Bendigo 2015

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What a bit time of year July is for the fibre world. I’m back and rested up after my time in Bendigo for the Australian Sheep and Wool Show this year, and what a wonderful time.

I had a wonderful time at the Artisans Textile Festival, meeting so many lovely crafters. I love being able to share the glorious White Gum Wool with you, and I’m looking forward to when I can do that more often in just a few short weeks, once Metafour Studio opens its doors at Burrinja in Upwey.

The Woolcraft competition at the Sheep & Wool Show was very kind to me this  year, with three 1st prizes and one 2nd prize. I feel very fortunate to have taken home 1st and 2nd in Rigid Heddle Weaving, 1st in Handwoven Article in Other Animal Fibres (using the absolutely magical mohair from Lara Downs), and 1st in Handcrafted Article Using Innovative Techniques for my experiment with weaving LED lights.

I very much encourage other weavers and crafters to enter the Show – it’s so wonderful to see everyone’s work on display.


Metafour Studio

New Studio Shopfront for Metafour Studio

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I’m very excited to announce that as of August 2015, Metafour Studio will be located at the Burrinja Cultural Community Centre in Upwey, Victoria. Burrinja is a special place in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. I’m delighted to be returning to the place that I grew up – I am endlessly inspired by the wonderful Hills.

The new studio space will have textile supplies for sale, included Schacht products and White Gum Wool. I’ll be adding more local yarn producers to the shop as I go, and I’m delighted that I will be able to showcase the incredible talents of local fibre producers.

The space is a working studio with original textile are for viewing and sale, and classes will primarily be run from this space.

For the first couple of the weeks I’ll be moving in and setting up. Visitors are welcome, but if you are looking for something in particular while I’m setting up, please call first to make sure I have it for you

On Saturday August 29, there will be an opening celebration day from 1pm – 4pm. See the events page for more details!

Berwick Show Craft Entries

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Last weekend saw the annual Berwick Show, and despite the very hot weather, it was a delight to see so many entries in the craft pavilion. There were some truly beautiful pieces in many categories, and the standard of handwoven entries at Berwick is always very high.

It’s great to see handweaving out on public display, and local agricultural shows are an excellent way to show your work. I like the fact that the general public get to see the talent in their communities, and that we can challenge the idea of handcrafts being a dying art.

I was pleased to take home a 2nd prize in Handwoven Article for Day at the Beach, and 3rd prize in Handwoven Scarf for Imladris. The winning entry in Handwoven Article in particular was just amazing – beautiful handwoven cloth, professionally finished as a gorgeous handbag. It never ceases to amaze me, the creativity and skill of the craft community.

If you’ve never entered a show before, I do encourage you to do so. Most local shows are inexpensive to enter, and you just never know what result you might get. At the very least, you get to represent your craft for the public.

Summer School at the Guild

posted in: Classes, Weaving | 0

On Sunday, I taught a class on creating the Windowpane pattern with a rigid heddle loom, as part of the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria’s annual Summer School program.



Ten delighted weavers learned to warp their looms, and began creating their own windowpane scarves. I’m enjoying seeing pictures of the finished scarves as students complete them in their own time. It’s a versatile pattern, and is it easier than it looks to learn it!

Most students had their own rigid heddle looms, but for those who did not, Metafour Studio is now able to offer Cricket looms to hire.

Exhibition at Apollo Bay

posted in: Exhibitions | 0

I’m thrilled to be part of the beautiful group exhibition, Tactile Pleasure, at Apollo Bay.

Where: Anglican Church Hall, Main St, Apollo Bay
When: January 7 – 31 2015, open 10am – 4pm daily
More information at the exhibition Facebook page.

There are many artists on display, and more than a hundred pieces of handmade art on offer. All pieces are for sale, and many kinds of medium are represented.

I have some handwoven scarves, some of the Thrumblings brooch series, and a number of pieces of wall art.

Tactile Pleasure exhibition
The hall is chock full of beautiful art to get lost in.
Tactile Pleasure exhibition.
Two of my scarves nestled among other wonders.
Tactile Pleasure exhibition
My Gold Sky Lace shown with some wonderful feltwork.














Several pieces have already gone to their new homes, but there are plenty more to choose from!

Woven brooches.
Thrumblings OOAK woven brooches.


Case Study: Creating a 60th Birthday Gift

posted in: Weaving | 0

I was delighted to be asked by a friend to create something special for her father’s upcoming 60th birthday. My customer knew she’d like to give her father a custom handwoven scarf, and she knew he liked his scarves to be a little shorter and thinner than my more standard dimensions. And, she knew her father liked soft and luxurious fibres. But she wasn’t sure what the scarf should look like.

This is definitely not unusual! In fact, it’s vary rare for a customer to come to me and ask for exactly what they want, because they’re just not quite sure. That’s nothing at all to worry about. We’ll work together to create something that fits your vision, no matter how detailed or otherwise it started out.


Learning about the recipient

I wanted to know more about my customer’s father. I already knew we were planning a scarf of a certain dimension, and that it needed to be very soft. We’d established that he had no allergies or sensitivities that might dictate what material the scarf needed to be made from. But what else? What colours did he often wear? What climate did he live in? Did he often wear scarves, or only when he felt cold? Was he a man who liked to be “in fashion”, did he prefer a more classic look, or was he a practical man who preferred form to function? I like to ask a lot of questions at this stage of creating a custom piece.


Teasing out the ideas

My customer and I worked together to form some ideas. She wanted her father to have a piece he could talk about, something that was obviously not “off the rack”, and a bit different to the more usual scarf. And, we’d established that he preferred a more classic style, and that he wore scarves often as an accent to his outfit. That meant that the scarf would need to be lightweight, so that he could wear it even when the weather was not especially cold.

So now I knew the dimensions, the basic look (classic, understated, yet a conversation piece), and I had a good idea of what fibres to work with. The next step was to look through pictures of previous Metafour Studio work with my customer, to see if any designs were similar to what she envisaged for her father.


Looking for inspiration

There were two previous Metafour Studio scarves that my customer was drawn to. She thought that Winter Lace was a good match for the elements she wanted, although the dimensions were not right for her father. She also liked the bold contrast in Poetry in Black and White, but was concerned that her own personal preferences might be influencing her a little there.


Creating the vision

I was confident that using the spot lace technique in Winter Lace would be a good outcome for her, producing a light, soft scarf in luxurious silk and wool with a texture that is not available in store-bought pieces. It had the classic look in black and white, but was just subtly unusual enough to invite comment. So, I wove Coffeehouse for my customer.

I had a little time before her deadline, so I wove a second option that answered her interest in the bolder contrasting shades. The design was less classic and more unusual, but would certainly be a piece that could not possibly have been store-bought.

The result was Cityscape, using ethically produced White Gum Wool that provides a talking point of its own as well as being some of the softest Merino yarn I have ever worked with.



The moment of truth

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking, sending off the email with pictures of the finished work. I hope I’ve asked enough questions and understood my customer’s needs well enough, and I hope that what I’ve woven for them will bring delight and be “just the thing”.

This time around, my customer was so pleased with the designs that she surprised me by deciding to purchase both options! Another family member had recently had a major life event and she wanted a gift for him as well. She chose the classic Coffeehouse for her father, and the bolder Cityscape for her second gift. She reported that both giftees were very pleased with their custom-woven scarves.



Open Studio Series at Wyreena Arts Centre, Croydon

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I’m very excited about my upcoming Open Studios series, which is running at Wyreena Arts Centre in Croydon, Victoria. The grounds are gorgeous, and their on-site cafe is both beautiful and delicious.

So for two hours each Friday morning until Christmas, I’ll be working in Studio Two upstairs. You (yes, you!) are very welcome to say hello, see what I’m working on, and perhaps try your hand at weaving on one of my demonstration Cricket looms.

You’re also welcome to bring your own fibre craft of whatever kind, and stay for a cup of tea and a chat.

Supervised children are welcome.
When: Fridays, 10:00am – 12 noon
Where: Wyreena, 13-23 Hull Road, Croydon
Dates: October 17 & 31, November 7, 14, 21 & 28, December 5 & 12
Note there is no Open Studio on 24 October.

One of *those* projects on the loom…

posted in: Weaving | 0

It’s one of those projects. They happen now and again. I want to use a particular weft yarn, and I play with combinations to use for a warp yarn until I find one I think will work.

So far, so good. And the yarn I picked, Mayhem and Chaos Rockstar in Inky Love, is just magical on the loom. It’s got 2% silver in it, and it sparkles like no yarn I’ve ever seen. Hard to capture on camera, but I tried – here it is on the Schacht Flip.

A blue, sparkly warp on a Flip loom.
Mayhem and Chaos Rockstar sparkles beautifully.

The weft I wanted to use was a gorgeous lace yarn, Debbie Bliss Angel in a warm grey. The two yarns complemented one another very well when they were in their respective skein and ball. But alas, disaster! When I threw a few picks of the Angel, it was immediately obvious that it just wasn’t going to work.

The lace weight was too fine against the light fingering warp, and the warp’s deep blue and sparkle overwhelmed the delicate Angel yarn. And, that wonderful shiny silk core that Angel has looked cold against the warm midnight blue warp. It just wasn’t going to work.

(This is where the truly organised weavers out there chorus that I should have sampled. Yes, I should have. But now I have an interesting design problem to solve, so it’s okay.)

This warp is stubborn! I’ve been through my entire stash and tried it with about 15 different warp yarns, and I’m still not 100% sure I’m on a winner yet.

Close up of different coloured weft yarns against a blue warp.
Testing weft yarns, Take #9.


It’s either going to be the Amalfi variegated cotton, or more of the warp yarn. After much experimenting, I just can’t bear to tone down that amazing warp yarn with a colour that’s lighter than it is. On the other hand, putting more sparkle on top of the sparkle is going to turn this piece into an evening wear only scarf … which means I’ll have to rethink my weave structure to make it a little more elegant.

Decisions. I like to sleep on problems like this one until I’m sure I’ve found the answer. I’ve learned there’s nothing less productive than starting to weave a project that I don’t love.

What do you do when you hit an unexpected design problem?

Art for Free – What’s Your Time Worth?

posted in: Artists, The Business of Art | 0

Anyone who’s in any kind of creative field faces this situation: people expect your time and work in exchange for … nothing. Or, for “exposure”.

I haven’t been at the professional art game for very long, but having spent the last ten years in the world of business coaching, I do know a little about business. And as much as some of us artists don’t like to think of it that way, if you’re a professional artist, then you are in business.

So let’s look at the perennial donation requests from a business perspective. (We’ll ignore the question of why creative professionals seem to get this request more often than other businesses, for the moment.)


What return will you get?

In a successful business, every resource you spend should either bring you a profit now, or be an investment in future profits.

Let’s look at the direct method first. At its simplest level, you buy 100 widgets at wholesale price, sell 100 widgets at a higher retail price, and the money you spent upfront to buy the widgets is returned to you, plus the extra you made from selling at retail price. (For simplicity’s sake, we’ll ignore the other expenses to be covered before you see a profit.) So: spend $1.00, and if you’ve priced your widgets properly, you will end up with $1+ in your pocket.

In an art context, when someone asks you to donate your time or work for free, you’ve spent the resource (your materials and time), but you won’t get the value of those resources returned to you, let alone make any money. You’ve paid for your widgets, but no one is compensating you for them. You’re making a loss on those spent resources. The materials are gone, and you will have to pay to replace them – perhaps at a higher cost than you were able to obtain them in the first place. Your time is gone, along with the opportunity to pursue something more valuable to you in those hours.

You may even incur direct costs because of this request – postage costs, travel costs, perhaps accommodation or meal costs.

In business terms, that’s a direct loss. Of course, there are many reasons an artist may be happy to take this loss, (usually for love of the cause or the request maker), but from the direct profit perspective, it makes no sense to accept unpaid gigs.


The Lure of Future Sales

Often, the person who wants your time and work for nothing will try to convince you that your donation is an investment in future profits: the much-vaunted “exposure” that is supposed to result in future sales for you.

Taking it back to business basics, here we’re talking about buying a sharp, professional outfit to wear at opening night, or investing in good signage for your store. No one is going to buy your jacket, or your sign (I hope), so there is no expectation of a direct profit from the money you spent. Instead, you hope that by spending that money on getting you and your store looking more professional, you will attract future sales. You’ll never be able to say “I sold that artwork today because of my new jacket” and prove that your buyer wouldn’t have bought the artwork if you were wearing jeans and a tshirt, but if your investment was a good one you should see your overall sales rise after the change.

In the case of the “exposure” lure, the argument is, of course, that many more people will see your work than otherwise would have, and perhaps some of them will buy from you in the future. And, they may be right. We all know someone, or know of someone, who has had a huge break because Major Client saw their work by chance somewhere. It does happen, and you cannot discount it.

If you donate a piece that cost you $100 to make, and should sell for $500, but as a result sell a $2000 work and get your buyer’s friends talking as well … then that may well be a good investment. But. (Aren’t there always ‘buts’.)

Not all requests for time are created equal. If you are going to have any hope of future sales, you must actually get that exposure that requesters love to throw around. Here are a few questions to ask, before you say yes for any reason but love. (And if you’re saying yes for love, then make a policy for yourself that you will make a set number of donations per year, and no more.)


Questions to ask about ‘exposure’

  • What is the event? Is it something you want to be aligned with professionally? Who will be there? Are the people who will be in attendance the kind of people who will buy your art? If the answer is “no” or “probably not but you never know”, then my advice is to say no to the request right away. If the crowd aren’t your buyers, then not only will you get no future sales from your donation, but your donated item is very unlikely to fetch a respectable price. There is nothing worse than seeing your work unsold due to lack of interest, or worse, sold for less than the cost of materials because no one involved understands the value of the work. Stick to crowds who appreciate your kind of artwork.


  • How will your work be displayed? Will there be plenty of chances for people to view it? Will it be properly hung, and who is doing the hanging? Are you reasonably sure your work won’t be damaged? Or, as has happened to several friends of mine, will your work languish in a box or in a dark corner, only brought out for a few minutes to be auctioned for charity, by someone with no understanding of your work? Of particular worry to us textile artists, will your work be mistaken for a table covering and used as a decoration for someone else’s work? (Don’t laugh; I’ve heard of it happening.)


  • Will your name be promoted? Will you have the opportunity to have your cards and brochures on display near your artwork? Who will ensure these are put out and displayed neatly and prominently? Will your work have your name clearly displayed next to it? If there are programs, will your name and contact details appear? Face it: if the extent of your “exposure” is your name being mentioned by an auctioneer, one of many in a long line, no one will remember your name. To be a good opportunity for you, the request needs to come with plenty of chances to stick in your potential clients’ minds.


  • What is the format of the event? Will you have the opportunity to attend, and if so, will there by a chance for you to speak or otherwise engage with potential clients? No one will sell your work like you do yourself, unless of course you have a great agent. It’s just not the organisers’ priority, and even an organiser with the very best of intentions to do right by their donors will not do as good a job as you do. (You’ve probably been to an event like this. A good organiser mentions sponsors’ names every so often. Supposing the sponsor in an individual artist you’ve never heard of before…do you remember that person’s name at the end of the night? My guess is no.)


  • What happens to your work after the event, if it does not sell? Are you expected to deliver and collect your work? If the requester will return your work to you, do you have all of the contact details you might need? What are the timeframes involved?


  • Who else is being asked to donate? (And are other professionals being paid while there is “no budget” for your work? I personally feel that you should be asking some direct questions to the organisers if this is the case.)


And finally…

What do you want to get out of it?

If you do decide to say yes to the request, then decide what result you want. Maybe it’s just to know you helped in a cause you love, and that’s fine. Maybe it’s to give out 50 business cards and speak to 10 people who show interest in your work. Maybe it’s to add 20 new names to your mailing list. Be clear about what will make the event a ‘success’ for you, so you can consider your results when the next, inevitable, request rolls around.


How about you?

I’d love to hear from others who have had to negotiate this question. How do you handle the requests?

Making a Down Shed on a Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom

posted in: Schacht Looms, Weaving, Weaving Hints & Tips | 0

A question that comes up every so often for new owners of Schacht’s Flip rigid heddle loom is how to make a down shed. It seems to depend on which version of the Flip booklet your loom came with, but it’s not always obvious how to get that shed, and few things are more frustrating when you just want to get on and weave!

Note: I use “heddle” and “reed” interchangeably here.

I’ve tried to take some good photos of the Flip’s down shed so you can see where the reed is sitting, but if there’s another angle of the loom you’d like to see, please let me know and I’ll get it for you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Bring the heddle toward the front of the loom, then slide the bottom rail along   the curved side and base of the heddle block. Push it back so that the rail sits approximately level with the neutral slot – see left.

Depending on how tight your warp tension is, there might be quite a lot of resistance to pushing the reed into position – that might mean your tension is too tight.




Here’s another view, without the warp in the picture to distract.









Here’s how it looks from the side, with a nice wide shed.


Does your reed “hang” on the warp, slip forward, or otherwise not stay put under the heddle block, like this?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There’s actually nothing wrong with this – the shed is open, the weight of the reed won’t damage your warp (unless it is unusually delicate), and you can weave just fine. But it can be annoying.

The ‘slipping forward’ is caused by a combination of too little tension on the warp, and the angle of the loom – for example, if you are weaving with the loom in your lap and the you have the Flip propped at a sharp angle, it will tend to do this. Or, if you have the Flip on the stand and you find, as I do, that you are most comfortable weaving with the loom angled down, you may find that the reed becomes more sensitive to the tension on the warp.



I hope this is helpful! I’m happy to take more pictures for anyone who would like to see another angle.

Community of Artists

posted in: Artists, Reflections | 0

I spent a delightful evening visiting with Teresa Bennett of TSB Textiles in her studio at Greensborough. Teresa taught me to weave, so it’s always a bit special to spend time with her. That, and she’s a wonderful artist and weaver and I love the chance to see what she’s done lately. If you’re over the Greensborough side of Melbourne, you should certainly stop in and see her work.

Teresa was very gracious tonight as I bubbled over with ideas for new directions at Metafour Studio. I talked and talked, as I put a quick warp on the Cricket loom, and as I drove home I thought about how very much it matters to have community with other artists. I arrived home and burbled on some more at my long-suffering partner, afire with all the ideas I have that haven’t yet made it onto my looms.

What interested me was that I didn’t actually have any new ideas this evening. But the act of discussing them with another weaver and textile artist, who could see immediately where I was going with an idea and what problems I would have to solve to make the work successful, absolutely energised me.

My creative process happens in a flash of inspiration, which I capture in one of my notebooks for later exploration, or, if it’s a fully formed idea that I simply must weave into being right away and all the materials are already on hand, then it’s straight on the loom.

Then I like to let the idea percolate in the back of my mind, until I know just how I want to approach the weaving. (Of course, that often flies out of the window once I start to work with the yarn and find that I need to make adjustments.) That can be a long process, and I might lose interest in the idea before it ever comes near a loom. I might pick it back up again later on, one day when I’m faced with an empty loom and I’m wondering what to put on it, but the urgency is gone.

Being with other artists keeps the excitement in my work alive, even more so than the great satisfaction of seeing a piece off to a happy home with a new owner. There’s just something about speaking with someone who understands your process, to get the ideas flowing. Maybe they can unstick you from a design problem you’ve been having, or maybe they will just be honestly interested as you talk about the technicalities of your work.

I knew when I started Metafour Studio that community with other artists would be very important, but it seems impossible to underestimate the true importance of that community. I want to be sure not to forget that, as I go along.


Buda Contemporary Textiles Exhibition

posted in: Australian Textile Art, Textile Art Awards | 0

I was excited to visit the Buda Contemporary Textiles Award & Exhibition at Buda House in Castlemaine last weekend. It was a cold, rainy day in Castlemaine, but the weather did not detract from the fascinating exhibition in the slightest.

The Award and Exhibition is held every second year at Buda House (beautiful and worth a visit all on its own!), and it has been running since 2008. I love the fact that it makes a special point of displaying the work of student textile artists alongside professional and emerging artists.

There were 50 exhibits on display, the majority of a very high standard of presentation. Many different textile disciplines were on display – I saw pieces that used embroidery, quilting, tapestry weaving, needle felting, nuno felting, crochet, and bobbin lace, and many more besides. I’m looking forward to adding some more weaving to the mix in the next Exhibition!

It was the first time I’d gone to see this exhibition, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable visit. Colourful and varied, the works were all very different, with their own characters.



My partner and I are famous for having opposing tastes in art, but for once we were drawn to the same piece. We both loved Teresa Poletti Glover’s ‘Before the Storm 2′, so we arranged to buy it right away. It was difficult to get a good picture of the piece, and these pictures do not do it justice!

Before the Storm 2 Detail of Before the Storm 2


The second place winning entry was mesmerising. Catherine O’Leary’s Secrets, wet felted and hand stitched, just made me want to look at it all day. It was already sold by the time we got there – on the first day of the Exhibition.


The Student/Apprentice Encouragement Award winner was one of my standout favourites in the whole exhibition. In fact, it would have won my vote for People’s Choice if it hadn’t already won the encouragement award. The artist was Lucy Carroll, a student in Queensland, and her quilted and hand embroidered piece Eucalyptus Melliodora was incredibly striking. I loved the colour palette she used.

I’ve somehow managed not to capture a picture of it, but you can see the work on the Buda page here.

The exhibition runs 1 – 15 June 2014. $7 entry per person, and $5 for a program.


**I asked for and was granted permission by the Exhibition staff, to take and post photographs of the art on display at the exhibition, however I will certainly take pictures down if requested by the artists.**

Schacht Looms in Australia

posted in: Schacht Looms | 0

I’m really excited to be Schacht’s newest rigid heddle loom dealer for Australia. The first shipment of Cricket looms is on its way to me now, so if you’ve been hankering after a Cricket loom and haven’t been able to get your hands on one in Australia, I’d love to get one to you. They’re listed in the store now, but listed as out of stock until I take delivery and can guarantee you a delivery date.

I love my Cricket. I bought it because my first loom, a Kromski Harp 24″, was too big to take to craft nights with friends. The loom itself is fine, but 24″ takes up more couch space than is practical. So, I bought a little 10″ Schacht Cricket, thinking I’d use it just for my travel loom. Well, I fell in love with my little Cricket, and I find I do more weaving on the Cricket than I do on my other looms put together. Schacht’s loom construction and design really impressed me, and a 20″ Flip joined the loom herd soon after the Cricket.

I do a lot of my scarf weaving on the Cricket loom, and I love its design. I gave mine a custom paint job, and because Crickets are so far quite rare in Australia, it attracts a lot of attention wherever it goes! I’m often asked if it is a family heirloom, which I’m choosing to take as a compliment on my painting skills…




Metafour Studio Textile Art

posted in: Uncategorized | 1

The first post on a blog is always a bit on the awkward side, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, it’s great to have Metafour Studio’s site up and running – even if it is a little light on content for the moment!

I’m looking forward to building a showcase of handwoven articles and art, and posts with a look into what’s going on in the Studio between finished projects.