Friday, July 29, 2011

A treat for me

Today a special friend came and entertained Caleb and Daniel for a couple of hours so that I could do some uninterrupted sewing. Needless to say, I feel very spoilt! I made a bit more progress on my 'school' quilt. It's a big job - I think I'm only about halfway through the piecing.

Here's where it was at a week ago...
... and late last Saturday night.....and now today...
It's a triptych. The third, and smallest, part is pieced, and I'm now working on the first, middle-sized section.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Observing and discovering

When the kids made their screenprints during the holidays, I finally pulled the first couple of prints of this new screen which I've had sitting around for a while. I'm so happy with how it turned out, and can't wait to incorporate this image into some of my quilts!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tour de Stitch

We have a winter 'tradition' here at our house. It involves three weeks of French cycling, some red wine, plenty of chocolate, and frantic hours of stitching. The Tour de France is the only time we watch TV here, and we like to think of it as a little mid-winter stay-at-home holiday.Phil sets himself up in a corner of the studio, while my Tour is spent behind the sewing machine - three weeks of late-night stitching are a real treat, and I find myself frantically picking up the pace along with the riders as they get closer to the finishing line. I'm sure it's as much a race against time for me as it is for them, as I try to get just a few more quilt pieces fitted together before they cross the finish line. Somedays I 'beat the clock', and other days I disappointed with my results, but it's thoroughly enjoyable no matter what.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What dinner with 30 looks like at our house...

...mums in the kitchen... at the table... and the bookshelf... and the playroom....
and pretty much everywhere...
... but a whole lot more relaxing than I expected... Six of us big people used to meet for lunch 'by the river' most days during our uni years, and thanks to God's care over us, here we are more than ten years later, with this (these): Who would have thought!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The salad is mostly ready, the bread has been baked, the cookie jar is full (faux-home-baked cookies this time), the apple crumbles and sticky date puddings are made, 1200mL of cream have been whipped up, the necessary equipment has been gathered, and the pencils are sharpened. I think that makes us about ready to receive the thirty or so dinner guests who will start arriving in the next hour or so. (In case you're wondering about pencils and dinner, we will have around twenty children here, so I'm hoping that some colouring will occupy at least some of them for some of the time.) Oh, and it's a potluck, so no, I don't have to do all the cooking.

I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone, but in the meantime, you will find me in the comfy armchair with some handstitching.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Screenprinting with Aunty Arls

So here's what we got up to on Tuesday. My sister asked for some screenprinting time at our house, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to let the kids make up a screen too. This was a fairly ambitious project, involving quite a number of steps:
- drawing up a design
- painting the design onto the prepared screens with drawing fluid - waiting for it to dry - filling the screen with screen filler :)
- waiting for it to dry
- washing out the drawing fluid
- waiting for it to dry- printing the images onto fabric
- waiting for it to dry
The little upside-down red guy is Caleb. He drew himself, I painted and made up his silk screen, and then we pulled the prints together (until he decided he didn't need me anymore). Now the kids are busy turning their best print into a simple softie. I'm pretty excited about how they are looking. We'll share a picture when they're done.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My old sewing machine

Please excuse the overabundance of photos today but we've been busy beavers here! Phil cleaned up my old sewing machine, so Aaron and Hannah got to try it out today. They both took to it like naturals. I can't remember how my mum introduced me to the sewing machine. I know that in highschool the first thing we had to do was stitch along some lines - straight, curvy, and crooked - so we started with that.
This old machine was given to be when I was 12, by a lady in our church. I was in my element, and it has served well ever since. I still used it to sew clothes for myself when I was a uni student, and it also gets pulled out and used during power failures. And now I'm very happy to see it enter a new phase in its life.
(Although I'd rather Daniel stayed out of the life and times of my sewing machine for now...)
From sewing lines, the kids quickly moved on to sewing monsters. (I'll share them soon). Caleb wanted to make one too, of course, so we whipped up Toby from Make a Monster by Fiona Goble.
He could stuff it himself, and he's pretty chuffed with the outcome.Tomorrow I'll show you the exciting stuff we did together yesterday! (hmmm, that's a rather awkward sentence, but oh, well...)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Every studio needs a parking garage

Lisa was on the right train of thought (see comments on previous post) - how well the kids are playing determines how well I can play in my studio! This parking garage is my 'secret weapon'. It forms the basis for our 'studio play station' and has already given me many happy hours of studio time.

I have often read books and articles about how to set up a studio. It is generally suggested that you have a dedicated space free from all other distractions where you can retreat to on a daily/regular basis. I have to smile when I read that. I would never get anything done in a studio like that, because I would never make it into the studio. My new upstairs studio has been designed to be flexible enough to provide space for everyone over the years so that I can take the kids up there with me - plenty of room for a parking garage (and connecting roads) on the floor, space for kids to sew or colour alongside me, homework space, reading space and even a comfy couch for Phil to lounge on with his book or iPad if I'm frantically finishing a project at some crazy hour of the night.

My original plan for this room included a wet area for dying and screenprinting, but that was removed for the sake of making it a cosy, family friendly space with room for everyone. Instead the laundry design was adapted to cater to my dyeing sessions - we replaced our toploading washing machine with a front loader so that we could put in a big enough bench space to set up a dyeing station.

So far its all working out really well - we have spent many hours together in the studio already. And the parking garage connects to the wooden train tracks/roads the boys already had, so they are in their element.
(Sorry I didn't get better photos - jumping on Mummy who is laying on the ground taking photos is even more fun that playing with the cars.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Studio, thread and secret weapons...

I was going to take some photos of my beautiful new studio to show you, but then I blinked, and now it looks like this:
...which is how a studio should look, I suppose. There are actually still a couple of finished touches to be done, so I'll tidy up the studio then, and let you take a peek.
For now, though, one of my favourite things in my studio is my new thread storage system. Organised chaos. Or eye candy, depending on your perspective...
And today a parcel arrived for the studio - a secret weapon to enable me to make the most of my studio time. I wonder if you can guess what it might be?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hannah's piggy

Do you like Hannah's piggy? It was designed and created all by herself. I didn't know about it until it was done. She tells me it started out as a flower but that she cut it a bit wrong and then all of a sudden it was a piggy. That's Hannah (il)logic for you.With anything Hannah does, it's all about the journey. The rest of us (from Caleb up, anyway) are goal focussed - we know what we are setting out to do, and don't like to deviate from the end goal. Hannah doesn't generally seem to care about the end goal and is quite happy to take whichever detours (or scenic routes) come her way. Fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) stuff for us as parents...