Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tyger, tyger, burning bright... the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

About here is where the photo would go of the finished top of the challenge quilt if I had a photo to show you ... so you'll have to make do with words.. pffft
So... I've mentioned previously that the theme was "Golden dreaming" ... fairly obvious given that the group is the Goldfields Quilters ... so ... gold rush, treasure, chests, Croesus, Golden Fleece [ Australia riding on the sheep's back even?]
At one point, I thought seriously about doing an extreme closeup of the gorgeous, sinuous curves in the flowers of the golden Honey Grevillea : some serious beading and embroidery for the sticky hairs ... actually, that still appeals [ note to self: file away under 'think about doing this sometime']
and then:
Oakley was having a nap one afternoon, and I had an epiphany of sorts. What could a large, golden, ginger cat who firmly believes that he is panthera leo possibly be dreaming about? I figure it would have to be a jungle, right? So out came all the jungle-ish fabrics... of which there were many thanks to Nadie's intention [ never realised ] of making the ex BF a tiger quilt. Oakley is more your leonine type but they live in savannah so this jungle was going to have tigers. Added to the pile were all the bali batiks and hand dyes in yellow/orange/khaki/olive/brown colours. This isn't my usual palette. Greens yes but usually gumleaf blue greens. Still there was a suprising amount there to audition ... and working out of one's preferred palette is a challenge all by itself.
What I was thinking about at this stage was a photo-tranferred image of Oakley perhaps in a bottom corner and then segueing into a jungle for him to dream of. Probably some of the prints with jungle animals would have been incorporated in the background.

All of that changed with the rediscovery of a piece culled from Op Shop [ thrift store] shorts and gifted to me by my friend Pam Beekman ... one leg to be precise. Huge, beautifully drawn, yellow/orange faces of tiger and panther peering out from behind detailed green foliage and in truly bizarre fashion, whover had cut out the fabric for the shorts had cut it so the faces and foliage ran sideways. Maybe that's why it was at the Op Shop!
They make such a strong statement and are drawn in such a specific graphic style that the other animal prints would have undermined rather than supported, so out they went.
So... the emphasis shifted to building the big cats a habitat! The palette goes from really dark browns through a dark-to-medium assortment of yellowed greens and into orange/yellows and ochres.
Most of the top is constructed of Anjii's Angles blocks [ link in sidebar ] and the first two lines of the quote from William Blake stencilled onto two of the borders in antique gold Shiva paintstick. It currently measures a bit over a metre. There's no actual image of the ginger cat that started this train of thought but that explanation can go on the label on the back.
It has been duly airdried and cured for 4-5 days and has been ironed this morning and the borders pieced on. Just as well I was cautious this time with the Shiva and covered it with baking paper before I ironed it... some of the gold print still tranferred ... enough to have totally messed it up had it not been covered with the paper.
Next job will be to baste it and then decide whether I'm going to quilt it in green/brown variagated which I don't actually have and will need to drive to Bendigo for, or black.
Will ponder the problem for a while ... and you see ... if I could post you a photo or three then I wouldn't be pondering in isolation... muttermuttermutter

and just btw if I see ONE MORE person refer to something as being 'addicting' I'm going to scream . Now hear this people... there is NO SUCH WORD ... it is addictive ... got that ? A-D-D-I-C-T-I-V-E. You may now go about your business.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

the spring is sprung with a vengeance [ and some totally gratuitous cat photos]

Yup.. it's Spring .
Wanna know how I know?
I'm sunburnt ... it got down to half a degree last night but today I still managed to fry myself.
Allow me to elucidate further... english, irish and scots genes equals someone who can get burnt just hanging out the washing ... in a broadbrimmed hat ... and sunscreen ... 30+
Actually the hat and sunscreen worked fine where they were applied which is to say on my face ... just not on the back and side of my neck and across my less than ample chest.
It was such a glorious day. The sky was that pure cornflower blue... no clouds ... temp in the mid 20s [C], the lawnmowers which is to say Rosie and Robyn, were hoeing into the luxurious growth over the septic line, and I succumbed to the siren call of the latest Kerry Greenwood, a pot of chai and fresh out of the oven hazelnut vanilla bikkies. Half an hour tops.
That was enough it seems.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Up for a challenge?

Still in possession of a pc that won't talk to the camera, so I can't show you any progress on the quilts ... of which there has been enough to put the panics on hold for a few days.

The queen sized Deconstructed Log Cabin for david is finished apart from the label.

The Challenge is almost completely pieced. The last two borders have to wait a few days because I stencilled them with oil paint that is touch dry but needs to cure another 2-3 days before it can be ironed which I learned the hard way be smudging the writing on a quilt that was headed overeseas last year. Not going to make the same mistake again.
The photo to the left is the one that I smudged and had to redo last year. It's been to Yokohama, back here to Oz, and next goes to France and then Spain. I've got no idea what I'll do with it when I get it back in 2008.

Still puddling along with the hand quilting on the japanese one. There's no allover plan to the quilting. A lot of it is just following the designs on the various printed japanese fabrics, which means basically that only I know when it's done.
So long as I keep moving around the surface and spread the amount fairly evenly, I can shortcut what I had planned if I run out of time [ and fill in later ]

Now... back to the Challenge: the topic is "Golden Dreaming" because we're the Goldfields Quilters and Castlemaine was settled during the goldrushes of the 1850s. It could be either 2 or 3-D, and not necessarily a quilt, although mine is.
I wanted to avoid doing anything too obvious, I'm not into pictorial applique generally, and gold is not part of my preferred palette, so I found it quite hard to get my head around this one. Yes, I could've just dashed something off, like, say, a gold crazy patchwork or an embellished treasure chest but I figured that other people might go for those [ and from things I've heard, I was right ] so I eventually came at the topic quite obliquely.
before I spill the beans on what I came up with ... what would you have done? There's no prize, but I'd love to know how other people brainstorm these things.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

AAAGHHHHHHHHH why do I do this to myself?

I'm totally in need of a knitting fix ... some crochet even ... just a little action on second sock for Nadie ... really ... just for a minute or two.
Let me spell it out for you:
Q-U-I-L-T---S-H-O-W --- less than 3 weeks away ---'to do' list not getting any shorter.
I have to:
  • bind 3 sides of a queen sized quilt
  • piece, quilt and bind my thingy for the challenge [ currently a pile of blocks and an idea]
  • finish HAND quilting and bind the japanese quilt
doesn't look like such a big list does it ? It's not like I have a house to look after, a garden growing weeds as we speak, things to do, people to see, is it?
Wrong you know how long it takes just to hand sew 600" of binding [ yep that's the total for the 3 quilts ] six hundred inches ... 50 flipping feet of it ...oh bloody hell...must sew faster... must sew faster.
*Insert nervous breakdown here*
ADDED later:
Before I was just guestimating ... now I've measured and the grand total, counting the hanging casings is 672" or 56 '. On the plus side ... I've finished the QS deconstructed Log Cabin.
The blocks for the challenge quilt have been laid out, rearranged, rearranged again...and again ...and ...
I've started sewing them together. As well as that, I've stencilled a quote from william Blake onto the top border with Shiva antique gold paintstik. All of which tells you very little about what I'm up to. Not having access to my photos is driving me bonkers.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


interesting rock formations in the goat paddock ... future quilt fodder

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I need help

Have I mentioned lately that I'm totally technically dislexic ?... a luddite ?... computer challenged ? No? ...Well, I am.
I get by mainly on luck . It took me years to learn how to cut and paste. Believe me, I think I'm doing pretty well to be able to insert links and pics, change font size or colour, let alone pasting in the HTML that got my puddy cat clock up and running.
So here's my problem:
I have a camera loaded with photos that I want to share or at least store on this blasted beasty. As of about a week ago, the card reader and the computer stopped talking to each other. The camera wizard thingy wouldn't open up when I plugged the reader into the USB whatsit. OK ... I knew that one of the prongs in there was bent so maybe the reader had died ... Nadie's ex to the rescue with a pre loved reader ...
and no
I've tried every combination and permutation of the memory card /the other memory card /both card readers. I've gone into the Control whoosit and checked settings ... it says they're all working fine ... but when I open the Wizard it doesn't recognise that it's connected to anything containing photos. The camera's fine I think... the photos are on there ... I can see 'em.

anyone care to walk me through fixing this? In simple steps? Did I mention yet that I'm a total failure at computers? I did? ...Oh ... ok... going away now ....

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jacqy to the rescue

The lovely Jacqy Wong emailed me these photos from the Australian Quilters' Association Symposium held this past weekend.

This first one is some of Jacqy's pieces of shiborii and that's me in the middle in the black T-shirt

Unfortunately, the ones from the japanese design class don't photograph particularly well because of the way they were just pinned onto a piece of fabric. Some of the fabrics were ab-so-lute-ly drool-worthy. BTW: What looks like a big plain square of navy on that one in the centre has actually been marked with a calligraphy crane [to be reverse appliqued ] and flowing water lines to be sashiko stitched in bold, big stitches in white cotton thread.

Anyway, at least it will give you an idea of what we got up to.

I've been feeling a bit out of whack all day today, which I can only put down to sleep deprivation. I love staying with DD but I've gotten out of the habit of being able to tolerate road noise.

Today was David's 28th birthday ...I'm not sure that he actually realises that fact. His birthday started a week ago when we were down for the baptism of my Great-Niece, then continued on Thursday night when his social group threw him a birthday BBQ, and then today, I took cake to his Day Placement for morning tea, and he got a celebratory cookie after work. I think the favourite pressie is his new ottoman. The boy does love having his feet up by the fire and watching the tube.

The words aren't flowing very well tonight ...probably courtesy of the tiredness ...

WORD OF THE DAY : sesquipidalian ... which is essentially a big word for people who like using big words .. so there ya go! Fibre related ramblings AND erudition.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Home again home again jiggetty jig

Well the AQA Symposium went off very well I thought. I'm absolutely dog-tired but had a ball . Caught up with loads of people ... spent a reasonably restrained amount of loot and hopefully imparted some knowledge.
Drove down on Friday evening, stayed with Nadie ... very little sleep as she's right on a busy road and I'm not the best of sleepers ... and up bright and early to be at the venue [ Sienna College in Camberwell which looks as though it has sprung straight from Tuscany ] by 8.30. We all checked in, claimed our goody bags, did a first fast run through the vendors, grabbed a coffee and then we dived into Shiborii dyeing . Everyone's clothes stayed remarkeably clean but the same can't be said for our hands. I look like some woad covered early Briton

Today was designing with japanese fabrics and themes. Yesterday was playtime, today they had to work. Very scary for some of the ladies as some had never designed a quilt completely on their own. What they were actually being asked to do was to respond to the fabrics that they had brought in on a fairly intuitive level. Japanese fabrics are quite quite different to conventional quilt fabrics in terms of design so it can be a challenge to work with them even when you've done it before. Some, I know, won't finish what they've started because that's what always happens with workshops, but I hope that most of them do, because truly they were rather wonderful. No photos still because the 'new' card reader that tanuj has given me, doesn't seem to be talking to the PC. Some of the girls took photos so I'll edit this later when I have something to show you all.
just got off the phone with friend Di: she's lending me her spare [ electric ] spinning wheel ... AFTER the quilt show is over.
I've got some beautiful silver grey alpaca carded tops and Di's organising the scouring/ carding of some nice grey fleece that is excess to her needs for $30 a kilo ... so watch out: Catsmum has a potential new obsession! I've only ever used a drop spindle and that was decades ago.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

blogs without photos are...

boring... and my card reader has died, so no photos until I can get the new one. A pity because I have been quite productive today [ and you'll just have to take my word for it ]
The japanese 'peace' quilt top is done. The last sashiko dragonfly was stitched yesterday while I enjoyed the early Spring sunshine, and today I put the top together. Tomorrow is quilt group so I'll either sandwhich the top/ batting / backing OR continue on sewing down the binding on David's Queen sized Deconstructed Log Cabin " Licorice Allsorts". Depends on whether there's enough table room for basting.
I was supposed to do a 4 hour Clogging [ Appalachian Tap] class tonight in Bendigo, but my knee was playing up so discretion being the better part of valour, I stayed home with my foot up and did some knitting: baby wool in aqua for a fine little garter stitch feather-and-fan variation scarf. I think it'd make a nice pattern for anyone who was thinking of making a first step into lace, so I may write it up and post it somewhere on here.
It's a bugger that I can't post any new photos so I'll show you a bit of what Castlemaine looks like. As you can see, it's a typical aussie goldrush era town. Loads of character. If the last photo looks at all familiar, you were probably once a fan of Blue Heelers. A lot of the external photography was done in and around Castlemaine. According to friend Jasmine, those three dormer windows in the roof once housed the local ladies-of-the-nght.

Monday, September 11, 2006

organisation is the key [ yeah... right! ]

I'm teaching Shibori dyeing down in Melbourne next weekend , so today I checked supplies of dyes, auxillaries, etc, and mail ordered the very little that I needed to replenish. Pretty much everyone is happy to use the MX4GD [as in the photo ] which is a green blue very close to true natural indigo [ which I don't use because it smells like a dead dog and is too temperature sensitive to travel well ]
One lass wants a 'japanese' red by which I assume she means a red that's more towards a rust, so I've ordered it in for her and it'll be here by Thursday at the latest.
Still need to revise and print the notes and check my fabric samples... mainly because I've used a few of them in quilts.
Other than that, the Sunday class on designing with japanese fabrics and/or themes [ can't remember exactly what we called it this time ] is fine. It's pretty much a fly by the seat of my pants class, depending on who brings in what in the way of fabric, and which of my quilts they respond to the most. May just need to print off extras of some of the reverse applique kanjii patterns and the sashiko. Easy peasy.
Nadie always complains that she never gets to do Shibori unless I'm teaching, so I'll have to make sure I take some leftovers home for her to play with on saturday night. My poor, hard-done-by DD :]
Went down to Melbourne on the weekend for great niece's baptism [ by possibly THE most boring and hard to understand priest in the world ] and then Nadie, Stephen [DS#1] David [DS#2] and I grabbed takeaway and repaired back to Nadie's place to have lunch and blow out some candles for Dave's b'day. As this saved them from having to hike up to my place, they were happy enough to combine it with Maya's Baptism I think.
Saturday night was spent with Nadie's friends ... pizza and singing along to the RENT DVD. We had planned to indulge in some female bonding via bellydancing but as there were a couple of male ring-ins, we're saving that for next weekend. Nice boys though :]
It's a glorious day today but I really need to be working on the current japanese quilt so I may take some sashiko stitching out onto the verandah. yeah, that sounds good... some chai... something soothing on the CD player... gee life's hard ain't it?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

finished knitted baby stuff and the colour purple

This is a catch-up post. .. first and foremost:

we had rain yesterday... over an inch! The tanks are full to overflowing. of a couple of the finished baby cable hats [ Judy Gibson's pattern ]. There was another but it got given away before I remembered to add it to the pile for photography... and also my amended version of the 5HBS in a yellow boucle called Crinkles... The little blue hat with the topknot is today's experiment. I'm quite happy with the way it worked out.

Earlier, I was out taking garden photos and it was really noticeable that there are only 2 colours out at the moment. Yellow [ daffs, jonnies and narcissus] and mauve/ purple [ wallflowers, iris,violas,stocks,pansies etc] and as a backdrop, out in the bush beyond the garden: hundreds, if not thousands of wattles of various sizes and types.
Once the roses start and the bulbs finish, the balance shifts to pink, white and blue/purple.

Went to Strathdale Quilters today in Bendigo, where we all made quilt block rolls. I already had one, but figured it couldn't hurt to make another. Not that there would EVER be a time when I had more than 1 project on the go at once, would there? I felt very virtuous because I used part of the stash of blue-and-white-china patterned fabrics that I amassed when I was designing the Teatime quilt for Australian patchwork and Quilting about 4 or 5 years ago. Oops, wrong...just checked the completion date on the quilt and it was 1999.
I hadn't taken anything else and grossly underestimated how long it would take, so I spent an hour or 2 crocheting on the mindless baby shawl and socialising.

Now , I have a question for the spinners out there... is there any way of getting the excess spin out of overspun wool? I found a bag of glorious turquoise handspun at the Op Shop [ Thrift Store] but the bag was done up tight so I had to just hope for the best. It was only $4 so I figured, what the heck? Anyway, out of the bag, it's quite prickly and definitely got too much twist. I'd say about 12 ply [ worsted] weight or slighlty thicker. There's just on 500 grms or 18 ounces. Any clever ideas about what I can do with it ?
I've just tried twice to upload the purple garden photos and blogger won't let me, so for now I'll admit defeat. Maybe later.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

more gratuitous animal pics

As I'm still feeling the effects of the migraine that has now lasted 6 days, and probably shouldn't be on the 'puter, I'm just going to post livestock photos and then go quietly trundle off to bed.
No quilt progress today... just did a bit more of the mindless baby shawl earlier while the meds were working better.

Monday, September 04, 2006

where I live installment 3

I live in relative isolation about 6.5 km out of Castlemaine, which is a goldfield's era town in the Central Highlands of Victoria..Hot in summer, freezing [ but no snow] in winter... little rain... no soil.
so WHY would I choose to move here from Melbourne where I had a huge studio and taught a marvelous bunch of women 5 -6 days a week?

Well maybe these photos will elucidate.

Here, I only teach one class most weeks and I actually have the time and the space to rediscover what it is that drives me to make quilts. Through my husband's illness and death and the years since, I never stopped making quilts but for a long time they were mostly just quilts... well made certainly , well designed hopefully, but they could have been anybody's. It was the teaching, the interaction, and the companionship that actually kept me moving forward. Now, I'm at a place and time where maybe I can get back to producing quilts that matter to me.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

thank goodness for digital cameras

It is probably NOT a good idea to play with things on the design wall under the influence of a migraine... meds or no meds. Okay, to be honest, sometimes it's a great idea, and the malfunctioning side of my brain produces something worthwhile... but I don't think yesterday was one of those times.
I completely rearranged the current japanese quilt , and then did it again ... and again, and now I feel like it's become too fussy. Of course, the migraine isn't completely gone yet [ just medicated into submission] so I may think differently once the fog lifts. Anyway, this is where the almighty digital camera comes in because I've rearranged it too far to get it back to where it started.
SO once the migraine is properly gone , I think I'm going to go back to the photo from a week or so ago, and put everything back where it started... or not...

Here's where it ended up yesterday. If I stayed with this, the green bits would be broken up considerably with heavy white sashiko stitches, and there are going to be sashiko dragonflies scattered assymetrically on the large block. The brown horizontal is too heavy... has to go... and the line across the top of the large block and the adjacent bit of navy dragonflies is too severe against that bit of shibori. The top bit is too pale by contrast so I need to do something there.
The other thing that strikes me is that brown-with-dots stuff: the circles are far far more obvious through the camera. It has to go too... but what to put in it's place?

Edited later to add:

I decided to go ahead and do the sashiko stitching.
It's quite hard to completely visualise the effect of such strong white lines on an essentially plain piece of fabric. Also I slightly changed the line of the applique pampas grass fabric at the bottom of the large panel so that it was less a definite diagonal. I've done away with the offending spotty fabric and made a couple of small changes to break up that line that worried me earlier.
I may still go back to the original design as posted a couple of weeks ago... opinions welcome.
So here is the whole piece as it looks at the moment and the large panel marked for stitching... and if anyone knows how to transliterate the kanjii, I'd love to know.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday sky and this week's quilting progress

A normal person is probably still in bed at 6.30 am on a Saturday morning.
A normal person probably didn't have to get up for migraine meds.
A normal person with a migraine would

probably not be standing out the front in purple flannel jammies taking photos of the glorious sunrise.

proper post later... maybe... depends on the meds kicking in

Added later:

okay, I'm baaaaaaack

Just realised that I haven't posted any quilt progress photos this week. Not that there's been much to photograph. While I was at Strathdale Quilters on Thursday, I started sewing down the lime green binding on the Deconstructed Log Cabin for David, which I think I'll call Licorice Allsorts. Didn't even manage to get one whole side done... but then it's a bloody big bugger ...I'm tempted to offer the project to DownUnder Quilts, but that would mean D being without it for months. I'll certainly be adding it to my teaching list for next year at Honeysuckle tho.

What else? Well, I finished the reverse applique japanese kanjii 'peace' block last wednesday at Goldfields and haven't touched it since. I quite like the way my shibori fabric is working. I think this one will have to go on hold while I tackle the idea for the Golden dreams Challenge that's due in about 6 weeks. Mind you, I'm teaching shibori and designing with japanese fabrics at the Australian Quilters Association Symposium in a fortnight and it would be nice to have another finished class sample to give them a sense of the possibilities for combining shibori and hand dyes with japanese fabric ...

well maybe not FINISHED finished ... top maybe.

The problem is I quilt more during the day and knit at night [ lousy night lighting in the sewing space] and the days have been SO glorious that I've been spending most of my time outside.

Discipline. That's what I need... DIS...CIP...LINE

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Goat Escape

While I was uploading the previous post, I heard something out the front and discovered that Ms Rosie had found a new place to escape... haven't found where yet... and was pruning my Banksia Rose for me. Isn't this just the best photo?

When I raced out the door to catch her, Oakley being the opportunist that he is, made a break for feline freedom. I wasn't sure who to sprint after first but opted for Oakley, because he's impossible to catch once he gets a head start, and there are too many little birds around.

Happy First-Day-Of-Spring

Down here, we don't celebrate the change of season at the solstice or equinox, we do it from the first of the appropriate month, which makes today the first day of SPRING.

De Spring iz sprung
De grass iz riz I wonder where de birdies iz
De liddle birds iz on de wing
Now dat's absurd, de liddle wings iz on de bird

Got up early this morning and took a photo of the light streaming through the trees... idyllic. You can really tell it's spring. Then just a few minutes ago, I was out planting some winter iris that friend Di had left out for me, and I heard rustle-rustle-rustle down near my feet. Luckily, the brown and slithery thing had LEGS... A baby[ish] stumpy tailed lizard. These are related to blue tongues and shingle backs. In fact, I'm not even sure whether shingle back isn't just an alternate name for the same beasty. Anyone know? Anyway Lizzy decided to make me aware that it wasn't amused by peeing on my hand. A sure sign that spring is here once the hibernating reptiles wake up.

Stage 4 water restrictions came into force today which is kinda scary. No outside watering at all, for any reason. Doesn't apply to me cos I'm not on town water. Meteorologists are saying it's going to be another El Nino summer. The water level in my dam is not what I would call encouraging, but at least my house tank has a full 113, ooo litres [ 25,000 gallons] in it, and the 4,500 litre new one for the garden has some in there too from the rain last week.

While I was in town, I gave one of the Baby Cables hats: to a neighbour's new grandson, before photographing it but as I'm currently halfway through another in the same wool, I'm sure we'll all cope. BTW if you've downloaded this pattern, check that you have this updated version, as the previous stitch count was incorrect in a couple of places.