Twiggy bits with feathered up and down buttonhole.

Twiggy lines are sometimes a girls best friend, particularly if you are a traditional stitcher and enjoy floral motifs.

Up and Down buttonhole stitch feathered is one of those stitches that once you learn it you will draw on it all the time. It is a variation of buttonhole stitch which is easily worked on all types of fabrics and equally effective when worked in straight lines or following curves. This means it is ideal for those who are interested in Crazy quilting.

Although I have introduced Up and Down feathered buttonhole as a traditional stitch if you are not interested in “cute” you can push this stitch to form strong interesting linear elements and textures in a design. Explorations into variation in the length of the spines, spacing of the spines, width of the line, weight and texture of the thread, and size should keep contemporary embroiderers busy. Changing the weight of thread and overlapping rows of this stitch in an irregular manner produces an interesting effect. Also you can play around with the direction of the spines.

It is great fun, try it out. Needless to say I have added it to my stitch collection.

Colour my world with beetles?

Did you know that to obtain a pound of Cochineal red colorant extract you need to bash the hell out of a million cochineal beetles? This is why the Aztecs valued the red dye so much. I am not sure if it is the satisfaction in the bashing or the work involved but they did value the extract. I turned this little bit of colour trivia up from the Colour Matters site. If you wish to learn a little more about colour take some time out and explore Colour Matters as all aspects of colour are covered. Colour perception, colour as a science, colour and computers, and the psychology of colour are just a few topics covered.

Colour is a fascinating area of research and I have been doing a bit of a round up of links on the topic. On All about Colour, Pantone has also provided brief articles on the physics, history, the psychology and how we perceive colour.

I know the British love their museums and collections (I did too when I was there!) but I was surprised to discover that the Society of Dyers and Colourists in the UK have provided a Colour Museum. It is a fun interactive site which is educational as well.

The history of the colour wheel is fascinating as Mary Ellen Searcy points out since ancient times humans have tried to classify colour.

Color Schemer – Online is a great idea. This online program displays 15 colors that compliment one another. Not only is it great for anyone who is learning about colour but it is also fun.

For anyone who needs to brush up on the basics Color Theory is a brief article that introduces the topic and Lucy Lyons Willis also provides a good basic article covering some of the basics of colour theory in Needlework

Finally if you need a Color Glossary one is provided by

A year ago on this day Canberra Firestorm

Today is the anniversary of the Canberra fires. All over Weston Creek people will be reflecting on that day as it has been a year since 4 people died and 491 houses were destroyed in the disaster. Already there has been a gathering at a neighbours house to mark the occasion. Today in Commonwealth park there is an official event but I don’t know anyone who is going. Our street is just going to haul out the barbeque, block off the end of the street and get together to celebrate the passing of a hard year. We were very fortunate but our neighbors weren’t as 5 houses were lost in a street of 18. According to the Canberra Times one year on only 10% of the homes destroyed have been rebuilt. We live next door to one such family. The photo above is of their sons car. However our street has gone against the odds as 3 of the 5 houses are in the process of being rebuilt and one is complete.

Mostly today I feel grateful as we were very lucky. Our house lost its garden and we had some dramatic moments on the day but were OK. At the time we were about to move into a house we had just bought. Our old place was packed up ready to move and our new place was empty. On the day we were at our old place we had some interesting moments, keeping embers at bay, while a suburb away our new house was fire licked but survived. We have some photos of the day and its immediate aftermath online which went up for friends and family. Although in both houses we were affected we were lucky and we are terribly thankful. As with many other people in the district I am still angry that we did not have more warning. The district should have gone on alert earlier than it did.

Anyway I have decided to institute a family tradition and take a photo of the garden every year on this day. To put it in context this is the way the garden looked before the fires.

This is how our home looked after clearing up the worst of the fire damage.

And followed by how it looks today…

It has been a hard year but the plus has been that the experience has bound some people together. In other ways it has divided Canberra. For those that were in the hot spot on the day we are still living with the aftermath. Re-building has been slow and the emotional fall out has been heavy with marriages breaking, teenagers rebelling and children still having nightmares. For those who were not there an attitude of get over it permeates a conversation if you make the mistake of talking about it. This binds those that were there even closer. A year on it is still in everyone’s minds. We can’t step out our door, not to the corner shops, to work, or even to the local play ground let alone pass the forest without being reminded of the horror. Reminded also of how in a few hours everything you know can be swept away by forces far greater than you can imagine.

There was a painful beauty in the ashes. Here are a few photos I took immediately after the fires. I took heaps of photos at the time thinking that I might use them as source material in a body of work but I don’t think I will revisit them. If I have the time this week I will get some of the rest online.