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Friday, January 30, 2015

In Geoff’s Memory

Memory quilts are very special, and it was an honour to make one in memory of our friend Geoff.  Geoff and his wife Pauline joined us on our South Island Odyssey caravan trip back in 2014.  Little did we know as we travelled around the South Island together that he was so ill and it would only be a matter of time till it would all be over.   I offered to make a memory quilt for Pauline last year and duly took possession of a bag full of tee-shirts, dress shirts, a work jumper, a long green scarf and various buttons and badges.  What to do with it all, I pondered.  After deciding on stars, I cut square motifs from tee shirts, found toning fabric for the star points and got sewing.

P9080005 Stars for the memory quilt

For the sashing I cut strips from a gold checked shirt, and purchased a lovely Kiwiana print of retro caravans for three of the borders.  Pauline had asked that I used part of the long woolly soccer scarf from Plymouth UK as Geoff was born in Plymouth and came out to New Zealand as a child with his family.  I used this as the bottom border.  We met up with Pauline yesterday for lunch, and I got to hand the finished quilt over to the new owner.

P1290038 The quilt is in the gift bag, waiting to be handed over to Pauline

Pauline a a little worried that she might become emotional and tearful when she undid the quilt.  There is nothing wrong with that at all, and I got a little teary too.  She looked at each block that I had made, and loved the caravan fabric I used, I’m please to say.

P1290041 Pauline checking out the quilt

Each star showed part of Geoff’s interests.  Such as the Wainuiomata Caravan Club, and the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association.  They used to go sailing with their boat Obsession, so I made a star using the logo from the Lyall Bay Yacht Club.  Lawn bowls was another interest, as was model railways and the Menz Shed.  Geoff (and Pauline too) both served in the New Zealand Air Force, so I made a star using his insignia badges, and pinned his Returned Services Association badge underneath.  Gold Air Force badges were also stitched on to the four corners of the sashing, and I added shirt buttons to the setting squares.

P1090024 Air Force Star

P1090026 The finished quilt

We enjoyed Geoff’s company and are so pleased that we shared a wonderful 3 month South Island holiday together.  We remember getting together for a planning session before we set sail, talking about where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to see.  Train rides featured heavily in this discussion, and we enjoyed several vintage train trips while we were away, the Weka Pass Railway and the Kingston Flyer trips both being rather memorable.  I hope the quilt will give Pauline a little comfort and remind her of all the happy years they spent together.  He is sadly missed.

P1230137 Back of the quilt

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arty Bras and the Tutors Exhibition

How about a few more pics to finish up our look around the Symposium Exhibition?  I climbed the stairs at the Convention Centre - it was a stinking hot day which made the stairs seem even steeper and discovered the Brazen to Brilliant Arty Bra exhibition.  Such a lot of colour and embellishments, cup sizes big and small, and all for a good cause.  Viewers could vote for their favourite arty bra , with the gold coin donation going to the Breast Cancer Foundation.  There were decorated bras as far as the eye could see.  Pink, red, black, some with fluffy animals on them, and I even noticed a fancy Christmas bra.  Eeek! Is that a big black spider in my photo on the left?  I didn’t notice that before!

P1200071 Pretty in pink, except for that ugly spider!

P1200073 I rather liked this selvedge bra, nice and understated

I can’t quite remember which one I chose.  Not that it matters, as we all  like to support this very good cause.  There was a Cancer Society volunteer on duty handing out the paper to write our viewer’s choice number on, and she was also well prepared with various Cancer Society pamphlets to offer to people who may be worried about their health.

P1200077She is a bit “ooh-la-la” 

Next I caught the shuttle bus to the Palmerston North Girls High School to check out the Merchant Mall.  But first I spotted the tutors exhibition and went in to have a look.  And look who I found – Christine and Anne from my former quilt club, Pinestream Quilters.  It was lovely to see them again, and we had a good chat and  caught up with each other’s news.

P1200101 Christine and Anne from Pinestream Quilters

The first quilt which caught my attention was “Summer and Winter Island Strips with Oystercatchers”, by Sheena Norquay, from Scotland.  It was a very elegant quilt, full of wonderful quilting and I loved the tiny little embroidered oystercatchers.  


P1200080 Summer and Winter, by Sheena Norquay

Betty Busby’s (from USA) “Coral Sea” was truly a watery wonderland, full of realistic fish, coral, sponges and an inquisitive turtle swimming lazily by.  There was such a lot of detail in this piece.


P1200091 Coral Sea, by Betty Busby

Just look at this fellow!  New Zealand tutor Adrienne Walker made this wonderful “Roadside Rascal”.  He is full of all sorts of interesting textures and embellishments, and I think he is great!

P1200097Roadside Rascal, by Adrienne Walker

Mary Pal from Canada, exhibited her wonderful piece  “Horse of a Different Colour”.   Such wonderful free motion machine quilting, and I love the soft colours too.

P1200095Horse of a Different Colour, by Mary Pal

Australian tutor Helen Godden made “Rainbow Lorikeet”.  It wasn’t till I had admired the wonderful coloured bird, that I noticed all the different textures which Helen had quilted into the background. What an amazing quilt this is.  I’ve just noticed that all the tutor’s quilts I really liked had an wildlife theme.  I’m obviously drawn to the subject, the colours, and it goes without saying, the glorious machine quilting too.

P1200087Rainbow Lorikeet, by Helen  Godden

Finally I made it to “Quilters Heaven”, where all the merchants had their stalls set up.  It was fairly busy, people wandering all around, checking out this stall and that one.  There was plenty to see, people to chat to, and I wandered slowly around, looking to see what I could see.  Shall I let you into a secret?  I went home without making a single purchase! 

P1200105 Are they buying or just looking like me?

I had a great day at the exhibition,loved looking at all the quilts, and bumped into people I knew, which is always nice.  There has been a huge amount of work to get this event up and running, I’m sure, and a big vote of thanks must go to the organising committee.  I didn’t register for any classes at Symposium – perhaps next time.

Friday, January 23, 2015

First Finish of the Year

Have you ever thought something was a good idea – then it turned out not so good after all?  That’s what happened to me when I made new cushions for our newish caravan.  The cushions I made were OK, but didn’t quite have the look I was going for.  I put up with not liking them for a few months, then decided enough was enough – they had to go.  As I didn’t like my original fabric choice after all, I needed a rethink.  What to do?  Finally I had a light-bulb moment, and ordered some furnishing fabric from the factory in Hamilton where our caravan was built, as used in the caravan seating.  After waiting weeks and weeks it finally arrived by courier, and I remade the caravan cushions.

So I cut, and stitched, and got them all together.  I’m rather pleased with how they turned out, and being made from the same heavy fabric as the seating, I think they look very smart.  What do you think?

P1180005 My new caravan cushions

And these are the first cushions I made.  Which do you like better?  Please choose version two!

The original cushion covers – now replaced by those above

Thursday, January 22, 2015

More Symposium Quilts

Ready for some more Symposium quilts?  OK then, here we go.  “Floral Explosion” was a mother and daughter composition who used a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine to cut out the motifs in red, black and grey.  Beautifully machine quilted in dark thread by Ruth Wheeler who obviously is completely in control of her machine.  I for one would never dream of FMQ in coloured tread – it would show up all my mistakes, skipped stitches and all.


P1200056 Floral Explosion, by Joy Bier and Ruth Wheeler

I’ve never made a hexagon quilt and probably never will.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not impressed with those who do.  Sue Bracken made “Grandad’s Flower Garden” from (mostly) Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  The quilt was to honour Sue’s Dad and his love of flowers, which has passed on through to Sue’s grandsons.  I had to look closely at the dark green background fabric to discover that yes, it is all hand stitched hexagons too.  I love the different way Sue has designed her hexagon quilt.  

P1200050Grandad’s Flower Garden, by Sue Bracken

From flowers to birds – and “Sisters” by Vivienne Franklin was the result of a medallion quilt idea which didn’t work out.  Adding appliqué birds resting on branches amongst the checkerboard background makes a lovely innovative quilt, I feel.

P1200068Sisters, by   Vivienne Franklin

“Persian Dream” by Ansa Breytenbach was made to reflect the sentinel design found in Persian carpets, made in colours to reflect the tranquillity of an oasis in the desert.  The central design is machine appliquéd with added trapunto, and the quilt in enhanced with the most beautiful machine quilting.

P1200044 Persian Dream, by Ansa Breytenbach

Camilla Watson made “Cathedrals, Castles and Ruins” in three large panels, designed to hang individually down a stair well.  What an impact these would make.  Made with photo transfers, and inspired by the modern stained glass windows by Jacques Le Chevaller installed in Notre Dame in the 50s, the panels were created from photos taken on a European trip in 2008.  What a huge undertaking to produce this stunning triptych of memories.


P1200048 Cathedrals, Castles and Ruins, by Camilla Watson

The glorious free motion  quilting brings the leaves in “Autumn Splendour” to life.  Sheryl Meech’s original design was inspired by fond memories of holidays in Central Otago and the beautiful colours of autumn.

P1200025Autumn Splendour, by Sheryl Meech

And to complete today’s tour around the exhibition, one for the cat lovers amongst you.  Sonya Prchat stitched “True Bliss” from her own photo.  This amazing little quilt was whole cloth painted, thread painted cats, then free motion quilted.  I am truly in awe of those who can do thread painting and make it seem so easy.

P1200066True Bliss, by  Sonya Prchat

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quilt Symposium Manawatu Exhibition

I love a good quilt exhibition and the one at the Convention centre in Palmerston North had something for everyone.  As I crossed the street to the centre I knew I was in the right place when I saw the car dressed in a patchwork cover. 

P1200001 This way to the quilt show

The five local quilt clubs have all worked together to run and organise the symposium, and they also ran a club challenge to show something special about the local areas we live in.  The clubs took part in a random draw to choose what colour they could work with, as well as black and white.  Turquoise for Rangetiki Quilters,  green for Cotton On Quilters, yellow for my own club, Town and Country Quilters,  red for Rose City Quilters, and purple for Foxy Quilters.  The three winners from each club hung together in the foyer to welcome guests to the exhibition.

P1200003Club challenges

A beautiful red and white medallion quilt caught my eye as I entered the hall.  “They are Bees not Flies” was made by Jenny Hall and features English paper piecing, appliqué and foundation piecing.  Full of life and stitched in beautiful rich reds, this quilt was a delight to study and admire all that intricate work.

P1200006They are Bees not Flies, by Jenny Hall

“Sparrows in my Garden” was stitched by the very talented Griet Lombard, who is a member of my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  Griet does the most exquisite work, and her quilt honours the sparrows who visit her garden.  Made with cottons, silks and synthetics, the crazy patch quilt was constructed using piecing, appliqué, embroidery and quilting, and showcased some vintage doilies and handkerchiefs.  This lovely work of art took my vote for Viewers Choice.

P1200010 Sparrows in my Garden, by Griet Lombard

Jill Bowman had a wonderful African Safari holiday and what better way to remember it than to make a quilt.  She had her photos printed onto fabric, and surrounded them with African and complementary fabrics.  What a wonderful idea.


P1200011African Album, by  Jill Bowman

“I Never Promised you a Rose Garden”, by Sheryl Anicich has a lovely rose patterned fabric as the background, set with wonderfully intricate circular pieced  blocks.  Sheryl wrote that she got a bit carried away making her circular blocks, then had to find some way to showcase them in her own design.  She did a great job – this is a wonderfully feminine looking quilt. 

P1200018I Never Promised you a Rose Garden, by Sheryl Anicich

“Aotearoa  Blooms”, an original design by Nancy Neilson, was inspired by her love of New Zealand flowers and Barcelona tile designs.  The flower patterns were inspired by pictures in old calendars and Forest and Bird magazines.

P1200027Aotearoa Blooms, by Nancy Neilson

Another New Zealand plant is the Harakeke flax.  Helen Beaven had one in her garden and observed the changes in the colours as the buds developed into flowers, and then seed pods.  This is an original whole cloth design, stencilled with paint sticks, trapuntoed and quilted in a swirly pattern.

P1200016Harakeke, by  Helen Beaven

This is just a small taste of some of the lovely quilts in the exhibition.  I’ll show some more next time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A different type of Mending

I was busy doing quite a different type of mending today – stitching up a New Zealand flag.  Robin likes to fly the flag at home, and as the previous flag was getting rather worn, started off the new year with a brand new flag on the flagpole.  But after just a week or so of flapping in the wind, the stitching was coming adrift.  Perhaps, I thought, it might be a good idea to re-stitch all around the outside of the flag.

P1130002 Mending the flag

It’s just as well I did the mending on the flag, as it wasn’t very well sewn at all.  The double folded hem was just a single fold in some places.  Mind you, this nylon flag was not expensive at all, so I guess we got what we paid for.  But the extra rows of stitching I did will hopefully extend its life a little.  The flag certainly has a hard life, flapping in the wind day after day.

P3310025Flying the flag

The New Zealand Flag is the symbol of the realm, government and people of New Zealand. Its royal blue background represents of the blue sea and clear sky surrounding us. The stars of the Southern Cross emphasise this country's location in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Jack in the first quarter recognises New Zealand's historical origins as a British colony and dominion.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The last of Christmas is put away

All the Christmas things have slowly been taken down and put away.  Robin has been up the ladder unhooking our few strings of lights along the fence and the gutters of the house.  Goodness knows how the people who really go overboard with Christmas lights get on – it must take them such a long time.  Our lights were rolled up and put away in the plastic crate till next year.

P1090022 Outside lights coming down

Meanwhile, I was deconstructing Christmas inside the house.  Down came the Christmas wall-hangings.  Delicate items were carefully wrapped before being placed into the plastic Christmas crates.  I removed my trio of “gold” Christmas trees from the dining room window sill and replaced them with my three brass jugs.  Oh dear – that brass looked rather grubby, in fact I have several brass pieces and they all could do with a good clean before being put back in their original places.  So armed with a tin of Brasso, several cleaning clothes, and some old fashioned elbow grease, I sat outside at the picnic table to do a spot of cleaning.  You just don’t realise how dull brass gets until you see it polished up again.  Everything looked so much brighter.

P1100033   My brass elands all nice and shiny

So everything is back to normal once more.  The plastic crates full of decorations, Santas, my precious Jim Shore pieces, Christmas lights, and other assorted stuff have been moved upstairs to our storage loft.  And lastly, the Christmas quilt (hanging on my lovely new rod in the sitting room) has been replaced with “My New Zealand Bird Quilt”.   Hand appliquéd (never again, so much quicker and easier on the machine), and hand quilted, this was designed by Mary Fletcher and I completed it back in 2003.

P1110036 My New Zealand Bird Quilt

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Reflecting on 2014

It’s that time of year when we look back and see our achievements over the last 12 months.  Oh dear – I won’t be winning the contest for the most quilts completed, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?  I’ve still been  busy sewing away, and enjoying what I’ve been doing.  The sum total of two rather old UFOs were finally completed.  I had a bit of a mental block with my Maple Leaf quilt as I was working on it some years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, and couldn’t bear to look at it for quite some time.  My treatment was successful, I’m pleased to say, and I finally found I could work on it again, after the memories of that worrying time had receded.

P3310019Maple Leaf quilt

There were no bad memories associated with my second quilt finish.  Wonderful memories really, as I purchased this pattern way back in 1999 when we were staying with my pen-friend Diane in Juneau, Alaska.  Diane took me to the local quilt shop, where I looked for something with a local flavour to remind me of our trip. The Eagle Spirit pattern was just what I was looking for.  Sadly, the eagle wall-hanging pattern lay forgotten for quite some time. I finally traced the pattern pieces out last year, and after working on it spasmodically, it was eventually completed in early 2014. The trees and the black eagle were machine appliquéd in place, then I machine quilted the whole piece. The eagle heads were constructed from ultra suede, and hand stitched in place.

P2030005Memories of Juneau, finally finished

What else – you may well be asking?  I made two cushions with stitchery panels on the front.  Give Thanks was completed in time to send to my pen friend Carol in South Dakota in time for Christmas, and was only recently blogged about.  And I made May our House be Filled with Love, a  Bronwyn Hayes design, for my sister Kathleen’s 70th birthday, earlier in the year.

P6290001 For my sister’s 70th birthday

It’s just as well that I enjoy doing stitchery projects, as I’ve done a fair few these last twelve months.  I stitched nine of these Stitcher’s Alphabet letters, put them in little frames and sent them off to my quilty pen friends overseas.  These lovely  designs are by the very talented Michelle Ridgeway of Rag Tag Stitching.  Then later in the year I used more of Michelle’s designs and made a length of bunting for my Sew Wot friend Rae for our Secret Santa gift exchange.

P7160019 For Natalie and Gail

PC080019 Bunting for Rae

Both my grand-daughter Megan and our friend Dot welcomed new kittens into their lives during the year.  So of course I just had to make them a I Love my Cat bag each to contain all those bits and pieces that a kitty collects, such as a brush or comb, a catnip mouse, and whatever else is deemed important.  After doing the little stitchery for the front of the bag, I looked through my stash and  found I had quite a selection of cat inspired fabric to choose from to make the body of the bag.

P8100004Made for grand-daughter Megan’s kitten, Chicken

Selvedges also featured in sewing over the year.  I made two sets (of two) breakfast placemats using selvedges, and also stitched up a double handed selvedge oven cloth.  Then I discovered a knitting  pattern using selvedges.  I got the idea from the very talented Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts.  Read all about it here to make a knitted rag rug.   Just love all the different colours coming through, offset by the various neutrals.  I used up long lengths, and shorter selvedges too, whatever came to hand, but kept the short lengths less than 12 inches for other projects.  Here is the finished rug, it fits in nicely in front of my laundry tub, adding a nice splash of muted colour.  I’m really pleased with it.  Robin did wonder what on earth I was doing in the evenings, wrestling with large needles and a big ball of fabric strips,  which was regularly replenished.

P3120007Knitted selvedge laundry rug

Clack, clack, clack went the knitting needles in the evenings. Twelve dusters were knitted up using knitting cotton in various shades.   I made three little jerseys for my baby box using up some spare wool I had tucked away for ages. I’ve told my grand-daughters these are for the next generation, and I’m sure they think I’m crazy  But they are sure to come in handy one day.  The little bunny is so cute, and is one of those “flat” toys.  When I find someone to gift my little baby cardy too, the bunny can go along too.  They look so nice together, I think. 

P1280008Baby cardigan and toy

What else?  Oh yes, a little sewing for myself.  One apron, one summer skirt, and one nightgown.  Then I got the preserving pan out and cooked up some marmalade, kiwifruit jam, lemon honey and capsicum chutney.

I really enjoy my quilt club and if we are not off and away in the caravan I attended the monthly quilt club nights and UFO nights.  Then there are the Sew Wot ladies who meet fortnightly, and who all make the most delicious morning teas!  And while travelling around I attended quilt shows in Wellington, Wanganui, Marton, Hamilton and Feilding.  And visited a few out of town quilt shops too - Quilted Gumboot in Taihape, Angels in Gumboots in Ashhurst, Wright’s Fabrics in Morrinsville, and Grandmother’s Garden in Gordonton.

So even though my quilt tally of finished quilts is low, I’m happy with what I have achieved over the year.  Wonder what my first finish will be for 2015?