Monday, December 31, 2012

Searching for Sunshine

It's been a busy few days here since Christmas. We had a lovely couple of days catching up with family and friends over lots of great food. The weather then took a turn affording me the perfect excuse to hit the sewing room. I wound up sewing just the sunshine I was seeking.
Last month I bought this wonderful Valori Wells fabric, planning that it would be the main feature of a quilt for one of my daughter's friends who is heading off to do a Fine Arts degree.
However quilts do seem to have a mind of their own in my experience. I've been looking at various modern quilt sites to find some ideas for some quick quilts as there are a couple I want to make for close friends who are heading away to University over the next few months. I really liked the Lemon Squares quilt pattern by Faith on Fresh Lemons blog and decided this would be just the thing - bright, clean and speaking of sunshine.  

It sewed up quickly and best of all almost all of it came straight out of my stash with only some additional white fabrics needed to add to what I had.

 So the focus fabric was re-purposed as a border,

once the central blocks had been framed by a thin border of pencils, designed by Kaffe Fassett. Not only were their colours just right but of course it was a natural choice of fabric for someone embarking on Fine Arts.

This rather vibrant print will be the backing - I picked it out for the colours. They compliment the front well. The funny thing is that the more I look at it the more certain I am that I've seen this fabric before in the home of the very person who will soon own this quilt - I'm almost certain her mother has bought this fabric and shown it to me.

As I say, quilts do seem to have a mind of their own.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year to you all.
Let's look forward to lots more creativity and colour in the year ahead.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hope and Christmas Wishes

I didn't really show you the label on our collaborative quilt but have been told that I should talk about what my daughter wrote on the quilt, and the hopes that went with them. The quilt recipient is one of my daughter's team mates from Waka Ama, which is a sport they both love, of Maori outrigger canoeing.

My daughter chose two whakatauki, traditional Maori proverbs, to use on the label which carried all her hopes for her friend.

He toka tu moana, ara he toa rongonui
Your strength is like a rock that stands in raging water - this affirms an individual's strength and courage.
He taru kahika
Walk on, as it is only summer rain falling - It is only a small adversity, so don't let it be a hindrance.

I think she picked particularly well, but I will admit that I am a rather biased mother, as we all tend to be.

My annual activity has been reaching fever pitch - I've been making my yearly Christmas decorations for friends. I know we all do it, but I do wonder why I don't start these earlier - one of the great imponderables. Even with the best intentions I'm sure I'll repeat the exercise again next year.

Four years ago I made black hands - it was not long after my dear friend Denys had died and I had no cheery words that year to embroider on decorations so I chose hands instead. One of my friends gave them the nick name "the hands of death" so this year I decided it was time to make some more with a more cheery disposition to keep them company.

I'm really keen on them - especially the one's with tatting and linen buttons on them. I will be making sure that I keep one of these back for myself. They are of course part of my continuing series of 101 things to do with an old doiley!

So the Christmas tree is up, most of the presents have been wrapped and work has finally ceased for the year. I'm starting to feel that the end of year wind down is almost upon us.

Best wishes to you all for a peaceful and happy time this holiday season, full of joy and hope.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Collaborative Quilting

I'm pleased to be able to tell you that our guest Morepork eventually left us and my daughter and I were then able to get onto the new project that had been our plan. One of her friends is currently having chemo so of course we decided that a quick collaborative quilt was in order to cheer her up. We couldn't get started until her end of year exams were over and time pressure has been on us to get it done.

We picked a pattern by Valori Wells called Olive Rose which is one of her free patterns available on her blog. It uses some large scale fabrics in very big pieces so goes together quickly and looks effective. The quilt is 60 x 80 inches.

Of course I didn't have any of the fabrics Valori had designed for the project but pulled together some that we felt worked well together and that my daughter was certain would appeal to the eventual owner.

My job was to cut the fabrics and to plan layout in consultation with my daughter, while she pieced it together. This basically took a couple of afternoons - quick by any measure.

I then gave her a drawing of what I thought the back could look like with some fabrics we had at hand - this is what I gave her

and this is what she turned it into. Nothing shows our differences more. I would have just started piecing and kept going until it was big enough - she worked out the measurements of all the required pieces so I could cut them. She has a strong maths background - mine is rudimentary.... need I say more!

Of course one of the best parts of working together like this was that I could contract out the bits I don't enjoy - like the pinning!

Here's her masterpiece of a back, complete with label.

And here's a small view of the quilt complete with binding. I did most of the quilting in the interests of a speedy finish.

We delivered off the quilt on Monday and the owner was delighted. She has spent much time over recent years telling me how much she likes my quilts - and it clearly paid off as a strategy. It was lovely to see her smiling and with it wrapped around her shoulders.

And that's what makes quilting so rewarding! I have a feeling this won't be the last of our collaborative ventures but I sincerely hope it's the last quilt I make for a friend facing chemo. I know I've said this before but I can only hope not to have to repeat myself. Hope is a powerful emotion, so who knows - maybe this time it will work.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Messenger from Hogwart's maybe?

He's really starting to look rather settled in. There is some thought that once he's out of the room that a search for the letters from Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be undertaken by our boys...

He really shouldn't linger near the pie box though - my husband is starting to have dangerous thoughts! Check them out here

Foiled Again!

Today was to be the start of a new collaborative quilting venture with my daughter. We have a quilt we need to get onto for a friend of hers....
However when she went up to the sewing room to get started we discovered a visitor in the sewing room - a morepork, which is a native owl in these parts. Even though we live very close to the centre of Wellington we regularly hear them calling at night. They sound exactly the same as their name. 

He terrified my daughter and was in turn, I am sure, very frightened himself by her arrival. We have no idea how he got in there or how long he's been there.

As he's nocturnal we are waiting for the sun to go down for him to move on. I don't like the thought of trying to drive him out...

So the new venture will just have to wait for tomorrow, but I pleased to finally have confirmation for the muggles that I live with that I truly am the magical one in the family.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still Quilting

I'm steadily working away on my quilting at the moment. I wanted to do something quite detailed on this quilt, which is why I'm experimenting with doing this quilt in segments - quilt as you go. There is no way I would even contemplate attempting this on a king size quilt that was all in one piece. Just too much bulk to wield around and too much turning of the quilt.

The pieced blocks are being quilting to echo the lines of the tilted crosses so that the crosses will pop up above the surface a bit more. The solid blocks are being quilted either horizontally or vertically, depending on their colour. It all adds up to a lot of turning of the quilt but it is so simple in the narrow bands it is currently in.

The first segment is completed - 25% of the quilt, not counting the sashing. At this rate I should have it finished sometime in 2015....

I've always been quite keen on fine tightly spaced quilting, as you can see from these small sample pieces....

Again - not ideal for a king size quilt....

But you get the idea - I like lots of quilting. No doubt that's why it takes me so long. Just as well I enjoy it!

Happy quilting to you all.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

There be dragons and sea creatures this way

We had a few days away last week over the hill from Wellington, in the Wairarapa. Our timing could not have been better. Even through the weather was less than spring like, the Greytown Arts festival was in full swing giving us plenty to look at and to stow away for inspiration.

The highlight for us was the Great Tape Art project which Erica Duthie and Straun Ashby worked on steadily over the weekend. The created a fabulous mural on the side of the supermarket, all from blue builders tape. Do have a look at their website to see some of the other wonderful murals they have created.

We paid it several visits over the weekend so we could see it developing. They did life size portraits of a number of the local residents, telling their stories.
It was magical.

And then, with some sadness, we helped take it down at the end of the weekend. Of course our lads found this to be a particular highlight.

Over at the church fair we came across this wonderful creation - the Cinema for the Poor. Wonderful pictures were wound through telling tall tales of adventurous lives on the high seas.

All overseen by an angel - "On the last day the trumpet shall sound and forgotten souls shall rise up from their graves and tell their never heard before stories"

It was magical.

Unsurprisingly I was also rather impressed by these rusted feathers on a very large moa in the main street of Greytown

and by the paint on the front door of the house we stayed at in Martinbourgh. I'm sure the owners plan to paint it but I loved it just as it was.

There's nothing like a few days away to bring a spring to the step!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Slowly, slowly makes the Quilt

I've never claimed to be a quick quilt maker and it's just as well really as this quilt is taking its time to find its voice. However, I am cautiously optimistic that I am getting there.

I now have four panels for the front. I was particularly pleased with the striped silk kimono fabric that I found for the sashing. it wasn't in my favourite $5 bin at Asia Gallery but was worth splashing out for.

Then I moved onto the back. More kimono fabrics and all from the thin strips rather than the full width. 

I like the softness of the colours on the back compared to the front.

I'm planning to quilt it in the four panels and then join them with vertical sashing. I've never used the "quilt as you go" technique before but thought that it was perfect for this quilt as it is rather large. This weekend it will be pinning up the quilt panels. Hopefully I'll even get some stitches into it.

Of course, this will undoubtedly take me some more time....

Friday, October 12, 2012

Back to the Studio

So the excitement of the exhibition is sadly now just a memory. It finished last Sunday - its always a little sad to see everything come down. For those of you who didn't make it.... here's a last couple of views....

The exhibition has given me a real push back into the studio to keep working on my Kimono Crosses. I've a rethink and am now working on a more traditional nine patch variation layout, with some patches blue and some red.

It's coming along and I'm feeling happier with it all the time. Thanks for the feedback - it was really helpful and just what I needed.

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Quilt Guild Exhibition

I don't often talk about the Guild I belong to but we have just opened our biennial exhibition and it would be great to see you there, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

We are back in the Academy Gallery for the exhibition and our quilts are looking wonderful hanging on the gallery walls.  Its' a great spot on the waterfront in Wellington and very close to where they hold the WOW show each year (if you don't know about WOW do have a look - it is a veritable visual feast and brings a whole new meaning to creativity!).

Above is a view of the gallery - the quilt in the front is by my stitching buddy Marilyn, Scully Series #4 Protection Blanket. A wonderful quilt that I keep mentioning to Marilyn that I would happily own... Marilyn won a merit prize in the Upcycled category.

Behind it is a quilt that you may recognise of mine - Gateway. I made it early last year and I am thrilled at how fabulous it looks hanging. It's been quite a while since I made it and gifted it to my friend for her birthday so it is lovely to be able to spend some time with it again.

And here I am - the proud maker, out from behind my peg apron. I was incredibly lucky and very surprised to also win a prize - Best Contemporary Quilt. Such a thrill.

If you in Wellington I hope you will be able to drop by and see many of the other lovely quilts - the exhibition is on until Sunday 7 October. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lovely, lovely lace

So here's a wee story for you - a couple of months ago I was the monthly speaker at our Guild. They were doing me a favour really. I wanted to do a dry run through of a presentation I was due to give at the Costume and Textile Symposium in Nelson (another story, for another time).

The talk I gave was about some research I did last year into a donor to the textile collection at Te Papa, our National Museum. The donor was Mrs Phyllis Cousins who, in the 1960s, donated well over 200 items of mainly women's clothing, dating from the late 1800s through to the 1930s, to the Museum.

I'll tell you more about Mrs Cousins and her collection another time, but as part of the presentation I talked about how struck I was by the decorative laces on many of the garments and how dull our modern clothing often seems in comparison. The item which caused me to trail off into this side observation was, I think, this one.

A morning jacket from around 1900 it features a particularly stunning lace with what I can only describe as thread balls featuring on the lace edge of the sleeve. The jacket is thought to have perhaps have been a maternity jacket as it has fullness at both the front and back to accommodate a pregnancy.

Then again it may have been this 1905 morning jacket that set me off - both are firm favourites from among the Cousins collection and I felt very privileged to have been able to study and work with them.

However the really unexpected part of this tale occurred a few weeks after my presentation when a parcel appeared in my letterbox containing this lovely silk and lace handkerchief. It was accompanied by this note:


Did I hear you say at your presentation that you like lace? I do hope you did because I am sending a small treasure for you to be custodian of -----

I know it is very old, the team at the identification day at Te papa a few months back indicated that I should look after it. I know that I probably won't but thought that you might.

It came to me via an op shop collection of linen a few years back. No provenance I am afraid. Comes with no attached strings - has been rattling around my linen cupboard for years.

Kindest regards

So I wanted to say a big thank you to my unknown benefactor. It is a treasure and will be looked after and, from time to time, bought out and admired.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Absent but Active

I've been away for far longer than I ever intended but I'm pleased to say that this time it's not due to stitching inactivity. In fact, I've been steadily working away on my Kimono crosses and now have most of them stitched and up on the wall while I play with layout ideas.

This stage is always fun, if a little challenging. Somehow it never quite looks like I imagined it would. I started off thinking I would alternate all of the crosses against blue kimono squares, so it would look something like this

Then last week I had another thought - maybe I could also use red squares and do one half red and one blue, so it would look something like this
Now I'm not so sure - I think maybe it needs some central sashing to divide the quilt visually

Maybe some of the red kimono squares are too loud, too patterned and demanding more attention than I want them to

Maybe.... I need to just keep playing. Any thoughts???