Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Generosity of Strangers....

The internet is an amazing thing.....

Through this wonder of modern life I've made connections with women I may never have been privileged to meet through my everyday existence.  This realisation hit home to me today when I received a package in the mail.

Recently I participated in an on-line handmade swap.  This is the first time I've ever done something like this - creating and swapping items with women I had never met in person.  My only contact with them is through Facebook and blogs relating to quilting so in actuality, they're strangers.  The swap is simple.  You are assigned a partner to create a handmade item for.  You know who you are making your swap gift for but you don't know who you are assigned to.  This is a mystery until your gift is received in the mail.  The way you discover your swap partners likes and dislikes is through a posted documents that lists members preferences for colors, choice of gifts -bags, mug rugs, etc.... and most importantly, their blog address.  As you can imagine, you can learn a lot about a person from reading their blog.

Well the gift parcel I received today completely blew me away.  As you can see from the photos below, not only is the tote bag remarkably beautiful, it was also packaged with thought and care.   And as a sweetener (literally) my Australian swap partner Kristy gave a special gift of American candy to me, her American swap partner.  What can I say - I'm speechless.....

My antique Little Oxford Dictionary, circa 1949, defines a stranger as:

'....a person unknown, alien or unfamiliar to someone or something'

I wonder how this definition changes now in the year 2012 with the event of the Internet?  When it's not alien or unfamiliar any longer to develop and nurture friendships through electronic means exclusively.  I've never met Kristy in person yet I know her through the colourful quilts she makes, the fabric she likes, the fantastic tutorials she she still a stranger?  I think not.

I feel privileged to be a member of the on-line quilting community.  Through my Internet connections I've 'meet' so many wonderful, talented and caring women.  I so wish my grandmother were still alive today so we could compare notes on our individual experiences with our quilt groups.  I think she would be amazed at the community of world wide quilters now.  I just know she would have been the kind of woman who would have jumped in both feet first into the pool of Internet quilting.

So thank you Kristy for the wonderful swap gift.  I plan to drag this tote bag to every quilt and book club meeting I have and tell everyone about you and my experiences with my on-line group of quilters.
But I have to tell you, the candy isn't going to make it past the weekend!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Digital Subscription Heaven

There are times that quilters, even really keen quilters, have a lapse in creativity. Actually, let me rephrase that. It's more a lapse in the production of creative projects then in the creativity itself. I'll be honest, my point is that lately I haven't been sewing anything. I go into my sewing room often enough but I just haven't had the urge to sit down and work on any of the myriad of projects I have on the go. However even though I'm not physically working on anything, my brain is still in over drive thinking of ways to overcome obstacles on projects I want to make or have in the works.

During this period of thinking more/working less, I've been filling my iPad with loads of digital quilt magazine subscriptions. I LOVE my iPad and the wonderful things it does and enables me to do. One of the key features that I now have with this wonderful device that I'm certain I could not live without from here on in, is reading my quilt magazines as a digital subscription. Within the last month I've begun a subscription to Fons and Porter, Quilters World, Quilters Newsletter, Quiltmaker and Patchwork and Quilting (UK Edition). With the added bonus that with the Quilters World subscription I got not only a years worth of magazines but access to two years worth of previous years of magazines as well! Now who could turn this down for the price of $16? Not me obviously.

Though I absolutely love the printed page there are great benefits beyond the low price to subscribe digitally to quilting publications. The number one reason for me is actually getting the magazine. Living in Australia is a blessing and a curse. The curse part is subscribing to U.S. magazines and all the problems that incurs. I HATE seeing the magazine I've already paid for in the news agent before it makes it to my mailbox. This has happened more then once and it drives me crazy. I also hate it when the magazine never comes at all because it got lost in the mail. Though the publishers always replace it, having to wait for the replacement is infuriating. Also the costs of these U.S. publications when shipping to an overseas address is sometimes twice the cost of a U.S. subscription. I know overseas mail is expensive but it's difficult for me to justify spending the added money just to get the printed copy. With a digitalised version I receive instantaneous delivery and in most cases one in a PDF format that I can print if I need to. All this at less than half the cost of just one printed magazine if I were to I buy it from the news agent. It's a no brainer for me really to subscribe digitally.

So as I'm taking a break from the act of sewing, I'm immersing myself in all things quilty curtesy of the wonderful world of digital reads. Excuse me now as I have over two years worth of quilt magazines to read.....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


When it comes to quilting inspiration for quilt designs, ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. The world of architecture always supplies a wealth of design ideas full of graphic punch. And what better 20th century architect to turn to for inspiration then the great Frank Lloyd Wright. Above is the cover of the July 1937 Town and Country magazine designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I think it would make a fantastic quilt. I love the bold use of color (let's face it, I'm a sucker for anything red, white and blue) and the geometric structure that so clearly suggests a building. I really want to make this into a quilt. So now the challenge has begun - how?

I'm thinking paper piecing would be the only real way of transferring this design so precisely to a textile piece. I've begun drawing a graph over top of the photo in 1 inch blocks that I will then draw onto a large poster sized piece of paper that then becomes my paper piecing template. I think I may complete all the small flags separately and appliqué them as completed units onto the piece. I'm still thinking the process over but I think it just might work.

I love a challenge.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Perth Quilt Show

Time has completely gotten away from me. I’ve been meaning to blog about my visit to the Perth Quilt and Craft Fair since attending it on the 24th of May and here it is June already. Geez, where does the time go?

Now let me explain before I go too far into the post that I almost always attend the Fair alone. This is by choice. I’m one of those women who doesn’t mind her own company especially when it comes to shopping. I’ve never been one that needs to get affirmation about a purchase from a friend. I like what I like and someone else’s judgement usually doesn’t affect me one way or the other. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments of wanting a friend along for coffee and a chat afterwards. I love that. But for the actually act of shopping, I’m a lone wolf. I like being able to pause and ponder where I want to without the worry of keeping track of a friend or needing to comment on something I don’t find appealing to my tastes. I sound like a pretty bad friend to shop with don’t I! LOL, I suppose that’s why I prefer to shop alone – especially at the quilt fair.

My usual habit when it comes to the Fair is to get there early, just after the doors open. But this time I took my time arriving and travelled by train into the city as well. I was extremely frustrated last year when I could not find a parking space at the conventional centre and ended up parking miles away. So this year I was smart and took the train.

Perth is a small metropolitan city and very isolated from the rest of the country. So for a quilter attending the Quilt and Craft Fair each year it’s a real treat to have the ability to actually BUY quilting equipment/fabric/notions out right away instead of needing to order it through the mail. We have a limited amount of dedicated quilt shops in WA. They do the best they can but they don’t carry all the lines of fabric or new quilting tools that so many other shops do closer to the hub of Sydney. So the Quilt Show gives we Perth-ites a taste of what’s new in the quilt world.

This is what I bought at the quilt fair:

I noticed a lot of the vendors at the show this year showcased Japanese fabrics. In the past I've never purchased Japanese fabric before or even looked at them close up so I spent a fair amount of time browsing the fat quarters and feeling the texture of the textiles. It is quite different to regular cotton. Much of the Japanese weaves are just that – weaves. They tend to have much more texture than our regular quilting cotton and the weave itself is looser. I like it actually. I especially like the tones of their neutrals. When you think neutral you think colorless, dull, without punch. But Japanese neutrals have great depth. Their neutrals span a wide array of tones from white to green to blue and so on - all presented in the package of a toned down neutral. Very pretty I think. I ended up buying two bundles of five inch squares and a few fat quarters. From the same vendor selling the Japanese fabric I purchased an iPad carrying kit. I’m not usually into kits but this one was cute and caught my fancy. And it will give me the pattern to make more iPad cases in different styles for when I want something different. I also purchased a pattern for a very nice quilt/wall hanging. Again, it’s a pattern and usually not my thing but this year I just left my purchases go to wherever it took me and it just so happened to take me to unknown territory. I also purchased two books – both on modern quilting. I have lots of books in my reference library on quilt history but not much on emerging quilt styles so these two will be a good addition to my ever growing collection of books on textile work.

After much shopping and browsing I wrapped up my visit by taking in the beautiful quilts on display. So often I’m in awe at the creativity and skill of my fellow textile artist. Even in a small show such as this one in Perth, there are glimpses of things to come and techniques that only last year were new but are now here to stay. I saw a fair amount of quilts using beads and rhinestones. And fabric painting has become very popular as well. I’ve tried the technique of fabric painting but as I use most of my quilts in a utilitarian fashion, I find paint applied to fabric changes the texture too much and I’m not happy with the feel of it. It’s lovely however to look at if you plan on using the quilt only as a piece of art. Abstraction is very much in vogue – presenting a quilt to invoke emotion and not necessarily to depict or represent a known thing. Looking at the abstract quilts brought me back to my childhood when my mother used to bring me to museums – lots of museums. And living in NY we had some awesome museums at our disposal. My favourite has always been the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But my mother’s was The Museum of Modern Art. At the time I didn’t understand why she thought something that didn’t look like anything was attractive. She explained it was all about emotion and how art didn’t have to look like anything to be beautiful. Art was about how something made you feel. And she’s right. Looking at these abstract quilts I could hear my mother giving me an art lesson in my head. Thanks Mom for teaching me early on that an apple doesn't have to look like an apple to still be as sweet.

So another quilt show come and gone. I sincerely wish we had more than just one large textile themed event to look forward to each year. I know that next year in September I plan to be fulfilling all my textile wishes at the Australian Quilt Symposium in Bali. Yes, I’ll take another cocktail with that fat quarter please……

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad