31 May 2010

Back again

Hmm, sorry for slipping out of the blogosphere! You'd think that the experience of writing here regularly since 2006 would have established a good habit, but I've had the blahs and sometimes I just don't feel as if I have anything interesting to say. (Hint: this where you all rush to reassure me that's not the case!)

But I have been sewing. In the first pic, you can see the results of my reverse sewing ie unpicking. I'd made a heap of blocks and sewed them together to make a small quilt top, but the fact that it had been on my design wall for a few months was a sign that it wasn't working. So I unpicked all the rows and unpicked the blocks into units and this is the result.I know how I want to reassemble the units differently, so I'm happier now.

The second pic shows another current project. I spent ages crunching the numbers to work out the right sizes to cut the pieces and ended up with what seemed like squillions of small half-square triangles. I'm loving these units at the moment and all my projects seem to include them.

Unusually for me, both of these projects are machine pieced. I don't enjoy sitting at the machine for long periods of time, so I don't expect a lot of progress to be made quickly. But it will happen!

Another reason for banishing the blahs - I've liberated the latest copy of Quilting Arts magazine from my mail box before the heavy rain could make it soggy. Let's hope there's some interesting reading in this issue, since I've found the last couple of copies to be very ordinary.

24 May 2010

Deal with it

After watching my football team lose three games in a row I feel vaguely unsettled. I shouldn't, because that's the lot of supporter - as much as we like to delude ourselves, we don't actually have any influence on the playing of the game. It's not as if we pull on our boots and do the hard work. But we do take it to heart.

I belong to a discussion list about our Swans team.  We dissect each game, evaluate every player's performance, and decide how we would direct the players if we were the (collective) coach. It's all good fun, until we hit a losing streak.

Everyone's narky at the moment; frustrated and lashing out at each other. I feel bad enough about our losses - I don't need all that negativity as well. So I'm doing small things around the house that give me pleasure. Clearing the dining room table so I can enjoy the shine of its timber grain; picking up small twigs in the back yard; gathering home-grown lettuce leaves for a sandwich; and slowly stitching with my machine. All these actions are tiny, but together they help me deal with disappointment. 

Oh, and I watch DVDs of The Tudors. Now THEY know how to deal with it - off with his head!

23 May 2010


Oh, this is a delicious book (thanks, Deborah!). Effie Mitrofanis is well-known as an embroiderer extraordinaire and, in Threadwork: silks, stitches, beads and cords she shows us some of her tricks.

The colours are gorgeous, and the photography shows the sample pieces at their best. Even though I am in a cotton phase at present and not working with silks, I am sorely tempted! As a non-embroiderer, I appreciate most the stitch glossary where all the stitches are explained so clearly.

Already I have some more ideas for working with running stitches. I've just completed a small quilt featuring running stitches (sorry, can't show it yet because it's for a swap) and am itching to make more.

Now, where are my threads?

18 May 2010

Online Quilt Museum

Karen Griska (whom I've come to know through our shared adventures with selvedges) emailed me last week to tell me about her new venture, and what an exciting one it is!

Karen says:
I'm excited to let you know that my new website was launched today. I've been working on it / thinking about it for over 4 years, but as you know life gets in the way sometimes, and I had some challenges climbing the "learning curve," but it's finally here. There are 678 quilt photos for starters. The thing that makes this venue special is that in addition to Exhibits that I create, there are Galleries managed by individual quilters to exhibit their quilts. It's open to everyone, of course. Take a look when you have a chance. I'm hoping that this will be something that excites and encourages quilters who will get to see all their quilts in one place. A world quilt show. And if they choose, quilters can indicate that their quilts are available for sale, and include their email address in their artist's statement so viewers can contact them. Or they may want to attract traffic to their blogs, websites, Etsy or eBay stores by having a Gallery in the Museum.

I've been browsing Karen's Online Quilt Museum this morning and have seen some very interesting quilts. Why don't you pop over and check it out for yourself?

16 May 2010

Fat Quarterly

I love the way technology and the internet allows us to collaborate and communicate with more people than ever before. Today I subscribed to a new quilting e-magazine, Fat Quarterly. It was actually launched last month, but I've taken a while to follow up my link to it. After I paid by PayPal (I must stop thinking of PayPal as pretend money) my first issue was immediately accessible.

The first issue has the theme of 'Fresh Start' and is 78 pages. Chock full of projects (with fabulous diagrams), interviews with quilt makers and giveaways, Fat Quarterly is a great addition to my regular reading. 

14 May 2010

New craft classes in Sydney

Sometimes it is difficult to find a craft class that teaches you a skill from the absolute beginning. I know that when I first wanted to learn to sew, I didn't know what I didn't know! I needed someone to take me by the hand and start me at the very beginning.

There's an exciting initiative in Sydney now that will solve that problem. Notebook magazine has opened The Craft Room at their studios, where you can learn embroidery, knitting, crochet, sewing, cake decorating, scrapbooking, papercrafting, collage and QUILTING.

The quilting classes are being taught by my friend Sarah, so I know you'll learn heaps! You can see the May classes here and the June classes here. I don't have any affiliation with the magazine nor the classes, but I think it's great to see that there are these sorts of crafty opportunities now. I wish they'd been around when I wanted to learn how to sew!

13 May 2010

Superior threads

In my quest to try different threads for hand applique, I emailed Julie Woods, who is the Australian distributor for Superior Threads. Julie recommended the Masterpiece 50wt Egyptian cotton and sent me samples of three colours so I can try them. Not only does this give me a hands-on sample, but I can check how close the colours of the threads are to the colours displayed on my monitor.

Thanks Julie, I will start stitching soon!

12 May 2010

Free Amy Butler patterns

If you are a fan of Amy Butler's style, you may like to see the free patterns available on SEWN. There's a pattern for the vibrant Sexy Hexy Love Quilt, as well as some soft furnishing patterns. Oh, and don't forget to scroll down - there's a pattern for the cutest little Happy Flower pincushion from Squirrel Momma!

11 May 2010

Aurifil thread

One of my objectives at AQC was to investigate threads I could use for needle turn applique. Jenny Scott, from Always Quilting, is the Australian distributor of Aurifil threads. She presented a session about these threads, so I went along to hear what she had to say.

I enjoyed the session because Jenny showed us various samples, stitched with different weights of Cotton Mako' thread. It was easy to see the different effects that could be achieved with the different weights.

The fun part, though, was that each participant could collect a free spool of Cotton Mako' and a pattern for the sample from the Chocolate Coated stand. Lovely. I chose the Ne 50/2 (50 wt) thread because it is the finest and best for hand applique. I went back the next day to buy a different colour so I can try different fabrics. Haven't used it yet, but I'll be cutting out some applique shapes soon and will post about it later.

10 May 2010

Well, that was interesting

Our telecommunications links to the world are very tenuous. In fact, it's a miracle that all those fine wires and cables hang together at all. I take it all for granted, and probably you do too, but when it stops working it results in dislocation.

I've been without an internet connection at home since last Wednesday. In order to get connected again, I had two phone discussions with my internet service provider, two phone conversations with the provider of my phone line and one visit from a technician. The problem was a tiny wire that was worn. The technician replaced it in the phone junction box and all was well. Finally, I am back online.
During those four days, I used the free wireless access at two libraries to check my email and other usual websites. It is amazing how this focuses the mind.

I have made several conclusions during this time:
  • I waste way too much time on the internet
  • I look at too many blogs that don't engage me
  • I read too much dross on the internet.
So, now I am in the process of unsubscribing from many of the 380 blogs on my Bloglines list. If the writer doesn't offer content that teaches me something, amuses me or makes me think, I'll give it a miss, thanks. Life's just too short.

    06 May 2010

    No posts

    I won't be posting here until I can have my home internet connection restored. Long story, but I have to ask myself: why "upgrade" your internet plan if it results in no access at all? Sigh.

    02 May 2010

    Being adaptable

    I'm feeling mellow today because, last night, I screamed, yelled, sang and generally jumped around at the football. My team, the Swans, played a hard, physical and skillful game that held us in thrall for several hours and ended in a fantastic victory. There is nothing like screaming in a crowd to empty all your frustrations.

    What will stick with me most, though, is the way the team adapted to circumstances as they changed. Within the first few minutes, our ruckman was injured and was unable to play for the rest of the game. A ruckman is a specialist position. That meant not only that we were one player down, but that another player (not a ruck specialist) had to change positions on the field to take his place.

    The flow-on effect was that other players were moved around to cover changes. It was that adaptability and the ability to see the bigger picture that won us the game.

    I'm reflecting on this today in the context of my mistaken purchase of the 50 wt Tutti thread I wrote about yesterday. I am working on a small hand-stitched quilt for a swap and had planned to use the 12 wt Frutti thread in certain sections. Even though a friend offered to bring me a spool of the correct thread from Melbourne, I've re-thought my plan and decided to adapt. 

    I will use the 50 wt Tutti thread instead of 12 wt Frutti. I will adapt my ideas and change the stitches and hence the look of the quilt. Perhaps this is a test for me, just as the injury was a test to the Swans last night. Hopefully, my quilt will have just as satisfying result.

    01 May 2010

    WonderFil threads

    These glorious threads are from WonderFil. The three in the centre are Frutti, 12 wt variegated threads that I like to use for hand stitching. The top one is Tutti, a variegated 50 wt thread that I bought by mistake! I wanted Frutti, but this was on the wrong stand and I was so overcome with excitement that I didn't note that the spool colour was pink, instead of brown. It will be good to have in my thread collection anyway, but I had plans for that colour Frutti.

    The thread at the bottom is a new one called Spagetti. It is 12 wt, but solid colour designed to complement the variegated Frutti thread. Lovely.

    May is here

    If you'd like to change the look of your computer's desktop for this new month, download a free desktop wallpaper from Sharon B. I love this month's embroidery on a monoprinted fabric. The handy May calendar is available in two different layouts and multiple screen sizes.

    Thanks Sharon!