Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In the Garden

The heat is supposed to return with a vengeance by the weekend but it was so much cooler this morning that I ventured out into the garden.

The first task was to deadhead the roses. They have really suffered over the last week and I quickly filled a garbage bag with dead and sunburnt flowers and leaves.

Then I tidied up a couple of other garden beds and pulled out a heap of tradescentia. The people who had the house before us were very keen gardeners (we are not) and seem to have filled every bare spot with this. It grows insanely well and has to pulled out at frequent intervals or it will smother every other plant. As I was yanking, I came across a pot hidden in the undergrowth which has three of these flashy flowers on it.

It is some kind of bromeliad (when I was given it I was told its name was vase plant). The leaves grow in a circular whorl around a centre hollow and the flowers emerge from this space. I have had the plant for at least 8 years and it has only ever had a single flower before. It must like its present position to produce three.

The colours ARE pink and purple and while it has a vague resemblance to a waterlily in general shape, those petals really do have sawtooth edges. Plus the plant is home to at least one spider, so I will continue to admire it from a distance. Since I did a bit of pruning to surrounding plants it is now visible from the kitchen window. The flower lasts a few months so plenty of time to enjoy this year's crop.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Textile Fix

This afternoon was Elizabeth Morley's annual gathering for West Australian textile fanatics, and as usual it was inspirational.

The format for the gathering is simple. Bring a small plate of food to share, a mug or glass to drink out of, a name tag and some of your recent work to share. The food goes on a table in the room between the kitchen and the lusciously overgrown deck, the textile goodies go on the (covered) billiard table in the games room with its fabulous sea view, you make your own tea/coffee or help yourself to water or juice and you mingle and network with like minded people. Bliss.

There is no formal show and tell. People wander around the table and when interested in a particular item, ask questions of the maker. (You are supposed to put your name on your work, but no-one gets uptight if you don't - usually someone knows who has made a particular item). The variety of work on display is mind boggling.

I had my phone with its camera, but I didn't pull it out - shame on me. Some of the items that particularly appealed to me (I will certainly think of others later) were Pam Annesley's book of folded and embroidered printed fabric and silk paper, made to hold ATCs, Margaret Perkins' shrug with a fabric collaged body and knitted sleeves, Juliet Hargreaves' shibori dyed fabric and felted jacket, Linda's embellisher pieces (you can see them on her blog, but up close and personal is better) and Dale's little folded book with its embellished wraparound cover. And I mustn't forget Annie Rawle's stitched Moebius shawl.

Elizabeth offered tours of her studio (upstairs, with an even better view) which is a fabulous space for an artist. Her house has a multitude of examples of her work and it is so interesting to see the progression in her work through various techniques and styles. But the point of the gathering is networking. WA is a small textile community and would be even smaller without gatherings such as this where felters, weavers, quilters, machine and hand embroiderers, professionals and amateurs alike can socialise and see what each different group may be doing.

Thank you so much Elizabeth.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Adding Stitching

Today I added a little FME to 3 embellished pieces I have shown on the blog before. I am much happier with this piece now, and I zapped it a little as well.
This was one of the devore pieces. I placed it on some yellow felt and meshed from the back.
I have since free motion stitched around the colour blocks. An ATC in progress.
I added a bit more to the organza and metallic fibre on velvet, put a chiffon scarf on top and stitched roughly around the bits. Then I zapped it with the heat gun to get the piece below.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lazy Play Day

Today I have not set foot outside the house since 8 am. Who would - with airconditioning inside and steadily rising temperatures outside? I will go and hand water a few plants in an hour or so. I can see them steadily wilting from the window, but watering in the heat doesn't do a lot of good.

The Designer One list came up trumps with suggestions about my problem with 3D Sketch. Apparently it happens from time to time and the solution is too easy. Go to Configure and Reset All Modules. You don't even have to restart the computer.

So I spent a couple of hours with a copyright free black and white sketch I had downloaded from an online colouring-in book and turned it into a redwork design. Of course I haven't stitched it out yet, but it looks good on the screen. I did make a few errors but I was able to solve all of them quite easily. Such fun, but my hand hurt afterwards. I must learn to have a more relaxed hold on the stylus.

Then I played for a bit with the embellisher and with FME on some of the pieces I have made. I have cut 4 ATCs from one piece and made single ATCs from a couple of other bits. No photos yet - I want to back them and finish the edges first. I will send some to Dale for her swap in February and there is another swap on the Aus-NZ Art Quilters list. You need to make sets of six for that one, all as a series. I need to make some bigger embellisher pieces to use as backgrounds.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I bought myself a new mobile phone today and, after charging the battery, I actually made a call. Success! I can access all my numbers, I have set the date and time and it seems to be quite easy to use. Now I need to read the manual and learn all about its other features. It has a camera and also apparently can be used as an MP3 player. Don't know if I need that. though. The camera could prove useful.

Still on technology, I went to play with 3D Sketch this afternoon. I love this program and have done a lot of play designs which I've never stitched out. The photo is of the first ever design I did, the day after I got the program back in May or April last year. I know a bit more now, and I would do some things differently if I were to repeat this, but I still think it's a pretty good first effort. But I didn't get to play today. Every time I tried to open the program it came up with an error message - something about run time error. Of course it's Saturday afternoon, so no help available from David at Bestway. I have sent out a plea for help on the Designer 1 list and will wait for replies. I hope it's something simple that I can fix myself.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More Embellisher Play

Rainbow polyester organza and daMaasi yarn meshed onto reddish felt. I had started this one some time ago and decided to finish it when I was playing today. I do like the texture of the organza. There's a section of wool tops in there too.
At Dale's embellisher workshop I meshed some wool fibres onto a gold coloured scrim. Today I cut bits of it into squares and meshed them onto black felt. This isn't finished - I think it needs stitching of some kind.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Responding to a Challenge

Dale made a suggestion on her Embellisher Machine blog about trying to mesh paper to paper - so I did. I used several different bases: thick handmade paper, a sturdy red envelope and computer paper. I had no success with any of them - whatever I tried to mesh on top did not, and either top or bottom rapidly shredded.
Then I tried paper on felt and the photo above is the record of the experiment. From the left: twisted yellow tissue paper (worked quite well), chocolate paper under organza (OK), newspaper (did not mesh until it was almost shredded), tissue paper under organza (good, so I made another sample. See below). The next section is paper towel, marbled with the shaving cream technique (worked VERY well), a strip of the red envelope which only began to mesh when very distressed and a different chocolate paper under organza. I had tried the chocolate paper on its own, but it didn't work at all. The last section is a heavy black paper that did not mesh, but when I turned over the felt I saw bits of the black coming through, so I embellished from the wrong side. The black paper is next to the sample. The final bit is a section of foil from a bottle of bubbly - not strictly paper. It meshed remarkably well. I have decided I MUST compile a sample book and record my own experiments. From this exercise it seems that the more fibrous the paper, the more easily it meshes. No explanation for the foil though.

I liked the look of the tissue paper under organza so I made a sandwich of the foil organza that I used in my last set of experiments. This time I used the wrong side which was silver, but as I worked the needles a little of the colour came to the top. I think this may well become the base for an ATC.

The next set of experiments is based on a polyester (I think; it's certainly not silk) devore fabric. The sheer background is stiff like organza, not soft like the silk in 'real' devore. In the first photo below I have meshed 2 layers together. The piece on the right is the original fabric.

In this photo scraps of the fabric are trapped in a glittery mesh, and on the right meshed with a plain synthetic organza. I do like the effect of 2 layers of organza meshed together. Another couple of ATCs here too I think.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I learned a lot today

This morning I went to computer club at Bestway. The lesson was on using QuickFonts to make applique letters and thanks to my experiments on Monday I was right up there in following the method. Learned a couple of new things as well, including how to get rid of a font you have made and no longer want, and some sources for free fonts. There was some great show and tell too.

Then I went to Teena's and had lunch at her cafe. There were 5 0r 6 Scquilters there as a result of an offer that Bobbie made on the list. She gave a demonstration on the Wondercut rulers, showing how easy they are to use and what different and great results you can get. Now I have no excuse not to make the quilt I have been promising my daughter these last four or five years. The design we selected is based on half-square triangles and I was procrastinating. I made a queen size quilt using these triangles made the conventional way. All that precision sewing and trimming - ugh. I feel much happier about them now. I have had the fabric for the quilt for ages - a selection of Klimt designs in golds, reds and browns. I just hope she still likes them.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I finished something!

I decided to use the letter outlines I had customised and reversed yesterday to make a T shirt. I copied them on to vliesofix, delved into my scrap bin and tried to arrange them. They were a tad too large, but there was NO WAY that I was going to repeat the customising exercise. The result is pictured below, finished except for hems. I did the satin stitch manually - much easier than hooping, and I would have had to redo the entire design anyway to stitch it out digitally.

I said yesterday that I was disappointed with the density of the lace in the customised bell. I was going to have another fiddle today, but got a bit carried away with T shirt construction. When I looked at the bell again I saw a tassel head. So that is what the bell became.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Software Adventures

I have spent a lot of time today working through some 3D Studio customising exercises from Computer Club. The next meeting is Wednesday and I want to be able to follow this month's exercises easily.

I first attempted a line of letters, appliqued. I managed to produce outline sheets to use with vliesofix (I even remembered to reverse the letters - how good is that!), but I am not happy with the automatically generated satin stitch. Even though I tried to improve it in the editing program, I think I will do the project the old-fashioned way and just manually satin stitch the applique pieces. I know that I learned a lot by this fiddling, but to be honest I could have done it a lot quicker by printing off the letters I needed.

Then I worked through the exercise from the last club day back in November. It was lace Christmas bells and I actually stitched out and constructed the bell. The lace is really really dense and I am not happy with the result, so I will have another fiddle tomorrow.

The next lot of computers for Zimbabwe are finally packed. I took a picture of them loaded on the trailer. Kevin tried to get rid of them today, but there was no room. The container is full of student chairs which have just been dumped in there. This is only a temporary container and it is not worth the hassle to repack the chairs when they would only have to be moved and packed again. So we still have a dozen boxes to put somewhere until the real container returns from its last Zimbabwean trip.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Anything but working with fibre

Yesterday I finally decided that I could not put up with the problems I was having with my mobile phone any more and decided to take it back to the retailer for repair. But of course, I couldn't be without one while it was getting fixed. My daughter had just upgraded to a new phone so I asked to borrow hers for a while. Simple job just to to switch the SIM card, right? Wrong! Half her contacts were still in the phone's memory and we couldn't work out how to transfer them to her card. Thus a trip to a phone shop in her local shopping centre and with the help of a very skilled young lady both cards ended up with the correct information and I was in possession of a working phone. The whole thing took well over an hour, and then I had to deal with getting mine fixed at yet another shopping centre 20 minutes away from the first. More time. When I finally got home I just vegged in front of the computer.

Today we went to a swap meet in the morning. Kevin bought a couple of books and I bought some old bound sheet music. I am NOT a musician - I intend to dye and distress the paper the music is printed on. When we got home I tackled the fridge. Cleaning it is probably my least favourite household chore. I threw out lots of well past the use-by date jars and things and some very tired vegetables. Then I went and bought some more veggies. I plan to use these up quickly - but then I always plan to do that . .

Friday, January 19, 2007

Reading Matter

I can (and do) spend hours and hours with textile books. I have had Val Holmes' latest book since before Christmas, but have only just got round to reading it, as opposed to just flicking through. I found it very inspirational and it now has a forest of paper scraps poking out the top, scribbled on with ideas of things to do derived from some of the techniques and examples.

I also finally received my missing copies of Threads magazine from the States. I am a subscriber and I wrote to them in November when I had not got either the current magazine or the two before it. They were happy to send me back copies, but it has taken a while for them to get here. I am looking forward to reading them tonight.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Messy Thursday

Today has been another where nothing got done. Had to do a chauffeur job for daughter who was having work done on her car, and also hosting a dinner party. Thus most of the day was spent in the car or trailing around shops after her. I did manage to get a photo of the shawl, though the colour is a bit off - it should be more saturated. Nice patterning.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another Day Out

My sister and I decided to spend one of her last days of holiday doing an antique shop crawl. We ended up at Guildford and since we were so close I persuaded her to go to the Coal Dam I talked about a few days ago. She loved it - and I did remember to take the camera this time.

We didn't buy anything antiquey, but we found a shop in Guildford that had heaps of Asian stuff and did indulge there, and in textiles to boot! Sis bought 5 bright batik fans to use as decorations for a party she is having in a couple of weeks, plus a silk shawl/scarf in a stunning shade of yellow. I found another one that had been dip-dyed in an olivey green and then had something sprinkled on it to produce a texture like rain drops. I love it. I tried to take a photo this evening but the sea breeze made it too fluttery. I'll try tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tassels, bags and more shopping

I went to Club day at Bestway Sewing Centre in Willetton this morning. It is a monthly "must do", not only because Pam usually has great projects, but also because it is wonderful to see what other people come up with.

Linda was there today with some bags she had made and the tassels she received in the Thread Studio swap. They were fabulous and I spent some time fondling them after they had been passed around the group. I have some ideas about embellishments for my own work and I think tassels may be a future challenge for the textile group I belong to. Linda's bags and the tassels can be seen here.

In the afternoon, after a visit to the Thread Studio, then a shop in Belmont which only sells fabrics suitable for theatrical performances (wall to wall glitz, glitter and bling) and the Salvo's next door to that, I met up with my daughter at Design Edge. This shop is a showcase for new Western Australian designers and we spent over an hour poring (and pawing) over the garments for sale. Except for a rack of caftan type garments there was nothing for me, but Helen found a skirt marked down from $270 to $40 that fitted her. Very nice, urky green velvet with handstitching around slits in the hem. Then she spotted a black one with machine embroidery. Second purchase made.

So another day with no actual sewing, but lots of textile bits to enjoy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Anne Neil Sculpture

These are images of Anne Neil's wonderful textile inspired sculpture, scanned from the publication I mentioned yesterday.

I found out why I couldn't upload photos yesterday. User error of course - the images were too big because I had scanned at too high a resolution.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Textile inspired Public Art

We had to go to Midland this morning to pick up a computer and bits to add to the next shipment to the Zimbabwe school. While we were there we decided to visit the Midland Railway Workshops.

From 1904 until it was closed in 1994, the workshops provided employment for thousands of Western Australians. A part of the site is now a museum and guided tours are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays - unfortunately only to people who are wearing closed in shoes. It being close to 35 degrees Celsius we weren’t , so that is something that we will do another day. We both love industrial museums.

The larger part of the site is being redeveloped.

We went to the Coal Dam. This part of the site is rapidly filling with upmarket houses, which face onto the park around the dam itself. The dam is fed by an artesian bore and there are remnants of the bridge constructions that used to go from one end of the dam to the other. The artesian water is now channelled to fountain out from the bridges. It is both impressive and attractive. Unfortunately we didn’t take a camera. [Memo to self: do not leave the house without one in future.]

The story behind the dam is fascinating. Because the coal that was used in locomotives for the first half of last century was brown or sub-bitumous coal from Collie, it had to be stored carefully or it would spontaneously combust. The storage solution was the dam. Coal would be dumped in there and then taken out as required, hence the need for the bridges.

One of the features of the whole site, both the restored section and the redeveloped part, is its public art.

I particularly liked a laser cut steel archway by WA artist Anne Neil in the Coal Dam Park.
“The doorway is the threshold to the house and the garden, and also links the two. The see-through, lace-like pattern . . . is intended to be a very feminine piece, with its origins in rich embroidery design and pattern making” . Quote from 8 art projects, Midland Redevelopment Authority. I had hoped to put in some photos that I scanned from that publication but Blogger won't let me upload them.

So no fibre today, but art inspired by fibre.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sewing Room Cleanup

Our daughter hired a carpet cleaning machine from Bunnings yesterday and brought it round for us to use as well. The carpet in my sewing room, which was originally a bedroom, has had some bad stains on it since the day we moved in nearly two years ago. No more! The spotting solution worked a treat and the whole area is spotless - just waiting for me to drop thread ends all over it again.

BTW - I have found the VERY best tool for picking up thread ends easily. It is a toilet brush (unused of course!). With its long handle it is ideal to pull over the carpet and all those thread bits which clog up the vacuum are grabbed by the bristles. Of course, then you have to pick them out of the bristles . . . . . .

In preparation for the machine I had to remove a heap of stuff from the floor under my sewing table and put it on top. Before it is all returned to its usual spots I am planning to sort it out and maybe toss some of it. I know there are two boxes of ugly rayon fabrics that I bought for making chenille- will I ever use them? I haven't made a scarf for a year now. Still, they are there if I decide I want to make some more.

Any way, I will have to wait till the carpet is completely dry. Tomorrow probably if the weather doesn't turn humid.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Embellisher Experiments

I managed to play a bit with the embellisher this afternoon and did a couple of small samples that I quite like. I had my first needle breakage - ugh! but it was actually quite easy to replace it, just fiddly.

The first piece is a gaudy foil printed poly organza which I meshed onto a crinkle rayon. The needles broke up the foil and softened it a lot. I like this piece. See the unneedled organza in the next photo - I can't imagine using this fabric in any other way than playing. I liked the back of the embellished piece too, though I didn't take a photo - it looked like a fuzzy denim.

The next piece is torn organza strips and metallic fibre laid on top of stretch synthetic velvet. The back is interesting and there is also some crinkling happening.

I also tried doing some pleating on organza and velvet, but the velvet wasn't a good choice of base fabric as it doesn't mesh to itself very well. The organza has possibilities - I will try this on a larger piece. It looked a bit like pintucking

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Practice makes perfect

and lack of practice leads to frustration on the part of both teacher and student.
I went to a workshop today on using my embroidery software. I was fine in the morning session on customising - I have been playing with this part of the software and I not only kept up , but also was able to sort out some minor mistakes without calling for help and didn't make any major booboos.

But in the afternoon . . . .

At least I wasn't the only one who hasn't been practising their digitising. I struggled along, frequently calling for help when the intended action turned into something quite different. So did everyone else. Eventually we all gave up trying to do hands on and just sat and watched our expert teacher weave digital magic. She was quite stern with us about the need for us to learn and become familiar with our software through practice. I tried to make some notes, but also made a promise to myself that I WILL try to do a bit of digitising at least once a week. As a former teacher I know how important it is to do your homework. So, Pam, expect me to be less of a class problem next time.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Interpreting tree trunks

This is the only piece I have ever actually completed. It was done from a digital photo of cocos palms and agapanthus.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Tree Trunks

I have been tidying up my computer files and came across a lot of digital images of tree trunks. I remember taking these - it must be nearly five years ago now. I intended to interpret them in fibre: machine embroidery, couching, fabric manipulation etc, etc. I only ever did one, but I am inspired to make a new start.

Sunday, January 7, 2007


This time last year was our 40th Wedding anniversary. I made a journal quilt to commemorate the occasion. It is one of only two quilts that I have ever had published. It was in Down Under Quilts in an article on quilting with metallic threads. The ruby at the bottom is made from a constructed fabric - bits of various metallic and shiny fabrics, threads and yarns vliesofixed to a base, machine stitched and distressed with a heat gun. Great fun to make. I also used this to make the 40 circles that represent the years of our life together. I had to count them several times to make sure I had the right number. Base fabric is satin with applied lace - not scraps from my own wedding dress unfortunately, but similar.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Twelfth Night

and the traditional time to take down Christmas decorations. So I did. I had some new ones this year because I took part in a six month secret sister swap and received some wonderful country style fabric Christmas dolls made by my secret sister. Thank you so much, Jane. I love both of them, but particularly the Santa.
I put everything away neatly, sorted the Christmas cards into two heaps: "keep" and "recycle" and rewarded myself with an hour in the sewing room to start on a new pair of slacks that were already cut out. One piece missing...... and the scraps had gone missing too, though I know I saw them when I was tidying up before Christmas. They are still AWOL after turning out the cupboard - aargh! So nothing done, except wind a couple of bobbins.
THEN I remembered that I hadn't taken down the wreath by the front door and the bits and bobs in the alfresco area, so I did that and crammed them into the spare room cupboard which somehow doesn't look as neat as it did in the early afternoon ..............

Friday, January 5, 2007

Playing with the embellisher

I started a new piece today, hooray! Not enough done to show as yet, but I thought I would put up some pieces I've already done. I like some of them, others are a bit ho-hum.
The top left piece was done in a workshop with Dale. It has all kinds of bits under a chffon overlay. Next to it is another one of the same type - scraps of fabric and lace under chiffon. The next two are a piece of prefelt that failed to felt into synthetic chiffon (an attempt to make a nuno scarf), but which works well under the embellisher, and its reverse side. I think I will continue to work on this piece. Next is silk cocoons and circles of angelina fabric gathered and attached with some wool. Finally, lengths of carpet yarn that was dropped onto kunin felt and embellished into place (I don't like that verb - are there any alternatives?). I then distressed the kunin felt with a heat gun.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Today's Trivia

It is the middle of summer and I am shivering. I need to put on a jumper. It was lovely to get a steady soaking rain the other night, but it's a pity it hasn't continued. Today was cool and sunny.
I am still failing in my attempts to get into the sewing room, but I feel I have accomplished something today. There was a meeting of the committee of the textile group I belong to and we managed to map out the group program for most of the year. Today's picture is of a fabulous art work which was in our November exhibition. Alcira does wonderful work with the paper she makes and colours, usually with rust and tannic dyes.
We received a card in the mail today giving the date of a nephew's wedding and a link to a website where they have lots of information about the wedding including maps etc. I spent a long time on the computer checking out the venue. We thought the wedding was going to be in Colorado, but it will be in Oregon and very close to where a friend lives, so she may get house guests in July. However, we haven't decided yet whether we will go or not.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Opshopping and sewing

I still haven't played at all, though I went to the machine yesterday and started to construct a much needed pair of trousers. I also altered the shoulders of a very nice silk chiffon dress my daughter bought in the sales for about a sixth of its original price.
So I went shopping too today. Not for clothes. That is always a recipe for frustration - they just don't fit. I went to buy a new frying pan. In fact I bought two, of different sizes. I also bought 3 books (Judith Pinnell's second silk paper book, Gwen Diehl's Decorated Page and a novel, all reduced by at least 20%), a box frame for a piece of textile work some time, three balls of knitting yarn, some beading thread and a box with 100 different cookie cutters. This is destined for my daughter who teaches junior primary.
On the way home I visited the local Salvo's shop. Found a blue woollen blanket and this scarf. I think the scarf will work well as part of an embellisher piece. Both were bargains - the blanket was $4.50 and the scarf $2, but they both had green tickets and it was green ticket day. Half price. Money well spent.
I plan to revisit the sewing machine this afternoon to finish the trousers. Then I hope to play with the embellisher for a while.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

New Year's Resolution: Start a blog

After many a moon of thinking about it I have taken the plunge and started my very own blog.
Now, if I can just keep it up . . . .
I haven't been playing with any fibres, fabric or machines since Christmas, but I can hear the embellisher calling. Dale has a lovely piece on her new blog.
It reminds me a bit of this piece which I did last year - many different yarns in all the shades of the forest couched onto green denim with a simple zigzag. I turned it into a bag for the exhibition I was in in November.