Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

Well, Christmas Day passed quietly enough. I spent the last few days before Christmas Eve shopping for food, and as usual overcatered for the 16 guests who eventually sat down for tea on Christmas Day.I managed some last minute gift shopping with my DD3, then on Christmas Eve I sat down to sew up a shirt for a regular client (her last minute decision) while I watched some Christmas movies on the TV. This is not the first time this has happened, LOL, but I think it will be the last. Too stressful when visitors have to entertain themselves while you stitch in another room!

While putting up the last of the Christmas decorations I found some handmade ones my kids made years ago. The Santa face was her own design, while the peg Rudolph was made at school by DD3. Not sure about the others, think they were made at home with leftovers from my kids' class one year.

Here also is my Embroiderers' Guild group Secret Santa gifts. The pincushion and tape measure are my gift to Jennie, while the stitching kit, emery board and lovely button are from my Secret Santa.

We also had a strange visitor in the garden this week. This alien looking "creature" was discovered one morning, and since it's been so wet in Sydney lately, we Googled fungus images, and eventually found it was a stinkhorn fungus. Looks a bit like a sea-anemone, apparently they smell vile, I didn't get close enough to find out!

Lastly, I can reveal the Bog, see previous post under Christmas traditions. I photographed Bog Santa with glasses and a lei and my DS photoshopped him onto a Hawaiian beach. An accompanying letter stated that "during a break in Santa Photo duties at the Mall.. I scratched $10,000 on a Scratchie (an instant lottery ticket) and so....a few days R and R.... to let my knees dry out, if you know what I mean" and signed by Bog Santa.
There were a few days lull, then my DD1 sprayed red Santa Snow on their front windows on Christmas Eve. BUT they must have been planning there "revenge" for a while because on Chrismtas morning, 14 pages of Bog posters where taped all over the yard. On the rubbish bin, the hot water tank, under car wipers, under the front door mat, on the letter box. You get the picture, and some of them were really clever. They must have been up at the crack of dawn, or perhaps returning after their night out. Then we got an SMS message, D = one, K = 14 !! Now to start thinking up next year's BOG. They say you're only a kid once, but we think it should last a lifetime!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

"All About Olive" on the television

Some people will know about Olive, the lovely 108 year old lady living on the New South Wales Central Coast whose friend Mike helps her with her "blob" as she calls it. The movie Mike and his friends made called "All About Olive" will be screening in Sydney at 12.30 AEDST in the afternoon on Tuesday 18th December on the ABC. Check your TV guide to see if it's showing in other regions, I hope it is. I haven't seen it myself yet, only little excerpts that have been on her "blob", see my sidebar. I'm staying home from Christmas shopping especially to see it, can't work my video recorder, technologically challenged in some areas you know!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I'm in a very strange mood today, might have something to do with it being my oldest brothers' birthday today, but alas he died 2 years ago. And possibly the fact that I have another birthday just around the corner myself, on New Year's Day actually, I'm suddenly feeling very "old" . So sing Auld Lang Syne then think of me.

I've started thinking about traditions and celebrations, especially Christmas ones, and so thought I'd share a few of our family's. Growing up in western Sydney meant that Christmas time involved travelling to the North shore to visit one set of relatives, then the inner Southern suburbs to visit the other side. This was often done on the same day, and if we happened to be on the Northside at night time, we'd detour through the city to visit the major Department store Christmas windows, at Mark Foys and David Jones in Sydney for those who remember them. They were usually animated, well clockwork in the early days, and brightly decorated and lit. You'd see many youngsters in their pyjamas standing with noses pressed up to the glass to catch a glimpse of Santa and the elves in the workshop, and the traditional and Disney stories all laid out and beautifully dressed. I think I decided one year that I wanted to be a window dresser when I grew up, so I could do those windows each year!!

When my own children started to come along, we started our own traditions. These included inviting the paternal grandparents and sister to sleep over on Christmas Eve. After a sumptuous dinner we'd all sit down to watch the televised Carols by Candlelight, then the kids would be bundelled off to bed. We'd all wait with baited breath to make sure they were asleep so we could play Santa and put all the presents under the tree. Of course SIL made it worse by buying knitted Christmas stockings, which stretched A LOT, requiring beach balls (blown up of course) and lots of large plastic bath toys and such to fill them. Even today the now adult kids insist on the stockings being draped over their wrapped gifts under the tree.

As they all grew up and the magic of a childs' Christmas dimmed a little, we still kept the traditional Christmas Eve, but sometimes work committments meant they couldn't come to dinner, or they got invited to their partner's family for a meal. When my MIL died suddenly, it just didn't feel the same and the meal got simpler, although we still sat up to watch the Carols. This year we might go to the neighbourhood church Carols by Glow Stick (doesn't sound the same does it!) which is only a short walk away, if the weather is kind. A new tradition in the making.

The other great traditions in our family include Christmas breakfast, which has long been warm butter croissants with jam and cream, orange juice and Champagne. Now the adult kids will drop everything to come along to this event, LOL, and we have been known to wait for a latecomer before starting on Christmas morning. A few years ago we started lighting up the house too, with many power boards and extension leads required to fit all the sets in. With only one young person living at home at the moment, we haven't put up lights this year, but I have put out my santa figurine collection, see photo.

There is one more that I'll mention before finishing this post. My kids were fortunate to grow up in a lower middle class neighbourhood, with the same kids going to Primary and High School with them and staying friends. One family lost their Mum suddenly a few years ago, and she had helped them with a silly Knock and Run Christmas trick we call The BOG. Not really sure what it stands for, not sure I want to know, LOL, but it has been a great source of silliness and fun over the years. We have done some really bizarre things in the name of The BOG, including filling a life size Santa Suit with air filled balloons and putting him on a garden chair on their front door step. One year they sent a music book of Christmas Carols with BOG inserted in the appropriate places in all the lyrics. We had Santa Snow all over our front garden at 4 a.m. one year, we almost caught them in the act! Last year one of the girls was overseas, and it seemed a shame not to BOG, but no-one really felt like it. Well, 2 nights ago I put the cat out, and we'd been BOGGED. Now to think up a diabolical revenge.. you can imagine how this will pan out, can't you... back and forth, when you least expect it, right up till Christmas morning. Stay tuned, I'll post my BOG in due course, after it's been done of course, in case they read my blog!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Hand Crafted Object

Today's posting by Sharon B. on her blog In a Minute Ago, see sidebar link, talks about the possible need for a philosophy of celebrating the hand crafted object. This is very thought provoking. I had always thought that "hand crafted" had a place in the scheme of things. Painting, drawing, sculpture and handmade pottery and ceramics are looked upon as "art" whereas embroidery, lace making, knitting, beading and associated needle arts are always considered "craft". Where does paper tole, cardmaking, collage (ooh, that one can be either, can't it?) fit in? Then there is free machine embroidery, computer embroidery, quilting (hand and machine) and patchwork (again hand and machine)? What about costuming, my area of particular interest, it is art AND craft at the same time?

I think I should elaborate a little on my own celebration of "hand made". I started sewing in the 1960's at a time when the Australian primary school system still taught sewing and embroidery. In kindergarten I did a canvas embroidered teapot stand, which I still have. My first sewing project was a pair of handsewn baby doll pyjamas, I can still picture them. They were made from a white glazed cotton fabric with a small flower print, Mum must have had it in her stash because she was also a dressmaker, as were both my Grandmothers. I distinctly remember having to model the bloomer pants to the class, they were very stiff and stuck out like a pair of Tudor mens breeches, and I don't think I ever actually wore them. We also made a traycloth from head cloth, a bit like homespun but a lower thread count, and an apron.

Fast forward to year 10, or 4th form as it was known. I took Needlework as my elective and learnt patternmaking, embroidery and dressmaking. My major work was an Assissi embroidered mat, I still have it somewhere, and a needlework bag with butterflies embroidered in satin stitch. If I recall, I chose a mauve colour scheme even then, my taste hasn't changed one bit!!

When my children were growing up I continued to sew for them until "homemade" wasn't cool anymore. I continued to sew for clients to earn a little "pin money" and took TAFE courses to update my skills. I also learnt floral art which has come in very handy over the years, especially when I decided to specialise in wedding and formal wear for 15 years. I could provide a total wedding package except the cake and cars! Then I decided to concentrate on costuming and that is where my attention to detail and handwork skills really bore fruit. All the while I was handknitting, crocheting and dabbling in a little embroidery.

Then in 1998 I finally decided to join the Embroiderers' Guild of NSW and quickly signed up for Basic and then the Intermediate Embroidery Courses. I also took a Home Study course in Traditional Embroidery, and did lots of workshops. So I have always appreciated the "hand crafted" and since I joined the Lace Guild a while ago even more so. Lacemaking is a SLOW process, best not hurried as "reverse lace making" is not simple, but the finished article is worth the wait. I also have many WISP's ("work in slow progress")at home at present. One particular item is worth mentioning in detail.

The photo shows my hand pieced quilt top, at least it will be a quilt top when I make another 100 stars from little diamonds, and then the hexagons from plain fabrics which surround the stars. The stars are hand pieced over papers, well old greeting cards and pages from pattern catalogues, and there should be 200 different fabrics all told. The main problem now is that I've been making it since 2002 and I'm not sure I like it anymore. I think it's a bit "wishy washy", now that's a great technical term isn't it, it lacks pizzaz. I think I'll need to find a few stronger colours to scatter among the lighter florals. I've been collecting the fabrics at craft shows, shops and from friends for a very long time, trying to keep to the old fashioned florals, and avoiding stripes. Perhaps I need to rethink the colour scheme a bit, because the Pioneer Braid, see post below, I started from some of the leftover scraps has more life in it than this Starry Starry Night from APQ V. 9 no. 4

Since I joined Yahoo groups, I've become more aware of the worldwide community of needle workers and other hand crafters. I think there has always been a "hand made movement", remember Tonia Todman's segments on TV where she showed us how to make Chrismtas bon bon's from cardboard tubes and fancy paper? Well on TV this week there was another girl doing exactly that, so it seems "hand made" is trendy again. There are nearly 1000 members of the Australian Lace Guild and around 2000 in the NSW Embroiderers' Guild including around 230 children so the future of hand made lace and needle work is looking pretty bright. I think that some people have always celebrated the hand made, it's just that the pace of modern life sometimes obscures the fact.

I find it quite interesting in the fashion world that the "haute couture" garment, which is often handsewn and certainly hand finished and often features hand made trims, is so widely coveted and celebrated. In the film and theatre scene, hand made is also celebrated. You only have to look at the accolades and even Oscars given to Lord of the Rings, Priscilla and Strictly Ballroom to name a few. These films all featured unique costume creations, often hand assembled and finished and real works of art in their own right. Then there is the reproduction historical costume fraternity, both for re-enactment and historic house guides, as well as for personal adornment. There is also quite a large "fan" area, for want of a better word, where fans of a particular show or story make a costume and wear it. Whether it's a fur clad Wookie going to a Star Wars screening, a Gothic Lolita going to a picnic, or a Pirate Wench going to Pirates of the Caribbean screening by public transport (alright, confession time, I really did that!) it is yet more evidence of the creative mind at work. And look at the accolades that claymation movies get, remember Wallace and Grommit, and Chicken Run? These movies featured hand made clay figures which were filmed one step at a time over several years!!

Sharon's post certainly made my think today, as she does everyday, but this topic is especially relevant to me, so if you have read this far, well done, and I'd like to hear your thoughts too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The year in review

At this time of year I tend to look back on the year and take stock of my achievements and shortfalls, hopefully not too many of the latter.

Our family had an "eventful" year, with my son getting married in February, see pictures of us dressed in our best on the happy occassion! Unfortunately my estranged father passed away, my mother became less mobile and had to cope with her 2nd husband in full time care, and 2 more of my offspring moved out of home. DH had a 3rd back surgery and we still await results from the specialist. My husband and I both volunteered more, I joined another couple of groups and served on more Committees, and took on more (unpaid) consultancy work than ever. I was able to do less paid work, however, due mainly to an arthritic neck slowing me down. Don't they say that "retirement" can be the busiest time of your life? Gosh, I couldn't get any busier and I've still got several years before the "official" retirement age, LOL.

I researched and archived a lot of creative ideas for future stitching projects during this year, and I plan to do more recreational costuming in 2008. I've even toyed (briefly) with doing a Uni course in Museum Studies. I enjoy working with the Young Textile and Fibre Group, see sidebar link, and think that may be enough for the present. It would be nice to get some compensation for all the hours I put into volunteer teaching though, so am considering formalising that area.

I've signed up for Sharon B.'s Take It Further Challenge in 2008, see sidebar link, which will be running over a month, with weekly updates on my thoughts and development. At the end of each month Sharon suggests we show our progress. There are about 150 plus people "signed" up at the moment, with a few stragglers still to confirm. "Take a Stitch Tuesday" which Sharon ran in 2007 (2 weeks to go!) was a weekly challenge with a specific stitch whereas TIF is open to individual interpretation. This could mean working in any media, your usual one/s or something new. Sharon might suggest a colour, size, shape, or just a word to get the creative juices flowing. It will be very exciting to see how all the participants interpret the theme for the month, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Now, does anyone know of a good Personal Time Management Consultant, cheap?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bob the Studio Cat

I've signed up for the "Take if Further" Challenge in 2008 with Sharon B., see link on sidebar, and today she has published a list of the proposed participants. This of course tempted me to start looking at EVERY blog on the list, some are new to me and some are "old friends" from TAST this year. This led to Vivian and her posts about studio cats. Which brings me to the subject of the photos, Bob my studio cat. Well, not exactly studio, more "former-nursery-converted-to-sewing-room" but larger than some people have. This is very lucky, as I am a horder of sewing notions, trims, fabrics, craft fabrics, patterns, books, magazines, cottons, embroidery threads.... you get the idea. I have commandeered 3 bookshelves in the hallway outside the room for storage as well as several plastic lidded bins under the custom made by DH cutting table. I have 3 sewing machines including an industrial Singer 591, 2 overlockers, an Elna press for fusing, a TV and sound system in the room and the ironing board permanently set up. Bob, who is a female puss by the way (daughter's idea of a joke) loves to sleep on the ironing board, the office chair on wheels, and is often also found asleep on (or should that be guarding) fabrics and patterns on the cutting table too. Recently she was advising me on the pinning of some pioneer braid strips on a sheet which was going along to show and tell at our quilting class. She just loves playing with pins and safety pins so I have to be especially carefull when I leave the room if she is in residence.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Thunderstorms in Sydney

We've been having some really tropical weather in Sydney recently, so that we have come to expect a thunderstorm most afternoons lately. We weren't quite prepared for the "mini cyclone" that hit western Sydney on Friday, with huge winds blowing and swirling every which way, and lots of heavy rain, so our street flooded outside our house. This hasn't happened in years! No major damage done thankfully, although our neighbour was a bit worried that it would all run down his driveway into the garage and then into his in-ground pool. It hung around for about 3 hours, until a Council pumper truck came and pumped out the drains and then most of it got away. We even had a "flood damage" sign up for a while, most exciting.Can you tell it was a quiet day Friday with not much else happening, hee hee? All the neighbours came out to see the damage and wade (!!) and we all talked for a while. I risked being struck by lightning to get the first photo while the storm was still passing, but I had on rubber sandals so I supposed I would be safe enough. The second photo shows the water just before the pumper arrived, receeded slightly, but still mid calf deep at the kerb.
Doesn't the street look lovely and green after all the rain over the last fortnight? But the humidity has been horrendous!! And the yard looks like a jungle already despite being mowed 10 days ago.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Plans for 2008

As 2007 is rushing to a close, plans are well underway for 2008 projects. I've been enjoying Take A Stitch Tuesday this year with Sharon B. (see sidebar for link) even though I've not stitched as many as I would have liked. I'm hoping to try out a few more stitches over the Christmas period. Recently Sharon asked all her readers what they would like to do in 2008 and she is proposing a "Take it Further" challenge, see the details at
This looks like a great challenge, the brief is very flexible really, so it should suit lots of people.
I can heartily recommend Sharon B.'s blog, her committment to stitching and her stitch dictionary is just so easy to use with great explanation pictures.

This photo is the result of the Inchies challenge, and is the finished project by Sara, see more on the blog at
What a wonderful imaginative use of a small one inch deorated square textile !!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Counted Thread Band Round Robin progress

Well, this project was started earlier in the year, and here it is at the moment. 8 people from 3 countries will work on this band, not counting the 3rd section which was worked by a lady who has withdrawn from the group and was not able to complete her round. When the band comes back to me I will have to decide how to complete it.

I'm very pleased that Margaret decided to use some orange tones on the piece, and I think there is still some scope for some more. It's moving around a little slower than originally planned - not sure about everyone else but I've found 2007 to be a particularly difficult year for many reasons. Let's hope 2008 will be kinder to us all.

Making a feather bed.

Over at Hambledon Cottage at Parramatta I'm directing a group of volunteers to rehang the 1840's 4 poster Payten bed, and as part of that we decided to make a feather mattress. So yesterday was "feather day" and equipped with dust masks, gloves, 44 kg of duck feathers and a mattress casing Margaret sewed up, we made our way onto the front verandah at Hambledon to start. It was a sligthly overcast and breezy day, but not TOO many feathers escaped. Then we stitched up the opening in the casing and 3 people heaved the "matress" onto the stripped bed. The navy and white ticking cover needs to be made next so I needed to measure the feather bed in situ. It was so BIG that Margaret volunteered to jump on the top to push out all the air. The dust this created was incredible, so we all donned the masks again. We opened the windows, all ran out side for a breath of fresh air then remade the bed and put the famous c. 1860's Wood Quilt, see previous posts, back in place. I'm SO pleased with the resulting profile of the bed. The mattress is meant to come up to the fancy vasings on the posts, and it certainly does that. This bed will not be used in bed-making demonstrations like some of the other beds in Parramatta historic houses, but it will mean that Guides can lift the corner of the bedclothes to allow visitors to peek underneath to see what gives the bed it's height. There was already a small wool mattress on the bed which we will probably cover in ticking as well, to give the correct look. Sheets, a blanket which is being edged in red blanket stitch, and a Marcella cover will complete the bed clothes, and then the new curtains, tester and valances will all be added soon after. An overdue "facelift" for a lovely old 4 poster bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I blog.

Sharon B. (see link on my sidebar) has been asking some very thought provoking questions in the last few days. Sharon wants to know about if and why we leave comments on other people's blogs, and why we blog in the first place.

I belong to the TAST Challenge webring so I can easily manouvre around the blogs of those people who were taking part in the TAST in 2007. I also belong to about 12 Yahoo Groups (forum style groups with special interest focus) as well as a couple of online only groups, such as Australian Costumers' Guild and Southern Cross Quilters. Then there are my forum discussion groups such as LiveJournal, Truly Victorian patterns and Sewing Academy where people also put their blogs in their signture line. I usually click on these fairly regularly, you just never know what kind of valuable information you are going to find at the end of that link. For instance, one of this morning's posts in my 19th Century Women's group linked to the British Museum costume prints and I found this lovely print of two ladies sewing in the 1830's. Isn't it exquisite? Well it is to a costume nut like myself anyway.

So I tend to comment on blogs where I have something relevant to say about the post. I like to say a bit more than "well done" or "I like your work" without re-writing "War and Peace". I don't mind it when people post a short comment on my blogs, at least it tells me that someone is reading my blog, and since I put a Visitor's Map on the blogs I can see where people visit from, and that is very gratifying. I've never really kept a written diary, although I was writing a semi-biographical short novel in an exercise book once while a teenager. So I see my blog as a form of diary or journal I suppose, and since being encouraged by my friend Jenny B. (see link on sidebar) to start a blog, I have gone a bit overboard ! I guess I've always been a "communicator" but before blogs and forums I used to spend a lot of time on the phone when the kids were little, talking to girlfriends and relatives, because as a non-driver personal visits were difficult.

I've "met" a lot of very nice folk through forums and blogging, and I intend to keep doing it for a very long time. Have you checked out Olive Riley's blog (see sidebar link) Olive is 108 and blogging (well helper Mike does type her words) How wonderful to share Olive's world through her blog, and I guess that is also my reason to blog. Welcome to my world!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Wood Quilt

On Saturday I was the guest speaker at the Sydney Quilt Study Group meeting at Burwood in Sydney. A small but enthusiastic group of quilt lovers brought along some interesting old quilts for advice, and I spoke about my grandmothers' bed coverings and the Wood Quilt from Hambledon Cottage at Parramatta. I have posted about the Wood Quilt previously, but I thought you'd like to see another couple of photos.
In the first photo 2 of our volunteers are analysing and charting the quilt block by block, noting damage and possible repairs needed.
The second photo shows a highly decorated appliqued block typical of the 56 blocks in this unique old quilt. The final photo shows a mystery block. This one is situated on the top left of the quilt on the border. The same tailors' suiting samples form the backing to the block, but the appliqued fabrics are different while the stitching and the composition are definately different than anywhere else on the quilt. Was the quilt made over many years and the odd block added before the border fringeing was applied? Was the border added much later than the centre? Did a different person make the odd block? Unfortunately we will probably never know the answers to these questions. We Know a Mrs Wood made the quilt as one of her relatives inherited it and donated it to the Parramatta and District Historical Society. Mr Wood was reportedly a tailor in Queen Victoria's court. The quilt was used as a door curtain in 1927 when the donor visited her uncle Edgar Wood in London and admired it. This oral history is all we know, and the date of 1865 is also negotiable due to the odd block being "discovered" recently while analysing it for the conservation. A very interesting project, and the talk at the Quilt Group was well received.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Springtime for Hitler" costumes

This production number from the Producers by Mel Brooks is featuring in the Performing Arts Studio end of year show in early December. I should have started 4 showgirls by now, but events have taken over my life at the moment. Hubby is having surgery on a chronic back problem on Friday and he may be in hospital for up to 7 days depending on how extensive the surgery is. So I'll be juggling hospital visits, sourcing fabric, designing and patternmaking and making the Beer Stein lady, Weiner lady, Pretzel lady and Valkyrie lady. Thankfully the Studio has provided the basic sequined showgirl leotard. I'm making the skirts and draperies and headpieces. The teachers are wearing these, so I can go a bit crazy (no rude comments thankyou!!!) so long as they are easily transportable. Really looking forward to making these ones, just have to get through this difficult weekend first. So The Schedule looks something like this:
Friday - accompany DH to hospital, send him to theatre, read book, stitch, see him in recovery, go home for sleep (yeah, right!)
Saturday - visit DH in morning, go to Burwood in afternoon with antique quilt to give talk on conservation of same, take quilt back to historic house, go to hospital.
Sunday - Open House at Linnwood (see sidebar link) start 9 am finishing at 5.30 after clean up, go to hospital.
Monday - Book ME into hospital for a rest!!!

Here's hoping surgery will be more successful on the 3rd attempt and that a fusion is not required. Recovery will take longer and be more painful if this happens, so crossed fingers and toes, laminectomy will be sufficient. Nursing is not my forte.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Today is Olive Riley's 108th Birthday. Ollie is probably the world's oldest blogger, thanks to her friend Mike who types it for her as she tells it. Ollie lives in Woy Woy, New South Wales in an aged facility, you can read her blog here I'd like to wish Olive MANY HAPPY RETURNS and a big hug from me and my family. I hope I can be as bright and witty as Ollie well into my own senior years. The generation who lived through the world wars and the Great Depression certainly have an inner strength that I don't think we will ever truly understand. Olive was on the news this week, and had a lovely party with local children singing to her and helping her with her gifts. I found this elegant late Victorian lady with a large hat and thought it rather appropriate for Olive. I hope she likes it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Embroiderers' Guild NSW 50th Anniversary Exhibition

These photos show the work on display from my 2 year old local Group. Most of the members are returning to embroidery after many years absence, or have never stitched before. I think they did rather well.

After all the excitement and anticipation, and all the hard work put in by all the organisers from each Group and the Committee, the 5 day Exhibition is finished, taken down and the work returned to the owners all over New South Wales. How can I describe it? I'll do my best to paint a few "word pictures" because we were only allowed to photograph our own work, or if the owner was present and gave permission for a photograph to be taken.
- Fabulous stumpwork examples, including butterflies and moths and traditional fruit and flower arrangements under glass in subtle frames
- Exquisite hardanger mats and runners, and fabulous tablecloths, some in coloured linen
- Banners made by nearly every Group and Newcastle Branch, the requested size of 40 cm wide by 150 cm long, but with so many different techniques used it was hard to pick a favourite. Must mention a special interpretation though, made for a major exhibition in Gunndedah, a triptych of scenes from the (rural) district with stumpwork trees crossing the joins between the panels. Exquisite details !
- Stunning needlelace collar and antique parasol re-covered with needlelace worked panels, both won prizes for their well known maker
- Patchwork, cross stitch, gold work, creative embroidery, 3D objects, thread painted pictures, clothing, every technique imagineable using a needle and thread
- Postcard challenge by members, some 300 sent in, displayed on mini washing lines attached to large frames scattered around the venue
- Workshops and lectures by visiting international tutors, as well as our own tutors, well attended and appreciated by all
- Young Textile and Fibre Group work from children 5 - 18 years (including my kids' group)
- And lets not forget the Gift Boutique and the outside traders who enticed us with their embroidery "goodies" for sale.

I'm hoping we will get some "official" photos up on the Guild website (see my sidebar) in the future, but I think we'll have to wait till we all catch our breath, this was our BIGGEST exhibition so far I think, definately befitting a Golden Anniversary celebration.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Finger Knitting Part 2

Childrens' class went exceptionally well today, the finger knitting was a HUGE success. I only had 4 students as it was the middle weekend of 2 weeks of school holidays, but they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were so enthusiastic that they all made several pieces, which included belts, necklaces, head bands, bracelets and scarves. Sorry about the blank faces on the photos, but I forgot to get written permission to post the photos on the web, so thought it wiser to blank them out. Their ages range from 6 to 11 years old, and only one has been stitching for more than 12 months. Didn't they do well?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Finger Knitting

This week Sharon B. linked to a video tutorial by Jess on YouTube (see sidebar for link to Sharon B.'s blog) featuring finger knitting. I had intended to teach scrumbling to my YTFG children's class tomorrow, but think I'd like to give a few basic lessons on crochet first. Finger knitting seems like a great alternative and Jess's tutorial was very helpful, so here are the results. The first picture shows the hand position with the yarn wound around the fingers and the end held down by the thumb, the second the work in progress, and then the finished items. The neck scarf uses 2 novelty yarns, one very hairy and the other "eyelash" style worked together. The necklace uses a metalic tubular crochet yarn and closes with a metal hook and thread loop. The bracelet is another novelty yarn and closes with a button and loop. I'm sure the kids will enjoy this one, it's quite liberating producing this with only your fingers and no other introduced tools. Thanks so much Jess and Sharon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Roses from the Heart Bonnet Project

I've promised to make and embroider 2 bonnets for Christina Henri for the Roses from the Heart Project. I don't have any convict ancestors, so I "adopted" 2 convicts who died while in custody, since they will have no descendants to commemorate them. Christina needs 25,000 ( yes, twenty five thousand! ) colonial style bonnets for her project, click on the sidebar link for more details. It's not too late to offer to make a bonnet, the main display is in March 2008. Here is the first little bit of embroidery on my first bonnet, nothing like leaving everything till the last minute, is there? Now I've gotten started, I'm itching to complete them. Of course, they will have to wait till after the long weekend we have coming up, and the dreaded welt pockets on the vests, see post below.

TAST Week 39 Reversed Buttonhole Bar

I can't believe I've managed to post TAST stitches 3 in a row! Must be some kind of record for me. Of course, regular readers will know that I hold a Black Belt in Procrastination. I should be making some clothing for a client, but I have to face some welt pockets. The sewers here will recognise that they can be a bit tricky, and that you don't want to start them when you're not completely ready, in case you ruin the garment. So instead I explored the TAST stitch on Sharon B.'s blog (see sidebar for link) and had a bit of fun. I'll face the welts tomorrow! I've used Perle 5 and 8 threads, on evenweave linen. I quite like the serpentine line, and I can see that the little multi-coloured "Aztec" style wheel might be great fun for kids to try. Couldn't resist stitching a French knot in the centre though.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Secret Santa stocking

My Embroiderers' Guild group made a Secret Santa bag last year, so we decided to continue the tradition and celebrate Christmas and our friendship within the group. I found this sweet little stocking designed by Michelle Ridgway in the latest issue of Handmade magazine V. 24 no. 12. I changed it a little as ours is to be used differently than the decoration she designed. It's only little, about 9 inches long, the perfect size for a small gift. We'll all put our own names on them, and then draw one secretly from a container. The idea then is to think of something suitable for that person, usually worth no more than $10. Of course people can make something (preferred) or buy a treat or small gift. It's fun seeing how well we really know each other, but I'm easy! Chocolates, chocolates and more chocolates. Or a little piece of yummy fabric, or some scrumptious threads.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

TAST Week 37 catch up.

I had a great day today. It was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so with pirate earring in place and a scorpion necklace at my throat, I waited for a ride from my daughter to Spotlight for some sewing supplies. Alas, she arrived during evening peak traffic hour on the roads, so we will go tomorrow morning instead. I should have been sewing up some bed linen for a client today, but Sharon B.'s blog (link at sidebar) was too tempting this morning so have stitched up my samples of 2 weeks of TAST instead. This one is called Square Boss Stitch and is a variation of Rice Stitch. My first sample is in the traditional style, while the second one is an exploration using sequin waste (love a bit of glitter, you know), blue metallic tubular ribbon, and perle thread. The arms on the crosses needed to be uneven to clear the holes in the sequin waste, but still looks quite interesting I think.

TAST Week 38 Knotted Buttonhole Band

Well, as promised on Sharon B.'s blog, here is a little exploration of this week's stitch. I spent several pleasant hours with this rhythmical stitch, I've really missed regular stitching. I've promised last week's stitch by the end of the week too, so will "reward" myself with some more stitching in a day or two if I get another overdue job finished.

The details : top motifs left to right. 2 rows Steff Francis silk "perle" yarn buttonhole on perle 8 ladder stitches, 2 rows Perle 5 stitches on contrasting Perle 8 ladder and the right hand one is 3 rows Perle 8 on Perle 8 ladder stitches. Below them is one row of a metallic crochet yarn on Perle 8 ladder stitches. Last but not least is a piece of Sinamay metallic ribbon used as the ladder stitches. Irregular single rows of knotted buttonhole band in metallic crochet yarn, Perle 8 and Perle 5. A bit tricky because the raw edge of the Sinamay kept catching on the thread.

HINT for next time, put a row of Scotch tape over the edge while stitching and remove carefully later to save catching threads.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What to make with "special fabric"

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd bought some more "must have" patchwork fabric at a recent craft show. I'm very reluctant to cut it up in smaller pieces for traditional patchwork as the allover design is just too wonderful. I thought a padfolio might be the answer, but searching for my bookmarked link I found a couple of alternative ideas. I think I may just have to subscribe to this "zine", I think I can find several ideas among the free projects, I wonder what else they have on offer for subscribers? No affils, etc. etc. just love finding really useful links.
Look at

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The cockatoo tree.

This hollow tree was home to many different species of birds at "Linnwood", the local historic house where I spend a lot of volunteer hours. Unfortunately, a large truck picking up a full rubbish skip took a shortcut, knocking off the overhanging limb and tearing open the side of the tree. The birds have found alternative accomodation though, and continue to nest and raise their babies in our area. Aren't they sweet, they're real characters and have distinct personalities.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Spring is in the air.

Rainbow lorikeets and white cockatoos wake us up every morning, even more loudly than usual, so I know Spring has really sprung around here. The wild freesias in the garden are blooming, my Kangaroo Paws are ready to burst out and the deciduous trees are taking on a green fuzz with all the new leaf buds just starting to open. Can you tell I love Spring, I gave birth twice in this season and I've always loved seeing the renewal of Nature all around me. This of course leads to Spring Cleaning. I get quite strange (well, stranger than usual!) at this time of year. I feel the need to re-organise the house, pull out weeds, re-arrange furniture and sort through junk that has been accumulating over the year. The only problem is, I really don't have time at the moment, I should be catching up on projects postponed while I was ill. But the instinct is too strong, and so today I've tidied and sorted the sewing room to within an inch of its life, moved things around and even cleaned the floor. Of course, it could have something to do with the imminent arrival of my newest baby. No, I'm not in "the family way", I just mean my new Bernina 240 machine is being delivered on Wednesday and since I am having an introductory lesson at the same time, I needed to clean the sewing room to make room for 2 chairs at the cutting table.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Slight change of plans !

I added my photo to the sidebar beneath my profile recently, but have now removed it. I was a bit reluctant to reveal my face to the world, but if Sharon B. can put her lovely face on her blog, and Downunder Dale can, I thought I could too. Blogger wouldn't let me put a thumbnail in my profile, which is what I really wanted to do, and it was VERY much bigger than I really liked. So you'll just have to wait till I can get my act together with a smaller picture.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Yummy fabric

This gorgeous fabric "begged" me to buy it at the Craft Show, so how could I refuse its request, hee hee? There were several colourways, but this one just appealed the most, as well as a couple of pieces of complementary fabric. Not sure where I'll use it, I seem to have quite a stash of "must have" pieces just now, so I can see lots of hand bags and totes being made, where you don't have to cut the fabric into such small pieces. I've been admiring the "padfolios" popping up on other blogs, they look great, and goodness knows I could use some fancy folders to organise myself better. Must search my bookmarked blogs for the tutorial.... if I find it I'll post the link here.

Craft Show roundup.

The sun is shining, the birds are announcing that Spring is fast approaching, and I'm sitting here musing "What was I thinking, volunteering for 4 out of 5 days at the Craft Show???" I'm very tired and I spent a small fortune, but I don't think I was frivolous, everything will be used and enjoyed. I'm a bit reluctant to admit the total cost, but here is the shopping list.

2 packets tiny hand dyed lace motifs suitable for crazy patchwork embellishment, 4 pkts bulk silk embroidery ribbon, ergonomic rotary cutter for sewing, short quilting ruler, long quilting ruler, 10 fat quarters (or is that 12) for my ongoing scrappy old fashioned florals quilt, gorgeous piece of fabric from Logans (no affils etc.) with co-ordinating fabrics, 3 vintage Australian Home Journal magazines, 4 metres of beautiful beaded trim for my 1890's vintage dress I'm planning, a hand felting tool and mat with a cot blanket piece and wool rovings, oh, and a Bernina Activa 240 sewing machine.

Yes, you read that correctly, I finally decided to update my domestic machine. Eventually I'll have to give up sewing on the industrial due to my arthritic neck and consequent hand problems, so this machine will be the one to use into my dotage. Not top of the range, but top of the medium price range machines, and no automatic embroidery which I'm never likely to need. I'm like a kid with a new toy under the Christmas tree, waiting for the day to open the box. It arrives on Wednesday week, with an introductory lesson in my home. Gee, I'll have to tidy up a bit before then!! This last week has been hectic so very little of the domestic goddess has been seen around this house!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Embroiderers' Guild at the Craft Show Pt. 3

The rear wall highlights the upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebrations, the Festival and Exhibition being staged in October 2007 at the Sydney Showgrounds. For more detail, click on my sidebar link to the Embroiderers' Guild. I have also included 12 examples from the 100's of fabric postcards which the members have made as part of the 2007 Postcard Challenge. The complete collection will be displayed at the October exhibition and I can't wait to see them all "en masse". Let's hope we get lots of visitors at the October Exhibition and new members of the Guild as a result.

The Embroiderers' Guild at the Craft Show Pt. 2

The right hand wall features work from the western Sydney groups. Some are novice embroiderers and were reluctant to display their work. The Guild likes to encourage all levels of embroidery from beginner to "master craftsperson" so I have included all types of work in the display. I think it all looks pretty good, don't you?

The Embroiderers' Guild at the Craft Show

The left hand wall features the YTFG (Young Textile and Fibre Group) display of children's work and information about the clubs, and the samples of the YTFG workshops at the upcoming October Festival and Exhibition. I think the workshop samples are particularly cute, and hope the kids do too. The panels with the green background are called the Australian Farm Challenge, and the children have made all the 3D objects stitched to them. There is a link to the YTFG blog on my sidebar for more information.

Monday, August 20, 2007

August Stitches and Craft Show, Rosehill

This week promises to be hectic around here. It's the Stitches and Craft Show at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse again, and the last opportunity to advertise the Embroiderers' Guild 50th Anniversary Exhibition and Festival to a captive audience, hee hee (click on link on sidebar for more details) The Guild Groups which loosely border the Great Western Highway out of Sydney agreed last year to act as hostesses, and I offerred to be the co-ordinator. Did I mention that I'm a compulsive organiser? I've spent several days contacting hostesses, arranging for work to be sent in, and collecting all the Guild information we usually display. I'm getting a ride to the Show tomorrow to set up, the best bit of the whole experience in my opinion. You get to see behind the scenes and get an early-bird look at what's going on the various stands and displays. I'll be there for the next 5 days I think, so will try to take a few photos of the general area to add to the blog. I usually come home with several more pieces of must-have fabric and threads, the odd reference book, and the latest gadget. Thank goodness I no longer have a credit card, so easy to overspend without realising it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bathex 2007 photos

Here are the promised photos from my weekend exhibition at Bathex 2007 at Bathurst, NSW. You'll have to scroll down 6 or 7 posts for the full report, but the first few photos are some details from the display. In order going down they are
1. My fan laced 1940's - 1960's corset, purchased on E bay about 12 months ago. This is the back view.

2. One of my grandmothers' maiden aunts' camisoles, which were the nucleus of my underwear collection and inherited about 10 years ago. Pre 1920 era.

3. My repro 1885 corset, made of coutil and grey furnishing weight woven fabric, with plastic artificial whalebone stiffening and a 5 eye busk on the front. Laced through 3 piece eyelets at the back. Size 23 inch waist.

4. A gorgeous camisole from the Linnwood Collection, assymetrical fastening with tiny pearl buttons and featuring crocheted lace trimming. About 1900 - 1920 era.

Bathex 2007 photos - some details