Friday 31 May 2013

shapeshifting in paradise

imagine a wild garden with twenty five ENORMOUS mango trees
[bigger than those oaks and buckeyes in California, to put them into perspective for those reading on the other side of the pond]
a rosa mutabilis, a persimmon, an abundance of citrus
ferns growing with weedlike vigour
bougainvillea, eucalyptus

Avril's garden was frankly heavenly and it was unalloyed joy to be in it for three days.

we worked on a beautiful porch
supervised by Winston

who sometimes found the responsibility exhausting

we had a quiet but curious visitor

who may have been attracted by the dressmaking tools
that were being made

[a whirled without string is a whirled in chaos]

i was introduced to the 'ice cream bean'
whose botanical name Inga edulis sounds like she could be Latvian :o)

there is fluffy stuff inside
which is fabulously delicious
the usual suspects
which opened up to

the 'shapeshifter' class really keeps me on my toes
because everybody arrives with different cloth
and their personal collection of pre-loved goodness
ready to transform 
it is my responsibility to make sure that everybody goes home happy
with something beautiful

the Dogs Above were kind

i wore my hoodie because it was cool
[i meant the weather, but the hoodie is too]
and that gave some people ideas

i usually frown on people bringing tumeric to class
but those yellow spots there
were from the home-grown variety
[curiously that fern print later oxidised to a golden brown]

 my grey cells had a lot of exercise
i had a very happy three days
thank you, everybody

Wednesday 29 May 2013

in case you want to wrap yourself up...

just a couple of places remain
in the one-day wrapclass at the Grau Haus
as far as i can count on my fingers, the only other workshop places left this year
will be at Maiwa in September and in Portland in November
most all the other ones are taken

the diary is making squeaky noises and popping at the seams
it's highly unlikely i will be adding anything else to the schedule this year
especially if i am to realise that other project 
that's warming to a simmer
on the back hob

Friday 24 May 2013

happiness + hey ho, hey ho, it's off to work i go

driving to the airport this morning
through swirling fog and mist
watching the dawn light break through to the treetops
i realised that what my work is about
is happiness.

i might be pootling off to teach people how to shapeshift in cloth
or make an ecoprint bundle, or felt a landskin
or magic colour into paper and make a book
but no matter what the subject of the class
the outcome is happiness

which comes from the magic that mother nature creates
when we set the stage in a certain way
by paying attention to small things
leaves, sticks, stones, a rusty bottlecap or a shred of aluminium foil
and wrap those bundles that are really presents to ourselves

and by coincidence, this morning's mailbox had something from
Zen Habits ...The Little Book of Contentment
you may want to have a look [confess i haven't read it yet
- will do that later in the day]

wishing y'all a happy day
....i'm optimistic for mine!

Tuesday 21 May 2013

pescadero sloppy hoodie

i am going to be so snuggly warm in my hoodie
stacking rocks at dawn on the Atlantic coast next month
the photos [using shake-it photo app] don't really do it justice
[but they make old-fashioned polaroid noises come out of the batfone]
stitching a few shiny pearl buttons on
to ward off the evil eye [just in case]
and of course
there is a pocket for a poem

a mite overexposed...

Monday 20 May 2013

carpe diem and a mailbox mystery

when i was much much younger
i thought that 'carpe diem' meant 'a fish a day'
[a bit like the doctor-deterring apple]

now i know it means something else and is quite Sagittarian.
[that Nike slogan 'just do it' sums us up quite well
and though it can sometimes lead to trouble
most times i find it a good plan]

when the Dogs Above were having me land stateside a couple of days early next month
i took it as a sign that they wanted me to do something there.

and when i floated the idea to my friend Claudia at the GrauHaus
she thought it showed signs of promise as well.

which means that if you're in Hollywood and at a loose end on the solstice  
you might like to join us for a day of play [and delicious lunch]

[if you're in Australia earlier in June, your playdate could have been found here, except that i just checked and it looks as though it could be booked out]

and thank you so very much to all those who took the time to comment on the previous post
especially if you had trouble with google and had to resort to trailing through the contact page on my website to encourage your pigeon to fly - it means a lot to me

awaiting a few more quotes from printers and then i shall be taking that big leap off the diving board
[fingers crossed no-one takes the plug out of the pool]

i do love getting stuff in the mail
this one has my grey cells morris-dancing [with bells on, in nineteen different positions]

.... why is it that i can think of at least nine people whose hand-writing is just like this?


Thursday 16 May 2013


 back in 2008, on the ides of January to be quite precise, I dipped my toes into the sometimes murky waters of the whirled of blogging for the very first time, posting a first experimental scrawl on the wall, just to see if [as I wrote then] the paint would stick and what sort of fish one might catch with it.

and I have to say that the fishing has been such fun. I’ve been frankly astonished that 1143 of you are swinging by regularly and delighted to meet quite a few of you out in the real whirled, at classes, exhibitions and the occasional conference.


The blog has given me a chance to share some roadpix, tell stories and sometimes rant a bit. [sigh. The latter isn’t really the most effective way to spend my remaining and precious days on the planet]

And when it comes to the crunch, reading a blog

involves scrolling down a screen. On a machine.


I’m a girl who likes turning pages, preferably with a delicious beverage in hand…whether that’s Bombay, Bourbon or simply a fragrant cup of Lady Grey tea [loose leaf, Twinings]…and while turning pages I also like to make marks on them. scribble in the margins. Underline. Maybe paste in something extra that I’ve found elsewhere. A smear of dark chocolate for fragrance [but only if the crumbs have fallen on the page, dark chocolate is meant to be eaten]


I like a book I can stuff into a small bag or a biggish pocket. Something I can build on in wanderings. Mutable, not fixed. Good paper stock. Something that makes me want to write and draw in it


So I am cooking a plan [y’all know how I LOVE to cook]. I’ll be launching it on the coming solstice [midsummer for those in the North, mid-winter if you’re in the South]


There will be actual pages. A good big handful of them.

They will arrive, beautifully bound, three times a year. There will be pictures

Stories from wanderings. Charms to murmur over the cauldron. [And in amongst the other treasures, those recipes you’ve been asking for…the ones for things to eat]

There may be

Precious pieces of ecoprint cloth and there will be patterns for things you will want to make and wear.

And of course other amusing [and useful] surprise presents because, frankly, presents are fun.


It means

You’ll be able to look over my shoulder while relaxing in your favourite armchair with a furry friend

or on a grassy hillside or while wriggling your toes in warm sand

or strapped into your seat while the captain is revving for take-off


Perhaps not while in the swimming pool.


The pages might get soggy.

So, what do you think? want to come along for the ride?

Tuesday 14 May 2013

sustainable shapeshifting

i hit the ground the day before yesterday
running and dancing with excitement
that trip to New Orleans and NorCal was better than an intravenous vitamin B shot

today i sewed a shapeshifter dress - from a pre-loved bodice
and a pile of remnants, including a panel of silk pockets
that once graced Beautiful Silks' showroom

 i sewed another dress from an old silk curtain

and then
i made my Pescadero Sloppy Hoodie
by combining everything bar the ribbed waist bits
of three soft and fuzzy things 
[two were pure cashmere and the other a mix]
found at the Pescadero thrift store
[just across the road from my favourite taqueria]

there was one frustrating moment
when the thread on the overlocker snapped
and i found not one but two knots in it -
what is the point of tying in a tiny morsel of thread literally 9 inches apart?

the hood was once a vest
[the oil in the eucalyptus leaves i plan to use for dyeing will get rid of that pink]

i decided it was too short
so i added a big chunk to the lower edge

the sleeves of the garment that donated the extension
became a lovely big kanga-pocket for the front
which will be stitched on by hand
then all that remains is to add a little unifying pattern
but those are jobs for tomorrow

Monday 13 May 2013

the last 9 hours before the pond hop

on the beach at San Gregorio
no stones, so i piled driftwood
a favourite winding road
California poppies wild in California
i spend my last nine hours in California revisiting favourite haunts
driving familiar roads that take me back in time
stacking wood and then some stones - that pale one on the top
came in my pocket from Drakes Beach, near Point Reyes
the third one down
was found perfectly split

i had a perfect and ridiculously cheap lunch
at the small taqueria that occupies part of the gas station
at Pescadero
across from the thrift store where i found a number of cashmere sweaters #

my friend Claudia gave me this white stretchy dress
one of a new series she is working on
it has great shape
and fabulous pockets
i stitched around the neckline while waiting for flights
[it won't stay white for very much longer]

there was an all too brief stop in Auckland
followed by a fabulous view of beautiful Awhitu

and then after a few more hours i was home
where someone was waiting
[and immediately took up her position on the suitcase]

+    +    +    +    +    +    +    +    +

#  to be transformed into a big sloppy-joe/hoodie arrangement
with a big pocket across the front for my hands to meet in
and perhaps a tiny silk pocket on the back, just in case of notes.
i need something warm and soft and comfy for cool evenings

Saturday 11 May 2013

local colour in California

i've just finished teaching two classes in northern California
though only a couple of hours apart [in terms of travel time]
the colours we achieved were radically different

buckeye or California horse chestnut [Aesculus californica], a cousin of the conker [Aesculus hippocastanum]
at lovely Inverness, the local colour for May is very definitely green
from buckeye, wild carrot, nettles and ferns
punctuated by luminous reds and oranges from eucalyptus
[plants which can also be found there, though they don't belong]
...and a few slices of purple carrot 

inland [plotting a course east by north-east] at Loomis
the climate is warmer despite the higher altitude
and the flowering season well advanced on that of the coast
purple prunus abounded and eucalyptus flourish [weed-like] all over the place

the thread that ran through both classes
[and which runs through them all i think, no matter where they are
or what the exact focus of the class]

is the warmth and community that we share
when we retreat from the busy-ness of the whirled 
to bundle cloth and settle down to stitch
for however many [or few] precious days we have set aside

thank you 
Emma and Sharon at the Tin Thimble ["that could"]
Claudia and Pam [the Gorgeous Grau Sisters]
and all my lovely warm-hearted and enthusiastic students
for welcoming me to northern California

+   +   +

where i am also able to indulge another passion
architecture of the Art Deco period