A catch up, and 3rd Quarter FAL

It’s been a while, but I have been otherwise occupied applying for jobs (unsuccessfully), nursing my Mum back to health (successfully), and helping run the local quilt club’s Celebration of Quilts (very successfully!).

Mum had a foot operation, which meant a few weeks of inactivity. To say she was a difficult patient is an understatement. As a normally active gardener, taking care of her garden, my sisters, and her neighbours either side, she did not take to sitting down very well. There were frequent cries of “I’m bored” from her recliner, much like those of a child by week 2 of the school holidays. Luckily for us both, she is back on her feet now. Another operation may be in the pipeline, but next time I will take more DVD’s for her, and my sewing machine for me.

The Rose City Quilters Celebration of Quilts was held over the weekend, and was the first time I had been involved, or shown a finished quilt. Since we thought numbers were going to be down this year, I entered both of my versions of Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife Quilt.

Gypsy Wife (the Autumn version) hanging at the Celebration of Quilts 2016.


The “Summer version” was finished last year, while the darker “Autumn version” was finally bound and finished this quarter, as one of my third quarter goals.

2016 button 250 best

I was hoping to finish MY Small World in time, but embroidering the quilt is proving very slow. I have decided to aim for 2018 instead. Surely I can be finished by then!

I’m glad to say that I won a prize with the “Summer” Gypsy Wife Quilt, the Category for Best Hand Quilting.

Gypsy Wife (Summer version). Sorry about the photo quality, it was pretty dark inside the hall.

I also entered into the Club Challenge, “Through the Looking Glass”, with a small quilt addressing the recent water quality scares in the Hawkes Bay. This little quilt won a second place, but it was the only quilt in its class, so it sort of had to win something. I enjoyed making it, since it was my first art quilt. I have only pieced quilts up til now, whereas this one had embroidery (E. coli) and minimal quilting (agar plates), and a facing on the back made from the remnants of the tea towel.


Most entries kept to the Alice in Wonderland theme, but a few others also chose to interpret the theme in another way.

It was a pretty exhausting weekend, with set-up alone taking seven hours. I arrived early each day, and stayed until after closing time, along with the other organisers. I have slept extremely well the last few nights! The exhibition was held at the Huia Centre at PNGHS, and was a great venue. My job was to be the Merchant’s Rep, to hang out here….


…while trying not to get too tempted by all the fabric, thread and general quilty goodness on sale.


Some of my favourite North Island Quilt Shops were in attendance, but I held strong, and only gave in to some French General fabric and Aurifil thread….plus a bit of Allison Glass…and Lizzy House.

Okay, so I was only partly restrained! I do try to write a very short mental list of things to look for, but I can only withstand temptation for so long. As the rep, I had to keep visiting the stalls, which meant the temptation kept mounting.

We also had a de-stash table, where Club members could sell off bits of their stash they no longer wanted. There were some”vintage” fabrics from the 80’s, but a large part of the fabric found a new home.

The take-down went much faster than set-up, as we had more volunteers. Afterwards I staggered home, I badly needed to get off my feet for a while.

Today I re-acquainted myself with my sewing machine and sewed two more blocks for my 365 Challenge quilt. I am so far behind I have resigned myself to this being a two year project, but that’s okay.


In closing, while she didn’t win a prize, Daughter #2 entered five of her little art quilts in the exhibition, including the Scary Cheshire Cat, and the X-shaped piece next to it. They were all experiments in new techniques, playing with paint and thread. She received a lot of encouragement from more experienced art quilters at the show.

I hope you have a great week. I will stop eating Ferroro Roche chocolates (congratulations present from my Mum), and get on with the day.

Second to last….

I have the second to last “should” quilt up on the design board. Boy, is this one going to be bright.


I am converting a pile of 2 x 7 inch strips into a quilt, throwing in a few meters of a bright yellow solid as the background fabric. I know this sounds like a disaster in the making, but it’s for Daughter #2, for whom nothing can ever be too bright. Instead, she calls it “happy”.


Cutting the strips was done earlier in the year, and now the challenge is to convert them into something other than a straight coin quilt.

For the first row I constructed rainbow stacks, separated by two inch strips of yellow.


Next up, I am repeating the method I used a few years ago to construct a postage stamp quilt, ala Red Pepper Quilts tutorial. I am using only blue, orange and low volume strips in this row. Some order amongst the chaos is called for.

I’m not going to sew the rows together until the end, as I want to play around a bit with this quilt. Meanwhile I am having fun looking at ideas of what I can create from the strips. Any ideas would be gratefully received.

Now it’s off to the dentist. No worries though, since my dentist believes in giving you all the painkillers you need to avoid feeling anything! The down side is it takes hours for the effect to wear off, so I won’t be having a cup of tea for quite a few hours. Or food.

Have a great week, I’m enjoying seeing the blossoms, on this first day of Spring.

My Plum tree in blossom.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts.

Eat your veggies first!

Sound familiar? As a kid, vegetables were a punishment I endured before getting to eat the good stuff, dessert! We had a house cow, so we ate a lot of desserts, usually milk based. As a Jersey cow, she produced up to 22 bottles of milk a day, which we had to get through. Of course I never connected these yummy puddings with the symptoms of lactose intolerance, but how could sago or semolina custard ever be bad for you?

Anyway, this way of thinking has remained with me. The veggies first mentality. So when faced with trying to do more of the sewing I actually wanted to do, I found I couldn’t do it unless I had cleared my plate of “veggies”, the “should” projects.


The complete list was a little longer than I had initially thought. Two quilts for nephews, and three for my Daughters. But just as I used to throw myself reluctantly into eating the gritty, sand enhanced silverbeet my Mother dished up at night (it grew next to our sandpit), so I have thrown myself into getting rid of these projects. (NB: I did draw a line at eating silverbeet when I found spiders and earwigs on my plate as well).


First up was a quilt for Cooper. Done. Nothing fancy, just squares of various sizes, til I had used up all the fabric. I even used the leftover backing fabric to make binding. He loves dinosaurs, and as long as nobody calls the rocks and minerals “Jewels”, it should be a hit.


Next up was a quilt for Daughter #1. I found a length of “One Piece” fabric at Morelands Fabric and was instructed that cutting it up would ruin it. That turned the project into a simple “blankie” style quilt. I even used the backing as binding. Done and dusted in a few hours.

I don’t usually quilt fabric with people and animals on it. I don’t like cutting into the images, dissecting them. Can you tell I’m a reluctant meat eater? I found myself quilting in rather crooked lines to avoid sewing through the heads.

One Piece characters on top, and a Riley Blake fabric on the back.

Next up is the quilt for nephew #2. He has requested “masculine” colours. Blue, dark blue, black, and green. No yellow, please! I found a deer fabric which I thought might appeal to him, given how he loves going shooting with his Dad. It’s not my cup of tea, but I am prepared to put aside my own liberal, lefty, pacifistic principles for one quilt.

Make quilts, not war!

I will go through my stash and find some deep blues and greens. Still mulling over quite how to put it together though.


After this quilt I have two projects for Daughter #2. One I will send off to be finished, because of its sheer size. I got halfway through the quilting then discovered a tuck in the back, which I had repeatedly sewn over. It is currently sitting on the naughty step.

The second is a coin quilt, which I find fun and fast to make.  They are fun, bright, and I enjoy revisiting the scraps they use up. I think another week and a half should see me clear of these projects, and then I can have dessert again (my Jen Kingwell quilts).

The trick is then to take on no more “should” projects. With this held firmly in mind, I have already turned down a hint for a super king-size quilt by my SIL. Think she was only kidding?

Linking up eventually with WIP Wednesday.

I wasn’t a model doctoral student.

Me, during the fun experimental stage of the thesis. Trying new things, loving the travel.

A good student not only undertakes their experimental work, but writes it up in a timely fashion, publishing in good journals along the way. I loved  the experimental work, but faltered during the write-up. It took a change in supervisor for me to get it all done, and was helped by tackling the writing itself as a research subject.

I read books on how to manage my supervisory relationship. How to write. Which chapters to tackle in what order. And I wrote lists, many lists. I also collected beautiful paper to write my lists on, some of which was too nice to use.

So, to help me along through my current quilting quandary, I have decided a list might help. I have decided to divide up my mental list of projects into several categories. Hopefully by writing them down, I can look at the list a little more objectively. My categories are:

  1. The “Should” projects. Things I ought to do, or feel I should do;
  2. The “oh my gosh, that is so cool, I must make one” projects.
  3. The slightly scary creative projects, that excite me deep down inside.

Here goes:

The “Should’s” include two quilts for nephews and three more for my Daughters, only one of which is started. Some of these are promised to the recipients, others not and could be taken off the list.

The original Glitter from Jen Kingwell. Mine is going to have country meets grunge feel.

The “Musts” include all the Jen Kingwell quilts under construction (Gypsy Wife #3, Midnight at the Oasis, Small World, and Glitter). There are also a couple of Kathy Doughty quilts in here which I bought the book for, but haven’t started. Then there is the 365 day Challenge quilt that I am months behind on.

My Small World. It’s getting closer, but still a lot of embroidery to go.

The scary projects include a Chris Jurd pattern involving lots of foundation piecing, and a concept for some fusible quilts based on midcentury book illustrations.

An illustration from “The story of evolution” by Sir Julian Huxley.


Another illustration from “The story of evolution” by Sir Julian Huxley.


Making some of these illustrations into art quilts would mean learning a whole new skill set. But that’s what excites me. I like learning for the sake of learning, but I’m not so good at staying put. I suspect my frustration at the moment has a lot to do with getting stuck repeating the same old piecing skills to make quilts.

Iron, cut, sew, repeat.

It’s a bit like being a science technician, as opposed to a research scientist. Both positions need the skills of accuracy, precision and repeatability, but one gets to push boundaries while the other gets to stay put in the lab. Both positions are vital, however. Note: I made a very, bad technician.

So, my conclusion is that I need to do a lot more of what pushes my buttons (the scary, new stuff), and a lot less of the projects I feel I should (quilts for extended family).

I think this is going to be a slow transition. The first step is going to be outsourcing the final quilting on a “should” project, a first for me.

Wish me luck.



Pattern, project or person?

How do you start a new quilt?

Are you led by the fabric pattern and colour inspiring ideas? Do you have a kit or magazine clipping filed away, that finally gets to the top of the pile? Or do you have a person in mind, a new baby on the way, that niggles away, saying “Me. Me.”

Definitely inspired by quilt envy. My Small World by Jen Kingwell.

I tend to be led by projects I see online. Or by the pile of fabric, sitting, accusing me of neglect, after such excitement during the initial purchase at the fabric store.

So, I guess you could say my quilting is driven in part by envy, and the rest by guilt. Hmmmm. As a creative individual, this probably isn’t the best conclusion to come too. I have been doing Julia Cameron‘s course on creativity, starting the day by writing three pages of random thoughts, and just occasionally I come to a conclusion that is worth thinking about a bit more. The reasons driving my quilt making are something I need to think about, in order to push some creative boundaries.

Definitely driven by guilt, this one. The Hubbies lap quilt for late night tv watching.

I’ve been thinking about this after yesterdays finish. For once I made a quilt that was determined entirely by how I wanted it to finish. There was no thought given to what the Prayer Quilt co-ordinator might think of my binding style, or whether the thread colour, or fabric choice was “right”. I liked it, and therefore it was what was going to happen. To that end I even used a backing fabric covered in religious icons that I love. Everyone else seems to think it “weird”.

Love this fabric, and I have a few meters more stashed away for quilt backing.

And it felt good, and I wrapped myself in the quilt all evening, as winter visited us again.

And yet today I started the day by identifying yet another “should” project.


I have three sets of manufacturers samples, bought in Stratford in April. It’s gorgeous fabric, and the quilt will be loved by its recipient. And yet, it will probably be another easily constructed quilt, and during its construction I will learn little, making it feel like work, rather than creating.

So I have delayed starting while I think about what I want to happen with this quilt. What can I achieve? Can I incorporate something new, have some fun, and still make a sturdy quilt, big on dinosaurs and whales for a seven year old boy?  Does it have to feel like work, and how can it not feel like work?

By taking time to think “What is in this for me“, creatively speaking, I hope to breathe some life into this project and have some fun. Find some joy.

Any suggestions?

And if anyone has a need of three sample sized pieces of the butterfly fabric from this range, drop me a line and they might come your way.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts.


I have applied for a job. And now I am waiting.

I basted the pansy quilt, while watching the Olympics Final ceremony. An efficient multi-tasker, did I mention that in my application?

It’s not like this is something I haven’t done before, but this time it feels different. Not different because I know, deep in my knower, that I will get an interview, or the job itself. But different, in that I feel like a transition has occurred. I made the decision to apply while riding the train to Wellington a couple of weeks ago.

I am applying because I want to work, and despite the fact that it might be easier for my family if I didn’t.

A field of pansies, set in green. The blocks were all leftovers from the first quilt I ever started. The original quilt is about Queen sized. Somewhere along the way I leant about Quilt math.

I didn’t originally set out to be a stay-at-home caregiver and parent. In fact, once the reality of parenting an ASD kid set in, I would gladly have gone back to work.

And while homeschooling two sick teenagers through NCEA, I longed desperately every morning for a coffee break, some smalltalk over the water cooler, fewer dramas, and a regular salary.

This one is a keeper! Big enough for a generous lap quilt, each pansy block being 6 inches finished. Can you see the oops?

But things just didn’t work out that way, and now I am feeling restless.

As a family, it feels like we have the hardest years behind us. Please let it be so!

In addition, I have a PhD and I would really, really like to use it! So, I have sent in the first application, and rescued the automated reply from my spam folder.

Spring is on the way.

Now, all I need is for a whole truckload of Science jobs to become vacant in my neck of the woods.

While I wait, there is always more quilting to be done….

I’m watching my Magnolias every day, waiting for the first peek at their flowers. I could weed around them, but we are babysitting a beehive at the moment, and the bees get a bit agitated when we spend too much time near the hive.

…and time spent quilting is never wasted.

2016 button 250 best

The Pansy Quilt, (or, Damn, how did I miss that? quilt), is another finish from my  third quarter list in the 2016 FAL.

Also linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts.


Happiness is….

Happiness is finishing a quilt, while watching the Gymnastics Gala at the Olympics.

Like a lot of people I know, I love watching the Gymnastics. I can’t even do a graceful somersault, so I love watching the skill, grace and strength of the gymnasts. It’s like going to the ballet, but a lot shorter.

Anyway, the quilt I was finishing was number two for Femke. I had a set of appliquéd letters spelling her name, that hadn’t made it onto the first quilt. They were taunting me, and so I gave in and made another quick quilt. Done and dusted in a day, since I used some charm squares I had purchased last year. I don’t know the range, but they were perfect for a happy little girls quilt.

Basted, and ready to go.

In retrospect I should have appliquéd the letters on to a different coloured background, but it’s a lesson I will remember next time. It was my first time using a raw edge appliqué, and sewing around the letters was easier than I imagined. I put off making the quilt for weeks, just because of the appliqué. No excuses now I know how easy it is.

I was going to cheat and use the backing fabric as binding, right up until I cut a hole in it, while trimming the batting to size.


I chose the fabric a couple of months ago, since both parents speak English as a second or third language. It seemed fitting.

I chose to quilt it quickly, just running a serpentine stitch along each seam.


I sent this one to it’s forever home by afternoon tea. Then went shopping for some new batting at Spotlight.


Next up are some 17 inch Neonate quilts, to use up all the batting scraps from my recent efforts.

Linking up with Sew Fresh quilts.