Friday, March 28, 2008

TIF Challenge March

As much as I hate to admit it, I have to concede that the March challenge deadline is going to pass me by for the moment. I had decided earlier this week I would work to the theme Sharon offered us, to look at the small details in things. My only excuse is that lately when I have a day out I need the day following it to rest and recuperate, and it's been a hectic week (again!) No-one tells you that you slow down A LOT as you get older, VBG. I envy those folk who dash around with seemingly boundless energy and I look at them wisely and think, one day you'll be paying for that, my girl !! Oh dear, that sounded just like something my mother would say!

But seriously, I feel really naughty about missing the deadline again, but I know "Life" happens and will probably happen again to some of the other Challengers. So please except my humble apologies for not finishing, but accept my photo offering as my design inspiration. I'll try to post a March challenge completed soon.

This week we've had some really heavy dew falling in Sydney overnight, and after recent wet weather the spiders have really been plentiful in my garden. On Monday morning, this lovely web with its sparkly embellishment greeted me when I went out to feed my stray black cat. That night I went out with the camera to see which spider was building it. Wow, what a monster! Not sure what kind he is, possibly called a crab spider or something similar because of his giant fat body and crab like legs. There are 3 or 4 webs along this fence, and they are anchored to the tops of the trees or the clothes line as well. I feel very guilty cutting the anchor to the clothes line when I have to hang washing and turn the line around. But they rebuild faithfully every evening around dusk. The natural world certainly is fascinating in every little detail, isn't it?

PS Just looked him up on the "Spider Locator" website, he's a Golden Orb Weaver and apparently very common. Wonder if this kind was the culprit when my poor DH encountered a spider at face height outside one night a couple of years ago? The result was a bad fall onto a concrete path and a patella (knee cap) smashed in 3 pieces (the husband's, not the spider's !!!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

TIF February - finished !

I'm feeling very virtuous tonight, I've just put the finishing touches to my February challenge postcard. Our theme was "What are you old enough to remember?"

After several very LONG posts where I let the memories flood out, I was fairly sure about the my subject. I chose the Nat King Cole song "Autumn Leaves" which featured on an old 78rpm record I used to play on a wind-up grammophone as a child.

My piece comprises several fabric leaf shapes in cotton, organza, and gold metallic leather trapped under variegated tulle. The background fabric is a piece of leaf design velvet brocade furnishing fabric (very hard to sew through so didn't need any stiffening!) Then I stitched some feather, twisted chain and leaf stitch "twigs" over the top, and some faceted green beads for a bit of sparkle. The words are from the first line of the song and just by reading them here I'm transported back to the front porch of the family home where I used to sit and listen to the record. A very powerful medium, music.

I've really enjoyed this journey down memory lane. The Challenge was for me to actually interpret my feeling in fabric and complete it, even though it was a tad late. Now on to the March piece, still planning and auditioning fabrics and threads and trying to decide what to do. Perhaps over the Easter break I can finally put needle to fabric.

Several exciting things have happened this week. I travelled into the City to visit our Powerhouse Museum storage area where my special Women Convict costume group was shown extant examples of early women's clothing from the Collection. Then we visited Hyde Park Barracks where there are lots of actual convict / early settler relics on display and in the storage room. We were given a behind-the-scenes tour, a very interesting place. In the early days of our new colony, soldiers then convict women and destitute people were housed in the barracks. Over the years the rats made nests under the floorboards with lost and discarded clothes, utensils and papers. During renovations the "treasure" was discovered, and now they are unravelling the nests (after treatment I hope!) and re-assembling some of the garments and household goods they are finding. Intriguing stuff, wish I had time to volunteer to be a "nester" but maybe next year?

The other exciting thing was that the package containing 2 of the counted thread band round robin pieces has finally arrived from Texas. We've been crossing our fingers and toes that it wasn't lost in transit, it seemed to take so long to get here. Perhaps we should blame the dreadful US weather and then the slow international postal system, but it was very exciting today to collect the package from the post office. I had to show my passport as I.D. as I'm a non-driver. People are incredulous when they ask for your drivers' licence as ID and you state that you don't drive. They stare like you're from another planet, I swear they do. Anyway, parcel safely arrived, collected, opened, and now the work is pinned up on my design board waiting for inspiration to strike so I can stitch my section and send them on to the next person.

Friday, March 14, 2008

TIF Challenge March - something positive !

I decided to begin this post with something positive for a change, VBG. I'm positive that I won't be finishing the March challenge in the next few days !! In fact, I've only just selected the coloured threads, and I've NO IDEA what I'm going to do with them. Even though I've been dropping hints like falling Autumn leaves (oh ! NO!! That darned song is in my head again!) my DH has not yet declared that we are having a short holiday over Easter. So unless I take the initiative and book somewhere, I guess we're not going away. That should give me some more time to stitch and I'll just have to wait till late April for my trip, as we are supposed to be going on an Executive Retreat with his firm.

I check my Google Reader daily for updates from some of the participants in the TIF Challenge, and I'm amazed at the diversity of the projects people design. I tend to stick with what I know, but this is supposed to be a "Take it Further Challenge". I'd like to use it as a way to push myself into different areas I haven't explored, or have only touched on in courses and never done again. Perhaps I should leaf through my resource and reference books from the 4 years of studies I took through the Embroiderers' Guild of NSW. I took their Basic Course and then the Embroidery By Design Course (formerly the Intermediate Certificate)and really enjoyed them. Then I might rekindle interest in a technique and that will lead to a design idea. I think sometimes we do these courses, and then file the information away, till something like this comes along and sparks our creative fire again. Whew, all these "firey" references, can you tell I'm suffering with the heat? We're having a snap heatwave in Sydney, Summer hasn't quite finished with us yet after all.

Friday, March 07, 2008

TIF Challenge March, first thoughts

Oh dear! It looks like I'm destined to be a "late starter" again this month. Just when I thought I was making headway with committments, a couple of new things have popped up. One is quite interesting, a request to pen an article for an American needlework publication about the NSW Embroiderers' Guild Young Textile and Fibre Group, see link on side bar. The other came in an email today, a request for a Victorian mourning costume for a short film. Haven't phoned the producer yet, will do that this weekend. But could be interesting since the film is being shot at the end of April!! I still owe 2 historic costumes to my historic house job, 12 ATC's to my online quilting group, 2 colonial bonnets to Christina Henri, and I was HOPING to go away for Easter. Fat chance now, you say!! Oh well.

Back to the topic, TIF Challenge for March. Sharon asked us to "consider the small details" and offerred us the palette shown above. Now I'm not sure whether I should take the easier road and stitch something with the colours, or make something really small eg. an ATC using the theme. I think I'll have to think some more over the weekend. Must go to bed now, I have to get up early to do a community radio interview about the Linnwood Open House this Sunday, see sidebar for Friends of Linnwood blog. No rest for the wicked, as Mum often says.