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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

My Different Life

My life changed last November when my first Grandchild was born; changed for the better of course. Little Savannah took over our lives and our hearts and I spent a lot of time at my daughter's place helping her cope with all the new demands on her time.

Now there has been another change because my daughter has gone back to work as a primary school teacher and I have Savannah at my place during the week. It is only for this year and next year we will have a new routine.

It's been a month now and I feel very lucky to be able spend so much time with Savannah and feel lucky that she is getting to know and trust me so well too.

Savannah 5 months
She looks happy enough in the above photo but the first couple of days that she was here was a different story. She wanted her Mum and she didn't know me or my house very well and she was very demanding.

First day
Look at that scared little face! If someone had taken a photo of me you would have seen a similar expression on my face. One of the only things that kept her happy was walking around outside. I was completely exhausted and my hands and arms ached from carrying her. I didn't know if I would be able to cope with her for a year.

Everyone I spoke to said that it will get easier and by the next week things had settled down and we got into a routine with me feeding, singing and dancing to amuse her.

She started eating solids and at first she sat on the kitchen bench to eat.

First foods
Then I got wise and realised I would have to go shopping for some baby items to make things easier.

One of the first things I bought was a highchair.

She loves her food.

We have a routine where I hang out the washing every morning and I put her into some warm clothes and a pusher and she watches me.

Putting out the washing
As well as starting food she has learnt to roll over.

Rolling over
I realised that she got bored easily and so I have bought a few toys to help us get through the day.

Driving
Bouncing
Yesterday we had another first because she sat by herself without falling over for at least 15 minutes.
Sitting for the first time- 6 months old
I am hoping that things will get easier now because she never liked laying down much.

So my life has changed dramatically but don't worry my blog will not be filled with baby photos. I am actually still getting some sewing done.

Savannah sleeps for at least two hours everyday and I always have some hand sewing waiting on the couch for sleep time. My weekends are free and I get as much sewing done as I can then.

I am still working on my seasons quilt.

Autumn Leaves
Fuchsia's for summer
I know why women have babies when they are young, everything is so much harder and slower when you are older!

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Connecting Design to Stitch- Nature Inspired

We are trying something new in the Waverley Art Quilters Group this year. Usually we study an artist or topic and make a small art quilt based on what we have learnt. We have doing this for a few years now and thought a change would be a good idea.

We have chosen to study a book by Sandra Meech, called Connecting Design to Stitch. If you click on her name it will take you to her website and you will find images of her wonderfully creative quilts.


The idea of studying the book is to explore personal themes and styles through composition exercises and design classes.

The first theme we have to explore is Nature. Nature is an inspiration for many artists including myself. I have already done many quilts with a nature inspired theme.

I love using birds in quilts.
Sydney's Flamingo ©2014 Linda Steele
Reflections ©2013 Linda Steele



I've done quite a few quilts with a flower theme.
Art Nouveau ©2011 Linda Steele


Viola ©2012 Linda Steele
Rose © Linda Steele
Of course my Crazy Quilts often use nature as its theme.

New Zealand Block from Naturally Crazy ©Linda Steele
Crazy about Spring © Linda Steele
Even though I have done many nature inspired quilts I hope to do many more.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

AQC 2015

The Australian Quilt Convention is over for another year and as usual it was an exciting event with classes, shops and quilts on display.

On Sunday I was a quilt angel for Lisa Walton, that means that I help her with setting up her room or getting supplies or tea or coffee or cleaning up afterwards. She was teaching a painting class so there was plenty of cleaning up to be done.

We had a two hour lunch break so I spent much of that time catching up with friends and looking at the fabulous quilt display.

The Best of Australia prize went to Linda White for her quilt Elenor Jean.

Linda White with her quilt Elenor Jean
This quilt was made with 22,500 quarter inch hexagons! Quite incredible really and the design stands out because of her very clever colour choices.

Detail of Linda White's quilt
Every Year AQC runs a challenge and this year's theme was True Blue, there was such a vast array of wonderful quilts exploring this theme. Here are some of my favourites.

True Blue Mates by Yvonne Chapman
True Blue Mates detail
Splendid Love by Bernadine Hine
True Blue Raider of my Stash by Naomi Hynes
Beginning True by Sue de Vanny
There was a modern Quilt display and a quilt depicting Audrey Hepburn caught my eye. Up close you couldn't quite make it out.
Audrey detail
But when you moved back you could clearly see the portrait of Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey by Andi Herman, quilted by Kylie Cannon

There was great interest in the Gallipoli quilt which was a 12 metre long work divided into panels by a young quilter, Lucy Carroll. Lucy did a floor talk every day about her wonderful work and it was quite emotional. Here is a photo of her getting ready for her talk.

Lucy Carroll
I can't remember how many panels were in the display but here are some photos of two of them.

The Gallipoli Quilt by Lucy Carroll

The Gallipoli Quilt by Lucy Carroll
There was another quilt on display that I enjoyed called Priscilla, I thought it was a fun quilt but very well done.
Priscilla by Bronwyn Hill
I took a lot more photos than this but of course I can't show all of them.

I always enjoy AQC and as usual it did not disappoint. I feel so lucky that it is held in Melbourne and so I can go every year but quilters come from all over Australia to be there.

Bye for now,
Linda

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hundertwasser

In February this year the Waverley Art Quilters had decided to study Hundertwasser.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - Dec 15th 1928- Feb 19th 2000.

Hundertwasser was born in Vienna, Austria and died aboard a cruise ship on the Pacific Ocean of a heart attack.

He is known for his vibrantly coloured, radiant paintings; he preferred to place complementary colours alongside each other and also used a lot of gold and silver foil.
His main themes were vegetative growth and architectural symbols like houses, windows, fences and gates. He often combined both themes in the one painting.
From the readings I have done about him he seemed to be quite a quirky character. He is also known for his innovative architectural designs and hated sterile, monotonous houses and buildings.

I bought a wonderful little hardcover book that features all of Hundertwasser’s paintings from 1951-1976. The photos are very glossy against black pages and clearly show the use of the metallic foil.


As always when we study an artist and make a quilt inspired by what we have learnt, we are careful not to copy one of the artist’s paintings but take elements of the paintings to learn more about art and design.

I was inspired by the lovely round motifs that featured in many of his paintings.
Hundertwasser- 754 Blobs Grow in Beloved Gardens
The above image was just one of the many that feature this style of trees. The funny thing is that when I first looked at his paintings I thought that they were flowers and that was why I was inspired by them. I have wanted to do some embroidery on felt for quite a while and thought that here was my chance.

I found some lovely bright cotton fabric as a background and fused on the felt stems and flowers.

While I was doing the embroidery my husband asked me why I was making lollipops! That’s when I looked at his paintings again and realised that his round shapes were actually trees. 
It looked quite bare in the bottom half of the quilt so I added in some leaves.



I was happy with the end result and called my quilt, Hundertwasser’s Flowers.

Here is a close up image of the embroidery.
Embroidery detail


Hundertwasser's Flowers ©Linda Steele 2015
We are trying something different in Art Quilters for the next couple of years so this will be the last little quilt I'll make for this group for a while. I'll write more about our plans in another post.

Bye for now,
Linda

Friday, 27 March 2015

Photoshop Elements Course

I have finished the on-line Photoshop Elements course with Pixeladies and I would highly recommend it if you have Photoshop Elements and want to learn how to use it properly. Photoshop Elements is a photo editing program and you can download a trial copy of Photoshop Elements to use for the course, if you want to try it out before spending the money on the program.

I did the beginners class 1 and 2 and as well as notes there were videos to watch as many times as we liked. The instructions were very easy to follow and we had to post our homework onto the website platform and Kris and Deb, the teachers would give advice and answer all of our questions. I think that they mustn't get much sleep because they answered very quickly!

I spent over an hour every day of the 6 weeks of the course practicing and doing the exercises.

Here are some of the things that I learnt to do.

Changing the colour of a block or I could have selected just the background and tried a different colour.



Here is a holiday photo I took and the person in the left hand foreground was staying there for ages and didn't move, but I was able to take her out of the photo afterwards.



We also learnt how to fix old photos. I had a faded wedding photo of my parents in law that needed some attention.


We learnt how to draw on our photos to audition quilting lines and to label photos and so many handy things.

Our last assignment was to make a postcard using some the skills we had learnt. I did a Welcome to Victoria postcard.


It may not be obvious at first glance but I used a lot of techniques to make the postcard.

Gradient background
Coloured the clothes on the paper doll
Cropped the photo
Intensified the colour
Added two photos to the one background
Outlined the landscape photo
Added text with a transparent background
Placed the text in a layer behind the paper doll
Added a drop shadow.
Outlined the entire postcard.

We learnt many more techniques and when the Intermediate course is offered later on this year, I am definitely going to sign up.

All the videos and information are going to stay available for us to use for 6 months. So I intend to go through the lessons again because I am sure that it will be a great refresher.

There will be another beginner's session this year as well so go to their site, Pixeladies and register your interest.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Balance in the Wetlands

I belong to SAQA  and the Australian and New Zealand members have a private Facebook page where we can communicate and get to know each other. There is a challenge posted four times a year and we can make a small quilt using the theme if we'd like.

The latest challenge was Balance.
I thought about the topic for a while and I started to think about being out of balance. I remembered being on holidays during Victoria's ten years of drought. I always like to visit any wetlands while I am away because I love birds and I am always keen to take photos of them. I was dismayed to find no birds and the wetlands dry and barren.

So I made a small quilt about there having to be a balance of sun and rain for the birds to be at the wetlands.

I had a photo of an Ibis and I put him in a lush wetland environment.

After I had fused the pieces onto the background I used my sewing machine to add details to the Ibis and added some plants.


After I had the quilt top stitched I added some little circles with some Lumiere paint to make it look as if he was standing in the water.

Finally I quilted the water in a thread that has a slight sheen to it and quilted around the leaf shapes on the top half of the quilt. The quilt is 12" x 12" or 30cm x 30cm.

Balance in the Wetlands ©2014 Linda Steele
Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Crazy Quilt Books for Beginners

Last month I did a post about a couple of Crazy Quilting books that I am enjoying at the moment. I have been Crazy Quilting for 12 years now though. I don't use books very much these days but when I first started I had my Crazy Quilting Books next to me all the time as a refresher for stitches and ideas in general.

When I teach I often get asked which are the best Crazy Quilting Books to buy.

My favourite Book in those early days was Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano, it is spiral bound too so it stays open.

I am fairly sure that it is still in print and available. It's handy for left-handers as well because there is a section just for them.

Another book that is still available and very good is the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches. My copy is old and they have changed the cover of it now. It is also spiral bound and has many step by step photos of stitches to follow.

 I used to look at Motifs for Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler a lot in the early days, although I don't use it these days because I draw out my own motifs. It is a lovely book but I am not sure if it is still in print.
 There is a book by Carole Samples called Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches that has just about every combination of stitches that you could think of and is a wonderful resource when you are feeling out of ideas.

There is a new Crazy Book out called Foolproof Crazy Quilting by Jennifer Clouston that has lovely coloured photos and plenty of stitch ideas.


These are the books that I would recommend to a beginner crazy quilter. Have you got any favourite Crazy Quilting books?

Bye for now,
Linda