Monday, November 17, 2008

Modem died

New modem coming very soon, and blogging can then properly resume.

NaNoWriMo count is now nearly half way, (over 22000 words) with 13 days to go....

Two quilts being longarm quilted, and another quiltlet well on the way to being finished....

And lots happening at work. It's a busy life!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Australia: the movie - full trailer

This is the full trailer, not the teaser trailer that's been around for a while.   Source, if the above doesn't work for you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas hearts

0810 Christmas hearts
Originally uploaded by rooruu
OK, I'll admit it. Didn't need any more Christmas decorations...but these little painted wooden hearts came home with me from David Jones. Not expensive, and rather sweet.

I'm most besotted with the bird lights from Ikea. Which I can't find on their site, so will photograph and post here soon.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Quilt in progress

0811 quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu
This is the J quiltlet - I'll post a full pic when the relevant issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine comes out next year (the current issue here includes the E quiltlet. Must blog that this week). The screenprint panel is by Saffron Craig.

Two quilts are waiting to be taken to the machine quilter, I'm a little behind on NaNoWriMo writing and the K quiltlet is well under way. A weekend of progress.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Street fair

08 street fair mosaic

At the annual street fair today, there was plenty to see.  There's a largehuge version of this mosaic here .

Aha, but if you're a regular reader, entranced though you may be by the mosaic, you're thinking, what about those gotta wanna tasks she was planning for the weekend?

Let me distract you for a moment.  Did you notice those madly decorated shoes?  And exploding brooches?  And the charm of a normally busy roadway given over to games and hopscotch?  And the green-winged kid on the unicycle being madly followed by a smaller yellow kid pedalling like crazy on his bicycle? No?  Do take a look.  It is curious, though, that in this day and age, one feels slightly hesitant about taking photos, even at such a public event.  You get the odd person looking askance, as though you're doing something vaguely criminal.  Hmmm.  A pity.  Note: I spent less than an hour at the festival...

OK, you're not distracted entirely, are you?

On the NaNoWriMo front, while I haven't typed them up yet or thus amended my total on the NaNoWriMo site (I handwrote them), I wrote another 1600 and some words today (1667 is the daily average you need to sustain to reach 50,000 by the end of November).  So the widget on my blog shows no change, but progress was made.  Tick.

On the quilting front, the larger of the two quilts has gone from pieces to a top.  Just needs a simple border, and then I think it will be longarm quilted, as a quilting pattern would work nicely with it (ie it's not suited to either straight lines or scribbling, and I'm not skilled enough to do the kind of pattern I want on it).  Tick.  I know what I'm going to do tomorrow with the quiltlet.  Tick.

Tomorrow is another day.

PS Candy asked how my quilt studio is going.  Right now, it isn't, but the plans are reforming.  Also, it's too cold to quilt there in winter, so I didn't. 

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gotta, wanna...

0810 Christmas ornament 02
Originally uploaded by rooruu
What I've got to do this weekend: break the back of two quilting projects, a larger one and the K quiltlet. Keep going with NaNoWriMo, since the weekend bursts clearly, for me, help along when a weekday gets busybusy (see over there on the NaNoWriMo widget? over 11,000 words?! The blank page and bungee jump of the 50,000 words is still scary and challenging - good challenging).

What I want to do this weekend: curl up to finish the third Temeraire book (Black Powder War) and then read the fourth, which is on the pile...along with the second Charlaine Harris book...and I have the third Charlaine one too... (yay for, which meant I got them a LOT cheaper than buying here, mad though that seems).

Not that any of this isn't fun, of course (and I haven't bothered mentioning the expected gotta-dos, like housework and washing and such. They're just regular weekend work). It's the creative tension of deadlines. Often, of course, that's what DOES help you get stuff done.

Is it cheating to put up just one Christmas quilt, a raspberry + pretties one that goes over a picture? I'll post a photo soon - it's in the Patchwork and Stitching Christmas issue this year.  I know it's only early November, but I just got the quilt back from the magazine and I do want to put it up and enjoy it...without the silver tree in front of it (yet) maybe you wouldn't at first realise it's a Christmas quilt? (was that too plaintive?!)

What's on your weekend list?

Mine just got longer.  I have to write quilt instructions for the two quilts I finished this last week...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ikea violence

0811 Ikea violence
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Spotted at Ikea earlier this week. I'm guessing it's not how the Ikea display/merchandising team intended them to be.... I did a doubletake, chuckled and then fished out the camera.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The hope of a better day

0811 obama
I wore my hope bracelets this morning, wondering overnight how the voting had gone. We watched the tallying over the working day, people putting their heads in the office and asking how it was going. It's the first presidential election I can remember watching like this, the internet our information source for newspaper reports and video of Barack Obama's speech (full transcript here) in Grant Park, Chicago.

What's been echoing in my mind over the progress of the caucuses and electioneering is this sentence:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Wishing this new beginning all the luck in the world.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fruit, blue sky

0810 prunus fruit
Originally uploaded by rooruu
A day of small things that were good. Moments at work when I knew I was making a difference. A healthy, flavourful lunch with enough time to eat it. A Skypechat catchup with dear friends overseas, and dinner with local dear friends. Fruit, blue sky.

NaNoWriMo day 4: tally is over 10,000, but I'm aware of the bungy-jump fear of the blank page, the driver of 1667 words a day needed to meet the challenge.  And the only solution is to start typing, or writing, and chase down the story.  One day at a time.  Fruit, blue sky.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Festive Charm finds friends

My Festive Charm table runner design from Australian Country Threads has some new friends.  Janellybelly's finished table runner is here (read earlier in her blog to see it in progress) and Dee's chosen some fabrics, as you can see here

Thank you!

Eric (you must read this)

In the midst of all the uncertainties of right now - elections and economics and everything else - there is solace and joy to be found in literature, and the worlds writers create.  Shaun Tan's illustrated book, Tales from Outer Suburbia, is gentle and quirky and catches you sideways with an utterly different perspective on familiar things.  My favourite story from the book is Eric.  And you can read it online in a .pdf.  Click here.  Scroll down.  Enjoy.  It's wonderful.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNoWriMo: day two

Still writing, and am keeping up so far.  The word count widget isn't showing it yet, but I've clocked today's 1667 words plus a few more.

I put an extract on my user page over at NaNoWriMo - do read it, if you'd like (but remember, it's first draft! - constructive criticism or fawning admiration welcome...! - leave a comment here on the blog).  The title's changed, already, and it's now The Bluebird Café.

You can help!  I don't like coffee or tea, so I don't drink them, but it would be good to have some helpful descriptions from coffee or tea drinkers (given that the novel involves a café) to use for characters/café customers.  So, when you go to a café, how do you like your coffee, or tea?  Don't just say white or black, tell me something more.  Particular temperature, particular blend of either, particular size, what? Why do you take it this way?  Or if there is something else that you choose to drink, what is it and why?  Please leave a comment on this blog entry!


Gee's Bend quilt show, Sydney

As part of the Quilt Indulgence festival at Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney, there are Gee's Bend quilts on display. First time in Sydney. I've been reading about Gee's Bend quilts for several years, although haven't had the opportunity to go to the US to see them in any of their art gallery/quilt show exhibits there myself. I've been inspired by the photographs I've seen online and in books, tried my hand at the style with recycled fabrics and OK, call me a fan. So knowing this exhibition was coming up, a friend and I were definite attendees. What follows in this blog entry is, I stress, my opinion. Some may agree, others not, but the world is wide and open to many points of view.

At the racecourse, about a quarter of an hour before the 9.30am opening, we were the third car in the carpark. My experience of other large quilt/craft shows is that, by such a time, the carpark is anything but empty. We were glad there was some signage about, so we were in the right place. Odd. Unsettling, These are GEE'S BEND quilts on show here, acclaimed modern American art.

We wandered up to buy tickets, chatting to some quilting friends (the fourth and fifth cars held quilters we knew, and no, that's not what you usually find, either - Sydney's a city of millions, after all, and the craft show included scrapbooking/papercrafts, thus gathering in people from a different crafting milieu). The longest queue was to get in at 9.30, and we were in that queue for at least two minutes, but no more. Also unheard of. Odder and odder - these are Gee's Bend quilts here...and not unfamiliar, I would have said, to ?the majority of quilters, or at least those interested in art quilts/quilt history, or toddling around the blogosphere or quilting email lists.

In we went, the Gee's Bend quilts our goal. There were quilts on exhibition from several quilt magazines, representing Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan. But where - ? We walked past aisles, around corners, past the five or six retailers (only five or six?) and on to the quilts.

Right at the back, in two alleys, were the Gee's Bend quilts. I can't show you photos, because there were No Photography signs (thus the photo of the flyers instead). The catalogue had thumbnails of each of the quilts on display - all were for sale, for prices mostly in the thousands, a few in the tens of thousands.

Maybe the sales angle was the reason they were here, tucked on temporary white alleyways behind an escalator in a racecourse stand, for one weekend only. When their arrival in Sydney was first publicised, some months ago, I contacted a major museum that exhibits textiles among other things, and suggested they should look again at these quilts, given their standing and the success of such exhibitions in major US museums and galleries. Couldn't get them interested.

So here we were. Desperately glad to get a chance to see the quilts for real, not just moderated through a photograph.

What was good:

Being able to see them at all. Magic. Amazing.

Being able to see detail of workmanship - which varied a lot, and demonstrated a variety of different decisions/choices on the part of the makers.

Being able to see a range, from some one considered more successful to others which seemed less graphically successful. The most successful ones, to me, usually involved plainer or tone on tone fabrics - often still a scrap-based variety, but my preference is for the patterning of piecing, in these quilts, over the patterns on fabrics.

We were there early, so had a fair amount of time to browse them before the aisles held more people - but it wasn't at all crowded.

Reading the few laminated biography sheets there about some of the quilters, their family histories and how and why they quilt. It would have been good if they'd set aside an area somewhere, as many museum exhibits do, continuously running the documentary about Gee's Bend and the quilts, so you could see them talking, hear their voices.

What wasn't good:

The sadness of something this amazing being tucked away into a weekend at a racecourse for the quilting fraternity. One of the things about the Gee's Bend quilts, for me, is their capacity to amaze and engage non quilters with the possibilities of quilting as an art form, modern design, in all sorts of ways prompt the response, "I didn't know quilts could be like that!" My guess is that the only people there who weren't quilters were accompanying quilters.

If you look at Citysearch, or the Sydney Morning Herald, there is NOTHING about this exhibition. Nothing. That's such a shame. If an exhibition like this is to find an audience beyond the quilting fraternity, it needs to be publicised to the mainstream media to reach that audience.

The layout - two alleys of them - meant that you could only stand back a few feet to see each quilt. In a larger gallery situation, you can stand back further, see the quilts in different ways. When I was in Melbourne at the NGV in January, one of the pleasures of the rooms, large and small, was the chance to stand back and see items from a distance, as well as up close.

An hour and a half later, we were done. We'd studied the quilts, discussing what engaged us, what our expectations had been, how they had been met/adjusted by the reality of the quilts. I'm still utterly delighted to have finally had the chance to view the real thing, after reading about them for so long. If you have a chance to go today, then do (parking won't be a problem). Among the rest of the quilts on display, we enjoyed seeing them all and were very impressed with a number. Without the Gee's Bend quilts being there, would we have gone? No.

As a quilter and quilt history enthusiast, I'm so sorry that the capacity of these quilts to evangelise, to connect with people, was confined by their context and the limitations of this exhibition. I hope a major gallery or museum does mount a proper exhibition of them in Sydney in the future.

Added later: The Gee's Bend exhibition that has been touring the US for several years is Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt.  It's in Philadelphia now (thanks for the tip, Candy).  If you want to see what a comprehensive exhibition can involve (and this is just if you access the website, let alone if you go to see the quilts) then here are some links - make sure you investigate the tabs on each page to go deeper/learn more, and also listen to the podcasts:

Hmmm.  Can we have that in Sydney, please?  And just while I'm being curious, why is the exhibition in Sydney not mentioned at all on the Quilts of Gee's Bend website page about current exhibitions ?  Or on the Tinwood Media website (publisher/promoter of Gee's Bend quilts)?  What was on exhibition in Sydney?  

If you haven't read it before, here's the 2002 review from the New York Times which acclaimed the Gee's Bend quilts as astonishing modern art.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaNoWriMo: day one

The word counter widget isn't operational yet, so here's today's tally:

2101 words. 

(With the goal of 50,000 words of novel by 30 November, that's 1667 words a day...).

Date loaf

0811 date loaf
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Afternoon tea, after a day including a quilt show, a quilt shop and Ikea (blue Christmas bird lights! Hurrah! - will post a pic soon) in good company.

And home, to the quietness of late afternoon, the day cloudy and enough time to bake a date loaf. The smell drifted about the house, warm and welcoming, and it tasted (as you can see) good. Topped with cinnamon sugar, buttered and eaten with relish (figurative, not literal), warm from the oven.