Friday, October 11, 2019

Workspace But Lacking Mojo

After years of shed life it is exciting to have a workspace with electricity, so I can use my sewing machine and iron, and leave things out to offer inspiration. There is still a lot of organising to do but my creative mojo has deserted me. I thought I would be chomping at the bit to get stuck into something but instead I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to my worktable to even switch on my machine, and my brain seems empty of any creative ideas. So the only way to kick start any sort of flow is to just do anything- just do something other than unpacking and moving things around the house. I have been working on my traveller's blanket "One Earth" but after several years of hand stitching and nothing else I actually want to be doing some other things as well, and get into a work flow again.

So the blanket grows slowly. There is still time to enroll for the on-line course which starts next week on 17 October. Just email me if you would like more information.

So yesterday I decided enough is enough of this non-creative stasis- so after  several hours of distracting procrastination activities I sat myself down at my kitchen table and did something I have not done in a long time, which was to paint papers for transfer printing onto lutradur ( polyester non-woven). I  had, until my return to Australia, been thinking about things from the sea and I love sea urchins. Maybe it is because of all those little circles- it just seems somehow a perfect shape. So I painted some urchins. The beauty of transfer printing is that  you can often print up to three of the painted image. I used some different back ground colours and also put different coloured fabrics behind the printed lutradur. So it has me vaguely excited- I am wondering if I should paint a whole sea scene?

With a bit of stitching it will look quite different. But I still had not turned on my machine! So I dragged myself to my work desk and turned on the machine- whilst finding another lot of diversionary procrastination tactics- like fluffing around trying to find just the right fabric when any fabric would have done. The other day whilst tidying I had found a little olive tree I had stitched about nine years ago. Trees to me symbolise the need for us to be aware that the natural world is a finite resource- chop down a tree and often in the case of olive trees, you are chopping down hundreds of years of history. I know sometimes it is necessary but surely we can plant a tree elsewhere to make up for the loss. I look at the urban sprawl and notice that blocks of land are much smaller ( about half the size they used to be or smaller) to accommodate ever larger houses that leave little room for anything green let alone trees. In fact I am a little shocked by the size of some houses and how badly they are insulated- bigger is definitely not better. And then the energy they must use- water, electricity, heating , cooling.....

Anyway so I thought I would just stitch another olive tree, just to sit at the desk and sewing machine to actually do something!

The first photos is the tree I did about 9 years ago and it was done on hand woven khadi. This meant of course I had to stitch this new tree on khadi too and  I wanted it on dark blue but could not find  the fabric- so it ended up on this grey blue fabric with little sprinklings of terracotta all using 30 weight Aurifil Mako threads.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Travellers' Blanket On-line Class

I was not sure I would run another Traveller's Blanket on-line class this year, but a few people have expressed interest so I have decided to run another class starting 17 October.  The idea of a traveller's blanket is to tell a story by means of fabric, applique shapes and simple stitching. It is a meditative process as it takes time but the results from previous classes have all been stunning and very much expressive of the maker. When you give the piece a story it starts to take on a life of it's own and it starts to grow in its own way. It's a way of using precious scraps or mementos, of recording special interest or favourite things or favourite journeys. I have made more than a dozen over the years and each one is quite different yet the  idea is the same. I use simple stitches so that this type of stitching is accessible to everyone. I have this last week started another traveller's blanket- quite large- on hand dyed khadi with madder which I got from the Stitching Project in India, and whilst I had hoped that the colour would actually be a bit deeper- the cloth itself has already set out a challenge for me- the cloth demanded some kind of blue ( which had not been the intention)- and then because of all the climate change marches ( I went to the Melbourne one)- the blue fabric that jumped into my hand kind of reminded me of the way earth looks in photos from space. So this blanket will be "Earth Turning" Traveller's Blankets- containing many thoughts of how we can do better and do more and give children hoe for the future.

If you are interested in joining the class there is an information sheet I can send- just email me and I will send it. Cost of the class is $75AUS and the class  will run until close to Christmas time. I know it is a busy time of year, but not for everyone- so this might be a project to keep your hands busy! For some people this is  not the best time of year. I have added the Paypal button for ease  of payment but if in Oz  I can send bank details.

Progress in organising my things in the house  have been a bit slow. Did some house sitting for friends who live in the same town as my mother- who has been ill, so I was able to be with her during the day or some of it- but it meant very little work got done, and I was away from home. I am looking  to meet up with like minded textile people who live in the area, now that things are calming down a bit. I am still trying to decide  exactly where everything will live given I seem to have a lot of books which I can't part with- and also quite a lot of studio things. I will also be looking for a house sitter for next year ( from mid April until late June) so if you know anyone who would be interested please let me know. There is no animals at present and there won't be before I go away- hopefully there will be a bit of a vegie patch. Morwell does have its issues, but on the upside it has a very good and hourly rail service to Melbourne- and two excellent delicatessens because the town  has a large mid 1950/60's migrant population. They even sell dutch croquettes!

Whilst putting away things ( slowly) I can across a mini traveller's blanket I made whilst travelling on the train from Milan to Lyon  about four years ago ( I had been looking for this little piece ever since I got back to oz- it seemed to have disappeared out of my suitcase when I got back)

I stitched to a card from the Bologna Pinacoteca- it must have been the only sturdy paper I had on me.

It has almost been a year since treatment started for the cervical cancer I had. I saw my surgeon last week- he's a dedicated very nice man- and because I was in hospital longer than anticipated because of complications with my leg- I actually got to know the medical staff and nursing staff reasonably well and am very aware of what an awesome job they do at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne. I was apparently part of a trial ( i do remember signing something other than a surgery form, but perhaps I was a bit preoccupied) and the figures keep improving for early interventions. So listen to your body- if anything is strange at all go to your doctor, the sooner it's found the more hopeful the outcome. On the whole recovery has been as good as it can be- but every now and then I do feel weary- there has been so much that has happened since October last year. Radiotherapy, whilst trying to tidy up the block in Gellibrand as it sold, trip to East Timor,  my father died whilst i was in East Timor , trip to Europe, back to Oz for the Boneca de Atauro ladies to attend AQC, back to France for Pour l'Amour du Fil and some teaching , then back to Oz to find a house and then doing cosmetic stuff in fixing up the house, and now I am trying to build a bit of a vegie patch, clean up the ivy in the garden, and start on new work for Rijswijk ( Quilt Dagen) in the Netherlands  2020. So a lot to look forward to as well.

If anyone is interested in my teaching any classes in Europe from  late April until late June- I will be there and have some free weekends or week days to come and teach your group or in a shop.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Settling In

The piece above is the first new piece I have made  at the new house- temporarily dubbed Morwellia Textilia. I love pomegranates so it seemed right to make a pomegranate piece to christen my work room ( which now is full of boxes and plastic tubs as all my belongings arrived last week) The leaves and pomegranates have been appliqued with Aurifil 30 weight Mako cotton.  The gold paint for the seeds was painted on after the pomegranates were stitched.

I have been doing a little hand stitching but nowhere near as much as I would like, simply because my hands have been abraded and cut from all the cleaning and  renovating. All of the furniture and kitchen things have had to be washed as the shed was very dusty and I found the odd bush rat deposits in some of the boxes/containers I had not opened whilst living in the shed- it seems they left no box uninspected! I do wear gloves but my skin has been much drier since radiotherapy finished and the gloves feel like sandpaper almost- tried a few different kinds. I managed to get quite deep cuts on both thumbs so my phone  does not recognise me and I have to  use the password, ahh the 21st century!.

 I have been working on the sea scene linocut print which measures 9 " x 11.5 " ( 23 cm x 29 cm )- which I intend to expand into a series of linocut prints once  my work room is a little more organised and quite probably organise another travelling exhibition. Have used just two stitches on this- backstitch and colonial knots and now the background needs doing. This print is available for sale @$25 inclusive of postage and I have a good selection of colours available.

As I mentioned all my belongings arrived last week, the move out of storage cost more than what I had budgeted- too many books and fabrics I guess, so I won't be moving for awhile that is for sure!. I am trialing different coverings for some second hand chairs I bought for the lounge room to try and subdue the carpet- and there is still a lot of tweaking to  do, but it is slowly getting there. I need to  create a hanging system as there are no picture rails in the loungeroom and I don't want to be banging in nails  quite yet after all the effort of filling holes and painting. I also want to be able to move things around when the mood takes me. That ugly air conditioner needs to be disappeared somehow- have quilts that can do the job lol!

I was very relieved that my depression era stained glass cupboard actually fits in the kitchen ( i had hoped it would and dare I say it it was one of the reasons I chose this house???). It needs a good oiling- now that I have discovered that linseed oil and mineral turpentine makes the best wood rejuvenator! It is starting to feel like home, but there is still quite a way to go before things will be finished. At the moment I am covering some items that were affected by the very harsh light and heat from the sky lights in the shed with chalk paint in a colour called provence.

Thursday, August 08, 2019


My apologies for not blogging more when I had promised myself to blog more this year. But life has been busy and I can't believe we are into August already.

The house settlement went through  on 19 July and I can now say my town of residence is Morwell. The house I bought was in good condition but did need a brighten up with  a coat of paint and also needs some new appliances as the gas appliances that are there, look like they have been there since the house was built in 1950. So friends, and one of my daughters, have been helping me with the painting, and finally I have spent a few nights there, and the house feels good-  the sun comes up  through the  large windows in the lounge, I can see morning cups of tea, sitting in the early mornings as the day slowly starts it's whirr looking out that window, and other than the view of houses across the road  I can see hills in the distance and the chimney stacks of the power plant generators belching smoke. I have posted things that are going on on Facebook and Instagram ( the Instagram feed is at the bottom of the blog) but I thought I would share progress so far as it seems to have occupied a lot of my time.

The kitchen is not quite finished yet as a new stove will be installed and a range hood,  and the doors will acquire porcelain knobs, but already it feels so much brighter than it was and I can see this will make a lovely space to be in as it will be an eat in kitchen.

 The way the kitchen looked, and how it looks now after  some painting. I am not the best painter in the world but the room certainly feels much brighter and as the house was built in 1950 it actually has window sills so I can see a collection of greenery in the window! I have always wanted a kitchen with blue in it and I like the retro feel of the cupboards which were in good condition. The lino will probably be replaces with polished wooden floors. The tiles on the wall will stay, but the bench top will probably change as will the sink.

The loungeroom has also had a cosmetic makeover with painting and taking out an ugly laminated brown cabinet which was so well built we had to take to it with a hammer to break shelves as there was not other way of getting them out. The brick of the chimney was also covered int eh same brown laminate which made that loungeroom seem really dark. The Axminster carpet is in good condition but also hid good hardwood floors, so the carpet will come out despite it's insulating qualities, and the floor will be sanded and polished.

Before and after. The venetian blinds will also be doing a disappearing act, and I am thinking linen might make an appearance ( I just need to go to France and go  to Brocantes... it may have to wait awhile) I have lovely big picture windows which also have sills and may well turn into a jungle!

So we have been trying to get as much done as we can as my friends also have incredibly busy lives and after next week I should be there permanently. The paint takes longer to dry at this time of year and getting things done always takes longer than hoped for, but that said I feel we have made good progress as two of the bedrooms have also been painted. the other bedroom needs to have wall paper stripped and will be  a bit slower in changing. The garden also needs work and I can't wait to get some sort of vegetable garden going!

Things have been incredibly busy apart from the house. The organisers of the Craft & Quilt Fair asked if I would do sit and sew sessions at the Fair in melbourne in late July and offered a good space for a wall display. I had quite a few people come and sit and stitch including one young woman who wasn't interested in that stuff, but who stayed to watch a friend, and who eventually  agreed to sit down and give it a try- and who declared this was nothing like the stitching she had had to do in school, and that this was actually fun! She came back several times to check that the needles and threads she had bought were the right ones and the fabric- convert convert! I guess that is what those little sessions are about, making things accessible for everyone!

I had a lovely wall on which to display my work so thank you to Expertise events for the opportunity. I wanted to build a mosaic of colour and show a lot of the different work I have done over the last 7 years or so.

I have also finally got around to embroidering the little fish linocut I made whilst still in Europe. It is only small ( about  15 cm square) so there is a lot of stitching packed into the little space! I will have this print for sale soon or message me if you are interested. Cost is $7 inclusive of postage.

Berry Retreat
Next week I head off to the Berry Retreat which is on 17 and 18 August which is always a great fun event, and there will be some  great displays and inspiring teachers.  There will be a display of embroidered works entitled Lady Without a Donkey- several people have done some smashing embroidery on this linocut- and I am so looking forward to seeing them all. If you have embroidered one we would love to display it- so it would be best to send it directly to Berry or deliver it on the Friday in Berry ( set-up day)

I will be bringing some of the work of the women of Boneca de Atauro for display and sale, including wall hangings and rapin hirik bags. Will also be displaying  some of my own work and will have prints for sale and we can sit and stitch!

Teaching at Material Obsession in Sydney at the end of August
Then it is back to more house  decorating and gardening and then on 31 August and 1 September I will be teaching at Material Obsession in Drummoyne- hand stitching and embellishing and machine stitching. These will be classes showing the techniques and simply stitches I use to create the effects that I do. If you are interested in joining the classes contact Material Obsession as there are still a few spots available.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

At Last- A house

After almost six years of house sitting, couch surfing and shed living, it seems that all things going well I have purchased a house in Morwell in the Latrobe valley. There were a number of criteria that influenced my choice amongst which was ready access to a rail line- for after last years scare of not being able to walk and drive for a period of three months, you can't be stuck on a bush block without any services, being closer to my mother rather than the 4.5 hour trek I had to do when I went to visit her from Gellibrand, and good access to Melbourne and medical care. It became readily apparent that most places with good access to rail services were beyond my means,  but there was a glimmer of hope for Morwell- so I have been searching since January in this locality (viewing houses was made a bit difficult by being away so much) and surprisingly when the housing market in most of Australia is experiencing a downturn- this does not appear to be the case in Morwell- and this is probably caused by the fact that houses are fairly cheap compared to elsewhere. So this week I took the plunge- I visited some awful awful places, I don't think my mother would keep her chooks in there, some pretty dreadful places and some not too bad ( most of these were outside my means) I eventually narrowed it down to three places, made offers, was accepted on one, but then the power of attorney overrode the owner and wanted more money, at which point I wasn't in the mood for dealing with legal shenanigans, so it came down to two. The house for which my offer was accepted had been in the one family since it was built in the sixties, and it pretty much in original condition including the axminster carpet, so pretty retro , but it looks like it was well cared for, it even has a pretty nice garden with a few fruit trees and lots of possibility- it has a garage hereafter to be called the print room, and three bedrooms, so I can have a spare room and work room- so all in all I am happy with this place and feel even happier that finally all my things will be in one space and that I will have a dedicated space to work, plus I have a pretty nice garden- greenery is a necessary part of my life  given I can't look at the bush anymore since leaving Gellibrand.

So I am trying to gather together some money to help cover the cost of stamp duty and conveyancing, so I am putting some of my work up for sale. Last year and the latter half of 2017, were devoted to creating the Traveller's Blanket exhibition- which took an enormous amount of work, but as they were committed to exhibition I was unable to sell any of them and I had no real time to make other work for sale. The Traveller's blanket series is entirely stitched by hand on hand dyed and printed fabric- and I can tell you they took a whole year and some months of my life to make- so this is reflected in the price they are- what would you want to earn for a whole years work?? Some of the Traveller's Blankets are still on tour in Canada and not sure what their next stop is- it's part of the Crossing Oceans Exhibit. I am discounting pieces but they also  need to seel at fair compensation for my time and effort and the originality of the pieces.

The work created by machine is cheaper as the time it takes to free motion stitch is a lot less than stitching by hand! However all farbics are hand dyed and or hand printed- using various techniques. Descriptions of the pieces and prices are underneath the photos of each piece.

The Blue Traveller's Blanket - measures 92 cm x 140 cms ( approx)- and is densely stitched. This blanket was inspired by a journey through my surface design techniques since I commenced hand dyeing fabric early in 1992. It contains pieces of fabrics that have been dyed, printed with linocuts and print gocco, breakdown printing- anything I have tried over the years really! For Sale $2,750AUS

The Waste Not Want Not Traveller's blanket- has been stitched on two layers of dhoti fabric and scraps  from the Stitching Project in India. All fabrics have been indigo dyed or resist printed and have been heavily hand stitched in a warm colour pallette. This piece measures 120 cm x 120 cm ( approx) It is for sale for $3000 AUS

Discovering Australia. At university I studied Australian history and was shocked how little attention was paid to the indigenous history of Australia- and indeed when you  look at the journeys of discovery it was apparent that the explorers were intent on claiming Australia as a Terra nullius- very rarely was local knowledge sought and some of the only times that  indigenous people were of help was to rescue these reckless explorers who thought they could conquer a continent. Each of the circles represents indigenous knowledge and cultural practices- using very simple stitches and the tracks around the circles represent the white explorers who skirted around that knowledge. it measures 47 cm x 90 cm  and is for sale for  $850 AUS

Machine Stitched Pieces

This piece is inspired by olive trees and has been stitched by machine and hand. It measures 57 cm x 28 cm and is for sale for $150.00 AUS  SOLD


Homage to Raoul Dufy and Paris. Raoul Dufy was commissioned at one point to create a cityscape of Paris for a tapestry. I thought it was an amazing project to have undertaken, and of course I love Paris. So I drew the cityscape back to front on papers and transferred it onto Lutradur, and then embellished the whole scene with stitch. I included this quilt in Musing in textile- as maps can take on all sorts of shapes. It measures  79 cm x 86 cm and is for sale for $550 AUS  SOLD

I love tree shapes and am also enamoured of the way foliage was represented in late medieval and early rennaissance times- often trees are given very stylised shapes. This piece is both applique and reverse applique and has been heavily machine stitched. it measures  62 cm x 100 cm and is for sale for $450 AUS

Banksias- my ongoing love of banksias emerges from time to time in a textile piece. This was made for Quilter's Companion Great Australian Quilts 2017  from memory. It is hand printed and appliqued and measures 72 cm x 126 cms and is for sale  $650 AUS

If any of these pieces interests you please email me on

I am also teaching some in the flesh workshops at Open Drawer in Camberwell . On the 5th of July I am teaching form and variation. This is a workshop  in which we do hand stitching and look at all sorts of ways for working with circles ( or squares or triangles- whatever your penchant is )

 On the 6th of July it is Transfer Printing which is a lot of fun. You paint papers with shapes/motifs or even resists and once the papers are dry the  colours are heat transferred onto lutradur , and then we will stitch. You will be able to paint  quite a lot of papers that you can take home and work with later. The Homage to Dufy and Paris quilt above was made in this way.

I will also be teaching the Traveller's Blanket class over a number of sessions so that you can create  your own textile tales and Linocutting and printing in September.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Things Aquatic

Those who follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook May have noticed some photos with things aqautic especially after my visit to the Aquarium in La Rochelle. But to be perfectly honest I did quite a few aquatic things in the late nineties and early 2000's as we often went rockpooling with my daughters  near Apollo Bay or the back beach near Blairgowrie when they were children. One of the aquatic quilts I made I combined machine stitch and hand stitch. The image is entirely created by machine and hand work and it measures 1.50 metres  by 1.2 metres. I don't think I ever  exhibited it as it was purchased by a visitor to my home. In hindsight ( and isn't that a valuable thing- not) I should have exhibited it- never mind. I had been searching for images of it and finally found some in a flickr account I no longer use.

From the dyeing I would say this piece dates from around 2001/2002- the little dots in the background is hand stitching, and looking at it now and given the boat trip I took yesterday to Cadaques- my mind is abuzz with ideas.

I decided to spend a week in Roses on the Costa Brava because suddenly I wanted to be by the sea to breathe it and  to just take in the colours it was also on the way to some teaching I am doing with Rosario Casanovas at her shop in Pals next weekend. I am teaching linocutting  ( Saturday), making a good design for linocuts and then the following day  (Sunday) embellishing the linocut by hand or machine. I believe there are still a few places available if you are interested- you can contact Rosario through her facebook page or simply message me and I will pass it on to Rosario.

So I have been working on a new linocut- around a sea theme and intend to make a series of them which may yet  build into something bigger.

 This linocut was inspired by the visit to the Aquarium at la Rochelle and once I get back to Australia and dye some fabric to suit it , it will be available for sale. I always do a trial print on newspaper- not sure why I started it- might have been what I have available at the time. But I find doing the trail print on newspaper gives me a good feel for whether the graphic qualities of the uis working as it has to compete with the text and/or images in the newspaper. I have been keeping my paper prints with the intention of making a book with them- one day!

Of course I had to include a sea urchin! The shapes of the coral and  life are just weird and wonderful.

Traveller's Blanket On-Line Class

There is still time to join the on-line class to create your own Traveller's Blanket- there is information on my previous post on my blog.  The idea is that you create your own visual narrative using stitch and fabric remnants. I have been teaching this class for a number of years now and am always amazed at how these blankets grow and how  many  get finished and how many wonderful stories  get told in the process. It's a way of showcasing precious remnants ( from your mother's sewing box, or travels ) and give them centre stage so they never have to be hidden away again!

 Some of the travellers' Blankets I have made in recent times when I have been without machine and preparing for an exhibition ( and this work is available for exhibition if any organisers are interested) If you would like to join the class it starts on 17 June 2019- after my return to Australia I can send further information if you message me. Cost for the course is $75AUS and can be paid via the Paypal button below or if in Australia by internet banking.

Last week I stayed with my friend Margo Bimler in Moux in Occatanie and finally  got some machine work done on a quilt i started two years ago when I was demonstrating for Bernina France at Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes in 2017. I store a sewing machine at Margo's house as I seem to be overseas almost as much as I am in Australia. It kind of languished after the event but recently Auriful sent me some more of their wonderful Mako 30 weight cotton thread and I felt inspired to finish the piece ! Thank you Aurifil for your wonderful thread colours!

The quilt measures 76 cm x 94 cm and has  been  entirely free motion quilted- I have embellished linocut panels- the central panel is composed of three prints repeated. The side panels were printed with a shaped pomegranate linocut which I made to  complement the pomegranates in the centre panels. The quilt is for sale for $900 AUS.  I have been looking for  a house to buy once I return to Australia- think - i will need to sell some quilts that is for sure! I really need somewhere where I can work consistently and have a proper workroom set up.