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Monday, March 29, 2010

Summerset on Sunday

Members of my quilt club, Pinestream Quilters, were invited to join Capital Quilters for a get together on Sunday. “For a day of stitching and friendship”, the invitation stated. It was held in the hall at Summerset Retirement Village, at Trentham, not too far from my home. With navigation instructions ringing in my ears from Robin, (I am well known for getting lost) I took myself off for an afternoon of sewing. Summerset Retirement Village overlooks the Trentham Racecourse and has an active quilt group amongst the residents. The quilts hanging on the walls were jointly made by the whole group and add a splash of colour to the room. “Summerset on the Course” depicts life in the village, the race track, the Hutt river and surrounding hills.

DSCF3098 “Summerset on the Course”quilt made especially for the hall

There was plenty of activity going on with machines humming as some ladies ladies pieced blocks together, and others did machine quilting, with some others doing hand work. I admired some Redwork teddy blocks being stitched and there was a large quilt being hand quilted as well, while I worked on one of my “Twelve Days of Redwork” blocks. We all stopped mid afternoon for a “Show and Tell” of what people had been working on.

DSCF3101 All ready for Show and Tell

This was a delight as the ladies showed off their quilts and told the stories behind them. This large quilt featuring New Zealand fabrics has a shadow effect, very clever I thought. It was double sided too. A couple of the residents brought some of their quilts along to show us as well, and joined us for afternoon tea.

DSCF3104 New Zealand flora and fauna quilt

It wasn’t just quilting and patchwork being done. Maryanne was quietly working away on her sewing machine couching gold thread over the top of little net leaves. I was amazed at her skill, she made it look so easy. She was creating fabric to use as an overskirt for a reproduction of the “Laurel Dress”, the original is in Kensington Palace. Check out her wonderful blog The Hectic Eclectic for the full story of this joint undertaking .

DSCF3107 Sumptuous fabric in gold and black

Note to self: Find your own couching foot which was purchased goodness knows how long ago and give it a try!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Are they Angels?

My Angel quilt is coming along nicely. All assembled now and I am up to the stage of appliquéing stars along the border. I don’t do a lot of hand button hole stitch appliqué and I am finding this quite a nice soothing thing to do. Nearly there, just a few more fused stars to stitch down. Then I’ll see if I can find a nice toning green for a strip along the border of stars.

DSCF3093 Stars and Angels

I reminded Robin that I am making this Angel quilt for our grand-daughter Emma. “For when she has a little girl of her own”, I told him. I’m not in too much hurry to finish it as she is still single and fancy free. “Are they Angels?”, he asked me, “I thought they were bugs”. Bugs indeed!!! Anyone can see that they are Angels. Can’t they?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tucked around a corner…..

Tucked around a corner of one of the many corridors in Hutt Hospital, Lower Hutt, hangs a lovely hand crafted panel. Quite large, at approximately 7ft wide by 3ft 6inches deep, it has been created using a variety of hand work styles. Patchwork, cross stitch and appliqué blocks have been lovely stitched in shades of purple and white by staff members of the various departments. There is a block constructed from a piece of Tapa cloth, bark beaten very thinly and much prized by the Island communities. Just a few of the departments involved were District Midwives, Women in Pharmacy, Diabetic Services, Infection Control, and Social Workers. Each block honours the department of the stitcher involved. Unfortunately I was unable to find out how this beauty came to be stitched and put together when I checked at the Information Office.


I was visiting the hospital for my regular oncology check-up. The lead up to these appointments is always stressful, as any cancer survivor knows, and I am a real worrier. Luckily the news continues to be good, and I came away with a “big tick” health wise. You certainly can’t get better than that. Poor Robin is off work with a painful heel so he came with me today. (See our other blog : www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com for his story). On the way home we just had to pop in to my favourite cafe for a latte and one of their delicious cakes to celebrate!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sad but True

My son moved house a while ago and was busy packing up his stuff. The telephone conversation with him went something like this. “What are you going to do with that quilt I made you”, I asked, knowing that he didn’t use it. “I don’t really need it, Mum”, he said. “Well, send it back to me then”. I had visions of it being chucked out with the rubbish. So he packed it up in a carton, adding the wall hanging I had made him earlier , and they arrived like this.

DSCF2502 Delivered by courier

The quilt was made especially for his 40th birthday. His working life revolves around writing about hi-fi equipment and music and I found a lovely musical print to use for the alternate blocks, plus another for the backing. I stitched stars using graduated fabrics in shades of yellow and orange, set against a black background. Using the cut off corners from the stars, I stitched them into flying geese blocks and used them in the borders. Took it along to my favourite commercial quilter, who suggested using motifs of musical notes. It all turned out rather striking, I thought.

DSCF2503 40th Birthday quilt

So…….. what do I do now? Keep the quilt and hope he wants it back some time in the future? Don’t think this will happen as he had not used the quilt in five years. Use it ourselves? Or give it to another family member? Apart from being bundled up in a cupboard all this time, it is “as new”, and as bright and vibrant as when I first started stitching it.

DSCF2506 Kea wall-hanging

Also included in the carton was a wall-hanging appliquéd with a New Zealand Kea. My son was an avid bird-watcher in his younger days and I made this for his 37th birthday. If I am completely honest I would have to admit that I am more than a little hurt that my son doesn’t want his quilt. But then……. he didn’t actually ask for one. What he did say was, “If you have to make me one, make it in black, yellow and orange”. So I shouldn’t have presumed that he really wanted a quilt now, should I? Sad, but true, I guess.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sad Movies always make me cry

And what could be more sad than viewing “My Sister’s Keeper”?  There I was, all alone in Theatre Number 4 yesterday afternoon, hanky at the ready, all set to sit through the heart rending film when one other patron came in.  So then there were two.

DSCF3070 The empty movie theatre

My Sister’s Keeper is based on the novel written by Jodi Picoult. It tells the story of 13-year-old Anna, who sues her parents for medical emancipation when she is expected to donate a kidney to her sister Kate.  Anna was initially conceived as a perfect match  to provide cord blood to Kate, who is dying from leukaemia.  Over the years Anna had to undergo various medical procedures to bolster the health of her sister.  It was all very sad and emotional and I sniffled and dabbed my eyes through the movie.  Interesting enough, the other movie goer, who was sitting right behind me, never made a sound.  She must be made of much sterner stuff that me.  Quilt lovers unite – there was a satin crazy patch quilt in the film. 

I really must read the novel now, although I understand that the ending in the film was very different to how the book was written. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stitching on a Monday

What’s not to love about the monthly “Stitching Mondays”? It is a day spent stitching, sewing, pressing, giving or getting advice, a little show and tell, and most of all, the friendship and companionship of other Pinestream Quilters. Some take their sewing machines along, while others like to spend the day doing hand stitching, pinning up, or tracing patterns. It’s really just doing whatever takes your fancy, and a whole day to do it. Joyce brought along an original quilt she is working on for her grand-son. The central appliqué motif is an enlargement of a photo. What a clever idea , making this a very personal quilt.

DSCF3054 Two heads are better than one

Sylvia came along with not one, but two lovely Baltimore quilts using a range of William Morris fabrics. Both are now pinned up, and she has started the hand quilting.


DSCF3058 Sylvia with her two beautiful Baltimores

Pamela was machine quilting a very vibrant cot quilt for a family member. Starting with the colourful panel, she added pieced borders of diamonds and pin wheel blocks.

DSCF3055Pamela with her cot quilt

Isn’t Margaret’s blue starry quilt just lovely? It’s just about finished now, I think. Christine has been working away on hexagons for some time now and has put them all together. What a big job! The next stage is to appliqué the sides edges to border fabric.



And what was I doing? I took my newly service machine along and stitched up some more burgundy and cream Cobblestone blocks for a belated birthday quilt. Packed the machine away after lunch and spent the next hour stitching my Alex Anderson’s Twelve Days of Redwork blocks.

DSCF3063 My Cobblestone blocks

It was another lovely day spent doing what we all love, working with fabric.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Purring like a Kitten

Purring along like a kitten – that’s how my Bernina 440 has been since it’s back from a service. Not that it was giving me any trouble before, but I guess a bit of tender loving care can work wonders on machinery. I do try very hard to keep the bobbin race free of lint, and change the needle before I think it needs changing! Most of us quilters sit at our machines each week, quite often each day, so they certainly get a lot of use.

I’ve been doing a bit more work on the Black and White quilt – the one I’m making for my daughter and her husband’s 25th Wedding Anniversary later this year. So far I’ve stitched all the 4 patch blocks – made too many so I may use them on the back. The blocks have been set together with lime green sashing, which really gives it a zing. After purchasing 2 m of this fabric, I cut and stitched and a few days later had ran out. No problem, a trip back to my local will sort that out. But……… that same week, a phone customer from Auckland had taken the lot! (Guess she must have run out too). Don’t worry, the helpful staff told me, it’s a stock item so we will just get some more in for you. The fabric arrived the following week, and the staff member phoned to let me know it had been put aside for me before being displayed in the shop. Now, that is certainly good service, thanks Thimbles and Threads of Upper Hutt.


The green is a Patrick Lose mottled design and is really much more lime green than the photo shows.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I love my appliqué mat

I’ve been assembling some Christmas Kiwis today and I just love my appliqué mat. That piece of brown plastic what ever it is made from just makes it all so much easier, I find. It’s just a matter of laying the pieces down one at a time, giving them a quick press, and voila – they all stick together.

DSCF2994One piece at a time on my appliqué mat

Before I purchased my mat, I assembled the pieces directly on top of the background fabric, and invariably some of the parts slipped out of place. It’s so much easier now. I just peeled the kiwi carefully off the appliqué sheet, positioned it on the background fabric, and pressed it all down in place.

DSCF2997 Christmas kiwi fused on to background fabric

Now I’ve got the kiwis all fused down, I need to machine appliqué around their cute little bodies. Wonder when I’ll get around to doing that?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just like new

What better time to arrange for my Bernina to have a service than when we have been away on holiday. That way, I don’t get to miss any machining time. I collected it today, and it’s just like new. I certainly look forward to getting some more sewing done. But what shall I work on? Perhaps the black and white quilt I’m stitching for my daughter and husband’s 25th anniversary? And what about the burgundy and cream one I’m making for my niece? I also have two more quilts pinned up and half machine quilted. Whatever I chose to work on first, it will be good to get back to my Bernina. Knowing me, I’ll probably flit from one project to the other.

DSCF2992 Just like new again

I had a little problem with my Horn cabinet the other week. I just couldn’t get the bottom drawer to close properly and suspected that something had fallen down the back. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get the offending drawer out. The cabinet has a solid timber back facing that couldn’t be moved either. What to do? I admitted defeat and asked my husband Robin to help. No trouble, he said, lifting out the top plastic tray that holds an assortment of reels of thread and other bits and pieces. Then he leaned down, opened up each drawer a little, and there, underneath the bottom one, I could see some Vilene that had slipped down. Once that was removed, the drawers shut perfectly. It’s certainly easy when you know how, isn’t it!

DSCF2623 There it is, right down the bottom of the cabinet

Friday, March 5, 2010

As things used to be

We visited the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera today which uses life sized exhibits to show case the past lives of the people of Taranaki. A woman’s work is never done, especially when she is also a Mum. This harassed mother had a baby on her hip, and a toddler clinging to her skirt, and all the while she was trying to cook the family meal on the top of a coal range. The figures are created from moulds cast from real people, and are designed and built on the premises. The baby had tears on her cheeks, the toddler had her face screwed up in a tantrum, and poor Mum is at the end of her tether.

DSCF2918Poor Mum getting the dinner ready

Later in the museum I came across of display of an old fashioned draper’s shop. I just love this sort of thing, and enjoyed looking at various cards of buttons, embroidery thread, hooks and eyes, laces, braids and needles. Add to that the knitting needles, hat pins and a lovely lace collar. There was even a Butterick pattern for the housewife to whip up a pair of natty bloomers!


DSCF2941 Items in the draper’s shop window

The Tawhiti Museum is well worth a visit if you are ever passing through Hawera, in South Taranaki.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Puke Ariki

A miserable day on holiday was brightened by a visit to New Plymouth. We walked along the Coastal Walkway and admired Ken Lye’s famous Wind Wand, which bends and flexes in the wind.

P3020545The Wind Wand

The striking Puke Ariki museum is just across from the Coastal Walkway. The museum tells the history of New Plymouth.


I was delighted to find a display of hand crafted items from years gone by. Knitted, stitched, embroidered, all lovingly made by hand and beautifully displayed.


Also displayed was a beautiful white gown, full of pin tucks and lace insertions. The amount of time to construct a dress by hand such as this must be immense.


Now stitching hearts

We are into the second week of our holiday and are now on the slow journey homewards. I have been doing a little stitching on my “Twelve Days of Redwork” heart blocks when the time allows. But………..I didn’t pack any green thread. The weather today is definitely cooler so the plan is to go into New Plymouth for a little sightseeing. Luckily I have the latest copy of New Zealand Quilter magazine with me so I can track down a quilt fabric shop or two in the city and purchase some green thread.


Follow our travels on our travel blog