Just one of the reasons I jump.

Just one of the reasons I jump.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


A while ago I bought the most lovely piece of vintage Japanese Kimono fabric from Kimoyes, which had been found in the streets of Kyoto.  And so it sat being admired in my sewing studio for a while. Too long, truth be told. Its 100% cotton.
All it needed to become a scarf was a couple of skinny little hems. Rather than mess around with a rolled hem foot because at the moment I am sewing with a broken knuckle (chipped a chunk of bone off it) which makes some things a bit more tricky,  I simply turned up about 1/4 inch of fabric, sewed close to the edge, trimmed the excess away and then turned that first seam over and sewed again along the stitch line close to the fold.  Its a easy way to get a nice finish to a narrow hem if either you don't fancy messing around with the rolled hem foot on your machine, or you don't own one. It's simple to stay close to the folded edge with the design of  the new Bernina foot,  for 9mm stitch width machines.

What I think is amazing is the design on this fabric. Tiny little bundles of fabric were tied with cotton thread as a resist for dyeing to make the somewhat circular designs.   How on earth the incredibly detailed tiny patterned portion of the fabric that looks like a tiny star is made I have no idea. I'm guessing it must be something to do with the way the fabric is scrunched or folded before tying, or perhaps it is painted as some areas seems to be.  Perhaps someone out there  knows? Anyway, I love it!

If I ever tire of it as a scarf,  it will make a great table runner!
Happy sewing,

Thursday, 26 February 2015


I've been making progress tidying up my sewing room. After the last project I finished and shipped out for  AHQ project there was mess pretty much everywhere. I really hate post project clean up!  The biggest improvement in the studio has been tackling an area where stuff was essentially dumped temporarily, but then proceeded to breed, whilst I figured out where to put things. This area is still a WIP but has been reduced to half the size- so that's progress I suppose.

This weekend I'm teaching at Addicted to Fabric in Canberra, teaching Beginner Free Motion Machine Quilting workshop. Its a great location with loads of space and decent lighting, always a pleasure being there.  There's an enormous amount of satisfaction seeing students realise that with some help they can learn to successfully tackle their own projects.  I always look forward to teaching this workshop.

Lately what's been absorbing most of my energy has been learning to skydive.  I'm loving it.
I've passed AFF Levels 1, 2 and 3 with no repeats, so far. Sometimes students repeat levels if they hit a snag or need more practice at something. My next jump will be Level 4 and I'll be down to one JM.  :) 
How it seems to work for me is, I just do as I'm told, and I'm aware of my body position during practice, and then replicate things in the air.  It feels really good and comfortable up there.  Apparently I have a nice arch and good body position, and so far, I've consistently flown stable. With one or two JMs, makes no difference to me.  I love it! 

-I'm not stressed out of my mind about going to the door now. The wind there no longer bothers me, I just consider it the new normal. Learned how to calm down my body and mind if it feels stressed so I can just chill out. :)
-I've sorted out my exits. Improving them has been a result of  growing confidence and practice, and also understanding just how much physical effort is required to put into climb out, because of wind resistance in the door. There's plenty of that.

-Making  360 degree turns under canopy is SO much fun!   Starting to get a feel for my canopy.
-Doing forward glides in free fall rocks. I loved them, and am greedy for more.

- I loved seeing one of my JM's release me according to the plan, and fly out and around to face me from the front.  Up till then, my view has just been a big open sky. You couldn't wipe the grin off my face. Not only because I was stable flying with just one instructor, but also because its just so cool seeing someone flying nearby.  I was sorry when I knew it was time to dump  my mains,  because freefall never lasts long enough. Not by half.

What goes up must come down.  One way or another.  My landings for L2 and L3 were… interesting.

Learning when to flare is seriously tricksy. Developing an image in my brain of how things should look when its time to flare takes time and experience.  Next landing, the first thing to hit the ground will be my feet! The guys at the DZ tell me they've all been where I am now, its just part of the learning process.
 I may have messed up my landings, but the jumps and canopy flight up until landing were awesome! Hence the grin. Itching to get back up there again.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Finishes and beginnings.

School's back- finally it feels like I have a portion of the day to myself- for work or other things.
I did finish the quilt that was a gift for a guy who just happens to be a skydiver. Sent it off with some yummy treats for him.

Recently a good friend of mine, Melodie from Arizona in the U.S.,  sent me the most fabulous antique quilt top, it is from the 1920-30's, possibly 40's from fabrics in the quilt.  She had been hunting for quite some time for a top I could machine quilt, that was in good condition- because if I quilt something, I'm going to be using it! So generous of her to have found this for me. I am continually amazed at my friends and the things they do. And I just love the quilt top. There is a lot of mixing and matching and substitution in the top, adds so much character to it.

This top is hand pieced and is just itching for some beautiful quilting. I have no idea who the piecer was or where she lived, or how old she was when she pieced this top, but its quirky and fun, and I love the fabrics in it. The stitching is consistent stitch length with occasional back stitches to re-enforce the running stitch, a sign of a skilled sewer.  Its filled with some great conversation prints including the most perfect print for me: an aviator couple, complete with an aircraft. The airplane is however on an interesting approach angle to the ground, just over a fence.  You can see the fabric in the above photo on the bottom row, centre block.   It makes me really smile, because lately I've been on pretty close terms with airplanes. Specifically the doorway. With my own parachute. Alongside a couple of very skilled,  friendly Instructors.
Happy Face = how much I love skydiving.

These were taken by a friend and hubby, just before my AFF Level 1 jump the morning after my day of ground training.  Just incase you're wondering about that hand signal my instructor is pulling, it isn't rude - its a skydiver thing.
We exited at 13,000 feet and had 50 seconds in free fall, and I deployed according to plan at 5, 500 feet.  Let's just say that the THWUMP you get when the canopy opens, called opening shock, is appropriately named :)
 I'm flying the canopy lowest in the photo below. I had radio support through my helmet from my Target Assistant on the ground. Flying that wing is enormously good fun. There is nothing like flying in fresh air!  I love it up there. The support I've had from my course Instructor and also the second Jump Master has been fantastic.

I passed Level 1. It was a really good jump, once I was out the door. Landed on my feet- for a second, then was pulled over by my canopy onto my knees and rolled the remainder of the momentum off, laughing my head off.  That's common for students, proven by the pre-existing grass stains on the suit provided for my use.  Takes a while to figure out the whole landing thing.  My next jump for Level 2 is tomorrow, can't wait!


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...