Taking my Quilts for a Walk Feed

Making the Most of Summer

This year's southern hemisphere summer is drawing to a close, and it's been a bit underwhelming. Usually we get weeks on end of long, hot days when all you want to do is lie under a tree and take a nap, but this year there has been rain, and days when the weather has blown in a big chill from the Antarctic.

Officially we are now in Autumn (New Zealand classes its seasons in complete months - in England it wouldn't change until the equinox). However, this weekend we had blissful summer weather - not too hot to go outside, it was just calling me to make the most of the warm weather.

The quilt taking an outing this weekend was Candy Drops. I designed this quilt for our Shop Hop last year, and the pattern was published this week in the digital magazine Make Modern, Issue 15.

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It's surprisingly easy to squish a quilt into your backpack - this is quite a small pack that my Mum bought me for a significant birthday. It holds all the necessities - emergency kit, spare layers, lunch, tea making equipment - and quilt.

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Off I went - 20 minutes from home I reached the turn off for the Mikimiki Road. I have walked from Kiriwhakapapa to Mikimiki and back before, but never started from Mikimiki, so that was my adventure this time.

To get to the track, you have to drive through a bit of farmland - which means a gate to close. A bit of a pain for me as my car has a habit of locking itself when you close the door, so I had to turn the engine off when I got out to open, and then to close, the gate, so I could keep the key with me!

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The sky was a perfect blue with a bit of a breeze, but that didn't worry me as I knew once I got into the bush I would be protected from the wind.

After driving down a fairly long track, I parked up and set off hiking. The first part of the walk is surrounded by imported weeds - blackberries, dandelions, huge daisies and long grass are what I am used to in England, not so much in my New Zealand tramping, but I soon reached the Forest Park and plunged into the cool greenness of the bush.

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The path passes along an old track built by loggers, and there are still a few imported redwoods that they planted in an effort to grow trees to replace the ancient natives that were removed. After just over half an hour I reached the stream and set up camp.

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Candy Drops was a nice protection from the bumpy rocks and stones

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The water in the Mikimiki stream is pure and clear, I grabbed some in my billy and put the gas stove on for a cuppa.

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Lunch over it was time to brave a very cold and quick dip in the swimming hole - it looks really shallow in the photo, but it was deep enough to stand up to my neck.

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Laying back and looking up at the clouds rushing across the blue sky through the tree canopy, I remembered doing the same thing in infants school. I think this is my idea of ultimate relaxation.

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All too soon it was time to pack up and walk back to the car. One the way back I spotted a wasps' nest , fascinating to look at but these are European invaders that do a lot of damage, so I hope it will get destroyed.

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Candy Drops was made from Moda Grunge fabrics, using the vanilla colourway for the background. I quilted it using straight line machine quilting with Aurifil and added big stitch hand quilting details in the colour blocks using Sue Spargo Eleganza thread . The backing is from Philip
Jacobs' Botanica range. The quilt top was pieced by Linda Graham. Pattern available in Make Modern magazine issue 15.

Join the Grunge Club and the Eleganza Club at Quilters' Lane to build your stash!

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Photo 11

 


A walk - and some triangles!

The #totallytrianglequiltalong has started! It is so much fun to see the blocks that are being made. I hope you will join in. This is my first block, the Triangle Nine Patch.

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You can see other blocks in the triangle quilters facebook group - anyone can join even if you just want to take a look for now. You can also see them on Instagram.

I will be posting more blocks on here as well as some tips for sewing with triangles as we get further into the quiltalong.

It can be a bit scary trying something new, but everyone who has tried these blocks seems to get into them really quickly and enjoy making them. You can get the pattern from Quilters' Lane, or from my Craftsy store. Why not have a go?

Though you may feel a bit like I did when I got back into going for walks in the bush last year, and was faced with walking across this swingbridge for the first time....

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....just take a deep breath, be brave, and you never know what fun is to be had on the other side.

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Here's my Lonestar quilt sitting on the other end of the bridge. This track takes you through the beautiful Atiwhakatu valley. After the swingbridge there is a place where you can sit and dangle your feet in the clear water, and take a drink from the stream.

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I found the perfect place to take a photo of the quilt

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Later on I reached the Atiwhakatu Hut. Our Department of Conservation builds and maintains these huts in the back country, along with various groups such as our local tramping club. For a small fee, you can stay in the bunk rooms. Mattresses are provided but you have to take all your own bedding , cooking supplies and food.

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Lonestar bunk

I think Lonestar wanted to stay, but I needed to get back to do some sewing!

 

 

 


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.


Mischief

A few years ago we had a great range of fabric in the shop by Nancy Halvorsen, called Curiosities and Mischief. Curiosities had a lovely combination of pink, lilac, strawberry and yellow. Mischief was full of green, brown, orange and teal. Both had cute little pictures on some of the fabrics. We got through metres of that fabric!

One of the projects we made was a railfence quilt based on a mini jelly roll of twenty strips. Since we have now sold out of the fabric I really need to get round to making another sample quilt in a new range, and the sample we had in the shop has been unloved for a while. When I was looking for a quilt to take for a walk this week it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give Mischief a little love.

In a few weeks I am going on a long (73km) walk with my sister, so to get in a bit of training I decided to hike up to Rocky Lookout. It's a 350m (over 1000 feet) climb in just over 3 kilometres, so quite a challenge for me if not for the super fit Kiwis who run up there every week!

The view of the mountains with the snow still on the very tops was gorgeous

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It was hard work getting up the hill so I didn't take any photos, but when I got to the top and emerged from the bush I had time to look out at the view back down the valley

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Out came Mischief!

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It was pretty hard to get a decent photo as it was a little bit breezy up there

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It's also quite a busy track on a bright spring day, and I'm still a little bit shy about people seeing this crazy lady with her quilt, so I took a few more photos and headed on back down the hill.

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Another lovely walk completed, and the rest of the day to sit behind the computer dreaming up new designs!

If you like this Mischief quilt there is a pattern available in my Craftsy store, just click the logo on the right hand side.


Playtime in the Park

Today was pretty wet and miserable. Not really a great day for taking my quilt for a walk. I decided that rather than go to the mountains where it would probably be even wetter, I would walk to our local park. It's about a 6km (3-4 miles) round trip, so would give me a good stretch.

To cheer up the grey weather I decided to bring my latest quilt, Playtime.

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On the way I saw this beautiful Kowhai tree.

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Native New Zealand Kowhai Tree

Kowhai is the Maori work for yellow, and the blossoms let you know that Spring is here.

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Kowhai Blossoms

 Where better to take a Playtime quilt than to the park? Here it is, at the amazing kids playground. This was a community project built by the town just before I came to live here. Nearly all the posts have the names of people who contributed.

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To make this quilt I used Riley Blake's Wheels 2 range and added some solid colours. On the back is the Wheels2 playmat in canvas, so it's a reversible quilt. Here it is one the only dry surface I could find - in the middle of the bandstand!

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Queen Elizabeth II park is a masterpiece of Victorian visionaries. There are so many different elements that make up the whole. The lake is the centrepiece, and plays host to many wildfowl.

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Black swan
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The Duck family enjoying the rain

 

There is an island in the middle of the lake, with a mini train that runs around it. No trains today though!

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Playtime decided it wanted to sit on the steps to the Flying Fox

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If you are interested in making the Playtime quilt/playmat I have the fabric in store and will be releasing the pattern soon.

Have a great week

Sheila


Taking my quilts for a walk

It's a beautiful spring day here! As I drove to the foothills of the Tararua ranges this morning, I passed the quintessential New Zealand spring sight, a ewe feeding her twin lambs. What a great day to take my quilt for a walk!

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I love my walks in the bush, I usually go alone and I enjoy the peace and solitude. It helps me revive and recharge my batteries before another week in the shop or behind my computer or sewing machine. Over the winter I haven't been getting out, and last week was my first walk for ages. I decided that it would be fun to bring my quilts along. So this week, that's what I did!

As I packed my backpack, I wondered how much the quilt would add to the weight I had to carry. Standing on the scales, I realised that the total of me plus backpack was still 6kg (about 12 pounds) lower than I weighed on my own this time last year, before I started my walking habit! No problem carrying that extra weight then.

This week my companion was Blue China, a quilt I made back in 2012 for our Shop Hop. It's a sampler quilt all in blues and whites - great colours for a blue sky day when the snow is still on the mountain tops

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I took a few shots of the quilt when I stopped to look at the lambs frolicing in the fields

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Then off to Kiriwhakapapa campsite, at the entrance to the Tararua Forest Park. It's only about a 20 minute drive from home - how lucky I am to have this gorgeous countryside on my doorstep!

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On with the boots

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And it was off into the peace and quiet of the trees. The track is pretty muddy at this time of year and the streams were running strongly with all the meltwater from the snow on the mountains.

A lovely thing about the ranges is that the water is pure and delicious, lucky for me as I had forgotten my water bottle!

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After leaving the stream, the track turns uphill and it's a bit of a slog, but before long I reached the resting spot at the saddle between the Kiriwhakapapa and Mikimiki valleys.

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The little orange triangles mark the walking tracks. Time to get the quilt out!

 

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When I told people I was going to take my quilts for a walk, they looked at me as if I was nuts! It'll get dirty, they said, what do you want to do that for? Now I have tried it, I love the idea. Why not? My quilts are my friends. They make great walking companions. They don't disturb the silence, and if I got lost they would keep me warm!

Quilting and walking are my solace. They both revive my spirit. Having a quilt on my walk is just perfect.

Time for a cuppa. I might have forgotten my water bottle, but I didn't forget the thermos...

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So after sitting in the silence with just the birdsong, it was time to walk back down the hill, through the mud and back to the world again - refreshed and revived.

 

Thank you for your company, Blue China quilt. Who will I take with me next time?