Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I want to take this opportunity to thank all my blog friends for your support throughout the past year and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year.  May you all find the time to tell those you love just how much they mean to you.
For us, this Christmas is a mixed up one.  This past week has been a very difficult one for our family.  My mother underwent an operation for cancer, then Thursday we had to put our beautiful little boy Sammy to sleep after 17 years of unconditional love from him, and the following morning my husband suffered a heart attack.
Fortunately the wonderful doctors and nurses saved his life and he is actually coming out of hospital Christmas lunch time.  So this Christmas Day I will count my blessings and give thanks for still having my mum and husband around to share my life, and for the love I had from Sammy and the years of joy he gave me, even though I have a huge hole in my heart and the pain and loss is unbearable, my life is better for him being a part of it.
Best wishes to everyone.  I hope your Christmas is blessed with joy and love, and finds you surrounded by the people and pets you love.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Someone's peeping

I'll just see if there's anything for me ...
Hhmmmm .... this one smells interesting
Oh oh!!  Busted!!!
Can't I just open one of them
What do you mean, eight more sleeps ??!!
Okay, I'll just wait then.

Monday, December 12, 2011

There's a moose in my hoose ...

Yep, Morris the Moose and his friends have come out of the closet to share the festive time with us.
I've just spent the past three days putting up Christmas decorations, and for some reason I've gone a bit silly this year .... suddenly the Christmas spirit and excitement is back - something I've not felt for quite a few years. 
I've covered almost every conceivable surface with something sparkly and gone a bit gay with the lights - I've even had to resort to the battery operated ones because I've run out of plug sockets!
And then something strange happened today .... we had a storm - thunder, lightning, rain galore and dark skies.  It really did feel like a wintery Christmas ... and made me all warm and fuzzy inside (and that was without a glass of wine).  So now the trees up, the cards are posted, the gifts are wrapped, and the goodies are in the cupboard. I might just be able to put my feet up a bit before I have to think about shoving my arm up a turkeys bum.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


My set of accessories for Module 11 were a felted hat and woollen shawl.  I'd only ever made one hat before (remember the "brain" hat in a previous post ... or as some thought - a world globe on my head!!) and was a bit nervous about making another but I'm happier with Take 2.
This is my lovely daughter in law, Jess, modelling the accessories for me.
I based my design on Module 2 - Shape.  The requirement for that module was to find industrial shapes, and my favourite was this pile of sea containers. 
Which progressed into this collage .... I do like simplicity!

It took me ages to decide on a set of accessories, as I wanted something I could wear that was artistic and creative, without looking like a Zandra Rhodes look-alike.  I'm not one for outlandish fashion and wanted to make something that was going to be functional and not just an assessment piece that would be shelved after the course.
I found some lovely poly/wool fabric that had a nice drape and feel about it, and appliqued purple and green cotton and spandex fabrics to it, then machine stitched around the squares.
I made tassels in the same way for the edge of the shawl, but wish now I'd appliqued both sides of the tassels.
The hat wasn't as difficult as I'd expected and the shape came out more or less as I'd hoped.  The hardest part was machine stitching the applique pieces over the rounded shape ... a bit awkward.
I needed a model in a hurry to get my instructions typed up, so popped around to our sons house and caught Jess on the hop.  She was a rather reluctant model, but I think she was perfect.
If I were to make the articles again, I think next time I would try and felt the shawl myself, so that both items are made of the same material, but I'm not sure I could manage all that rolling of something so big.
Now I've got to wait 6 months until winter comes around again to be able to wear my pieces.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eleven down ... one to go

Finally, I completed Module 11 and sent it off yesterday for assessment.  I couldn't believe it'd taken me almost a year to do, which means I can't dilly dally with Module 12 as I want to get it all finished by cut off in May.
I can now show you some of the finished pieces I submitted.  This one above is my experimental cut work done with hand made felts.  Unfortunately the photo doesn't do it justice .  Its one of my favourite pieces.
Below is my experimental pulled work.  I used two layers of loose scrim and bamboo thread and randomly gathered the threads in a circular motion. 
I completed a notebook on all the techniques relevant to pulled work, cut work, drawn thread and needleweaving - which really come under whitework.  This is just one page of my notebook, on Dresden work.  I spent a long time too, researching museums and galleries - and was a bit peeved to find that there was a musem on Ayrshire work, just around the corner from where we were staying in Scotland a few years ago, and I didn't know anything about it. 
 And now for something completely different ... I couldn't help but include this photo I took of the little piglets at the Royal Show in October.  There's something really cute about those little bums .. and I did feel guilty the next time I ate bacon.
 We mainly went to the show to take some elderly friends to see the Clydesdale horses, but I couldn't help but disappear for an hour to view the craft section, and wanted to share some of the work I saw there.
This one won the contemporary embroidery and appealed to me because it was done with a lot of the Casalguidi techniques I like.  It was stitched by Geraldine Peterkin.
And this one won first prize in the "Any Category" and 2nd prize for the Overall Exhibition in Embroidery at the show and its no wonder, its beautifully stitched and looks just like a photograph.  Its created by Mary Pearson in free machine embroidery.  What I would give to be able to stitch like that!!
 Before we finally left for the day I had to have a peep at the cats and dogs, and fell in love with this gorgeous cat who's the mascot for the Swan Animal Haven.  I love the way she's got her paw on the collection tin ... how could you resist heh?
So now its a breather for a day or two, and then into sorting through the past 6 years of work and making sure everything is in order and putting it all together. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Many paws make more work

Sammy's never been one for coming into my studio ... until recently.  Now I can't get him out.
He decided he wanted to come in and help me.
We call him the QA Controller, as he always has to check out everything we do, usually after we've gone he snoops around and does his final inspection, but this day he decided to sit with me and make sure I was doing my sewing to his standards. 
He seems quite pleased with it.  Not sure I'm happy about him sitting on my work.  It's nice to have him share my day with me, and have big cuddles, but not a good thing when the item you're working on is a black woollen shawl.
But with a moochy "kiss me mummy" face like that, how could I ever be cross with him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Now that's more like it

I finished my second attempt at the experimental needle weaving and this one is much better ... and it was quicker.  Some times things just come together.  I find the more I think of a design, the harder it is to make it work, but the ones that just pop into my head when I'm least expecting it always seem to work out better. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I'm a square person

Work's progressing on my set of accessories .... I've gone a bit square for this one!
And I still can't seem to break away from my favourite colours. 
The fiddly work has been done, just need to put it all together now. 
I'd planned to do some whilst watching the AFL Grand Final .... but when the finals on, its hard to concentrate on anything else.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mini wall hanging

Its funny how you always find the right things when you're not looking.  I was walking Bonnie a few weeks ago and found this chunk of wood in some mulch around a tree she was sniffing at, and instantly liked it. 
I'd been getting frustrated how I could finish off my experimental drawn thread piece and then like magic, I found the wood and knew it would work perfectly for me. 
I have to say I'm glad this piece is finished, because it was really fiddly to weave the ends of the threads into the fabric, right, left and upwards, but despite that, it's turned out to be one of my favourites. 
 I can put the magnifying glass away now and give my eyes a rest. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When you know it just isn't working

I've been plugging away at this experimental needleweaving for a couple of months now, continuously adding things to it and hoping it will morph into something appealing and attractive, until two days ago when I finally accepted that it just wasn't working.
It looks like I've plonked lots of different techniques on there, which in fact, I have, and no matter  how hard I hope it will look arty and nice, it just won't!!  I usually hate giving up on something, but this time I know I'm beaten, so last night I doodled a design and have started something else.
The new design will be quite basic, which is usually the best way, and in a simple colour scheme.  Its growing quickly too, so I'm hoping I might be able to finish it in a week, and make up a bit of lost time.  There are times when you try and design something, knowing all along that you're not in the right frame of mind, and it comes back to bite you later, so I've come to realise its better to just wait until the inspiration and ideas are flowing and not force a design that will never be anything other than an ugly duckling.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby comes first

This week everything got put aside so I could make three new quilt covers and pillow cases for our new grandson.  I've not done any home making or dress making for years so it was a good test for me to see what I could remember and dust off some cobwebs.
Daughter-in-law was well chuffed with the results, and I must say I surprised myself and was quite pleased with them too.  Above is just one of the sets I made, and below the pillow to another. 
Unfortunately the patterned fabric was just a tad too small in width so I had to be creative and make a border all the way around on this one.  The other pillow case fabrics were just short on the length and were fixed with a contrasting piece of fabric at the end. 
They're not perfect by any means, but as long as they wrap the wee one in love and comfort - that's all that matters. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Experimental cutwork

Sorry I've been away so long, but my hands haven't been idle.  I have managed to complete my experimental cutwork sample for Module 11.  I used two layers of handmade felt and a multicoloured thread.
I don't want to give away too much info yet until I've lodged my design for assessment, so I'm just giving you a little peak at part of the design.  Hopefully it won't be long until I've got the whole module finished and can upload the complete piece. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Make friends with a red cabbage

Not only is red cabbage yummy to eat but its a good friend to the budding dyer!  I love to cook it with apples, onions, brown sugar and red wine vinegar (as shown below) and it goes exceptionally well with pork, but I think its going to work well with my natural dyeing experiments.
I say "think" because I haven't as yet completed the experiment.  I only used half a cabbage for cooking, so threw the other half in a big pot of water and simmered it for about half an hour.
After only about 10 mins I got a lovely bluey-purple colour ...
which then got darker ....
and later turned into a red-purple (maybe I should've stopped after 10-15 minutes)
After it cooled in the pan, I strained it into an old milk carton and its all ready and waiting to meet my other friends - the fabric and threads.
Today is a mordenting day for the materials - trying to get it done before it rains again, as I'm working outside so as not to contaminate the kitchen.
Will post the results shortly.  Wish me luck!