Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Last Post?

Following in the very fine footsteps of Red Shoe Ramblings and others, I have decided to bring my blog under my own domain at:

Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt Blog

When I first started blogging at the beginning of this year, I decided to go with Blogger to see if I had the inspiration and stamina for regular blogging. 250+ posts later, it's evident that blogging is part of my life and I've decided to embrace my inner geek by moving from Blogger to the Wordpress platform. Whether the move is permanent remains to be seen.

In any event, I will keep this blog space in the public domain so that any links remain operational including my popular tutorial on how to create a personal blog banner in Blogger.

Do come and visit me in my new home!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A little exercise

After the excesses of festive dining, a little exercise was in order. Off to the National Park where the angophoras grace the canopy:

And the flannel flowers bloom on the forest floor:

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Farewell Quilt

I don't know about you, but I find the rhythms of quiltmaking to be wonderfully therapeutic; a sense of wellbeing envelopes me when I am at one with my sewing machine and there are few things more satisfying than knowing that your quilt is destined for an appreciative home.

When my quilting friend Monica announced at the end of November that she was returning to America to take up her dream job at a university in Michigan, I knew that she would need a real Aussie quilt (not a UFO) instilled with plenty of good vibes to keep her warm so far away. I also knew her other quilting friends would want to contribute but the logistics were challenging as the festive season was upon us. Yet, just look at what we accomplished! At the guild meeting in early December, I surreptitiously collected signed circles and others arrived in the post. A quick rustle through my stash yielded a rainbow of background squares onto which I fused and machine blanket stitched the circles:

I found a suitably cheery border and backing fabric on sale (please excuse the crooked photo):

And Erica attended to personal delivery to a very surprised and delighted Monica today:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Continuing Migration

Between swimming; hanging out with my family; eating leftovers and working on my new blog, there's not much to report from Copacabana. Certainly no quilting is happening but it's good to recharge from time to time.

I am making good progress with setting up my new blog despite the fact that Wordpress does not have a template preview function. You are welcome to have a sneak preview and let me know what you think. However, I recommend that you don't set your rss/Bloglines feed to the new site until further notice as I am still categorising my posts; manually transferring 30-odd recalcitrant posts; and manually inserting author links in my transferred comments. Constantly being notified of these updates could get a little tiresome!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We Just Dyed

Here are the results of our dyeing day:

Can you tell that we are sisters?

And I am inching ever closer to my new blog as Liz kindly referred me to this Wordpress thread which in turn linked me to this clever solution which allowed me to transfer the majority of my posts, images and comments from new Blogger to Wordpress.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The surf was too rough today for safe swimming so Delia and I did a spot of dyeing (photos tomorrow). The family is now working on jigsaw puzzles, concentrating on shapes and colours.

On the subject of puzzles, my new year's resolution to migrate my blogspot blog to Wordpress (tied to one of my websites) has suffered a slight setback. I have searched a number of support forums but it seems that no one has yet developed a tool for importing posts from new/beta Blogger into Wordpress. Of course, I only found this out after I had converted my blogspot blog from "old" to "new" blogger. Sigh.

Anyway, if anyone has a reasonably straightforward solution, please let me know as part of the reason for the proposed move is to keep control over my own content and I would like to get my blogging history (250+ posts) onto my own domain.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Festivities

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve. Delia brought her guitar,Rowan brought up a new adaptor for my digital piano and Mum brought over my repaired clarinet from high school band so we had our very own Christmas music. An unexpected power outage around 9.30pm fortunately did not interrupt our dinner but did defer our viewing of Holiday Inn. Some of Santa's elves were a little sleepy this morning:

Julian and Tracey love their wedding quilt - an autumn-toned version of my Synchronicity pattern:

And David made me a new sign for outside my studio:

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Kiwi Touch

Those of you in New Zealand, or readers of Dale's blog, will be familiar with the distinctive red pohutukawa blooms that line the North Island coast at this time of year. It's something I miss in Australia so I ordered this platter from Morris & James pottery and Mum played courier:

The pottery is close to the town where I grew up in New Zealand but they do mail order. Judging by the packaging on this platter, there is little risk of goods breaking in transit.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that this platter has a very similar palette to the tulip urn that we have to the right of the fireplace in our living area. One of my most favourite things!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Wedding

Christmas is a time for gathering of family and weddings also bring people together. Combine the two and you have the makings of a real celebration. Yesterday I went to the wedding of a friend from Auckland law school. We both reside in Australia these days and the wedding was held in the quintessentially Sydney setting of Jonah's overlooking Whale Beach. It was a very joyful occasion.

If you click to enlarge this map, you will see that our home at Copacabana is quite close to the Northern Beaches of Sydney. However, since my car is not amphibious and is not capable of traversing the Hawkesbury River, we took the long way around - a thankfully event-free journey despite holiday traffic.

My brother and sister in law arrived from Queensland yesterday and more family are due to arrive today. To everyone travelling at this busy time, keep safe.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Continuing Consumer Tales

When my parcel didn't arrive yesterday, I called Kodak back; went through all the silly prompts; went through my plaintive "help, help, help,supervisor, help, help, help, service!, help, help help" spiel and eventually got to talk to a more helpful supervisor. Incidentally, on the Kodak phone system "customer service representative" are apparently the magic words to bypass the prompts and get through to a real person. Not that the representative that I spoke to on Wednesday could tell me that. What do they think we are, mind readers?!

Distribution is the downfall of many e-commerce enterprises and I understand things go astray but unresponsive telephone service channels just add insult to injury.

Anyway, Jonathan conceded that my parcel appeared to be lost and so I arranged for my order to be reprocessed which means David may get his Christmas present by New Year's, all going well:-( I've also received various refunds, vouchers and credits should I ever feel the urge to purchase Kodak products again...

On a brighter note, my Electric Quilt 6 upgrade arrived in the mail yesterday (posted from the US on 13 December so delivery within a week or so by regular air mail is certainly possible even at this time of the year). Installation and registration went through without any glitches so I'm ready to start designing a medallion quilt for my mother. I have also made some super lime shortbread using the recipe from rooruu's blog AND I have transferred this blog onto new Blogger (due to its size, it took an hour but that's OK).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Consumer Outrage

I am not generally hostile to technology but, if there is one thing guaranteed to make my blood pressure rise, it is a non-responsive automated voice telephone system. I purchased a Christmas gift item from Kodak in America at the end of November. I received confirmation that the item was shipped on 30 November by first class air mail and, according to the Kodak website, it should reach me within 7-14 days. Needless to say, the package still hasn't arrived.

Yesterday, I double-checked the status of my order on the Kodak website to be informed that it was shipped on 30 November. I then endeavoured to contact Kodak to find out what was happening. First, I incurred the expense of an international call to their service centre. I selected the "questions about orders" voice prompt and then went through the ridiculous charade of punching in my order ID to have it report back to me that my order was shipped on 30 November. Grr...having delivered this information, the voice system either wanted me to investigate another order number or hang up. There was no prompt asking me to hold for a customer service representative.

I hung up and tried to contact Kodak by e-mail thinking that it might be a better avenue. Nope:
We wanted to let you know that we've just received your message. Due to a large volume of inquiries, you may experience a short delay while we investigate your concern. We assure you that a Customer Service representative will respond as quickly as possible.
So, thinking that perhaps I had misheard the initial options on the automated voice system, I then telephoned Kodak again. Still, no speak to a real person option. Still the same charade of punching in numbers to be told something I already know. So, with increasing desperation and volume, I said help! superviser!help! help! help! help! superviser! help! HELP!...

Miraculously the voice mail system then transferred me through to another line where I was informed that I would wait approximately 1 minute and 47 seconds. More like 5 minutes and 47 seconds. I then got a real person but no satisfaction.

I was informed that, from Kodak's point of view, the package would not technically be overdue until today (something to do with international time zones and business days) and to call back if I don't receive it. When I asked what procedure I should follow to get through to a customer service representative, the operator could only advise me to call the relevant number and follow the prompts!!! I have zero confidence that the package will arrive in time for Christmas but we'll see.

(To be fair, I understand that I will be credited with the A$20 shipping fee but, in effect, I can see my phone bill will cancel that out. Not a happy customer.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Update to Blog Banner Tutorial

I see that Blogger is no longer "in beta" and the "new" version of Blogger has been launched. All of us that got comfy with blogspot will have to transfer over sooner or later (or find a new home) so it is perhaps timely that I have updated my blog banner tutorial to outline how to insert a personal blog banner in new Blogger. Bon courage!

Christmas Preparations

This year I get to celebrate Christmas in my own home. This is somewhat unusual - with David's family living in America and much of my family in New Zealand, we tend to travel at this time of year. However, this year my mother, two brothers and one of my three sisters will be joining us at Casa da Praia and preparations are in full swing. I'm so excited!

The decorations, such as they are, are up; the beds are made up with fresh linen (sorry Delia but you get to blow up your bed!); the fridge and pantry are bulging (I did general grocery shopping last night and had the store virtually to myself - gotta love 24 hour supermarkets); the fishmonger and butcher orders are in; vacuuming will begin when I declare that I have finished all hand sewing and promise not to drop any threads in the main house for a week; and so on.

I put in an order for fine weather but the forecast is for damp and windy. This is quite OK with my brother Julian as he is living in Caity country (I mean Toowoomba) and is craving the sound of rain on the roof. Here on the coast we get rain often enough - it just doesn't fall in the catchments so we are on Type 4 water restrictions.

By the way, I went ahead and transferred the guild blog over to Beta Blogger yesterday AND "upgraded" the template. Conversion is easy - it's the upgrade where you can lose your customised layout. It took me a little while to get oriented with the new tools and widgets but I have worked out a painfree way of inserting your own banner. I will be updating my tutorial accordingly. Watch this space.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A New Challenge

I received my January issue of Down Under Quilts today and was interested to see that the theme for the 2008 Calendar Competition is my secret garden. Entries close on Friday 27 April 2007 so that gives me four clear months (ha!) to synthesise my design ideas and turn them into a quilt, or two. I find the 100cm x 100cm size requirement is a comfortable scale to work with, but this doesn't stop cquilt from having its own ideas. Both fishnet and hot cross blocks were started as possible entries into the 2007 DUQ calendar competition (theme - crossroads) so anything can happen!

fishnet ©2006

hot cross blocks ©2006
PS: See the DUQ blog for more information about the competition.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bags Too

Here's a photo of my two fruit bags finished:

My sewing machine is a Bernina 150QE. I deliberately chose this machine because it doesn't have a multitude of decorative stitches. However, I do find the wavy stitch (No 4) very useful for these kinds of projects - just make sure that you adjust the stitch length to "2" or thereabouts.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bag of Fruit

I have to say that all these Christmas surprises kind of cramp one's blogging style. However, I think it is safe to say that my grandmother doesn't read my blog, so here's a progress shot of the tote bag that I am making her:

My sister Delia gave me the fruit theme fabric a couple of years ago and I am sure that she will approve of its use in this way.

On a completely different subject, following the lead of others such as DebR of Red Shoe Ramblings and Kirsty of Two Lime Leaves, I am seriously contemplating setting up a Wordpress blog tied to one of my personal websites in the New Year. This is prompted by a desire to keep control over my own content rather than any particular dissatisfaction with Blogger which has served me well as I entered the blogosphere. I welcome comments from others who have gone down this path or have other suggestions.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Making Memories

Last weekend I went to a friend's 50th birthday celebrations. It was a fun party but the best bit was when the birthday boy's daughters delivered a "Remember when..." tribute, chronicling some of their fondest memories of their dad. How nice to share this with the living rather than waiting for a funereal event. (Amongst other things, I now know that the birthday boy is very proficient at pulling hair into buns for ballet dancing!)

The festive season is a great time for making memories with family and friends - just make sure they are fun memories and not bah humbug ones.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another day, another label

I'm on a roll!

(I told you I had messy handwriting; why do I think it will be any better if I sew it?)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Feeling Festive

Today we decorated to the strains of the Christmas carols. First we swapped out the display quilt with Christmas Carousel :

(See I told you every wall in this house gets some kind of sun. This photo was taken at 5.25pm and that gash of light is the late afternoon glare.)

Then we pulled out the Christmas decorations which haven't seen the light of day for two years since we were away last Christmas. It was like catching up with old friends. David set up the nativity, complete with nodding donkeys from his childhood:

No Christmas tree. Love the smell but they die instantly in this climate. One day, I plan on making a large quilted wall hanging tree that we can pin decorations to. In the meantime, we spread the decorations around the fireplace and bookshelves. Mum is bringing the stockings with her from New Zealand next week. I wonder if Santa will work out where to find us...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Signing Your Work

Following yesterday's post on labels, I put this signature on my latest quilt:

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Problem with Labels

If I had to nominate a step in the quiltmaking process that I enjoy least, it would be labels. This is kind of weird because I love doing bindings and associate bindings with the joy of completing a project. But not labels - go figure.

I can recite all the reasons why labelling your quilt and recording its story is a good idea. I also acknowledge the practical benefits of capturing quilt care details such as noting what kind of batting is used. Nevertheless, I confess that many of my quilts are currently sans labels. Part of the reason for this is that I've made quite a few baby quilts and I like to personalise the labels when I've identified the recipient which can be at a much later time. Other excuses for not labelling my quilts are that my needlework skills are not up to par to hand embroider labels. Perhaps I should practise...

Some of my labels are basic pigma pen specials but my handwriting is not so neat so I prefer to print my labels with my inkjet printer. This is very much a hit and miss exercise. Sometimes the printer picks up the fabric sheets and my label emerges crisp and clean like this label on my sister's Confetti Wedding Quilt:

Other times, the printer feeds crookedly. Or worse, it doesn't engage at all but proceeds to print anyway gunking everything up. I think I 've developed a label phobia as a result. I'd be interested to know how you go about labelling your quilts.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

In praise of lists

The plump guy in a red suit is not the only one making a list and checking it twice. I've just updated my massive "to do" list for the next few weeks including the following sublists:
  • gift shopping
  • festive food orders and shopping
  • housekeeping action items
  • quilting project deadlines
  • magazine publishing deadlines
  • teaching/workshop preparation
  • Guild Exhibition Secretary tasks
  • blog feeding ideas
  • website updates
  • bill payment dates
  • social calendar
I'd never remember it all without my list!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Almost Famous

Helen Conway (fellow blogger, lawyer and quiltmaker) has written a great article about blogging. It appears in the latest issue of British Patchwork & Quilting and includes some images and references to my humble blog. Also, Francoise kindly translated my Quilters Guide to Blogging into French for inclusion in her Belgian Quilting Guild's newsletter. Thanks Helen and Francoise.

I love every aspect of the quiltmaking process and am keen for others to discover this creative outlet. Developing online resources through my websites and blogs is a wonderful way of sharing and I'm enjoying being part of the vibrant and diverse online quilting community.

By the way, through Sharon B's blog In A Minute Ago, I have found a comprehensive online dyeing resource at Fabric Dyeing 101. Here are the results of my first ever attempt at dyeing back in 2002:

My brother used this photo to make my Serendipity Patchwork & Quilting logo
Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt Blog
and I've never looked back!

Friday, December 08, 2006


I have just returned from an overnight trip to Sydney on guild business. As usual, I took the train. It is a picturesque trip as the train goes through national parks and hugs the banks of some remote inlets on the Hawkesbury River. As I sewed labels onto a couple of quilts, I couldn't help but overhear the lively conversation of a group of senior citizens behind me. However, the best overheard discussion of the day was while perusing the magazine section at a bookshop. A guy in his suit raced up to the quilting section, whips out his mobile phone and says:
"Hello darling - I'm just at Borders and see that they have the latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine. Do you want me to bring a copy home with me?"
Obviously very well trained...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Visitor 20,000

Visitor 20,00o popped in briefly at 12.37am Sydney time after visiting Melody's site. She lives in Jacksonville Florida and has a Bellsouth is her internet service provider and seems to be a regular reader. Whoever you are, if you don't wish to leave a comment, you can e-mail me privately.

I will also send a small something to Jan who was Visitor 20002 and kindly left a message.

Off to bed now, it's been a long day!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Visitor Count Update

Thank you for all your kind comments. As at 10pm Sydney time, my visitor count is 19,982 - only 18 new visitors until my sitemeter hits 20,000...

Checking In

Before I dash off to catch the bus to the shopping mall for a farewell lunch for another quilting friend, I thought I would post this picture of The Sultan's Rings which I have finally quilted:

I especially enjoyed doing the bird's nest quilting:

And remember, I have a small treat for my 20,000th reader (my sitemeter is up to 19,920).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A matter of space

Just because I don't have any new photos to display doesn't mean that I am not quilting. On the contrary, I have all sorts of Christmas surprise projects on the go. Fortunately, most of the sewing projects are gifts as I am running out of places to store my quilts - open any cupboard or look under any bed in this house and you will find a bundle of carefully folded quilts. (Incidentally, in a recent issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine, there is a super article showing how to fold your quilt on the bias so as to avoid ingrained creases.)

I love the functionality of bed quilts but storing on the guest bed is not an option as it the guest bedroom receives generous morning sun. Similarly, most walls in the house receive direct or indirect sun. My prize-winning "Making Waves" quilt resides on a prime wall in our main living area:

It's fading a little but I'm resigned to this. After all, I need to show that there is a quilter in the house!

My friend Monica is moving from Sydney to Allendale, Michigan (any readers in that part of the world?) and she is grappling with a different kind of quilting/space dilemma. She's reluctant to pack her quilts all together in one container lest some disaster occur in transit. She is squashing some in her suitcase; others will go into a container and she has left me her Sydney Quilt Show 2007 entry to be returned to her by post in due course.

How do you cope with storing but enjoying your quilts?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Studying the Statistics

Like Shelina, I regularly review the statistics and other information collected by the sitemeter on my blog. While my readership fluctuates, I average a modest 120 visitors per day mostly from the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Many seem to pop in after spending time with Melody; others are referred by the comprehensive listing generously compiled and maintained by Maria Elkins; and others appear to be traced from comments I have left on other people's blogs where people have clicked on my blogger profile. I currently have 38 subscribers via Bloglines and many of those subscribers seem to click onto the actual blog rather than reading the Bloglines page. This is my preference too especially as images sometimes don't show up on the Bloglines page.

Some people pop in and out quickly - others linger. Some click to enlarge images - some don't.

The search strings make interesting reading too. Judging by the number of people looking for Marcia Hoipo, a member of the Facets textile group whose exhibition I viewed earlier in the year, she would be well served by getting a blog or website of her own. There are a lot of bloggers out there too that wish to personalise their blog banners - I hope they find my tutorial useful.

However, all the statistical analysis in the world is no substitute for reader feedback via comments either on or off-blog. I really prefer dialogue rather than blathering into the ether! And, in response to this post, I found out this week that some men actually read my blog on occasion.

As I write, my sitemeter reads 19,677 so I expect to clock up 20,000 readers this week. Probably on Wednesday (Tuesday US time). In the spirit of the season, I have a small gift for my 20,000th reader. Of course, if you leave a comment, it will be easier for me to track you down!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Official Launch of the Guild Blog

Today is the final Guild general meeting of the year and, as a kind of Christmas present to Guild members, we will be officially launching the Guild's blog - Template Free. If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to visit from time to time. Amongst other things, you will find the code for the Sydney Quilt Show 2007 button:

Sydney Quilt Show 2007

Friday, December 01, 2006

A little festive cheer

There is a festive ATC (artist trading card) swap at tomorrow's guild meeting. I don't tend to make ATCs or textile postcards as I prefer to work on a bigger scale and am not much into embellishment. That said, I whipped up this ATC before breakfast this morning and found it quite fun:

And here is the trio: