Detail from Analgous

Detail from Analgous

Friday, 21 March 2014

Still here! And Aussie Heroes...

Hi everyone!
I'm still here, since I've had a few enquiries.
All is well- just have been extremely busy with moving house, settling in (which involves me pretty much solo unpacking the entire household. We are not finished yet but not far off it!) , the start of the new school year with additional commitments with the children, who are learning trumpet and percussion (imagine our homes at practice times, which is most days for a good 20 minutes!) and into soccer in a huge way.  Plus  getting my sewing room up and running more or less. Still a few more boxes left to unpack.  I have been  whipping up a bunch of bags and currently, a quilt for Aussie Heroes Quilts and Laundry Bags to support those serving in the ADF.  I'm very happy to contribute to this project for personal reasons but also because it is a very practical way to say thankyou to those who serve this country. It has also served to keep me sane during the move from one place to another. Some days whipping up a laundry bag has saved my sanity!
You can check out photos of some of the work I've contributed plus from the volunteers and recipients on the website, and read about just what these laundry bags and quilts mean to those who receive them.  Check it all out:
Scroll back a few posts and also check out the galleries at the top banner- you will probably be amazed at just how many bags and quilts have been made.  I know the project can always do with more helpers so if this interests you or you want to support it in other ways apart from sewing, contact Jan-Maree through the contacts button on her site.

And oh yes on top of all that, I've been working around that, writing for Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine with my regular monthly column and out teaching.  Tomorrow is the second installement of a two day workshop I run at Rosemont The Patchwork Shop in Canberra.
Will see if I can grab some photos during class, its always a busy time and often I simply forget!

Happy Quilting!


Friday, 29 November 2013

Kiwi trails

Hi all!
Nope,  I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, although I did leave the country for a while to visit Middle Earth,  on the most amazing trip to North Island of New Zealand in late Sept.and early Oct. It was beyond fabulous. I attended the Australasian Sewing Guild convention and had a couple of free days to explore a very beautiful country filled with friendly people and strikingly beautiful natural features. My only complaint is that I did not have enough time to see even a tenth of everything I would liked to have seen.
I visited Auckland for the most part, staying one block from the water front before my convention began.
I jumped onto a bus tour for 13 hours and covered over 620km of road, taking in parts of Rotorua, Te Puia and Waitomo Caves and the stunning greenery between those places. People say Ireland is green, but check out the lush green here!


 Happy, happy dairy cows! The very definition of content.  There are a vast number of animals and food being farmed in the fertile land, from Alpacas to Cows, sheep to Kiwi Fruit, wine to Possums, Fish to Deer, with a lot of ingenuity evident in the way the land is used to support communities.
Also visited Matakana and Pui Hoi Valley.  The ASG tour I took during convention included lovely villages with a focus on Textiles including possum wool silk blended garments, fabulous cheese making facility with associated yummy dairy offerings. I had booked a whale and dolphin watching tour out in the gulf near Auckland but high winds scuttled those plans, no boat tours operating on the only free day I had in my schedule and no change to reschedule whilst I was in the country. So that goes onto the list for next time.

 One word describes New Zealand for me, and that is Impressive.
My travel involved lots of textile based explorations and getting out into nature or into nature. Into caves filled with glow worms and thermal springs heated by volcanoes with stunning vies right onto the beach of Lake Rotorua. I soaked for an hour and half in some rather stinky (think sulphur rotten egg gas)  thermal springs but my skin felt so soft after showering, it was amazing. There were different temperature springs from quite cool to very hot, light head inducing temperatures. So relaxing.

And I found everywhere I went, Australians by the plane load. I could quite easily immigrate to New Zealand, I loved it so much.

Volcanic landscapes dominated, with dramatic geysers, fumaroles, the odd shaped conical little hills that pop up around the rim of the crater's edge near Rotorua often covered in trees or greenery.


 See the rainbow?

Nature has a way of reminding you just how tiny and insignificant you are compared to her. You get a sense here that the Earth is cross.  Speaking to a Maori Guide when I mentioned this to him he said it was an astute observation, and that is exactly what his family believe. They are very connected to the earth and show much respect for what it provides them with, living in harmony with nature.
I loved a Maori cultural performance with stunning art and carving in their meeting hall.

and seeing a Kiwi House. Kiwis now are so endangered due to introduced species that few are ever spotted in the wild. It was great to learn about their life cycle but no photos were allowed inside the viewing area- but I saw a pair of Kiwis. And they did not disappoint.
Neither did the beautiful countryside, the plants, the food (and the wine!) or the people. The locals I found to be incredibly friendly, helpful and relaxed.   I hope to return there sooner than later with the rest of the family...

 I should add that the photos taken have not been processed or enhanced in any way, the colours are exactly as close as my digital Canon camera could replicate as they were in nature at the time and place in which they were taken.  Truly a stunning country.

After that there was a little short trip to Tasmania to retreat with and catch up with some of my old quilting friends and see a couple of old college mates and their families. It was refreshing and restful, and always amazingly good fun.

Between those trips there was fairly frantic packing. And now I'm unpacking box after box after box.
We bought our own place and moved in mid Nov to one of the very lovely suburbs of Canberra, very convenient, very leafy and quiet.  Lovely neighbours.  Its going well but we have some things to do to the house such as installing an oven that works, and an induction cook top (oh happy day, we cannot wait for those) plus a split converter heating/ cooling unit to control the raging heat that Canberra sees in summer.  Hoping for this all by Christmas. House has a great North/ North East perfect orientation for the Southern Hemisphere, and is the most energy efficient home we have ever bought.  So far in the 33 degree C warm days we have had its been pleasantly cool, unlike the last house. But we'll need to be able to cool it when the temperatures are well over 40 degrees C.
Our energies have been concentrated on the house and the prep for moving when it hasn't been devoted to exciting travels interstate and overseas. Which is why you haven't heard from me in quite a while.

Once the house is unpacked I can start on the sewing room unpack and set up. The new room is delightfully well lit and I am so, so happy about this, I can barely wait to get in there and start creating.  I may just have a few new quilts brewing that were inspired by my recent travels...


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fault Lines II: SAQA Auction benefit quilt

I'm a member of SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) and its auction benefit time!
Our Oceania SAQA group thought it might be fun to have a blog tour,  to show the range of work our members create.  Here you can see my approach for constructing my donation auction quilt, Fault Lines II.  You might like to pop over to the SAQA page and take a look- and feel free to make a bid on my quilt if it takes your fancy. Click on the SAQA button on my side bar to take you there.  The blog for the SAQA Oceania members is Here

 Colours below of the work in progress are more accurate. The above was snapped in my horribly dark studio where I quilted. The colours are much brighter than they seem in that photo.   Observant quilters might even recognise some beautiful fabrics from Lisa Walton Dyed  of
Dyed and Gone to Heaven along with some batiks, some of my own hand dyed fabric, and commercial prints.

A bit of background: For years I've enjoyed seeing the power of nature evident in the natural world, whether it is the ocean or land, or space.  Several of my earlier quilts use my improvisational piecing technique in two main ways, as either backgrounds for applique as you see here in detail from The Secret Life of Ice

 or as in the case of other pieces as the main design element next to colour.

Analogous above was made for the Canberra Quilters Red Plus One challenge last year.
 Then I made Fault Lines I with some lovely fabrics picked up on a trip to Tasmania

 I love to move seams around to reflect movement in the earth's crust.  Maybe the devastating images of earth quakes across the globe of the last few years prompted my brain to go there, with amazing yet shocking images of the earth being torn apart.  I have always loved patchwork and appreciate that the therapeutic effects of pushing fabric towards a machine needle can so easily be adapted to different styles of quilts.


 Making these quilts is a spontaneous process of growth, by first constructing  sections  to join together, varying the size of the units I make and incorporating  curves or straight lines in a way that I fancy.
 I've become especially interested in the effects of inserting skinny curves with contrasting colour and value of fabric to build additional movement into my work, and of adding spikes at the same time creating what I call "shark's teeth".  I enjoy the interplay of sharp points with undulating curves just as there is so often in the natural world.
Technically these seams are more difficult to sew and  maintain a lovely flat finish, and I enjoy the process of bending fabric to my will.   All seams have a shorter than average stitch length and are very skinny in width.
 I can only imagine this will not be the last quilt I make that incorporates improvisational piecing somewhere into the quilt.

When it came to the quilting, I used the walking foot and a mix of Cotton, poly, metallic, Rayon- its all there! Batting is a beautiful Australian Product, a wool/ poly batting from Mathilda's Own, helping to support the Aussie Wool Industry.
I quilted using both bobbin quilting upside down for heavier couching threads, and quilting right side up as quilters usually do.

The edges are finished with a facing technique I like to use that uses some dressmaking techniques to achieve a beautiful flat finish with minimal bulk at the corners and edges, due to some careful grading of layers before turning the facing to the back. Above you can see the backing fabric and facing edge, about to be finished by hand. The raw edge remaining was needle turn appliqued in place by hand.  The facing is the same colour as the back so it blends in beautifully. 

I hope you have enjoyed these insights into Fault Lines II
Next up on the Oceania SAQA blog tour we have Hilary Metcalf See here  
If you've just tuned in now nearing the end of our tour, you can see all participating members work by clicking on the button on the top right side bar  that will take you straight to the SAQA Oceania group blog page Here
There is some really fantastic work in our collection that reflects a nice diversity of style and technique.  Enjoy!


That's the guided tour of making Fault Lines II.  Let's see how much can be raised with the auction quilts! I would love to hear in a comment your views on my work- all comments are moderated so don't panic if your comment doesn't pop up immediately.  Thanks for visiting!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Its Show Time!

Fun at Canberra Quilter's Inc Annual exhibition yesterday-a really fabulous show of quilts this year!
Lots of interest from the public.
I enjoyed sewing some quilt blocks for the Quilts for Others charity arm of the guild for my duty shift, then enjoyed the show in the afternoon.
I can report the Newman household has done well at show this year:
Two ribbons:

One was for Hamish's entry, Brick Path.  He won 3rd in the Junior Category for his original design. approx 80cm wide, 155cm long.  So proud of him!

He played with rectangles on the lounge room floor to come up with a block he liked, and then once he had sewn a pile of blocks, how he would set them.
He quilted with a walking foot 1/4 inch either side of the seam lines between the blocks.
The binding is his first ever binding and it is machine finished, catching the binding on the back by stitching in the ditch from the front.  I helped him join the tails and hand sewed the corners closed for him as his hand sewing is not as developed as his machine skills.  Considering his age, I consider this to be more than a respectable first attempt at a binding. 
I demonstrated how to fold the strip to mitre, and then he did it himself, step by step. 
So pleased that he was able to not only have finished such a large piece for a kid to manage, but also for his ability and desire to design his own work and choose his own fabrics intuitively.  I'm so pleased it has earned him a ribbon- a lovely, fluffy, shiny green ribbon!  He is massively excited.

The other ribbon was a 2nd Mixed Media award, for my original design, Meadow Argus. There is thread painting, machine applique, trapunto, free motion machine quilting and lots of bobbin work in this quilt. Colours are off, it was in a less well lit area, and taken using an iphone.

I do love the lovely fluffy, shiny red ribbon!
These ribbons are upgraded from previous year's ribbons, a simpler affair of a flat ribbon with some printing on them.  Like the upgrade!!
Here is my Friendship quilt finished, hanging at the show.  I'm so pleased it was finished not only for show for people to enjoy, but because I won't have time in the next few weeks to finish a quilt  for our new house, yet here it is, finished.  Before I even knew I might have had a new house to put it into! It can be washed and packed away, ready to use.

Best of Show went to Jenny Bowker.  I have always loved her three quilts that comprise Earth, Air and  Memory of Water.    I would happily look at this work for hours.  I was so excited for her that I squealed and did a little happy dance! 
No photo out of respect. Photography policy at the show is for private use only, and blogging is not private use if it is published to the internet.  There should soon be photos posted elsewhere. Show is still underway and its hard to make time to blog or upload photos.
I had a really fun time walking the show and seeing so many friends with ribbons hanging off their gorgeous quilts, it was a lovely way to start to the day.

Today has been busy- some errands along with signing the contract on the home we are buying.  Getting quite exciting...

Happy Stitching,