Reflections Feed

Shifting Strata - when grey isn't just grey

It was time to go for a walk .....

The last couple of months have been so busy, I needed to take time out and stretch my legs. My quilt companion is Shifting Strata, a small quilt I made based on Wendy Williams' Crossing Paths pattern back in 2012. I named it after the Christchurch earthquakes. Here's my quilt

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And here is Wendy's original

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Given the recent shifting of the earth under our feet, it felt like Shifting Strata was a very topical quilt to bring. This was one of my first 'improv' style quilts, and also my first attempt at big stitch hand quilting. It was also one of the first to win me a ribbon, at the Capital Quilters exhibition later that year :)

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Having done very little walking over the winter, I took it fairly easy this time. From Kiriwhakapapa campsite there is a loop walk that passes through a grove of redwood trees - these were planted way back before we realised that messing with mother nature is not necessarily a good idea. Now they make a beautiful cathedral, and the native bush is growing up inside, rata vines clinging to the trees and epiphytes growing in the high branches.

The sounds of birds singing and streams flowing with meltwater are so much more soothing to me than the tinned muzak in the shopping malls that we usually get at this time of year. It seemed like everyone else was frantically making their preparations for the big day, as the bush was so quiet I only ran into one like minded soul in two hours of walking. She was headed up to Blue Range Hut - a 700m climb I will have to work up to over the coming season!

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Although the path up towards Blue Range is pretty steep, there are some great stopping points. I laid the quilt out on the ground beneath a massive Totara tree

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Time for a nice morning tea break, hoping the earth doesn't start shaking and bring the tree down on my head!

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There's not a huge amount of showy colour in the bush - no bright flowers or bird plumage. But there is an enormous variety of shades and tonings, and there are some beautiful surprises. Look at the wonderful bright green on this moss covered rock

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These leaves stood out amongst the duller colours too - see how the dark green ones behind sit right back - a lesson for colouring our quilts!

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The interesting shades I observed reminded me of choosing the colours for Shifting Strata. When I made this quilt, I wanted to do it all in neutrals, so I started with greys, taupes and a little bit of brown. It sat on the design wall in the shop and I would keep looking at it every time
I passed. It seemed dull - how could I add some colour and interest without making it garish?

At the time I was reading and soaking up as much information as I could about colour. One of my go to books was Gloria Loughman's wonderful book Quilted Symphony. From this book I had learned that there is really no such colour as grey or brown - every grey is just a shade of one of the hues on the colour wheel, and brown is just a version of yellow. I realised I could add other yellows to go with the brown, and I played with the greys which had purple tones, and added some purple hits as well. All of a sudden the colours began to work!

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After climbing back down the steep track, I carried on around the loop track. This area is full of streams and is always pretty wet and muddy, only drying out in the real heat of summer

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I ended up washing my muddy boots in the sparkling stream

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This is such a beautiful area, a lovely walk and a bit of a work out for me, I can't wait till next time - now which quilt shall I take?

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Wendy Williams is at www.flyingfishkits.com.au. We stock many of her patterns at www.quilterslane.co.nz and can get any that you like into the shop.

Gloria Loughman is another wonderful Australian quilter, see www.glorialoughman.com. We also stock many of her books.

Both Wendy and Gloria will be teaching at the New Zealand Symposium in Christchurch in October 2017. See the link to Creative Construction on the right hand side of this page.

To learn more about colour in quilts from me, sign up for my Patchwork and Quilting techniques class at Quilters' Lane, starting again in 2017.


Nanny's Singer

My uncle was a very keen photographer and his son (my cousin Phil) has kept and treasured all his family photos and slides. This week Phil posted this slide from the 1950's on his facebook page.

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As Phil says, the colours are so realistic in these slides that you could almost be in the room with them. I was so absorbed in looking at the images of, from the left, my Great Auntie Nance, Grandad and Nanny that I almost missed seeing the all- important Singer treadle behind Nanny. I expect she used it to make her 'pinny' - the only time I ever remember her without one on was at weddings.

I remember exactly where this photo would have been taken. The house was a tiny two-up two-down in Twickenham, and this was the back room. The door you can see led to the add-on kitchen which always smelled of coal tar soap and where you would find Nanny making yorkshire pudding batter in an enamel dish. Grandad would usually be found out in the garden, which was very long and where he grew his vegetables and fruit.  We helped him pick cherries and raspberries, and then they would give us some money and send us to the corner shop for ice cream blocks and wafers.

Behind Grandad's head is a photo of Nanny's brother Fred, who died at the battle of Loos. He was her elder brother and she worshipped him. She never got over the loss. Unlike now when we sew because we love to, Nanny would have been using her Singer for very utilitarian purposes; to mend, make clothes, and so on, but I like to think that as she treadled away, it took her mind off the pain of losing Fred.

The Singer now lives with my sister. The love of sewing has come through the generations, and I know it will be treasured for a long time to come.