Southern Cross Creations

An Australian Woman's Journal
about life in remote, rural
Far North Queensland


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Southern Cross Creations

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Journal Archive: April 2003

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bush butterfly colours

28 April 2003
Jerry and I decided on Friday to get started on our experiment with Gaywool dyes on a washed merino fleece from Forsayth in Queensland's Gulf Country. Opting for a cold water dye technique, Jerry had looked for urea during the weekly shopping visit to town. He came home with a 5 kg bag (12 lb!), the smallest amount he could purchase. A lifetime supply for dyers like us.

Though we were both chemists in a previous lives, we had poor results with the cold water method of dyeing. It's a mystery why. We'll give it another go sometime. Now to find a gardener in need of urea.

Jerry gets his hands into dyeingOn Saturday we tried a variation of the heated pot method of dyeing, using steam to heat polyester bags containing fleece and dye solution. Success! The bags were heated evenly by the steam and the merino fleece didn't felt from movement. You can see some of Jerry's handiwork in the photo above. He now agrees to wear rubber gloves. The drizzly weather cleared up and the fleece dried quickly, one of the advantages to living in the Tropics. Jerry blended the colours on the drumcarder on Sunday, presenting me with a half ounce batt of wool to spin as a sample skein and wondering how soon I could start. I spun and plied the yarn for him as he warped up his small wooden frame loom with a commercial yarn of fine worsted wool (a 2/20 yarn bargain that I bought at Tinaroo Fibre Festival last year). I handed my handspun skein to him last night and this morning (Monday) he is weaving a 6" sample. Not bad, from white fleece to hand-dyed, handspun and handwoven sample in less than three days. What a team!

sample weaving with handspun weft

on Mieke's verandahAnother fortnightly craft meeting, this time at Mieke's home. Mieke is in the foreground, knitting with newly plied handspun. Her verandah held a stream of craftspeople settling down for a cup of tea, work and company. I got to see the Shetland lace shawl that Shelley is knitting from her handspun superfine merino yarn. Margaret brought along photos from her trip to South America, presenting a visual feast of colourful people and fabrics.

learning to crochet


A visiting WOOFER learns to crochet. (woofers are young people from around the world who become Willing Workers On Organic Farms and get board and room in exchange for their labour for a limited time).
Gillian's pickup weave on inkle loom



Gillian experiments with pick-up designs on her mini inkle loom.
new members welcome



A possible new member is welcomed to our meeting.
all ages


Me, too?
weavings that got away



Dij regales Jackie with one of her humourous fibre tales.

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grass in bloom all around us2 April 2003

I came across my acrylic paints as I continued efforts to organise the Shed. Thoughts of clutter, laundry, war and other concerns faded away as I turned to a newly cleared desk, set out my painting supplies and began pushing paint across a blank surface. No plan, just mixing colours, letting the impulse flow with very little skill and even fewer thoughts. This feels good, my chattering brain disengaged, I found another way to gain serenity.

A River friend and I attended the fortnightly fibrecraft gathering at Lake Eachem last week. The group meets in a shaded shelter which offers protection from sun and rain and where the picnic tables have concrete seats. People bring along their lunch, something to drink and a chair (or at least a cushion). I think there were ten of us, some having driven up from Cairns, all soon busy spinning, knitting and even Hardanger embroidery-ing. A bush turkey strutted up to see what we were doing and hoping it was time for smoko. Such get-togethers give us a chance to ask for advice on projects, share new techniques and enjoy good company. I have to improve my ability to spin and talk at the same time as I can't seem to do both simultaneously. Maybe that makes me a good listener.... Back at home again, I realised I hadn't heard one mention of the war. And believe me, local women are aware of world news.

I've been thinking of the ways that fear influences what we do, how we feel and the way we live.

Born some months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II, I attended primary school during the years when schools practised not just fire drills, but also nuclear bomb drills. During a nuclear bomb drill, each student crawled under a desk and huddled with arms crossed over one's head. Did that make young students feel safer? Not really. The fear became a background anxiety. Households received pamphlets on how to prepare for a nuclear attack. Some Americans built bomb shelters in their backyards in the '50s. In the early '60s Jerry sat in his dormitory at University of California, Berkeley, looking out the window toward the San Francisco skyline, considering what he would do in the few minutes he'd have to live if San Francisco, a prime target, was hit by a nuclear bomb. He took his camera to protests against the Vietnam War. The Cold War kept other tensions alive.

By the '80s my daughter was in high school in the San Francisco Bay Area and she writes:
"I remember being very aware of missile strike capabilities, how far from an epicenter you would need to be to survive, what the effects of radiation sickness could do to you, and discussing with my friends what you would do in that half hour from notification of missile launch to impact......also what missiles looked like in flight. There was fear then too."

Yet for a time that fear receded as nuclear disarmament began and the Cold War ended in '89 when the Berlin Wall fell. Global fears fell. Fear rushed back in, stronger than ever, in this new millenium, so full of change and challenge including renewed nuclear proliferation.

bromeliad responds to rainy season

I hope that one day the world is a home where human rights are named and rigorously protected, where environmental resources, flora and fauna are nurtured for the future and shared carefully, where differences are respected and cooperation valued. And I pray we learn to overcome fear as we seek to establish balance and harmony in our shared world, our common home. I believe each individual can make a difference by engaging both hands and mind in good work.

May you walk in Beauty.
visiting moth displays colours of harmony

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