing and more thinking - these are very private parts of my process. I can't bear distractions, like music or other noise. Once I start cutting and sewing, I can lose myself in the activity. After I have prepared pieces for sewing, I can become social, but until that happens, it's a private process. It's only after I feel that my idea or project is fairly developed in my mind that I can let it become public.

Writing is the same for me. The process can sometimes be easy and free-flowing. Other times, it can be laborious and every word is wrung out of my mind. For me, creating is an intensely personal and precious activity and it requires focus.

If you're still reading, thanks! I find the creative process endlessly fascinating. I'd love to know more about yours, so I invite you to leave a comment.

16 November 2009

Another one finished

In between fiddling with my computer last week, I finished this small Feathered Star quilt. It is 70cm square, hand pieced and hand quilted. I have been attracted to the pink/yellow colour combination for the past year and I can still appreciate its appeal, so maybe there's another quilt in those colours in me yet. I think this one deserves to be on display on one of my walls.

PS: Congratulations to Deborah, whose first grandchild, Sadie Deborah, was born last night. She promises to post photos soon!

14 November 2009

Tulip applique

My first small applique quilt is done! I learnt plenty while navigating the points and curves, so the next attempt should be better. If you look carefully, you can see small tulip shapes quilted on the background. I think I might quilt a few more to fill some spaces.

13 November 2009

Delivered today

Look what arrived in my letterbox today - a copy of International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine. Wonderful full-page photos of the major Houston winning quilts as well as some history about the Houston show. There are projects, too, including the quilt on the cover made by friend Sarah. Yay!

My copy came from from Unique Stitching, so if you are in Australia and want to snaffle a copy, go here.

12 November 2009

Cut off

My computer died yesterday and I immediately felt totally cut off from the world. Quite a ridiculous reaction, really, but it just shows how much I depend on my computer and its technology to reach out to the world.

Luckily, I had the time to go to the shops and buy a replacement computer. That was the quick, easy part. Loading software applications, drivers and all my data is an ongoing and sometimes frustrating activity, which probably won't be finished for some time. All my data was backed up, so I shouldn't have lost anything, but... it's taking so much time!

10 November 2009

Zigzag love

I find it interesting that certain shapes and patterns appear in my quilts in batches. I've had a couple of zigzag projects in various stages for most of this year. This hand pieced project is starting to come together this week as I join the blocks with sashing. While the colours in the pic have a washed-out look, it's good enough to give you the general idea of how the quilt is developing.

You'll recognise these blocks as Grandma's Star. Lovely to piece, these ones are made with small pieces of various green/blue fabrics. I need to make a few more blocks to finish the centre section, then I can work out the borders.
I enjoy seeing how a quilt develops, because each design seems determined to go in its own direction. Although I had a specific idea for this right from the beginning, it still may not turn out the way I first envisaged. We'll see...

07 November 2009

Stitchin' Mission

Have you been following the progress of Di's Stitchin' Mission project through her blog? Her aim is to teach non-quilters the pleasure of making quilts. Starting with simple patterns, the women will donate their quilts to the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning & Care Centre.

Di is a lovely friend I first met years ago through Scquilters and often catch-up with at our Sydney Scquilters get togethers. Today Di brought along a friend - Linda Hungerford from the USA, who started the Stitchin' Mission project in her town of Des Moines, Iowa. It was a true delight to meet and chat with Linda, who was bubbling with enthusiasm for all things quilty!

I so love the fact that blogging can connect people throughout the world. Even more, I love it when we meet face-to-face with people we know 'virtually' and immediately find a lot to talk about.

04 November 2009

Hunting pineapples

Sometimes, certain shapes become absorbed into my mind where they stay until conscious thoughts about them form. For several months now I have been fascinated by pineapples. Native to Brazil and Paraguay, pineapples were transported to Europe in the 1400s, where they became, like other tropical fruits, a novelty and a luxury. A pineapple is the fruit of a bromeliad plant and they are widely available here.

This is a beauty I bought today. It's becoming increasingly difficult here to buy a pineapple with the leaves still attached, because of plant breeders' rights. That means they don't want anyone to grow their breeds commercially.

However, I'm keen to try growing a pineapple to add to my backyard bromeliad collection. This gorgeous fruit smells so good and with patterns like this, how could you not want to use the shapes of the plant?

The pineapple is a recurring motif in the gifts to the English Royal family I saw during a tour of Windsor Castle. I was fascinated to see the motif, long recognised as a symbol of welcome and hospitality, appear on so many items on display at the castle. I've been unable to get the shapes of the fruit out of my mind since then and found myself seeking them out as we toured London.

Some ideas for using the motifs are developing. Look at the photo of the skin - isn't that a wonderful free-motion quilting shape?

03 November 2009


Northern hemisphere seasonal categories of summer, autumn, winter and spring give quite misleading expectations here in Sydney. Today it was 38 degrees. Surely that's not a spring temperature? Tomorrow's temperature is expected to be 15 degrees lower. This article suggests that we really should abandon such foreign seasonal terms and look to the traditional Aboriginal descriptions instead. I think this is worth investigation.

On such a hot day, the only things I had to do were water the pot plants early in the day and stay inside to sew (and wait for a painter to inspect our home so he can provide a quote). The sashing strips on my Grandma's Star quilt are now attached to most of the blocks and they should be all joined within a few days. Photo to follow once they are assembled.

02 November 2009

Was it all a dream?

A few months ago, Deborah and I visited the Festival of Quilts in the UK. It was our first time there and we were both totally over-excited the whole time. So much to see and so much to do!
In the November issue of Down Under Quilts magazine, we share our impressions of the show with you. I know I'm looking forward to reliving the fun we had and reminding myself that it wasn't just a dream - we were actually there! Look out for this new issue - it's on its way.

01 November 2009

The morning after

The sampler doesn't look THAT bad. Blue variegated thread on cream homespun. Just need to practise...