Wednesday, May 30, 2012

eQuilter's videos of AQC

I have been sent this link to some wonderful videos of the Australasian Quilt Convention that was on in April.  You can see some lovely work in them.
If you can't find the AQC, it might be because the site has updated but I am sure you will find them if you scroll down.
I loved the use of different fabrics in this one, by Kay Haerland. It was in Beneath the Southern Sky and the online gallery didn't do it justice.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Learning something new

It's almost a week since I last posted.  Where has the time gone??
Doing Blackwork, that's where.  I am finding it much harder than I had anticipated!!!!!
I did a day at the Embroiderers Guild last week and we had homework for this week.  The homework took AGES, mainly because I pulled out about a third of what I had done (I have learnt to expect this from tapestry weaving). And I didn't get it all done - but neither did about half the class, so that took the pressure off.
Our teacher, Debi Marshall, designed a pin cushion as our sampler.  It has a lot of intricate designs that rely on each part being in the correct space.
I didn't do the outlining tacking quite correctly, so that put some of the designs out from the start.  Then I had some parts that were supposed to be square but were rectangular.  Then some of my stars looked more like spiders.
We were supposed to use varying weights of threads but, so far, I have only used the heavier weight with one small part using a lighter weight.
Debi was very patient with me and helped me a lot with my placement.  I don't think she liked that I had left some parts wrong but it would have taken way too long to pull them out so we ploughed on regardless.
I did manage to put my initials and date
 I have worked on it for hours each day this week but still didn't get finished today.  Ah well, I just have to remind myself that this is all learning and it is supposed to be fun.

This took me all day, with a lot of help - and it's still not finished.

I am going to persevere as I really want to try designing my own and then stitching it, so I may try for a simpler sampler to get toning down without having to worry about intricate designs, leave them for later.

One or two of the ladies got their pin cushions finished, or will this weekend. The rest of us struggled along more slowly.
By the way, there is no way any of us would use such a beautiful piece of work as a pin cushion!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Buda Historic Home and Garden Textile exhibition

The Textiles Awards exhibition will be held at the Buda Historic Home from June 2nd to 17th.  It is in Castlemaine, not far from Melbourne.
There are two categories, Inspired by Buda and Gold.  I decided to make a piece that is Inspired by Buda. I have written about it already, in terms of the problem of using inspiration to come up with a new work. There is a lot in the house and gardens that was inspiring.  I eventually decided to work with a bullrush design, incorporating some borders from the stained glass windows in the house.

It is about 50cm x 58cm, made of synthetic organzas and one layer of hand painted silk.  I ended up using about 7 layers as I needed to double some of them to get the intensity I wanted.  Actually, having the silk, which is translucent but not transparent, helped.

I tried to sew very closely along the lines of the design but discovered that, when I cut back the layers, the fabric was starting to pull out from under the sewing lines.  There were two things I had to alter in my technique - one was to sew messy lines so that there was more fabric under the sewing and the other was to cut away from the sewing lines, not very close.  This helped and there was much less pulling away.

I was a bit nervous about washing off the soluble fabric that I had traced my design onto and used to stabilise the work but it all behaved very well when washed - whew!

The organza behaved quite differently from cotton when I cut back too.  It was MUCH easier to go through too many layers, so I had to be very careful to only go back to the colours I wanted to expose.  Crystal organza cuts (and shreds) more easily than ordinary synthetic organza too.

I had two pairs of scissors for this, one very sharp for getting started and one with turned up ends so that I could hold it flat to the fabric with less risk of cutting through too much.

As I was basing it on a stained glass window, I had hoped to have layers the same front and back, cutting though to the middle (i.e., the same back and front) but that was too hard.  So it is to be viewed from one side only.  It also looks different depending on whether you hang it in front of a window or not.  It is transparent and some of the colour is lost when the light shines through.  But I am happy with either look.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Changing the cog on the sewing machine

Now I know what the dot on the stitch selector knob is for.  Isn't it amazing what you find out when you actually read the manual?
The book doesn't call it a cog either, so that might be why I had so much trouble finding information on the web on Wednesday.  The only thing that even closely resembled my search terms was my own blog and it wasn't about that problem at all.
But now that I have dug out the manual I know what to do.  It says:
Set the dot on the stitch selector opposite the indicator red dot [which is white on my  machine] and take out the programmer at the back of the machine and replace it with the one you wish to use. 
After having placed the programmer in position, press in and at the same time turn it until you can feel that it is engaged. 

What I can tell you is that it does engage but you need to press it lightly while you turn to the various stitch possibilities and it will go further into the machine.

I have posted this because I got so frustrated trying to find out information on the net.  Mind you, I was not particularly relaxed at the time and my frustrations levels were high - should that be low?

And it is called a programmer, not a cog. I might have found more if I had used the correct terms, who knows?  I am not going to look no, I have the manual.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I spend most Wednesdays with a friend and we work on projects side by side.  I had a play with the sewing machine, to see what the different stitches looked like.  It turned out to be more trouble than I had expected.  I remembered to take all the cogs that have the different stitches on them.  Good start.

I diligently worked on cog A and tried the various stitches.  I had some trouble with the tension.  So my friend suggested that I vary the fabric I was using - I was using cotton with a light iron-on interfacing. Then I tried the cotton doubled over.  Still some ridging with the zig-zag type stitches but a little better.
Then she suggested I try changing the pressure.  She is much more experienced with sewing machines than I am, that would never have occurred to me. (I only recently discovered that it has its own foot and pressure knob for free motion sewing. I have been using generic free motion feet and dropping the feed dogs myself, not through the specific application that the machine has. It works both ways, a very versatile machine.  Husqvarna 2000SL)
Things improved but the stitches were still rather uneven.  I think this was due to how I was handling the fabric, I am very used to free motion sewing where I move the fabric and don't rely on the feed dogs.  So I tried not handling the fabric much at all and it seemed to improve.

However ... I didn't take the manual for the machine and when it came time to change the cog I couldn't remember how to do it.  Extremely frustrating!  I was a bit worried that the plastic might be getting brittle and that I might break it if I was forceful. 

Fortunately my friend was calm and collected and together we managed to work out how to do it.  So I have tried cogs A, B and C.  There are still some tension problems, causing ridges.  These might be ok with some of the work I do as I like texture but I want the option of not having texture.  When she tried her machine, a much newer Janome, there was no tension problem and it all sat beautifully flat.  This was a good indication that all was not well with my machine.
So I will have to keep trying.  

Even if I do get all the tension issues sorted out, then I want to experiment with different threads, maybe using the bobbin for thicker threads.
I also have to take into account how I am going to get the design onto the fabric, will I trace it onto the interfacing and then have the design reversed, so that the bottom of the sewing is what shows?  I will have to constantly check the underneath of what I am doing.  So the tension (well-chosen word!) needs to be right.

Anyway, I am getting some idea of what I might be able to do with the machine, trying to use my recent drawings as the inspiration. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Some great blackwork sites

I have been browsing the internet and found some gorgeous images for blackwork.  There are also some amazing sites with tutorials.  Some people are so generous.
Needle 'n' Thread
American Needlepoint Guild
I did art as part of my primary teaching course and embroidery was what I majored in - not terribly useful in my many years of teaching 5 to 7 year olds.  Still, I did enjoy doing lots of art activities with my various grades and textiles often crept in.  I'm really good at threading thick thread through thick needles!

Here is a piece I did back then - dare I admit it? - in the 70s.  It is blackwork except it is maroon.  It was based on the wrought iron around Carlton.  I haven't done any since but I have always love counted thread work and can feel the need to revisit coming over me.  I also have a hankering to play around with Crewel embroidery patterns, especially from the Jacobean period. You might see that influence on the pocket I made for my course.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More drawing

I have spent several hours on yet another image of the cliff at Rockbeare Park (Darebin Parklands on the other side of the creek).  I decided to try the new drawing technique and see if I could come up with an image I liked.  It is not quite what I wanted but I suppose I should remember that I have only just started with this style and be happy that at least I am drawing.

I did a drawing on Friday while visiting a friend.  She said I now had to TTT.  What???  Pardon???
Take it To Textile - I think that's what she said it meant.
So I have been trying to think of ways to do that.  So far I have had some thoughts about blackwork embroidery but I think the designs might be too intricate for that.  (Actually, if you look at some of these images, you will see that it might suit really well.  It might also be very slow!) I have booked into beginner classes at the Embroiderers Guild for the next two Fridays so can ask about it.

Then I thought about the work I did with Jane Sassaman and how she wanted us to use the elaborate stitches that are available on the sewing machine.  Not that I took the cogs with me to have many available - it is a very old Husqvarna that uses cogs to change the stitch designs.
The different stitches can be used to get various effects with colour and to make the quilting more interesting.  So far I haven't tried the various cogs so there isn't a great variety.

My next thought is to see if I can master the various stitches on the machine and then try using them to do some of the patterns.
Using the machine may mean that I have to abstract the design even further, something that I would love to be able to do - this could be a whole new area for me.
I suppose then I will have to decide on whether to stick with the black and white or to start utilising colour.  And another element could be the thickness of the threads.  So many ideas, so many decisions.
Now all I have to do is actually try some doing of these ideas. And I will also have to decide which technique to do - I have been thinking lately that it would be nice to be doing some handwork that I can carry around with me, so maybe blackwork will get a trial.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Joy Smith tapestry exhibition

Today's date is another good one - 12/5/12.  Once again, I have something I can post about, fortunately.  Joy Smith's tapestry exhibition opened today, at Hawthorn Studio and Gallery.  It was an exhibition of Joy's tapestries and Wendy Steer's paintings.
There was a good crowd there and it was great to see some familiar faces.

Joy hiding in the crowd

The exhibition being officially opened

Joy with two of her works (three, if you look carefully)

Congratulations to Joy on her work.  She seems to have done a lot of weaving this year, many of them had 2012 on them.
It is always amazing to see the intricacy of Joy's work.  It was good to be able to speak to her about some of them and to have her personal insights and explanations of the works.
Joy is hoping to give a floor talk about her works,  I hope this eventuates.  She did not have the opportunity to do so today but I went to her last one and it was great. There is always an interesting story behind Joy's work and it would be good to hear that in more detail.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank goodness for the doodling!

We recently bought a cheap printer/scanner/copier.  It printed and copied but wouldn't scan.  After many emails back and forth to the support people, they suggested I ring.  This happened today - after one and a half hours of trying various things, it now scans but won't print.
They are going to ring me back later.
While I was on hold a couple of times (and my helper had to wait a lot too while I tried to find various cords, outlets, etc), I doodled - purposefully.  I tried some of the patterns I had been trying at the drawing class on Sunday.
The scanning that I tried was of the drawing I did last night.

Kate had told us that you could do it watching tv - not me, I had no idea what was happening in the show.  It definitely is NOT something I can do while watching tv - at least not a drawing that I am working on. The doodling is possibly something that I could do with less concentration but even that takes a bit of thought. And it needs careful looking which then stops me getting all the body language, significant looks, etc on the show.  So tv is for watching, drawing and doodling is for other times.
I used to be able to knit and watch tv but I think that was because you can knit without having to look at it all the time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Drawing class

I had to blog today, the date is 7/5/12 (7+5=12).  So here I am, with only an hour of the day left, blogging.
Fortunately, I went to a drawing class yesterday and have something to blog about.  As I may have said before, drawing is not something I would naturally choose to do.  I keep thinking that I will draw, I read people's blogs where they have made a resolution to draw every day, I think I will try that too, I don't, etc.  So I am feeling pleased that not only did I go to a class yesterday but I have actually drawn again today (more about this later).
The thing about this drawing style is that it is similar to doodling, something that I often do.  So I felt comfortable with it straight away. It does take more thought than I usually put into my doodling but I still felt that it was achievable.
The class was Learn the Art of Pen Drawing by Katherine Devine.  It was at Open Drawer in Hartwell. The class was very relaxed and we were given good instructions and inspiration with plenty of time to practise.  

The first thing we did was a basic leaf shape that we filled in with patterns.
After lunch, we did our own drawings, based on a photo we had brought.  To make it easy, we had blown up a photo to A4 size and traced the main outlines, allowing us to have a basic shape that was in proportion and was not going to cause too much angst starting up. Then we just filled in the areas with different patterns, getting the shading by the way we coloured in the patterns.  Everyone produced great work, some MUCH more intricate than others (it is going to take them hours to finish but they were keen to do so).

One of the reasons I was keen to do the class is that I have an interest in blackwork embroidery - a slight interest at this stage.  I am slowly getting around to thinking that maybe, perhaps, I would like to try some.  When I saw the ad for this class I thought I had to do it, just in case I ever decide to a) do some blackwork and b) design my own.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inspired by Buda

I have been playing around with using synthetic fabrics to produce a stained glass window look.  My current work is based on the Buda Historic Homestead. They have a Contemporary Textiles Award that will be on in June.  I think it is biennial.  There are even workshops in the intervening year in which you can visit the house and gardens and be inspired.  I was unable to go last year, partly because I wasn't sure I would want to participate - that it way too much planning ahead.  But my friend and I did visit recently and took lots of photos.

After going through a lot of my images and trying various ideas, I have come down to using three images of glass in or around doors in the house.

What is rather tricky is developing your own image when you are inspired by something in the house, as is part of the brief.  I have taken part of the etched glass image and part from the designs above and put them together in my own design.  But it is hard to say it is totally my own design.  This idea of being inspired by someone else's work is very tricky.