Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.  May you be safe and happy, and enjoy time with your loved ones.  Hoping you all get lots of crafty things in your stocking.  Best wishes and many thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog.  I know I've been a bit quiet lately, life's a bit busy with us building a new home, but I will be back in the new year and promise to blog more often. x x

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Overwhelmed with possibilities

There's lots of old sayings like "trying too hard", "can't see the wood for the tree's" and so on, and they all applied to me when I was studying my C&G.  I tried so hard to see things that I often couldn't see what was right in front of me.  When studying one module at a time I concentrated only on the requirements of that particular module, such as "line" - I only looked for line, then in "shape" I only looked for shape - now I can look for anything at any time and its amazing how much is all around me on a daily basis.  We're currently building a new house and the design possibilities that its thrown up are amazing, and I decided to share some of them with you.

Look at the wonderful rust around the holes in this steel.
 Even scaffolding parts offer wonderful pattern and shapes.
Lengths of steel coded by colour give great uniformity and grid ideas 
Stacked steel frames create crazy line patterns
Threaded squares of steel - some in line with each other, others spun to give angles
And this is one of my favourites - like a crazy wire flower - I think its a buffing head for smoothing steel (I've no idea, but I know hubby uses it a lot, lol!)
And who'd think that a welding machine would have such a lovely daisy design on it
Even welding slag dropped onto steel frames, rusted over time gives amazing design possibilities, all crusty and orange - can't wait to have a go to reproduce this one!
If you're working on grid designs - a side view of the steel frames gives a lovely increasing and decreasing zig zag design
And lets not forget the humble safety cone - even this has great shapes and patterns, negative and positive.
All I need now is the time to put these design sources to good use.  Let me know if any of you use these as starting points for your own creativity - I'd love to see what develops from them.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Design progress

A new love of mine is felt work.  I'm not giving up needlework and textile work to become a felter, but I do see so many possibilities of using felt in creative embroidery.It's soft, pliable, forgiving, colourful and wonderfully inspiring.  I have my spurts of enthusiasm when I spend a day or two making felt, then put it aside until inspiration hits me in the face, which it has done recently. 
This aqua/lilac piece is something I did a few years ago, but have only just mounted it.  Its only about 6cm square and mounted on black trigger cloth with some hand stitching and sequins and beads for embellishment.  At first I was going to insert it into a card for a birthday or such but then decided it would be nicer mounted as a small art piece.
These three designs are the beginning of a whole range of idea's I have for new design work which will appear soon on my website, and are an introduction to expanding design ideas.  
Currently we're in the middle of building a house, and my studio is smack bang in the middle of the construction site, so progress in the studio is slow at the moment, but bear with me - I'm working slowly in the background and intend to have new kits and classes ready to go in the new year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

100th post

I originally started this blog as a way to document my city and guild embroidery course and to meet fellow students, and it was pure happenstance that my 100th blog post should come around right at the same time that my C&G certificates arrived.

How’s that for timing!?

I can’t begin to explain how I feel at the moment.  Getting the certificates was the final icing on the cake – it all feels real now.  But even that last little thing didn’t come easy.

I don’t know what the postman/post office was doing but my certificate took 4 weeks and 3 days to arrive by AIR MAIL from the UK.  Why is it that your bills can arrive within a day of being posted yet it’s always the really important urgent stuff that gets delayed. 

I have a constant battle with my post office – my post man doesn’t understand what DO NOT BEND means.  He drives me to near rage.  I subscribe to the Inspirations magazine, which as many of you know, can only be purchased through subscription now, creating a roller coaster of anger and frustration between me and the postman.  On the label of the magazine it clearly states in big red letters DO NOT BEND about 3cm above my name and address, yet what does he do?!  Yep, he bends it.  But when its bent the magazine is then thicker than the opening in my letter box, so he forces it through, which in turn scores the magazine and leaves every page with a jagged crease mark down the centre.   If he lent over off his motorbike he could open the flap in the back of my letterbox and place the magazine inside without damage, but this is too difficult.

The first time it happened I complained and got a refund from the PO, although it took 4 months!  The second time I complained the PO told me they don’t do refunds.  I suggested a newspaper tube on the side of the post box but the PO said legally they weren’t allowed to put mail in there, and the same applied to just laying the magazine on the top of the letterbox.  So apart from lying in wait every day and ambushing the postman, I’m afraid I’m beaten.

And this problem led to much panic about my long strived for certificate.  I couldn’t bear it to be creased and damaged, so I requested it be sent in a tube, which SofST kindly did, so what does the PO do this time – make me wait, anxiously, for four and a half weeks to get it.  Aaarrrgghh!!!!!  I was at my wits end by the time it arrived, but now, at last, I can finally relax, take a deep breath and contemplate whether or not to tackle the Diploma.  What do you think?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Six years in the making

It's only taken me 6 years to make this crocheted blanket.  No, I'm not the slowest crocheter in the world, but I might be the dumbest. It's always best to make sure you have enough wool before you start a project.
I started it in 2006.  I had a breast lump scare and spent 7 hours in the clinic sitting with lots of other frightened ladies, and I started this blanket as a way to pass the time and take my mind off a terrifying day. Whilst we all sat there in our gowns watching the clock tick slowly and a world of worry on our minds, I frantically twisted and turned my hook and wool and focused on the blanket instead.  
I made great headway and achieved a good size by the end of the day, when I luckily walked out with good news that it was benign. The blanket was then tucked away for a year or two. Occassionally I'd get it out and do some more until I ran out of wool. Only then did I find out they no longer make this wool. No matter where I looked I couldn't find any, and it was just a long thin piece of nothing.
So ... another couple of winters went by where I spent hours and hours unravelling it and winding it into balls, only to start it again, but this time not as wide. After finishing my C&G course this year I had spare time and also needed something to keep me warm, so I really got stuck in and finished it.  Its a good size for a throw over the sofa and is lovely and thick and warm. It was hubby's idea to add a scallop on the edge and I'm happy he suggested it, as it really finishes it off.
I've never read a crochet pattern in my life, as I can't make head or tail of them, but I did learn as a child how to do the basic stitches and used to make afghan blankets - this time I just went up and down, instead of round and round, so easy and very therapeutic. Now for the next project.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Phew! she liked it

Well the quilt went down a treat - thank goodness!
The housewarming was a lovely, fun night.  Bec put on a great spread of gluten free food - all yummy stuff - and we all had a wonderful time, catching up with family and celebrating the move into her own new home - always a huge step for anyone.  And she loved the quilt.
What a relief!!
There's something undescribably pleasing about making something for someone who utterly appreciates the work and love that goes into it, and that makes it all worthwhile.
In fact, I got a few "ooooh, I'd love one too" comments - so who knows, I might be able to improve if I do a few more - but I think I'll have a break for a while and get back into my one true love - stitching (or at least until I find a good professional quilter)..

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quilt complete

I do love quilts.  I love their amazing colour schemes.  I love the huge assortment of designs.  I love the feel of them.  There's something so comforting about them.  I love cutting out all the pieces. I love stitching the pieces together.  I love seeing them come to life.  But I hate quilting them!!!!!
I know there must be a method to cramming a huge amount of fabric through the small hole on my sewing machine - but I've yet to discover what that is. 

And so, my nieces quilt is finally complete.  I think I'm happy with it.  There's always that nagging in the back of my mind, that I could've done it better - possibly taking it to a professional quilter could have erased these nagging thoughts, but ... there's always next time.
I had tossed up with the idea of sending it to be professionally quilted - I really like the look of the all-over quilting - but time was against me.
The house-warming is tomorrow night.  I only hope she likes it and that she knows wherever she goes in life, or whatever she does, whatever happens, and no matter how old she'll be, she'll always be able to wrap my love around her for comfort.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I passed !!

I know I've been a bit quiet lately - not a lots been happening on the crafty side of life, but life's been anything but dull.  I celebrated a milestone birthday and was spoilt, which is always lovely, and was given a holiday to Singapore as a gift.  So all this excitement and travel has kept me away from creativity.  Another reason I've been quite is because I was waiting until I found out ....... that I passed my City and Guilds, Embroidery Level 3 ... Yayyyy!!!!!!  Just waiting for the certificate now, but what a huge relief.  I finished it all in April, and thought that I'd like a break from it for a while, but to be honest, I've really missed the structure of it, and the need to push myself to keep learning and researching, and this week I finally got my mojo back and feel creative again.  So I've started a lap quilt.
I absolutely adore quilts, but its not one of my finest talents - my brain just can't work around the mathematical side of it all.  I'm alright if I'm following a pattern, but this time I bought a jelly roll and decided to "wing" it and create something of my own.  In time this might turn out to be a mistake - but we'll see what its like when its finished.
All was going well, until ......  oops!
Must've been tired when I pinned and stitched that block together ... but never mind, soon fixed. 
It's still a work in progress, so stay tuned for the finished result.  As always I have my wee girl Bonnie by my side, who always likes to help, especially by sitting on the blocks when they're spread on the floor.  But she's feeling the cold weather a bit lately and decided it was more fun to curl up in mummy's dressing gown and sleep all day.  It's a dogs life!!
On a completely different note, I wanted to share this with you - I was watching re-runs of Heartbeat the other night and noticed a blooper on the credits.  Can you spot it?
And before I go, many thanks to Sharon for awarding me another Leibster award, its always very gratifying to know people appreciate my blog and enjoy reading it.  And thank you to Virginia for your kind comments about finishing my course - unfortunately you have a "no rely" and I can't reply directly to you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2012 Craft Fair

I've been a bit quiet lately on the blog front ... getting my breath back after the mammoth task of finishing my C&G.  I've still not entered the chaos that is usually my work room, for fear I might disappear among the mountain of clutter.  What I have been doing is painting and decorating the house which no one wants to read a blog about, so I've kept quiet, until now.  Last week I took myself off to the city for the day and went to the annual craft fair with one purpose in mind .... to see the amazing Cheryl Bridgart.
 What an exceptional machine embroidery artist she is.  Cheryl never draws the designs onto her fabric with a pen or pencil, but instead, intuitively draws with the sewing machine and gradually builds up her designs.
She always works on cartridge paper, not fabric.  Yep! Surprising heh?  But it works brilliantly and is very soft.  She washes the paper first to soften it and it seems to hold the embroidery without breaking or tearing.
Cheryl's clothing is something to behold.  She never wears anything that she hasn't made herself and has a great collection of funky hats. 
A totally inspiring lady and one worth searching and reading more about.
The rest of the show was okay - very much the same old thing as last year, and the year before.  Maybe my brain's in creative overload and nothings inspiring me much anymore, but I'm waiting for something new and exciting to grab me.  I think the economic down turn has something to do with it all - there wasn't as many stall holders there as usual.  Everyone's feeling the pinch.
Or maybe it was the fact I was coming down with a terrible head cold that curbed my enthusiasm. Once I'd been inspired by Cheryl, nothing else really mattered.
I did manage to pick up a nice jelly roll of fabric to try and do a lap quilt as a house warming gift and couldn't come home without Sarah Lawrence's silk book.  So now its just a case of finding some spare time to read Sarah's book and make my quilt.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Two gifts in one week

In the past 5 days I've been truly spoilt and received two amazing gifts from a wonderful new friend.

Sarah, at Sarah Sews Quilting Blog, kindly awarded me the Liebster Award for my blog.  We met through blogging and through our mutual enrollment with the School of Stitched Textiles - Sarah doing her City and Guilds Patchwork and Quilting, and myself doing the Embroidery Level 3, and now we have a lovely friendship where we chat about everything and all sorts, not just our C&G studies.  
The Liebster Award is a blog award, which apparently originated in Germany, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to five more blogs of note, which is a wonderful way of introducing bloggers to your own favourite blogs.

The Liebster Convention says you must:-
1. Thank your award presenter on your blog and link back to him/her;
2. Copy and paste the award to your blog;
3. Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs (with less than 200 followers) that you love;
4. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know;
5. Have faith that those award winners will spread the blog love.

For my own list of 5 favourite blogs, Sarah's would be one of them, but of course I can't pass the award back to her, but please do pop over and read her blog as its very enjoyable.

I would now like to send this award to the following 5 wonderful blog sites that I've been following for quite some time :
Louise at LouGardiner
Miriam at  77 Belle

And on top of all of this, yesterday I received a parcel in the post, once again from my lovely friend Sarah, and inside was the most wonderful hand made bag and a massive bar of chocolate, to congratulate me on completing my City and Guilds course after 7 long years. 
The bag was made by Sarah and is just delightful and a brilliant size for so many things - its fits a giant block of chocolate PERFECTLY!!  I'm going to use it to keep my mini scissors and needles in when I'm stitching in the evenings and shall think about Sarah each time I see it.  Thank you Sarah, its wonderful, and I will cherish it!

Isn't blogging a marvellous way to meet the most wonderful people?!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beautiful Albany

Last week we took ourselves down south to beautiful Albany for a few days of well earned rest.  The last time we were in Albany was about 12 years ago, and this time we saw huge changes, but its still a quaint and scenic city, and I'd love to live there!
The climate was a bit of a shock to the system when we arrived after going from low 30's to 15C, but we soon got used to it and relished the fresh air and cool temps.  We stayed in the most beautiful accommodation at The Rocks Hotel overlooking Princess Royal Harbour, built in 1882 for one of Albany's first Mayors. Later it was a vice regal residence of state governors, a maternity hospital, a school, a surgery and doctors residence, a US Officer's rest and recreation centre and a Girls hostel.
Its the only 5 star heritage accommodation in WA, and the attention to detail  that the owner Noelene has put into the decor, gardens and building is second to none.   

You can just spot hubby on the balcony outside our bedroom doors.  Below is the room we stayed in ... pristine clean, and very comfy.  
We had the run of the hotel to ourselves for the two nights we stayed, but couldn't stay longer as there was a wedding party coming in the next day (perfect spot for a wedding!) which was a shame as we'd love to have stayed for another couple of nights.  This is the billiard room next to our room, and where we spent the first night playing pool. 
The next two photos are the view from our balcony.  It was so scenic that the first night we didn't go out to dinner, instead we sat out on the balcony watching the rain coming in, and nibbling on cheese, crackers, cold meat and dips with the most delicious bottle of port we've ever had.  It was a Yilgarnia port vintage 2007 from the local winery Yilgarnia near Denmark.  Great night! 

The Rocks has three garden areas, one is the front lawn and sweeping driveway into the property with a tennis court below; another is a garden to the side of the property with native plants and urns, and the third is this stunning formal garden with herbs and lavender, roses, garden benches and hedges.  I must've taken a hundred photos just of the plants in this garden.

Breakfast was delicious - a cooked one of course, but there are about 5 or 6 different types of breakfasts to choose from, all taken in the breakfast room.  You can see through the open door that there is another room to guests, this is the sun room flooded with natural sun light and where two little pooches like to play. 
One in particular, Eskimo, was very cheeky and loved attention, whereas his mate Mac is older and quieter, but none the less appealing.  This is little Eskimo wanting her tummy rubbed.
Despite some rain on the first day it didn't dampen our spirits, instead it blew away the cobwebs and refreshed us.  Check the rainbow behind me.
Tea and scones at Emu Beach were scrumptious, and the beach was beautiful.  The water was really clear and clean ... if this is what its like on an Autumn day, imagine how nice it is in summer!
Although it looks like a storms coming in, it blew over quickly with just a light rain shower. 

The view from the Anzac Memorial is spectacular, looking left to Middleton Beach, beyond this the next stop is Antarctica.
It seems appropriate with Anzac Day tomorrow to share Albany's memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers. It was from Albany in 1914 that 70,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers left these shores to fight in WWI, many never to return, with Albany being the last place in Australia they ever saw.  Of the 3,000 horses that accompanied the soldiers, only one returned.  "Lest we Forget".

 The view from the top of Mount Clarence looking down at the memorial and into Frenchman's Bay.  The statue is of a mounted Australian soldier assisting a New Zealand soldier whose horse has been wounded.
Of course, a trip to Albany wouldn't be complete without visiting the Gap in Torndirrup National Park.
The water just surges up through this gap, crashing into the rocks, and the noise is incredible. The Gap was formed purely by the waves of the Great Southern Ocean crashing against the granite and carving the gap, forming a 25 metre sheer drop.  Even though we were standing on a platform with railings around, my stomach was up in my mouth and my legs were like jelly.
All along the coast here are granite rocks and crashing waters, and the colours in the water are amazing.  Later in the year you can spot whales in this area, but it wasn't the right season for us, so it's a good excuse to go back again later in the year for some whale watching. 

I wasn't too keen on Ian standing so close here, but its not as close as it appears in the photo - but close enough!!!  My stomach was churning all over the place, I definitely wasn't comfortable until we were heading back to the carpark. 
 And another of nature's spendours in Albany is the Natural Bridge with the ocean surging underneath.  Its incredible the beauty nature gives us.
We drove around to the old whaling station and on the way stopped to look at the beach at Frenchman's Bay ... can you spot the fisherman?  On the shore you can see a cluster of rocks with a huge rock sitting atop ... this rock weighs 100 tonnes and was washed into its place by a king wave, quite a feat considering a 100 tonnes is the power of a steam locomotive.
The next day were took a drive to the nearby town of Denmark and had lunch in a pub overlooking the park and Denmark River. The colours on the autumn leaves were lovely and of course, I had to collect some for my sketchbook. 

All too soon it was time to head home again, but the break was lovely and now I'm refreshed and ready to get back into some creative work.