Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Diversions and Action

The brain is a marvellous thing - just as you are really winding yourself up with "the last list" of things to be completed before the working year winds to a close, it is also capable of noticing the extraordinary that is so often right under our noses. I mean to say - just look at this - how's this for a fantastic use for spray cans?? So much better than the graffiti and tagging that seems to be endemic.... I found it on my regular route to work - and one day I even remembered to bring my camera with me to share this fabulous sight. I think it definitely qualifies as gorilla art.
So I'm feeling pleased with myself that I noticed it and then remembered to photograph it - an all this while my brain too resembles that lace that Jude, from Spirit Cloth, referred to in her recent post. I'm afraid that my mind also appears to be all holes and patches - nothing that a good holiday can't start to mend... after all, where there is life there is hope...
But before the holiday there is "the list" to be got through... so here are a couple of the more recent things I'm pleased to be able to cross off - another use for doilies... this time as part of a doll quilt for a particularly adorable two year old, who had such fun playing with some of my lace doilies while I had coffee with her mother last week that I thought she definitely needed a small something to keep her dolls warm. If I remember rightly, the butterfly fabric was the backing on the quilt I made her when she was born.
and the prototype for the annual Christmas decorations that I'll be making this year. Here's the full confession - I pinched the idea from an advertisement in the current edition of Selvedge magazine - I can't credit the inspired person who came up with it as it was part of the advertisement for their next edition. It took my breath away and I immediately took to the sewing room. I have altered it, but the full acknowledgement for the idea rests with Selvedge - my favourite of all the international textile magazines - and that is really saying something!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On the home stretch

Serious countdown time now and it's starting to come together nicely - wedding quilt is all completed with only the label to go.... I'm so pleased I decided to get it quilted by Sue - she's done a marvellous job in super quick time. It has a large leafy vine pattern all over it which really suits the colours and feel of the quilt. Without her I'd have been turning up at the wedding without a gift for my brother and almost sister in law. Never a good look!
Of course I made too much binding (I always seem to have this problem) so decided to put it onto a few small pieces which have been sitting around. I'm so pleased with the improvement its made to them that these are also destined for the gift giving pile. I will never think of excess binding as a problem again.
I've even been putting the odd doiley on the back in preparation for labels. I particularly love this Lily.
It's quite exciting really - its probably the most organised I've ever been for Christmas and it feels rather good.
Now there's just the children -that will be another story altogether....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Focusing the mind

There's nothing like a close examination of your diary to really focus your mind. This weekend I came to the realisation that it is only one month until we head away for my brother's wedding and we have a lot of things to pack into that short time. Some would call it an act of denial but this sent me quickly to the sewing room to finally get cracking on some gifts that I may (or may not - depending on who is reading...) need for a holiday that is coming up in a mere 6 weeks. That's right - the Christmas rush is almost upon us.

Being ever mindful of the state of the world economy, and in the knowledge that something handmade is so much better than anything I could find in the shops anyway, I decided that a close examination of the stacks of fabric that I seem to be hoarding would yield some interesting possibilities. In no time at all I had the bag production facility in full swing - I'm rather pleased with the results.... a rather nice Liberty number....
something more restrained for one of my quieter relatives and then a couple for the floral lovers among us.... Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I had found a use for lace doilies, which got my fingers into action. I think they are just perfect for some bag embellishment...

and I've hand stitched a couple onto the very boring hoodie that I seem to almost live in at this time of year when the weather is still so changable. They have made this garment far more 'me' and I've had lots of positive comments about it already. I'm starting to think that there are a few other garments in my wardrobe that could do with some similar attention.I think there may still be a couple more bags to come, but first I have 34 feet of hand stitching to get through to get the binding on the wedding quilt done. The quilt has arrived back from being quilted and I'm thrilled with it. Sue has done a fabulous job, as always. However the amount of binding to be stitched down is slightly daunting - just as well I like hand stitching.
Somehow I think the new quilt that is in the brewing might be a post holiday activity, but then it's always good to have something to look forward to!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What if...

I've had reason of late to be reflecting on life and the value of friendship, for a variety of reasons that I won't go into right at the moment. While mulling this over last week I had one of those "what if" moments that always gets the pulse racing among those with a creative bent....

What if I used some of the textiles of my mother's closest friend to capture some of the thoughts that I've been having about what is really important in living a happy, balanced life....

What if I tried embroidering on her damask napkins - the same napkins that played a central role in the almost legendary hospitality that my Auntie Dorothy offered to whoever turned up at her house at meal time...

My mother and Auntie Dorothy were close friends for almost 50 years before Dorothy passed away a few years ago. They remained friends even when they lived far apart, in different countries and even on different sides of the world. As a child I knew that my Auntie Dorothy, and her husband, were to be my legal guardians in the unforeseen event that something happened to parents. My mother used to say that she always knew that there would be lots of love and food on the table in the event that anything happened to them.

Auntie Dorothy wasn't my "real" Aunt, but actually she couldn't have been more real to me. In my family its always been very clear that family can be whoever you want it to be and that the blood ties aren't always the sole way to define "family". It's something that I have continued with my children - some of my dearest friends are called auntie and uncle by my children even though there are no blood links. I'm very clear that it isn't the blood links that creates the love.

Recently my Uncle gave me a box of her linens that he didn't need anymore - he hoped that I would find something to do with them. And it's been looking through those linens that really bought me to my "what if"...

Well, what if..... I think I feel a new quilt coming on.... and I hope Auntie Dorothy would like it....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Of your fingers take care

And while I'm telling you what Ive been up to I should probably also confess to spending a little bit of time finding treasures for my collection and to share with you. This is the current star on my dresser and my latest acquisition..... a truly irresistible tea cosy that was begging to move to my house..... the front
the back...
and the real item that sealed the deal - the cloth to hold the teapot handle which lives in a pocket by the back door....

Can't you just picture the person stitching this to make the family laugh!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lost in Action or Hard at Work...

Hello - remember me? Don't worry - I'll be quite understanding if you don't - its been a while.... However there has been the odd thing going on in my little corner of the world. Do you remember this pile of fabric?I've been spending quite a lot of time with it lately - getting closely acquainted with every different shade, value and pattern and I'm rather pleased to say that after a lot of elbow grease and many hours secluded from the family, I've managed to transform it into this....It's based on a Kaffe Fassett quilt called Gridlock that I have always loved from his first book. I changed it by putting in some whole pieces, from the Loni Rossi fabrics that my "soon to be" sister in law choose when she visited NZ last year, some four patch blocks and playing around with the colour recipe. It is so large that it is rather hard to photograph in my studio, and it only just fitted onto my available hanging space. It measures a mere 9 foot wide x 7 foot deep (or 2.8m x 2.2m for the metrically minded). Anyway you look at it, it really is large but will fit the King sized bed perfectly.

So here's a couple of detail shots which will give a better idea of the colour and fabric ranges - for once the camera decided to cooperate!I am very pleased with it - not least I am pleased to have the top finished as it is only 6 weeks until we depart for the wedding in the topics of Townsville, Queensland (and yes I do know that no one who lives in Townsville actually needs a quilt, but some things just have to be done!).Having got this far, I'm pleased to say that sanity has prevailed in my quilt room and I've decided that someone else can quilt it on their longarm machine. After all, as one of my very dear stitching friends pointed out to me, Nancy Crow never quilts her own pieces......

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Distant Treasures

The day I had the greatest pleasure in Adelaide was the day that I found the most wonderful treasure trove in North Adelaide, The Fabric of Life. They were unexpectedly open having just had the South Australianv Embroidery Guild through for an advance viewing of the most wonderful exhibition of Turkish textiles which was due to open that evening. My only regret was having had no camera with me that day - the only day of the holiday without one!

You'll be able to get a taster of what I saw thought their website though. The shop was filled with the most wonderful modern and old textiles which the owner, Mary, had bought one her most recent travels. There were magnificent suzani hangings that just glowed on the walls - I had only previously seen photos of them and as always they were so much richer when seen up close.

I really fell for a chair that had been upholstered in kilms but I couldn't quite work out how to get it home on the plane. I'd have happily sat on it in the plane aisle but I thought Air NZ would probably decline on the spurious grounds that it didn't blend with their decor! I am still wistful about that chair...

If I'd had my way I'd have transported almost all of the shop contents back to NZ - instead I more modestly settled for some smaller treasures. A magnificent hand embroidered silk kantha shawl from West Bengal. Its reversible with cream silk on the other side with the gold thread stitching. More subtle that the black, and completely unphotographable on my camera!And then there were the two kutch bags that I simply couldn't choose between. They have the finest silk stitching that would have taken me an age to complete. I'm toying with the ideas of turning them back into flat textiles and mounting them so I can enjoy them ever time I wander past them. I think I'll try it out on one of them, in due course. If it works I may have to procure a third - somehow I always feel things look better in groups of three, and no that's not just due to my having three children! When I think of what I paid for them, relative to the amount of work put into them, I can't think why I decided to leave the third one in the shop!
I'm despairing of my camera at the moment - it never seems to be up to the mark with what I want from it. I feel some strategic reinvestment coming on.... Oh and did you notice I have finally conquered putting proper links into my blog??? Amazing what you can learn to do when you read instructions properly!

Friday, October 10, 2008

And then I found more in Melbourne

Of course these little treasures were in Brunswick Street - we only had 36 hours in Melbourne but I still found time to race around a few of my favourite spots. I'd been to Brunswick Street before but some how I had missed these. I couldn't find the name of the artist on them - but this angel like figure really reminded me of the work of Mirka Mora, a Melbourne artist who's autobiography I finally found at the Art Gallery bookshop, after futile searches in very bookshop I had come across while on the trip.

Since the trip I seem to be spotting lots more mosaics - so there are bound to be more to come.

However the highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the Art Deco exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was breath taking.....
and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. There was paintings, textiles, clothes, china, jewels, cars, even the front of a building transported all the way from London. Just extraordinary.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It started in Adelaide

the attraction to mosaic - these are just some of the ones I found there. This was by far my favourite - I've already shown you a detail of her face - here is the entire Angel Lounge of Goodwood Road, Unley... It seemed too beautiful to sit on to me. If I'd been able to get it into my bag and home on the plane undetected (what a dreamer!) I would have been sorely tempted.... Even the ends of the bench were something special.... i just loved it. It was made by Vaughan Green and Devi O'Donnell in 2000. It was such a treat to find at the time - I was kind of lost, or at least off course for the direction I was aiming for. Finding this made my small detour all worth while!
Then there was the beach front at Glenelg where we stayed. There was lots of mosaic there too - some with an aviation theme given the proximity to the airport and famous residents. Of course it was the curves that really called this one to my attention. I've been trying to find the name of the artist via Google - without success so far. Will post if I find it. Anyone out there know?
And then this lovely little iris piece - right low at street level in Hindley St - again I haven't found the artist yet.
There was lots of great street art in Adelaide - I even found the most wonderful brochure with maps highlighting where lots was to be found - that was how I came across the Andy Goldsworthy piece. If you are thinking of visiting Adelaide its definitely worth hunting the brochure out - I picked mine up at the Central Markets.

Stay tuned for more mosaic - from Brunswick St found during my super quick flit through one of my favourite cities.... I'll just need a touch more illness in the house - it really encourages blogging activity!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The magic of stone

Another dose of the plague house here (well just a sore stomach actually) so I thought I should pop up another post. That last photo of Andy Goldsworthy's Black Spring really didn't do it justice. What I love is the texture and colour of the stone.... the construction ideas....
and the reflection of the local environment that his work is always reliant on, given its formed from locally available, found materials. There was stone in abundance for me to admire while we were in Adelaide. Buildings were I live are typically wooden - moves better in the earthquakes - so the novelty is probably part of the appeal of the stone. After all, part of the human condition is to want what we don't have - just look at the rage for hair straighteners and curlers if you doubt me for a moment.
This wall - from the Adelaide Art Gallery - particularly appealed. Such a good quilt pattern....
Do I sound truly odd yet???

Monday, September 22, 2008

Breaking the Silence

I'm not really sure whether I should be saying that I've sort of lost my blogging mojo of late or whether I should just put my hands up and confess that its all been a bit busy and hectic of late. I had a trip away for a week which was great and lead to lots of marvellous discoveries.... like this - the first Andy Goldsworthy work I've ever seen for real... I had a smile on my face all day!
or this - I've been swept away by mosaic, which I kept finding on my meandering walks around and about, and now I'm wondering about trying it out (as if I don't have enough unfinished projects already!)....but isn't this just fabulous....
or this....the favourite cafe I discovered, overlooking the beach and complete with knee rugs to ward off chills. One morning on my way to coffee I even saw a dolphin playing in the surf....
or this... which bought a smile to my face as we were leaving... have you seen one? can you guess what it is?

I came home so refreshed. It was great. And no sooner had we all settled back into the routines of life than the plague house sign was back out and I was in hospital for two nights with one of the boys. It was all something of nothing but sleeping in hospital chairs (or more accurately not sleeping!) seemed to wipe me out for twice the number of nights that I spent there. Such are the joys of parenthood!

On a brighter note - I'm pleased to report work on the wedding quilt has finally commenced... stay tuned for progress reports and sneak previews - the happy couple don't know about the blog so I'm sure I'm reasonably safe in maintaining the surprise.

Monday, August 25, 2008

And then there was yellow and green

There were two other small quilts that I finished last week for part of the work of our small quilt group - yellow, I was thinking of the song lyric "through fields of gold"

and green - both were an experiment in using light weight over lay fabrics for contrasting texture and were drawn from fabrics in my scrap bag. They were both made quickly without too much over thinking. Just do it quickly and see what happens.We always say that they don't have to be an opus - and these truly prove the point! I felt that they weren't nearly as interesting as the embellished indigo which is still a favourite, even one week on.

We had a spectacular day here in Wellington on Saturday. Sunny and, dare I suggest it, warm. I had a fiend visiting from Auckland, where she tells me it has rained every weekend since May. She was so bowled over by the sunshine that she literally lost her footing, blinded by the unexpected sunlight. She was teased mercilessly, as we told her (somewhat tongue in cheek) that it is always like this around here.
As the Tui ad would say, yeah right!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reveal night tonight

for my small quilt group - here is the piece I'm most pleased with - a reworking of the embellished indigo, since I failed the colour side of the challenge last time.

I feel a new journal cover coming on. It's made me think that I might start playing with a few of the other older / precious fragments of fabric that I have hidden away to bring them into a new lease of life. This could be a fun idea to play with over time I many ideas, so little time.

I didn't dare tell my friends this idea tonight - not after the lecture I got that I was to concentrate on nothing but the wedding quilt until it was done. Oh well, I always think confession is good for the soul!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Starting Something New

Not before time, I am getting onto my major outstanding project of the year - a wedding quilt for my brother who marries in December in Townsville. Significant progress has finally been made - I have started pulling fabrics and decided on the colour scheme (more vibrant than they appear here) in a murky pallet of blue, brown, gold and green...and I've settled on the pattern - a simple Kaffe Fassett which will highlight some of the focus fabrics which were chosen by my almost-sister in law. The fabrics she choose were two by Lonni Rossi and they are pretty fabulous. No further hints on the pattern at the moment though - some things have to be kept secret to protect the surprise for the recipients.

I love starting something new - it puts a real spring in my step, so to speak! Now if I could only manage a few more concentrated days up in front of the sewing machine....

I've also been most productive in my small quilts for our fortnightly group. I have three almost finished this weekend - green, yellow, and a repeated attempt at embellished indigo. All will be posted after the big reveal on Wednesday....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Spring was in the air...

This feels almost like being in the confessional - spring was definitely in the air yesterday, after what feels like weeks and weeks of non stop rain - and what did I do? Walk in the sunshine, drinking it all in... No. I escaped to the room that houses my sewing machine and fabric (but not the quilt room you understand - that causes angst in the family!) and had a bit of a play. It was so much fun....

I made a cover for my inspiration journal - I've been jotting things down and sticking things in it very dutifully all year and this weekend it was finally full. So in celebration I decided it needed a special cover of its own, featuring some of the things that have occupied so much of my mental and creative space so far this year - recycled jeans and those wonderful Andy Goldsworthy curves. I also thought this was a very suitable use of my work in progress from my small art quilt group. One of my sons decided that it was so cool that it just had to go on the blog. Such enthusiasm from a 9 year old!I did do some other things too - I made a hanging sleeve for a school quilt that has sat around the house for far too long (delivered dutifully to the school this morning) and I also started pulling out fabrics for the next quilt on the list - a wedding quilt for my brother and prospective sister in law who are marrying in December. Nothing like a bit of pressure.

Finally today I got out into the sunshine for my walk to work - it made me grin just like the sculpture below, which is known in our family as "my old friend,Mr Banana".
It is next to our Houses of Parliament - some things with family names are just too difficult to explain.....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beware the Plague House

Bit of a slow week here with our flirtation with 'Plague House' status again rearing its ugly head. Just when I thought I would have all children off to school this morning and a chance to get down to a few of the things I've been delayed on, its come back again for one unlucky victim....such is life in an active family. Thank goodness the Olympics are about to start to at least give some interesting tv viewing for the ill and respite for caregivers!!

One thing I have done this week is spend a fair bit of time on the internet trying to research my most recent apron purchase. I have found a handful of similar ones on Flicker and for sale on sites in the US - they are still a bit of a mystery but in the few places that they are written up they are referred to being souvenir aprons from Portugal and probably made during the 50's tor 60's. I'm not completely convinced - maybe a in depth study trip to Portugal would help me get to the bottom of this....
There was one particularly attractive black apron that I was almost tempted to buy that I found here - - my daughter was very taken with it and fancied the idea of us wafting down to the shops together in our Portuguese aprons to give the neighbourhood a real treat. Only a little more intensive effort and I shall soon have her as eccentric as me!

In between coming up with up with plans for the Portuguese trip I'm gazing at the pink apple blossom in the garden, in between the down pourings of rain, and dreaming of the coming of spring.....
Lastly - thanks to those who commented on my knitting bag in the last post. Both the maker and I were very pleased with the compliments, given my husband is horrified to have it in the house! Just goes to show you can't please all the people, all of the time.