Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Cabin fever

We are adjusting to being in a one bedroom apartment in town while waiting for our coast house to be finished. It is a bit cramped, although during the week, we just get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, get up again, etc. Weekends are a bit more of a drag -no garden, no sewing room - no room, period! So last weekend I grabbed the chance of a last minute sign up to a fabric painting class that Helen Godden was giving here in Canberra. Good fun. This piece looks like it could do with a good iron - but in fact, the fabric is perfectly smooth.

The scrunchy effect is achieved with the paint. The paints we used are finely milled acrylics from Genesis Creations . They don't change the hand of the fabric like the thicker acrylic paints, and are easy to use. This piece was sort of tie dyed to give the flower effects. I think this one will be good to do some machine stitching on to bring out the 'flower' centres and highlight the petals.

The next one was fun to do - some judicious manipulation of the wet fabric - I can see this technique has potential for creating cosmos type pieces- er, cosmos as in the universe, not those yellow flowers!

And the usual salt techniques work great.

The final piece was painted onto good old unwashed cheap as chips, calico. This will be good for practicing some machine quilting.

My husband was quite impressed when I showed him what I had done, commenting, how did you do that, you can't paint for nuts?? (!). Well, that just goes to show what a good teacher Helen is - and I must make the disclaimer that the flower in the last piece was traced off a drawing of hers - and all I had to do was colour within the lines - Karl is quite right, I can't draw for nuts!!

So that filled up Sunday.

Saturdays are spent for the most part at my daughter's place where I take my washing as we don't have a washing machine in the apartment. It means I get to spend some time each week with the little fellow who is quite a delight.

Drool and all! (click for closeup). Definite signs of being a redhead- those Irish genes on his mother's side are exerting themselves.

As for the coast house - well, it is coming along. The external cladding is finished and this scaffolding should be coming down any day now.

The 20,000 litre water tank looks like a spaceship has landed. Rather inconveniently, it has been placed (by a large crane, apparently) exactly on the spot where it needs to be dug in - but the builder seems unfazed, assuring us that they'll just roll it out of the way when it comes time to dig the hole. Hope it doesn't roll down the hill and take a number of tourists out before coming to rest on the beach!

This is the view from the street side. Those blue bits will be rendered and painted.

While we were down last we decided to recover our pelican from the gallery. The Christmas/summer holiday season is fast approaching and the town gets very busy - we didn't want to risk them selling our pelican to someone else (again!). So we walked in and said, we have come to collect our pelican, and the guy (not the one who sold it to me), said, okay, let me help you carry it to the car (it is very heavy). And off we went - no ID, no receipt, no request to prove that we are the rightful owners! They obviously do things differently in the country.

He is keeping us company in the apartment for now.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Making progress

We had an extra long weekend away down at the coast to check on progress of the house and just relax. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time, and was unseasonably cold - bloody freezing in fact. I felt sorry for all the campers - it is school holidays and there were lots of family groups - imagine being stuck inside a tent for days on end with restless children and nothing but rain, rain, rain - and very cold rain at that. Ugh, doesn't bear thinking about. I did get quite a bit of handsewing done on my octagon blocks, so all was not lost.

They have started cladding the house, although if we keep getting rain this month, as forecast, that will slow progress down. Our hopes of being in by Christmas were (gently) dashed by the builder - we might just squeak it, but we'd rather wait and move in with absolutely everything finished so we can just kick back and enjoy, not spend the first month rushing around finishing landscaping etc.

Sometime back I spied this fellow in a local gallery. He is the work of a local(ish) artist from Bermagui, Murray Ambler. I just love him. We always see pelicans on our walks and rides around the inlet. They hang around where the fishermen come in to clean their catch as they know they will get the fish carcasses. Here is the real thing doing an amazing balancing act.
We watched him glide in gracefully and make a perfect landing on this light. They are very big birds - our sculpture is life size and very heavy, given that it is made of recycled junk yard metal. I do rather like him though - we just have to decide where he is going to go exactly - in the meantime, the gallery is babysitting him for us. Although that caused a few problems as the weekend I bought him, the fact that he was sold didn't filter through to some of the other gallery staff and they promptly sold him to someone else. Fortunately, the artist kindly agreed to make another one for me, even though he is apparently 'over' doing pelicans and has moved on to other things.
We did have a couple of days - or parts of a couple of days when it stopped raining and the sun peeked out, although it was still cold. Here is Mt Dromadery - called Gulaga by the local aborigines - guarding Wagonga inlet - a pristine body of crystal clear water where oysters are grown.
This is looking north along the beaches of Kianga and Dalmeny. Can't wait until we are living there fulltime - can you blame me?!!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A picture of innocence

The grandbaby was baptised on Sunday - here he is being held by godmother, Auntie Clare, with proud parents (and godfather) looking on.

He is wearing the family christening robe knitted by my mother - very fine, lacey wool. Jus as well, as Canberra (and much of the rest of SE Australia) was bloody freezing! Some spring weather.
His mum and aunties wore it before him - he is he first of the next generation.

The continuation of a family tradition.
That's a good thing.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Making more progress

Another visit to the coast this weekend to check on progress. The roof is on and the windows are in, so it is starting to look more like a real house. We can get a good sense of the proportions now too - its very different looking at something as a drawing then seeing it in 3-D - that type of spatial thinking has never been my strong point. The first shot is from the street side, and the second is from the beach side.
Lengthy discussions with electrician and plumber on power points, switches, siting of the shower heads and the mechanics of wall hung toilets. I was quite exhausted at the end of the day!
Karl couldn't resist setting up his telescope to check out the view - saw lots of humpbacks frolicking off on the horizon - the juveniles are still very far out, still a few weeks before the mums and calves start migrating close in to shore - then you can easily see them, and what a delight they are.
Just after we got home I got a call from daughter number 2 to look after Lincoln for an hour or so while she and Dad went to the gym, so I took the opportunity to take a snap - now three months old, and being baptised next weekend - should look angelic in the family heirloom christening gown.

I managed a little stitching on my octagon quilt blocks - must find out what the name of that pattern is.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Lots of progress

No posts for ages because we have been computer-less at home and it has been hectic getting the house ready for sale. It went on the market last week and sold straight away - yipee!!

We went down to the coast to check on the new house in mid August - couldn't upload pictures before. Here is the view from our bedroom (click for larger picture).

We couldn't resist setting up a couple of folding chairs and checking out the view from the living area. Since then the roof has gone on and the windows are in. We are going back down next weekend so will have more photos then.

Selling our existing house has been a big relief - we are exhausted with the effort of getting it ready,but well worth it. Now we will be sort of camping out while we are between houses, living in a one bedroom apartment in town during the week and going down to the coast at weekends. I managed to squirrel away a hand work project, which I thought I had inadvertently packed, but it turned up today, so I plan on doing some hand pieceing on a quilt I started earlier this year.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Going, but not gone!

I had some enthusiastic ladies turn up bright and early on Saturday and they happily relieved me of $1200 worth of stuff - so a $120 donation went off to breast cancer research this morning.
Still a lot left though, so I have put an ad in the local paper for a general garage sale (all the house stuff) plus my craft stuff for next Saturday. Hopefully that will clear out the rest.

It is quite cathartic getting rid of stuff. Several people held up treasures on Saturday and said, how can you bear to let this go? Well, it - whatever it is - has been hanging around a long time and I don't seem to have used it, so doubtless, won't miss it! And it is good to know that surplus 'stuff' is going to a good home where it will be properly appreciated, rather than just stuffed in a cupboard.

My next door neighbour's daughter came by with her pocket money and agonised for ages over which buttons to buy - I had no idea she collected buttons - and she had no idea I had such a treasure trove!

The house is slowly emptying - including the eviction of mother (and father) and child on Saturday to their own home. One more big push on Saturday and the house will be clear for the painter to come through and paint from top to bottom.

We tossed up for sometime about whether to replace the carpets and in the end decided not. We will just get them cleaned. I felt vindicated in that decision when my neighbour told me that the house on the other side of theirs went to market recently having been recarpted by the owners beforehand - the first thing the new owners did was rip it all up and put their own choice of carpet down. What a waste! Same thing with curtains. We got some new ones made for a couple of the rooms that really needed them. The curtain people said they often go back to houses where they have recently put up new curtains before it was sold, and the new owners get rid of them and choose something else. Where do all those new carpets/curtains end up? Landfill?? It is quite depressing really.
On a not depressing note, house prices seem to be really recovering well - a house in our suburb just went for a lot more than I thought it would, and it isn't nearly as nice as ours!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sale of the Century - Everything must go!

Okay, the time has come - everything has to go! Click on any picture for a closer look
EVERYTHING you can see in these photos, with the exception of the two bookcases and the tables is for sale. All the artwork on the walls, all the books/magazines on the bookcases, everything.

I have two antique (Depression era) quilts, one fairly worn, the other in better condition, except for the binding which is worn.

An almost complete set of Quilting Arts magazines - starting from issue 5 (I did used to have from Issue 1, but heaven knows where they went!), up to latest issue, all $5 each. First 14 issues of CPS, same price.
Tons of books, very reasonably priced - on embroidery, patchwork, quilting, paper arts, collage, design, etc etc. Some lovely big coffee table books on quilts.

Fat quarters, beads, charms, buttons and doo-dads for crazy patchwork, embellishing. Embellisher packs of wool, silk tops, silk hankies and other felty stuff.
Kits, patterns, doll making supplies (particularly hair).
LOTS of dressmaking fabric in 2.5 - 5m lengths, all $2 a metre.
Tons of gorgeous moire taffeta in lovely colours for silk ribbon embroidery, crazy patchwork, making cushions, etc.

Folk art decorations, framed artwork including cross stitch and embroideries. Lots of frames and mats to frame your own work.
American Girl doll and five outfits). Patchwork teddy and other decorator items made from old quilts.

Christmas ornaments. Bundles of stuff - fine Italian men's suiting, wool, demin, tulle, glitzy stuff, patchwork bundles in themes - Debbie Mumm, kitchen/household themed, sea/fish/boats, blokey stuff, with tools etc.

Okay - you get the idea. All this stuff has to get sold, it is NOT coming to the coast with me.

Sale is on Saturday, 1 August, from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm, at 12 Gleadow Street EVATT.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Moving ahead

Here is the beginnings of our new house. We have waited a long time for this, and it is quite exciting to see it take shape. Click to enlarge to get a good look at the view.

However before we get to move there, we need to clear out our current house. While I haven't posted for a while it doesn't mean that I have been idle. In fact I feel quite overwhelmed by the amount of work necessary to declutter a large house that we have lived in for the past 14 years - that's the longest we have ever been in one place. When Karl was in the army we moved every two or three years. This weekend I have to tackle the linen cupboard. I am being ruthless. All those mismatched pillow cases and dated doona covers are going. I have splurged at the seemingly endless mid year sale at David Jones and stocked up on stylish new linen in taupes and caramel with real linen/cotton textures and weaves. I figure a brand new stylish beach house deserves brand new stylish furnishings.

We have lots of stuff to get rid of before the painter comes to paint the house from top to bottom - that will take 2 and a half weeks.

I am getting ready for a big sale of craft/quilting stuff the first weekend in August. Again I am being ruthless, culling my craft book collection by over a half. I really need to focus and do my own thing from here on, not keep dipping into this and that.

The darling boy is growing like a week. Stacked on 625g in the first two weeks of life. Here he is with Mum at one week. Must get some more recent photos. The photographer daughter hasn't been back since this was taken. But she is doing cute photos of other babies, check out her blog on the right hand side bar - Clare Metcalf Photography - if you are in Melbourne, she's the one to book for your wedding, babies or whatever.
Right - back to sorting, culling, clearing, tossing stuff. Where did it all come from, I wonder?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

At last!

Lincoln Karl Gates, born 7.30 pm Monday 8 June 2009, 9lbs 6 oz - better late than never.
Welcome to the world, darling boy.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Waiting, waiting................

No sign of the grandchild yet. He was officially due on Saturday. I was hoping for yesterday, 31 May, as that would have been my mother's 90th birthday. This photo was taken when she was about 3. What a different world it was then. She was born just after the end of the Great War. When she was born we didn't have antibiotics - a simple infection could kill. In her lifetime she saw the introduction of television, space travel, computers.......what a very different world it was then. I wonder how much change my grandchild will see in his lifetime - and how much will be for the good and how much otherwise?

Monday, 25 May 2009

I give up!

Right, that's it - I give up on the damn ripple rug thingie from last post. I simply cannot get it. The first couple of rows I was one stitch out, and I fudged it at the end, but by about row 10 I was about half a pattern repeat out, and I have no idea how that happened. I am obviously not suited to this kind of thing, so will I persist until I get it right?? No, of course not, I haven't got time - the baby is due on Saturday and I was getting RSI from wrangling with the damn thing.

So, I have resorted to good old granny squares instead. Seeing as how I am going to be a granny, I think that is quite appropriate. Also, they are quick to do, if I make a mistake it is immediately obvious, and they grow in a satisfying little pile with seemingly little effort, unlike the other thing, which I won't mention again.
I unexpectedly spent the weekend at a workshop with the lovely Beth Miller. I signed up through Canberra Quilters at the beginning of the year, on a whim, then forgot about it. I heard that the class was full and there was a waiting list, and as I didn't hear anything, I assumed that I had missed out and was on the wait list. Then I got a phone call at lunchtime on Saturday from the convener asking me where I was! The confirmation and class supply list went astray somewhere in the mail - good old Australia Post. Anyway, the class was being held in a hall not far from where I live, so I hopped in the car and went to see what was going on.

We were doing the landscape class which was great fun. Here is my little piece - it needs the shadow for the big tree plus stitching of course to integrate that grass in the foreground.

Beth is the most amazingly generous teacher. She let everyone handle and photograph her quilts and seeing some of her famous quilts close up was a delight - especially her famous image of the swagman - it is all done in quite heavy wools, and hand quilted - amazing!

She had a couple of pieces of wonderful rust dyed fabrics which she had heavily stitched

She also put me onto a wonderful fabric paint that doesn't change the hand of the fabric - Hi Strike - I am going to give it a go.

We also had a discussion on the the health and safety risks involved in some textile work, in particular, the vexed question of how to neutralise bleached fabric. There are a number of sources which say to use vinegar to neutralise. However there are others - somewhat more authoratative in my view - which say absolutely not.

Even bleach alone is not as benign as many people think. Just because we all have it in our homes doesn't mean it is safe or harmless. If you are going to bleach fabric, especially if you plan on spraying it about, please take the time to research the risks and the best way to mitigate those risks. And don't think one of those white dust mask things from the hardware store will do when it says to use a mask. Those are only intended to stop particles of dust etc from entering, anything that produces fumes needs a far more serious mask with filters appropriate to the chemicals being used.

Okay, here endeth the lesson - just don't take risks with your health for the sake of your art.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Catching up

It's been a while since I posted, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy!

At the end of April we spent five days at the coast relaxing after a very busy time at work for me - long days and sometime nights - the worst was working until 2.00 am one night then having to be back in the office next (the same?) morning. Ridiculous - so when all that nonsense ended I had five lovely days relaxing at our soon too be new home town on the south coast. Big seas the day we arrived.
I spent many happy hours sitting in the autumn sun, protected from the wind on the verandah of our now demolished house, looking out at this view.

This house is now gone - and construction has started on our wonderful new home.
We are off down for a few days at the beginning of June, so hope to see some developments - probably just a big hole in the ground, but that's okay!

While sitting on the verandah of the old house I whiled away some time on a crochet ripple blanket. They seem to be all the rage at the moment, and I got the bug from this wonderful website. Do spend some time browsing and checking it out - lovely, bright, colourful stuff!

Anyway, it didn't look too hard, and I now know a double from a treble, thanks to getting a learn to crochet book so I could figure out what to do when I took a scrumbling class from Prudence Mapstone about five years ago.

However, I have to say this thing nearly had me stumped. I counted and counted and cast on and ripped out so many times over five days I nearly went crazy, I simply couldn't get the pattern to work out - which, I hasten to add, was entirely due to my stupidity, absolutely nothing to do with the clarity of the instructions!

In the end I resorted to drawing my own diagram and counting it out to get it into my head how it worked and then had to use these little counter thingies. EVENTUALLY - I managed to get going - I do appear too be one stitch out at the very end of the row, but I am kind of fudging that.
And why am I making a ripple blanket? Well, my first grandchild is due in a couple of weeks, and it is winter here now. I have made him a quilt, but thought a warm wool blankie to bundle him up when he goes from the house into the car or whatever would be good. The only other wooly thing I had on the go was some scrumbling in pink and green, which would have been fine if he was a girl, but apparently he isn't. So the colour scheme was inspired by this mobile, which his mother bought for his room.
At one point while I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out the ripples, I decided to take a break and have a go at the hexagons that are also on Attic 24's website. Alas, this caused me even more griefr - again due to my complete stupidity and lack of understanding of how crochet patterns are written. This is what the pattern says:
So this is the pattern for round 2::
Chain 2, then 1 US dc/UK tr in same
stitch. Chain 1.
Work a bobble stitch into next stitch as described
then chain 1 to space.
Repeat 10 more times until you get back to
beginning and have 12 "bobbles" in total. Join round with a slip stitch
into the
2nd stitch of the initial chain 2.

I NOW know that in crochet, the two or three chains that you do at the start of
a row are instead of the treble/double or whatever, but I read "Repeat 10
more times" as meaning repeat everything from the start of the instructions,
not repeat the bobbling bit. Anyway, after more hair tearing I finally
figured that bit out - and I vaguely remember reading about that in my
how to crochet book, which I didn't have with me. But eventually, I
produced this

Ta daaaa!! Clearly I need to get my head around this crochet stuff a bit better. My mother crocheted and it always seemed pretty straightforward to me, but I have been brought low by my hubris and now realise there is more to it than meets the eye. But, I am perservering with my ripples and will aim to get the blankie done before the darling boy makes his arrival.

I have also quilted one more bushfire quilt for a quilting group here in Canberra that did the top and needed someone to do the quilting. I took delivery of my wonderful new quilting set up last week, and this is the first quilt I did on it. More of that next post, I had better get to work. Click on the picture for a closer look at the quilting

Monday, 13 April 2009

another bushfire quilt

I got this little one quilted - my daughter saw it and sighed, and said it made her wish she was having a girl! Just need to bind it now (have I ever mentioned that I don't like doing bindings?).

Because I have problems with my back and neck I have never been much good at machine quilting where you sit at the machine and move the quilt around - too much strain on my neck and shoulders. So a few years ago I invested in this home quilting set up and it was worth every penny - now at least I can get my quilts finished and with a minimum of stress and strain. I am thinking about upgrading - I would really like a stitch regulator.

I envy the Americans who have such a wonderful range of options to choose from - things are a bit more limited here, unfortunately, I suppose because it costs a lot to ship stuff to the ends of the earth!
The lemon meringue pie was a big hit!