Thursday, March 30, 2006

Colour Inspiration

All will be quiet on the blog front for a short while. I am off to the city today for guild committee business and tomorrow I go on to "Quilt Camp" in the bucolic surrounds of the Upper Hawkesbury. After several years of trying, I have at last been allocated a workshop with award winning Australian quiltmaker Gloria Loughman. As homework for our "Colour is Magic" workshop, we were asked to bring along an image, card etc with a colour scheme that we love. When I went to my magazine stash and saw this cover from Cuisine (my sisters gave me and David a yummy subscription last year) , I figured I was off to a promising start:

And, sure enough, I came across an article on saffron with some beautiful palettes:

I love the saturated purples, golds and oranges but we need to bring medium and light value fabrics too. So here is a small selection of hand dyed fabrics (some of them even my own!) that I am taking with me:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Living with the Laundry King

In an age where survey after survey consistently show that housework continues to fall to women, I am indeed fortunate to live with one of the most domesticated men on the planet. Cleaning, shopping, cooking, oddjobs and laundry - David does it all. Hey, he even managed to squeeze a load of laundry in on our wedding day! (Now if I could only convince him that putting fruit & vege scraps in the compost bin is a worthwhile pursuit...)

I'm sure that my habit of traipsing threads and scraps of fabric into the house from my studio drives David crazy but he puts up with it in good humour. But I think my habit of sticking pins and needles into the side of the seat cushion of my TV chair had him worried. And so my early wedding anniversary surprise ( see earlier post below) turned out to be a super-duper organiser, thingamy jiggy thing that I can rest all my sewing gumpf in/on as I sew in tails; do bindings etc as I watch TV. Note the nifty attachment on the side for putting rubbish into. And if I want to clean up for company, I can simply carry the unit and place it in the cupboard. How ingenious!

By the way, I can tell from my sitemeter stats, that I have lots of visitors from all sorts of interesting places around the world including a bunch of regulars. THANKS for checking out my blog! I hope that you are enjoying it. Do leave a comment sometime and if my Belgian readers are French speakers, I'd really love some help with my French quilting vocabulary!

In case you haven't already discovered it, I can highly recommend the service offered by bloglines ( - it allows you to list all your favourite blogs on your own private page; highlights when new entries have been added to the blogs; and lets you link to the blogs so that you can read what's new. This way you can keep up to date with all the happenings, without having to manually go through your own favourites/bookmarks. I've found this service really useful and means that I waste slightly less time on the computer when I could be sewing :-)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Talk about quilts!

I've just returned from presenting a "quilt and book" seminar at my local library. 25-30 people turned up which was a very pleasing result, given the modest means of advertising the talk. And despite the library being situated in a cluster of retirement villages, the audience extended beyond the grandmother demographic . I always get excited when I see younger people taking an interest in textiles and quilting, although I suspect that the baby in attendance was more interested in using a quilt than making one.

One of the questions I am often asked is how long I have been quilting for. Usually I say "since Queens Birthday Weekend in June 2000" as I vividly recall the start of my serendipity journey in making a cot quilt for a friend's baby. However, if I am being strictly accurate, I made my "very first quilt" back in the summer of 84/85. It was a glorious seersucker affair, made from factory offcuts without recourse to books or anyone with quiltmaking experience. As you can see, it is not exactly beautiful but it provided instant warmth and a feeling of home in various student houses as I studied political science and law at university. Furthermore, 20+ years later, it is still going strong...

Friday, March 24, 2006

In Favour of Bed Quilts

I've just been preparing the guest room for friends that are coming on the weekend and I'm afraid that there is no quilt on the guest bed. Yes there is a doona (does anyone outside Australia use this term?!) with a Ken Done cover with bright parrots. It suits the space very well and seems to cope admirably with the morning sun that streams into the room but there is no bed quilt made by me :-(

Synchronicity is away being photographed for a magazine at the moment and none of the other quilts I have to hand is quite big enough to keep two people warm on these slightly cooler autumn evenings.

Indeed, we don't even have one on my quilts on our bed as Copacabana Carnivale is waiting to be quilted. Silly me started an unforgiving petal design to go into the outer two rows - 8 blocks down, only 52 to go. Gulp - it seemed like a good idea at the time! Of course, now that I have more confidence with free motion quilting, I would do it quite differently. The thought of guiding that big heavy quilt through the machine with a walking foot is quite off-putting but neither can I bring myself to undo the quilting that has already been done. And so the quilt languishes in the cupboard while I pursue more immediately gratifying projects.

Despite all evidence to the contrary in my own home, I do relish the functionality of bed quilts as contemporary home textiles. I look forward to the day that guests will find not just one but several bed quilts when they come to visit. In the meantime, they will just have to enjoy the quilts on my walls.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quelle surprise?!

I almost finished quilting the commission/celebration quilt today. Stretching and relaxing between bursts, I could hear a great commotion from David's workshop which is located directly below my studio. Being summer, it's been a while since David has spent any time in his workshop - he prefers to work on his tan at the beach. However, today indifferent weather apparently forced him indoors. When I inquired what he was working on, he replied "none of your business!" Rightly, or wrongly, I have translated this to mean "something for you, so stop asking questions!". But I don't have any idea what it could be! I'll just have to wait and see.

I'm now two-thirds of the way through my refresher French course. It's proving to be a gentle but pleasant reintroduction to the idiosyncracies of the language. My reading and aural comprehension skills are pretty good but when it comes to speaking - quelle horreur! Fortunately the teacher is very tolerant and good humoured so none of us need be intimidated. Hopefully a little osmosis is taking place and I'll be more fluent by the time we reach the French Pyrenees in May.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Flying High

My studio is still somewhat chaotic but I am succeeding in getting some projects closer to completion. Here is Tony & Melissa's celebration quilt, complete with planes pulling banners. Tomorrow is quilting day!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Finishing Up

Today has been a day for completing projects. Or at least trying to. My studio is in chaos at the moment and I really want to restore some order.

I have completed the quilting on fishnet. Not that you can tell from this image. However, if you click on it to see the larger size, you may be able to see that I have quilted t-shapes into the background to continue the shadowy, yet iridescent fishnet imagery. I started quilting the black background squares with greenish thread but, in another wonderful moment of serendipity, happened to glance into my thread drawer to see the red/green/purple variegated thread that I had purchased earlier in the year - it works perfectly! Now to do the binding - black or multi-coloured?

Mmm...while I think about that one, I put a green binding onto the Bright Patch.

Then I finally completed the earthwaterfire:

You will recall that I struggled with fire. I remain unhappy with it but wanted to complete the triptych so that I can use it as a sample in my forthcoming "Making Waves" workshops.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Bright Patch

I'm off to "Quilt Camp" at the end of month and participants are encouraged to make a quilt for a children's charity organisation. So here is my contribution:

Monday, March 13, 2006

Chartreuse Liz - the Queen in Green

Today was another day in the city processing quilt show entry forms. I didn't get to see Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II while she was in town - she was too busy at official openings and Commonwealth Day church services to assist me. However, David is one of HM's greatest fans and he recorded one of the functions for me so I didn't miss out on seeing Liz in her wonderful pale chartreuse suit and hat. I use lime and chartreuse all the time in my quilts and can only hope that I can carry off a chartreuse suit with such aplomb when I am a similar age!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bubbling Along

The celebration quilt commission is coming along nicely. I have now appliqued all of the "champagne bubbles" onto the outback palette background and have joined together the background blocks. Being blue tones, the "bubbles" look more like floating clouds but this outcome is quite serendipitous as the clients operate an air charter business and are looking for a slight avian theme to be introduced into their quilt. My next task is to attach the borders and to applique an aeroplane towing a banner with their names across the top border:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Secretary Daze

It's been a little quiet on the quilting front lately as I have spent 5 intense days out of the last two weeks processing entries for the Sydney Quilt Show - a members exhibition of The Quilters Guild of NSW Inc. Yet again, we have received a record number of entries (350+) across all categories so data entry has been a challenge (my fingers are protesting about being curled up over the keyboard so long - they want to be back caressing fabric!). There will be some fabulous quilts on display so mark 14-18 June 2006 in your calendar. And if you can't make it to the show in person, you will be able to see the winning quilts posted on the guild's website.

This week, I also received the go-ahead for the next stage of a celebration quilt that I am making on commission. When my sister Amy got married, I made a Confetti Wedding Quilt using circles of fabric that had been signed by family and friends:

The client asked if I would make a smaller wallhanging in a similar style. And so we have signed "champagne bubbles" on an outback pallette. Here is a very preliminary colour and block placement:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

My Treasure Drawer

As a child, at the instigation of my mother, I had something called a "treasure drawer" - a special place to keep all those little trinkets and mementos and drawings that often accumulate. An important feature of the "treasure drawer" was that I was the sole curator of its contents. I knew that anything I put in there, provided it was not perishable, was safe from adult interference or cleaning exuberance. If the drawer started to overflow, then it was my job to sort through the treasures and to decide what should be sacrificed and what should be saved.

Now my husband will assert that this experience has done little to curb my hoarding tendencies. Each time we move house, he marvels at how much "stuff" I have kept for posterity despite supposedly being ruthless from time to time. One glance in a surviving manifestation of my "treasure drawer" reveals why it is no surprise that I have embraced blogging with such in enthusiasm - for housed in a bright orange globag, from my first day at school, I find: diaries from my teenage years; travel journals; newspaper clippings; school magazines and photos from my first attempts at B&W photography as an 8 year old. Elsewhere I have: all the letters that I received from and wrote to my family as an exchange student to Washington State in pre-email 1983; various other letters, journals and travel albums; not to mention mountains of photographs. However, I have managed to discard various high school projects; university assignments; financial records from the 1980s (did I really manage to live so contentedly on less than $5000 a year?!); certain love letters and so on.

These days, I regard my studio as one big "treasure drawer". My own personal domain and creative space. And this is what is sitting on my design wall at present:

I think the unusual dimensions are in keeping with the fishnet theme. And it should fit in quite well on one of the unusual shaped walls in the main house. Now to work out how to quilt it...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today was the closing day for entries to the Sydney Quilt Show so I am off to Sydney for a couple of days to process the entries that have been received and to attend a committee meeting. (I am Exhibition Secretary of The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc.) While I am gone, I thought I would leave you with a shot where I am up to on my latest project - Fishnet:

It was actually planned to be a square quilt on a different theme. But I do not have enough fabric and it has taken on a new direction. Such is the serendipity of the art of the quilt!

Breaking the Rules

Around Casa da Praia (the name we bestowed on our home at Copacabana - it's Portuguese for "house of the beach") we have a long standing house rule that you are not allowed breakfast unless you have been for a walk and/or a swim. Exercise and salt air are a great tonic and this daily constitutional gives a little structure to retirement living. Besides David knows that this is one chance he gets to see me before I disappear into my studio and he returns to the "office" (the beach) to work on his tan.

However, the house rule has some flexibility as we don't enforce it strictly in inclement weather. As it is raining today, I am in my studio bright and early. I guess that is not really breaking the rules.

Le feu (fire) was making me fou (crazy) - I must practise my French vocabulary as we leave for Europe in just two months. Instead of completing, earthwaterfire, I've been doing some play pieces to get my equilibrium back so here is a sample: