Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fabric Hunting

I went out with a friend today on a quest to buy synthetic organza which was not too shiny and wasn't crystal organza. Juliet wanted matte organza to use for the construction of the fabric panels for the Melville Community Textile Art Project.

She had scoured fabric stores south of the river and decided to venture north. I volunteered to go with her and we had a pleasant day. We bought quite a few pieces, but found that almost all that was available was too shiny for what she wanted. We both remember that a couple of years ago there was plenty of the matte - why it has changed is hard to work out.

We went to a fabric store in Subiaco, then to a wholesalers - Parkinson and Mann in Osborne Park . Their organza was not suitable but we got a great buy on Olfa rotary cutter blades - a bit less than $7 each by buying 6. Juliet bought some for the project. I bought some for myself.

After a fruitless visit to Fabulous Fabrics in Balcatta we decided to call in to Collins Craft. Juliet had not been there before - I hadn't been for a couple of years. We both bought some metal shim and some other bits and pieces. A visit to Textile Traders yielded a couple of bits of organza and provided some temptation in the form of printed silk chiffon. I resisted, however.

Then we went to West Leederville where we discovered the outlet was for wholesale curtain fabrics, so we consoled ourselves with a coffee. What next? We could have gone home, but we went to East Fremantle to a textile exhibition at the Old George which was still open. Fabulous stuff. Textile pieces by Jennie Abbott, silk painting and shibori dyeing by Marlene Page and delightful jewellery by Debbie Dieckmann. I am planning another visit before it closes next Sunday.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reading Addiction

I have not done any sewing for nearly a week. I have stitched out all the zebras and have pulled some black and white fabrics from the stash to use for sashing and/or lining of the the proposed bag. But I am not feeling inspired enough to actually complete the project.

Instead I have been indulging myself in my other favourite pastime: reading fiction. While I read a lot I usually read fantasy and science fiction, with occasional sorties into crime fiction.

This week I haven't read a single SF/Fantasy book. Instead I have ventured into chicklit: Liane Moriarty's "The Last Anniversary" (most enjoyable), Sophie Kinsella's "The Undomestic Goddess" (so-so); Regency romance: Stephanie Laurens' "Beyond Seduction" (I skipped the sex scenes - boring - but the story line was quite engaging) and thrillers: James Patterson's Alex Cross series (most enjoyable).

There are 13 of them to date. I read the first three before I went to New Zealand, and have now read the next six in sequence this last week. I have been visiting secondhand bookshops to buy them. I have never done this before - with SF/Fantasy I usually buy when one of the authors I favour comes out with a new book, then have to wait until the next volume appears. It has been a luxury to read one book after the other without pause. But I have had to stop - I need to visit a secondhand bookshop again to get the rest of them.

I will probably stop this compulsive reading as soon as I recover from the flu. I may even start exercising again - gentle walks first before venturing back to the gym.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A GOOD timewaster

Both of us are still unwell and we have been wandering about the house at a loss for something to do that does not require much physical or intellectual effort.

I have just rejoined a number of lists for the first time since the middle of July and I read about this website on one of them.

It is called FreeRice and it is totally addictive. It is a vocabulary quiz - for every word you can define correctly 10 grains of rice are purchased for distribution to needy people. It is sponsored by some very wellknown organisations. It started on October 7th and the totals are growing astronomically - from 870 on the first day to a total of 263,565,050 today.

There are 50 levels of vocabulary - the FAQ says that most people will not get beyond level 48. Well, I have a competitive streak. I managed to donate over 4000 grains of rice and I reached level 50 a couple of times. The program drops you back a level if you make a mistake and you need to make 3 correct responses to regain the previous level.

Ten grains of rice doesn't sound very much. However someone on one of my lists calculated that a thousand grains would be the equivalent of 100 grams, so I have supplied at least a couple of days of rice to a person who needs it. And I had fun doing it - I love word games.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stitching Disaster

Not once, but twice! I have decided what I am going to do with the zebra designs I developed on Wednesday. I will make a carry bag for the iBook with pockets for the charger and other bits.

I calculated that I needed 8 designs. OK - two already done, one in black and one in white, so I stitched out three more in black on white fabric. Then I began stitching on the black. Of course I chose the design with the most stitches. After a thousand or so I realised that the bobbin thread was pulling to the top - disaster #1. So I stopped it, reseated the bobbin thread and continued. When the design had finished I set to work to unpick the faulty portion. It took ages, even using my trusty tweezers with attached magnifying glass, and the fabric was a bit floppy in the hoop. However I decided to see if I could repair the missing section, and it worked!

Then disaster #2. The machine stopped because the bobbin was empty and I realised that I had not straightened out the fabric properly when I replaced the hoop and the repair had stitched out, not only on the design it belonged to, but also on top of the previously stitched design.

I have given up on these. Wasted time, wasted fabric, wasted thread. Tomorrow I will try again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sun, wind but no fibre

The only fibre I have had anything to do with today was the washing! Lovely sunny, windy day so the three loads dried really quickly. Apparently the temperature got to 30 degrees Celsius for the first time in months. I liked it - but I am not really looking forward to summer. When it's cold I put on more clothes. When it's hot I wear the minimum, but I still suffer - I refuse to wear nothing!!

I went to the doctor again - I am no longer coughing but I am still partially deaf. Another script for antibiotics. We have reached the safety net limit for scripts so they will all be free for the rest of the year - pity you have to need so many medications that you end up getting them free.

I had an email from Glenys Mann, with whom we travelled in New Zealand, and from whom I got my cold. She has started a blog, inspired by me and my talk of how easy it is to do. So here is a link to Glenys - I will put her on my list of blogs in a day or so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Black and white and Zebras

I thoroughly enjoyed today's workshop, which was both software and embroidery.

In the morning we started with a bitmapped picture of a zebra and foal which we cleaned up and turned into an embroidery using the Picture Stitch module in the 4D Embroidery system. Then we played with the original picture, ending up with about eight designs all different, but all derived from the original. I loved doing this and I am planning on making some more designs tomorrow.

After lunch we stitched out two of our designs: one on black fabric in white and one on white with black thread. Pam had made a quilt from her stitchouts which looks really good. I don't know what I will do with mine yet. Obviously I will need more than two.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Struggles with the laptop

I spent hours yesterday trying to connect the PC laptop to the Internet without success. It appears that when a friend configured it to make a wireless connection (this was done after we bought the iBook and I had left for New Zealand) he made some adjustment that prevents it accessing the Internet any other way. Since we do not have a wireless connection at home - no Internet access for the PC.

I was trying to download an update for the 4D Embroidery software. It was recommended to do this with an update feature in the software linked directly to the supplier. I eventually gave up and downloaded the patch onto the Mac, planning to transfer it via flash drive today.

Another bout of frustration. I kept getting an error message and the update wouldn't load. I actually downloaded the whole thing three times from the web site, in case there had been an error in transfer. At 103MB for the file it was a tad time consuming. Eventually I bit the bullet, took the laptop out to Bestway and had Pam load it for me. Pam is an expert, but even she had a little trouble.

So now I have an updated program all ready for tomorrow's workshop. I am looking forward to it, even though I am still not feeling 100%.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A hundred day cough?

That's what the flight attendant said to me on Monday on the plane from Christchurch to Auckland as I was convulsing despite the lollies and eucalyptus sniffing patch I had been given - "I think you have the 100 day cough". EWWW!

I certainly didn't recover well from that flight - ears blocked and persistent cough. Kevin was now feeling very poorly too. We gave a lot of money to a pharmacy in Queen Street with little real relief. Auckland's weather wasn't all that wonderful either - driving rain on Monday night, rainy periods on the Tuesday.

We took the Auckland Explorer bus tour on Tuesday, and would have enjoyed the experience a whole lot more if we had been feeling better. Loved the Pacific artifacts on display at the Auckland Museum though. We know a lot about Papua New Guinea, but not enough about the other Melanesian and Pacific islands. Google - here I come.

We flew home on Wednesday direct to Perth and I was so glad that we had booked business class. I was almost deaf and coughing lots - but bubbly sure helps to relieve the pain. Helen picked us up and took us home. By then I couldn't hear anything much at all.

Yesterday we both went to the doctor and antibiotics were prescribed. He syringed my ears and that helped too.

I admit I am feeling a bit better today. I haven't done anything textile-y for over a fortnight so I would like to start playing again. I hope the dire prediction of a hundred days is wrong!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Exciting News

I was going to blog this at the time, but I didn't have the photos on the laptop.

While I was in New Zealand I received an email that BOTH the quilts I entered in the Australia Wide exhibition were accepted. I am so chuffed! I thought one of them had a good chance, but it is really exciting that both got in. I posted them off today.

This quilt is called On a Summer Beach and has images of vegetation at Woodman Point printed on silk and silk organza then machine stitched.
This one is called Gyre (WB Yeats). It is inspired by the opening lines of his poem titled The Second Coming:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold"
It concerns my reaction to happenings in today's world. I thought of how the circle of bad things was widening, pushing the good things into the centre, where they break up and fall apart.

There were 76 entries from 53 members for the exhibition. 46 quilts, made by 37 people, were chosen. 10 of those were made by people who belong to the WA Contemporary Quilt group, so I think we have made a significant contribution.

The exhibition will be online at the Ozquilt Network site from the last week in November. I am looking forward to seeing the other successful entries.

Monday, October 15, 2007

On the last leg

We have just had three days in Christchurch. It is a beautiful city and looks its best in springtime with blossoms everywhere. These are rhododendrons.

We did the TranzAlpine train trip over the mountains to the West Coast. It was great and the weather was very kind. This has not often been the case!

Yesterday we tried to go to a big outdoor market/Swap meet, but only lasted about 10 minutes before the skies opened. We spent the afternoon at the Arts Centre and Museum and, when the rain had stopped, spent a bit of time in the Botanic Gardens.

Today we flew to Auckland and plan to take a bus tour tomorrow to catch the highlights. Wednesday afternoon we get on the plane to Perth, a slightly less than 8 hour trip. I think we will both be glad to be home - me particularly because I have come down with a nasty cold.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Forum over, Odyssey begins

I have heaps of photos of the wonderful creations from the Forum, but since I am now on a wireless connection that has to be paid for, I won't post them now. Isn't it always the way? We had free internet at Lindale, but I never had time. Now I have time, I'm a bit concerned about cost.

The Forum finished Sunday with an Open session and display of student work, plus a bazaar with people selling their creations. I bought a lovely nuno scarf. I just hope I wear it - I have been wearing scarves all the time here in NZ, but it's often too hot in WA. In the afternoon we took the train into Wellington and went to the Te Papa, the NZ National Museum. It is a really great place.

I stayed in Wellington at a hotel I had booked on the Internet. It was quite nice, and situated on a street that has heaps of cutting edge fashion shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. I went for a walk when the rain stopped. The shops were closed, but the rest was booming. I felt very safe, more so than I would have in Northbridge.

Kevin's plane came in on time - rather a bumpy landing, though - and he got a taxi to the hotel. Next morning we walked down Cuba Street to find somewhere to have breakfast, then braved the gale and went to Te Papa before we had to meet the others at the ferry for the trip to the South Island.

We are in Blenheim at the moment, going to Kaikoura tomorrow. I hope we can access the net there.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Forum Days 3 and 4

I got up early on Tuesday and took this photo of the sunrise. It was SO cold!

Here is a sample of some of the work that is being produced in the workshop. These are the trifold fans.

I am too tired to write more tonight - will try to put up more pics tomorrow.

I have been trying to ring Kevin in Brisbane, but the number is coming up as engaged. Bit of a bummer really - I want to use up the phone card!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Forum Days One and two

We worked very hard yesterday and today. I am doing a master class with Joan Schulze called Fanning Creativity. We will be doing lots of different techniques, eventually producing items for an exhibition in Brisbane next year.

Tuesday we experimented with at least five techniques: making a folded book, learning the pamphlet stitch, making a random fabric collage by sharing bits with others, photocopying the results and turning them into a glue transfer and making fabric paper.

I am sure there were more things we did, but that kept us really busy.

Today we have worked on our glue transfers, made a trifold fan and prepared fabric packages. We also made transparencies and printed one of our packages on the photocopier.

I did not realise that the trifold fan was actually to go in the exhibition and I treated it as a sample, not taking a lot of time or care on it. BIG mistake! So now I have to find some time to make another one that is of a higher standard.

Tomorrow we are making monoprints and doing other things with paint. I hope to be able to download some photos soon.

Monday, October 1, 2007


It was a fabulous show, not just a parade of amazing garments. There were comedians, dancers and some excellent aerialists. Like Cirque du Soleil there was so much going on at any one time that you tended to miss things. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We had very good seats in the second row of the balcony so our view was completely unobstructed. Photography was not allowed, but here is a link to an official video of the show

The performance consisted of a number of excellently choreographed scenes, each based on one of the sections of the competition. The first was the Children's section and the theme was a Monsters' Ball. There were some wonderful entries, including one called There's a Bed on My Monster which was really clever, and one which was like a pile of books named Grimm's Furry Tales.

Another memorable section involved a Buster Keaton film being shown on the screen at the back of the stage while a real character extended the action ie the film character climbed a tree which was then blown away, while the real character descended to the stage clinging to a tree which was lowered from the ceiling. Great fun.

There were many other great bits but this post is getting a bit long.