Saturday, February 27, 2010

A little inspiration

I watched this lovely video a little while ago but have been thinking about it ever since. It is relaxing, inspiring and intriguing. There are a lot of art journal vids out there, but I think Friday Eudaemonism's 'Bliss' is one of the better ones.

Plus, it is a chilled out Saturday morning and it suits the mood I'm in at the moment.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Time to Come Clean

It is Friday! I'm so happy about this because all of a sudden my life has turned into a busy, working, exhausting, get up at 6am every morning, life. It has been a bit of a shock as I last worked in June last year. A good shock - I'm so very happy and pleased to be doing the things I'm doing at the moment, but there is a bit of adjustment going on too.

One of the things that I feel happening is this blog turning into a more day-to-day blog, rather than a cafty one. I guess that's okay, but I do want to get back to posting a bit more about my crafty work.

So, in the interests of full disclosure, and perhaps so you can forgive me when I stray away from fabric-y goodness (and believe me, it pains me too!), I thought I should just come clean about all the other hats I wear just now.

Not in any order; I'm teaching at a university, assisting a visually impaired student, completing *another* graduate diploma (in heritage studies) which involves *another* thesis plus more, working on getting my consulting business off the ground, completing a Certificate in Small Business Management (a requirement for the funding I'm getting) and around all that trying to find time to sew for upcoming market deadlines. Phew!

It is exciting times and I'm glad to be doing it all. When I left full time high school teaching last year I really was looking for more variety in my work and while it has been stressful finding things that work with each other and keeping a lid on doing too much, I'm really happy with how things have worked out.

As you can see, I have managed to do some more sewing here and there, but today, after I've done the reading for my class, I'm going to spend it sewing. Then I'll go and teach and after that, throw myself into the ocean. Can't wait.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Book I Want...

Over on True Up - one of my favourite all time blogs! - is a little interview with Natalie Chanin who is all about sourcing sustainable and organic fabrics and materials. I haven't read her book, but would love to.

Plus, the designs are beautiful!

So fecking hot here that I can hardly stand it.

Last Night

My house mate/best friend/all-round awesomeness cooked dinner last night. We had pasta with HOMEGROWN tomatoes and zucchini. So delicious. We also had some wine, and then the camera came out.

Yes, it was hot yesterday. 39degC. It will be 42degC today. Charming.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


In the morning I try to take my dog on as long a walk as I can. This morning was lovely and cool and we set out just after 6am. These walks aren't nearly as interesting as the ones I used to do from my little farm, but I do enjoy looking at people's houses and thinking about things. Today I wondered as I walked about what linen is made of. It struck me that I didn't know, although now I've done a bit of research, it seems really obvious and familiar, so perhaps I did know...

Anyway, I thought I'd share some interesting linen facts because, well, I found them interesting. And it doesn't surprise me that linen is one of the oldest fabrics - of course I'm going to love the old stuff!

The parts of a flax plant

First of all, linen is made of flax. It is a fairly labour intensive process to get it from plant to cloth with quite a few steps, but interestingly, some of the steps, such as retting, can happen naturally on the plant. Oh, and there are some cool words involved here too. So, first there is winnowing, which is removing the seeds. This is done after harvest, which is best done by hand to make sure long, intact stalks are harvested. Next is retting, the first part of the process to remove the fibre from the stalks. This is usually done in water. The next part of the process is scutching, which can be done by machine or by hand. Basically, the fibres that you want to make the cloth are inside the stalk and it takes quite a bit of work to get them out. There is a cool video that demonstrates some of the process when done by hand here. After quite a bit of scutching, heckling needs to happen. This is done with combs and is to make the flax straight and smooth and ready for spinning.

The Spinner, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Of course spinning is a very well known process and can be done by hand or by machine. The thread is then ready to be woven into cloth or fabric and, well, the rest we know.

Linen has been found intact in tombs in Egypt, thousands of years old. I can completely believe this because when I went there the original colours on the walls of the tombs were so stunningly perfect it blew me away. It is one of the oldest forms of textile, along with wool I suppose. I like this fact a lot.

A linen mummy shroud (with the mummy inside it) Egypt, about 1000 BC (Vatican Museum, Rome)

There is a whole other post here on the environmental impact of the production of linen and other textiles. While it seems that cotton is the worst, linen isn't really that far behind. If you're interested in this have a read of this article, which is a good intro to the issues.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I think the most influential design style or period for me is the Arts and Crafts movement. And while I love William Morris, I think far more delicious, more sensual, more lovely, are Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh's work. I have eight postcards stuck on my wall above my desk and four of them are from these two artists.

When I was in Glasgow a few years ago their work, mostly absolutely beautifully preserved, were my favourite things to see.

I'm finding that more of my work and the ideas swimming around in my head come from their work. I'm endlessly thinking about long lines and circles, about flowers and natural motifs.

But it is interesting because I don't think my work is much like this amazing stuff. It is a lot more simple, there is a lot 'less' in my work, but I can certainly see the places it has come from.
There isn't a great deal of information about the Mackintoshs on the internet. They seem to be a bit lost - except in Glasgow of course. And my best advice is to go there and see their stuff, walk in the rooms they designed and decorated, eat in the tearooms they created and immerse yourself in their beautiful, beautiful work.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bike, vintage shopping, eggs, cleaning!

Yes, basically that was my day. I feel very productive!

This morning my housemate and I set off on our bikes for Cycle Sunday (commonly known in our house as CS - pronounced 'sssss' - just like our Facebook Free Friday, known as FFF - pronounced (you guessed it!) 'fffff') and headed for a vintage garage sale where we were promised buttons! old linen! vintage clothes! and where I bought all of those things.

I spent about $30 which was awesome. The dress will become a bag and the linen and lace will be parts of cushions, I think. I already have some old linen like these pieces but they've come from my family and I've hesitated cutting them up until I knew what I was doing. Now I'll be able to practice with some of these. Although not the clogs - the clogs are so cute!

Then we cycled on to the Coode St Cafe where we were lucky to get a table as they were all booked out (!) and had tea and eggs - so good! Then home via a little tyre mishap.

We had psyched ourselves up for cleaning day and dutifully started when we got back. About four hours later the house is sparkling and ready for inspection on Tuesday. And, more importantly, lovely again for living in.

This post seems very report-y. But there you go. I'm tired! Tomorrow is the first day of my new job and I'm so looking forward to it.

I hope you all had a lovely Sunday too.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Credit: Copyright Viviane Dalles. Used without Permission

Go here and watch the 'Growing Debt' slideshow (I mean, watch all of them, but particularly that one).

Now go here and look at this photo shoot of a one-year-old's birthday party. I saw this the other day and it has been on my mind ever since. I don't want to be mean to one family or anything but I'm scared this is not considered completely unnecessarily outlandish, over-the-top and decadent (in the bad sense of the word) due to all the fawning that has happened here over the 'cute!'. I just think that sometimes I have to stand up and say, 'no, actually, that is a hideous waste of resources and money'. I decided that my own blog was probably the best place to do that!

And here I am, somewhere in the middle, trying to be moral and good, growing some of my own food, not using plastic, trying not to drive the car too much and existing on the smallest amount of money I've ever had but still participating in ways that I don't think I should and that I could do better.

Sometimes the world just doesn't make sense.

Friday, February 19, 2010


As I was making this cushion I could feel the sewing block that has been haunting me for about a month start to lift. This cushion represents all the ideas I have in my head but haven't been able to realise for one reason or another.

I was also thinking about how, as my mother's only daughter, I was drowned in pink when I was younger. When I turned 21 I told Mum 'that's it! no more' and she dutifully filled the front lawn with pink flamingos on my birthday morning as my 'last pink treat'. It took me a lot of years to get back to pink, but now I quite like it. Now, in fact, I really enjoy making cute, pink things. Not for children, but for women who like a bit of pretty in their lives.

I'm really happy with this cushion. Every time I do hand-sewn embellishing or applique I drift off into a wonderful place where there is nothing but the next stitch to worry about.

Watch out for this cushion and others like it at the Upmarket and my Etsy shop.


I'm really happy with the way this reverse applique turned out. And the branch worked really well as well.

I'm not loving the yellow background colour - in fact it looks better in this picture because it is more grey than yellow. But I can't do anything about that now.

But a slight sewing mishap on one side that was completely undoable meant that I had to make the whole thing smaller. It was originally supposed to be a cushion cover but now it isn't cushion cover size (unless I tailor make an insert). I was thinking of turning it into a tote, but, hmmm. I'm not sure. Perhaps I will make an insert. See, I know writing about it would help!


Although it is almost the end of February (eep!), my summer vegetables are still going strong. Gotta love the Mediterranean climate here in Perth! The first two tomato plants I had have well and truly finished now and really need to be pulled out, but I have another that has just started to produce lovely ripe red fruit.

The capsicum (pepper) plants are still producing fruit and should for a while yet. You can see a tiny one up the back of the basket in the shot above.

I was a bit afraid that I'd planted the zucchini (courgette) a little late but the plants have burst into flower, grown so quickly and produced the first fruit ready for picking within about 5 weeks! There are plenty more zucchini to come too, which is great because I LOVE zucchini.

But autumn is coming and it is the best time for gardening. Although I'm loving the summer (as always) I am looking forward to digging around in the garden in the cooler weather, planting beetroots and cabbages and beans ready for the winter months. And, really, that is the best thing about gardening, there is the pleasure of now and the excitement of what is to come.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


One of my favourite things! I used to have to wait all year for the New Year's fireworks (or in Perth, the Australia Day fireworks), but possibly the coolest thing about our house is that we can see ALL the fireworks at the racetracks, casino and various other events from our front yard.

Tonight was the loudest fireworks yet. It really did sound like bombs going off and my poor doggy was scared out of her wits. But it was awesome - huge, huge fireworks that reverberated through the cooling night air. So cool!

Firework photography is so hard, especially when you just run out there in your nightie and are not using a tripod, but I thought it was worth a shot. A nice reminder, anyway.

By the way, a really warm welcome to those new peeps who have been reading my blog of late. I love to know that you are out there, why don't you drop me a comment some time?

On the home front

This week has been crazy busy getting ready for a new job - the kind that needs lesson plans and photocopies - but I think everything is sorted for my start on Monday. I've been staying close to home and feeling the need for a little cocooning. So I wanted to post about some the things I have around me at the moment. Starting with my favourite craft tool.

I know, you're thinking, wha...? that's not a tool! But it really is to me. It is an Ikea piece, but I don't think they sell it anymore. It is on wheels and fits perfectly under my table when I'm not working and then wheels out next to my chair when I am. I can change my thread easily, find a random button for embellishment, grab clasps, zips and whatever else I need without having to get out of my crafty-groove. I keep fabric that I want to use on my current project in the top drawer, threads and other extras in the second and use the third for storage. So, perfect! It makes me happy every time I reach for it.

This week I also sold a TV cabinet that I was using for storage in my work room (on Gumtree - LOVE gumtree for selling things!) and bought an Expedit bookcase from Ikea.
So much more room, so easy to see things and it fits in the room a lot better too. I haven't, obviously, put all my fabric in it yet, but the plan is to have everything sorted by colour or type (I haven't decided which yet) so it is easy to see what I have. Down the bottom are my three baskets of wool and I'm looking forward to getting back to knitting when it gets a bit cooler.

And, just because I was in my workroom with the camera, here is a sneak peek of some new products that will be available at the Perth Upmarket (at the end of March) and after that at my Etsy shop. These little baskets are so quick to make but have a lot of potential for really creative use of fabric. Plus, they are lovely for keeping all those little random things that collect on a bench or desk neat and organised!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Postcard Swap!

Today, among other very important things, is postcard swap sending day! And as my first postcard arrived in the post today (yay!) I really have to get to the post office. But just quickly before I go, I thought I'd just let all you know. Especially those of you who are waiting for my postcard!

Only teaser shots though, don't want to give too much away!!

I'm a material girl, so mine are based on my love of fabric. It was completely freeing for me to create these postcards - I just let myself go and enjoyed the process and what I ended up with. Some are very abstract and others not so much.

And now, off to the post office! 
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wishes and impossible desires

I know I promised more news yesterday, but I'm not ready to spill just yet. Instead I give you exciting V&A - my all-time favourite museum and the ONLY reason I'll ever venture back to the UK - news. They are just about to open their Quilts: 1700 - 2010 exhibition. Oh! for some kind of sci-fi machine to zap me over there just for this!!

(I love this image but there is no source info. I got if from here).

I'm becoming so excited about quilting. It has grown slowly over the last six months, inspired by my love of applique. So, it is almost tortuous that my newest love - quilting - and my oldest love - history - are coming together and I can't see it!

Walter Dendy Sadler, Nearly Done, aquatint, published 1898 (Private Collection)

I will have to just try to satisfy myself with the curator's blog, the conference details, some specially-released-for-the-exhibition fabric, and, hopefully (if I can convince my brother to get it for me) the book.

Small quilted patchwork cover, silk velvets and satins, Priscilla Redding, cica 1690s, T.615-1996

And thankfully, the internet, through which I can still find out really fascinating things about some of the quilts that will be in the exhibition.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This just had to be posted! From Romantic Threads. Look at this dress! The photography! The wonderful juxtaposition of the hair! Love it. LOVE IT!

Today will be exciting...I'll be back with news...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just Go For It

I used to 'just go for it', or at least I have done it before.

 I once bought a little 20acre farm in rural Victoria on the day I went to see it. I wasn't even looking for a little farm, I didn't even know what towns were nearby, I had never been to the area and had never owned property, let alone 20acres of it, before. When I think about it now, it was madness! Buy a farm? Crazy, right?

I always wanted to live in the country but I had to quit my city job to move there, I had to learn about running out of water and chopping wood and dealing with lizards,  mice, snakes and spiders, I had to get used to driving 15mins to get to civilization, I had to learn what frost will do to plants and how to start a pump and a generator. And many other things besides. Thing is, though, I loved it with all my heart and when I sold that little property six years later I was very sad, even though I knew I had to do it.

I still miss the quiet and the solitude, the mornings as the sun crept over the forest that surrounded my farm and the evenings when my music would waft over the paddocks as the shadows deepened. I loved being able to wander freely across my land and into the forest with the dogs off the lead. I still miss chopping wood, setting a fire, lighting the stove and being oh-so-cold while I waited for the heat to spread.

So, why am I telling you all this? Because I need to take a leaf out of the book I used to live by. I need to be that person again who takes risks and jumps in and just sees if things will work out. So, look out! I might be slow to wind up and get started but I can feel the momentum building.

(You can see more of my photography of my farm and surrounds here.)

Monday, February 8, 2010


I've joined a club run by a friend called the Once A Month Sew And Tell where each month we have to sew something to wear for ourselves or friends/family - that is, not for sale. I really needed this motivation to start sewing my own clothes again (I used to make myself shorts when I was a kid) and I actually managed to make something for January!!

In the end the whole thing took about four hours from going to the shop and finding the pattern and fabric (about two hours) to cutting and sewing (another two hours). Really quick and REALLY cheap - all up I think it was about $15 for the fabric and a bit more for the pattern (which I can use again, of course).

I chose really slippery fabric that wasn't fun to work with at all, but it ended up okay. I will probably make another one of these in a cotton fabric that is a bit longer with a lower neck line, just to make it a bit more 'me'.

Exciting! And now, onto this month's task - a simple circle cape....actually I'm not entirely convinced that 'simple' and 'circle' belong in the same sentence! Check back in a month or so...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Brilliant Brother

Just a quick post to crow about my brother; amazing artist and musician, and his current project. He is the artist-in-residence in a vacant shop in the city.

He has to work there during the week (you can see the painting he is currently working on on the easel up the back) and at the end of his stint he has an exhibition. Today we set up the table in the foreground with some of his sketch books for people to browse. I'm trying to get him to put signs up welcoming people in too.

So, if you happen to be in Perth, go and say hi and have a look at his amazing work. He is in the little arcade at the Parmelia Hilton on the corner of Mill and St George's Tce. He is mostly there until about 2pm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

aaaand, we're back!

I've just spent that last week or so without my computer, which has been especially challenging because it was totally unplanned and completely disruptive to all the things I've needed to do. Luckily, I did have access to another computer to use the net with, but keeping up with emails and blogs was the limit of that little computers ability.

I guess, though, the positive to come out of this is that I have managed to collect quite a few blog post ideas! So, I'm hoping that this will give me the head start to get this blog running regularly and smoothly for the foreseeable future.

Something I was just about to post about before my computer decided that waking up in the morning was just all too hard, was the little curtain I made for my drawers in my bedroom. This was really my first home-project - the first thing I'd made specifically to solve an issue in my house. It was also on my New Year's list of projects for January (this makes me sound so organised!!) and so I'm inordinately pleased with myself for having done it.

I don't have a proper chest of drawers at the moment and am making do with two Antonius frames with clear plastic Antonius drawers from Ikea, naturally. When I bought these units they were to sit inside a built-in wardrobe, but in this new house they just sit out in the open. Which is okay, except I didn't like the mess of being able to see the clothes in the plastic drawers. And my budget stretching to a proper set of drawers (and wardrobe, for that matter) is a long way off.

I had some Toile de Jouy fabric sitting around not doing much and decided it would be perfect. Really, the whole thing was ridiculously simple - just measure, cut and sew. Seriously. I bought a thing called a lace curtain rail (about $4) which is basically metal encased in white plastic. There were hooks and eyes to screw into the rail and whatever it is attaching to to fasten it. I did things a little differently, but the concept is the same.

The difference this curtain has made to my bedroom has been quite amazing. It adds a more peaceful element and makes the drawers part of what I'm trying to create in there rather than just an extremely functional object with no aesthetic value at all.

Some of my favourite things now sit on top of the drawers - my stack of jewellery cases, a crystal plate my grandmother gave me, a plate my brother painted, my mittens from the winter I spent in Sweden, a great book and, most favourite, my childhood night light - a mushroom with a family of mice living in it! So cute.
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