Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paying it forward

Since discovering the blogging world I have come to admire and appreciate the kindness and support shown by fellow stitchers, whether embroiderers, quilters, knitters or tatters. So you can imagine how chuffed I was to receive a nomination for a "You Make My Day" award from Jane, of Nuido - a Student's Journey, see sidebar link. This student of Japanese embroidery in the UK is doing some absolutely stunning work. I have seen another JEC student's work in the flesh and believe me it's such fine and exacting work, the standard required is so high that the mind just boggles!!
The idea is to pay it forward, so here are my nominations for the "You Make My Day" award, in random order, and not all are stitching blogs !

1. The Life of Riley at where Mike Rubbo maintains a "blob" for Olive, who is 108 years young and sharing her memories and stories with the world

2. I religiously read Sharon B's blog at every day, although now I have Google Reader it's SOOO much easier, thanks for that suggestion, Sharon. The "one stop shop" for information about the needle arts and lots more besides, and of course the current Take It Further Challenge seems to be very popular !

3. Dale Rollerson at has been a regular stop over since I went to a Playday in Sydney several years ago, and got to try out all the latest products Dale and Ian stock at the Thread Studio. And besides that, Dale is a very helpful, generous person, even if she is a Kiwi, LOL.

4. Norma at participated in TAST and kept stitching despite a personal tragedy. Norma hardly missed a beat all year, a great testament to her faith and tenacity in adversity. We are participating in a Counted Thread Band Round Robin, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Norma plans for my band.

5. Jenny B. at is a friend from the Embroiderers' Guild NSW who I first met as a Leader for a Young Textile and Fibre Group club several years ago. Jenny does wonderful withdrawn thread work, machine embroidery and a little quilting. Such a talented lady, and a worthy recipient of a nomination.

6. Elizabeth at has been sharing her explorations of stitches with us, with some excellent photos and advice. Very inspiring, makes me feel VERY lazy !!

Well, those are my top 6, as I said in no particular order, but I could add quite a few more from the TAST participants, the TIF challenge participants and of course the regular blogs and sites I surf for research for costumes. So really, I'll just say to the needle arts bloggers out there, "You ALL Make My Day" I'm so lucky to have found you all, and a BIG thankyou to Jenny B. for starting me on this blogging journey in the first place.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

January TIF Challenge finished !

I sat down after lunch today and finished assembling my little crazy scissor case from the TIF challenge block I made. It morphed from an MP3 player pouch because the foundation square was too small, that'll teach me to plan better !! I'm quite pleased with it actually, only my second ever CQ block made (the first was a kids' workshop project scroll down to post for picture.)

The photos show the front, back and the inside of the project with my "best" embroidery scissors beside it. I found a co-ordinating cotton fat quarter in my stash of small florals which I'm using for 2 different hand pieced quilt WISP's. I think I might have overdone the beading a bit, and the beaded tassel is not so practical, but a girl has to have pretty things around her all the time, doesn't she, LOL? The scissor case measures 18.5 cm including the tassel and is 11 cm wide at the top. I think I used a stitch called football stitch to join the front, must look that one up to confirm that, VBG. Bob the Quilting Cat and I look forward eagerly to the first of February for the next challenge.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January TIF Challenge NEARLY finished

Here is my January TIF challenge block, decorated some and bagged out with a nice floral lining, just before I turn it into a scissor case. It's so hard to know when you've finished with decoration on a CQ block, isn't it? Usually my projects tell me when, but this one hasn't yet. I have to stitch it into the kite shape, then I'll probably make a tassel and add a closure, and perhaps one or two more beads on a couple of bare spots I've just noticed as I loaded the photo..... Bob the Quilting Cat deserted her post after lunch, leaving me in the jumble of laces, ribbons and beads in peace. I have several other sewing projects that need my attention tomorrow, so I'll probably finish this before I retire for the night and will post the final picture on the TIF blog, see sidebar link.


Bob the Quilting Cat and I have been trying to add some decoration to this little CQ block for the January TIF Challenge, but neither off us are very imaginative. I see so many lovely CQ blocks around, but I've never had much success myself, even with Sharon's excellent stitch dictionary and TAST stitches in 2007. Do other stitchers do as much reverse embroidery as I have been doing, I think the US stitchers call it frogging, you know rip-it, rip-it!!? Bob is no help just now, she likes to play with the ribbons and beads, but eventually she has nodded off, leaving me to wade through books looking for the perfect stitch and bead combination. And I've realised the square will be too small to make my MP3 pouch, so I'm now leaning towards a little kite shaped scissor case for my best embroidery scissors. This CQ block might be the only one I ever make at this rate, LOL, it's a lot harder than everyone tells you. Or is it "Secret Women's Business" and I haven't learned the secret handshake yet?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Progress on TIF at last.

The house is quiet, everyone has gone back to work today, so Bob The Quilting Cat has been advising me about the January TIF Challenge, see sidebar link. I've cut little pieces of silk and cotton fabric and tacked them to a 6 inch square. I rearranged them so often, I think she thought it was a game we were playing. (Did I mention that Bob is a female cat? My daughter named her Bob as a joke.)

And then, what do you know, I found a pair of G string pants (not mine, I can assure you!) in the clean washing I was sorting. Do you think the owner would notice them missing, they look about the right colour for my block. No? Oh well, just goes to show you that this Challenge has made me look more closely at colours around me to try and match the colours on Sharon's palette. Off to the sewing room now for some stitching and beading, I hear Bob calling me back.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

TIF Challenge January, a beginning

I've definately decided to use the palette Sharon has suggested for the January TIF Challenge. Here is my collection of fabrics, threads and ribbons and a few beads from my stash as close to the colours as I can find. I know colour perception is an individual thing, and that some other challenge members have had difficulty matching colours for various reasons. My monitor and the printed page did not agree, LOL, so I've done my best. I'm thinking along the lines of a decorated bag for my MP3 player and earphones, as my current pouch holds my Walkman and is way too big, as well as tangling the earphones every time they are put away. I have a bit of a reprieve on one of my sewing projects, the deadline has been moved to the middle of February, so now I have HEAPS of time to work on TIF Challenge this week. DH goes back to work, so I will have the house to myself, yay. Just have to fit in some grocery shopping, a haircut, make a dress to wear on Saturday for Australia Day..... what was that I said about heaps of time? FOCUS dear, FOCUS !!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Luvlie Buzzie - my first ATC

I have a couple of exciting projects I really want to get into, but more mundane things keep getting in the way, like housework, cooking, sleeping, eating.... you know, LOL. So I've tried to be really virtuous this week, then reward myself with a little "playtime" for me. Tonight I put on the TV in the sewing room, watched the last Parkinson show with lots of special guests, and finished a little Artist Trading Card. I joined the online SCQuilters group a while ago, and in May there will be a Retreat in Perth, Western Australia. There are over 2000 Southern Cross Quilters, and as we can't all go to Perth it was decided that some of us might need cheering up. So the Cheer Me Up swap of ATC is happening and as a warm up for some of us who have never made them, we are doing a small one-on-one swap this month. This is my first card, made with some leftovers from my first Blanket of Love made a few years ago. The print had bees and butterflies on it, and I had a packet of bee buttons, so I have made a little "flight of the bumble bee" in couched goldwork thread (Jacobean I think, for the goldworkers). The stiffening is Timtex (great stuff!) and the label on the back was made on iron-on Vilene which I put through the printer and then fused. The edging is satin stitch, stitched around twice. I'm fairly pleased with it, hope my partner Fran C. will like it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kids' workshop sample

Yesterday I was tidying up my sewing room/ studio, and pulling out fabrics to audition for Sharon B.'s TIF Challenge and looking for fabrics for 2 other quick projects as well. On Wednesday I'm teaching at the Embroiderers' Guild NSW Summer School, where the theme is Crossing the Borders. I submitted a proposal for a kids' workshop featuring Crazy Patchwork, where the stitching and decorations go along and over the seams (borders). I know it's stretching the imagination a bit, but it's not called "let's go crazy" for nothing, LOL. And I've asked the kids to wear a Crazy Hat to the class, I certainly will be!!

The photo shows the class sample which I have finally finished today, the colours are actually more aqua, hot pink and yellow than my scan shows. The little purse is 9 cm x 11 cm finished, and has a shell chip bead as the closure. I had to keep the stitching very simple, as I have to teach the 5-18 year old group the stitches if they don't already know them, and there is nothing more frustrating than leaving a workshop feeling overwhelmed by the workload. Been there, done that on several occasions as an adult, don't wish to inflict that on kids! Have finished the instruction sheet apart from some diagrams of stitches, so now I can concentrate on other projects for the rest of the week.

Friday, January 11, 2008

TIF Challenge, January, the research continues.

Today Sharon B., see sidebar link, has posted about a great online exhibition featuring illustrations and writings about women's relationships with nature. Of course I spent quite a while browsing the site, and found this lovely coloured rendering of Clematis which just happened to be in Sharon's January TIF Challenge palette. I seem to be leaning more and more towards the colour palette for my January Challenge so now I just have to decide
1. Threads or fabrics
2. Form of project
3. Size of project
4. How to present it

Now you know why I say I have a Black Belt in Procrastination, one decision made leads to several more pending ! I think my Goal for 2008 will surely have to be F..O..C..U..S

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The TIF Challenge, January

I have a slight problem. I can't stop thinking about the TIF Challenge!! I'm checking blogs and flickr sites daily and seeing everyone making progress. Some people have even completed their challenge for the month, and posted their photos. I say "Well Done!" to those people, but can you tell me your secret? How does one focus on just one idea for longer that 2 minutes so that you can actually commit a project to fabric?

I began by making lists, my preferred method, no fancy "mind maps" for me !! 3 pages later I've still not narrowed down my concept ideas for "someone I admire". There are too many people out there very worthy, including textile artists, friends and relations, and celebrities. Even the qualities I admire in these people are many and varied.

So I looked again at Sharon's suggested palette. Now I have a thing for purple, as you may have noticed, LOL. So using a purple palette is not really "Taking if Further" for me. I can't even decide on the form of my project yet! How lame is that, I ask you??

I'm a member of the online Australasian quilting group Scquilters, and I'm doing an Artist Trading Card swap for those people not attending a quilting retreat in May. I signed up for a one on one swap as a "warm-up" so I've been pulling out Bright and Cheerful fabrics from my stash to audition for the card, see photo of one fabric. I've also found a few pieces which might fit into the colour palette for Sharon's Challenge, so all might not be completely lost.

I'm thinking I'm going to be posting my finished project on the last day of the month at this rate, LOL. But I'm quite used to working that way, that looming deadline seems to have a way of getting my creative juices flowing !!

I wish everyone else in the TIF challenge good luck, please send me some "creative vibes" too if you can spare a few !!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The TIF Challenge

As it's the New Year Sharon B. has set the first Take it Further Challenge for the 250+ participants, see my sidebar link.

We have the choice of designing something in fabric or paper using the key concept or the colour scheme Sharon proposes on the first of the month, and then blogging our process and hopefully a finished item by the end of the month. This time we have been asked to consider what or who we admire as the concept, and a colour palette which includes a purple, olive green and a lighter green. People have already started blogging their thought processes, while others are still digesting the challenge. I've started to write "lists" but I'm not quite ready to share them just yet, they are WISP's already, LOL. But I thought I'd share an exercise I did with Effie Mitrofanis at the Embroidery By Design course at the NSW Embroiderers' Guild a couple of years ago.

We were asked to make a collage of things that meant something special to us, first in paper and then interpret it in some stitching. The photo shows my stitched collage, and I will explain a few items.

I used a furnishing fabric in a "Regency stripe" as a tribute to my interest in that historic period. The cat on the lounge (sofa) pays homage to my pet and also my favourite spot to spend time relaxing. The lacy fan, made from painted lace with toothpick sticks, refers to my lace and costume interests, while the little quilted heart motif is of course about my love of patchwork. The Manolos shoes, well, every girl would want them if
a. she could afford them and
b. she had small dainty feet (which I don't, LOL). The laughing couple in the bed is a symbol of my relationship with my DH, while the theatrical lighted mirror around us refers to our theatrical past as we acted for a while when we were first married. The William Morris style fabric foliage in the centre was a piece in my stash that I liked and seemed to tie the collage together.

I'm still sifting though my thoughts, but this style of work has some possibilities.