Sunday, December 31, 2006

One fish, two fish, Purple fish, blue fish

Well kind of green actually, but that didn't rhyme!

These fish are on the same quilt as the purple ones. These are the positive shapes cut from the fabric around the purple fish. I hadn't actually planned to use them on this quilt, but they seemed to fit. I had to go and buy more shimmery paint for these! I also bought beads, but they won't be added until after quilting. (Once I added them first, then found that they got in the way of the quilting foot - lesson learnt!)

For Christmas my daughter bought me an electric rice cooker and a beautiful sushi recipe book. This is a very thoughtful gift. I love sushi, she really put herself into my place when considering a gift for me. I love this girl!! She is turning into a wonderful adult.

SO here is my first sushi...

I am having tofu and avocado with my sushi. My daughter made hers with bacon. Mmmm bacon, that well known Japanese ingredient. We have been making some every day. Delicious!

Hope everyone has a happy new year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Something Fishy

Yesterday was a day spent drawing, cutting, fusing, painting and stitching. Just fabulous! Here is a sneak peek.

The fish are reverse appliqued, then the body is painted with shimmer paint. I have only applied it lightly as I didn't want to create a strong colour difference, just to add some shine. The white dots are shimmer paint too. They break up the strong purple.

Usually I would add the stitching details as a part of the quilting. This time I stitched over the fish first so that they won't flatten when they are quilted.

I think that today I will head for the bead shop. These fish need beads! Don't you think so?

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Yesterday it rained, but only in our suburb. When we went driving all other roads were completely dry. Very odd.

Can you tell that I got a new camera for Christmas. Isn't this a quality photo? The leaves of the swamp bloodwood are so oily that the water just beads there. This has to be one of my all time favourite trees. They are beautiful in flower, and they have beautifully shaped leaves.

I finally put my hands onto fabric yesterday. It has only been a week since I did some sewing, but in the life of an obsessive that is a long time. These are some hand-dyed pieces.

It's not much to look at yet, but it's a start.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Frenzy

Our Christmas frenzy has ended.

We spent an entire day baking.

I made shortbread. We have a Scottish heritage, so this is a Christmas essential. The recipe is a family one which was told to me by my great-aunt. It can only be told and not written down. She also said that to do it properly I had to do it all by hand. What! Cream butter and sugar without an electric beater? I do not follow this rule, however quaint it may be.

My daughter made pavlova and we made vanilla cakes in Christmas tree molds and iced them with green icing. By the end of the day sugar was oozing from my very pores.

Christmas Day was calm, but we didn't stay still for long. Breakfast here, lunch with my husband's family, dinner at my sister's. Yesterday was the first chance my children had to really look at their gifts.

I spent the entire day yesterday reading a book, from start to finish. It was a blissful way to spend my time. You can imagine the state of my house today! Oh well, mess always waits for us. We'll get to it!

I hope that everyone had a restful and peaceful few days. Thanks goodness it only happens once each year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

World Premiere!

This afternoon was the premiere of the movie that my son made this week with his cousins (aged six, five, one and ten months). The premiere was held at the Christmas afternoon tea and attended by all members of my family and all of the movie's stars. The script, about a princess who would not wash and a dragon who squirted water instead of breathing fire, was written by my son. All members of the audience enjoyed the lively wit and the performances of the young stars.

This project has kept my son busy all week; writing, filming and editing. The script involved the princess seeking advice from a mage. The mage provided her with some water defending hounds (our dogs will chase water), a water repelling shield on a stick (an umbrella) and a magic water coat (a raincoat). Each of these had its own problems. Finally the mage gave her a magical bar of soap and she had a shower. The final part of the movie was a blooper reel....absolutely hilarious! This was much better than any Christmas gift that we could buy. Do you think that this is how Baz Luhrman started?

A backyard script conference. Note the costumes - just fabric held together with a safety pin.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I have been noticing that neat little chew marks are appearing on the edges of the ginger leaves near the front door. As I walked past this week I noticed these little guys sitting on the leaf.

I am wondering whether they are responsible for the damage. I thought it brave of them to show themselves as our garden is full of birds. These look like they would make a tasty morsel. Unfortunatley they grow into these monsters. Enormous brown, prickly grasshoppers. I stopped to photograph when they were little, but when they're grown up I'll just be running away!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Valuable, if embarrassing, Service

Yesterday my husband and I went on a five hour shopping frenzy. We completed all of our Christmas shopping in one go. This does not make us procrastinators. It makes us efficient! We have only had to listen to those carols over the PA system once. We only had to face the holiday carpark once. We only had to listen to that one screaming child and their very angry parents once.

We were three hours into our consuming when my mobile phone rang. A call from the bank. They had noticed an unusual amount of activity on our credit card and wanted to confirm that it was us spending recklessly, that our cards had not been stolen.

This is a good service. It would be greatly appreciated, if indeed our cards had been stolen. BUT...I just felt naughty! I imagined a large red light flashing, with a sounding alarm, alerting the bank to our over-indulgent behaviour. I thought that we should immediately stop spending and go home. We perservered though, and finished our shopping.

It is all wrapped and under the tree - I love having teenage children who find wrapping to be fun.

All work is done!

I have finished all of the client quilts which I had to complete before Christmas. This frees me to do a few of my own things in a rush before Monday!

I decided that my feathers were client ready and completed a beautiful, enormous quilt with free-form feathers and McTavishing. I was really delighted by her reaction when she saw the completed quilt.

I bought these two reference book recently to assist me.

I have to confess, however, that I haven't read them. All that I have done is look at the pictures. I am beginning to be concerned that my brain is becoming cottage cheese. I have always been a visual learner. I get a better understanding by looking at a picture, diagram or an actual finished object. This year I have done nothing but quilt all year. I think that I may have surrendered completely to my right brain and given up reading instructions altogether. It should be interesting when I return to the classroom next year for two days a week!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My daughter's quilt is moving along nicely. She has been working hard to finish the piecing.

Won't it be a delight to have another quilter in the house. We can share quilting conversation, design ideas, fabrics and materials, books and magazines (once I'm finished reading them).


Do I have to share my scissors??

Three times I have wondered how I could have been so neglectful as to misplace my thread snipping scissors only to discover that they weren't lost but stolen!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Growing up and Moving on

Last night was my son's graduation from primary school. This ritual is a fairly new phenomenon in Australia, there was a time when you just went to the covered area for assembly and were wished well five minutes before you left for the summer holidays. This was an elaborate production where every child was presented with a graduation certificate and photos of all of their class members, bands played, choirs sang, invited guests were admired. Awards were presented in various categories. My son was nominated for four awards in academic categories. He won none. His teacher said to me that he deserved one, but just doesn't work hard enough. Sounds like every report card that I ever got, and that his father ever got. It wasn't very responsible of us to breed! Any way, lucky my son is charming and pretty...he'll get by in this life without working himself into a stupor!

Yesterday I finished a little quilt as a gift for his teacher (see I work hard enough now, finsihed with three days to spare). I started it earlier this year in a workshop with Marlene King. The leaf spikes of the grass tree have been stitched with upholstery thread. It was done in a bobbin work style.

Caitlin has a photo of a real grass tree on her blog today if you want to have a look.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Need a Design Wall!

Look what was on my kitchen table when I woke up this morning.

My daughter has decided to make a quilt. This is the amazing result of her efforts so far. Nine-patches and a feature square of Hello Kitty fabric.

All of this has been done without any input from me. In fact just the opposite - she is a contrary little thing. If I were to be too enthusiastic about her work she would stop. She's a bit like a wild creature in that way - don't let her smell your fear! Any way the last time I saw this quilt she was only using four fabrics in the nine-patches and they were arranged in a typical dark and light arrangement with five patches of one colour and four of the other. Since then she has raided my stash cupboard and rearranged her design into a wonderful scrappy quilt! We have had no discussion about colour, values or design; this has been a purely intuitve process for her....I love that! We can all do that when we don't over think our designs.

I'm not sure where I am going to sew today now. I don't want to move her quilt. Maybe I could squeeze in at the other end of the table???

On another note, yesterday I met with Kirsty. It was supposed to be brunch, but it became lunch as well. It was nice to meet as strangers, enjoy conversation which was alternatley very intellectual and terribly low-brow, and walk away feeling that I had met with a very similar spirit to mine.

The world is a wonderful place!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kim's Quilt

Last week I was shocked to learn that a friend had been diagnosed with cancer. She is just one year older than I am and her children are a similar age to our children. So, naturally, when faced with a sad situation, I made a quilt for her. It had to be bold and bright and give off lots of positive energy. It had to be a size that she could take to hospital with her if she feels the need. It had to show that we care.

Here is the result...

Inititally I stitched the horizontal bands of colour together. The colour combination was inspired by the bold Amy Butler fabric. My colour selection drew a few odd looks. The horizontal bands did not look particularly good by themselves! It drew comments of 'that's.....nice'. The whole composition did not come together until I slashed the stripes and added the vertical green strips and appliqued fern fronds.

I quilted it with feathers and swirly shapes. I take any opportunity to practice freehand feathers. They seem to be coming along well. I must be feeling more confident than I realised beacause the thread that I chose contrasted with the fabrics and is quite visible. This fact only dawned on me five minutes into quilting, but by then I was committed to my choice.

I hope that this gift will provide the love and warmth that my friend need to heal. I hope that the colours and design brighten her days. I hope that her spirit and the wonders of medical science work together to restore her health. And I hope that Australia's recent decision to allow stem cell research to continue will contribute to a world free of disease!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oh Christmas Tree...

Look at my Christmas tree!

It has been beautifully decorated by the very clever Kirsty. Not only is Kirsty obviously talented, but she is very efficient! This arrived in my mail today...I only gave her my address yesterday!

Thanks for your kindness Kirsty. My daughter and I made a dash to the scrapbooking shop this afternoon, so something beautiful will be in your hands soon.

Today my daughter did her first quilting. She is making a cushion and wanted to applique a flower onto it. She did her first ever sewing with feed dogs down to raw edge applique. I love that she went straight into that and did a very good job too! Sometimes when I am tutoring people in free motion work they are terrified and nervous. But no one had ever told her that this was difficult, so she had no fear. It's amazing what a difference your mindset will make!

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I have finally just finished quilting the quilt that would never end. No photos to post because my husband took my camera to work today.

Tomorrow is the day that registrations open for Be creative by the Sea. I went this year and really enjoyed working with Wendy Scott and Caroline Sharkey. I also enjoyed the evening show and tell sessions. I was hoping to go again in 2007, but a couple of things have made me change my mind.
A press release was made last week by Reed Events that they would be bringing a new craft show to Townsville in April. The same weekend as Be creative. I am quite excited that a new craft show is coming, given the sad and sorry one that we had this year. I will need to work at the show, maybe take some workshops. But also I don't want to miss it. If it is not well supported it may not continue.

The second thing that happened is that Gloria Loughman has been booked to come to Townsville to take a workshop at the shop where I am a tutor. I was particularly hoping to work with her at Be creative. I would prefer to work with her here in Townsville and support our local shop. I am hoping to go to Quilt Indulgence in Mittagong in September instead!

I'll leave you with a photo of the back of the quilt which is currently in the Quilters Companion magazine. I quite like it from the back. The quilting left its own design. it almost looks like a whole cloth from the back!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I am quilting a very contemporary quilt for a client at the moment. As with all the quilts I seem to be doing at the moment, it is enormous! She has done a fabulous job on the quilt top. This lady has very definite ideas about what she likes in quilting and a very identifiable style. All of this is amazing considering she made her very first quilt just six months ago. I am really enjoying playing on this quilt.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pineapple Progress

My pineapple quilt is in progress and moving along quite nicely. The small pointy blocks have been improvised cut and pieced - no templates or measuring. I have another pineapple square and eight more small blocks to add to the bottom, but I stopped here to unpick. I must have turned a block when piecing and I don't like that the two blue points are touching each other in the middle. Never mind!

Friday, November 24, 2006

No More Bragging

Sorry about the last two big headed posts. A bit more humble today!

I felt a little like I had neglected my homework so I have been working on my pointy pineapple blocks. It was quite difficult to bring myself to cut out beautiful hand dyed pieces. I had been admiring them as whole works of art and was concerned that cutting them would reduce their impact. But I think they look pretty good cut too!

I used freezer paper with these blocks. I ironed it onto the fabric then stitched around it rather than marking a template onto fabric. I find this to be quick and easy, but if you know an easier way please tell me. First I pieced the two arcs - lots of pins here.

Then I used the freezer paper as a foundation to paper piece both pointy sections. The freezer paper sticks one piece down, so it won't move when you add the next piece.

Here is the completed block once all three sections are stitched together.

The freezer paper gives a nice accurate result. I will add a few other blocks and some applique. More photos to come.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It just gets better...

Check out the cover of the new Quilters Companion magazine.

That is my quilt!! I knew that it would be published in this issue, but I didn't know that it would be on the cover. What a thrill! I haven't actually seen the magazine yet, only on the website. I hope to have one soon. You can bet that my mother will be carrying it around in her handbag and showing it to complete strangers in the street.

I feel on top of the world right now. I took a big risk this year. I took a year away from a teaching position to 'have a go' at being a quilter. I was certain that I would bankrupt us, be responsible for all sorts of bad luck etc etc. But from this side of the year it life feels quite wonderful. Maybe fortune does favour the brave.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Makes me Proud

This year I had a quilt selected for inclusion in the Down Under Quilts 2007 Calendar. (I am Miss June).

The publishers of the magazine also organised for the quilts to be exhibited at International Quilt Week in Yokohama. Yesterday I received an e-mail from Erica Spinks, editor of the magazine asking permission to also exhibit the quilts at International Quilt Week Osaka March 15-17 2007.

How very exciting! It will be a well travelled quilt by the time I see it again!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I have drawn up some pointy blocks onto freezer paper for my pineapple quilt. I used my husband's compass set that you can see. He has had it since he was doing graphics in year nine. He is an architect now, so it is very precious to him. Mind you, he hasn't used it for a VERY long time because everything is done with computers now.

I wish that I could tell you that I used a mathematical formula to work out this block. I did wonder how long the circle arcs were in order to segment the pointy shapes evenly. Something to do with pi multiplied by the radius???. But then my head hurt so I just used a guess and check method. I don't really care if it is mathematically correct, it looks how I wanted it to look. If I learn something out of this then the next one will look better.

I have traced four of these blocks onto freezer paper (using pencil, not nikko as in the picture). These will be for paper piecing. Hope to have them done soon.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Push Pineapple, Shake the Tree

This is a really quick sample piece that I put together to show our hand-dyed fabrics. It took all of ten minutes to conceive the idea, draw the picture, trace, cut and fuse...but I really like it. Maybe it's because it makes me think about my grandparents. They retired to Yeppoon in the late 70's. Yeppoon is on the central Queensland coast, where there were lots of pineapple farms. Of course now it is highly sought after coastal property and the farms are being pushed out.

I am going to make a larger version of this piece with some spike pieced blocks to echo the spiky pineapple tops. Naturally there were no 'just perfect' colours in the whole 65 metres that we dyed, but I am happy with this choice of colours:

The one on the right is much bluer in real life. I have added some pink to make it feel tropical and bring the other colours out. Will post photos as I go along.

Sorry about the title too, a reference to bad 80's pop.

Monday, November 06, 2006

November Stall at Craft Market

Yesterday Flo and I launched our hand-dyed fabrics at a local craft market. It was not the resounding success we were hoping for! We sold only enough pieces to cover our stall - which we thought looked pretty good!

Doesn't that look like the sort of stall that you would want to visit? It seems that most people were looking for ready made items - we had none. The stall next to us made a killing selling pink, glittery items (ghastly) to parents who could not say no to their daughters. Smart lady selling that stuff. You can see a peek of her stall here.

So now the fabrics are neatly piled up on the shelf at my house while I gaze admiringly upon them.

Maybe I ought to put them onto the internet?... Maybe Flo and I should use them! We think they are beautiful.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I am pretty happy with my machine quilting at the moment. I have progressed in my free motion to the point where I am forming feathers and swirly shapes as background fillers. This is a client quilt which is soft and pretty and looks great with these romantic swirls. The rose buds that you can see are a Quilters Niche design stitched out with the computer.

Work in Progress and Helpful Husbands

I recently bought the blue and green fabrics in the new Nancy Halvorsen range, Angels Among Us. I love these colours. I have made 4 inch half square triangles, using the fabrics randomly, and cut 4 inch squares. This random layout that you see here took me about two hours to arrange. It reminds me of under the sea. The diagonal lines are the light penetrating the water. My husband listened to this, nodded and asked "So why is the sunlight coming from two different directions?"

So the blocks are still laying on the floor while I ponder whether I will change the diagonals to run in the same direction or just take 'artistic liscence'.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One Joy

This is the quilt that I entered into the Down Under Quilts 100 competition. The theme was, of course, one hundred. I thought long and hard about what one hundred meant to me, but...nothing. So eventually I went to a quotations website and typed hundred as my search word. I found a Chinese proverb which said, One joy will shatter one hundred sorrows. Isn't that fantastic! It made me think about how a hug from a tiny person in your life makes all you worries melt.

I used one hundred four inch squares to represent the sorrows. They are black in a range of textural fabrics - suede, organza, tafetta, silk, satin and polyester. The enormous flower represents one joy and the dimensional butterflies - organza on netting - are spreading the joy.

Yesterday the quilt arrived home. It wasn't a winner in the competition. Tomorrow is my mother-in-law's birthday. She genuinely admired this quilt when I was making it. The timing of its arrival means that this will be a birthday gift for her! Saves me facing the shopping centres!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Craft Show

This week from Thursday through to Sunday is our craft show. It is supposed to serve as the craft show for the whole region - North Queensland, but this year it is disappointing. I am sorry to say that it has not been well organised or advertised. Lots of ladies didn't even know it was on until just days ago. That is not enough time for ladies in remote centres to organise a trip to Townsville. It is very small - about half the size of previous years. I hope that it won't be the last craft show in our area. There is already talk of a break away group organising their own show. I guess time will tell.

I am running one workshop and one demonstration each day. My workshop is making a postcard using christmas images printed onto fabric with lots of lace and button embellishments. It is a nice marriage between fibre arts and scrapbooking, as we are making a fabric collage. Below is a photo of my ladies working hard today.

Don't you love that moment in a workshop when everyone is so immersed in their creativity that a silence descends on the group! Look at the focus on all of these faces. This is really my whole workshop room. It was supposed to hold twenty people! I wouldn't like to be squeezed in there with nineteen others!

My demonstration each day has been of quilt as you go techniques. I have been making up a 'mock quilt' with tiny blocks and a border each day. I use it to demonstrate free machine quilting. Each day I have had a full house - about thirty ladies. I have received lots of positive feedback, which makes it all worthwhile!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Our Beautiful Fabric

A few weeks ago Flo and I began to experiment with hand dying fabric. The very next day I recieved a phone call inviting me to hold a table at our local Christmas market. This must be fate, so naturally I agreed, and with just five weeks to get ready we found ourselves very busy.

This week we have dyed sixty-five metre pieces of fabric.My husband and daughter have cooked all meals, my mum has helped out with ironing our fabrics, and everything else has had to wait. Mind you, I still managed to machine quilt two client quilts. It's really just housework that has to wait!

Here are two of our pieces which I love. Is it wrong to hope that no one will buy them?

Probably should have pressed the creases out of the second one...sorry.

Red Pleated Dress...

For Jan.

Here is a close up of the dress that interested you. It is my sister's favourite too. She wants to take this image to a dress maker and have one made to wear on special occasions!!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Last week my daughter (my eldest child) turned sixteen. I am really not sure where all that time went, nor am I sure that I could really be old enough to have a sixteen year old child! She went to leadership camp just a few days after her birthday and while she was gone I made her this quilt.

This is a Jan Mullen pattern called dressez. Thanks Jan and Sally for the kit that you sent. I was really pleased with the red 'hightlights' to the dressez. I am sure that I owned some of these dresses during the 1980s. I know that I made myself a red with black polka dot number for a wedding around 1988. Beautiful!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Name in Print

Isn't it nice to see your own name being acknowledged in a quilting publication. This is only the coming next issue section of Quilters Companion - not even the actual article! It still warms my heart, although I'm sure that I am the only one who noticed (after looking and searching!)

It seems odd to have my work descibed as traditional - I know that I hover around all quilt styles without specialising in any particular genre. I don't think of myself as traditional. Although in this project I was experimenting with shapes that gave a traditional result. I am looking forward to the magazine when it is published in November.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Elements - Kyoto

This is my entry to the local quilt competition which has the theme of ELEMENTS. It is called Kyoto as a political comment about energy. The red squares along the left hand side have a Japanese script printed on them. This is a lovely coincidence. I just liked the contrast of the red against the other colours. When I showed it to my quilting friend Jenny she asked "Did you choose the red fabric as a comment about the Kyoto protocol?" This is an issue which is close to her heart. Her daughter is actively involved in raising awareness around global warming issues. It sounded good to me, I was trying to make a comment about elements and energy from elements. So the quilt is now called Kyoto.

I really enjoyed making this quilt. I was quite impulsive in my processes. I just cut the shapes that I wanted from fabric already attached to fusible web, without any drawing, just visualising and cutting. I am sure that I will use this process a lot more for my own art quilts. No patterns! This photo has been taken prior to the quilting, which is quite heavy. I will take another photo when it is hanging at the exhibition.

Dying with Flo

Last weekend my friend Flo and I had a lovely time experimenting with hand dyes. We were pretty happy with our fabrics and have ordered more fabric.

I had initially envisioned us working in a very controlled manner, creating our colour combinations and recording them diligently. This lasted for about an hour, then we became completely impulsive and threw colours together. Naturally our impulsive work was much better than our controlled stuff. Who can be controlled and creative at the same time? NOT US!