I don’t know about you mob, but whilst this portrait of Madame de Pompadour sitting upright at her Tambour frame is fabulous, it’s not quite what you would see if you bowled into my house and caught me stitching. Rather, you’re more likely to find me slouching on the couch or hanging on a seat outside watching the kids run around. And I don’t ever get much time to stitch, I just grab 10 minute sessions here and there between nappies, feeding kids, tidying up the never ending mess and keeping the garden ticking along.
So I have recently begun a pretty major project which involves a piece of cloth which is 1.2 x 1.4 metres in size. I have a table tapestry frame, beautifully hacked by my dad and it’s over a metre wide so I can get a massive bit of fabric on it. But it’s not terribly easy to move around and it really does need a table which is not terribly convenient in our lounge. So I’ve been humming and aahing over a little solution, asked around the interwebs a bit and I think I’ve invented something! If anyone has seen anything like this let me know! If I haven’t invented it, at least I gave it a great name
The problem with working a large piece of fabric on a hoop is that you have to put the fabric somewhere. I know people fold up the edges and clip it but it still means a lot of handling of the fabric and that’s always something to minimise. I thought to myself, what about stuffing it in a bag? That could work, but then hanging onto the bag as well as the hoop could get annoying. Then Valerie mentioned on our Facebook Page that she knew a lady who put it in a pillowcase. Ooh that’s clever! Nice and soft too.
Then a little spark kicked in my brain of a tiny little hack you could make to a pillowcase to make it work just ace. So here’s a tutorial!
How to make a Hoopdaloopdahoop!
Four 15cm strips of ribbon or leftover fabric, anything will do so long as it’s thin and not too wide. Go through your scraps, something will pop out.
Four press studs/domes/whatever you call them where you live. Or buttons, or maybe velcro, whatever you have lying around. Something to attach with, it’ll be clear in the tutorial.
Needle & thread
Sew your four strips of fabric/ribbon to the top of the opening of the pillowcase at evenly spaced intervals. It’s not necessary to measure, just use your eye. You could machine sew this on but I just handsewed them on, didn’t take long, less time than getting the sewing machine out. And it didn’t use any electricity!
Attach your press studs/buttons/velcro whatever to the top of the strips of fabric and a couple of centimetres from the edge of the pilowcase. There needs to be enough strip there to wrap around an embroidery hoop. If you’re using buttons you’ll need a sewing machine to make button holes. Sorry, no idea how you do that The picture below shows how it needs to work.
Figure out which part of the fabric you want to be working on and stuff the rest of the fabric into the pillowcase, leaving the bit you want sticking out the top. You may want to mark the centre with an embroidery pen or some such. If you are working far from the edge you will still need to fold or roll the fabric back to the point where you will be working and secure somehow, with a clip or something. But you’ll only need to do one side so you have access to the back of the fabric. Stuff, stuff!
Clip or button or stick your straps over the part of the embroidery hoop you have on the top of the fabric. Some people use the bit with the screw on top, some use the other bit. However you roll.. Then secure the other part of the embroidery hoop underneath and tighten onto your fabric. You will notice in the picture I only have two strips attached. Firstly I only had three sets of press studs and secondly I broke one while attaching. It’s possible to only have two, but I recommend at least three so the fabric is well secured within the case. The objective is to not have to deal with the fabric so the straps act as a fence.
Tuck any excess fabric into the pillowcase and get stitching!
That only took me about 20 minutes to make, including photographing and toddler interruptions, so pretty darn easy! Hopefully this is helpful for some of you out there. Please let me know if you come up with any different/easier ways of doing it. Maybe someone out there has a good idea on how to close it off at the top for when you need to put your project away?
Now I’m off to keep working on my epic project and see how this baby works. Will keep you posted.
I am pleased as punch to announce the first event for my residency project at Iramoo “Sauce and Swap!”
On Saturday April the 30th, we’ll be saucing it up with apples from the tree at the EcoLiving Centre. And we’ll be making labels with a Gocco printer so if you’ve never used one before it’s your perfect opportunity to come give it a go! Draw! Pilgrim has done the label design and it is GORGEOUS! She also did the poster, isn’t it great!
At some stage between peeling, chopping, stirring, sterilising and printing, I’ll be giving a little introductory talk about my craft and what sort of stuff I’ll be getting up to during the residency.
And there’s a community swap meet going on as well. So bring all your unwanted (but good!) stuff and swap it for some other stuff. How rad is that?
If you are planning to come, please try and bring some jars. We need small sauce jars and lids, no more than 300ml in size. And if you can get the labels off before you come that will save us a heap of time on the day.
Don’t forget to help us spread the word amongst the locals. I’ve started meeting people, but I’m sure there’s tons of closet craft/apple sauce/community radness fans out there.
See you there!
Righto! Who’s up for a stitch-a-long?
Radical Cross Stitch is teaming up with Public Assembly to create a contribution to the Digital Embroidered Commons project that’s being facilitated by the amazing Ele Carpenter. We will be stitching the term SITE and we want you to help!
We’re creating an installation piece as part of the Sculpture Now!?! exhibition at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery and we are creating a craft room inside the gallery for the purposes of stitching the term together. And we’d love you to join us.
We will be in the gallery for three making sessions. Each session complete with cups of tea, baked goods and of course, radical discussion.
“SITE: Location, both as in the fact of being somewhere, and also, as in the answer to the question of “where”, that “somewhere” is. Hence, situation.”
Step into our craft room, make yourself a cuppa and pick up a needle. All welcome, no experience necessary. Join us as we embrace the radical political and artistic spirit of centuries of craft circles to unpick the big issues of the day.
Friday 27th August 5-8pm (open session – this is the official opening of the show so will be a tad busy..)
Thursday 2nd September 1-4 (limited spaces, RSVP kids welcome)
Sunday 5th September 1-4 (limited spaces, RSVP kids welcome)
The installation is viewable as a snapshot of a work in progress at all other times
Sculpture Now!?! will deliver a snapshot of the current thematic and conceptual influences that inform contemporary sculptural practice in Australia. The artists range from emerging to established with an emphasis on innovation and experimentation. The exhibition aspires to shed some light on the myriad of diverse trajectories in which sculptural practice is heading.
Other artists participating: Stelarc, Hannah Bertram, Rod McRae, Karleena Mitchell, Petra Svoboda, Junky Projects, Eliza-Jane Gilchrist, Linelle Septo, Lucie Hallenstein
One of the main reasons I craft is for the joy of process.
I find nothing more calming than sitting down with a cup of tea, a good podcast or tv show and picking up some stitching. Sometimes though, stitching can turn in to a bit of a chore. I do most of my stitching for exhibition or testing designs for sale as patterns. And I enjoy both equally. But it is super important that I give myself a balance between the two otherwise it does sometimes start to feel like work.
And occasionally I like to sneak in a stitching project just for fun! We truly can’t take ourselves too seriously all the time otherwise it’s easy to lose perspective on why we’re being serious.
I’m guessing I’m not alone in the craft community in feeling like crafting is a form of meditation for me. What I find particularly interesting is how my wandering thoughts change depending on what it is I’m stitching about. I have spent time stitching and thinking about craft history, feminist organising, radical parenting, environmental activism, identity politics just to name a few things. And I very much enjoy this intellectual space crafting provides for me.
However, when I’m working on a bigger project I sometimes find I need a BREAK! The problem when you’re on a deadline though is that it can only be a little break. It’s times like this I often crack out the sewing machine and make a small project or two. Or I do a small cross stitch project, often on a kids tshirt or something.
My latest short break was inspired by a dig in my craft room and I stumbled on a wee frame I got in an op shop. It had been lying around for a while and I decided I’d had enough looking at it and wanted to use it. So I grabbed an opportunity to make something new and little and frivolous.
And I’ve decided to give this one away. I want to give this to one of our readers just to say thanks for your ongoing support. Despite not having too much time to blog at the moment it makes me so happy that people continue to visit and say hi. And people keep joining up on Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr to share ideas, projects and thoughts.
So to enter this give-away, just comment on this blog post and I want to hear what it is you get out of your craft? What sort of fulfilment do you appreciate from having time to make stuff? Comments before July 16 go in the random draw.
It’s been a little while since I started a new Kiva loan. The last loan to Janet in Samoa was paid back a while ago and the credit has been sitting there waiting for me to get organised..
Since I last made a loan the Etsy Lending Team has got more active and there’s a number of regular lenders boosting up our lending numbers. We’ve just hit $4000 in loans! Are you an etsy seller and a kiva lender? Come join the team
My latest loan was a little hard to find. I’ve noticed there’s a lot less makers on Kiva and a definite increase in people selling cheap mass produced products. This makes me quite sad to be honest. I thought Kiva was about reducing the need for sweatshop economies..
Regardless, I did find the Morales family in Barranquilla, Colombia. They make and sell a range of things to help their family prosper including hand made shoes, jewelry and clothing.
So give them a wave people, and wish them luck!
And for those of you out there still looking for last minute christmas ideas, consider a kiva gift voucher! It’s a great last minute gift idea and the recipient gets to chose the person(s) to lend to. Go on, make a difference!
Happy festive season everyone and see you in the next decade.
Apologies for the lack of blogging. I’m in full on pregnancy countdown mode at the mo, and it’s not being the easiest one. So I’m thinking things will be pretty sporadic for a while. But there’s some stuff I just HAVE to share with you all!
I’m sure most of you have checked out the handmade internet sensation regretsy.com – it’s a hilarious site and has quite the cult following these days. I was very proud to have not one, but TWO products featured on there! First off (and not that surprisingly) was the embroidery porn piece I did for the Craft Cartel Trashbag Rehab workshop earlier in the year. It sold within hours of being posted on regretsy and I’ve had tons of custom orders. It’s been quite surreal.
What was then even more surreal was the email I got from Regretsy asking if I’d be keen to be part of a card series they were planning. Yeah why the hell not?
So you too can own your own piece of embroidered gay anime porn, and even better – share the love with your friends and family!
That’s mine discretely being censored by the others.. You can buy 8 of one design or a set of two of each. And at $10 a set, that’s quite the bargain.
And in other regretsy news, they’ve managed to sign a book deal with Random House. I’m thinking the porn might not pass their censorship standards. But luckily I have another product on regretsy’s site – the legendary Plug Rugs! Which have, of course, now sold out. These also popped up on the salon.com story about regretsy. So hopefully they get in the book.
The other rad thing I’ve been meaning to post for ages is the pdf of the Interventionist Guide zine! If you go to the website and click on Guides, mine is about halfway down. The zine features a whole lot of my thoughts about urban spaces and how we relate to them as humans. As well as the tutorial on how to cross stitch a heart on a bicycle basket.
Finally, have you checked out the London-based Craftivist Collective yet? They’re getting up to some seriously ace stuff. This latest pic popped up on Facebook and I reckon it’s a big bucket of brilliant. They’ve got tons of things going on so if you want to join in go join them on FB.
If you went into the city in the weekend, it’s quite likely you saw something a tad unusual. You may have seen a garden in a strange place, a performance that left you scratching your head or a group of people doing something a bit odd. Or you may not have even noticed at all as a group of silent people walked past you, experiencing the sounds of the city without making any of their own.
It was a fantastic weekend of interventions by all the artists involved in the Interventionist Guide to Melbourne. Did you see or hear anything over the weekend? I’d love to hear if you did.
As for the radical cross stitch component, there were two interventions over the weekend. The first was a cross stitch on an existing grid on Lonsdale Street, just near the corner of King Street. There is a beautiful old blue stone building there which is currently a barristers office, but in one of its manifestations was the home of the Seabrook Wine Merchants. Fittingly – at some point in time – a grape vine was planted outside the front and over the years has been trained up the side of the building. To help it along the way, a wire grid was attached to the side of the building.
This is what caught my eye.
During the G20 trials I spent a bit of time in this area and I noticed just how few children were around this part of town. During the week most of them are in school I realise but even small children are noticeably absent. And gee, try taking a pram through court security.. In the weekend this part of the city is a ghost town.
I decided this spot was perfect for a bit of commentary on the invivsibility of children in the urban space.
All the times I’d visited this space previously there wasn’t any greenery on the grape vine. The last time I went past there was a very small amount. So I was delighted to see how much had grown on it. The vine created a perfect frame for what I’d planned to do!
There’s a few more pics on our Facebook Page if you wanna check them out.
The next stage of operations was the Melbourne Bicycle Beautification Society Outing in Flinders Lane. Normally this is a site rich in bicycle basket bounty but Sunday there was very few. So rather than sit there and stitch baskets as they came and went, participants were armed with a zine including instructions, a needle, wool and a thank you tag and sent around the city to find baskets in other places.
Each zine kit had wool to make one of these
And one of these wee tags to say thank you to the owner of the bicycle for being a cyclist
Hopefully I get some more pics from participants over the next couple of days. Were you one of them? Where did you find your basket?
The zine with the instructions and all my thoughts about the issues of intervening in the city will be online for download soon. In the meantime I have a couple more kits with all the bits in them left to giveaway. If you’d like to win one just leave a comment below and tell me what are some of the things you think about when you’re walking through cities.
Overall, a wonderful weekend! Massive thanks and congratulations to Lynda for her brilliant curating. This has been a wonderful show to be a part of and I do hope we get to work together again soon.
It’s been a bit quiet on the ol’ RCS blog as of late. Partly due to the never ending joys of pregnancy (promise not to bore you with the details..) but also partly due to the busyness of preparing for some upcoming exhibitions. And it’s about time our lovely readers got to hear the details!
Firstly, opening next week in Jönköpings, Sweden, is “Craftwerk 2.0: New Household Tactics for the Popular Crafts”.
Craftwerk 2.0 is an exhibition that explores the new “updated” textile crafts that are developed by a new generation of serious amateurs, innovative craftsmen, engaged entrepreneurs and political practitioners.
This is one of the biggest craft exhibitions on the calendar this year and the RCS crew is most excited to be a part of it! Both I and the Ninja have pieces in the show including ‘Oh Sorry, was that your land?’, ‘Homes for All’, Mario map, and an as yet unseen series of QR codes. There’s some really interesting events running with the show and I urge anyone anywhere near Sweden to put this show in your diary! The exhibition runs from September 19 until January 16 2010.
The next exhibition on the agenda is Explosive Expression, an Art Auction and Exhibition in commemoration of the second anniversary of the State Terror Raids in New Zealand of October 15th, 2007. For more info on the Exhibition and the Auction (online bids are welcome for those not able to be in Wellington) check out the website and the Facebook event.
I was most honoured to be asked to contribute to this show. As readers will probably know, I am friends with a number of the defendants so have paid close attention to the developments of the cases. But aside from that I am appalled at the massive amounts of money being spent by the NZ counter terrorism unit investigating activists. As the Greens warned when this legislation was first introduced, it’s about giving massive powers to Police which encroach on civil liberties. And they warned from day one, due to the complete lack of domestic terrorism the legislation would inevitably be used to monitor and stifle dissent.
Whether or not the defendants are found guilty on the charges they all face is quite irrelevant to the overall issue that the Police spent over $10million investigating, using intensely intrusive surveillance techniques, a significant proportion of the NZ activist community in the name of counter-terrorism. They executed warrants on homes across the country and literally terrorised entire communities and homes containing small children.
The small group of people now facing relatively minor charges in comparison to the hype created around the initial raids now have to face the ‘justice’ system and receive a fair trial. To do this they need massive contributions towards their defence. Not just to cover the legal costs but also the costs of travel for the defendants and their families every time they need to be in court.
I urge anyone out there with an interest in collecting art, particularly political art to check out the works on the website and consider making a bid. Especially those of you in countries with strong currencies! The NZ Dollar is buying about 70 US cents at the mo’ so money coming in from overseas will go further
I will post an image of the completed piece once it’s on the Oct 15th Solidarity site.
Thirdly, I was asked a while back to participate in a Melbourne show (finally!!) and there was no way I was going to say no to this one! Curated by the super inspiring Lynda Roberts from Public Assembly, the Interventionist Guide to Melbourne is a group show of work by artists who focus their work in engaging with the urban fabric.
The show is both gallery and street based with the Platform Gallery being transformed into a virtual map of Melbourne revealing sites for individuals and groups to creatively and temporarily intervene within the existing urban fabric.
Each artist will contribute work in various mediums but each will be editing a zine guide as to how to go out and ‘do’ their form of intervention. The works will inspire members of the public to go out and do their own interventions which can be documented and will add to the show.
My work is very much focussed around challenging notions of space, particularly around issues of ownership, construction and access. I’ll be sharing the skills for three types of craft based intervention and am pleased to say none of it involves yarn bombing..
The opening is on October the 2nd at Platform (FB event here) and continues until the 30th. Contributing artists will also be out on the street on Oct 16-18 intervening! Keep an eye on the website for more details.
Finally – and this is the half – I’ve been working on a page for the 2010 3CR Calendar. It’s one of the major fundraising activities for Melbourne’s best grassroots community, activist radio station. And I was super honoured to be asked to contribute. So it’s not really an exhibition as such, but a group show appearing on a wall near you! I understand the calendar is about to go to the printers and I think the launch is in November some time. Will let you know details when I know them.
The piece I contributed is an antique inspired sampler with an anti-consumerist theme. Reckon you old skool cross stitchers out there will love it. I’m also going to release the pattern as a fundraiser for 3CR, it’ll be available in the Radical Rags store sometime later this year.
So I reckon there’s been about 80,000 or so stitches over the last few months which hopefully explains the lack of blog words! I’ll update this site over the next few weeks with more images and details as they come to hand.
Thanks for stopping in to make sure we’re still here
I went to Sunshine yesterday. Or as I call it ‘the suburb that should be done for false advertising’. It’s named after the Sunshine tractors that used to be made there. Sadly, visiting is normally a dreary experience. But it’s always full of surprises so I do keep getting drawn back again.
The best thing about Sunshine is the op shops. They’re amazing. And with a distinct lack of ‘hipsters’ in the local population there’s not much competition for the good stuff.
I thought it was time to get around to my guided tour of the Sunshine op shops as well as showing off some of my new vintage finds.
First up and the best of the lot is the Sunshine St Vinnies (map link). Every time I go there I get ace stuff for not many dollars.
Sunshine St Vinnies (SSV) is actually where the Op Shop Goddess lives. If you need something and you want to buy it second hand, just think about it for a week and then go there. Chances are you’ll find it.
When Tara was old enough to need some furniture I thought ‘gee, wish I could find some lovely handmade wooden chairs for her’. Went to SSV the next week and found two of these:
I can’t remember how much I paid but it was either $3 or $4 each. And they’re handmade! And super well made, will last WAY longer than some cheap plastic numbers.
And THEN I’d been thinking for ages that I needed to get the materials together to make a beanbag ’cause they’re such awesome things to have around the house. Popped down to SSV and lo and behold:
$5! And it’s a perfect stitching seat!
SSV is also a ripper spot for picking up vintage fabrics and clothes. Half my apron collection comes from there. This was the latest yesterday:
Surely enough ranting about one store. But it’s a great place for cute things for the kitchen and books and even plants sometimes. I’ve not found it that great for clothes as it does target the young girls market a bit much for my liking. But still managed to pick up a couple of good ol cardies. And the best bit is that it’s across the road from the train station and bus terminus so very easy to get to!
Next up and just around the corner on Hampshire Road is the Goss n Shop shop. I think it’s run by the Anglicans? Can’t remember… It’s a great place for clothes, especially kids clothes and has a pretty good kitchen section. But the best thing about this place is the craft supplies section. It’s awesome, and extremely well organised. They clearly have a volunteer or three who understand the importance of a well organised stash! The fabric is all rolled up and clearly labelled with price and size and the buttons are all organised by type in cute little containers. My ONLY problem with this place is that some of the craft stuff is way too expensive. Like, more expensive than the same item brand new. Yet, the completed craft work is very undervalued. One day I was in there and saw tapestry working frames for $8 and completed tapestries that would’ve taken hours and hours to make for $5.
But a genuinely nice place to visit and there’s even a place to pray if you’re that way inclined..
By this stage you will be needing a rest. I suggest you pop across the road to Miel. Their food is healthy and yum and their coffee isn’t too bad either. Double shot isn’t default so make sure you ask for it if you like your coffee with coffee in it.
After Miel you should head through the arcade next to the discount pharmacy across the street. Make sure you check out the Indian food shop in there. It rules. Lots. There’s also some groovy stuff in the African shops. Check them out!
Then head out the other side of the arcade and across the carpark and across the street on Clarke Street is not one but TWO op shops!
In October(ish) last year the Salvos opened a new store there. It’s pretty swish and has a lot of new stuff but you can find some really good things. I’ve seen a couple of sewing machines in there and last time I visited they had a gorgeous white portable typewriter for only $10. It is generally on the expensive side of things but it’s a really nice clean store and the staff are really friendly and helpful.
Next door is the Market op shop – I think it’s called something a bit different but does have Market in the name! It’s part of the Unitarian Church on the corner. It’s an incredible shop. It’s not open all the time and even when it’s supposed to be open it sometimes isn’t but it’s worth getting in there. It’s a very cluttered shop and has a fair bit of stuff you won’t be able to dig deep enough to find but it’s absolutely worth a good rumage. The stuff in there is pretty cheap too. I’d describe it as one of the last country opshops left in the city where you can find really old, rare antique vases holding the knitting needles!
I picked up a couple of beautiful old hand made pieces yesterday:
Look at the amazing detail on this!
I also picked up this insane ‘thing’. Would love to hear if anyone can think of any suggestions as to what is might have been made for. It’s got no fingers or thumbs so it’s not a glove. It’s too small to be a bag caddy, would probably only fit two plastic bags. The hole is at the top so it’s not a puppet. Any ideas?
I’ve hung him up in the bathroom so he can enjoy the afternoon sun.
There is another op shop ‘over the tracks’ which I just heard about but have yet to visit. Will report when I do.
The other good things about Sunshine are: awesome Indian food shops, awesome Library, awesome vege shop on Devonshire Rd and some pretty good Pho in any one of the yummy Vietnamese restaurants.
But yes Sunshine does have it’s fair share of gloom. It saddens me that in a part of Melbourne with very bad numbers on all the health and education indicators that there aren’t many healthy options around. Even the advertising is all for really unhealthy stuff. Outside every school there is ads for junk food. It makes my blood boil. I wonder what sort of start a lot of these kids are getting when their diet is made up of sugar, salt, fat and colourings before they even turn one..
Bak to the sunshine though! We do have community gardens and urban orchards and sewing groups and language groups and we’re working on bike paths and slowly we’re making this part of town a more healthy and sustainable place to live. So I have hope.
I don’t tend to get too worked up when famous people leave this world, but the passing of J.G. Ballard certainly gave me cause for more than a few moments contemplation. A friend tweeted the quote above – which I thought was quite a sweetly ironic thing to tweet – and I thought it deserved to be immortalised in cross stitch. But certainly not a traditional design.
Rest in Peace brother.
Thanks for the inspiration.