Indigo renamed

This quilt seems to have caught the imagination of a lot of people.

Screen shot 2014-11-30 at 7.04.19 PMThere’s a sort of universal appeal about indigo. I don’t know what it is: the richness and depth of the colour, the fact that it’s a natural dye, or the length of tradition behind its use. Whatever the reason, indigo is used all over the world, it seems.

So far, I have fabrics from Bali, Japan, England and Indonesia. I have been offered some from Rajasthan in India, and some African indigo prints, possibly Adire from Nigeria. They’re all very different, but somehow, they just work together.

Because the first fabric gift came from Japan, I’m renaming this quilt with a Japanese name. This is what it looks like:

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It means Worldwide Friends.

I’m going to embroider the name in the Japanese font shown onto the quilt, and also the name of the givers onto the fabrics which were gifts, as a commemoration of the worldwide circle of friendship that is quilting.

If you’d like to join in and offer some indigo scraps, email me (see the Contact Me page on this blog), and I’ll send you my mailing address. All that is needed is a piece of cotton fabric 2½” square, which is enough for me to make one hexie, or one petal of a hexie flower. Your name will be added to the others on the quilt. The embroidery’s going to be in red or white, so this could end up quite a colourful effort! It doesn’t matter if there’s also a lot of white in your fabric, or the overall effect is a bit pale, because that is also part of the design plan. If you have no indigo, but would still like to join in, then a piece of a deep red would also work.

When the quilt is finished, I’ll do a post which gives links to the blogs of everyone who participated, if you would like people to visit. If not, let me know and I won’t add the link.

So, what do you think? Would you like to join in?


Home at last

So, self, what’ll it be?

Do I (a) dive headlong into all the jobs round the house which are yelping at me to get done now I’m finally home after 11 days away? Do I (b) carry on cranking out hexie flowers at a manic rate now I have access to all the other bits of fabric, 25 down, only another howevermany to go? Do I (c) start work on the Husband’s richly deserved quilt, at last?

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Why is it that both my current projects are blue and red…?

Tough one. I suspect it’ll be a mixture of (a) and (b). Working on (c) requires time and concentration, and I won’t be able to give it either very much today…

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Despite short water rations, the tomatoes are still doing great work!

The garden got a big drink last night. Despite the Dowager’s attentions, it’s looking a little dry and sorry. I have GOT to get an automatic irrigation system in on a timer so we can leave it alone a while without any danger of losing the lot. Oh good, another job to add to the list… I have to start moving plants around, getting my new vegie garden bed established, too.

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This was what hit Brisbane but it died soon after, and we got nothing. Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

They had no rain up here at all, despite the enormous and damaging storms Brisbane went through.  The storm cell just lost all its mojo as it headed north and nothing at all happened. There was a little rain as we left Childers, three hours north of Brisbane, and then nothing other than a few minutes of rain.

Aaargh. The Husband has just reminded me that Steampunk has also been unearthed and is waiting for me. Oh, and I can expect an email any time from the café asking for another order of gluten free goodies.

It’s good to have things to do, but this is ridiculous. Never mind. It’s great to be home…

Sapphire misted mountains

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 8.11.13 AMNo, that’s not me indulging in some purple prose, that’s Australian poet Dorothea McKellar.

This is one of the places I go to maintain equilibrium. If I’m cross, sad, tired or depressed, this view will restore me. I sit on the fence for 15 or 20 minutes and just let the quiet and beauty in through my eyes to fill my head. It does the job every time.

The Indians have an expression for it: Taking Darshan, (from the Sanskrit: दर्शन). It means ‘Auspicious Sight’, or beholding with reverence. I don’t expect a sight of any divine being, but I do sit and become peaceful, and simply appreciate and feel thankful that this is available to me.

I have many things to be thankful for. For many of you out there, it’s Thanksgiving today. In Australia we don’t celebrate it, but I thought it was an opportune moment to count my blessings, enjoy being alive, and show you my go-to for peace of mind. Nice, isn’t it?

Have a good day.


Close encounter with a Wombat

No, not the endearing but ponderous Australian animal.

The Wombat I mean is a talented and lightning-fast stitcher of wonderful quilts, and she blogs under the name Wombat Quilts. True, she’s Australian originally. Or still, if you listen to the accent. But now she lives on the far side of the world in Portland, Oregon with the lovely Mr Wombat. And wonder of wonders, she’s in Brisbane on a visit to her family at the same time as I’m passing through on my way home from hospital. A visit had to be arranged. I admire her work enormously. Her paper piecing is legendary and her blog features a whole library of free paper pieced block patterns, in case anyone wants to investigate. Most of the quilts she makes are given away for charity, to Project Linus among others.

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On the right, the talented Wombat, aka Cath Hall, in front of the quilt she made for her mother; and me in front of my quilt Amistad. Clearly, big glasses are compulsory quilter wear….

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Left: Mr Wombat and right: the Husband of Chiconia, admiring the finer points of my hand quilting on Amistad…

We spent two and a half hours talking hard about quilting, fabrics, blogging, more quilting, travel, family, quilting and a bit of catching up about what’s going on in our lives. It was a wonderful morning. Bickies were eaten, coffee was drunk, photos were taken, quilts were admired, and Mr Wombat and the Husband of Chiconia found common ground in their experiences of living with mad quilters.

Screen shot 2014-11-27 at 5.58.21 AM We’re both makers of EPP hexagons, too. Among many other projects, she’s working on a hexie quilt for Mr Wombat and occasionally we see a blog about its progress. So I thought, what better small memento of our encounter could I offer than a few hexie flowers to add to the mix, from a scrap collection which is completely different from hers, on the other side of the globe? And I simply couldn’t resist passing on my copy of Jackie French’s wonderful and award-winning children’s book Diary of a Wombat, with a suitable inscription.

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No guesses where those indigo prints are going to end up…

She’d brought me a gift too, a pack of beautiful 5″ squares of batiks in wonderful shades, including some perfect indigoes…. I love how blogging brings together people with common interests who would never otherwise meet or know about each other. Meeting a quilter I hold in such respect has been a highlight of my creative year. We have tentative plans for joint quilting projects and fabric swaps, and firm plans to Skype frequently to stay in touch long term.

Go and take a look at her wonderful blog. 

Getting well in Eden

…Perhaps Eden is a slight exaggeration. I’m pretty sure there was no chicken poo in Eden.

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“If it moves again, I’m going to eat it!”

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.02.38 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.03.09 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.04.00 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.04.25 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.04.50 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.05.17 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.05.47 PMIt’s time to bid farewell once again to Dorrigo. I’m glad to be well enough to move on but I’ll be sorry to leave. My sister’s back yard is a very healing place. It’s filled with fruit and flowering trees, birds great and small, and an endless array of rampantly, gloriously happy vegetables and flowers. I get inspiration for my own very different garden every time I visit, and rarely leave without some garden ‘loot’.

The creatures are inspiring too. The Girls stroll around in a stately fashion, patrolling for insect pests, seeds, worms and tiny invisible delicacies. The only time one sees them agitated is at supper time, when they hoik up their fluffy black skirts and flat out run into their chookyard to demolish the grain, vegies, weeds and occasional doses of comfrey they’ve been served. In return, they give us warm, light brown fresh eggs, with dense whites and brilliantly orange yolks. The taste is something so completely different from what you buy in the shops that you’re spoiled for the bought thing forever after.

They’re like elegant and dignified bourgeois French widows, clad in shimmering black satin, with black fishnet hose and distinctly Parisian black froufrou undies. Perched on their heads are brilliantly coral red combs, like chic little hats. I love the Girls…. I’ve been promised my own very, very soon.

It’s spring here in northern NSW. Along the road from the coast up the mountain, there are jacarandas, crepe myrtles, tibouchinas and flame trees in bloom. Despite very little rain, things are still green and lush. and the vegetables and fruit are vibrantly colourful.

I’m woken in the morning by the cheerful giggling of currawongs, the loud gabbling of rosellas and galahs invading the chook run to steal grain and bits of fruit, and territorial announcements from the magpies. Everywhere my eye turns there’s some magic going on.

I’m sure I’m getting better much faster because my eye is at rest on all this beauty, and my mind is at peace. 

Indigo… and back again

It’s been a bit of a rough week.

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Lovely colours and designs… The Japanese have a genius for prints.

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I didn’t have any good lighting with me. The blues look too green, and the red’s washed out, but you get the idea….

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There’s 8 flowers in this shot, but I’ve now got 12 finished to add to the 6 at home. And loads more hexies to go…

Nothing turned out quite as planned, but the surgery is over, was successful and I’m on the mend, if rather spectacularly bruised. Luckily the Bride of Frankenstein appearance will settle down and disappear… The travel sewing kit was invaluable; I have churned out more hexies than I thought possible. The cut pieces I took with me were used up by the third day. I bought two more quarter yards of beautiful indigo fabrics in the quilt shop in the small country town where my sister lives, and where I have been recuperating. Already one of the three additional fat quarters I brought with me is used up, and all the red is gone.

I think that on this trip it wasn’t so much that making hexies is compulsive (which it is!) but that the small movements needed for stitching them together don’t hurt me, it doesn’t require my anaesthetic-addled brain to concentrate too much, and if I fall asleep unexpectedly it’s not a drama, unlike using a sewing machine!

While in hospital my little sewing kit attracted the attention of two keen-quilter nurses, who took time out to chat, admire, ask about the tutorial for it and talk about this blog. Two more new friends, courtesy of my quilting habit…

Slowly, the way this quilt is going to look is evolving in my mind as I stitch. Of course, what I envisage may not work quite as I hope, but it’s a direction, a start. It’s not going to be a particularly traditional use of hexies, but I hope it will look good. In any case, there’s no hurry. This one isn’t due for any anniversaries, trips or birthdays. It’s busywork for idle hands. If the MRI scans are anything to go by, there will be a little needlework for my orthopaedic surgeon too, some time in the foreseeable future too, so I can hope for more sewing time, o joy. Luckily I wouldn’t have to travel so far for this one…

The Husband has arrived after his long dash south. It’s lovely to have him around again; this is the longest time we’ve been separated since we were married, and neither of us has enjoyed it much. I miss my garden, my own bed and my breezy tropical house. It’s been very hot here, which is a bit trying when you’re postoperative. Never mind, I’ll be home soon, and we have the pleasure of two blogging friends to visit along the way.

Now, how much quilt can I get out of this lot and the six flowers I have at home…?

I love a Country Show…

I’m not talking about the big city ones, all fairground sideshows, pricey showbags and corporate marquees like the Sydney Easter Show.

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Some of these babies are still in use…

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He’s a handsome devil, isn’t he?

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There are some suprisingly good paintings there, including one I’d love to own

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The RM Williams mobile country wear shop. And a gratuitous truck shot for the Husband….

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Bone dry, dusty ground, and as a concession to the 32C weather, less formal riding attire than usual…

I’m talking country shows. Horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, poultry. Best cake, best jam, best bread, best mango chutney. Best eggs, vegetables, flowers and hand crafts. Fresh local bacon sangas or scones, jam and cream being served in the luncheon pavilion. Stalls with local cheese, smoked goat sausage, handmade leather belts, wrought iron, work boots, Akubras and straw hats. Working dogs and working horses, show ponies and petting zoos.

For three years, I lived in a small mountain top town, where everyone knows everyone. It had a tiny hospital, a golf club, a bowls club, an RSL, the Top Pub and the Bottom Pub, a local policemen and the doctor was versatile enough not only to push some pills at you, but stitch up agricultural accidents and do minor surgery. I had to move away eventually, but I still love that town, I visit regularly, having family and great friends there, and I was fortunate enough this time to be spending some time convalescing there while the Show was on.  I tottered around the stalls and displays for nearly an hour before my energy gave out, but captured some images to remind me of what it is about this place that is so endearing. The Dorrigo Show is a treasured celebration of the good things this tiny town of 1500 souls has to offer, and of the indomitable spirit of the place.

These days, it’s cattle country, horse country. A place of old families handing land down from father to son, of people belonging to the history of this place in a very real way.  Sixty years ago, it had a department store, a dairy, a cinema, a taxi service. That was in the time when this beautiful plateau supported thriving dairy and timber industries. It had a railway service, and a hydro electric dam supplied the town with electricity. All that has gone, but it’s still a beautiful place, one to which people are drawn again and again, and some come to stay.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever go back to  live there, but I’ll never want to stop visiting… especially at Show time.