30 June 2010


We had our coldest morning in 20 years yesterday and it was even colder this morning. The temperature involved a minus sign and that's cold anywhere! 

Here are two ways I keep my fingers warm during these cold days and nights. Knitting keeps my fingers moving and a cup of hot drink provides something warm to clasp.

29 June 2010

The book of magic

I love dyeing fabric. My head thinks that it is simply a chemical reaction, but my heart knows the truth - it is magic, pure and simple. As an amateur, I don't dye fabric often - maybe three or four times a year - but I always do about five metres each time so I can have a stash of my favourite colours on hand. I know that's not a lot of fabric but it's enough to keep me supplied for my own use.

Sometimes I want to dye a specific colour, so I was pleased when I saw this book of recipes advertised. I quickly ordered it and my copy arrived today. I am pleased to be able to say that this book is exactly what I want. (Often, when I order books without having examined them first, I am disappointed because they don't live up to the hype. Those books are the ones I decide not to keep, but to sell. This book is not one of those!)

Local factors (temperature, humidity, water) affect the reproduction of colour, so the shades shown in the book are not necessarily the exact ones I will create. There are many colour recipes available on various websites and blogs, but the Fabric Dyer's Dictionary has captured all the information I need make specific shades in one place. I am sure I will refer to my book of magic often.

28 June 2010

Damson delight

I have long been on the lookout for a simple cardigan pattern. I can knit, but I lose interest in complicated patterns and am not challenged by fancy stitches. I have a short attention span so I like to knit things that I can put down and easily pick up the flow when I start again. A master knitter I am not!

So. One of the advantages of the Craft and Quilt Fair is that there are many vendors under the one roof. As I browsed the stands, I kept an eye out for a simple pattern and found it on the Turramurra Drapery stand. 

Simple knitting and a simple wrap over style. Perfect.

I went home after the show and immediately ordered this gorgeous wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills. It arrived on my doorstep early this morning and I am thrilled with the colour - Damson.

It is challenging choosing colours from a sample card. Lovely to touch and see the real wool, but they are such tiny pieces I can never really be sure I'll like it in larger lengths. Well, this is absolutely gorgeous. Now, where are my knitting needles?

Added later: big sigh. Of course, I seem to have every size needles except the ones I need. To the shop, tomorrow.

26 June 2010

Mid winter

Hooray! The shortest day of the year has past and now each day will get slightly longer until December. I know, though, that the coldest days are yet to come in Sydney and that I need to get cracking in the garden. (Not that it actually gets very cold in Sydney, compared to some other places in the world. But it's all relative, you know.)

Mid winter is the time to plant garlic. I have some locally-grown bulbs ready for settling in the ground and will plant them this afternoon. My beetroot are thriving, so I think it's time to put some more seeds in the bed so that all the glorious globes don't arrive at once. More rain is forecast so that should help them settle in.

I cut back all my salvias last week because I know they will regrow with a vengeance once the weather warms. That particular bed needs an overhaul - the roses have to be removed and I need to decide on some more shrubs to plant. 

I love the ever-changing nature of a garden and don't ever worry about removing plants or changing them around. It's my garden to enjoy and it gives me great pleasure to know my plants are thriving. So, on to it! 

24 June 2010

It's a pincushion!

Look at this cute pincushion my cousin Karen sent to me earlier this week. It is handmade by her father and is meticulously created. Can you believe the frame of the chair is constructed from a discarded fly spray can?

The chair seat is beautiful soft velvet and just the right size to hold pins. Love it!

23 June 2010

Tunisian crochet

is such fun!
Prudence Mapstone presented a short workshop about Tunisian crochet at the Craft and Quilt Fair last week but I had other commitments and couldn't attend. Luckily, Fiona did and after she showed me the small piece she had made, I knew I wanted to try it myself.

I spoke with Prudence and she was very helpful, suggesting I use one of her basic cushion patterns so I could learn how to construct the stitch. I purchased a hook and used a ball of variegated wool that I had in my stash to get started yesterday. Here's a detail pic of the stitch.

There are masses of free instructions and patterns on the web - just search for "Tunisian crochet" or "Afghan crochet" if you are interested. I am surprised at how much yarn is used, but it results in a thick fabric. This piece is destined to become a case for my spectacles.

21 June 2010

Yes, I bought more

I didn't have a lot of spare time at the Craft and Quilt Show this past week, but I made sure I visited Barrie on the WonderFil stand.

Stocking my thread drawer with a few more spools of Spagetti thread (I've raved about this 12 wt thread before) was essential.

This time, I chose these five luscious colours. It wasn't easy to choose! If only I could have purchased the whole stand...

18 June 2010

Busy, busy

The Sydney Quilt Show, part of the Quilt and Craft Fair, opened on Wednesday and will continue until Sunday. If you're in the area, it is so worth a visit! I've been there every day (working on the Unique Stitching stand A18 - drop by and say hello!) so haven't had much opportunity to explore everything (although I have done a little judicious shopping).

If you can't make it to the show, see photos of the winning quilts here. There are some real beauties!

15 June 2010

Quilt swapping

This is Windows, the quilt I made for a recent swap between members of the Australian/NZ Art Quilters online group. This morning I heard from the recipient, Annette, that my quilt had arrived, so now I can show you all.

I hand dyed the fabric earlier this year and then hand stitched it in squarish shapes to give the feel of windows. My stitching is irregular to provide the wonkiness that I love so much. I used the brilliant WonderFil Spagetti and Frutti cotton threads for the stitching.

Here you can see the stitching close up. I love stitches that aren't straight!

14 June 2010

Winter vibes


It is a sunny winter day in Sydney and the perfect time to spend some time in the garden. I've pruned shrubs today, tied the bouganvillea to the fence to train it where I want it to go, and pulled out weeds.

Most importantly, though, I've admired the zygocactus flowers, which are blooming beautifully. Making time to appreciate small pleasures is an important part of every one of my days.  

12 June 2010

This is why

I always buy more fabric than I need. This is meant to be a 25cm wide strip of fabric but, as you can see, it has a decidedly curved shape. I bought it last week and I took pity on the staff member cutting it off the roll (I've been in that situation - rolls are so much more difficult to cut straight than fabric folded on bolts). Also, it was a special low price, so the bit of wastage didn't cost me much.

This is also why I always add an extra allowance to the fabric requirements when writing patterns. If a pattern calls for a 10cm strip and you buy a 10cm strip that's not cut correctly in the shop, you won't have enough fabric. And we all know the fabric will be sold out by the time you go back to buy more!

10 June 2010

I know it doesn't look much

but this is a satisfying hour's work. Cutting mat on my lap, sitting in front of the TV and cosy next to the heater last night. Bliss.

09 June 2010


I had the pleasure of meeting Laura and Linda Kemshall and Catherine Nicholls at the Festival of Quilts in England last year. thr3fold is their joint publication and I recently borrowed issue 4 from a friend. The size of the publication belies the volume of content that it contains - in addition to 52 printed pages, there are are another 52 pages on the enclosed CD. Wonderful stuff.

Issue 5 will be released in two weeks and that's causing me great excitement! 

07 June 2010

Sydney Quilt Show

The Sydney Quilt Show, part of the Craft and Quilt Fair, is fast approaching. I've entered a quilt in the show this year and I dropped it off this morning to my allocated drop-off lady who will add it to the pile she already has and convey them to the judging day next Sunday.

The show is our biggest of the year, with several hundred quilts on display. Organised by The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc, it is a once-a-year treat. Starting on 16 June and finishing on 20 June, it is not to be missed, so plan your visit now!

05 June 2010

Another idea

Last night, I had a dream about starting a new quilt. So today, on the way to our monthly Scquilters get together, I stopped at the fabric store and bought these solids.
I printed fabrics I plan to use with them are in my stash, so I will be able to get started straight away. Just what I need - another project!

03 June 2010

Twelve by Twelve exhibition

An exhibition of 144 small quilts - the Twelve by Twelve collection - is currently on display at Gosford Regional Gallery until 23 June. 

Like many other quilt makers, I have been following the development of this collection through the group's blog so I thought I was quite familiar with the works. But when I had the pleasure of seeing these quilts in Melbourne last month, I was blown away by the sheer presence that the quilts had when viewed in real life. Photographs are wonderful, but they really don't do the quilts justice.

On Saturday 5 June, Brenda Gael Smith, one of the 'Twelves' will be presenting a floor talk at the gallery. If you haven't seen the exhibition yet, make sure you don't miss this opportunity! Brenda will be talking from 2pm and you will have ample time to get up close to these stunning textile works.

02 June 2010

Metal texture

Ooh, this book excites me.

When I was a teenager, I had a copper bracelet. It was made of textured sections, linked together. I have always loved copper and I was devastated when the links on my bracelet snapped and couldn't be repaired. That's why this book excites me - it brings back memories of that much-loved bracelet.

It is a beautifully illustrated book, with photographs and descriptions of each method of colouring and stitching different types of metal. The colours are sensational and I was intrigued that most of the techniques are so simple.

I bought some copper shim last year and also some metal mesh pieces so now I'm ready to get started.  

01 June 2010

Down Under Textiles issue 2

I've received my copy of issue 2 of Down Under Textiles so, if you are a subscriber, your copy should be on its way too! Remember that this magazine is not available in newsagents. I know The Thread Studio, Punch with Judy, Dyed and Gone to Heaven have copies for sale, as well as many other stores. Or you can order direct from the publisher.

In this issue, you can learn:
  • transfer painting with Susan Pietsch
  • beaded buttons with Lisa Walton
  • fabric colouring techniques with Julie Haddrick
  • stick weaving with Fiona Hammond
  • cold wax resist techniques with Sylvia Riley
  • how to use Texture Magic with Judy Hall
  • metal shim techniques with Claire Brach
  • all about Loani Prior's wild tea cosies
  • how Dale Rollerson started creating with textiles
  • all about the Alice Springs beanie festival this month.
Whew! There sure are some fun things in there to keep me busy for a few months.