Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Zealand -Day One

The drive from Wellington Airport to Paraparaumu where we are staying took about an hour, but was very scenic and interesting.

Wellington is a very pretty city with lots of hills and water. There are many old timber houses which reminded me a little of Eureka in California, though I didn't see any quite as ornate.

The highway goes along the coast and is quite spectacular. The hills are very steep and very green, while the edge of the ocean is rocky with waves pounding against the shore.

The motel is interesting. The room I have has no storage for clothes or cases, except a portable hanging rack. It is a disabled room, so the shower has no sill, but the shower curtain only goes half way round, so you have the choice of getting water all over the toilet or all over the floor. And there is no soap dish in the shower, which I found very strange.

The rooms connect, so the family room next door which Glenys and another tutor are sharing has been set up as a common room where we can gather together. They do have a separate bedroom.

This afternoon we are catching the train to Wellington where we are going to the final night of the WOW (World of Wearable Art) performance. I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

It works!

I tried the wireless internet connection at Perth and Sydney airports with no success.

When we arrived at this motel (Lindale Lodge) in Paraparaumu I asked what type of connection was available. Free wireless! So I set up the computer, did the connection bit, opened Firefox and there it was - the internet unleashed.

So I hope to blog everyday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ready to Go

The case is all packed and I am pretty sure I haven't forgotten anything. Kevin got on the bathroom scales with it and it weighs 21 kilos. I should be able to get away with that. I think a lot of the weight is the stuff I need for the workshop. For clothing I have layers. I have been looking at the weather on the internet and it's been pretty chilly as well as quite wet. I am carrying my rain jacket. The plane leaves just after midnight and I get to Sydney at 6 am, with a 3 hour wait for the plane to Wellington. However I have to get from one terminal to another so that will fill in time.

We gave up the struggle to get wireless connection on the laptop. It is only 3 years old , but it is a PC and a cheap one at that. This morning Kevin went out to Willetton Senior High School where he used to teach and the technician there spent a couple of hours on it without success. So this afternoon we went and bought a MacBook. It works straight out of the box, plus it has a dual core processor so when we get back I should be able to load the embroidery software on it. Then I'll sell the old one, but I don't think we'll get much for it.

I hope I will be able to update the blog fairly often. The motel we are staying at for the first week has Internet access. Since I am not sure that it will be wireless I have also packed an ethernet cable. Probably won't need it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Countdown to New Zealand

Only 3 days to go - and there is still a lot to do.

I am still battling with the wireless connection on the laptop computer - I made two calls today to the Belkin Support global site. Both of them involved young ladies with almost incomprehensible accents and whatever I did with the first one was reversed by the second. I am now told that I have to switch on the wireless connection on the computer, but the computer help site says this has to be done by the wireless connection software! I am going round in circles.

I did get most of the workshop requirements organised. I just need to cut up some fabric lengths, find my trusty hand towel and a flat stick and I'm done. It's not too daunting when it is all collected together - I might be able to fit in a few more clothes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The power of advertising

I sold my D1 at last! A lady came to look at it a couple of months ago, loved it but decided that money was too tight. I stopped advertising while we went to the States, then recently put a couple of ads into Quokka where my machine was competing with another D1 whose owner was asking nearly double the amount I was. Original interested buyer was now able to stretch the finances, had been to see the competition, was not impressed and thought about mine. But I didn't advertise this week (forgot about it actually) so she rang to see if it was still available.

We are both happy. She has a very good machine and I no longer feel guilty that I wasn't using it since I bought the SE from my cousin. I must confess that the money will come in handy too since I looked at the credit card balance today.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Post #200

I wish I had something terrifically fibre based to write about for this landmark posting, but I don't.

Yesterday I spent entirely too much time downloading security updates for my laptop. I think Microsoft sucks. It took me all afternoon to download and install one file. I hate that you can spend an hour waiting for an installation to finish and then it decides to tell you that it has failed.

I have decided I want to try to blog from New Zealand and so I needed to install better security. I rarely connect the laptop to the Internet - almost all our internet stuff is done on the Macs and we use thumb drives to transfer files. We have bought and installed a WiFi card on the laptop and finally succeeded in installing the required security. Still haven't tested the connection - probably tomorrow at the Dome cafe in Fremantle which offers free access.

We then went out to dinner to a friend's house where we ate some very nice curry and I drank a little too much wine. I have been a bit slow today.

Helen came round in the late morning. Her printer is out of ink and she needed some pics printed of the T&E projects her students have been making so they can be displayed for the Parents' Night on Tuesday. Mum and Dad to the rescue again - except our printer ran out of ink too! We will try a refill tomorrow.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Little fibre today, but I made another set of "gellies". These are Plaid dimensional paint, squeezed on to the shiny side of freezer paper and left to dry. Some 24 hours later, peel them off and you have these things that you can glue to paper, fabric etc. Not too sure about their durability, though.

This was an idea I gleaned from Tracey Bautista's article in the second issue of Altered Couture. I am still thinking about an outfit for the last night of the NZ Fibre Forum, but I think I am running out of time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Textile Project and Hat Challenge

Last night's viewing of the pieces prepared for the Melville Community Textile Art Project was amazing. There were over 130 pieces of textile art on display and many people spoke about how they became involved in the project and what their participation had meant to them. While most of the pieces had the name of the maker attached, there were five sets that had been made by a group of Nyoongar women who did not wish individual bits to be attributed to any one person. Apparently these pieces will be joined together and flow over the finished panels in the form of the Wagyl (Dreamtime Rainbow Serpent). This is one of the sets.

I took along my challenge hat and gave it to Iris for the display during Artopia.

This is the "Before" picture.

This is the "After"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dyeing Efforts

On Sunday, while at the DW retreat in Dwellingup, we did some dyeing with Procion MX dyes that had been left over from a workshop the group did with Dijanne Cevaal some 4 years ago. We hoped they would still be useable and they were.

I didn't get a chance to do much for myself since I was sort of looking after the logistics of it all, but I did manage to put dye and fabric in 3 bags. This is the final result. From the top: red and blue, yellow and black and yellow and red.

I was aiming to produce some scrim I could use in embellishing and so I took a variety of loosely woven cotton fabrics and some thick cotton knit. I am mostly happy with the results.

This fabric may not be pure cotton. It didn't work very well in the first bag which was blue and red, but on the other hand, there may just have been too much fabric for the dye in that bag, because I used it again in the yellow and orange bag and it worked very well.

I want a piece of scrim in pinks, blues and lavenders for another project I have in mind so I think I will just paint it over.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another one bites the dust

I have just finished my challenge for this month's sewing club. It took me most of the afternoon. I went to aquarobics and then did some shopping so that took care of the morning.

This is what I made: a little fabric tray to hold bits and pieces.

I also drew some buttons in bleach on a black fabric and used that for the base.

Tomorrow night is the viewing of all the pieces that were made for the Melville Textile Art Project. I am not sure how many there are, but it should be an amazing sight. They are filming it, so there should be enough light for a few photos.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Another Challenge

At Husqvarna Sewing Club last month Pam gave us all a square of fabric and issued a challenge to use it to make something. This is the fabric.

You are allowed to add some more fabric (up to 4 pieces the same size) plus stiffening, wadding, lace or whatever. Size is restricted to a piece that will fit in a bag 25cm x 30 cm.
I decided to do some playing with my software and made a couple of designs the following week. Today I stitched out the designs I had digitised.

Tomorrow I need to turn them into something. I want to go to aquarobics, so I will go to Club on Wednesday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Retreat

The retreat was as enjoyable as usual. Even though there was a lot of rain, the fires in the living areas and the studio were cheerful and warming. Shelley's food was great and we had a wonderful sociable time.

Jacky did an excellent workshop on image transfer using Golden mediums and paints on Saturday morning. I am particularly interested in using images printed on transparencies, and hope to do a lot more with this in the future.

This is an image Jacky supplied, transferred onto calico and glued to a painted background. I rubbed too hard and lifted parts of the image from the fabric.

For this, gesso was painted onto a print fabric and the image transferred onto that. I don't think I like the distressed look so much.

And this was from a transparency that I printed years ago and never did anything with. The image transferred beautifully, despite the length of time it has been sitting. The backing fabric is some dyed silk organza I scrounged from Iris. I really like this one.

The afternoon was basically free time so some of us worked on our challenges, while others went into town where there was a presentation of quilts made by the patchwork group in Pinjarra for families affected by the bushfires earlier this year. It was a wonderful display and very moving.

After dinner we had a swap of inchies (one of the above mentioned challenges) and a hat parade. The hats were absolutely fabulous. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos. I took my camera out of my bag on Thursday to take a shot of something and forgot to put it back, so I was without a camera for the weekend. However, several other people took lots of pics, and I hope to get copies.

The hats were also a challenge. Way back in April or May, Iris and Juliet came across a pile of bowling hats for the ridiculous price of $2 each, so they bought enough for all of us and we were going to decorate them for the Melbourne Cup. Then we decided to move the challenge forward and make it a Retreat activity. I am so glad we did. It was great fun.

This morning we did some scrunch dyeing with Procion dyes. I didn't get much done - I spent most of the time mixing batches of salt and soda ash solution, but I will take some photos when I have rinsed them. We all took them home to rinse - the studio is great, but rinsing a lot of fabric would be a problem.

This afternoon was fine, and after a last walk around the garden (I swear there were more flowers out than just 2 days ago), I drove home via Pinjarra and Mandurah. I have never gone that way before, but it actually took me 10 minutes less.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ready to go

I have packed everything I will need for the weekend at Dwellingup, except for my clothes and some drinks and nibblies. Just need to load up the car in the morning. If I leave at 11, I will be there by 12.30 which is the time we are meeting for lunch in the town.

It has been cloudy today, with only a couple of showers, unlike yesterday when it bucketed down. I hope it is fine over the weekend , but Banksia Springs is wonderful whatever the weather.

Here is a photo of the little lake on the property. I just scanned it from a print, so quality may not be as good as a digital pic. I will post some more piccies next week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

4D Workshop

The workshop today was to make a felt Christmas card. It was really fun to do. We started from scratch and digitised the whole thing, then stitched it out. I am going to redo the exercise since I made a few booboos. It is also a good way to reinforce what I learned.

This is the outside

and this is the inside

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Australia Wide Away

Sent off the entry forms, the entry fee and a CD with 4 images, 2 for each quilt, today. I hope the images are OK - once I took them we adjusted colour etc on the Mac, but when I ran them on my PC laptop they were quite dark. Oh well . . just keep the fingers crossed.

I went to aquarobics this morning as well, so I really feel I have accomplished quite a lot. Tomorrow I am going to another of Pam's workshops: computer work in the morning with the 4D software, then embroidering the design in the afternoon. I like this format - since I bought my SE secondhand, I have never had the owner's classes, and I am always learning some new tricks. I still haven't sold my D1 - put another ad in Quokka today. There is someone else selling a D1 as well. Week before last she wanted $4000, last week it was $3000. Mine is way cheaper.

Thursday I must get everything organised for the Designing Women retreat at Dwellingup. We go there every year and have a great time. I won't be blogging over the weekend, but I should have lots of pics on Monday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Finished the second one!

Well, except for sewing down the bottom of the sleeve and attaching a label. But finished enough for photos.

Tonight I will complete the entry forms so I can send them off tomorrow. They should arrive in plenty of time. I will rope in Kevin for the photos because he has a digital SLR and can do lots of tricks with exposures, though I will take some myself with my little point and shoot.

Getting to the end has been a little fraught - neither machine liked freemotion with the threads I wanted to use for the quilting. I had almost decided that I might have to quilt it by hand (gasp!), when the SE decided to co-operate if I used a normal straight stitch, and so that is what I have done. There is not a lot of quilting compared to the stitching on the top.

So off to aquarobics tomorrow with a clear conscience. Photo session will follow, then I can direct my attention to some more mundane tasks like paying bills.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lots done

The metallic thread behaved itself for once and I stitched out the text I digitised yesterday. I hooped the organza with Hoop Ease, but found I needed more stabiliser. I used a single layer of Vilene 541 and it was just enough. And so easy to remove: the floaty bits look great.

In between hoopings I managed to check out a book of copyright free images for ones that I can use this coming weekend, plus collect together beads and embroidery thread, iron on some interfacing and cut up a piece of constructed fabric for the inchies swap. I also washed some scrim type fabric to use for the dyeing activity on Sunday.

While the embroidered organza was drying (the text is dense and took quite a long time) I printed out the images I had selected, found some others I had saved from the Dover site and printed them out,

did some tidying of my computer files, and had a little play with the 4D software, trying to work out some ideas for this month's challenge.

We didn't go for a walk this morning, but I put on the pedometer for the first time since we got back from the US. 5030 steps. Guess moving from one activity to another, especially when they are in different rooms, can help the step count. I plan to walk tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A little (very little) progress

I have now digitised the text for the revised version of the second quilt and I will stitch it out tomorrow. I have done some more unpicking since I decided the placement of the text could be improved. I think I will be able to reattach them without needing to restitch the whole lot - I certainly hope so.

While I was at the computer I decided to print out the new Font Sheets for the 4D Embroidery system. Not all of them - just the ones that have been added. There were about 30, so this took some time. I'm very good at procrastination. Yesterday I sorted out my paper shelf. It needed it, and I needed to do it because of the requirements for the DW Retreat next weekend and the Fibre Forum in October, but it didn't have to be done yesterday. It would have been better if I had done it AFTER the quilt was finished.

Tomorrow is crunch day. If all goes well the second quilt will be basically finished. I am running out of time since I have to send the entry to NSW to get there by the 15th, and need to allow 3 days for delivery. I am so glad that digital images will be accepted - organising slides is a real hassle.

Friday, September 7, 2007


It has poured rain today - absolutely lovely except when you are driving on the freeway and the rain is so heavy the wipers can't keep up on their fastest speed and so you drop your speed back to 80k or less and these huge trucks roar past you, the spray from their wheels adding to your vision difficulties . . .

Was I hassled? YES!! Fortunately there have been clear spells and one of them was when I was driving home. The skies opened again as I left the freeway, but I can cope with that at lower speeds and lighter traffic.

I went to see my friend Jean and to visit Dale to pick up some items I had asked her to hold for me. As usual I found something else to buy and came home with some evolon. I have seen mention of it on various sites and when I saw it I had to have some. I have been googling it tonight with little success, but I will try again in a day or so. Dale hasn't yet done much with it herself, but from what I gather from her and the bits I have read, it is similar to Lutradur in its fibre composition, which means it can be painted, will react to heat and is suitable for use with transfer dyes. However it is not a mesh type fabric like Lutradur. It actually looks like a thick interfacing, so I must be careful to label it.

Dale has an interesting system of waste disposal/recycling. Anything she doesn't want is left on the front verandah and visitors are welcome to help themselves. I removed today's pile which was mostly card blanks in red and green. I think there is a challenge happening for the Designing Women group!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Deconstruction (2)

I have almost finished the unpicking of the piece I am planning to reconstruct as an entry for the Australia Wide exhibition. I was wondering at some of the design decisions I made when I first made it, but I have just remembered that my primary machine stopped working at a vital point (ie imminent deadline) so I had to use the other one. The Orchidea is wonderful for free motion stitching, but digitised embroidery is not its strong point, and I had to substitute some applique for digitised text.

I went to the optometrist and I don't need any change to my lenses. It was just those TINY stitches! And Kevin approves of my haircut.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


The unpicking is taking longer than I anticipated - some of the stitches are TINY. Definitely not a good example of machine quilting. I hope to finish this evening so that I can cut it to size tomorrow if I have time.

I am planning to go to aquarobics - I really like the Thursday session because it starts at 9 instead of 9.30. I have an appointment with the optometrist at 2pm and I realised today that I will probably need another lens change, since I was having so much trouble with the teeny stitches. Then I am having a haircut. The last one was before we left for the US and all of a sudden I have become decidedly shaggy. Friday I am going into town and will also visit my friend Jean

My deadline is still Sunday. If I haven't made enough progress by then I will drop the idea of submitting two quilts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


the quilt for Australia Wide today (except for stitching down the hanging sleeve). I will do that if and when the quilt is accepted. I am pleased with the quilt, but I am not sure if the selectors will like it as much as I do..

The second quilt has been started - in this case it involves deconstructing a piece I made for the Melville Art Awards two years ago. The quilt measures 45 cm by 45 cm and when I put bits of paper around it to reduce it to 40 cm I thought it would be OK, even improved by a reduction in size. When I first made it I bagged it, then quilted it, so today I have been removing the quilting so I can rebag it. I thought about just cutting it to size, but I like the edge effect of the bagging.

The surface of the quilt is organza which was heat distressed after quilting. Some of it is falling away, so I may well put another layer on top and distress that. I hope to finish the unpicking tomorrow.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Nearly there

I put the binding and the hanging sleeve on the basic quilt today, then started playing with the images I have printed and embroidered.

I have taken lots of photos: a digital camera is a fabulous design tool. Arrange something - take a picture, arrange the components another way - take a picture. I am not sure whether I can put pictures of what I am doing on this blog, so until I find out - sorry, no pics.

Looking at today's photos, I think I have found an arrangement that pleases me. I just hope it also pleases the selectors.

I plan to finish this quilt tomorrow. The second quilt is pushing hard to be addressed.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fathers' Day

My father died 10 years ago - a week after Princess Diana. I remember my sister and I pushing Dad in a wheelchair in the hospital gardens and talking about it. We had both heard about the accident on the radio as we drove to the hospital - at that point it was not known that she had died. Dad was not really interested.

Kevin's father died in 1990, so we have not had a family gathering to celebrate Fathers' Day for some time. However, last night we had a mini gathering.

Helen brought all the ingredients and cooked a delicious seafood pie, even though she was not feeling well - sore throat, snuffles, aches and pains. Graham, Kevin's brother, visited after he had been to his daughter's house for lunch and stayed to eat. It has been a very pleasant evening.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Quiz Night

The night was a fundraiser for the school Helen teaches at, and was organised by the parents. They did a fantastic job - there were lots of prizes though I didn't win any of them, and our table ended up scoring in the middle group, so no joy there either.

The range of questions was very broad and there was only one answer that I disagreed with. They asked for the literal meaning of Frere Jacques, but gave the answer as Brother Jack, rather than Brother James.

They used technology very cleverly, using a computer and a data projector to display answers and frequent updates on the scores.

I will be interested to hear how much money they raised.