30 August 2011

In which much stitching is done

I have lost track of the weeks I have spent hand stitching this quilt. It's a difficult one to photograph because the metallic paint reflects the camera's flash, but no matter. I really need to show this as evidence that the stitching is FINISHED. This is part of the centre section of my quilt, Back to the Beginning.

Next is binding, a label and a sleeve. Will this quilt never be finished?

28 August 2011

Let's visit Twitter

I have finally succumbed to the lure of Twitter. If you'd like to inhabit another part of the online universe with me, go here. Who knows what we will discover there?

24 August 2011

Thread dyeing

The promise of spring is in the air here in Sydney. I know the season hasn't changed yet, but the plants in my garden are showing signs of growth and colour. I thought I need this too - to grow my skills and add more colour to my life!

So along comes Lisa Walton's Threads to Dye For workshop - perfect! It's on 10 September at Lisa's home studio and if I can walk away with threads like these, I'll be a happy person. If you'd like to come too, you can book here.  I don't want to keep all the fun to myself!

21 August 2011

Reflections on: finding the spark

Creativity is hard to pin down. It can be an elusive spark but when it flares, small embers of ideas scatter widely and can ignite later, quite unexpectedly. Just as well, because when I’m bereft of ideas, I count on external inspiration to get me going.

Sometimes I endure periods when nothing goes right with my sewing. On a single day last year, I was trying to join pieces of a mystery quilt and nothing was going right. It was a really hot day with high humidity and my sweaty hands were not gripping the fabric easily. I stitched 36 squares along the wrong diagonal line and then stabbed my finger with the unpicker while trying to remove the thread from those squares. While stitching along the correct diagonal line, the sewing machine needle broke. After replacing the needle, the bobbin ran out of thread. I spilled water on the instructions and, to top it off, I dropped the scissors on my foot.

That was enough for me. The quilting gods had sent me a message and I needed to take notice. I turned off the machine, left the fabric pieces exactly where they landed and then spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies. Some days, it is much safer to stop trying to sew!

The next day, I found I had lost interest in doing anything creative. I mooched around the house, picking up various projects and putting them down again without making a stitch. I flicked through the channels on the television and then switched it off without watching anything. I wandered around the garden, tugging out a weed here and there, but not really enjoying it. I had totally lost my creative spark.

Usually, the more I struggle to get going again, the more difficult it is. So I decided to ignore all the projects waiting to be finished and pulled out a pile of quilting magazines and books. Yes, I’d read them all before, but this time I just grazed – browsing and reading about anything that grabbed my attention.

I have never doubted that creativity can be contagious. We see it in every workshop and at every quilt group meeting. Works in progress are shown, techniques are demonstrated and new ideas are shared. We pore over the newest fabrics and look for tools that will make our quilt making more fun. We spark off each other and go home enthused.

My afternoon of absorbing inspiration from magazines and books reinvigorated me. Suddenly, the urge to sew had returned. I sat at the sewing machine and started feeding the fabric pieces through. All my seams were straight, there was need to use the unpicker – even the temperature had dropped. All was well in my sewing world as I continued to stitch for hours. An ember of creativity had flared to life and I was content.

17 August 2011

Thimble love

I've been a hand stitcher for at least 25 years, but I've never found a comfortable and functional thimble that works for me. Thimbles either get in my way or fall off. I've lost track of the number of thimbles I've hurled across the room! 

Consequently, I have a hole in my finger. It comes and goes, depending on how long I stitch before it hurts too much and I, reluctantly, give my skin time to heal. 

That was before I was given a Clover adjustable thimble to try. It was love at first stitch. Having hand quilted for more than a dozen hours since Monday, I can happily say that my new thimble is now my constant companion. Thanks to my friend Sarah, the hole in my finger will be no more!

16 August 2011

Sydney Modern Quilt Guild

Since I first heard of Modern Quilt Guilds in different parts of the world, I have grappled with the concept. What's 'modern' about them? How are they different to other quilt guilds? Is it a style of quilting or are they groups that target younger quilters? I still don't have it clear in my mind.

One of my quilting friends, Claire, is very clear about what it means to her. Along with Suzanne, she has started a Sydney chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild. They know exactly what they hope to achieve - you can read all about it here

I encourage Sydney quilters to hop over to their blog. Read what they've written and, if you are intrigued, fill out their 'call for interest' form (I already have!). I like that their emphasis is on inclusion - just because you may belong to other quilt groups, it doesn't mean you won't be welcome! Good luck with the Sydney Modern Quilt Guild, Claire and Suzanne!

13 August 2011

It's still winter

but in today's sunshine, you can nearly believe spring is just around the corner.

Snowpeas climbing, iris thriving, rosemary blooming, blueberries unfurling.

Pretty primula in flower.

10 August 2011

This is taking forever

Here's a taste of my current project; a quilt I have to finish this month. I've spent HOURS hand stitching this quilt yet there are many more days to go before the quilting is complete. 

Going to work tomorrow will be a welcome distraction.

07 August 2011

Try Down Under Textiles online

Down Under Textiles magazine was launched in March 2009 and I've been pleased to contribute several articles to the magazine since then. Issue 5 is on sale now.

The magazine shows you the latest techniques, tools and products; easy-to-follow instructions to make projects and samples; colour, design and composition theory and galleries showcasing fantastic textile art. From next year, it will be available quarterly (four issues per year).  

Down Under Textiles is only available from specialist retailers or by subscription, so you might not have come across a copy yet. As a special treat, the publisher has arranged for the first issue to be available online so you can see enjoy the content on your own computer - for FREE. Click here to open issue 1. 

You can subscribe to either the online or print versions (or both!) here. I hope you enjoy browsing.