Thursday, March 26, 2020

Self Isolation

 Last week I was teaching at Grampians Textures and it felt like we were in a bit of a cocoon far from the maddening world , until you walked around the town and realised how many visitors there were ( not just at Textures) in this small town and how many were from overseas. The caravan parks were jumping full.  I had lovely  students who took good care to wash their hands frequently and keep the suggested distances which we were able to do as we were in a big class room space. But  on driving home I decided I would place myself in self isolation as I could not go and see my mother  if by some chance i had picked up the virus somehow because in all reality I was amongst people, even walking in the town. And then talking to my mother on the telephone- she tells me people are still seeing  her. What is the point of me self isolating if other people don't adhere. My mother says she is lonely- I understand, but it is the same for everyone and she normally lives on her own and does not associate with many people. I think it is the idea  that we are stuck in our houses that torments us- the idea that we can't go out- but please do not go out. It is ultimately for the greater good She has also refused to get a mobile phone or tablet which make things a bit harder for her still because social media does keep us connected.

And it is not all bad news- there are a couple of interesting groups that have started to focus on creativity and giving prompts to help facilitate making work or sharing work that might have been made in the past appropriate to the theme. It has made me learn a new thing- zoom- which is great if you want to have a virtual group gathering- it really is almost  as if you are sitting in a room with like minded enthusiasts. The group was started by Anne Kempton from Timeless Textiles  and is called Together, We Play It is directed at all people with a creative bent , whether it's fibre, clay , paint, words, poetry. I think it is important to think of alternative ways that we can distract each other from  a period when we are going to have to withdraw from the physical world and yet technology can provide us with opportunities to still connect in real ways. I can also highly recommend Zoom- it's not difficult to use and it is an opportunity to "face" time talk- for example I held a meeting this morning- only one person attended and though I had never met the person before except  in an on-line class- I could see her and her lovely cat and work space- it  returned some sense of normality.

I have been doing quite a lot of stitching and tomorrow promises to be sunny so I will do some silk dyeing. I have been working on my One World Traveller's Blanket- which seems rather apt at this moment.

Of course all my exhibitions and teaching for the next months have been cancelled which makes me super glad Grampians textures went ahead. One of my daughters and her partner work hospitality and they have no jobs at present because of the shut down- so it is tough times for many people- and I don't think our government realises just how many people are in casual employment ( because they have been demounting labour protection laws so the casual workers have no protection, no holiday pay)

I am super glad I made the small vegetable garden that I did. I built it big enough for one person but did plant quite a lot of tomatoes. My cucumbers curled up their toes and disappeared , the zucchini produces small zucchs  which get end rot if not picked when small (one big one and that was it). I thought the capsicums had also gone  the way of the zucchs but have lately decided that they might produce something after all. I had hoped for bumper chillies to make chilli sauce- but whilst I do have chillies they had been a tad restrained. It has not been a great tomato season but I did manage to get enough to make some green tomato chutney and even some passata. We had also remembered to net my mothers blood plum tree so I was able to make her plum confit to have with her yoghurt in the morning and there was a little left over so I could make chilli plum sauce which tastes good on its own with vegetable crudites, goes really well with roasted meats and can be used in stir fries. I also made a lemon chutney as I have a lemon tree in my backyard which has welcomed me with open arms (many lemons). And tonight I am slow roasting tomatoes to make a tomato confit which can be frozen or bottled and added to  all kinds of sauces.

But somehow we have to rethink, and keep making and find a sense of community that helps us all get through this, and be open to doing things differently.  I send all of my readers a huge virtual hug and please let's all do this together!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Traveller's Blanket On-line Class

The month has flown since I last wrote a blog post and the intention had been to post a lot earlier as I am running the on-line Traveller's Blanket class starting 18 March. The class consists of pdf notes and the setting up of a private facebook group for questions and sharing. The idea is that you make your own story blanket with ideas from travels,  remnants of fabric that hold special memories, memories, anything really. It is a very slow process, but the notes take you through the  stitches and ideas I use step by step. it is a very giving process and in the end it's surprising how fast it grows. After my exhibition last year I thought I was over  making such hand stitched pieces for awhile, but then another one itches to be made- which is the heart piece from the previous post.

 I am heading off to Grampians Textures tomorrow to teach a linocutting class and then the Traveller's Blanket class. The event is going ahead thank goodness, because I must admit since my mothers' stroke not much  work got done the first three months as I tried to visit her as much as I could to help with her recovery and now this last month has been all sorts of appointments to really try and work out what is going on and to stabilise her blood pressure. None of the appointments are close by as she also lives in a country area. And really I was only just getting back into full work mode myself after recovering from  the radiotherapy and moving into my house.

  I am also supposed to travel to Russia on 6 April for a Quilt event in Moscow and the following week in the Netherlands at Quilt Dagen in Rijswijk- but the news from Europe does not sound too good and I am wondering whether these events will go ahead. So at present it is a waiting game and it is really affecting my ability to work wondering what will happen. Of course once I know it's a different matter, but it's the waiting that is difficult. Every country needs to do what is best for its people- and flattening the bulge of spread of the virus is very important so that proper medical care can be given.

In Australia some of the logic of people is really questionable- panic toilet paper buying, hand sanitiser, soap- leaving none for those less able  or the more vunerable to shop at supermarkets and  so they miss out- where is that Australian egalitarian ethos ???? there is enough for everybody- just share and think of your neighbour- we have to get through this together! I mean the supermarkets themselves have  had to set limits as to how many packs of toilet paper a person can buy and I heard from an supermarket employee the other day they will not be reiumbursing any money for excess toilet paper packs once things calm down a bit- so I guess there are some  Aussies with a bedroom full of loo paper!

The last weekend in march I am off to the Slow Stitch Retreat in Ulladulla- for a shorter version of the Traveller's Blanket. Here are the details if you are interested :
Marilyn’s “Slow Stitch Gathering” at the Dunn Lewis centre in Udallulla, Friday 27th set up and welcome dinner with classes on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March. I will be teaching my traveller's blanket class,and helping you, create your own story cloths. We will use simple stitches to create a blanket full of the work of your hands and heart. I will bring many of my stitched pieces for inspiration and linocut printed fabrics for sale and my "scrap"bag for class use. Contact Marilyn Stewart on M. 0404061163 or

I still have Bush Sentinelle's available  and remember there is still plenty of time to join this project for the Berry Quilting Retreat in August
I have finished stitching my bush sentinelle, and then I decided I need to make a life size one- she is the sentinelle for Climate Justice.

  So this one is  human sized , and I have made her with lutradur and machine stitch.

Other than that it has been trying to do as much stitching as possible to make new work for the events in Europe- although today I lost gas plot a bit- what if it all gets cancelled???