Friday, February 29, 2008


Waiting for the bus at Foodland Carpark

This week we had a couple of days' break from the almost non-stop fog, drizzle and grey skies that have dominated our summer. Fortunately one of these days was when we held our Seniors' Mystery Bus Trip, something Bernie likes to organise for Rotary every now and then.
Now if the word "seniors" conjures up an image of someone who is frail and staid, then you have not been to Norfolk Island. Here our older folk are still active and busy with their homes and gardens and community commitments, and it is not always easy to persuade them to take an afternoon off! But they do know how to enjoy themselves and have fun, so more than 30 accepted the invitation to come and blow away the cobwebs, and have a trip around the island enjoying each other's company. Even so, a couple of ladies had to cancel - not because they were not up to it - but because their services were needed elsewhere!!

This is not a very big island - only 5 miles by 3- but it is amazing how much time can pass without visiting a particular spot, especially the more touristy venues. So it was good for the crew to actually do some relaxed sightseeing. Ray was at the wheel, and Arthur filled the role of conductor/M.C. But it was Tony who provided the main entertainment with his ukelele, to which everyone sang along from start to finish.
The tour finished up at the "Onion Patch", whee Arthur gave some interesting demonstrations from his "Working Settlement" tour, and opened up his fascinating private museum. Then everyone relaxed and chatted over a generous home-cooked afternoon tea, before re-boarding the coach (kindly donated by Pinetree Tours) and heading back to Foodlands, where they had left their cars.

Now I love this group of people. They are from a generation who have done it tough, but have learnt to take responsibility for themselves and their needs, and to spare time for others. Many of them have a wicked sense of humour, but would never use it unkindly. They are a real "life- be in it" bunch, and can really teach the younger ones a thing or two.
Greg, Julie. Marj and Paulette lend a hand as Arthur demonstrates making a piece of rop from Flax - from green plant to finished product!

And talking of younger ones, it was a real delight to have Katie and young Emma (12 months) along too, keeping Grandma company because great-grandma could not make it!

Now the next day the rain and fog were back - but we are not grumbling - Norfolk is a beautiful spot in any weather!

Monday, February 25, 2008

This afternoon, my youngest son has taken his rod and gone fishing from the rocks.

A couple of my other sons also enjoy fishing, but for them it is not the quiet, often solitary activity of taking your rod to a peaceful spot and waiting for a bite or two.. They much prefer going out in a boat, with a group of mates. It takes a bit of organisation to gather together supplies and get the boat into the water using the crane on one of the wharves. Nevertheless, they usually come back with a bin or two of fish, maybe even more. I think half the pleasure is cleaning and filleting the catch afterwards over a beer or two (or three.)

I have not had much fishing experience myself. I recall a time when I was about eight years old, and my family was holidaying with my aunt and uncle out at Narromine, in the central west of N.S.W. One afternoon, we drove out to a spot on the banks of the Macquarie River, and the menfolk cast a line or two. Uncle Ben finally pulled one in, and as it flapped on the end of the line, my mother said: "Oh look, he is begging you to let him go!"

I cried myself to sleep that evening, thinking about the plight of that poor creature. I cannot recall if I actually ate any when it was cooked, but I am really very fond of fish now, and am glad to have sons who often bring me some fresh from the sea.

Now the challenge/inspiration picture for the first stage of the Fabric Book Round Robin I am participating in this year is an aerial photo of the Lake Taupo delta in New Zealand. Now this is an area famous for its trout fishing, and it was this aspect I decided to explore in my interpretation.

So off I went to the Fishing Department of one of our local stores. The first assistant said his parents actually live on the shores of Lake Taupo, but he confessed he knows next to nothing about the fishing. So he called Dominic, who is very knowledgeable about angling. Dominic, a most helpful and obliging fellow, went into a great detail for me about trout fishing. I tried to explain that I was planning on sewing, not fishing, and mainly wanted to know a bit about lures. They did not have much in the way of trout fishing lures, because this is a sub-tropical ocean fishing area, but Dom said he would drop some magazines in for me - which he did the next day! Talk about doing thorough research for a needlework project!

Anyway, this is the page I finally produced, using felting, needlefelting and embroidery techniques. I made a "lure" using some feathers from my collection, and I attached a swivel, thinking a hook may be a little dangerous. I also attached a "squidgie" in the form of a Rainbow trout. These are a sort of artificial bait, and are made in a soft transparent poly sort of substance.

Now I wonder if there will be fish for tea?

Sunday, February 17, 2008


An enterprising and community-minded group of young people decided to hold a "SUMMERFEST" Beach Carnival during the January holidays, as an event which would not only involve locals, but provide an attraction for our visitors.

As it turned out, summer has almost been cancelled this year, with all the rain and overcast weather, and even a cyclone. Because of this, the Summerfest had to be postponed a number of times.

They were finally able to hold it today - an absolutely glorious day - and it was well worth waiting for!!!

One of the main attractions was to be the Raft Race, and the Christian-Bailey boys and their friends and colleagues have been very busy with not one, but two rafts.

Over in the Joinery, John's offsider Darren and the boys have worked on a catamaran style model , with Charles' shed helping out with some of the materials. The raft served as a tabletop while the work proceeded.
Meanwhile, over at Fletcher Christian, Brandt was working on a raft,using his home brew kegs for flotation. Because of the postponements and delays, Brandt was in danger of becoming a teetotaller while his equipment was being commandeered in this way. Tina came to the party with her artistic skills, and Charles also came to the party with some materials, giving him the right to some "free advertising" for Christian-Bailey Agencies on both rafts!
The Fletcher Christian raft doubles as a playhouse for Teddy and Sienna

There were plenty of people down at the start line in Emily Bay at 4 o'clock this afternoon. None of the rafts looked as if they were built for a high degree of speed or stability, but all the participants were prepared to give it a go, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Tina gives Teddy a parting hug before he sets off on his great adventure- with Dad in tow!

Darren, Joel, Paw-paw Jr and Adrian have some hand-decorated shirts to match the raft

We were not sure who won, as we were at the other end of the beach. Later we found out that Darren and the boys had reached the finish line first, in spite of a few rotten eggs flying betweeen the teams. But the Fletcher Christian raft, while the most elaborate and attractive, was definitely last! It was very low in the water, but miraculously it stayed afloat, while being pushed from behind by Brandt, and "captained" by 4 year old Teddy.
Young William is not sure what all the excitement is about!

Like the Bounty, H.M.S.Fletcher Christian manages to stay afloat on the high seas

Back to the carpark through the cool and shady pines

What a great day, and a real credit to the young organisers. We look forward to an even bigger and better Summerfest next year!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Back in the early eighties, the technological revolution in homemaking was well underway, with Microwaves, automatic washing machines, and convenience foods from well-stocked Supermarkets. Readymade clothes were now available at reasonable prices in the chain stores. For the first time, women - particularly the stay-at-home Mums -were looking round for things to do with their hands that would satisfy their creativity and provide a diversion in their spare time. They began turning to crafts. Not so much the embroidered and crocheted articles such as doileys and tablecloths that their mothers had created almost of necessity to furnish their homes. They were looking for a variety of quicker, colourful and useful little projects that did not necessarily need a lot of money, but which could be given as gifts or to help stock the stalls at school and church fetes. Their sewing machines, no longer needed to churn out garments for the family, were now starting to be used to sew decorative items, and the quilting revival was just getting underway.

Nowadays, the newsagents shelves are so well-stocked with craft magazines of all types, that they seem almost ho-hum to the experienced craftsperson. However, back in those days there was very little, except for ideas published from time to time in weekly Women's magazines.

An enterprising Australian lady, Beverley Peters, began publishing a small quarterly publication called the Craft Basket. She worked from home. It was available by subscription, and consisted of just two folded A3 pages brimful of little projects, hints and patterns. People would send ideas to Beverley, and she would test them out.

In April 1984, I was intrigued to see a little article she had with a pattern for a Needlecase in the shape of a girl with a bonnet. The elderly lady from Sydney who had submitted the pattern had said she had one in her very first workbasket nearly 60 years previously, and had never seen another until recently, when "she found one among the treasures of one of the old families on Norfolk Island." This particular lady had since made many for fetes and stalls, and they were a best seller.

The reason for my particular interest was that we ourselves had one, actually belonging to Bernie's great-aunt Charlotte, who at age 100 was permanently in the Geriatric ward of our local hospital. We also had a little felt hat, also a needlecase. Neither are particularly attractive, being made of dark brown felt, and they had obviously been around for a long time. However, I could not help but imagine the ladies of the island, all those years ago learning to make these and sharing the pattern around.
Then, almost a year ago, I found another old one, in our local second-hand store "Collectors' Corner". This one, too, had come from the workbasket of an elderly Norfolk lady who was now permanently hospitalised. It is a little more sophisticated than Auntie Charlotte's, but the "pages" are of the same old woollen flannel they used to use.
You and I have all seen many versions of this little Sunbonnet Sue needlecase in recent decades, on stalls and in Craft shops. I always imagined it was an American idea. And it may well have been. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when American Whalers frequented the Pacific, they would often leave their wives on Norfolk Island for "the season", and it is a well-known fact that these ladies shared many patterns, recipes and hints in the domestic domain with the Norfolk Island ladies.

I like to think that this idea may well have come "downunder" via Norfolk Island!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I have not posted for a few days. My mouse died, and I have been having a difficult time - at the computer. Now it had been giving a few warning signs, temporary lapses, stubbornly refusing to move at times, and I should have done something about it before now. I am struggling on with a tiny model, with a very short cord, that is probably designed for a laptops. It is a nifty little thing, but but does not respond to my touch like my old friend, who has been at my fingertips for many a year!
Never mind, I thought I would show you some more of what I have been doing lately.

When I need a large-ish bead to thread with a cord and dangle from something, it is often difficult to find one with a hole that is big enough. The answer is to make your own.

All you need are strips of paper or fabric. You roll these around a straw or skewer, seal the ends, decorate in some way, and voila, you have your own custom-made creation.
Here are some of the ones I have been making. Most are from strips of fabric-hand-dyed cotton and silk, wrapped around lengths of drinking straw. They are then embellished with fancy threads, glitter or foil. (The foil is applied with heat to the fabric before starting.)

The bright green ones are actually made from Tyvek, which is a builders paper. After tying them with gold thread, I used the herat gun to crackle and seal them. Quick, easy and effective!!

Another batch of ATC's were produced as gifts for the participants in the 2008 Fabric Book Round Robin. For these, I started with a photo of a cut paw-paw.

Because I needed nine copies, one for each of the participants, including myself, I printed them out on prepared fabric in "wallet sized" prints.

Now these were just a little too small for the regular 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" Artist Trading Card size. But I had just enough room in the surrounding white space to extend them out, using acrylic paints. I used the right shade of blue to fill in the surrounds, and touched up the fruit themselves with orange and yellow.

Next I went to my sewing machine and stitched a black outline around the key shapes.

Finally I rummaged through my beads, and found 2 or 3 types in a variety of sizes to represent the seeds.

I think only one of the recipients lives in a tropical area, so I hope they enjoy them!

The recent Quilting Arts publicatiuon "GIFTS" had an idea for book covers. I adapted the idea to producing covers for our local phone book(which is still reasonably modest in size.)

This was a good opportunity to use some the ready-vliesofixed fabric I was given last year, a leftover from a Quilting Workshop held here last year for visiting quilters. I also have large quantities of felt - another gift from a fellow craftsperson - which I have been able to use as a base.
When I scanned the first one, I accidentally left one of my fabric beads on the scanner bed!

I cannot show you the front side of the one in the brown/black/neutrals, because it is a surprise birthday gift for someone, and it would give the game away. I have included a relevant photo and section of the phone book on the front.

This has been a good project, but I do need to plan my layouts better. I hate planning or working to pre-determined patterns and layouts and usually go with projects where I make it up as I go along. Nevertheless, they have worked out well, and the phone book fits neatly into them. They will make good gifts.

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