Saturday, January 29, 2011

100 Posts & A Give-Away

It seems that I'm here today writing post #100.  I suppose it just proves I can talk with my head under wet cement!!!  In all seriousness, I have to thank everyone for the encouragement and support.  I honestly didn't think I had anything to blog about, but I keep finding something.  The piece of crazy patchwork in the above photograph is something I made some time ago.  It is a sewing folder/caddy, roughly A4 size flat.  To show my appreciation, I would like to offer this as a give-away, if you would care to comment here in the next few days.

The caddy actually folds in half and 'closes' with two satin ribbon ties.  Fabrics used are silk dupions and velvet.  Colours are black, silver grey, hot pink, purple, and jade.  It has been reasonably heavily embroidered/embellished.

The inside is a little difficult to show.  There are some black wool felt 'pages' for needles, three small slide in pockets, two larger slide in pockets, and one large zippered pocket [lining black poly cotton].

I have been fortunate to have been given the loan of a small digital camera until I can organize a new one.  I can transfer the images to my computer with the USB cord, and don't have to install the software that belongs to it [a different brand than my now deceased Canon].  I have also managed to delete my photos from the card, so the very generous person won't have my silly things taking up room on their card.

Please feel free to leave a comment.   I will do a draw and announce a winner soon, probably just into February.

Thank you all again for giving me a reason to keep blogging.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dressmaking Days

I'm quite sure most of you know that in the past I did a little dressmaking for people.  It was something I could do from home, as I was often needed to help with odd jobs around the properties, ie shifting machinery, feeding poddy calves, and also doing the bus run with the children.  The photograph above shows the very first wedding dress I made.  I am sorry about the quality of the image, but it's been scanned from an older photograph, and a tad on the grainy side.  The bottom band was all cut on the bias [doubled], and pearl piping was inserted where it joined the skirt.  The three ruffles had to have stiff net inside them so they would stay up, and the trim on the centre front was simply organza motifs beaded and hand stitched after the bodice was fitted.  

Another frock/outfit that I deem rather special is this one.  Although it looks a very simple style, I have to say it was stunning on the young lady, fitting her lovely slim body beautifully.  It was made for her school graduation ceremony.  The fabric was mauve shot with aqua.   I always loved making outfits that were simply styled, using gorgeous fabric.  I have totally lost count of the number of wedding and formal outfits I've made, and sadly don't have photographs of all of them.

A few years ago I made the wedding frock for my DIL.  It was hand embroidered with silver metallic thread and beaded in great detail.  I also made her veil, a simple square of tulle, beaded all around the perimeter, and then folded on the diagonal.  The store-bought version was in excess of $200 at the time.  I made it for less than $20.  I shall also include a close up shot of some of the beading that was done.   Much of the beaded design was just made up as I went along, adding another scroll here or there.  

Thank you everyone for such lovely comments on my smocking.  I do appreciate the enthusiasm and support I receive from each and every person who cares to comment.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day

Today we celebrate being Australian!!  I hope everyone in this beautiful country has a wonderful day today and can share it peacefully with family and friends.  Take the time to remember who we are.  Many have suffered tragic losses [and are still suffering] in the last few weeks, but there has been an outpouring of wonderful kindness and friendship that always seems to surface in times of adversity.  My wish is for all of the people involved in this cruel act of nature to keep in touch with those who came to help, and build long lasting friendships.

I offer congratulations to those who have received awards, but also to those who make a difference in some way to the lives of others around them, no matter how small it may seem.  

For us here it is just another day as there is a mountain of damage to repair, and so the work goes on, ie broken contour banks, fences knocked down/washed away, and so on.  Thankfully, all this can be repaired, others have not been so fortunate.

Whatever your 'poison', a prawn, a sausage, a lamb cutlet, a cold beer, or a glass of Australian wine, do enjoy it and take care.


A little bit of smocking

I've finally photographed a garment I made a few years ago, and thought I'd share it here.  I smocked this frock as an entry for our local show, but I do not have anyone special to wear it.   I would love to see it being worn, and if anyone would like this frock for a friend or family member, please, by all means get in touch with me privately and I am only too happy to see it go to a good home.   It has been made to fit a child of about three years of age.  The length from back neck to hem is 68cm with a 9cm hem.  The measurement around the sleeve cuff is approximately 17cm.

I hope the close up shows a little more of the smocked/piped detail.  The fabric is a 100 per cent cotton, in a soft floral.  These photographs are not good.  I shall explain later in the post.   The blue is more like a deep wedgewood, rather than almost navy as this seems to look on my monitor.

The frock buttons down the back bodice and has a generous tie.  I love these garments on small children, and usually don't make them any larger than this size, maybe to age four at the very outside.  Over the years I've made lots on commission for people, as well as a few christening gowns.  Unfortunatley, I don't have any photographs worthy of inclusion on my blog.

And now to the photo dilemma.....................  RIP:  Canon Ixus 60

Yesterday I discovered that my little camera has something 'terminal'.  I've made several phone calls, but only to be told it's just not the done thing to 'fix' cameras.  Throw away society!!!  I took the above photos on my phone, but they aren't as good as I'd like.  I'm hoping to borrow a camera similar to mine which hopefully will take a few shots of things I can store on the computer for the time being.  We just can't get away anywhere at the moment to see to buying a new camera.  Please bear with me as I struggle to bring you something of interest, with a decent photo!!!

And again, I have to thank each and every one who kindly comments.  Thank you for giving me a vote of confidence with my hardanger project.  It is coming along, but a little slower this week, as I'm back to using sprinklers on my lawn.  We probably won't see a drop of rain now and January is again the month we dread [February isn't much better].  Yesterday the mercury reached 38°C which I believe is to continue today and tomorrow before easing slightly on Friday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hardanger Progress

At the moment I'm stitching daily on my blue hardanger project.  Unfortunately, I've not had as much time as I'd like to devote to said stitching, but I'm enjoying it just the same.  I thought I would share a little of it's progress with readers.  I have 11 of these squares on point in the centre of my table runner.  I'm hoping the woven work will track over and under around each of these.

Perhaps this close up shot will show more of the Greek/Maltese Cross [??] weaving.  I won't cut the centres of the remaining squares until almost the end, as I'm doing a fine spider web in those cut out areas.  Obviously no pressing at this stage, so this is a rather crumpled offering.  Lots more work to go just on this centre section, then I'll think about the outer area.  I'm not sure yet of the exact dimensions, something around 40cm by 130cm.  I think [hope] there will be enough at either end of the fabric to make drink coasters to match [one full square including the Greek Cross weaving].   

Now, I must away to some more stitching before it gets too hot.  I also can happily report we have two Tawny Frogmouth babies, so cute at the moment.

My thoughts are with those who are experiencing flooding in Victoria.  It seems the weather has a little more in store for us yet. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Needlepoint/Petit Point

Lately I've been on a mission to clean this house of mine, so while I had some of the pictures down for cleaning I thought I'd share some of my work with readers.  The above tapestry included a small amount of petit point.  The canvas was purchased for me by my mother.  If I had my time over again, I'd have this framed with a mount board, as I do not like the stitching touching the glass.

I purchased this as a kit some years ago.  It was a trammed tapestry, with all but background wools included.  I really didn't like the feel of the wools provided, so I spent some time in a Lincraft store trying to match it with the appropriate DMC tapestry wools [there were no thread numbers included].  Again, a small amount of petit point was worked in some of the more 'detailed' areas.   The kit was to be made into a cushion about 14 inches square.   I just didn't like the chances of a cushion surviving the children, so I decided to stitch the background out into a circle, and then have it framed and presented this way.  I never tire of this piece, and unfortunately, I've never found anything similar, ie favourite Australian birds.

I'd always felt the urge to complete a design in all petit point, and I have to say this piece took me quite a number of years to stitch.  It has been worked using three strands of stranded cotton, approximately 9 stitches to 1 centimetre with an estimated 37,500 stitches.  I don't think I would be in a hurry to do something like this any time soon!!!  It is extremely hard on the eyes.  Choosing the mount boards and framing was a challenge actually.   The narrow gold bevel hopefully alleviates the problem with the green sitting adjacent to the blue sky.  I seem to gravitate towards green mount boards, and I have no idea why.  I like green, but I can't say that it is my most favourite colour.

I hope some readers enjoy seeing some other stitching I've done over the years.  I still have a creative tapestry in progress.  I did a creative tapestry correspondence course some years ago, which was to culminate in a completed piece.....................................  I suppose you'd have to say I haven't actually completed the course to date.

I may be off the computer in a few days as we are having some changes here.  Hopefully, for the better.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oddities in Nature

I've been having a great time taking photographs of late, as we seem to have been doing nothing else but riding around the paddocks watching water rise, fall, and now rise again.  I thought some readers might like to see some of the odd things that are happening here, which I feel are a direct result of our most unusual summer rainfall.  Of course, I know for me, seeing kangaroos is not anything out of the ordinary, and quite honestly I'm not their number one fan.  But to see them sit up and look at you [almost pose in fact], in a field of lovely green grass is something I don't see all that often, so thought it worth sharing.

As you know, I'm totally obsessed with our pair of Tawny Frogmouths that come back to our houseyard to breed each season.  They hatched a pair of young chicks in late October, set about teaching them how to survive, and we thought that was that.  We then began to receive some more rain [you think!!], which appears to have triggered a second hatching for the season.  This photograph was taken yesterday, but it's not an overly good one I might add.  You can make out one tiny fluff-ball and one ever watchful parent.  We assume there is another little one, and will keep a watchful eye in the coming days.  The parents have had to endure some driving rain as they've struggled to hatch this lot.

These photographs were taken just as the flood waters were rising the first time.    When I saw this I was intrigued.  I can only assume this was an escape mechanism by the spider population.  It appears as though the top of the grass supported a mat of web.  I've taken a closeup shot so you can see it a little more clearly.  All of this webbing appeared around the perimeter of the rising water.  In 'real life' it looked like tulle had been thrown across the grass!!

The bird life has been prolific of course in and around the water line, we've even seen pelicans!! I've noticed the plovers have been in a sort of daze, appearing to not understand what was/is happening.  I did think that perhaps they were in nesting mode and at a loss to find a suitable 'venue'.  Well, I now think I must have been correct.  This morning my husband came back to get me, and show me that the plovers have indeed laid, and in a most inappropriate place, the gravel road where we drive.  They've gathered a few small sticks and simply laid the egg right on the gravel!!!!!

Warning - not a pretty sight

I know this isn't the prettiest of images, but I did want to include it in my post.  I snapped these caterpillars in a feeding frenzy [yes they were all moving at the time].  I could not believe my eyes when I passed one of the smaller trees the other day.  They had all but stripped the tree bare.  Thankfully, this morning I saw new shoots on it, and the larger ones look to have thickened up slightly, so hopefully, all's well with them.  I'm sorry if these photographs aren't to everyone's liking, but I did find them an interesting additon to the post.  I've included another image to show how these creatures fold themselves into the leaves, and eat their way out.

I am always amazed at what the natural world has to offer.  It's been a long time since we've had a summer like this, so I thought I'd share my findings with those who read my blog.   We've also seen a few snakes, but nothing to be alarmed about.  I daresay it would be rather confronting to encounter one inside your house as you try to clean up the mess left from the flood waters.

Stitching in 2011

A number of readers have asked if I had a personal challenge planned for this year, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a peak at something in which I have become involved..  I have taken on some model stitching for a lovely lady.   I've included a photograph of her book for your information.  I am going to be stitching some of her past designs and a few new ones.

Jennifer Forest has a passion for history, and historical needlework/textiles.  The above book shares details of womens' interests in the time of the Jane Austen novels, and I personally find it extremely interesting.  Please take time to visit her blog: 

I have completed one article for her to date, and will be doing a few more from time to time throughout the year.  Of course, this is not the only stitching I'm hoping to do, so will hopefully have much of my own work to share.   

Thank you again everyone for offering support for those in need.  The time will come when we can be of some assistance.  All we can do is wait until some normality returns to our beautiful State, and indeed those to our south.  We have had three days of sunshine here, so that's certainly a start.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hardanger [and a PS]

I have been absent from the blogging scene for a number of days for various reasons.  I have been trying to work on a new piece of hardanger, so thought I would share a piece I worked about a year ago.  The centre square part of this design was taken from a Burda Special Hardanger publication and was to be a cushion.  However, I had cut plenty of fabric and considering there was going to be a rather wasteful 'trim' if it was to be a cushion, I continued on my merry way, stitching and doing my own thing as I worked out towards the edge of the fabric.  This is worked on 22ct hardanger fabric, with #5 & #8 perlé thread in DMC #712.   My DIL was in raptures when she saw it, so it now lives with her, and I have to say that I can see she honestly loves it.  

Now that I know she likes this type of work, I have started a long table runner for her.  This piece is being worked on pale blue Lugana, which I feel is 28ct [I have to confess to not having counted the threads!!].  I am working with DMC #3753 - #8 & #12 perlé.  Again, I'm designing and working from the centre out.  I am hoping it will be useful for decorating a table and napkin setting in navy, some time in the near future [their chair covers are navy].  In order to help with counting/keeping pattern correct, I spent almost an entire day tacking at 40 thread intervals.  I found it a great help, and will do this again, especially if I'm working a larger piece.  This has 11 of these 'peaks'.  There is a lot of cutting and weaving yet to be done in this centre feature.  When I have that area under control, I'll continue to work my way out.  Perhaps others don't work their hardanger this way, but this is the only way I am comfortable designing.  I'm not much for mapping it out on paper first, and I don't have a computer program to assist with this task, so starting on a small central section first makes sense to me.  I've included a close-up.  The interlocking/interweaving area outside the central squares is to have cut and woven bars.  It should form a type of under/over track.  I have found by looking at lots of hardanger that there are things about some designs I just don't like.  I am not keen on the eyelets where you stitch into every hole around the centre point.  I'd rather use just the star eyelet or algerian eye stitch.  I also have to say I am not keen on edges where there is a straight section, with points jutting out from it.  Goodness, I'm picky!!!  I hope I can do the work justice as I continue to stitch.  I love the soft blue colour, the thread matches the fabric perfectly.  I'm not aiming for a 'masterpiece' in design, just something I know my DIL will use, and I can use some of the many oddments of evenweave I have in my stash.

Now for the PS:-

Again I feel the need to speak of the devastating floods that are sweeping the central and southern parts of my beautiful state of Queensland [and it is moving south into NSW, parts of Victoria, as well as bushfires in WA - what next!!].  The events of the past few days have left me numb.  Our little township has been fully evacuated again due to the prospect of the river inundating the town to almost the same level.  They had only just started the clean up.  The two towns to our east, Dalby and Chinchilla are again under seige from rising waters.  The beautiful garden city of Toowoomba saw a freak event unknown to any living person in our area, not to mention the path of destruction that cut through the beautiful Lockyer Valley [the place of my birth].  Our two large cities close to the coast are on high alert, and in the central areas, water is still an issue.  I am safe, my family and friends are safe.  We are suffering some inconvenience, that is all.  We have our lives, and our livelihood intact, but others' worlds have been devastated.  I cannot begin to find a way to help anyone in a way I would like.  We can only all help those in our immediate areas I suppose.  Thank you to those wonderful people who have offered support through my blog, and to me personally.  I don't know how you can help so much, but I will email some of you privately with my own thoughts.  One of our patchwork group has lost everything, and of course, we will all try to support her.  Apart from that, all we can do is watch and wait, and pray that everyone can move on and learn from this.  Thankfully, this country has a strong sense of community, we not a poor country by any means, and are in a position to help those in need, unlike many disasters  we've seen in recent years.  We will survive because that is what we do!!! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Old Crochet Pattern

A number of years ago I was given this old magazine.  I believe the Home Journal was a very popular magazine in years gone by.  I actually remember my mother having them, and using the paper tissue patterns included for sewing.  Sadly, I don't have any others.  I've lost the cover for this one, but after doing a little research, I know it's from 1955 [there was a movie review, so I googled the movie to find out when it was made - The Man from Laramie, starring James Stewart].  The reason I've kept this particualr magazine is for the beautiful crochet pattern in it.

I have made the large mat, using thread given to me by a family I met years ago.  The husband's mother used to crochet, and he gave me all her threads and hooks.  This was made from some of her thread.  It's in #60 thread.  I love the pattern, it's so intricate, compared with many of the newer designs we get these days.  This mat is approximately 14ins in diameter.  I really should make it again, with the little mats to match, in ecru, which is really my preferred colour choice these days.  I have another few pieces of crochet that I shall share in the coming weeks, one in particular from another old publication.  I just need to track down the booklet so I can photograph it to include in the post.  Some of these old books and leaflets are my pride and joy.  I've carted them with me on all of our various moves from job to job.  I suppose they mean a lot to me because they belonged to my old [now deceased] maiden aunt.

On behalf of the people in my district, I say thank you to all who have voiced concern for the situation here.  I believe the people will be allowed to return to their homes tomorrow, Thursday, and one of the large Coal Seam Gas companies will be supplying men and equipment to help with the clean up and recovery.  We have been led to believe that we should stay away, unless asked specifically by friends for help.  There is a definite risk of disease/infection due to the state of the place.  Thank you everyone for any offers of help.  I am as much at a loss to help as any of you at this stage.  Surely we will find some way we can be of some assistance, even if it's only to take some washing to do, or provide food for workers.  

I notice this is post #91 for me, and as I count towards 100, I am excited.  I will have a give-away when that post is reached, so watch this space.

At the moment I'm back to working on my hardanger, which I will share with you soon.  Cheers to all, and happy stitching.