When I am working on something I tend to lock myself away and retreat into my thoughts. I like the quiet and being able to give single minded attention to the project I'm obsessed with.
Other times I love the social. I love to chat and gossip and laugh and natter and share. I think it feeds me and keeps me sane and happy.
I need both sides and luckily they seem to find their own rhythm.
This past week has been a social one, three lunches out, a workshop to teach, two functions Saturday night and a soccer game yesterday. I've loved every minute of it.
I caught up with bloggers this week, and it confirmed my belief that they are as wonderful in real life as they are on their blogs. I love being able to have those particular bloggy conversations where you talk about shared inspiration, community, blogging, design, fabric, craft, magazines, life and the internet! And never have to explain what you're talking about or who's who!
It always proves to me what other non bloggy people doubt, that you can have online friendships that are as strong and true as those you share with people in your everyday. And that there are some amazing, clever, funny, talented people doing their thing in blogland.
Thank you Kidspot for inviting me to the Voices of 2013 launch. It was fun to get frocked up and celebrate the amazing local bloggers we have. I just wish I could have made the masterclass and had more time to catch up with the out of town peeps who were here.
Thank you to my workshop students and Melissa at SewMakeCreate for a fun couple of weeks. I've really enjoyed teaching, and sharing the art of stamp carving with others. We printed on fabric yesterday and I was so delighted when all the students turned up with new pieces carved and all inspired to make. If you're interested there is another class starting next month.
Thank you to our soccer and netball families, you make me laugh with your one eyed enthusiasm. Its nice to share the sidelines with the old faces and the new, shouting our teams on to greater heights and discussing tactics from the security of the non players section!
Thank you too to all my lunch pals, especially Tuyen for whipping up home made pho, and Jo (bubala) for gifting me one of your beautiful neon print pouches.
I love my social weeks, I don't get anything done, but it fuels me for the more introspective weeks where I wouldn't leave the house at all if I could wangle it!
Are you a socialite? Or do you like the quiet one on one and getting things done?
I've been meaning to get back here all week to blog, but you know how it is. Here is some of what's been distracting me, fun stuff!
• Taught the first of my Stamp Carving workshops at SewMakeCreate on Saturday. It was fun! I gathered all my stamps together in preparation the other day and loved how they looked together. My students were so sweet, and it was great inspiring others to creative pursuits.
Before the class I bought some new stamp pads to play with (any excuse!) And then I couldn't resist personalising the cutting tools with a bit of my new washi tape. Don't they look sweet.
• The weekend before that I sewed this big batch of new marble bags. It is great to have Marble Kits back in the shop. These make such sweet handmade gifts.
• On Sunday I was especially spoilt for Mother's Day. Each of my cards was lovingly handmade and I was given some really thoughtful presents, including these new serious, big scissors for fabric cutting, researched and bought by my lovely Mr with help from the ladies at Spotlight. Master J said he loves me more than the size of Jupiter (they are studying the solar system this term) and provided a helpful diagram on the back of his card!
Did I tell you my ambition this year is to make more fabric!!
I want to design and produce more Flower Press fabric designs. In particular I want to screenprint more designs, and if I've been a bit absent, a bit distracted that's why. I've been working behind the scenes to make this happen. As you know from my recent Sewing with Flower Press post I get a big kick out of seeing what people make with my fabric. Up till now that has mostly meant digital quilting cottons. I love the way with digital I can create multicolour quilting fabrics like my Bricks and Marble prints and print them on quality Kona cotton. What fun! With digital design you can do anything - if you want to combine a hundred colours into one design you can. Swatch or yardage? No problem. Its a designer's dream. Screenprinted fabric comes with more design limitations. There's more preparation in producing it. But handprinted fabric has its own quality which make us love it. Personally I love the vibrancy and texture and the graphic quality of screenprinting. I love the feel of it, the strong printed designs and the way they sit on the basecloth.
To me basecloth is all important to screenprinted textiles so part of my journey towards producing more has been finding the perfect basecloths.
I'm always on the lookout for good fabric, and over the years have amassed samples from all over the place. My first criteria is they must be natural fibres which narrows the search to linen, cotton and hemp. I love 100% linen for tea towels, its hard wearing qualities and substantial feel make this sustainable fibre a star. For fabric panels that are going to be sewn I prefer linen/cotton blends to straight linen. I think they combine the great strength and character of linen with the better drape and usability of cotton. I find them easier to iron and a finer texture. Cotton in all its guises is another favourite. There's something about the feel of freshly laundered cotton, its strength and durability and ease of care that make this versatile fabric so very popular. No wonder that quilts are made almost exclusively with cotton. I was so happy when I sourced the perfect white cotton fabric recently. I love the weight and drape and feel of it. I also found some fabulous coloured cottons to play around with. I can't wait to print some of these neutrals. And lastly, hemp is a new fibre to me. While I've seen this fabric around I hadn't had much to do with it up close until recently when I got some unused yardage when buying some secondhand screens.
Wow, I was really impressed. Its a really nice fibre and it has a real radiance to it. It sort of glows. Its also smooth and strong and has great eco credentials. I snapped up a big batch of different weight hemp fabrics a couple of months ago when a local wholesaler had a sale, some of it a hemp/organic cotton mix. This will be fun to print on too. As for the printing, I'm getting there. It is taking a while to get my setup perfect. The good news is that with my such a great range of fabrics bought I am a few steps closer to my goal. Expect some scrap packs made up of test prints to go up soon. I'm a big fan of the scrap pack myself (remind me to show you my collection some time!) so it will be fun to share some of my own.
p.s. yes, I know, I've messed up my blog template recently experimenting with tabs! I need to restore my saved template but life has been too busy. Time for a complete overhaul methinks!
I've been meaning to come back and post these extra photos of our trip down south. It seems a long time ago now, but I wanted to have a record here on my blog of our week in that magic place.
I love Ms A's collage of the corners of this sweet house, trapped in time, just the way we like it! Check out too the amazing queen sized flannelette doona cover and pillowslips I thrifted. They were virtually unused. I'm just worried now that I won't be able to get out of bed when they're on!
Happy weekend peoples. I am back next week with some new things (about time I hear you say!). Some stuff I have been working towards for a while now. I'm really looking forward to sharing it with you.
One of the most wonderful parts of making fabric is seeing what people transform it into. While I love my stash of crisp folded fabrics, it really comes to life for me when it is taken and sewn by clever people. And I have been spoilt recently with all the clever people who have been sewing Flower Press fabrics into inspired projects.
A while back I got an order for some of my fabrics from the talented and lovely Anna Graham of Noodlehead blog fame. Anna is well known for her wonderful quilting and pattern making skills and so it was really exciting to send her some Flower Press prints.
Imagine my delight when I arrived back from holidays this week and catching up on my blogs came across her post showing these wonderful bike bags she made for her (beautiful) girls. The patterns used are my Triangle Twist, Marble print, and Hundreds and Thousands designs. Anna provides the pattern for these as well as many other wonderful tutorials on her blog.
Here are some more great projects which some of my customers have been generous enough to share with me, and now with you. And if you missed it, Sewing with Flower Press Part 1 is here.
Mel covered her stools with my Filigree tea towels in different colours, an inspired idea which is also really practical.
Deb's amazing applique marble bag mini quilt made as part of her ongoing Stitching the Ditch project. She was inspired by my treasure bags photos here.
Melanie from Enchanting Crafts made this ipad cover with the Bricks fabric. So neat I want one for our iPad!
Megan from the mousehouse blog is making the most amazing handcrafted 'busy book'. I was so delighted when she made this wonderful marble run using my marble print.What a great idea even used on its own for a littlies activity. Megan shows how to make it on her post.
Kristy from Creative Corner made these peekaboo project sacks for her block loving boy. What a great idea. There is a link to the tutorial on her blog.
Becky in France's treasure bags made with her kids. This simple drawstring pattern makes an easy beginner's sewing project with lots of straight lines and simple cutting. Kids always have a use for little bags like this and I think it makes it more special if you have been involved in its making. I shared the tutorial here.
The wonderful Jodie (of RicRac fame) made this amazing laminated bunting to brighten up the school libary where she works. Check out her post to see how she used this iron on vinyl.
If you have any projects you've made with Flower Press fabrics or tutorials, I always love to see them. Send me a photo, my email address is up there on the right.
I'm hoping to introduce some new patterns soon too, so keep an eye on this space.
While I'm here I must apologise for the absence of both Show & Tell and pattern Friday this month. I think I'm going to have to just go with the flow regarding both these projects while I catch up with other things.
A million years ago now I designed a Cheater print for a Spoonflower competition. I was delighted when the resulting Bloom Cheater Quilt design made the top ten. Since then though it has sat in my Spoonflower design library, getting no no attention from me, but prompting quite regular emails asking me to release it for sale.
I love the idea of a cheater print, for the less quiltily inclined of us. This one was made with great care and I had such fun designing each of the repeats which go into it. A couple of these I have printed - Chicken Spots and Bloom, both of which are favourites in my stash. Such clean crisp girl patterns that aren't too pink, for me the colour palette is another success of this design.
Anyway, at last, after a few tweaks to the repeat, I am proud to say the Bloom Cheater panels are (finally) for sale in my Spoonflower shop. The repeat is designed to sit perfectly across the generous 42 inch width of the cotton quilting fabrics. A yard would make a lovely baby size quilt. I love the Kona cotton for its weight and quality, but the basic cotton is a nice fabric too. Match it with some yardage of the coordinating prints and you have a quick and easy baby project.
There are some other of my prints available in the shop too so why not visit.
This Chorizo & Olive pasta isn't very complicated, my homemade recipe cooks up from ingredients we generally always have in our pantry and fridge.
That said it is a firm favourite round here and one that is on our regular rotation. So I thought I'd share it here. I know I'm always looking for inspiration for those quick and easy family dinners. This is a good one for late soccer practice, or if we are eating at different times, and its great made in bulk and reheated.
We buy our cans of tomato in a slab these days from the local Italian greengrocers and usually choose the ones that are prechopped. I find the texture more to my liking than passata and the can size is usually perfect for our needs.
With growing kids I seem to be making larger and larger quantities, in the (vain) hope that there will be a bowl of leftover pasta/curry/pie for my lunch the next day. So this is quite a bit. You could cut down to one can of tomatoes and just use slightly less of everything else and it would be as delicious. So adjust the quantities to suit your gang, or make this as a double batch and freeze some.
Chorizo & Olive pasta
1Tbsp olive oil
1 brown or purple onion chopped finely
1 chorizo sausage sliced (woollies and coles have these in their deli section)
2 cans chopped Italian tomatoes
1 can water
1.5 cups frozen peas
1 cup kalamata olives (I buy big jars of these already depipped, great for salads, stews and nibblies)
1 dessert spoon raw sugar
1 bag pasta 500g (or less but it matches this much sauce) (I like penne with this)
salt, black pepper to taste
shaved parmesan to serve
Put saucepan on high heat, add olive oil.
Add onion, cook 2 minutes, add chorizo and cook till onion translucent, abt 5 minutes.
Add two cans tomato. Add one can of water and about a dessertspoon of sugar.
cook on low for 45 minutes until tomatoes reduce.
Five minutes before serving add peas and olives to sauce.
Strain pasta and mix through sauce.
Top with shaved parmesan.
Do you have a favourite pasta sauce recipe? We have pasta at least once a week so it would be nice to try out some new recipes. I've already shared a couple of mine here, Marcella Hazan's simple ricotta, bacon and pea pasta and Hugh Grants macaroni. Both very popular with us.
We snuck away this past week, to a little house down the coast we have been going to for over ten years now, wow. I was reminded the other day of one of our first trips and when I used to snorkel and swim off the beach. The boys, just toddlers, used to weep and wail on the beach (with their Dad looking after them) till I came safely back. We were a sight! These days they are swimming happily alongside me.
I do miss my babies, but its so wonderful having older children and bushwalking and exploring together. On the last morning I snuck in a quick bushwalk with camera in hand, up the hill directly behind the house. My boys came with me, taking photos of the lizards and birds, coming across the skeleton of an old 20s car chassis, leeches in the wetland pools, a beehive in an old tree, frogs and birds and insects. It was fun discovering and exploring this new trail with them.
It makes me so happy that they share our love for the natural world, for walking and swimming and fishing and exploring. I was tickled when we ran into an older local man on our walk, in the middle of nowhere, carrying fuzzy boom mikes and other bags of paraphernalia. He greeted us with the words 'loving the planet?'. When I asked him about his equipment he told me he was going to record the sounds of a nearby creek in flood. Apparently every creek has a slightly different soundscape of tinkles and trills and he likes to record them. A kindred spirit. I only wish I'd had the time to come and sit quietly in the sun and listen with him!
We encountered a couple of my favourite birds while we were away, the blue crane and the black cockatoo, and luckily I had my 'bird lens' at hand. I also captured this little Eastern Spinebill through the kitchen window one day.
I have some more photos of our time away but I'll save them for another post.