Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas every one

Sorry no photos this time.  Life's been a bit of a roller coaster lately.  Sammy's had his 3rd operation since September and doesn't seem to be getting better.  He's got megacolon, which seemingly is common in cats.  We're on the last resort at the moment with some special medicine that hopefully will kick start his colon into doing what it should.  Other than this hiccup all his organs are normal and he's a healthy cat in every other way.  They say "s**t happens" but in Sammy's case, it doesn't!!  Every time I've been to the vets lately its been with the knowledge that I might have to make that awful decision that all pet owners hate, and my emotions have been all over the place.  I build myself up for it, go in with legs shaking and knees knocking, and the vet gives me hope, and we go through it all again a few days later.
Unfortunately I'm going to Singapore tomorrow for 2 weeks, so I've got to leave him boarding at the vets, where I know he'll get the best of care and attention, but I'm so worried.
Christmas doesn't seem very exciting at the moment.  The only thing I want Santa to bring me is Sammy's health back.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to every one who follows my blog and for sending such lovely comments to me, its been wonderful to have your friendship all year, and I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy and happy new year.
Take care everyone, and I'll be in touch in a few weeks.
Best wishes x

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chinese Textiles

A few months ago I had an unexpected phone call, inviting me to be the guest speaker at the Mandurah Antiques and Collectables Club.
I've been collecting Chinese textiles since living in Singapore in 2000.
In the past I've approached the WA Embroiderer's Guild  numerous times, to display them, but no-one has ever taken me up on the offer, which has been disappointing.
One of the highlights of collecting, is to be able to show them to other people and share the joy of them, and also to educate, so it was a wonderful surprise when the invitation from the A&C Club arrived.
Yesterday was the big day, and what a lovely group of people they were.  I was bowled over by the enthusiasm and appreciation of these people, they made me so welcome and showed such a lot of interest, that I went home on a high.
I've included photos of a few of my textiles for you to see.  From top to bottom, they include a baby carrier, a cloud collar, another baby carrier, two childrens hats ...
Above are a pair of childrens embroidered boots, which have to be one of my favourite items - they are so small, and the couched metal strips shine beautifully.
Below ia a close up of some of the amazing embroidery on another child's hat.  Although this piece has faded over the years since it was originally made, you can still see glimpses of the intense green silk lining and imagine how vibrant it would have been.
Below are a pair of lotus shoes ... not quite the tiny 3" golden lillies, but still small, none-the-less.  I also have two pairs of lotus slippers, all exquisitely hand embroidered with silk.  Yet as beautiful as they are, its bitter-sweet to imagine the painful bound feet that would have worn them.
  Does anyone else collect any textiles?  I'd love to hear about them, if you do.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tassels, braids, cords and buttons

No I haven't fallen off the face of the planet ... I've been in hibernation trying to get Module 10 finished. Well ... that's not exactly true, I have been working at this module as much as possible, but also been running around doing loads of other things and haven't had any spare time to blog, or read anyone else's blogs for that matter, so I do apologise for the lack of comments.   I plan to sit and read through the last months chit-chats as soon as I can.
I thought this module would be a breeze and wouldn't take long.  You'd think I would have realised by now that this is never the case!  They always take longer than expected.
This module is all about cords, braids, edgings, trims, buttons, beads and tassels, so lots of samples for each.  I think I spent a week just trying to work out the explanation for finger cords, then finally found a great video on You Tube which helped, and then you couldn't stop me, I was finger cording every type of yarn I could find.  Great fun!
The past week has been all about mounting them up for presentation and recording purposes.  I'm a bit fickle about it and like them all done uniformly ... yes! anal, I know! 
 I've only included a small selection of my samples, otherwise I'd bore you silly.  Some of my favourites are the buttonhole rings, stitched on a hedebo stick that my dad made me from a broom handle .... great for me, but now mum has to bend over to do the sweeping, LOL!
(for some reason blogger won't put this photo the right way around ... sorry)
One of my all time favourites from my samples is the one below.  We are required to incorporate the cords and braids with machine made laces and cords to create a decorative edging.  This one reminds me of something Elizabethan.  It just evolved on its own and is made from machine cording over black electrical flex and twisted cords with lace and beads.
 My second favourite is this plum piece.  I wove the two straight edge braids wider than the two intertwined ones and then stitched them together and added spacers.  I think it would make a lovely shoulder strap for a dress.
 After all this braiding and entwining I decided to just do an artistic piece to see what it would turn out like .... as it is, I quite like it.  Haven't a clue what it represents but I like the flow and colours.
 I think I made about 13 tassels even though it only called for 8-10 samples. 
I enjoyed making them and then the more I made the more ideas came into my head.
You've already seen the Dorset buttons previously, so sorry to repeat myself with photos. I found some great cheap DVD boxes for displaying and protecting them, so wanted to show you these.
The two buttons on the right side of the photo below remind me of a rastafarian hat .... must be the colours!
I had a lot of fun with tyvek, wire and embossing power making the beads/buttons on the left below, as well as the giant covered buttons - I laid loads of scraps of thread over aquabond, machine stitched over them and got a new hairy fabric.  The buttons look okay but I doubt they'd be very washable.
I'm still mounting up some of them and doing all the documentation side of things now, so that'll me head down and bum up again for the next month, but I'll blog again as soon as I can.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It'd been a month since we'd last had a Sunday outing, so last weekend we set off with daughter and granddaughter for a Spring outing at Araluen.
Araluen is a Botanical Park set on 60 hectares in the valley of Roleystone, and each Spring it blooms with tulips, daffodils, bluebells, poppies, pansies and many more, as well as the established rhodedendrums, azaleas, camelias, magnolias and blossom trees.
There's a swiss log cabin "Chalet Healy" for devonshire teas and light lunches, walks around the lakes, and the Grove of the Unforgotten.
It's a magical day picnicing amongst the flowers, and a wonderful place for families to enjoy a day together.
I just adore bulb flowers and can't get enough of them.  In our climate its often hard to grow them, but in the hills the temperature is cooler in winter and the soil more hardy, and the flowers grow well.
But I have to admit this years display was a little disappointing from previous years, due to lack of funding and a very dry winter with little rain.
This years flowers were amazing, but in the past I've seen them in greater abundance and been mesmerised by their colour and beauty.
Whenever I get stuck for a colour scheme in my design work I turn to Mother Nature - in one single flower you can get the most amazing colour combinations.
Bluebells are my all-time favourite flower, but poppies come a close second.
I took over 250 photos and have selected just a few to share with you.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Even though you can't smell the scent of this magnolia I can assure you it was heavenly.
I went home full of the joys of Spring.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Noodle by name only

My noodle box is finally complete, and I have to say I'm quite chuffed with it.  It's a "noodle box" by name only, and intended as a storage box.   
I was going to put a handle on it, but I think it would detract from the design work, so I've decided to leave it as it is.
I'm not a beader and am a bit ignorant to the ways of stringing beads, but I persevered and finally got two tassels that I liked, and added them to the top as handles to pull the two sides apart.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the colour beads I needed in my stash.  Do you ever find that despite all the stuff you have, you never have the right colour, right shape, right texture that you need and still have to go out and buy more!? 
This is a view of the inside of the box which is plain, but compliments the stitching on the outside.  I enjoyed making the box and plan to make more in different shapes and sizes - but without all the needle lace.
Also a big thanks to Amanda at View From our Hill for going out her way to find and email me info on Dorset buttons.  I've done a few more and have also been working on buttonhole rings on a Hedebo stick to add a bit of "zing" to my tassels ...
... just got to crack on and make them! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spring has sprung

Winter came and went in a flash this year.  The amount of rain we had is hardly worth mentioning, but we did have extra cold nights and mornings.  Now Springs is here ....let the battle begin ....
In one corner is medium-weight fighter Thimble Fingers - in the opposing corner are: water restrictions, aphids, rose chomping parrots, clover and double G's, and mosquitoes.
Armed with every concoction the garden centre can stock I've been out there spraying, weeding, hanging CD's from trees (to scare aware the parrots who LOVE to chomp my new rose buds), fertilizing and clipping.  If I can get on top of it all now I might be able to sit back and enjoy Spring/Summer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sammy's progress

Thank you for all the lovely messages of support for wee Sammy, I really appreciate it, and it helps to know there are people out there who understand.  My little man has had a rough time of it and is still quite poorly, but getting better slowly.  He's on more medication that a hyperchondriac and I've yet to master the skill of giving a cat a tablet.  Fortunately the vet changed the antibiotics to a liquid form which is a bit easier to administer.
He's enjoying a bit of sunshine at the moment, but is still quieter than his normal self.  He's done a bit of yelling at me this morning which I take as a good sign.  He's most happy when he's in his favourite place - the dog's kennel!  Bonnie has never used the kennel, she prefers the more human form of relaxation - sofa's, beds, humans, etc, but Sammy's always loved it in his little house.

I have to keep a close eye on him for the next week and monitor every bit of food and water, and his habits, which is restricting me on things I need to be doing, but I'd rather that and have my wee man, than have time for jobs and not have him.
I did manage to rust some fabrics whilst he was sunning himself in the garden.  This morning I've dunked them in cold tea to grey the colours more.  No idea yet what I'm going to do with them.
I also spent last night working on my Dorset buttons for Module 10.  The first attempt was awful, but I'm gradually getting better.  I find the hardest part is centralising the spokes.  The are fiddly to make, but look really nice once completed.  I'd love to know how to do some of the other Dorset button designs, but can't find any instructions on the web, so if anyone has any links I'd be most grateful to hear from you.
And guess what turned up in the post this morning ......
.... no points for guessing what I'll be doing this afternoon.  Yes, feet up, fire on, cup of tea, packet of chocolate minstrels (courtesy of my lovely daughter - to cheer me up), Sammy on my knee, getting lots of cuddles, and  inspiration galore on the DVD.  I'm off to enjoy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mixed emotions

Everyone's lives are full of high's and low's and mine is no different.  Full of enthusiasm I cracked on with the noodle box.  The machine lace was hand tacked to the dyed purple fabric, then attached to pelmet vilene and cut to shape.  From there it was many hours of hand stitching blocks of straight stitches all over.  The inside lining of the box was the same without the machine lace.
Then the two layers were placed together and machine stitched at the bottom and around the edges.  All going well for a time - now its sat for 3 days waiting for me to stitch up the sides and complete it.   All enthusiasm went out the window after a death and funeral this week.
Then I got a "high" .... I decided to treat myself to a Dog Daisy Chain design.  I read Jackie's blog each week and have always loved her designs but recently one colour scheme in particular spoke out to me and I just knew I had to have it.  Its funky and fun and makes me smile.
Then yesterday I crashed back to "low" mood.  My precious little boy Sammy is in hospital and very poorly.
He's an old fella now, nearly 16, but has always been in good health and is the gentle-ist of souls.  My heart is in my mouth waiting to hear from the vets if he's going to be okay.  All thoughts of stitching and amusement have vanished whilst I wait patiently for him for come home and sit on my knee so I can cuddle him and smother him in kisses.