Wednesday, 24 September 2008

More embellishing, more souvenirs

This is a sample from lesson 2 of Dale's embellishing course - I haven't progressed very far have I! It is painted fusible webbing laid down over a selection of threads on a blue felt background, with some copper foil added. I had a feeling that when I had finished with the embellisher it would provide a good base for a couple of glasses cases.

Then I embellished a couple of layers of a silk hanky over the top of it, and was quite thriled with the result. I don't think I will be using this for glassess cases, but I am not quite sure what I shall develop it into yet. I will do my usual trick - pin it on the wall for a few weeks (or sometimes months) till inspiration strikes. I am a dreadful designer, I never really know what I am going to do, it just sort of happens in its own time. One day I will find the time to concentrate on the online journal design course I paid for and learn how to design a project!!!

We have had lots of visitors at the Botanic Gardens over the last few weeks, the weather has been perfect for tourists, and they have been stocking up in the souvenir shop. This is another little trinket box I have made in the last couple of days. The base is made of a whole heap of old embroidery threads which I didn't like sewing with (they kept breaking - cheap ones) so I cut them up onto a layer of Romeo and put another layer on top and sewed them all together. I have had that sitting around for several months waiting for me to decide what to do with it too! I had to show a photo of the lining as that is some of the silk I dyed a while ago.

The weather is really glorious for the school holidays which are in full swing here, our blue heeler Jack is having a wonderful time with the neighbouring children. they spend ages throwing the ball for him to chase, and he never gets tired of it. Troble is Jack also loves chewing the ball and making it a real mess with slobber. One child next door, Coby aged 8, hates it and asks his sister Georgie , aged 4, to pick it up for him - she doesn't give a hoot how messy it is. then coby usually wipes his hands on her shirt! How is that for male fussiness.
Off to make some more bookmarks to sell. More later.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Embellishing and souvenirs

I have finally got around to doing a bit more of Dale's embellishing course, and this notebook cover is one result. I need to replenish the supply of my souvenirs at the Botanic Gardens again so am combining the exercises. I think I have uploaded these pictures out of order, but you will all be able to work it out.
This is an exercise in weaving, and started of with a collection of wool rovings embellished onto scrim, then sliced up and interwoven with a lime green slushie cut into strips. I am quite happy with the result, and cut up a bit of it for the decoration on the book cover.

This is fun, and I will certainly be using that technique a lot more - just running under the embellisher to make texture, nothing complicated, but great effects. I think I will use some ot the silk I dyed a while back to make some handbags after I have given it this treatment.

I didn't realise how popular these little fairy shoes would be. They are fun to make - or most of the time anyway. Sometimes my hand doesn't work properly and I have a few nasty words to say while I am trying to hold the needle! I can't keep the supply up to the Gardens - they sell as fast as I get them there!
Spring has just about passed us by here, the weather has turned very warm, but so far none of the damaging storms which have been happening elsewhere. We have lots of beautiful flowers out everywhere, the hot weather isn't worrying them. Bill has been very busy in our garden digging out a hibiscus hedge which is over 50 years old, and the roots had a very strong hold on the earth! The shrubs were full of some sort of virus which we haven't been able to get rid of, so they are going to be replacedwith 20 sysisgiums (lilypillies) (can't spell the first word properly). They will make a beautiful show in a couple of years, dark green shiny leaves which start off a glorious red colour when they first appear. The flowers are a fluffy yellow, followed by red edible berries which make a super chutney. That will be a few years down the track before we have enough for that though.
Not long now till the Gladstone family arrives up here, settlement day is next Monday. So far they have only seen lots of photos of the property and keep asking us questions. I took about 80 photos, but it is amazing how many seemingly obvious things I seem to have missed! All will be revealed in good time, just adds to the excitement I think!
I need to do a lot more embellishing before the bedroom has to be pulled apart so I had better get back to it.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Finch Hatton Gorge

Today the Friends group from our Botanic Gardens went on an excursion to a local National Park, Finch Hatton Gorge. This is a really lovely rainforest area about an hour's drive west of Mackay.Many of the plants growing in the area have been propagated and are now growing in our Gardens. We had a lovely day, first walking along paths like this through the rain forest.

This is the creek bed, filled with boulders. Unfortunately it is now barricaded off because too many people had been dumping rubbish in it and destroying the habitat of a tinkling frog (don't know its proper name), sad that a few can spoil it for the majority, but I suppose that is life!
When our children were little, we camped at the Gorge several times and the boys used to love splashing about in the water in the creek. There was even a spot where it was deep enough to swim in. In those days you could only get in to the park in a 4 wheel drive, and even then had to take it very carefully. I think that was a really good idea, it was only after the road was improved and widened and made easily accessible in conventional vehicles that all the damage started to occur.
After the walk, we returned to the picnic area to have a BBQ lunch. We were watched closely by these kookaburras - and some of their other friends in other trees.

A little later the kookaburras got really game. The photo below was taken sitting on my chair in the middle of a group of people. This fellow was totally unconcerned. Fortunately we had taken a marquee with us and we set out all the food underneat it - quite a deterrent to marauding birds.

As well as the kookaburras, we were visited by about half a dozen goannas like the one below. They were equally unconcerned and were wandering around among everyone's chairs and legs! A bit disconcerting to say the least! they ranged in size from half a metre tip to tail to nearly 2 metres tip to tail. There have always been goannas at the park, but I have never seen so many so close before. I suspect many tourists are feeding them.
All in all, a very successful day, just a shame that much of the remains of the picnic is still sitting in my garage waiting to be tidied and sorted before being returned to the Gardens for storage - that will be tomorrow's job.
After this I think I have a window of opportunity for about 10 days to try to complete Dale's embellishing course! Then I will have to pack up the sewing room to fit in all the family to stay for a day or too before they move into their own house up here. That will be exciting!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Dyeing in the microwave

I have had a creative day at long last. I spent much of the morning dyeing these cotton fabrics and cords in the microwave. I have always avoided dyeing - too difficult, too fiddly and far too slow! Now I have discovered the microwave I am a complete convert. I think I will even invest in some procion dyes. These cottons have been dyed with the common rit dyes from the supermarket and I am not happy with some of the colours, particularly the blue. I read a couple of articles in Quilting Arts number 17 where the artists have achieved really good results, perhaps I need to practise some more, and also perhaps I need to look for some other colours - or just get the procion dyes!!!

These silks were dyed with the lovely Landscape dyes I discovered at Wrapt in Rocky. My sister recently visited Hong Kong and brought me back about 10 metres of silk for dyeing, so these are some of the results.
My sewing machine has come back home after having the threads disgorged from its innards so now I hope to be able to use thes silks in some creative efforts over the next few days. First I need to go back to the boring job of photocopying records to take to the accountant because it is tax time! That is a necessary evil I can postpone no longer.
We went to a fabulous concert on Monday night - the Quensland Orchestra made its annual pilgrimage to Mackay. The soloist was the young violinist Feng Ning, playing Beethoven's violin concerto in D. If ever you get the chance to hear him play, grab it with both hands, he is absolutely wonderful, he brought the capacity house down on Monday. Then he came back and played God save the Queen as you have never heard it before. He really made the violin sing.
The rest of the concert was pretty good too.
Our kids have now got a definite contract on the house they want to buy up here and will move in during the first week in October, just three weeks away! We will have a very full house for a couple of nights as our other son Stuart will be visiting from Canberra to see his daughter Hannah, so they will be here as well. We need elastic walls!!!!! It is great fun to have the whole family together though, or almost the whole family. Stuart's new partner and her two young children will still be in Canberra - that would be stretching it to fit another three bodies into the house! We used to do that on my sister's property before they retired to the coast, but we could always take over the shearer's quarters there!
Enough for now, back to work time.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Red letter day

Today was one of those wonderful 'feel good days' all day. I'll start with the end because that is what the photos are about. I made this shawl for a friend a while ago from a kit bought from Dale. Shelley and her 15 year old daughter Sam went out last night. Various people complimented Shelley on her shawl and she said a very good friend hadmade it for her. Her daughter was most indignant - you can't tell people that it is home made!!!! Mind you, I know Sam likes it, she wanted me to make her one too at one stage! Teenage kids can't bear to think that their mothers are wearing something a bit different from the norm. I don't care about it being home made, I was very proud of the end result, and so is Shelley.

The morning started well with a farewell morning tea at the Library for a lovely South Sea Islander who has worked there for the past 27 years, and is now moving on to another job. She came straight from school and was so shy you could hardly get boo out of her. Now she is organising large functions and speaking to crowds - there were about 100 people there to say goodbye today. The best thing is that she is moving to a job at the other end of the Botanic Gardens so we will still have lots of contact.
Next I had to rush off to a large toystore to buy a birthday present for my grand daughter who turns 7 next Tuesday. She wanted a Barbie something, and I couldn't remember what. I am completely intimidated by these stores, there is so much I can never find a thing - but not today! I was in and out inside two minutes! I found absolutely the right Barbie present for her, and it was even reduced to half price in a sale.
The absolutely best bit of news today is that our kids have finally secured the contract on the house they want to buy to move into in early October. The owner is a very contrary man who was putting up all sorts of hurdles, but he finally signed the contract this afternoon. The housing market here in Mackay is very tight and there are very few places available for a family with 4 children, and certainly no others in their price range - so we had a couple of nice red wines to celebrate tonight.
We have had a damp day, ending up with about 10mls of rain, not much but a big help in watering our very dry garden. I think it is forecast to clear away overnight unfortunately, but the very dry areas in South east Queensland are getting a whole lot more.
Time for bed, and hoping tomorrow I can get back to the embellisher.

Monday, 1 September 2008

More embellishing and some finches

I have at last had a bit of time to play for my embellishing class These pictures are of the front and back when I embellished some slushies onto a flimsy - don't you love the names! I found I had to put some tulle over the top while I was embellishing to be able to move the piece around. I think the flimsy is harderto move because it is so soft. Makes a lovely finished surface though.

Then I cut the whole piece up and wove it back together. This was interesting. I am cheating a bit with the last photo - I have placed all the bits on the woven strip, but haven't yet sewn it on. I wanted a phot to refer to while I am sewing, but I am not sure how soon I will get it done. The buttons are ones my sister has brought back from her travels for me. She collects buttons for me whenever she goes overseas, not sure now what started it, but I have a lovely collection of them waiting to be used. She is about to hed off to Eastern Europe for a month so hopefully she will find some different ones there. I have posted the wrong photo too, the one which has not been lopped, sorry about that, I haven't time to delete it and start again. I haven't worked out how to get a photo back to the bottom if it is the last one uploaded. that is another thing I keep promising myself I will do - take a day to learn how to do this blogging properly with links and side bars day............

At this time of the year our bird feeder is crowded with little chestnut breasted finches, and they are so much fun to watch. They are just like raindrops the way they flutter in, then take off in a cloud when something alarms them. The feeders look like they are just about on the ground, but are really about 6 feet above it. I took the photo out of an upstairs window, looking down at them. Took me ages to get it, they kept flying off. They hide in a creeper we have growing up onto the roof of a nearby verandah, making lots of little soft chirruping noises. I don't know where they go in the middle of summer, none of my bird books say they are migratory, but we only have clouds of them from about July to late November.

September is here already, another edition of Workshop on the Web up today, again with lots of interesting stuff in it. Haven't had time to look at much yet but had to open Linda Monks' article because it looked like one I really want to try.
Time to go to bed, hopefully I will manage to post a bit more often than I have been. See you soon.