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Fabric, Fibre and Thread

This is a very successful exhibition by Annette Brauneis, Julie Hudson, Jan Lowe and Lee Robson currently at the Long Gallery, Montsalvat in Eltham. I nearly forgot to go but fortunately my friend Jenni posted about her visit last week. The exhibition continues until 20 August.

The description in the August issue of the Montsalvat Program says it all;

Four textile artists bring together a myriad of techniques and styles to explore contemporary multi layered fibre-based artworks. 
Drawing on nature and abstract images in various forms, the works stimulate curiosity in the use of ordinary materials to create extraordinary works in felting, stitching, dyeing, thread, rusting, printing and manipulating fabric. 

The Long Gallery is the perfect space for displaying these small pieces and three dimensional objects. The only drawback was when the sun came out, the light from the windows reflected in the glass of the framed works making them difficult to view.

Lee Robson’s If the Wind Changes You’ll Stay Like That and The Persistence of Memory are two ethereal pieces made from repurposed garments and silk organza with machine stitching.

Landscape works by Jan Lowe demonstrate her training as a watercolorist, now using fibre instead of paint. Memory on the Road to Yea ii is one of many familiar views of the Yarra Valley beautifully captured. It is crafted using hand-dyed tissue silk, hand dyed wool prefelts, overdyed sari silks, distressed and painted mulberry bark. Dry felted. Hand and machine stitched. I have shown only a detail of this exquisite 13 x 23 cm work because reflections made  photography difficult. The detail of View from Mt Arapiles is from the Montsalvat program.

It was lovely to come out into that pesky sunshine and see a clump of snowdrops. The real thing, not nasty onion weed often mistaken for these beautiful bulbs.

As I was in the area I finally got to visit The Quilt Shop, not so new anymore. A few fabrics from the bargain table found their way home with me.

Showcase 2017

I spent a most enjoyable day at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. As usual most of the time was spent catching up with friends, doing a little shopping and looking at the wonderful showcase of quilts.

It was also very exciting to see lots of members of my quilt group Waverley Patchworkers doing well in the judged competition. All the grinning winners can be seen at Waverley Winners at Showcase 2017.

Other quilts that I felt deserved a really close look were:

Best of Show Colourful Retina by Sugy Kim. It is mainly executed by hand including the quilting. My guess is the detailed print fabric seen in the third photo is a Liberty and was the starting point for this quilt.

Jacobean Revival, a small quilt by Julie Adamson. The background, quilting and some of the appliqué fabrics are silk. It won awards for excellence in appliqué and hand quilting.

Another appliqué quilt, but with very different subject matter. It reminded me of a collectors case. The vine is adapted from a William Morris pattern. Called Dance of Life – There’s always one out of step it is by Lisa Anderson and quoted by Nola Williams.

There were a few special displays, one showing different ways of using 9 patch blocks.


As for shopping, only some fusible web I need for a workshop I am running in August, a ball of wool I think will be interesting to use in both warp and weft of my next weaving practice and a book on Tapestry Weaving. The selection of fabrics is a gift from a friend- all because I commented on the design using Roman Numerals, can you spot them. I now have a full range of colours to use in something special.


Sheep, Wool etc

The 140th Australian Sheep and Wool show is a really big event for Bendigo. The carparks were almost full and people were still queueing to get in when I arrived early on Saturday afternoon.IMG_6005

Exhibitor numbers were up, apparently things have been good down on the farm. There was a big focus on technology and careers with an emphasis on the younger generations both in primary production and textiles and food.

Beanies and coffee were essential, it was lovely and sunny but also quite cold.IMG_6013

Pavilions were full of all sorts of uses of wool; finished garments, threads and fibres and repurposed creations. Sackville and Lane, formerly of Wangaratta had cute tea cosies to knit. The soft wool garments by Jemima of Tumat are bush dyed in a process she has developed over the past ten years.

Claudine McPherson, originally from Canada is an avid collector of wool blankets and the sheets that are often found in the same cupboard.  She had seen nothing like them until she moved to Australia. Using the name Robeology, she transforms them into very, very warm dressing gowns. I was surprised that she had not heard of the Wagga, so gave her a very brief introduction to this very utilitarian bedding.

But my favourite display was that of all the Ashford spinning wheels and looms. They are beautifully made from New Zealand Silver Beech and just want to be touched.

Outside, the skies remained clear and the sheep were being shorn, judged, mustered and drafted. I found out that sheep will run better in a curved race, and that now there are electronic ear tags, automatic drafting gates are selling like hot cakes. A lot of cooking was going on too, and not only of lamb.

I got the impression the judge was looking at a lot of Sunday roasts. The one second from the left was the best ewe in this class. The sheep with the strange fleece is a self shearing variety, the wool just falls off. The proud breeder said – within the sheep’s hearing – that this is a great advantage as the Ultra White breed is for meat.

Right round the back of the grounds the Bendigo Steam and Oil Engine Preservation Group had their engines fired up. Even some cattle breeds were on display as farming sheep does not preclude running cattle as well. These two Hereford’s were very happy just chewing their cud. I was very distracted watching the Australian Yard Dog Championships in the late afternoon sun and only just had enough time to view the Woolcraft section.

This is spread over a number of small sheds and is full of all sorts of wool enthusiasts. The competition work is beautifully displayed.

Lots of specialist suppliers had everything for dying, spinning, felting, knitting, garment making and every other textile art. I resisted them all as I had to dash back to pick up my purchase made earlier in the day.

Something I had been contemplating for quite a while. It is an Ashford SampleIt Rigid Heddle loom and floor stand. You may think I have been very quick to have it warped and a first piece well under way. After all I did learn to weave on a four shaft loom when I was at school. But no. I bought one of the display looms, already varnished and threaded up. So I will be remembering how to take off a piece before I do any setting up.

Abstract composition

The July task for Waverley Art Quilters was to create an abstract composition. A number of approaches were suggested, so I took bits out of each one.

One suggestion was to look at a work by an abstract painter and focus on one part of that work. Another was to take an image, divide it into nine and using one part simplify the shapes. Changing colour combinations was a further suggestion.

I reviewed photos taken at recent exhibitions and settled on one of a painting by John Olsen. The photo I used was of a detail of this work, showing wattles and birds.

olsen2My second stimulus was photos I had taken recently of my Cootamundra in bloom. It wasn’t just the bright yellow blossoms but also the loud buzzing of all the bees that attracted my attention at the time.

I reduced the  image of the tree to black and white with high contrast and focussed on the rectangle at the lower left.cootamundra2 I then went back to the original photo, enlarged it and traced out just the yellow elements.

I also made simple sketches of the bees and also the stem and leaf outlines that reminded me of the humming. My final colour scheme was the yellow fused onto a dark grey. I drew the bees with fabrico pen and then stitched a wandering yellow line on and off the raw edges, redrew the bees with black thread and quilted the humming lines.



Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ bought last Saturday are now in full bloom. Many of them have two trumpets on one stem, hence the name. The only lemon produced by my little tree is ready to harvest.

The Acacia baileyana or Cootamundra wattle on the driveway is putting on a fine show. This species flowers far too early for Wattle Day on September 1, and it does naturalise too easily but I still really like it.

To market to market

An overnight low of -2 Celsius with frost was followed by a glorious sunny day. Perfect for a visit to the monthly Warrandyte Market. This has to be the prettiest and most dog friendly market around. It used to be a community market but I noticed it is now a commercial operation. This didn’t seem to change anything.

The good weather brought out lots of browsers and the hot food sellers were doing a roaring trade. There is a good mix of produce, craft, food and plants.

Vegan Row was very busy but the biggest queue was for Turkish Gozleme. The trees behind look a little hazy, that is because the Scouts in the carnivore area had a good fire going.

The pansies are in pots cut from redgum. Not sure how long they would last. The donut van was a bit quiet. The most popular food among the kids was a fried spiral potato on a stick.

This very cute sock monkey caught my eye, I was told it was vintage, made in the 60s!

A potato farmer from Gembrook had nothing good to say about the industry. Supermarkets have reduced the maximum potato size from 450g to 400g, making a good portion of his crop unsellable. He has downsized his farm and grows only for market selling which is enough to keeps him busy enough to stay out of the house.


My haul. A pot of  Narcissus “Tete a Tete” full of buds ready to burst open. I will keep them in the pot while they flower, then plant out next year. A rhododendron which I will keep in a pot as the one I have already is doing well like that. And a clutch of kipfler potatoes complete with Gembrook dirt.

New garden trend

I am sure this is going to take off all over the place. My garden is displaying this latest look in landscaping. A blanketing of oxalis!

A mystery: During summer a number of holes were dug in the garden overnight. I filled them in, but they were redug in the same places, usually near plant roots. The neighbours got a new dog and the mystery digging stopped.

But now the mystery animal is back. Each hole is the same shape, long and narrow. The one in the main picture is about 6 cm deep. Not at all like digging done by cats, dogs and no droppings in sight so I don’t think it would be a rabbit. I really hope rats are not habitual diggers. Would much rather it was an echidna or a bandicoot. Short of installing  very expensive infrared monitoring cameras I have no idea how to identify what is doing the digging.

The good news is that the animal only digs in open ground, so most of the garden is safe as it is covered in oxalis.