Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

This is the bouquet I received today from the Wellington Quilters' Guild to congratulate me on being awarded the Queen's Service Medal "in recognition of my services to prisoner rehabilitation programmes" - in other words the quilting programme at Arohata Women's Prison.

Janet Forbes and I are both recipients of the award, Janet runs the programme in the Drug Treatment Unit - and of course, we both acknowledge the fact there is a team of people making this possible; other tutors, people who keep the fabric storeroom organised and others who do the fund raising plus the quilters from all over the country who donate fabric so generously - I just happened to be the President of Wellington guild all those years ago when it was suggested that we offer to teach at the prison.  I recall that after just three weeks of the proposed six week course I realised I couldn't just walk away and I made sure the incoming President knew that I was happy to carry on.  I confess to feeling a bit of a fraud being rewarded for doing something I'm passionate about!

Anyway, Leeann, bless her, posted this news yesterday, so again, thank you Leeann.  I also want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and being a superstitious soul, can't do that before midnight!  Comes from celebrating new year for so many years in Gisborne with some wonderful Scottish friends; many great memories there!

I have managed a small finish, my little white and bright strippy is now quilted - finally - by hand, using white in the white strips, it even has the binding on.

It won't have escaped your notice that the Guild got the colours just right  - here's another example of my non-pink garden -

It's been an expensive time at the vets lately, both cats are on special diets, Basil for overactive thyroid and Floyd for kidney trouble - they don't think much of their food though, this is the look I get now when I fill their bowls -

It appears I have seen in the new year, so I'll get off to bed it's ten to one on New Year's Day! and to close, here is a photo taken by Phil on Boxing Day out at the Wainui coast just before the rain and winds came back.

Happy New Year, good health and happiness to all.


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Gannets and garden

Photo taken by Phil recently, do click on it to enlarge.  I think the colours and patterns are beautiful.

I've been doing some piecing, more strings when I seem to remember congratulating myself at finishing my supply of them.......... well, after some more tidying, there's enough to half fill one of those big striped bags that are so useful when carrying quilts around.

I made a top using the pattern from a block of the month at Capital Quilters, I debated whether to border the quilt and then this fabric leapt out at me!

I found a couple of old telephone directories in a drawer, so decided to use the pages for my next string quilt - the books are quite small, so I left the pages whole.  This is the first one I stitched and then trimmed -

A fairly eclectic mix of fabrics, and I'm happy with them - but, I made such a basic mistake, I could kick myself.

I should have cut the pages to the required size, then covered them and trimmed the fabric - but should have left the seam allowance free.  It makes joining and removing the papers so much easier.  I haven't made one like this for some while so had forgotten.

One of the reasons I haven't posted much lately is that I was having problems with the pills which seemed to be producing some unpleasant side effects.  Once more the doctor has altered what I take, and I'm so happy to be sleeping better and having more energy.

Not enough to want to do the gardening however, and my Hire a Hubby is working wonders - if it doesn't rain tonight, I'll be out there watering tomorrow - the newly planted hebes, manuka and cabbage tree need some tlc with our lack of rain and strong winds lately - Wellington was "well ventilated" today according to the weather reporter on the TV!

I mentioned once before that my garden had a lot of pink flowers, well one of the hebes is also pink but I couldn't resist one named Audrey Hepburn! and the orange monsters are putting on a good show -

The sorry state of the lawn is because Peter (the hire a hubby) has sprayed to get rid of broad leafed something or others - and the hanging bird feeder is a recent purchase - which I had thought was a waste of money as the birds ignored it for weeks, now the smaller birds are making good use of it.

I'll leave you with another photo, this one is Maori Bay which is just north of the Gannet Colony - you can see it in the distance.

Will I post again before Christmas Day? well now, I braved the dreaded Mall today - fairly early and with the help of some very pleasant people I found just what I wanted in a short time - if we have cold weather from now on, it's my fault - I bought three lightweight summer blouses - how could I resist the "buy two get one free".

As Robert Block once said, "The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on."

Thanks for stopping by, all the best for Christmas!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sky Tower and Sand dunes

Son Phil is in Auckland at present and here are two photographs he sent of the Sky Tower, for non Kiwis, this is the iconic landmark of Auckland.  I think they would make a good starting point for a quilt class - something familiar and then distort it!

First the familiar - this view taken from Albert Park -

cleverly placed so it appears to be growing out of the gazebo.
The second one was taken right there in the city - but reflected in the glass windows -

Full of possibilities, don't you agree?

Recently I went to the meeting of Capital Quilters, it's held in the local school hall and often has interesting things on the walls.  They must have been studying recent history -

Some familiar images but sobering to realise that the period of my school days is the subject of study in the schools today - it's probably not a history lesson though, more social studies which was unheard of back then.

Also at a recent quilt meeting [I belong to three Guilds] were some quilts by Sandy, the queen of scrap quilts; I particularly love this one -

the mixture of piecing and applique works so well.

Back to Capital Quilters and their block of the month - very American I think, maybe because of the red, white and blue..... though it's given the french name spelling...........

Once again, I think this quilt would look extra good on point.

I need to take another photo of my latest scrap quilt, the one I took is too fuzzy for some reason, but I do have the final cut of my Rainforest, made a la jellyroll; I couldn't decide how to finish it, almost cut it in half and made two small quilts but at a friend's suggestion we unpicked the outside three rows and I put them on the top and bottom.

That photo's not the clearest either, however you get the general idea.  I need to get it sandwiched, quilted and off to join the others going to Ethiopia - a project of Pinestream Quilters.  Maybe I'll think of another name too.

I'll close with another photo from Phil's road trip - this time the sand dunes at Bethells Beach -

The people in the distance give an idea of the size!

I'll leave you with this thought, "We live in a rainbow of chaos.  Paul Cezanne

Now back to my hand quilting, we'll talk again soon.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Cats, clouds and Christmas

Clouds viewed from Baring Head - aren't they amazing?  Photo by Phil.  It's been a while since I last posted, I seem to have done a lot of running around after my cats lately.  I told you Basil is on a special diet as he has an overactive thyroid which is a bit of a problem, he would far rather steal Floyd's food... but he has found a new place to sleep -

It's a bag full of embroidery wools, left on the floor to remind me to take it back to the sewing room and apparently the very place for him  - with its own backrest too!

Floyd had his check up and he too is on a special diet for kidney troubles - but he also needs medication.  Here I'm going to have a rant at the ridiculous situation where the drug company, I presume, no longer makes his medication in cat size doses, so I was given some capsules -

and instructed to divide the contents into four!!?** and give Floyd one quarter of a capsule each day!.....

The little beads are shiny and hard and bounce all over the place - having caught my medicine so to speak, then to get it into him - I tried to put it onto his cooked chicken but that didn't work, then I had a brainwave; he loves butter so I put a blob onto half a rice cracker and pushed the 'beads' down into it.  However upon inspection, the butter was gone but the beads were embedded into the now moist cracker.  So, using the tip of a very sharp knife, I removed them, mixed them with another smaller blob of butter and let him 'steal' it off my finger.

I now use a small dish, warm the butter and if any beads remain they get smeared onto his paw or he can lick it off my finger - but I ask you, who would come up with such an inefficient system?

Phil has recently been on a trip and sent me some great photos to share with you;  first the Three Sisters looking back to the mountain

This area is only accessible at low tide - do click on it to get a larger view.

This knitting art was on a pier on the wharf at Tamaki Drive - great fun!

I was reminded that Christmas is not far off, and I must look out this decoration - I think my family might have it because it was designed by one of my granddaughters when she was quite young, before she was old enough to think she couldn't !

It was a challenge for Pinestream Quilters where we had to use the border fabric - not the usual red and green - the large plastic bell was actually a container for chocolates as I remember it and the bells are from the Trade Aid shop, as was the little angel -

I will leave you with another great photo, this time of Marokopa Falls on the Waitomo Road, which are 30m high and the rocks at the base are the size of house rooms:

and with the quotation, "We experience moments absolutely free from worry.  These brief respites are called panic." Cullen Hightower

Nice to be back, talk again soon.....

Monday, 28 October 2013

Hard disc, hatchet and 7 am in Hagley Park

You can be pretty sure that anything happening at 7 am does not involve me!  Here's a self portrait of my son Phil when he visited Christchurch last week; he was working so not a lot of spare time but as his hotel was opposite the park, he couldn't resist taking a walk.

Do you know the administrator password for your computer?  Well, I don't, and that's why I've been searching the hard drive and the internet, google and apple - everything I could think of, even ten year old books!  Actually I thought I did know, but the machine doesn't like it, does a little wiggle and won't let me install the latest upgrade, grrrrrr.......

Apart from that, things are going well; Basil is accepting his new diet after being diagnosed with thyroid problems - slight difficulty with Floyd not being on the same diet - though he goes in for a check up tomorrow and I shall ask if it would harm Floyd to eat the same food.

I am progressing, albeit slowly, with the hand quilting of my white and bright string quilt - and I have tidied my sewing room.  Found more bits and pieces that made my fingers itch to start sewing them into another top, but I'm being strong and will finish the one I've started.

The block from my class is another version of the Sew & flip technique, it's just a question of using quite large pieces.  To the basic five inch square I used a 3.75 inch square -

You can see I used the dark red for the centre strip, four of the completed blocks look like this -

The strong diagonal makes for lots of variations of setting, and the resulting half square triangles are a good size for another quilt!

I've been enjoying watching the Aussie series, "A Place to call home" which is showing here on Sunday evenings and set me looking out my old Australian magazines, the Home Journal which were given to me by a friend.  I was still in the UK at that time - I just love these covers - the first one from 1954

And this one

from a few years later, the year I arrived in New Zealand, by which time the magazine had had a make over and a big hike in cost!

So, here's another photo from the south island, taken on the way down to Christchurch with a storm approaching near Kaikoura

And the thought today - with relevance to my battles with my hard drive - "Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation", Edward R. Murrow

Nice chatting with you, be back soon.........

Monday, 7 October 2013

I went South!

Maybe that's not the best title, it could mean something other than my visit to the South Island! but first a visit to the south coast, and the evening sun at Wainui beach -

I'm planning to get lots of hebes for my garden, different sizes and colours, also flaxes - natives for me, none of these whimpy exotica that need watering all summer....

My trip south, well the publicity about the award given to the Shut-in Stitchers has resulted in a couple of invitations to speak about what we do and you know how reluctant I am to do just that!! apparently Arts Access has been approached by the prison in Christchurch about setting up such a programme, they contacted me, I contacted the Christchurch Quilt guild - invitations were made and accepted, and off I flew.

Years ago I was a regular visitor to Christchurch and was fairly confident I could find my way around but my hostess knew better and I'm so grateful to her and my other 'minder' for all they did to make my visit enjoyable as well as memorable.

For any non-New Zealanders reading this, a large earthquake did enormous damage to the city in February 2011; it was a Tuesday and I was at a stitching get together with friends when the news came through and we sat glued to the television - that day and many more as the whole story unfolded.

Nothing prepared me for the reality.

Here is the Smile for Christchurch wall [you can Google it to find out more] started by a Taiwanese who spent a year collecting all the smiles to support the city,  the building behind looks less than pristine but the little gardens add a brightness to the open spaces.

This is on the day I took a bus into the city and walked around the area where they are using containers for shops;

It was a pleasantly mild day, though not the 21 degrees forecast, the coffee was good, the shops interesting, people friendly and I loved the garden areas -

I'm on the lookout for some companions for my 'goat' of the iron constitution!, maybe penguins, or something a little more outstanding -

Can you make out her amazing eyelashes?  See, flaxes, grasses minimum care - equals more time to quilt, read, eat - anything but garden........

The block to share was in a magazine years ago,

It's a tulip [we're back to gardening!] but their instructions were very complicated, so I simplified them to this

Make a pair of half square triangles, then take another square of the second colour for the flower, and

turn the half square triangles into three quarter square triangles! join, and do a small sew & flip on the bottom corners - cut to whatever size is needed.  These are made with five inch squares, but of course any size will do - if you make the tulips from many different sizes you could have your own colourful garden........

After teaching at the prison on Saturday, a group of us [tutors] had lunch and then went to a nearby chain store to take advantage of their sale - I bought 5m of batting quite reasonably and saw this sign -

It took me a while before I realised what was wrong - maybe it's a better class of fabric??

While in Chch I couldn't resist buying a couple of books, one which contains 'bad advice for good people.  Keep calm and carry on is all very well, but life just isn't that simple.  Let's own up and face facts; we're getting older, the politicians are not getting any wiser, and the world's going to hell in a handbasket.  It's time to panic."

So I'll leave you with a photo [courtesy son Phil] of a corridor in the interior of the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, and the first quotation, "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.", Robert A. Heinlein

Cantabrians, I take my hat off to you, thank you for everything - I shall return!


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Spring, slide and stars

Doesn't this just say spring?  Beautiful daffodils - and an uncertain sky, photo taken by Phil a week or two ago on a trip into the Wairarapa.

And slide - well this I think is another example of a quilt in waiting,

while the view down the slide makes my stomach flip, even now!

These were taken, by Phil, of course at Island Bay in the playground - and how about the tunnel?

Almost a halloween design?

At a recent meeting of Pinestream Quilters there was an amazing display of work - this one took my eye as something far removed from quilts I make, I forgot to ask what the inspiration was.

And now, a blast from the past - another of the blocks/techniques from my Five inch squares class; the sew and flip method of making a star - I love this one -

I like the idea of using this block, dotted through the background of all dark blocks - the stars really pop.

The method is tried and true, two strips at right angles -

draw a line for the first line of stitching, then I always stitch another towards the corner - far enough away to give safe seam allowances, then cut between for the extra half square triangle.

This results in a very scrappy quilt but one that works providing there is sufficient contrast in value.

The Woven star is another block that works well with this technique -

I have been doing some actual stitching, my Mile-a-minute is a completed top - and I've chosen the backing too!

Three rows joined to the left and the backing, almost large enough on its own.

A fair amount of sewing went into this top! - and all because I wanted to use up the bits left over from when a friend cut out hexagons......

In the end I added another row so this is how it ended up -

and I still have a bag full of strings.......

I'll leave you with another sunset - taken at  Palliser Bay recently - you can't have too many sunsets! and the thought, "The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been", Madeline L'Engle

Thanks for stopping by,