#stitching santa


I do love a project, and I am excited about this one!

Sheila, at Sewchet, is organising #stitchingsanta and it sounds like so much fun. As she says

Can you imagine unwrapping a gorgeous skein of wool, a perfect metre of fabric, some vintage buttons or some embroidery silks? Perhaps a little handmade gift has been popped in the parcel too? All lovingly thought out with your interests in mind and guaranteed to be under your tree on Christmas morning. What a treat!

Sheila is going to give me another blogger. My happy task is to find out all I can about her a secretly as possible, so I will know what treasures to send to her to be opened on Christmas Day. I wonder what I will be sending? And I am sure there will be a little handmade gift in there too.

Would you like to be involved too? Jump over to Sheila’s blog by the end of the month and let her know that you would like to play. There are two different categories Sewing and Knitting and crocheting to choose from, or be involved in both, like I am. These are her steps

  1. You can enter from anywhere in the world but I will try to match countries in order to keep postage costs down.

  2. State which swap(s) you would like to enter and send your email addressblog siteand postal address to me at info@sewchet.com by midnight on 31st October 2016.

  3. I’ll email you the details of your recipient by 7th November.

  4. Spend a maximum of £10 (€13, $15US, $20AUS) excluding postage.

  5. Blog about your #stitchingsanta (linking back to this post) and share using the hash tag on social media.

  6. Post your parcel in time for Christmas – check last posting dates well in advance!! International dates are much earlier in December

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s such a pretty plant

There were ten artists at Menindee this year, and we were able to find nine plants from Beckler’s list. (Not sure what I am talking about? Have a look in the category Beckler’s Botanical Bounty on the side bar. Sorry, but putting in links is a little too tricky on the iPad.) Fortunately one artist was happy to redo a plant that she painted a few years ago as this year’s specimen was much greener than the dried one she did originally. 

Finding nine plants is pretty good, as we are close to the end of the list. As well, we were without the botanist who has been invaluable in past years. Added to that, the season had been so wet and cold. 

My plant is Senna artemisioides subspecies filifolia. I wasn’t sure what subspecies meant, but found this information handy. It comes from Philip Moore’s “A guide to plants of Inland Australia” 

Some of the common Australian cassias [sennas] occur in large and very variable integrating populations called hybrid swarms which are maintained by asexual as well as sexual reproduction. Because of their complexity, they cannot be satisfactorily separated into species. Recent revisions have ….. reduced a number of variants which were formally regarded as distinct species to subspecies of two widespread species…

Sennas are very common through arid areas, and indeed when I see them in the Mallee country up the Calder Hwy I know that I am starting to get away from the everyday. They are a small bush with bright yellow flowers, like a buttercup. The flowers cover the bush, so they seem to be a moving mass of yellow beside the road.

Identifying my senna was a little tricky. The key identifying feature is that the petiole and pinnae are terete. The first step is to work out what that precise botanical language is saying in words I can understand! Terete is sort of like a cylinder, the petiole is the part that joins the leaf to the stem and the pinnae are like little leaves. The photo below is of the other subspecies, the one I am not painting. Can you see the flat parts of the leaves? That tells me it is not mine.

This photo is of mine

Not a lot of difference!

Once I had identified it, I collected some pressings to add to the collection for the herbarium. As well I took cuttings of the parts I wanted to paint. Then it was back to the hall in Menindee to begin my drawing. I have mentioned before that I dew onto tracing paper rather than the good watercolour paper. You always make mistakes, and rubbing ruins the surface of the good paper. After I have finished the drawing on the tracing paper I transfer it to the good.

It was a very complicated drawing, and took me two days to finish. Quite a few of the pinnae come forward and have to be drawn in a foreshortened way. They were hard! But I think I have captured it well. The plant seems to dance, and I want to make sure that comes through in the painting. I am hoping the fine leaves will make the painting easier! The photo below is of the drawing in progress. The photo above shows the whole specimen.

Posted in AnneLawsonArt, Beckler's Botanical Bounty, Botanic Art, My art work, Plants | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Collecting our plants in Menindee

One of the delights of the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project is going out into the field to find our plants. The habitat here, in the arid areas of outback New South Wales, always looks so desolate. Driving along in the car all you see are salt bushes, Sennas and sometimes the white bobbing heads of daisies. 

As soon as you step a few metres away from the car you see a different world. Tucked away are little plants. Some are pretty like the blue wahlenbergias, some are stunning like the patches of Sturt Desert Pea. There can be swathes of purple swainsonia or poached egg daisies. 

There are many that you wouldn’t look twice at, or think they may be weeds, only to find out that they are little treasures. Believe it or not, this little one, nestled in the takeaway coffee cup, is actually a daisy.

So looking takes time. We wander around, with our heads down, admiring, wondering and identifying.

Then we take samples so that we can identifying the plants correctly in the hall. (We have permission to collect, and we collect according to strict herbarium guidelines, including only taking 10% of the population in the local environ.)

Posted in Beckler's Botanical Bounty, Botanic Art, Plants, Travels | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Back in Menindee

Life was busy lately, organising the house and packing the van to get away to Menindee. Organising the house so that my friends could move in while we are away. But now I am up here. If you have followed my blog for awhile you will know that I am up here as part of the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project. I am part of a group of botanic artists who are collecting the plant specimens that were collected by Dr Hermann Beckler on the Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860. Our intention is to have paintings of each of specimens. We have been coming here for a few years now, so we are the pointy end of Beckler’s list. (If you would like to find out more, click on the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty category on the right hand bar. Normally I would give you the link, but it is a little hard to do at the moment.

Next time I will post some photos of us collecting in the field and working in the Civic Centre, but for now I will just give you some photos of the water. Menindee is in the arid outback region of New South Wales, near Broken Hill. Normally it is dry up here. Last year there were grave concerns about having any water in the Menindee Lakes system. However, the rain further up the Darling River is gradually making its way down, and now Lake Pamamaroo and Copi Hollow are well over half full. Lake Menindee will begin to fill soon. Recent rain in the area has added to the water, with big puddles and mud patches around. A most unusual sight!

Copi Hollow, over 60% full

Below is a photo of Lake Pamamaroo from last year, 2015.  The plant I collected and painted was growing about 30 metres from the sandy shore if the lake.

This is the lake now! 

Posted in Beckler's Botanical Bounty, Botanic Art, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

How to fail.  Epically. 

Life is a little busy at the moment. In a day or two I will have time to write properly about it. In the meantime read Danny Gregory’s post about experimenting and playing with wild abandon. I have been trying to do a little of this lately.

Danny Gregory

I just read that Roadies has been cancelled. So was Vinyl. No one gives a shit about TV shows about the music industry. It can’t be mythologized. It’s dead. Whoda thunk it ten years ago? What about publishing ? Another myth-ridden beast, gasping. As is advertising, replaced by algorithms and fast-forward buttons. Newspapers are folding. Movies, yawn. Trump blew up the conventional. Apple can’t do the job without Jobs. Even flossing has been debunked.

Change is afoot. Rampant.

Why should you escape unscathed?

What if the rules that always worked, suddenly don’t ? How will you survive?

Here’s a thought:

Instead of fleeing failure, what if you embrace it?


Drop excuses.

Cut your safety line.

Make shit. Wild shit. See if it sticks to the wall. If not, archive the lesson, open a new file, repeat.

Take a massive risk that could destroy everything. Make it worth it.

View original post 52 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

There is a lot of chatter around the changing nature of blogging. Apparently now blogs are used to make money, sell online course and build a brand. Comments no longer happen and the idea of ‘community’ is a thing of the past. Well, I think my last post showed how wrong that is.

I asked a question about upgrading WordPress. As it turns out I was quite confused, but so many of you responded, giving me advice and support. And I love that, I love the community that surrounds me here, I love our ‘old fashioned’ blogging world. Thank you.

The next part of the post is of an exhibition I went to today, Making the Australian Quilt: 1800 to 1950. It is at the NGV in Melbourne and won’t be travelling. I want to share it because I know there are members of this fantastic community who are wonderful quilters and won’t get the chance to see it. I was thinking of you as I wandered through the exhibition.

Many of the pieces were created within an intimate, private setting, yet have the ability to convey much more of their broader social and historical significance. The exhibition encompasses quilts made by men and women, those made within the context of leisure and accomplishment, created as expressions of love and family connection and those stitched out of necessity in an environment of constraint and hardship. (from the NGV website)

The timeframe tells you that the quilts ranged from those sewn in England and bought out to Australia by the early settlers through to those created in Australia until after WW2. One, the Rajah Quilt was created by women on the convict ship The Rajah. They had been taught sewing skill by the Quaker prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry and given the materials to make the quilt on board. The quilt was given to Lady Jane Franklin wife of the John Franklin, the Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania.

Another was created by Corporal Clifford Gatenby, a POW in a German prison camp during WW2. He sewed images into his army blanket with pieces of wool and cotton taken from discarded garments in the camp, and used needles fashioned from the frames of eyeglasses and ground-down toothbrushes. It took him two and a half years to complete. When he escaped in 1945 he took the quilt with him, saying that it represented too much hard work to leave behind!


Part of the quilt created by Corporal Clifford Gatenby while in a German POW camp in WW2. Made from scrounged wool and cotton.

This next photo shows a detail of a hexagonal quilt made from hexagons that were only one centimetre in diameter!


Hexagon pieces that are only one centimetre in diameter.

As we know sewing was something that was done in the domestic sphere and therefore often went unrecognised as art. But so many of the quilts showed that their creators were as confident colourists as many painters. Look at the beautiful, subtle use of colour in this one.


Quilt detail

And all of this done by hand sewing. Most of the time you couldn’t see the stitches, but this photo shows how fine the stitches were.


Dainty stitching

My sister and I were intrigued by what the reverse sides of the quilts would look like, and kept trying to peer behind the hanging works. We were delighted to see this quilt, showing the other side. This was obvious a work in progress, because the paper supports were still sewn into the quilt. The quilter used whatever came to hand ~ newspapers, book pages and even children’s pages of handwriting practice. My sister, ever the researcher, was trying to read the tiny print!


These two show great use of colour:


Many of the ones below were created with satins and ribbon.


Later in the 1800s there crazy patchwork was fashionable and allowed the women to be much more expressive.


Crazy patchwork

The last part of the exhibition displayed waggas. I didn’t know what they were either. A wagga is a quilt that is made from found and reused materials, making do when resources are scarce. They were often made from samples and swatches of materials, such as men’s suiting. They were common in regional Australia in the first half of the 20th century, during the two world wars and the Depression when other material was scarce. Apparently they were often backed with hession sugar bags and layered for warmth.


A couple of waggas and a patchwork dressing gown.

So, a tantalising thank you to my quilting friends.


Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

WordPress update ~ can you help me?

There is, apparently, an update is needed for my WordPress site. If I am using 2.7 or later, it should be a matter of clicking a button. According to WP I go to my dashboard and click updates and it will all happen. However, I can’t see such a button on my dashboard.

So my first question is: Am I looking in the wrong spot? (although I feel like I have looked everywhere.)

If it is not there, my second question is: How do I find out what version of WP I am using? I have searched around and can’t seem to fin the answer to that one either.

If I am using 2.6 or before, then I have to do it manually. The instructions for that look mighty complicated, and I don’t think I can do it.😦

So, any advice for someone who loves to do the screen stuff, but has no idea how behind the screen works?

[This isn’t the post I thought I would be sending out today….that was a much more interesting one about feather drawings! It will come very soon.]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 25 Comments