There is a part of me that loves to create fabric books from old doilies and photos. I think it reminds me of my childhood in the country, visits to aunties, holidays on one particular aunt's farm, crisp starched serviettes, lace tablecloths and the sun on my face playing in the paddocks. I created this fabric book inspired by the photo of the little girl listening to the shell for the sound of the sea. I think we all remember doing that and being delighted with waves we heard when we cupped the shell to our ears.
As all my local quilt shops have now closed the time has come to dye my own fabric. I hate travelling far in the traffic now so driving across the city is not for me. It just came down to 'needs must'. I had done a little dye work about eighteen months ago, luck more than expertise had resulted in a batch of useable fabrics. Ordered some basic dyes recently and today was the day. First mistake was forgetting to add the salt to the soda ash, I was consulting three different sets of instructions and the Procion one did not mention the salt, I added it later to the bags. Moroccan Red and Gold Yellow were applied, a one metre piece and two fat quarters. First wash out of the combination of the two colours on a fat quarter was nice but not yellow enough for my needs for my next bird quilt, so back in the bag it went and a cup of soda ash and salt and 200 ml of dye. All three packets of fabric out in the sun to help the colour take. I await the results. Patience.... patience........
When I was about ten years old we lived in a small village, up on the New England Highlands, at Nowendoc. My father managed the sawmill there, it was more a post office, a town hall and the local shop with bread delivery once a week. There was a storm one night and the next morning sitting in the middle of the mill yard was a seagull. The bird must have been blown in by the storm from the coast, quite a distance, about 100 kilometres. I never forgot the image and how magical it was to see this bird so far from its home. I created this quilt recently from that memory. The storm just finishing on dusk in the background, the stripped leaves from the gums which grew in profusion where I lived. We all get blown off course at times in our lives, find ourselves in strange lands and wonder how to navigate our way 'home'.
Saturday morning is always 'mine' in the house. The golfer departs early and the morning stretches in front of me with time to quietly create, silence, time to think and dream. Winter is here now and rain later today will see the fire lit tonight to curl fingers of warmth through the house. We have short winters here and there are few fireplaces in my neighbourhood except perhaps the one next door. There is something really lovely about the smell of woodsmoke permeating the air. The cats of course adore the chance to curl up in front of the fire place.
My mother has passed away now. Little momentos from her house now in mine, the photos she kept on her sideboard, nic nacs, little statues of cats and some of her paintings. I feel like she is living here now, its just that I cannot talk to her any more which is very sad. I always rang her on a Saturday morning, she would be doing the washing and sometimes did not take too kindly to me upsetting her little routine.
More rusted fabric under the Pfaff today, she is the only machine who will sew the quarter inch lines I love to use on my quilts. I wrapped more fabric earlier in the day with rusted pieces to see what happens, its always a surprise. I love that part about rusting, waiting to see the metal pieces leave their marks, it is like time marking a landscape to me, pitting it, staining it. The machine carves lines into the fabric, dimension, time passing.
My mother is leaving, she has terminal cancer. The saddest part is you suddenly realise that your connection to your distant childhood past is going with her. Who will you talk to about stories from so long ago. The night she gathered up the autumn oak leaves from the road in the car headlights, the air bitter and cold. They magically became a fancy dress piece titled "Autumn" for my school presentation evening. She has forgotten it now, I tried to tell her the other day it is one of my favourite childhood memories.
I have been working with rusting fabrics and making wall quilts. My childhood was spent in the country around Armidale and I used to spend hours in my grandfather's wool shed, I can still see the sunlight on the floor there. The rusted quilts are all created with my memory of shed walls and rusting tractors and tin rooves.
So today I am putting this piece up in honour of my mum. She may have forgotten a lot now but I will always remember. She is leaving in the Autumn, how odd that I have a favourite memory from that time.
Well the embroidery machine thingy came to nothing. I did buy the machine, but found I was no longer interested in machine embroidery. Something was missing, badly. Yesterday, in complete desperation with my shoulder pain I decided to go back to hand quilting. Maybe all that machine sewing and quilting was the culprit. Today I realised how much I had become caught up in the technology of sewing machines. They are like bright shiny jewels, beckoning us to buy the latest model with all the do da's that we simply cannot live without.
Simplicity is the best by far, however I had forgotten that. All I really need is Grandmother's treadle for piecing and my quilting frame for the hand quilting. Hmmmmm.......did I not learn that years ago and then forgot?
I will say that I do enjoy the quiet space of the quilt frame, the clouds floating past in my view and the rhythm of making stitches. Very Zen. The quilt is very simple, just leaves and seed pods from my garden.
Having spent many months healing the bursa in my left shoulder I went on a fitness campaign. A ten minute walk round the garden twice a day to lower my sugars, I have Diabetes Type 2. Day two of the walking, tripped on the hose and landed on the shoulder that had just healed. Six months without sewing ordered by the doctor. Physio said a little sewing maybe. I miss my local quilt group as I simply cannot sit and hand stitch as I cannot hold things in my left hand for long or the aching goes on for days. I managed to go only three times last year due to shoulder issues.
What to do? I own a large Janome 11000 embroidery machine that is far too heavy to carry. I hit on the idea of purchasing a smaller embroidery machine so at least I could go to quilt group and embroider, if not with own hands at least I could thread a machine up and talk while it did the work for me. I found this little baby, a older Brother, in a town a couple of hundreds klms north of where I live and purchased her over the web from a sewing machine shop. She pulls down into a much smaller machine for portability, weighs only 15 lbs, a huge plus and will arrive here on Wednesday. She can create motifs to add into wall quilts along with photos on fabric to form pieces with an old fashioned look I developed some time ago.
Yes, I am no longer treadling however I am creating and we have to adapt as things happen to us and as we grow older. I am looking forward to my new little friend's arrival and just being able to get out of the house once a week. We are currently helping to bring up our grandchildren, single Dad and so life has become incredibly busy. A day with other women in the beautiful church surrounds is going to be a real treat.