Thursday, November 27, 2014

Put a Pom Pom On It….

I kinda went a bit pom pom crazy the other day.
I bought some pom pom makers for my friends little girl to come and have craft'a'noon's in the studio. So I dug about in the stash and found this bag of wool crewel embroidery skeins that I bought at a country church fete about 20 years ago. You know one of those purchases that you make thinking….yeah, i'm gonna do something awesome with this stuff…..and it gets shoved to the back of the storage area and forgotten about for the next 2 decades.
So out it came, piles of colours, but many in the landscape vein, so lots of browns and greens.
I thought, well I better make me one of these suckers before she comes over so I know how to show her. So I wound up some balls in random colours and tied the ends together and started winding onto the pom pom maker.  It was a stinking hot day too, and I was sitting under the awning on the out door couch with a beer or 2 and I just kept making….they are weirdly addictive. (perhaps I was a little tipsy too)
A few days later I was looking at the pile of pom poms thinking what can I do with these…i've kinda gone a bit cray cray making them…
So I made a wreath. The pom poms sitting on the table were sorta in a circle and my neighbours have put a holly wreath on their front door and I put one and two together and well, this is the wacky result.
It's kinda out there for me, but its kooky and kinda fun and I think pom poms are the new birds. So put a pom pom on it I say!

So, what you need…
A pom pom maker or 2, I used 3 different sizes I bought in a kit from a craft store.
Scrap yarn. You need a fair bit.
A crochet hook
And a few other tools if you need them. I found a scalpel and a box cutter handy. It was easier to slice the yarn when it came time to cutting than using scissors to snip. Do not do this short cut if you are doing this with kids….I'm an adult and I cut myself. (possibly beer related…do not drink and craft??)

Make a pile of pom poms…trust me, one is not enough. When you have a nice amount together to form a squishy circle, start this bit.

Using wire, the wire I used was some twistable wire a bit thicker than florist wire that I already had. If you need to buy wire, I recommend getting one a bit heavier and then you won't need to do this step twice.
1. Snip the end of the wire with your pliers and thread the pom poms on. Repeat this step if you are using thinner wire that doesn't hold its shape so well like I did. If you need to do it twice, twist your wire between the pom poms to make it stronger.
2. Take the ends and twist together to hold all your pom poms on. Make sure you do this tightly and push your pom poms together to form a nice firm circle.
3. With your left over wire ends, make a loop - for hanging - and twist the wire down into the top pom pom so you don't see the join. Snip off any excess.
4. With some yarn, cover the wire loop, I bound mine like doing blanket stitch, where you loop the yarn through to cover over the wire.
5. Take another length of yarn and do a single crochet chain. This is what I did to hang my dangly pom poms.
6. Cut your chain into lengths and thread pom poms on and tie off.
7. Tie the chains around the gap between the bottom 2 pom poms on the wreath.
8. Dangle as many poms as you want. Go on I dare you.

You now have a super pom pom covered door decoration.
And if you are like me, busted a pile of stuff gathering dust in the stash.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Starting the Discussion

Over the past few days I have started having the discussion with people about 'copying'.
I am comforted about how passionate people in small business and creative fields are about this subject. Some of the statements and thought threads that have come out of these discussions...

"Knowing that (insert business name here) are watching me shits me to tears, why can they not just go get a life and get their own ideas."

"People and big businesses who copy are bullies."

"Copy cats are just ugly human beings."

"I feel sorry for people who have to copy, especially when they tout that they are 'creative' but all they are doing is plucking ideas of the internet..."

"The copying thing is rampant. I can't stand it when (insert creative business) copies another (insert creative business) and thinks they can get away with it, you can do a google search and similar images pop up from (insert creative business)....

Out of all of the discussions and responses not one was positive from the first group I spoke to that were all currently working or had walked away from the creative industries and had come from a trained background. By trained I mean they have all been through higher education in their fields. Degree, Masters, Phd's etc.
An education in your creative field gives you the understanding of idea creation and the importance of idea protection. You are also trained to seek out original solutions and work to your own creative responses. You are also taught about the importance of copyright.

I had a similar discussion with people working in creative or crafting fields who had not had a formal art/design education and the some of the views were surprising. Many responses were like the first group but about a third were interesting.

"I can do what ever I want I paid for that pattern"

"I saw it and liked it and thought why not"

"I only sell at markets and a few stores here and there, no one will notice"

 "Changing the colors makes it different"

"Oh yeah its crap, but what can you do about it, nothing so you might as well join them"

Are these comments from a lack of understanding of copyright and how it works? Or are they from the fact that it's rampant and we are just so used to it?
Or is it that we no longer partake in critical discussion about this issue as aspects of social media have made it very difficult to tackle without it turning into an online social media war.

Yes, we can argue the point of view that nothing is new, or that trends and themes are re-hashed and updated and renewed in times of change and progress. We can also refer to 'collective conscious' where if you are presented with similar materials and have a similar skill set you can derive from that a similar out come.
But you cannot take the view that it's ok to mimic other businesses/designers/works for financial gain as your business model. Cause, ya know, its not all unicorns farting rainbows out there, some of us need to pay our mortgage and make a living and if you have a bigger bully copying your work and selling it for cheaper to the masses you don't stand a chance.

So how do we start to fix this known problem? How do we start to do this without it getting 'ugly'.
How do we start the discussion?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Copy Rats…and the next big thing...

There has been an awful lot of 'copying' going on in this little world of ours. I know that personally I have been a victim of it and still are, but so have my fellow peers. It's really sad to see.
I guess as a designer you get used to the big guys (large chain and department stores) swooping in on a product at a market or trade show. You feel powerless to do anything about it. Or an image swiped off your website. The silly thing is these companies name their IP addresses so you can see who and when the image was downloaded or what pages they viewed. You maybe used to it, but it still makes you angry especially when you see one of your designs end up in a chain store that mass manufactures in China and sells it for next to nothing. 
Why so cheap? Well for starters they are not employing designers and they are sending all work off shore.
I know when I had my studio open to the public I had a few unwelcome visitors with their phones out sapping images of my fabrics. When approached they ran the hell out of there. I do know who you work for.
But fighting the big guys is practically impossible, unless you have loads of cash and lots of time to spend in long drawn out deliberations.
I know when I have spoken to my solicitor about such matters In the past I had to weigh up the financial cost. I don't have a spare $$$ to get the ball rolling, so you put it down to experience and move on.

However, there is a more gloomy side to this post. My heart breaks when I see one small business copying another small business. Or when one independent designer copies another. The world is too small now for these things to go unnoticed. 
And if the victim speaks up about it the ensuing social media war is torrid. I have read through many a she said he said social media stream only to be left exhausted.
But the thing to remember here is breaching copyright is breaking the law. Taking another persons product, concept or idea and passing it off as your own is theft. Worse when its done for financial gain. You might as well just walk up to the originator of the design and take a $50 out of their wallet.
Little things like distributing a pattern that is sold to you is another breach. Again, take that $14.95 out of the designers wallet. Every time that pattern is shared or put up on a group forum that designer is losing out.

Copyright is there for a reason. It protects us. It protects the designer or originator but it also protects you as a consumer. If you like to have a choice in the things you enjoy then opt for a world without copyright theft. Why…if companies continually copy each other we no longer have choices, it all starts to look the same. The more small independents get ripped off the less likely they will continue to create interesting products for you to enjoy. The smaller makers will not be able to continue to produce product as they will not be able to compete with the big guys and mass market production. The flow on effect, less jobs, less skills, less opportunities.

It's time to have a few more conversations that are constructive about copyright issues, especially in design based small business that don't turn into heated arguments. It's time to educate students about the implications of copyright and to get them to understand what is right and wrong when entering the work force. Just because a buyer tells you to copy another product does not make it right, it is very wrong. Or if you are given a brief and you are told to copy the image that was stripped from the internet. There are so many bad practices out there that we are too scared to speak about so they are shied away from and therefore the thief gets away with it and the victim suffers a loss. We need to be conversing about these issues in a positive way to change and educate and to police ourselves in our own practices.

So if you have been wondering what I will do next since I gave up commercial design work, this is it.
I am going back to Uni to study Law. Yep, long hard dry Law. Why, because I want to become an IP specialist and work with creatives to protect them from the people who copy them. To protect the little guy from the people who steal ideas and concepts, who stalk other businesses web sites and steal content, all those things that copy rats seem to think are ok….well, it's not. 

I'm going to embark on a journey of creative advocacy….I'll be hitting the books in a big way, but I will still be running my studio as normal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


There was a big event yesterday. The twin nephews were born. Everyone is healthy and well.

But the thing that makes this stranger is they were born on my birthday.

My birthday has always been a day that makes me feel anxious and out of sorts. Why I don't really celebrate it in any big way.
Its a day that reminds me of the fact that I exist in some sort of cross ways point between one family, another and one that I know nothing about.
That also my existence is a problem for many. I am a secret, shame, something best left buried. By even asking a question I cause issues.
Lately there have been many programs and articles on the subject of 'identity', also more coverage on adoption. I have at times struggled in my life with 'identity'. I grew up in one family but I was a produced in another environment under not so great conditions. I have a biological mother and somewhere out there a biological father that no one will talk about.
A photo was posted onto Facebook this morning and it popped up in my feed through one of these strange connections an adoptee has. It was a family photo. There was my half biological sister and brother. My biological mother standing behind them with her husband. The photo also has 2 other families. The children linked to me by this connection. I could have been in that photo. Sitting there in the group shot taken possibly on christmas day. Are they my cousins? I am the oldest sister. The oldest of all the kids in that photo and I am not there. I was having a christmas day with my family.
I don't have any images of my biological mother. I enlarged the photo and had a good look, trying to find links. Trying to see a likeness. I can see the likeness in my bother of his father. The twig didn't fall far from the tree.
I look at her sharp face, the only one in that photo not smiling, standing back from the group. It tells me a lot about her in a way. But I am only assuming, but something about that photo answers some questions for me. It's a pattern, people don't want anything to do with her. My aunt doesn't and my brother doesn't either. But because of this, some people want nothing to do with me as I am a product of this. I am part of the problem.
As an adoptee you grow up with so many questions. You wonder where you fit. I never felt like I fitted in with my adoptive family. I was too creative, out spoken, head strong. Things my parents never really got the hang of. I was never close to my adoptive brother so I felt pretty much alone in the whole thing. At the time, I didn't know that much of my tense feelings about it all was anxiety, but anxiety is common amongst adoptees. I have battled with anxiety most of my life. I have learned to cope with it now but I still have my bad days. The days when you take a deep breath and pluck up the courage to take another step into this crazy world that I have been thrust into. That by asking a question you never know what level of hurt or trouble you are going to cause while all you want to do it find out about who you are. So I don't fit in one, i'm absent from the other but I do have my own 'family' the one I have created. My wonderful friends, my amazing husband and his lovely close knit family, I am a part of this one and I don't have to ask any questions to find out where I fit as I just know that I fit and I am accepted for who I am, the good and the bad bits. No one is trying to hide me or silence me from speaking. No one is telling me I ruined their life. No one is wishing I never existed.

So now, we have 2 new little lives born on this day. They are born into a new family, one that my brother has created with his partner. One that they are creating without our biological mother.
My birthday has taken on a new dimension, it it now a day that is happy because it is celebrating these 2 little guys.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Simple Bold Babies Blanket + Pattern

I am really excited about the arrival of the new twins. Not just because new arrivals are exciting in themselves but these 2 new little boys when they arrive are my first new blood relatives and I will be their half aunty. I don't feel I can say full auntie as I am the half long lost sister of my biological brother. Yeah all this adoption stuff is confusing.
Anyhoo... I was going to make a quilt from my stash of vintage seersucker when I first found out my brothers partner was pregnant.
But then they let everyone know it was twins...ok so 2 quilts thats cool....but then it was 2 boys.
Ok, that threw a bit of a spanner in the works as my seersucker was a decidedly girly stash of fabrics.
I ummed and ahhed about a few other ideas and rummaged in my stash. Played with some stuff but just wasn't feeling it. Even whipped together a pile of 1960s 4 patch blocks into 2 cot quilt sized tops but again, it just wasn't working for me, also just because I like vintage doesn't mean everyone else does. Sometimes you need to take into account the recipients decor etc. I opted to go for something a bit more modern so I went back into the store room, rummaged in boxes of yarn and came up with these blankets.
The design has been dictated by what colours and quantity of yarn I had on hand. I am trying to only use what I have I my stash for everything over the next year as I HAVE WAY TOO MUCH STUFF.

This is the pattern. I made 2 blankets in the same pattern but with different colours and shared the contrast across the 2 blankets. Its for twins so one can be green the other yellow but they have the same tie in. Both approx 42 x 54 inches each.

The yarn I used was a chunky/bulky weight cotton/acrylic in 100 gram balls from Katia but this yarn is from a long time ago over 15 years. I think I got it originally to make a blanket when I was living up north and it was warm at night. Not sure what is around these days, but a cotton acrylic blend chunky weight yarn is great for kids stuff as its machine washable and light even though its thick yarn.
You could also use 2 strands of DK/8ply together and there are plenty of cotton blends on the market in that weight in good colours.

Colour Way 1
2 1/2 Mid Blue
2 Balls Aqua
2 Balls Green
1/2 Ball Navy
1/2 Ball Ecru

Colour Way 2
2 1/2 Balls Mid Blue
2 Balls Aqua
2 Balls Yellow
1/2 Ball Navy
1/2 Ball Ecru

Abbreviations I use:
K -Knit
P - Purl
YO - Yarn Over
R2D2 - This is what I call my ridged stitch. Slip 2 stitches Together Knit wise. Knit one, pass the 2 slipped stitches over and this makes the Ridge.
ES - Edge Stitch. I slip one stitch Purl wise at the start of a Knit row and Slip one stitch Knit wise at the start of a Purl row.
SSK, Slip, Slip, Knit
K2T - Knit 2 together

7mm Needles - I used a long circular needle.
Tension isn't really an issue with this pattern, just knit it then wet block it to a good size for a cot.

Cast on in Colour 1 - 99 Stitches using the long tail method cast on.
I prefer this cast on as it gives a really nice edge.
Good Tutorial here on this method.

Set up your pattern:
ES 1, SSK, K 10, (YO, K 1, YO, K 10, R2D2, K10) to last 14 stitches, YO, K1, YO, Knit 10, K2T, K1.
Row 2 - ES 1, PURL all stitches taking care to purl all your YO's into the front of the loop on the needle.
These 2 rows make up your pattern. Repeat.

Yarn Over, Knit One, Yarn Over (YO, K1, YO)


Pattern Colour Rows:
I knit 24 rows each colour as that is what I got out of each ball. Knit til your ball runs out?
Colour 1 - 24 rows pattern
Colour 2 - 24 rows pattern
Colour 3 - 24 rows pattern
Repeat one more time

Contrast 4 Knit 2 rows pattern
Contrast 5 Knit 2 rows pattern
Repeat 5 times
Contrast 4 Knit 2 rows pattern

Colour 1 Knit 4 Rows Pattern
Cast off loosely.

Stitch all your ends in.
Wet Block with blocking wires giving the blanket a good stretch across to approx 40 to 42 inches wide.

Colour Suggestions for girls:
Red, Orange, Pink with Purple and Ecru Contrast
Yellow, Aqua, Pink with Blue and White Contrast

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Urge to Purge...

Since moving my business to a new studio I have had loads of stuff to sort out. (kind of an embarrassing amount of stuff)
My original studio was also a building we used for storage before it was opened up so we had boxes of things stored there as well as we traveled so often.
We have been renovating and trying to sort things out for the house and I have been sorting stock piles of things out of the studio.
My thought process on this all was if I couldn't re-use it, re-work it, find a new home or good use for it, it had to go.

I have given away a good two thirds of my clothes. And it was funny as the ones I said goodbye to were all the freebies and samples I had from working in the clothing industry. They were not the best quality and many had after a few washes become a bit saggy, faded or just looked tired. A really sad state of the quality of clothing made for the Australian market. So off they went to the op shop or I sold the better overseas samples on ebay. The clothes I have kept are ones I have bought or made myself that are good fabrics and fits that are for my style of dressing quite timeless. Mind you I do live in jeans and t-shirts but they are good jeans and good quality t-shirts.
I have jeans from a European brand that I have worn consistently for 3 years that still look great compared to ones from here that died in a few months...thats another blog post....

So I have been re-thinking so much of my 'stuff'.

All my piles of little scraps went into my postage stamp quilt. That emptied 3 archive boxes.

I re-purposed some cutter quilts for our new arrival of Fritz the rescue greyhound. A quilt coat and doggy bedding. I also cut up a queen size futon we used to have for the back of our old Defender 4 WD that we took camping into some dog bed loungers.

Emptying box after box of quilts, tops and other odds and ends I have stock piled away for a rainy day I had to start making some decisions. Keep, fix or let go.
I have consolidated down sets of blocks I said I would stitch together and finish off but have listed them for sale for someone else to enjoy. My old timber fruit boxes have been turned into display boxes for all my pre-cuts. If unpack something and if its to stay it needs to have a purpose.
I've even found ways of reworking shoes.
I did a chop on a pair of boots that were the wrong length for me into ankle boots and a pair of sandals with ties made out of left over scrappy binding I had made into a ball of braid for gift wrap ties.

I have aired the quilts, mended patches and worked out what to do with some around the house. I have made 2 doona covers and pillow cases out of antique linen damask table cloths - THESE ARE DIVINE to sleep in. So gave everything else but the Sheridan to the opshop.
But my favorite solution was to make a slip cover for our timber bed head from a vintage quilt. It was easy and I didn't cut the quilt so if I don't like it anymore I just take out the hand stitches I made into the binding I turned int to place.
I have been knitting like a crazy person getting through piles of yarn. Fritz got a coat and a snood. I have a few jumpers and scarves and I am knitting some blankets for my new twin nephews. So I am on a bit of a rampage. All this from 'stuff' I had on hand in my stash. I have been designing with what there is to make the best use of it. It's a good challenge for the brain.

I am feeling lighter that I don't have so much stuff weighing me down. We have cleared out so much in the house that you hear a slight echo through the floor boards. There is even a 'spare' room again. I am feeling a sense of achievement that I have been able to get on top of all this. It's weird when I was working all the time I didn't have the time to do all this. Now that I have taken a step back from commercial design work I have the mental space to clear out all this clutter that was piling up as I was too busy to think about it....also too busy to make better choices about things.

I feel good, happy and some of my creative mojo is returning after feeling quite burnt out by commercial work. Also that I have been able to do so much with the 'stuff' and others have scored in the process. I have also looked at out consumption of 'stuff' and we have curbed and rethought so many things. We were always quality over quantity people but now we are thinking even more carefully about everything that is brought into our home. It's amazing how often I have said in the past few months - we don't need this. I don't need this. It's good to let go.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Trying Something New...Accuracy...

I'm not the most 'accurate' of quilters. I'm a bit of a bang it together kinda girl.
But there are some designs that call for accuracy or you are going to be tearing your hair out.

On Saturday I spent the day at the new studio of Jo Lawrence. Made Studio Textiles in Cheltenham.
An absolutely amazing place. If you are down that way you really should pop in the next time there is an open studio or workshop.

Jo is a killer quilter especially in the 'accuracy' department. And with all the winner rosettes pinned on her quilts, this is a lady you can learn a lot from.  But the whole thing about 'Made' is Jo is sharing her skills, tips and tools to making really tidy quilts and doing them in less time. Now for me, this is a whole new ball game.

A while back Jo gave me some of her new paper piecing templates. They were hexies. I cut out a pile out of Liberty but just never got around to starting it off. I knew what I was going to do, (heh heh, more on that later) but just never took the first step to putting it together so I never used the papers. Every time I ran into Jo, she asked me how I was going... it wasn't. I have always had a bit of a mental block with hexies ever since my horror year 9 textiles class.

As i've been sorting things out in the studio I came across another one of my 'boxes', yes I have 'boxes' that have future projects in them or half started ones that I need to keep adding to to get the right amount of stuff together. This box had a pile of cut diamonds from the 1940s from a stash I picked up a few years back. I always thought i'd make a scrappy star out of them, but I was dreading trimming, marking and hand sewing them together. Box goes back on shelf...keep going...

But, the light bulb moment hit me on Saturday, I can use these nifty new no sew paper templates!! So I gave it a go. I must say, if I can do it and get really neat results anyone can do it and it was quick.

The packs have really good instructions in them and plenty of tips on how to use the templates for the best results. And they are reusable too. In about 20mins I had 100 little diamonds ready to go. Please keep in mind with these photos that I was using diamonds that I had found that were from the 1940s so the shapes are a little different. But I got an acrylic template as well if I need to cut some more later down the track.

This is a very quick rundown on just one of the methods you can do with these templates. And there is a huge range that you can get and mix and match to do very complicated designs too. Jo is adding ones to the range all the time and you can order it all online. So if you want to try something new, Jo will be at the Eastern Quilt Show as well in September and she will be doing demonstrations of some of these techniques. If you want more in-depth info check her website and see when the next workshop is. Trust me there is so much more you can do and the machine shortcuts are cool. I'll give that a crack once i've got through this lot. So at this stage i'm whip stitching my little heart out.

The Made Studio Textiles Templates 
My bundle of found 1940s diamonds
Position template shiny side up

And carefully iron the edges over
Lookie Lookie, its done!
100 in no time

My first neat and ACCURATE diamond....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trunk Show Saturday 16th August @ Made Studio Textiles

The next Trunk Show is on this Saturday the 16th of August. 10am til 4pm.

It's at Made Studio Textiles in Cheltenham.

"Studio is located directly behind the ‘Kids on Tulip St’ Childcare Centre. Turn into the driveway next to the childcare centre and then take the first driveway on the right, we are located at the end."

Tel: +61 3 9585 1723
Studio: 19/109 Tulip St, Cheltenham 3192

There is also plenty of parking on the street too.

Some tid bits to get you yardages in long lengths, vintage quilts, tops and other goodies.
This will be the last Melbourne Trunk show til my next buying trip. This is the last of the finds from the trip I did earlier this year.

From the Outside Looking In....

The past few days have been interesting to say the least.
Perhaps this is the continuing of my story.
As an adult adoptee I am trying to make connections with my birth family. Early on in this search things were not good, but lets just move on from that.

I met my little sister. She is 16. She has her smarts about her and I am so glad for that.
She wants to goto Uni and study to be a Psychologist. I am really happy for her.
Ever since I briefly met her 6 years ago I have been wondering how she is and how she is going. She was a little brown haired girl playing on a scooter caught up in a family melodrama. I kept tabs on her through our brother. But for other disjointed reasons he was not always in the picture in her home life.  Things were really confusing for her then. She was too young to understand what was going on and things were not openly explained to her. She didn't even know my real name.

I had 16 years of her life to catch up with, she had 40 something years of mine.
Here I am, her oldest long lost sister. I am old enough to be her mother and then some. Looking across from her at the table I kept trying to work out if there were any similarities. From looking I couldn't see, but later when we took 'selfies' of our meeting I could then see it. I never thought I looked like our birth mother, but she thinks I do. I don't even really know how I look, from all the looking there is not much seeing.

It was really, really strange trying to describe who I was to her.
How do we perceive ourselves? I thought about it, how would I describe myself? I haven't had to do this before. I can relay the physical things but what about the other things. From the outside looking in, who am I?

I remember a letter my best friend gave me when I got married. She wrote a speech just incase. But I have never been a fan of speeches so she slipped it to me a few days later when we caught up for coffee.
She said I was loyal.
Other people say I am generous.
Many say creative.
Lately people thank me and tell me how inspirational I am. This is something I am adjusting to. I have never seen myself in this way. I just do what I do. I don't follow anyone but my own nose and see where it takes me. I am lucky that way, I have been called a leader because of that.
Other words have been 'strong' and 'brave', again, this is from the outside in.
I am adjusting to the fact that others see things I don't.

She knows bits of my life via our brother. He had this knack of always ringing me when I was overseas. 'Sorry dude, can't chat i'm in LA, this call will cost us a fortune'.
She asked me where I had travelled and what was the best place I have been. I run my own business and I love it, I made it up from this idea I had and followed it through and it grew. I felt pompous telling her these things. It's not until you are asked that you sometimes struggle to come up with the answers. I didn't want to sound like some sort of arrogant twat. But gee, its hard to slot 5 descriptives of yourself in, try it, not easy.

But here are some other things that are easier... I have a temper and I don't tolerate fools well. I will give you three goes then you are out. If you are stupid enough to cross me you are dead to me for life. I can rant and rave and be very black and white on some issues then just as irritating can be very grey. I am reclusive and a tad antisocial. I can argue points to the death and don't let up. I have darkness that sometimes out weighs the light. I can be a real complicated shit sometimes.  My mum reminds me about my bad points quite often but has said I have 'calmed down' in recent years.
So why is it that we can describe the not so good things about ourselves but we struggle to come up with the good things?

So I am still trying to join the dots of my life, of who I am and my identity. So far none of the birth family on my biological mothers side I have met I can relate major parallels to. There is no one in there that has the same creative drive that I do. So the splinter keeps gnawing at me. That it could be my father. Are there other brothers and sisters? Who knows.

One of the things my sister said which I thought was very profound about this whole situation is that everyone would be far better off if our mother just told the truth about everything. No more lies and no more secrets. I agree. It would be easier and a relief for all of us. But that is for her to work out and come to terms with...As I do exist. I'm not an accident to be brushed under the carpet and forgotten about.

But the longer this goes on the less chance I have of finding things out. We have just recently found out that our biological grandmother has been admitted to a nursing home with dementia. She is the only other person who knows who my father is. She falsified my birth records and holds much of the puzzle pieces but will not talk. Now she might not even remember. And if she does, he might not still be alive.

I view all of this situation like a house top strippy quilt. There is the centre square of me and there are all these strips of fabric going around and around creating this bigger and bigger square of this fabric of life. Some are dark, some are light. Some pieces are found others are given to me. Its all joined but it can be equally as disjointed. On polar opposites of the same piece. As we grow we add to this fabric like the rings of a tree. I tend to view many situations like a quilt. A life that is layers sandwiched together. One of stitches holding fragile things together. Saving and finishing. Salvaging and creating a new purpose. Life keeps exponentially growing outwards from the centre and each experience, cut, scar, hurt, joy or happiness is a new patch.

House Top Quilt with Multiple Borders Alabama, 1940s Cotton 86 x 67 in. Collection of Corrine Riley

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the Top Down…..Postage Stamp

7,058 Blocks at 1.5 inch, 1 inch finished.
Measures 84 by 84 in, 213 x 213 cm
Sewing Machines - 4
Sanity - Pretty good, better now i've opened a bottle of red.

I've been asked quite a lot of questions as to why I decided to do this quilt.
And I have many varied responses.

Firstly I love postage stamp quilts. Ever since I fell in love with scrap quilts while travelling in the USA I have always wanted one. But they have always been out of my reach costing a pretty penny. I also have this strange 'thing' that it must cross my path. I find if I go and buy something from a shop it loses a little of its meaning to me as its too easy. Part of what I do with all this fabric collecting is finding it, its part of the enjoyment of what I do. If I just walked in and bought it it wouldn't be as big a part of the adventure of finding, collecting and stashing.

I have loads of scrap. Off cuts, left overs, damaged bits and pieces and when ever I look at it all I know there are a few quilts in amongst it all, it just needs to speak to me. So I kept stuffing the boxes with odds and ends after every trip and the piles were growing. I also had my jars and when I got a chance between customers I would trim up some scrap and put it in the jar for the best size block for 'future projects'.
I joking said to myself when I sewed the first two patches together on Election day last year that I would have it done by the next election. (If only that was now true) That was the first sewing machine the industrial. (now all sold in the move)

We finally made the decision to move the studio and I knew that it was time to not bring it all with me. I didn't want all these boxes of scrap that I had been stockpiling coming with me to the new space. So while we were building and renovating I took up camp on the kitchen table and started plouging into it all, cutting 1.5 inch blocks. Literally thousands of them. And started the process of chain piecing them together. With the renovations we have been held up, bad weather, council you name it and we are still 5 months behind schedule. So when ever things got annoying it was head down and bum up piecing away. This was machine 2, my domestic Husquvarna. My poor machine died. I wore out the drop bobbin casing so it was time to find a new machine. Moved onto machine 3, my Pfaff saddlery machine. Decided it was more trouble than it was worth trying to chain piece small bits on this one, its slow and heavy and its designed for leather and denim. So the process halted for a while til I got the next machine. Number 4 - Janome 6660 P. So far, ok.

This is not an 'easy' quilt to do. It's easy as in its straight piecing but its hard as it requires patience to stick at it. It is the sort of quilt that can break your spirit. It is at times mind numbing but that can sometimes be a good thing.

Also my quilt it not all that well made. If the quilt police have a close look they will be tut tutting about the fact my seams don't all meet and in places its a bit wonky. But I don't really care too much. As I used fabrics from old quilt blocks some were already off grain from the original maker so there are plenty that are not straight. Also, some days I just didn't give a shit. I just wanted it done. I'm human and by no means a perfectionist. I think trying to get things perfect can take some of the fun out of it.
So, there was no unpicking and if I made a mistake I just shrugged my shoulders, drank more wine and kept going.

I also tried to detrain myself while I did this piece. I had to let the pieces come together where they fell. It was hard not to stick a piece back in the box and grab another that would be more pleasing. I had to make myself not care. As this quilt needs to be completely random. If I tried to plan any of it it would get a strange half pattern appearing and I didn't want that. So the pieces just had to go together.

There is also another side to this quilt. I only work with what I find. So no new materials are in this quilt. Its all found and scrap (the bits that are too small to put into my scrap bags), salvaged bits, apron ties, skirt hems, damaged quilt blocks, unfinished quilt tops, you name it its in here. All from the 1920s to 1960s. I guess its about making something amazing out of things now days we would probably throw away. My backing is going to be made from 1940s kimono linings that are all red cotton. Another pile of fabric I have salvaged from old silk kimonos and tucked away. I will piece in a few other fabrics that I have saved that are sashings off some of the partial quilt tops thats I unpicked to put the old blocks into this one.

This is by no means a designed quilt, if anything is is de- designed. It is a quilt made as purely process with some theory chucked in. It is also a very personal quilt for me as each little piece has meaning. There are bits that are joy from when I found them. Pieces from quilt tops that I have pulled apart to save. It is just one of the quilts I have to make and have in my collection. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stitching Our Stories Essendon Quilt Show Opening Address

On Friday I had the honour of being the speaker to open the Essendon Quilt Show - Stitching Our Stories.

For those of you who missed it here is the basic run down of it. Parts in "" are the gist of the ad libs.

"Firstly what an honour it is to be a part of your show, to be a part of this 'story' in the book of the Essendon Quilters in their 25th year
Everything looks fantastic so a big thank you to Janette and her team of helpers and to all of you who are here today being a part of this event.
In fact, turn to the person on your left and thank them for being a part of your story today, and to the person on your right,  as without you all and all your efforts this show would not be on, so a little round of applause to all of you."

Stitching Our Stories. 

"Such a broad topic, so many angles to tackle. Where do we start with that one." 

It could be a chapter, a lifes work, a short story or a process. It could be in history, folk lore, day to day enjoyment or a labor of love.

I know that I have my own story to tell with textiles. From an early age to my career as a designer, now sourcing amazing fabrics, to when I pick up a needle and thread for my own pleasure. Those threads are woven into who I am and what I do today. Why I am standing in front of you all, being a part of this story. 

But what does making and creating mean to you. What is your story when you make a quilt?

To cast a long way back into history when the first settlers came to the New World, as they embarked into territory that was cold, bitter and without resources, the women of the New England made a bed cover or 'quilt' of what ever they could find, often stuffed with leaves and dried grasses to have some warmth against the bitter winter. These women stitched for survival. Their story was one of hardship, survival and necessity.

Move forward to a time when fabrics were plentiful and times were more civilised and we see quilts for decorative means. Applique and best quilts, ones made with fabrics purchased specifically for the project. Ladies of leisure in victorian times would stitch with silks or the younger girls would practice their needle work lovingly stitching a special piece of waistcoat silk of her secret love while she sits and waits for a hand in marriage. 

Many a world event has changed the way we view quilts and sewing. WW1 asked that blankets be saved for the boys, so quilts became a necessity item again in the USA. In WW2 we were asked that we made do and mend due to the fabric rationing. At the end of WW2 saw the 'new look' and that was clothing in full skirts to abundance.

The depression, the boll weevil epidemic and the dust bowl were times of great hardship during the 1930s in the USA for many people. Quilts became a necessary item for keeping families warm again. Feedsacks were used not only for clothing and household textiles but the left overs were used in quilts. I cannot imagine how hard life would have been on the plains when the agricultural prices fell, the great depression and the farms being wiped out with drought.

We are lucky to have textile items surviving from this time. I know myself as someone who sources vintage fabrics, finding surviving lengths of yardage from this era is difficult for many reasons. The items were used on a daily basis so they wore out.  There were problems with the textile mills being able to maintain equipment. There was also an awful lot of corner cutting in production to keep costs down. Admittedly there was a bountiful amount of designs produced at this time to foster consumer interest but many were not manufactured to the best quality.  'Sack Cloth' was viewed as a laughing stock by the european manufacturers and the reputation of American Made textiles during this time was considered not the best but the American textile industry survived this time of economic hardship much better than most other industries and went on to be one of the biggest employers and producers of textiles globally in the 1940s.

From sewing for a dowry to the quilting bees in far flung communities a story was threaded through a needle as the stitches played out in the fabrics. There are many myths, romanticised stories and hard facts about quilts and quilting, its is fascinating and I encourage anyone who loves to make a quilt to dig a little deeper into the history of this amazing craft, art or pastime we enjoy. The stories contained in its history are more engaging than fiction.

To stitch a story on a more personal level is about what drives us to make or create.
The feelings, the efforts, the memories that the quilt or the process of creating it holds.

I want to share with you this statement.  Marguerite Ickis, some of you might know as the author of the 'Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting' that was first published in 1949 documented this quote from her great grandmother.

--- It took me more than twenty years, nearly twenty five, I reckon, in the evening after supper when the children were all put to bed. My whole life was in that quilt. It scares me sometimes when I look at it. All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces. When I was proud of the boys and when I was down-right provoked and angry with them. When the girls annoyed me or when they gave me a warm feeling around my heart. And John too. he was stitched into that quilt and all the thirty years we were married. Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I sat there hating him as I pieced the patches together. So they are all in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me. ----

Now that is a story, A journey, a narrative of this woman's life. Imagine if that quilt could talk, I wonder what it would tell us.

For each of us here, our 'story' of quilt making is as individual as we all are. There may be similarities or a common thread of discovery among us, but we all have our own story to tell with our quilts. What sparked off the interest, what keeps us creating, why do we go nuts when we see fabric? We are all quilters of sorts and we all share a common thread of this interest  but we are all unique in our story.

The quilts hanging here today in this show. What is the story behind them? What is the story behind your own entry. 
I am humbled to see so many fabrics I have found in my travels in quilts in this show too. And entries that evoke memories.

Could it be a quilt that was made for a special new arrival, perhaps a grand child. Where the quilt was stitched with all the hopes you have for this new child entering the world. It is made with love, with kindness and with a special touch that only you have. You put into it all your wisdom and your thoughts that this quilt you made will be wrapped around this infant to keep them warm and safe. All that you can hope for that baby is in that quilt. 

Is it that the quilt you have hanging here today was a challenge you set for yourself. One that drove you crazy as you tried to do a method or technique you hadn't encountered before. One that only you know how many times you unpicked that one block to get it to line up properly. 
How many bottles of wine were consumed during the making of that quilt. Did your partner accuse you of making them a 'quilt widow' and that they had to fend for themselves with toasted cheese sandwiches as you were just too busy in quilt land?. Is it the quilt of all quilts that you will swear never again or is it one that even though you hated it at the time, you are so freaking happy about it you will now go off and try the insanity quilt. Yes, are you a quilter with an addictive streak that needs the next challenge.

Is it that you have seen an inspirational quilt that you would like to add to your collection. You chose the design because you love it and wish to make your own. What feeling does it evoke for you. Did Quilt Mania make you manic until you got stitching on that next project.

Is it that this quilt is the culmination of many hours of quiet contemplation or keeping your hands busy at night. Slowly and carefully pulling that needle through the fabric. Feeling the sense of contentment that working with your hands gives you.
I know my grandmother would knit, even in poor light without her glasses she would still click clack away, quietly and rhythmically. Perhaps with the radio on low in her favourite old wicker arm chair by the heater in the living room. It was her meditation. I often wonder now that if she was born in a different time in a different country she would have been whiling away her time stitching a quilt at night.

Is it the planning and buying of the fabric, the collecting of supplies. All the future quilts that you could create. Do you have more UFOs than FO's? Are you the quilter that quietly squirrel things away for a rainy day.

I know that I personally love collecting the fabrics for future projects. And I do have quite a few UFO's as I wait for more fabric to turn up thats suitable to finish the quilt. As I only work with what I find, sometimes I wait a long while for the 'right' fabric to add to the project pile to keep going. I often start a project based around something that has crossed my path. A pile of orphan blocks from the 1920s or a partial quilt top with amazing fabrics. This triggers in me something that compels me to finish off what someone else started. 

I often wonder. who made this? Why didn't they finish it. What was their life like. I often make up little stories about imaginary women with old fashioned names like Beryl or Phyllis who might have been the maker of these things. I picture them with curlers in their hair wearing hooverette style aprons made from feedsack. Yes this is probably a romantic view, but I don't want to think about the hash reality of how things were between the wars and the depression.

Is it your time out. Did you make this quilt in-between tacking kids sports commitments, work and everything in-between,. Is it a reflection of your time, your ideas and your experience that this quilt made it here to be hung. Even though the dog walked on it or one of your kids split juice on it. Do you hope and pray for an afternoon to yourself so you can lock yourself way and sew. Or to get together with like minded quilty friends to stitch, drink coffee and eat treats and have a laugh. 

I love hearing the stories behind the quilts. I love the little details that are put in. One lady I know always puts one piece of fabric from a dress of her mothers in every quilt she makes. It's a green paisley and it's there, even if logically from a design point of view it shouldn't. 

"Its would be like a quilt version of Where's Wally, looking for that green square is if all her quilts were hung here today"

I love this connection between memory and comfort this quilter makes. Or recently a wool quilt that was made to save a fathers camel coloured dressing gown made into a quilt for a bothers 60th birthday, The braid on the collars and cuffs used as a decorative element along with other pieces of suits he once wore. 

During this show ask your fellow quilter, 'What is the story behind your quilt?'. We often don't get the opportunity to tell the details in the statement pinned to the wall. There is often so much more as to why this quilt was created. 
But if you have a little more time, maybe ask them what their 'story' is? As we now live a more fast paced life we sometimes don't ask as many questions. Find those parallels and shared experience of stitching your story.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Thank you to everyone who has left such lovely comments on my last post and for those of you who have emailed me.
When writing it I had no intention of it being a sad thing. It's just part of my story and how I 'got into' being someone who makes and crafts things. Also, perhaps it explains part of being a creative person, that solitude often brings out the best work.
But perhaps also I need to add a bit to 'my story', perhaps clarify a few things.

Firstly Adoption is a very complex thing. It affects all involved in a different way. It also can be confronting for those who do not have an experience of it. In my experience people who have not had an encounter with an adoptee or know someone involved with adoption find it very hard to relate to it. You cannot apply normal logic to it. Its too big.

I think now that there has been a bit more 'media' on the adoption issue perhaps it is becoming a little easier to talk about rather than it being a big secret or taboo. Frankly I am relieved there is more talk about it all now, and also that it has been portrayed with a bit of humour too. I thank the writers and producers of 'Upper Middle Bogan' for that. That was a show I related to and had a really good and relieved laugh while watching it. It was as if they had been a fly on the wall of my situation.

Other 'stories' that are out there that are a lot less funny are 'Love Child' and 'Philomena'. They tackle some of the bigger issues of loss. Adoption creates situations of loss for all involved and is a constant reminder of it. But all those reality TV shows such as 'Find My Family' are not the norm. It is not happy endings. Trust me. Those shows only portray perhaps 5% of what it is like.

For me, and this is purely my experience, its not all happy endings. My story of adoption in not in that 5% and I can't see it getting much better anytime soon. I can laugh at quite a bit of it now and feel ok about some of it, but that was only after deciding that I had to not let it get to me and sort the shit out. I have not met one other adoptee that is totally ok about it or unaffected by it. If there are any out there, drop me a line, i'd love to meet you!

On the surface Adoption is good thing. And I do truly believe that it is if its done the right way. But it has taken a really long while for the powers that be work some of that out. Previously it was all a bit cloak and dagger and attached with loads of shame. But times have changed and being a single unwed mum does not have the same stigma attached as it did 40 years ago.

But my situation, and this is the only one that I can talk about with authority is as follows.
I was given up for adoption in the very early 70s by a 17 year old girl who was sent to the single mothers home by her mother.
I was assigned to a family but was returned for a few weeks as my adoptive mother was sick. I was left in the care of nurses at the single mothers home.
My name was legally changed and a new birth certificate was issued for me. The slate was wiped clean and I was taken home.
My first memories are all good, pretty normal I guess. It was not until I was told I was adopted when I was in Grade 2 that things went down hill. Thats when I realised I was different to everyone else, didn't look like my bother or mum and dad and felt like I was standing next to my life and wasn't in it.  To this day I think I was told too young and then it was never talked about. I felt scared, ashamed and that there was something wrong with me. Thats when I started to retreat. When the strange anxiety kicked in and when I just wanted to be alone. But, kids aren't meant to be alone are they. Loners are considered weird. I guess I just became the weird kid who loved books, lived for art class and ran away only to be dragged back again. By the time I made it to senior school I was knicking off at lunch time for a smoke with all the other 'alternative' kids. Strange kids tend to group together.  I was just the arty one who was a bit angry. But no one knew my secret as I never told anyone. Why I thought it was a big secret I don't know, but have found out much later that there were a few other adopted kids at school and I wish I knew them then.

My 20s were up and down. I was angry. I battled with identity. I didn't know who I was. I was doing what everyone else was. You were meant to be partying, hanging out in big groups, having fun. But I never enjoyed any of that. I liked being alone. I liked my own company. I became a closet knitter and sewer because that was weird wasn't it. So I just muddled my way through the best I knew how and sure I took wrong turns and made mistakes but when I turned 28 I made some big decisions, and learnt how to say no. I let go of many of my so called friends, those ones you have in your 20s that are only there for a good time, distanced myself from my family as I was tired of feeling like a constant disappointment and the title of black sheep was weighing me down and moved on.

That was when we moved up the coast. We bought our first house and we were a team. I had my own family. The one I chose. I was free. Making decisions I wanted to about my own life without the pressure from my family to be something I didn't want to be. Adopted kids often feel obligated to please, its part of the strange thing about needing to 'behave'.
This was also when I had the courage to start looking for my biological family and I had the full support of my partner to do so.
So I started the first step and lodged for my paperwork.
We finally got an appointment. In the months prior to the appointment you need to do counselling. I did all that. I hated it. I'm not good in group situations. There was too much pain in those sessions. Even though I could relate to it, I found that through whatever was in me, I didn't want that to be me.

The day I got my paperwork is like a scene from 'Upper Middle Bogan' its when I wigged out, had strange vision and was not far off. My biological mothers name was 'Cheryl'. Yep my bio mum was a Schazza. I had the vision of the middle aged woman in a pink tracksuit with a patchwork leather hand bag, gold jewellery and smoking a fag. A bit Kath and Kim style... And when I met her, I was not far off. She even lived in the suburb where they filmed that show!

Now, I was raised pretty strict, went to an elite private school, went to uni, owned a house, travelled, worked hard, had a good job all those sorts of things. I was not what she was expecting either.
I went from one fire to another. From one set of expectations of who I was meant to be to another.
My relationship with my bio mum is non-existent. I think its better that way. She blames me for ruining her life and will tell anyone over a bottle of vodka who cares to listen. On top of that there were far too many lies. From my paperwork being completely made up to never a straight answer. To this day she still refuses to tell me who my father is and will not let me have any contact with any family members. Thankfully my bio brother told her where to go and we have a friendship and I have now met an aunt who left home and hand nothing to do with my bio mum since she was 17.

Last year my bio brother tracked down this long lost Aunt. He has been on a crusade to find out who my dad is. My 'bro' is a good bloke. He was raised by his dad and not by our bio mother.  Also think he dodged a bullet. Our other sister is a write off, drug and alcohol problems, and we have one other sister who is 15 but I have not been able to meet her yet. My bother gives me updates on her. I just hope she stays at school and keeps out of trouble. I don't take after any of these other siblings. We don't have much in common, and I don't think we look alike either, so I must take after my father.

Last year we had a lead on who my father could be. My Aunt remembered some things. We tracked him down and found him about 15 kms from where I lived. I found some of his kids. They thought there was another kid, and it looked like it was me. Finally, did I have the last piece of the puzzle? I plucked up the courage and sent the contact letter. He didn't reply. One of his daughters talked to him and he agreed to meet me. He said that no, I wasn't his but he did know who I was. But also that trying to find my father would be opening up some 'dark doors'.

We have one other lead, but have no way of following it up. The lead is a bad man. One involved in organised crime in Carlton in the early 70s. But unless my bio mother or bio grandmother talks, we have no way of knowing and they have both said they are taking it to the grave. So I will probably never know who he is. But that could all be lies too. None of this has been straight forward.

But the things I do know are this:
My mum and dad are good people and they are my 'mum' and 'dad'. Always will be. And I love them. They have done what they think is best for me in their own way. Wether or not I agree is another thing, but I am old enough to make my own decisions now and its my life.

There will always be a strange connection between nature and nurture.

Always be kind as you never know what is going on in someone else's life even if it looks ok from the outside.

Everyone has a story. And mine is nothing compared to other people I have met. It is only a scratch.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stitching My Story

I have an opening address to prepare for the Essendon Quilters Show on the 4th to 6th of July. The theme of their show is 'Stitching Our Stories'.
In preparing for this and in writing my speech from an historical and social context about this theme, it has made me think about my own story and my own relationship with 'stitching'. My own process of working with my hands and what it means to me.

There were circumstances as a child that made things difficult for me. They were things beyond my control that made me awkward and unsocial. Things I didn't fully understand that made me retreat into my own solitary world. I arrived late on the scene. I was adopted. Everyone else around me had younger parents and grandparents. Mine were a good 20 years older than theirs, with very old fashioned views. Children were seen and not heard. The adoption thing was always skirted about and never really talked about, but in my head I thought I had to behave or I would be sent back. It was complicated never being able to talk about things that I didn't understand.  Part of that world I absorbed myself in was making things. It was solitary and quiet. Something I could master and learn. Something that was mine. It kept me out of trouble.

I taught myself to knit after watching my step nan on my Dads side knit. She was a test knitter for Patons. I had to teach myself as no one wanted to teach a left hander. They didn't have the time. The first thing I made was a little Australian flag. I was really proud of that. I worked it out myself from a book from the Library.
I was looked after a lot by my grandmother as my mum had times when she was very unwell. My Nan was a professional dressmaker for society ladies. She cut her teeth in the trade in work rooms in Collins Street in the 1930s and 40s. Then she set up a work room at home. Always scraps to play with but I was never allowed to touch anything. It's a terrible trade the 'rag trade' you don't want to work in it she would say. I never really listened to her. My early taste of rebellion and being stubborn. She was a stern and formidable lady, she loved me in her own old-fashioned way. She made it to 99.5 years. I still think she was hanging out for that letter from the Queen.

My dad always saw that I was making things. He bought me my first sewing machine when I was 13. I taught myself to sew from books, patterns and fabric from the op-shop and lots of trial and error. I think my mum never really approved of what I made. It was the early 90s and I was pretty grungy.  She kept trying to buy me nice pretty dresses. I've never really got the hang of the dress. I live in my skinny jeans and dark colours. Every now and again she will get me something from Country Road and she will push the envelope by it being in a colour other than black, grey or white. I'm learning to play the game. We are getting better at it. She finds me nice things in black now and didn't bat an eyelid at my wedding dress being black. Its funny how your relationships change as you get older.

In my early 20s sewing was my expression and fashion. Being a uni student and living out of home I was pretty broke. My best friend and I would go on mega op-shop hauls. We would tag team in our 'beaters' the first cars and go off and find all sorts of amazing stuff. We loved the old ladies who looked after the shops. My earliest taste of collecting stories. They liked it that we could sew. They would keep stuff for us as they knew we would be back. Todays op-shops aren't patch on how they used to be. One of my favourite finds was a mint dark denim Levis trucker jacket for 50 cents. I wore that to death. Or finding full length suede over coats for a few dollars. And the Fabric! Oh my god, AMAZING. Let us just say, I had a bug. And with tip money from waiting tables at a pizza joint, it felt like a million dollars worth of booty. And I hoarded. The earliest taste of 'she who dies with most wins'. I was a WINNER.

After 10 years in Melbourne my partner and I decided to pack up and move to sunnier climes. Packing that removal truck, half was boxes of fabric. It was a bit embarrassing, but my partner, now my husband was always very tolerant of it, not sure he liked it. I was a bit bored and out of sorts living in the country in a very small community that was a bit suspicious of 'city folk'. This was also a time when the internet was only just taking off and freelance design work was tricky to do living so remote. When my partner was working I'd jump in the car and go off road tripping picking up bits and pieces in the inland country towns and adding them to my collection. While living there I made vintage bikinis out of 1960s fabrics and sold them at the local surf shops. I called it 'Keenie'. It kept me out of trouble. After 2 years we came back and tried to settle back to life in Melbourne but it never really suited us. I went back to random and freelance design jobs and he went to work on boats. A different chapter of our lives began.

I have to say I have been incredibly lucky to have seen so much of the world and I would not have been able to do half of it if it wasn't for my partner and his work. I have done so much travel on my own as well. I spend loads of time on my own as his work would take him half way around the world at a moments notice.
My interests take me to places where I can learn and see. Solo travel is an amazing luxury. I have been able to spend whole days in the one gallery or museum. Wander the streets I want to just looking at buildings and people watching. Eating snacks and drinking coffee. Finding a length of fabric or trim in the flea markets, an old set of keys or a book. Seeing different details.
Now my husband is in the Navy, another title I have is 'Navy Wife'. So again, I spend a lot of time on my own. Having such a love of sewing, fabric, quilts and knitting and everything in between is my thing. I can while away hours on the one project and wonder where the time goes. I can get so engrossed in folding my stash, remembering each piece and where it was found or who it came from. Each one of my fabrics has a story. I 'find' my fabrics or they cross my path. I travel and I seek them out. The connections I make with kindred sprits are some of the most amazing moments be they small or large that I have had. A kindness or a smile about a similar interest. A memory or a handing down of a tip or story. I have been given fabrics that belonged to someones great grandmother and they want me to have them as they know I will love them. Even today a lady rang me and asked for my address to send me a quilt that she wanted me to have. She had met me once and remembered me. Its things like this that are embedded in 'my story'. But the 'thread' that links this is a literal thread. Be it spun or woven, stitched or knitted, it is stitched into who I am.  This is my story.