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October 2010
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December 2010

November 2010

Why is it?

Why is it that when every I am rushed off my feet with work and deadlines that it is this time that I start getting ideas for designs?  If you don't get them down they disappear back into the blue. 

The exhibition at the gallery got me thinking about that 50's and 60's design.  I started this with three basic shapes and then I just made them larger and smaller and arranged them on the page.  The embroidery will only be 7" x 5" and I have to decide on the background fabric.  But I have the shapes, the colours and the order of stitching.  It's going to have to wait though.  I have so much on this week.


The baby shower

I need to sleep.  We had the baby shower today and I was the caterer.  You really can't get fancy sandwiches and pastries ready too far in advance, so I have been up since 5am after going to bed at 1am. 

We had cats and dogs,


Bugs and frogs,


actually a whole lot of the above.


Together with some chocolate cakes.


I have photos of these because they were cooked last night, everything made today was consumed.  I need to start dinner for tonight.  Only 8 persons to cook for, but I need to sleep first.

Friday lecture

I went to a lecture yesterday about the importance of place in art.  It wasn't exactly what I had expected but it got me thinking about  the influence from the 1950's and 60's on design today.  I had been flipping through magazines in the hairdresser the other day and there were pictures of fabrics that had been inspired by this era.


It is a very distinctive style, a bit geometric and I always think of the Jetsons and the Flintstones.

One from the future,


and one from the past.


Yet both of these cartoons seem to be synonymous with this era and it's design.  One of the artists, Scott Redford, that was referred to in the lecture, draws his themes from the Gold Coast of this time.


There is something that is just so distinctive about this time and the Gold Coast seemed to say it all. Those colours and the shape of the signage.


And I enjoy his additions to the text.


I can see the Jetsons flying past this sign.

I can also see where those embroidery designs from people like Edith John came from.

Practice and more practice..

I am back on my sewing machine practicing my quilting again.  I have to limit myself to 1 hours blocks because I concentrate so intensely that I forget to blink and get a headache. I bought  a cheater panel to make a cot quilt and I am practicing sewing in circles.

I am going to see circles in my sleep by the time I finish this.


In the time in between sewing I take a walk.  We don't usually see a jet stream from jets but there was a great one today.  The Jet took a left and then on into the blue.


I walked into the city and it was crowded with kids, the private schools break for the summers holidays today, and every watering hole was packed with people watching the first Ashes cricket test.


The Gabba cricket ground is sold out so it is the TV for the rest of us.  No one is very confident about the Aussies this year but I think it will be a close contest, the Poms have been playing really well.  Now begins the cricket season, then the tennis.  Time to start thinking about the beach, it's hot enough.


Walking home along the cliffs, (that's in the top right hand side of the above photo next to the river)I found a patch of Nasturiums.  So, I collected a bunch for the table.


Back to that practice.

Embroidery from Burma

I thought at first this was from India but it comes from Burma, pre WW2, it could even be earlier.


The face is definitely Burmese.


All the sequins are hand made and they have an entirely different feel to the type we are used to today.  I just love this dragon, he seems almost tame.


This country has been closed to westerners for so long.  I wonder what is happening with their embroidery now?  I see there are some sites that sell copies of these traditional designs but in modern materials.

I got thinking about the hairstyle in the add yesterday.  That was what I tried to tell the hairdresser I wanted when I got married.  He just didn't understand and my hair was long and heavy so it didn't sit up like th girl in the add.  I pulled out the old photo to look at it and was struck, once agian, how I looked like my great(6 times) grandmother.  I never looked like anyone in my family and was sure I must have been adopted.  But there she was 7 generations ago.

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Her maiden name was Sarah Dunstall and she came from Kent in England.  She and her husband, William Greathead, came to Australia in the 1850's.  He was a missionary in Melbourne.  The mind boggles.

Drawn Thread Work

Yesterday at the Guild I looked at a small, but fantastic, donation of old "Needlecraft" magazines.  We were discussing the value of scanning them in and making them available for our members.  I think this is a great idea.  Firstly, because the paper is becoming brittle and could disintegrate and secondly, although they are valuable they are of no value if no-one can use them.


I had a look for other copies of these magazines and could only find later editions.  These were No's 109, 110 and 111.  From the advertisements this would seem to make them pre WW1.  I just love that collar.


In one magazine they had examples of drawn thread work corners.  In this one you had to lay 72 threads before you started.


And here are some more.


There was also an article on Hedebo Embroidery.


I am going back to scan these magazines for my own library.  However I think I might just look at them and say "aren't they fantastic?"  I don't think I could face stitching them out.

Teaching sample finished.

I have finished re-stitching my teaching sample for 'Exploring Stitches' which I will teach at the Embroiderers Guild in March 2011.  Now I have been teaching for over 25 years and have made tons of samples but this one has taken more time than any of the others.


I really dislike classes where you never finish the project and when you do you have no use for it.  So this project is a book cover which will fit any A5 book.  I have labelled it an Embroidery Register but you could title it what you like, even use just your name or someone else you might like to give it to as a gift.


The back-cover is where you learn and then practise the stitches .  This will be completed in the class and it will be there to refer to when you want to finish the front-cover. 


Now I can move onto some of that other work I want to get finished before Xmas!


Climate change

My day on Coochie vividly brought home the effects of climate change.  The oceans are slowly rising and along the eastern side of the island big trees that have stood for many years have fallen into the sea.

The beach on the north east corner of the island is littered with the bone of these once beautiful trees.


In places, the red rocks that gave the island it's name (red rock in the sea) and which the indigenous people used to come to collect to make body paint, has been exposed.


But then change is everywhere.  We used to have a bus service on the island.  All that is left is the bus stops where the bus pulled off the road.


But the native plants still flourish and are so beautiful in their detail.

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And even the humble dandelion shines in the long grass.

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One of my favourite trees is the Casuarina or She Oak.  They grow right up to the waters edge.  Sometimes they fall over but mostly they lean over the water and whisper the most beautiful music in the wind.  They have a pine needle type of leaf and at this time of year the new growth is on the branches in the most subtle colours.


I never fail to come away from the island without an appreciation for the beauty of nature.  I just pray that it will be there for my grandchildren.

The day of the harvest has arrived

There was enough ripe firm fruit on the Lilli Pilli trees to harvest and start jam making.  So with my ice cream container in hand I headed two doors up to collect the fruit.  These berries are only small the biggest being about 1/2" in size.



They have a sharp taste with a hint of cinnamon.  So after washing, removing stems and other debris I had 2kg  (about 4lb) of berries for the pot.  I soaked them in water for a couple of hours to soften the skins and that wonderful smell started to fill the kitchen. 


I'm not sure that Native Fruits have a high pectin level so I added three Granny Smith apples chopped roughly.


I put these, with water up to about half the height of the fruit, to boil.  After about 45 Min's the fruit was soft and the liquid a deep red colourNext I drained the liquid and squashed the pulp through a sieve.  Not all the pulp just what would squash with the back of a spoon.  I returned this to the pot with one cup of sugar for every cup of the pulp/liquid.

From here I was flying blind.  I have never made this jam before so I wasn't sure if it would set and I didn't want to over cook it either.  I removed quite a bit of scum from the mixture which was really just some of the pulp.  I could have left it there but wanted a clearish jam.  I did a cold plate test after about 35 minutes and decided to add a tablespoon of jam-set to be on the safe side. 

Cold Plate Test: Put 2 or 3 saucers in the freezer. Test the mixture for set by placing a teaspoon on the cold plate.  Leave 30 secs. Test by pushing the liquid with you finger,  if the surface crinkles the jam will set.  If not add some jam-set and boil for another 5 Min's.

I really should have used small jars and I could have used this for Xmas gifts but I only had these large ones.  I sterilized them first and then heated them in the oven. 


The mixture is couldy by is still a jelly.


There are still tons of fruit on the trees so I think I will try for a clear jelly next time and I have to find a stock of small jars to use as presents.  I will also make a cordial that I will freeze into ice blocks to be added to the champagne at Xmas.


And the possums?  Well there is so much fruit I think we can share.


Fabric always makes you feel better

My little dog Charlie is feeling poorly, she has cystitis and is on antibiotics.  (Cost a fortune at the vet.)


Still the moment I laid out some of my fabrics I purchased on my trip up the coast she was quick to lay on it.  Fabrics must make her feel better as well!  I have had her clipped short for summer just leaving her ears and tail long but with all the heat and humidity she got an infection down there.


This is an embroidered net that I am going to make into a jacket to were over something, don't know what just yet.  I also found some cotton voile at a good price, I will make these into shirts.


The next two are for trousers and a top.

Now I am not a great fan of machine embroidery but whilst at Rosina's I saw that she has stitching some Crinoline Ladies by Ella and Skye.  Rosina had made them for her grand daughters.  She said that the every day quilts get put into the washing machine and the machine embroidery stands up to the wear much better.  I hadn't thought about that and these ladies are lovely.

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All these designs are available as hand embroidery also.  This company has some other hand embroidery designs that they intend to digitise as well.  I'm going to keep my eye out for the colonial houses when that pattern is released, oh I just found it.