A hoya

My first plant ever was a hoya. It must be now well over 40 years old and has been in a few different locations, facing east as I was advised. But when it arrived in its current position, semi shaded but facing south west, it really took off. 

The support however has not lasted so well over the decades and the pot was looking very tired. So time for a repot.

As you probably know hoyas like to be pot bound and this one really is. I had to take a hammer to the plastic to get it out. The new home is no bigger but I managed to get in a little bit of new potting mix in the corners as it is a square pot.

Once in the new pot the challenge was to untangle all the vines and get them onto the new support, best left to the next day as the late afternoon sun was quite warm. 

This hoya flowers very reliably, I now have to wait to find out if the disturbance has harmed the plant.

Just opposite are all my other succulents in their bath garden. It is interesting to see how they have settled in.

While I was taking a photo of the little fountain today, Umeko got in for a closer look.

You can see what she did next here 


The Linen Project

Over the next few days I will be visiting two exhibitions by artists who create by cutting up discarded items and assemble them in new ways. Today I went to the Town Hall Gallery in Hawthorn and on Monday I am going to the Geelong Gallery.

Much of the work on display in The Linen Project was created during Louise Saxton’s artist residency at Caritas Christi Hospice in Kew and used her collection of household linens in ways to reflect its importance in home and clinical settings.

Linen Draw is a largely monochromatic piece of stitched and crocheted doilies attached to scrolls of tulle netting with careful attention paid to shape and colour. The names of the past makers are embroidered in red. Swathe is a very large work draped tent like across the ceiling and hanging down at one end. It is made up of uncut, unworked and partially completed embroidered pieces and ones that had been patched by the artist after the stitched areas had been roughly cut out. Both these large installations cause the viewer to reflect on those who laboured over these now discarded items.

I felt quite differently about them, because to me they represented that enormous amount of effort to create in the end something that is quite trivial. There is great technical skill, but no creativity in the tradition of fancy work as evidenced by the preprinted designs. The finished duchess sets, doilies and sandwich tray liners have little practical function and make a whole new layer of drudge work in maintaining them. To me they represented lost opportunity. What could these women have done if they had not felt compelled to follow such a strict domestic regime designed to prevent “idle hands”.

The artist uses a precise but impermanent technique to create delicate assemblages. Embroidered elements are cut from linens pinned to nylon tulle as a painter would layer colour onto a canvass. The pins are part of the work carefully chosen to blend or contrast.

The dominant piece in the exhibition is a sculpture after a work in the Louvre The Sleeping Hermaphrodite, an ancient figure lying on a carved marble bed created by Bernini in 1620. Saxon’s journal entry on the making of this work is worth reading. It has photos of the original work and her creative process.

Rest is a stunning layer of blue cut outs pinned to tulle and layered over vintage damask and linen sheeting and placed on an old hospital bed. The figure is the negative space with small stitched pieces placed to give the illusion of a draped veil and three dimensional form. The securing pins sparkle to add movement and luxury.

Rest – side detail

The figure appears to be floating on a raft of branches and flowers, it is a wonderfully serene piece.

Work created in a hospice does address the impermanence of life. The hand cut vintage doilies mounted on cotton velvet at first looked like they were the remnants left over from the extraction of the embroidered flowers. But on closer inspection grotesques in the style of Day of the Dead figures emerge. I found Hello/Goodbye to be quite an ambiguous, but in the end a very sad work.

Also included in the exhibition are a number of installations using items from the artist’s collection.

One glass case contains a tribute to past makers, whose families have donated their entire linen press to Saxon.

The Linen Project is at The Town Hall Gallery until December 16.

In the foyer, visitors are able to add a snippet to a community wreath, mine is the little green leaf on the left.


The succulent garden in an old bath has had some attention this week. A top up of potting mix and a few replacements went in. As this work was done I unearthed a young pobblebonk which fortunately was happy to hop under some nearby foliage.

Last night I went to check for slugs and snails and got distracted by a group of flying foxes squabbling and feeding on lemon scented gum blossoms. I have not seen any in the garden before, so now I have another reason to carefully net the quince tree. They flew off from time to time, their bat silhouettes circling above most appropriate for Halloween.

I went out again this evening – new plants do get a bit of attention. This time no flying foxes, but I did spot a little frog sitting right in the middle of the water bowl. No surprise here, I have heard it calling every night for weeks.

Then I look more closely, not one, but two. A change of angle and there was number three on the other side.

I checked a pot with miniature water lilies, sure enough another one. And a rustle nearby exposed the fifth southern brown tree frog.

The sixth was in the jade plant near the succulent garden. Number seven was peeping out from under an older succulent display. I hope these frogs eat snails.

Eight and nine were in another pond at the front of the house. And these were just the ones I spotted. I declare my garden very frog friendly.

Side by side

When I was in North Carlton today I had to park a few streets away from my destination. The house on the left immediately caught my eye with its magnificent roses. Then I saw what was on display at the front of the one on the right.

The web on the fence comes complete with spiders. Happy Halloween!

On the floor

This month I have had the opportunity to use an 8 shaft floor loom at the Handweavers and Spinners guild. It is a Lotus jack loom, made in Tasmania from Huon Pine, so it looks lovely. All the students in the certificate course have to complete a section on the warp set up for a colour and weave sample.

I didn’t think to take photos until I had wound on most of what I had woven. So I had to get underneath for the shot.

The big difference with a floor loom is that the shafts are tied in groups to the treadles at the bottom. Press treadle one and shafts 1 to 4 lift, press one of the middle treadles and 1, 3, 5, 7 or 2. 4. 6, 8 lift.

That piece of cardboard is just a spacer that goes between my work and that of the next student.

The tie-up, where the shafts are linked to the treadles, was done by our tutor before the recent open day. It involves connecting the treadle to all the shafts it is to control via lams that pivot and push the shafts up.tie-up

It is a very efficient way of weaving, as long a you know what structure you want to weave because changing the tie-up is complicated and time consuming. The table loom, where you have individual control of each shaft is slower, but allows for more experimentation.

I had a great time weaving at the guild, there were plenty of members around who were interested to see what I was doing and offered encouragement.


Throwing blocks against a wall

I have finally finished handpiecing all the blocks for The Gypsy Wife quilt, a pattern by Jen Kingwell of Amitie. If I have counted correctly there are 70 blocks in 13 different sizes.

The pattern has them set with the larger blocks towards the centre in the top half and the smaller filler blocks interspersed among lots of 1 ” strips that go from the top to the bottom of the quit.

I’m not particularly thrilled with the strips, both from design and sewing points of view. Instead I will be laying out the blocks both large and small across the whole surface, then fill in with fabric. Maybe that fabric will have some colour or value rule where it is placed, maybe not.

There is no overall diagram of the quilt in the instructions, nor the final dimensions. But I found out it is supposed to be 59″ x 86″ although it could be bigger with the optional border of more small blocks and strips with at thin inner border of a solid colour. I also found this diagram helpfully drawn up by Angie of Gnome Angel.


You can see how the big blocks are bunched up, whereas I would rather have them spread out.

Here is my first go at laying them out on the design wall. Please excuse the uneven lighting, it was late in the day. Next step will be on gridded paper.

I might put some solid borders on more of the blocks as I quite like that look, it helps define them rather than have them merge together. What do you think?

A surprise

Last night at the Waverley Patchworkers AGM I was caught completely off guard. Unbeknown to me, the committee, of which I am a member, had received a nomination and they had confirmed this award.IMG_E0065

It is very gratifying to know that the members of my guild appreciate the work that I have done. There is quite a long citation. It really adds up when you look back over the many happy years of events, projects and committees. All I have been doing is having fun in the wonderful world of quilting, even so I am most appreciative of this honour.