Down time

Blenheim beach

Time for a holiday. We have escaped to the South Coast to Sanctuary Point, in a great house. A time to gather the family, as it expands, and a time to gather thoughts, reflect and create. I love the time to sit and knit, the rhythm of the stitches allows the mind to settle and process, and I so often find  answers to some of  the challenges at work come in to my thinking. some of my most creative educational insights and solutions have come as the fingers, yarn and needles work together.

I am continuing on with the Swan’s Island indigo yarn in my top down sweater, I am at the beginning of the body having put the arms onto waste yarn (well dental floss as I forgot my darning needle and the only thing that would for into my Addi interchangeable was some dental floss, but heh McIver would have been proud!)

Here is the reason you do not knit indigo dyed yarns on white furniture, wearing white or anywhere near anything white…

indigo hands       indigo hands

It washes of after a while, most immediately but you are left with some for a while, on the other side of the hands you see the trace of the yarn lines around fingers as i knit continental – I have been told that I knit in german  and purl in norwegian, and also purl in english as well. I was taught to knit in english but as I knit most things in the round where possible I taught myself to knit in a ‘continental’ style so I pick my stitches. I manage to get even tension so I stick with it and it seems to give an even knit. The swans Island is random dyed so there are changes seen when you switch balls but I tried interchanging balls and it made no difference. I think that is the beauty of the yarn, it is organic in all senses.

Before I came away I finished the top of the dreamy hexagons. I am happy with it and learnt a lot along the way, This was really the first time I have  done squares in squares and found the bias and tendency for the borders to stretch a challenge, especially in the second border, but I am not after perfect as that is not how life works out so the quilting and the wadding of the quilt are forgiving.

Apologies about the colours in the photos, the top detail is more accurate

dreamy hexagons-detaildreamy hexagons - complete

The 16 patch squares came out well (even if I did put them on a 90 degree tilt to the pattern but heh who would know, well I suppose you do now) and I used a couple of trick as well as a new Bloc Loc strip set ruler that I collected a t the NSW Quilters Guild show at Sydney. It does make them come out well , will be using this technique ang purchasing a few more of their rulers as they do allow accurate blocks.

The design wall was empty , though not for long as I put up the fabric for my red and white quilt for the NSW challenge so it can marinate and  evolve, I am trying to work out the piecing. I am using Reece Scannell shot cottons in different reds, well thats the theory and I have a plan in mind and there’s an ampersand in there somewhere there. Watch this space as the quilt evolves…



I was reading about about the importance of being true to self, to be who you were created to be and found a poem  by Gerard Manley Hopkins that is amazing, I had never read this before, the initial imagery is alive with colours, and the memories and emotions they evoke, sitting on a river bank catching the flashes of colours as the kingfisher darts into the water…

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

The poem encapsulates so much, and so succinctly. I think there is good reason some consider it his best poem. Though I am no expert on poetry I get lost in it.

As I looked up the various comments on this poem and other blogs (try Emily’s poem a day) I fell upon a few verses from a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning which seems to drop into my life at regular intervals and always at the right time:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries

There is this return and call to just pause, breathe and see. To be present.



Another week passes by and spring has now arrived. Creatively I have worked on the dreamy hexagon quilt making  border number four. I strip pieced carefully and really happy with the outcome.

                                 dreamy hexagons                                             detail

design wall                                              detail

Now to join them and add to the centre panel and then one more border left , and all cut ready to go. I also cut out a quilt ready for the next one but I ned to start the red and white quilt challenge for the NSW Quilters Guild. I have a plan and a twist on a traditional quilted. Also working on the top down Swan’s Island sweater as well.

One thing grabbed my attention this week, and that was a word, Selah, 


It’s one of those words that is allegedly difficult to translate from the hebrew but it seems to be translated as:

“stop and listen”

“pause, and think of that”

“stop and listen”

“pause and breathe”

There is a great expansion of the last one by Richard Rohr, however i think my copy has been lent out so will need to find it, Rob Bell follows a similar thread with  Nooma 14 “Breathe”. I will let the video say it all…

Pause, breathe, be present…

(the link should open)

Being present

Spring returned today having made a show 2 weeks ago and then hiding behind the clouds and rain. It was good to get out and enjoy the  sun, the sound of the sea and the smell of the sea and salt. Having had a couple of days in Melbourne and with a pretty tight schedule as well as some interesting challenges leading up to  the meetings it was good to stop this weekend and amid the domesticity find some time to create.  I wanted to sew and something I could complete in a day. the perfect project – Mega Churn Dash from Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession . You can see a clip from Kathy, recorded for Creativebug ( a crafting creative web site with loads of classes) here. I have had the fabric for this for a while and its part of the Parson Gray fabric line in a decorator weight. The pattern is in Kathy’s Adding Layers book

centring down

The quilt is about 80″ square. In Kathy’s quilt the centre is the same white/neutral  but I wanted a focus – a centre to draw the eye in. the quilt will be buond in the same orange colourway.

I had to hang it outside to get a good picture – good job the sun was shining






I think it turned out well and was very therapeutic. I want to try and find a woollen blanket form Salvos for the wadding as I want to have minimal quilting and its big to do a lot of detailed machine quilting with my machine. but was thinking just stripes if I cannot get a blanket. I will probably put a border on the quilt of the dark fabric.


I have used the Parson fray on my curious circles quilt that I put into the NSW quilters guild show, which I hand quilted

Curious circles      curious circles - detail        Curious circle - hand quilted


One of the best things about the week was the Father’s day gift from my son, Peter. It has to be one of the best gifts. It is a coffee filter – A Chemex filter.


Well I was not convinced how this would make a good coffee and images of drip coffee form student days. Well,  I am sold. It has great filter papers that you have to fold and then after you add your coffee you have pour over your water.

There are a couple of things that I think are great – the flavour to start with , it is really smooth and not bitter (just like it says! – a product that lives up to its claims, truly amazing) and the look is amazing – perfect for my den/studio. Love the aesthetics of it, the glass, wood and leather are amazing but the best thing is that in order to make the coffee you actually have to be present.

You have to stop, there has to be an intention to make the coffee, no turn it on , walk away and  come back. there is a process and it required you to be fully present, and I love it.

To stop, be fully present in the moment and really no distractions is becoming part of my daily routine, and now is part of making coffee. Great.

Part of ‘We Make the Road’ this week focussed on seeing the meaning in the world around us, being present and seeking a a new logos or logic, and challenge the logic/logos of the world around us, and see the logos  in the life of Christ, in love. To find a new centre.

To quote Brian McLaren:

     So here we are, alive and paying attention. we discern patterns in life. We interpret those patterns and we open ourselves to the possibility of a creative logos of love, and wisdom runs thorough the Universe like a current and can play in our lives like a song

So things come together. a centre, being present, and finding the pattern and meaning.


So a week of more rain! the spring came and the very rapidly disappeared behind a cloud again. The end of the week was punctuated with a meal with friends and then a significant birthday for another. To celebrate the occasion I knitted eagle twist for Jane, in madeline tosh pashmina, a wonderful squishy yarn that is soft , has a sheen and a great drape.

Eagle twist

Eagle twist

Eagle twist

Eagle twist








As well as finishing the scarf I have also completed the central panels of this quilt by Liza Lucy Prior from Kaffe Fassett’s ‘Quilting Grandeur‘. I have not worked a ‘value’ quilt before where the colours and tones are so close, it also has appliqué and paper piecing of the hexagons


There are two more borders to go and it ends up about queen size or 2mx 2m (84″ square).

It was also time to start a new project – some knitting. I have fallen in love with Swan’s Island yarn, you can read about it here. It is so soft and has almost 25% greater yardage than other worsted yarns, I am using the indigo colour and it is naturally dyed so as you knit you have blue hands as the indigo rubs off. I have started a top down crew neck sweater form Ann Budd’s book,  ‘The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges’



in reading ‘We Make the Road by Walking’, the focus was again on creation but this time on the trees, which reminded me of one of the early Nooma videos by RobBell , which talks of us being between two trees, and living in that paradigm,

I will leave you to think on that one…

Let’s start again

Lets start again….big bang

Yes it’s actually almost a year since I put up my first , and only post. Well good intentions at least but then a new job came along that is based in Melbourne so time shrank however it is time to start again.

Looking for a new book to read I tripped over the latest Brian McLaren book, “We Make the Road by Walking” and it seemed like a good idea…



You can click here or on the book  above to read more. It is designed to be read over 52 weeks and is divided into 4 sections that run along side the liturgical year and it starts at the beginning of September – perfect and a coincidence? There are weekly readings and then a It is also designed to be read and chewed over in a group setting, a faith community but it can be done alone but it would be great to have discussions with someone out there, and maybe a virtual faith community!

But heh, I’ll kick off. Appropriately it starts with the creation story (pertinent since a recent family debate centred on the evolution debate…)and being alive in that creation. What stuck a chord was the line, ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:27). This strikes a deep chord, I realised an age ago that I was created in the image of a creator and as such I created to create and if I am not then I am restless, a deep restlessness that is actually difficult to put into words, and so I create. My song. That which makes me come alive.

And so as I walkthrough this year and wander through the book I will endeavour to blog the journey and share the creative journey.

So this year has seen things made and i will post some of them here. One creative highlight was a workshop the Kathy at Material Obsession held and hosted Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably. It was a great day and I learnt  a lot. We started on Kaffe’s big bang quilt. in our own colour ways. I started thinking yellow but then it emerged into yellows, blues and greens. I love it, but I’m biased!

So it was a good day and the cutting and sewing  fit in with other projects including the knitting.

I will post some of those projects in the next few days and weeks as well as what is being worked out as I read and reflect

And one last creation – stars flung into space.

the milky way over Samoa taken on my canon G16




Screen Printing Workshop


What better way to start the blog than a weekend creating.

I was lucky enough to be on a two day screen printing worshop with Saffron Craig organised by Michelle of the Naturaloom.

Saturday was about learning the techniques and then getting down to business. I chose a paisley design

My paisley design

My paisley design


I wanted a design that could be used on a quilt/throw and with colours to match the new decor of our living area.

So after drawing up the image and hand cutting it out the stencil was ready. I have to say I was impressed with the result and the clarity. So one screen down and then off to cover the whole piece of linen/cotton blend (something in my stash from Material Obsession) . I was on a roll…








Then I chose to add a layer of images in green, trying to match the colours of some fabric we have chosen.

IMG_0061 - Version 2


I had in mind to make a quilt, though was not sure of the design but I wanted something to contrast the organic shapes and introduce some grey into the colour scheme, the stripes were so easy – masking tape directly on the screen and there it is, I did three strips of the grey stripes. This was the end product at close of business on Saturday.



Sunday and the challenge was to make a quilt in a day, 5 hours to design, cut and sew a quilt, well I was up for the challenge. I only wanted to use the fabric I had made  and the cotton/linen base fabric I had printed it on. I was limited by the amount I had printed as well. I thought about bordered panels, cutting the paisley into nine panels or do a big ‘churn’ style quilt  but I decided I wanted to keep the fabric in as big a piece as possible to show case the paisley fabric. So I headed into the murky depths of the maths of a star quilt and half square triangles and work a way of bordering the star.

Here is a link to the work in progress on Saffron’s Instagram page as well as a glimpse of some of the other creations and works in progress form the two days.



So here is the finished quilt. I am really pleased with the way the quilt has turned out. It measures 70″ square, i think I git some of the maths wrong for the large half squares that form the’V’ in the edges as they do not quite match up but I think that will get lost in the binding but not bad for 5 hours work from design to finished quilt top.






And here is some detail. There is enough of the stripes left to bind it

I plan to back it in some grey and green  Parson Gray fabric that is a wonderful soft linen to contrast the linen/cotton quilt top.



And there it is, a great weekend full of creative stuff and a quilt made by me form fabric printed by me. Not forgetting all I learned in the workshop – from  template design and the elements needed for a strong design, how to make and then print a screen, and make the fabric and overlay and also how to border a star quilt (though this is my worked out method though I am sure there are tutorials out there.)

A great weekend…