Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The weekend walk

I'm home today with a tummy bug ... some virus that's making me suffer unfortunate symptoms, and generally not feel well. I've taken drugs for the symptoms but there's not much you can do about the feeling crappy bit. Never mind, at least I'm quietly at home and not infecting anyone.

We had a great walk on Sunday - the London Bridge walk, where you get to walk over this natural arch across a river. On an unmarked path next to lots of nice friable cliffs and sheer drops, perfect. We went with friends so it was a five-boy walk ... fun but not very quiet. And quite cold, as you can see from our clothes.

It also took us past an old homestead - original building from the 1860s and then various others added right through to the 1950s. It's owned by heritage and fenced off so you can't get in, but there are good signs with explanations and it is in a magic spot. Although it must have been unbelievably isolated 150 years ago. These basic buildings from this era are pretty rare in Australia, so it was good to have a look at it.

OK, back to daytime television and lots of rehydration salts. Mmmm.....

Monday, July 29, 2013

Not feeling very creative

Thank you for your nice comments on my last post - and on facebook - I am not nearly as cross now, just a bit sad. It's hard to get excited about new projects; the voice in my head that tells me that-will-look-like-shit-and-you-don't-have-the-skills-don't-waste-the-good-fabric has a distinctly smug tone at the moment. But a loss of mojo isn't always such a bad thing, I am finishing up a few projects and may even possibly vacuum the sewing room. Maybe.

So I quilted and bound my cathedral stars - now named "Salted Caramel" because that orange colour of the stars is exactly the same colour as those macarons the boys and I made. Not a colour normally found in nature.

In the end I did the most boring quilting imaginable - and not much of it! Straight lines. This is going to be a bed quilt so really I just wanted something that would hold it all together, and there wasn't much point in anything fancy on such a busy pattern. The back looks a bit droopy in this photo... cute little monkeys again.

I dropped my (non-banned) quilt off on Saturday - it's an OK quilt but more of a technical exercise than anything I'm passionate about. I forgot to get a picture but I'll blog it after the event. I had completely forgotten what I called it in the entry but I'd written down a few suggestions in my graph book so went back and tried to remember which one I'd used for the label! And got it wrong, but I can't imagine it would matter ... although who knows with this mob.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yeah, well. Fuck you too.

Remember the lemons quilt I was working on for the exhibition? I duly entered it, with photo, and Canberra Quilters has refused to hang it. Here is the quilt in its entirety.

I called the quilt "Self-help" and it's my take on the stupid uplifting sayings that you get can get peppered with when you have cancer. This quilt was a long time in the gestation and I played around with a lot of different words - but it needed swearing. I actually went with "fuckers" rather than using the adjective because it read a bit milder. But no matter what I wrote it needed something quite jarring,  to make it angry, and not just trite and silly like the sayings I was objecting to.

This is about 1 cm high and written in orange fabric marker on yellow. Clearly, if this gets before the eyes of the viewing public THE WORLD WILL END. At least that's what the Committee decided last night. Hell no, we won't show.

To say that I am angry about this would be an understatement. I am furious. And I am also surprised. I expected some eye-rolling, the odd "well, I don't think that's appropriate" and even a "I think she might be using shock value to cover up her lack of technical expertise". I really genuinely did not expect to be banned.

For context, the Canberra Quilters Guild is not some small group of retired women who decided to put on a show in the church hall. It is a large and well-established group that has been going for 40 years - through enormous changes in the quilting world - and counts among its members some world-renowned art quilters. They've embraced every development from machine quilting to embellishment to felting and back again ... this is a Guild that likes to think it's a player. Except, apparently, it's not. Apparently, anger expressed through everyday language is not OK. Apparently, you can be as emotional and avant garde as you want when you're gluing ugly poppies to a quilt for Anzac Day, or firing swarovski crystals through a glue gun, or meticulously re-creating your beach holiday in applique ... but there is a limit. And, apparently, that limit is reached at the f-word.

The banning advice did not contain any reasons for the exclusion, other than that it was because of the "fuckers". So I'm guessing it wasn't thought appropriate? although why the hell would any art exhibition use "appropriateness" as a criteria? Were they worried about the children? Because if a kiddy is old enough to read it, they are old enough to understand an explanation about when and where you use language, and why. I've been quilting this on my lap for two months now and my boys are well aware of when you can use certain words, and when they land you in your room for half an hour.

So I'm making the arguments to myself; that the exhibition is an expression of the Guild as a whole, and we have to think of our sponsors, and it would put a burden on those members who are on white glove duty next to it ... and I look at every argument and I say THAT IS ABSOLUTE FUCKING BOLLOCKS.  Either you only ever hang works that make you comfortable and warm inside; or you grow some spine and show the ugly ones, and the offensive ones, and the barking mad ones. Am I the only person who thinks that might be important?

I have to admit, I'm not making great art here. The only thing I can say is that I am making a genuine comment about something that is important to me, through the only technique I have, and every stitch, every colour choice and every word is the one that feels right - that feels necessary - to get to the result that I want. And Canberra Quilters has told me in the most direct and unvarnished way that my choices are WRONG and even worse are SO WRONG that they cannot be shown in public EVER or it will contaminate us all. So yeah, well, fuck you too.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last few days of the holidays

And those days did NOT get any warmer! I don't think we've reached ten degrees in the last five days; and rainy and cold and hail with it. Snow down to low altitudes - so our hills look pretty - but no snow fell here, much to the boys' disappointment. There has been a lot of computer time for the children interspersed with some frosty outdoor time. We went back to the arboretum on a quieter day. This is the "wide brown land" sculpture  - some Australian poem - small boy included on the "w" for scale. The "i" had been yarn-bombed. It looked terrible.

And here is a selfie trapped in the wide brown land. With rust (on the sculpture, not on me. Yet).

This is the new playground. It's very cool and those rope tunnels are extremely high! They are meant to be acorns, or possibly gum nuts, but to me they just look like the War of the Worlds aliens.

We also did some indoor things - cooking salted caramel macarons. Not from scratch, from a mix, which made them much easier. They were surprisingly delicious; surprising because the mix smelt awful - that artificial fake sweet smell - but the actual biscuits were beautiful. But so so very sweet, even the boys couldn't eat more than one. See number one son in a tshirt? It was about sixteen degrees inside the house. I refuse to turn the heating up until they put socks on, and possibly a jumper.

Which leads me to the next photo - it was so cold on the walk on Sunday that we actually got them to wear beanies! Only happens about once a year. We went up to the trig point to look south and west to the hills and see the pretty snow. Back to school today and I think they were quite happy about it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Finally, one that worked

My attempts to make a little baby quilt finally worked! Not that this is very exciting - and it's probably not what I intended to make either. There were a lot of strips sitting around the sewing room when I got back from Indonesia, and no plan in my head (or on paper). So this is small and simple.

And with very simple quilting lines. The walking foot and I got on fine this time round, so I think it's just a question of adjusting. I had trouble going back to piecing, with breaking threads and bad tension, but I'm getting the hang of the different gizmos and adjusting the foot pressure and the tension here and the other bit there...

Close up of cute little monkeys.

Another close up of cute little monkeys ... the rainy cold school holidays continue on.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Running them round

It's a wet and rainy school holiday week here ... so I'm taking every opportunity to run the little blossoms around. They need a LOT of running; it's like having huskies, except I can't hitch them to anything heavier than a grocery trolley. Insufficient running is not a good idea - they start arguing, then wrestling, then punching. Untidy.

In a sunny patch I took them to the new arboretum - there were a million people there (I'm not sure why, because it's very new and none of the trees are grown). The boys saw this terraced arrangement and just took off for the distant horizon. The scale is quite deceptive but there are two boys in the landscape if you look closely.

We also did a two and half hour walk through a pine plantation just a few minutes drive from our house - I'd been past it a million times but never actually done the walk. The pines were pleasant and a very different landscape from the usual paddocks and gums. It would have been quite peaceful and serene for other people ... who weren't listening to the hundredth rendition of "Misty Mountain Road" from the Hobbit sung badly by two boys as the fog came down and the rain started. They also regularly jumped off the road and hid under branches from the Ringwraiths.

A fair bit of the walk was along the top of the ridge line - no trees and a bit scrappy. And definitely up in the fog and the clouds. But worth it - not a peep out of them for the rest of the day :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013


It has taken me a few days to adjust back to Canberra time - normally I'm in Jakarta for less than a week  and I never really change my internal clock. It's only three hours behind; but it means my body has been saying it's 4 am when my alarm goes off for work! Not a pleasant way to start the day. Canberra has put on its thickest foggy mornings too, which doesn't help.

I got back on Wednesday which meant I could go to the Modern Quilters group on Thursday;  good fun and the time difference meant I could stay to the end and not have to bail to be home by bedtime (9.30... I know, it's pathetic). I finished the binding on my little musk sticks quilt - which was inspired by the stick blocks that we were doing last time.

It's very pink! The machine quilting lines are meant to reflect the stick lines.

And the backing fabric is pink too. Pink and pinker.

I sat down in my sewing room yesterday for the first time and just stared vacantly around - I had absolutely no idea what I was working on when I left. Nothing! There were bits of fabric, clearly cut and meant for something, and I had no memory of what they were for. It was a bit scary ... two weeks must be the limit of my memory. Next time I will write things down. Anyway I gave up in the end and put the bits together into something that was probably completely different to my original idea, but it's worked out fine! When I finish it off I will post photos.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

No sewing at all

I'm back in Jakarta this week - so not much sewing or anything really except eating (so much food! so much delicious food!) and working. I've got some bosses with me so I'm not even skiving off to the mall after work as usual, but staying in the hotel and being pleasant ...  despite the complete niceness of the people I work for, it's a strain to go against my fundamental nature :)  I did manage to sneak out yesterday though, and treated myself to a lovely silk batik scarf, which is very Indonesian and very beautiful.

I'm not part of our prime minister's visit yesterday and the day before but we are staying in the same hotel; so it made for a very fascinating twenty-four hours with just squadrons of police and worried-looking Australian public servants. I would much rather be an on-looker than a participant in that particular carnival.