Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crazy Block No 1 - Revisited

After reading my post about Crazy Block No 1 "The Oakey" block, I thought I would journal it a bit more and explain how I came to do some of the motifs, stitches etc. Someone may find it interesting, but really, it is for my own records and for my family to look back on.

The little sheep in the top left hand corner were done in a bullion stitch workshop at quilting group with a lady called Cathy Sotiriou. I added some hay bales and grass. These little sheep set the block on the path to being the Oakey block. My dad had sheep, cattle and pigs and had the town's only butchery. There was another large abattoir just outside of town which was more of a wholesale and export abattoir. Our family, my dad and his brothers, operated a small slaughter-house which was situated adjacent to the pig sty. Dad was the "cattle, sheep, pig man" and did all the tending and buying and selling, his one brother was the "slaughter man" (don't envy this job) and his younger brother was the "butcher shop man". It was full on, and my dad started work at approx 4.30 am every day and returned home at dark (earlier in winter ). Sundays were done in shifts, approx 5.00am to feed the pigs, home for lunch and a nap, and back to the pigs in the late p.m.

My sister and I loved going to "the pigs" (apart from the atrocious smell), but we rarely ventured to the slaughter house. Only the once did I visit there when I was about 10 years old, and the memory is forever etched. It's a wonder I still eat meat - no choice really, we were served up red meat morning, noon and night.

At "the pigs" my sister and I loved going into the chook pen and checking for eggs. The chooks were the domain of my dad's younger brother and he collected the eggs and distributed them to family members. There is one of the little chooks, chickens, and old man rooster there on my block.

The grapes were done in a stitch shown to me by crazy patch guru, Robyn Ginn, and are a cable stitch surrounded by a lazy daisy stitch and worked in 6 strands of embroidery floss. Occasionally my sister and I were babysat by my dad's cousin and husband and they had a most wonderful orchard and vegetable garden. I can still taste the sweet, juicy grapes plucked straight from their vines. The pumpkin in the bottom right hand corner also came from memories of their garden, certainly not from ours, as dad was too busy working to be gardening, and Mum was more of an inside house person. Thus, we had a very low maintenance yard and employed a gardener to keep it all tidy. The pumpkin is outlined in stem stitch and filled in with closed herringbone stitch.

We had a lovely old stucco house with a little white picket fence at the front and along the front of the fence we had some miniature pink rose bushes. They were very hardy (needed to be) and tolerated the wicked frosts we had in that part of the country. There they are in the top right hand corner of the block, with bees hovering and the bluebird of happiness dropping by as well.

The bees and roses were also done in the bullion workshop and the bluebird of happiness is a representation of my first jewellry, a little bluebird brooch.

As a child I loved to collect feathers, and there was a plentiful supply of these at the pig sty and around the chook pen. My feathers are shown there in the left bottom block and adjacent is the sheaf of wheat. Apart from all the other things my Dad and his brothers did, they also inherited from their father and puchased for themselves a good deal of wheat farming land. During the 1960's wheat farming was very viable and the weather was very conducive to growing. A good deal of money was to be made from wheat, but the workload was excessive. During harvesting, my dad would come home, have his dinner, push his empty plate away and promptly go to sleep with his head down on his hands at the table!

The heart in the centre is my heart, it still belongs in my old home town.

This block has brought back so many very wonderful memories of childhood, and the process of creating it has brought me so much joy and given me the impetus to explore much more crazy patchwork and embroidery in the future.

Friday, August 22, 2008

On a Roll

The last couple of days have been quiet on the home front, so I ventured into the sewing room for "little" sessions. I got these selvedge pin cushions done and also another 2 quilt journals. I really enjoy trying out different techiniques for a small project like the quilt journals.

The sewing room is calling again this afternoon, as hubby has headed off to the football in Brisbane. I intend to make another quilt journal and a couple of small items for our quilt show sales table. On a rooooooooll.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Crazy Quilting - A work in progress

This is a project which I started some 3 years ago after doing a "session" with a very talented lady called Robyn Ginn (OAM). OAM stands for Order of Australia Medal, and Robyn received this medal on Australia Day this year for her outstanding contribution to the Arts of quiltmaking and Needlcraft. She is very inspiring and set me on the path to crazy quilting using a pictorial kind of approach.
Originally, the blocks were going to be very traditional using browns, creams, gold and laces, pearls etc.!!!
Well -------- as you can see by Block No 1 it all took a very different path. It is turning out to be a glimpse of my life so far - and I can tell you it's not all that interesting. Hence, what started out to be a quilt of twelve blocks is now down to nine. Even so, the journey has been a lot of fun, and I enjoy attempting all the different stitches and working out the designs to use. In fact, working out what comes next usually takes longer than putting it into stitches.

This block is "The Oakey Block". Oakey is the little town I grew up in. It is in a rural area, and my Dad was a wheat farmer, butcher and raised cattle, sheep and pigs. He led a busy life and he instilled in us a solid work ethic. It was a great town to be brought up in and these images bring back memories of experiences as a child.
I am still looking for some egg-like buttons to place under my little chook. The rooster is a design I made up myself and I think he looks pretty grand.

I will put some of the other blocks up over the coming weeks, so hope you enjoy looking at them and of course, if you have some feedback for me, that would be nice too.

Lisa from "Ivory Blush Roses" has inspired me to put them up on the blog. If you are interested in crazy quilting, pop over to her blog and enjoy her wonderful creative work, gorgeous photos and inspirational words.

Sorry, my photos aren't up to Lisa's, but I have a very basic digital camera and I am still learning.
I found Ivory Blush Roses through Allies in Stitches, another blog I love, so go have a look at Allies work too. Fantastic!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Have caught up on sleep now after the annual Toowoomba Quilters retreat and feel up to posting a little. Sleep was a little hard to come by, cold cabins, hard bunks, squeeky doors and noisy neighbours (possumns), so it was great to come home to a warm house and warm bed.

Food at camp this year was superb, and all the ladies bring along homemade treats for in betweens with our coffee. mmmm. I think I put on a couple of kilos in two days!!

I continued work on the long-term crazy patch project, and I am all inspired now to get to the finishing post. My mentor on the project, Robyn Ginn was at the retreat and she is always inspiring. Over the next few posts, I will endeavour to take a decent photo of my crazy patch blocks I have done so far, and show and tell all.

Alas, I did not win the Canberra Quilters raffle, so will have to put up with my old sewing machine for a bit longer. It desperately needs a service, and I've booked it in. The repair man comes to the house in his little van and does it on the spot, so I don't have to part with it for any length of time and suffer separation anxiety.

Here are some colours of Australia which I photographed at the retreat.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dianne Firth Quilts

I have just been to the Canberra Quilters Exhibition site and after seeing the winning quilts by Dianne Firth, I have to say I am just head over heels for her work. I sooooo want to buy one of these, expecially the "Cone" and I also would love to get "Coffee Swirl". She had a couple of quilts in the Sydney exhibition too and also at the Gold Coast earlier this year. It was at the Gold Coast that I fell in love with her quilts.
Go have a look and enjoy all the other winning quilts. I am also going to win the raffle quilt by Helen Godden, just waiting for the call.

A windy quilt retreat

True to form, a biting cold Westerly wind has blown in for our quilt retreat this weekend. This is the time of year we can expect "the westerlies". Having grown up in this area, I can attest to the fact that these westerlies are yearly visitors in August/September. They traditionally herald in the beginning of the Brisbane Exhibition and get us diving for our hats, scarves and gloves. Brrrrr.

Thankfully, most of our time at quilt retreat will be inside around the "big fire" (which is now a large gas contraption due to "workplace health and safety" issues with the beautiful log fire we used to enjoy). Alas, the cabins are of a wooden variety with lots of draughty spaces and no insulation. Maybe I will sneak the electric blanket in like I did last year. Shhhhh.

I will post pictures after the weekend of where we stay, the fun we have etc. etc. Stay posted.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Four Seasons of Toowoomba

This is the raffle quilt for our quilt group (Toowoomba Quilters Club Inc) for 2008. The quilt was designed by a group of members and quilted by a local professional quilter. (See the Toowoomba Quilters blog for some up close photographs of the magnificent custom quilting).

The quilt represents the four seasons of toowoomba in a row by row style, starting with summer at the top.

Sue did a lot towards bringing the quilt together, so congratulations to her for this outstanding achievement.
Now, I am off to pack some of my sewing gear up for our retreat. We start on Friday afternoon about 3.00pm with coffee at "The Chocolate Shop" at Highfields and of course, a visit to the Quilters Angel shop which is just a few short paces from the Chocolate Shop. Then it is on to Perseverence Dam (the one with very little water in it) where we will "camp" for 3 glorious nights. Glorious because there will be all sewing with no interruption of household duties. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served up to us - Bring it on!!!