Monday, April 28, 2008

Some fiddlings

In the last 5 days:

I have cast on 210 stitches for a Moebius scarf at least four times and pulled them out again. Now I am trying to work out how to do Cat Bordhi's method. She SAYS in her book that it is so easy she can do it holding the needles behind her back!! I can't even get one stitch on the needle - all thumbs.

I have unpicked and felted Helen's woollen jacket. Though the label said 100% Pure Wool, the yarn used for the front facings and neck and as a pocket backing was not - or perhaps it was a machine washable yarn. Very uneven results. I think it is going to be a large tote bag. I will use some leather from the skirt she gave me to make handles.

I have finished altering her jacket - I think successfully - and have started unpicking the devore velvet skirt. Boring job.

I have digitised a couple of cross stitch designs. Haven't stitched them yet, but they look OK on the computer screen.

I have made some stamps from erasers. Eight erasers for $2 from Crazy Clarks. I am planning a stamping session tomorrow.

And I have visited my BiL in hospital, attended a breakfast for an aunt's 80th birthday and spent a half day at the Craft Fair on Sunday. Plus I have read 3 books. Been quite busy really.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Various bits finished and started

The first textile group I ever joined met today as we do on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. When we started (nearly 20 years ago) we were all quilters. Now we bring all sorts of things along to our fortnightly gatherings. Today there were some hexagon balls being made by Fairlie and Helen, a beautiful William Morris inspired quilt being hand quilted by Sheila, Lois knitting a sock from yarn she had spun herself, Marianne doing intricate cross stitch and me signing siggy squares for the Scquilters Retreat which happens in May. The other members were unable to attend for various reasons - mostly to do with travelling or family demands.

I finished the squares and was given a round of applause. I had constructed 80 (there are supposedly 78 swappers). I messed up one today and tried to wash out the error. The pen I was using proved to be indelible, but the stamped images disappeared. I need to heat set at least one square and test again. I don't think there will be many people who will wash the squares or the quilt they make from them, but it is always a possibility. So, apart from that, siggy squares finished.

Lois gave me a magazine with a knitted Moebius scarf featuring buttonholes. Time to revisit this technique. I bought a 120cm long circular needle last year in Portland. Tonight I have cast on 210 stitches ready for the difficult first row. I will tackle that tomorrow.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Books bound in fabric

When I commented on the binding for India Flint's new book the other day, I had a sense of deja vu. Surely I had written about fabric book bindings before? So I spend a LOT of time searching my past posts with no success. Then I remembered that I do write occasionally in a journal. I had intended to make THAT a regular occurrence: lots of sketches, colours, interesting ephemera . . . I have much more writing than drawing, very little colour and ephemera and irregular entries. But I found what I had written on the 6th of February and it is now quoted verbatim.

A New Trend? - Fabric Bindings for Books
* I thought "Stitch" (NZ textile artists) was incredible - bought it basically for the fabric cover :) contents are AOK
* Maggie Beer's new cookbook has embroidery as well - pity it is so expensive $125 :( NB watch for remainders on this one!
* An Encyclopaedia of Needlework (pub pre 1890) also has fabric binding (moire silk) Checked this one out on the Internet - found a copy (different publisher/?incomplete) for 150 pounds. Need to follow up

The last mentioned book was part of the chattels we acquired when we bought the Bicton house as a deceased estate in 1975. I think the Murray sisters would be quite happy that another textile fanatic is cherishing their needlework possessions.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eco Colour

This is a wonderful book, published just last month, by India Flint. I have only dipped into it, but I love the colours in the photos. The little text I have read is fascinating, and I think this will become one of my favourite textile books.

I met India in New Zealand last year. She was one of the tutors at the Fibre Forum and the work her students turned out was fabulous. She is another of Australia's great textile artists.

An interesting point about the book is its binding. It's fabric, with leaves printed on it and the dust jacket is a partial one. Very intriguing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stealing Ideas

Occasionally I get to go into the city. I did so today when I attended a reunion. On the way from the train station to the restaurant I did a bit of browsing in Myer.

I loathe buying clothes. I can never find anything that I like that fits me, so I usually just look and take notes, then from time to time attempt to reproduce a designer garment. The outfit I wore today was one such creation and I did get a few positive comments.

But today I tried on something and it fitted and it looked good and I bought it! Unfortunately it is just a top so I still need pants or a skirt to go with it. But I think I found some fabric yesterday in my cleanup that might be suitable . . .

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Taking Stock

I decided today that I needed to do a bit of tidying up in the sewing room. There were so many Spotlight and Textile Traders bags hiding under the table and propped against the cupboards that I was no longer sure just what I had bought for what project.

I now know that I need to buckle down or I will leave a dump bin full of stuff when I die. I probably will anyway - but I really should try to complete some of the intended projects.

Winter is coming on and I need some new clothes. While I haven't lost many kilos I have lost quite a few centimetres and have definitely changed shape. All my trousers have drooping crutches (not my favourite look) and loose waistbands. I have quite a few lengths of suitable fabric. Just need to modify a pattern and I could churn them out . . .

Then I found the polyester satin and taffeta I bought for transfer printing . . . and the printed silk chiffon for nuno felting . . . and the silk look fabrics to embellish with various techniques and make into wraps . . . and the 100% cotton for dyeing . . .

I really think I will have to allocate days to particular projects and not waft from one to another. BUT . . . since winter is coming on I should be knitting. I certainly have enough yarn . . .

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tasks for the Handyman

We went to the Cottesloe unit today. The reason was so Kevin could drill holes for pictures, hang curtain rods etc, etc. My contribution was a packet of curtain hooks and some curtain rod hangers which didn't work. I bought these yesterday after helping Helen install one curtain that was short half a dozen hooks. (I didn't look at the curtains in the living room, otherwise I would have bought another couple of packets!)

While I was at Spotlight I went to Howard's Storage World in the same complex and got a brochure on shelving. I really want shelves along the back wall of the laundry so I can house all my bits for the embellisher, plus painting stuff. According to the brochure it doesn't seem that difficult .

Helen just orders Kevin to do jobs for her - I think I should follow her example.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Printing digital images on fabric

I went to Husqvarna sewing club today. Took along my sample for Stitched and Bound and a photo of my fan, plus the sample bits. Most of the ladies were unimpressed - a lace design that someone else has digitised and that takes a couple of hours to stitch out is worthy of heartfelt applause - using a top of the line machine in an unconventional manner is confusing!

At least there were some people there who appreciated what was involved - I am doing a workshop on fabric printing from the computer in June and a few people signed up on the spot.

I am a bit ambivalent about digital technology and textile art but I think I will continue my efforts in this area.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Take a square of fabric . . .

We got up at 4.45 this morning to take SiL Shirley to the airport for a 6.30 am flight. Then I did two loads of washing and hung them out before I went to water aerobics at 9.30. You can be very productive when you get up early! I'm still really a night owl though.

My fibre fix today was the homework for the sewing club tomorrow. You had to take a square of fabric, add piping around the edge, layer it with another fabric and some wadding, then do some folding and stitching to turn it into a bag with interior pockets.

OK, first part complete, but the folding and stitching just didn't work for me. I unpicked twice, then got cunning. How about a small sample? That worked and I finally completed the bag.

Added a bead I had made for another project, then taken off when I recycled the project. Now I've recycled the bead too.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Kevin's sister has been staying with us for the last week, so I have found it a challenge to get into the sewing room.

I did go to Designing Women yesterday. We also had a challenge. It was to bring along stuff we had in the cupboard that we had either not used or wanted to use more of. It was interesting to see what people had brought along.

Juliet and Iris had the same idea: they brought their embellishers. They bought them at Teena's closing down sale about 2 months ago, but have been too busy on the Melville Textile Art Project to even unpack them. They had a lovely time playing with bits and pieces.

Loraine brought along a Flower Stitcher. Hers must be an original - it was in Janome packaging. She said she had had it for years and had never used it. Margaret had brought hers along too, so Loraine watched while Margaret had a play. She hadn't brought her machine so couldn't play herself. She had also brought along a small packet of Pellon RainbowSpun.

So had I, as well as a packet of Sizoflor. I used some of the Sizoflor a few months ago to make a fantasy flower and wanted to make some some more as well as try out the Pellon. I used the same technique as for the Sizoflor: two different colours, cut into 5 petals with zigzagged edges and meandering over the petal, then wire applied up the centre before zapping with a heat gun.

The Sizoflor flower with beaded stamens

The RainbowSpun flower - no beading as yet

There are definite differences (apart from colour!) I didn't have enough time to make another Sizoflor flower, but I made one complete one, plus petals for another from the RainbowSpun. The Pellon gummed up the needle (which I don't remember happening with the Sizoflor) and also stained the bed of my machine. I also think it reacted differently to the heat gun, but I want to make another flower from each material and zap them at the same time. A project for next week.

Monday, April 7, 2008

More for the Stash

Daughter Helen is sorting through stuff in preparation for her move to a beachside unit in Cottesloe.

I have acquired some of it. Could I resist leather and suede, beaded organza tops and a handknitted pure wool jacket - with hand made Fimo buttons no less? Of course not.

But now I will have to DO SOMETHING with it all. I think I will unpick the seams of the wool jacket and felt the pieces in the washing machine. That would be an easy first step and a bag could eventuate. I think most of the leather and suede will also become bags - I am thinking of experimenting with embroidery on these pieces as well. And maybe the beaded organza would work with the embellisher?

There is a price to pay. There are 2 garments that she doesn't want to toss but doesn't really want me to add to the stash. One is a skirt with velvet devore - the top layer is OK, but the lining has shrunk. "Can't you just replace the lining?" Well, yes, but there is lots of boring unpicking to do first. . . . . . The other garment is a fine corduroy jacket that used to have LARGE shoulder pads. There is no shoulder seam - just a dart - and I think it will be fairly easy to reshape this for a more up to date look.

So glad I don't have any major deadlines at the moment!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Day Off

With no imminent deadlines I went to water aerobics this morning for the first time in a fortnight. I felt I had a good workout, and I have no aches and pains as yet - tomorrow will tell.

Juliet and I went to Heathcote this afternoon to see the current exhibition : Material Pleasures by 4 young artists, some of whom dabble in textiles. I felt it was somewhat of a mixed bag - there were some great pieces (all of them sold - pity) and others that were let down by their presentation. Food for thought with an exhibition for Designing Women coming up in November.

Then I went by myself to the Atwell Gallery where our exhibition will be held. There was an exhibition of paintings from the Kimberley which crowded the walls. The centre space was taken up by a few pieces from two artists. To me it seemed a bit unbalanced.

While the venue is small, I think it will be usable for us. Less on the walls and more on the floor?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Birthday

to me! Not telling how many though.

Spent the morning finishing off everything needed for the two exhibition entries. The fan was my major concern since it needed to travel to Queensland. I packed it very securely in a large padded bag between 2 layers of cardboard and a bit of bubblewrap for the other two that were made in the workshop, then trotted off to the Post Office and sent everything away.

Bit of a problem with the Stitched and Bound entry. The postcode I took from the entry form was, according to the clerk, wrong. So I changed it, heart in mouth, to the one he suggested. I have since checked the documentation and I believe the entry form is in error. I have emailed the convenor.

Spent a bit of time at Garden City in the afternoon. Kevin told me to buy myself a present. Maybe I should have indulged in jewellery, but I bought a book. The Margarets by Sherri S Tepper. She is one of my favourite SF/Fantasy authors and really doesn't write fast enough. This is her first new book since 2004.

Then we went to look at the apartment in Cottesloe that Helen is moving into. She wants to paint the room she will sleep in and was working on wall preparation. We all sat outside as the sun slid down towards the sea, drinking a rather nice bubbly. Then Kevin and Helen patched walls while I drank more bubbly and watched the sun set. Pretty boring, actually - clouds are needed for a spectacular sunset and there were none today.

Bought takeaway curries from our favourite spot in Hilton on the way home; 2 meat and 2 veg plus complimentary buttered rice and pappadums. Lamb and beef, brinjal and dahl. YUM!

So yes, a happy birthday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Both the fan and the photography for my entry for Stitched and Bound.

Here is the fan:

No photos of the Stitched and Bound entry because the exhibition is a juried one.

Tomorrow I will print out all the stuff that needs to accompany exhibition entries: techniques and materials, artist's statement etc and post it off with cheques as required..