Tuesday, 31 March 2020


My son Cameron arrived home from Japan last Friday, just before all Qantas flights were grounded. It has been such a stressful time.

He has been teaching English over there for 12 months and his contract expired on the 31st March and he had a flight booked for the 1st of April. All would have been well but the Corona Virus hit and his flight was cancelled.
He asked the company that he worked for if he could leave a few days before his contract expired and the reply was that if he did, he would not get his bonus and wouldn't get a reference!

He would have been stuck in Japan with no job and no apartment. Cam and I had so many messages back and forward because he didn't know what to do and the virus situation was changing daily with our Prime Minister urging all Australians to return home before the borders were shut.

Finally, the school relented and said he could have a reference but not the final money. Cam managed to get a flight after a lot of worry.

Here he is just after landing, he had been flying for 20 hours and had 3 different flights to get home.

I didn't realise how pressured I felt until he got home and all of a sudden, I felt as if I could sew again.

He is now in isolation for 14 days to make sure that he doesn't have the virus. I have set up the lounge/dining room with snacks and drinks and I will leave his meals at the door. He doesn't mind being isolated at the moment but it's early days. He loves playing video games with his friends on-line and is just glad to be home.

I can now think about what sewing I can do. I have bought three backing fabrics, hoping to have 3 quilts made over the winter.

Backing Fabrics

Another virus problem was that I had sent a quilt over to America for the Visions 2020 exhibition. Two days after I posted it, I received an email saying the gallery had closed and do not send any quilts!
So, a week later I got a call from Fed Ex asking me what I wanted done with the package, I said to send it back to me.

Luckily the quilt has arrived home and didn't get lost and I am grateful that they rang me.

That was a very expensive trip for my quilt. The return trip cost $612.18, it would have been much cheaper, if I could have sent it via Australia Post, but some organisations insist on Fedex. Luckily, my husband is still working but I think I'll have to seriously consider entering into overseas exhibitions in the future.

Still, I shouldn't complain, there are so many people sick or losing their jobs and have such uncertain futures.

I am grateful that my son and quilt have made it back home.

Stay safe everyone. My fridge, freezer and pantry are full and I don't plan on going out very much.

Bye for now,

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

My Solo Exhibition

I had a wonderful three weeks at my solo exhibition in Kyabram. It was supposed to go for a month but the Corona Virus suddenly took over our lives and the gallery had to close. I was lucky to have those three weeks and the exhibition was very successful with many visitors coming from Melbourne and neighbouring towns to visit.

There was a lovely article in the local newsletter about me.

I met so many lovely ladies and some also brought their husbands along.

I finally got to meet up with Faye, one of my on-line friends from the Southern Cross Crazies.

Faye and I

There were visitors from Cobram.

Cobram ladies

Another big group from Echuca.

Echuca ladies

My friend Marion and her husband came to visit. Marion and I were room-mates when we went to Uluru in 2018.

Marion and I

The Red Hat ladies came to visit. That was such a thrill to see them arrive. I gave a talk to them and they were a very attentive audience.

The Red Hat Ladies

Last Tuesday, I taught and crazy quilting class at Catharina's Vintage Stitches. The shop is two doors down form the Kyabram Town Hall Gallery. It is a big shop with a huge variety of stock; they were also giving 10% discount to anyone who visited the show.

I remembered to take a photo at the end of the class.

My class at Catharina's Vintage Stitches

I have promised to do a two-day class in October; it will be about making a Coral Reef quilt.

So, my show is over and I drove up on Monday and packed up the exhibition. It took a half an hour to pack up and three hours to set up!

It was a wonderful experience and the Kyabram Gallery were wonderful people to work with. I stayed at the Kyabram Motor Inn when I was staying up there and it was very nice. The weather up in Kyabram is warmer than Melbourne and I loved not feeling cold.

Victorian Quilters are going to have their One Step Further exhibition up there in October and November and so I will be making the trip up there again. Hopefully all this virus worry will be over by then.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit, you made many happy memories for me.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Working in a Series

I run the Waverley Art Quilters group and this year we have decided to Work in a Series. Some of the members were about apprehensive about it, so we are taking it very slowly and being very lenient with the rules, not there are any rules anyway. Let's face it, we can do what we want with our own work!

We were to pick work that we have done in the last two years and make another work inspired by it.
I chose my Marimekko piece from 2018. You can see my blog post about it here. It was interesting for me to go back and read why I liked it.

Marimekko 2018 by Linda Steele
Now, two years later, I didn't like it as much! I felt I could definitely improve it.

Instead of having assorted black and white rectangles as the background, I cut strips of fabrics and laid them out as stripes.

I liked that but decided to centre the lighter stripes and put the darker ones on the edges.

I then cut out a lot of circles but was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take any more progress photos. I decided that I wanted to add some more colours.

Here is the top finished.

The circles are only fused in the above photo, I will put some stitching on the edges of the circles. I really love it though. It is further removed from the original Marimekko design, but that is one of the advantages of working in a series, you can explore other ideas and hopefully improve or come up with a new exciting design.

I have been in the Art Quilters group for over 12 years and so have so many small quilts that it is getting hard to store them. I have decided not to quilt my work this year, I will just leave them as tops and quilt them later if I need to. Tops would not take up as much space a quilt.

I wonder what I will do for the next piece in the series? I really enjoyed doing this, I hope the others in the group liked it too.

Bye for now,

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Kyabram Exhibition Begins

It's been an exciting week this week because my solo exhibition opened on Monday. It is in the lovely town of Kyabram, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Melbourne. My husband and I drove up last Saturday and put up the exhibition with two lovely Kyabram volunteers, Lesley and Judy. It took about 3 hours to set up, luckily, I was organised and had all of the quilt rods cut to size and named.

The Kyabram townsfolk have done a wonderful job of renovating the Town Hall and have turned it into a gorgeous art gallery with three large exhibition spaces.

Kyabram Town Hall Gallery

I have all my Crazy quilts, applique and pictorial quilts on display. I have tried to display them in groups and a pleasing colour arrangement. My Coral Reef series has a section on its own, so that has worked just the way I wanted it too. The gallery space is very large and so I ended up using all my quilts even the 4 quilts that I had in reserve, just in case I needed them.

Luckily my Magical Coral Reef quilt returned home from the USA two days before! With a lovely Viewer's Choice ribbon too.

Gems of the Ocean 11- Viewer's Choice

I had a lovely first day because four of my friends came up to visit. Thank you to Deb, Sugy, Sue and Pat for making the day so special. Sugy is wearing sunglasses because she left her usual glasses back in Melbourne. It was a lovely warm, sunny day in Kyabram.

The ladies at the gallery provided us lunch as a surprise.

Day 1 lunch

There is a piano at the gallery and I put 3 of my coral reef quilts above it.

I stayed for the first two days at a Kyabram motel and before the gallery opened at 10am, I went to a local cafe for coffee. I was reading a local newspaper and found my exhibition mentioned in the What's On section. It's a pity that they left the e off my surname!

I was speaking to someone at the gallery who was getting some information from me for an article and I noticed that she had also left the e off my surname, she was surprised that it bothered me! I said that it didn't seem like me without the e.

The exhibition is open all of March from 10am to 4pm every day except Sundays.

I will be there next Monday 11th, which is a long weekend, in Melbourne. I'll also be there all of the following week, the 16th to the 20th March. I'll also be there on Friday 27th and Monday 30th March.

There is a wonderful patchwork shop two doors down from the gallery called Catharina's Vintage Stitches. They have asked me to teach a one-day Crazy Patchwork class on Tuesday 17th March.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

One More Coral Reef Quilt

My solo quilt exhibition in Kyabram begins soon and I felt that I needed one more coral reef quilt for the exhibition. I am expecting that this will be the last one in this style. I might explore the coral reef theme a bit more but my next work will not be so pictorial. It's been a fun 5 years though.

I only decided to do one more coral reef quilt about 3 months ago and I also had the Wonder of Eyes quilt to make so I have had a very busy start to 2020. I always say that I won't put myself under so much pressure again but then I think that I can do it one more time!!

I already had some coral and fish made so I wasn't starting completely from scratch. You can see from the photo below, the markings that I make with a Fabrico marker really help to make the fish look more lifelike.

I took a photo of lots of them.

I ended up putting some gold paint on them as well, you can probably see that in the photo below.

I did some blue fish and added some yellow marker to improve them.

I machine quilted some fish onto the quilt and added some colour with another Fabrico marker.

I never regret buying those fabric markers.

I made some coral by machine as I knew that I didn't have time to do all the hand embroidery that I usually do. I machine stitched them on wash-away solvy and then put some felt behind them and added some colonial knots by hand. I like the effect.

Coral by machine

I also made some coral by machine by couching some circles onto purple felt; I didn't think I would use them as they looked too plain, but I was inspired to add some beads and they looked so much better. It's amazing what can pop into your brain when you are under time pressure.

Couched coral

The Kyabram Town Hall Gallery exhibition space is very large, that's why I thought I needed another quilt. This quilt is so new that I haven't even taken a photo of it yet but I have this week to put a facing and rod pocket on it before I hang the exhibition on Saturday.

My husband named this quilt, I couldn't call it another coral reef quilt, could I? It's called Coral Symphony; I loved the name as soon as he said it. A fitting end to my series.

My coral reef, crazy quilts, pictorial and applique quilts will all be on display in March.

I am planning to be at the exhibition on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd of March, Monday 9th March, Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th March and Friday 27th March and Monday 30th. Hope to see some of you there!

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Circle Holiday Challenge

Last week, the Waverley Art Quilters had their first meeting for the year and we had to unveil our holiday challenge. As usual it was a challenge; we all had similar calico coloured fabric with circles on it as well as some stranded DMC embroidery floss in various colours.

This was my challenge fabric and thread.

We could make what we like with it but I found it quite uninspiring. I had to work on a few quilting deadlines over the holidays and in the end, I decided to make a book cover. Originally, I had thoughts of dyeing or screen printing the fabric but I had to be quick and just used it as it was.

I wanted to learn something from the challenge though so I decided to get out my sewing machine instruction book and learn how to sew using the alphabet. I know it's hard to believe that I have been sewing since the 80's and have never sewn with the alphabet function.

Here I am with my practice piece of fabric.

I used a tear-away stabilizer behind the fabric and had to remember to press the pattern end button as the last letter was sewing or it would start repeating the words again.

Here is the front cover of the book, I had decided to cover a blank display book for me to draw various quilting designs that I come across or like.

It's hard to see but I used the green thread to stem stitch around the inside and outside of the circle.

I used black and white fabrics for the back and the lining.

Let's hope I can be a bit more creative in our next challenge!!

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The Wonder of Eyes

One of the exhibitions at AQC this April will be The Wonder of Eyes. This is a fundraiser and people have been asked to make a small 20cm x 20cm (approx. 8") quilt. The little quilts will be on display at the Quilt Convention and when the Convention closes a swap will take place and we will be sent someone else's little quilt as well as making a donation to the Fred Hollows Foundation, which helps to restore sight to people in under privileged countries.

I was going to make a little quilt with a fish eye of course! But I couldn't find a photo that I was happy with and in the end, I went to my bird photos and found a photo of a peacock that I could use.

The Peacock fused onto the background

Then I heavily thread-painted him on the machine.

Thread-painting the peacock

Then I quilted it with silk thread and faced the quilt instead of adding a binding.

The Peacock©2020 Linda Steele
I was happy with him and I hope the person who receives him is happy too. I wonder which one I will receive?

Another exhibition at the Quilt Convention is the Visions 2020 Textiles and my image has been one of the quilts used in the promotion.

Fragile Future advertising

Fragile Future was one of the hardest quilts I have ever made. I now have a new respect for anyone who makes a portrait quilt. One incorrect quilting line on the face changes and deforms the face and has to be unpicked. I think I might try to make more so I improve.

Bye for now,