Monday 9 February 2009

Victorian Bushfire

It's been a horror week. The death toll from horrific bushfires across Victoria this weekend has reached 131 and is still climbing. This tragedy is worse than the 1983 Ash Wednesday blazes.

There is very little that I or anyone can say to describe this situation justly. I don't know anyone who hasn't been touched by this disaster. This past weekend, a close family friend evacuated her property in Gippsland and is waiting in Melbourne whilst the bushfire continues to threaten homes and lives. The feeling is surreal and frightening. Watching it on TV, it's hard to believe that it's really happening. Unfortunately, it is. It just reminds me, and I'm sure many others, that nothing is more precious than life.

This is a terrible time, however there is something that everyone can do. Please, if you are able, donate to the bushfire appeal: there is much need. There is a direct link posted at the top of the blog on the lefthand side.

Behind Every Great Quilt...

Behind Every Great Quilt....
You probably have a favourite quilt....but do you have a favourite quilt BACK?
I do, its the back of my quilt 'Bed of Roses' ( although I don't actually have a photo of it!)
If you're anything like me, you love to read what's on the back of paintings, you lift up objects of pottery to look beneath, you turn books over in your hands to see any hidden design elements ...Or you can't help looking beneath saucers...sometimes there's a beautiful suprise there- a detail to reward you and confirm that it was worth looking...and sometimes it's just stamped: dishwasher safe. But you never know unless you look underneath.
This pictured quilt back is the back of my quilt 'Soaring'. At the time, I just thought it would be nice to have something intersting to look at on the back. I was experimenting with my own designs and just went for it.
Right from the moment it was quilted though, my daughter dismissed the top altogether and fell in love with this back. I've even promised to do a re-make just for her (it's on the list)...but that just begs the question: what will I put on the back of the Back Quilt?
The beauty of back quilts is that they allow you to be a little more creative than you would usually be...without having to think too far ahead...because (well for me anyway) if it doesnt work out, it doesnt really matter. Actually it's all for the better because each quilt becomes a journal entry of sorts...a marker of what thoughts were working themselves out.
Like most quilters, I know my quilts very well. Sometimes when they've been away for a while, I'll get them back and look over them and wonder about what I was doing when I designed- pieced- or quilted a particular quilt.
'Soaring' is nothing like it's back. But what it is, is a marker that I was stencilling rambling rose designs at that stage (when looking through my quilt
records, it doesnt indicate that I started doing that until months later (my record keeping is a bit haphazrd)...but now I know that I was actually months into it by that time.
Whilst I like using my backs as visual journals of progress, I've also thought about making a 'negative' of the quilt top on the underside - the only thing that's stopped me is time. It's such an interesting idea, and it's been my personal wish that all quilt shows would hang quilts individually suspended so that both sides can be fully appreciated.
I think quilts backs have an interesting story all of their own. What do you think?

Saturday 7 February 2009

Knit One, Save One

I know! That's exactly what I was thinking! Isn't it too hot to HOLD yarn, let alone crochet with it? Yes I think it is.

Staying inside due to the heat and needing a creative outlet however, my daughter instantly turned her thoughts to winter pursuits and sat in front of her fan with her favourite hook. Why? Because every winter there's so much need for woolies all over the world...and there never seems to be enough time to get around to making them within the why not start early?

Actually, my daughter has just learnt to crochet and
decided to put her baby beanie making skills to use. For those of you in America, the Knit One Save One project is a great way to get involved in something creative, progressive and important. You can follow the link here:

In Australia, the Guardian Pharmacy chain run a great seasonal promotion drive for hand knitted items to distribute to those in need, and its never too early to start.

I'm still shocked and saddened when I hear that for most of the world's people, the basic necessities are a struggle.

This beanie from start to finish took 45mins to crochet. I haven't yet met a quilter who isnt talented in knitting or crochet, so if you have a spare 3/4 of an hour, why not brush up on your knitting skills, use up those yarn left overs or just do your bit for those in need? It's doesnt take much and if we all just did one, there'd be enough to go around.

Why not Knit One to Save One today?

Friday 6 February 2009

Thinking of a new technique?

Have you tried your hand at a stencil quilt yet?
Stencilling is an heirloom quilting technique, it was practised by the earliest quilters. Today, I havent noticed many quilters embracing the possibility and scope that a stencil quilt can offer....why not?
If you're thinking of trying a new technique, or if you thought stencilling was 'too modern'....think again! Stencilling is a beautiful, skillful craft, why not incorporate some stencil blocks into your next quilt?

Thursday 5 February 2009

My Heat Struck Garden

Being in a heat wave and draught means that my garden isnt looking as lush as I wish it was. I've had to plant draught hardy blooms, which aren't as lovely to look at, but at least they stop the garden looking totally barren.

Due to water restrictions, the plants have pretty much been left to their own devices. I've newspapered and mulched, some have thrived, some have died. The boring plants seem to survive. I have a creeping rose bush which yearly gives out masses of small scented blooms and although it's sunburnt and struggling, it always comes back good. I'm always suprised at the fight for life that roses manage, it's a bit of hope in a dry garden where you find yourself yearing for beauty.

My fern leaves are crisp brown wafts that break off in the wind and what I think was once a rather beautiful shrub ( I can't remember, its been so long) is now just dried twigs.

I yearn to sit in a garden brimming over with the flowers I have planted in the past: the many varied roses, from carpet hedges to elegant long stemmed blooms that loved a severe dead heading and pruning any time of year, the canterbury bells, the bavardia, the geranium, the poppy, the white and pink hydrangia, the 5 lots of lavendar from white to violet...I can see and smell them already....

I admire the local gardeners who have altered their former green European gardens and worked tirelessly to re-create Australian gardens. Personally, I love succulents and just a few cactuses here and there, but I'm not inspired enough to change my whole idea about what a garden is.

Realistically, the only plants that can truly survive in this climate are natives, and whilst people some love them, they all look like boring dried out tuffs of grass to me, and I'm not afraid to say so.

Frankly, it's too hot to go outside, or sit outside. I think twice about walking from my front door to the car when I want to go somewhere. Sometimes it's just not worth the heat stress. I think the only lush garden I'll be enjoying this summer is a stencilled one.


What a relief - it's 'only' going to be be 30C today. That means I can finally finish quilting.

Yes it appears that I'm back online! Hopefully that will be the last meltdown I have to endure... I'm a week behind thanks to the heatwave.

My sewing machine overheated and knotted the threads
and bobbin spool.... so I had to leave it alone, it just didn't want to stitch in the heat, and either did I.

I've found that a lot of electrical good seem to malfunction when it gets above 35C so I decided not to push it. This morning it's stitching just fine.

Still, I'm one on the lucky ones - I didn't have to suffer any blackouts during the heat. I really detest suffocating heat - it's just paralysing. I didn't accomplish anything. So today I'm making up for lost time.

These are some fishy pictures that my daughter took to help inspire my quilting. I'm always find bodies of water alluring: from the sea, to rock pools, ponds, deep puddles, fountains to fish in a bowl...I just love observing the life going on beyond the rippling surface.

Its all to do with layers, thats what makes the ordinary seem so extraordinary in my eyes: I love the yellow unfurled inner petals of a blooming red flower....or moving through layers of dense green tree foliage to uncover an unexpected birds nest spun from abandoned bright threads amongst the twigs....or stencilling - stencils are improved by colour layers, as is quilting itself. Ahhh, layers. I feel ready to quilt again...

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Heat Wave Aftermath

My internet provider Hotkey has been experiencing technical issues...a melt down...basically it means that I have not been receiving emails and my internet access is patchy at best. Hotkey expects to be back to routine by the end of the week. Until then, I'm pretty much offline.

If you have sent me an email - I have not received it. Would you please re-send it again next week (to be on the safe side)

Thanks for your understanding during this frustrating time

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