"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Moving right along....

...in August! In wet, cold, windy August, to boot! Brrr, what I'd give for a week in some balmy northern climate. I guess the weather is giving the winter woollies an airing. Which kinda inspired me to attempt making my very first beanie from some leftover wool. Not a bad effort, if I may say so. But I need to learn how to make a neater seam when sewing them together. Anyway, one for KoGo, and may it warm some homeless person's head. And I enjoyed using the heavenly Cleckheaton 8ply and bamboo knitting needles.
The Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair has come and gone. It was marginally better than last year, and it seems that fewer stands are a continuing trend.

With A$2,000 a pop for the smallest stall, exhibitors really need to think about whether participating is an option for them. I for one am grateful for every exhibitor attending. I attended a workshop about needle felting, which was useful, and a class with Natalie May, making a couple of cards using Lindy's Stamp Gang pigments. These are beautiful colours, and the names are all German-inspired - Bratwurst Brown, Yodelling Yellow, Polka Purple, Oompapah Pink and so on. You sprinkle the pigments on paper (heavy watercolour paper works well), then spritz them. Once they dry, you get a lovely soft shimmer to the surface. Natalie
gave us the materials, including stamped flowers and leaves, and I finished the cards at home, using stamps and glitter pens to embellish them more.
Yesterday was a culinary experience, with lunch at Houdini's - including the gorgeous affogato! Followed by afternoon tea to farewell Pat, who will be leaving us soon for a stint in Hamburg with her family. Paula, one of our Friday group members, had the brilliant idea of making a quilted card for Pat, with little handmade mementos from all of us. I think Pat enjoyed that, the ladies had made some lovely little mementos. Paula thought Pat might need some
extra warmth in the cold German winter months, and gave her a lovely hand knitted blanket.
Late July and early August were busy with visitors, e.g. Wayne's cousin from San Diego and her family came to visit. We enjoyed a nice lunch with them and the other cousins in Williamstown. My friend Susan visited, then accompanied me to the Craft Show. A friend of Wayne's dropped in and they worked on a photo book. And the Owlery was popular as usual, with different quilters groups visiting and stitching away.
This week, we headed to the South Melbourne Town Hall, for a book launch by Multicultural
 Arts Victoria. Wayne wrote a chapter about his great grandparents and their family travelling to Australia in the 1800s. Some of the stories were quite sad, but in the end, everybody was grateful for their ancestors coming to Australia and making a good life here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Presents, purchases and a finish!

Time to review what made my suitcase so heavy coming home from Canada and Alaska! The credit card got a good airing, but that was far outweighed by the fun exploring the wonderful quilt shops up north!
Many of these goodies come from 4 quilt shops - The Rushin' Tailor in Skagway, Changing Tides in Juneau, Whale's Tail in Ketchikan, and the Sugar Pine Quilt Shop in Canmore.
Others were given to me by friends, such as the Cantik Batiks picture quilt designed by Shania Sunga. We met the lady at Quilt Canada, and Audrey surprised us with this lovely "Canadian Mystery" kit.
Audrey also made us a couple of lovely mug rugs, always welcome in the Owlery, and spoiled me with the beautiful owl batik. Will have to come up with something special for that.
Some northern wildlife-themed batiks found their way home, and several wildlife fusible cutouts, a big whale and some bears of course. They will go well with another 'Quilt Alaska' batik given to me by Susan (Kiwikid) for my birthday. I'm a lucky
one! The animal panel just had to find a spot in the suitcase too, as did a panel depicting 1930s style destination posters from all over Canada. It depicts places I've been to and some that are still on my bucket list, such as Churchill and its polar bears.
Oh, the mind is ticking, ticking....
And yay! I had a finish - completed the so-called Sawyer Scarf, a warm and woolly wrap just perfect for the winter months. It was fun to crochet, and if I find the wool again, I might just make another one for sale.

Monday, July 2, 2018

North to Alaska! (more photos)

Some more shots from our trip, this time from Alaska. Unfortunately, Blogger won't let me upload more - getting rather annoyed with this site!
Alaska was great, as always. The weather wasn't the best, cool and rainy most days, but the low cloud added a little mystery to some of the photos. This is my third time up here, and I love the wilderness, the wildlife, and landscapes.  As soon as I got home, I had a look at some more trips to Alaska, I'd really like to go to Denali and Kodiak.
We still encountered snow and ice on the White Rail Pass, and layers of winter woollies were a must. In Glacier Bay, we saw a few bergs, but they were small. The most thrilling part was seeing a grizzly walk along the beach! Other wildlife included seals, eagles, dolphins, and whales. A  mother and baby whale surfaced right next to our window on the ship, and the baby breached a couple of times!
Our ship, the HAL 'Volendam' was a medium-sized one, but with most of the features of the bigger ships. We enjoyed out Lanai, which opened onto Promenade Deck, so we could duck in and out easily for sightseeing. It was hard to leave the ship and fend for ourselves again...
Cruising up and down the Inside Passage, we saw stunning landscapes, with numerous waterfalls, sheer cliffs and endless forests. Modern civilisation up here has only a small foothold, thankfully. The First Nations peoples' culture has a strong presence, in stories and art.
We were lucky to hear a tribal woman tell us stories of her people.
There is also a living history of the gold rush here in Alaska, none more so than in Skagway, a frontier town at the foot of the Chilkoot Pass. Gold miners had to bring approx. 1 ton of equipment and supplies with them to survive on the goldfields, and lift them on the steep pass.
Stories abound, such as the one about "Soapy" Smith, a notorious conman during the gold rush. He was eventually shot by Frank Reid, and lies just outside the Goldrush Cemetery, while Reid, who also died, has a large grave marker.  And not far behind the graves is a beautiful waterfall!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Back in the Shire (photo heavy!)

We've made it back home from our awesome trip to Canada and Alaska, and I'm pretty much over the jetlag too. Needless to say we had a fabulous time and amazing experiences. Here are some photo memories from the Canadian part of the trip, involving friends, critters, and landscapes. I've been in this part of the world four times, and always find something new to do and to see. If you do nothing else in your life, go on this trip! It's fairly easy driving in BC and Alberta, and you might see a bear or five on your travels! Always a thrilling experience.
The impetus for this journey was to visit Quilt Canada, which was a great experience. The Canadian quilts are less traditional than what we see here in Oz, with many modern quilts on display. There were also many unique northern landscape quilts, and innovative techniques such as needle felting and 3D elements included.  Blogger doesn't seem to like me today, so I'll leave you to enjoy the photos and see if I have better luck with some Alaska photos.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hello Canada!

We made it to Canada! yay! After a long day's flying (2 days actually due to crossing the date line), and a brief visit to Venice Beach while in transit in LA, we finally got to our Hotel,  truly a welcome sight. We liked Venice  beach, although it's more delapidAted than quirky these days. And some rather shady characters hanging about! Still, a nice beach to while away transit time. Vancouver looked splendid with the sun on the snow capped Mountains. It almost felt like coming home! People are friendly, one lady gave me her trainpass, which she wasn't using any more. There's a train from the airport to the city. I wish Melbourne had that . Well, it's off to breakfast soon, and then we head for the ship. Sailing out in balmy spring weather . All I need to make my day is seeing orcas or seals or other assorted wildlife. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Signs of autumn

 All around the garden, autumn is making itself felt. Beautiful tree colours, drifts of leaves, flocks of birds heading north, the acrid smell of burning from nearby properties.
A good time to start working with wool again, and OMG! there is some awesome wool around!
Managed to get to Tylden last week and found some gorgeous yarns at the wool shop. I was very restrained among all the glorious wool; supersoft merino, fat multicoloured 'cakes', glittery novelty wools (at $26 a pop!), fuzzy mohair, all made up into scarves and samples, plus knitting and crochet paraphernalia, luridly coloured needles, bamboo
hooks, scissors, buttons, scarf pins...oh, a girl can dream!
I did invest in a couple of beautiful balls of  Bamboo Blooms Handpaints; half the fun is finding just the right pattern for it. Good old Patons 8ply was on special at our supermarket, always good for a blanket.
And I just finished this mens scarf for a friend, such a simple pattern and it knitted up in no time.
Managed to capture a couple of visitors, one was a black yellow tailed cocky, who was having a rest on the ground (quite unusual). And a pretty beetle, but I'm afraid he's an ex-beetle....
 Saw two good movies this last week. One was the "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (what a mouthful!), set in Guernsey in the late 1940s. Excellent movie, I highly recommend it. And I'm told it's just as good as the book. I never knew Guernsey had such a dramatic landscape.
The other was "Peter Rabbit", of Beatrix Potter fame. Cute kid's film, and just as much fun for adults. I was very happy the voices were appropriately British. Cannot imagine an American voice coming from Peter and his friends.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Some finishes

 Yay! It's not often I get to finish projects, but this week I surprised myself!
First off, here's the hexie quilt the Friday ladies made, finally done and modelled by the lovely Ann. All hand pieced and quilted, and it will be either raffled or put to silent auction via the Rotary Club. Congratulations, ladies, great job!
It'll make a lovely table topper for a lucky person.
Next, I went back to this scarf I had made many moons ago. Although I loved the wool and the colour, a beautiful dark teal, it always looked a bit 'blah'. It was made for a person in mind, but she likes colours and crafty things, so I sat down and added arty-farty bits of different yarn, quite simple really. And hey presto - now it doesn't look blah any more! It's a bit hard to see but there
are quite a few shiny and even glittery threads crocheted on.
Another gift - and I hope the person it's intended for isn't reading this! - are the four place mats I made with this beautiful Australian-themed fabric range from Material Girls (via Mary's). I hope the recipient will enjoy them, since she's a fan of our bird life.
And here's some wool I came across in Lincraft. I was looking for exactly that kind of multi-coloured, multi-textured wool after seeing a shawl pattern on Pinterest. I downloaded the pattern, and my next job is to translate the (US) stitches into the UK/Australian version. That'll keep
 me out of trouble. Well, for a while at least.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

April happenings

 April - my favourite month. Balmy days, beautiful autumn colours, morning fog, just perfect. I only wish we had some rain. Wayne is trying to keep some of the more vulnerable trees watered, but it's difficult to keep up. Maybe I'll have to do a rain dance...
Sherman is feeling the cooler temperatures too. I had the heater on last week while working on the computer. And there he was, His Fluffiness soaking up the warmth while having a leisurely bath.
Yesterday I met my friend Susan at AQC. We had lots of fun looking at all the quilts. And they were magnificent! This is just a small selection

(see more on my FB page). The quality was unbelievably high. There were several Judi Niemeyer designed quilts, always spectacular. People were also quite adventurous with colour, which was nice to see.
I really liked Meri Wahl's quilts of India. They are so colourful and intricate, even depicting a smiling Dalai Lama. I must look out for more of her quilts; maybe we'll see some in Canada.
Gillian Travis' "Journeys in Stitch" quilts were another highlight, so colourful and interesting use of different media.
Caroline Sullivan had a retrospective of her art quilts. They were amazing, with a variety of textures that made us wonder "How did she do that??"
Another highlight was the Cherrywood Van Gogh challenge, from the USA. VanGogh's Stary Night was interpreted in interesting ways. The collection had quite an impact en masse.
I had an interesting experience meeting a fellow quilter. We chatted and exchanged first names, and after she left, I noticed she had forgotten one of her
 parcels. I left it at Lost&Found, and after posting an alert on 3 Facebook pages, she was found within the hour! And now we're Facebook friends! You never now what pleasant surprises the day holds.
Overall, a fun day, even though it felt a little overwhelming at times, with so many people, and so many things to see. I did not buy all that much, but splurged a little on Liberty prints (yes, I succumbed...) and another couple of fabrics.