Don’t try this at home

25 05 2009

So, there I was, happily free motion quilting away on a big piece of fabric… I got to an edge and stopped to relax my shoulders a bit (free motion quilting requires a LOT of concentration — making sure your fingers don’t go under the needle for one!, watching where your stitching is going so that you don’t cross any other line of stitching [for stippling], checking that the ‘pattern’ you’re following in your head is still coming out right, etc.).

And when I stopped to check my work I realised that something was wrong — I’d stitched the overhanging piece of fabric to the back! Arrggh! This meant a LOT of unpicking and then trying to join up the ends and get back into the rhythm of the quilting without the joins being noticeable. That added at least an extra 30 minutes to the project’s time, but I think I got it right.

Here’s a pic of what NOT to do:

Oops! Pin the excess fabric back BEFORE starting free motion quilting

Oops! Pin the excess fabric back BEFORE starting free motion quilting

The Challenge

19 05 2009

My friend Bobbie has decided that we need a challenge — a quilting/crafting challenge that is. She’s decided to invite 5 friends for a weekend retreat in September at her wonderful rammed earth house, and I’m honoured to be chosen.

The challenge started off mysteriously — Bobbie asked to bring along an issue of any magazine that our husbands, sons etc. get. Four of us met at the Craft Fair on the weekend and we exchanged magazines. The challenge is to make something from the inspiration you get from page 35 of the magazine you received!

Flora got a computer magazine from me — and page 35 was an ad, but at least it had some bright colours; Michelle won’t get her magazine for a few days as Glenys wasn’t able to come to the Fair; Bobbie got a dog magazine from Flora and her page 35 had all sorts of dogs in coats, as well as lots of bright pink and purple; Glenys will get her magazine in the mail from Bobbie; and I got  a reptiles magazine from Michelle! I love reptiles so I was pretty chuffed — and even more excited when I opened page 35 to see a whole swag of bright green chameleons!!

The other part of the challenge is that we have to use a technique we’ve never tried before somewhere in the piece we make. And we have to have our creation completed by the end of September when we all get together for a ‘show and tell’. I have NO idea what I’ll make, but I know that I’m going to enjoy the process.

Eye of the chameleon
Challenge rules for Year 1 (2009), as set by Bobbie:


  1. Select a magazine that has nothing to do with quilting/patchwork/sewing.
  2. Swap magazines with the person nominated on the list.
  3. Open to page 35 and use that page for your inspiration to begin.

Other conditions:

  • Can be any project, any size
  • Must be finished by retreat date
  • Must not be revealed beforehand to any other participant
  • Must include a technique you have never tried before

Perth Craft and Quilt Fair

19 05 2009


On Sunday, my friend Bobbie and I drove to Perth and back, just to attend the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair at the Convention Centre. It was a long day — nearly 7 hours of driving, and 7 hours on our feet at the Fair. But it was absolutely worth it!

In addition to lots of booths selling all sorts of goodies, there were several quilt exhibitions with the most fabulous pieces of art (it was hard to call most of them ‘quilts’ — at least in the traditional sense of the word). The West Australian Quilting Association (WAQA) had their annual exhibition with many prize-winning quilts displayed in all sorts of categories; it was the last chance to see the “Under Flynn’s Wings” exhibition of quilts made to celebrate 80 years of the Royal Flying Doctor Service; and the 30 winning finalists from the Australian Patchwork and Quilting competition I entered my dragonfly quilt into were on display. There were other exhibitions too, but as they were all in the one large hall, it was hard to tell them apart.

We were allowed to take photos for non-commercial purposes, so I did! My pics are here, but there was no way my photos could do justice to the incredible techniques or amazing artistic detail from some very creative women (I don’t think any of the quilts were made by men, but someone please correct me if I’m wrong). It was hard to pick a favourite, but for sheer gob-smacking, jaw-dropping awesomeness, I couldn’t go past the farm scene.

farm_smallBobbie and I had lunch with our friend Michelle, from Raggedy Stitches. Michelle had a booth, but she has some great staff so she was able to get away for 30 minutes or so.

I also spent some time catching up with Susan, my work colleague — we last saw each other in February, though we talk on the phone almost every day.

(I just realised that I hadn’t mentioned that late last year I entered my dragonfly quilt into a national competition! 30 finalists were selected — I wasn’t one of them, but I got a letter from the magazine asking me to send them my quilt to be professionally photographed as they want to include it in an issue later this year. How cool is that? Of course, now that I’ve seen the finalists, my quilt looks like a very poor relation in comparison…)

Here’s the deal with the cockroach

14 05 2009

Well, you learn something new everyday! Today I learned a lot.

I learned how to tell male and female native cockroaches apart (it’s called ‘sexing cockroaches’). I learned that ‘my’ native cockroach might be a new species or possibly an undocumented geographic variation. I also learned that diurnal cockroaches (those that hang out in the daylight hours, like ‘my’ native cockroach) are pretty rare and that scientists are researching their properties for sunblock applications, amongst other things!

So how did I learn all this? Martyn, from the Australian Museum in Sydney, replied to my email giving me a whole lot of info about this cockroach and why he wants me to send him any more that I might find. Here are some excerpts from his email:

I have an interest in the diurnal native cockroaches. Australia is very unusual in having a number of species which are not only active by day but are fond of basking in the sunlight. Overseas cockroaches (and many other Australian species) die if exposed to UV light for any length of time. Some of our native species are creating interest as they seem to produce a natural ‘sunblock’ which may have a commercial application…(Actually the sunblock cockroaches are in a different genus Anemesia – so they’re about as closely related to yours as dogs are to foxes – still there are other compounds of use found every day in the natural world – e.g. leech spit is used in bruise ointments. Who knows what could be in your cockroach?)

The genus Polyzosteria is one where all members of that genus are diurnal and often colourful. There are only about a dozen known species. Yours seem to be a member of that same genus but I cannot be sure of the species although it is very similar to Polyzosteria cuprea…

This means it is either a new species to science, or a geographical variation of a known species (P. cuprea), or it is one where the colours change after death so the live ones look superficially different to the dead ones until you get down to comparing the numbers of leg spines, genitalia, size etc. At this stage it is a bit of a mystery.

Should you find any more we would be interested in some specimens. If dead, please remember to include any legs etc. which drop off as they are important too – as is a slip of paper with all the details of its finding like where, when, and your name and contact details. In this way if it proves to be something new they can get back in contact with you and include this information on the record for the species (whether it is a known one or not, your details will be linked to that specimen as the collector for as long as the specimen exists – maybe a century or more).

If it is alive the system is pretty much the same except that the specimen/specimens will need to be packed in a slightly larger plastic container with some small ventilation holes and a few pieces of bark or dead leaves included so the contents won’t slide or rattle around during transit. Express Post is preferred in this case.

Once again all details of the collection should be included as the specimen, once it dies, will be included in the entomology reference collection pending what it turns out to be. For the record your photo shows a female as you can see the last body segment on the tail end has a cleft in it making it look a bit like the letter ‘m’. In the males this cleft is missing. Below is a photo of a female of the Polyzosteria species local to the Sydney region. Notice the cleft on the last abdominal segment matches the shape of the one in your photo: and the male ’end’ looks like this – ignore the fact that it is another species – just look at the shape of the end edge of the last abdominal segment:

So there you have it! ‘My’ cockroach could be a new species and my details as a collector could be kept for 100 years or more!! Who’d have thought a pretty cockroach on a wall could be so interesting?

Oh, and here’s the picture that started all this:

Female native cockroach on house wall

Female native cockroach on house wall

What does the Australian Museum want with a cockroach?

14 05 2009

A couple of years back I found this strange looking cockroach-type thing on the outside wall of our house. I took a photo, much to my husband’s chagrin and head shaking wondering why.

I also tried to find out what it was and had a little success, but not a lot. And I posted the photo to Webshots where I store all my digital photo albums, then promptly forgot about it.

Last night I got a comment on my photo — someone from the Australian Museum wants to get in touch with me and for me to hang on to any more that I find! I don’t know why yet — maybe I found a rare species? But how cool is that!

I’ll let you know more after the person responds to my email and I find out why he wants me to hang on to any more that I find.

See also:

Added luggage tags to Etsy store

10 05 2009

I’ve been busy making luggage tags! First I made a pattern (and yes, I’ve sold some already), then, as I had to test and tweak the pattern, I ended up making some to sell in my Etsy store. I finally added the photos and descriptions today.

If you’re interested, you can purchase them from my Etsy store (, or request a special order if there’s a colour you’d like.

Here are some examples:

Just wondering why…

10 05 2009

Why would have two different images for Mothers Day? Classic Google has this one:


But if you have a personalised home page (iGoogle), you get this fuzzy one:


Just wondering…

Ironing quote

6 05 2009

Great quote from Cara BL!

Ironing is utterly at odds with my religious principles. Wrinkles in clothing were put there by the Almighty. Far be it from me to interfere with his plan.

Graph paper generator

6 05 2009

Do you need graph paper for your quilting or craft project, or kids homework? Can’t find what you want at the store? Or it’s midnight and the stores aren’t open?

Then try this free service where you select the type of graph paper you want, select the paper size, the dimensions, the color etc. and get a PDF generated of what you want, ready for you to print out and use:

Pretty cool!

[Link last checked May 2009]

Be Kind to Animals week

5 05 2009

Two friends of mine in the US are very involved in animal rescue — one rescues guinea pigs; the other, greyhounds. Animal rescue organisations rely on volunteers such as my friends to take in and hopefully place animals that have been abandoned by their owners. Perhaps the owners can no longer care for them financially or physically, maybe they no longer want them, or maybe they just want to get rid of them because the novelty wore off for precious little Dakota or Heathcliff.

In the US, May 6 through 12 is National Pet Week and also Be Kind to Animals Week.But even if you’re not in the US, you can still participate.

You can help by spreading the message of kindness, compassion, responsibility, and stewardship. Or perhaps you can drop off some supplies at a rescue or shelter, donate money to an animal organisation, or talk on your own blog, MySpace page, or FaceBook profile about the animal causes closest to your heart.

As my friend Whitney says: “Maybe…just maybe…we can start making some changes on this planet we call home.”

(If you’re a quilter reading at this blog, consider using some of your stash, scrap fabrics, spare batting etc. to make small quilts for your local animal shelter, as I did earlier this year. It’s a great way to use up leftover fabric, to practice free motion quilting, and your gift will be appreciated by the humans who care for the animals and the animals themselves.)