Sunday, 16 March 2008


What an exhilarating morning we had yesterday. At the instigation of Esther (, around 14 Brisbane Etsy sellers gathered at The Avid Reader bookshop at West End ( The idea was to get to know each other and discuss the benefits of starting a street team as a means of promoting our businesses and to support each other.

To meet personally is so much more satisfying than communicating via the internet and now we know which face belongs to which Etsy shop. Naturally, there was Show & Tell, and what incredible goodies were displayed! Everything from magnificent works of art down to the most adorable little felt baby booties. The talent of the women sitting around the table was truly awe-inspiring. It augers well for our future as a group. So we have called ourselves BrisStyle and we are off to a promising start.

I have at last finished my Lorikeet small quilt (well, apart from the binding, but who's counting?), so I have at least completed one quilt this year.

Most of the workshop participants brought along their completed (or almost completed) quilts to our Schoolhouse Quilters' meeting last Thursday evening, and I must say they looked stunning. Can't wait for our quilt exhibition later in the year.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Impressionist Landscapes

What a time we had on Friday and Saturday. Ten members of Schoolhouse Quilters attended a two day workshop conducted by world renowned quilt artist and teacher Lorraine Carthew. How lucky are we? She lives right here in Brisbane, so we didn't have to travel half-way around the world to reach her.

We were to bring along a photograph or image of our choice, A3 in size. I brought along the photo of the lorikeet which I had taken in the tree outside my window.

The image was far too busy, so I honed it down to the essential elements and then started cutting up the first of what to me seemed like millions of tiny fabric triangles. First came the sky background and Murphy's Law was alive and well. I had brought along several shades of blue fabric, but none worked, so my friend Muffin came to the rescue with the perfect piece for me. Next came the construction of the tree trunk.

From small beginnings large trees grow.

By the end of the first day we had achieved enough to give us courage to carry on. By the end of the second day, miracles had occurred!

Now all I have to do is add the borders and quilt it. I'd love to show you what wonderful images the others created, but if I did, I'd have to kill you.
The better option is to come to our Schoolhouse Quilters' exhibition if you will be in Brisbane on 30-31 August. We hold our exhibitions every two years so that we have plenty of time to build up a decent collection of quilts.
So mark it in your diaries. The venue is the picturesque and historic Brookfield Hall at the Brookfield Showgrounds. With the added bonus of beautifully crafted items for sale created by our members, as well as being able to sit in the relaxed rural atmosphere and enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea and delicious home-made food, why would you want to be anywhere else? Too good to miss.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Family History

Today was certainly a day of surprises. I was hunting for a button to include in a new summer top for my Etsy shop and remembered I had some spare buttons in my bedside table drawer. While digging around I came across a small plastic bag which had seen better days. Thinking that it may contain some elusive buttons, I pulled it out and was stunned by what I saw.

Back in 1999 my mother died three days short of her 85th birthday. We were soul mates and losing her was particularly difficult for me. I had remembered her showing me a coin when I was a child - a coin of a young Queen Victoria which had been turned into a brooch, long broken. I knew she had kept it in an old handbag, her logic being that "no one would think of looking in an old handbag for anything valuable". Obviously she was not a fellow traveller of criminals.

Shortly after her death, the time came to clear out the family home - a painful task that all children must face up to at some stage in their lives. I asked my two dear brothers, husband and adult children to keep an eye out for this particular coin, as I feared it may be tossed out if no one knew of its existence. Sadly, we didn't find it.

Back to today. Back to that drawer and the plastic bag. Yes - there it was as large as life, along with a coin we had given my mother minted in the year of her birth (1914) and a silver bracelet that my father had given my mother some years before his death in 1986. How did they get there? The only explanation I can find is that somehow they were bundled up unknowingly with my mother's few items of jewellery, brought back home to Brisbane from Sydney and put in my bedside table drawer. I was gobsmacked.

I used to ask my mother the origin of the coin, but all she knew was that it was handed down to her from her grandmother and that it had probably belonged to her great-grandmother. I wish she was here today, because I could enlighten her a little further.

I have been doing the family history thing for a couple of years now (long before I had even heard of Who Do You Think You Are?) and knew that my great-great grandparents had married in Singleton, NSW, in 1845. This silver crown turned into a brooch may well have been a wedding gift from my Irish great-great grandfather, Francis Belfield, to his young Scottish bride, Christiana Munro. From the wear and tear on the front of the coin and the relative newness of the image of Queen Victoria on the back, it was probably turned into a brooch when it was newly minted. My great-great grandmother who travelled with her playwright/actor husband through cities and goldfields must have worn this brooch with great pride.

So now I have something which directly connects me with my great-great grandparents. It has made my day.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Well, I made it - literally. The finishing touches to the twirl skirt were completed last night and I photographed it this morning - just in time to feature in the Springtime Showcase on Etsy.

I decided to make the underskirt completely separate, so that it can be worn with other skirts, or even on its own.

I really enjoyed making the skirt, as it incorporates my other great love, patchwork. The embellishments were also great fun.

I have already received a custom order from a nearly-three-year-old via her mother, so that will keep me out of mischief next week. I am in the process of making a co-ordinating top and expect to have it ready in the next day or so.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

First day of Autumn

The kookaburras outside our bedroom window have no consideration for us poor humans. It was 4.50 this morning when they decided we had had enough sleep for the night and heralded in the dawn of the first day of autumn in no uncertain terms. I guess living on the edge of a large park we have to expect such early intrusions. As I type, right outside our office window some colourful lorikeets are feasting on the flowers of a eucalyptus - nectar of the gods in the bird kingdom. I took some photos of them during the week as they gorged themselves until their little bellies were full.

I am doing a two day workshop next Friday and Saturday with quilt artist Lorraine Carthew ( It has been organised by our quilt group, Schoolhouse Quilters, and I am really looking forward to it. The workshop is entitled Impressionist Landscapes and I will probably take along this image to work on. Can't wait!

After completing the three-tiered skirt last week, I felt inspired to attempt another version, so yesterday I gathered together some aqua, white and red fabrics.

I started on the bottom layer late yesterday and hope to have it completed by early next week. I have a space booked on the Etsy Springtime Showcase for 4 March and would love to have this skirt featured. We have a quiet weekend planned, so hopefully that can be accomplished.