Monday 30 July 2012

Wool Felting and Sheep Shows

Did you know that knitting has become popular again? I have a couple of quilting friends that have started to knit again and they were on the hunt for a particular wool. They decided to go on a day trip to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show.
Bendigo is about two hours drive from Melbourne so we got there in time for an early lunch and then made our way to the showgrounds for the big show.

I had no idea what to expect and I am sure that there were plenty of live sheep and that sort of thing but it was a huge show and we went to the Art and Competition displays and the vendors. I have never seen so many beautiful hand dyed wool, threads, wool tops, wool dyes and books on the subject. Usually at quilt shows there are one or two stands. This was an incredible amount and I was really taken by surprise.

The competition work was amazing but I was absolutely blown away by the work of Jenny Romano. After looking at her website I realise that she is very talented indeed. I think that I might like to do a class with her.
Work by Jenny Romano

Possum by Jenny Romano
The work was behind glass so the photos are not the best.

Wombat by Jenny Romano
Face by Jenny Romano
I never expected to go to a Sheep and Wool show in my life and so it just goes to show that inspiration can be found in the strangest places.

Bye for now,

Friday 27 July 2012

Australian Tapestry Workshop

The Waverley Art Quilters go on an Excursion every year and this year we went to the
Australian Tapestry Workshop in South Melbourne. The entrance is filled with walls of tapestry wool of every colour of the rainbow. It is all available for purchase.

Tapestry Threads
We were having a private tour and were given thread charts and booklets all about Tapestry in Australia. They were formerly known as the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and they were established in 1976 but recently have renamed to be the Australian Tapestry Workshop. There are not many places in the world that makes the tapestries anymore which makes them very special.

We were told that they get the best wool from Hamilton in Victoria and use a Border Leicester/ Merino Cross wool.  The wools are dyed on the premises to an exact formula. They usually make commissions and the work is based on someone's art. We were shown how they transfer the design onto the loom and how the tapestries are made. It was a fascinating talk.
They have a lot of consultation before they start, deciding on size and colour and make many little test samples before the tapestry is started.

Test samples
After the talk we were allowed to view the weavers at work from the gallery above.
View from above
Tapestry in progress
There were some finished tapestries on display including a recent work designed by David Noonan named Untitled. This black and white tapestry looks like it has included frayed edges.
Untitled by David Noonan

It is only when you look up close you can see the incredible detail in the weaving.
Weaving detail
It was a very enjoyable and inspiring day and they have given us a booklet showing us where their tapestries are on display around Victoria. I will look at tapestries with a new appreciation now.

Here is a photo of our happy group after the tour and you can see those lovely threads behind us.
Waverley Art Quilters
Bye for now,

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Spring Clean

Are you confused by the title of this post? It is not spring anywhere in the world at the moment.
I never do my spring cleaning in spring. I find spring to be a very busy time of the year. There are always plenty of commitments and obligations as the weeks seem to hurtle towards Christmas. Certainly no time for Spring cleaning.

I prefer to do my spring cleaning in summer just after Christmas, when there are no commitments and it is often too hot to do much else. I pack away the Christmas decorations and give the house a good tidy up. It didn't happen this year though.

I have had a really busy first half of the year. I spent months trying to get my two latest quilts ready in time for the Sydney Quilt Show. I also had plenty of teaching dates and my daughter's Engagement Party and my sons 21st. My daughter's wedding is later this year so we have been having a lot of fun planning for that.

I have spent the last three weeks sorting, tidying and cleaning and it feels so good to be organised again. 

Quilting and Art magazines were piled all over the house. I sorted through them all, pulled out any articles and photos that I wanted and threw the rest out.

I couldn't throw out my Quilting Arts, Machine Quilting Unlimited or American Quilter magazines though and I have filed them in date order.

I was also being overrun by my quilting books. I solved the problem by packing away all my novels that I will probably never read again to make room for my books. They are sorted into groups like applique, piecing, landscape etc but unfortunately they are not in alphabetical order. That would take far too long.

I have many more books than this photo shows but it all looks as neat as this.

I sorted out all my fabric and gave away three big bags to the Charity Quilt group at our Guild. It was fabric that I loved when I bought it but my taste has changed over the years and I knew I wasn't going to use it and it was taking up valuable space.

I have 4 big built in cupboards taking up one wall of my sewing room that houses all my fabric and each draw is labelled with it's colour. The colour I have the most of is green. The draws are labelled, dark, medium and light and blue/green. I have other draws for landscape, hand dyes and silk etc.

I bought some more thread containers because the sellers were closing down and they were half price. So now my threads are super organised.

It is not a very good photo because the light wasn't good but they look great in the room.

I sorted out all the notes for the classes I have ever taken and the classes that I teach and information that I have collected over the years and put it all into 2 large filing cabinets. Everything is labelled of course!

I put away all the sheet music from on top of the piano because my son plays an electric keyboard now and set  my ipod up there.

So everything is in its place and I am ready for the second half of the year.
I know it won't stay neat and tidy like this but I will try and keep it under control and it feels so good!

Bye for now,

Tuesday 17 July 2012


We are over the halfway mark for our blocks in the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP 2012). People from all over the world are participating in this exciting event and posting their progress on the CQJP2012 blog for everyone to see.

My theme for the year is Christmas and I have featured a yummy looking Christmas pudding in my July block.

This is one of the smaller blocks in my quilt and it only measures 6" square.

Here's what the block looked like before I added the embroidery.

I think that my pudding turned out well. I used stem stitch for the pudding for some texture and used satin stitch for the icing for a smooth look. I added a few straight stitches in black to look like dried fruit.

Pudding © 2012 Linda Steele

In the bottom right hand corner, I did a scallop with back stitch and covered it with some detached blanket stitches. It gives a thicker garland band that I think looks really effective.

Detached blanket stitch
I am glad that I chose to join the project this year, it has been a nice  focus in a very busy year so far. It also means that I always have some hand stitching ready to do when I am sitting in front of the television.

Bye for now,

Saturday 14 July 2012

Stumpwork Butterfly

I have a little surprise for you today. I belong to the Southern Cross Crazy Quilters Group who are all very talented ladies with some serious embroidery skills.
One of the members is Arlene White and she has kindly put a tutorial on her blog showing how she makes her stumpwork butterfly. You can download the tutorial onto your computer for free until the end of July. Please respect her copyright by using it for your own use only.

I have only done a small amount of stumpwork because I am more of a quilter than an embroiderer and I can just imagine posting off a quilt to an exhibition and my poor stumpworked butterfly would be a crumpled mess. I do want one of Arlene's butterflies though.

I have to have a photo on the post though, so here is a photo of some butterflies from my quilt, Naturally Crazy.

These butterflies are from the North America block.

Click on the following link to see the tutorial Arlene Whites Butterfly Tutorial

Bye for now,

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Embroidered Books

I received a wonderful present from a good friend that I just have to share with you. My friend sent me two novels, Little Women and Emma. I have read these books before and the stories are certainly not new but the presentations of these books are.

The covers have been embroidered and then sculpt embossed so you can feel the texture of the embroidery as you hold the book.

The books feel solid and the pages feel thick and almost hand made.

This is what the books look like on the back.

Even the inside  flaps on the covers are embroidered.

When you open the book you can even inspect the back of the embroidery.

These books have been published by Penguin Threads and are a series of Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions.

The embroidery on Emma was done by Jillian Tamaki and the embroidery on Little Women was done by Rachell Sumpter

They have other books in the series, The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, The Wizard of Oz and Wind in the Willows.

In our age of digital books maybe there will still be a place for special books.

Bye for now,

Friday 6 July 2012

Thread Painting

I had a make a cushion sample with a piped edge for a class sample. It was a crazy quilt class but I didn't have time to do a crazy block. I found a beautiful piece of floral fabric to use instead but it looked a bit plain for a crazy quilt class.

I wondered what the fabric would look like it I enhanced the fabric with a bit of machine thread painting.

I liked the look of it but I embellished it more heavily than I had originally intended. I had only backed the fabric with calico and that wasn't enough to stabilise the heavy thread painting and it puckered a bit.

I backed the fabric with tear away and thread painted the large red and blue flowers. Put the piping on and made a quick cushion sample.

I like the effect, but of course I could have gone much further with this and thread painted all the flowers and leaves but that would have taken hours and I didn't have time for that.

I have done a lot of free machine thread painting in the past and just one butterfly can take me 4 hours. These grapes took all afternoon.

Bye for now,

Monday 2 July 2012

Top 10 reasons to belong to a Group

Last week I had to give a talk at the Waverley Patchworkers meeting about the Waverley Art Quilters group that I belong to. I started to think of all the groups that I belong to and I belong to many more than I first thought.

Why do we choose to belong to certain groups when we are all time starved anyway?
At a quick count I realise that I belong to 9 different Guilds and organisations, 5 on-line groups and 1 friendship sewing group. Of course the most important group of all is the family group and our personal friend groups. Often we can see our quilting friends more often than some family and friends and those quilting friends become our personal friends as well.

Afternoon Tea © 2011 Linda Steele

Here is my list of the top 10 reasons to belong to a Group.

1. Inspiration.
Who cannot help but be inspired by other peoples quilts.

2. Information
In our busy world it is impossible to keep up with everything going on.

3. Camaraderie
Sewing and quilting can be a solitary activity. Of course we all need time alone to prepare, design and achieve but it's good to show others what we are doing as well.

4. Critique
Honest feedback is hard to find in the quilting world. Family and friends are too close and often don't have the expertise. This is where a  group with the skill to articulate and use the principles of Art and Design as their base is invaluable.

5. Insight
Everyone's work is different and it is very interesting to see how other people  approach a theme or idea.

6. Competition
Nothing spurs you on like a little bit of friendly competition.

7. Support
Designing your own quilts and entering competitions can be tough and  rejection is common. This is where groups can offer understanding, commiseration and encouragement.

8. Purpose
 Self - esteem is often built on achievement and finishing a quilt or helping organise an activity is very rewarding.

9. Confidence
Advising, listening, supporting and sharing with others have the advantage of boosting our own confidence.

10. Friendship
I have met so many wonderful people including online friends through my quilting groups.

I have tried to be succinct in my descriptions of each reason so this is a blog post and not an essay. I realise the benefits of belonging to a group and while groups often help the community they are also helping us.

Can you add any more reasons to my list?

Bye for now,