Monday, October 08, 2018

Misty Mountain getaway

I have been up at Dorrigo teaching at the Misty Mountain Getaway. Dorrigo is in northern NSW and a sleepy country town  apart from the hive of activity created by the Getaway which is 7 days of  classes with  well known teachers from around the country. The weather has been so so but  rain is desperately needed in these parts.

The tutors are staying just outside of the town and I wake up to the view in the photo in the morning !

The first two days I was here I taught the tifaifai  class and I have to say the participants were all enthusiastic and well skilled so achieved a lot including drafting their own designs. I always love the surprise students get when they lay out their designs.

  A detail of Corrinna's design, she managed to place both the positive and negative.

The peacock feathers are Sandra's design and she also managed to place both the positive and negative and said she would bring in one of these quilted when she comes back later in the week.

The last was Tonia's  design which has a beautiful circular motion happening in the centre design and was all but complete when she left yesterday afternoon.

The township of Dorrigo has quite a few interesting "lifestyle" businesses and also a few mosaics around the town. The photo below adorns the town hall where most of the classes are taking place.

So it will be a busy week. My date for surgery has been set for 17 October, and there is still a lot of things to do before then. After surgery I will not be able to do much for 6 weeks, except stitch and write my new Traveller's Blanket book- so watch this space! At least all the stitching is done. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


I want to thank each and everyone for your kind, heartfelt and supportive comments and in taking the time to send them to me. I had intended to reply individually, but I have been trying to keep busy and spend time with my  daughters as this has been a bit of a shock for all of us. Yesterday I attended the oncology unit at the Women's Hospital where they updated what they know diagnostically and what the plan is from here. So there is kind of good news, if there can be good news if you have cancer, and that is that the cancer is  early and is confined to one area , so no spreading- so that is a relief. Given this, a hysterectomy will take place and I am on the wait list for that. Radiotherapy will in all likelihood occur- it depends a little on what is found at the time of the operation, and if what they find is the way it looks on the MRI I may not need  chemo therapy- but again it depends. This will all happen at the Women's Hospital, so I feel I am in good hands.

One thing I did want to say is please don't ignore when your body speaks to you. The type of cancer I have is most unlikely to be picked up with a pap smear in the early stages, unlike the more common cervical cancer. I displayed only one symptom and otherwise have felt well. However the one symptom started to worry me and so I went to my gp, well a gp as I am doctor phobic. If you have any concerns about something different happening to your body please don't wait to have it checked out.

 So meanwhile life goes on, and I have been trying to keep as busy.

On Sunday and Monday I gave Tal Fitzpatrick who is one of the co-ordinators of the UDHR Project ( United Declaration of Human Rights) a hand piecing  the quilts together. Last year a call was put out for embroiderers to embroider each article of the Declaration to be put together as a quilt as a kind of protest about the continued abuse of human rights around the world. I worked on article 6 last year. All in all they received 120 contributions from around the world - enough to make four quilts  and they had to close the call for embroideries after three days. It was special to spend some time with some of these pieces and help put them together.  I felt reassured that here were 120 people, who all delivered their promised pieces, from around the world who felt as strongly as I do about human rights, and  I am sure there are many more people who feel the same. Somehow these embroideries , all so individual but strong and full of emotion, and handling them to put them together in a larger piece was very rewarding. There will be a public outcome for these quilts but for the time being the organisers cannot divulge exactly what. If anyone with a long arm has any spare time to quilt these quilts at all (nothing too complicated) please let me know and I will pass it on to Tal.

We ( my daughters and I) have also been cooking, seems at this time we feel the need for home and hearth kind of  things. I have also done a little stitching on  little phrases to focus my thoughts. I am not sure what I will do with them, maybe I will just put them all in a basket or  some kind of bag. I am also compiling a  list of books for reading as I recover from the hysterectomy and am pleased I had nothing much planned for the last months of this year so I can concentrate on healing, and doing some stitching once I work out what I want to do.

I will be teaching at the Misty Mountain Getaway from 5-11 October (I have double checked with the hospital that my surgery will not take place before or during this time) up at Dorrigo and really looking forward to it. The class for linocutting and embellishing is full but there are still some spaces for the Tifaifai class and the machine embroidery working with solufix class , in which you will work with one of your photos and create a machine embroidery. There is more information on the linked website.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Health Issues

This last week has been a bit of a blur and one that I would not wish on anyone. I have debated whether to blog about it or not, but ultimately decided that I would simply because I need to call on all my friends to be my support and to give me hugs. I have been diagnosed with a fairly rare form of cervical cancer. Last week Friday I went to my Gp and since then have undergone ultrasounds, CT Scan and this morning an MRI and X-rays and blood test, and a discussion will be held next Tuesday as to what will happen next. There is no doubt I will need an hysterectomy and  be blasted by everything that 21st century medicine can offer- in that regard I am in  good hands with either the Women's hospital or Peter Mac performing the surgery and further treatment and I will be guided by their expertise  with this type of cancer.

These rather sinister matrons greet you as you walk into the Women's Hospital. I know what it is meant to represent but I did not find it very cheerful at all.

So why do I need you, my friends? As many of you know I am not married and do not have a partner and as a migrant from a small family do not have much family in Australia. My parents are elderly with their own ailments ( they are also separated and live in different areas) and have other issues, and my daughters are just beginning on their journey in workplaces and study so I feel I cannot lean too heavily on them though of course they are supportive. I am lucky I have many friends here in Australia and overseas, and I would like to ask you to continue to contact me as you always do, that you send me a hug from time to time, that you not shy away from what is happening- it happens to many women and men. If I need help I will ask . I will  mention what is going on from time to time, but do not intend to talk of things too much.

I will continue to sell my hand printed fabrics and of course my book, which is still available. And of course some of my quilts are for sale. As I am self employed I am reliant on this income to keep me going and hope you will continue to provide your support as you have so generously done in the past. The next six months will be rocky and hopefully also full of recovery and healing, and I will try my best to keep up with things. But obviously  there will be things that have to go by the wayside.

The Traveller's Blankets are going to be exhibited at Pour L'Amour du Fil in Nantes in April next year so the goal is to be well by then, well actually earlier than that as I have other commitments which I  can't drop as they are part of my income stream but that is not until next year late February. Meanwhile I intend to focus on getting well and small things like hand made books which is something I have always wanted to do, and no doubt some hand stitching and maybe a new linocut or two. I am not expecting too much but do want to have some thing to do in case I feel well enough to do them.
This quilt is sold.
This is a fully hand stitched piece form 2002, a proto type of Traveller's Blanket. It measures around 110-120 cms squarish and is for sale for $3250. It is entirely hand stitched. I ummed and ahhed about whether to include it with my current exhibition of Traveller's Blankets but decided not to, as it did not really fit in as a journey or something to do about travel. Email me if you are interested in purchasing it, my contact is in my bio.

And a small hand made book I have been working on incorporating an early linocut print of pine trees and my fascination of trees. I intend to make a whole tree book as I seem to have made quite a few linocuts incorporating trees.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Berry Retreat and Other things

 The Berry Quilting Retreat was last week and as per usual was great fun. There is always  lovely work on display  with great diversity and also much excellent teaching on offer. On the Monday  we visited the workshop Lissa-Jane de Sailles was teaching in  basket making and some of her urchin inspired little baskets had to come home to accompany the Atauro urchin blanket. It was also lovely to meet some of my online students in the traveller's blanket class in person and to see their lovely work!

 I also taught the linocutting class and it's always lovely to see the surprise students have when their print is actually printed. the second day more linocuts were made or the printed fabric was embroidered.Below is some of the work made by students, and unfortunately I forgot to record names. The first print is by Elizabeth Dubbelde.

The Aussie Bush Project will be returned to their makers in the next week. Unfortunately one has gone missing  presumed stolen which makes me feel terrible, but unfortunately these things do happen.

The Berry Retreat ,, will again happen next year from 17-18 August. I am already preparing for it! Elizabeth Dubbelde and I  are devising a  new class around the concept of mending and upcycling and embellishing and  I also have a new project on the go. Elizabeth asked me to make a linocut of an image I used for  the Musing in Textile Pozible  campaign, which is inspired by the Madonna on a donkey from the Cathedral in Autun, which is from the late Romanesque period or the early Medieval period. So I did so it is available for purchase. I will be  dyeing fabric on the weekend so I can print different coloured backgrounds.. She measures 26 cms x38 cms.  We will be creating an exhibition  with this linocut that has been embellished and embroidered by you and we hope it will again create a wonderfully inspiring array of interpretations. The working title is On the Road ( or Lady with a Donkey), There will be a size limitation of no larger that 60 cms square , but other than that you can do what you like!

The price of the hand printed and hand dyed fabric is $25 plus $ 3 p&p and you can nominate what colour background you would like. Just email me. The photo is actually of two prints.


Monday, August 06, 2018

Once Almost 53 Years Ago

A  nine year old dutch girl stepped onto Australian soil, it became home but the longing for Europe continues...….. Once I made a booklet about it

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Berry Retreat 2018

It has been a marathon of stitching this year, and then making prints for sale at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair and then the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair. Thank you so much to Expertise Events  for the invitation to exhibit my  Traveller's Blankets as part of their 25 year celebrations in Melbourne and Sydney, it was a real thrill and a lot of stitching!

The Traveller's Blankets will now go on to the Berry retreat on the 18th and 19th of August. Not only that the Aussie Bush Project will have it's last showing there as well, so it is your last opportunity to see all the wonderful work in that exhibition. My traveller's Blanket class at the retreat is full but there are still a few places for the linocut carving, printing and embellishing class following the Retreat , also at Berry. You will learn how to make your own unique fabrics for embroidery or quilting.

I was amazed by the work produced by  the invited artist at Reece Scannel's Transformation exhibition shown in Sydney and Melbourne and which will be travelling. I feel very chuffed to be a part of the exhibition which will transform as it travels around as people add more and more pieces. The brief was to use one of Reece's photographs which has been transformed into a screen print and then transform it into  your own artistic interpretation, with essentially no rules.

The two pieces I made are in the middle and hopefully you can read the artist statement.

And I wanted to share some images of the Traveller's Blanket exhibition. I managed to finish about 7 storyboards for the pieces, still a few to make for the Berry Retreat!

So many people made the effort to say they appreciated the work and all the stitching- thank you for that: it has indeed been a labour of love. As you know a book called Plaids Nomades has been made in France but there is no English version of the book. So my daughter ( the designer of my last book) and I have been putting our heads together and we are in the planning stages of creating a book which would be self published like Musing in Textile : France. However the book will have a different shape, won't be so heavy to counter some of the postage issues,and will be a much more how to book , and weaving in stories of their creation. We again intend to use a crowd fundraiser platform which works like a form of pre-ordering with benefits attached. Would love to know if you are interested in this at all?

And lastly there is still a small window of time to join my on-line Traveller's Blanket class which starts tomorrow. Check my previous post for details.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Renaissance Red and Angels

 I have  restarted work on the red renaissance traveller's blanket in order to finish it for exhibition later this month. Am thrilled to have been invited to  be guest exhibitor at the Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair  from 26-29 July. It's wonderful to show the work again as in all reality it has taken more than a years work to finish all the pieces, and working on a daily basis. I would love to sell them but I also want to exhibit them and therein lies a dilemma for sure.

​ This  red blanket is inspired  by a month spent in Florence in 2015​ and I spent days walking around the city. The religious art became a little overwhelming, everywhere stunningly beautiful art so I decided to focus on angels. The angel I have used in the red blanket actually was a smalls statue in the museum attached to the San Croce Basilica, and seemed somewhat forlorn with its broken arms and sweet expression and then I found a quote from W B Yeats "be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise" , a kind of perfect motto when travelling really.

The round motifs have been cut from the  linocut print of the Davanzati tree which was inspired by the frescos on the wall of the bedchamber in the Davanzati Palace in Florence This motifs almost sparkle and seem rich and opulent, just as you might imagine the renaissance to be.

There is still time to join the Traveller's Blanket on-line class which starts on 1 August.  I hand out extensive notes via pdf file and Open a private Facebook group for discussion. I hope to inspire you to tell your own stories in stitch and cloth. Someone ( Linda Clift) coined the phrase nomadic stitching , I like it a lot as my book about two Traveller's Blanket in French is called Plaids Nomades, and I do feel like a nomad at times-having to work out of my suitcase for at least 6 months of the year. The blankets are a perfect way to keep hands and thoughts occupied whilst waiting or travelling.

Nomadic Stitching - stitching whilst on the move, wherever a wait of time occurs. Be not idle, fill it with a stitch or two. Time passing by the windows as we sit on trains and buses, on planes, in waiting stations, cold winds heckling at the edge of our clothing, or heat embracing our armpits, or forehead perspiration starting up the body's air conditioner.

And yet a gentle rhythm offers reflection , a moments pause in the passing imagery; a willing to have our own rhythm in this whirling fast moving world.

Or simply enjoying quiet repose whilst your hand moves gently through the cloth creating another mark and another mark that together will make a story.

The cost of the course is $75AUS and encompasses four lessons over an eight week period though I keep the group open for longer as the work is a slow process.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair

You could be forgiven for thinking I had fallen off the planet, but in all reality I sat and stitched and stitched to try and finish all the traveller's blankets for the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair at the end of June. I almost got there- the last one is almost finished but not quite but I hung it anyway. However it will be finished for the Melbourne Craft & quilt Fair  from 26-29 July. I have had a week off from stitching since returning from Sydney, and have done a big tidy up in my shed and also have been burning off some of the dead wood on my block. My hands needed a rest.

I also hope that I will be able to blog more regularly from now on, as I hope some of my connectivity problems might be resolved!

So the Waste not Want not indigo piece is finished- it took some stitching and measures 120 cms squarish. This piece is worked through two layers only so I had to work carefully to prevent any puckering of the stitches. The whole background has been quilted with  running stitch.

And then I worked on a piece using the naturally dyed fabrics and threads that the Stitching Project sent me some time ago. I thought long and hard about this one as the colours were out of my comfort zone, being soft and pastel like. Eventually I decided that I would use the woodblock I purchased in a woodcarvers shop in Delhi and make my own linocut of a boabab tree- trees of life from different cultures. When I began I felt I was not going to like it at all but it grew on my as I worked ( I suppose trees have that effect!) and then when I had finished I decided it needed some Indian bling so I added the little diamanti flowers for some zing.

So I have decided to run another Traveller's Blanket on-line class starting 1 August 2018. My new notes are entirely updated now to include more recent work and as I said hopefully connectivity  problems will no longer be an issue. The class  will consist of four  pdf files outlining how I work and giving dyeing instructions as well as stitching ideas, as well as story telling ideas. I will also set up a private Facebook group for sharing and discussion. I keep this group open for quite some time as I realise the making of a traveller's blanket is quite a long process! The cost for the course is $75AUS