Friday 5 April 2024

My Easter break in Tekapo

At Easter I went to Tekapo in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand.  The mountains and lakes are amazing there and the weather was beautiful.  The place we stayed at had great views and a big deck off the lounge.  

I took some quilting along because our Capital Quilters exhibtion is fast approaching and I'm not ready!! I still have two quilts in progress and this is one of them.  It's the Trip Around the World that I started in January.  You can read more about it here.  

It's quite a bit colder in the South Island than the North Island and the trees were already starting to change colour for autumn.  

We went to Aoraki/Mt Cook while we were in Tekapo.  Mt Cook is New Zealand's tallest mountain. 

We walked to the first swing bridge on the Hooker Valley Track, but everyone else had the same idea and it was very busy!

Lake Pukaki looked gorgeous on such a brilliant day. That's Mt Cook at the top of Lake Pukaki.

So that was Easter 2024 for me.  I'm now quilting every spare minute to get my quilts ready for the exhibition.  I'll have lots to share after that. 

Friday 15 March 2024

Shades of Indigo

I'm busy finishing three new quilts for our Capital Quilters exhibition in May. Plus I want to enter at least one of the challenges.  So I'm quilting every day but I can't show you any of that just yet. 

However, in the evenings when I collapse into my chair I pick up my cross stitch and I've made good progress on Shades of Indigo by Nicole of Northern Expressions Needlework. 

There's just one more border to go now.

Of course mine isn't stitched with indigo threads.  I've chosen my favourite greens and blues.  The problem is that when you deviate from the pattern you have to make all the colour decisions yourself!

I started off with Caron Waterlillies, but I've morphed into Threadworx, Weeks Dye Works and Classic Colorworks Belle Soie.  I may have a lot of options but it's still trial and error because what looks good on the skein may not look so good on the fabric.  Last night I unpicked quite a bit of the next border because it just didn't look right.

The end is in sight now and it may even be finished in 2024.  I'm going to another cross stitch retreat in August and it would be embarrassing to bring out the same piece I worked on at retreats in 2022 and 2023.  

Friday 1 March 2024

Pandemic Sampler

You probably thought you'd never see this day, but my Pandemic Sampler is fully finished and ready for framing!!

I had most of it finished in April 2022 (almost two years ago), but I still had all the back stitching to do, plus my initials - which were the real sticking point.  The back stitch took about a week of stitching just in the evenings.  The pattern is 20 pages of A4 paper so there was a fair bit to work through. 

My initials were an issue because "W"s are wide and I had to figure out how to fit them in.  In the end I came up with a dainty, subtle solution that I think works well. They're there, but they don't jump out at you.

I started this piece back in July 2020 when Long Dog Samplers released this pattern to commemorate the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The pattern is available for purchase here if you're interested.  

I used 28 count linen in Flax colourway because I didn't want to go blind stitching this.  Or give up because it was too hard to see what I was doing.  

I used 2 strands of Madeira silk and it was beautiful to work with, but definitely not cheap.  I possibly could have found cheaper silk alternatives, but my local embroidery shop had this in stock and ordering anything from overseas in the early stages of COVID was very unpredictable.  Things that previously took weeks to arrive were taking months or were just plain unavailable.  So I worked with what I could get and I'm very happy with the result.  

There's a lot of flurry going on in the Long Dog Sampler Facebook groups about Leap Day starts for 29 Feb 2024.  I've resisted all temptations and will continue to work on my WIPs in 2024.  

I have made one small new start since I finished Pandemic and I'll show you that in my next blog post. 

Friday 16 February 2024

Capital Quilters' Exhibition

I've got exciting news to share.  Capital Quilters are having an exhibition in May 2024 in Lower Hutt. 

It's going to be on Saturday 11 May and Sunday 12 May which is also Mothers' Day.  Wouldn't be lovely to take your mum to a quilt show on Mothers' Day? You can look at the quilts together and then stop in at the on-site cafe for a bite to eat. 

Of course we're going to have merchants too so you'll have to allow time for shopping too.  

The Lower Hutt Events Centre is the lovely modern facility where we've held our exhibition twice before, and where the Symposium exhibition was held in October 2022.

I'm busy planning my entries now.  Each guild member is allowed to enter as many quilts as they wish, but entries will be scaled back if too many entries are received.  All quilts must have been completed since our last show in October 2020.  

I've got 3 quilts that are still WIPs.  Will I be able to get them finished in time? I'm not sure. 

We've also got two challenges running so I'm thinking about what I'm going to do for them.  I always like seeing mini quilts hung together and especially when they've got a common theme.    

So, there's a lot happening.  I encourage to visit the show if you possibly can.  The Capital Quilters exhibition back in July 2014 is what got me enthused about quilting.  I wasn't a member of the guild then but I walked around the freezing school hall and was amazed at the quilts on display.  Now I look back at those photos and I know all the makers and I am a member of Capital Quilters myself, 

(PS - our venue won't be cold - it will be warm and welcoming)

Friday 9 February 2024

Stone Flower

Hello!!  I'm back and I've got a finished top to show you.  

I'm calling it Stone Flower because the fabric in the centre is the Stone Flower wide back by Kaffe Fassett Collective. Here's how it evolved over a short period of time back in April 2023.

Another wide back by Kaffe Fassett Collective

mixed in with Cactus Flower in blue

I took elements of the Blue Square Dance pattern from Kaffe's Quilts in the Cotswolds book and used them to expand on my fussy cut Stone Flower centre piece.  But I stopped when I got to the final border because I didn't fancy the labour intensive border shown in the book.  So it sat on the shelf for nine months.  

Then January 2024 rolled around and I decided to finish some more WIPs. So I browsed through the book and spotted the triangle border on the Flowery Jar pattern and decided to use that border instead.  I wanted to bring out the green again so I found an Alison Glass print that was just the right shade of green and I used that. 

I couldn't decide if I liked the green triangles pointing in or out, but I went with my original plan and have pointed them out.  It feels like there's more green showing when I point them out and that's what I wanted.  

Now it's finished and ready for long arm quilting.  I've already got 4 quilts in my hand quilting pile so this one is going straight to the long arm quilter.  I intend to use it as an everyday quilt.  It will replace my very thin Kaffe jelly roll quilt that I made about 10 years ago. 

Friday 19 January 2024

Lord Nelson

I'm just back from a lovely family holiday in Nelson.  It's such a pretty place with beautiful beaches and bays. We stayed in an Airbnb overlooking Tasman Bay and I loved watching the ebb and flow of the tide and the sea changing colour throughout the day. 

I did take some hand sewing with me, but it's hard to get going when you're away from home and the seating doesn't match your ideal setup at home. 

Also - I kept getting distracted by the action on the water.  We saw standup paddle boarders, kayakers, people learning to sail little P class yachts, kite surfers, wind surfers, jet skiers, tug boats, the pilot, big ships - everything!!

The owners kindly supplied a telescope and binoculars for the visitors.  

I did some work on my King Charles III coronation tapestry that I bought at Liberty in London.  It's almost finished now but I did too much in one day and now my finger hurts so I have to have a break. 

I hadn't been to Nelson before so I was interested to see all the links back to England.  
Trafalgar Park
Halifax Street
Richmond Ave
Hampden St

From Wikipedia: Nelson was named in honour of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Many roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with that battle. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as Nelsonians; Trafalgar Street is its main shopping axis.

Although I probably shouldn't have been surprised because most New Zealand towns and cities have a:
Queen St
George St
Princess St
Albert St

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maoris and the Queen's representatives (The Crown), and many settler ships arrived from then on with English, Scottish and Irish settlers aboard. They naturally named the new towns and streets after what they had at home. In New Zealand there are many towns and streets with Maori names too.   

Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, was the first European to visit New Zealand and he arrived in 1642.  He stopped in a beautiful bay at the top of the South Island and named it Tasman Bay.  Now we have Able Tasman National Park and it's a protected area at the top of the South Island.  Many people go tramping/bush walking there.

Captain Cook came to New Zealand mapped the shore line much later in the 1770s. 

So that's a little history lesson to go with my royal tapestry. 

Kaiteriteri Beach In Tasman Bay

I'm home now and back into work, but it's HOT and I wish I was still on holiday.  

Friday 5 January 2024

A Trip Around the World

Happy New Year everyone. 

No sooner had I dropped my mum and dad at the airport on 27 December than I started getting inspired on Instagram.  Often I will start a Christmas themed cross stitch between Christmas and New Year, but this year I started a Christmas quilt and I had the whole top pieced in just seven days.  

I was inspired by this photo on Instagram:

But I used the brighter colours from this Christmas gift bag:

The photo I liked was by Edyta Sitar so I used her Laundry Basket Quilts PDF pattern for a Trip Around the World quilt.  I watched her video first and I liked the sound of her method, so I purchased the pattern and made a start.

I did consider making the quilt larger, or enlarging the size of the squares, but either option would have meant that I would need more than a fat quarter for the 4 consistent colours that run through it.  I wanted to make it all from my stash, so I stuck to the instructions.  

I used scraps of fabrics on many of the rows but if you're going to do that, just be careful to space them evenly when you're sewing the columns together.  I like how my scrappy fabrics are evenly spaced out in the final design. 

While I was in the mood I even pieced a quilt back using one of my precious Cotton+Steel fabrics from 2017.   I do love the ski jumpers, but if I haven't got around to using it yet, it's best to put it on the back of a quilt and at least I will get to see it sometimes.  

So now I have a lovely Christmas quilt ready for hand quilting with sparkly threads when the weather gets cooler.  

Finished size is 54" x 62"

2024 is off to a good start.