Thursday, 4 December 2014

Butterfly Birthday Card

Yesterday was my Mum's birthday ... I won't reveal her advanced age ... and she insisted on the fact that she didn't want any 'presents' but rather our 'presence'.  As someone who has always loved craft and sewing, I knew she would appreciate the love that goes into a handmade gift, so I set about stitching her a birthday card.  

This butterfly was one of a set of six gorgeous butterfly designs in the March 2014 issue of the Cross Stitch Card Magazine and, as I sometimes do, adjusted the colour shade selection to suit what was available in my stash and to have fun by experimenting with varying colours. However, I was really happy with the blended shades for this design as I think the soft teal and blue work well against the contrasting purple outlining and matching cardstock.  

With the design 10cm square (3-3/4 in.), 53 high x 53 wide and stitched on 14 count white aida, took approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete over the space of a couple of days.  My only regret is that I was running out of time to finish the card before collecting my Mum to bring her home to our place for a home cooked birthday dinner and as such would have liked to add embellishment with a few beads here and there to give a certain sparkle.  I think it would have given a pretty finish.  As with all my cards a white paper insert was attached to write a special message.  

I'm happy to report that Mum loved the card, a small posy of my home-grown miniature roses and the birthday dinner and mentioned on more than one occasion that she had had a lovely day.  I guess that's all that really matters, isn't it?


'Love is like a butterfly.  It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes' - Author unknown.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

'Isn't She Lovely'

This is just one of my favourite Stevie Wonder songs - singing about the joy and happiness and overwhelming love on the birth of his baby girl.  

Fitting for this post, because a couple of weeks ago the son (and his beautiful wife) of one of our neighbours - who we witnessed grow from a highly-spirited and adventurous young boy into a responsible and hardworking man - were blessed with the safe arrival of a daughter. I decided to stitch them a card as a personal gift to welcome the new family member.

The design was from Issue 77 of the Cross Stitch Card Shop magazine and I just used slightly brighter threads from my stash to blend in with the recommended colours so as to appeal to young, modern parents.  Stitched on 14 count white thread, consisting of only full cross stitches and clear-taped onto folded bright pink cardstock, it probably took approximately 3 hours to complete.  I always love the detailing of backstitching as, I believe, it transforms the stitched work into artwork.

Our best wishes to the new family and their future happiness.  


"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it." - Frank A. Clark

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Fringe Benefits

Over the past few months my husband and son have been creating magic in our front yard by building raised garden beds and replacing dated framed lattice panels with wooden slats all of which is giving a fresh and modern appearance to the house - and, may I add, some wonderful compliments to the 'carpenters' from our neighbours.  My part in all of this landscaping project is to oil the wooden slats for weather protection and select plants for the garden beds - a job which I have undertaken with much relish.  

I decided to fill the beds with native plants and delighted in the task of visiting the plant nursery to choose suitable plants.  As time goes on and my natives flourish they will form the subject of other posts, but for today I would love to highlight a pretty and delicate flower which, up until I saw it at the plant nursery, didn't realise its quaint size.  It is in fact one of my earliest designs - the Fringe Lily - and I must admit that when I saw it, I just knew I had to buy it (much like a pair of shoes or dress) because it is such a sweet little flower.

There are a cluster of buds on a stem and each flower only blooms once but they don't all bloom at the same time so each new day brings a new and perfect bloom.  It took about a whole week for this particular cluster to complete flowering with about four blooms each day and there are a couple of smaller clusters still yet to flower.  The flower itself is about the size of a thumbnail but what I found absolutely unusual was the pretty frilled fringe around each petal and the gorgeous colour.

My cross stitched design of the Fringe Lily depicts the actual flower perfectly with its markings and colourings and the frilled edge. It contains 9 colours and measures 82 x 73mm (3.2 x 2.9in) in size and there is currently a Fringe Lily card for sale in my Etsy shop on purple cardboard.

I don't seem to recall the flower having a fragrance, but I think we can forgive it for that when it produces such beauty and provides such pleasure.


'Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.' - Judy Garland

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Design Release - Boronia

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and so in keeping with the recognised colour of pink associated with breast cancer I thought it appropriate to release a new design - the Boronia.  


Boronias grow as low shrubs in open forests and woodlands and belong to a family of approximately 95 species Australia wide.  The species of Boronia chosen for my particular design - Boronia safrolifera (or commonly known as Safrole Boronia) - grows mostly in south-east Australia in moist soils but can also be found in protected areas of swamp regions of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.  It has a pretty and dainty star-like shaped flower ranging in colour from deep to pale pink with a beautiful perfume which is harvested for its well-known essential oil qualities and strongly-scented aromatic leaves commonly used in potpourri.  An interesting fact is that the Boronia was named after an 18th century Italian botanist Fransesco Borone.

My cross stitched boronia measures 54 x 78mm (if stitched on 14 point Aida) or 30 stitch width x 43 stitch height dimensions and consists of 9 colours.  Small white and lemon french knots placed in the centre of each open flower complete the design.  Easily and quickly stitched, this design would be beautiful for any floral enthusiast.


'Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength' - Francis de Sales

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


About 10 years ago I decided to undertake the ambitious project of cross stitching a picture of my parent's house (my family home) for their 50th wedding anniversary.  Apart from the fact they had lived all their married life in this house and that it had undergone two major renovations, this robust house had also survived two catastrophic floods - the 1974 flood where the waters totally inundated it and the 2011 flood where it peaked at just under the roof.  I also wanted a sentimental keepsake for my parents as I knew that eventually they would 'move on' to retirement accommodation and this would provide memories for them.

The cross stitch program I have enables me to import a photo which will automatically convert it into a chart and then tweak the colour if needed.  I should add here that this was the third cross stitch house project undertaken (the others will be the subject of future posts) so I felt confident enough with the task of emphasising the shading and lighting required to create a realistic interpretation of the 'real thing'.  There were many computer hours spent on perfecting the 34 colours used, but many, many, many more in the stitching process which comprised of a total of 64,518 stitches and 362 stitching hours (yep I kept track!!). Framing completed the work beautifully and it hung proudly in their lounge room and was one of the very first items to be whisked out of the house with the threat of another flood in 2011. 

After the flood my parents did indeed 'move on' to retirement village accommodation and hung their family home portrait proudly in their lounge room.  But the fate of the actual house is an interesting story with it first being sold to an investor for rental purposes and then later sold to a developer where it was duly demolished to make way for construction of a newer and modern house.  We had heard from old neighbours and friends still living in the area that construction of the new building was well underway so the other week my Mum and I went to visit the site and inspect the progress and simply could not believe our eyes.

With the scaffolding it's a little difficult to get a true appreciation of the size, but let me tell you that this massive construction is actually two (2) three-level houses and with a pool in each backyard, there will be hardly any grass.  The neighbours have been practically built out with very little light or air flow or privacy.  I will post an update when the houses are complete.  

It really is hard for me to comprehend that 60 odd years ago a simple, small 2 bedroom hardboard house sat in the middle of this large quarter acre block and now all these years later 2 massive houses occupy it.  To think that I used to ride my bike around the house and then later when I had my drivers license and bought my first car that I could park it at the side of the house (of course Dad's car got the covered garage).

Jo-an-Ray was a 'play' on my parent's names of Joan and Ray and a very good family friend made a plaque with this name on it for them when they were first married and it was attached to the front of their house all the years they lived there.  When they sold the house, we made sure the plaque went with them.  It has been cleaned up and now sits proudly on the brick wall at the entrance to the new home and my cross stitch of the family home is proudly displayed in its new place on the lounge room wall.  It is indeed a beautiful family heirloom.


"We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden" - Goethe

Monday, 11 August 2014

A Crazy Weekend

Crazy Quilting that is!!  A couple of weeks ago a few of us ladies from the Guild group decided to treat ourselves to a 3-day stitching weekend not only to 'get away' for a break but to take advantage of learning the skill of crazy quilting which one of our very clever stitchers is quite adept at.  We went armed with all our requirements of fabrics, beads, buttons, threads, laces, braiding, sequins, etc. really quite unsure of what was entailed even though we had studied our friend's work of art, but came away at the end of the weekend totally 'hooked' and inspired by what everyone else had accomplished.

On Friday night (after dinner of pizza of course) we set about machine stitching together shapes of fabric which would become our background.  

The idea is to choose a patterned fabric with at least a couple of different colours and then choose 2 or 3 colours from that and then match fabrics in a couple of different shades from those colours.  You can see by my piece that I chose pink, blue and white to work with.  Varied shapes are then cut and added to make an interesting and balanced patchwork.  You can also see that on my piece I added a strip of lace with a partial open weave for dimension showing the coloured fabric underneath. What really looks great is using different fabric textures or a single 'special' fabric to highlight and draw the eye's attention.  As this was my first practice piece I only used fabric from my stash so there was nothing really special about the fabric.  We had pre-determined the finished size and when we reached that point, machine stitched two rows of straight stitch around the edge and after trimming to size zigzagged the edges to avoid fraying.  I should add that this had all been stitched on a square of calico large enough to be placed in an embroidery hoop ready for the next exciting stage.

Now the next part is where imagination and creativity comes into play because by using all embellishments at your disposal you cover the seams however you wish.  Different threads were experimented with and stitching techniques used in association with beads and braids to give - what I think - a beautiful finish.   Let me say right now though that my crazy quilting piece is nowhere near finished as there is still a lot of work to do and it is quite time-consuming but seriously addictive.  It was so inspiring to see what ideas and techniques the other ladies had used and which could possibly be applied to our pieces of work.  The great thing about this was that everyone's work was so different and unique and I found the style and colours everyone chose to use really did reflect their individual personality.

The one thing that our friend/tutor kept telling us when we would become unsure on our next step was that with crazy quilting 'the rule is that there are no rules'.  Now that's what I call freedom.


'The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet' - Aristotle

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Early Signs

I'll admit it - I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to protecting the furniture in my house as I prefer to use doilies so that vases and ornaments don't scratch the wood or laminate top.  We were having an overnight visitor the other night and so, in order to make a 'good impression', dusted the furniture (long overdue I might add!!) and chose new doilies from my collection.  As always I came across a couple of models I stitched when I was only very young and still learning the correct techniques from my mother and grandmother.  Usually I just overlook them, but this time I carefully examined them with a much more appreciative 'eye' and realised how craft and working with needle and thread has been in my DNA from a very early age.

The mauve and pink doily on the left contains only lazy daisy stitch and was worked in double-strand variegated thread while the teddy bear doily consisted of straight, lazy daisy and satin stitches.

This dog design formed the end of a runner - duplicated at the other end - and consisted of lazy daisy, satin, stem and backstitch.  It has been stitched in single thread and washing and wear and tear appears to have taken its toll with some of the threads coming loose, but a look at the back of the work .... well, let's just say, I still had a lot to learn about carrying the thread and finishing off neatly.

I can tell that this yellow floral doily was a slightly later work as the neatness (both front and back) is considerably improved with smaller stitching technique and skill.  Once again this doily only contains satin, stem, straight and back stitch.  

I might add that I crocheted the edging for each and every one of these doilies also - yet another indication that crafting for me was definitely a keen interest.

As basic and simple as these stitchings are and considering I would only have been around 10 years of age when they were worked, it gives me a great deal of pride to display them.  


"With courage you can stay with something long enough to succeed at it." - Earl Nightingale

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Design Release - Strawflower

Today I am excited to release a design which I have been working on over the past couple of weeks - the Strawflower.  I am also just as proud to mention that this design was inspired by beautiful strawflowers that I have growing in my garden at the moment with the photos below being proof.

Blooming in differing shades of both pale and bright colours they certainly make a striking display in the garden.  What has amazed me though is that, although they flower best in the hot summer months, these beauties have thrived during our winter and in a position that hasn't been receiving much sunlight. 

Strawflowers are found Australia wide growing in many different habitats from rainforests to deserts to subalpine areas and provide a food source for butterflies, bees and insects.  They are a herbaceous shrub growing to a height of up to 80cm high and have lovely leafy green foliage.  But what makes these little beauties so special is the different texture of their petals (or bracts) which are stiff, papery and dry making them a perfect long lasting flower.  Touching them actually does feel like very light cardboard yet they are quite strong and it is because of this texture that they are ideal as dried flowers and for use in the cut flower industry.

Replicating the sharp edges of the strawflower was a challenge when designing this flower and my aim, as always, is to be as authentic as possible so some stitchers may find the design a little intricate.  This is probably the only wildflower design where the availability of different colours for a flower have been included in the one design and therefore a total of 13 colours have been used.  

But with such an array of colours to choose from to portray the Strawflower, it was just too difficult for me to decide on just one. was just an excuse for the artist in me to experiment with colours and my stash!!!


'Flowers are those little colourful beacons of the sun from which we get sunshine when dark, sombre skies blanket our thoughts' - Dodinsky

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A New Look

Just like any makeover - be it wardrobe, hair and styling or a home and landscaping project - it can be exciting but just a little daunting, overwhelming and yes ... apprehensive too, which of course can put the whole idea into the 'too hard basket'.  Such has been the case for me at Gumleaf Stitch Designs.  For a while now I have been wanting to update the website, but with matters on the 'home front' being rather intense and time consuming, tackling such a project just took a back seat.  

But the time now felt right to tackle this makeover head on and so I have been fortunate to find a great web designer and between the two of us, have collaborated ideas and created - what I believe - to be a website with a fresh and modern look.  A new design layout displays each cross-stitch design to its full advantage as well as a slide show on the Home page.  The Order Information page has been updated to include shipping details, a returns/refunds policy and revised postage and handling costs.  Money orders or cheques are no longer accepted with payment to be made securely with Paypal or for Australian customers the option of a direct deposit, all details of which are outlined on the Order Information page.  A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page and Your Privacy page has also been added as well as a special form on the Contact Me page which can be filled out and forwarded should there be any questions requiring clarification.  There is a Check-out Page whereby you can preview all purchases made.  

As with all major changes, there will always be a few tweaks and fine-tuning to be made as time goes on when you discover that something has been overlooked and, yes, at the moment, that is the case.  But at this point in time I feel quite confident to reveal Gumleaf's new look.  Of course, the main change is a beautiful new logo - a creative twist courtesy of my clever web designer. 

I invite everyone to check out the new look website and because your feedback (both positive and negative) is valued, it would be very much appreciated if you could contact me should any problem be encountered so it can be rectified promptly.  

I am going to end this post with what I believe to be a very apt quote.  


'It always seems impossible until it's done' - Nelson Mandela

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ladybird Fever

As well as my stitching and family commitments I am also a volunteer with the Pyjama Foundation - an organisation which recruits and trains volunteers to work with children in the foster care system for an hourly session on a weekly basis.  The aim is to not only assist with their reading and academic work but to mentor and build a trusting and friendly relationship as another adult in their fragile little lives.  As you can appreciate all Readers (or 'Pyjama Angels' as we are called) undergo a stringent interview process and criminal check as well as intensive training before being matched with a suitable child.  

The little girl I have been working with now for three years - let's call her 'J' for confidentiality and privacy reasons - came into her current foster home when 18 months old after placement with four other primary carers since birth.  So it is of no surprise that she had physcological, bonding and control issues when I first began working with her at the tender age of two and there were certainly times when it would have been easy to walk away when she became quite demanding in some of the sessions.  But I saw potential in 'J' and decided to go back to basics with her by doing fun things such as blowing bubbles and walking around the garden smelling and touching flowers and herbs that her foster Mum grew.  Fast forward three years and the transformation in 'J' in amazing which I can only attribute to stability and security in her home life, an awesome foster Mum and self-satisfaction in her own achievements.  She has even visited our home on a few occasions to help bake muffins, scones or decorate cupcakes and plant seedlings in the garden and the connection that has developed with my family is heartening.

A couple of weeks ago 'J' celebrated her 5th birthday and one of her favourite things - for some reason - is ladybirds and this extends to pyjamas, doona cover, cushions, bedroom wall frieze, moneybox and other little trinkets in her bedroom.   So, as well as a little gift, I cross stitched a ladybird card for her and added 5 handmade bows which was a simple little project and took no time at all to make.  The design was taken from a book which will form the subject of a future post as it has some fantastic ideas for young and/or beginner stitchers.

Clear double-sided tape was used to mount the design and bows on to folded A5 red cardstock and a white paper insert inside the card made it easy to write and read the birthday message.  'J' and her foster Mum thought the card was beautiful and it went on the entertainment unit along with all her other greeting cards.  

For the record mine was her sixth ladybird card.


'Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow: Don't walk behind me, I may not lead: Walk beside me, and be my friend.' - Albert Camus

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New Release - Wedge-tailed Eagle

My latest design release is an impressive, but somewhat intimidating, creature merely because of its size, power and features.  Sometimes known as an Eaglehawk, the Wedge-tailed Eagle (named for its distinctive long, diamond-shaped tail) is the Northern Territory's fauna emblem and is found throughout mainland Australia in a natural habitat of woods, forested land and open country.  

As Australia's largest bird of prey, the Wedge-tailed Eagle is often seen perching high on a dead tree, pole or prominent rock or majestically soaring to heights of 1800 metres on a massive and powerful wingspan of 2 to 3 metres hunting or spotting their food source which consists of smaller animals, reptiles, birds and carrion.  With long strong broad wings, fully feathered legs all the way to the feet, keen eyesight and a sharp, formidable beak and claws, their prey simply don't stand a chance when swooped upon.  Interestingly, the female eagle is larger and heavier than the male and builds its nest of dead sticks in the tallest tree or cliff edge in a location with views of its home range and breeding territory.  The Wedge-tailed Eagle is known to sometimes make whistling, yelping and squealing noises.  

My cross stitch design consists of 10 colours and is 89 x 83 mm in size (3.5 x 3.3 inches).  It is another personal favourite and I was very pleased with how I was able to depict the power and strength of the Wedge-tailed Eagle's features and sharpness in its eyes.  Perched very high on a rock in a location where the land below could be vastly surveyed meant the sunset sky backdrop could be used to advantage.


I'm sure this design would make an impressive card for any wild bird lover but would look equally as spectacular as a framed item of work.


'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes' - Marcel Proust

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Heartfelt Tribute

This post will be an emotionally difficult one for me, but nevertheless one which I feel compelled to put words to paper (or screen) to express my feelings at this present time.  You see on the 24th February my very dear Dad passed away after a brave battle with cancer and whilst it is a blessing that he is now resting peacefully after what seems to have been such a long and hard fight, it was so terribly distressing to witness him deteriorate over the months to become a shadow of the man he once was.  With the exceptions of his frustrations, I never heard him complain throughout all the treatments and tests he endured (and believe me there were a LOT), but continued to stay strong and optimistic.  My Mum did a marvellous job of caring for him and with the help of the immediate family and community nursing, we were able to grant Dad his wishes by keeping him at home up until the few days before he died.  

I won't go into any great details about my Dad's life, but he really was quite an influence and role model for me with regards to creativity.  His skills as a Printer by trade required a keen eye and attention to detail and those were carried through to the extremely neat carpentry and woodworking items he produced.  Some of my happiest memories of Dad were of him in his workshop covered with wood shavings, totally engrossed in his current project and whistling (always a good sign).  Dad was very particular with keeping his car in good condition and cleaning it on a regular weekly basis and the lawn kept so green and healthy also with regular weekly mows that it probably should have been vacuumed instead.  He took great pride in his clothes and was a snappy dresser with his cap and shoes his trademark but he always relayed the story that as the youngest of four boys going through the war, clothes were patched and handed down to the next boy and by the time he got the clothes, they were in such a tatty state. He vowed that when he was old enough to afford his own clothes, he would make sure they were of quality and that remained forever. Dad was an avid reader, loved crosswords and word puzzles, played golf and bowls and loved his computer and iPad.  Dad was reliable, generous, loyal, friendly and well liked by everyone who knew him.  He had a great sense of humour and great love for his family.and simply adored his grandchildren (my two children were his only grandchildren) and they simply adored him and he was always interested in their lives and offered them words of wisdom.  But most of all, he was a true gentleman - the type of yesteryear where he would always take Mum's elbow when crossing the road or walk on the road side of the footpath.

Dad celebrated his 81st birthday in January but when he turned 80 I stitched a card for him to mark the occasion.  He loved old cars and so I found this one in a Cross Stitch Cards magazine and he always kept in on display in his room so I guess it must have 'hit the mark'.

I am going to miss my Dad terribly, but he will be remembered with much love and respect and over the last year or so I was able to spend a lot of quality time with him and as such he has left me with many wonderful and happy memories.  I am so proud of him for the way in which he coped with the struggle of his illness and I am just so proud of the person that he was.  There was nothing I wouldn't have done for my Dad and his memory will constantly be in my heart and mind.

I am going to end this post (below) with some words of wisdom Dad gave me on more than one occasion when my children were growing up, pushing boundaries and testing my patience.

Love you always Dad.


'Let them win some little wars, as long as you win the battle'. - Ray aka Husband, Dad, Grandpa, friend.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Bed of Roses

Today I would like to share with you an embroidery project I recently completed - one which gave me much pleasure to work as it incorporated basic stitching techniques, beautifully coloured variegated thread and a flower design.  Anyone who knows me by now will understand my undisputed love of flowers - any flowers - and this rose floral design was something I just couldn't overlook because it was discovered at a time when I had just bought a new doona cover and pillowcases for our updated bedroom and you guessed it .... the bed linen set consisted of roses - antique roses to be precise.  My creative imagination immediately knew it would make a perfect addition to the bed as a rectangle cushion.  And so the fun began.

The pattern is one of Aunt Martha's hot iron transfers where the design is cut and placed on fabric to your own specification.  My choice of hand dyed Australian threads from Cottage Garden Threads were Wattle Blossom (309) - gold, Ash (201) - green, Grand Ridge (411) - purple/brown and Dahlia (909) - pink. These were worked entirely in double strand over the whole design and as you can see by the following close-up photos, the variegated thread helped create an interesting and natural colour blend.

I chose to stitch the roses (Dahlia) and bird (Wattle Blossom) in stem stitch and the rose leaves (Ash) outlined in a small blanket stitch with vein detail in backstitch. The daisies (Grand Ridge) were worked in a very fine chain stitch with satin stitch centres and straight stitch for the detail and the daisy leaves (Ash) in satin stitch.  The rose stems (Ash) were also stitched in stem stitch.  

All was stitched on a natural cream homespun fabric and as I had found a perfectly matching length of rose design fabric, decided to use that as the backing for the cushion and used a couple of pretty buttons from my stash to secure the flap after placement of the insert.  

I guess it only seems appropriate to highlight a project depicting roses so close to Valentines Day, but this beautiful cushion adorns our bed each and every day of the year and is a constant reminder of the many hours of relaxation that went into its creation.


'Earth laughs in flowers' - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Happy 'Straya' Day

Today - 26 January - is Australia Day or in Aussie language 'Straya' Day.  So I thought I would digress slightly from stitching and ponder and reflect on what it really means to be an Australian, however, when I really thought about it I found it became far too deep and meaningful ... so, I decided to lighten up and ponder and reflect on what it really meant to me to be an Australian.  Now, firstly let me preface by pointing out that when I was very young Australia Day wasn't considered patriotic anywhere near to the extent that it is today.  School and workers went about their daily lives on January 26 and the recognised public holiday was scheduled for the following Monday ... no big deal.  But then in 1983 Australia won the Americas Cup ... a real big deal ... and it seems that since that momentous occasion, pride in our nation, its people and achievements grew substantially.  We now honour Australians of the Year (from sporting to art/cultural to science fields), hold special ceremonies, perform re-enactments of the landing at Sydney Cove of Captain Arthur Phillip and get together with family and friends to 'throw a snag on the BBQ' and have a game of backyard cricket.

I find the diversity of our country so interesting - from the rainforests in northern Queensland to the dry centre of Alice Springs to the alpine regions of the Snowy Mountains to the hustle bustle of our cities and the scenic beauty of our natural landmarks so stunning, that it's no wonder tourists worldwide want to flock to the 'land down under'.  How flora and fauna survive and flourish in some of these harshest and driest of climates and areas has always fascinated me and is the source of inspiration behind my designs.  Yes .. we do have a laidback lifestyle but us Aussies are not immune to the pressures of modern everyday life and need relaxing outlets - this is just one of the reasons why I began my designing and stitching business.

Sometimes, though, I wonder how much of me really is Aussie. Don't get me wrong - I love a BBQ, vegemite and Tim Tams just as much as the next person but would much prefer to visit an art gallery, musical or concert over cricket games, football matches and cockroach races (yes, they really do exist!!) and you would never, ever see me wearing thongs or a flannelette shirt. 

Whilst I have snorkelled in the Whitsundays, travelled the cable car over the Blue Mountains, climbed Ayers Rock, ridden a camel in Alice Springs, cuddled a koala, seen the fairy penguins at Port Phillip Bay and jetboated in the Great Southern Ocean south of Hobart, there is one thing on my bucket list that I've yet to see and that is the spring wildflowers in bloom in their natural habitat outside of Perth, Western Australia which I am led to believe is an absolutely amazing glory of colour.  

A few things for sure that will never change are our Aussie sayings and slang, that we are a sporting nation and the fact that we pull together and help each other out in times of trouble and turmoil.  I have witnessed that firsthand during times of flood, cyclone and fire disasters and the mateship to friends and strangers alike warms the heart.  

This afternoon, my husband, son and I will be celebrating Australia Day by firing up the BBQ for a sausage sizzle (sausage and onions in bread with tomato sauce) and then watching a re-run of 'Charlie and Boots', a movie starring Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson featuring scenes and landmarks from Melbourne to the tip of the Cape York Peninsula.  I will continue with my current stitching design which is part of building up stock for the opening of my Etsy shop - still a little way off, but slow and steady does it.   So until next time .... See ya mate!


'Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life' - Anon

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hot Stitching

First and foremost Happy New Year to all.

Whilst my stitching friends in northern America are experiencing snow and blizzards and those in the United Kingdom are contending with rain and floods, South East Queensland sweltered through its hottest day on record by reaching a maximum of 40 deg. Celsius.  It was seriously so hot, that everyone flocked to air conditioned shopping centres, movie theatres and the beach (although I struggle to understand how walking and lying on scorching hot sand can be cooling) and at one stage when I turned on the cold tap it ran so hot, I swear I could've made a cup of tea!

Health authorities always advise tips on keeping as cool as possible and expending as little as possible energy to avoid dehydration, so it seems only logical to me that stitching is the way to go - wouldn't you agree?  My workroom isn't air conditioned, so the window is open to allow a flow of breeze, the fan put on full blast and there is plenty of water, but my real dilemma is how to avoid my work (fabric and threads) becoming soiled through perspiration whilst stitching.   Whilst I regularly wash my hands and lower arms with clean soapy water, I have found lightly dusting my hands with talc powder a useful tip to absorb any moisture build-up, but this is only a short term solution.  

A search of the internet for any tips only led me to a site which gave solutions on how to deal with perspiration stains - - by the use of Bicarbonate of Soda worked into a paste with water and dabbed onto the affected area for a short time before being rinsed off.  The site is very informative and useful in dealing with the removal of a variety of other stains - but, of course, prevention is always better than cure, so I would be most interested to hear any handy tips or ideas from anyone.  


'We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insolvable problems' - Benjamin Franklin