Friday, 31 March 2006

Playing with French Knots


I've been playing with French Knots on the bottom left-hand corner of my class block. I know it looks like the silk ribbon flower is the main focus, but I was having fun re-visiting a method I use of adding background flowers. In this case I was using perle 8 crochet cotton (the white), and a large needle.

The flower spike (best seen on the top left of the arrangement) has a four-wrap knot at the base, then a three-wrap, two-wrap and one-wrap knot. (Jenny Bennett, who taught me stumpwork, would always insist a French Knot was two wraps). Then the spike finishes with a strait stitch. Curve the whole lot, following the line of the "stem", and I like it very much.

The perle 8 gives a lovely, fat little knot - and is the cheapest of threads.

The set for this block on Flickr is building up nicely, and the end is coming into sight.

But needless to say - the button cluster in this picture isn't finished yet.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Beatiful work

Do pop over and have a look at the work of Muriel2006 on Flickr. I remember the All that Jazz block, but there is also some other lovely work there - one you will recognise Julia, as similar to something you have done.

Muriel2006 is from France.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Class Block progress II

Not much stitching around here lately - life has been getting in the way. But I have done a little work on the central section - with a larger bead flower. The pearls in this are from an old necklace, so are mixed sizes.


And here is a close-up


With the usual caveat - none of this is finished. Please imagine the pair of scissors above her head. And a lot more work on the button clusters.

Here I was basically trying to break up the strong perpendicular line behind her back, and blend the doiley in a little more. There is still more I have to do there.

Someone asked on my last post for instructions - trust me, they are there. Have a peep.

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Button Cluster II


I am still at work on the same button cluster on my class block, but am pleased to report my experiment worked. I was suddenly struck by the idea of working what I call a variation of the Nancy Eha bead flower (she taught me it). It goes partially over the top of the cluster, anchoring some of the points through the holes in the buttons.

Now, I really wish I had thought of this earlier, as this one is a little cramped. But I will remember it in future.

The way this one is worked is a centre (a tiny gold bead in this case) is sewn on. Then each petal is:

Come up through the fabric next to the centre. Pick up six beads. Very small faux pearls in this case. Go around the sixth and back though the fifth. Pick up three more beads. Go back through the first, and then through the fabric. Anchor the sixth bead to the fabric/button where you want it to stay, pushing back a tiny bit towards the centre, so the petal stands up a little. Go on to the next petal.

There are all sorts of variations of this - it can be worked with any number of beads, just remember the second pickup is three less than the first pickup.

I have other versions of this flower I am due to work in other spots on the block - right now I am really enjoying working on each piece in great detail, and without hurrying.

And no - this cluster isn't finished either.

Classes coming to an end

The classes at Joggles with sharonb are coming to an end - and I am one of the ones that won't have my block finished at the end - but it is very close. I may even get some stitching time on it today. There is something special I want to try. And there was never any expectation we would have a block finished to "hand in" at the end, anyway.

Many of the class are moving over to the new Flickr group Crazy Quilting, which Sharon has set up - and there are enough pictures on there now for it to be worth popping over to have a look.

It is an open group, anyone can look at the pictures, and anyone can join - you do not have to have been in the class. To quote Sharon - The only rule as such is that the image and discussion must relate to crazy quilting at the design, work in progress or completed stage.

I'm back off to my block.

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Heart for Jan


This is my finished "filler" block for M2's Hearts for Jan quilt.

I'm not sure I'm happy with the blank centre, but my idea was to try and run the eye around the block, rather than go "boing" for the centre.

And I think, being a "filler" block, the idea is it should not be a star in its own right.

So it is on the way, M2.

Friday, 24 March 2006

Button Cluster


This is for Jo in New Zealand.

Ages ago I sent you a squishie in which I threw some single tatted (not tattered) flowers, with a note I would explain later. I make them to use up the leftover thread on the shuttle.

Well, much later you can see how I use them here. I sew both ends through the fabric and have a little flower - you can see two white ones in the edges of this cluster. Sometimes I add a bead to the centre. But this cluster is a WIP (or should that be a SWIP - slow work in progress?). So it isn't finished yet.

The other way I use them is on seams, especially on top of Chevron stitch, where others might use cast-on stitch. I was going to do some of that (the cast-on) on this block, but couldn't find anywhere at the end. I've never done it like that, only used a double cast-on on my Country Gardens sampler.

The other thing I was going to show off - I cannot remember which decade it was when I last painted my fingernails - but I sure have some nice nailpolish for buttons (although it can peel off if I'm not careful). That area where the pink flower is now was just begging - I did it with a toothpick. And the natural boundaries should keep the polish on there.

And I've found my tiny pearl beads - they're next on here.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Heart block Mark II


Well, here goes again. This is what I think I am doing - working again from what I already have pieced in my stash. This was a demo block that has never gone anywhere.

It is intended to be one of the "filler" blocks, that goes between the Heart blocks, which will be backed on white/cream.

EDIT - for anyone having a fit. This is a drawing on a scanned picture of the block - it is on paper, not on the actual block itself.

Hearts for Jan


Hearts for Jan guidelines don't fit the Heart I am making. So that one goes back into the UFOs, and I need to find something that fits.

Think it is going to be a six inch CQ block - I can find something else in my UFOs that can be quickly converted.

And then I can just embroider a Heart on top.



Maureen in Queensland is collecting Hearts for Jan, a friend who has been affected by the recent cyclone. I'm having trouble linking to the exact post, but there are details on this blog.

So I have quickly dug out the Heart above (it is useful to have ready-pieced Hearts handy), and this is where I am up to


Wednesday, 22 March 2006


Now, there is not a lot going on here, and I am the last person to get into jokes on the internet....

But this one was too much for me (it was actually on the local radio)

A couple in their late fifties were in a romantic restaurant, celebrating thirty years of marriage.

Suddenly, a tiny fairy appeared on the table, and, in celebration of their faithfulness to each other over that period of time, offered them one wish each.

First she turned to the wife, who said "I would like a round the world cruise with my wonderful husband".

In a flash of light, two cruise tickets appeared in her hand.

Then the fairy turned to the husband. And he said "Look, I love you dearly, but this is a chance that only ever comes along once. I would like a wife thirty years younger than me".

The wife and the fairy were distressed.

But a wish is a wish.

In a flash of light, the man was 89 years old.

The moral of the story is: Husbands who are real bastards should remember that fairies are female.

(This blog loves her DH, and men in general, especially those who would never make a wish like that. But it was too good to pass).

Back when I get time to stitch.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Class Block Progress

Here is the current state of my class block.


There is a large one HERE.

The buttons are now loosely attached, and waiting for decorative stitches and beads.

There is some modified Chicken Scratch in pink across the blue at top left.

I have been working on the lace above the woman’s head – but there is more to come.

And the scissors are just tacked on. The sewing machine with charms at top right is a broach I was considering, but something else has happened since that makes that placement difficult. It may actually go much higher, and across the boundaries of the block, once it is sashed. Blocks make a good place to store broaches when they are not in use – so it can be added at the last minute.

What else is new???? I think that might be it. No – I have been playing with trying to extend the circles of the hairpin lace doiley. Have a few ideas for the doiley – I seem to work on a section at a time, and it isn’t time to work on that yet.

And this is only the centre section that fits on the scanner with a large, cumbersome tapestry hoop sewn to it top and bottom. But there isn’t much missing.

The scanner definitely does provide much clearer pictures.

My present quandary is that there is so much more I want to add. And there is no room – and this is a 12 inch block! Last lesson comes out later this week – there is no way I am going to have this block finished when classes finish – but that was never the aim or expectation anyway.

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Birch Haberdashery

I've been asked elsewhere for more details of my craft tote, so I went searching - and had to admit I knew very little about Birch.

You can see more details of the bag HERE, about half way down the page. It was interesting to find they are a family firm in Heidelberg West in Melbourne, but are also in New Zealand and Singapore. Unfortunately they are wholesale only - it doesn't look like you can order single orders over the web.

New purchase

I have bought myself a luxury.

At the minute I am running all around the countryside, and am often sewing where my stash is not. So I needed something that would take sewing tools (ie scissors, needles etc) plus "“project stash", chosen buttons, beads, matching threads and ribbons etc.

Until now I have worked with a much-loved old small suitcase in very good leather -– but the corners are showing damage from the poor treatment it is getting, plus things are beginning to congregate on the bottom, and not be easy to find. The other day I think I got a glimpse of one of the lost tribes of Israel in there.

So I have finally bought myself a Birch craft bag - which is not cheap -– and I think it will solve my problems.

The bag looks like any shoulder bag:


But opens out inside to give four single-sided "“pages"”, plus two more pockets on the inside of the covers. Plus two more pockets outside.


The inner pages are stuck in with Velcro, and lift out to lay flat so you can easily look from one to another as you work.


My one reservation is that I am not sure the plastic, plus plastic zips, are going to stand up to the hammering I am going to give them.

But we will see. I have already developed a practice of putting the scissors inside the needlebook in case they puncture the plastic.

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Breast Cancer Block finished


I am sending off my Breast Cancer raffle block - I had dearly wanted to get a stumpwork dragonfly done to sit on the top of the heart, just above the rose, but haven't had a chance.

You can look at the process in the Flickr Set (click on each to enlarge).

It is off to the USA now, to go in a quilt that is raffled to raise funds for Breast Cancer research, but also to help raise funds to help crazyquilters travel to the major retreat over there. I'm not sure how many there are from Australia - which is why there is the threepence on there with teh Australian Coat of Arms.

And, for those who haven't followed the process - the black on the heart is a modified form of Chicken Scratch, with the crosses first worked on waste canvas.

Friday, 17 March 2006

Auditioning Buttons


I have been auditioning buttons for my class block - although a few had moved about before the photo was taken (ie the pink one in the middle of an acorn, isn't in real life. Trust me.).

In this case I was trying to use only the 1950s style, especially some I bought recently. And I am going for three groups, all in the bottom half, which will make the bottom "heavier", but that is fine with me.

In each case I am using them to cover a problem, and it does seem to work.

I have also been trying to work out how to work with the hairpin lace (which is what the doiley is to the left of the woman). I am still toying with how to add some SRE flowers there as well - I have been trying to avoid making them look like angel's wings, being behind her back!

The blue flower beneath the rose, and the bunch of roses on the central print, are also new.

There are some ideas running around that I can do for the top, but I want to get some beading done first. And I need to get some pink and green in the top left corner. And there is now something different in the top right corner, since this pic was taken.

In fact - the block has changed one heck of a lot since my first sketch.

Dale Rollerson is blogging

Oh Wow!

Was just having an insomniac web-surf, and found that Dale Rollerson of The Thread Studio in Perth (Western Australia) is blogging.

Amazing what you find in the list of members for Bloggers who Embellish. Newest ones are generally at the end of the last page.

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Class Block

Not a lot happening on my class block - and no access to a scanner to give a better picture:


I have been knocking back the blue braid on the left (but it is going to have a button trail over it), filling in the acorns, and working on the point of the doiley above the rose.

A twelve-inch block really does need large motifs - painting with a broad brush. This will change radically when the beads and buttons hit the deck.

Postings will still be sparse for about a week - real life taking precedence.

Saturday, 11 March 2006

Sampler Framed


My Country Garden sampler is finally framed and home. Yep - that UFO is really finished.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Moving to the Big League


Life is hectic here (and on dialup, which doesn't help!), so this is just a quickie.

I have moved my 11.5 inch block on to a tapestry frame, to try that out. The six inch job is just not working for me on a block this big. Time will tell if it works.

I am still filling in my acorns - this block is BIG, so I am using BIG bits in it - with a bit of "I Spy" to come in later. (See, Sharon, I read my notes).

And there is a failure of a machine in the bottom pink but - need to solidify it, and make it lighter.

Back in a few days .....

International Women's Day


Today is International Women's Day

This blog subscribes to equal access to all things, for all people.

For the younger readers, I am from a time when it was a matter of great surprise for people that I, as a single woman, was able to get a loan in my own name to buy a house. I only got it because I knew a sneaky way to get it from the Superanuation Board - banks wouldn't give house loans to single women.

Things have changed. They need to change more, but they have changed.

It would be nice to see more men stitching, too.

Sunday, 5 March 2006

Gone Fishing

This blog has "Gone Fishing".

Not sure when it will be back.


Representing Sewing Machines


I have been off making a little sewing machine on my class block.

This is an adaptation of the one M3 discovered and made for me.

And, if you look really, really carefully - it is a purple, green and white quilt being sewn on it.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

First All That Jazz finished

The first of three quilts for All That Jazz (the invitee blocks), has been finished. Annie has done a wonderful job on these.

You can see the finished quilt HERE on Flickr.

Cultural Values in Textiles

There is a timely post on sharonb's blog about the cultural value of textiles. If you go to this post you will see the cultural textile that is currently at my place.

It is a very degraded signature cloth, on an equally degraded back, with very degraded sides.

The dilemma I face, is what do I do?

If the cloth is merely a document, I should maybe very carefully photograph and document all signatures, and then just throw it out. (I can hear screams). (And, in passing, the museum it has been handed to is in the original old church this cloth was made for in 1918).

If, however, it is an artifact, not just a document, that people will seek to interact with, I should preserve/conserve (but not restore) it.

To a degree I can do this by carefully stitching it to a supportive backing (with the interestingly hodge-podge back covered). The stitches should be able to be seen, so that it is obvious this is a modern protection. But the thread should blend. I think. Or I might go the full way and actually stitch straps of bias on top, as thread will just rip the already rotten cloth.

Or, I should carefully take off the back (if it is possible), and stitch both front and back onto separate supports, using bias tape. Then both can be seen and supported.

And the red edges? Very badly degraded, nothing to document - if I remove them I can better preserve the centre. But that removes some of the history of the object. I don't think putting new red edges on is an option.

The whole gets stored on an archivally correct cylinder, and archivally covered - but it sure is providing a real headache as to what happens with it.

Then, museum theory says that all objects are documents anyway, as they all tell us something ..... But the conservation of textiles, especially in small country museums with no funds, real expertise ot proper storage areas, is a whole horror area.

And I need to be elsewhere, rather than rabbiting on here!

Friday, 3 March 2006

Stitching Along II


Not a lot happening here on my class block. Stuffy, the Stitching Suffragette Dragon thinks there should be more by now. (Thanks to Mary Frances for "Stuff the Magic Dragon" or similar. Stuffy actually nicked one of my Suffragette broaches, and advised me she preferred to be known as "Suffy", but I am ignoring that).


So far, I have worked on:

The ivory section with the rose - I unpicked small sections of seams and put the ivory ribbon in there, then used waste canvas to add the rose on top. I often "cheat" and add lace and ribbon like this after I have pieced - then the seam embellishment holds them in there. Have a peep HERE at what that section looked like before.

This block is a bit of challenge. I am working on it as "Homage to my Sewing Machine", and trying to keep away from excessive floral "prettiness" - almost making it a working block, in keeping with a woman in an apron - in the kitchen rather than the drawing room.

But I have to allow her one rose - there would always be one on the window-sill.

And I have been shopping - and have some braid and ribbon to play with. Then I went searching for a very small pair of embroidery scissors I have had put aside for a while - with no luck. So this is a normal pair, from my late M-I-L's stash - just to put a little of her, as a wonderful seamstress, in there. I am moving them around a lot, as they are a very strong element, but also very powerful.

And a bit of blue tatting, top left, where I am working on breaking up a very contrasty seam. And that is it - better get my skates on.

At this point, I would give absolutely anything to get my hands on one of the old pink cloth tape measures - no prizes for guessing why. If anyone can find one in a junk shop, I am prepared to pay, and make up a very special squishy as well .....

Anyone seen one around anywhere????

And, I need to add the idea is not mine - this work by Laurel, one of my former students, is my inspiration:


And, when I went looking for this photo, for the tape measure, I find the almost exact same pair of scissors.