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January 2016

Mucking around

I am highly stressed at the moment.  We do have to  be out of the house by Monday as they intend to start the demolition on Tuesday.  I am rushing to get the kits for my classes finished.  I have a class in a couple of weeks and the one after tht is June but I don't think the builder will be finished by then, so I had better get that done as well.  A couple of days before this all happened I was mucking around with my walking foot.  Back when I made this bag I had to buy a new Walking Foot for my machine and I still haven't found my old one.  But it got me thinking about what I might be able to do with that foot.

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I decided to make another set of place mats using this foot for the construction and quilting. My last set being made some time ago and I need to use up some of my fabrics.  These Batiks are great for every day use because the weave is so tight.  They wash and wear very well. 

I drew up a wonky pattern that I could strip quilt.  The first mat I pieced through the three layers,  line quilting it as I progressed.  It looked alright from the front but the back was messy.

Mat 1

Mat 1a

So the next three I pieced onto the batting and then added the backing and quilted through the three layers.  Then I started experimenting.  First up I used a triangle which I outlined in the middle of the first block , marking a line on my work through the centre so that I could machine out the width of the foot and then follow the outline of the first line of stitching moving in a concentric manner.  It looks a bit like an arrow and I think I should have marked out lines through the corners for more accurate turning so that my lines stayed straight.  It still looks alright but will make this adjustment next time.

  Mat 4

Mat 4 a

The next mat I used a circle shape.  This is really difficult to sew accurately with the walking foot.  It got easier the larger the curve became.  Next time I might start this pattern with a normal foot and then change to the walking foot after sewing that first circle.

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Mat 2a

By the time I got to mat number four, on which I used an oval, I had kind of worked out the technique.

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Mat 3 a

So, line quilting is quite easy with the walking foot be it straight our curved, as long as the curves are not too tight.  I'm thinking that there could be a lot of patterns I could create with this foot in my quilting  I might keep mucking around with it and see what I can come up with.  But it might have to wait now that all the fabrics have been packed up.  I can see a lot of frustration on the horizon.






The builders were coming yesterday to look at the site BUT they arrived with diggers workers and lots of other stuff.  Next thing I know the backyard is gone, including the clothes line,  they have put a hole through the water pipes and they have disconnected the hot water heater and moved it to the other side of the house.  Everything is covered in red dust, including my bedroom,  my dear husband didn't close the windows.  Now he is telling me I have to move out of my study by tomorrow!!!  I will think about it in the morning.  I am under the influence of sandfly bites at the moment which means I don't feel well.  This isn't helping.

My little grand daughter had a wonderful first day at school.  It helps that she can read and write already, that puts her ahead of the pack.

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Well I have finished the pin cushion section that sits inside the lid of the box.


Now I have started on the front inset of the box.  This actually stitches up a lot quicker than I thought it would be.  However the weather is so humid I have put this aside for a bit.

Box 2
 I keep reminding myself what this will look like when finished.

Box 1

I have also some work on my Greek piece.  I am finding the open weave of the hand woven fabric really hard to work with.  To try and improve this I have now back the embroidery with a wash away  interfacing. ( Now I come to photograph it I can't find it.  I must have left it at the Guild.)

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And I have finished another block of my applique quilt I am making for charity.  I don't think I like this freezer paper method.  I get better results with my old fashioned needle turn.  Plus having the Childrens' Classes to keep me busy I'm surprised I have done so much







Happy Australia Day/Survival Day

This is the day that we celebrate the colonisation of Australia 228 years ago. The island is always popular at this time of year  for celebrations.


It is also the day that indigenous Australians celebrate their survival after 80,000 years of living in this country. My wish, and I think many of my fellow citizens, is that the reconciliation of both groups, who are all Australian, moves forward.

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This is also the last day of the Summer Holidays. 

All the kids go back to school tomorrow and it will be the first day of school for my darling Grand daughter, Monique.  I have never seen her in any thing else except pink.  It comes as quite a shock to see her in her uniform.  Good Luck my darling.







Same pattern but..

Well another Children's embroidery class is over and once again I know why I like working with kids.    They are so original and just so creative.

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I had taken a piece of work created by Mabel Mc Alister (one of the founders of our Q'ld Embroiderers' Guild) and adapted this design to make it suitable for children to stitch.  I always like there to be lots of choice for students so I gave them 2 different mono prints and 5 different backing prints to chose to put their work on. Some kids reversed the choice and put the front on the back.

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I also gave them 3 different body colours in stripes with the bow ties already prepared on bake paper.  They just had to position this on their fabric.  The face they had to trace off and construct themselves and believe it or not there were not 2 faces the same in the whole room.  I'm sure Mabel would have been delighted to see the results.

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APT 8 Zone of work installation

This installation was huge.  It was made up of old wood from wharfs and there were the usual signs telling everyone to be careful this was an industrial zone..

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The Adults walked all around it,

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Admiring the textures of the wood

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and the old bolts etc.

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But the kids immediately spied all the electronics installed thought out the structure and set about finding out what it did.

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 It mostly made noises of which the most popular were the rude ones.

This one required a whole lot of kids to sit on this plank before the sensor would work.   Oh the anticipation...

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of hearing farts.  They thought this was hilarious.  Kids were all lined up to have their turn.

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Queendsland Gallery of Art

We had a day at the gallery last week to see the APT8 exhibition.  This happens every 3 years and features works from the Asia- Pacific Region.  As usual it is going  to take more than the one visit to appreciate all the works that are on display.  I think I will go back again once the school holidays are over and really take the time to look properly.

We had lunch in the courtyard cafe under the spreading branches of it's beautiful trees.

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 It was it's usual peaceful self with the reflections in the pool adding to the calm.

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The trees on the lower terrace were covered in leaves making a deep shade for the sculptures.

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We had a delicious lunch of  Zucchini Rissotto, the flower of which was stuffed with a cream cheese, delicious.

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But that wasn't the best of it.  On the wall was a new mural painted by a Gond artist, Venkat Raman Singh Shyam.

  Gand 2

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I first discovered the works of the Gonds some time ago with the publications from Tara Books.  I now own most of the books that have been published from this group of artists.  One that stands out is "The London Jungle Book".  I just love that story.  I originally bought the books for my grandchildren but love them too much to part with them.

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I think what first drew me to them was the 'hatching patterns' they used  to fill in their shapes, so like the art of the Australian aboriginals. 

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I'm not sure they would be any good for embroidery unfortunately.


Now that I have totally wrecked my arm with all that quilting, and been seriously told off by the Physio , I think it is time to return to some of my other projects.  With that in mind I have pulled out the Portugese tiles again.  Only thing about this piece is that the 40 count linen is a challenge for my eyes.  The stitching is small and a bit boring at this stage.


But I find that I can achieve a nice rhythm by listening to the works of Hildegard of Bingen.  This one goes for about 40 minutes.  Long enough to get some stitching done and wind down.



I will quilt it for you

LIfe moved on and the renovations of the house progressed. That quilt was still in the draw.  Then I got a telephone call from Angela.  "I will quilt it for you but I don't know how long it will take."   I know Angela doesn't like to quilt for others.  This was one of the most wonderful offers of help from a friend I have ever received.  I suspect she knew how my dreams were woven into this quilt when she made the offer,  that made it extra special. 

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So I left my dreams with my friend.  In the meanwhile we made the move to the island and then my husband became ill and my dreams of my planned house etc disappeared.   When we moved into this house, which wasn't my first choice, but was my husbands, Angela and her husband came to visit and brought with her the quilt with the quilting complete.

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The reality far outstripped my dreams. 

Each panel was outlined and cross hatched.  All the designs in the sashing were outlined and the outer borders were quilted in a feather design composed of gum leaves.

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But, there were a few problems. 

  I had run out of candlewicking cotton and couldn't get anymore, because the company had closed down, this resulted in a couple of gaps in the embroidery of the sashing.  I didn't think this would be a problem but they became very noticeable as Angela progressed with the quilting.   I thought of just using another cotton but it didn't look right.  Then, walking past the sale table at the Guild  there was a plastic bag with a partly used ball of the same cotton.  I just couldn't believe my eyes.  I quickly bought it and took it home.   Then I broke my arm and I couldn't finished the embroidery.   That has had to wait until this last week and even then it has been difficult because of the size and weight of the quilt.  But it is now done.

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So I pulled out the fabric I have been keeping for over 20 years for the binding AND there wasn't enough and it was too narrow anyway.  I ended up buying some mottled beige fabric which I am very happy with.  Next was the problem of getting the binding sewn on and this turned out not to be a problem at all.  It almost sewed itself on.  Every corner sat correctly first time.   So here it is my quilt of dreams that I plan to put in the quest wing bedroom when it is built.

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  But it is a lot more than that.

  It is a quilt that holds the love and friendship of my friend. (She did not want any kind of payment or gifts for her work.)  It also holds all my love and gratitude to her, along with my dreams.   What is that saying?

"Friends are angels who pick us up to our feet  when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly." 

My friend's parents named her correctly.

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Thank you Angela.

My quilt of dreams

It's finished.  I started it over 20 years ago and now it is finished.  This is my quilt of dreams. (Hanging on the clothes line sideways. This is also a long saga so get a cup of tea.  Well it took over 20 years!)

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It had it's genesis back in the late 1980's when I read an article about the origins of candlewicking embroidery.  Soon after this I came across a scrap of this type of embroidery in Ballarat Victoria.  Ballarat was the centre of the gold rushes in the 1850's in Australia.  Many of the diggers had come from the goldfields in California USA and the women brought this embroidery with them.  I have always been fascinated by these women who came to the gold field.  Some of them were miners in their own right, the field at Bendigo being discovered by two women.  My friend Lennie's great grandmother had been a midwife on the gold fields and had been present there at the time of the Eureka Stockade uprising.  (Some of the eye witness accounts are quite different from the official ones.)

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Back then (1980's 90's) I was very into the outdoors life.  We did a lot of camping and hiking and I was looking for some kind of embroidery that I could do by the camp fire at night.  It had to be able to fit into my Mapac and be able to be seen in the low light of overnight cabins and tents.  Candlewicking seemed to fit the bill, hadn't it been done by women sitting around the campfire at night?   The only draw back being it was white work and camping and trecking are not known for keeping things clean and dry.  But, we also spent time every year over on this island.  This was the kind of work I could easily pack and bring with me.  So I decided I would make a candlewick quilt.

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I thought about buying a kit but I wanted it to be more original than that so I went looking for designs in books.  (The internet was just getting on it's feet back then and not great for images and I had no confidence in my drawing skills at that time.)  After a year or so of trying to find designs I came across Jean Jensen's books that included Australian Native Flowers, that was what I would do.   (You can still find these books around the ridges.)

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The next challenge was thread.  At the Embroiderers' Guild some women were stitching this technique.  They were using a fine thread and some were using colours.  Not what I wanted at all.  I wanted the stitching to be chunky, with a fairly high profile.  The women who had originally stitched this has done so at night and much of the work must have been done by feel.  This was frowned on but I kept pushing on, despite the criticism.  Then I came on the work of Sandie Meldrum from Western Australia.  Some of her books are still listed on Amazon.

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Her designs really resonated with me, they were of Western Australian wild flowers.  Many of these had never been seen in the eastern states.  (Today there is a huge tourist trade surrounding the flowering of the wild flowers in W.A)  She was also producing a cotton thread called Ozcott for stitching candlewicking.  Made from Australian cotton (it was a new industry at the time) it was soft, had a high sheen and could be stranded.  (I used the last of mine back in 2012. )   So I bought some good quality homespun, wrote away for the cotton, cut out the blocks and started stitching.  I also started my Masters Degree around this time.  In addition I had three young children and was working full time.  I only got to stitch when we were on the track or on the island.  Progress was very slow but here on the island I would stitch and dream.  Dream about the time when we would build our house here.  Dream about it's design and how it would be furnished.  This wasn't the only piece I worked on for this dream.  Over these years there were also bedspreads worked in Swedish Weaving along with cushions, rugs and other pieces.

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As the years dragged on the dreams were just that, just dreams.  I gave away most of the things I made as I despaired of ever reaching my elusive dreams, but, I hung onto the pieces for this quilt. 

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I  put  all the blocks together and decided that there needed to be sashing between the blocks to balance the design.  It wasn't balanced.  When I finished the sashing I decided that it needed to be embroidered.  So pulled it apart again.   The sashing strips fitted just fine in the pocket of my Macpac.

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  They were stitched on the Alpine tracks in New Zealand and in India .  Some were stitched in Hong Kong and some whilst traveling in the USA and in the UK.  Then finally I pieced the quilt all again. Layered it and put a pieced backing of Australian flower prints on the back and hand quilted it. 

I hated the finished quilt.

  It was nothing like what I had dreamed about.  It went into a bottom draw.  It was just too painful to look at.   A couple of years later I retrieved it from its dumping ground and unpicked it.  Took the backing off, which I used as another quilt and put a plain backing on it.  I just couldn't give up on my dreams.  Time went by and I pulled it out of the draw and quilted it again.  And again I hated it.  It just didn't match my dreams.  So it was unpicked once again and into that bottom draw it went.  My dreams about moving to the island were fading into the distance and it seemed we would never move here.  Both the dreams and the quilt were a terrible disappointment.

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Then, two years ago we decided to renovate and sell our home and move to the island.  This quilt surfaced again during the sorting and culling of my possessions.   Maybe it could be saved or maybe It was destined for the bin?   I was determined to give it one more try, maybe.  So I took it up to Toowoomba to ask my friend Angela's advice before I took the last step and threw it away.  I had sort of given up on it and was resolved to donate it to the opportunity shop.  We both looked at that quilt and Angela thought I could cross hatch the backgrounds and outline the embroidery.   She also said she couldn't quilt it.  I hadn't expected she would it was advice I was asking for.  So I took it home to decide if I could do this. 

Continued tomorrow.....