Monday, December 31, 2018

The Year That Was, Excited for Happy New Year!

Progress has felt slow but in all reality  the health professionals are saying it has been really good. I have 6 days of radiotherapy left to face and so far very few side effects but they say, towards the end it is wearying. I have been keeping very quiet  due to the neuropraxia of my right leg and my broken left wrist so it has meant enforced rest as I could do very little, which of course has had economic repercussions as well. I have had to stay with my daughters since 16 October, as I cannot drive and treatment is in Melbourne in any case. I am now able to walk without a crutch and have been ramping up the walking to build strength again, the goal is to walk a couple of 10,000 step days a week if not most days. I am also able to use my left wrist a lot more, but there is still a way to go, to get full usage back. I think I might be game to drive again in the next week ( i have an old manual car and as my left wrist was broken, gear changing will be an issue)

                            Walking at Brighton Beach yesterday- heading toward the new year!

I have continued to work on my little  thoughts for each day since i first went to the doctor on August the 31st and received the cancer diagnosis a few days later. It has been 123 days since then, and it has had it's dark moments to be sure, but I also discovered that I am looking for and experiencing joy quite a lot, and that I am looking forward to the next year with a quite different mindset and one which is a lot lighter than I might have expected. I really feel working on the little thoughts has helped me focus and has helped me to search for whatever is good in this and has been determined to give everything my very best.

I haven't quite worked out yet, how I will mount them- I had thought of a continuous scroll though the thoughts aren't in any particular order, however that makes it difficult to display. And there will be a few more to add as well. I also though of making an accompanying handmade book that  might also incorporate favourite motifs.

There are quite a few exciting things to look forward to in 2019. I will once again  part of the ChARTres in March of 2018. I will come back to Australia for AQC  in Melbourne to help the Boneca de Atauro ladies showcase their work at a special Invitational stand ( and hopefully sell lots of their work). Depending on how i recover from radiotherapy I will be going to East Timor to help with planning for AQC  in early February and I am  looking very much forward to working with these talented women again. Then it is back to France to show my Traveller's Blankets as invitational artist ( Plaids Nomades ) at  Pour L'Amour du Fil in Nantes and any new work I manage to create by then. So i will be available for workshops in Europe from late April until the end of May.  When I come back from all that I will look for a new place to live- it is too difficult to do it at present and I will put most of my things into storage yet again.

So I hope that 2019 brings the best of everything for the readers of my blog and that you remain in good health and spirit! And again I thank you for all your good wishes- they have buoyed my heart!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Stitching Has Recommenced

I am immensely grateful for all the good wishes I have received- you don't know how much it means and how it adds to my day!  A friend from Canberra, Libby Williams sent this delightful lady angel/woman she made, when I was first in hospital with the hysterectomy and whilst i awaited biopsy results. She has been with me the entire time and is a daily reminder of friendship and good wishes, so thank you Libby she greets me every day!

The neuropraxia in my right leg has continued to improve to such an extent that I am almost game to try and walk unaided- however after having a few falls  ( not recent) your confidence  gets a bit of a shaking up and I still go out with my crutch.

My broken left wrist was reset with a metal plate and it has been quite debilitating and of course I can't drive and am reliant on other people to take me places, as until now public transport has also been out of the question. I naturally do a lot of things with my left hand, though I am not left handed, it really put an end to stitching on my wellness blanket, though I did do some stitching with a frame. My wellness blanket records  the days since my diagnosis with cervical cancer and some of the intervening incidents and I will continue it until radiotherapy has finished and I meet with the gyno-oncology unit at the Women's Hospital at the end of the radiotherapy. The words record the thought for each day ; they are sometimes filled with fear and trepidation and others with hope and even joy and a reminders to keep creative. I have tried to use my own words rather than other people's inspiring quotes, and I have been doing  quite a lot of stitching this last week to catch up the days I missed because the wrist was too immobile to do anything. I should be caught up before Christmas I hope! But it is a funny thing, you simply can't catch it up all in one go, because well the mood of the day really  does play a role in outcome.

The blanket has been a way of focusing thoughts , even the dark ones, committing them to a mark, giving it a place, but not allowing it to overwhelm. I am surprised how well it has worked and  it has given me space to focus on being as positive as I can be, and has even somehow given me a bit of a creativity roadmap. The background in the photo will be changed- I have not quite decided which colour but there is still  4 weeks of radiotherapy left ( they only take off Christmas day) so it will continue to grow as well as catch up the missing days.

Another practice that I commenced at the beginning of the year which has also been quite helpful  for my present experience and is almost a meditative process is rewriting poetry. I rewrite the words of a poet by hand every morning: it's the first thing I do. It started out  as a sort of Book of Hours kind of thing  and getting to know some poetry better, but I have enjoyed the process of simply writing another's words and also feeling, by writing my way through, poetry I might not otherwise have read. So thus far I have worked through Rainer Maria Rilke ( Book of Hours), Wislawa Szymborska ( collected poems) and some poems from Halina Poswiatowska ( an unknown Polish poet to me but found through a poem dedication in Szymborska- and am now awaiting a book by her,  though unfortunately most of her work is in Polish- her work is  heart rending and poignant) and at present, Judith Herzberg ( a country compatriot). Its been a way  to take myself out of myself, and have the thoughts of another start the day.

And last but not least I have sold my shed and block. Now starts the search for elsewhere to live and find a home. My budget is limited, but  you can build a garden and  home anywhere really- just look at cities. It will definitely be in a country area ( i have missed the "bush" these last 8 weeks) My intention is to make it an "art" home filled with things that  inspire me, and warm my soul, and where I can work! My heart would love France, but the reality is that the legal stuff becomes a bit complicated- and i want things to stay simple and not get weighed down by legalities and residence issues.

Meanwhile onward.......

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Stitching One Handed

I want to thank everyone for their continued good wishes and  supportive emails. I am sorry I have not replied but just when I was feeling I was really on the mend last week and getting back to good energy, I fell when I twisted awkwardly and broke my left wrist. So after a night in emergency, the good news was that I would need to go back to hospital to have a steel plate inserted in the wrist as they were unable to set the break  cleanly. So last Sunday it was back to hospital to have the plate inserted, and now I am a one handed and one legged  operator. I must admit frustration at not being able to stitch or indeed do anything much on the computer except with one hand, so you will have to forgive the brevity of this post and also forgive my lack of replies to emails. My radiotherapy starts on 28 November and will go five days a week for 6 weeks.

I had been thinking how i could overcome this one handedness thing and still do some stitching, when I thought maybe i should try a  small freestanding quilting frame. The beauty of having textile friends is that someone was bound to have a frame, so that i could at least try. Sure enough Robina Summers had such a frame, and i have now installed myself on the couch to do some one handed stitching!

The beauty of this is that I have long been an admirer of what I call rough or wild stitching.  And especially so since seeing the work of Indian designer Swati Kalsi with Sujani embroidery. Normally my stitching is very neat, but being one handed means i have much less control as i have to leave a certain amount of slack in the fabric tension, to be able to push the needle under and up again. I am liking the roughness of the stitching and i can see myself doing more of this! I also like that it most definitely seems to have a mind of its own and is taking me whereever.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Life Goes On

Here I am nearly a week post operation and I am still in the hospital. I am recovering well from the operation apart from the fact that somehow a nerve in my right leg was affected which has meant I can't walk and will need rehabilitation. It is not so easy to find a rehab bed so meanwhile I am still in the Royal Women's Hospital.The nursing staff are lovely and work so hard to make all patients comfortable. The view from my window is pretty good and I can keep an eye on those builders on the building site across the road and make sure they are keeping their nose to the grindstone and I can watch the incoming weather. I feel well and will have biopsy results later today. So trying to keep busy awaiting those.

To try and keep busy I have decided to run another on-line  Traveller's Blanket Class which will start on 1 November. I am working on one myself- which  is turning into a bit of a manifesto in keeping to the  creating/art making state of mind whilst I recover. Occasionally I refer to what is happening but mostly  I find myself telling myself to stay alert, to "see", to draw from within and to just stitch. Of course there are many other reasons to make traveller's blankets, as in, recording journeys actually made, creating a memento of family memories, recording a favourite place. There are so many ways to stitch a journey. We are not all wordy people, and more and more I am finding that stitching is expressive of what is within and as I have watched people make their own blankets in various classes each is so different and so must more than simply recording.

If you would like to join please message me. The cost is $75 and I set up a private Facebook group for discussion and sharing your stories and work.

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.