Sunday, May 27, 2007

Announcing My Other Blog

There are times when I would really like to comment on what is happening in the world around me ... things that are in the news or happening to my friends or my family. And I don't feel comfortable posting that type of stuff on this blog.

I tend to state my opinions rather strongly and not everyone is comfortable with that. And my opinions are not ever in line with the popular or current viewpoint being put forward. Some people feel uncomfortable with constructive dissent. What is a girl to do?

I have set up another blog that I will use for those things I want to say and this blog will keep focused on my photos and quilts. You can check it out at

It's starting off pretty tame but wait until I get in the swing of it ...

Stone Carving #4

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Where Are My Priorities?

I've been so busy playing with the new blog for Mosman Night Owls, that I almost forgot about posting to my own. You gotta question my commitment ...

This is the first in a series of photos from the Golden Dragon Museum, including the Yi Yuan Garden and Kuan Yin Temple, in Bendigo.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Window Dressing

I was walking down the street in the CBD one morning, minding my own business and I got the feeling that I was being watched.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pea Soup

We had a bit of fog one morning last week that was so heavy that the ferries weren't running.

This is what it usually looks like in the mornings ...

You don't realise how many Sydneysiders take the ferries in the mornings until they are all on the bus with you.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How I Made It -- Fibre Collage #1 (Part 4)

Step 5: Step Back and Be Amazed
And here is the piece, ready to be finished. I was so chuffed when I saw how it turned out. I don't know what I expected when I started out but was very happy with what I ended up with.

I've called it 'Like a Moth Drawn to the Flame'. It is one of the pages I owe a fellow ArtDiva as part of a page-in-a-book swap we did last year. Did I tell you it was very late?

In order to finish this piece, I need to hide the machine quilting thread ends, bead it, bind it and sign the back. Easy as cake!

What I Learned for Next Time
Every time I make one of these fibre collages, I learn something different. Hopefully this time I'll remember what it was. Here's my list:
  1. Backing fabric should be 3" bigger than the top all the way around
  2. Variegated threads have lots of lights in them. Darker threads would have looked better on the purple 1/3rd
  3. More copper metallic DMC thread and leave some of it intact as 6 strands and don't pull all of it apart into single strands
Thanks for coming on this little adventure with me.

The Blogger Gods Aren't Happy!

Seems that the Blogger gods aren't happy with photos this week. Not only have they zapped the photos from my last two posts into cyber-oblivion, they also heaped their vengeance on the posts in the dashboard.

I'm in the process of rebuilding Parts 1 and 2 of my current thread. I'm almost afraid to see what the draft of Part 4 looks like.

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How I Made It -- Fibre Collage #1 (Part 3)

Step 3: Using the Solvy
Next, I cut a piece of Solvy to fit the quilt top. You only need to go to the edges and a touch over. Anything beyond that is wasted.

You are going to use the Solvy to hold the layer of fibres and yarns in place while you machine quilt the quilt top. Secure the Solvy in place with safety pins. Pin it as you would any top you were going to machine quilt.

As you do the edges, try to tuck in any stray fibres or yarns. Anything that sticks out will be cut off later.

Now, you have to machine quilt this top to death. The machine quilting has to hold the wool fibres and the yarns in place for ever, so now is not the time to scrimp on the quilting. I used a purple variegated cotton on the purple parts and an orange variegated cotton on the orange part.

If I'd made the bottom layer bigger on the top and bottom, it would have been easier to machine quilt the edges and corners. Oh, well, something to remember for next time.

It isn't always easy to tell from the front if you've quilt it enough, so I always check the back to be sure.

There are a couple of spots that need more quilting.

Because it's hard to see on the front, I marked the spots with pins.

Then, I machine quilted the areas marked with pins and did more in the centre. I never quilt enough when I first start so usually have to go back over that area again.

As you can see, there isn't anything fancy about the machine quilting I did. The purpose of the machine stitching is to hold the fibres and yarns in place and the interlocking circles works a treat. For this quilt, the machine quilting adds texture to the piece but doesn't show up like it does when you are machine quilting a normal pieced quilt top.

Step 4: Washing the Finished Quilt
I didn't take any photos of this step because that would have been silly. I filled the kitchen sink with cold water and dunked the top in. I used my fingers to rub the Solvy off the top, but it had pretty much dissolved all by itself.

I ran the top under running water and wrung it out. Yes, I wrung it out just like you would a face washer. Now, don't get all girly on me. This thing is pretty sturdy and it can stand up to that kind of treatment.

I also rolled it up in a towel and wrung it out again. The felt layer will hold a lot of water and the piece will dry a lot faster if you get as much water out as you can.

Next Post: The finished product.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How I Made It -- Fibre Collage #1 (Part 2)

Step 2: Adding the Threads (continued)
Next, I auditioned some of the yarns from my big box. Purple eyelash was a good colour ... added a nice dark to the purples in the wool top. But this first attempt wasn't a good one.

Second attempt was better.

Moving on to the orange section, I tried this first with the orange pom-pom yarn. Didn't like it.

Second attempt was better but still didn't like it.

Much happier with how this one looked.

The colour change in the photos is because it was later in the day when I did this next part.

Now, time to turn my attention to the area where the purple shifts to orange. So I added the purple pom-pom yarn.

Liked it but thought it needed more of the same.

Still missing something ... so I cut a long length of the purple pom-pom and untwisted the pom-pom strand from the purple strand. I added the purple strand all over the purple 1/3rd of the quilt top.

Yes, I liked that much better.

Next Post: Using the Solvy. Don't touch that dial!

Monday, May 14, 2007

How I Made It -- Fibre Collage #1 (Part 1)

I decided to keep a photo journal of a small quilt I was making, mostly because I sometimes wonder how I ended up with the finished product and would like some idea of how to repeat the bits that turned out well and avoid the bits that didn't.

Materials List
  • A hand-dyed wool top. This is Colour 8 dyed by Martien van Zullen and I got it from The Thread Studio
  • Some weird yarns in sort of complimentary colours to the wool top. These are from the box I've filled with balls from Lincraft or Spotlight or some $2 shop
  • Copper metallic DMC thread
  • A quilt sandwich with white homespun for the top and bottom and two layers of acrylic/wool felt as the wadding. Don't pin it or spray it or anything. I just pressed the fabric and the felt and made the sandwich. The bottom should be about three inches bigger on all sides than the top. Makes it easier to machine quilt the corners and edges later on. I didn't do that this time but should have
  • Solvy, a thin, transparent water-soluble film, enough to cover the quilt top
  • Couple of different variegated threads for machine quilting
The purple yarn is an acrylic eyelash and the other two are called pom-poms. They are actually two different yarns twisted together. They are pretty versatile as you can use them as-is or untwist them and use the two yarns separately.

The Process
I wish I could take credit for the process I followed but I learned how to do this in Gillian Hand's Faux Felt workshop organised by ATASDA.

I've been reading the book Color and Composition for the Creative Quilter so decided to use one of the design principles from that book and make an asymmetrical design of 2/3 to 1/3 in a landscape format. This is a pretty radical step for me because I usually just start and see where I end up and say "Oh, that's an asymmetrical design of 2/3 to 1/3 in a landscape format. Well, what do you know!"

Step 1: Laying Down the Wool Fibres
I started by laying the wool fibres on the quilt top. This layer needs to be thick enough so that you can't see the fabric underneath. Anything more than that and you are just wasting your wool fibres.

Purple fibres were put on the left 2/3rds; orange fibres on the right 1/3rd of the quilt top. Fibres that moved from purple to orange went in the middle. Some darker purple fibres were added to the left 1/3rd and I got this:

A close up shot so you can see just how puffy this layer is.

I decided it was a bit tame so added some higher contrast bits from the wool top and was happier with this:

Step 2: Adding the Threads
I made a conscious design decision not to use silk tops in the piece so for some bling, I added the metallic DMC thread. I find that the copper suits most of the work I do, but I still have lots of other colours, just in case.

I wind my DMC thread on those plastic or cardboard spools ... it adds interesting kinks to the thread. I cut a length off the spool and cut it into shorter lengths.

Then I separated the 6-strands into single threads and scattered them on the orange 1/3rd of the quilt.

Next Post: The Rest of Step 2. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Arches #7

I realise that you are probably over these arches by now. This series of photos are from the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo, the heart of the Victorian goldfields. It took 24 years to build and you can see the spire from just about anywhere in town.

I was there just as the sun was setting and really liked the shadows cast by the different parts of the arches. Unfortunately, there was a service underway when I was there so I didn't get to check out the interior.

Hang in there. Only two more cathedral photos to go and then I'll move on to something else.