textiles Feed

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.




Sewing, sewing.

Oh that sewing of gifts.  I just think of new things to do all the time.  There are some gifts that cry out to be put into a bag so I have been making bags to put things into.  The Magic 3's bag is just perfect for some things.  This gift, which must remain a secret until it arrives at it's destination, needed a bag which was a bit bigger , so I just increased the size.  Works perfectly and I can make more than one in a day, even with all the hand sewing I put into it.

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 9.52.25 pmThe more I use this pattern the more I like it.

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It is also a great stash buster as well.



Embroidery Inspiration

Some time ago I started following the Swedish Embroidery Guild after reading about it on Queenies blog. There is always interesting things there, different from what you see on other sites.  One of the artists they talked about was Eva Nelander Junten.  Her website is called 'Colour, Form & Textiles.

She has some lovely images on her site.

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At first I thought that most of her stitching was by machine but a lot of it is hand stitched, beautifully.

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 Her work has a folk art touch to it you can see her work here & here.

The other thing that attracted my attention was embroidery inspired by Eucalyptus bark.  I look at these trees all day and have often thought they would make a good embroidery.

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This is perfect.

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Making fabric

Every time I complain about the price of fabric I will look at this  video and appreciate just what a labour intensive process would be involved if I did it myself.   This video is from Korea and takes you from picking the crop through to the finished garment.  It is really a group effort.

Picking the crop

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Stripping the fibre

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After it has been dried preparing the fibres

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Then dividing them with your teeth

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Then there are a lot of other processes to go through before you are ready to weave.  At this point they roll the fibre against bare skin.

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Then there is warping the loom and the actual weaving.

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This is a great little video from a Korean News Channel MBN that I can't up load but if you click on the link this will take you to it on their Facebook page.  No English I'm afraid.




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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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.


Home furnishing

I have been busy sewing curtains for my newly renovated home.  Well, not really sewing, altering curtains is more like it.  My eating area is in a bay window and has a lovely view out over the water that I look at whilst having breakfast.  It also catches the morning sun which can be so bright that it drives you out of this area.  

Then occasionally, the next door neighbours visit their holiday home and they have this huge TV that throws light through this window.   I played around with hanging block out curtaining but this was too heavy.  I actually settled for a light weight fabric that cut out the sun and glare.  It can still be hot but the sun moves to another position fairly quickly so this is not a problem.  As luck would have it I found some ready made curtains at Ikea. (I  have to reset the hems and sew in the pinch pleating.)  That is after I drove 1 1/2 hours to buy the curtains and rails and then drove 1 1/2 hrs back again and then struggled onto the ferry with 3 metre long curtain rails.  Luckily my husband was able to hang them for me. 

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At one point in my varied career I was employed as a Soft Furnishing Buyer for a department store.  Part of my responsibilities was managing the workshop that made the soft furnishings and this included the making of curtains.  We made curtains for theatre's though to humble bed sits and I quickly learned that you need weight in the hems to get those curtains to hang well.  A lot of ready made curtains have skimpy hems on them.  Luckily for me my curtains had to be shortened and I was able to put a double hem 5 inches wide on them.

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I also want to hang them in the guest bedroom and the second bedroom that are both in the new extension.

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  You don't really need curtains, there are thick trees just over the back fence, but I think that guests will feel happier with them there. 

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In all cases I want to have the curtains pulled back for most of the time so I have used the excess fabric from the hems to make tie backs.  I am now eagerly waiting for my new furniture to arrive.  The bedroom furniture is due this week.  I hope the delivery man has an off-sider because he needs to get one set upstairs and there is no way I can help.

A country funeral

I didn't realise  that the builder doesn't clean the house when he is finished.  What a horrible job that is.  I don't know how long it will take to get the house as I would like it.  I think I will just have to keep on cleaning for some time yet.   I know I hate the horrible out- door setting my husband bought.  I have hurt my back just moving the chairs.  The table is so heavy I can't move it at all and he loves it and won't have anything said against it.

At the same time as moving we have had two funerals and Mother's Day.  Non of this was close to home.  I seem to have been driving my car forever. One funeral was my husbands cousin to whom I was close.  It was a beautiful Mass with lots of tears but also a close loving family to support each other. The other funerals was held out at Harris Town which is a tiny village west of Ipswich.    We thought that we would get breakfast out there but had to settle for some flavoured milk.   This town hasn't changed very much since it was first settled but it does support a thriving farming community.





They did have an interesting aquaponic garden next to the cafe, (which was closed because they had a job outside of the town.) 


Very healthy fish


and the vegetables and flowers were thriving.


I would have liked some of these Rosellas to make jam with.


They had a series of paintings on a bill board about their founding fathers.  One of these featured the Chevals, who were pioneer film makers. 



One of their movies was "Sons of Mathew."  This was about the O'Rielly family who settled on Green Mountain in the Lamington National Park. I saw this movie when I was a child and it was to O'Rielly's Mountain Resort we were headed for Mother's Day.


It was strange going to the funeral of someone who was very familiar but not knowing anyone else in the church.  Estelle's life on the island was very removed from the other life she had lived in this small town but it was here that her heart was. The church was full of people from the town who knew and loved her.

 We then drove into Ipswich where I found my favourite fabric shop there was closing down.  I bought lots of No 8 Perle threads that had been reduced, plus a stock of elastic and cords.  I then found a new knitting shop and got extra needles and some felt.  I'm not sure where the felt came from but it was labelled "Fair Trade".  It came in large sheets about A3 size at $10 each.  We then had Saturday to recover and be up with the larks to get to O'Reilly's for Mother's Day lunch.  Lots more driving.



Some goodies from Toowoomba

I really enjoy my trips up and back from the Downs. It is good to see my friend Angela and share our love of textile, foods and quilting plus the easy companionship of our friendship. I always come back with great bundles of stuff.

This time saw the back of the car filled with unwanted used towels that will be used by the sisters of St. Joseph to make up packs for prisoners being released. You don’t think that some of them, those who don’t have families, don’t have a toothbrush or a towel or any of those things we take for granted, when they are released. Some don’t even have the fare to catch the bus.

The stash of things I came home with for myself didn’t match this, thank goodness.

Some Rubarb jam, complete with a very nice square of fabric tied around the lid.

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An Inspirational book to keep me on track.

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Some really lovely textile pieces that I will be able to incorporate into my work.

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Also included was this painted panel and a bundle of square to use in making it into something.

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At the opportunity shop I bought a small jug, just because I liked it.

Old doilies that I intend to dye and print on.

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And heaps of homemade soaps for presents, two little birds and some beads that I will use on Xmas gifts.

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The last items were purchased at the Danish Flower Shop. Very Danish. A whole wall in the cafe was covered with photos of the royal family. They grow and sell gourds of all sizes and descriptions.

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This is a small holding with cows,

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Magpie geese in the paddock that had just been harvested.

 A gaggle of all kinds of geese and other fowl.

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And those geese to goose step when they walk.

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I came home with my reserves refreshed.

Finally, the shopping

I wandered off to get back to the main square and finally found a bench where I could sit and consult Google on my phone about fabric shops in the CBD. I found a reference to a group of shops in an arcade and as luck would have it I was sitting just across the road from it.

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After climbing the stairs up to the second floor I found L’ucello’s fancy goods and Haberdashary. It is a beautiful little shop.

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I was perspiring so profusely that I didn’t want to touch the fabrics but I was able to buy some lovely pieces and they had a wonderful selection of pure wool felt, I bought quite a colour range of these. Up the hall I found the Kimono shop but I had all the Japanese fabrics that I need so just had a look here.

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By now it was 4:30pm so I walked to the tram stop and after a bit of a wait got a very crowded tram back to near the apartment. That last bit of walking back was terrible. I got into the apartment to find my daughter had given up the heat long before me. We sat and had a glass of wine and a rest before heading out for dinner.

As this was our last night we wanted to try one of the bars and found a very busy one next to the Princess Theatre. It was full of exotic looking creatures both male and female and we made out way to the back of the bar that was air conditioned. (I’m past sitting in the heat to be seen.) We had a pleasant meal and a few drinks and then headed home again. Gee it was good to be cool.

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It came to our last day in Melbourne and finally the sun came up blazing into the sky. It lit all the windows in the sky scrapers with fire but I was just too tired to get out of bed to get my camera so this will just be a memory that I will carry with me in my mind.

We are finally getting the lie of the city and where everything is. Now it was me to leave, wouldn’t you know? I had a final wander around, went into a shop, come out and was completely lost. I had to ask the direction I was facing. After feeling rather stupid I made it back to where I said I would meet my daughter. This is one time I was glad that I am so pedantic, as I was nearly late, thinking I was early. I must have caught the time setter on my watch and wound it back.

We got a taxi to the airport with plenty of time. I was interested to see that some of the planes had figureheads painted on them. I wonder if these will be cut off and kept like the old see ones.

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We drove the 2 hours home and there was my island waiting for me.  No noise, just the birds, wind and sea.  Now it is time to get back to stitching.