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July 2016

June 2016

I did find some more

On a website called Meaningful Designs I found an article about some drawn thread work embroidery from Jamaica it was written back in 2014.

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This is stitched by the women of the "Jamaica Hardanga Heritage Trust" and is a mixture of a number of different drawn thread work techniques, making it a fusion type of embroidery.

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There are some nice images in the original article of some of the fine embroidery.





Some Jamacian Embroidery

My weekend away was spent with my friend Kay at her holiday home in Caloundra.  We have been friends for a long time, since about 1974 in fact.  She married the best friend of my husband and we lived in North Queensland at the same time they did and then the year after we moved to Brisbane they moved here also.  We had our children at about the same time and they are God Parents to our children as we are to theirs.  We have a great deal of history together.   Kay came to Australia from the USA but she grew up in Jamaica and still has that wonderful accent.  Her ancestors came from Portugal and settled in Jamaica in the 1600's .  I couldn't believe that she lived on a cattle station there.

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She set the table for morning tea, scones with jam and cream, with place mats that her Aunt had sent her from Jamaica when she got married.  I was interested because they were all embroidered and she said that they were from Kingston and embroidered by the local people. 

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All the edges are hand hemstitched as well.

I couldn't find any mention of them being available today but I did find a set on Etsy and 'vintage set' on EBay They are really charming and the human figures are a combination of applique and embroidery.

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The man with the bunch of bananas got us all singing Harry Belafonte's 'Banana Boat' song and then Kay told us that she shared a room with his sister at boarding school!

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The tropical flowers are all ones that we knew.


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But I have never heard of Lignum vitae  She said these are flowers from a tree the locals called "Wood of Life."  It is also the national flower of Jamaica.

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So it would appear that something that was readily available is now quite rare.  I wonder if there is any other type of embroidery being done in Jamaica?



Afer the weekend

I had a great few days away with my friends.  Far too much laughter and frivolity, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  We got up fairly early to walk down to the beach and then back again through the township of Caloundra.  The weather has turned very cold, 4 degrees in the morning and a cool wind blowing.  This in turn has made every view very clear.  We could see right out to Moreton Island which seemed to float on the horizon.

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We could look across the channel and clearly see the beaches at Bribie Island. There was a time when there was no channel and the island was joined to the mainland.

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Walking along the foreshores all the Glasshouse Mountains stood in stark relief in the clear air and the early morning light was reflected in the pools of water at the edge of the channel.

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The sea looked beautiful, but not inviting, just cold.

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It isn't the little beach side fishing town I remember from when I first came here.  It is now a large town and soon to become larger with the release of a lot of land for housing development.  I hope they upgrade the roads first because they are a bit of a nightmare with the amount of traffic around.


One job down

I have finished all the kits for the Children's Class coming up in July.  It was a huge job especially all the cushion backs.  But I have to admit they make the cushions look good.  One thing I have learnt when teaching kids, you must give them a finished item to take home.  This, "you can finish it at home" doesn't cut it.  If you want to keep them interested that project has to be finished in the class. 

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The cushion back I used isn't what I would use for my own, rather, I would put a zipper in the seam.  But I had to come up with something that could be quickly sewn together on the day.

I used 2 pieces of fabric with an overlap on the long edge of each.

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To this I attach some velcro to each edge.  On the lower edge of the top piece and the upper on the bottom.

(For these kits that was 142 pieces of velcro!)

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I then closed the 2 pieces together and overlocked around the edge.  This can then be layer, right sides together, with the embroidered cushion front and the 2 pieces sewn together with straight stitching.  To keep those cushions plump make it a bit smaller than the insert.  My insert is 14" so I cut my pieces 14.5" . When I have sewn them all together they measured about 13.5".

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And that linen I used for the cushion front I got from IKEA.  I have used their linen before and it is great for cushions.  Good quality, washable with  little shrinkage and nice to stitch on and it is a fraction of the price of embroidery quality linen.  (In Australia it is $12.99 per metre.)  So now I can move onto my next class which is the advanced Kogin.

But before that I am going to take a couple of days to stay with some of my quilting friends up at Caloundra.  I think that I will only take hand sewing this time.  The thought of having to get my sewing machine off the island and back again is just too much.


Cut-Work Emboirdery

Cut work Embroidery and How to do it. by Oenone Cave (1963)  Dover Publications  Inc. New York

Considering that some of the first books about this type of technique were published back in the 1600's this is a relatively new publication.

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I picked it up in the second hand book section at the Embroiderers' Guild and couldn't believe my luck that no one else had scooped it up before me.  The book was written in England and published in the USA and the Bibliography is right at the front, which is a bit unusual, but it is a great reference when looking for more detail.

In the Foreword the author refers to 'Greek Lace' and 'Ruskin Linen Work' as being the same thing.  As luck would have it a donation of 'Greek Lace' arrived at the Guild at about the same time as I bought this book and there is a resemblance but I think this work looks more Italian. The Greek Lace isn't quite as 'flowing' but the picots have 3 knots in both types of work.   It is almost as if Ruskin Lace uses both sources to develop it's technique.

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There is a lot of good hands on information on techniques here and I would like to reproduce a sampler to add to my collection.  (I usually stitch one sampler a year.)

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However the sixteenth - Century Italian sampler of cut work (Reticella) fillings, motifs and needlepoint edging is out of the question.  Fancy calling this a sampler!  Can you imagine how long it would have taken to stitch? 

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An update on a past blog post

Back on the 7th of June I wrote about some unusual fungi that my sister and I found in the forest.  I have gone back several times to have a look at it and now realise that it is Ghost Fungi (Omphalotus nidiformis).  I have heard about this but never seen it in the wild.

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This fungi glows in the dark but there is no way I am walking in the forest at night to get a picture so this one is from

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No wonder it looked strange, but beautiful.


When I started this "12 Days of Christmas" piece I was aiming for one day a week.  What an underestimation!  Here we are in June and I haven't even finished day 7 as yet.   I am going to have to keep stitching and not think of the end.  So this week - half of day 7.

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Gathering Strands

As the "Quandamooka Festival" begins there are a number of exhibitions and activities being held in the Redland's Council area to co-incide with this event.  So, I headed off to the local gallery to have a look at what was being presented.  The gallery is located in the Council Building in Cleveland and at the entrance this sign has been erected.

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My grandfather taught me to respect aboriginal people and their culture when I was a child.  Back then this was very unusual.  There was a strict divide between European and Indigenous peoples.  He told me not to believe all the things that I was being told at school.  He had many aboriginal friends who he admired and loved.  So to see this sign displayed in such a prominent place and the sentiments printed there would have made him very happy.

The exhibition on show isn't large but it is very significant. The curator of the exhibition, Freja Carmichael wanted to "revive traditional indigenous fibre-making practices in South East Queensland, while also challenging accepted ways of curating through an intensive community engagement and consultative approach." (quote from foreword of catalogue.)

In a display case at the front of the exhibition was a basket that had been collected back in the early 1900's from this area and now resides in the collection of the Queensland University.  It is quite beautiful.  When you look into it the skill of the weaver shines through even today. 


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The even twist of the twine, the way the basket is constructed and the artistic talent that has been put into this piece. 

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It shows someone who was very experienced in the treatment and use of the materials and had outstanding skill. 

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This was not just a woven basket but a work of art. There was another old dilly bag on display and it too was beautifully made.

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An account from one of the residents of Mingerribah says that:

"The baskets were made from rushes growing in the swamps.  Suitable rushes were selected by an experienced aboriginal woman skilled in the craft of basket making.  All aboriginal girls were instructed in the art.  It noted that the rushes so gathered are white at the base of the stem where they join the root, which was followed by a red section of the stalk and the remainder of the rush being green.....When the rushes were collected in sufficient quantity for the task contemplated, the rushes were seasoned by being placed on sheets of tea tree bark and place on the grassed area under the deep shade of a Moreton Bay Fig."

I am so glad that today's weavers are rediscovering the skills of their grannies.  It would be a priceless skill lost if they didn't and we would all be worse off for it's loss.  This is an exhibition well worth seeing.

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'Yura Yalingbila', Welcoming the Humpback Wales by Sonja Carmichael.


It's time to keep a look out

Yes, everyone has their eyes set on the ocean.  It is time for the great migration of the whales.

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We are having another major rain event but it seems to be sweeping around our little island.  Out on the coast facing the Pacific Ocean things are a bit wilder.  I hope it stops in time for the welcoming of the whales by the Quandamooka people over on Stradbroke Island.  The next big island to the north is Moreton Island and the resort there has a great video of the whales on their facebook page.