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February 2017

January 2017

The world and travel

This is  going to be my travel year, or, I hope it is going to be my travel year.  With everything that is happening in the USA what the year will bring is very uncertain and I, like many others, watch unfolding events  there with dismay.  If sane heads prevail, my plans for the year are , Sydney in June to see my family, then onto Japan in August, followed by Huston USA in Oct./Nov for the International Quilt Festival.  Then on to Guatemala in South America.

You might ask why Guatemala?  Well friend Pam is taking a group there and I plan to join them.  I had been tossing the idea around for a while and then I received this wonderful gift from her.

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This is a 'Huipil ' which comes from Guatemala.  It is a vintage piece from the highlands around Lake Atitlan.  The Mayan women usually wear their traje (traditional dress), which consists of a huipol (blouse), corte, (skirt) and Faja (belt).  These designs date back to before the Spanish Invasion.  in the 1600's.

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I am surprised by just how heavy the fabric is. The blouse is made of two pieces of fabric, woven on a back strap loom and then joined with embroidery across the centre to achieve the width needed to make a garment.

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 The embroidery design in then transferred onto the fabric and stitched.

Back of stitching.  You can see how the neck has been scalloped and then faced.

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Front of stitching.

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Close up of stitching.

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I love this piece and would also like to buy one with the bird embroidery on it.

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You can see lots of other examples here.




Monday Morning

It's Monday and I don't know what I have done over the past few days.  Oh, I know, I was gardening and have managed to put my neck out.  When I was a kid I was knocked down by a car on a pedestrian crossing.  It was a surreal experience.  I don't remember seeing the car before it hit me but I must have because I jumped up into the air and didn't go under the wheels.  I do remember being in the air and thinking,

"you are going to do a backwards flip, you have never been able to do one of these before.  You are going to come down on the median concrete strip, tuck your head in and roll.  Also, I'm going to wreck my school blazer and my Mother will kill me."

All that in just a few seconds.  I did tuck my head in and roll but I fractured my skull and cracked a bone in my neck along with hurting my leg.  Now that I am getting older these things are coming back to haunt me. My neck is the worst and I am usually pretty careful but I got carried away with a new hoe I bought at the hardware store.  

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The soil in my garden is terrible.  Someone must have put down a plastic layer and then added lots of gravel in an attempt to break up the heavy red clay.  I need to break it up and get the plastic out.  As we live by the sea I also have to contend with the wind and salt air.  Behind the house is sheltered but over run with ferns.

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  I have more I want to do in the garden but will have to put it off for a bit while I recover.  I think pots will be the best option. 

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I now actually have some flowers I can pick from the pots.

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So I have been stitching.  Some samples for a new "Introduction to Kogin" class. 

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One thing a teacher has to have at the forefront of their mind when teaching beginners is that you have to think like they would.  Now, once you reach a certain level of compentancy this isn't easy to do.  We all remember that Math teacher who couldn't understand why we couldn't see it.  He couldn't explain it at a beginners level. Technically what happens  is that our learning has switched into the automatic, like when you know how to drive a car. We don't have to think about it we just know.  But the beginner hasn't got here yet and is still at stage 1.  It is not easy to switch your brain out of that automatic mode.

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  So, that is what I have tried to think about when planning this project.  I am trying to keep it simple but have some challenge in there as well.




A hot humid day

The day was fine but very hot and humid.  So hot that I had to retire to the air-conditioning after lunch and leave the celebrations.

As part of the celebration some on our island decided to invite the Quandamooka people over so that we could learn more about their stories and in doing learn more about our shared country and celebrate it together.  I have to say it was a wonderful day.  I learnt lots of things that never made it into our history books and my admiration for how these people have reconstructed their lives after the brutality that they experienced just grows.

Most of the dance group are of the python snake totem.  There was something special about their rendition of their totem song.

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It is in the surrounding bush  that 'George' lives.  He is a very old and very big python.   I have only seen him a couple of times over the last 30 years but he is impressive and others on the island say that he is well over 60 years old.  I hope he was listening.

The time and effort that goes into making their costumes can be appreciated when you see them up close.

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This group of people have set out to reclaim who they are.  They are putting back their culture bit by bit.  They have collected all the bits they have remembered and gone to other tribal groups to have them show them the bits they have forgotten or lost and then improved on it.  Most of their artifacts were 'collected' and sent to museums around the world, including the bones of their ancestors which were 'collected' from their grave yards.   There are a few of the men who have lre-earnt to hunt again and to make spears and other implements and then improve on them.  The story of the spears, woomeras, boomerangs and other items was interesting.   I have often looked at the man on the $50 note, David Uniapon and knew he was a pastor but didn't know that he was a famous inventor.  He was the person who designed the rotors for helicopters pre WW1.  He based this on how a boomerang works  I had no idea that a boomerang could hover for 5 minutes in the air.

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The different types of spears was explained.  How they were made and what they were used for.

I had to laugh when the speaker said they had switched over to using bamboo because it was lighter, easier to work and so much better then the traditional spears.

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On the table behind him you can see a case with rocks in it.  Stradbroke is a sand island and rocks used for tools had to be traded from the mainland.  This collection have been carbon dated at 20,000 years old.  We found a grinding stone in the bush last year and returned it to these people.  I now know what a precious find this was.  It must have been hidden here when the 'collecting' began. The basket on the table is one of 2 that remained after the 'collecting'.

Many people had come to the island for the holiday including a group of indigenous children.  You could see the hunger in their faces as the soaked up all the information.

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They rushed to sit at the front and the men welcomed them and took them under their wing.  They loved the fire making and had never seen it before.

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Some of the stories were hard to listen to.  How in the days of the penal colony the soldiers had decided to kill certain troublesome men but the tribe was pre- warned by some of the convicts and had disappeared into the bush.  The soldiers were not happy that their prey had escaped so the went to Moreton Island, which was then connected to Stradbroke by a sand spit, and massacred the people.

That got me thinking about the convicts.  This settlement was for repeat offenders and the convicts were supposed to be the worst of the worst.  But they had enough compassion and risked their own lives to warn the people about the soldiers. 

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And I heard how Macleay Island, just across the channel was where all the slaves, 'blackbirded' from the Pacific Island were held before being distributed to the cane farms.  Some of these men were headhunters from the islands and apparently caused the local tribes all kind of trouble.  I had never known that before either.

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So it was a good Australia Day for me.  I found good things and bad but isn't that the story of all our lives?




So I have finished the outline stitching of my February Peace saying. 

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"And of course you are going to stitch it in Satin Stitch?"

Who said that?

"Well me of course ."

Who is Me?

"Boy you are dumb, I am the embroidery."

Oh no, it speaks!

"I have being speaking all along, you are just not listening.  I have been saying, nicely, since you started me that I am to be stitched in Satin Stitch.  You knew that, look at all the outline stitching you have done."

But I hate Satin Stitch, I will mess it up, I am hopeless at that stitch.

"Time to learn, I will settle for nothing else."

This is going to be a disaster.

"It better not be or I will nag you, FOREVER!!!!


Catching my breath.

I had a great couple of days at Children's Embroidery Classes. 

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It has been a priviledge to see how some of the students have progressed over the last 8 or 9 years.  I hadn't realised that I had been taking the classes for so long until one of the students said she were going into year 11.  Time just flies.

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We always get a few boys and they are super creative.  They want to design their own work and choose their own colours and stitches.  Who could be unhappy with that?

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I don't think we need to worry about the future of embroidery.  Over the last 10 years I have seen waves of young people pass through on their Journey from  childhood through to young adults who have wonderful skills and a love of embroidery. 

From our beginners for whom this is their first experience of stitching.

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To those who keep returning and improving their skills.  This lass added grub roses to her list of stitches this time.

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And we have French knots and Buttonhole pinwheels.

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The neatness of this stitching would be the envy of a lot of adults.

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Then there is the child who comes back with some work they have started on their own wanting to learn some other stitches.  Just look at that stem stitch, perfect.

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The thing is they stitch because they love it not because it is expected of them.  I keep saying this is the last time I will do this but then I see their faces and the love they bring to their work and I'm sucked in.


(I am going to be a bit busy for the next few days as my husband is back in hospital tomorrow for another operation so posts may be a bit intermittent over the next week or so.)



Some of the things I did see at the gallery last week were these amazing paper cuts.  The artist had taken ordinary bags that we use for retail purchases and then made these paper sculptures.

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I really liked these and sat looking at them until the kids drove me mad.

Off teaching again today and it is going to be hot.  I think I will wear shorts and sandals.  Not very professional but one must try and keep cool.



I had a great day yesterday at the Children's Class. There were times when I got a bit wobberly but I got though alright.  Or I thought I did.  I haven't been too good today so am taking it very quietly and staying in the air-conditioning.  That is why I am late with my Work in Progress.

And there hasn't been a lot to report.  I have started on a new teaching piece because the one I had was too hard.  But I don't like the background linen.  I might bleach it or switch to a white linen but then that isn't very practical for a book cover.  I will have to see where this one goes.

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The February 'peace' embroidery doesn't have a voice at all.  I am outlining the design, slowly, and there isn't a peep from it.  I thought it would have told me what it wanted for the filling but not a word.



Too much heat

I managed to make myself very ill over the weekend.  It was a combination of trying to do too much, extreme heat and a virus.  Result, severe dehydration and I really knocked myself out .

On Saturday we took our Grand daughters and their parents to see "The Snail and the Whale" at QPAC's Cremone Theatre.

We had great seats, second row back from the stage and the girls got booster cushion cushions so they could see better.  But we didn't check just what was going on in the South bank Parklands or  the Galleries, Museum and Convention Centre.  Result, there was no parking, the roads were gridlocked and the heat was at 35 degrees C.  I ended up having to park a couple of K away from the theatre and walking back, I had dropped the others at the door.  Then I had to walk back, get the car and come back and pick them up.  (My son and his wife stayed in town for her birthday.)

We stayed overnight to look after the girls but they have no air-conditioning just fans and I couldn't get cool so I slept with the fan on me which really dried me out.  Next morning I couldn't stand up and the doctor had to be called who said, hospital.  Now that I have been re-hydrated  I don't feel too bad.  So I have been playing around with some water colours taken from what I saw at GOMA last week.  I do have to get back there again. I am going to use these as covers for by teaching booklets.

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(And Typepad is driving me mad with the spacing!!!!!)








A new list of books to read

I have a half dozen new books that I am going to read.  Since my old book club disbanded I have found it hard to get interested in new books.  At lunch the other day my friend enthused about all the books her group was reading.  I have been invited to join and I think I will.

The first book I am reading from her list is "The shepherds life' by James Redbanks.

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Not that long ago I read the set of novels by Gervase Phinn about the same landscape but from another perspective.  This is a book by one of the boys who could see nothing but their life with the sheep.  It gives a wonderful concise description about what belonging to this land is all about and puts into words how indigenous peoples experience their land and culture.  It is the first time that I have ever read this in words that bring understanding.


In the section entitled Spring he starts by quoting a poem "The Past, from The Dawn is at Hand" by Oodgeroo  Noonuccal.  Oodgeroo (Kath Walker) was one of the Quandamooka People from over on Stradbroke Island.  Her poem is about her experience of our islands.  This is a wonderful book.  Well written with deep understanding of his subject.  One that I think I will return to a number of times.