Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dread hat

Just as Summer-like heat is starting to creep in to my West-facing sewing room, I bring you my most recent knitting project! I tried to think of the right word to describe - tam, beanie, hat, tube? Not sure, but come next Winter I think it'll do the job of keeping my head warm and my dreads out of my face!

I used a pattern called Brown and blue hat from Jane Brocket's book The Gentle Art of Knitting.

I love Jane's books which also include The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making and my favourite The Gentle Art of Domesticity.

I started this project in my final knitting class at Tangled Yarns. I used a gorgeous rich red Peruvian Highland wool (100g ball of Cascade 220 in Ruby by Cascade Yarns).

It's meant to close at the top like a beanie, but I was running out of wool. It sat unfinished for weeks while I sewed up a storm. In the end I left off the last seventeen rows and sewed up the main seam, leaving it an open "tube". Probably simpler in the end, as I would have found it tricky to adapt the pattern to accommodate my dreads!

Needless to say it didn't stay on for long! It is now nestled in my Winter woollies drawer waiting for next year!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Listen: A Quilt

Inspiration for the name of my latest quilt came from a song I heard at a Nia class last year, the track "Listen" by Goddess Alchemy Project's from their album “Frequencies of the Motherland”.

From their website:
The Goddess Alchemy Project is an independent arts collective...The music offered by The Goddess Alchemy Project is one key aspect within the totality of their work, which also includes clothing design, event production, international solidarity work with indigenous peoples, youth service, arts empowerment education, and other forms of community outreach.

Inspiration for the quilt itself came from the woman it was made for, my dear friend Nic. A very special spirit, I am continually inspired by her mindfulness and compassion as a parent, partner and community-minded woman. In planning to make a quilt for Nic's 40th birthday, I wanted every stitch to be a wish of fulfilled needs for her during the next 40 years of her life and beyond – fun, new beginnings and adventure.

A few months back Nic mentioned a book on mandala quilts, saying that the book made her want to day! I looked further afield and found the book "Kaleidoscope ABCs: 14 Step-by-Step Patterns" by Marti Michell.

This pattern I chose, the "60 Degree Kaleidoscope Quilt", features 23 six-sided blocks, each different but all cut from the SAME fabric! The wonderful Annie at Sewco talked me through the pattern and helped me use Marti's Michell's Magic Mirror to audition different fabrics. This was FUN! Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler fabrics made amazing kaleidoscopes, but when I tried it out on Laurel Burch's Celestial Dreams, I knew I'd found the one:

The fabric spoke to me of Nic's needs which are met when connecting with her circle of women – love, support, empathy and fun. It also spoke to me of her strong connection with the earth, sea, sun, moon and stars. Visit Laurel's website to find out more about this amazing artist, who I discovered sadly passed away in 2007.

Annie explained that this fabric has a 60cm repeat. I'd need six of these repeats, meaning a minimum of 3.6m. Most quilts in the book use Marti's Kaleido-Ruler, but the "60 Degree Kaleidoscope Quilt" uses either a Marti Michell Equilateral (60 degree) Triangle Ruler or the pattern included in the book (which I traced and made into a plastic template). After carefully pinning the 6 repeats together (each 60cm wide), I used my rotary cutter to cut six at once, creating these little piles:

It was SUCH a treat spreading them out into their kaleidoscopes:

Placed with their navy background triangles (glow in the dark stars!):

The finished quilt, with borders & binding:

I quilted it in the ditch using a navy, grey and blue variegated thread. I didn't want the quilting to stand out. Instead I wanted to allow the fabric itself to sing.

Detail of the blocks:

So that she could see what the design of the original uncut fabric looked like, I made Nic a cushion cover & pillow:

Listen for the love in this quilt from me to you, dear friend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sydney-side up

I'm a little behind in my blogging as I have been working hard on a quilt for a dear friend. I was thrilled to give it to her this evening, will post about it in the days to come.

In the meantime, you can catch up on my recent interstate fabric adventures!I went to Sydney for the weekend two weeks ago to visit my Step-Mom who was here from the States where she and my Dad live, as well as my dear friend Naomi. It was my first trip away since becoming a Mum seven years ago - oh God it was FAB! I missed my girls but despite running around town for three days, I found it SO restful not to be responsible for anyone!

The first night I was staying at my Step-Mom's brother's house in Killarney Heights. I got a kick out of seeing "St Ives" listed on the bus stop from the city - it's the name of the new quilting line from Sarah Fielke. (You see a cute preview of it in a little book put together by Sarah and her husband on the True Up blog here).

Saturday started with a walk around Circular Quay/The Rocks. Tourist shot of me in front of the Opera House, wearing a gorgeous skirt made by my clever friend Anna.

More stunning skirts on a stall in the markets at The Rocks. Unfortunately the seller had no website or blog. :-(

Tasmanian guitar maestro Tom Ward was busking at Circular Quay. He was on the last series of Australia's Got Talent. Check out the videos on his website, his talent is insane.

That afternoon I met up with my friend Naomi and we hit a couple of quilt shops - hard. It felt like we had planned our quilt shop hop for years! I was so excited to be in Quiltsmith in Annandale that I didn't take ANY photos except what I bought. And I have realised that I can't post ANY photos of fabric I bought that afternoon because they all contain fabrics I'm making into things for family and friends who read this blog! Sorry. :-)

I managed to take more photos at Calico & Ivy in Balmain. Naomi and her gorgeous bubba Rowan.

Me hyperventilating in front of their Liberty range. This was only about half of what they have in stock.

Naomi browsing their yarn, with their workshop space behind.

Pattern heaven - Oliver & S, Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner.

With my haul.

Salivating over goodies at Adriano Zumbo's Patisserie up the road in Balmain.

Naomi in front of his macaroons.

We met the most lovely guy at the Gourmet Grocer in Balmain. He told us his amazing life story, from working as a nurse with pregnant women in A&E, to being the UK line dancing champion choreographing music videos including for the band Steps, to coming to Australia and opening a cheese shop. He was so funny and entertaining!

Back safe and sound in Brisbane with my fabric purchases and a perfect little tea pot from Balmain's Gourmet Grocer (my friend Anna made this pot of tea for me!), it was down to work to finish a quilt for our friend. Here is a sneak peek, more to come!