Saturday, January 30, 2010

What do I take to a Retreat

There was an interesting bit on one of the online groups about what do we take to retreats. I start with a couple of lists. One of the stuff I need and one of the other things to take. The lists, the one the retreat sent and also one of what I am taking are so handy when I pack up going and coming home I can check off what I have with me. I include on the list my medications and vitamins so I don't get an hour down the road and have to go back. I also take my prescriptions as I can't go a week with out my pills and if for some reason I need more due to an accident or whatever it can be hard to find a doctor.
My medications are in the kitchen so I can take them with meals and it is so easy to forget them.
Definitely a light I have a daylight book light that takes batteries and clips onto a book or a hoop, also I take a torch - Just a little one that will fit in my toiletry bag and help me get to the loo in the night. Depending on room when travelling I might also take an electric kettle, my coffee plunger and coffee. I like my coffee in the mornings and don't drink instant.
If I am driving I take my pillow and a quilt. If driving alone it is handy for a nap on a long trip or at the retreat you will usually get one pillow so if you like two you are stuck. An extra quilt or blanket is always handy. I take a coat too in Australia you get big weather extremes even in Summer and a coat is handy. I fill up the car believe me. The last retreat I went to was Fibre Forum at Ballarat and as there were three of us in the car I only took exactly what I needed and bought stuff there. I will do that again this year it is a lovely excuse to buy more stuff.
The first retreat I ever went on was a Women's silent retreat. Yes that's right you took whatever you were working on and didn't speak to anyone for two days. After the first hour it was bliss. The only ones who spoke were the leaders. I got heaps done and had a wonderful break and went home to find my 3 children under 8 with chicken pox. I haven't been to another silent retreat but it was surprising restful and also a bit challenging to only have yourself to talk too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Felt Jacket

Ahh, I am sighing in relief. Another project finished. I am embarrassed to admit it took me about half an hour. I started the jacket in a Body Wrap workshop with Catherine O'Leary at last years Fibre Forum at Ballarat. I had taken a large amount of supplies with me and then saw the wool pre-felt and matching silk already dyed that beautiful blue/green and the plans I had went out the window, the colours were calling me, and I had to have it.
Before felting the greens were the dominant colour. With all the rolling washing etc the blues became the dominant colour. I also bought the buttons there. About the only thing I did use that I already had were some of the fabrics for the leaves, the white wool and the silk ribbon.
The photo below is of the detail on the front.

I took off a big wooden button that was on the front. Bigger than those you can see on the sides. I had thought that I was so careful in the placement but when I put it on it looked like a big wooden nipple and that would never do.
I replaced it with a large press stud and it holds the front closed nicely. The next photo is of the back. I added the colored pieces of fabric to the top of the wool, I wanted the jacket to look like a forest.
The last photo is of the neck on the back. I stitched and tucked the chiffon around pieces of the leaf fabric and then stitched on the silk ribbon. The green leaf was added after all the felting was done. There are more on the front but they don't show up well in the photos.

I still have lots of projects underway, time to finish another.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


It is raining outside. The sound is lovely on our metal roof. For some reason I have been really missing the sound, smell and sight of rain. I do live in the driest state in our beautiful Oz and we don't see much rain but I do miss it.
I am homesick for somewhere else and hope this is a phase I am going through. My Aquarian feet are definitely itchy though. Greg is a Leo and happiest where ever he is.
Australia Day (January 26) was also our wedding anniversary 30 years. I got Greg a couple of his favorite magazines and he as nearly always got me nothing. The only years he has bought me something for our anniversary are the years I haven't bought him anything.
He would have to be one of the worst gift buyers in the universe so it is probably not a bad thing. Still we did go out for a very nice lunch and I am going on two holidays this year. He also picked up and paid for 8 meters of habotai silk last week that I had ordered for Fiber Forum and he makes up for his crappy gift buying in a lot of other ways. I do say "He Loves me...He Must" as I know I am not the easiest person to live with but then neither is he so we are perfectly matched.
I have decided to start belly dancing classes next week. It is something I have considered doing for some time and as luck/fate would have it there is a class just down the road. I need to get out and mix with women more. I spend most of my working life with mostly men and that is something else I am sick of. I am nearly finished my felt jacket and will have it done tonight. A photo tomorrow I promise.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Newsletters, quilts and washing machines.

Well, the new washing machine is home installed and used it makes lots of beeping noises and has lots of options long and short washes, rinses and if I want it too it will just drain and spin which was always a bit of a pain with the old one to find the right spot on the dial. But it served us well for 20 years.
Chrissie Day of Felting, Stitching and Embellishing
told me that the top loader is better for felting and she would know. I haven't fulled/felted much in the old machine as I usually take the pieces down to the laundromat and use their hot water and fluff up their machines and I use the big front loader and it works a treat.
We did the shopping trip for the washing machine the long way had breakfast at Yankalilla and went to a couple of galleries and then came home via the city, had lunch out and bought the machine and came home.
I also finished off the doll club newsletter and they are emailed and Greg helped me put the snail mail in the envelopes and make them post-ready to drop in the mail box tomorrow on my way to work.
Yesterday I finished machine quilting the squares for my granddaughters quilt that my friend Prue did the applique for. Prue is going to put the thing together for me. Just have to get the border fabrics tomorrow. I want it together for Easter. Jessica's is finished and Caitlin's is nearly there.
So I had a busy weekend and back to work tomorrow. But I shall buy some fabric which is always fun.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Well what a week, the washing machine died it was only 17 years old and had been serviced twice and had one repair that was when we were told that the company doesn't exist anymore and that it was not worth getting it fixed. They just don't make washing machines like they used to. The studio assistant (Greg) and I have had several discussions regarding front loaders versus top loaders. Of our acquaintances and friends there is always a mixed view. I know several felters who swear by the front loader. Greg would go back to a twin tub but I have firmly put my foot down there. I would like a front loader because they felt better, house husband extraordinaire then said that I could buy whatever I want if I do all the washing but he wanted a top loader. So a top loader it is.

My doctor after lots of tests etc is pretty sure I have Wilson's Temperature Syndrome (a thyroid complaint) and I am off tomorrow for a blood test for that. I think I have given more blood for tests in the last twelve months than my body can hold. Hopefully this will be the last for a while. If the doctor is right then medication will fix it within a few weeks. So I am not fat and lazy after all. That's a relief. I thought old age was catching up with me and winning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We thought the hot winds had put paid to our mulberry crop this year but the bit of rain we've had and judicious use of our grey water has saved the day. Greg and I spent a half an hour chatting and picking and the results are 4 litres of mulberries most of which are safely frozen. I made another flower and it needs a few stitches before I show you. Work is getting in the way of my artistic efforts yet again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Postcards etc

Today is another day of beautiful weather, cool drizzly rain and a lovely overcast sky the temperature is 19 C. I have had a productive day. Booked the accommodation for our Tasmania holiday. Took care of the shopping and tonight I am going out for dinner with NO1 and No 2 Son and favourite DIL and then we are going to see Avenue Q - the adult muppet show. So I am going to do some tidying up and then audition some threads for the hat. Then it is off to Adelaide.
I was showing a friend what Lutrador is yesterday and found these two postcards I made a couple of years ago. they don't have any lutrador on them but they were in the folder.
This first one is made with silk paper butterfly and leaves. I vliesofixed the silk paper to material then machine stitched, cut out and appliqued to the fabric backing. The yellow flowers are machined as well. I learnt the techniques in an Eileen Campbell workshop.

The other is one I made for last years Christmas Challenge for the SA Embroiderers Guild which was for a postcard. This is the view from my sunroom window. This is a mixture of silk paper, fabrics, hand and machine embroidery.

This is the photo I used for inspiration.

I do enjoy these small projects it is so satisfying to finish something.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seven/Ten/ Eleven layer cookies

Food is another love of mine I definitely live to eat. Greg is a vegetarian these days and if that is the extent of his mid life crisis I can live with that. We have always eaten a lot of vegetarian meals anyway and while I can not see myself giving up meat at this time who is to say what will come. I had a bad bacon experience not so long ago and I am definitely giving it a miss at the moment but I'll go back to it I am sure. Anyway while cruising around the net for I can't remember what I found this recipe on a very interesting food website. Seven layer cookies are what we in Australia call a 'slice' I hope you enjoy them if you make them. I am going to give them a try.

Bears in the Bush Blogiversary

My friend Susie who makes lovely cloth dolls has a sister Linda who makes beautiful bears. I would love one. In honour of her blogiversary she has a draw for a bear and if I tell you and mention her site I get an extra entry. If you would like to win the bear and deny me of it go to her site and register as a follower.

My New Hat

Well the weather here today is beautiful. Cool and raining, which thankfully has put out the worst of the bushfires, there still may be some trees burning inside the trunk but hopefully the Country Fire Service will get them all. We had a fairly big fire about 30 km's from us, the wind was blowing it away from us so we didn't even get smoke which was good.
I spent today working on the hat. I haven't made a hat like this before. I used a mish-mash of instructions from a variety of sources including books and websites and instructions from Highland Felting's Pam who is a member of Aussie Felters, a yahoo group I belong too. I wanted to use up some of the pre-felts I had and did use up lots.
This first photo shows the black prefelt I used for the inside, I covered the resist with pieces of prefelt stitched together.

Then I tacked on more pieces of coloured prefelt so I had two layers, some of the prefelts I had bought and some I had made with silk and fabrics added.

Once they were all stitched down it looked a bit blah so I added the blue circles.

The last photo is of the hat so far. I added some silk fibres tops and throwsters waste and then put it between layers of curtain and rubbed it on both sides until it started to shrink. Then I took it out of the curtain and rolled it in bubble wrap, once it had started to shrink to nearly the size I wanted I rolled it in a bamboo mat and then by hand. I also put it in the microwave a couple of times and dunked it in cold water.

I am going to do some hand stitching on it as well as it is destined for an exhibition/sale in August if I can bear to part with it. I also have to get rid of the little crease you can see in the photo of the finished hat. Either that or I'll embroider over it. I don't have a project to work on at night at the moment so this one will do nicely. I still have lots of prefelt left I think I will make another hat.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Hot day

I am sorry to complain but Summer is my least favorite time of the year. Today it hit 44 C here in South Oz. I wish I was sweating fat instead of perspiration. I worked today and the building I was in has evaporative airconditoning so it cooled it to about 30 degrees C. Oh well cooler days on Tuesday and Wednesday when I am going to have a couple of days off.
I have finished tacking bits of pre-felt together on my hat. I put it on the kitchen table and did it. I am going to add some silk fibres for some sparkle as it looks a bit dull. A couple of the prefelts had silk felted in and they are sparkling compared to the rest so tomorrow night I might add the silk and then Tuesday I shall start to felt. I don't have a small hand piece set up and I do need to get on with that and a 15cm square piece for Fiber Forum. I have a photo of a Monarch Butterfly I have been looking at and I think I will do something with it. Come on cool weather.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new day in a new year

Well here we are 2010. I spent last night in a strange way, a different way I realized about 00.30 hours during an ad break while I was watching the end of Lord of The Rings. Doing something I have never done before.
I spent the whole night alone in my house. I have never done that before. In fact I have never spent a whole night alone anywhere that I can remember. Here I am 47 nearly 48 years old and I have finally done it. I went straight from home to marriage and as the last of our chicks only flew the nest 12 months ago it was something I have never had the opportunity to do.
We rarely go anywhere on New Years Eve unless we can walk. Daughter and SIL went to a party and we are the designated baby-sitters on NYE. So Husband decided that the two whirlwinds could sleep in their own beds and Darling daughter said she'd get a cab home and we would come home then. I however have a dicky ankle and I ended up going to the doctor yesterday to get it checked as it was bruised and sore.
The heat and having a dicky ankle was the prognosis so Greg said he would babysit alone and I stayed at home to rest said Dicky ankle. I didn't really expect him home and he didn't think he would be home early either.
I did spend my NYE laying out a scarf for felting which would make it a work in progress as I didn't finish it last year. I finished it this year. I am stretching things I know but it puts me off to a great start for the finishing things challenge for 2010.
The first photo is the scarf without wool.
Second photo is with a very thin layer of white wool tops and then a roving blend I had in the stash, it is wool, alpaca and silk combined. I spread it out as you do for cobweb felt so two fine layers at right angles over the silk scarf I got from Unique Stitching. The white roving came from The Thread Studio and the blend came from I don't know where but I think I picked it up at the Spinners and Weavers Guild Shop in Adelaide.
Other photos are of the finished piece and the wools used and the detail of the scarf looking at the fabric side and then at the wool side. I deliberately left about an inch free of wool at the edge so the sides of the scarf were visible. Yay for me a project finished. Now I have to finish something I have already started.