Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hello, June

Who should I see featured in the newspaper today but June Nixey, a member of my previous quilt guild, Pinestream Quilters.  June has been a leading light with teaching patchwork and quilting to the inmates of Arohata Women’s Prison since 1993.  Together with her trusty band of helpers, these ladies volunteer their time and skills every Saturday morning to the Shut-in Stitchers.  The three local quilt clubs help out with donations of fabric, which is held in storage off site.  Initially the course was to run for six weeks, but the response was so positive they decided to continue with it. 

June proudly brought some of the finished quilts along for Show and Tell occasionally on club nights.  She always remained quite elusive and liked to hide behind the quilts as they were being shown, so I never managed to snap a photo of her at all.  But here are three made by the Shut In Quilters, brought along to show the club some time ago.  June also writes a quilt  blog, Junez Scrapz – do check it out.

DSCF4571Quilts made by the Shut-in Stitchers

June and her helpers were presented with a Highly Commended certificate at Parliament last night, part of the Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Community Award 2013, for sharing its quilting skills over 20 years with women in Arohata Prison.  As well as learning sewing skills, the course leads to increased self esteem and empowerment, and a great sense of achievement.  Good on you June, it is wonderful that you and your helpers have been recognised with this award.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cut and Snip

Little things can take the longest time, can’t they?  I hadn’t done any P&Q while I was away in our caravan for the latest trek around the country.  Time to get on with it.  So I was cutting and snipping away at various pieces of ultra suede and ended up with two little bags full of pieces.  I need to keep the “A” pieces separate from the “B” pieces so I don’t get muddled up.  What do you think it is?

DSCF6176Two little packets of ultra suede

According to Mr Google "Ultrasuede" is the trade name for a synthetic microfiber fabric invented in 1970 by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for Toray Industries. It is often described as an artificial substitute for suede leather. The fabric is multifunctional: it can be used in fashion, interior decorating, vehicle upholstery, and handcrafts too of course.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Joining in the Craft Group

We are currently staying at Hastings so we can visit my sister Kathleen and her family.  She was hosting her craft group this morning, so I asked if I could come too.   This long lived craft group started way back in the 80s when they all attended Knit Wit classes.  (Who can remember them?  I was a Knit Wit sewer myself many years ago, and went to classes in the Lower Hutt franchise).    The Knit Wit shops are no more, and over the years this group has changed to a general craft group.  Sewing, knitting, patchwork, crochet, anything goes.  I won the “Lucky Draw” prize,  a pretty writing set with fancy paper and envelopes. 

The project for the month was to cover some wire coat-hangers, and those who took part brought along their finished items. Some were finished with knitted lace, while others were covered with fabric.

DSCF6134 Covered wire coat-hangers

Like craft groups everywhere, show and tell is always an interesting part of the meeting.  Kathleen had made a selection of babies bibs recently.  This pattern is a great one, with a rib neckline to slip the bib over the baby’s head.

DSCF6135 Kathleen and her bibs

Melva had been busy during the month, and brought along two pretty pastel crocheted scarves.  She had also knitted several pairs of nice cosy woollen bed socks, just the thing for these cold winter nights.

DSCF6136Melva’s knitting and crocheting

Eunice is another knitter but she didn’t have anything to show us because she had given it all away.  She does a lot of knitting for Red Cross and had already donated her work this month to this worthy cause.  Eunice is a very talented lady and also spins and weaves.
Another multi talented member of this group was Eileen.  Remember the Bananas in Pyjamas craze?  Eileen had one of these cheeky toys to show us, as well as a lovely fine crocheted table mat.

DSCF6137 Show and tell from Eileen

Pam had just returned from the Taupo Quilt Symposium where she had taken two classes.  She didn’t have any finished work to show us, but had plenty of photos on her phone which was passed around the group.  She really enjoyed the exhibition, and had a great time buying some goodies from the Merchants Mall.

I showed my Block Roll constructed with one of my special tea towels with quilty sayings which I had recently completed,  and explained how it was made.

DSCF5686 My block roll

It was so nice to join in with my sister’s craft group and meet up with her friends.  Like a lot of these meetings, no actual crafting or stitching took place, but plenty of friendly chat and banter.  Thanks so much ladies,  I had a lovely morning.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Quilts from Taupo

As promised, here are some more lovely quilts that I admired from the Taupo Symposium Exhibition.  “The Coronation” was one of several in the Junior Next Generation category for quilters aged between 13 to 18.  Claire Folster was inspired by many hours of watching Dr Who.  As 2013 was the 50th Anniversary, she wanted to pay homage to the English show that she enjoys watching with her dad.

DSCF5971 The Coronation, by Claire Folster

And staying with the English theme, “London 2012” was my pick of the Hoffman Challenge quilts.  This was made by the Barn Embroiders, of Matlock, Derbyshire, England.  They stated - “The Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic Games being staged in London brought a sense of wellbeing and excitement to the country”. 

DSCF5986 London 2012 – by Barn Embroiderers

Simple string piecing, but don’t those colours just sing?  Sandra Clark made Rough Diamonds to reduce her pile of scrap fabrics.  It never quite works out like that, as she needed to go and buy more fabric to go in this quilt.

DSCF5995 Rough Diamonds, by Sandra Clark

All quilters can relate to this statement, can’t we?  Ann Read stated:  I love fabric.  What’s my problem?  Not enough fabric!

DSCF5994 I have a Fabric Problem, by Ann Read

“Memories of the Cotswolds” was such a very clever little appliqué wall-hanging.  Linda McCutcheon was inspired to make the quilt after a family holiday in England, taking inspiration from the many photos she had taken.  These photos were printed on fabric and used on the back of the quilt.  One of the friendly White Glove Ladies held it back so we could see the photos. 


DSCF6023Memories of the Cotswolds, by Linda McCutcheon

Sonya Prchal took a photo of her Schnauzer adrift in their boat, and created this wonderful little quilt from the photo.  The thread painting and free motion quilting in this work of art is amazing.

DSCF6026 Set Adrift, by Sonya Prchal

Another interesting dog quilt was “Dixie Dingo Dreaming”,  by Susan Carlson.  This portrait of her dog is made with aboriginal designed fabrics and won first place in the 2011 Houston International Quilt Festival “Good For You” exhibition. 

DSCF6035 Dixie Dingo Dreaming, by Susan Carlson

Last but not least, it was a thrill to see works by such famous quilters as Jenny Bowker and Gloria Loughman, who were tutors at the Symposium.  Jenny Bowker is well known for her wonderful pictorial quilts, and “Sandstorm over the White Desert” shows Bedouin guide Magdy Badrmany who became a good friend.

DSCF5979 Sandstorm over the White Desert, by Jenny Bowker

Gloria Loughman creates beautiful quilts featuring Australian trees and landscapes.   In this quilt she aimed to contrast the darkness of the background with the play of light on the ferns and trees.  A mind boggling 2500 rectangles were fused and stitched in the background.

DSCF5977 Fern Pool, by Gloria Loughman

Even the large tree by the car park was festooned with decorations, which looked rather like quilt blocks to me.  I had a lovely time looking through the exhibition, then visited the Merchants Mall.  Would you believe that I didn’t buy a single thing?  I don’t know whether to be pleased with myself for my self restraint, or sad because I didn’t find anything which screamed “Take me home”.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Royal Babe and our Shawl

New Zealand's official gift to the Royal couple is a hand-spun, hand-knitted fine lace shawl, similar to the one that New Zealand gave when Prince William was born.  The intricate shawl has been designed by Margaret Stove, who was also responsible for Prince William's shawl all those years ago.  Cynthia Read hand spun the merino wool and knitted the shawl in a lacy fern design.  Didn’t she do a wonderful job!
 Photo by Sacha Kahaki

Meeting of the Bloggers

Like most of us, I’m sure, I read various blogs.  And while we have been staying at Taupo I was kindly invited to the home of two very special quilting bloggers.  Peggy and Linda warmly welcomed us inside, and it was so nice to put faces to names.

DSCF6081 Peggy and Linda

These lovely ladies are sisters, and both share a passion for quilting, taking me on a tour through their home to see various quilts hanging up.   Peggy loves Crazy Patch quilting and showed me this beauty full of lace, fancy stitching, baubles and beads.  It was finished off with a scalloped border.

DSCF6082 Peggy’s crazy patch quilt

DSCF6088Selection of Healing Heart blocks, waiting to be made up

Linda is a long arm quilting machine maestro and is currently awaiting delivery of her new machine.  All machine quilting is done free-hand, no computerised or follow-the-line patterns for this expert.  Here she is showing some of her designs used in this quilt.

DSCF6084 Linda with her star quilt

DSCF6089On the design wall

I had a lovely time speaking “quilt talk”,  was shown the trick on how to do “magic binding”, so will certainly try that when I return home.  We met two of the cats, and spotted the resident chickens out in the yard.  Kaiser is a big boy, and would make mincemeat of our dainty little Birman Muffy, who is about a quarter of his size.  Luckily she was sound asleep back in the caravan.

DSCF6087 Kaiser and companion.

Thanks ladies, it was so nice to meet a couple more friendly quilt bloggers. – it really made my morning!  Linda’s blog is Razzle Dazzle Quilter, and Peggy’s blog is Kiwi  Klippings.  Do pop over and have a look.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Taupo Symposium Exhibition

“Three Cheers” to the Symposium organising committee for deciding to reduce the entry price to the exhibition for seniors just like me.  Members of the public paid $10 entry, and $5 for children and seniors.  Many thanks, it was much appreciated.  Of course, all those ladies who were registered to attend classes had free entry to the exhibition.  I hadn’t gone very far into the hall when I came face to face to a fellow quilt blogger.  Although we looked at each other for a moment before the penny dropped.  You know what it is like, you think to yourself, “I think I recognise that person”.  So a very warm hello to Leeann from Whangarei – after reading your blog for some time and exchanging the occasional e-mail, it was so nice to meet you at last.  Do pop over and check out Leeann’s blog too.

DSCF5960 With Leeann from Whangarei

There were some amazing quilts on display, and I slowly walked around trying to take it all in.  Several quite different challenges were on show as well, so that certainly added to the interest.  Luckily, photos were allowed, so I happily snapped away.  I love big quilts, so I’ll share some which took my fancy.  Anne Yeo wanted to use this design of a repeated diamond in a square.  When she saw an arrangement of arum lilies in a church, she knew she just had to use them in her quilt.

DSCF5962 Arum Bouquets, by Anne Yeo

Just look at all those beautifully done sharp points on Circle of Friends, made by Suzet Pont.  That lovely flowing border of Flying Geese contains all those sharp pointy bits so well.  Suzet embellished her quilt with Swarovski crystals in eight colours.  

DSCF5966 Circle of Friends, by Suzet Pont

Rose of Sharon blocks enclosed in circles adorn this pretty bed quilt by Nancy Neilsen. 

DSCF6019 Floral Circles, by Nancy Neilsen

I just love Christmas quilts and there were several Christmas row by row quilts on display.  My favourite of this group was Beat those Winter Blues, by Sheila Ujdur. 

DSCF5984 Beat those Winter Blues, by Sheila Ujdur

Baltimore quilts are a real labour of love, and this one in traditional red and green caught my eye.  Isobel Hicks stitched Golden Baltimore for her parents 50th Wedding Anniversary.  What a wonderful gift.

DSCF6008 Golden Baltimore, by Isobel Hicks

Last but not least was my Viewers Choice.  Or it would have been, if I’d remembered to put my slip of paper in the box before I left.  A pity, because I just might have been lucky enough to win the Daily Draw too.  Ansa  Beytenbach made the amazing Bella Rouge in memory of her Grandmother and her love of roses.  This quilt is finished with a scalloped edge made from red corded fabric, and the cut out panels also have the cord through them -  I have never seen this technique used before.   Both the appliqué and the quilting on this piece is just wonderful.


DSCF6017 Bella Rouge, by Ansa Beytenbach

Well, that’s quite enough from me for now, although  I’ve plenty more quilts to share.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Goodies from Vietnam

There was a problem with logistics.  We were travelling from Levin to Taupo so I could check out  the Quilt Symposium.  Robin’s sister Kaye and was home from Vietnam for a fleeting visit, and was travelling from Taupo to Wellington the same day.  We didn’t want to miss each other, so perhaps a lunch date at Waiouru would be the best bet.  

DSCF5934  Little Sis and Big Brother

It was the middle week of the school holidays, the cafe in the Army Museum was very full, the queue at the counter was long, and the orders would take quite some time to arrive, we were told.  Never mind, that gave us plenty of time for a catch-up.  Kaye had brought over some goodies from Vietnam for us.  A beautiful silk scarf for me in blue and grey paisley, and a pretty little hand quilted purse from Mekong Creations.  This is a non profit organisation whose aim is to generate employment for women living in remote villages of Vietnam and Cambodia.  Robin’s gift was some Vietnamese  “Weasel Coffee”, plus a special little coffee filter in which to make it.

DSCF5947 Goodies from Vietnam

By the time we return home from our caravan trip, Kaye’s holiday will be over and she will be flying back to Vietnam.  So lunching at Waiouru was the only way we could meet up this trip.  After living in Vietnam for a while, Kaye had forgotten how chilly a New Zealand winter can be.   Just as well she had some winter woollies with her.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Off to Symposium

Just like a lot of Kiwi quilters, I’m heading off to Symposium.  Mine will only be a fleeting visit, as we will not arrive in Taupo until Sunday PM.  First things first, and we have a caravan rally scheduled for the weekend.  I’m not attending any Symposium classes, but really want to go and see the marvellous exhibition – and check out the Merchants too of course.  Luckily, towing our caravan behind means that we are never short of a bed for the night.  Wonder who I will bump into up there?  If you see me wandering around the exhibition with my eyes glazed from looking at all those masterpieces, do stop and say hello.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

All about Ties

Oh, goody, I thought, when we visited Sander Tie Company yesterday with a group of friends, I’ll be able to purchase another bag of tie off-cuts.  But it was not to be, there was nothing available.  Seems the word is out, and everyone now knows all about this source of fabric.  Never mind – since I live relatively local, I can phone ahead to see if the box of off-cuts has been replenished next time I feel like a visit. This handsome green elephant stands on the reception counter to show what can be done with  some of those interesting off-cuts of tie fabrics.
  DSCF5862 Elephant made from tie fabrics

Our group was given a tour through the factory, and we were shown the different stages of tie construction.  The fabric is cut on the bias, which would make it very difficult for the home sewer.  However, each stage is stitched on a different machine, and bit by bit, the tie takes shape. 

DSCF5884   One of the set of pattern pieces used

The ties are made up of several parts, with each machine doing a specific part of the process, from sewing on the “tip”, the lining, stitching bar tacks, and adding the label.  I loved watching one particular machine as the ties were threaded onto rods, then whoosh, away they went inside the machine where they were turned right side out, just like magic.

DSCF5869 Turning the ties right side out

I was interested to see that metal bars are inserted into the ties before they get put in the large presser.  Rather like the bars that quilters use to construct and press bias stems for appliqué.

DSCF5888 Rolls of fabric ready and waiting

Although most of the tie making processes are done by machine, bow ties are finished off by hand.  We watched as one of the ladies was trying to thread a needle, but I’m afraid the presence of our group rather put her off.  With her needle finally threaded and raring to go, she then delicately stitched the small sleeve around a length of folded fabric to make the bow.

DSCF5875 A selection of striped ties

Those keen on sport will be interested to know that Sander’s holds the licence to produce the All Black ties both at retail and team level, and for the Black Caps teams.  They also won the licence  to produce ties for the 2005 Lions Tour of New Zealand. Our guys were delighted when they were presented with three of these 2005 Lions Tour ties each to take home.

DSCF5878 Look at those happy faces

Extra long ties are made for very tall men, so their tie does not end up halfway down their shirt front.  Bow ties and cravats for the discerning man are available, plus hankies and scarves, and there is a lovely range of New Zealand inspired souvenir ties.  The company can also make a “one off” tie to match a ball gown or wedding dress, at a most reasonable price.  Well worth checking out if you have a special occasion coming up.  Although I didn’t manage to purchase any of that lovely fabric, it was an interesting morning finding out “all about ties”.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I’ve run out of Thread!

There I was, stitching away happily on my eagle wall-hanging, when I ran out of green thread.  Bother!  So much for a quiet hour or so at the sewing machine.  It’s too late in the day to rush down to the quilt shop to get some more thread, and I don’t feel like working on anything else at the moment.  Guess I’ll just have to sit down with a coffee, instead.

I went down town this morning, to attend to a few errands.  First stop was the library, as I’d finished my last library book, and really just can’t live without something to read.  I’m not a magazine type of girl at all, give me a decent sized book, any day.  It is the first week of the school holidays, and there were groups of kids everywhere, even in the library.  Libraries all seem to have computers available for quite a low cost these days, and they are very popular with young and old alike. 

It’s been a busy old day, out this morning for a bit of shopping, and a big load of washing flapping outside in the sunshine on the clothesline.  And then a spot of sewing in the afternoon – till I ran out of thread.  Never mind, I’ll get some more tomorrow.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It’s been a bit chilly

It’s been a bit chilly this weekend, and no wonder with the forecast promising heavy rain and snow down to 300 metres. The severe southerly gales in Wellington city fortunately do not make it this far up to our home town, so we can be thankful for that. The heat pump has been keeping us warm and cosy all weekend, and our cat Muffy wants nothing more than a lap to curl up on.  

I have finally finished unpicking the machine quilting I did on my Christmas quilt that I was not happy with.  Using the variegated thread was not a good idea at all, so that is a job well done to get rid of it.  The quilt is a mass of safety pins, just waiting for me to start quilting it again, this time using cream thread.

DSCF5856 Pinned up ready for quilting

Then I’ve been slowly working on my Eagle wall-hanging.  Would you believe that I have had this kit since 1999?  We took a trip to UK, and I purchased this on our stopover at Juneau, Alaska.  I started it last year before we decided to sell our house, and it has been packed away since then.  So it is good to get it out once more and start working on it again.

DSCF5855 Eagle wall-hanging

So that’s what I have been doing.  And cooking our Sunday evening meal too.  I’ve got a piece of corned beef simmering away in the crock pot for our dinner, and a steamed pudding bubbling away.  There's nothing nicer than a slow cooked meal, is there?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Town and Country Quilters July Club-night

There was no doubt that winter was in full force when I ventured out in the evening to attend the monthly Town and Quilters meeting.  In fact, I wondered if the bad weather would keep the majority of members at home, tucked up warm, cosy and dry by their fires, heaters or heat pumps.  But quilters must be a hardy lot, as the hall was reasonably full.

The raffle quilt for the upcoming exhibition was proudly unveiled, and drew gasps of admiration from the crowd.  Members were invited to make a block or two on the theme of “Life’s a Beach”.  Blocks of all shapes and sizes were handed in, both appliquéd and pieced, and then came the difficult task of fitting it all together.  The top was then given to Paula of Rabbits Patch Quilting and she did a wonderful job with her custom quilting.

DSCF5851 “Life’s a Beach” raffle quilt

“Show and Tell”was inspiring, as always.  “Country Urn” had the look of a wool quilt when we saw it on the stage, but was pieced and appliquéd by Fay in cottons using warm country colours.  The gracefully curved Flying Geese inner border was the perfect finishing touch.  “How did she do that?” I heard someone ask.  My guess would be with paper piecing. 

DSCF5850 “Country Urn” by Fay

“Great Aunt Leslie” has been busy, working away on a quilt for a very special new member of the family.  Leslie traced around wooden blocks to get the appliqué shapes, then set them in Attic Windows.  Fun kiddie prints were used as the sashings and borders.

DSCF5854 Leslie’s cot quilt

I loved this pretty pastel bed quilt, full of flowers and checkerboards.  The floral panels were heavily quilted, and the quilt is a gift from Cynthia  for her daughter.

DSCF5847Pretty floral quilt

Denise had finished two very striking wall hangings.  The tiger, who seems to be looking right at you, was for her daughter.  And the stag with his full set of antlers, was for her son.  Both these designs were kits purchased from Grandmother’s Garden quilt shop.  When Denise mentioned that there are also horse kits available, I rushed home, jumped online, and placed an order for my horse mad grand-daughters.   I just hope that my skills are equal to the task of tackling such a seemingly  intricate pattern.

DSCF5849 Tiger and stag wall-hangings, made by Denise

Marjorie brought along her Kaleidoscope quilt, full of all those spinning shapes and colours which look great together.  I’m sure it was quite a fiddly design to put together, not a pattern I have ever done.

DSCF5853Kaleidoscope quilt

It was a good night out, but unfortunately the speaker did not arrive.  She was expecting to come to our meeting the following week, and would have been devastated to learn that she had got the date wrong.  Never mind, after supper we all trotted off home just a little earlier than usual.   Not a bad thing at all on such a wild night.