Liuxin Newman
Thimblelady

My name is Liuxin (Leo-shin) Newman.

“Liu” was not only my maiden name, it also has the same pronunciation of the word “distil” or “preserve”; Xin means the mood of deep happiness. Sounds strange? Actually it is very common in China where given names can be any word that exists – instead of choosing from a set of words used as names, such as Jack or Jill in the West. Good words are usually chosen as names in China as a tradition. My parents named me, Liuxin, to remember their happiness getting their first child and played a little pun by threading the two words into a short phrase meaning “long lasting happiness”. No wonder I never caused them any trouble! And 50 years on, I am still their better child.

As seen in…

At my 50th birthday, my father said since I never gave them any trouble, he couldn’t remember how I had grown up. The only “stubborn” thing I did was my persistent waste of my time to do handicraft from making wooden toys and paper cuts to making a crochet hook with his tooth brush handle. Or using my mother’s old army uniform and her sewing machine to make a winter jacket for my friend with black piping…

When I grew up in the then China, crafts, even art wasn’t a “good career” path, so I went down the academic path – the respected career choice as I was expected… even though my clever hands had always helped me to stand out from the crowd and won me extra friends – I was known at uni: to boys I was the girl who could write with a brush and to girls I was the bra maker. Later at workplace I was the portrait painter before camera age in China and the fast shirt maker – I could measure, cut and make three shirts during a two-hour lunch break; and lunch break knitters – I joined it to learn how to knit, but soon I became the head coach because I was the only one who could easily knit “over the top of my head” and make up designs for everyone without patterns…

Yes, that is me. I am good at all handicrafts. I learned painting systematically for 10 years and Chinese Calligraphy. I did a dress making certificate as a hobby – that is why I can think up an image and make it into a dress without patterns. All my past artistic trainings and academic qualifications and extensive work experience finally found good use all together in the art of quilt making and in my innovative work!  There is nothing else in the world that seems so easy and natural to me.

Anyway, because Liuxin is not an easy name for sight reading, quilters nick named me as the Thimblelady 10 years ago for easy reference. Spot on! We registered it as our business name and many still call me warmly the Thimblelady!

If I was born to quilt, then Australia has given me the opportunity to do what I am gifted for. I often wondered, I must be the happiest migrant on earth!

The last 12 years has taken me down the path of inventing tools and techniques to improve hand quilting, needle turn appliqué and whipstitch piecing encouraged and supported by fellow quilters around the world sharing the same passion for quilt making.

At the end of last year when it was both Thimblelady’s 13 year anniversary and my 50th birthday, I paused to think that the next 10 years will be the most precious 10 of my life as well as the last decent block of time for me to achieve something. I must make the most of it.

I don’t know about you, I have never had a plan in my life! I simply scrambled to keep up with whatever life threw at me! I tried to pass exams well in order to get into uni for a better job opportunity; I studied hard for a bachelor degree for a better paid job. I got a well paid job and studied for a master degree for further promotion… until I found the joy of quilting and the intellectual stimulation in inventing tools, design teaching courses and writing my how to books. 

The above was written several years ago when I had thought I had been through the GFC…

Now finally, I’ve got a plan!  I am online!