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CraftAlive kicks off early this year with a return to Dubbo NSW for the first time

in nearly 10 years. 

Dubbo CraftAlive will be held in the Dubbo Civic Centre

from Friday March 4 to Sunday March 6 2011.


I will be continuing to organise and conduct workshops and demonstrations during the course of the show and look forward to meeting both new friends and familiar faces in the Crafter’s Workshop Cafe.


Anyone who has been to one of my classes or demonstrations over the years will have no doubt heard one of my favorite teaching “lines” –

“There’s no such thing as a mistake – they are creatIve interpretations!”

Often the time available at a hands on workshop is very limited.  Students don’t come to these workshops to practice reverse sewing.  It is my privilege, as the tutor, to “reverses sew” if it actually necessary. Otherwise, these slips are not given the chance to say something to the student and to the rest of the class.  Rather than cover them up – Let’s take a look at what they can tell us.

I like to take what a student would call a mistake and show that it can be the start of something new and exciting….that creating your own piece is about pushing your boundaries and the limits of the technique in order to put your personal stamp on it.

Let’s face it, if someone didn’t “make mistakes” we would all be producing the same pieces over and over with nothing new, exciting and challenging appearing within our art form to motivate us. We would be having many many conversations about breach of copyright and the world would have become a stale and sterile environment.  There would be no progress.

Copyright, and breaches thereof, is a whole new topic for consideration for another time.  My friend Judy B over at Virtual Quilter has a great collection of references regarding copyright which should be of interest to anyone involved in designing, producing and marketing their own work.

I particularly like this reference on Judy’s list from Marvin Bartel, Emeritus Professor in Art –

Percy’s Principles of Art and Composition

I think my  treatment of “creative interpretations” fit quite nicely with Professor Bartel’s principles!

Thanks, Judy, for the poke in the ribs to put this down in writing !

Th first day of Wagga Craft Alive is over and I am resting my sore feet – I really need to go shopping for some new shoes with lovely supportive inner soles!

The workshop programme was in full swing today with Elizabeth from Aussie Patches, Kerry from Beadshack and Barbie from Fiddlesticks all with students enjoying the classes on offer.  I had time for taking some photographs of the classes in session.

The show continues over the weekend and there are plenty of interesting on site demonstrations in fabric painting, jewellry making, lace and fabric dyeing, pottery, woodwork, leatherwork and knitting just to name a few.  There are a range of classes in which you can learn new skills, polish old ones or just have a good time!

Wodonga Craft Alive has just finished and I am now back home.  This year the show moved to a new venue at Catholic College Wodonga.  It appears that all our visitors loved it – warm, friendly and an inviting atmosphere saw many people return every day to enjoy what the show had to offer.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to introduce some of our crafters of the future to the delights of making postcards and stitchery.

Stitch Me a Rainbow

Stitch Me a Rainbow

These two lovely young ladies are both 12 – they had a great time mastering the sewing machine and completing their postcards.  One plans to send hers to family in the UK and the other to a relative in Queensland. I’m sure their families will be delighted to receive these original cards from the girls.

Not all of us are skilled at sewing and there are many who are in fear and trembling when confronted by the electronic marvels that masquerade as sewing machines these days.  When Helen tried to sell the idea of making a card to her friend Doreen; Doreen’s first reaction was “I don’t do sewing machines!”

Helen prevailed and they each selected their favourite colours and sat down to make the cards.

Helen satin stitching the edge of her card

Helen satin stitching the edge of her card

From the instructor’s perspective, Doreen made the ideal student – she was not fazed by anything!  As soon as I had shown her how to do something, she was off!  For a supposed non-sewer, she was fantastic.

Doreen's first postcard.

Doreen's first postcard.

Helen has decided she will make more and took away some extra packs of supplies with her at the end of the day (she had more than one favorite colour – this way she didn’t miss out!)

Helen's pink card

Helen's pink card

It’s always great to catch up with students I have taught in the past and this year was no exception.  Another of our young crafters, Hannah, was back again this year and it was hand embroidery that she decided to try out this time. Helen and Patty also decided it was time for some hand stitching and out came the needles and thread.  The “Little Miss Dot” design seemed to be the favourite design on offer.little_miss_dot_2

My challenge for the weekend was how to help devise a method for teaching someone who was blind how to knit.  The query came from a lady at the show who had a blind friend she was teaching to knit – how could we help her to stop  dropping stitches?  That tested the grey matter a bit – but between us we devised a solution based on how she held the needles and using feel in your thumb to control and count the stitches as they came off the left hand needle. It seemed to work!

In a couple of month’s time I will be heading off into regional Australia to take part in a series of small craft shows.  At these shows I spend all my time teaching new skills to novice and experienced stitchers alike.

This year I would like to offer my students the chance to make a mystery postcard swap with a fellow stitcher from somewhere “out there”!

If you would be interested in taking part in this once only swap I would love to hear from you!

Your name and address would not be distributed in any shape or form – just added to the postcard made in the workshops by my students and dropped in the mail!  All you would need to do is to return the favour and send back a postcard to your mystery stitcher!

You can sign up for this swap any time until the end of May and all postings will be completed from this end by October ( October is the end of the show season for me!)

Hope that there are some stitchers out there who would like to take part.

These little wonders have been circulating the world through our postal system much to the bemusement of the post office workers.  I have been teaching the fundamentals of making these quick postcards at CraftAlive shows for a couple of years now and prompted by the postings of a fellow blogger, I decided to give these an airing.

postcards_1In the three shown above there are a variety of techniques used – captured thread with machine embroidery, fused applique with freehand embroidery outlining and captured found objects.

In order to make a card that will survive the rigours of the postal system, it is important to ensure that you use the stiffest possible iron on interfacing TWICE… some techniques I have seen described have suggested cardboard as a stiffener but if your card happens to get wet whilst in transit, it is unlikely to survive.

postcards_4A Christmas postcard with a difference can be created using fussy cut pieces of fabric fused and over stitched onto a backing fabric…a simple project for a beginning stitcher!

I use heavy duty “Heat ‘n Bond” for fusing…. again, the stiffer the better! This is a stiffer grade than that normally used for applique in quilting. For writing the address details and the message on the reverse of the card, I use a Zig Millenium fine line pen size 05 in brown and I always heat set my message for permanancy by pressing with a dry iron.

postcards_2When “capturing” found objects or threads, I use a layer of black bridal tulle – the finest and the softest I can find!  I know it is about three times the price of normal netting but the difference in the quality and the result obtained make it worth while….. and you can get a significant number of postcards out of a metre of tulle when the cards themselves are only 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ big!

postcards_3This is a great way to use up left over bits and pieces of fabric…. with one exception, each one of the butterflies on the above card were missing bits of wings and were unsuitable for the task at hand….by layering those bits, the missing bits were disguised and a card created.

Get out your scrap bags, piles of threads and yarns, ribbons and braids, glitz and glitter, favourite embroidery threads and get stitching!  Surprise a stitching friend today with a fabric postcard in the mail.

Here I am, a couple of days out from the Shepparton Craft Alive show, and I have been diagnosed with Shingles – on the face!

I have been rushed off to have my eyes checked for infections as there is a risk of the optic nerve being affected resulting in blindness in the worst case. I am taking the nasty anti viral drugs – having been reduced to a batch of numbers within the Health system’s approval process and I am fighting off the nastiest of headaches.

Whether I make it to Shepparton is not known at this point – but if I do get there, don’t expect any kisses or hugs from me even if you happen to be my very best friend!

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