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July 2018

Catching my breath

The past few weeks have been fast and furious.  I have had lots of deadlines and I have been fighting  the flu and the end of this virus.  But here I am, still standing or standing, some of the time.  Whilst people were flying away on jet planes and everything else the renovation of the bathroom has continued.  I am not pleased with the results at all but to correct it would mean pulling all the tiles from the walls, and they are marble and go right up to the ceiling, and we would have to replacing everything.

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The other thing that is driving me up the wall is that the contents of my linen cupboard is here in my sewing room and the sewing room is a mess.  But there is so much stuff piled up I can't get in to organise it.  I hate working in a mess.  I like my workspace organised and tidy.  At the moment my husband is vacuming his room that has no mess.  He hates mess also, but it is alright in my space but not his. (That is how the contents of the linen cupboard ended up in here.)

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I am going to tackle this bit by bit.  I will take the opportunity to throw away a lot of linen that is old.  It will be painful because no linen is really old.. So I am 2 bins down and about 6 to go.  I also intend to organise all my fabrics.  Just one draw at a time.  My intention is to be ruthless.  Hope I can keep to that.


My main job at the moment is assembling kits for the classes I am teaching.  Difficult job when you have a head full of flu.  Only thing for it is to assemble check lists and write detailed lesson plans.  The thought of teaching these classes is keeping me awake at night.  I dream about all that could go wrong.  I used to have the same kind of dreams when I was a class room teacher and there was the same solution, make detailed plans that I could refer to.  It is a great way to organise your thinking and doing.  And It is a good resource for the future.

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The problem is there are 100's of examples out there, finding the template that suits your needs is the problem.

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As to stitching, well I have finished the samples for the October Children's Embroidery Class, based on Budgies.  Budgies are seen in great flocks in the outback of Queensland and other states in Australia.  Bush Heritage Australia has a very informative  website about this bird.

They come in a range of colours, so there is lots of scope for kids to choose from but I have stitched mine out in the most common, the greens and yellows.

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For the more advanced students I have used a 14 count Adia fabric and 2 strands of DMC standed cotton.  This could be a pocket for a bag, or your jacket or your jeans.  It will take the full to days to stitch I think.

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The other budgie what we see a lot of at the beach in summer is the Budgie Smuggler.

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My version is a more literal Budgie Smuggler and I think the kids will enjoy the joke.

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I have used tapestry wool on a Aida like fabric which is a about a10 count in tent stitch to make a tote bag.



The book I ordered a few months ago arrived today, and it was a nice surprise and is an interesting read.

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I was interested to read that she came up against the same problems I did when trying to research, back in 2013, Swedish Blackwork.

Namely, that the fabrics and threads that the work was originally worked in was 'home produced' and to try and replicate this with the fabric and threads available today presents challenges.  There is a great section near the end of the book where she details just what results available threads achieve on different count linens.  The patterns and stitching between the Norwegian and Swedish designs have similarities, which is to be expected. 

Wool was the thread of choice but there is not a lot of choice out there for the fineness of the thread that is required.  I think that I will stick with silk to stitch my sample and I have decided to have another go at the traditional Swedish Blackwork.  But the question of the lack of fine woollen threads on the market has been one that I have been pondering about for some time.

I had planned to go to the Bendigo Wool Show this year but ill health has kept me away.  I wanted to see what kind of woollen threads small producers had available.  Apparently nothing. My friend Cassandra from 'Every Sewer Needs' had a stall there this year and has bought wool and spindle to spin her own wool for bobbin lace.

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I will be very interested to see her results because this might give me the fine woollen thread that could be used in this kind of stitching.

Some more bindings to stitch

I went to my quilt shop to pick up a quilt I was having quilted and came home with two!

Being ill does things to ones brain.  I had completely forgotten that I had the second quilt.


The first is an add a line quilt for my grand daughter in pink and purple (yuck) her favourite colours.  I hope this one fits the bill, the first two were rejected.


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I had it quilted in a dragonfly design which I know she will like.

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The second is a recycled back from another quilt.  After I had it all tacked and ready to quilt I found that It was just too heavy so replaced the backing but I couldn't throw all that lovely fabric away.  So It has another backing and has been repurposed.

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It is made up of Australiana prints that I had collected over the years and I actually like the end result.

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The quilting pattern is based on circles which contrast well with the lines of fabric on the front.

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Now they both need the edges bound.  I intend to do that at my leisure.


Very little progress on anything.  The reason being my husband has returned from Ireland with the flu and given it to me!  I don't think he and my daughter had a very good trip.  He got the flu, then fell and broke his nose and cut his head open.  Poor Laura spent her whole holiday looking after her father.  I am so glad I didn't go with them.

I am trying to stitch out another budgie for the October Children's class.  It is a very slow process as I am all stuffed up in the head with this flu.

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Ethnic Embroidery

These ladies in Romania have a point. 

When fashion houses use their designs for inspiration and make big profits some thing should come back to the original designers.  

This jacket was copied and sold for 30,000 EU.  You can buy an original for 500EU  from Bihor Couture, a company that work with the women who originally made the garment.

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I like this blouse that sells for 40EU.  It is entirely hand made and a lot more work has gone into it than the price being asked.

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 12.52.20 pmThis use of ethnic design as 'inspiration', which sometimes means a straight copy, is a problem for lots of communities today.

Starting the portraits

This has been a long process but I have at last begun. 

A number of years ago I asked my patchwork group to make me a block which was a portrait of themselves.  But not a photo realistic one, rather one of how they saw themselves.  I was going to make a wall quilt out of it and for the shashing I was going to have some fabric printed using photos of each lady.  Well the years have gone by and the cost of having the fabric printed was too much.  Then I moved and didn't have the wall space anymore.  Now I have decided to make these blocks into a fabric book and on the page opposite their block I am going to embroider a portrait of each person. 

I have now taken their photos and turned them into line sketches.

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This is Betty who passed away a few years ago.  She got a form of lung cancer from the asbestos fibres that were trapped in her husbands work clothes which she washed.  We all loved Betty and still do even though she has passed.  She was the most quirky, creative person.  At one point she took herself off on the Trans Siberian Railway just to see what it was like.  Back then you had to take all your own food all that was provided was the transport.

Her block is full of her dreams.  She saw herself as still young, and she did look like this when she was young.  The kind of house she always wanted, the flowers in the garden, her cat, the rural setting and her quilting.

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I think this will take some time but it will be full of love.



This is my 2018 sample for my 'Exploring more stitches' Class.

There are 28 different stitches in this piece, which isn't bad for such a small space.  I have used a variety of threads that represent thin, medium and thick varieties and tried to organise my colours around a light medium and dark pallete. 


This class will be in August this year at the Queensland Embroiderers Guild.  It isn't difficult to stitch and could be finished in under a week.  I hope the participants like it.

Next I would like to attempt a design that will require a lot more technical control but I also have an idea for some portraits.  Well I can work on both I suppose?