Friday 30 December 2016

Looking back on 2016

When the year comes to an end I cannot help but reflect on the events of the year and wonder what 2017 has in store for me.

On Christmas Day I managed to get one photo of me with my two grandchildren Savannah and Jack where we were all looking at the camera at the same time!

I really enjoyed 2016; it started off in the best way when my daughter and her husband told us that they were having their first baby. I could hardly sleep on New Year's Eve because I was so excited for them. Then in August little Jack arrived, a dear little cousin for Savannah and I have spent many hours at their place helping them out with the baby. It is such a wonderful time.


I had my first year as President of Waverley Patchworkers and I really enjoyed it even though it was such a busy year with Waverley's 35th birthday, the Quilt Show and the Spring Gathering. I hope my second year is just as enjoyable. One of unexpected benefits of being President was being privy to both the good and bad news of the members. I was humbled by the friendship and support shown by the members to others in need.

I don't make New Year's resolutions these days but I do try and have some plans for improving my life and this year is no different.

1. Go back to art classes; I am going to do a drawing and watercolour class once a week. I have also booked into a weekend class in March by Malini Parker, an artist that I have admired for a while.

2. Go back to exercise classes; I have had trouble with an inflamed hip (bursitis) and after a lot of treatment the physiotherapist has recommended that I start walking and doing some yoga and strength classes. She said that if I want a healthy old age I have to make time for exercise.

3. Keep a sketchbook; I started a new sketchbook last week because I was sick on finding bits of paper everywhere with ideas or measurements etc. Now everything must go in the book and I'll know where to find it, instead of looking everywhere for a certain piece of paper.

4. Continue with my Coral Reef series; I am enjoying making quilts with the coral reef theme and I plan to continue these in 2017.

Life on the Reef ©2016 Linda Steele

I am starting 2017 by travelling to New Zealand to do two weeks of classes with Nancy Crow. Nancy teaches advanced classes in design and composition and is known for her forthright critiques. I am going with some trepidation because I don't do pieced quilts and am heading straight into the advanced classes without doing her beginner or intermediate classes. I hope I am not too much of a beginner compared to the other experienced and usually very talented and well known quilters that are also attending the class.

 We quilters mainly work on our quilts at home in a solitary manner and I relish the thought of taking my quilts to a higher level and receiving some honest feedback.

We have to bring 100 yards of plain fabric and I am travelling there by plane so I had to buy extra baggage allowance to bring all the fabric. Apparently the classes are hard work with timed exercises and critiques. The classrooms open at 6.30am until 10.30pm and previous participants have worked there the entire time. We live on site and meals are provided.

Here is a photo of the fabric I have bought for the workshop, I had to buy it all because I didn't have any plain fabrics in my stash. I also have a bolt of black and a bolt of white fabric to take because apparently we go through a lot of it. It doesn't look like a lot of fabric in the photo but it is and it is quite heavy.

It sounds like a dream to sew non stop for two weeks with meals provided. I'll let you know all about the classes when I come back.

The classes I am doing are Improvisations: Let's Experiment part 2 and Lines, Shapes and Figure-Ground Composition Part 2 (advanced)

Let's hope we all have a happy and successful 2017!

Bye for now,

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

It's that busy time of year again where all everyone can think about is tidying up loose ends, parties and shopping for presents. I am doing all of the above as well as trying to fit in some sewing.

We bought a new Christmas tree this year because our last one was becoming a bit shabby. We decided to decorate it in only silver and we are very happy to have a change from the usual mix of colours.

I got out my collection of nutcrackers and took their photo, I have resisted buying anymore for a few years now because they all fit nicely on my mantelpiece but I had to be very strong this year because there were some lovely ones in the shops.

It's our turn to have the family over for lunch this year and I managed to find Christmas crackers and paper serviettes with nutcrackers on them as well.

I am looking forward to Christmas this year; Grandchildren certainly bring the joy back into Christmas. My daughter sent me a little video of Savannah skipping around the room and singing to the tune of 'Santa Claus is Coming', now we can't get the song out of our heads as well. She is so excited even though her photo with Santa had her looking a little more subdued. She loves him much better from a distance!

Savannah is very excited though and cannot stop dancing. Two is such a lovely age.

In between helping my daughters with some babysitting and shopping for presents I have been doing some sewing. I have been making quite a large quilt in my Coral Reef series and for some reason I thought I might have it finished by the end of the year!

That was not to be because I decided to try out a number 60 needle and it broke my needle threader; apparently you have to manually thread the small number 60 needles because the hole is too small for the automatic threader. I took it in to be fixed two weeks ago and I still haven't got it back.

I do have other machines that I could use but I love my Bernina 820 and I have all the bobbins set up in various colours and I love the big throat space.

I can still do hand stitching in my spare time and I transformed a plain spot fabric into coral by doing lots of colonial knots.

Plain spot fabric

Coral with colonial knots

Even I was surprised at the difference it made.

Merry Christmas

Bye for now,

Tuesday 13 December 2016

David Hockney Exhibition

I was so excited to see the David Hockney exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). We had studied him with the Waverley Art Quilters in 2014 and I was really drawn to his latest landscape work.

The exhibition is called Current and it includes all his latest work including his huge landscape called Bigger Trees Near Warter which took up the whole wall of one of the rooms in the gallery. The original painting was done on many different canvasses and then hung together. These paintings were then printed and framed and put on the other three walls so once you entered the room you were surrounded by the landscape.

Bigger trees near Warter 2007 David Hockney
You can get an idea of the huge scale by looking at the person standing in the bottom left of the picture.

Of course I had to have a photo of myself in front of it just to prove that I was actually seeing it.

David Hockey is in his 80's but that doesn't mean he has slowed down; he loves the current technology and bought the Brushes app for his Ipad and Iphone as soon as it came out.

The paintings that he has produced on these devices have been printed out on a large scale and were displayed. I particularly loved the spring paintings.

The arrival of Spring in Wolgate 2011 David Hockey
Can you believe that he has done that painting on an Ipad?

There were screens set up around the exhibition that looked like a huge Ipad and you could see a video of him doing the painting from scratch. What really amazed me was how many layers he used. Just when I thought a section was complete he would go over it some more.

We could have been there for hours; there was so much to see. There was a huge gallery of portraits that he painted of his friends and acquaintances over two years and other paintings playing with perspective but I preferred his landscapes.

I bought the book that seems to contain all the images from the show as well as some of his older work and a big interview with him about his life and his thoughts on painting.

The images in the book are large so you can get an idea of the marks that he makes when producing his paintings.

We are so lucky to live in Melbourne and have the gallery bring these wonderful exhibitions to us. Earlier in the year we had the Degas paintings and last year we had Monet, every year we are presented with these wonderful displays.

The David Hockney exhibition is on until the 13th March 2017, so there is plenty of time to see it. I am going to try and see it again before it closes. I am such a fan and have recorded two documenteries about him over the last couple of years and I have lost count of the number of times that I have watched them. One of the films follows him around over 12 months while he is painting the huge landscape which was one of the reasons that I was so thrilled to see it in this exhibition.

You can see the post I did on David Hockney in 2014 by clicking here.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 6 December 2016

SAQA Trunk Show-The Reef

I belong to the international art quilting group named SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). They made a call for everyone to make a small 10" x 7" little art quilt for them to use at various venues to promote their group. Even though I am only a fledgling art quilter compared to the talented members around the world, I thought I would do a little quilt for them. I wanted to do a little underwater quilt because that is all that seems to be in my head these days.

When it came to getting started though I felt a bit stuck and truth to be told I had not very much free time.

As I was looking through my fabrics I came across the little composition I made at the Fibre Forum earlier this year.

It was too big but not by much and I had fused the motifs using a dry iron so I could easily lift them off.

I cut it down and changed the placement of some of the motifs.

Then I went to my set of Madeira rayon threads and chose colours to match all the elements. I put a piece of tear-away behind the quilt so the quilt top didn't bunch up when I did the stitching.

Here's what it looked like stitched.

Of course it always looks better after it has been quilted. I was given a sample of quilting felt to try from Embroidery Source and so I used that as the batting. I was very happy with the result and might use it again. The quilt stayed thin and not too puffy but it had some body unlike when you use a thin pellon and the quilt is all limp.

The Reef- 10"x 7"
I entered it into the trunk show and they accepted it and so I have already posted it to them. I hope they end up using it for something.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 29 November 2016

A Time for all Seasons- Autumn

I have written a blog post about every season in my quilt A Time for all Seasons except for Autumn.

I've always liked Autumn and love the colours although it's always a bit sad because I know that summer is over and we are heading toward winter. I enjoyed sewing the trees with their red and yellow leaves, it makes a great change from using green.


Autumn detail

I also made a block showing late autumn when the trees are becoming bare and everything is getting a bit cooler.

Late Autumn
Late Autumn detail

We get a lot of foggy mornings in Autumn and I tried to create a misty look using organza over the centre section of trees.

Autumn Fog
I think that I was only semi successful in creating fog and I plan to try again one day.

Fog detail
I had some geese flying away for the winter

Geese detail

I enjoyed making the autumn flowers for one of the corners.

Autumn Corner

Corner detail
This is the end of my blog posts about the different seasons in my quilt. If you missed any posts you can click on the links to read about the other seasons, Summer, Spring and Winter.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 22 November 2016

A Time for all Seasons- Report card

My quilt A Time for all Seasons arrived back from the Houston Quilt Festival yesterday. The Houston people always take such great care of the quilts and all the folds are stuffed with rolls of tissue paper.

A Time for all Seasons©2016 Linda Steele

It was interesting to read the judges report, one of them loved it and gave me all excellent scores, the second judge gave me both excellent and satisfactory, so I guess that means that it is in between the two. The third judge gave me mostly satisfactory because she didn't like the scale of my work; she said that my elements while beautiful didn't work well together. I assume she means that I can't make a butterfly in one patch bigger than a bird in another patch. At least I know why I didn't get a prize now. I have never had anyone tell me that everything should be in scale in a crazy quilt before. I am not sure that it is right but I'll keep it in mind if I ever make one again.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Alison Holt Class

I've had a busy couple of weeks and at last things have settled down a bit.

Last week we had our Art Quilters break up party at our favourite Chinese restaurant and they gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers as a thank you for leading the group.

We got one of the waiters to take our photo, I feel very lucky to know such a creative and supportive group of women.

Last Saturday Waverley Patchworkers hosted the Victorian Quilters Spring gathering. We had a great day of talking, laughing, sewing, eating and shopping, just perfect really.

Last Sunday I did a class with Alison Holt a machine embroidery teacher from the UK. It was actually a two day class but because of the Spring Gathering, I could only do day 2. Alison didn't mind because I have done classes with her before.

I have been a fan of hers for a long time and have all of her books.

If you don't know Alison Holt, click on her name because I have linked it to her website and you will see how wonderful her work is.

The class over the weekend was called Textures in Nature, but I have also done, Up Close and Personal, Reflections and the  Waterfalls class. Alison has such a lovely manner and is an absolutely wonderful teacher. I highly recommend that you take a class with her one day.

These are a couple of Alison's samples to give you an idea of what we were working on over the weekend.

I found it quite relaxing to spend the day trying to get different effects on trees and leaves. I especially liked learning how to do the moss on the tree on the top photo.

It's been a busy year and now most of the big events are over now and I might be able to get a bit more sewing done.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Houston 2016

The big International Quilt Festival in Houston is over for another year. I wasn't there but I had two quilts on display, so I feel as if a part of me was over there.

My quilt A Time for all Seasons was in the Embellished section in the World of Beauty judged show. I wasn't lucky enough to win a prize this year.

A Time for all Seasons©2016 Linda Steele

I also made a small quilt for the Houston Quilt Show silent auction. I don't know if anyone bid on it yet, I hope so! I called it The Reef.

The Reef©2016 Linda Steele

The Best of Show quilt was won by Cynthia England with her quilt Reflections of Cape Town. It's an incredible picture quilt that is appliqued with hundreds of little pieces of fabric. She has done magnificent quilts before that are pieced but apparently this one is applique.

To see this quilt and the other winners go to the IQF website, I have included the link here.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Spring Gathering

I have recently become President of Waverley Patchworkers for a second year; the first year has flown by probably because it was so busy. Our next big event is the Spring Gathering on Saturday November 12th, it is actually the Victorian Quilters Spring Gathering hosted by Waverley Patchworkers.

The Spring Gathering will be held at the Mulgrave Community Centre, 355 Wellington Road, Mulgrave. Victoria, Australia. Doors open at 9.30am and entry will be $5. It will be a fun day where we bring our sewing and chat to others while we eat cakes and possibly win a prize.

Visitors are welcome, so if you live in Melbourne please come and join in the fun. You need to bring some hand sewing, and your lunch, mug and show and tell; we'll take care of the rest. There will be 5 shops to browse, quilts to admire and prizes to win. Sounds like a fun day doesn't it?

I have even more Waverley Patchworkers news because the latest issue of Down Under Quilts magazine has come out and there is a 4 page article about our quilt show from earlier this year.

Down Under Quilts no. 177

The photos are large and look great so look out for the magazine in the shops now.

So what have I been doing lately? Well I have been busy organising Waverley Patchworkers events and helping my daughter look after her new baby, Jack.

Jack 8 weeks

I have also been making fish and coral for my next underwater quilt. Life is busy, but life is great.


Bye for now, hope to see you at the Spring Gathering.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Making the Australian Quilt Exhibition

I have finally been to the Making the Australian Quilt 1800-1950 exhibition. It is currently on display at the Ian Potter Gallery, Federation Square in Melbourne Victoria, Australia.

It is a wonderful display of Australia's historic quilts, some are rarely on display and to have them exhibited in one space is such a privilege.

The most famous quilt is the Rajah quilt that was made by convict women in 1841 on the voyage to Australia. It is a very large quilt and was actually displayed behind glass because it is so fragile and precious. The quilt is named after the ship that they sailed on.

The Rajah Quilt c1841

Embroidery in the bottom panel of The Rajah Quilt

One of my favourite quilts was a Tumbling Block quilt made by an unknown sailor on a ship around 1841, it was made of silk but it was still so vibrant.

Tumbling Block Quilt c1846

Here is a detail photo, it was expertly made.

Tumbling Block detail

There was a hexagon quilt made by Elizabeth Macarthur, her husband pioneered the wool industry in Australia.

Elizabeth Macarthur hexagon quilt c1840

I recognised the pattern of Auntie Green's Quilt because it has been reproduced in magazines previously. It was good to see the original.

Auntie Green's quilt by May Ann Wellen c1860

The miniature hexagon quilt by Prudence Jeffrey looked as if it was made in recent times. Those hexagons were only 1cm wide.

Miniature hexagon by Prudence Jeffrey c1857
We looked at The Westbury Quilt by the Hampson sisters for ages. It was made to commemorate Queen Victoria and was embroidered with many motifs and sayings. It seems to have been made as a raffle quilt.

The Westbury quilt by The Hampsons 1902

The Westbury Quilt detail
There was a room full of beautiful crazy quilts that were so detailed and vibrant.

Crazy quilt by Clara Bate c1815
There are so many photos that I could show you of this wonderful exhibition. There was even a display of waggas and signature quilts.

Even though I took many photos I still bought the beautiful hard cover book of the exhibition.

Not only does the book have photos of all the quilts, it has all the text about the quilts and many detail photos as well.

Inside the book

Margaret Rowe is an Australian author of quilting novels set in Australia and in the novel she describes some historic quilts and the fictional quilt group make challenge quilts inspired by the subject. I have read all the novels and it was exciting for me to see the actual quilts that she has written about.

There is still time to see this amazing quilt exhibition before it closes on November 6th 2016, if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Bye for now,