Friday, 23 January 2015

The lycra comes 'down under'

Since this morning's post we've had lunch with friends, but before that we captured some of the 'lycra down under'! The Tour Down Under is the equivalent to the Tour de France only here in my hometown! We cannot believe this is the 17th one to be held in Adelaide……that time has scarily flown by! We are very lucky as we were able to get some magical shots just a short walk from home. We waited about an hour and then they whizzed by in a few seconds - but what an amazing thing to be able to stand so close…….
waiting, waiting as a few others join us including the amateur cyclists……. 

 This is the closest we get to a field of wildflowers…….but maybe they are weeds??….

 The first car appears and we get excited……….

 Hhhmmm…….one of the amateur riders disappears behind a tree…..I will leave why to your imagination!

 Then another car teases us that they are really close……...
 Still waiting along with more amateur riders……….
 Now it must be close!……..

More police cars…..
 Inevitably the bike race frustrates some people because they can't get through. So the u-turns and impatience starts to show…...but honestly - how could you miss this amazing event?

 And here they come………..

 And in a few seconds they are gone! But the sensation and buzz as they speed by is just wonderful followed by media helicopters, support vehicles and I guess the 'hopefully not needed' ambulances…….

 So we walk back home across the bridge and look over to see that in just a few minutes they are back out on the main road….(you can just see the group coming out on the main road under the green sign)
 And finally even more support vehicles - this time the ones that take their bikes back to the city. A wonderful event for our wonderful state!

William Morris and Andy Warhol (?)

It must be high time I got 'back on track' with some William Morris interest so this post is for you the reader to make you own opinion. I was aware some months ago of several Morris exhibitions on the horizon including a current one at Modern Art Oxford. It runs until March and then travels to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Now I haven't seen the exhibition but I've certainly read several reviews. I have my own opinion but I might leave that in my own head space. This video is well worth watching just to be moved by the amazing tapestry and also to see the incredible ceilings in the Oxford Union - click on the link……

Alison sent me a news clipping review of this very exhibition some weeks ago that was sent to her from a friend in the UK and it is great food for thought!  The journalist calls the exhibition a "half baked self indulgent mess"! This is the very reason why art is for the masses and if it creates discussion then I think that is a good thing! Enjoy the video and the review here: Warhol and Morris.
The next two days for me will be pure bliss as I hand stitch a design similar to the one above at the Embroiderers' Guild of South Australia's 2015 Summer School. This was my Christmas present from Larry and our tutor will be Barbara Mullan. Now it is not a design I would normally do but I am looking forward to seeing if one day I might interpret some of my Morris inspired designs into running stitch….so see you the other side of that!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Machine Applique my way

I am pleased to say that the bushfires are finally over following many, many long hours of volunteers fighting it and then eventually some much needed rain. So now we can move forward to a positive New Year of hope… of my hopes is to shift some of that Christmas ham and pudding from my 'middle' by consuming a little more of this…….
Many photos have been shared of the tragic suffering and loss of wildlife during the fires. The koala is always one that touches the heart and these images resulted in many sewers making mittens for their burnt paws. I'd printed off a pattern as I planned to make some but only heard today that they have received way too many!…..
So "back to some appliqué business". I often get emails asking about those fiddly little points when I machine appliqué so I thought I would once again share some of that process tonight. The threads I am using are rayon from Madeira and the magnificent Magnifico from Superior Threads which is a stronger polyester with the appearance of rayon…….

 In the bobbin with the Magnifico I'm using a poly-cotton - Rasant and my most favourite needle - a Superior Topstitch 70/10 needle..…..
 Now to those pesky points. To start with you do need to use an open toed appliqué foot for good viewing. We will start at a join and then stitch around a curve one stitch at a time. On my Bernina 750 I am using a width of 1.7 and a length of 1.7 and I've turned the tension down to 2.5 - you do not want to see any bobbin thread on the top…………
 My blanket stitch is a 3-step stitch so I usually turn at "3". "1" goes forward, "2" shifts to the left and then "3" shifts back to the right where you started. We use these numbers in class and every machine is a little different - some take 5-6 steps. When I come to a join as you can see below I will hang on to my work giving a little traction so it can't move forward. This way I can sneak another stitch in the angle……..hope you can see it here….
 Now I'm heading to a spot where I am going to have to stop and tie off but instead I will go into a straight stitch by turning my width to "0" and then stitch across just below the flower edge……...
I've travelled across, turned my work, turned up my width again and away you go……...
 Now I am coming up to a sharp point and I am going to count as I go. Take "1" forward stopping just past the tip and turn your work……. 
 Now stitch the "2/3" part of the blanket stitch just under the appliqué……..
 Then turn work around to the direction that you want to go……...
 And here is the final point (and my thread collection!!)………….
I have two quilts to complete so many more hours of machine appliqué on the horizon. I must mention that it is essential to be sewing where you are relaxed and comfortable - for me it is the family room with Larry keeping me company as we watch Midsomer Murders!!…..
Last weekend we had six lovely friends join us for Sunday lunch. The chatter went for hours and it was almost teatime when we finally stopped! What it did reveal though was that the dining table with eight around it is a little tight - so during the week we had a shift of furniture. The family often has trouble keeping up with me moving things in the house and this past week there has been a lot of it! I wonder how long till I move it all again Sophie??!!
 And then late tonight Larry had moved to his "den" - also know as the lounge where this time he was watching Taggart!!…...
During the week I also had a lovely day with a special friend where I purchased a cheapie chandelier that is really a candle holder. I am a bit of a sucker for chandeliers and this one was an absolute bargain…Made in China but still looks glam! But it did look a bit over the top inside so it has a new home outside until it rusts and Larry said it was so cheap he would buy me another!!……….
I've been looking for a while for a display unit for some of my china cups and plates and a trip to Ikea resulted in this one which tucks in the corner well….
 After a couple of days of rain the heat and sun were back this afternoon streaming through the front. Either side of the front door I have two small stained glass replica hangings of the same windows that William Morris had in his entrance at Red House. I purchased them at Red House on the last UK tour and they are made by Winged Heart. The design on the left is Amor (meaning love) and on the right Fortuna (for luck and fortune)…...

 The rain has been wonderful for the garden so we are hoping for a little more in a day or so. Things have been growing really well and the before and after result is quite satisfying considering that most plants have only been in less than 6 months……... 

 The roses have been fabulous despite the heat………..
 And the silver birch and crepe myrtle are thriving……... (at the moment!!) 
 And even these plants below have been prolific. I've been spraying weedkiller on them since we've been here as I thought they were weeds….but it turns out it is a cottage garden flower called Butterfly Bush (Guara)!!……...
 So I hope life is blooming in your part of the world x