Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Journal Quilting through New Zealand

As we’ve been travelling I’ve noticed that each country has its own vibe – slow and relaxed  or crazy busy big city glitz or maybe even lots of outdoors activities.  In the same way, my journal quilting has changed from place to place.  New Zealand has seemed to have many more opportunities as well as resources (found items) and I’ve managed a wee bit more than one square for every week.  Arriving in Christchurch just before Christmas, I had some ideas as well as a few pieces of fabric from home and an embroidery pattern I came across while in Tasmania. I also found a couple of lovely spots to add to my collection of “stuff” (a technical quilting term meaning something interesting that you can attach to a quilt). Here's a photo of the whole quilt to date - 43 squares done (or with a plan of what it will be) and 7 squares yet to do, although I have some ideas for my last two squares. Thanks for continuing to follow my on this journey.

Christmas in Christchurch

The background for this square is a piece of the fabric I made my travelling Advent Calendar from.  I planned even before we left home last April that one square would recognize our first Christmas away from home. The tree design, a simple triangle, reflects the simple shape of the Transitional Cathedral where we attended Christmas Eve mass.  The decorations have been travelling with me since Esperance (Australia, across the Nullarbor) and the beads to hold them on came from a package of goodies I got from the Thread Studio when we were in Perth.  And the last minute addition is a wee bow of suede that had tied up the package Santa Cal gave me Christmas morning.

Otago Rail Trail

The pattern for this bike came from a quilt shop in Launceston – in the same little mall where we bought groceries.  Before heading out on our bike tour, I decided to carry a selection of purple threads to work the embroidery with for no other reason than it had been some time since I used that colour.  To my surprise and delight, as we travelled through Central Otago, the fields were covered in brightly coloured lupins of every shade of purple imaginable.  The story is that one early farmwife had thought that the green hills needed some colour, so every time she rode into town, she would purchase some lupin seeds and sprinkle them in the ditches.  Of course, lupins are very easy growing....  The only problem is that they also love to grow among the gravel beds of the rivers providing cover for predators to shore birds that nest on the gravel so they can see in all directions.  The ribbon bow (one that had been on my bag between Bangkok and Koh Tao) actually travelled the trip attached to my bike bag so that I could tell which bike was mine in the bike stands along the way) and the paua button was a bit of retail therapy along the way.

Our second night we stayed in an old school house beautifully renovated into a B&B and the hostess was also a quilter.  Esme signed the square (as did the rest of my bike tour travellers) and we are even talking about a quilt block swap. The actual pattern also includes the words “Life’s a journey not a destination.  It’s the ride not the stopovers”.  Words of wisdom that I think will find a place elsewhere on my journal quilt.

Aoraki/Mt. Cook

The background of this square is one of the returning bits of fabric.  Last time we visited New Zealand on our last day in Paihia before heading to Auckland and then home, I found a wee quilting store and purchased a few bits of batik fabric with New Zealand themes.  This piece has birds, including  the iconic kiwi.  I quilted it with koru – the ever present swirls that remind New Zealanders of the unfurling fern leaves.  As we were hiking in the park, the wildflowers were everywhere – almost exclusively white with yellow centers – Mount Cook lilies, daisies, you name it.  This photo has a wee kiwi pin (with a bit of paua for the body) but I also have a bit of greenstone – pounamou – that Cal found on the shore of Hooker Lake on one of our hikes.  The sky is foot fleece (New Zealand merino wool that I learned about last time we were here and that I now use on all big hikes to prevent blisters) but also should make a perfect bit of cloud when I am home and can felt it to the square.  New Zealand’s Maori name, Aotearora, means the land of the long white cloud.

Stewart Island

This is another one of those squares that will need to be made when I get home.  When we were hiking on Ulva Island, our guide Chrissy showed us the leaves (Muttonbird scrub) that had been used by New Zealanders in the early days to send letters.  The back side of the leaf is white and the leaf itself is very durable and doesn’t dry out.  Along one of the paths is a miro tree who’s sap can be used as ink amongst other uses.  Although I couldn’t actually mail the leaf home – it is no longer legal – the postmaster did sell me a stamp and hand cancel it.

Muttonbird aka sooty shearwater


There isn’t a square to represent our time in Nelson, but fabrics and bits of stuff (that technical quilter’s term for anything interesting that you can add to a quilt) will show up on future squares, I’m sure.
New thimble (left) to replace my old worn out one (right)

Te Papa museum, Wellington.  You can find
quilty inspiration anywhere


We spent a few days exploring Wellington, including popping into Minerva on Cuba Street (which is the storefront for New Zealand Quilter).  Like when I found it by accident five years ago, I had a lovely time exploring the shelves and I bought a few back issues and renewed my subscription while chatting with the sales ladies.

The quilt square is another one of the pieces of fabric returning home.  Using some lightweight paper towel from our hostel bathroom, I copied one of the quilting  patterns from my new magazines to quilt the square with.  The other connection is that the pattern comes from a series that I had been enjoying before we left Canada and created by Joanne Mitchell of Central Otago area.  It is her pattern that I used a few years back to make my New Zealand Advent Calendar.  Then to finish the square, I added a few paua buttons that I had purchased on the South Island.  What I find interesting about the square is that the fabric is quite bright and vibrant as is the thread I used to do the quilting, but somehow, in combination with the background it is just fitting right in.

Tongariro National Park

We spent a week in National Park Village enjoying the outdoors and exploring the volcanic region.  The fabrics for this square were steeped in manuka leaves and flowers, although I’m not sure that it changed the colours much.  The smell, however, was lovely and I will remember how prevalent the manuka bushes were as we hiked the park.  I embroidered/appliquéd a pahutakowa flower using bits of New Zealand themed fabrics – the leaves are returning fabric and the other pieces (including the borders on the square) came from a lovely shop in Nelson.  The quilting is representative of the mountains that have been so visible while we have been here.  And there will be a few bits of volcanic rock to finish off the square.

When the pahutakowa first blossoms, it is a bright Christmas red, but now toward the end of January, they are losing their petals.  From a distance, the trees almost look like a different species – they look fluffier and lighter pink even.  Again, an interesting  serendipity that the only colour of red thread that I have is more soft and pink that bright and red.

Paihia (Bay of Islands)

The quilt store doesn’t exist in Paihia, but the fabric square reminds me of the fun I had visiting last time.  It is also the same colours I used to make a wee wall quilt called Kororareka (sweet blue penguin) which is the original name for the town across the bay – Russell.  This was another piece of fabric with very bright colours that toned right down when I used the right thread  to quilt it – in this case, a silk thread from home that I usually use to stitch branches and I think of as a variegated green and brown.  I think it will be the embellishments that make this square – beachcombing on Urupukapuka island the beach was covered with these lovely weathered shells that I had never seen before.  Some will find their way onto the square once I get home and can figure out how to attach them.

Trust me, the square IS square.  Blame the photographer.

I loved this piece of background fabric when I saw it in Nelson at a weaver’s art gallery – everything was lovely, but most of it was out of my price range except this fat quarter of hand stamped fabric.  The flower in the corner was great fun to create – first I made the individual petals of fabric left over when I made a “coffee sock” for my new “make real coffee” gadget.  Then they got dyed in coffee on my first attempt to make a real cup of filter coffee which was quite successful.  The coffee is “Franz Joseph Avalanche” and roasted in New Zealand.  The center of the flower is a bit of New Zealand fabric that I actually bought in Auckland.  Yes, I found a tiny quilting store within walking distance from our hotel.  When I get home, I’m going to quilt Maori words of welcome (Kia Ora) and farewell (Haere ra).
My new filter gadget for making real coffee with
my "coffee sock" AKA a reusable cotton filter

The stamped message is "anyone who keeps the ability to
see beauty never grows old"

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