Saturday, June 30, 2007

Of no particular significance...

I found a lovely scarf/shawl pattern in the latest edition of Knitty which I decided to make in this combination of eyelash and half wool. It's not blocked so you can't really see the lace pattern at this stage. It's easy to knit so it's the current project to do while watching TV.

And I don't often post photos of my Manx cats, as they live in the bedroom part of the house. Poodles chase anything that runs, so it makes homelife much calmer for me to keep the cats and dogs apart which I do with a kiddiegate. The cats sleep on my bed which I cover with a piece of fake fur to stop from getting cat fur all over my pillows and up my nose. Grizabella (left) is longhaired so sheds wisps all over the place. Seven (right) is short-haired and also a ginger female which is unusual.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Little Black Bag

I don't own a Little Black Dress, but now I do have a Little Black Bag.

This is the other thing I made at the felting class on Monday. It's made all in one piece using bubblewrap as a "resist" between 2 layers of wool. When it's felted to a certain level, you can cut a piece off and voila! A seamless bag.

Like all things when you're just learning, it's not perfect. Some of the decoration didn't felt on well and I have had to needlefelt it on with my embellisher, breaking several needles as I went due to the thickness of the felt.

Oh well, that's what learning is all about. If you never try anything for fear of making a mistake, how do you ever get to learn?

That's my philosophy for a lot of things in life. Some of the most important things I've learned have come about through making mistakes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Something old, something new

It's new to me, but an ancient craft - feltmaking.

This sample is my first piece of wet felting, made using carded wool slivers, mohair curls, silk threads and bits of yarn.

I've also made a bag, which i'll show you once it's dry and completed.

Expect to see much more of felting in the future!

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post - what a great response! The random layout was clearly a winner. I appreciate your taking the time to say what you thought.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Orderly or random - which looks better?

Ok - your input is requested. This is Side 2 of the reversible quilt sample I'm putting together for a class (the simple patterned one featured a week or so ago). I decided to use some quite muted hand dyed greens for the reverse, and I've appliqued batik cats onto them to jazz them up a bit.

However, I didn't have enough of the same fabric for all 20 squares, so I added some other green hand dyed fabric for the other 6. Because they were different, I put the cats facing the other way as well. Initially I planned to have these in the centre of the quilt, but then thought they might look better randomly distributed.

Your opinions please, as to which layout looks better.

And it's not just cats who lie on your fabric - here's Cressy using some as a pillow. Right behind where I stand at the ironing board, of course.

Thanks to all of you who sent good wishes to Mum. We have really appreciated it. She has been sent home (but is feeling fine) as the hospital is too busy at present to operate - they will remove her gall bladder to ensure this doesn't happen again. So she'll go back in another week or so for this.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another morning; yes, we're cute, and what not to do with your hot ashes

I haven't posted an early morning shot for...umm....probably a week or so, so here is an unuusal cloud formation on today's horizon. It's cold and windy and the forecast is sleety showers. Huh! Probably we'll get a 2 minute hailstorm and that's it. However, I feel disinclined to walk into town this morning to do my usual Saturday morning stroll around the shops, so I must apply myself to doing some of the 372 things on my "Create this, why don't you?" list. Not to mention the "You SHOULD be doing this stuff" list. You know...taxes, cleaning, tidying....

The poodles always seem to do this in the mornings. A bit of doggy solidarity perhaps, until they work out what I'm doing for the day? ago. At one time, they would always lunge for the camera if you tried to photograph them. Now that they are stars and get to feature on a blog read by people all over the world, I guess it's old hat.

Because I'm burning my fire pretty much night and day, there's a lot of ash buildup in the fireplace. I got my dustpan and scooped a couple of pansful of ashes out the other day. I figured it'd be safe to put it on the raised garden, as there's practically nothing in it except for that stray aubergine. I raked the ashes into the top of the soil and figured the cold would kill the odd little hot ember I could see (the fire hadn't been used for half a day).


When I went outside a day later, I found the entire back of my garden was burnt through, including the centre post which is 3" by 3". The rails are 6 feet long, the lower one had gone entirely, and you can see there's not much left of the top one. I guess an ember had landed on the weed matting that lines the garden. This is just the left half you can see in the photo. I couldn't believe how much damage had been caused. I watered it with the hose for 5 minutes and it was still smouldering. However, because there's that little stone wall behind it, I can make it useable again. A project for my son when he comes down in a couple of weeks!
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Friday, June 22, 2007

The shortest day, the longest night

These great photos were taken yesterday by my friend Donald.
Click on the link to see more wonderful shots of Central Otago. This has to be one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.

Unfortunately, I live on the coast and we seldom get snow here. There's another storm coming through today which is supposed to be dropping snow to sea level, but I doubt if we'll get any in Oamaru. Rats! I'm a city girl, from the North Island, and snow is a real novelty to me. (OK, Deb from Alaska - if you're reading this, I know YOU don't find it a novelty!)

Nothing much happening on the creative front. Mum is still in hospital while the doctors wait to see if the pancreatitis settles down by itself, as it often does.

Loved the comment about Mum looking like a spunky lady - she did a tandem parachute jump after she retired, which I think is pretty darned brave. And I am nervous having her in hospital because last time, she got an infection and ended up having a leg amputated and spending 6 months there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Way too quiet, and some medical stuff.

My last 2 posts have elicited virtually no comments, but I don't know if people just don't like what I've done or whether they're not interested. Admittedly, the reversible quilt I'm putting together is very basic as far as quilting blocks go, but I'm making it for mostly beginners, and the class is designed for them to learn a technique of putting a quilt together by finishing each block as you go. The class is only one day (6 hours) and I want the participants to make as much of a quilt as they can in that time, which is why I've chosen a simple block.

On the medical mother was taken to hospital Sunday night. She has acute pancreatits and may need an operation to remove the offending gallstone which has caused it. Here's a photo of Mum with a cheetah and handler at the Auckland Zoo - this was our birthday present to her last year, and my cousin Judith took her. Mum loves cats and had a wonderful time. Thanks, Judith!

As for me, I had my 2 -yearly mammogram today; a quite uncomfortable procedure, but one that all women over 45 in NZ are offered for free as part of a breast cancer screening programme.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Square Inside a Square

A very simple block, but visually appealing if you have sufficient contrast between light and dark, or between colours.

This is done in a mix of browns, burgundys and reds. It's browner in real life than it looks in the photo. And yes, those ARE commercial fabrics! I've done this side of the quilt from my leftover commercial stash, as that's what my class will be using. On the other side, I'll use my hand dyes.

The blocks need to be very simple so we can complete enough blocks in the 1 day class to enable us to sandwich at least some blocks, quilt them simply, then add sashing and border(s) using the reversible technique.

Two are better than one

Yesterday I went to Waimate, a small town of around 3000 or so people, which is around 30 minutes' drive north of where I live. I had been invited to attend the patchwork and quilting club's regular Saturday meeting. This is a day when the group sit around and talk and sew, and can also bring things to sell, so I took along fabric and went for a couple of hours. They are a small informal group, which I like, so I joined up as well.The president had asked me to take some samples of the quilts that I taught so they could decide which class they might want me to teach, so i took a couple of wallhangings.

However, rather than pick one of those, they were keen to learn how to make reversible quilts. The photo shows the one that I donated to the Opera house renovation last year. The other large one I made was all in black and white, and was a gift for my daughter's boyfriend. So I have none on hand that I can use for a class.

As a result, I came home quite inspired to make a new reversible quilt sample that I can turn into a class. Watch this space.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cut and dried

Here are the more muted fabrics from the previous week after turning into fat quarters and ironing.

Funny, I'm happy to iron fabric but find clothes a pain.......I wonder why?

And here are the brighter ones from last weekend. In real life, the yellows and greens are better than the photo.

I'm currently working on a cunning plan.......more as I work out how to do it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The loneliness of the long-distance dyer (apologies to Alan Sillitoe)

This is Oamaru today. It is Sunday, around 9am. The weather is dull and cloudy. It's 4 degrees C (39F), as it's early winter here.

What does this day say to you?

Does it say : stay in bed? Go get some spiritual enlightenment? Sit by the fire and read the Sunday papers?"

Here's a hint of what it said to me:

I'm afraid so. It said "why not stand out in the cold and do some dyeing?"

You see, I'd been looking at Melody Johnson's blog.

Melody is an artist-turned-quilter whose work I admire greatly. She has a wonderful eye for colour. I've been admiring the small works of art she's been making lately, with their clear bright colours, clever use of contrast and all-round appeal to a colour tart like me. Melody often uses bright primaries in her work.

I've been working lately with my more subtle blended fabrics,so I thought to myself "Ha! I can do that too!"
Just the odd thing that I had overlooked.

Like.....I don't have a studio like Mel. Hers is probably heated, too. Nor do I have racks of boards where I can dry my fabric flat. I have exactly 1 board. And even if I hose it down between pieces of fabric, I still get dye transferring from the previous piece. This is fine for my blended fabric, as I aim to get colour layers. As for not drying flat.....well, of course having to hang my work up to dry, the colours run into each other somewhat, and where the fabric touches itself or another piece, colour transfers. Again, not a problem with blends, but it IS if you're trying to achieve an expanse of clear colour.

So I'll see how these come out. The really dark ones are earlier dyed pieces that I used the leftover black and red dye on because they were a bit boring. They won't look this dark when dry.

Whenever that is. Yay, it's way up to 5 degrees now (41F).

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Indulging myself.....slightly

I LOVE icecream...but unfortunately, it's not green and healthy and fatfree. So in order to be able to indulge my love, I have taken to buying these wee containers of it.

You may not be able to see but this is Hokey Pokey, the iconic Kiwi flavour. It's a 100ml tub, which is less than 4 oz for overseas readers.

And to raise the artisitc tone of this post, I've photographed it sitting on a quilt. Yes, I HAVE been known to applique with blanket stitch. In the old days. Note the hand dyed background.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Previous Dyeing Days

The photo of the small pieces was taken at my old house in Lyttelton, also a coastal town. The larger pieces were done here. Of course, just when I want to dye some more, the weather is against me. We are having a cold snap which will make my outdoor dyeing impossible this weekend.

Some of you have asked questions about the previous posts which I'll try to answer here. I'm dyeing cotton, with Procion MX fibre reactive dyes. I would love to do all this dyeing on silk but it's very costly here. As to what I do with the fabric - at present, it's mainly for my own use, though I do sell to quilters when I can. Unfortunately, in New Zealand, quilters are very reluctant to buy fabric over the internet, so I have to rely on those occasions when I can get in front of them in person. And yes I can send overseas, if any readers are interested. My fabric website seems to be down at present so you can email me on for more information.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Feast your eyes!

I ended up dyeing 12 metres of fabric over the weekend. Yes, it's winter here, complete with frost, but the weather was beautiful as you could see in the washing line photos. I have to do this dyeing outdoors, so the weather matters.
I just have to avoid using a lot of turquoise as it needs more heat and doesn't show up strongly when it's cooler.

Some of you have asked about how it looks when it's dry, so here are a few close-ups of individual pieces. I don't only dye in multicolours - the green piece has around 5 greens altogether in it. However, I prefer multicolours as they are more exciting, the way the colours blend with one's hard to reproduce how good the fabric looks in a photo, and it's usually while I'm ironing it that I really get to see its beauty. This method is much more labour intensive than dyeing in a tray or bag, but I think the results are great. The colours tend to be softer because of the blending.

As usual, you can click on the photos for the enlarged view.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Washday chez Goodwin....

Ahhhh, back to what I do best............The weather was great, and I was in a dyeing mood. I've been doing some more muted and light shades, so today I felt like purple and lime green and navy and gold and plum and jade....

These have to dry now, then I rinse them, wash them in a hot wash, dry them again, then iron them. This is why I sell this Blended fabric at $30 a metre. No scrunching fabric into a tray and pouring dye over and walking away! No sir, this is labour intensive.

I'll show you the results when they're finished.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's the time of the season

Today is officially the first day of winter here, if you're not a stickler for equinoxes which most kiwis aren't.

You knew it was time for another sunrise post, didn't you? The South Island has wonderful sunrises, and these were a surprise to me as I grew up with the "Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning" saying. It doesn't seem to apply here.
The 2 shots taken from inside my living room and featuring the Cabbage Tree (Cordyline Australis) show the progression of the colour yesterday. In contrast, today is cloudy, and the sunrise was a bright strip on the horizon.

These photos are not touched up in any way - the colours are really amazing.

The sun is not actually getting rising until 8am these days, so I'm finding myself walking to work some days when the street lights are still on. At least it hasn't been very cold yet - we've had the warmest May since 1880-something.