Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Chance 2007

2007 has come and almost gone - so fast - so much achieved and so much to be done.
Here are some more applique on net samples.This first one is similar to yesterday's but I have added some cord to the net.



This one has some Honesty from NZ minus the seeds thanks to Aust quarantine who helped me take them all out after one trip. I have been waiting to use some of the plants. It's very transparent. They look like eyes but really they should be seen as petals if I am to be true to my theme. Apart from this one and the first one on black net, all the other nets I have made in some way. I have a few more in the pipeline then I shall move onto playing with velvet. The one below is the last one for 2007 - the applique material is painted Gossamer Fuse on slightly distressed sinimay.


Today I went off to Dummies WA to borrow a black dummy for some photographing. It's a scream of a place but they are closing in a week. I don't think there is anyone else who makes them. When I take my dummy back I might be tempted to buy a couple more.

I think I have posted this quote before but I still think it is pertinent. A statement from Michael Harrison, inaugural recipient in 2004 of Creative NZ's craft and object art fellowship:

'Craft is where you take the parameters and work within them. Art is where the medium is stretched to breaking point and emotion is conjured up'

I wish you all the very best for 2008 - may you explore outside your comfort zones and grow in your originality.

Ian and I are planning a quiet New Year's Eve, eating prawns and scallops and drinking champagne and watching Gormenghast. My new year's resolution is to produce a newsletter at the beginning of each month so if you are on our newsletter list (you can sign up on the website), watch for tomorrow's!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday musings

I am having fun with my HH stuff today - the weather is not so hot - there's a cyclone up north and we are having some refreshing wind.

Here is an applique on net sample - flowers again

and another - I will leave you to guess what they might be.
The slip on the top might look part of it but it is organza appliqued onto the 'net'



My next applique on net sample - lacey Japanese paper applique my machine did not like - off to experiment some more.

and since you all enjoyed our wedding photo, I have moved on into the early 70s - obviously I had a thing about flowers then too as I can see one on my top.

Ian is busy playing with our new toy - the Sonos system- and we have our water filter all fitted.
Tomorrow is the last day of the year - just where did it go?

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Friday


It got to Friday very quickly but things like Christmas and holidays always causes confusion. The weather has improved for the moment. Had a huge order in from valdani threads including this dear little boxed set of 60wt hand dyed cotton thread on cute spools. It's the first time I have ordered any 60wt - I thought I would test the waters and Ian decided to add it to the specials. I got a few other boxed sets in 35 wt and in the pearls as well.

I have been doing some preparation for my 2 day Embellisher class in Melbourne at the Embroiderers' Guild Summer School in January - playing on some lovely bright scrim and cutting and weaving - it is waiting for machine wrapped cords to feed through probably with some flower stitch thingies as well.


On top I have laid my first HH sample of net applique - seem to have found these flowers again. Heaven forbid.


Tonight we are having Raan - Indian leg of lamb - sounds silly after lamb at Christmas but the butcher for some unknown reason, gave us 2 legs of lamb with bone when I ordered 1 boned and stuffed leg of lamb so I thought I have better marinade it - rubbed spices all over and coated it with yoghurt, nuts and saffron and drizzled honey over the top. The hoover machines are coming around tonight to help us eat it.

What have we listened to today? BBC Classic FM, Radio Montreal and Radio IO Classics and Tom Waits.

Off to cook the pappadums

Oh and Nelsa is home from hospital and has a low white cell count which is really good. She'll be able to start her chemo soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

slowly getting back to normal?

Well, it wasn't the hottest days since 1915, it was the hottest days on record. Today is much better although putting the air con on early means it's okay indoors, but the sea breeze (aka the Fremantle Doctor) has arrived this afternoon so hopefully the hot weather is moving off to the Eastern States.

Our new Sonos system is keeping us both very busy indeed. I have loaded 6000 songs (tunes) into I-tunes and then onto the system. We can queue up music and over-ride each other's choices until the bridge for the studio arrives and then we can choose our own lists. So we are listening to tracks we haven't heard for ages and have loaded in all these interesting radio stations like UK Classic FM, Martha's Vineyard Radio and Radio Montreal. Keeping us both heavily out of mischief.

Yesterday the boys came over and hoovered through the fridge leaving us the left over roast vegetables only. Kazuko came after work and finished off what was left.

I have started working on velvet on black net for HH - playing with my lace designs. The heat and Christmas sort of slow you down but hopefully we'll be back on track soon. Not to mention all the time spent loading cds onto the poor computer which has been working overtime.

We went to visit Max and Nelsa when we were in NZ - in Reefton - Nelsa is in hospital until tomorrow so fingers crossed that all is well and hope that Max has been behaving himself while she is away. It was lovely to see them both. You need to catch up with people.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

hiding indoors

I know there are lots of people in other parts of the world who are having snow (lucky them) and fogs and closed airports and motorways, but here in Perth we are having the hottest Christmas period since 1915 (and I wasn't alive to agree or disagree with that although I know it wouldn't have been very comfortable). These days we have the luxury of air conditioning and yesterday which got to 40.7 we decided early on that we would forgo our outside Christmas sojourn and move into my luxurious studio with its air con and where it was not far to gather all the pressies from under the tree.... and we appreciated it even more whenever we had to carry things to and from the kitchen, or in Ian's case, when he had to attend to the Webber. In the excitement of everything, we forgot to take any photos so you will have to imagine us enjoying ourselves, eating huge prawns, roast lamb, roast pork, multitude of roast vegies and salad, followed by pavlova (which we all know was first invented in NZ but we won't argue at this festive time....), Des Britten ice cream which Kazuko tells me is the best one yet and Summer Pudding. As the Christmas tree fell over once more I have decided that next year there will be a new one....

We all got lots of lovely goodies and Ian and I were very indulged by Grant who gave us a Sonos system so I can have music in the studio and Ian can listen to his own choice in the house. Most of my time today has been loading our cds into the system with many more to go in the next few days. Then we have had to learn how to use it! Kazuko and Bruce gave us a water filter which is also super since we have decided we should be drinking lots of water and I don't like Perth's tap water very much. The old stereo system has been moved out and I can hear all sorts of discussion about speakers, plasma tvs, furniture etc.

Today we have stayed indoors - Ian got a new hand lawn mower which he went out to test on the front lawn but only lasted a short while. Then we have discovered it got to over 44 degrees today with not a great deal of relief for the next week. Think we might go swimming tomorrow but you need to go before its hot or it defeats the purpose!

Tomorrow after all this excitement I am off to work in my studio...

Monday, December 24, 2007

all quiet for the moment

Up at 6am and off to get the seafood only to find everyone else was there as well so a long exercise in patience. Orders all done so I can start my cooking but first off to get the rest of the goodies and the last of the presents. In the meantime this is the Crown Range between Arrowtown and Wanaka - Ian drove over it 4 times each day I think. Wonderful high country - I have never been there in the snow but it hasn't been tar sealed for that many years. Very windy from the Arrowtown side. I can remember my parents driving over it and we screamed all the way down the windy road....



To prove I did a workshop. Forgot the digital and Ian arrived back a bit late for photos of all the lovely work. Jenny very kindly loaned me her Bernina to use. I am trying to get it all back together for her. I always have trouble fitting the tool box back.




Saturday, December 22, 2007

Okarito

This is Okarito on the West Coast of NZ, South Island. The home of the White Herons not that we saw them but it is a sanctuary and other birds are protected there. Just a little place but it would be a great place to chill out for a few days.
I like the West Coast beaches - not all bright blue and welcoming for swimming and sunbathing like the Aus ones but what I grew up with - mine is in the North Island and was often grey but somewhere we enjoyed going to very much.


On the other side (it's an inlet) Ian got chatting to a guy coming in in his boat and he suggested the best time to visit was in the winter when the snow is on the Southern Alps - all wrapped up and with plenty of books to read.
We have actually done a little Christmas shopping today. Progress......
I have been playing around with my header - Blogger must have changed the formula as i lost half of it so I wasted several hours getting sorted. I have now got a different one on each blog - sort of keeps you busy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Playways Work

It's always lovely opening up the Playways parcels when these clever people send in their work. And then wait patiently for me to look through and for Ian to pop some on the web in the special student pages on our website. I thought I would share some with you today. I haven't asked them if they approve but I am sure they will. We have quite a backlog of modules here which we now have time to wade through. This piece belongs to Gill Gavshon and it was inspired by a photo from Morrocco - how did she know I would fall for it? Gill was looking at analogous colours and I got quite excited but I haven't time to go back to Morrocco just yet....(that is to my work emanating from)


No 2 is from Norma McPherson - just a lovely piece of layers and stitch in great colours


No 3 is from Carmel Leitmanis - glass plate printing which is such fun to do.
I hope they all enjoy starting Module 2 (after Christmas and the New Year starts though...)
Tomorrow I will post some Module 2 work.
We are still sending out orders - last drop for Express Post tomorrow night to be delivered on Monday probably before I have my Christmas shopping finished. I must say that a parcel of books was sent from UK to us here on Tuesday and it arrived this afternoon - now that IS service.
Finally there is a Neoworx Flag quiz for you to do - scroll down below the visitors thingy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday


I am not doing very well with titles for my blogs but never mind. This morning we spent cleaning up Grant's house - all the rubbish the squatters left behind. We meant to take the camera but forgot. Not actually touching anything. Somehow it's not so bad when you don't have to do these things on your own - you can talk away about the situation. Opened the windows to air the place. We filled 2 big rubbish bins. Anyway, it's all ready now for the knocking down of the burnt out back and the starting of the rebuilding. The architect and Grant have done a great job and it will be wonderful when it is finished.

We were still pretty busy with orders today but it will start slowing down now - the Express Post bags are out in serious activity mode at present. I am trying to plan a project which I need to finish next week to get it away and I am dithering with ideas which will need to transfer into objects very quickly.


This is the lacey hydrangea which tried its hardest to die when we were in the northern hemisphere - it is flowering beautifully and was worth the effort. Val and Jim have given me a couple of other small ones but this is the only special one. Next year I need to note in my diary that I must blue it at the right time. I always leave it too late.


The weather is good - not too hot but never mind the weather forecast for Christmas Day is hot - of course. It wouldn't be right if we weren't all hot and bothered eating our roast and trimmings....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday - some rain and sunshine

I have finally set the christmas tree up in the studio after it fell over about 5 times in the lounge and the branches fell off etc. Ian says some of the decorations I bought last year are too heavy. It didn't fall over last year! Just need to find a cord so the lights can sparkle. Kazuko will be happy when she gets back as she will be able to put her presents underneath it. I am afraid we still have to buy ours. I went into town this afternoon but there were too many people so my progress was very slow indeed.

My computer has finally come home from hospital with a new battery so some of its problems are solved. Still waiting for the ram - it must be many months since we asked about it but apparently they sent the wrong sort. I got a new cordless mouse and I downloaded the latest Generation update but it won't print yet - I have missed my dear litle computer. Grant has got himself a blackberry......

Margo Duke's book on the embellisher arrived today. It's a nice book - a few new suggestions from Margo and some interesting projects. Some interesting things to use silk rods for. It should be on the web soon but we do have a fair few for sale for anyone interested. Still time for Express Post to wind its way to you - in fact Express Post on Friday will get to most parts of Australia in time for Monday which is about when I will probably be doing my christmas shopping...

Barbara - you asked if the flower stitch foot would fit the Designer 11 -I asked David at Husqvarna and he said if it fits my SE it will fit it. You need to unscrew the little thing on your shank - mine is white but yours may be black, and the foot fits on. It doesn't like the Orchidea and wouldn't work properly but I think the SE is a lot more stable. There were a few things which annoyed me about the Orchidea although it sews beautifully. I have mine here for sale if anyone is interested. I know I won't use it - how many machines can one use?

Also you asked about the article. It will be in the Australian Machine Embroidery and Textile Art magaine (those last 2 words are a bit of a joke) due out in January. I have a copy of the article here somewhere which Yvonne sent me to check. You would have bought threads at Ally Pally - I am so pleased you are enjoying using them.

Grant has been busy blocking up the front of his house to make sure the squatters don't come back. Work is starting on the back - the burnt out bits coming down and a pad going in. I might go for a walk that way tomorrow and see how things look

Monday, December 17, 2007

this and that

A customer asked me today how the flower stitch foot fitted the Designer SE so I fitted it to show her and then later on I thought I would have a play. Well, of course, all these extra stitches can come into play. This sample is of some of the decorative stitches I played with at various widths. The world is your oyster.... and your imagination as to how you utitlise them.

Grant arrived back today and we had a pleasant evening - bbq in between the rain. Is it unseasonable or does it happen most years at this time? Bruce and Kazuko tell me it has been raining down in Walpole but when we went camping down there in about 1979 it was freezing and wet.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

sat and sun stuff

We have had a nice relaxing weekend in that I have collected up all the orders which have come in since Friday afternoon and Ian has finished getting the specials up - nothing like being late once again..... We went to Elizabeth - The Golden Age on Sat afternoon - the story is limited - really about the Spanish Armada but we loved the photography and the costumes and Cate Blanchett so of course it was worth it!

Then we snuck off to Luigi and Martien's so Ian could have spaghetti bolonaise (that's his favourite Italian dish) - Bruce and Kazuko have gone to Walpole for a few days so hope they are not getting too wet. The weather is cooler which makes me happy but looks like it will hot up again for the weekend coming. Grant arrives tomorrow so hopefully the squatters have gone - lots of cleaning up of syringes and stuff though. Grant and his builder start work on Tuesday.

I have spent most of my time sorting out my HH stuff - nothing serious to show but I have been making little sketches and thinking about what I might do for decent samples. When I was out walking this afternoon I saw some fabulous interestign dummies in a shop window which gave me a very good idea - had to make my notes on the back of my tiny shopping list. I have litle stitched samples undergoing a variety of distressing activites - not rusting yet.

We went out for a dim sum lunch with Eva and Malachy - very nice outing. Our street is still quiet but it looks like the works have finished so the traffic will be back once they open it up again - shame.

I have just realised that it is one year since I started the neocounter and I have had just over 88,000 visitors to my blog - amazing!

Friday, December 14, 2007

time to play now

All the orders are done and on their way and the office is clear. Another lot of packaging got done this morning - lots of lovely hand dyed silk filagree - hand dyed by Jacinta. We used to have it a while back but lost our source but now it is back. Lots of embellisher bundles have also gone off to new homes. Thank you all for your wonderful support and we hope you enjoy all the lovely goodies coming your way. (We will be open right through apart from Christmas Day because as you know we have already had our holiday!) I know many are Christmas presents for yourselves so enjoy them. I have even had to go out and buy my wrapping paper so I could wrap one present for a customer. Means I now have wrapping paper - nothing to put inside it as yet but I might even get the Christmas tree etc up over the weekend. Kazuko was wanting to know where it was so she could put the presents underneath. I am afraid we are never that organised here. Not to mention the christmas cards which need to be written this weekend - and sent. One year when we used to take our boys to sailing regattas on the other side of Australia, we wrote them on the way (half each) but when we returned home I found Ian's pile in the tool box.....

Talking of Christmas cards - Anna sent me a lovely one - thank you. I shall try to make at least one on the embellisher.

For HH, I have a variety of samples in various places and stages so I really feel I am underway at last. I have bought a number of early machine embroidery books from Alibris and have been reading Dorothy Benson - written in 1952 but still very interesting. Nothing is really new under the sun.

I have also had a peep at QuiltWOW Many people who know me, also know that I am not a quilter (I made one once) but I have really enjoyed seeing the article My Journal Quilt - Susan Osinoff - maybe it's because she has a page from Morocco! Anyway I think the zine is well done and certainly worth it. Maggie strikes again......

Tonight we are off to see Elizabeth, the new film with Cate Blanchett in it. This is the first opportunity we have had to see it so I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday

I have caught up with all the orders and I think we should have them all posted out tomorrow and more specials are appearing on the web each time Ian spots a space in time.

I have finally made a decent start on my HH (Historical Heirlooms) course. I am focusing on the Elizabethan period and in particular collars and cuffs - the lace. If you visit Anna's site - Serendipity - you will be able to see some of her wonderful samples. It's a shame I can't go for real but I shall plod on on my own. I have decided to stitch on calico (this is real recycled stuff - from 12 years of being on tables at the shows and I decided I could easily rest one tablecloth). They are certainly well handled and grubby and some have foodstains/blood/things people spill etc. Highly appropriate. I am stitching with Vanilla Beans rayon because I want to stitch with colours close to the lace but worn and aged. This is my first sample and I won't be distressing it further - I need to keep a first one I reckon - for reference.
This next one which doesn't show so well, I have distressed as much as I can using the embllisher. It's off for the coffee or tea next.

One I have buried in the garden near Luigi's grape vine for a few days or so.
I picked up the video of Gormenghast last night from Planet Video but didn't get to watch as we went to Bruce and Kazuko's for a bbq and to watch the Barbarians play the Springbox. I think that all games should be like this - full of professionals enjoying themselves - rather than country angst - Nonu played the best I have seen him.
The squatters in Grant's house have been an unwelcome extra to this week. Hopefully they will soon (or even now) be gone - Grant starts work next week after he gets back.

I have even had time to do a heap of packaging so definitely on track again. I made up all of these embellisher bundles - you can also see them on my embellisher blog. They were very popular in London and I have only just got another pile in. The embellisher loves them - very fine and you can layer the colours and work back through.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

busy busy busy and stitcky sticky sticky

We are so busy it is crazy. If you have ordered and are anxiously waiting your goodies, they are on their way. I don't think we have ever been so busy but it must be punishment for going off to NZ! I have been making my goodie bags (for every order over $50 this month) continuously it would seem. And Ian is slowly adding the specials as well. He has a huge queue of orders which are going down but in the morning I will add to it. We will be working right though to Christmas Day. We had some drama this morning - there are squatters in Grant's house - the one which had the fire and Grant has been waiting for council approval for his building which starts next week - he gets back here on Sunday. I went round to empty the letter box and peeped in one of the windows and there was a very unkempt person asleep. The police apparently are off to collect them tonight and we have been told to keep away!

Back to NZ - the photos haven't even been to the developer but Gilbert van Reenen has very kindly let me 'steal' one of his photos - this one is of Wanaka where my workshops were. It is such fabulous country and if you want to see more wonderful photos go visit Gilbert's website. He is husband of Robyn - half of Christofer Robyn (other half is Chris) who organised the workshop. We have one of his books and he very kindly gave us the other one.

And I bought these fabulous copper buttons from Christofer Robyn for my rust book. They have a nice selection in the shop. I also bought some paper with words - couldn't resist it - and later in Christchurch I found some more....

I have enrolled in the Historical Heirlooms course and while I haven't completed a great deal yet I have been doing a lot of research. So watch this space and I know Janet reads my blog to keep an eye on me I think. I have been drawing and making notes and a little stitching so far. I have also been collecting a few out of print early machine embroidery books which make fine reading I must say. But my special book which has just arrived is The Art of Gormenghast - Kirry Toose told me all about it and Planet Video has just informed me the video is up there for me to borrow. The book is all about the making and the section on the costumes is fascinating. All to be part of my reseach as well. I must hunt for the book to read as well.


It is very sticky here today - we had a pretend rain which goes with humidity for sure. The lacey hyrangea which tried to die has lovely flowers - I will post a pic tomorrow. I have had a little time to make some instant silk paper as part of my fragment iddeas so I have done something.....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Back home again

We are back after a lovely week in New Zealand. We forgot to take the digital camera so I will have to wait for Ian to have his photos developed. In the meantime, here is Queenstown and the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. We flew to Auckland/Christchurch/Queenstown and went to dinner at Wai on the edge of the lake watching the Earnslaw pull out - many years ago I went on the Earnslaw up the lake. We had a lovely meal indeed and many more to come. We stayed at The Milestone B and B where Betty and John are the most fabulous hosts. Betty is also a marriage celebrant and on the Sunday Ian helped with the bbq cooking -right up his alley. They have a wonderful garden. My workshop in Wanaka I thought went very well (I hope) and there was some fabulous work done. Robyn and Chris hosted a lovely bbq at night for all of us. Very much appreciated.

Then we drove up the coast to Reefton - this is the Inangahua River from the town bridge. In NZ you can drink the fresh water from these rivers - and we didn't swim in them - too cold.....


We arrived back last night and today I have spent all day gathering up the supplies for all of the orders - well almost all and Ian has been glued to his computer as well. If you are waiting for the specials they will be up tomorrow and worth the wait for sure. I have only just got to the studio at 6pm - to put things away. I am pleased to report that my hydrangeas are very much alive - one is a lacey one and it is just coming into flower.
Thanks to everyone for all of your lovely wishes - may we all stay healthy, happy and busy!

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