Sunday, April 30, 2017

What I'm weaving

I finally remembered to take a photo at weaving of what we're doing. It's Theo Moorman technique where you weave a background cloth and add supplementary wefts that sit on the surface of the cloth, held down by (theoretically) invisible tie down threads. You can use it to do all sorts of shapes, and make landscapes and pictorial things, but after doing a sample I decided to go with transparent squares. Or perhaps rectangles, sometimes I keep weaving and it is no longer a square. I am calling it a table runner, but really I'm just weaving.

We are fairly confident that the slubby background thread is a silk, and I'm weaving it together with a cotton so it's strong enough. It looks a bit coarse in the photo but in reality it's quite an interesting mix and is making a nice cloth. The squares are in pastels - some so pale they're hardly noticeable - and it's fun, but a bit fiddly. The tie-down threads tend to lose their tension and go a bit wonky. And you have to manually put the colours through so it's hard to get a rhythm up.  But in some ways that's good - it's not automatic and every little while you stop and think about where you're going to put the next colour.

My Dad went back to NZ on Friday after nearly three weeks here. As usual it went by incredibly quickly but he managed to not only help with the painting but do some gardening, and cook us dinner on his last night of fish that he had caught himself and brought over. Yep, another few kilos of beautiful frozen snapper fillets made it across the Tasman. Amazing, and we all love it. This is not a great photo because we mostly have our mouths full...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Finishing off

I took the scrappy mountain majesties top down from the "pending" shelf and decided it didn't need anything more - good to go! A sort of baptist fan quilting pattern - very easy when it is in such nice regular strips - and now it is finished as a finished thing. Despite the very old fashioned colours and pattern I really like it.

The red helps, I think. I still have a lot of mid-browns and colours-of-the-woodland in my fabric pile so I'm going to have to do another one to use them up. It's hard though. The clear modern colours kind of leap out of the pile and demand to be sewn, but these take a bit more thought.

This is (yet another) of Bonnie Hunter's free patterns. She is amazing, and I love everything she makes. Scraps forever! I look down on your co-ordinated fabric lines and trendy designers. Pah. This quilt is called "The Affluent Middle Ring" because I was listening to some podcast and one of the ABC announcers was talking about talkback radio and engaging with your audience ... and he said "sometimes though I just feel as though I'm talking to the affluent middle ring" and I thought "No shit sherlock! You have an afternoon show on ABC radio, who the hell did you think was listening" and named my quilt accordingly.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Glorious autumn

The nights are cool, the leaves have turned, Canberra is looking gorgeous and I will post photos of the autumn leaves, like I do every year. Because every year I am startled by how pretty it is. I like winter, and cold weather, so there's no sadness in losing summer for me. Mostly relief to be honest - it was SO HOT for SO LONG. This is the Manchurian pear on our driveway. Our driveway is quite steep so my Dad raked this all up in one marathon stretch because we were having trouble backing the cars out. The tree dumps its leaves over about a week - great piles of them.

One lunchtime last week I went for a run down past Old Parliament House and back through the rose gardens. There are still the very last roses on the bushes. It all looks a bit shaggy and unkempt and ready for a winter tidy up and prune. Yellow roses are my favourite flower of all time - I know that it's a bit corny and boring to like roses but I can't help it. They are just too perfect, especially against a blue blue sky.

The weekend was nice and quiet with a lunch with friends to break up our own company. Dad has been doing some excellent gardening, and the boys have had friends around and other social events. I did some quilting too so I'll take some photos and share. Weaving starts again this Wednesday! Loking forward to it.

We bundled the dog in the car and walked round the lake on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the prettiness. She bounds with enthusiasm for the first half then stoically trots around the second half. Her target audience - six year old girls- were out in force so she got a bit of cuddling and patting. They love her fluffy cuteness.

Yes, number one son has outgrown his father by many inches. We knew it would happen...

Friday, April 21, 2017

The second half of Easter

Easter Saturday I bailed on my loving family and drove back up to Canberra to go to the National Folk Festival. After the success of my experimental day last year I'd bought tickets to the Sunday and Monday so left the painting behind (hahahaha) and went off for some banjo-plucking fun times.

Although I did think I'd made the wrong choice because it was so gorgeous when I left, and the sun was shining all the way back, and I do love being at the beach .... but I'd bought the tickets and Frugality First so off I went. And of course it was awesome. Just magic, just like last year. Perfect weather for starters - but freezing when the sun went down! I borrowed a peruvian scarf from a friend who is experienced in folk festival matters, and comes with a large bag of warm clothes.

I heard some fabulous bands of all shapes and sizes. There were big concerts and little concerts and pop-up concerts and the sign yourself up whiteboard in the bars, and buskers. The Folk Festival is a very broad church, and there was everything from punk-inspired, to deeply traditional, to more country, to strings, to harps, to Finnish accordions, to spoken voice, and choirs, and a capella and blues and this lot - a local band - who are 1930s-1950s cowboy jazz. Of course.

Not to mention the dancing - tango and scottish country and belly dancing and of course the Morris dancers. I still bloody love Morris dancers. I love their random dance-offs where all the groups join up for random things. I love that there were guys in dresses and one guy in what appears to be a sigmund and the sea monsters costume. I love that one guy forgot to put his beer down and someone knocked it with a stick, and only one group (the Auckland City Morris Dancers, they had a kiwi on their braces) thought that the dance involved roaring at each other in the middle, and some guys had hats with flowers on them and one bloke did the whole thing in a prussian helmet. Love it.

I caught up with a few friends there which made it even more special - we could go to concerts together or wander off then wander back for some food and a chat. I did two full days and had so much fun. Next year a season ticket! The full five days! Do I have the stamina?


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The first half of Easter

I had a lovely Easter - the weather was just beautiful - almost like late summer rather than mid-autumn. Warm sparkling clear days with cool nights .... perfect. My dad is visiting at the moment from New Zealand so it was a nice change for him from the double cyclone they just got whammied with. Rain and floods and slips and mud through most of the country! But he made it here and Thursday we went down the coast to enjoy the scenery and the sunshine.

This is (hopefully) a very boring video of our beach on the morning of Good Friday. I haven't uploaded a video before, but it should work. I took it because it was just so lovely and there was no-one there! Heaps of people later on of course but at breakfast time I had it almost to myself. Until I went back to the house, and started painting. And painting, and painting.

Another boring photo! An empty room, now with painted walls and masking tape. We undercoated the walls and the cornices, then painted the ceiling and the cornices, then painted the walls Dulux "Whisper White". So three different lots of basically white paint. They all look identical in the tin, but very different on the wall. Whisper White is very slightly grey, when compared to the bright ceiling white.

It was a bit tedious, but nothing compared to the staining and varnishing of the trims and door ... which probably belongs more in my "second half of Easter" post. The boys and my dad were helpful, and I managed to get in one lovely swim in late afternoon. I had a wetsuit on but the water is still lovely and warm. It was more for the air temperature! Any bits of you sticking out of the water got chilled. But otherwise just lovely.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

What was in the cupboards

Part of cleaning out the cupboards for the loom (and related items) was seeing for the first time the size of the "orphan block" pile - I had just been shoving random stuff in the tub for some years now. Orphan blocks happen when I can't count properly and make too many, or make a few extra just in case, or try a block or two and don't like them, or make them wrong and chuck them in the tub rather than unpicking. I hate unpicking.  So for my next project I sewed together stuff from the tub. It was very quick and easy.

I have enough left over for another one, and I think I'll do another one. I like these random quilts - they have a certain charm. And it's a trip down memory lane for me because I can remember where the blocks came from, or which quilt they were meant to be in. Some are ten years old.

It's quilted in a thin spiral, not very adventurous but this type of quilt doesn't deserve anything too fancy.  It's called "Awkward Breakfast". Hope you are all having a lovely Easter! Mine has been great so far, and still two days to go...

Monday, April 10, 2017

A social weekend

We've had a lovely weekend of catching up with people - mostly my husband's parents (down from Brisbane) and his aunt and uncle (up from Melbourne) who met in Canberra to see the name of their grandfather - my husband's great-grandfather - up in lights on a wall.

To mark the WWI centenary the Australian War Memorial is doing a Roll of Honour name projections of people who were killed. From 2014 - 2018 they're projecting all the names on the front of the building about 30 times each, and you can find out what time a particular name is up and trot along. As we did ... well, not me personally, because it was cold and raining, but my husband and number one son did. Their middle name is both Stafford, which is the first name of the great-grandfather who was killed, so he is certainly still remembered.

And a bit startlingly well-remembered last year, when the Liberal Party head office released an ANZAC day banner collage for members of parliament to use in their newsletters if they wanted. And plenty of them did - the one above is Steve Irons but there were quite a few others - featuring Stafford Greer in uniform before he went away and was killed - the baby is my husband's nana, who lived to her late nineties. It was quite startling for the family as they took their local members' newsletter to the recycling ... the member for Macquarie put her logo across nana's face. She lost her seat at the July election. Hah.

So we had a couple of lovely family dinners, and caught up with other friends who were down from Sydney for brunch, and it rained and rained which was wonderful. It was the end of term on Friday so the boys were tired and have done pretty much nothing all weekend. We will have to change that soon ... but not today.

Friday, April 7, 2017

My loom

And here is a picture of my loom - it is quite an ancient structure, but seems in very good working order and all the bits and bobs are in the right place. It feels nice to work with, and I know this after threading and threading and threading ... I had to move the string heddles around too so I removed springs and fiddled around with it. Time consuming but the weaving instructor calls it "getting to know your loom" and it is apparently very important! I'm already finding it weaves a bit softer than the other ones; I need to keep the tension a bit looser. Weird that something so inanimate can have such a personality.

No, it doesn't come with an alarm clock, I just put it up there so I could see it from the bed. I had to put the loom on the table in the bedroom because it won't fit in the sewing room. I brought it home to do the threading so I could catch up a bit. This is two threads used as one for the warp (and weft) - there was a mystery thread in the cupboard that we quite liked, but it wasn't strong enough so I've used it with a cream cotton. And then there are finer cream cotton for the tie down warp threads for the supplementary weft. A bit fiddly but I'm all about the learnings (complete lie, I'm all about the easiest way to do anything, but I have learnt to keep that in check while taking courses as often I do indeed learn something, who would have thought it).

We think the mystery thread might be a silk because it has that slubbiness and slightly sticky feel of silk. It is certainly more interesting than a plain cotton in look and feel. I took it back in on Wednesday and started doing the supplementary pattern of abstract rectangles. They are quite see-through on the background weave, so it looks pale and interesting. Hard to explain, I'll take more photos.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The come-back quilt

I have finished my return-to-quilting quilt - it was lots of fun, and nice and bright and loud - and all on that same wonky half-log-cabin theme. It is called (unsurprisingly) "I'm Back Bitches". I didn't mean to, honestly, it just came out.

I quilted it in the same spiral idea as the piecing, in a bright blue thread. It's a bolder look than I normally go for, and not particularly even. But that was the point of this quilt, to whack something together than made me smile and enjoy the feeling of quilting again.

I don't know how much sewing I'll get done this weekend - I've brought my loom home to try and catch up. I've had to work late the past two Wednesdays and I haven't finished threading my individual project yet ... miles behind. I'll finish the threading and sley the reed this weekend ready to start (finally) weaving next Wednesday. The threading is a bit more complex than anything I'll try on my own! I'm not sure what my first solo project will be when the course is finished and my loom comes home permanently; but there's another couple of months to worry about it. In the meantime I am going to do more bodgy quilting.