Sunday, December 29, 2019

Welcome to a New Decade

 It has been a pretty horrible and busy year to say the least.  Early in January I finished my radiotherapy, and then it was onto my shed to clear it out as I had sold my block of land, ten years after I put it on the market. I put all my belongings into storage as I had not had the time to look for any other property. My father died  in February whilst I was on Atauro Island and though  he had many illnesses including cancer, it still comes as a shock. After returning to Australia it was straight onto France for exhibition in Chartres and i think that is when the tiredness of the radiotherapy hit- i seem to have done a lot of sleeping apart from attending the exhibition. Then it was back to Australia to welcome the ladies from Boneca de Atauro for them to exhibit their work at the Australian Quilting  Convention in Melbourne and my goodness we had some very busy days! After farewelling them back to East Timor it was back to Nantes for exhibition at pour l'Amour du Fil, some teaching and then some catching up with friends before returning via Barcelona and more teachin near Girona. Then it was back to look for a house- whilst away I had been searching the internet for a house and  after initially  thinking that Churchill in Victoria might be a good spot, but changed my mind when I read that people had died and many houses had been destroyed in the 2009  Black Saturday fires. After living in the Otways since 1996- I did not want to live  in another high fire risk area- so I settled on Morwell, and it has good access to  regular public transport .

 Found a house and was able to get an early settlement and then the job of cosmetic renovation started. The house was and  still is in original condition so with the help of friends two bedrooms and the lounge and kitchen were painted- the hallway and the third bedroom await the peeling of wall paper and then painting. We discovered that the wiring for the lighting was pretty dodgy so the whole electrical circuit for overhead lights needs to be rewired ( which will happen soon) and the gas heater was dead as was the gas stove, so they all needed replacing- the gas heater might have to wait for the time being. Now it appears there is a problem with my drain- have tried all the usual stuff  so it looks like the plumber will have to be called. I have worked at setting up a vegetable garden of sorts but not much other gardening has been done apart from attacking the overgrown  ivy which was threatening to take over my guttering.

I am still sorting through books to take to the opshop and have finally rearranged all my fiction books in alphabetical order- they had got into disarray with all the moves- and are now spread alphabetically over a few rooms.

The wall on this side of the sitting room is still waiting for the installation of art work- every room in the house has picture rails except the lounge. I may  install one of those picture hanging rail devices near the ceiling which would allow me to change things around  as I please and would cause the least amount of damage because the plaster is also circa 1950.

So things were starting to take shape and I was beginning to settle into my home after the paint dried ( which took ages because of winter) and had finally had my furniture moved to the house and was starting to allocate stuff to where it needed to go when my mother had a stroke. Her whole left side was affected and they did the clot retrieval procedure despite mum having had the stroke at least 24 hours prior. I was surprised they did the procedure as I understood the window for the procedure is maximum 15 hours- but the doctor told me because mum had been fit and well and living independently prior to the stroke that they now try the procedure even though the time frame was longer. I would have to say it's been quite a success as mum is back home living independently- with a bit of help but prior to that it was a lot of back and forth to the Monash Medical Centre and then the Rehab Hospital- what a great job all those people do and I am incredibly grateful. So hopefully things will continue to improve and mum should  have back full functionality with a few minor deficits which  they are working on and say can still improve.

However it has meant my year has been extremely fragmented and nowhere near as much work as I had hoped got done. It is a good thing I am used to being frugal and after shed life have decided I can do with a minimum of electrical appliances- so have got a small fridge, but a good washing machine for my dyeing and printing. I have also decided to limit my wardrobe to one chest of  three drawers. I am so used to travelling with a limited wardrobe ( my suitcase is usually full with quilts and such things) that i decided to adapt it in my daily life- my only concession to more space is a few  jackets I  bought when travelling in Syria and two winter jumpers that won't fit into the said drawers. But the rest of the clothing fits and I intend to keep it that way- it's actually quite liberating and not many choices to make! Plus I  am intentionally mending clothes as well especially a few favourite pieces.
My veggie garden is taking shape- and I have already had a meal of beans and zucchini from my little patch. I did buy an advanced tomato plant which has been delivering a tomato every few days , plus rocket and lettuce and herbs. I will grow the garden bigger for next year as i don't particularly enjoy mowing lawns. There will be quite a few plants getting the chop come winter time- I just wanted to see what everything was before I started chopping..

My herb patch- I am battling the ivy and some other invasive spreading thing but I have managed to rescue a bit of soil!

But the year ended on a great up note- my  middle and younger daughter finished their courses this year and are both graduating with Distinction ( as did my eldest daughter a couple of years ago) I am incredibly proud of you all- your work ethic is wonderful and you have worked really hard for well deserved results. Does anyone need a qualified textile designer, I can highly recommend one!

So that was my year in a nutshell-  but there are good things to look forward to in 2020. I will be teaching at Grampians Texture in mid March- my classes booked out quickly thank goodness and I should be teaching at a Slow Stitch Retreat in Ulladulla in late March- but as the area is affected by all the dreadful fires and will remain on alert for the summer- we will see what happens. Then I am off to Moscow to exhibit work at the Moscow Quilt show the second weekend in April and the next week  in the Netherlands  at the Quilt Dagen in Rijswijk. I will also be teaching in the Netherlands in the week after Rijswijk in Schagen- a town very close to the town where I was born. I intend to stay in Europe a bit longer so if you are interested in my teaching in Belgium, France or Spain or Italy please email me. I am working on updating my class samples and adding some new workshops to those that are already listed on my blog. I will be teaching near Girona, Spain in early May  I hope!

I am also working on a heart quilt- which I started on the 1st day of December thinking about how to generate greater empathy and how to be more compassionate. I am surprised at how different each day demands it's heart to be and how much my emotions are playing a part. There is quite a few fiery/smokey looking ones as we watched the Australian bush burn last week with dreadful fires all up and down the coast and with loss of life and property and business. The volunteers do an awesome job and have been exhausted because the fires started early and it is only the beginning of summer- it would be nice if  a few resource and media billionaires ,who claim to have an Australian heart ,saw fit to donate some of their billions so proper equipment could be bought and if our government would actually  provide some leadership- but they are all on leave  after 43 sitting days of Parliament.

So I leave you with a small commission piece I recently finished and some of my hearts that are starting to grow and grow. I wish each and everyone who reads my blog all the very best for 2020- lets hope it becomes the decade of true compassion as we battle to save our planet!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Linocut Printed Fabric

Over the last month or so I have had a number of emails requesting what printed fabrics I have available and I haven't had time to photograph everything. I decided I would put it on my blog as other people might be interested also- as they would make a good Christmas present as they are relatively inexpensive to send overseas. Scroll through to see what prints I have available, there are lots of different sizes.

I hand dye all my own fabric so if there is a colour you would like just let me know and I can dye it and print it up as I am going to be doing a dyeing session on the weekend after visiting my mother in Rehab ( she is improving every day). So if there is a print you like but in a different colour that can be done. I have also included some images of pieces I have myself stitched just to give some ideas, but as I am not really an embroiderer- more of a stitcher- they are fairly basic. It is all about the colour of the thread and  accentuating the lines in the linocut or filling in the space. All the print designs have been  drawn and carved by me, that is,  it is original artwork and has also been hand printed by me.

Please note the size is print size- the fabric is larger  to accommodate seam allowances. Prices are inclusive of postage and packaging. Also because the fabric is hand dyed there may be slight variations in the background colour.

If you are interested in any of the prints please email me. There is still plenty of time to get them to you for Christmas. If you don't see a colour you would like , just ask!

Also as an incentive- everyone who orders before 5 December 2019, will have their name put into a hat, and a winner will be drawn on 5 December 2019 EST . The winner will get four prints of your choice  as a gift.

Tree of Life $28AUS- it is a large print it measures 40 cm x 50 cm- the price is inclusive of postage. You can request any kind of colour ( images of other work show what kind of colours I dye)

It looks good stitched by hand or machine. The one below I stitched by hand. I know  the green of the leaves falls a bit into the background but that was because that was the only green I had with me at the time- I think it would look a bit better in a darker green.

 Lady Without a Donkey  $25 AUS 38cm x 25 cm - price is inclusive of postage. Again if you like the print but don't see it in the colour you would like just ask and I can do it!

The middle  photo is of the panel I have stitched which was shown at the Berry Quilting Retreat earlier this year.

Blackwoods Dancing $23AUS - measures 44 cm x 22 cm

The piece above has been stitched to show you what can be done - the background fabric was pretty nondescript so all the colour comes from the threadwork.

Underwater $23AUS - measures  30 cm x 23 cm ( you can see from the photo below a fair range of colour is available)

I haven't quite finished the stitching the panel below- the background stitching still has to go in , but it gives you some idea of how much the colour of your thread plays a role.

 Babbling Banksia $23 AUS- measures 30cm x 30 cm

The machine stitched version of this print recently appeared in great Australian Quilts 2019- Quilters Companion with instructions on  how to assemble and stitch

Gumnuts & Gumleaves $23 AUS measures 30 cm x 30 cm

Pomegranate ( inspired by a Florentine design) $23AUS measures 30cm x 31 cm

The quilt below has been machine  stitched  and used three of the linocut printed panels.

Copse of Trees $23AUS  measures 30cm x 30 cm
This print can be printed onto any colour background. Unfortunately I have not had the time to stitch this panel as yet.

Renaissance Tree  $17AUS measures 19 cm x 24 cm. This print has been very popular and people have done some fabulous things with it! It was inspire by the Palazzo Davanzati in Florence.

French Roadside Weeds $17AUS measures 24 cm x 19 cm.
I haven't had time to stitch this one yet- one day!

Bird $17AUS measures 24 cm x 19 cm. Inspired by some of the motifs used by the Wiener Werkstatte. I haven't had time to stitch this one either.

Rabbit ( inspired by the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestry) $17AUS measures 24 cm x 19 cm

Shadow Figures $17AUS measures 24 cm x 19 cm
These figures were inspired by a workshop i did near Rimini a couple of years ago where we had to make figures out of shadows cast by foliage.

Vase with Poppies  $17AUS measures  24 cm x 19 cm ( approx)

Motif for Embroidery   $17AUS measures 20 cm x 20 cm. I have used some of these motifs in the traveller's blankets I make.

The  rest of the prints  are much smaller in size - sizes do vary a little from 12-15 cm on any side.

 Sea Scene $8AUS approx 12 cm x 12 cm

Cocteau's Cat $8AUS this print is slightly larger

Pomegranate $8AUS

Hare $8AUS
The hare print is actually double- the stitched piece is one I cut in half

 Owl $8AUS

Thursday, November 07, 2019

I thought I was Going to be Working

On the 19th of October I was having a sort of quiet celebration to myself- I was one year on from my operation for cancer, and everything was looking good so far, I saw my surgeon at the end of September. And then whammo the next day my 82 year old mother had a stroke. She lives independently  and is quite active and has a large garden and walks her little dog daily. Her neighbour found her on the Saturday but we think she collapsed on the previous day- as I had spoken to her on the Thursday evening. So the window for reversal was closed and we waited in emergency for hours- before calling it a day at 9pm as we had a fair drive ahead of us. Mum could not move her left side and  was able to talk sort of but of course there was drooping and other things associated with stroke. They did actually perform  the clot retrieval operation via a stent from her groin. And when I went back to Hospital on Sunday morning- she was finally in a bed ( instead of emergency) and there was a small improvement in  hand movement and speech- but she was still in High Dependency Acute. Daily there have been improvements and she is now in rehab- where they hope to be able to see her return to independent living - and of course mum is hating  the process of how this happens- she never did like hospitals. Movement of her left arm is almost back to normal and she is able to walk and she is able to talk ( a lot!!!)- there are a few memory gaps, and some strange observations from time to time, but all in all it looks as if she will be able to return home and walk her little dog again. However any work came to a screaming halt. Initially I was visiting every day for at least four hours- and I have wound it back a little at present- and finally had two days in a row where I was not going to the rehab- which is about a one and half hour drive from my home each way. So basically I have done no work for three weeks and the two days at home have been lovely but I am feeling a little uninspired to say the least. I have been doing some hand stitching- but not a lot.

I started a little fire piece awhile ago and just finished it today. Fire to me is all about the creative process and I was trying to jump start it. It also signalled high fire danger in the region I used to live in, but with bush fire  season starting very early in  Australia... I am thinking it could be a wider statement about global warming and the risk that entails for every living soul on this earth. It is readily apparent that things cannot continue the way they are and even if you do not believe in climate change (there is plenty of evidence to say that our climate is changing with catastrophic results if we do not do something about it) the reality is that the earth's resources are finite- they cannot be restored once used up- forests take hundreds of years to grow and develop their eco systems, extinct animals cannot return ,air is unclean something that was visibly apparent as I drove to Melbourne, and every day from my kitchen window I see the power plant pumping smoke into the atmosphere as it burns coal.

 It is just a small piece- but earth is burning up under corporate greed and government inactivity. it is time for all of us to live smaller and to consume a little less especially  fast fashion , processed foods, plastics, cars and petrol, building materials ( i am sad to see so many  perfectly fine houses being bulldozed to build more modern and larger  houses  that are often badly insulated despite regulations and are made of substandard materials)

I have also been slowly- very slowly working on another Traveller's Blanket which I am calling One Earth- each circle represents Earth as  it looks form outer space- and each circle is different because the earth is unique and has many unique and wondrous things- things worth saving. I can understand the passion with which young people- and older ones have been protesting- their future is much much different than the hopes I had as a young person- at that time it was protest marches  to end the Vietnam war and fears of  Nuclear war as the Cold War was all too real- and we marched and protested and sometimes it did bring about change.

Things have been progressing slowly at my house- I had hoped to have more done to the garden by now- but the last three weeks  have taken energy elsewhere. I did plant an olive tree and as I was getting out of the car a young man passing by with green hair and many piercings said- hello- I see you have a tree, an olive tree so you must plan to be here awhile.  I said yes and then he told me about a fundraiser  to plant 20 million trees by the years end to which he had made a donation ( I forgot the name the name of the organisation but it is good to hear that  people are mobilising to  counter the damage )

I have been building a vegie patch of sorts- but nothing too large at present as I really want to see how this garden lives, for a year. But I wanted a few basics like salad, tomatoes and cucumbers, green beans and a few other things. The garden  has a few trees, a fejoia, a lemon tree, a mandarin tree ,a loquat tree and a nectarine tree and it seems they chopped down a few fruit trees as the root stock  is going slighly mad.  The garden feels somehow very Italian but  the name of the owners was anything but.

  My vegie patch such as it is- but already I have been  eating rocket salad leaves, the other things will take a bit longer, but  some of the tomatoes are already setting tomatoes so I hope to have tomatoes before I leave to exhibit in Europe in 2020. The photo below is lemons and loquats from  the trees in the back. It is a pity the season for loquats is so short as they do have a very pleasant flavour even though the seeds are large.

Oh and Morwell seems to have roses everywhere- and  there is quite a lot in my garden( not many with fragrance) they are all flowering now and I am enjoying them and look forward to giving them a good prune next year. But it has been  one of the lovely surprises from this house as the bushes looked quite dishevelled  and  not well cared for in the last few years ( as the owner was quite elderly). The weather has been surly so I have been enjoying picking them and putting them in my house. Oh and there is even a straggly bottle brush!

And lastly- there are still changes happening in the loungeroom- I think the modern book case will have to go- it seems too modern, and the spare bedroom will turn into a sort of library room whilst also being a spare bedroom ( I am looking for a house sitter for next year - and you are welcome to stay longer if you want ). I have rediscovered some pieces I had forgotten I had because they have been packed away for so long including this Syrian horse blanket with its gorgeous tassels. I love the deep red and indigo colours and it's transformed the mustard couch into something else again- I think this may stay- and now to work out what to hang on the walls.The blanket animals have been created by Beth and Trevor Reid- I have been quietly collecting them when I have been to the Canberra Quilt Show- they are such fun. And the little baskets in the foreground are by Lissa-Jane de Sailles  ( we are both teaching at Grampians Texture next year) and remind me very much of sea creatures - urchins of sorts. Both have facebook pages if you want to see their work.

So Morwellia is coming along, things are still finding their place and I am still trying to get the hang of this house!