Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wool Creatures

I have spent most of the day on the computer doing stuff related to meetings: Ozquilt Network tomorrow, Designing Women next week. Also searching for some ideas for the Journal Quilt I need to start for Contemporary Quilt Group next Thursday as well. These are the only things remotely related to fibre that I have encountered. Thank you, Kev, for sending a smile to brighten my day.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I don't do mending . . .

unless it is absolutely forced upon me and today was the day. Daughter Helen gave me a pair of jeans to mend some weeks ago and questioned me regarding their status when she came down yesterday. Naturally they had not been touched so today I sat at the machine and did them, plus some silk trousers of mine that needed a bit of stitching to extend their life a little. Didn't take much time or effort - why do I put things off so much? Procrastination would have to be my major fault.

Helen's visit yesterday was so that we could take photos of her making fruit salad to use in a class activity. It is very handy for her that her folks have all the digital gear, though she uses her digital camera heaps in her classroom.

We have managed a morning walk every day for the last ten days and I can feel that it is making a difference. Some of the walks that were quite strenuous are getting less so, so I think my fitness is improving. Still plenty of room for improvement though. Saturday's step tally was 11107, yesterday's only 8962. Don't think today's will be very good either.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I spent a little time today going through my thread collection. I have two pieces of fabric that need additional stitching. One is a piece of embellished fabric made from wool tops on scrim, cut into squares and embellished on felt. I am going to handstitch this (shock! horror! me doing handstitching!) I found three hanks of yarn in different weights but the same colourway. It is very vibrant and I think it will look good. I seem to remember that the colour combination is called Marrakesh. All I have to do now is decide which one to use.

The other piece is constructed from layers of synthetic fabric on top of a heavy cotton. I stitched a grid and then used a soldering iron to burn back the layers. The squares have a nice crusty look but are a bit rough. I intend to make a bag from it. I tried an overlay of red tulle and I think that will work well. I am going to stitch the grid from the wrong side with either a fancy stitch or free motion meandering. Now I need to decide which of these two threads to use in the bobbin.

12264 steps yesterday - wow! Almost 9000 so far today.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Steps and Stamps

Our walk today was around North Lake. The lake is now almost completely dry. All the water that is left is a largish puddle of about half an acre or so. The odd thing is that, unlike the other local lakes that have dried out as greyish mud flats, the entire bed of the lake is covered in bright green vegetation. Kevin has a fantastical theory about why this is so.

I just missed the 10,000 yesterday - 9564. Today is much better - 11658 already and I still have to get the washing in and prepare dinner.

One of the reasons for the high tally is that I went into Fremantle this afternoon. I needed some lens solution and I still have a book voucher from Christmas. Didn't use the voucher, but I spied some lovely little metal batik stamps in the Oxfam shop in Queen Street. They were only $3.95 each so I bought 4 of them. They are quite small - the biggest one is no longer than 6cm. Made in India.

I placed them under a bit of fabric that I had previously rubbed with oil pastels and a texture sheet. I used a blue metallic oil pastel and made a quick rubbing of each stamp. The rubbings are very rough - I didn't take any care at all and the bird is legless. I am thinking that I might try them with Shiva sticks as well as for their original purpose. They might be interesting stamped into Angelina fibre and paper pulp too and they could probably be used for foiling . . . I have plenty of ideas - I just need to make the time to try them all out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I just made it yesterday: 10107 steps when I unhooked the pedometer.

This morning we went for a walk along the beach at Woodmans Point. We took the camera but missed the only really good photo opportunity. We came out of the dunes onto the northern edge of the point and there they were. Probably a hundred seagulls perched on the beach and a pelican fronting them. It looked so like a traditional classroom - I immediately thought of May Gibbs' Mr Kookaburra and his class of bush creatures. But before we could focus the pelican turned his back on the class and returned to the sea where three of his siblings were waiting. The class took off in segments as we approached.

Our question of the day - where can you find baby pelicans? Neither of us can remember ever seeing other than full size pelicans.

The beach walk took 3805 steps, but I wish the pedometer took effort into account as well. The same number of steps in a shopping centre is easy. Slogging through seaweed banks and loose sand is NOT.

I have spent the rest of the day going through some of my textile magazines. The slips of paper have proliferated.

Some years ago I used to photocopy the contents page of magazines, circle or highlight the articles I found interesting and file the copies in a display book. A good idea - but every time I used the index to find an article in a particular issue I found another article that appealed - and failed to see the relevance of some I had highlighted.

Then I started writing technique (and project) names and page numbers onto sticky notes and putting them on the cover. I have used these today to find a particular project, but I have also found articles that didn't make it in my selection in 2003, but which I really like now. So I found the article I wanted - plus about 50 others.

I would really like an easy reference system - I have LOTS of magazines. A computer data base doesn't appeal. Suggestions welcome.

And despite the huge effort this morning I have only racked up 8353 steps today.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Green tomatoes

We slept in a bit today and it was nearly 8.30 when a visitor arrived just as we were setting out for our walk. It was going to be the beach today. Maybe tomorrow?

Yesterday was 7983 steps - better than I expected. And despite not having been for a walk today's count is already nudging 9000. Reason: I went shopping. Only for boring groceries, but you can get in a lot of steps when you shop in an unfamiliar supermarket! The layout is never the same. I also went to the fruit and vegetable shop just down the hill in the Stock Road Market area. I don't go there often because I find the owners a bit off putting, but they do have cheap vegetables. While I was there I found green tomatoes in amongst the ripe ones so I swooped on them. I love Green Tomato chutney, and I haven't made it for ages. It is still bubbling quietly away on the stove and the whole house smells absolutely wonderful.

I also did a bit of zapping and burning this morning on yesterday's fabric and another one. No pics, because I don't think they are ready. Both need some more texture and/or embellishment.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Starting Point

This piece of fabric was originally part of a challenge block. It was stamped with gold paint and had gold flakes scattered over it before being overlaid with red chiffon and zapped. I used most of it last year when I made my A4 challenge quilt for April.

Today I sprinkled some of the metallic thread ends I have saved over the bit that was left, put another piece of red chiffon over the top and stitched all over in gold thread. Tomorrow I will either zap it or use the soldering iron on it. It will be the base for a series of 6 ATCs for a swap to raise money for cancer research.

I did not do at all well in the step program yesterday - only 6609 steps. I don't think today will be much better.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A little bit of sewing

I made this piece of fabric ages ago. It is silk tops on top of felt with pintucking, programmed stitches and freemotion embroidery. It was just the the size to make a book cover and I even had a book. So today I did it. It took me less than half an hour.

I also did quite bit of playing with QuickFonts in my 3D software. I had downloaded some Dingbat type fonts and I tried turning them into designs. There are a couple that I am quite happy with and I will stitch them out eventually. The rest went straight to Trash.

On Saturday I did 11129 steps. Yesterday was 7916. Today I will be lucky to reach 7000 - you don't take many steps sitting at a computer or sewing machine. We did go for a walk though this morning.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

We are off and away to the US

But not till July. Tickets booked, car booked and first night in LA all organised. More later - neighbours have dropped in and an impromptu barbecue is underway.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

Nothing done today that relates to fibre - but I haven't mentioned my impressions of the production of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie that we went to see on Thursday night.

I enjoyed it , though I thought it was too long. It needed to be tightened up, or more material included. The costuming was a bit hit and miss. Some costumes were quite elaborate (the fantail pigeon and the magpie spring to mind), others such as the Banksia Men were just bundles of knitted fabric. That was probably because all of the cast except the three leads spent time as a Banksia Man and quick on and off was the main requirement. It was interesting that the ladies of a CWA branch in NSW were given credit in the program notes for the knitting they did for the show.

Dale asked me yesterday about the 10,000 steps program and how I was going. I had to confess that I had not put on the pedometer for a week. But I did this morning and as of this minute I have racked up 10922 steps.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Waltz through the Hills, and other places

I delivered my ATCs today - thinking I would meet the deadline - but that was last week. Duh! Very kindly, Dale accepted them. They made up a total of 300 ATCs, so people going to the Melbourne Convention have a treat in store. Thank you Dale.

In the afternoon I went with Kevin to pick up some computer stuff. We went first to Shenton Park, then to Sawyers Valley. My father used to live there, but we haven't done anything more than pass through for maybe 20 years. We made a slight detour to look at the house. Very difficult to see anything from the gate because the trees Dad planted have grown so big, but it didn't look as if much had changed. The orchard looked the same.

On the way back we stopped in Mundaring to visit the Arts Centre there. Today there was an interesting exhibition: the Shire of Mundaring Acquisition Exhibition. In my opinion the best pieces were sculptures. The Shire had acquired the one I particularly liked at a ridiculously low price. However, as Kevin pointed out, we could never have had it here - it was about 2 metres tall and the same wide. A 2D piece to be positioned on a large blank wall, which we don't have.

There were some nice photographs, some ceramics, a geometrical installation which did nothing for me, a couple of mixed media pieces and one textile piece. The rest were all paintings of varying quality, mostly not so good. The textile piece was a large 3D plant-like piece. I have seen this artist's work before - shame on me that I have forgotten her name.

In another room of the gallery was a small exhibition of previously acquired sculptures, including two by Hans Arkeveld whose work I have always liked. I really liked one piece which was suspended from the ceiling. Called "The Sentinel", it was a hollow fish shape with the ribs and a fearsomely toothed head shaped from polished wood. The fins were of painted, stiffened fabric. Inside was a prone cyborg like figure, supposedly operating hand and foot pedals to propel the fish. Like those very deep water fish that have a sort of antenna with a light, this one's head had a wire with a miniature camera.

We drove home past the Mundaring Weir. The hotel had hundreds of plastic chairs set out for a David Helfgott concert. We thought we might visit the C.Y O'Connor museum, but it doesn't seem to be readily accessible to the casual visitor. Back then through Kalamunda and Lesmurdie to the Roe Highway and home. Not sure how many kilometres we covered but we spent nearly 3 and a half hours in the car. Will look at it as training for the US trip.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Some fibre work today

After a busy start to the day - SiL Shirley had to be delivered to the bus in East Perth before 8, there were 2 loads of washing to do and I had an appointment for a haircut at 9.30 - I finally got into the sewing room and managed to complete eight ATCs. All except the red one are made with the embellisher then most have stitching added

Now all I have to do is pick 5 to give to Dale for the swap in Melbourne next week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baubles and Beads

I am suffering withdrawal symptoms - I haven't been near my sewing machines for over a week. Fibre has not featured largely in my life.

Today I took SiL Shirley to several bead shops . She bought enough to keep herself going in Esperance. The shopping there isn't great.

I bought myself a pair of red coral earrings. We were both pleased with our purchases. She leaves tomorrow and I have promised myself a couple of hours on my machine to finish the ATCs for Dale's swap.

Monday, February 12, 2007

All shopped out -Searching for a Wedding Outfit

Sister in law Shirley is visiting from Esperance. The main purpose of her trip is to buy an outfit for her son's wedding in the US in July. Apparently all the members of the bridal party (male and female) are to be dressed in ivory and so her colour decisions were made for her.

We visited: 6 boutiques in Applecross (Riseley Street), 2 boutiques and a recycling shop in Applecross Village (Ardross Street) and 2 boutiques in South Perth (Mends Street). At one of the South Perth outlets she found a skirt that she liked and bought it. No suitable top though.

I asked if she had a dressmaker in Esperance - YES! So off we went to Fabulous Fabrics in Balcatta. We found a satin crepe that toned with the skirt for a camisole and some beautiful beaded silk organza for a long coat. Success at last.

I am so tired. I'm not sure whether it was all the driving or all the standing around or both. I did buy something for myself - a beaded bracelet. Cost me $10. Shirley spent a lot more than that.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Busy Day/Lazy Day

Yesterday was the first meeting for the year of Designing Women, a textile art group I have belonged to since its second meeting back in 2001. That meeting was held at a private house in a studio, but the group got too big for that to be feasible and we moved to hired rooms. Barbara, whose house it was, has not been a member of the group for a couple of years due to ill health, so it was lovely to have her return yesterday and resume her membership.

We had a very productive meeting, with an introduction to the Melville Textile Art project which is being co-ordinated by two of our members, and got most of the year's program organised. There will not be an exhibition this year, but we will take part in Artopia in October this year and book a venue for 2008.

In the afternoon there was a consultation workshop for the textile project. Unfortunately I couldn't attend. My sister and brother in law were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and as a member of the original bridal party I was obliged to attend. It was a very nice party, and that is my excuse for no blog entry yesterday.

When we got home I went straight to bed and have been rather slow all day. Not hungover, just slothful.

Below is a picture of the wedding. I am NOT going to post one of the same group 40 years later! Too demoralising.

Friday, February 9, 2007

February is Group start up time

Yesterday I went to the first meeting for the year of the Machine Embroidery group at the Embroiderers' Guild, today I went to Contemporary Quilt Group and tomorrow is the first meeting of Designing Women. The second week of the month is the favoured time for most of the textile groups I belong to.

Yesterday we revisited basic free machine embroidery stitches. and started on a stitch sampler. As usual I didn't have the threads I really needed, and my machine decided that, no matter how much I loosened the tension of the spare bobbin case, it was not going to co-operate and make a nice feather stitch. Yet another UFO in the making, I suspect.

At Contemporary Quilt Group we watched the DVD of Quilt National 2004. Some stunning work - we needed a morale boosting talk after. Show and Tell was a bit limited because of the holiday break, but there were some nice examples of printing from a lino block, disperse dyeing using texture sheets and an arpilliero (?spelling) that a member's daughter had bought in South America. Diana also brought along the quilt she made that appears in the latest issue of Quilting Arts, and there was some fabulous vintage clothing. One was a Victorian capelet with a collar and long ties. Though solid black for a mourning garment, it was embellished with shiny black beads. I guess the desire for bling has always existed.

PS: Yesterday I just missed out on 10,000 steps: 9823. Today I forgot to put on the pedometer. Probably just as well. Even though we went for our walk early I spent most of the day sitting.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

More Fibre at the Museum

I thought I had rabbited on enough yesterday so I didn't mention two other fibre pieces we were shown. I didn't take photos - I was a bit shy about asking - so no pictures, sorry. The pieces were cloaks from New Zealand. I know nothing about these, so I don't know if they were good examples or rubbish, but I found them pretty impressive.

The first was (according to the accompanying card) "woven from flax with thrums inserted into the warp". Doesn't sound that wonderful, does it? But it was really interesting. The base fabric was a creamy-beige colour, woven so that it appeared as textured rectangles. The "thrums" were black, long curly pieces almost like the stuff you can buy to use as dolls' hair. I assume they were wool, but I have no idea whether it was the natural colour or if they were dyed. The overall effect was almost like a layer of freeform lace on top of the base fabric.

The second was a feather cloak. I wasn't able to look closely at this, so I don't know what the base fabric was like, but it had intricately woven bands at each end. The feathers were a muted pinky-brown, quite fluffy, with here and there the eye from a peacock's feather. We were told that it dated from the 1880's.

I do think it is a shame that things like this are not on public display. I have decided that I need to know more about traditional New Zealand textiles, because I am going to the Aotearoa Textile Forum on the Kapiti coast in September.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Museum visit - some fibre seen

We went out to Welshpool today to the warehouse where the major portion of the Western Australian Museum's various collections is stored. The reason for our visit was to see a Papuan dance mask that Kevin donated to the museum in 1962. It has been in storage almost all the time since.

While there we were shown a number of different PNG artifacts including some tapa from Oro Province. When we were living in Popondetta in the 70's I used to buy tapa from the women who made it. I did this on behalf of the Vocational Centre where I taught. The centre ran a small business and tapa was made into hats and bags or sold by the piece to tourists. The photo is of a piece of tapa that I bought for myself at that time.

Tapa is made from the bark of a species of mulberry. The pieces of stripped bark are beaten out over a log until they are flexible. Some pieces of tapa are huge, this one is quite small - about a metre by 60 cm. The very best tapa is as flexible as cloth with almost no holes. Thicker tapa with no holes is generally not as highly regarded as thinner tapa with holes, but even the best quality tapa must be decorated well to be valuable. Traditionally, the red in the designs is made from hibiscus gum, the black from charcoal. In the 70's these were painted on with brushes made from chewed twigs. Designs are usually based on natural objects - fish, lizards, palm fronds, but may also be purely geometric.

Tapa from some of the Pacific islands is varnished but PNG tapa is soft. It was used for all the things cloth is - wrappings for gifts, food and as shrouds, clothing, curtains, table and bed covers. I believe tapa is still being made but woven cloth has replaced it for everyday use.

The tapa I saw at the Museum was not the best quality and the painting was very poorly done. The line surrounding the red motifs was very definite, unlike the the soft lines and dots of the tapa I am accustomed to. It looked to be the work of a beginner or someone unaware of the traditional styles. The pic below shows the design outlines of a traditional piece very clearly.

PS: I walked 11023 steps yesterday. I have 9433 on the pedometer at the moment and I still have to prepare dinner.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

10,000 Steps

I have resumed the 10,000 steps program. The idea is that you do at least that number of steps per day to maintain a basic fitness level. The steps are measured with a pedometer. At the end of last year I was attaching it religiously to my belt every morning and achieving the goal most days. Then it was Christmas and New Year, and the daily walks became walks every third or fourth day. The week before last we started walking every day again, but the pedometer languished on the bedroom chest of drawers until yesterday.

It is very hard to do that number of steps when you spend hours at the computer, sewing machine or embellisher! Yesterday I only managed 8865 steps. Today I have done 10,168 so far and will probably clock up a few more before bedtime.

A few of the steps involved walking out to the back garden to examine my "alien flowers". The centre of the flower has opened out a bit more and there are more bluey-purple bits in the middle.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Fibre is found in strange places

While I was looking for the photo I posted yesterday I came across a folder with a collection of pictures I took a couple of years ago at the last remaining ammunition dump at Woodmams Point. During World War II they were partially underground bunkers surrounded with high walls of cement filled sandbags, two metres or more tall, used for storing ammunition.
There used to be several of these buildings, but they are now all gone but one. The building is in very poor condition and covered in grafitti, but somehow the walls have survived without defacement.

And the fibre connection? The original sandbags have long ago rotted away, but have left their textural marks on the cement. You can clearly see the weave of the cloth, the seams of the bags and the stitching that closed them. And even, though not in this photo, frayed holes where sand spilled out.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Slightly Productive Sunday

Yesterday I finished my contribution to the family blog, was happily writing away on this one, went to publish it and . . . the connection had disappeared and remained down all evening. So that's my excuse for no entry yesterday.

We are reconnected today and I spent hours surfing, looking for information and air fares related to a trip to the States in July for a nephew's wedding. It seems almost too easy to make all the travel arrangements on-line. But since we haven't actually decided on an itinerary it was just information gathering.

This afternoon I played a bit more with ATCs. I now have a pile of a dozen or so. There is a swap being organised to raise money for cancer research and I'd like to be in that one, but the rules say they must be in a series of 6. I am finding it very difficult. I have made series in the past, but never any more than 4 of a kind. I usually make an embellished base fabric, then use a view finder to pick out interesting bits. I thought I had a big enough base piece, but try as I might, I couldn't get more than 5 pieces from it. I will obviously have to make something quite a bit larger for this.

I remembered that I had taken a photo of the flower form of the seed pod pictured the other day, so I did some searching in the files and eventually found it. Isn't it a lovely bunch of tassels?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Natural fibre

This giant tassel is hanging from a tree at North Lake.

The lake is now almost completely dry, but filled with bright green weeds. It was amazing to see a black swan stalking through them like it was swimming in a different kind of water. I don't remember the lake being so low before. This time last year it still had plenty of water in it. We will need lots of winter rain to fill it again. But there are still a lot of water birds around so I guess the weed provides them with good pickings.

This type of tree grows its older leaves into bunches. Usually they resemble balls or birds' nests. This tassel must be a least a couple of metres long. I had never noticed it before, but now I will look out for it.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The things that you see

When we went for our walk at the lake this morning we remembered to take a camera with us. We could see this blue spot from quite a distance. I wondered if it were a flower that had grown up through the old stump. The reality was more amusing.
Isn't this seedpod marvellous? I have been thinking of a way to suggest it in fabric or fibre and I have an idea . . .
I don't know what the bush is called, but the sequence it follows in its flowering is amazing. Before the flowers come it has protruding fat fingers (where the spikes are now) like an outspread hand. Then they split and the flower emerges. The long fine flower filaments look like a bunch of tassels. The flowers die and the seedpods dry out and lose their colour and eventually fall to the ground.
I look for the bush every time we walk this way, just so I can see what stage it is at. This is what it had to offer today.