Monday, 26 May 2008

Elephant in the Room

Gloria Loughman ( is an Australian contemporary quilt designer who has won acclaim world-wide. Procuring a place in one of her classes is like winning Lotto, so I was over the moon when our quilting group, Schoolhouse Quilters, organised a two day workshop. Gloria lives in Victoria and I am sure she appreciated our beautiful crisp, sunny May days. I know we certainly appreciated her presence.

The workshop was entitled Playing on the Surface, which sounded promising, with plenty of options to broaden our horizons. There are some extremely talented people in our group and they welcomed the opportunity to stretch themselves artistically.

Gloria Loughman (r) with some Schoolhouse Quilters

Brookfield Hall was the venue and I can tell you that at 8.30 am last Saturday, it was mighty cold. But within an hour or so, the sun warmed up the building and we were well on the way to creating our masterpieces. Years ago I bought a greetings card featuring the most marvellous caricature of an elephant. I resisted the temptation to send it off as a birthday or special card to friends and family, keeping it by me in the top drawer of my computer desk. We became old friends. I noticed on Gloria's website that one of her pupils had made an elephant quilt in this particular class and the eureka moment clicked in. This is why my elephant friend had hung about so long.

I scanned the card and enlarged it so that it was a decent size. With Gloria's wonderful help, I managed to plot out a rough idea of what it would eventually look like. We worked at a cracking pace on the first day, drawing our quilts full-size, then working out a construction plan. By the end of the day, we had a fair bit to work done and I know that some of my friends worked into the early hours at home to get on top of the enormous work load.

I, on the other hand, had other fish to fry. Tony and I had the pleasant task of baby-sitting while our son and daughter-in-law took a well-earned rest and had a night at the movies. Our three little grandchildren had spent the afternoon at a birthday party, so our evening was fairly quiet, with our three-year old Josephine falling asleep at the dinner table, followed by 20 month-old Gabrielle lasting a little longer, succumbing to sleep on Tony's lap, leaving five-year-old Stephen having us at his mercy. We sat through two DVDs of Transformers. God help us.

So I was a little behind my friends when Day Two of the workshop commenced. In my defence, I did arrive an hour earlier to do some preliminary work, which meant by the time 4 o'clock rolled around, I had to be carted off home. I wish I could show you some of the beautiful miracles worked by my friends, but you will have to wait until our biennial exhibition in August. I still have a loooooong way to go with my quilt, but at least I have time on my side.

I did have fun, and now I have my own elephant in the room.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Family and Brookfield Weekend

What a wonderful time we had over the weekend, with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren up on a flying visit from Sydney. This called for a family gathering at our home on Saturday evening, where our five grandchildren got to know each other a little better. Our youngest, Chris, 15 months old, had not met his Brisbane cousins before and it turned out to be a riotous, joyful evening, with the children going a little feral (probably the excitement of seeing each other after such a long time). We were only sorry that our other daughter and her fiance were absent - still in Sydney. At one time the laughter coming from Tony's study (AKA the Toy Room) was verging on hysterical. Three year old Emily from Sydney stuck her head out of the room and told her mother, "We're just having a little laugh!"

Then there was the Brookfield Show, somehow cushioned between family events. I was thrilled that my quilt, Crazy Ann's Garden, won first prize in the Challenge Quilt section. Some of my quilting friends did well in various sections, so we were a happy lot. Three of us were on duty over the three days of the show, keeping an eye on the needlework section and selling our wares to the friendly show goers.

The Sydney branch of the family came along to "Grandma's Show" on Saturday and had the most wonderful time. Emily, our three-year-old, took a shine to the pony she rode (with the able assistance of her mother) and it took quite some doing to extricate her from the saddle.

Sales went reasonable well over the three day period, with dresses, library bags and boutique booties selling well. I also sold a cot quilt (Top Hat Bunnies) to a doting grandmother - it will be going to a good home.

Gone - both dresses sold.

Our sales area

The atmosphere at the Brookfield Show was simply wonderful.

And now it's back to the sewing machine to replenish my much dwindled stock in time for another market next month!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Hastings Point Weekend

Last Friday I travelled with friends across the border to Hastings Point for an extended weekend retreat with one of the quilting groups I belong to, Jems Quilt Sitters. The founder of the group and her husband have a beach house right on the waterfront and are extremely generous in offering us a weekend at their house every year. This is a beautiful unspoilt part of the world in the Tweed area. I'd love to tell you how to get there, but then I'd have to kill you. The locals like it just the way it is.

There were about 11 of us and suffice to say some of us made a reasonable attempt at getting a fair amount of sewing done, while others were less impelled to complete their project in a weekend. I fell in the latter half, I must confess.

Naturally, we hit the local fabric shop (only $11 a metre!) and left the staff begging us to return.

On Friday evening some of the group wanted to watch some television, but could not get a picture. We all had a go at fiddling with the wires, buttons and knobs, both back and front of the giant screen, but all to no effect. The lone male (the beach house owner who was staying overnight) gallantly came to the rescue. Nope. Still didn't work. Then some bright spark suggested perhaps the batteries in the remote were flat. Mr Nameless immediately replaced them, but still the only sign of life on the screen was the message, "No Signal". "Don't worry girls - I'll call the repairman first thing in the morning before I return to Brisbane and he'll have it fixed in a jiffy." I have progressive photos of all these events, but the sight of all those grown women and the lone male making fools of themselves is not terribly edifying. Besides, they probably have photos of me that I don't want published! Well ... here are a couple to show you what I mean:

No signal!

Where's Bob the Builder when you need him?

Fancy footwork

The next morning the repairman duly arrived and fixed the set in record time. Mr Nameless had put the batteries in upside down. It was that sort of a weekend.

This is why we love Hastings Point so much:

We arrived back in Brisbane in time for Mother's Day lunch, sadly without the children and grandchildren who were scattered far and wide, but next weekend Tony and I will have our share of hugs when all the grandchildren will be in Brisbane. We can hardly wait.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Long Weekend

My poor blog has been sadly neglected, but as it's now the middle of a long weekend here in Brisbane (Labour Day), I have no further excuses. The grandchildren have just left and all is quiet.

Around mid April I received a shipment of some beautiful Amy Butler fabrics and was itching to get started on new dresses. Here are a few of the fabrics - you can see why I was so keen to get cracking:

Over the next week life became pretty hectic, but I somehow managed to get two of the dresses made.

I hope to have a few more made before the Brookfield Show the weekend after next. No pressure!

Yesterday I met up with some of the girls on the Etsy Brisstyle team. We once again met at the coffee shop attached to the Avid Reader Bookshop at West End. A couple of new faces were there and it was good to see them after conversing via email over the past few weeks. Here are a few photos I took of the members:

Amanda of Twinkle Star Art (;

Bec of Where's Becky Bean ( with her mother, on their way to the Stitches & Craft Show;

Toni of Moore Taste (;

Esther, our founder, of Green Envy Designs ( with Toni's cute little three year-old, Maddy;

and much welcomed new member Marge of Marlier Designs (

We are all very excited at the prospect of our market towards the end of the year. We hope to put our stamp on Brisbane as exciting and interesting designers. Watch this space.