Monday, December 29, 2008

White space

Inspired by this lovely tasteful silk scarf my brother gave me for Christmas (thanks Ross!), I decided to do some shibori seeing as the children have now gone and I am on holiday.

I consulted my expensive-but-worth-it Shibori book and decided the pattern of square dots on the scarf was only going to work if you have the proper equipment, which I don't. So I took four fat quarters and did different things to them. Here they are in their bundled state. I decide to work with a certain range of colours - tangerine, butterscotch, bright orange, chino, mocha, chocolate brown and warm black.

One didn't come out very well (not enough colour). This one was folded in from each corner then bundled into a spiral.

This is the one that was sewn with sweeping curves and the threads pulled up a bit - it's not actually easy to do the thread-tightening thing, and they are a complete pain to remove. You can just see the tracks of some of the stitching. Interesting but I wouldn't do this again the same way.

This one is much more exciting. I pleated and tied one end, then pleated again reversing where the folds went. This is easier to say than do. I then pleated and stitched the other end horizontally. This is the long one in the "before" picture.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Recipes with pictures

Summer Pudding couldn't be easier. Cut the crusts off enough day-old white bread to line a bowl, overlapping the slices and pressing them together to seal.

Heat around 2 cups of berries and enough castor sugar to sweeten for about 5 minutes until the juices starts flowing.

Pour into bread mould and fold pieces over the top, adding more pieces to entirely cover the berries. Cover with a plate or saucer. You're mean to weigh it down but I find the juice soaks through it just fine. Chill over night. Turn out onto a plate and serve with cream and ice cream. Delicious!

Strawberry ice cream (using an ice cream maker).

Chill the bowl as per instructions. I do mine overnight.

Mix 1 1/2 cups of milk with 1 cup cream in a saucepan and heat. Remove from heat before it boils. Beat 3 egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt until mixed, then add a cup of the milk mixture. Blend, then add back to remaining milk mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. Place in a jug or bowl and chill.

When ready, mash or puree (I prefer fruit lumps so just mash mine) 2 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries (or other fruit) and add to milk/egg mixture.

Pour into ice cream maker and process for 15-20 minutes, then put into container and freeze. This makes about 1 litre of lovely fruit ice cream that tastes nothing like commercial ones.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boxing day chez Goodwin

As Sophie was spending Christmas day evening with her new boyfriend Mark and his family, we celebrated our Christmas the following day. Sophie wanted to eat outside, this being summer, so we moved the table and chairs to the least windy part of the yard. Being not-too-concerned about tradition, and allowing for Cass now being mainly a fish-eating vegetarian, I made bagels which we had with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

It looked so tasty the poodles wanted some too.

Afterwards, we had Summer Pudding (with boysenberries and strawberries) and home-made strawberry ice cream. Yum.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Leisure time - isn't it wonderful?

Yes, it's just a shot of my kitchen - but it's a clean, tidy, uncluttered kitchen. Just to remind me that it can look this way - because it usually doesn't. Who knows - maybe I'll even get the stock room and the studio sorted over the holidays?

Season's greetings (or whatever is appropriate for your beliefs)

While I am not religious, I view Christmas as a time for being with family, reconnecting with people you don't see much, reflecting on the past year and thinking about the year to come.

Living in the southern hemisphere, I have never know a "white" Christmas. As a child, we would sometimes take a picnic lunch and go to the beach on Christmas Day. Many people are away camping at this time of year, and while I'll be at home with my children, we'll sit outside on the deck if the weather is favourable. We favour salads, cold meats and cold desserts over roasts and hot vegetables and cooked puddings.

I'd like to wish all my blog readers, wherever you are, a safe and happy Christmas. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you'll be safe and happy anyway. I am amazed that people from 97 countries have read my blog, including places like Moldova and the Faroe islands, where just ONE person has visited. Truly, technology is a wonderful thing.

Bless you all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something old, something new....

The cot quilt which has been dominating my blog recently is finally finished and ready to go to its new home. I have only quilted around the outside of the blocks, and in the borders.
Here are a couple more of my earlier works, featuring (naturally!) hand dyed fabric. This is "Out of Africa". My daughter Sophie and her then boyfriend, who was born in South Africa, went there for a holiday about 5 years ago. I asked her to bring me back some fabric as my Christmas present. When I opened the parcel, I found polycotton large scale animal prints which were clearly curtaining fabrics, and not what I was expecting.

I pondered for a while about what I could do with them so as to not hurt her feelings. Then one day I had an idea - I pulled out a number of "earthy" hand dyes from my stash (I had not long since bought my dye business, which included fabric) and made this simple desgin which I think works well.
This quilt, "Home is where the heart is", was chosen by an Australian magazine (can't remember which one though) to be published as a pattern. They called it "Oamaru Cottage" (I lived in one at the time), and I had to send it to the publishers in Sydney to be photographed. It's reversible, with the seams on the right side. Now this is not an unusual style for flannels, but this quilt is made with plain cottons and cotton batting. It's very warm and snuggly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Drat those little chicken feet

And here's the completed top. The shapes have all been sewn around, so when I assemble the quilt, I'll just do some minimal sewing around the blocks to hold it all together. Apologies for the blurry photo.

This week, I'm still in limbo. I'm doing a bit of work for my existing (and one potential)customers - this is for my "day job" that earns me my living - but there's not a lot happening at this time of year. Plus I've had a bug for over 2 weeks now and I'm still not 100%. The doctor thinks it's viral so nothing much I can do except wait for my throat and ear to return to normal.

Whatever that is.

Friday, December 12, 2008

More chickens

Here are the other 6 blocks. I've used the same designs but in reverse. In response to the questions - these are fused applique, and will be stitched down once i put it all together as a cot quilt/play mat has to withstand plenty of washing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making chickens

Having 2 friends expecting babies, I have been inspired to make a cot quilt or 2. I decided to make chickens first - I have done a chicken cot quilt before, which looked great but I no longer have the pattern. So I drew the chickens myself. Here are the first 6 blocks - there will be 12 altogether. I'll put a plain inner border, then I have some actual chicken fabric to be the outer border.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Unfinished symphonies

Yesterday, I gave talk to a local patchwork and quilting group here in Rangiora. They seemed to be a very nice bunch of women, so I'll probably go back again next year as a member. I took along quite a bit of my work, much of which hasn't been seen on the blog for a while so I thought I'd show some of it. First up are 3 unfinished pieces (there are many more, I assure you, but not all will BE finished). The above piece, called Radiance, was made when I was incapacitated with my broken ankle and working only with paints. It's a positive/negative style using fused cutouts.
As is this piece. These are both just tops at this stage. I can't remember if I've named this one.
I'm sure I would have named this as well - I usually do - but can't think of it at present. This is quilted and only needs binding. It's from my "convergence" period. The quilting is large hibiscus flowers and was fun to do.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tiptoe through the garden (the tulips have finished)

The Shirley poopies weren't out last time but this morning, they are.
The colours are so lovely - many are bi colours.
This epiphyllum (orchid cactus) has been with me for years. It lives outdoors all year round, even in the frost. This year it has 4 buds, so the snow hasn't bothered it either.
These day lilies have settled in well - they were only planted a year ago.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Frolicking in the summer garden

Trailing lobelia in a hanging basket above the raised vegetable gardens.....
...lovely roses. This is Aotearoa. I don't usually grow hybrid teas, but this rose has an exquisite scent and I plant it wherever I go...
...and this is Yellow Charles Austin.
I love the campanulas that have naturalised in the pots of hostas - in the back pot is a little dark-leaved violet...
..and here is a hybrid clematis that I've just planted.
These iceland poppies have been flowering for a couple of months now. I also have Shirley poppies (of course!) but they are in between blooms tonight. Shirley poppies come in whites, soft pinks and reds and are often bicolors. They naturalise easily but grow into much taller plants than the wee Iceland ones.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Surface Design Class

Today I held a small surface design class with some of my old friends from Lyttelton Quilters. I took my camera but totally forgot about it until the end, so only have pics of my own work. We started with monoprints using thickened dye. Above is one that was printed 3 times - in red, yellow and then black.
In this print, I smeared paste thickly over the plastic backing, and combed it into swirls. Then I painted the dye over the paste.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rust Madonna #2

Here is #2 in the series. These are fused but not stitched - I have promised my artist friend not to stitch them as she thinks I should frame them and get a gallery to sell them. I am in 2 minds about that. In the meantime, I have a third one planned that will black and white and rust.
For comparison, here are #1 and #2.

I know that I have been a bad blogger and blog-reader lately. This is because I have a lot going on in my other life - namely the "day job" that pays the bills. Because of an ongoing health problem, I decided to sell most of my financial services business effective 1st December. While this will help reduce my large mortgage, it also reduces my income considerably and I do not yet know what I'm going to be living on.

I intend to have December and January off, as there's little work for financial advisers over the Christmas and New Year holiday period anyway. Here in New Zealand, that is traditionally the time that people take their annual holidays, with schools are closed for 6 weeks and many businesses closed for up to a month.

Hopefully, I'll be able to spend more time on my art during this time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's official! I have character!

I've just done a test on the Authentic Happiness website, called 24 Signature Strengths. It's not one of those lightweight tests you get for blogs, the sort that only has 6 questions - this has 240 questions so is a bit more ...well...authentic. Below are my results - which seem pretty accurate to me:

Your Top Strength

Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Second Strength

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Your Third Strength

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Your Fourth Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fifth Strength

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Does anyone else find this disturbing?

You can see a larger (and even more disturbing image) here. - you need to scroll down a bit to reach it. This skyscraper is in Dubai. Currently it's 707 metres (that's 2320 feet) tall and 160 floors, and growing. The big image gives you a better idea of the scale.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Universe...

Taking a leaf out of the Yarn Harlot's book (although she's much funnier than I am), I thought I'd mention a few things to the Universe that aren't working here. Though my experience with the Universe is that it's definitely male, because it doesn't usually listen to me.

Here's a small list of things That Do Not Work:

1. When you're sending heavy rain over the country, please remember that the east coast of the South Island (our ancestors were SO original in their names) exists. We actually need the rain. The west coast doesn't.

2. The yapping spaniel that drives my dogs mad. Could you perhaps make it mute? Currently it yaps from the minute it leaves its home, all the way along the street. Or better still, get its owners to move away.

3. Birds getting trapped in the roof. Somewhere. I don't object to the rich variety of birdlife living on my roof - after all, it's the tallest building around - and the fact that the birds are having sex up there too - but can you please prevent a repeat of what happened last year? My houseguests objected to maggots falling out of the ceiling onto their pillows. For some reason.

4. And while we're on critters, perhaps you could arrange for some of my neighbours to have gardens? So that every cat in the immediate vicinity is not using MY garden to crap in.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Did you miss me? And the Rust Madonna moves on.

Not that I've been away - just without my main computer for 2 weeks. I also have a work laptop and a wee netbook, but all my dye business software and a multitude of documents as well as photo formatting software are on the desktop.

Here are some more lovely pinks and reds from the garden, as we approach the start of summer.
This is a completely gratuitous shot of Grizabella, for no other reason than she doesn't feature much normally. She is Seven's daughter, and a long-tailed Manx (Tailless) cat.
My vegetable garden is flourishing - this is lettuce, rocket, mesclun and baby spinach.
Of course, I haven't been idle. I'm playing with knitting fabric - hand dyed of course!
I also made a couple of changes to the Rust Madonna. My friend who is an artist (the painting kind) enthused over this, and wants me to frame it as is without stitching. Currently, I'm making a second version in different colours which I'll show within the next few days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still waiting......

....and being a bad blogger in the meantime - I am just so focused on other stuff, like what I'm going to do for a living after selling most of my financial services business (the "day job") that I have hardly read any blogs lately.
My daughter Sophie has just returned from a holiday in Samoa - you can see how crowded it is in the photo...I mean, there's another person on the beach!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Normal transmission will be resumed....

...once I sort out my desktop computer which has gone into cardiac arrest. In the meantime, here's a photo of the twins lying in front of the fire after their spring haircut, which happened to conincide with a frosty day earlier this week. Here in Canterbury, we can still get frosts in early November, which plays havoc with orchards and vineyards, as well as home gardeners who have already planted their vegetables out. Fortunately, mine were covered.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

More of the spring garden

Some images from my garden today - clockwise from upper left: Aquilegia, Phlox, Campanula, Rhodohypoxis.
And a lovely Austin rose to finish with.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


"Don't put this on your blog!" she said, but I am anyway. I spent a pleasant morning with Sophie (aka Fifi) before dropping her in Christchurch. Because she' s cute.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Glorious glass

This is the lovely lampworked glass heart bead I bought yesterday at the Culverden Fete, an annual North Canterbury event that attracts in excess of 6000 people per year. It was lovely having a day off, the weather was kind and the setting was beautiful - a farm nestled up against hills, with views of the Southern Alps.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


It's almost (but not quite) November. And this is the time for Movember.

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health. It's an international event, and you can read more on the website here. Why? Because men are far more likely to think they're bulletproof and not go to the doctor's than women, so when things go wrong, they're often not picked up early when they can best be treated. Women are more aware of their bodies (hah! who can help but be aware of something that causes so many problems?) so we tend to get regular checkups.

My friend Jill's husband Arnold is supporting Movember this year, helping those men with prostate cancer and also depression. We have started supporting Arnold a bit early as he apparently needs a bit of head start in the mo growing department.

Kiwi bloggers who want to help can donate here. If you're from somewhere else, encourage your significant others (the males, anyway) to register and start mo growing.