Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September Needlecase

Thankfully, September is not yet finished, and I've again managed to complete another needlecase on time.  This one started out in many different guises, but finally became something I will just call seriously crazy, and self-indulgent.  I've been hoping to make this for some time, as I have so many little things 'saved', things I've been sent by my friends, and what better place to use and display them but with crazy patchwork.  Some time ago, a very good friend sent me a small Colourstreams creative starter kit.  It had some lovely fabrics, flowers, threads, etc., mostly with a blue/purple theme.  So, the colour scheme was set from hereon in.  I have also been sent, at various times, lovely sequins, buttons, pretties by another friend.  One day you'll get the mail and there will be a little surprise parcel with yet more goodies!!!  Much of what I have used in this piece brings special memories for me, the softly coloured silk ribbon roses [the silk ribbon a gift from a Sydney friend], the dear little matte palest pink flower buttons from a Melbourne friend, the owl charm from Bundaberg.  Some threads I have used I've purchased from people who visit our area on a regular basis, dropping into our patchwork group to share their wares.  They own and run a mobile store called Seriously Crazy [aka THE RED BUS].  You can read about them on this website:

I will add a few close up shots so some of the little trinkets, beads and stitches can be seen.  I just adore this little spider [with BLING].  I've been saving him for something like this!!  He's actually a lapel pin, but fits in beautifully with the crazy patchwork mantra - must have a spider.  Okay, the must have fan is somewhere on here too!!!

I have also used threads, braids and beads I've 'accumulated' over the years.  Lots of the little beads I purchased from a lovely store which was in our local town, but sadly had to close.  The lovely plaited gold/cream braid [just visible in the very last photograph] I purchased from a store not far from here.  It has the greatest supply of knick-knacks you'd ever think of, but displayed very badly.  I would spend some serious money in there if I could just see what was actually in there!!!  My friends have heard me speak of it ad nauseum.

These photos just seem to be out of sequence to how I'd like them.  I am not used to Blogger's new way of uploading photos, so please bear with this post, as it is not the most regimented!!!
The Blogger police are not going to allow me to put my cursor where I would like it to be to finish off, so be it.  Please enjoy these photographs, I could go on, but I think you get the picture [pardon the pun!!].  I really have been wanting to do this for a long time.  I haven't 'crazied' for ever so long.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Resurrection - A Rusty Vessel

I keep telling myself that no matter what happens I must not waste my efforts.  So, this little 'vessel' is the result of something that I felt had gone horribly wrong, but must not be wasted!!!  Last week, I paid for and downloaded an interesting lesson from the website of Lynda Monk and Carol McFee.  You can see the information here -

I purchased some of the requirements, and proceeded as instructed.  However, my painting, inking, bleaching, salting results weren't quite what I'd hoped for.  I am not totally sure what I was hoping for, but for some reason, I just ended up with a blotchy, rusty piece of Lutradur, which I felt needed to be used.  

Prior to stitching, I sprayed watered down gold drawing ink onto the surface, then added some gold and copper foiling.  This was then covered with black tulle, and free machined with quite bunchy stitching on top [I used two different metallic threads through a #100 needle, with the setting on a narrow zig-zag].  I was trying to achieve the verdigris look.............   Old gold metallic fabric was used for the lining [again covered with black tulle].  I added some additional beading after the stitching, using amber iridescent beads that I've had for almost twenty years.  To enable me to bend over the pointed tops I sewed wireform between the layers, cutting it slightly smaller than each side piece.  This worked really well.

 I do hope the stitching and beading can be seen in these photographs.  It's very hard to get the camera to recognize metallic elements in one's work.  This was a very rewarding project in the end.  I loved working with these rusty shades, and much of the fun was finding and using beads that I'd been saving for just this occasion!!

Some time ago I photographed a rusty wheel rim down at the shed, altered it a little in my photo program, and this served me well as a source of inspiration when working this piece.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lonely Vigil

Dian, I have tried to get photographs of the plover parents, but it has been nigh on impossible.  However, I did manage this 'far away' shot from the car window last Wednesday.  It's been zoomed quite a bit, but I think you will see the plover sitting all alone in the paddock on her nest.  This was taken the day before I noticed the chicks.  Now that the chicks have hatched, I don't see the family around.  Perhaps it's been too 'busy' for them, what with me, and the men driving around with farm equipment.............

Today will be busy with meat packing.  We are off later this morning to pick up some freshly butchered, home-grown pork, yum............  Can you all guess what is on the menu tonight.............LOL.....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fascinating Birds

I'm back today with a quick update on some of the bird life around our house.  We found the owl in her nest!!!  It is such a thrill to have them back breeding here again.  They've moved their nest to a tree that is really close to our house, and thankfully, it looks a little more protected from the elements.  Here's hoping for happy families soon.  I hope you will see the nest and owl sitting.  Remember, it's about 30 feet off the ground.  I had my camera on 12x, so the photo is a little 'grainy', but, if you enlarge it you should see what I'm talking about.

I also noticed the plovers have hatched already.  I thought I could see little ones around the adult bird when I was driving out yesterday morning.  I did have my camera with me [essential these days!!].  I decided to torment the poor birds again and try for some photos, thinking the little ones probably couldn't get away on me.  What I witnessed was absolutely fascinating.  The parents ran off a short distance, starting screaching, holding out their wings and half limping, as if to let me know they were hurt and easy prey.  The little ones immediately dropped to the ground, without taking a step.  If I hadn't been looking for them, I could easily have stood on them.  They never moved a muscle, just lay there, and pretended to play dead.  I managed to photograph two of them quite closely [there was a third one], but got out of there rather quickly, so as not to upset the family any more than I had already.  Goodness, survival is an extremely strong instinct, and obviously inground from an early age.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Woven Hexagons

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post.  These make me feel that I have something to contribute, and hopefully will continue to do so.  Getting back to the business of stitching, painting, and experimenting, yesterday I finally decided to try my hand at some more complex fabric weaving.  I initially saw this weaving in an English Patchwork magazine.  The instructions are rather scant, with small pictures for much of the guidance. 

I initially cut some firm woven interfacing, marking the perimeter, and two lines across at 60° angles.  I had no idea how much this project would take, so fused Vliesofix to three different fabrics, each around fat quarter size.  The background fabric size was measured to fit an A5 notebook.  The colours I used are a deep royal blue [almost to purple], a mottled cream/blue/mauve all over print, and a pale mauve.  These were cut into ½" strips.  Again, I had no idea really as to the size strips I would need, as this project was based around the use of those bias making gadgets, manufactured by Clover products. 

The first step was to lay the strips top to bottom in their sequence, ie mauve, print, blue, repeating until they covered the background fabric.  The second step, again keeping the sequence, was a series of over one, under two, which seemed to form this arrowhead pattern.  I have not photographed the third step, as I really have to do another project to get my head around this.  It is not for those who would wish to quit in a hurry, and takes some thinking.  As I said, there were really no instructions for this hexagon, and I had great difficulty seeing how it was done by the pictures in the magazine [even with the use of my magnifier].  I suppose the moral of the story is to go and buy the book and stop being so lousy!!!  I have not finished the bookcover off as yet, but will try to post it when I decide how it should be trimmed.  I always like to put something on what will be the front of the book, less confusing in my opinion.  This was fun, but challenging and time consuming.  I love the colour combination though.  The deep blue and mottled blue/mauve fabric was sent to me as part of a goodie bag challenge I've joined on the CB forum.  The lady sent me so much lovely fabric, I'll be making 'goodies' until Christmas!!! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Springtime in the Bush

I haven't posted for a few days because I've been outdoors enjoying what is probably the best Spring I can remember.  There are signs of new life everywhere, and I can't help but feel enthusiastic about it.  One of my greatest joys of course, are the birds that we see breeding in close proximity to our house.  At last count we notched up six different species, with a possible one to come yet.  The magpies seem to have babies already, the noisy minors are still waiting, as are the butcher birds, mudlarks, crested pigeons and plovers.  Yesterday I was so pleased to see the Tawny Frogmouth sitting quietly in one of the trees in our houseyard.  We haven't seen them for quite some time, and hoped they'd return for their nesting/breeding time.  Here she is trying to be 'invisible'.

The bottlebrush is flowering well, and being enjoyed by numerous birds and butterflies.  It won't be long and it will be literally covered in red.  It's almost impossible to get a good photo of the butterflies, they just keep flitting here, there and everywhere.  This one sat for a little while, the sun almost shining through it's wings.

After the most recent fall of rain, we spotted this little guy sauntering quietly across our backyard.  Echidnas are such cute little creatures, and I never tire of watching them waddling along minding their own business.  I also managed quite a good shot of this lizard making his way up one of the trees in the houseyard.  He didn't seem to mind me at all.

We've also noticed a spur-winged plover has a nest not much more than 60 metres from our house, just out in the open paddock.  It's really strange to see her sitting out there in the open, not an ounce of protection whatsoever.  I must confess to having to disturb her for this photo, but she was back in no time at all.  For some reason she doesn't seem to dive-bomb us, perhaps because she's so used the movement around the houses.

And, now, last but not least, more new life.  This little fellow was born over a week ago but I didn't have a moment to post his photo.  He will be a stable mate for little Zara, and is her half brother.  His stable name will be Zac. 

It is such a privilege to live in a place where we can see and appreciate all that Nature has to offer.  I am constantly reminded of life's pleasures here, and thankful that my life is relatively safe.  As the world remembers Sept 11, and lives are lost in today's conflicts, what better place is there to be thankful for life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Happy Little Vegemite......

I can't believe it!!!  I was lucky enough to win a gorgeous postcard by leaving a comment.  This doesn't usually happen to me, so I am just over the moon, and can't wait for it to arrive.

You can see it on Kathy's blog here

I really like the colour and compostion of this postcard.  Kathy has done a wonderful job of it, and so generous of her to offer it as a give-away.

Thank you so much Kathy.  I am thrilled. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Bit Blue.....................

No, I'm not feeling blue, I've been making blue projects, and looking back at much of my past work, I find very little blue.  That is why I've made a point of mentioning the colour.  I don't know why more of my work isn't blue, I like blue.............I love blue!!!  Enough said on the matter.  These are an assortment of goodies I've made using the remaining map collage used for the gift box I finished last week.  

As you can see, nothing has been wasted.  The first and largest project was this journal cover.  Of course, being me, I couldn't finish without a trim of some sort.  I had this glittery velvet ribbon purchased at Spotlight for $2.00/roll [I just knew it would be useful one day!!].  It took ages to search my stash for just the right fabric use as a lining.  I had several possible pieces I could go with, but favoured this rather all over patterned/speckled piece.   I have only stitched a few meandering lines using straight machining, representing roads to here, there, and everywhere.  I thought this might make an excellent photo journal for a traveller.

Next on the agenda were these bookmarks [thanks to Robin for the idea - she is always making bookmarks for her local gallery].  Again a little bit of straight stitching, with aqua rayon satin stitch edges.  I was determined to use every last scrap of this, as it has become quite a talking point in my house [my husband really loves it].  I have been trying to find an excuse to do one of those little 'Inchies' for quite a while, but I wanted my 'Inchie' to actually be a little useful.  So, it has been transformed into this little scissor fob with the aid of some beading.  I purchased quite a few of these chain tassels from The Danish Flower Shop, Highfields, Toowoomba.  To add a little weight, I headpinned some blue glass bicones, and attached them to each of the chain ends.  I can see quite a few of these little 'Inchie' scissor fobs coming out of my sewing room.

While I'm on the blue theme, I'd like to share this little piece I made not long ago.  It was a kit sent to me by a friend.  She said she saw it at a craft fair, ie the large crystal bead in the packet, and instantly thought of me and my penchant for 'bling'.  I love this little scissor lariat, easy to put together, and a great way to keep your scissors handy [around your neck].   What a lovely surprise this was to receive.  I use it often.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Totally Off Course!!!

This post is totally off course for me.  I am not a cook of note these days.  I used to do lots of interesting baking in years gone by, but lately I've lost interest.  However, I do still make the odd more plain fare, rather than something lavish [waistlines, arteries!!!].

Our neighbours have had a bumper pumpkin harvest this year, and of course, we've benefited from same.  I knew I had an extremely easy recipe for a tasty loaf, so yesterday decided I should try to use some of these pumpkins!!!  I'll share the recipe with you.  It's copied out on a small piece of paper, so I can't tell you where it's come from.  I've changed it a little.  We usually just butter the slices, but to be honest, some cream cheese frosting flavoured with lemon rind/juice might be worth a try too.

Pumpkin Bread: [1]  Into a large mixing bowl place 2 cups self raising flour, ¼ teasp bicarb soda, ½ teasp cinnamon, ½ teasp nutmeg, pinch salt - rub in 2ozs [60grams] soft butter or margarine, and then ½ cup chopped pecans.  [2]  Into another bowl place ½ cup soft brown sugar, 1 egg, grated rind of one orange, ½ cup milk, ½ cup cold mashed pumpkin, and mix until combined.   Stir the 'wet' mix into the 'dry' mix, and mix lightly.  Don't overmix.   Bake in a loaf pan at approx 125°C [fan forced oven] for approx 55 minutes [timing will depend on tin used and your own oven].  This loaf has a lovely flavour and texture.  I think the orange rind gives it something.