Thursday, March 30, 2017


I think most people are aware that north Queensland was hit by a very nasty cyclone in the last few days.  It's still not good up north, because although "Debbie" crossed the coast with great drama and destruction, it was expected she'd settle down, having done the damage, and go away quietly. Not so, she seems to have gained a second wind as ex-cyclone Debbie, and is making sure she's not forgotten by drenching Central and eastern Queensland with torrential rain and massive storms.

That rain is moving across the border and giving us here in the Northern Rivers a drubbing as well.  It's been pretty wet and wild since the early hours of the morning, and the river is rising quickly.

Mt Warning is usually visible to the left of the picture....hiding today.

I took these photos from my bedroom window.  The water's moving very quickly, and dragging a lot of debris along with it.  I've seen some interesting things float past this morning..... a bright pink tub, a red bucket, and what looked like a piece of pontoon from further upstream......all moving far too quickly to get a photo of.

Drains are finding it impossible to handle the run-off. If we get the expected 300-400mls of rain forecast, the road here will be underwater by mid-afternoon.

In the opposite direction, a neighbour's front yard.....already deep under water.  I hope they got their car out!

Looking north, Hospital Hill hidden by rain
Parts of town are already under water, bridges in and out of town are flooded, and there's more to come. The SES (State Emergency Service) are warning of " a big event between now and 4pm".....we'll know soon if this is going to be a moderate or major event.  We're all hoping for the moderate of course, but listening to the rain that's pounding now, I don't think so.  I'm all organised and prepared, as much as I can be, with outdoor furniture put away, tools etc put away up high under the house, and the chooks stowed away snug and dry with plenty of food and water.

So for now I'll wait and see, and try to focus on something other than the weather.....sewing or cooking maybe. It's hard though, I just want to stay glued to the weather updates.

I'm thinking of everyone who's being pummelled by this freaky storm now, those still trying to clean up in north Queensland, and trying to manage without power, their food stocks running low and in some places, severe water restrictions, as well as those further south who are yet to feel it.  Stay safe and dry everyone.

.....till next time

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Using my scraps in March

It's Scrap Happy Day again.  I missed last month as I was in India, and this month's scrap project is to do with India.

I'll start with some background to my project so it's in friend Vana who organised the tour...which she called Stamping Around India.... has a quirky little shop in Wauchope NSW, in the Jacaranda House Creative Hub, where they regularly hold exhibitions that showcase and celebrate local artists.  The next one is coming up soon and is called Reflections - Stamping Around India Textile Trail.  Not only will it feature all the brilliant textiles that Vana bought on the trip, but she has invited each of us to create something that reflects out trip.

While I love the hustle and bustle, and colour, the noise and movement that never seems to stop in India, I always enjoy getting away from the cities and towns into nature.  One place we visited holds beautiful memories for me.....The Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.  We headed out to the Sanctuary in a very chilly dawn, but soon forgot the cold as this vast desert saltpan appeared before us. At first glance it appeared dry and desolate, but is actually full of life and sound.....the wind through the scrubby salt-bush, cries of myriad birds, most hidden from sight, and the background to it all, the calls of the wild ass.  In the monsoon season the area becomes a gigantic marshland, and is home to thousands of migratory birds of many species.

                                          Image may contain: sky, outdoor, nature and water

But we had come hoping to see the flamingos, they're here only in winter and we were lucky enough to spot a couple of large flocks, out in the marshes, feeding.  Off in the distance sadly, but there they were!


So I decided I would try to interpret this beautiful place in cloth and stitch as my piece for the exhibition, to reproduce the wonderful sight of the flamingos with the backdrop of the marshes, stretching out to the misty dawn horizon. And so I delved into my box of grey/blue scraps and sorted and auditioned and changed my mind about how I wanted it to look, and then of course, changed it back again.

And finally came up with a background I was happy with. I stitched pieces together in rows to start with, then used the stitch and flip method to join the rows. It's about  30cms x 23 (12x9).  

So far I've played a bit with using fabric to add the suggestion of the distant tree line and the shoreline. There'll be stitching to represent reeds and shallow water and of course, those all-important flamingos, for the moment, just paper cut-outs.

I'm hoping the finished piece will convey the sense of space and serenity I felt, but also that this marsh on the edge of a desert is not empty, but full of life and energy and sound.

Stay tuned.............

If you'd like to be inspired to use your scraps, visit Kate or Gun and check out the growing list of bloggers who are joining in on ScrapHappy Day.

..............till next time

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Make it quick

...........make it easy

Since I returned from India, my moods and energy have been all over the minute fidgety and restless, my mind anyway..... to get into the garden and the sewing room......the next, languid and indifferent and blah. Probably more blah than keen actually.  To be expected I suppose, but not where I want to be.

After hearing a friend, who rents a small studio space, say that she'd wanted to sew at home rather than trek across town, but that all her sewing supplies were at the studio, I had an 'aha!' moment.

I'd seen a mason jar sewing kit/pin cushion on a couple of blogs, so decided to make her one, the ideal small project that wouldn't take long, but would.....I hope...... get me moving again.

I've done a little step by step picture tutorial as I went along, pretty easy.  Gather your supplies....a mason jar....mine was recycled from the op shop.... fabric,you only need a small piece, about 12cms square (5"),  some wadding and cardboard.

Draw a circle on your fabric, using the jar lid insert, and cut it out about an inch larger.  Also cut a circle from your cardboard, same size as the lid.

 Put the lid insert face down, fabric on top, right side down, then pop some wadding on the fabric.

 Push it all into the lid, making sure the lid insert is pushed firmly right up into the lid.  This will push the fabric and wadding up through the top, so you end up with a little squishy bump to put your pins in.  Make sure the fabric is smooth and wrinkle free around the edges.  Turn the lid over, and trim the fabric so it sits neatly, use some spray adhesive ( or hot glue gun) to hold it flat. Oops no pictures of that bit.

Glue the circle of cardboard inside the lid, this will cover those messy jaggedy edges.

While it's drying, duck off to your sewing room and gather some supplies to gift with the jar, or if it's for you, decide what you'll keep in it.  I've put a couple of reels of  threads I had two of, some needles, a pair of scissors and  a few pins in the top.  You can do the label or not, as you please.

All done, start sewing, Anne.

That feels better, I'll have to see now what I can manage tomorrow.

........till next time

Monday, March 6, 2017

So, ok. I went to India!

..... and although I've been back a couple of weeks ..... actually maybe that's 3 weeks takes time to come back down to earth, sort through all 700 and something photos, then decide to sit long enough to write!

This trip was my 9th to India, and my first on an organised tour, usually I just head off with no definite plans, climb on and off trains and buses and check into likely looking hotels on the go.  It was very different travelling with a group, having to sit on a bus for long hours without being able to get off where and when I felt like, and, be constrained by an over zealous guide.  I understand why it had to be like that, and ...mostly.....submitted with good grace but often ill-concealed impatience!  But I believe all journeys encompass the inner as well as the outer, and this trip certainly presented me with some wonderful opportunities to do some self-reflection!

But all that's done now, and my friend Christine and I did manage some adventures by ourselves, heading off to an amazing temple standing on the edge of the Arabian Sea, and then east and north to West Bengal and Darjeeling.......that was really good, to just wander and explore and do it "our way".

The purpose of the tour was to explore the textiles, artistes and culture of Rajasthan and Gujarat.  There were hands-on activities of block printing; chundri - tie and dye; indigo dyeing; mud resist block printing, over-dyed with iron water.  We saw fabulous old forts and palaces; a step-well dating back  5700 years; watched weavers making rugs and carpets, using age old patterns that have been passed down verbally through their families.  We stood at the very western edge of India on the Arabian Sea and then were left speechless and awe struck at the serene beauty of the White Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, a salt marsh desert stretching from the coast of India to the Pakistan border.

So here's some 'postcards' of the trip.....not 700 I promise........although there were so many I wanted to include, that evoked  a memory, a conversation,  a smile or a laugh,  or a sigh of delight.  They're in no particular order, just snaps that caught my eye as I scrolled, edited and collaged.  If you click on the collages you'll see a larger image.

It didn't look like this lot were all that pleased to see me back, they were pretty fond of the house-sitters, I think, who were wonderful and did a great job of taking care of everything.  Their attitude has changed somewhat now that I'm the one feeding them!

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I hope to post more pics and stories of India in another post.

till next time.............