Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Australian Christmas traditions

This time of the year I get quite sentimental, so be warned !!

I used to love Christmas as a child growing up in Australia. As it's high Summer here and a Christmas Day average temp of 25 degrees Celsius we'd take the best of the British traditions and add some of our own Australian ones. A fresh or artificial tree in the house, decorated with hand made or store bought decorations if you could afford them. Crepe paper chain garlands and handmade card stars with glitter on them were usually on our tree at home. The highlight of our Christmas in the 1960's was visiting my Nanna on the North Shore of Sydney and driving home through the city at night to see the stores like David Jones and Mark Foys. They had animated (clockwork) Christmas store windows which drew crowds from all over the suburbs to see the displays of fairy tales and the nativity.

Our Christmas menu back then might include hot chicken, ham or roast pork, or cold versions of them. Turkey wasn't big in Australia until recently. Mum did a mean "pumped leg" , a piece of silverside (beef) soaked in brine by the butcher, which Mum simmered in water with vinegar, brown sugar, onions and cloves. It was delicious served cold with relish or chutney, and economical because it would last for days in the fridge. My Nanna would prepare hot vegetables for Christmas lunch for 18 or so. Roast potatoes, 2 hot meats, peas and carrots, and gravy. Then a traditional boiled Christmas pudding with pre-decimal coins hidden inside for luck, with a little warm custard poured over and a scoop of vanilla icecream or cream. Occasionally we'd have a trifle, an economical dessert for a large group consisting of cut up cake lining a bowl filled with jelly, custard, tinned fruit, cream all layered together. Last weekend I made a punch bowl full for a party, and added flaked chocolate to the top at the last minute. Yum !

After lunch the adults would all have a siesta (with one eye open) while the kids played with their new gifts or ran around outside. These days we have hot and cold meats, seafood, salads, roast vegetables, Christmas pudding or pavlova, cheese cakes, anything goes really. We borrow European traditions, and bring dishes and flavours from all around the world to our Australian Christmas meals.

It became a difficult task co-ordinating Christmas Day visits to both sides of the family once I was a married woman. We got in the habit of having breakfast at home, then Christmas lunch with my in-laws or the evening meal at a relatives home, hosted in turns. This all changed again after my children came along. By then the in-laws would come for Christmas Eve tea, stay the night then we'd all get up early to watch the kids open their gifts. Breakfast became a grand affair with warm croissants, cereal and fruit and orange juice with a touch of Champagne for those who liked it.
They'd go home to prepare lunch for us, then siestas for everyone and more visits in the evening. Eventually it got harder for us to go out with the 4 children all day, so we often had both sides of the family to our home at some point. Everyone would bring a plate of food (or 2) to share. Mum continued Nanna's traditional boiled Christmas pudding after she passed away, and only stopped making the puddings in the last 3 or 4 years when it got too much for her.

This Christmas a new tradition was started. We all visited my oldest brother's home last weekend for a pre-Christmas BBQ with relatives and friends as everyone is now trying to juggle their own grown-up family visits. DH and I joined our adult offspring and my in-laws at my new grandson Riley's home for early Christmas morning breakfast. I'm sure that little boy will have to take over his Dad's study for toy storage, Santa was very generous, LOL. We bought him a toy pull along telephone with a rotary dial, eyes which move and a clacking noise when it moves along. Noisy toys are good ! I found a piggy bank with his name on it, and a cute set of T-shirts with his nickname on them. Even my daughters' baby which is due in February got a few gifts, I bought her a pink rabbit toy and some little one piece romper suits.

At the moment we're recovering at home after the early start to the day, we thought after our kids were grown up that we'd finished with all that, but now the grandchildren are starting to arrive, it's all starting again, VBG.

PS the photo is of the Angel I made for the Stitchin Fingers Christmas Cloth Doll Swap. She now lives at Cindy's place in the USA.

PPS the Santa collection has now increased to 42, following 3 new purchases on Tuesday and 2 Royal Albert santas received as gifts today !!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa collection on display

I knew eventually that the Christmassy feeling would arrive at our house. Today I actually felt like cleaning and putting up some decorations. So you can imagine my surprise when I unpacked the Santas. I have 37 now. I'm sure they've been breeding in the cupboard since last Christmas. But then, I did buy 3 at the Rosehill Stitches and Craft Show, Chris Gray made a Drunken Elf for me in the Stitchin Fingers Christmas Doll Swap, and I bought a Scottish Santa for a Scottish raffle in September, then promptly forgot to put him in the prize basket. That accounts for 5 more than last year. Oh, and a couple bought at the post Christmas sales... Still a bit suspicious though, LOL.

The saddest thing is that I've nearly filled the top of the entertainment unit now. And I've discovered that somewhere, somehow I've started a collection of miniature Christmas trees. I have 4, the basis of a collection ! I should start looking in the shops now for some more, or should I wait till after Christmas when they are all reduced?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Family time

I think I'm a "family" person, in that I cherish and celebrate my family unit and my extended family. I don't make close friends easily. I probably have about 5 or 6 friends I've known since my late teens through my husband though. I'm the oldest of 4children and the only girl in my family. I have 2 surviving brothers but I wouldn't say we're terribly close really.

I'm closer to my siser-in-law and probably consider her more like my sister. We talk quite often and share things only girls can. So I'm extremely happy that Gail has done so well with her treatment for APL, a rare form of Leukaemia. She's on the tablet maintenance phase now and things are looking pretty optimistic. I hope she won't mind me putting this gorgeous photo of her holding a sleeping Riley (her great nephew) on Sunday at my DD #1's baby shower. Her hair has grown back soft and curly, she's feeling pretty well and looking forward to returning to her kindergarten teaching job in 2009.

We gave my oldest daughter Di a great baby shower, she won't need to buy much more to look after her new baby due in early February 2009. My middle daughter Col did some cooking as did a couple of other ladies. We had decorated cup cakes, slices, fruit platter, sandwiches, pastissi, hot chicken balls and lamb koftas (?) with dipping sauces as well as crudites and dips, and the (non-alcoholic) fruit punch. I had organised a couple of party games, but we had 3 babies to play with !! No need for games, so we gave out the prizes to the last few guests. When the men returned home they headed straight to the left over cakes, trust a man ! I love the following photo, the 3 girls lined up for a "belly photo"

I cut myself out of it so as not to spoil your image of me !! Not the most flattering photo I've ever taken after a few sleepless nights. The middle girl looks like me around 18 years old B.C. (before children!) while the girl in the white shirt (Bron) looks like me at about 14 years old. I think my other daughter looks like my DH side of the family more. Wonder who the little baby will look like, if the scan is correct we're expecting a granddaughter. Don't you love the pink cloth we made the mother-to-be wear? A burp cloth with a nappy pin on her shirt, shouldn't every new mother be prepared for every emergency, LOL?

We've decided to have a quiet Christmas this year. Events conspired to make a large family Christmas difficult at our home, so we'll be having a BBQ lunch at one of my brothers' homes on the 21st December, then visiting the new Grandson first thing Christmas morning. My own children have to visit their respective partners' families too, so first thing in the morning seemed the most sensible option to get together. Next year will be better, we'll have a second grandchild to spoil. I think Christmas is all about the Family, getting together and hopefully forgetting old quarrels and differences. My mother will be 80 in June 2009, so I'm hopeful she will be enjoying next Christmas with us still. This final photo is great-grandmother Nannie, with Riley last Sunday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Everyone should have a hobby

I'm a firm believer that having a hobby is an investment in your mental health. The planning, designing and making of crafts is especially good for keeping the mind active. I've heard of men who complain about the money spent on "unnecessary" crafting materials. These are the same men who like a beer, spend money on gambling and that other anti-social occupation which requires you to leave the building. I meant smoking of course, LOL. Statistically men die younger, have more heart attacks and higher cholesterol readings - do you think it has anything to do with lack of a hobby?

The men I know who build models, turn wood and metal, do tapestries, and yes, even knit, are calmer more alert and more sociable than all those other blokes. They understand that even the trip to the craft store gets you out of the house and into the fresh air amongst other people once in a while, instead of sitting in front of the television "relaxing".

I've been trying to throw off a dark mood for several weeks now, which probably hasn't been helped by poor sleep after recent events here at home. However, I've joined a number of online groups which are running swaps. So with committments to produce some ATCs to swap and cloth dolls for my Stitchin Fingers group, I've been able to forget the real world for a little while and plunge into the sewing room. There's nothing like a pile of fabrics, trims and embellishments to brighten your mood, and once I get the difficult design decisions made, I start to enjoy myself.

I received a lovely Drunken Elf just recently, and owed a Christmas Cloth Doll to Cindy in the US, which was duly mailed on Tuesday. She asked for a picture of my efforts, as she couldn't wait to see it. I know I'm a meany, but I hate to spoil surprises. So here is a teaser of the Dolly, on its way to Cindy as we speak. A full picture will follow in due course.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

First the good news...

As promised, today I wrote names from comments on posts 150 through 155 on slips of paper, and my House Model Bron, DD #3, drew the lucky winner out of my 1850's repro bonnet. Doesn't everyone have such an elegant hat to conduct lucky draws from??

The winner will receive some of my stash, which might include fabrics and trims, useful bits and pieces (I hope) as well as a couple of little surprises.

Here is Bron conducting the draw, watched by an independant witness. Well, actually it was her boyfriend, LOL and he thinks we're both nutters. Now he could be right there, but he loves her anyway, they've been together for 5 years now. I wish he'd just propose marriage and get the agony over, but they are only 23 so plenty of time these days for all that serious stuff.

O.K. enough suspense, the winner is.....

Erica P.

Thanks for all the kind comments recently everyone, especially about our household drama recently. The Insurance company has sent out engineers and we are waiting for the Scope of Works report. Then 2 or 3 builders will be asked to quote on the same work. They did indicate that it was a bit worse than first thought. Not only do we have external damage which is quite repairable, but the underfloor sustained considerable damage and will need to be completely replaced in at least 2 rooms. So... the 3 way bathroom and laundry will need to be gutted and re-built from the bearers up, including new floor, tiles, plumbing, toilet, shower screen, vanity etc. etc. There's also a possibility that the back wall of the kitchen will need to be stripped of cupboards to get to that part of the floor as well. That will mean new cork floor tiles for the dining room and kitchen, and new kitchen benches. The bill could be quite a lot if all that has to be replaced as well.

I'm still a nervous nellie, finding it hard to sleep at night and have resorted to sleeping in another spare bedroom closer to the rest of the family. A mother is always a protective mother, even when the kids are grown up, isn't she?
Time (and a holiday) will heal my nerves, if we can fit one in before they start the repairs, which will now not begin until late January I should think, after the building industry has it's own annual holidays.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Drunken Elf has arrived in Australia

This gorgeous cloth doll (christened the Drunken Elf by his creator) arrived in Australia late last week from Chris in the UK. We are part of a swap on Stitchin Fingers, so this week I finalised my own swap to Cindy in the USA and sent her in today's mail. I won't post a photo here till I hear she has arrived in Minnesota, so you'll have to wait a little longer to see my doll.

This photo is my rather feeble attempt to make the D. E. look like he's leaning against a gum tree in rural Australia, instead of in front of an original oil painting by the talented Werner Philipitch in my backyard, VBG. I'll never win awards for my air brush technique on Photostudio, that's for sure.

Well, this is the 155th post, and the last opportunity to go in the lucky draw I'm conducting for some of my stash to celebrate the 150th post on this blog. I'll enter all comments on this post in the draw as well as all previous ones from 150 till now.
I hope to conduct the draw on Thursday 11th December.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm far too easily distracted !

Here is my cloth doll for a recent Show Business Cloth Doll swap on Stitchin Fingers. I should be finishing the costumes for the Dancing Studio show, due next week. However, having committed to making this doll I felt the need to take a break from the costumes and finish her, after all she was naked for nearly 2 weeks while I procrastinated about which character to dress her in. I had several ideas, but for some reason Dorothy won the day. So of course, I had to make a very quick brown felt Toto to go in her basket. I made him a Scotty terrier shape, and the basket was made from a cardboard inner layer painted cream and covered with buckram pieces and a straw braid handle. Dorothy's arms have pipe cleaners inserted so they are bendy. I sealed the face and feet with a Doll Art Face Sealer medium which I bought at a doll show, then drew on the face with fine fiber pens. The ruby slippers are a gloss folk art paint in red then overpainted with a clear glitter paint. I made the blouse and dress from stash fabrics, and the braid on the neck and arms is finger crochet chain in suitable colour. I used a colour photo of a paper doll printed from Google as my reference.

The face is still quite basic, haven't mastered them yet, LOL, need a LOT more practice. I just admire those artists who can get great faces all the time, like my friend Erica P. who has faces to die for on her character dolls.

I hope my swap partner likes her dolly, and that she makes her smile when she opens the little box.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Warning !! Cuteness ahead !!

This year has certainly been eventful, with one very important milestone in my life happening on 29th August. I became a Nan to this little chap, Riley John. He's growing up too fast, at 12 weeks old already.

It's a pity we don't hold traditional Baby Shows anymore here in Australia. In the 1960's and 70's you'd take along your freshly washed and groomed baby to be weighed and examined by a group of nurses and judges, usually from the local Council and sponsors' reps. My mother used to enter my brother's Warren and Anthony in them, they were both bonnie babies. The judges looked for healthy, alert, active and yes, cute, babies who were weight for age and looked like the "ideal" baby, whatever that was. Both of them won small prizes, usually baby clothes or photo albums or such things.

The Shows were sponsored by baby product companies and there was a token entry fee paid by the doting mums which went to a charity. All a lot of fun, and I suppose it did encourage the young mums to take pride in their cute offspring. Australia never took it as seriously as they do now in the US though. We still have competitions but they are photography based and are usually talent spotting for advertisers.

Mum couldn't afford to put me in baby shows when I was little, as I was her first child. Anyway, I'd already won one title, Miss Royal North Shore Hospital 1954. I was the first baby born in that year, at 12.40 pm on 1st January. I received a certificate and a small gift.

Riley could certainly win a prize with his cheeky smiles, and now he's starting to gurgle and giggle when you play with him. Definitely tugs at the heart strings to hear him vocalise, takes me back to his Daddy doing it, 30 years ago.

No good me getting all clucky though, will have to give Riley extra cuddles when I see him. Looking forward to meeting my little granddaughter who is due in February too, I'll have 2 littlies to play with then, LOL.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Celebrating !!

My 2 year Blogiversary slipped by in September without me even realising. Wow, time flies when you're doing something you enjoy. So after being on the receiving end of a lucky draw from Mary Anne at Magpies Mumblings recently, I thought I'd celebrate my 150th post instead with a Lucky Draw.

So, if you commented on post 150 (The Payten Bed) and comment through to post 155 (whatever that may be) I'll collect your names and conduct a lucky draw before Christmas to receive a small parcel of goodies from my stash. International posts are fine, but I'm not accepting anonymous posts for this draw.

My New Year's resolution is to dig deeper into my stash before buying more material for ATCs, postcards and other textiley works so this little competition will hopefully make a start in the stash busting !!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Counting our blessings today

I have huge empathy for those folks in Los Angeles that have been burnt out today, because we had a house fire ourselves at 1 a.m. this morning. Luckily we are all safe and well, apart from a huge blister on DH's numb foot from fighting the fire with the garden hose. We called the ambulance to check us out for some smoke inhalation and shock just in case.

We had gone to bed late and I couldn't get comfortable. I thought I smelled smoke, but the SES has been doing hazard reduction (burning off) lately so I wasn't overly alarmed. Then I heard a few strange sounds and got up to investigate. We had lost power, though we had lights but as soon as I went into the kitchen I could see smoke haze and an orange glow through the window. I thought my DH's car was on fire but it was the back of the house. I called his name and shouted Fire! which brought everyone running outside. DH ran out and played the hose on the fire under the back of the house while I called 000 for the fire brigade.

Everyone evacuated safely, and luckily the hose was connected to the tap and not burnt through. The fire was brief but intense, and as you can see from this photo, the fibro sheeting is cracked as well as several windows. The worst part is that the fire was in a newer section of our home where the plumbing fittings were PVC above ground pipes through to the sewer line, and of course are all melted and no longer working. We have to use the old original bathroom and toilet, and this close to Christmas we aren't confident of having them fixed quickly.

I'd like to make these suggestions and urge everyone to take them seriously.

1. Make sure you have a hose handy in the yard at all times close to the tap, this definitely saved our home as the Fire Brigade was 10 minutes arriving

2. Be vigilant with worn electrical cords, overloading power points, and old appliances. We haven't established the cause of the fire but presume it was accidental.

3. Smoke alarms only work if the fire is IN the house, not under it until it is VERY well established. Ours only went off after we opened the doors. Your nose is the best detector. If you suspect a fire, investigate thoroughly.

4. Don't store wood, plastics or anything flammable close to the house or under it. We were lucky that the house was fairly clear underneath, but dry grass and few old plastic toys were enough to fuel the fire.

5. Talk through an emergency plan with the family. We were all adults and acted instinctively but children may not and a tragedy could result. The only thing we did wrong was to leave the doors open when we left, resulting in a smoke filled, smelly house.

This last picture shows the smoke damage from the flames around the back door where everyone rushed out, including Bob the studio cat. She was unhurt, but very frightened and had to be given pussy valium today to calm her down.

The smell is still pretty awful as we wait for the insurance assessor tomorrow, but the power is restored so at least I have the computer and TV back, I'm a creature of habit you see, VBG.

We are counting our blessings tonight and although I'm not religious I do believe in Karma. I must have done something right recently, VBG.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Payten Bed

I've been working 2 large projects together this year, the Women Transported Exhibition at Parramatta Heritage Centre which opened in August (warning this link is to my costume blog!) , and the refurbishment of the Payten Bed

We dedicated the new bed, and launched a reproduction quilt made by another group of volunteers, on Sunday 2nd November which was also Parramatta's Foundation Day. If you want to see what is UNDER the new quilt, click on the link to the Payten Bed above. The new upper valances, head curtains, headcloth, tester and lower valances were all sewn by hand by volunteers for this 1840's bed; after all the sewing machine wasn't invented till 1856 and then not widely available in Australia till a little later!

The burgandy hand knitted ravelled fringe took 6 knitters over 48 hours to knit then it was hand stitched over the hems of the valances and head curtains. The bed took about 8 hours to "hang" involving 4 volunteers including myself climbing up and down the ladders many many times. We spent over an hour just getting the box pleats on the inside of the inner upper valance to sit correctly, getting more and more overheated up close to the ceiling on the ladders!! I was certainly glad to see the bed assembled by the end of the day. On Dedication Day, I put the final touches in place, 2 embroidered watch pockets. I finished making them about 10pm on the Saturday night then made 3 Story Boards to display with photos and fabric samples on them.

Watch pockets were a chance to show off the lady of the household's embroidery skills on a practical project, a place to put small items (including your pocket watch) during the night at a time when bedside tables were not usually used. The fabric I used was a furnishing sample in burgandy and cream printed linen and I designed the shape myself based on descriptions in The Workwoman's Guide of 1838. I padded and stretched the fabric over card shapes, then knitted a little ravelled fringe in ecru 8 ply knitting cotton to trim the bottom. I appliqued a small wool embroidered flower medallion on each pocket flap, then stitched a blanket stitched chainstitch "braid" trim along the top of the knitted fringe. They are attached to the watch pocket strips with a hand made Dorset button. My forte is in the detail, and as you can see I really enjoyed this project.

It was a daunting prospect in the beginning. I couldn't imagine how we'd manage to make a feather bed, blanket, bed linen, bolster, and all the hangings from scratch and come in under budget. Well, the bed linen was donated by a Hambledon Guide who inherited them from her mother (probably late 1800's) and I managed to find a new cream woollen blanket reduced considerably at a sale event. We removed the modern binding and stitched around it in red embroidery wool. The bolster only needed some repairs done, and well, we did make a feather mattress, even though the yard at Hambledon looked like there'd been a duck massacre afterwards! The rose pink valances and head curtains were made from Indian cotton furnishing fabric bought at a furnishing wholesaler on the north side of Sydney at a good price, while the wool for the fringeing was bought online from Bendigo Woollen Mills in bulk.

The Parramatta and District Historical Society who manage Hambledon was very pleased to come in under budget thanks to some canny buying. We also stabilised and "retired" the 1860's Wood's patchwork quilt which was necessary to preserve it for future study and it will be brought out on special occasions to grace the bed once more after 30 years of being on display on the Payten Bed.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Textile Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) Tutorial

I'm a member of an online quilting group which began making textile ATCs to swap as a Cheer-Me-Up for those unable to go to our retreat in Perth Western Australia in May 2008. The swap was so successful with some 700 cards traded that we decided to keep the swap group going with mini swaps. We make six cards to a set theme, keep one and send 5 to the other members who signed up to swap within that theme. I have a collection of over 120 cards now in a folder with plastic pockets holding 9 cards to a page, like the ones used for football and YuGiO cards? Here is a little tutorial on my method of making them, with hints taken from lots of different web sites.

My method

1. ATCs must be no larger than 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches. I made a window template to help in selecting areas from created fabric backgrounds or fabrics, or for seeing if a piece of stitching will fit within the size limit. You could also use template plastic (the kind for making quilt templates which is opaque) if you have it.

2. ATCs are a "sandwich" composed of 3 layers:

a front of fabric which you may create and embellish as liked
a middle layer of stiffening eg. Pellon, Timtex, pelmet Vilene, cardstock
and a backing of fabric, iron on Vilene, paper etc.
These layers are fused together using your preferred fusible product eg. Misty Fuse, Vleisofix, Wonder Under etc. then stitched around the edge to seal

3. First photo shows equipment used, clockwise starting at 12 o'clock they are
Timtex, templates, pellon with baking paper, Misty Fuse, roll of Vleisofix.

4. Next photo shows the front of the card. I fused my cream homespun to Pellon with some Misty Fuse fusible web, then stitched the Redwork flower design within the marked card outline. I like to leave the final trimming to size till all layers are fused together.

5. Since I'm making 6 cards here I cut a piece of my chosen backing fabric. I've used a burgandy printed fabric here fused on the wrong side to the Misty Fuse webbing (following the manufacturers' directions )using baking paper so my iron doesn't stick. Then I place the backing right side down on the baking paper and place the front of the cards right side up, cover with baking paper again and press with a dry iron to fuse in place. Then I turn the whole lot over again and press again on the back.

6. Now I trim to the maximum size of 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches using my rotary cutter and square ruler. You could scissor cut on the line if needed. Depending on the edging, it may be best to trim off couple more millimeters. A fancy braid or ric-rac for instance can add a little to the size, so best to make the card a little under size. I like to satin stitch around the edge by machine, but you can blanket stitch by machine or hand, zig zag, straight stitch, or bind with fabric, ribbon, or braid. You could also choose to leave the edges raw if it fits your theme.

7. Any beads, sequins, charms, letters etc. are best left until last if you are machine stitching, unless you're confident you won't catch them in the machine. I sometimes use Vilene as my backing layer so I can write with a fabric pen on the back, or sometimes I print a label on heavy paper and glue it on with fabric glue. You should label your work with at least your name, and contact details and the date made. Some groups like you to add the Group swap name, and if you are making multiples you should mark each card with it's number within a set.
e.g. 1 of 6, 2 of 6 etc. on each of a set of 6 cards.
When I make only one card I write "an original ATC" instead of the number on the label.

I have successfully used bubble jet printed silk and cotton pictures on cards as the front and as an embellishment. You can also used mixed media on these little cards, so cardstock, any paper embellishments etc. are usually welcomed as long as the card is mostly textile based. Stitched sample pieces make great ATCs, as do little pieces of lace or felted bits. Painted fabric backgrounds are popular just at the moment too.

I hope this was not too complicated, and that you have as much fun as I have had in making these little works of textile art to swap.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A textile treasure chest !!

Back in August I was fortunate to win a lucky draw conducted by Mary Anne at Magpies Mumblings for some textile goodies. Well the box arrived on Friday, just as I was leaving to go out! Needless to say it was torture not to be able to open it till late on Friday night. My hubbie must have thought I was mad, I kept shreiking and laughing as I pulled each treasure from the box. I thought I'd share some photos of the goodies received.

The first photo shows the box on opening, with a nice handwritten note and some grey Tyvek concealing the hidden treasure, which includes lots of silk pieces, laces, and some beaded pieces. The 2nd photo shows all the goodies spread on my workroom table. I can see a colour theme here, mostly autumnal. The 3rd photo shows the exquisite hand made dolly which was almost hidden at the bottom of the box, and she made me shreik the loudest!! The 4th and final photo shows some gorgeous metal charms sitting on some silk fabrics and laces.

I can't say enough thanks for my parcel, Mary Anne, it really made my day, month and indeed year. Textile people are so lovely, aren't they??

Saturday, October 04, 2008

TIF October

This month Sharon has asked us to think about our textile work space.

So, I picked up the camera and headed into my 8 foot x 6 foot room I call my "sewing room" as I think "studio" would be a bit too grand for this space, LOL. Quite messy at the moment as I'm trying to juggle several projects at once and they all need attention. If I tidy up TOO much I forget where I'm up to, despite all the lists and reminders up on the notice boards.

The first photo show the ironing board and iron (it's purple you'll notice!) which is permanently in its place. Then I have a custom built cutting table/ work table which I have covered in 3 self-healing cutting boards,bought on special many years ago. Underneath are 2 two drawer filing cabinets and lots of large lidded bins of fabric, as well as my boxes of patterns and college note books which are not all that often needed.

To the right of this photo (but not shown) is my industrial Singer 591D straight sewer machine. On the table you might also notice my very efficient storage system (??) of jumbled baskets and boxes, as well as my burgandy Miniatures workbox still sitting on the table from last weekend. My new Bernina 240 Activa machine sits alongside my old workhorse 830 Record as well as my new overlocker. I have one of those plasic office mats under my rolling office chair and behind the door to the room is a 6 shelf bookcase groaning under my collection of magazines and books as well as the smaller plastic bins with all my notions and haberdashry in them. I have hat blocks and cardboard pattern blocks hanging around as well.

Luckily I have a little window which looks out onto a slightly untamed garden area, with flowering shrubs which attract native birds down to feed. I have been known to spend quite a while staring out that window while wattle birds and butcher birds eat berries and insects right in front of me. As you will notice I also have a small TV on a shelf (so as not to miss my favourite daytime soaps) and also not shown a CD player with big speakers on each side of the room.

The second photo shows the left wall above the ironing board with my filing system (!!) on 2 cork notice boards. The left hand one holds some favourite photos of cats, some postcards including one from Susan Lenz of CyberFyber and my first Dotee Doll that I made. Peeking out is Norma H.'s sampler (in progress!) and a packet of chopsticks! Those are for a little challenge my quilting group is doing on 20th October, a folded Japanese 3D miniature kimono for a bag or hanging. My favourite saying is also on the board "Dull women have immaculate homes" (no offence to the great housekeepers out there, I'm just not one of you!)

The second board, well, mostly paperwork here, because when I file things, they STAY filed away, never to be seen again, VBG. It's safer to pin them here so I'm reminded quite often. Periodically I'll sort out and put away, but not while they're still on the to-do list. Another little motivational card above this board, refers to organised chaos. That about sums up my work space !! Really should take some time this October long weekend to tidy it up, I suppose.

Now to think about how I can interpret this theme and Take it Further, or perhaps I'll re-visit Sharon's colour palette this month. Decisions, decisions....

YTFG article in NeedleArts Magazine

Earlier this year my e-friend Margaret H. asked me to consider writing an article for NeedleArts, the magazine of the Embroiderers' Guild of America. I'm a Club leader for the Young Textile and Fibre Group of the Embroiderers' Guild NSW, Australia (YTFG) and Margaret thought the American readers might like to hear about our experience here in New South Wales.

I wrote quite a long article, expecting it to be heavily edited to fit the space allocation, so I was very pleasantly surprised to receive the first draft recently, with almost every word used. Then I was asked to send some photos, and after several follow up emails from America to clarify a few points, the 4 page article with colour photos has been published in the September magazine, Vol 39 No. 3 beginning page 30. Can I add international author to my list of credits do you think, LOL.

Photo shows the YTFG display including the Australian Farm Challenge panels on display at the Rosehill Stitches and Craft Show Aug. 2007.

TIF September finished !

Sharon's theme for September was lists. In a previous post I showed progress on a workshop taken at our Embroiderers' Guild NSW recently, and promised to finish it by the end of September. Well, I ALMOST made it, a few days later than planned, but hey! who's counting ?

This little fairy slipper was inspired by an article in "Stitch" by the Embroiderers' Guild UK. Our version uses Angelina fibres and a red chiffon scarf fused to yellow felt for the uppers, while the sole is fused with purple velvet and gilded. I also painted inside the upper with Lumiere paint in gold, even though you can't see it unless you peer inside. All self-respecting fairies should have a little gold on their slippers, don't you think? This one has a definite Arabian Nights feel to it, probably helped by the wired toe which is slightly kicked up with a little gold beed on the point.

I'm pretty pleased with it and very happy to have completed a project for one more month of the TIF challenge. Let's be truthful here, I haven't been able to show too much actual stitching just lately for various reasons, not the least of which is my ongoing committment to volunteering at historic houses etc.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A few of my favourite things!!

I know I promised not to show TOO many photos of my new grandson, but he's so cute!!
My own youngest (DD no.3) turned 23 on Sunday so I entertained 15 for lunch. Or should I have said Riley entertained 15 for lunch. He was the perfect guest as he kept everyone enthralled AND he brought his own lunch, VBG.

Yesterday I was Guest Speaker at an historical society meeting, where I talked for about 40 minutes about vintage underwear and showed items from my collection as well as some reproductions I've made. My original Edwardian petticoat (middle photo) has the most gorgeous laces on it, and a real c.1890's chemisette (collar shown above) has exquisite tape lace with needlelace fillings. I'm always amazed at just how much stitching and textiles are entwined in every aspect of my life.

Friday, September 19, 2008

TIF September, some progress!

My to-do lists continue to grow, I'm sure they're breeding in the dark.

I can cross one item off the list though.

Yesterday I took a great workshop at our Embroiderers' Guild here in Sydney with Annette Hinde. The subject was Fairy Slippers, which appealed to my sense of fun and also my interest in miniature things. They were inspired by an article in "Stitch" from the Embroiderers' Guild UK. Annette changed the working method quite a bit, resulting in a messy workshop with vleisofix, Angelina fibres, chiffon scaraves, gilding, sequins, threads, felts etc. You can imagine the fun had by 15 women all making wee fairy slippers. No-one was able to finish in 5 hours, but we all made design decisions and were well on the way by the end of the workshop. The variety of embellishments was quite remarkable, and I'm looking forward to making time in the next week to finish at least one slipper.

So, I've decided that the fairy slipper will be my TIF Challenge project for the month. It satisfies the criteria because making something miniature, and stitching a full project (for once) has been on my to-do list for quite a while!!

The photos show the slippers pictured in "Stitch" magazine, and the progress so far on my own version. I've used yellow felt and 2 different colours of Angelina fibres fused down under a red chiffon scarf as the background for the upper. The first round of stitching is chain stitch in orange stranded cotton, then a round of Palestrina stitch in a variegated silk Colour Streams stranded. Then a round of orange irridescent sequins. I think it needs some green in there, and the star sequins will be a motif on the vamp part of the shoe.

The finished slippers are about 1 1/2 inches finished. If I made a pair they'd look great framed in a shadow box with an illustration of a fairy as a gift for a little girl's room. Hmm, another idea for the "to-do-one-day" list!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September Update

Half way through the month already and not much stitching progress to report, apart from the to-do list, on this months TIF challenge. I've crossed several committments off one list, including the Open House at Linnwood this weekend, and teaching my YTFG class on Saturday. More about that next time.

One thing I nearly missed though, and thanks goodness I realised just in time, is that this Friday 19th September is a special day. Its INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY !!! See here for all the details. Any excuse to dress up and talk silly and I'll take it!! Could be difficult if I have another committment that day, so I might have to make it Talk Like A Pirate Weekend instead, hee hee. Last year we dressed up and went to Pirates of the Carribean 3 at Parramatta, very enjoyable and I'm sure everyone thought we were quite nutty. You're only young once though aren't you?

I promise to act my age and position (as a new Nan) any day now, but it might have to wait till next week!!

P.S. this post was NOT just a good excuse to show JD in full pirate mode!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bonnets and Boats

Christina Henri's exhibition "Bonnets and Boats" opened on Friday night last at Parramatta Artists Studios with about 1000 bonnets on display, and I managed to take a quick photo or 2 of the walls. Here in the 2nd photo is the bonnet Christina commisioned from me for Mary Wade, a young English lass 12 years old when transported to Australia. Mary and an accomplice lured a younger girl into the "privvie" (lavatory or WC to you?) and stripped her of her clothes, including a cap, presumably to sell. The bonnet is exhibited on a fine line strung from the ceiling above a plinth decorated with dried rose petals. The bonnet rotates slowly with the slightest air movement, quite ghostly ! I hope Mary likes the bonnet I made in her honour. The embroidery is in vintage silk thread, and I researched the Victorian Language of Flowers for some suitable symbolic blooms. I chose baby roses for girlhood, daisies for innocence, and Gypsophila or babies breath for future children. The little heart is formed from some narrow fine vintage French lace edging, and is held down with chain stitch (convict chains). A bullion yellow ribbon for rememberance completes the design. Now to duplicate it for the other bonnet to be presented to the VIP whose ancestor is Mary Wade.

I recommend the exhibition to you. Sydneysiders should get along to 45 Hunter Street Parramatta between 12 and 4pm daily to see this fantastic tribute to Australia's convict women, entry is free. You could combine the visit with a trip down Church Street to the Parramatta Heritage and Information Centre for "Women Transported", open 9 to 5 daily !!

I've also been working on another project on my TO DO list which I can't elaborate on because the recipient may read this blog! I'm almost to the point of showing her the current status as a decision needs to be made about the final design in the very near future. As soon as I do that, I'll post the results here. Nothing like a teaser, is there, VBG ???

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

TIF September, first thoughts

I decided to post early this month before things get too hectic, as they usually do around here. Sharon's theme this month is Lists, who makes them and uses them.

I've been making lists for years. In my teenage years it was lists of possible future careers. I can remember some of them - window dresser, fashion designer, book illustrator, greeting card designer, you can see the pattern here. Problem was the Careers Advisor thought I was more suited to Librarian or Teacher. Well I think she'd be pleased to know that I'm currently doing a little bit of all of those careers at the moment, although not as paid work!!

Then when I married I tried to write shopping lists. Haha, I left the list on the kitchen table on my way to the shops more often than not. A shopping list did come into its own though when my 2nd and subsequent children were born. I always shopped in the same small supermarket, so I could write a shopping list for DH in the correct aisle order! All he had to do was push the trolley down the aisle, look right and left and grab the groceries. He was far better than me though in coming home with a few "extras" not on the list!!

I've tried to write TO DO lists but they seem to be never ending, as soon as one item is crossed off another appears. Sometimes the paper gets worn out before the list is half finished. These days I use a white board on the fridge to write short lists, and I think with the list visible to everyone they realise how much I do each day / week. I maintain a small handbag appointment diary, and that's full of lists as well. Then there's the little purple spiral notebook I carry around my bag, with its matching purple pen, to write lists to myself. Life seems to be governed by lists at the moment. I have to keep several. Lists of things I should do by the end of the day, the end of the week, the month. Then there's special lists, like the status of a particular project. I'm about 2/3rd the way through refurbishing a 4 poster bed for an historic house at the moment. We are meeting next week to generate a list of things yet to be done and tick off those already completed.

I'm sure I'm not the only person carrying lists around in their head either. I mentally tick things off, then sometimes commit the list to paper. Isn't it interesting that in this technological revolution we still list things on paper? They're far more portable that way than on a PC, unless you have a Blackberry or such toy. Give me the spiral notebook and pen any day !!

The photo above is of just another thing crossed of the list of things to do this week. I was commissioned to produce 2 identical embroidery embellished convict bonnets for Christina Henri's "Roses from the Heart" project. This is one of the pieces completed for her exhibiton Bonnets and Boats at Parramatta Artists Studios. I wish I'd had more time, but as usual something higher up on my list had priority, and now the deadline has arrived. I'm delivering this one tomorrow, and the other will follow in a few days.

I'd like to produce a finished piece for TIF this month, fingers crossed it doesn't get bumped too far down the list of things to do for September.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Introducing....Riley John

Photo of the "man of the hour"
Weight 3.10 kg (thats about 6lb 12 oz)
Length 55cm (21.6 inches)

A good looking chappie, great lineage. Spent a little time in special
care nursery due to arriving earlier than expected, but looking better by the hour so Mum and Dad hoping to get their hands-on very soon.

ETA photo updated to day 4, discharged from nursery and Nan's first hold.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I became a Nan tonight!!

My son's first baby son has arrived tonight 2 weeks earlier than due. We're all a little surprised here at the moment, I was expecting to have another couple of weeks to prepare for being a grandmother for the first time, but babies wait for no-one ! No details yet except that he's a little 'un at 7lb ish I'm glad I bought baby clothes size 000 for the baby shower 2 weeks ago. Now I can start looking for baby boy stitching designs for some little handmade gifts.

This baby is my father-in-law's first great grandchild, and my daughters are aunties for the first time too. Congratulations to Pete and Bel on their safe delivery of a baby boy, name yet to be decided.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

TIF Challenge August

Sharon's theme for August is balance, and how we achieve it. Well, I read recently that "Life is like a circus, full of balancing and juggling acts"
That's SO true, and I'm afraid I've been falling off the teeter totter and dropping lots of balls lately, VBG.

I really think it's to do with being a perfectionist, never being satisfied with anything I do. I'm not sure what to blame this on. I'm a firstborn Capricorn child (AHA I hear you all say, that explains EVERYTHING! ) My mother always advised me to "do it properly every time" and so I frequently re-work things to the Nth degree. I used to re-write my notebooks at school, I think that helped me do so well.

N.B. this is the 3rd edition of this post!!

I belong to many interest groups and Societies, and volunteer at historic houses. I REALLY enjoy them, but sometimes I feel overstretched. There MUST be an easier way to balance your interests with your commitments, I'd love to find it but I'm sure there's no magic forumula.

My particular area of interest is costume and textiles, and last weekend I took a workshop at our Embroiderers' Guild of NSW rooms with Christine Bishop. Her specialty is counted thread work, particulary withdrawn thread and needle lace. The subject was Lefkara Byzantine, a form of needlelace worked in Cyprus. My photo shows my sample piece in progress and I can see lots of faults. My next piece will be a LOT better. I put too many wraps on some of the bars, and my picots are abominable on the edge!! Christine was very patient with a full class of 13 ladies to juggle. She managed quite well, with the ladies having experience from beginner (several ladies including myself) to "turbo needle" Jennifer, who incidently was a Royal Easter Show prize winner in 3 categories. We all enjoyed our 2 days with her but came away very tired from concentrating on the 30 count linen.

I can't promise to finish this piece as it is, I think I'll start again on the other end of the fabric and make a little mat similar to the antique examples Christine showed us on Sunday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

TIF July - Finding time to stitch

It's been even more difficult to focus on Sharon's TIF Challenge than usual this month, even for me, LOL. I make lists, and cross off jobs as I complete them, but the lists just seem to get longer and longer. I'd love to know how other people are so productive in the stitching department. Are they early risers who get all their housework finished early then settle in to stitch, do they do minimal housework like I do, or are they just superhuman, LOL? Do they have partners who like to clean, wash and cook for the family, do they have housekeepers (my dream, by the way) who take care of everything leaving them with leisure time to while away stitching? Or are they like me, snatching a few hours of stitching once in a blue moon when all other obligations have been met? The photo shows what has been my focus this month, the finished Australian convict woman costume for the Exhibition at Parramatta as worn by my youngest daughter Bron, who's pretending to spin for a photograph. The costume was my design and completely handsewn by volunteers.

I've always had a problem with time management, even in my teenage years. I was a good student until I hit middle high school when our family situation required me to be surrogate mum to my younger brothers while Mum worked to put food on the table. Study had to come after the family, and I was less successful than I had hoped at my final exams. I really envied the students who had great sporting success, were on the debating team AND were among the top students at my school. I wish I'd asked their time management techniques back then. Perhaps that should be a compulsory subject at school, I'm sure I'm not alone in this department. Perhaps it's all about less sleep and more productive waking hours, didn't Einstein only sleep for 4 hours per night, LOL?

Now I sound like a real whiner, perhaps I'm just too tired tonight. The Exhibition goes up this coming week, thank goodnes, so that's another job to cross off the long list. It's almost the end of July, and I really WANT to produce something for TIF this month. Still a few days left, and I intend to take the time off everything else to catch up and regroup!! I think an ATC will have to suffice this time, still not sure if I'll go with the colour scheme which I love, or with the theme. Let me sleep on it!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rest in Peace Ollie

Our dear internet friend Olive Riley passed away peacefully on Saturday 12th July in the morning. For those who didn't discover Ollie's "blob" (as she called it) until after she passed, you'll need to wait a few days to access her official blog, because it appears to be down due to the overwhelming volume of traffic.

Update As of 19th July, you have limited access to recent posts

Olive was 108 in October 2007, yes that's not a typing error. 108 years old and very with it till almost the very end. Her "biographer" Mike Rubbo helped Ollie to record some of her memories, video taped her for YouTube and even made a movie about her. "All about Olive" has been screened on Australian television several times. When Ollie was 104 she decided she'd like to visit her home town of Broken Hill in far outback New South Wales Australia. This was no mean feat for a frail older lady, as they travelled by train with Mike and their entourage. Broken Hill is pretty remote, only small planes fly in, and Ollie needed a wheelchair. Actors approved by Ollie took the parts of her school friends, herself and her family to show what it was like growing up in country Australia. The movie is very poignant, especially when Ollie went to the cemetery to visit her beloved sister Emma's grave. The family couldn't afford a headstone, but on that trip it was finally resolved. I'm sure Ollie will join Emma there soon.

I could fill pages of posts about Ollie, I've been enjoying her blob since I discovered it about 18 months ago. I can't remember where from exactly, but I think it was linked from one of my textile friends' blogs. Mike felt sometimes that he was pushing Ollie to recount her stories which were sometimes painful and upset her. He didn't know if he should continue, having found her himself through Eric Shackle, another older blogger. Recently Mike took his daughter on an overseas trip, and Eric set up a temporary blog for Ollie here
There are several elderly bloggers around the world, including a lady in Spain, but Ollie was certainly The World's Oldest Blogger, VBG. We assured Mike that Ollie's story was fascinating and very worthwhile to tell, and I'm so glad he managed to film her and record her so often. It's prompted many subscribers to think about doing the same with their own family elders. After all we need to learn from the past as well as look towards the future, don't we.

In a few days, I hope Ollie's "blob" will be up and running, and that people will go back to the beginning and read all about this Most Remarkable Lady. In the meantime, pop over to YouTube if you'd like to see our dear girl.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

TIF Challenge July, first thoughts

I know it's past the end of the first week of July already, but I've been very busy working on a couple of hand sewn garments for an Exhibition for the local Heritage Centre, and the deadline keeps changing. Don't you hate that when it happens, VBG.

The theme for Sharon's July TIF Challenge is "what is it to be at the half way mark?"

When I first read it my immediate thought was that I'm already past the "half way" mark in age. The average life span of an Australian woman is 83 years, and I'm only 30 ish years away from that!! Then there's the issue of my dear SIL having a serious illness recently. It really does make you examine what you've accomplished in your own life up till now.

When people ask what I do for a living, I have to admit I don't "go to business" as my Nanna used to say. I "freelance" from my home doing historical and theatrical costuming. Not quite the brilliant career as a fashion designer I saw for myself when I first left High School, but very satisfying in its own way.
I've been married to the same wonderful man for 34 years, been a stay-at-home mum and raised 4 bright and independent young people. We now own our own home, and I keep in reasonably good health. I've been lucky enough to be able to indulge myself in quite expensive textile hobbies, realise my ambition to work on some great professional theatrical shows and for the Australian Opera. I've been fortunate to be a (nervous) guest speaker at various club meetings and done several local radio interviews about our local historic house where I volunteer. I've dressed in historical costume and gadded about the countryside being shot at by re-enactment "bushrangers", visited cinemas in themed costumes and hosted school groups at historic sites in appropriate costume. I'm an enthusiastic volunteer for organisations I belong to as well. And I'm going to be a Nan soon!!

You could say I've had an interesting life so far, and I'm just over the half way mark!! Tonight I made an appointment to see an illusionist who needs some new costumes made, and last week I made a Narnia lion costume for the dancing studio. Life is never dull in my corner of the world, that's for sure.

I think this month I'll have to have a closer look at Sharon's suggested palette of colours and design some stitching around that. It's been a couple of months since I produced a finished piece, so I'm thinking ATC size, perhaps for a promised one to one swap I'm arranging? Watch this space !!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

TIF Challenge for June.

The theme for June at the TIF Challenge was a no-brainer for me. Stash stories! You want my stash stories? As Sharon often says, make a cuppa and pull up a chair!

Some of my very earliest memories of my mother are of her sitting at the kitchen table at our home making clothing for my brothers and me on the Singer machine. I was taught to machine sew on that Singer portable machine which had a knee press for the throttle. This proved VERY interesting many years later when I first sat at an industrial machine at College, only to find that the knee press was to lift the presser foot, NOT make the machine go!

Mum used to save scraps of fabric and trims, which I dutifully turned into doll's clothes. I'm somewhat amused to read a designer's biography where they say they made doll's clothes from scrap fabrics in their childhood, as though it was something rare and wonderful. Well, in my days, it was the norm, rather than the exception. We didn't have Ipods or Wii games (or TV for that matter) to amuse us, so we used whatever was to hand. Gosh that makes me sound so OLD, but the point is, we recyled and re-used everything out of necessity, not because we were "stash busting" as we say these days. I'm not knocking that most excellent idea, just that I believe in building it first!

I've had many opportunities to build my stash over the years. I saved scraps from sewing jobs, bought remnants at sales "just in case" including some real horrors which I look at now and think "why did I ever think I'd use that hideous colour/ design/ texture?"
Then there are the purpose bought fabrics and trims for projects that just never happened due to time and more urgent things coming up. I have boxes and boxes of those! I have wonderful remnants from the professional theatrical shows I've worked on - Grease, Sound of Music, Annie, The Producers - and some smaller Club shows I've designed and made. You never know when a piece of white fur, a purple net ruffle or flashy sequined fabric may be exactly what you need for your current project. Often my stash of theatre fabrics has come in handy when I needed just a little of something and the shops were closed. Or my current textile class needs a touch of glitz and I have just the thing under the cutting table in box no. 4! Of course, I'm just kidding about box 4, I'm not THAT organised!! You ought to know me better than that!

I have been known to turn the sewing room upside down (quite literally) to find a piece I remember seeing last week, when doing exactly the same thing for another project! It would be heaven to have the time to organise, catalogue and label all the boxes, and one day it might happen. It's quite fun though to "rediscover" the secrets of the stash from time to time, and each box holds so many memories.

I can tell you the history of each little piece of fabric. Some are neatly rolled and tied, others are just stuffed into bags within the boxes to keep all the scraps from one particular job together. This can be very helpful. This past week I've remodelled a lion's head for the dancing studio I contract for. I needed some orangey beige fur to supplement the mane, and I knew I had some. Finally found it, but not large enough. Did find a piece of the Zebra suit I made about 4 years ago though, enough to make a hood to go on the unitard and this gave the Studio an extra animal to put into the production number. Oh, and the Studio found some long haired fur vests used 5 years ago in a 60's number, which I cannibalised to make the mane. Problems solved, thanks to a substantial stash. I guess you could call the Studio costume store room a stash too!

This month I've not been able to complete a piece of work for the Challenge. I have 2 major projects underway. The deadline for the Women Transported Exhibition is looming, and work is piling up on me. My dear SIL has been responding well to treatment for her Leukemia and they are looking at sending her home for 2 weeks later this week. I've a secret project underway for her, can't say too much in case she subscribes to this blog, VBG. The photo proves I was hard at work at the recent Craft and QUilt Fair, and guess what? in August there's another one coming up closer to home. I see some serious stash building activity on the horizon!! Did I mention I'm a founding member of "Stash Builders Anonymous?" The photo shows what I bought over 3 days of "working" at the Fair. There are some great sequins for the kids' classes, some patchwork fat quarters for my WISP quilts, some push molds for little dolls faces. Also my latest wonder product Misty Fuse for hand applique without the tears, some laser cut wooden charms (so cute and so cheap at $1 each) and a few other bits and bobs. Not shown is the walking foot for my new Bernina sewing machine and a couple of fat quarters for making ATC's (which were already cut up by the time this photo was taken.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've been tagged by Margaret!

One of my fellow Stitching Sisters has tagged us all, it will be interesting to see the answers to these "in depth" questions. I've just come home after a day setting up for the Embroiderers' Guild at the Quilt and Craft Fair, so I'm pretty tired, but it feels so good to sit down to answer these questions.

Questions and Answers
What were you doing five years ago?June of 2003:
I can't honestly remember doing much different to what I'm doing now, except for no. 5, so
1. Volunteering at an historic house (Linnwood)
2. Attending Embroiderers' Guild groups and classes
3. Teaching a kids embroidery group
4. Not doing enough personal embroidery due to other committments!
5. Doing "Embroidery by Design" an intermediate stitching course with my Guild

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
1. Make labels for the display at the Craft Show
2. Find a tablecloth for the display (forgot to pack one !)
3. Pack a project to demonstrate at the Craft Show
4. Pull out clothes to wear tomorrow, early start!
5. Go to bed early, darn that early start !!!

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. Chocolate bars
2. Chocolate drinks
3. Jelly snake lollies
4. Potato chips (but shouldn't!)
5. Cashews and Madadamia nuts

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Buy my kids the homes of their dreams
2. Travel to England to visit all the museums and galleries
3. Buy FIL a retirement village unit (would solve lots of problems!)
4. Start a Bed and Breakfast crafting retreat somewhere warm in the country
5. Get a live-in housekeeper !

What are five of your bad habits?
1. Procrastination (me too Margaret !)
2. Sleeping too much (well, some people need more that others!!)
3. Drinking too much tea
4. Eating too much (this seems a common one!!)
5. Being totally lazy one minute, then madly productive the next (isn't there a name for that condition?)

What are five places where you have lived?
Have always lived in suburbs of Sydney, NSW
1. Epping (North)
2. Arncliffe (South)
3. Bexley (South)
4. Lurnea (West) for 10 years
5. Guildford (West) for 30 years

What are five jobs you’ve had?
1. Office Assistant
2. Library Assistant
3. Trainee Dress Designer
4. Costume Technician
5. Mother of 4 children

Monday, June 09, 2008

June TIF Challenge, first thoughts

When I read Sharon B.'s June TIF brief I thought, you beauty! That's an Aussie expression, meaning great! wonderful! No-one has a more varied stash than me, I'm sure. I have scraps from professional theatrical shows I've worked on, pieces from my daughters' dancing studio days, pieces from wedding garments I made dating back to the 1980's, even scraps from my own wedding garments 34 years ago! Then there are pieces I bought as "stash enhancers" for my patchwork and quilting efforts, some still with the paper band and prices around them. I'm a great believer in buying fat quarters at craft fairs. In fact, tomorrow I set up the display for the NSW Embroiderers' Guild at the large Darling Harbour Craft and Quilt Fair which is running till next Sunday. You would not make a fortune betting on me buying at least a dozen new pieces of fabric for my 2 WISP hand pieced quilts. I also stash build with embellishments and materials at the Craft shows. As a non-driver I like being able to shop in one place with all the latest gizmos and trends on display, so I try to limit my spending to cash in hand, otherwise you can get a nasty surprise when you arrive home and look at the credit card slips !!!

This fortnight has passed very slowly, with SIL undergoing her treatment for APL on the Central Coast of NSW. I've had a house guest as well, FIL has been staying with us for a while. I'm very far behind on several major projects, and I have a deadline looming which I must get on to this week without fail! Now the digital camera has died on me, causing me to borrow one to take to a family wedding to take photos for SIL. I think I'll have to revert to using the good old scanner for adding photos to this blog till I master the DD's camera, or buy a new one. What's that old saying, it never rains but it POURS!!

We have the Queen's Birthday holiday today, so DH, FIL and I will be driving up the coast to visit SIL in hospital with some requested supplies including Chicken Noodle soup, ice blocks and strawberries! I promise to post some stash scans ASAP.

Friday, May 30, 2008

May TIF Challenge, an apology.

Well here it is, the second last day in May, and the teddy picture says it all. I'm wearing the Black Belt in Procrastination again, and I'm sorry to say that time has beaten me to present a finished piece for Sharon's TIF challenge.

This week was going to be my catch up week. Things started well enough, I finished another urgent sewing job for the Heritage Centre, and it's all packed and labelled and ready to be picked up for a photo shoot tomorrow. Then on Tuesday a very disturbing phone call from my SIL Gail. She's just been diagnosed with APL, a rare form of Leukemia which requires urgent extensive treatment. Poor Gail was given the bad news at 4.30 pm, phoned me at 4.58 to tell her brother and father, and left for hospital at 6.30 pm. We visited her there on Wednesday about 1 1/2 hours away by road, and she has been offered a clinical trial of a new drug therapy that includes arsenic and Vitamin A in massive doses. Sounds very scary, but results so far overseas have been encouraging apparently.

It's been even harder than usual to concentrate on stitching just at the moment, I had a brief burst of hand stitching last night after dinner, but alas! no solid idea has come for the May TIF challenge. I DO consider myself a costume maker and textile enthusiast, but in reality I'm just this little teddy, sitting wearing her black belt staring at an empty PURPLE box :) and wondering what's it all about??

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've joined stitchin fingers !

Exciting news again this week. Sharon B. has initiated a new group for textile enthusiasts to share information and knowledge and called it stitchin fingers
As of today there are over 300 members! The word sure has travelled fast, with lots of familiar faces turning up every minute. You can even join special interest groups, such as crazy quilting and fibre books. I've joined hand embroidery and postcards, as these are 2 areas which especially interest me. And look what arrived in the mail today, my postcard swap from Cyber Fyber artist Susan Lenz. It looks even greater in the flesh than on her website, I'm so honoured and thrilled to own it. I've made a new backing sheet for my April TIF challenge card which is soon to travel to Susan in exchange for her wonderful art. Hope she likes it, I certainly enjoyed making it, in the end, after lots of putting on and off of the Black Belt in Procrastination, LOL.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cyber Fyber exhibition

I followed a link from Doreen G's Creative Meanderings yesterday, and found the Cyber Fyber Exhibition page. Susan Lenz is a textile artist in Columbia USA who will trade your ATC's and postcards for some she has made especially to exchange, and they will be in her exhibition of international fiber art scheduled for January 2009. I emailed Susan and offerred my April TIF challenge card in exchange for her card number 207, and she has agreed to swap with me. My card will join lots of others from around the world in the exhibition in South Carolina in January, how exciting is that! If you'd like to join in, have a look at the site at
and follow the link to round 2 postcard swaps.
PS many thanks to DD's boyfriend Steve for showing me how to do hot links! Woohoo!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Artist Trading Cards received!

Last year a good friend of mine told be about Scquilters, or Southern Cross Quilters. This is an online friendship group of patchwork and quilting enthusiasts which also has a Yahoo forum group. Now I'm not a prolific patchworker or quilter, in fact I'm still to finish any major quilts. I've made one Blanket of Love with my Embroiderers' Guild group, and I'm hand pieceing a star and hexagon quilt, and a pioneer braid quilt. But I'm definitely an Enthusiast. I just love antique quilts, and later this year I'm reproducing the inscription from the Rajah quilt for an exhibition which is to commemorate the Women Transported to Australia in convict times.

In May this year Scquilters is holding a face-to-face retreat in Perth, Western Australia. As not all of the 2,000 odd members intend to go, one member suggested we might need cheering up, VBG. So the Cheer Me Up Artist Trading Card Swap was born. As a "warm up" project, several one on one swaps were successfully trialled, and now the ATC swap site has grown like topsy, to include regular ATC swaps. I've pictured my cards received today in the Cheer Me Up swap in 2 groups, as well as the lovely one received for Mothers' Day in a one on one swap with Liz Needle from South Australia.

The makers of the cards in order from top to bottom are:
Shirley Mason
Ann Halden NSW
Carol McGill QLD
Joy Vale VIC
Sasha Nelson
Jenny Loveder
Julie Donovan QLD
Helen Ducker TAS
Robyn Williams
Anieta Barendrecht ACT
Mandy Collins NSW
Tania Mancia NSW

and Liz Needle SA for the Mothers Day card.
A BIG THANK YOU for all my cards, I'm very grateful for such talented and generous fellow textile friends.