Back to it

Getting around to some sewing for 2015! Starting off with a little diamond chevron quilt for a friend of mine who wants to gift it to a relative expecting a little girl soon.

I really love working to a brief, as long as it’s not too constraining!  The colours requested for this quilt were pink, purple and yellow. Definitely not colours I would normally put together, so it was a bit of a challenge getting a nice balance. I’ve loved this arrangement of half square triangles for a while and knew adding the white would be a good touch to break up all that colour! I tried to use a mix of lights and darks in each colour just in case the bedroom is pastel and/or bright.

I’ve ordered some lovely backing material so I’ll be finishing it off hopefully next weekend.

It has been beyond freezing here, lots of days well below -20 celsius which I am sure now I’ll never get used to. The sharpness on your face is like nothing else, layers upon layers of clothing are always needed.  On a day around -9 you find yourself musing to others how lovely it is outside.

It does make for some beautiful sparkly ice, snow and frost though, if you’re in the comfort of a warm space it’s a really pretty view.

Twenty Fifteen

Well hello everyone! I begin the year again with disbelief! February already! Ha! What a whirlwind my last and first month of the years were. Good ones though. Australia, my beautiful homeland did not disappoint. I spent quality family time trying to catch up as much as possible with the people I love and miss there, but there’s never quite enough time to fit relaxing in too. Lots of pressure for each day to be full, maximize the time available, squeezing moments out of people to hang on to for the year ahead without them. A strange thing to be split between counties.

First up, a short 12 hours stop in Hawaii, overnight. Not so well planned out, because Hawaii is incredible!! Wish there had been some time to spend there. Did you know there are no walls in the airport in Honolulu? The breeze and sunshine sure make for a bearable airport waiting experience. This photo is taken from  just outside our boarding gate!

We had enough time to stay the night in a hotel, which meant a meal and a proper sleep before getting back on the plane for another 12 hours or so. The jet lag worked in our favour, waking up around 6am meant we could stroll to Waikiki for breakfast before heading back to the airport. After years of flying all the way from Montreal back to Canberra in one long slog, this was certainly a treat compared!

Arriving in Sydney too late at night for a flight to Canberra, my excellent Dad picked us up instead and we drove back to the ‘berra in a smooth few hours with pies and beers in the truck. We woke to a lovely warm summer day on the farm with much excitement!

Christmas meant meeting my niece time!!! What a sweetheart!

Ange and I snuck down to the coast for a few days too, so we could get in some much needed beach time. Sun! Sand! Salt water! All the things I love. We like to drive from beach to beach, Ulladulla down the coast to Tathra stopping wherever we like, looking for rock pools and creatures along the way.

The big event besides Christmas, 3 birthdays and niece time, was our families first wedding, my baby sister had a sweet little wedding on the farm and then in an old barn in town. I finished the hand sewing on her wedding quilt just in time.

I had a lovely trip to the National Gallery on my birthday to see one of my all-time favourite artists retrospective, James Turrell. And in a blink, we’re back on the plane after teary goodbyes, into life and work in snowy Montreal.

Even though I’ve travelled so many times across the Pacific I am still always amazed at the possibility of such a voyage. I feel so fortunate I can save some time and money and transport myself such a monstrous distance so relatively easily! Incredible. Happy 2015.

Premier Décembre

Wow a post a month, not so good is it!? I know it’s not just me who gets insanely busy round the end of the year. Who knows why, the time still continues in January! But I’m extra busy at work (everyone needs good holiday hair, I love this time of year) and trying to get a lot of pressie projects done. The quilt top for Kelly’s wedding quilt is done and I’m in the middle of doing some sewing for my Mum, who’s birthday is dangerously close to Christmas (which means often last minutely-remembered!!)

Not the best lighting for this picture, but you get the idea!

I’ve been making bread weekly! It sounds harder than it is. I don’t know about you, but I am a massive carb lover. My weakness, bread, cakes, croissants – baked goods of any sort. I could literally eat an entire loaf of freshly baked bread with no second thoughts.

It’s mostly just time you need, but if you can put it in the mixer and then let it rise while you do other things, it really is simple.

Here’s the recipe! It’s actually an old Challah recipe but I find it so tasty for every day bread. You can leave out the eggs if you’re vegan.

  • 1 1/4 cups of water (lukewarm – so the yeast can feed)
  • 1 sachet of dry yeast (I think it’s roughly 7-8grams)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (whisked, set aside a little of this for brushing the loaves, use about 1.5 eggs in the bread mix, or you can just use 1 egg, with no egg wash)
  • 1 Tablespoon vege oil (or melted butter)
  • 4 cups flour (sometime you’ll need 1/2 c more or less)

Place the warm water and 1 tsp of the honey into a bowl with the yeast. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast is frothy. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Add the flour a cup at a time, just so that you can stop when the dough has come together nicely, you may not need a full 4 cups.

Knead the dough for 8 – 10 minutes until it’s nice and smooth and elastic feeling. Then place it in a lightly greased bowl for an hour or so with a clean dry tea towel over top. It should rise and double in size. At this point you can divide the dough into 3 parts and roll out each and braid it, or you can roll it into little balls to make buns. Whichever you decide, place them on a lined baking tray and cover with the same tea-towel for another hour.

Once the loaf or buns have grown again, preheat the oven to 180C or 350F and lightly brush the egg you set aside previously, over top of the dough (this is not necessary, the buns in my picture above aren’t egg washed). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes (a whole loaf) or 15 – 20 minutes for buns.

I’m not going to make my usual selection of Christmas cookies this year – too much to do in too little time, but maybe I’ll make New Years cookies instead!

November

I’m rarely sick, but this weekend I’ve been hit. It’s good it’s over the weekend because it won’t impact my clients, but it’s a bit sad too. Nothing to be done. It’s nuts to think it’s already mid-November, but easier to believe now that there is snow falling outside my window as I write. Where does time really go?

I finished a simple plus quilt for my friend Adri. Her baby came early so I posted it off pronto for little Beatrice.

I really like the simple cross pattern. It’s a goody if I’m not sure of the tastes of the parents. I’m all about pattern and tons of colour usually, but I definitely know that’s not everyones bag. I always put a little ribbon loop now, for hanging, and a tiny signature too.

I’m super excited to be going back to Australia for the holidays. Lots of family business to focus on this year, nieces to meet, weddings to attend!!

I’ve recently been missing doing glass, it’s been a long time now. I think I’ll try and find somewhere in 2015 to tinker in, wish it wasn’t such a pricey endeavour.

I’ve also been missing Japan. I’ve spent lots of time there over the years, it really is a wonderful place, so much to explore packed into such little space.

Does being sick make you nostalgic? My Mum always used to say, “health is a crown on a well mans head that only a sick man can see”. But I’ll be fine in a couple days, I’m just going to watch tv in bed, drink juice and tea and sleep. It really could be worse!

Sewing sewing…

I have been nice and busy both at work and on my weekends! I always say better busy than bored! Although I can’t even remember the last time I was bored! So I’ve made a couple new baby quilts. Some for friends and some for soon to be sale! I’m just using all my favorite fabrics, which seems like an obvious thing to do, but I tend to hoard them, only taking them out of the drawer to stroke and admire them, until now. I’m just going to use them all up so I can get more later! And because of this, each new little quilt I make becomes a new fav. Forgive me if you follow me on Instagram, I often feel blogging is slightly redundant, but you’re in control! Scroll down/click away if need be! The autumn weather really makes for good crafting, I usually find an hour or so to bake too, so my weekends really do end up being cozy and productive. Hope you’re enjoying your days, spring or fall!

Cotton and Steel and friends plus quilt

Chicopee and friends flying chevrons quilt

It’s my lovely Poppys birthday today. Happy birthday Dad!

It was my sweet Goddaughters birthday yesterday too! She asked for sparkly cupcakes, so I obliged (pretty much – it’s hard to find food that sparkles!) That with some real sparklers and a helium balloon and life is good!

Andrew Baldwin

Andy is an Australian glass artist who lives and works in beautiful South Australia. I met him first when he came to study at the Australian National University in Canberra where I was also studying. We always got along well and discovered we’d come from similar educational backgrounds (Waldorf) which definitely helped our friendship. We worked together again when he had returned (and I had moved) to Adelaide, to attend the JamFactory as associates. He has always made both thoughtful exhibition work and production. But one of my clearest memories was how he’d sometimes make me run while I was working with him. Run so that the glass was as hot as possible to make the fine little parts necessary while goblet making. The best thing about Andy is his attitude, he always has a good one. And when you work long hours with all kinds of people you definitely appreciate a positive and enthusiastic energy. I do anyway. You can’t be down on someone who loves what they do and one thing is for certain, Andy loves glass.

Andy and I also collaborated on some work in Adelaide, exhibiting under the name WAMB we made some work that was slightly out of each others comfort zone, but really fun. It’s been probably a good 10 years since I’ve seen him, I’m looking forward to the next time we meet, but you can meet him here.

Tell people a little about yourself.  Where were you born/grow up, did you study?

Born in Stirling, Scotland. My family worked and lived in a Camphill Community for people with disabilities. When I was three we moved to Australia. I had twelve years of Waldorf education in three different states. I guess I am pretty grateful for that.

What do you do now, is it what would you like to be doing?

I make a living blowing glass. It is a very challenging lifestyle but also rewarding. Sometimes I wish I was a professional surfer… But mostly I am happy with what I do.

What does a typical day for you involve?  Or a typical week?  Is typical even a word for you?

I like running in the morning first thing. It jogs all the chatter out of my head. In a good week I run four or five times, in a bad week I don’t run. My days are very flexible but revolve around my routine of glassblowing. Sunday and Wednesdays.

What mediums do you like to work with?

I am all about glass. I think that other mediums are great, but glass got me from an early age and I’m still passionate about it.

Where do you work?

Jamfactory in Adelaide has been my work place since 2001. It is a vibrant community of creative people. So glad that place exists.

Who or what inspires you most – at the moment?

Buddhism is pretty core to my life. I like reading Buddhist literature and finding ways to put it into practice. It definitely makes life more meaningful and is also where I find the inspiration for my work.

Do you have a favourite blog and/or book to recommend?

Hmmm. Mahamudra by 9th Karmapa. It is probably the most clear and succinct guide to meditation I have read.

I also really enjoy reading Lojong texts which are often translated as mind training texts.

Best thing you’ve ever made?

A timber crate to freight my work. Very satisfying to work with another material. I like timber.

What is the coolest thing to do in your town?

Farmers’ Markets on Sunday

Surfing the mid-coast

the festivals

And one awesome place to eat there?

Wasai Japanese Kitchen, Adelaide

Is one thing you’re bad at that you wish you were better at?

Surfing

Did you ever want to be rich or famous?  What drives you?

Not interested in fame. I would like to be wealthy but choose happiness first. Or maybe I am just too comfortable to make lots of money. I am really inspired by the techniques of glassblowing; I like to push myself to make complicated things like fancy Venetian style goblets or other intricate techniques.

 

Thanks Andy! You can check out more of his past work and info on his website.

Log cabin

I finished a little log cabin quilt I started a few weeks ago. I wanted to make one simply because they’re super enjoyable to put together and I used tons of my favorite fabrics which was also fun. It’s backed in a lovely blue Japanese cotton.  I’m keeping it for the right person (no idea who!) No matter what your hobby is, it’s always great to have free and spontaneous projects, ‘just because’ isn’t it?