Sunday, 31 October 2010

Machine quilting and inspiration Sunday

From Villis bridge, Warrill Creek
Another overcast Sunday ... perfect weather to finish Jen's quilt and post to the UK before winter is over. I started Jen's quilt when she was out to stay with us in August. Enough said.  So on one of the breaks I took this morning ...
Secret garden path
Midget and I went for a wander through the secret garden, ever changing throughout Spring and found some

Dripping with bees
 native bees that are so large they bend the flowers over, and often out of camera shot, when they land. Maybe 2-3 times the size of the "usual" bees. They are meant to be stingless but Midget refused to put it to the test. They drone incessantly during the daylight hours   ... and then the secret garden became Mr McGregor's ...

Little Peter  ... in Mr Willett's garden
 when we found this tiny creature hiding in the mulch. It is so small and still in the leaf litter  - obviously under instruction to stay that way - so we won't be telling Mr McGregor when he gets back this afternoon. Then it was ...

quilted at last ...
 back to the machine to finish the last bit of quilting - and if I'm really good it will have the binding completed and be on its way tomorrow.  Keep a look out for the postie, Jen.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Lolly fabric and fabric lollies

fantail wrapper box
 Yesterday was an all day all work group get together to discuss business planning, budgets and a few other things. Times are tough, budgets are getting tighter and we shared a packet of fantails and minties around the five tables - not sure what everyone thought when I asked for the wrappers back. Absolutely no idea what to do with them of course.
The reward after the long drive home on a Friday evening from Brisbane was made so much better by the arrival of Quilting Arts mag - and a fabulous idea or ten .. so thanks to budget cuts, lolly wrappers and Victoria Gertenbach's ideas for using up scrap fabrics I had a bit of a vision for the waxy papers.
This morning I laid out all the  wrappers, in no particular order in a kind-of-A4 size shape, and used a top and bottom layer of baking paper to protect the iron while they were bonded to vliesofix. The wrappers, which sizzle a bit under pressure, were then bonded to felt and then to tissue paper. The whole new "page" was covered with a fine gold lame and machine quilted. Sliced into 4" strips and cross cut into 4" squares. Tissue paper sides facing, the squares were again bonded together, in pairs, to make six "double sided"  squares. These were then stitched into the box  shape using a silk and stainless steel thread - which gave a bit more "ooomph" to bending the sides and having the box hold its shape.  After reading Victoria's suggestions for left over shot cottons - a slight adaptation and her "boro bobbles" make perfect lollies for the lolly box. I don't think I'll give up my day job but it was an interesting exercise in taking something (lolly wrappers) and experimenting with a way to use them - it's not "re-purposing" as such - but I do enjoy the role reversal of lolly fabric and fabric lollies. (Quilting Arts Magazine, Issue 47,  October/November 2010)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

For the fibre artist in all of us

Eppie Archuleta woven cloth
 The trip from Walsenberg and La Veta CO across the Rio Grande is a real treat with some extra special delights for those with and interest in fibre. One of the buildings within the Fort Garland Museum houses  the work of many artists, local and not so local, including that of weaver Eppie Archuleta. Eppie began weaving at the age of six - has received many commendations over the years. She weaves in Rio Grande and Chinayo patterns.

Hairy stuff

It seemed like felting with coir - and it was. This saddle blanket is made from .... hair. All kinds.

A housewife of sorts ...

This wallet like item was called a "housewife" and carried such useful items as needle and thread, maybe a button or two  .. and was made by a wife, girlfriend or other significant female in the life of the soldier. When we got across to Bardstown KY it was amazing to learn that at least 400 women served on the front line of the Civil War - and Bardstown KY has a museum specifically honouring their contribution to the war effort.

Take a left at Fort Garland and head south through the San Luis Valley towards Taos, NM.

Leave the stunning mountain scenery behind and head into the vast, flat and sanity-challenging windy place that is the San Luis Valley. Imagine the wagons .. mile after endless mile ...  the cold and the dry wind ...  and altitude. It was, to us, exquisitely beautiful.

La Lana Wools

There were many opportunities to help lead the US out of the recession / GFC and La Lana Wools in Taos, NM was a great start. Wools, fibre, and all sorts of exquisite things fill the entire shop from top to bottom.  Knitted, felted, woven, spun, raw ... it was all there in every shape, size and weight imaginable.  Very nice.

Taos shops
More shops, including Common Threads with the very "uncommon fabrics" discussed in a different post. Beautiful silks, buttons of distinction ... and a price tag that reflects the uncommonness of each bolt. Value on many levels. Lots of disposable income required. Parity with the AUD and USD would make an Internet experience worth a click or two ... although I'll wait for someone to let me know how good that was given my recent experience.

Big buttes abound

If returning from Taos NM in the general direction of must-stop-and-stay La Veta CO, take a few moments to breathe in the stillness of one of the many buttes (Australians would pronounce it "beaut" not "but" as I mistakenly did on tour)  .. eroded over so many millions of years - beautiful.  It's about 2+ hours between Taos NM and La Veta CO - a local might well do it in less time but there was always the "anxious prediction" of hitting something bigger than the hire car in the evening light - which meant anything larger than a raccoon.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Internet shopping under the affluence of incahol

Double left click ...
 Feng Shui and the sewing room might not seem a likely combination.  In an effort to improve the feng shui karma hygiene of the room I sat down one evening (rather recently) and went shopping ... online. There was a terrific special on storage containers. The minimum order was 5.  Perfect.
Fast forward to late last week, as I saunter into the house after work to greet the WMBM :
Goddess (seeing 2 large boxes and a big roll near back door) What's this?
WMBM: It's for you ... the guy said it's sewing stuff.
Goddess (startled): Oh ... but I didn't order anything, just the vliesofix for Robyn and Meredith.
WMBM: (is silent, and continues julienning carrots)
Goddess (thinking real hard): I think I ordered a couple of pigma pens ... and maybe a couple of containers for my beads and buttons. Hmmm ... (places handbag on box larger than coffee table, rests against second box)
WMBM: (is silent)
Goddess: I'm sure I only ordered ... yes I did ... I ordered 15 different containers for my buttons and beads AND the two pigma pens. (pause, supported by incredulous look on face of Goddess)
Goddess (continues): Can you believe the SIZE of these boxes?
WMBM: (still silent and does not put toe anywhere near the killing fields)
Goddess:  (opens Box #1 with carving knife) Expletive - these are the things I chose but there's so MANY of them ...  I mean, like,  there's SO MANY of them ...
WMBM: (has finished carrots, is pouring wine)
Goddess: (puts knife away) Let me check the invoice note receipt thing - there's GOT to be a mistake.
[And there it was  ... I'd ordered 15 sets of each of the different containers, around 5 tubes and/or 8 containers to a set]
Deluded Goddess: (is silent, reflecting)
WMBM: (offers glass of wine in general direction of Goddess) Well that's what you get online shopping under the influence of alcohol.

 And he walked away.  I think he was giggling.  This is exactly why I married him.
PS: It's unbelievable but rummaging about the studio has revealed long forgotten tubs, recycled chocolate boxes and packets of beady and buttony bits and pieces.  More gifts of beads and buttons. Now, what was that website again?

Gutta resist and Jennifer Wurrdaj lino print

Silk scarf "guttad"  with Elebetex Gutta and ready to dye
My friend and mentor Ankie lives close by - about 25 kms / 16 miles away - and never as often as we'd like, we get to spend a day together - dyeing, playing with dyes and silk, and more dyeing. I've just finished drawing a gutta resist on silk scarf - drawing with the gutta that is on a full sized scarf is quite a challenge, time-wise but worth the effort. Ankie lent me one of her frames and we stretched the silk scarf over it before filling one of the drawing tubes with the resist and off I went. I've drawn a design based on an apostrophe - and an apostrophe reversed inside itself - and waited for it to dry - a few hours on a warm, dry day - or  a bit longer in humid weather. The resist dries clear and on our next get-together I'll use different procion dyes (just love the Moroccan red) to "colour it in". Looking forward to that - sometime before Christmas this year.
Also before Christmas (and this year too) is a quilt with special significance for me on a number of levels. Maxine gave me a piece of fabric created by Jennifer Wurrdaj, from the Maningrida area of central Arnhem Land.  Jennifer used a lino tile to print  the design elements and this piece uses up to three colours. When I received the piece of fabric, Jennifer had been to the Melbourne Quilt Show demonstrating how she used the lino block designs. Maxine managed to purchase one of her works. Thanks Maxine xxx
I kept the panel untouched for a long time - waiting for the right way to use it that honours Jennifer's work and culture. I hope to have found a respectful solution.
I chose quite a number of fabrics that, for me, represented the dynamic colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where I have been privileged to work. The narrow border of black acknowledges the different worlds of textile artist and quilter.  I hope the pieced border of hundreds of 1" squares reflects our similarities and sameness. I am in love with the panel. Quilting has been by both hand and machine. The individual trees  and turtle elements have been hand quilted, as well as half of the outer border. I'll finish the quilting by machine - another way to combine difference and sameness. That's the plan ...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Santa Monica, Singers and Such

A trip to Santa Monica Pier was the final destination before heading back across the pond to Brisbane. I'd even emailed the restaurant at the end of the pier to make a reservation for lunch and, until the moment below which is self explanatory, I couldn't understand why they never responded. The karma wheel moves as mysteriously as the goddess - and thankfully we weren't obliged to dine or have our margaritas - and have that fantastic experience ...dulled. Tip for travellers: If you are intending to travel to SMP and take a taxi from near the airport it will cost you around US$50. If you take the blue bus rapid express  ... it will cost you US$1 (for the under 60s) or $0.50 for the over 60s.  Each way. Go figure. The bus was surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, faster and a much shorter trip. The SMP park is really small - but then you won't find a Dreamworld or Movieworld able to fit on a few planks of timber either - it was such a colourful place in the midst of the grey and misting rain.  Next to no one participating and surrounded by closed shops, takeaway and touristy things - it's a sharp reminder of the absence of disposable income. 
This fine establishment is located at the end of SMP. The dream was to sip margaritas on the edge of the Pacific Ocean - and wake up in the morning on the other side of the pond. It was a good plan. Luckily we didn't wait 'til SMP to try margaritas. Grotty  doesn't begin to describe it ... to be kind, maybe the GFC has impacted far more than I'd previously considered.
Enterprise is everywhere - for USD$5 or so you can have one of this man's birds climb up your fingers and take a treat from your fingers. Birds are rotated regularly and given breaks. A "fistful of dollars" took on new meaning and at least the guy has to look after his birds or the income dries up ...  What did they think of the performing humans?
 Santa Monica Shopping precinct is stunning - a complete opposite of the nearby pier. Fresh, flashy - and for the tourists.  Neil Sedaka was appearing at a book signing after lunch - it was such a pity we ran out of time. And our favourite place was ......

this menswear store - from London no less - where the walls were glass and instead of curtains or anything else - wall to wall, floor to ceiling - sewing machines ... all different brands makes and models but all old, old, old ... we stopped counting at around 900 ..... unbelievable! John Watts eat your heart out.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Dulany Lingo Magic

While we visited Colorado, and La Veta specifically, Judith took us on many visits - for food and for nourishment. Dulany Lingo and her house of five studios was a place of artistic nourishment. A real life artist with a real life. Juggling grandma duty with being astonishingly creative - doing a Masters in Knitting (seriously and serious stuff) and living with challenges - and producing amazing art. It's the first and only time I've swooned at the unwrapping of ... knitting needles. Mind blowing stuff . 

I just loved Dulany's studio and the way she had the various studio areas - so much talent, so many studios, set out within her home. The only non-studio element was the bed and bathroom. One aspect of Dulany's art is her digital photos - where the background is totally removed and beautiful elements remain. Fingers crossed, I get to pick up the framed version of smoke bush leaves that I purchased on the trip in the next few days. Can't wait  to hang in the studio/ my room of hanging beauty.  Like Dulany, it's magic.

2QAQ and the Quilt Show in Brisbane

What a fantastic few days - culminating today with the roster for the 2QAQ stand at the Brisbane Quilt Show ... two lots of two hours having fun art quilting and talking to people about what we love. Someone has to do it. There were people everywhere - which made shopping or browsing slightly difficult but worth the bruises. We managed to get Mum a new pair of scissors - for no other reason than the ones she got for her 21st need sharpening. Do the math .. we went and saw The Scissorman Trevor and sorted that little issue out quick smart.
Kathryn used the embellisher on the Bernina to make some stunning flowers - probably not red enough for her liking but absolutely perfect for the piece I'm working on ... thanks for that. And then Suzanne popped by .. after ATASDA duties - if you're heading our way tomorrow it will be a hoot. Happy sewing and I'm off to find a Shiraz with my name on it and something to soothe the tootsies. What a happy coincidence ... the same product achieves both.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Ernest shines in La Veta

Feverish pitch in Judith's studio
Ernest is the equally important other "half" of the Judith Baker Montano team - and here we are in the middle of sewing and studio time - beavering away at our blocks - while Ernest or Ers but NEVER Ernie kept pot after delicious pot of coffee in the studio. The pots are often accompanied by sliced fresh fruits or naughty delights from the Bakery ... oh that bakery. Ers has a love of tie-dyed shirts - evidenced by never seeing him in a photo without one, unless he's wearing the Dog Bar shirt - I heard Judith remark once that "Ers never left the 70s" and she is absolutely right!  In the studio there's room enough for 6 students at a time - so imagine when we're all gone just how much room Judith has to frolic in - and it's a set up that works really well.  The walls and every other available space is dripping with threads, projects unfinished, more projects that are finished - inspiration is everything and everywhere. I had a severe case of "sensory overload" a few times during our five days "official sewing time" - and can appreciate the times we spent touring - other artists studios, shops, other States ... food and wine bars ... cheese makers ... La Veta's finest ....
Ernest in disguise in the Dog bar shirt
The Dog Bar, in Cuchera - is  ... can't think of the adequate superlative but it's totally good on crack. Great food, music and company - and when we visited, about to get covered in snow for the winter. It was Daniel Boone country in a way (or that should be Kit Carson or something since ole Dan'l was Kentucky way ... apols to DB). Cuchera is another few thousand feet above where we were in La Veta - and  there are signs in the windows of shops that are part of the pub to watch for bears ... seriously! Darker than pitch with the lights out, who wants to meet a set of glistening teeth attached to a  fur ball on the verandah after a few ... margaritas! Not this goddess ... Judith and Ernest made sure that our stay was as much about the La Veta experience as it was about sewing and quilting ... visiting places we would never get to see any other way and  the exposure to so many different types of "artist" was a treat I'll be treasuring long after the digital images fade ...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The preferred drink of a travelling goddess ...

This is a competition of sorts. You get to choose ... and it's one of those simple (a) or (b) responses. It is not rocket science and all particpants who blog the correct answer below get a small prize - I mean small but real - so long as you're an Australian resident or travelling to a place where we'll meet in the next few weeks! So here goes ...

Question (1)   What is the preferred drink of a goddess on holiday? Is it:
(a) Iced tea (ingredients are cold tea and ice) , or

(b) Margaritas (plural on purpose) (ingredients include yummy stuff mixed with lime juice and tequilla, ice and salt) yum yum yum

Post your answer in the comments section and a lovely prize could be heading your way (subject to personal interaction and my ability for it to be handed to you - limit of one entry per person per day)

AND THE WINNERS ARE: thanks to everyone who commented. There'sll be a stunning bit of plastic for housing beads or buttons coming your way very soon .... and don't say "I shouldn't have".

La Veta Town Quilt

La Veta Library is a stunning place in a stunning part of the town - and totally helpful for Australians looking for Internet access. In fact, there wasn't a place we visited where Internet access wasn't supported or encouraged - for anyone. The entrance to the La Veta library is highlighted by a fantastic quilt by Judith Baker Montano where she has crazy quilted multiple blocks where the centre piece is a picture of one of the La Veta houses - my apologies that pictures don't do the quilt, or the town, justice.
Judith's hand work is beautiful - the techniques to incorporate photos of the La Veta homes, the beautiful embroidery - it is fitting that a quilt about La Veta homes should be found in one of its most inviting, public places. In between blocks that represent the La Veta accommodations are wonderful florals.
I loved this quilt - and could have spent the day looking at all the things I missed - and then there was the tangible sense of community that oozed from the stitching. The quilt evoked an overwhelming  "I-wanna-touch-it"  response from all who passed it - kids and tourists alike. The pictures of the houses are all included in Judith's latest book - Montage - available to any of the 2QAQ members through the library.  What a treat!

"Rocinante" at Fort Garland, CO

While hanging around in Fort Garland, CO we came across a tribute to Rocinante - or a slightly less glamorous version of what I imagine John Steinbeck travelled around America in, accompanied by his poodle Charley - and yes, someone got out of the back. Alas, there was no poodle,  Thanks for lending me the book Ally - and safe travels to Isle of Man for a genuine George cuddle. Fort Garland - one of Kit Carson's hangouts - is an amazing place, not the least because of its 30 mile away proximity to the next nearest safe haven in the event of an attack by the original inhabitants - across the old La Veta Pass - impassable when under 20 feet of snow - but it must have given the residents of the Fort some comfort to know that assistance, if only in the form of moral support, was close at hand. Not.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Route 66 by train

Arizona mesas
So don't everybody get their violins out - I've got my own orchestra going in the background. I'm a tired little goddess tonight and trying to stay awake 'til 8pm. 46 minutes to go ......
We crossed the US with Amtrak - from Chicago  across and down through Missouri, Kansas, down through Colorado  and into New Mexico again, through Arizona and eventually to California and Los Angeles. The mesas as we travelled west from New Mexico into Arizona were spectacular. Pictures will never do them justice, or rather my pictures won't.  As far as the eye could see bordering each side of the train .... the lines, rock formations and colours were something I never tired of looking at. Until it got too dark. Wrestling myself into the top bunk is another story and one for another day. Suffice to say it was challenging - but totally do-able. Finding the straps that stop you falling out onto the floor on the second night ... priceless. So these are some of the mesas and a distant storm in the desert. For Mum.
re hydrating in the sleeper
Keeping hydrated was a serious business at altitude. Lorraine and I drained a dozen bottles each - lucky they were readily available with the other "goodies" in the sleeper.  Water, that is. It's about the only way to keep the nausea, headaches and yucky noses at bay. If you listened closely, you could hear the moisture being sucked out of your skin. Lots of water - and the odd bottle of wine shared on our almost-3 days and 2 nights on board "Pinkey's" sleeper.
Observation carriage
During the day it was fun to join other travellers in the observation carriage. The seats rotate (though we never worked out how it was done but more experienced travellers than us had conquered the mechanism) to allow total viewing until the need for food, drinks or snacks meant you left your seat and ... lost your seat. I spent a few hours upstairs with my journal taking notes of what people said ... literally. In no particular order ...
"are you a fisherman?" (pause)"a year ago I caught a big bass, oh boy."
"gosh that's a long way over there ..."
"I was gonna take a photo but the darn train moved"
"Did you see that tree? Did you see that tree? I can't believe you didn't see the tree. We passed it not 2 miles back!"
"there's some earth"
Journal cover

"I would'a seen that ... "
"Wow there's a tree out there (pause) do you have many trees?"
"Does any one want me to do that?"
"I had a cow once, but not a dog"
"I saw a sign for tires, isn't that right?"
"We're going up. Yep. We're going up"
"Its dad's last trip. He's 80"
"How long are we stopped for? "
"I thought I'd see more cattle"
"Look at that (pause) a truck"
"Uncle Russ said we stop because it's a single track"
"I have 12% use of my heart"
"those cattle are eating dead grass"
 Our "Pinkey" has travelled the line with Amtrak for 37 years. 12 sleepers to a carriage ... that's a lot of folks and a lot of miles. She was amazing - her love of train travel made that part of our trip all the more special. Everyone on the South West Chief was full of the joy of living - and we were lucky enough to share just a part of it. By the way, the conductor announced Amtrak's policy for dealing with unsupervised children - they are given freshly brewed coffee and a puppy.   It's 8.01pm. Good night.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Thread scarf

Pogo / darning the scarf
Today was a perfect day ... gorgeous sunshine, clear skies and perfect for stitching. Who would believe it was 8 degrees this morning - and we're heading for 6 tonight. Look at the date!!! WMBM had to head into the woodshed and get sufficient stock for the fire last evening - and is doing the same tonight. This will take some beating.
Managed to finish machine quilting the thread scarf today - hooped sections until it was nearly completed and filled in the "missed" curvy bits once the hooping had stiffened the remainder of the scarf. After using a sewing machine for 23+ years today was a milestone. The scarf got finished and didn't become a UFO and I somehow managed to stitch the side of my finger in the process. Heard about twits who sew their fingers. 
Drip Dye Drying
Very lucky I only got the bare edge - and didn't require assistance to get unstitched. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Back to the scarf ... I really love blue and I loved the fibres in this 9-pack - which on conferring with Maxine we think came from the Prudence Mapstone store at either the Brisbane or Sydney quilt/fibre show. Next time I'll take a photo before starting the project.
Still drying ...

Thread Wall in La Veta

Judith Baker Montano's studio
This is the threadwall in Judith Baker Montano's studio. It is fascinating simply because it is the entire wall - and then there's the urge to just get in the midst of it all and run fingers through mile after kilometre of beautiful thread. Thick and thin. Silk and more silk .. every colour of the rainbow and a few more for good measure.  It makes such a statement.  This is, perhaps, what happens when you have your own range of thread and ribbon - and there was a lifetime of "more" behind the wall, stored in every conceivable place. Ribbons, threads, hand-dyed this and that - exotic collections of doo-dads ...  Judith's studio is thick with all things creative - simply walking into class each morning was an experience. Creative classmates (Susan, Sarah, Shirley, Debbie and Lorraine) provided more opportunities to learn and get inspired.
Thought I'd share my own "threadwall". It makes a statement. And they say size doesn't matter...

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Bread and thread

Two buns rising ..
It's the first day of sunshine - the good news - in many weeks. It feels like  the windiest day on record - that's also good news. Oh dear. Had to stay inside for fear of losing my feathers. It's a mixed bag today - bread baking usually happens on Saturday - and thread making seemed to be a great way to fill in the gaps. First things first - get the dough kneaded and into the first rise. Given the temperature and generally cold start to the day it takes about an hour and a half to get to the point of punching it down - in summer that can be as short as 50 minutes - and then the four loaves get another hour or so to double in size before baking.
 Which is a perfect time to get into the studio (supervising the bread of course) and get into some thread recycling. Since it has stopped raining - at least for the next few days - it's safe to get the roll of soluble plastic stuff out of its protective packet - I live in fear of it all turning sticky  in the humidity - all was well. While the first rise was occurring, I got into the thread tidy and dug out loads of bits and pieces from heaven knows when - and machine "quilted" it all in copper thread. Had a bit of trouble, even using the metallic needle - I take it easy to start with and then get carried away - and of course, the thread breaks. However it is a really fun thing to do - and worth a few re-threads.
Thread fabric
I've also used chopped up bits of this stuff in landscape as tufts around the base of fence posts and the like - the thread sandwich is almost dry - and I'll have fun thinking about where to use it over the next few days ... weeks ... whenever.

Three and a half loaves later ...

While the bread was proving, I got out 9 balls of blue yarn that have been occupying space int he cupboard ... for some time and decided to make a marriage of yarns and a good piece of soluble stuff - and am making another scarf - this time leaving the ends free rather than adding them on after the fact.  Stitching is in lovely King Tut - a variegated blue - and will keep me off the streets today at least.