Thursday, 1 January 2015

Journal Quilting through Australia

We arrived in Darwin on October 8 and flew out of Hobart almost 11 weeks later.  Along the way, I’ve created seven quilt squares.  Some of the pieces of the journey were over a week but could best be represented with only one square.  And, to be honest, the days were long with interesting things to do.  Some of these squares are made of “returning fabrics” – things I bought when we were here in 2009 that have patiently waited in my stash for an opportunity.  Then there are the found items (shells mostly), random purchases and even a couple of fabric shop finds.  Plus one special gift.
Here's an earlier photo of the whole quilt.
Add Malaysia, and my seven squares from Australia and
my quilt is getting closer to the end of its journey.


The background fabric is one I purchased at the Saturday market on The Rocks in Sidney on our almost last day before flying to Tasmania.  This fellow had a booth with fabric he had designed and had produced in China.  I loved the colours and the feel of the fabric so bought some bits.  Later I wished I had bought more because I didn’t really have enough to make a quilt, although there are some bits in my Down Under Advent Calendar.  The logo is the Qantas kangaroo, copied from a coffee cup I saved from our flight over in 2009 with intentions to use it much sooner.  The background quilting is with “Kimberley Dreaming” silk thread, as that is certainly what was on my mind while visiting Darwin.
(The fellow who was selling the fabric is Reece Scannell, an internationally known textile designer.)

Darwin to Perth

Almost four weeks travelling down the west side of Australia through areas that few people get to see was fascinating (Read about the trip here).  One the west side of the square is the ocean where we snorkelled, fished, watched the ever changing waves... as I’ve been saying to people who ask, “I’m a land locked prairie girl and am easily impressed by the ocean”.  It was knitted on chopsticks from hand dyed (by me in Laos) silk thread.  The plan had been to crochet this, but my hook found its way under the floor at the hostel in Coral Bay.  The land side is fabric dyed with the red dirt of the Kimberleys.  The Aboriginal rock paintings were done with dirt mixed with water, grease, or animal blood, so I guessed it might work – and it certainly did.  Seashells harvested from our visits to the many beaches along the Ningaloo reef will adorn the edge of the water, but they are too fragile to travel for the next four months attached to the quilt.


We were in Perth for ten days during which I completed/planned two more squares. One day, I visited The Thread Studio to pick up dyes, fabric and some extra bits.  This square has as a background some of that “painted for the back of the quilt” fabric.  Flowers on the front are a mixture of our Remembrance Day Poppies (quite different than the Canadian poppies) and some hand painted flowers to represent the ever present frangipani (white with a wee touch of bright yellow at the center) as well as the desert roses that we saw.

The second square I completed is another of those “returning fabrics”.  The day we were leaving Alice Springs in 2009, I found the fabric store – looking for a safety pin to fix something, I believe.  I didn’t really buy any fabric (thinking that there would be lots of other places to buy aboriginal fabric) but I did buy a scarf that I placed around the brim of my hat.  It’s been there and traveled with me over the last five years gaining a patina of experiences (Meaning it’s gotten dirty, faded some and been washed dozens of times).  This is my outback square, quilted with some Kimberley Dreaming thread (this time hand dyed for the Thread Studio).  On its way home is an emu feather from the Thread Studio as well as a perfect shell from Rottnest Island to embellish it.

Perth to Melbourne

Across the Nullarbor we travelled with Scotty and his partner Jaz to Adelaide then a quick three days with Steve to Melbourne.  I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t have a minute of time to even begin this square until our time in Melbourne.  The blue ocean fabric, curved to suggest the Great Australian Bight, was a find in Esperance.  To my delight, there was a quilt shop (actually called a craft shop) between where we had coffee and where we were being picked up to continue our journey.  I also found fabric for another square as well as some embellishments for my Christmas square AND a replacement crochet hook.  The land background is another bit of Reece Scannell fabric.  The little islands of plant life on the desert sands were created with a backing of hemp (left over from a shirt I bought in Kolkata and adjusted before wearing), stuffed with some New Zealand foot fleece and then intensely embroidered with assorted wool and silk threads.  There will be shells added to the waterline when we get home.
This square also contains a gift from Jaz who seemed very touched that I had asked her to sign my quilt (more on that), seeing as she was an unofficial member of the trip.  A wee special rock that she had made into a necklace which was too small to slip over her head winds its way along the water and up the right hand edge of the square.

Franklin River Rafting

In 2006, just after my first impulsive whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River in Canada,  I purchased a “Life is Good”  tshirt in my favourite colour with a happy rafter on the front.  It’s been worn and worn and worn (including on every rafting trip since) and for the last year had started to develop holes as well as worn bits and fading spots.  It was worn one last time (for the first four days), then spread out on a rock for everybody to sign when we had our rest day at Newland’s Cascades. The embellishment is a skipping rock from one of the beaches we stayed at where the guys all demonstrated their rock skipping skills.  Apparently, cricket improves your ability to skip least that is what Jack said.


This fabric was found in Esperance and is about the only fabric I’ve seen in Australia with an Aussie theme (all the flowers are native to Australia) and I’m thinking of this as my planning for Christmas square.  The quilting thread is from a little store in Launceston (where I also found a number of lovely Aussie quilting/embroidery patterns) and the outline is of three blue gum leaves that I picked up heading out to the Bruny Island cruise.  The location was near where Captain Cook first landed in Tasmania (and so did Captain Bligh not once but four times). I went looking for beads at the Salamanca market, but instead found some intriguing wooden buttons “Made in Tasmania”.
And, the lovely Christmas Tree bead that I found in Launceston for the
Advent Calendar, then lost when it fell down off the window, then found again on
Boxing Day in the very bottom of a backpack.

“Please will you sign my quilt”

Since the beginning I’ve been asking people that I have traveled with to sign my quilt.  I had thought that what I would get was a signature but instead most people have taken the time to think about what they want to contribute to this fabric journal of mine.  I have been truly honoured by the time taken and the respect given. Here’s some examples (including a quote in Irish Gaelic about travel).  Perhaps the most precious note is from Jaz, who initially thought she didn’t deserve to sign it because she wasn’t exactly an official part of the Perth to Adelaide trip.  She carefully passed on news that she and Scotty had just learned and my only regret is that I did not read it carefully before we parted ways.  It was an honour and a pleasure to travel with you, Jaz.

No comments:

Post a Comment