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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Giant Jersey of Geraldine

It all started with a trip around Aussie, as the attractions such as “The Big Pineapple” struck a cord.  “Why”, reasoned Michael and Gillian Linton, “couldn’t Geraldine have their own “big” something or other to put it on the map?”  Running a knitwear business, it was a simple matter to think about making a giant jersey.  The pattern was designed using punch cards, with the criteria being that no two patterns or colours could touch each over.  New Zealand icons such as sheep, tikis, kowhai blossoms, deer, skiers, cyclists and kayakers appearing in the designs.  And what about those Koalas?, I asked.  They are there because the idea germinated during the Australian holiday.  Other designs such as tartans, chevrons, checkerboards and stripes are alternated between the pictorial designs.
DSCF9263 World famous in Geraldine
So just how big is the Giant Jersey of Geraldine?  It measures 16ft from wrist to wrist and is 7ft tall.  It would fit a giant with a chest measurement of 120 inches, and weighs 5.5kg. 
DSCF9264 World Record
This monster was officially recognised by Guinness Book of World Records in 1999, and even has it’s own web site on www.giantjersey.co.nz
Michael Linton is also known as the creator of “1066 – A Medieval Mosaic”.  This amazing creation is featured on our Travel Blog at www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lillia’s Lace Museum

There was no question about it, we just had to go and stay in Geraldine on our South Island trip.  All because my handy book “Museums to visit in New Zealand” listed Lillia’s Lace Museum as an attraction in this town.  Dot and I called around to the museum while Robin and Derek checked out the Vintage Car and Machinery Museum.  Jean Hall welcomed us to her small museum and gave us a potted history of lace making through the ages.  She explained the different types of lace and showed us  many beautiful examples of lace, bobbins and clothing.
DSCF9248 An overview of the lace museum
The museum is named after Jean’s grandmother, lace-maker Lillia Landridge.  Lillia was only 18 years old when she made the piece of Torchon bobbin lace on display with her photo.
DSCF9250 Lillia Landridge, lace maker
Jean is a lace-maker herself and collects pieces from all over the world.  Most of the lace displayed is hand made but there are also examples of machine made lace.  Jean discovered that the patterns for these pieces are often destroyed after a run of items have been made, and felt that the commercial pieces also need to be preserved.  The New Zealand Centennial lace piece is such an example, featuring a kiwi, ferns and New Zealand flag.  I can remember my mother telling me that she went to the exhibition in Wellington. 
DSCF9254 Lace piece from the NZ Centennial
DSCF9251 Cabinet of French lace
There are many beautiful lace collars on display, and Jean explained how they can be dated by the fineness of the work.  The amount of hours needed to make these beautiful decorative collars ensured that only the wealthy ladies could afford to buy them, I expect.
DSCF9256 Lace collar from Brussels
As well as more examples of beautiful lace, this cabinet also contained several other associated items.  Such as a collection of old vellum parchment patterns used for bobbin lace.  The candle on the right of the display is known as a “lace makers lamp”.  The glass ball was filled with water, and the light of the candle is magnified as it shines through the glass ball.
DSCF9253An interesting collection
DSCF9258Made in NZ – blouse featuring different bands of lace
Jean is an expert lace maker herself, but also works in wool.  She spun the wool from her own flock, drew up the pattern, then worked the design in bobbin lace to make her fan.
DSCF9252 Jean’s fine wool lace fan
Her beautiful long evening gown was an entry in the first “Wearable Art Show” held in 1987.  Jean spun kid mohair wool, then hand dyed it in several shades of navy.  Using her own design, the beautiful dress was hand knitted and is so fine that the wool used weighed only 5 1/2 ounces. The strapless grey wool dress is also an original and was knitted in 2 ply wool.
DSCF9257 Beautiful fine wool dresses
It was a delight to visit the museum, there was so much to see, and I can really recommend a visit to any who love textiles and are passing through Geraldine. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

In days gone by

The pretty little colonial cottage at the Plains Historical Museum showed the lives of women  in days gone by.  Believed to have been built prior to 1900, and featuring hand made bricks in the chimney, the cottage was moved to the museum in 1978.
DSCF9199 1900s cottage
The kitchen would have been the heart of the house with the big black coal range providing heat, cooking the meals, and boiling the water for the household.  Hand made rag rugs provided floor coverings and would have been made from rags and scraps of clothing. 
DSCF9203 Colonial kitchen
A hand made quilt graced the double bed and a hooked rug kept the toes warm when getting out of bed on cold winter mornings.
DSCF9201The bedroom
The baby’s cot has a hand made quilt too, and the single bed had beautiful white cotton petticoats, nightgowns and babies dresses, pin tucked and trimmed with pretty lace. 
DSCF9202  The nursery
Wives and mothers always have to contend with the family’s laundry and this cottage came complete with a copper to boil up the clothes, a glass wash board for scrubbing, concrete tubs foe rinsing, and a huge wooden mangle.
DSCF9204The wash house
House work has changed dramatically over the years and these days I imagine that modern woman would not be able to run a house hold without her bevy of labour saving devices.  We do not own a dish-washer, and I’m fine with that, but I could not cope without my washing machine,  or sewing machine either, for that matter!

Kiwi Quilters get-together in Ashburton

We spent a very pleasant evening last night with Marie and her husband Murray here in Ashburton.  Marie is a fellow member of the Kiwi Quilters internet group and made contact prior to us leaving on our South Island Odyssey trip, and invited us around for an evening meal.  We arrived and could smell delicious aromas wafting out from the kitchen, sat down and got to know each other.  We had plenty to chat about, and enjoyed a delicious meal.  Murray kept us entertained with tales of his motorbike adventures, and the four of us shared stories of our travels  throughout New Zealand and overseas.
DSCF9216 Marie with her Bargello quilt
Marie and Murray have made a couple of trips to far off Paraguay and she showed me some of the beautiful Nanduti lace hand made by the Guarani Indians.  It is constructed in circles and made from very fine thread.  These examples are in beautiful glowing colours.
DSCF9220 Nanduti lace from Paraguay
Like any quilter’s home, there were quilts on the wall, just waiting to be admired.  New Zealand has a reputation for making award winning wines, and Marie made her “grape” quilt in a class with Ruth Blanchard.
DSCF9223 Marie’s grape quilt
Disappearing Nine Patch quilts are all the rage lately.  Marie’s quilt in shades of green and a touch of orange will be hung in her workplace, the local hospital.
DSCF9224 Disappearing Nine Patch to be donated to the hospital
We had a great evening, and a lovely meal.  (All this after Marie had a full day at work too).  Thanks so much, Marie and Murray, for inviting a couple of travellers into your home, it was so nice to meet you both..

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our well travelled cat

Our cat Muffy is doing very well coping with all the travelling so far on our South Island Odyssey  trip.  We were rather worried about the Inter Island ferry crossing as she was left in the caravan by herself for three hours.  The vet assured us that she would be fine and much better off without any pills to calm her down.  If she had a bad reaction we wouldn’t be there to help her, he reminded us.
So far we have travelled over 1000 miles with the caravan.  Muffy has a little pink harness and we clip a light retractable lead onto it.  The shortened lead then gets attached to one of the seat belts in the back seat, which gives her room to move around.  Careful measurement ensures that if we have to stop suddenly, there is no way Muffy can go hurtling into the front window.  If we are lucky she spends her travel time nice and quiet on the back seat, otherwise she quietly meows her displeasure from time to time.  The car is not her favourite place to be, but she is quite happy blobbing out in the caravan once we arrive at our campsite.  Then we never hear a peep out of her until mealtime.
Muffy likes to have a sniff around at all these different places we take her to, and is not adverse to popping into the other caravans or motor home if her lead is long enough to allow such a visit.  Pauline and Geoff had their screen door shut and Muffy really wanted to call in to say hello.
DSCF8906 Please let me in
She is doing really well on this trip.  As Muffy is an old girl of nearly 16 years old we did not want to leave her in a cattery for the three months we will be away.  She is quite content to lie on the couch or our bed (on top of the quilt of course) for most of the day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Milford House - Oxford

A recent business relocation to Oxford is Vonnie’s wonderful luxury linen business “Milford House”   After 10 years in Matakana, Vonnie moved down to Oxford, lock, stock and barrel.  Milford House is a delightful country cottage type of building full of linens, embroidered items, children’s clothing, and all sorts of interesting textile items.  Fragrant white roses frame the path into the shop, and I wandered around the rooms the rooms full of interesting stock.   This friendly owner welcomed us into her pretty shop, and I noticed she was busy doing wool embroidery on a blanket.
DSCF9040 Milford House in Oxford
Many of the items for sale feature hand embroidery.  Pretty smocked dresses and embroidered kiddies clothes would make any besotted grand-mother reach into her purses to buy a little something for her darlings.  Little knitted jumpers and hand embroidered woollen cot blankets also line this room of the shop, and I noticed a couple of cot quilts here too.
DSCF9036 Pretty kiddies clothes
DSCF9037Babies knitting and woollen blankets
Vonnie loves fine linen and has a wonderful range of both Egyptian cotton and Irish bed linen for sale.  This gorgeous bed was set with crisp white linen, pretty white cushions, and a lovely crocheted bed cover.
DSCF9039  All set for a good night’s sleep
DSCF9038An assortment of hand stitched cushions
It was a shame we were moving on as Vonnie also teaches embroidery – I could do with some tuition myself but I’m sure the local ladies appreciate her talents.  Check out her website on www.milfordhouselinen.co.nz

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jo Seagar’s Cafe at Oxford

Lunch at Jo Seagar’s Cafe in Oxford was on our “must do” list, and we have been eagerly looking forward to it.  Jo and her family had relocated here several years ago from the North Island, and runs her thriving Cafe, Cook School and Kitchen Store in this pretty little town.  Jo Seagar, with her bubbly nature  is a “Kiwi Treasure” and I love her TV programmes, and have several of her cook books at home.  She has made the term “easy peasy” very much her own, as well as her oft repeated statement, “never trust a skinny cook”.    With eight people in our group I asked if we could put some tables together, and the staff happily obliged.  Now, let’s check out those menus.  Everything sounded so tasty, what shall we order?  Steaming plates were delivered to a table close by ours, and the young ladies enjoying their meal  were happy to tell us what they had ordered.  That made up our minds – we want what they are having!
DSCF9023 Friendly staff in the cafe
Paintings of rural New Zealand farm scenes lining the walls were for sale and seemed quite reasonably priced to me.  Sheep, border collies,  cattle and rusty old barns were all beautifully captured.
DSCF9026 New Zealand farm scene
Beautifully worked cross stitch panels adorned the walls on the way to the bathrooms, and these were stitched by Jo’s mother, the staff told me.  Except perhaps the oldest sampler, the stitching read “M Stares, aged 8, 1821”, obviously a family heirloom.
DSCF9028 Made by Jo’s mother
DSCF9030Stitched in 1821
We enjoyed our delicious lunches and can certainly recommend a trip to this wonderful cafe.  Jo was busy teaching her pupils in the Cook School today, we were told, so there was no chance that we could say hello.  Check it all out on www.joseagar.com

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It’s Washing Day

Laundry duties don’t stop just because we’re on holiday.  We are currently camped at Wakari Domain, and wonder of wonders, there was  a free washing machine in the laundry room for the campers!  Free or not, our group all had washing to do and we would have quite happily paid whatever amount was required.  This machine was as slow as a proverbial wet week.  Our caravan was the last of of group to arrive on site, which meant that unfortunately I was 4th in line.  Time to get our tiny little washer out, which we had just purchased on “Trade Me” last week.  We lifted it up on the sink in the kitchen, filled it up with water and detergent, added a few “smalls”, switched on the power,  and away we went.
DSCF8954 A tiny little washing machine
Being so small, the capacity is very limited.  After my first load was rinsed, we refilled and managed to squash four tee shirts into the washer.  Unfortunately this machine does not have a spin function, so the rinsed clothes have to be wrung out by hand.
DSCF8956 Mini washing machine
By the time I had these two tiny loads pegged out on the line, the proper washing machine in the laundry finally became free. – my turn at last.  In went the towels  and the other clothes still to be washed – what bliss, this machine washes, rinses and spins and I don’t have to lift a finger while it is all happening.  On reflection, my mini washer might well turn out to be a bit of a “white elephant”.  It will continue on our travels with us around the South Island but I think it may well find itself back on Trade Me when we return home.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Patch of Country - Kaikoura

I had heard about a wonderful “must see” patchwork shop in Kaikoura, and what a wonderful, friendly place it is.  Beautifully scented white roses line the path up to the shop, and I stepped in the door into a wonderland of delight.
DSCF8916 Such a pretty entrance to the shop
Rachel has owned the shop for about 6 years, she told me, and it is chocker-block full of fabric, patterns, notions and knitting wool.She is now stocking woollen fabric and has a nice range of patterns to show how to work with this wonderful warm fabric.
DSCF8911 Working with woollen fabric
The shop is organised into rooms.  This one had everything you could need for a child's quilt.  There was a lovely range of kiddies fabrics,  including Jemima Puddle Duck and friends, patterns, and lots of soft toys. ‘
DSCF8912 Need to make a kiddies quilt?
Another room was full of lots of New Zealand fabrics, plus a good selection of black and whites.  There were plenty of NZ patterns on offer, plus a good selection of cross stitches showing New Zealand scenes.
DSCF8914 New Zealand fabrics and patterns in this room
Rachel has lots of stitchery samples adorning the shop, and a great range of stitchery patterns.  I love doing stitcheries, they are so handy and portable to do while travelling.  I really enjoyed pottering about this pretty shop, thank you Rachel for your friendly welcome.  Do pop in if you are passing through Kaikoura, and check out the shop on www.apatchofcountry.co.nz

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quilter’s Barn, Blenheim

It wasn’t too long before I came across my first quilt shop of the trip.  Tucked away in the middle of vine growing country in Blenheim, we found “The Vines Village”, boasting amongst other shops a quilt shop, and a  fudge shop.  The men made a bee-line to sample some fudge, I checked out the quilt shop.
DSCF8861 I’ve found a quilt shop
I always ask permission to take a few snaps, which was happily given.  This shop has a great range of New Zealand fabric, patterns, and kits.  Hanging on the wall was a similar “New Zealand Postcard” quilt which I made and presented to my UK pen friends during our trip several years ago.
DSCF8866 Plenty of New Zealand fabrics on offer
There was a huge range of batik fabrics too, which I adore.  This fabric is so nice to work with.
DSCF8865 Lots of delicious fabric
Fancy a mini quilt show?  Just walk down the adjacent hall and there they all are, waiting to be admired.
DSCF8868 Japanese inspired quilt
DSCF8870A Quilter’s  Life
We’re moving on to Kaikoura and I’ve heard there is a lovely quilt shop there, so ‘hopefully I’ll be able to check that out as well.  So, watch this space.  And don’t forget, you will be able to follow our travels and adventures on our South Island Odyssey Trip on our Travel Blog

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One more Sleep to go

Only one more sleep to go before we head  “down south”.  I’ve made sure that I’d packed my stitching away in the caravan - here it is all rolled up around a cardboard roll.  I’ve got several projects traced onto fabric and all ready to go.  And to keep everything clean I’ve wrapped it up in one of my fancy UK quilters tea-towels.
DSCF8843 All wrapped up and ready to stitch
I’ve traced off the design for a “Herb Farm” cushion for my daughter, a gardening picture for a friend, and just in case I run out of things to do, I’ve added a couple of Red Brolly Christmas designs too.  That should keep me busy.
DSCF8842 Things to stitch
The South Island is full of wonderful scenery and you can follow our adventures on our Travel Blog www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday Stitchers get-together

It’s been a long time since the last monthly Friday Stitchers get-together, so it was good to catch up with everyone again.  This is the first meeting of the year, and will be my last for a while, as we heading south on Monday for an extended caravan trip.  Seems that most of the ladies have been quite busy over the last couple of months, with several finishes brought along to show everyone.  Joyce in particular had been especially busy, and had three quilts to show us.  The black and white “Snail Trail” with a touch of red is all finished and ready for her grand-daughter’s wedding.
DSCF8836 Snail Trial wedding quilt
Joyce had added a narrow folded inner border in red just inside the binding and this looked particularly effective, we all thought.
DSCF8837 A touch of red in the binding
“Through the Cottage Window” was made by Joyce for the challenge at the recent Stonestead outdoor Quilt Festival – unfortunately I was away at the time so never got the chance to attend.  Now let me see – that looks like a pussy cat gazing out the cottage window at several quilts hanging on the clothes line!  What a clever idea Joyce came up with.
DSCF8840 Through the Cottage Window
Anne was busy stitching down the binding on a very colourful house quilt she had made in a class at Thimbles and Threads, with trees of different shapes between the houses.  The narrow striped inner border and the spotted outer border add a nice finish to the quilt. 
DSCF8838 Anne’s House quilt
Another bright and cheery quilt was the cot quilt just completed by Christine.  This one is going to a friend for her little grand-son.  Here’s more of the great striped fabric, and it works so well as sashing between all those colourful blocks.
DSCF8839 Bright and cheery cot quilt
Back to Joyce again and here she is hand quilting her lovely quilt made with lots of New Zealand fabrics.  That’s going to be a big job.
DSCF8841 Joyce has started hand quilting
There were several other ladies busy chatting and sewing too.  Several were working on hexagons, and Judith was stitching down the binding (more stripes) on her glorious blue and white hand quilted masterpiece, while I was working on my last teddy stitchery block.  We had a lovely afternoon together, and it turns out that several of us will be enjoying holidays over the next few months.  No doubt there will be lots of news to catch up with on my return from our South Island holiday.