Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yesterday's results

Here's the results of yesterday's dyeing session, all ironed up. I would have done more but I ran out of fabric. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

..and this...

..though it was too cold for the turquoise, and it's faded to a light blue.
..and this. I think that's another turquoise piece on the lower left side. The ones I don't love quite as much will be split into fat quarters - these are all 1 metre lengths. Posted by Picasa

Doing the ironing....

I love this one.... Posted by Picasa

No, seriously....

..this is WORK!!!! But better than selling insurance, no????? Posted by Picasa

What a girl wants, what a girl needs....

It's a beautiful morning, so what else would a girl do? If you're Dye Girl, that is?

Now...what goes with yellow and orange? Raspberry of a bit of teal....and why not some of THAT..... some of the best pieces I make are "WHF, let's just throw on whatever's left" pieces. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's not about the stitching

There's an interesting thread (pardon the pun) at Melody Johnson's blog. Melody has always quilted her work extensively, but is now producing simpler pieces and has become unhappy with heavy quilting on them, so she's wrestling with doing less. Her readers are divided on this, some supporting the "more" side, and some (like me) the "less" view.

I accepted several years ago that I didn't quilt like others, and I got over it. In New Zealand, free motion quilting used to be synonomous with stippling , which I could not master and I flet inferior because of this. Yes, I have done classes on FMQ that were entirely about stippling - there was no other style. I never exhibited any of my work until 2 or 3 years ago because of this, but as I said, I got over it (now I FMQ, but I still don't stipple).

My opinion on this - quilting was originally the method of keeping the layers together. Decorative stitching came later. So when I decided to stick with my basic stitching, I felt I was taking quilting back to its roots. My work is about colour and design first and foremost, and the stitching is secondary. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, and there is room for both points of view. To me, it's a case of "do what you feel is right for the piece you're stitching, and what feels right for you".

What do others think?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Take us for a walk.......or else!

The Twins turn their Evil Eyes on me while pretending to be just one dog. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I am not just famed for my prowess in starting quilts and not finishing them -no, not at all!!!! I also knit the same way. Here are bits of my knitting Works In Progress. Upper left is the hand-painted wool you've seen before, where every ball is slightly different; upper right is the body of the cardigan I'm making for my daughter Sophie (and close to finishing the sleeves); lower left is a jacket made from mohair and recycled sari yarn; and lower right is yet another garment for me. I have also started a couple of little jerseys for children in Mongolia that a charity in Australia organises. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Red Man Reverse

Solved the tension problem with the Pfaff, so I've done some more thread painting on the Red Man. I like how the reverse looks too. Posted by Picasa

Tension Problems

BOTH my machines (Janome 6500 and Pfaff 6270) are giving me tension problems. However, I've managed to do some stitching on the Red Man. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Snakes & Ladders part 3

I lay awake for a couple of hours last night working out how I would quilt this, so I thought I'd better put it into place as I'm notorious for partly completing work. I've sewn a 10 x 10 grid on it to make it look like a snakes and ladders board, and also quilted a number of red ladders - these represent the high points of our lives - getting a qualification, falling in love, getting married, buying a house, getting promoted, having a family and so on. The snakes represent everything else! Yes, there are far more snakes than ladders, but that's life, isn't it? I'm also going to free motion quilt the areas that aren't already sewn to ensure that all the snakes are fastened down properly.

It's late afternoon now, time for me to stop. Posted by Picasa

Naked Men

All REAL artists paint nudes, don't they? And since I'm a single female, I want naked men in my work. Lacking any real life examples that I can cover in paint and roll around on fabric , I've painted up a sketch which I will now stitch over. These are 3 separate bits at present, but will be combined into one. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

Snakes & ladders Part 2

I laid the background pieces out how I wanted them, overlapping where necessary. Unlike many fusers, I fuse onto a backing fabric. These are just sitting on the ironing board while I take each piece in turn and fuse the snakes and ladders on.
What? I'm creative, you can't expect me to be tidy as well!!!!!
Once I've fused all the bits on, I fuse the background pieces together ensuring that there are no bits of the backing fabric showing through. If I miss a bit, I just put another snake over the join. Obviously, this type of quilt is unsuitable for hand quilting as you have quite a few layers of fabric - 4 or 5 in places. I like the extra texture you get from the layers.

I'm not sure that I like how this looks close up - I think it looks much better from a distance, like oil paintings do. Posted by Picasa

Snakes & Ladders Part 1

Usually I never think to photograph anything till I've more or less finished it, but as I've had some queries as to how I do things, here's a series of process photos.
I started with fusing strips of various widths, mainly horizontally but with some vertical and diagonal bits too, onto a white background. I almost never work with white, but wanted it in this piece to add additional contrast to the other strong colours. You'll see that there are 4 sets of strips.
Here are the strips chopped into their 4 sets. I've now fused Vliesofix (Wonder Under) to these pieces.
I'm using the same colours from the strips for the background, so that parts of the strips can merge into them. Note that I rotary cut the background pieces - while there's no need for them to be perfect squares or rectangles, the sides must be straight - no scissors cuts allowed.
Here I've started randomly chopping bits from the strip sets to make stripey pieces (very technical term) that form the snakes and ladders. OK, these look like snakes, but the stripes make them ladders as well. Posted by Picasa

Fraternal Twins

At last I've been struck by a creative mood! Here are my latest babies, the Fraternal Twins. OK, this isn't ground-breaking fiber art, but at least it's a start. They are cut from the same 2 pieces of fabric so are similar but not the same. The strips are only lightly fused in the photo, so excuse the edges sticking up.

And here they are placed together. I could, of course, join them, but because I work in such a limited space (no, I'm not going to show you how small), I am tending to make pieces that fit the space.

For those of you who read my blog and don't see your name appearing in the Links list, be reassured that I actually regularly visit far more blogs than are shown there, but many of them are bookmarked as I just haven't got around to adding them all. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Have I mentioned... slight obsession with sunrises? Taken from my back deck. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rumours denied

Get yourself in the news by going here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A brief fling

Like many quilters struggling to find their own style, I had a brief fling with convergence quilts several years ago.

This one hangs in my hallway and is called "Dolphin Dreaming". See how the dolphins are mainly travelling in a clockwise direction? Symbolically, I am one who is going the opposite way. Probably the one in lower right corner who is about to go somewhere else.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hitting new lows

I confess that I haven't created anything in the last couple of weeks, nor finished any of my many WIPs either. Sigh. I would like to imply that I'm in the grip of a creative miasma, because that sounds arty and everyone knows artists are tortured souls, but the actual reasons are far more ordinary. However, this is not a spill-your-guts blog, and we Kiwis don't tend to do that sort of thing anyway, so please bear with me while I fob you off with photos of old work and the landscape until I can get my creativity out of derailment.

This work (completely finished, I might add) hangs in my living room - it needs a long thin space as it's about 5 feet long. While it's not an original design, having been made in a class about 3 years ago, the centre blocks (representing either fern fronds or geysers as the mood strikes me) are my own design, and the stripey border treatment was my idea.

Thanks to those who have enquired about how my ankle is getting on. While I'm now mobile and driving, I still have a considerable limp and my ankle is still noticeably swollen. From a medical and physio viewpoint, it's all going well but I can't sleep without painkillers.

This weekend, I have my lovely daughter Sophie and her lovely boyfriend Erlo (who is one of the family) staying. Extra nice as today is Mothers' Day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Baaad weather coming

This morning's sunrise. Pity it doesn't snow here though...


This is an earlier work made, like Bizarre Stars, from experimental dyeing (translation: not done by the usual methods). The photo shows it just as a top but it has actually progressed to being partially quilted. Sigh. I have so much unfinished work, but the need to earn a living intervenes, and none of my work actually makes me money. And because I'm not making it for a particular exhibition or purpose, there is no time frame required. I am too embarrassed to show you what my sewing table looks like, as it's piled high with WIPs. If only people were clamouring to buy my work...... I can hear THAT cry echoing around the world!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

And the result....

Mainly medium shades, no darks or brights. I really like the subtle colour shifts and blends that you get with mediums. These are the start of a pile of my new "striped' fabric series.

Needless to say, the one I like best is the bottom left one which had all the leftover colours put on it.

Hands on Dyeing

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Food of the Day

This is schiacciata con le cipolle rosse e formaggio (part of it, anyway), which translates as schiacciata with roasted red onions and cheese. I baked this yesterday, then cut it into 2 and froze the other half.

It's not really a sourdough, but you make a starter batter which has to ferment for at least 12 hours - mine went 24 hours. And yes, I DID have to toast some up for breakfast today.

Eating to Lose Weight #2

Have you got fed up with weight loss plans where you have to count points? Weigh everything you eat? Eat special foods that cost a fortune? Confused about high carbs/low carbs, and the GI of foods? Me too. I wanted to invent myself an eating plan that was healthy, dead simple and that didn’t cost me huge amounts.

One thing I AM doing, however, is recording what I eat. It’s so easy to virtuously say that you hardly eat a morsel at mealtimes, while forgetting all the snacking you’ve done inbetween. A 50 cent notebook is all you need. I record what I eat each day (don’t leave it to the weekend thinking you’ll remember – you won’t), plus my weight (if I weighed myself that day) and or measurements. I also note anything out of the ordinary eg extra exercise, or if I felt unwell or was hormonal. As women, we are horribly affected by our hormones, and I know my weight goes up considerably at hormone time regardless of what I eat. Such is life.

Ok, a bit more on breakfast. It’s not just important that you have it, it’s WHAT you have that’s important. This is the best time of the day to be eating whole grains, which we should have every day. Don’t go for instant oats – pick the kind that need to be simmered for 5 minutes. Add things like kibbled wheat to make it chewy, because one thing we don’t do enough of in our over-processed society is chew our food. Our ancestors had nothing like today’s incidence of bowel cancer, and diet is a big part of that.

However, I get bored with the same breakfast every day. Some days I crave to have scrambled eggs on toast, or a toasted bagel with honey. Especially at the weekend. So I do. Remember I said I loved bread? Shirley’s Food Rule #2 is: if you have bread or toast for breakfast, you don’t get to have it any other time during the day. Yup. You heard me. Bread ONCE A DAY. And preferably NOT in the evening. If you have porridge or grains for breakfast, you get to have bread for lunch. And make those slices thin. Much as I love it, I know that bread clogs me up and slows me down.

Valeri asked about my sourdough - I made the starter from (I think) flour, water and honey about 2 1/2 years ago. Every time I use some, I 'feed' it with more flour and water, and it just keeps going. If anyone is interested, I'll hunt out the starter recipe. At least I know exactly what's in my bread, and there's no preservatives or additives.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Quilt of the day

"Bizarre Stars"

for those readers who need high fibre content :-)

Eating to Lose Weight #1

OK. I'll do this in several stages, as I need to marshal my thoughts, and also if you want to try this too, you need to understand what I'm doing. Plus I've never done anything like this before.

Now we all know how to lose weight, don't we? Ask a roomful of people, and they'll almost all say "Eat less and exercise more". Sounds easy. But why is it so hard to achieve? Many of us think we're following that advice but still don't get slimmer.

While sitting around with my broken ankle, I was concerned about putting on extra weight because of my inactivity. Hobbling around the house on crutches wasn't using many calories, especially when you spend most of your time in one room. I had lots of time to fill, so I read 2 very different books that I'd recently bought - "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano; and "The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics" by Jessica Porter. Both from Amazon, if you want to rush out and buy them, but there's no need really, cos I'm going to summarise them for you. Very very briefly.

"French Women.." - what I took from this book is eat fresh food, preferably what's in season; make soup a meal; and control your portion sizes (as Cathy says in the comments).

"...Macrobiotics" - based on healthy Japanese diets. Again, eat fresh food, plenty of whole grains, chew your food well, lay off dairy products.

So what to do? I could see the sense in the macrobiotic stuff, but couldn't see myself changing to a brown-rice-and-tofu diet with seaweed on the side. It was too extreme. The French book is really interesting (and it has recipes too). Overall, they echoed the things that nutritionists keep telling us. The common theme was eating food that was not processed. This is important. But what do we see when we turn on TV or read magazines? We see ads for McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, instant food, meals in a short, we are bombarded with ads to make us do the opposite.

Oh OK, I hear you say, I have a fulltime job, the kids keep me busy, I don't have time to muck around preparing fresh food. I'm far too busy. It's easy for you, Shirley, you don't have to feed anyone else, you work at home, plenty of time on your hands etc etc. Yes, true, but we're not talking here about having to winnow grain, then thresh it and pound it before we can make flour to bake our bread. So let's have none of those excuses.

Sitting around being unable to walk also focuses your mind on how much we take our health and well-being for granted - until we haven't got it. Is your health important to you? Of course it is. So how much time are you spending on it? Steal the L'Oreal slogan - "Because you're worth it" Isn't that better applied to health than hair colour?

So let's start with #1 in my new eating plan (note I don't use the word "diet" - like "budget", it's a word that's guaranteed to make you feel deprived). Breakfast. Yes, you must have it. If you are too busy to make yourself a decent breakfast, go to bed earlier and get up 15 minutes earlier. I used to have toast for breakfast - I LOVE bread, and I make my own sourdough most of the time. Now I have porridge made with rolled oats, and including a handful of kibbled wheat, and raisins, covered with cinnamon (a natural sweetener) and a bit of sugar, and a small portion of milk. Delicious. And it keeps me full all morning, despite the fact that the refrigerator is just 2 metres (6 feet) from where I'm working.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

An easy way to lose weight.......

I can now confess that's a bit less of me. Yes, while it's too early to trumpet this as a permanent thing, I have managed to shed around 4 kg (that's 8 or 9 pounds for non-metric readers) in the past month simply by changing how I'm eating. Like many women, I've struggled with my weight since having children, and had ended up accepting that I was always going to be a certain size. While I didn't shop at "Big Girls" shops, I was the largest standard clothing size. I had a "summer" weight, and a "winter" weight, which changed according to how much walking I did, but events over the past year or so (pulled hamstring, followed by inflammation of my foot tendon) meant that I was now "winter" weight in summer.

I'm aiming to drop a clothing size which is quite ambitious coming into winter as we are here, but remember, I have NOT done any exercise to achieve this weight loss - I can still only hobble around, and was totally inactive for 3 months. It's the change in how I'm eating that has worked.

If you're interested in finding out more and trying this for yourself, please record a comment. If there's enough interest, I'll share my experiences with my readers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bit of a digression

I have a dozen or so art quilts that are uncompleted, but I can't get motivated to finish them. You know how it is.

So I decided to do something completely different. And what could be more different from art quilts than a quilt made up of plain and nine patch blocks? But I confess that I have a sneaky love for nine patches. This is just laid out to see if I like the arrangement. The fabric is almost all from South Africa, and either brought back from when my daughter and her boyfriend visited there (Erlo is from SA) - that's the animal prints- or given to me by a SA friend - the black and grey designs.