28 August 2014

Resisting peer pressure

I've been pondering about the impact of peer pressure lately, given that there seems to be so much of it around. Some is benign and non-threatening, so can easily be ignored but, other times, the insistence can be too much to resist.

Here is a recent example of such pressure: over the past week we've seen many photos of people pouring buckets of iced water over their heads 'for charity' (Most of the photos don't refer to which charity and certainly don't tell you why this action will help the unnamed charity.**)

These people have been called upon by other people in their networks to tip the water over themselves. Much like an online meme, but with physical consequences - remember it's winter in Australia and I've seen plenty of shivering going on!

Most of the doused people have done it in good spirits but some who've been nominated really don't want to be involved. 

This is when peer pressure kicks in.

It takes a strong sense of self to resist this sort of coercion, to say 'no, I don't want to do this'.

We all want to belong to a group and have a longing to be accepted. I don't believe, though, that this need to fit in should dominate our actions. Being part of the crowd shouldn't mean the same as being subservient to group-think.

So how do you recognise a strong sense of self? 

I have discovered a thoughtful post by Malavika Suresh that I have found helpful (in fact, I wish I had written it!). It's definitely worth reading if you are interested in this subject.

I'm convinced, though, that the core of a self-aware person is the belief that you are responsible for making your own decisions. We each have a single life to live and are the leaders of the way we live it.

How do you resist the pressure to do things you really don't want to do? Do you have a way to say 'no' without feeling obliged to add excuses? I'd love to hear your comments about this. 

** We are all free to donate to the charities of our choice at any time without having to wait for someone else to convince us. We make our own decisions, remember!

26 August 2014

Textiles Tuesday

Are you ready for your regular round up of textile news? Here are TWELVE links for you to explore. 

* See photos of the Australian quilts that will be on display at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork/ European Patchwork Meeting in France next month.

* Classes for The Embroiderers' Guild NSW Summer School in January 2015 have been announced. 

* Did you know there is a Modern Quilt Guild in Tasmania? Yes, there is! Check out their Facebook page.

* Lindsay Conner provides her tips for pressing a finished quilt. 

* Are you a Dr Who fan? Here are crochet patterns for the Whovians in your life. 

* Congratulations to all the prize-winners at the Canberra Quilters' Show. You can see photos here. 

* How much does an author receive for a quilt book? Here's Sam Hunter's view.

* World Quilt Competition prize winners here. 

* Part two of a series of articles from TextileArtist.org on the best hand emroidery books. This article has an emphasis on practical use within modern textile and fibre art. 

* The second issue of the free Through Our Hands digital magazine is now out.

* On 31 August, Dianne Firth will be speaking at the National Library of Australia in Canberra on Layers by Design: Landscapes and Quilts.

* On 28 August, there is a talk in the Floor Talk Series on Mid Century Textiles - Then and Now. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne VIC.  

24 August 2014

The day I sacked my keyboard

About five months ago, I bought a new computer. The old one was getting slow and I wanted to upgrade various programs, including the operating system. For months I had dithered about what I would buy and when I would buy it - desktop or laptop, wait for the end-of-financial-year sales or purchase now. 

Really, there are too many options for us these days and I find it makes decision-making more difficult. Instead of celebrating the diversity of choice, we often wallow in our indecision. Maybe that's just me?

I prefer a desktop computer to do proper work. I have a lovely 21-inch screen that allows me to wrangle photos easily, as well as let me read and write whole documents without enlarging the text (and without my reading glasses). So a desktop computer was duly purchased.

I loved it immediately. Windows 8.1 was different, but I had no problems customising it to suit my way of working. New software was loaded and settings tweaked to ensure everything suited me. 

Except the keyboard.

Some of the keys were in different places to those I had known. I kept deleting letters instead of back spacing. The keyboard was smaller so my fingers kept going to the wrong places. You would have thought I couldn't spell because there were so many typos. Yet I persevered - for five long months - because I was sure I just needed to get used to it.

Finally, a few days ago, I'd had enough.

That was the day I sacked my keyboard.

I reconnected my old keyboard and immediately I was more productive. Keys were where my fingers expected them to be and, when I hit them, they produced what I had anticipated.

Sometimes you just have to support your own gut instincts - I knew the new keyboard wasn't working for me yet I still persisted. Finally, when I let it go, writing became comfortable again. All is well in my creative life now since the day I knew the keyboard had to go.

20 August 2014

Fabric printing

I have always wanted to add my own handwriting to cloth so, last month, I took the opportunity to create some to use for barter with a friend. I love the idea of bartering - it's such a useful way of exchanging goods and services. Have you tried this way of trading with your friends?

I made half a dozen pieces, some of which were more interesting than others, by patterning the background with stencils or by colouring with Inktense blocks. After creating a couple of Gocco screens with some text I had written, I randomly printed over the background with them. I envisaged that the fabrics would be cut into smaller pieces to incorporate in textile works, so I wasn't concerned that the text didn't line up.

 These are small strips of three that I kept for myself.

 Stencilled background and screen printed with text.

Both the green and blue ones have backgrounds coloured with Inktense blocks, and then screen printed with (different) stems and, finally, text.

It was a lot of fun to see these patterns appear as I added colour and shapes. Have you tried to decorate fabric with your own handwriting? What techniques did you use? 

17 August 2014

Hooray for the rain!

My parched garden is sodden today, after twelve hours of wonderful rain.The soil wasn't ready to accept all this goodness; after drying out for the past couple of months, there was a limited amount of water that could be absorbed in such a short period. 

I dashed into the garden to cut these cheery freesias so I could enjoy them in the house. These ones don't have any perfume so they won't assault the nasal senses. Just beautiful colours to bring a spot of colour to this grey day. Lovely!

While I was outside, I also quickly picked a handful of snow peas for this evening's meal. I think a shepherd's pie with sweet potato topping will be perfect for this winter's night, with snow peas to add a crunch. What's your favourite cold-weather food? 

13 August 2014

My book of the month: August

To me, reading is like breathing - it's an essential part of my life. I read a LOT of novels because, without reading, my creative life is not nourished. 

I'll be sharing my favourite book each month. I'll alert you now that my reading is eclectic and maybe not to your taste each time but, hey, we all need to be nudged in different directions, don't we?

My favourite this month is The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene.

This is a beautifully-written and engrossing story about the grief of the headmaster and his wife, who live in an enclosed world. Their unravelling is harrowing. 

I won't give you the blurb for each book. If you are interested to find more about the story before reading it, I recommend Goodreads, which is fabulous community site of readers.  Reviews of The Headmaster's Wife are here on Goodreads.

Have you read this book?  

05 August 2014

Textiles Tuesday

Hello! Here are 11 links for you to explore on Textiles Tuesday. There are lots of exhibitions coming up - if you know of any others, please let me know.

* I've just discovered the craft-related podcasts from Abby Glassenberg of the While She Naps blog. They are interesting - download to your mobile device so you can listen while sewing.

* Did you know that Spotlight has free craft patterns? I particularly like this knitted jumper.

* Here's an opportunity to help fund the publication of Dijanne Cevaal's next textile book, by making a donation through Pozible.

* Free tutorial for a fabulous crocheted hot water bottle cover by Kate of Foxs Lane.

* Jane Monk has a new book: Tangle Stitches for Quilters & Fabric Artists. I love the cover!

* Bookings now open for classes at Quilt Symposium Manawatu, 16-21 January 2015, in Palmerston North, NZ.

* The Hunters Hill Quilt Show is on 8-10 August, Hunters Hill, NSW.

* Elaine Lipson shows some of the books on pattern and textile design in her collection. There are some here that interest me greatly - what about you?

* 8 August - 13 September: Living Colour Exhibition, Coffs Harbour, NSW.

 * 6 August - 26 September: Stitching Stories exhibition, Melbourne, VIC.

* 1 - 24 August: Synergy - Shibori Down Under exhibition, Belconnen, ACT.


03 August 2014

Why I blog

I've been thinking lately about all the things I want to accomplish. The lists are long and not only do they include must-dos like earning an income (which is essential - nothing is possible without money) but also activities that nurture my inner life and enhance my home and garden.

I started this blog so I could share the creative part of my life with you. Some readers have interpreted this to mean it is a craft blog but it's not solely that. I want it to be more.

Creativity is everywhere. It's in the way you set a table for a meal, the way you arrange flowers in a vase, the way you organise your books in a pleasing sequence, and the way you combine colours when you dress each day. Creativity is slippery to define, yet totally recognisable. It is what adds magic to my life.

No-one is one-dimensional. We are all complex people and multi-faceted and that includes me. In recognition of this, I have updated my About Me page with these words:  

"I share my thoughts on subjects that have a creative focus, as well as world events that make me ponder."   

This may be a broader perspective than you expected but I do hope you continue to find some things of interest here, even if you don't agree with everything I write.You will continue to see some regular posts such as Textiles Tuesday and also, I hope, enjoy some of the new ones. It's so rewarding to read your comments and I am grateful to all of you who take the time to leave one. Here's to our ongoing dialogue!