Thursday, 29 December 2011

Tree and tapestries

Despite the cloudy weather it is still too light at after nine o'clock to get a good shot of the tree - but you might be able to make out the 'snowflakes' on the window - another momento of my Canadian trip.

I hope you all had a very pleasant time over Christmas as I did.  We are pretty laid back these days; there were more of us than usual but even with my small house, it was no problem.  I can't remember another year when I have had both front and back doors open until bedtime with no worries about the wind!

My two sons were here, plus one daughter in law, two granddaughters, my son's mother-in-law and a family friend who would otherwise have been on his own.

We spent much of the day outside playing boules, tennis on a stick, badminton and practicing golf chip shots - the amount of laughter made up for the lack of skill I think.  It was a wonderful time together.

My son and his family are settled into their new house and during the move came across a blanket I embroidered over twelve years ago for the first granddaughter.  I agreed to go to a class at Nancy's in Wellington to keep a friend company, and we used wool to embroider a woollen blanket, using mainly bullion knots....

Diana, Amy's other grandmother, drew for me the symbols for her name which I put on the blanket

Somehow, someone washed the blanket - and probably not by hand - which has caused it to shrink ........

I think I shall have to take off the binding and re-size the lining - and in the photo there appears to be quite a lot of colour bleeding - after all the hours of stitching I am reluctant to abandon it - what do you think? is it worth saving?

This afternoon I had a few errands to do - I just love Wellington at this time of year!  Well, anytime of course but now it is so empty it is a pleasure to go out knowing you can get a car park just about anywhere.  I finished my errands, made a detour into the office after receiving a phone call from my boss [my son] and attended to business, then decided I had earned a coffee so went to The Dowse where there is one of my favourite coffee bars, and while there had a look at some of the exhibitions - I shall have to return to do them justice.

But I did get a good look at the Gordon Crook tapestry exhibition, 18 Maritimes.  These works are based on oceanic and nautical themes -

They are each displayed in the wooden frames, reminiscent of portholes to me -

Some of them are based on microscopic organisims

I find it fascinating to examine and enjoy these minute works of art, such a change from queen size bed quilts!

Talking of which - well, this is maybe a large single, it is made using a small amount of the feature fabric and because of this I take it into the prison to show that it is possible to extend the favourite fabric by the use of complementary coloured/patterned fabrics.  I started off with an irregular piece of fabric with figures of children - totally unreal, but pretty -

Some of the pieces had to be cut at odd angles, so I completed the block a la crazy patchwork and used alternate blocks of sympathetic fabric - many of them also vintage, but some reproduction thirties

I understand we are in for rain tomorrow, good because the garden needs it and with a clear conscience I shall spend the day sewing - I am having problems with the latest pale blue and floral scrap top, so I shall have to reconsider - and guess what the thought for the day is? "Method saves hours of wasted effort"

I have been watching a dvd of Mansfield Park, a BBC version which I am enjoying.  One of the books this month was "An Old Captivity" by Neville Shute - it's ages since I read anything of his, he has a quite unmistakable style that I enjoy - this one seemed to finish all of a sudden but that could have been because I was reading it on my iPad and not holding an actual book when I would have known that I was at the end - if you follow me.

Nice talking with you, thank you for your comments and feedback.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Quilts, cats and earthquakes

This is another 'decoration' that stays up all the time on my bedroom window cill because I like the way it reflects and refracts the light - and get a load of the little mosquito houses at the bottom!!  That's what I was told they were when I bought them on my memorable trip to Canada all those years ago.

I collected the office mail this morning and dealt with a couple of things, then off to the bank and on the way drop off a few things to Vinnie's.  Would you believe it, I bought a women's magazine last week - first time for yonks - because it had Jim Hickey on the cover and he is a favourite of mine; I got my copy of the Listener in the mail yesterday, together with - you guessed it, a copy of the same magazine.

I often mention my design wall, and show many works in progress displayed on it - so here it is unadorned -

The covering is one that used to be available by the metre and was stuck on by the builder who made it when the studio/garden shed was built.  I copied the idea from another quilter friend, it is double sided and on wheels so that its secondary function is to shield the stationery cupboard that holds my fat quarters -

You can see there was once a sort of system of colours or types, like conversation prints or pansies.....

Something that has proved popular with the Shut-in Stitchers has been panels.  The first one has two panels joined with an interesting use of striped fabric.

The next was a piece of highly coloured curtaining, so it was bordered with complementary colours and quilted for a successful child's quilt

That wavy line is on the Bernina machines we use and is much liked by the women.  The photo was taken in my garden, being held by a couple of friends.

In a much more subdued colour scheme is one of my tops made using some odds and ends of mostly vintage fabric, inspired by the one that looks to me like a gendarme  -

Here is a close up - see what I mean

I am taking an awfully long time to hand quilt my wonky hexagons, but sometimes there are difficulties -

I put my needle down for just a minute - but that was enough for Floyd - he has me well trained!

We are not going into the prison tomorrow - not our choice, we were informed that quilting has been cancelled until January 14th - but I shall get up early and get into the supermarket.  I did intend to go after I had been to the office, but all I did was drive through the carpark which was packed solid then came home - and worked in the garden so it will be early to bed for me tonight.

 I am sure all our thoughts are once more with the Cantabrians suffering through more earthquakes.  While I write this I am playing the music on my computer, and the song right now is Bruce Springsteen - My City's in Ruins........

Nice talking with you,

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Prison quilts & Expressions

Only four more sleeps - said the notice outside the nearby coffee shop and this is another decoration, which might be recognised by some local quilters.

A few years ago - and really that is what Christmas is all about to me, the traditions and fun from past years - a friend of mine was asked to teach this wall hanging at a local shop - so she worked out her pattern and then asked a couple of friends [I was one] to be guinea pigs one day.

It was great fun and I am very happy with the end result - and with the actual making because the other friend was such a fast stitcher, that they had ironed out any problems before I got to that part of the pattern!!

There has been some conversation on Kiwiquilters, [a yahoo group] about the two programmes for teaching in New Zealand prisons; one in Auckland and the one I take part in, here in Wellington.

The quilts vary considerably of course with the skill and patience of the maker, the latter being sometimes in short supply!

The first quilt I want to show you took some while for us to gather together all the fabrics, lilac, pink, purple and greens were wanted and sewn together in a traditional way -

This photo was taken when showed the quilt at a local club meeting.

The next one also took some while to gather all the fabrics, this young woman wanted blues - any blues. and she showed the tenacity of a real patchworker in the way she put them together, I think -

The choice of piecing and the fabrics used remind me of some of the Gees Bend quilts, here is a close up of the left 'block'

And here is the centre  -

And the right hand - though come to think of it, the quilt was probably used the other way, with this next block at the foot -

Rather wobbly because of the difficulty of holding it still - by my granddaughters in my sewing room!

And talking of my granddaughters, they have moved house this week which is one of the reasons I haven't been able to blog more often.  I am thankful that they are only half a mile or so from their previous house, but moving is so stressful at the best of times.  The week before Christmas is not to be recommended........  I was able to help by having the family over here for the evening meal which gave us a chance to try the Christmas Cake I had baked the day before.  I use the recipe from my Goodhousekeeping Book, 1958 edition which I brought out to New Zealand when we emigrated.  It is a recipe I just love so I really need people here to help eat it!

These days I don't do a lot of knitting, but thought I would share this blanket -

It dates back about forty five years - yoiks - when I was President of the Hataitai Kindergarten Mothers' Club - actually it was rather funny, I was invited along to a meeting and there was a misunderstanding, perhaps the accent confused me - anyway, the meeting I showed up at was the committee meeting, not the actual club - and by the end of the evening I was the new President, without ever attending a club meeting!!

Anyway, we were asked to make blankets for the orphans in Romania - sound familiar? - so we knitted peggy squares and joined them with crochet.  After we had finished I carried on and made one for myself - you can see it was well used by the amount of darning on some of the blocks.

Today I went along to Upper Hutt, a few miles up the valley, to buy a particular Christmas present for one of my granddaughters, mission accomplished I decided to look in on "Expressions" the Art Gallery and also have a coffee there.

The current exhibition was on Dolls, a bit off beat like most of the exhibitions at Expressions but well worth a look, it is open for quite a while yet.  Some while ago there was another exhibition at the Dowse in Lower Hutt of Malcolm Harrison's family of dolls - and the exhibit today that caught  my eye was of Huttette at 21 by Vita Cochan.  Huttette is the name of the baby doll in Malcolm's family.  So here she is, all grown up.

Beautifully made and the embroidery, particularly on the bag, has me seriously contemplating getting out my threads........  But not until I have finished hand quilting the wonky hexagon, and then the baby quilt - and what about hand piecing the extended nine patch?  Maybe I'll content myself with admiring the work of others.

I am sure the Hobbit fans out there have enjoyed the teaser trailer, I have more photos to share, this one from the beginning of the shoot up Matamata way -

Last week a friend told me my son's photo at the end of the blog wouldn't open, I have no idea why but if you are having trouble like that, please get back to me and I will investigate.

The thought for today, "It is easier to be critical then to be correct" - don't think I quite agree with that!

Nice talking with you,

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas decorations, Barn door and doll quilt

Granddaughter Molly came over after school on Monday, shinnied up the ladder to the attic and handed down the box containing the tree and other decorations, then helped me put them up.   This is the one that Carol mentioned, she made one too.  I think it was late 70s or early 80s, about the same time I made the snowman -

He has a large polystyrene ball for a head and his body is over a tin, golden syrup I think.  Bit daft when you come to think of it that we cling to the northern hemisphere idea of Christmas with snow........ if you enlarge the wreath you will notice the seams - I had to turn it round to show the back as the front is very, very faded!

And my last one to share, is one of the very first decorations we bought in the early 60s, we bought two at great expense as a treat, one silver and one gold and they are carefully wrapped in clingfilm, placed in a plastic meat tray and tucked into a suitcase type carton from Vance Vivians - for those of you not native Wellingtonians, that was THE men's shop.

The same day that I saw the brick wall, I came across this barn door which I feel looks as though it should have a quilt arranged over it - the sort of thing Kaffe Fassett does so well - and we don't have to go to Europe!

There were many very pretty weeds and grasses growing in the gravel too.

Here is the third and final of the quilt tops I put together with the blocks given to me at the end of my tenure as President of Wellington Quilter's Guild [in 1995].  The autumn blocks wanted to be arranged like this -

I was pleased to find the border in my stash and here is the back, I used some vintage fabrics - one that I can't bear to cut and the maddest orange you could wish for -

Here's a close up of the panel,

Now I couldn't cut that up, could I?

But this little doll quilt was all cutting; I made it for my first granddaughter, Amy, about ten years ago, she used to love sitting on my lap while I sewed on the machine and she handed me the next piece from the basket of scraps -

My son, the cast driver, is back - they were rained off and cancelled the last three days' shooting so no more great photos for a few weeks, but here is one he sent from Te Kuiti, early morning with the misty cloud still hanging around - isn't this country just beautiful?

I have to chuckle at the words of wisdom for today - "Don't make excuses - make good".

Nice talking with you, thanks for the feedback.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Jingle Bells and Quilter's Eyes

I went to a Garden Centre recently with a friend and couldn't resist this as my 2011 Christmas decoration - which will probably stay up all year.

I love the rather tacky look of it, bells and big beads or crystals hit the spot with me - I have sun catchers up at most windows and love the rainbows that move across the room.

We also bought some plants, on impulse for me which is my usual behaviour - used to make my late husband roll his eyes when I came home with more purchases - "And where am I expected to put that?".

He loved a very planned and ordered garden, and I still miss all the beautiful fresh vegetables he grew - even though it made the summer extra stressful bottling and preserving all the produce.  I still have a pot of jam I made in 1979!

My friend and I shared some of the multibuy 4 for $20 specials, which wasn't really a saving as I hadn't planned to buy any - but I got a beauty - a Helianthemum Wisley primrose - never heard of it before but it's for dry places which increases its chance of survival as it is in a pot on the kitchen hatchway.........

Thursday evening was the meeting of the Wellington Quilters' Guild - on the way in to the Church Hall I  had to admire the painted door -

Great to have a sense of humour about these things...

Our speaker for the evening was Claire Regnault, Senior Curator History at Te Papa who gave a slide presentation - is it still called that ? - on Unveiled, 200 years of wedding fashion.  Now that's an exhibition I shall definitely be visiting.

Members were asked to bring along their wedding dress on a hanger, which several did.

Such a great variety and some lovely stories were shared.

More tidying up in the sewing room and I found I had several fabrics with dragonflies featured -

No idea as yet what I'll do with them, but no doubt something will occur to me....

I came across this old brick wall in Petone recently, part of a building that had been demolished perhaps and immediately it reminded me of a quilting design, free motion, like stones.

And here's a close up

I wonder if there is anywhere I can find out whether these are individual bricks and when they were used.

Now, here's the second of the three tops I have made using the blocks presented to me at the end of my two years as President of the Wellington Guild.  As I said last time, I sorted the blocks into colour families and had great fun placing the blocks.  I must say the measurements were many and varied! so I decided to sash them all, with a different fabric on each of the four sides - I did wonder at first whether I would have enough appropriately coloured, I needed 72 ........

Here's a close up showing a little rocking horse button a friend put on her block.

And here's the back, ready and waiting.....

Thanks for stopping by, and for your emails.    I love the thought for today, "Many a false step is made by standing still."


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Glacier, Mile a Minute and more........

My son had a day off, so in his words he hopped on a helicopter and went for a ride.  Then down to earth he went for a boat trip - and this is the lake at the edge of the glacier  - and those beautiful, beautiful chunks of ice are at the edge - and are about one hundred feet high!

The boat couldn't get any closer, too dangerous, but what a stunning sight.  To me they look like jade.

From the sublime to the is a mile a minute top I made ages ago, just emptied one of the scrap baskets and started joining small pieces together, then larger, then the logs - a sort of everything but the kitchen sink attitude.

I can pick out various pieces from other quilts and some that friends gave to me -

The purple with gold squiggles on is another very floddery fabric, I remember I starched it so I could sew it more easily.

And now here are another couple of pieces of vintage fabric for your enjoyment!

Isn't this an amazing fabric!  It has rock 'n roll, black and white type minstrels and mexicans.

The next one is pure colour -

When I did my turn as President of Wellington Quilters' Guild I had a  reputation for liking bizarre fabric!  I used to travel around quite a bit and made a point of visiting little shops in more out of the way places - I came up with some fascinating purchases and I used to show them off at the meetings - which gave a laugh to those who didn't share my love of the weird and wonderful.

There was a tradition for a member of the committee to organise an appropriate block for the outgoing President, which was done all hush hush and then presented at the AGM.

The word that went around for my block was that I had this "bazaar taste" in fabrics, so make a block with many different kinds - one poor newbie actually did that, her block had cotton, poly, flannel etc. etc.

This is the stack of blocks I took home and started playing with -

In the end I made three tops, one using all the blue/purples; a second using all the autumn colours and the third using what was left over!

The only one of the three, so far, to be quilted and bound!  The sawtooth border used up all the odds and ends - believe you me there was quite a discrepancy in the sizes of the blocks so quite a few are tip-less!

Here it is draped artistically on one of the couches.  I shall show the other two on another occasion because next I want to share with you a work in progress.  I showed the top made up of rectangles of vintage fabric with calico, well there were many left over so I teamed them up with a pale blue -

These are joined in groups of three patterned and are just hanging on the design wall.  I have a feeling I want to border this one, so am auditioning possibles -

The one on the right echoes the pattern in the blue/purple, but could swamp the whole thing; the next one is delightful, such a pretty pattern and colour, but not strong enough; the blue floral stripe might be used in a very thin strip - I am leaning towards the extreme left -

What do you think?  And do you audition fabrics like this? it's a part of the quilt making that I love - amazing what I find when I start sorting through the cupboards......

I'll close with a photo my son took from the helicopter ride over Mt Cook showing Mt Cook village in the top centre with the water running from the glacier and forming Lake Pukaki where they were filming.  If you click on it you should get a larger picture.

And the little diary tells us something that we all know, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."

Nice talking with you, and thanks for your comments.