Archive for the ‘Round Robin’ Category

I have just completed the last page I need to do for our Round Robin pages swap, the theme for this one was Fertile. Initially I had several ideas of how it might be portrayed, ranging from depicting the rich red volcanic soil of this area which is renowned for its fertility, to something about the pesky rabbits that seem to be multiplying at a great rate and are beginning to inhabit my garden, to something at the cellular level – but in the end, I did something completely different.  I love Poppies of all sorts, and grow some which self sow and multiply all over the garden, including the compost heap and my vegetable patch.  I also love the huge, pepper pot like, seed pods that develop, full of thousands of tiny seeds and for a long time have wanted to use them somehow in my textile work.  So here it is…..

I do hope that she likes it!  Now I shall pack it up with all the other lovely pages, and post it to Mary on Norfolk Island.


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Your might remember this……it is the wrap around cover I made at the beginning of the year, when I began an exchange of pages for a textile book with nine other stitchers in Australia, New Zealand and America?  Since then it has been travelling to each of the other people, who added a page before sending it on its way again – today it arrived home, and I did a little inward cheer as I picked it up from the Post Office.  My theme was Arboreal, and although I could see a photograph each month as a page was completed, nothing compares with holding them in your hand and actually seeing the textures, colours, stitching and care with which they were made, for yourself – the photos do not do them justice.

This one was made by Annette, and was based on a photo taken in the Queensland rain forest of a moss covered vine.

This one is by Glenys Mann – the cords represent fallen logs, and the button, the presence of man.

This one is by Mary who lives on Norfolk Island and is made of many different hand dyed bits of lace.

” Skeletons in the mist” by Amelia from New Zealand

A lovely leafy tree by Irene from Florida, while visiting NZ, and using someone else’s stash!

Another forest floor – this time by Jan in NZ.

Diana in NZ made this one – using antique wall paper with caligraphy and beads.

Another from NZ – this one by Mary-Ann, who used hand made flax paper and Japanese lace paper, with skeletal leaves.

Jane from NZ did this page, depicting night in the bush, with lots of layers, texture, stitch and other details.

Carol from Townsville made this one, using rusted papers and fabrics.

I think all the pages are great, and my book is a beautiful collection of textile arts.  I’m very happy to have all the pages where they belong, inside that cover I made so many months ago –   they will be a treasured reminder of this year’s stitching, and some friendships made online with people I am never likely to meet.

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This was the theme for the next page I have made for Mary-Anne in New Zealand, as part of our Round Robin swap thingy.  Arcane is defined as something needing secret and mysterious knowledge, and is confined to those who have been initiated into the specific practice or philosophy.  I have chosen to portray Buddha, as while we may know generally about Buddhism, most do not understand it in detail.  This is made with an image taken in a garden centre, printed onto fabric and applied to a background of silks from India,  in the colours of the robes of Buddhist monks.  It is deliberately simple and unadorned to represent the simple aesthetics of monastic life.  A little hand stitching completes the piece.

Arcane 004

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I seem to have spent days now with needle and thread or machine – bliss in many ways but everything else goes to pot!  My house is untidy, my clothes unwashed, the garden neglected, and the dogs have given up on being taken for a walk!  I guess the fact that it is still cold and wet justifies my current fixation on things textile, and it will be much harder to ignore the outside tasks once the weather improves, so I shall just enjoy it!

Today has been spent working on another page for the swap I am doing. 

This month’s page was themed Zany and I thought I was very clever a couple of weeks ago, in making this piece featuring a (funny eyed) Jester, so as to be ahead of things in view of the EG course.  The word  zany comes from the Italian zanni, a traditional masked clown, from Italian dialect Zanni, nickname for Italian Giovanni, who was a court Jester in the medieaval times – all most appropriate I thought – until I received the package containing all the pages already completed by others in this Round Robin, only to find someone had made a clown that was very similar to my Jester, so I needed to think again.  This fellow will now remain at home instead of travelling internationally.


Having though of numerous other ideas, and canvassed more from friends, I discarded all suggestions and today made this Zany Feline.  I acknowledge fully that it is similar to those that Jude Hill makes, but he was from my own drawing, and foundation pieced by machine, not gently and slowly sewn by hand as she prefers.  I really do not like cats very much, but I do like this mad thing.


Final photo for today is the first sampler – showing how to vary a single stitch.  This is all done in Fly Stitch using different combinations and threads – it took me ages!


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I’ve been playing with quilting and shrinking – following some ideas in one of the books mentioned a couple of posts back – June Barnes Stitching to Dye and it seems like a whole lot of fun with great potential.  I started with a pieces of cotton fabric with cotton batting between – quilted it all over with cotton thread, and then chucked it into a hot machine wash.  The piece shrank enough to make the quilting more obvious, but the stitches less so, resulting in a very textured piece.  Unfortunately this is just A4 size,  not really big enough to use for anything useful, but I still plan to dye it and add more stitching to see how it comes out.


I have also completed my next page in our swap – this one is for Gleny Mann who had chosen the adjective Consequence.  Glenys also asked that it be worked in paper, and that any stitching be visable on both sides.  Somewhat apprehensive about making something for such a well know textile artist,  I found this quite a challenge.  I have never done anything with paper before, and stitching it does not leave any margin for error – paper does not heal itself like fabric, so any mistakes were permanent.  My choice was to try and represent the consequence from bushfires, given that Victoria was devastated early in February by enormous loss of life and property, but also the  regeneration that begins just a few weeks afterwards signifying hope and new beginnings.  I don’t think it is my best work, and certainly I am more comfortable working in fabric and fibre.


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The theme for this month’s page swap is Inspiration, and as usual, I have thought long and hard about how I would interpret this nebulous concept into textiles. What inspires one is an individual thing, – it may be fleeting, sudden, blinding or change the way one lives. There are many sources which may spark ideas, music and images may inspire, there are those who are considered to be inspirational people, and of course, nature is all around and is inspirational in itself.

It would be wonderful if inspiration occurred like a blinding light, but for me it is much more likely to the result of a hard slog, trial and error. When working on a particular theme, I tend first to look at definitions of the term, and then seek quotations that may help to understand it more, as do images, illustrations or written text. Next I might jot down ideas, colours and sketches, and work these further until a more definite picture emerges. Having done all that, the original idea may then be rejected, and I might do something totally different, but it is the earlier research that ultimately generates the final result.

As the American composer Aaron Copeland said, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start anything. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” My piece is homage to one of my favourite sources of inspiration – books. I have a large collection which reflects my various interests including needlework and gardens, and while I often look for ideas in books, I rarely follow patterns or designs, preferring to use them as a reference to techniques, colours and materials, and as a jumping off point for doing my own thing. The page for Jan in New Zealand is worked on painted silk noil, the books are embroidered in stem and back stitch, additional colour added with Shiva paint sticks, and the background covered with seed stitches, also in hand dyed silk threads.  I hope she likes it.


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The theme for this month’s Round Robin page has been Ethnic – pertaining to race, and the pages completed by others so far reflect the maker’s nationality, or are homage to a group of people, for instance, nomadic desert dwellers.   I consider myself to be Irish, I was not born in Australia and I have a family tree that traces my Father’s side of the family back to 1604 when his ancestor settled in Northern Ireland. My Mother’s family also lived in Ulster for many generations, although I believe one of her Grandfathers may have been from Edinburgh.  We are also said to have some French Huguenot ancestors who arrived in the 18th Century, but that is another story.

 I wanted to do something Irish to reflect my family’s long connections with the Emerald Isle and considered every possibility I could think of or remember from my childhood. ….. Orange Day in Belfast, St Patrick, the Irish patron saint, Shamrocks, Celtic symbols – crosses, knots, spirals, sacred animals,  peat bogs, linen – the fabric of Ireland, the shillelagh, potatoes, the famine, Guinness,  poteen ( Irish moonshine), the Book of Kells, Irish musical instruments,  Irish myths – leprechauns, giants – Finn McCool and his causeway, and many other things Irish.

 In the end I chose to depict the Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of the most famous Dolmens that stand in Burren in County Clare on the West coast. The name means Hole of Sorrows and it was built as a burial chamber in the Neolithic period about 4000BC, but it continued to be a place of veneration and ceremony through the Bronze Age and when the Celts arrived in Ireland from about 500 BC.  I have seen it, and it remains a vivid memory of my time in this wild part of Ireland.

 The background, sky and rocks were made using wool and silk fibres embellished onto felt.  The rocks were cut out and appliquéd, and then the piece embroidered.  Further embellishing was done on the grass area to embed the stitches. French knots represent Gentian verna and Potentilla fructiosa, two of the many Alpine species that flourish in this area renowned for its wildflowers.


I am really pleased with this one, and hope that Amelia in New Zealand likes it too.

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