I started the year with a bang by going to summer school in Bathurst run by Fibre Arts Australia to do a workshop with Dionne Swift.  After an amazing informative and instructive workshop I came home thinking a lot about threads.  There is so much to learn about threads.  There is so much variety and colours to choose from.  After I got home I had to face the task of unpacking my threads and putting them back in their drawers.  So how best to organise them?  I used to organise by brand and colour.  After the workshop I rethought my approach and decided to organise by weight and then colour.  It took me all day to sort it all out.  I also found that I favoured blues, greens, earthy colours.  In the process I could all see the gaps in my thread collection.  

Looking at thread weight can be confusing and frustrating as there really is no standard system in place.  There are different systems in place.  The weight standard is one that many quilters and textile people understand.  The higher the number the finer the thread.  The lower the number the thicker the thread.  As well the number refers to how many metres of thread to one gram e.g. 40 metres of 40wt weighs  gram whilst 12 metres of 12wt weighs 1 gram.  Simple and easy to understand.  Apparently the Tex system was supposedly developed to standardise the industry.  In this system the higher the number the thicker the thread.  So whilst sorting my threads I found my Rasant threads were using the Tex system and all my other threads were using the weight standard.  I rang a few suppliers trying to work out what these threads could be equivalent to in the weight standard.  I was told that everyone uses the Tex system what am I on about.  Well I still don’t know whether the Rasant’s are equivalent to a 40wt  or 50wt.  I’m totally confused.  

Then the other consideration is how the thread is wound and plied.  Threads may be single ply or 2 or 3 ply.  How it is wound is important as that dictates how it comes off the spool.  So stacked threads need to be upright on the spool holder and the cross hatched threads need to be horizontal on the spool holder.  When I have had them wrong I can have thread problems whilst sewing.  

There is so much more to learn about threads.  I went through my information folders and pulled all thread info out and put it together to keep with my threads so that I had a quick reference when I needed it.  I also have much more to think about as I stitch either by machine or hand on my art work.

IMPROVISATION #2: Tranquility


I decided to make a piece for the 2017 SAQA Trunk Show. I refer to this abstract piece as an improvisational study.  The guidelines stipulated the size of 10”x7”. I had no idea what I wanted to create so again I decided to let the fabric speak to me and guide me.

I took out my stash of eco printed and naturally dyed fabrics and I auditioned the fabrics. I kept pulling out fabrics, looked at them, fondled them. I let serendipity take over.  It kept changing until finally I just had the little bits that came together and spoke to me. I then continued to play with placement until it felt right. I challenged myself to include a technique I haven’t used for a while so I included a bit of trupunto. I also challenged myself to use more than one hand stitching stitch and to use machine stitching as well.   The stitching then took over. Again I just let the marks on the fabric lead me in my stitching. I didn’t photograph it during the process because I was just so totally engrossed in it.

I called it Improvisation #2: Tranquility.

Why? Because piece to me evokes a sense of calmness and calmness and tranquility was what I felt as I created it. As I looked at it, it also was suggestive of a restive place as it seems to reference trees, shrubs, maybe a pond. Then from a side angle in particular a face appears with a dominant mouth.

I used silk fabric with marks created during natural dyeing and eco printing on fabric process. I collaged the piece and then used very dense machine quilting and handstitched using the stem stitch, chain stitch and running stitch. The printed marks on silk together with collaged pieces and stitching create movement and texture.

improvisation2detail1 improvisation2detail2 improvisation2detail3

I thoroughly enjoyed creating it and it is part of a series I am working on using naturally dyed and ecoprinted fabrics.


Hexagon Etude quilt

P1520096First day of September and it feels like spring is here.  My Manchurian Pear blossoms are slowly emerging and the jonquils are flowering beautifully.

The last week and a bit I have been very busy.  Or should I say life was hectic.  Our youngest son and family were here for a week’s skiing, I continued with before and after school care every second day with my local grandchildren, squeezed in a trip to Canberra for the 11th anniversary dinner of my quilting friendship group, found out the local gallery wanted a consignment of my naturally dyed scarves and cushions, started packing for our overseas trip this coming week and needed to finish creating my quilt for the Quilter’s Guild of NSW challenge “Hexagon Hype”.  To celebrate their 30th anniversary all members were presented with a hexagon key tag.  The challenge was to make a quilt of any design that included at least one hexagon the same size as the key tag.

I had visualised the quilt I wanted to make as soon as I read about the challenge.  My vision was that just as in music each note has its own unique sound in the context of the composition,  the hexagons, whether the accompaniment/background or the melody/foreground, would each have their own uniqueness.

Everything was coming together well.  I sun dyed the background with some hexagon shapes placed on it.  As it was winter the sun was not hot and was not out for long but I was happy with the effect I got.  I then outlined various hexagon shapes with thread.  I touched up the gold fabric with some slight blueish tinge in places and cut out the trumpet, then painted the shadows.  Then it was time for the hexagon notes to flow out of the trumpet with the ‘finale’ note being the size of the key tag.  Tonight I printed the label cut out the facings and then trimmed the quilt.

Well I trimmed it and it will not be going to the challenge.  I was so concentrated on the final size that I forgot the seam allowances.  I cut it out and started to pin the facings and . . . . realisation hit!!!!!!!  I couldn’t believe what I had done.   Well there will be no entry from me but a quilt was made.  If I had time I may have come up with a solution but even though it is not due till the end of the week  I just haven’t the time to do anything else.  Oh Well.

A bit of this and a bit of that

I have been rather quiet but have been busy.  I have been making cushions with my hand dyed eco prints.  P1520074b P1520076b

Then from 12 August we were involved with a group of skiers from Lithuania.  They had come for the World Lithuanian Ski races that they had organised to be held the following weekend at Guthega. It was  a very busy week but lots of fun as we renewed friendships with several members of the group with whom we had gone to Antarctica two years ago.

I am also working on a small quilt as part of a a challenge by NSW Quilter’s Guild.  One has to use at least one hexagon the size provided to members by the guild.  As soon as I saw the challenge  I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  Took me a while to get to it.  I painted some fabric and  tried to do a sun print of several different sized hexagons.  A pity it is winter and the sun is not that hot but I did get part of a print and am happy with it. P1520095b


So I am now working on the background.  I just hope I have time to finish it on time.