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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beaded Brooches

I haven't had the energy or inclination to blog for a long time, but I think I am back.

First of all there was the finishing off of the year's work at TAFE, whilst contending with a teacher with whom I disliked working and who caused me a lot of angst. I was finally pleased with my major project (another post) but everything else I did in the whole second semester felt uncreative and stifling and I just could not work happily with her. Still, that is over and done with (and I passed!) and next year WILL be a better year.

Then as soon as that finished, all hell broke loose with poor old Wombat and school and we've really been through the mill there. Again, another post. Suffice it to say that he is at home rather than at school (though still enrolled - for administrative reasons) and will be going to another school next year. It has been rather time and energy consuming.

BUT ... here are some beaded brooches I have made to sell in a christmas exhibition. I will be surprised if more than one or two sell - they are not over-priced but I am having trouble finding appropriate retail outlets for them. I thought it was worth trying this one - apart from anything else I find it soothing to make them and I needed something soothing!

While finishing my major project off, and doing these brooches, I realised that I was beading more by feel than by sight! So I went off to get my eyes tested - I used to have reading glasses when I did a lot of computer work, but in recent years have not needed them - and got a new prescription (yes my eyes have got worse!) and two smart new pairs of reading glasses.

Today I have to go and enroll for next year at TAFE. I am outrated that they insist on us going in and filling in forms in person on a specific day - they sell themselves as a 21st centurym forward-thinking tertiary institution and they are using EXACTLY the same re-enrollment proecures as when I was first at university in 1979! I begged to be allowed to do it over the phone but that, apparently, would involve the admin staff actually having to do some administration, which they refuse to do. And why the *** can't we do it online!!!!

Much later - have returned from TAFE. Surreal morning punctuated by constant texts from Baby Bear saying she had a headache and wanted to go home from school, and a call from Wombat saying he couldn't find the dog (who was having a quiet doggy moment behind the water tank, it turned out!) Go into relevant department office and stand patiently behind a second year student. My turn. Second year? No, I;m third year. Oh, then do you mind if I serve the six people behind you first, because they are all second year and I will have to find the third year folder. I shout. Fill in forms in between helping Wombat find the dog over the phone and texting Baby Bear to tell her to leave me alone for ten minutes while I finish off, and for goodness sake to go to the sick bay while she was waiting. Go to have details (same as the last two years) filled in by person on computer. Go to pay fees (10% off if paid today). Form not signed. Shout. Pay fees.

Phone school to say that Baby Bear can go home. Phone Wombat at home to say that she will be home before me. Go and have coffee and toasted croissant and read bad newspaper in attempt to calm down. Wombat reminds me that I had promised to buy him some sweets - a particular sort, easily obtainable in Glen Waverley. He gives me explicit directions to newsagent near station that sells them. I point out that that's nice, but I am in Box Hill (different suburb and station). Spend 20 minutes trying to find these sweets before giving up and going to supermarket and standing in long queue. Finally get home. Baby Bear's headache is better and she is alternately playing the piano VERY LOUDLY or playing with Wombat on the Eye Toy. Thank god for coffee.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

August Bead Journal Offering

This was actually finished in August, but only just posted.
I've used the usual seed beads and bugle beads, with a few freshwater pearls and some square beads I found in a bead shop recently, plus some of my first attempts to make polymer clay faces. The charm says Be Yourself.
I don't know how good that advice is right now - myself is scared, angry and depressed while trying to deal with the impenetrable vagaries of the Victorian education department and its attitude to high functioning autistic children. Yes, he's got funding for an aide. At the moment the aide (and teacher) are accomplishing little beyond baby-sitting, and not even that very successfully as he keeps running away from school and coming home. It's not their fault - they are well trained and very skilful and have done a million PDs in the subject - it's not the school's fault, which has done EVERYTHINg imaginable to make things autism-friendly - it's not our fault, we have tried every possible technique in every book ever written. The school principal begged Region for help, and their only response was that he should be suspended every time he ran home. Er, hello....? Officially sending him home because he runs home? We are all at our wits end. We had a meeting yesterday and I almost bit the head off the school pysch who said that Wombat 'needs to learn the value of education' when he has been raised in a family that values education very prominently and always has done so.
We may be driven into the private system, which we cannot afford and don't want to use, because the publicly funded system, to which we have contributed both via taxes and personal sweat/blood/time for years, refuses to help our son - who is legally entitled to an appropriate education. So much for A Fair Go being one of the so-called Aussie values on the new citizenship test.
Rant over.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I've been knitting socks again!

The top pair is for me, using Opal. Nice and colourful!

The other pair is for George, using something that I think might have been called Hot Socks but was put out by Lincraft, so not the same as another Hot Socks brand I have used in the past. It was the usual wool/nylon sock blend and was quite nice to knit with, and felt soft. George likes them, which is the main thing.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Very late!

I didn't really mean to take a break from blogging, but obviously that's what happened. I haven't even been reading other people's blogs for the last month. But now I am back and interested again.

This is my Bead Journal Project (see links bar) for July. Yes, I know it;s September now! I actually finished this in the first week of July, it just took me a long time to get round to photographing it, and then even longer to post about it.

It uses mostly seed and bugle beads, with a few gemstone chips, some dyed mother-of-pearl disks, and a larger piece of gemstone in the middle of the bottom part. Also some dyed freshwater pearls. And the little tag is engraved with 'nurture'.

I finished the August one just before the end of August and will post that in the next day or two!
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Beaded Brooch

I made this beaded brooch last week and got a bit carried away with it - it's bigger than the ones I usually make but I still love it!
Edited to add: Yes, they are freshwater pearls in the third row out, I love using them in bead embroidery!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

FO's at last!

Some people think that I never knit any more and I would like to prove them wrong. Here are recent fruits of my labours with knitting needles. From top : Fetchings from, in Patons Jet (took about 1 1/3 balls on smallish needles to make a dense fabric); socks in one of the Opal Hundertwasser range (deliberately non-matching as he never wore matched socks); and socks in another Opal yarn. There is another pair of Opal socks on the needles at present, just about ready to do the first heel on the first one, and I hope to have finished the Norah Gaughan 'capecho' soon as I am just over halfway through the neckband and then all I have to do is block it within an inch of its life, work out how to sew the sleeves (harder than it sounds, but I think I have worked out where the seam should be) and finally, decide whether it is long enough or needs more modules and, if so, do I have any more yarn tucked away with which to do so?
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Monday, July 02, 2007

2007 Bead Journal Project, and my piece for June

I was very excited to hear about, and to be accepted into, the 2007 Bead Journal Project, set up by the amazing and wonderful Robin Atkins, who just happens to be my favorite bead embroidery artist in the world.
The idea is to create a piece of bead embroidery per month for twelve months, done any way we like, but with the stipulation that each piece be the same size (as our other ones, not the same size as the other 249 people's pieces!)
After eighteen months of having design principles drummed into my head, I wanted to use a totally intuitive approach to this project. After some thought I decided that each month I would buy a piece of felt (I discovered last year that felt is fantastic to bead onto), choosing the colour that leapt out at me at the time, which would depend on how my mood at that point. I would then choose a colour palette that I liked with that colour, tip it all into a tray, and start beading. No design planning, just let the beads speak to me. (OK, so those design lessons haven't gone completely to waste - I now instinctively choose colours based on my studies of colour theory! Though the intuitive choosing of the felt is genuinely intuitive - in fact for July I picked a colour I never use, it just jumped out at me and matched my mood at the time).
Another sign that the design lessons have sunk in - I decided that the various pieces would need an integrating element, so each one will have a small tag with a word emgraved on it, again suiting my mood for the month. I bought a whole pile of them at the beginning and so I have plenty to choose from.
June's piece was called, in my head, 'I'd Rather be Shopping'. I am not necessarily going to give each piece a title so I will wait and see what happens before committing myself to that in the long term. The engraved charm says 'Wish'. June was a BAD MONTH, for reasons I won't go into but revolving mostly around Wombat's problems which have got dramatically worse recently. Many a time I found I had to cancel fun things I had planned, like going to art exhibitions, to stay at home, either with him, or just in case he tried to do something awful at school and needed immediate removal. I just about managed to get to my classes on Fridays, and that took dramatic interstate juggling (given that George spent part of the time squelching around Newcastle and other damp places nowhere near us). Other than that I spent much of the month feeling trapped and frustrated and very fearful of the future. All those emotions went into that piece but I couldn't resist trying to keep it a bit light in mood otherwise I would have slashed my wrists!
Edited to add: I forgot to say that each piece is about A5 in size and at the moment I have no idea whether I am going to make them into a book or a wall hanging or what at the end of twleve months. That will also be down to intuition! And Sue H - I have made beaded brooches and must make some more, but no, these pieces aren't for wearing - at least not yet, who knows what will happen in a year!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fabricate 2007

I have just returned from seeing the Fabricate (2007) exhibition at the Embroiderers' Guild. It is their (as of last year) annual 'textile art' exhibition which showcases more contemporary stuff than the Guild is usually associated with.

I thought it was just a tiny bit more amateur than last year's, when there were a few big names involved. There was only one person there this time I had heard from (not counting two exhibitors I recognised from last year) and I was disappointed with her piece, which I thought was a little forced.

Having said that there was some very inspiring work and one in particular that gave me some fantastic ideas. I had a problem choosing my pick for the best of show, there were two I liked equally for it!

There was very colourful stuff (including a great, very PINK piece), some with lovely personal histories, and some that just left me cold. That's fine, that's how all exhibitions should be. The things I found plain boring are probably someone else's favorites, and the ones I liked the best were probably scoffed at by others. It is is good to see the Guild showcasing contemporary, and in some cases very innovative, textile art for at least a few weeks in the year.

I haven't mentioned any names or particular pieces because I know these are my own opinions and all these people and alive and well and likely to get personally cross with me if I diss them. Plus the textile art world is one I am trying to break into, not make enemies within!

If you're in Melbourne or its environs and like this sort of thing, do pop in and see it. Hopefully you too with find something to inspire you like I did. It;s also going to Ararat later on, which is great for other people!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Passion of Christ - full-length

Two full-length photos. It currently hangs in the family room and spooks people who brush up against it.

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Hearts and Thorns - The Passion of Christ

My first soft sculpture mobile - an art form I have been fascinated by for years (soft sculpture AND mobiles - though I have only recently considered combining them).

The brief was to produce a textile piece using symbols (we had done a unit on symbolism) which incorporated three of the same symbol, and using only fabric, paint and stitch.

I have learnt, among other things, some valuable lessons in construction, and also just how difficult it is to photograph the silly things! I will also post a full length picture of the whole thing, but these are the components. There are three stuffed hearts of various sizes, each with stitching on both sides. The fabric is cream homespun that I sprayed fabric paint onto through lace and then added some gold paint - in drips, by painting the outline of one of the flower shapes, and then using a toothbrush to do a fine spatter over most of it.

I'd done a whole lot of research on hearts and flowers and ended up doing the Passion of Christ - interesting where symbolism can take you!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

More Fun with Embellishing!

More stuff for Yarnfest. More fun on the embellisher.

Top pic: Gum leaves I had knitted and crocheted and had hanging around (ha ha ha) waiting to be made into something. Felted all over with the machine to make them more solid and then felted onto a backing of bright polar fleece to make bookmarks.

Middle pic: More of the gum leaves - these were thicker and I thought they were a big too thick for bookmarks, even before felting, so I felted them thoroughly to make them stiffer and sewed brooch backs on them.

Bottom pic: Lengths of yarn twisted together and felted to make more bookmarks. The one on the far right is twisted yarn with a small crocheted spirally thing felted onto it, the others are just all twisted yarns curled into a spiral at the bottom and felted firmly together.

I will be making more brooches and bookmarks and trying them out on Etsy and wherever else I can think of. They are fun and addictive!
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Saturday, June 09, 2007

More Yarnfest Stuff...

...and first use of the new embellisher! Both of these were things I had knitted in the past that were sitting in my wardrobe, unworn. I did some practice emebellishing on them and decided that I would put them in for sale at Yarnfest (see previous entry for URL).

Embellishing is fun!!!
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Oddball Scarves and Hats

I have been busy making things to (hopefully) sell at Yarnfest at The Highway Gallery in Mount Waverley. If you're in my part of Melbourne and fancy some nice knitted/crocheted bits and pieces, drop in between 9th and 20th June and see what takes your fancy.

These are oddball scarves and hats that I had a lot of fun making. My stash contains A LOT of oddballs and they went into making some nice colourful things.
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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Curley Whirly!!

I've just knitted a Curley Whirly scarf! Or rather, a Short circuit Scarf from Taphophile.

This is a birthday present for my sister-in-law and it wasn't finished quite on time, so she was allowed to see it halfway through and then I whisked it away to finish it. She loves purple and blues and pinks. I dyed this wool a couple of years ago and had been hanging on to it till I thought of the right thing to do with it, and she was the obvious recipient!

Specifications : 4 x 50g 5 ply, not all the same brand but all pure wool. Dyed by me in Landscape dyes with much glee. Knitted until it ran out. It measures over 3 metres! She can wrap it round her neck at least three times. Apparently her pupils (she is s secondary school teacher) delight in checking out her handknits so this one should keep them amused for a few minutes. It was fun to knit but I couldn;t have gone for any longer, I was starting to go a little stir-crazy! Brilliant pattern, thanks Taph, easy to memorise and looks fiendish but isn't at all.
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Friday, June 01, 2007

Sheeprustling Brooch

I bought this today from a third year student at TAFE. She claims it was an abstract piece (as all hero thers were) but to me it immediately looked like sheep - so appropriate for the Sheeprustler! Funny thing is, no-one else can see sheep in it until I mention it. It's hand needlefelted.

And guess what - I got an embellisher today! I may not have much time to play with it for a couple of weeks - I have to write a plan for a 12 hour workshop to be finished by next week (for assessment purposes - I won't actually be teaching the workshop, though I do think I have come up with an excellent idea, but I'm a lousy teacher) and the next week there will probably be tons of homework too, but after June 15 I am free as a bird for several weeks until Semester Two - expect to see some embellished pieces in that time!
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Thursday, May 31, 2007


This was an interesting exercise we did in class over the past couple of weeks.
1) We studied the Hundertwasser picture The Houses are Hanging Underneath the Meadows and analysed it in terms of design - colour, balance, repetition, motifs, etc. We were also asked to think about in terms of maps (an obsession of our current teacher, but a worthy one for this exercise).
2) We were told to produce a series of coloured papers using inks and oil pastels in various ways (there was a list of about six or eight ideas of what to do with them - including painting ink of wet paper, doing pastel rubbings and then inking over, etc.
3) We were each given a photocopied portion of a Melbourne street map and told to design something based on our study of the Hundertwasser piece, using all or a portion of the map to create the design.
4) Then we used the papers we had created to produce a collage based on our design. We were allowed to add small bits of extra drawing on top - I drew grass with green oil pastel on top of the centre section of mine, and then outlined it with black texta to make it show up better. (This was when I discovered that fine line pen, which is my favorite, doesn't work on top of oil pastel - derr!!)
5) The next week we had to produce coloured cloths to recreate (approximately) the paper collage, using fabric paints, fabric crayons and transfer dyes and crayons. I have never had much luck with transfer dyes (I know others who swear by them, though) and got rather frustrated trying to get the right magenta for the right hand section of my piece, giving up in the end and settling for the more red-pink which was all I could mix with the available fabric dyes. I still liked the ultimate effect.
6) Then it was just a case of vliesofixing the relevant bits of fabric down and doing some stitching. The funny thing is, in class I was saying that I was going to do hand stitching only, and resist my usual urge to put beads on everything, and how I had sworn off machine embroidery - and look what I did, machine stitch and beads!!
Ultimately I am pleased with this piece. It may not be great art but it was an excellent example of structuring a series of classes (which is what we are actually studying at the moment, Strategies for the Artist/Teacher, doing a textile piece was just a bonus way of demonstrating the process to us!) and I enjoyed the process.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Repetitions of Nature

We haven't done much actual textile work this year, so it is a relief to be able to blog about a pice at long last!

This was created from using leaves to make prints, then embroidered on top of (with the addition of some tiny sequins and a bigger one), and finally some more leaf prints on top. There is also a tiny bit of gold paint spatter on various bits of it, but it's very subtle and doesn't show up well.

It's stitched onto a piece of handmade paper (not made by my hands!) - rather wonkily, I realise looking at the photo!

There's another textile piece to show off when I scan it, and another work about 70% finished. That's it for the semester - not NEARLY enough textile work for a supposed Textile Art course, but of course they insist that everything else we are studying is worthwhile too.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Haven't Done a Meme for Ages

Thanks to Yarnivorous I found this "I Never" Meme.

Instructions for this meme are: Edit the list, bold for stuff you've done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you're not planning on doing. So here goes!

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting (???)
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dyeing yarn
Knitting art
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Darning (does this mean mending, in which case NO, or Swiss Darning, in which case yes).
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting in public

Well, I;ve done a lot of them, and as you can see there are quite a few I still want to do, but there's a number of things there I am really not interested in and won't be doing. Still, an interesting meme - go on, take it, you know you want to!

Edited to answer comment: Fair Isle and Intarsia are quite different. In fair isle you strand wool and carry at least two strands across each row. Intarsia is blocks of colour done by twisting yarns together at the joins of the blocks. Of course you can use a mixture together - I often have! Steeking is a possibly Scandinavian technique (I may be wrong there!) where you knit a whole jumper/jacket in the round and then cut it apart where you want the sleeve holes and/or front opening to be - having reinforced the relevant areas and prayed to the knitting gods first!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saturday Sky

I haven't posted a Saturday Sky for ages, but here is one at last. And yes it is a real photo! But it was blurry and an insignificant part of another picture (taken by Baby Bear who was focussing on something else) so i played with it until it developed this look, which I like. Those were real clouds and they evens prinkled some rain on us. Most of Victoria got lots of rain, we didn't get much in Glen Waverley (5mm) but the farmers got lots which is great. There is some more rain forecast today. In fact it is chucking down at the moment (whee!) and I am pointedly not complaining that in an hour's time we have to be over at the school at the official opening of the environmental project that George, among a tiny handful of other dads, has been building almost every Saturday for the last nine months. (I love it that he is so involved in the school, but sometimes I wish a few other people would get off their ar**s and do something too!) I am hoping that our wonderful principal has remembered how to make contingency plans for rainy days!

Wombat this morning said something terribly sweet - he is nearly 11 and we came back to Melbourne when he was nearly 3 - 'I remember that day when it RAINED ALL DAY'. Of course there have been a few of them in that eight year period, but precious few. I didn't remind him that his first 2 3/4 years were spent in Gloucestershire in the UK where it rained all day every day for most of his short life!
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Latest Etsy Offerings

I've been whiling away a little time playing with beads.

I am getting concerned about Etsy. Apart fromt he fact that I haven't sold anything yet (not a whinge, the whinge is coming though!) I am worried about the future of the site itself. On the last week there has been a huge amount of down time while the backroom boffins did some boffining, and then some more, and then tried to fix the boffining that had already happened. It seems to be working OK at the moment...

I hadn't bothered reading the Etsy forums up till now, being a bit busy with other things, but cast a glance at them while all of this was going on. There was a mixture of people grumping that this was no way to run a business (it isn't), but far more people praising the boffins and stroking their egos and saying that everyone else should shut up and let them get on and play with their software.

I;m not going to get into that argument (much) and haven;t posted on the forums. But it makes me think, with a shudder, of Themestream, a pay-per-click creative writing site that I had the misfortune to become heavily embroiled with several years ago. Exactly the same things happened - they expanded far too quickly, didn't put enough of their (considerable) profits into keeping the site up with the traffic and the punters, and crashed in a blaze of - what is the opposite of glory? - owing thousands of people like me money.

I know that Etsy can't screw me of money - especially if I don't sell anything! But if I do, the money comes straight to me via Paypal. But it just has the same smell of death about it. I really want it to succeed - I like the philosophy of the site - I;d like it more if I could sell something, but that's probably got more to do with my photographs or merchandise than anything else. But it worries me none the less.

Rant over. I have schoolwork to do - actual textile art! Not just writing business plans!
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Lovely Lichen!

Here is the next set of bush texture photos I took. I love lichen!

All pictures are clickable to view in greater detail. The same goes for the previous texture photo post, the photos look muchbetter in close-up than they do smaller. (Two posts ago).
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