Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've just had a call from my friend W. She's coming up after work to give me a hand with the painting. Thanks!!! With the promise of a helping hand and a strong cup of coffee I feel ready to get on with it. The painting is still white on white, so I've posted a shot of my one-cup coffee pot--all loaded with ground coffee and ready to give me a boost.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Yesterday I finished undercoating the Studio. Patchy white on white isn't a great look, so here are some lovely flowers instead:My friend A brought these hydrangeas from her garden when she came to visit me and admire my progress yesterday. I love the delicate pink and green combo--a beautifully subtle take on the complementary colour scheme. The flowers were intended for my Studio, but it's not quite up to that stage yet. They're sitting on my big table in my living room giving me quiet encouragement.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Words

I spent most of the day yesterday in Foster Carer training. The topic was child abuse and neglect. I don't know what to say, really.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Variety Show

I'm making Christmas gifts, so you can expect a few slightly cryptic posts--just in case the intended recipients are reading. This week I've been challenging myself to make one of these items each day: You can see there's a theme happening, but each one is different. I found the thought of coming up with half a dozen variations on a theme all at once a bit daunting. One at a time works much better for me. As I'm working on one item, thoughts are brewing for the next one. I'm really enjoying the blue-green colour combination too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Today's Task

The Studio is finished--all bar the stormwater connection, which is promised for tomorrow. I'll believe that when I see it done. Coordination hasn't been the strong point of this project. That won't slow me down with moving in, though. First task: paint. Then I need to find some lino and get that in. After that comes shelving and all my stuff.
Since the room's going to be full of colour and interest, I decided to keep it simple. Here we have a tin of flat white ceiling paint and two of wall paint: low sheen acrylic. The colour is called peaceful white. I chose it as the most neutral of the off-white selections, but the name certainly has appeal. I have brushes and rollers at the ready. The power is connected already, so I'll pick up my phone and music machine and off I go.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Party Time

I have blogged before about my dilemmas with intimate apparel. I tend to think of many aspects of textile arts as a challenge to make three-dimensional shapes out of two-dimensional materials, but never more so than with foundation garments. Normally I solve the problem with a sports-bra, but with a wedding coming up and a fancy outfit on the cutting table, I was inclined to accept a friend's invitation to a "Bra Party". It turned out to be last night when I had a prior commitment, so I sent along a party proxy: Those who know me best will appreciate how unlikely this next statement is, but I'm desperate enough to host the next party myself! The convenience of having a consultant in my home to help me with a fitting in the privacy of my own room, while a few friends enjoy drinks and nibbles in the living room is too good to refuse. And it will be a chance to show off my new Studio. So, let me know if you'd like an invitation. Absolutely no obligation, I promise.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beaded Flower

Funny how when I start working with a particular medium, it tends to find its way into all sorts of other projects! I had my seed bead collection out last week when I was working on the multicultural butterfly. Somehow the seed bead box didn't get put away. Then when I was looking for ways to embelish some felt, there were the seed beads calling out to me. I listened. I'm experimenting with different ways of attaching the beads to the felt. This is a hybrid of threading and couching. I have the beads threaded onto a double length of sewing cotton. I then use another length of cotton with a fine sharp needle. That thread is firmly attached to the felt. Each bead is secured by threading the needle through the bead and then couching down the double sewing thread on which it is strung. That way each bead has three thicknesses of cotton holding it in place and there's an attachment point between each bead: nice and secure. Another thing I like about this technique is that I can place each bead quite precisely to form an outline. As you can see, it's detailed work and I need to take a break pretty often to stretch and relax my shoulders.

Now for a shed update: the plaster is in; stormwater and electrical work will be finalised today. Then it's just a case of waiting for the finishing touches on the plaster. I should be painting on the weekend, though I have Foster Carer training all day Saturday, so I'll see how I go. Next week will see me putting up shelving and moving furniture. Then it will be time to actually move in with all my materials and equipment. I can hardly believe it. And I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Colour Run Fun

I went shopping for inspiration on Sunday. I have a project in mind, but at this stage the parameters are open. It's a chance to experiment and play. After looking through my own fabric collection, I decided to go out and see what I could see. One fabric in particular caught my eye. It was unlabelled and unpriced. Turns out it was going out on clearance because the colour tends to run in the first few washes. I liked the pattern and the price enough to buy it and see what happens.

Here it is after three long hot washes in my machine without soap: It was originally red and white--not any more, but I like it. The next test is to see if the colour stops running--otherwise it could be too much of a menace in real life. I'll run it through the machine again--with laundry powder this time--and then test it with some white fabric.

Monday, November 22, 2010

PC Desk

One of my tasks for yesterday was to accommodate my desktop computer in another room. First step: somewhere to put it. Of course with the Studio not yet finished, there's no more space in the living room than there used to be. By rights I should be waiting until I've moved some things out of there before moving anything else in. But waiting never was my favourite activity. And at least if the computer's all set up in its new home it will remain functional when moving chaos happens, hopefully next weekend. Besides, I was so proud of myself, having cleared four boxes of stuff out of the shed with hardly a blink of regret, that I felt I deserved a more constructive task.

Off I went to the Office Superstore. I've had my eye on this little desk for a while. It seems sturdy enough and inexpensive. I don't really want a lot of visual clutter in the living space--those of you who are familiar with the current state of my house: here's your cue to laugh out loud! Of course the desk came flat-packed. Here it is now in 3-D. And don't ask me why the pic is sideways . . . it's one of those blogger days. At the moment the only personal thing about it is my greasy fingerprints all over the glass. I pride myself on being better than average at assembling bits and pieces from cryptic diagrams. This one nearly had my stumped. Most of the assembly was reasonably straightforward, but there's a clever little keyboard drawer below the main desk surface. That drawer is on tracks with ball bearings--all fine and dandy. According to the diagrams, that mechanism needs to be pulled apart: one part is attached to the drawer surface and the other to the main desk piece. Later on the assembled drawer is slipped into place. It's a while since I studied probability and statistics in maths, but I can tell you from personal experience that two slide-mechanisms, each with two components can be put together in a squillion different combinations and permutations, only one of which is correct! I tried all but one of those combinations yesterday afternoon. I couldn't get it right. I decided to use the walk away technique. This is an approach you won't find in any technical manual. It involves taking a deep breath, calmly laying down your tools and leaving the job to another day. This morning I came back to it fresh after breakfast and a nice cup of coffee. I didn't bother looking at the instructions again. I pulled the drawer mechanism apart and tried fitting the components together without the extra hassle of the drawer and desk getting in my way. Snap! they clicked together easily. I heaved a sigh of relief and just hung on to what I'd done. Then I re-attached them in the right place without letting go of those pieces. Mission accomplished. I have a neat little PC desk. Now my next task is to pull my computer apart and put it back together in its new location. Maybe I'll leave that task until tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Make Way

The move into my new Studio is tantalisingly close, but realistically it's not going to happen this week. It may not even happen next weekend. I've just realised that somehow in the flurry to get on with lining the shed on Friday, the workmen forget to instal the insulation between the outer cedar wall and the inner plaster. I guess that means the plaster will have to come off again so they can fix the problem. I'm certainly not planning to do without insulation. I'm calculating that it will put the work back by at least half a day.

Meanwhile, what am I going to do with myself? I think I might pack up and move this computer, since that will give me a bit more room to move while I pack up all my fabrics from this spare room. It's a finite task--always an attractive feature.

First, though I set my attention to a less attractive task. The garden shed I've had these past ten years or so is going to go as part of the current reorganisation. It needs to be emtied out. What's in there? I'm not sure. I went to have a look. First up, four boxes of old study notes and assignments. These are all at least ten years out of date. When I stored them in the shed the memory of the effort they had cost me was too fresh and I couldn't bear to get rid of them. Now things are different:
One very full recycling bin, four empty cardboard boxes. Any useful information from those courses has been well and truly assimilated into my thinking by now. Either that or I'm going to have to learn it another way.

As soon as my nose recovers from the large dose of dust it just received, I'll go back and see what's next. I'm pretty sure there are several cans of paint and some garden chemicals I'm not going to use. I'll offer them on Freecycle or toss them out, depending on their condition. Then it will be time to slow down and shift my attention to indoor tasks.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shed Ahead

"And what of the shed?", you ask.

It's almost done! I have a floor, four walls and a roof. Some of the lining is in and the basic electrical work is ready. It was a long, frustrating wait. The inspector was supposed to come on Monday to check the subfloor. He didn't make it. The first of knew of that was on Tuesday when there were no workmen on the site by halfway through the morning. He didn't make it on Tuesday either and finally arrived on Wednesday afternoon. By the time he gave the all clear it was too late to organise any work for that day. On Thursday Ben and Duncan put in a marathon effort, but didn't quite manage to complete the roof. I came home to find all but two panels installed. I wasn't too happy when I heard they couldn't come in the next day. Another couple of installers took over and got it to "lock up" stage. They'll be back early next week to finish things off. The guttering and plastering are the main items left to complete. Then it's a case of painting the inside and moving in. Some time soon the official title will change from "shed" to "Studio". It really is too lovely to be just a shed!

"And how do I feel?"
How many ways are there to say "excited"? I need to ask some friends to come and help me with the painting, but what I feel like doing is hiring a band for a little barn dance instead! It would have to be a very little barn dance, so maybe just one fiddler. Oh well, maybe I'll just make sure I hook up the radio to play nice and loud while we wield our paintbrushes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Huck Luck

Back to the Craft Superstore yesterday morning to buy supplies for Christmas crafting. I like to make some fancy little towels and of course I'm fussy about the quality of the fabric. I asked for waffle or huck in 100% cotton. Thankfully the assistant was one of the experienced fabric sales people and she knew exactly what I was after. "We haven't had waffle weave since you bought it last Christmas". But she offered me this: I liked it. She then checked the price: the computer came up with a figure just over half of what was written on the label. "Oh, and you can have another 30% off if you buy the whole roll" Done! It's just over 7 metres. I'm guessing I won't use all of that this year, but you never know. And there's always next year. Now to overlock the edges and throw the lot into the washing machine.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Try Again

I like to make Christmas gifts. It seems more personal and it's definitely more fun than the dreaded "Christmas Shopping". On the other hand, there's the need to design something new each year and often last minute crafting sessions to get things finished on time. So when I came up with the idea of a Christmas Star flower recently I decided to go with it. I made a first attempt yesterday:It didn't really turn out the way I envisaged. I haven't shown the whole flower because I'm still hoping to get it right and use it for gifts. The main trouble spots are the ways the various petals interact--the proportions and the angles aren't working the way I want. I'm going to try again. Meanwhile, as often happens, the process of starting something has kicked my imagination into action and I'm thinking of other possibilites and starting some different gift projects. Just as well and in a month or so it will be time for that last minute burst of activity.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Yesterday I was fishing around for something easy to work on. We've had some warm days, so I wasn't in the mood for the usual woolly scarf or hat, even though I've been tempted to put the heater on the past few mornings with the temperatures coming in at the low-teens. Anyway, a hank of hand-dyed 4-ply cotton caught my eye and I decided to have a go at a Solomon's Knot scarf. I've made these before in wool and they're rather insubstantial. I figured the same thing in cotton would be ok to dress up an outfit on a warm day. I first came across Solomon's Knot stitch in an old crochet book from an Op shop. It was used to make a string bag, but I really liked the stitch pattern and wanted to feature it in something a bit more decorative, so I started using it for scarves. I'm not too sure about the outcome in cotton. I like the colour and the shape of the stitches, but I'm afraid that when it's bunched up it will look a bit too stringy. Anyway, for a quick and easy experiment it was ok and it gave me something to work on yesterday in between what turned out to be a serious of unlooked for complications. I'll try adding a beaded fringe and see if that helps to give it a bit more impact. Meanwhile, I'm back to needing a quick and easy project to carry around with me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Multicultural Beaded Butterfly

I came home from the Community Quilt Project at Newlands yesterday with a request for a butterfly. The project is sponsored by Multicultural Victoria. The women in the group speak a limited amount of English and I can count my words of Arabic on the fingers of one hand--with a couple of fingers left over! So communication is always interesting.

We've being making flowers for the quilt. Each one is different: some embroidered, some crocheted, some beaded. One of the group suggested adding some butterflies. Why not? Flowers, butterflies . . . I had a go at sketching some outlines before someone else suggested I use the computer. They're getting to know me well--I'm definitely better at using the computer than I am at sketching under pressure. I found a butterfly, printed it out and then tried to think of a way to make it which wouldn't involve too much explanation. Meanwhile I asked about the meaning of "butterfly". I collected one more Arabic word, which I'm not going to attempt to transliterate here. "But what does it mean for you?" I wanted to know. It turns out the butterfly is a symbol of good news, like the arrival of some-one you love. It's "like the pigeon", they said. In case you're wondering about the "pigeon", we've designed a couple of white doves--symbols of peace--as a major feature of the quilt. Up went my motivation for butterfly-making.

We were nearly at the end of our time together. Today is Eid--a major religious celebration, and the subject of more interesting attempts at communication yesterday. I used my few Arabic words to convey my best wishes and respect for the Festival. When I got home I googled, "how to make a butterfly" Here's one of my attempts:
The French-beading technique is a natural extension of how we've been making some of the flowers. And the wired butterfly can be made to hover over the surface of the quilt. Later on I'll see if I can figure out a stitched version. Next week I'll see what they think, and we'll continue to explore possibilites and meaning. I'm learning so much from this project!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mission Accomplished

The ditch is dug! I have all sorts of interesting new muscles and bruises, but that's ok. I'm counting on this being a once in a lifetime experience. If I ever start talking about digging another ditch in this clay-rocky soil, will some-one who loves me please give me a shot of something strong and take me away to a secure, quiet place until I come to my senses. Having said that, I'm feeling quite proud of myself and it was kind of fun to be spectacularly dirty from honest work. Enough of the ditch!

My other mission yesterday was much prettier. I had a $10 voucher to spend at the local craft superstore. They had a clearance on beads. I managed to spend all my voucher money and nothing more. I'm thinking of framing the docket that lists the items, with a total of $ 0.00. Here's what I came home with:
My plan is to make some demonstration pieces for a potential future beading class. I've deliberately chosen colours that I don't normally wear, since I can always raid my personal collection to supplement.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ditch Bi*#ch!

I don't want to mention my ditch digging endeavors on this blog ever again--except perhaps a short message to say the deed is finally done. I'd hoped today might be the day for that message of triumph, but it was not to be. Yesterday was not a good day for ditch digging. We had lots of rain. It poured down pretty much all night. I woke and anxiously checked the weather forecast: heavy rain! I'm not some-one who gives up easily. As soon as there was a break in the weather, out I went with my big boots, shovel, mattock and crow-bar. The boots tell the story: I worked hard at it for an hour or so. I wasn't really sure whether the clay and rocks I was heaving out of the trench were enough to balance the chunks of mud slithering back in down the sides. At least it was easier to loosen the large rocks in the base of the hole amongst the wet clay. I only stopped when it started to rain, again.

I can't recommend my approach to the rest of the day. I kept checking the weather forecast. The news didn't get any better, though the wording changed occasionally: flood warning; severe weather warning; heavy rain; storm watch . . . none of it was encouraging. I should have just given up the idea of digging and moved on to something else. I tried. Eventually I pulled out some beads and started to make a chain necklace, but my heart wasn't in it.

Today it's cloudy, the forecast is for scattered showers, clearing in the afternoon. It's still pretty mucky out there, but I am determined. I'm hoping to take all my pent up frustrations from yesterday and channel them into digging power. That should see the job done amazingly fast--if the weather holds off.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Box Hill TAFE Textile Art

I made an expedition to Manningham Gallery yesterday afternoon for the Box Hill TAFE Textile Art students' graduation exhibition. I'm glad I did. Apart from enjoying the students' work, I was keen to check out what the exhibition could tell me about the course from which they are graduating. I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as some of the students and one of the teachers for the course. I later discovered they were there for a final appraisal and interview process.
I gather from both the exhibition pieces and the conversations I had that the course is broad and accommodating of a variety of styles and techniques--good! Also it has a strong Art base, with drawing offered in each year--also good. I'm hoping this is the next stage in my development as a textile artist. Next step is an information evening in a few weeks time.
Meanwhile my shed-studio is growing slowly. It now has a subfloor and all of a sudden I can see how big it really is. Photos will have to wait--it's raining again. When the rain stops I'll go back to--you guessed it--ditch digging. Yesterday was hot and humid, today it's cool and wet. Hopefully the weather will clear enough that I can make some progress soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Shed Story Continues

The story of the shed so far is a tale of holes. On the first day I had been warned not to expect much apparent progress. That was an accurate prediction. The result of a day's work by three men turned out to be twelve holes, like this one. Yesterday's progress consisted of a five minute visit from building inspector. I'd been told to expect a man with a tape-measure. That's exactly what appeared. He measured one hole, peered into the other eleven, declared everything ok and left again.

Meanwhile I've been digging a ditch. I am not the world's greatest ditch digger. Progress has been slow and somewhat painful. The ground is heavy clay and there are some decent sized rocks. I'm learning to be a bit more accurate with a mattock and shovel and finding the crow-bar helpful in spots. I am very glad of my leather gloves. They are no longer white. I'm not confident enough of myself or my digging expertise to carry on in the presence of three unknown workmen. They've just arrived for today's work, so I guess I'll do some more this evening. Their task today is to build the subfloor--that's what will hold the shed up, I guess. Then Monday is another inspection day, so they will work elsewhere. That gives me the weekend to finish digging my ditch before the electrician comes to lay the power line. So, today I plan to do some sorting inside and visit the exhibition of the students graduating from Box Hill TAFE's Textile Art course. I'm seriously considering this course for next year, so I'll be particularly interested in the show.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It's Remembrance Day--and well may we honour the fallen. Today I would like to look beyond the men in uniform, to honour the women who have suffered and died in domestic, national and international acts of violence.
May we have PEACE in our time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Yesterday was a day of contrasts. I spent several hours in the morning digging a ditch. By the way, it turns out to be about 4 meters long, not 2--and 600 mm is a long way down in solid clay. When it got too hot to dig, I switched over to some inside tasks.

My afternoon commitment was at the hairdressers. I was ready for a change. After flipping through some style books and trying to describe what I was thinking, it was time to just let it happen. To my surprise, there was no hesitation with the scissors. Anna just went ahead and snipped away all the length around my head, leaving me with something that might resemble a short bob, if it wasn't for the curls! There I was in front of the mirror, watching Anna style and arrange my hair, knowing full well, that within a short time of leaving the salon I'd be back in the garden with a mattock and shovel, running dirty fingers through my hair to keep it out of my sweaty face.

After another session of digging, I decided I needed some technical improvements. I've borrowed a crow-bar from a friend and invested in some protective leather gloves. I was interesting scouring the hardware store for real working gloves in a small ladies' size. Crow-bars only come in the one size, which is significantly taller than me.

The shed installer is due here in less than an hour. Before he arrives I need to work out how to keep the dogs out his way while he works. I've been told not to expect much obvious progress today. The first task for the subfloor consists of digging holes, which then will need to be inspected before the stumps are cemented in. By tommorrow I should have a floor and then the walls and roof will go up. At that stage my ditch needs to be ready for the electrician, so I guess I'll be more than occupied.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ornamental and More

I picked this grape leaf at Newlands yesterday morning. I was there for the Community Quilt project, which I'm working on with their Arabic speaking women's group. There's a rambling ornamental grape vine in one corner of the garden at the Community Centre. The women were enthusiastically gathering leaves to use as wrappings for the bite-sized bundles of rice and meat which they love to cook. Just now the leaves are fresh and tender. I had a different purpose in mind for my leaf. I'd like to see if I can make a print from it. Unlike the women in the group, I have very little experience with grape leaves. And the characteristic tenderness at this time of year which makes them perfect for cooking, is not so useful for printing. I'll wait and see how firm the veins on the back of the leaf are when it finishes drying out. At least I know I can easily go back for more, and as the vine matures with it's summer foliage, the leaves will be more robust.

Speaking of robust, I'm about to go out the back and dig myself a ditch. It needs to be 600mm--that's two feet--deep and a couple of metres long. It will carry the electrical conduit to my new shed. I can't say I feel up to much ditch digging just now, but I'm hoping that once I get started I'll be able to push on a bit at a time. The weather is finally warming up: forecast top of 28 today and 32 later in the week, so I'd better get out there before it really starts to get hot. Alright, here goes, water, sunscreen, hat, gloves and I'm off.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Portrait of a Friend

If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that friends come in all shapes and sizes. Here's one I enjoyed yesterday:W had spent a couple of hours here on Saturday afternoon helping me get the protective stain onto my shed panels. I'd been at it since breakfast time, and was flagging when she got here. By the time she went home, we'd finished the first coat on all the panels. Then she offered to come for another couple of hours the next day!

When I woke yesterday morning I was sore and tired. All my muscles from my wrist to my shoulder were complaining about the unaccustomed effort the previous day. If I'd been on my own I probably would've groaned and tried to go back to sleep, but I had the promise of two more hours of W-time. I got up, made coffee and toast and tried to find some enthusiasm for another batch of painting. Just after 7.30 am my phone beeped--it was W saying she'd woken early and was on her way. Yes, this is 7.30 am on a Sunday morning! Together we managed the second coat on just over half the shed panels. As you can see from the pic, W is an experienced painter. This time she came armed with a tiny brush for cutting in the fiddly edges and a mat to sit on, as well as all her protective gear. After a few hours of enthusiastic work she raced off home to clean up, wake her teenage daughter and get on with her own commitments. I have to confess, at that point I did groan and try to go back to sleep. I curled up in the armchair for a couple of hours before I started to feel as though I wanted to do anything more.

Today I'm hoping to finish that second coat. Then I have a trench to dig--I need to get power from the back corner of my unit to the new shed. My electrician is semi-retired. I think he's been semi-retired for the ten years I've known him. He still has all his sparky skills, but his trench digging days are over.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I guess this is the emblem of yesterday:A huge paintbrush and rubber gloves--I spent the day painting the raw cedar panels for my new shed. It was an all day job to get the first coat of stain on. 4.8 by 3.8 and 2.1 meters--you can do the sums if you like. It would have taken even longer than that if it wasn't for my friend W coming up to give me a hand for a couple of hours in the afternoon. After she left, Rob arrived to help me move the panels into the back yard. I didn't think I could lift one of those panels. It took both his strength and his encouragement for us to get them where they needed to be. Now I've just received at text from W, she's on her way up to help with the second coat. Augh! If it wasn't for her generous enthusiasm I think I'd just groan and try to go back to sleep. On the other hand it will be great to have so much done. But first, I'm going to brew myself another coffee. I need something more to propel me back out to the land of cedarcote, gloves and paintbrushes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


My shed arrived yesterday . . . in a manner of speaking. It seems that every aspect of this project develops it's own unexpected twists and turns. I had arranged for the outer panels of the shed to be delivered early so that I can use the weekend to apply a protective stain to them. Three of the walls will be up against my fence line--the shed is to be tucked in to the back section of my little garden. The last time I see them will be before the shed goes up. In case you're wondering about the permit situation, it's ok. The building permit hasn't been issued yet, but staining the panels doesn't count as building. As long as I don't pick up a hammer or a spanner I'm in the clear.

Also on the agenda for yesterday was a trip into the city to discuss possible future study options--that's a story for another day. I'd hoped to make the arrangements for delivery on the Thursday, but no-one got back to me. Before I went to bed on Thursday night I shot off an email to the shed people. I've noticed they start work sometime before my first cup of coffee in the morning. My message explained that I'd be out in the middle of the day, would they please contact me on my mobile regarding delivery of the shed.

Off I went to my appointment. I left the mobile on as long as I could. When I hadn't heard anything about the delivery, I shrugged it off. Worst case scenario I'd have to do the painting early next week. I got home at 2.00 pm. There were two messages on my answering machine from the shed company. The second told me that the shed would be delivered by 1.30 pm. I looked at my watch and picked up the phone. Why didn't I go and check outside? It's like this, my place is tiny. My street frontage is only about 5 metres wide. About half of that is occupied by my rose garden. My car was parked in the remaining area. I keep my side gate locked. There's nowhere out there for a shed to hide. B, the sales manager answered the phone in his normal bright tone of voice. Yes, the shed had been delivered. The courier had stacked the panels on my front lawn. I dont' have a front lawn!

Off I went down the street to look for evidence of a stray shed. It felt a bit like the times when my dogs have managed to slip out through the front gate. I figured it wouldn't be far from home, but it's a bit embarrassing peering into neighbours driveways. Meanwhile, the sales manager was contacting the courier on his mobile phone. I'm guessing I found the shed at about the same time as B tracked down the courier. Fortunately both the courier and my neighbour are easy-going types. Gary, my neighbour had come home to find an unexpected stack of shed panels in his front garden. He's been waiting on some roof repairs and there are plans for renovating his bathroom, so he immediately contacted his landlord to see if there had been some mix up. Of course, the landlord knew nothing about it. Meanwhile, the courier made his way back to my street and good-humouredly started reloading his truck. The panels are too heavy to be simply carried down the road. Here he is at work. My roof is the green one you can see at the far left of the pic. It's four doors down from Gary's place. I couldn't help questioning the courier about the situation. He blamed his GPS. Had he driven down the street or looked for a street number on the houses? No, why should he? He did have some doubts when he couldn't see the side gate--Gary has no side gate. Did he think of phoning back to the office to check on the discrepancy? Well, maybe, but he was out of phone credit. I wasn't going to try to fathom the logic of a courier who drives about an hour and a half across town to deliver a load and doesn't have the capacity to contact either the sender or the receiver of that load. I offered him a glass of water. No, thanks. I contacted B to let him know the situation was under control and went in to make myself a cuppa.

This morning I've been out with a paintbrush already. I've got a friend coming to give me a hand later in the afternoon and the electrician coming to check out his side of the job this morning. I'm hoping today will be a bit more straightforward than yesterday, but I'm not counting on it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Staying in Character

I picked up these semi-precious stones on clearance the other day. They're pretty rough--maybe semi-precious is overstating their value. I guess that's why they were on clearance. Since I had my bead board and tools out, I decided to have a play. I went with the roughness as a feature, since there was nothing I could do about refining them. I've linked them with a light chain, forming the links with my round-nose pliers. When it was time for a closure. I had nothing suitable. This morning I pulled out my artistic wire and started to twist and turn. Here's what I came up with: This is my third attempt. It was a bit like Goldilocks and the three bears: the first was too big, the second too small and the third one is just right! Now all I have to do is attach it to my necklace, and that's a job done. Less than a week from concept to finish is unusual for me. I don't have a particular purpose in mind for this one, so I'll see what happens when it's done.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Creative Challenge

Quite some months ago I was given some hand-made glass beads. It was a friendly challenge. Liz had been working for some time with glass fusing and slumping and had recently been developing her skills in more detailed work to add to her designs. Meanwhile, the question was what to do with these special one-off's. At the time I was offering some beginner jewellery making classes, so the connection was made.

Well, those beads sat on my table challenging me for nearly six months. I didn't want to put them away, out of mind, but I didn 't have the chance to really focus on the task either. Multiply this situation by any number of occurrences and you'll have some understanding of why it's hard to find a place to rest a plate of dinner on my big table.

Anyway, I finally sat down to the task a couple of days ago. Here's some of the result: Since I was working with single unique beads, I decided to emphasise that aspect. I didn't add any other feature beads to the mix, just a few seed beads in toning colours. I made up the rest of the length with bits of chain, satin and velvet ribbon and wrapped wire. Now they're sitting in Liz's pigeon hole at the Neighbourhood House for her to see and comment.

In other news: the planning permit for my shed-studio is finally through. Now for the building permit, which should be a formality. I'll try to sound excited later. Now I'm just thinking of all the last minute preparation I'll have to do if the shed kit is actually going to arrive in the next few days. Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Award For Me--Thanks So Much!

Thanks so much to SewSofie for this award.

I'm so glad she gave me a how-to list . . . here's how it works:

Award Rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (in no particular order…)
4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

The thank you part is easy. Thanks Sophie for the encouragement and for all your comments.

As for seven things about myself . . . that's maybe not so easy.

  1. I'm pretty self-conscious about sharing about myself--so that's the first thing.
  2. I post here just about every day--it's a way of keeping myself on track and at least thinking about what I'm making, even on the days that I don't feel up to much.
  3. I just about failed Home Economics at school--the comment on the report card said, "assignments unsatisfactory"! I was already sewing my own clothes at that stage, but couldn't fit in with the school's way of getting things done.
  4. I'm much better at starting things than I am at finishing them. My head buzzes with ideas and possibilities, but all the follow-through to get the job done is less exciting.
  5. I'm good at Maths, but terrified of book-keeping.
  6. My solution to many dilemmas is to brew another pot of coffee--usually decaffeinated or I'd be bouncing off the walls.
  7. This is the first time I've received a blog award.

Now, to pass the award along:

  1. My friend D at Dee-cluttering my life: for inspiring me in so many ways and sharing big and small things.
  2. Teresa at Teresa's Textile Inspiration: for textile inspiration! She was my first spinning teacher.
  3. Charly at Ixcel Angora and Funky Fibre Art: for honesty and humour in equal proportions.
  4. Artrepeneur, the Collision of Art and Business: for asking, and attempting to answer, the hard questions about creating and cash.
  5. Ang of Ang's Antics: the little stories about your children make me smile and I will always admire your loyalty as a friend
  6. Pam at Beads 'n Threads: for achieving the kinds of things I dream about with metal clays--and more. I'm trying to work out how to get myself from Melbourne to Perth for some workshops.
  7. Knitspingirl: for calling me over to the world of socks.

Now to contact my award-winning bloggers to let them know and ask them to pass it on.


I started this miniature project yesterday morning. I've been working at spinning a suitable yarn to mend an heirloom baby blanket. My early attempts on my wheel weren't fine enough and I started to get frustrated with myself. Then I thought of using a drop spindle. I don't need much yarn at all, and I love the control I can achieve, especially with my lightest spindle. First I did a tiny little sample just to see how it would go. Then I did a bit more, L has that, and is about to pull out her knitting needles to match the pattern of the original blanket. That left me with a ridiculously small amount of a ridiculously fine handspun merino. It's hardly even a couple of grams, but I couldn't let it go to waste. I decided to play with it:For reference, that little ball of yarn is about the size of my finger-tip and the needles are 2 mm. It feels really strange working at this scale--and yet I know that people make entire shawls out of fine yarns like this. I'll be proud of myself if I can achieve a bookmark.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


What is it about weddings? One of the uniquely formative moments of a couple's life, surrounded by infinite little details!

I spent several hours yesterday carving this stamp: It's a monogram for my friends J and A to use on their wedding invitations. It felt good to focus exclusively on such a tiny aspect of their special day: not just the technical challenges of shaping the letters, but the relationship between the parts and the balance of the whole. I thought about the inevitable imperfections when something is made by hand--and the attractiveness of that reality. Today my friend D--J's mum--is spending the morning with a beading needle and thread, securing I don't know how many faceted glass beads to the hem of the wedding dress. There's a particular little sequin she has been unable to match. I'll try the local shops down here when the Cup holiday is over and post them to her. Meanwhile J is finishing her end of semester assignments at Uni and A is working and house-hunting. None of it's perfect, but it's good to be involved.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You'll Never Guess

My young friend E turns 15 today--happy birthday! We were talking on the phone a week or so ago. I told E she would never guess what her gift from me might be. Let me fill in the picture: amongst other things E and I share a slightly twisted sense of humour and a love of science. E loves the crime/forensics shows that are so popular these days--I'm too squeamish for the actual crimes, and cynical of some of the so-called science, but then again, I'm just a tad older than 15!

When I saw this yarn on my friend Charly's stand some months ago, I immediately thought of E. Yep, it's smooshy handspun reddish wool embellished with needle felted blood-shot eyeballs.
Out of respect for the rest of the family, I gave E's mum a quick call on my mobile while I held the skein in my hand, congratulating Charly and grinning with delight. I won't even try to describe the response on the other end of the phone as I tried to explain what I was holding. Let's just say it was dramatic enough that I was convinced of my judgement and positive enough that I thought I could get away with it. That was quite a few months ago now and I've been impatiently waiting for the actual day to arrive. Now it's here! I couldn't decide on the best way to make the most of those incredibly detailed eyeball features, so I've waited for E to decide its destiny. She would like an eyeball hat. The other options were a scarf or --my personal favourite--a fringe for a cheeky little skirt. So, an eyeball hat it will be. But first the skein has to go to school with her, for the enjoyment of her friends and teachers--she's at a science specialist school, so the crazy thing is that they'll get it.