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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Martinborough Treasure Trove

We were enjoying the Spring sunshine today and joined a group of friends over  the Rimutaka Hill at Martinborough.  Everyone remembered to put their clocks forward one hour for the start of “Daylight Saving” so all of us arrived at our meeting point at the correct time.  I’m a real fan of daylight saving, and just love the long summer evenings that it brings.  Our hostess Anne took us around a corner or two from the Martinborough Square to check out this establishment.  Billed as “The Shop that looks like a House”, it certainly was.  Chock full of collectables, and vintage treasures, it was like stepping back in time.  

DSCF2913Step this way to view the treasures inside

There were jars of interesting old buttons sitting on tables on the shady vine covered veranda.  Lots of crafters like to collect old buttons, I know, and some have huge collections.  I walked on by into the house to see what else was on offer.  I love old linen, and spent some time looking through the pretty embroidered table clothes.  As well as the linen, there were baskets of knitting wool and haberdashery.  Such things as cards of domes, of hooks and eyes, and we even found a couple of darning mushrooms .  You know the sort, all good housewives used to darn their husband's holey socks in days gone by.  “You don’t need to buy anything”, one of our friends commented, “you are moving house and you’re trying to de-clutter, aren’t you?” That’s true, we have our house on the market and have been very busy over the last few weeks sorting out what we don’t need and taking all sorts of things to the op shop. 
DSCF2910 Lots of old linen on display

There was a huge variety of lovely items on display, pretty dishes, tea pots, and vintage clothing and hand bags.  But I was very good, just looked, and didn’t buy a thing.
DSCF2911China and tea spoons

Martinborough was humming with people, all out enjoying the lovely weather.  This town has quite a connection to the maternal side of my family.  My mother was born here, and her mother and other early family members are buried in the oldest of the town’s two graveyards.  I had hoped to re-acquaint myself with an old family photo hanging in the bar of the historic Martinborough Hotel.  But the interior of hotel was being repainted and the photo of my great-grandfather standing outside his boot and shoe shop in the early days of Martinborough was not to be seen.  All the old photos were safely stored away, I was told.  I hope so, it would be a shame if they were disposed of.

DSCF2919 Martinborough Hotel – where’s my great-granddad gone?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pinestream Quilters September Club night

Ladies from the “New Settlers Group” came along to our club night on Thursday.  This church based group was set up for new settlers including immigrants and refugees, to get together for company and support.  They asked to learn cooking and sewing skills.  Several ladies from our quilt club help teach sewing, members often donate fabric and notions, and the club has helped out with purchasing sewing machines.  Ladies from the New Settlers came along to our meeting to show what they had been making during the year, and to thank the club for it’s ongoing support.

There was not quite so much Show and Tell at this meeting, probably because all the members had been busy with their entries for our current quilt show.  Our President Karen proudly told how her Mum (a visitor at our meeting) had been busy knitting and had completed several little baby blankets to be donated to the Neo Natal  hospital ward.

These lovely bright fabrics were purchased by Jan while on holiday in USA.  They have been cut and stitched to form the blocks and then Jan appliquéd those rather exotic looking flowers on top.  There will be lots of happy holiday memories in this quilt.

DSCF2888 Jan’s lovely floral quilt

This cute quilt had quite a “country” feel to it, and Janet told us that she really enjoyed stitching the blocks of this quilt.

DSCF2887Janet’s country style quilt

I’m a real fan of New Zealand quilts, and this one made by Pauline is full of lots of different New Zealand design fabrics. 

DSCF2891Pauline’s New Zealand inspired quilt

Last but not least is Joyce’s pretty pastel Love Ring design quilt.   The girls from our Friday Stitchers group all had a hand in this, and each made Joyce several of these little curved blocks.  She then had to sit down and make hundreds more, she told us
DSCF2885 Love Ring quilt

I was scheduled for supper duty at the end of the meeting, so did my bit with taking something along for supper, pouring drinks and helping with the dishes.  It was not too onerous at all, especially with four of us helping.  It was another good club night, and it is always nice to catch up with the other members.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A good day for washing a quilt

Yesterday was one of those good “laundry” days, fine and sunny, with a nice warm breeze.  So after I’d done the normal wash and hung it outside, I decided to launder my “Memories of Misty” quilt.  Although I have several large bed quilts which I rotate, this is my favourite winter season quilt.  Made with wool batting, it is lovely and cosy.  It was due for a gentle wash, so it would be all ready to keep us warm next winter.

DSCF2876 Memories of Misty

Completed back in 2001, this quilt has been well used and loved.  Some of the fabrics have faded a little over the years, but it is still going strong.  I made the quilt to remember our former cat Misty, who lived a full and happy long life of 19 years.  Misty was an attractive large silvery grey cat, rather feisty, knew her own mind, and was very much Robin’s cat.  (There was no way she would lie still and allow us to groom her, as our present cat Muffy does.)  I invited my overseas pen-friends and local quilting friends to make me a block or two and sign their name, so it is also a memory quilt.  Then of course I made all the other blocks needed.
DSCF2874 The backing is a cat fabric

As it happens,  I have been selling some unwanted quilting things on Trade Me, and have just sold some leftover cat blocks from this quilt.   These have been tucked away in a box all this time, and the colours are so much brighter than my quilt.  Luckily I had a fat quarter of the pink background fabric, plus directions to make extra blocks, if required.  Gail bought them for her 10 year old daughter who loves cats and is just starting to sew.  She is going to sash the blocks in purple, I was told.  Isn’t it great that this young girl is all set to make her first quilt? 
 DSCF2784 Extra cat blocks have found a new home

It’s just as well I washed the quilt yesterday, as today would be no good at all for hanging laundry outside on the clothesline.  It’s wet, and damp, and rather miserable today, not quilt washing weather at all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quilting through the Ages

Upper Hutt City is celebrating “Seniors Week, with activities for seniors to celebrate the golden years”.  I went along to Expressions Gallery today to watch a visual presentation from well known textile artist Katherine Morrison,  who is also a member of my quilt club.  The audience was made up of a sprinkling of club members, together with many interested locals. 

Katherine started her talk with commenting that quilted clothing was being made as early as 5000 BC, and knights heading off to the Crusades wore quilted garments under their armour.  She slowed slides of very early quilts from the 16th century, some of them tattered after all this time, up to modern times.  A photo from 1863 showed an intricate woollen quilt stitched by a soldier as therapy as he recovered from his war wounds.  After being out of favour for many years, the quilt revival in the 1930s brought quilting to the fore again.  The slide show covered quilts from the Gees Bend quilters, who were geographically isolated from the influences modern quilting ideas for many years, and developed their own distinctive style, finishing with slides of contemporary quilt makers. 

Slides of Katherine’s work showing her quilts made from recycled woollen blankets followed.  While working as “Artist in Residence” in Perth, Australia, she then fashioned a series  of beautiful tailored coats from recycled blankets.  Katherine’s creativity flows down from early family members who included potters and artists, she says.

A mini quilt show followed with several early quilts from the collection of Ann Scott, editor of New Zealand Quilter magazine.  First shown was a 19th century green and white Irish Chain quilt, pieced by hand and hand quilted.

DSCF2854  Irish Chain quilt

Next we were shown a woollen quilt from 1910.  The coloured pieces have been stitched onto the dark background with a variety of herringbone and other similar stitches.

DSCF2855 Wool quilt from 1910

Everyone recognized the pattern of this 1950s Grandmother’s Garden hexagon quilt, with several of the ladies murmuring that they have made one of these in their time.  Hexagon’s are very  much in fashion at the moment, as they are a very portable style of stitching, something that can be slipped into a bag and taken anywhere.

DSCF2856 1950s hexagon quilt

Was the next quilt the catalyst to make Katherine switch to working with wool, I wondered.  She related that when the family bought a bach (holiday house) some years ago, this quilt and another similar one was left behind in the building.  Made with a mixture of assorted wool fabrics, it is backed with an old tablecloth, now tattered and torn.   It really couldn’t have found a more appreciative owner!

DSCF2857 Katherine’s “found” woollen quilt

The last in our mini show was “Memories” a whole cloth quilt made by Heather Harding.  This apricot and cream  beauty was entered in the World Quilt Exhibition in Paducah, USA, and won “Second in the World for Traditional Bed Quilt”.  What an amazing accomplishment!  It then joined a travelling exhibition and travelled to three countries before finally coming back home.  The cream sateen used in this quilt was “rescued fabric”.  The fabric came from the workshop of a tailor who had passed away several years ago, and the family finally decided to clear out his storeroom. 
DSCF2858 “Memories”, by Heather Harding

The audience all enjoyed the presentation and the quilt show, and several had questions to ask at the end.  Many then took the opportunity to look around the quilt exhibition.  Special thanks to Katherine and Expressions Gallery for arranging this very interesting and informative event.   Light refreshments were provided so I joined a table of ladies to sip my coffee and chat about our interesting morning.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Exhibition Quilts

Our club is very fortunate to have our exhibition at hanging at our wonderful local gallery  “Expressions” for three weeks.  As promised, here are a few more quilts which I particularly liked.  June Bruce stitched this lovely wall-hanging in honour of the tuis which frequent her garden, and sip nectar from the kowhai blossoms.  The appliquéd tui and kowhai is set off by the intricate paper pieced inner border, and the whole piece is beautifully “freehand” machine quilted. 

DSCF2807 “There is a Tui in my Garden”, by June Bruce

It’s easy to see there is a Scottish connection with this quilt, “My Wee Piece of Scotland”, by Fay McGregor.  The quilt was inspired by a piece of tartan Fay’s son Liam purchased in Edinburgh while there on holiday, which brought back memories of the time the family lived in Scotland.  Liam was presented with this quilt on his 21st Birthday, and the quilt won a Merit Award in the show.  No wonder I love it, I’ve got some Scots blood running through my veins too.

DSCF2809 “My Wee Piece of Scotland”, by Fay McGregor

This is the second quilt exhibited by June Bruce at the show, “Amazing Grace”, which is a stitched from a McKenna Ryan pattern using Hoffman fabrics.  The soft colours and the inspirational words of Faith, Hope and Love reminds us to make the most of each minute, June says.
DSCF2813 “Amazing Grace”, by June Bruce

Not one to waste a minute in her busy day, Jeanette Orr stitched the majority of the appliqué while travelling on public transport.  Her aim was to complete four leaves or two circles, depending on the hold-up in the traffic.  Jeannette won an award for “Best First Time Exhibitor”, for her lovely quilt.

DSCF2815 “Public Transport”, by Jeannette Orr

Jeannette Lazet stitched “A Budding Legacy” to honour the influence of her (quilter) mother who encouraged her in the quilting arts.  Jeannette’s artist’s statement  says, “this is a gift for my mother, the floral fabric symbolizes the richness of her knowledge, and the purple, her wisdom”.  What a wonderful gift from a daughter to her Mum.  Jeannette won a Merit Award for her quilt.

DSCF2817 “A Budding Legacy”, by Jeannette Lazet

I have visited the exhibition twice so far, and I plan to go back again for another good look around.  With so many lovely quilts on display, there is always something new to discover.  More photos to follow.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I is for Insects

Where oh where do these days disappear to? We have had such a busy time lately, it’s been hard fitting everything in.  But here at last is the latest block in my A to Z Challenge, “I is for Insects”.

DSCF2587 I is for Insects

It’s probably no surprise that I’m not a great lover of anything creepy-crawly.  And most insects seem to come into this category, don’t they.  Except for ladybirds, bees and butterflies, and others which are deemed “pretty”, most other insects seem to be treated with dislike, or even fear.  As for those wetas, big nasty spiders, and flies – yuk.  But in all seriousness, insects have an important role in the chain of life, and usually they just go about their busy little insect lives and leave me alone. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A visit to the Quilt Exhibition with friends

A return visit to our exhibition “Inspire” (without the crowds of Opening Night) made viewing a pleasure, as did the company of friends Dot and Kathryn.  Dot stitched her first quilt several years ago and carried it with her to UK where it had pride of place on the bed of their narrow boat while Dot and her husband explored canals for several years.  Kathryn hasn’t yet made a quilt, but has been the recipient of several quilty items stitched by myself.  So they both know that quilt making is a labour of love and that colours and designs are a very personal choice.  

We all agreed that “Autumn’s Arrival” was a fabulous quilt, especially when I explained how fiddly the pointy piecing is to do.  Anne’s quilt  took the prize for “Best use of Colour”.

DSCF2799 Kathryn and Dot admiring “Autumn’s Arrival”,  by Anne Cate

“Robyn’s Restless Ramblings” is the name of this quilt by Joanne Rothbaum.  The Trip around the World design is particularly apt as Joanne made the quilt for her friend Robyn’s 40th birthday  to celebrate her friend’s many years of overseas travel.  Joanne won a Merit Award for her quilt.

DSCF2801 “Robyn’s Restless Ramblings”, by Joanne Rothbaum

The fabric’s used in Adele’s quilt reminded her of the times she stayed over at her Great Aunty May’s house.  She called her soft and pretty quilt “Memories of May”. 

DSCF2803 “Memories of May”, by Adele Nicholson

Heather Harding has set herself a challenge to use up her collection of men’s op shop shirts to see how many quilt tops she can produce and to show that it is OK to use recycled fabrics.  This beautiful quilt is number 13 in the series and won the prize for “Best Traditional Wall Quilt”.  It also took my vote for Viewers Choice.

DSCF2805 “Shirt-tail Series No 13”, by Heather Harding

The picture on a Christmas card inspired Jenni Farr to produce her version in fabric, just like lead glass windows in church.  She has named her quilt “Noel”.

DSCF2762“Noel”, by Jenni Farr

These are just a few of the quilts my friends and I admired on our visit.  Watch this space for more lovely quilts to follow shortly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stitching Monday today

There was rather a small elite group at Stitching Monday today – just five of us.  But that was fine, we all worked hard at our own particular projects, checked what the others were doing, and engaged in plenty of chat.

Pamela was stitching a pieced backing using leftover fabric from her Japanese quilt.  It’s not quite big enough yet, but it is coming along nicely.  I must admit that I really like pieced backings like this which have a proper design to them, rather than bits and pieces of fabric stitched together randomly.  That’s probably because I am a Libra, so prefer designs to be balanced, even on the back of the quilt. 

DSCF2785 Pieced backing for a Japanese inspired quilt

Heather is using up even more of her recycled shirting fabrics hand piecing stars.  Not just any old stars, but diamonds set around hexagons – all too hard for me to do!  She decided she wanted to work with striped fabric, and found a pattern which took her fancy.

DSCF2787 Pieced stars made from shirts

Joyce was quite busy too.  She started off making tessellated kimonos, which will be the centre portion of a set of placemats.  These will need another border before they are finished.

DSCF2788 Tessellated kimono placemats

Next she worked on more of her quick flying geese blocks.  I’m not quite sure of the secret behind this way to do flying geese blocks, but I’m assured it really is quick and easy.

DSCF2789-001 Flying geese blocks

Margaret has many strings in her bow, and today she was doing beading, working on a beaded brooch.  Lots of beads will be needed to complete this brooch.

DSCF2792 The bead work at the top will finish up like these

I was rather taken with the pretty little beading sampler which Margaret had stitched, and I marvelled that anyone could work with such tiny little beads. 

DSCF2790 Margaret’s beading sampler

I did some more work on my ongoing project, the burgundy and cream paper pieced log cabin blocks.  Doing it this way is slow, but very accurate, and I usually stitch six blocks at a time.

DSCF7278 My log cabin blocks

So we all enjoyed another very pleasant (monthly) Stitching Monday.  Thanks, ladies, for your company.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

“Inspire” – Pinestream Quilters 2012 Exhibition

Everyone was dressed in their best last night when we attended the official opening of my club’s exhibition, Pinestream Quilters.  This started off with refreshments while everyone mixed and mingled.  Our exhibition was judged by Chris Kenna who told us during the opening ceremony what criteria a judge would work to.  Presentation of awards followed, and then Mayoress Sue Guppy officially opened our exhibition.  The doors were opened, and we all filed in to see the quilts hung in our lovely local gallery.

“Best in Show”was awarded to Gael O’Donnell for her quilt “Joefish Blues”.  The design was amended from one seen in a magazine some time ago and the quilt was made for Gael’s nephew. 

DSCF2757  Best in Show,  “Joefish Blues”

“President’s Choice” was a wall-hanging stitched by Ruth Nicolas, which also won “Best Innovative Wall Quilt”.  Sadly I did not take a note of the name of this quilt.

DSCF2754 President’s Choice and Best Innovative Wall Quilt

My quilting friend Jenni F and I walked around the hall admiring the explosion of colour and design and checking out the prize winning quilts.  But where were ours, we wondered.  There they were, hanging side by side.  Jenni’s soft and pretty quilt was made using her beloved Mum’s doilies, set with Dresden plate blocks.  This is a lovely way to keep the doily collection together, and the quilt was much admired during the evening.   

DSCF2759 Jenni’s doily quilt

My quilt, “Angels to Watch over you”, is made up of angel stitchery blocks and appliquéd stars.  My grand-daughter Emma was horrified when I told her I had made this quilt for my first great-granddaughter.  Emma has no plans to have a baby anytime soon, she told me!

DSCF2760 My Angels quilt, waiting for the next generation

We decided that we all need to come back to the exhibition to have another good look at all the quilts without the crowds of opening night.  In fact, I have invited two non quilting friends to view the exhibition with me next week.  It will be interesting to see what takes their fancy, and I will have the opportunity to take photos of other quilts on show.  Watch this space. 
For anyone who lives in the Wellington area, or is passing through, our show is on at Expressions Gallery, Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt, and is open until 4th November.  Do come if you can, entry is free.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shirley is a quilter too

It’s great meeting up with old friends, sharing a meal, and catching up with everyone’s news.  Shirley and Lewis were the hosts, inviting us to their home for a tasty home cooked meal, and Robyn and Barrie joined us too.  We three “girls” are all quilters, and Shirley had several quilts hanging up.  Out came my camera to share some of her work with you all.  

Shirley had done a great job with the gorgeous appliqué blocks on her “Mom and Me” quilt, and is now working on the machine quilting.  This was a “block of the month” from Grandmother’s Garden shop and is certainly a delightful looking quilt.  When completed, it will be sent on it’s way to a very lucky grand-child.

DSCF2741“Mom and Me” appliqué quit

Hanging in the lounge was a little wall-hanging with a distinctly New Zealand flavour.  A beach scene with a Nikau Palm and looking across to rolling hills, this could be anywhere along the coast.  This quilt was made in a class run by the very talented Chris Kenna. 

DSCF2740 Nikau Palm

This bright and cheerful cat quilt hangs in the hallway.  There are all sorts of different pieced and appliquéd cats here, and the quilt is bordered in a bright cat print.

DSCF2742 Cat quilt

“Rainy Day” looks like a typical wet and windy winter’s day in Wellington.  Wellington is often called “Windy Wellington” and during my many years of working in the big city, I gave up on umbrellas.  It was just not worth the bother!

DSCF2743“Rainy Day”

Shirley’s African Lady was made at another class, and is very heavily machine quilted, giving it lovely texture.  “Don’t take me in the photo”, she said.  Too late, Shirley, it’s taken.

DSCF2745 Shirley and her African Lady quilt

As well as quilting, Shirley is a very accomplished painter, and decorates plates, boxes, trays as well as making cute little painted Christmas ornaments.  Her husband Lewis does wood turning, and some of their pieces are displayed in this cabinet.

DSCF2744 Items all made by Shirley and Lewis

It was a lovely day out, sharing news, chatting and laughing together - we always have plenty to say.  Thanks to Shirley for sharing a few quilts with me.  I’m sure she has many more tucked away too, like all quilters do.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It only Hurts for a Moment

It’s that time again, time for my breast screen appointment.  The waiting room was full of patients, some were waiting to be called through, and some were waiting to be told that their x-rays were fine and they could leave.  One family came in and needed an interpreter  - this was attended to quite quickly.


My turn came and I was shown into a small changing room, told to disrobe (down to my waist) and put on the cape.  Now, what way round did she say?  I must have been nervous because I put it on back to front!  Never mind, I’m sure the nurses are used to nerves.  Then it was a matter of “stand this way, put that arm there, hold still.” Oh, the pressure, but it only hurts for a moment.  My four x-rays were quickly taken, and the practitioner had a very caring manner.  I was told to get dressed, and sit in the waiting room, to make sure the x-rays could be read correctly.  Hanging on the wall was a pretty little wall hanging I recognised from  my previous visit.  It was rather like meeting up with a friendly face again, and saying “hello”.

DSCF2725 Quilt in the waiting room

Then I was free to go home, and no doubt a full report will be sent to my doctor.  I appreciate the fact that we have a nationwide breast screening programme in place here in New Zealand.  Once you are on the register, you are called up every two years for a check up.  The minor discomfort is a small price to pay for peace of mind or early detection.  Have you had your breast screen lately?

Friday, September 7, 2012

I feel guilty now

The “Spring Cleaning” bug has bitten me and I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up in the spare room where I keep my fabrics.  And the books, patterns, magazines and bags and bags of “stuff”.  I came across a bag of fabric that I had completely forgotten about. 

DSCF2707 A mysterious bag of long forgotten fabric

Inside were several lengths of coordinating fabrics I had purchased for a project, plus the pattern.  My mother had always loved dolphins, and I had planned to make her an undersea quilt with appliquéd grey dolphins  someday.  But I never quite got around to making it, in fact to be completely honest, I had forgotten all about buying those fabrics.  She passed away some years ago, and finding the fabrics today has given me an attack of the guilts.  I feel bad – but I think she had forgotten all about the quilt too.

DSCF2706 Under the sea fabrics

Perhaps I’ll never use these fabrics the way I originally intended.  I’ve smoothed them out, refolded them, and put them away again.  Who knows what will happen to them now?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dreams at the Book Club

I’m one of those people who feel lost without a book or three to read.  In fact, I find it hard to understand why some people never read much at all.  To each their own, I suppose.  Since I’ve stopped work I rather enjoy going along to the Book Club at our local library each month.  The librarian who runs our lively little group sets the topic, and we all go and peruse the shelves looking for something to suit.  This gets us out of our comfort zones, and we are exposed to authors and subjects which we probably wouldn’t have chosen.

This month’s subject was “Armchair Travellers”.  After a little thought, I chose a travel book on the Grand Canyon.  Since our visit to Niagara Falls several years ago, I had often thought that seeing the Grand Canyon would really complete our appreciation of the natural wonders of USA.   One day, perhaps – we will just have to keep buying those lottery tickets!  Another in our group chose a book about “The Rose Red City of Petra”, a place she would dearly love to visit, and others mentioned their favourite places, bus tours, train trips as well.  We can all dream, can’t we?

After our local library was extended a year or so ago, new gardens were designed and many trees and shrubs planted.  The young magnolia trees are in bloom, and they look so pretty.  These slender trees will grow and mature over the years, and their spring blossoms will continue to delight visitors to the library for many years, I’m sure.

DSCF2704 Young magnolia tree

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

H is for Horse

This week’s block in my A-Z Challenge is H for Horse.  My horse and foal came from a piece of left over backing fabric from a previous project.  I’ve never really had much to do with horses in my younger days.  If I’m honest, I’m a wee bit afraid of them.  Horses are so big, and then they have great big clompy feet too!

DSCF2583 H is for Horse

My two grand-daughters and their Dad don’t share my fear.  They are all very keen riders and take part in all manner of events and competitions.  Both girls have had their share of falls and broken bones while riding, but that hasn’t seemed to dampen their enthusiasm one little bit.   Some years ago when they were much younger I stitched both girls quilts for their beds.  Emma’s quilt was full of horses, just what she wanted.

Horse quilt Emma’s horse quilt

Younger grand-daughter Megan’s quilt showed her life on the farm.  There are a couple of horse blocks, as well as her Dad Robert on his big blue tractor, Babe the Border Collie, Fanta the cat, sheep, a calf and some chooks, all found on the property. 

Life on the Farm at Kiwitea 2 Megan’s quilt “Life on the Farm at Kiwitea”.