Sunday, August 17, 2014

A fairy tale [and a sugar skull quilt]

Once upon a time there were two beautiful girls.
One of these girls went searching for love,
and by the time she was 16 her arms and her heart were full of love,
in the form of a beautiful daughter.

Not everybody recognised that this was indeed love,
and they made harsh comments to the girl.

But as the girl grew along side her daughter,
she learned that love is a two-edged sword with pain.
Even so she kept on loving.

The other girl longed for acceptance.
She lived with a thousand rules, and she tried to keep them all.
She did everything she could to earn that acceptance,
but it was never enough.

The girl was broken, but alive
and gradually as she got older, she learned that to accept oneself
is the greatest thing she could do for herself and her children.

In the way of these things, the girls became women,
and their paths crossed.

They recognised in each other the scars that their pasts had given them,
and the hope that they could make a difference.

One day they met at McDonalds for lunch with a bunch of small children,
and they talked about this hope for the future.

They decided to study and learn how to help others,
they decided to support each other in the journey.

They laughed together at the possibility that the high-school drop out
and the person with the arranged marriage who grew up in a cult
could possibly be audacious enough to think they could get a degree.

The two girls are still on that journey.
Half way through their degrees. It turns out that they are smart.
The words thrown at them at the past are slowly falling off,
like rain drops on a window.

This quilt is for my dear friend Meg,
the one who searched for love.

She is brave and courageous and super smart.
I love you Meg.

Next year when we graduate together, we will laugh and cry together,
super thankful that the scars in our hearts have not kept us in the past.

The "Sure to Rise" quilt

We have a lovely customer Rebecca, that we have done a lot of work for over the years.
They used to own the Convent in Lyttleton 
and David used to come home and tell me how amazing the house was.

The earthquake on 22 February 2011 destroyed their home
and they lost pretty much everything.

To make some money after they lost their business at the same time,
Rebecca started printing some tea-towels, 
with an iconic Christchurch "Sure to Rise" logo on it
for people to remember the earthquake.

David was given one of these tea towels
and I immediately decided that I wanted to make a quilt for them.

I cut up the tea towels (Rebecca gave me a few extras)
and added a lot of textural fabrics that were meaningful to me,
there are bricks and maps, graffiti and buildings.
The rectangles are 3.5 x 15".

Sometimes people are so brave in such trying situations
and I just wanted to acknowledge their courage.
They can never get back their treasures or their home and business,
but that hasn't stopped them from having an amazing attitude
and starting again.

There's lots of things that happen in this life that we really can't fix,
and the earthquakes definitely fitted into this category.

It was the unexpected nature of it, and the complete disruption that it has been
that is so difficult, oh and the long time its taking for things to get sorted.

This quilt is our way of saying to one family,
we acknowledge that things were truly awful for you,
and we respect you for how you have carried on.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beyond Neutral by John Q Adams [giveaway alert]

It's not often that you buy a book that completely inspires you,
but this week I brought this book and I totally love it.
It's written by the amazing and genuinely lovely John
who somehow manages to hold down a high-powered job,
love and look after his kids and make quilts too.

Any way I've owned this book for a week,
and I made a variation of this quilt already,
which I'm hand quilting in my 'spare' time.

And then I fell in love with this one,
and remembered my very precious stash of Catnap fabric
and it seemed like a match made in heaven.

I discovered by clicking on a link on Instagram,
that these quilts are named after real places
which mades me inordinately happy. 
I fully plan to google to see where they are on the US map.

I particularly love John's patterns, because they are so clear
and easy to follow. I'm dyslexic and I find patterns difficult to follow 
but these completely work for me.
Just because they are easy to follow, doesn't mean they aren't satisfying to make.
They look amazing made up.

Last semester I did four level 2 papers and it nearly killed me. 
Study combined with running a family actually made me sick by the end of the semester.
One of the things that keeps me sane is sewing
and as I'm determined to stay sane this semester,
I've been making sure I keep making stuff before the day starts.

I've actually almost sewn this quilt top together, one more morning and it will be done.
It's really beautiful and I can't wait to finish it.
I'm hoping that my friend will have a mouse pattern to quilt it with.
I want to make this with vintage sheets too.
It's just perfect for showing fabric off.

And then once that was almost done, I decided to start this one. 
I'm sick with a chesty cold, my hip is killing me
and I have two essays to write.

Of course I need a distraction!! Doesn't everyone??

So last night I cut out Canyonlands with my secret stash
of Alison Glass fabric plus a few others.
It's going to have this silver dot background
and I think it is going to work out well..

This afternoon I sewed a couple of blocks together,
I can see it's going to be amazing (even though I say it myself).

Anyway I've owned this book exactly a week
and I have three projects underway, if that's not a recommendation,
I don't know what is.

Because I love Beyond Neutrals so much, I'm going to give away a copy.
As these quilts are named after real places,
 I want to you leave a comment telling me your favourite place in the world.
In a week, I'll pick a winner and get a copy posted to you.

Enter below and if all else fails you can buy the book here!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A windmill quilt for an un-sung hero... (to mothers and fathers everywhere)

I have made three of these windmill quilts lately,
I tend to make quilts in pairs or triplets because I like to use all my scraps up
as I go, and so this is number one!

I'm going to post it this week to someone who probably doesn't 
read this blog but who follows me on Instagram. 

It's going to someone who works hard and is a good mum,
and who doesn't look for the limelight.

I just wanted to honour her because being a mum is such hard work
and so many tasks that we do are so under-rated.

Won't it be fun for her to get the parcel??
I wish I could make one for all the mothers and fathers who work hard
and feel like nobody notices.

I just want to say that being a parent is hard work
and being a parent who works in paid employment or studies is very hard work.

So if you are reading this and you are a parent,
just take a moment and remind yourself that you are doing a great job,
take a deep breathe and acknowledge that although it is hard,
you are doing it!!

I've put cotton batting in this and hand quilted it,
it's soft and snuggly and big enough to wrap around you.

I just know that it is going to be loved in it's new home!!!
I can't wait to hear what the new family thinks.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Love wins: xox

Last weekend we watched Forest Gump with Reuben
(don't worry we fast forwarded past the naughty parts)
it's a classic and we knew he would like it.

But I was struck by a piece in the movie where Jenny visits her
former home where she was abused and starts throwing rocks at the house.

After a while she stops and starts crying, and then Forest says,

"Sometimes there are just not enough rocks".

I've been thinking about this all week,
because I'm sure we all have situations in our lives where there are 
just not enough rocks. Places of hurt that causes sadness in our heart.

In the movie, it wasn't until after Jenny died that Forest bulldozed down the house
but Jenny had moved on long before that,
she rose above all her struggles and left the past behind,
in the end, although she was scarred by it, it didn't define her.

She found unconditional love just for who she was,
she didn't need the rocks.

While I was thinking about this, a book arrived in the post,
it's called "Beyond Neutrals" by a John Adams,
and I adapted on of the patterns in it to make this xox quilt,
because love is actually enough,
not love for the past, but to love yourself enough to accept you are who you are.

(by the way for quilty types, John's book is awesome,
with great patterns that even I could follow)

It was quite hard to photograph this quilt because it's mid winter here
and the light is terrible!! But I'm going to quilt it with a warm backing
and it will be a great reminder that, love wins!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Confession: I am not talented

It's true. I am naturally good at things like eating chocolate and giving hugs.
I'm proficient at lying in bed and reading,
but there isn't much that I'm actually naturally talented at.


I really love practicing.
If there is something I want to be able to do,
I'm happy to practice and practice and practice.


I'm perfectly happy to make results of my practicing into things that people can use.
To be sure, I hope no one will look too closely,
and I hope they tuck their judgey spectacles away while they look,
but on the whole, all of the things I practice making get used.

I was not naturally talented at sewing, or piecing quilts
or quilting them. But I practice and practice and practice.
Just like when I started blogging in 2005,
I was terrible at writing and taking photos
but I've practiced and practiced and practiced
and now I'm ok.

It doesn't mean I always find it fun,
in fact practicing something can be as frustrating as can be,
but eventually it gets easier and the results get better
and that is very satisfying. 

This is the first proper quilt I've quilted on my Juki Swiftquilter
and it's as wonky as can be. But it's a nice big snuggly quilt
and if you overlook it's quilting quirks,
it will keep you warm on a cold night.

And I'll keep practicing and practicing and gradually get better!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Searching for hope...

It seems the world is filled with terrible tragedies at the moment and
I doubt that many of us understand exactly why these wars are being fought
and even if we did, we are powerless to do anything about it.
I wanted to acknowledge in this space that the world is a sad place to be,
and it is ok to feel puzzled and frightened by the sad events around the globe.

This afternoon the children and I went into town with this quilt I have just finished.
We hung it on the fence where the door of the school used to be that Chrissy and James
attended up until the earthquakes took it all away.

These days my Twitter feed in the mornings is filled with stories of 
families being bombed in their homes and safe places
and it makes me angry that human beings will do this to each other.

Here in Christchurch we spent months and months
being shaken in our beds and as we lived our lives thousands of earthquakes,
and we know what it is like to live in a city where every single person is exhausted and sleep deprived.

It breaks my heart that people will inflict that on each other,
that their problems are so huge, that they feel the only way to deal with them is with
rockets and heavy artillery.

Even though we haven't lived through a war,
I know what effects long term stress and fear has on children;
and I wish with all my heart that this was not happening to children around the globe.

When I was thinking about writing this post,
I remembered that my friend Kate had also written a post about these things,

Kate says how we have no answers to these questions,
and there is nothing we can do to fix them.

Last semester I wrote an essay about the future of Sociology
in which I argued that we must have hope for a future for humanity.
I wrote that as humans we are designed to be part of something bigger than ourselves,
and as history tells us that we have adapted to change,
to believe humanity will keep changing, enabling us to live with hope and a future.

In the meantime. all I can do is love my family, love my neighbours,
look after my friends, pray for peace in the world today;
and maybe brighten the spaces I live in with colourful quilts!

I'm going to hold on to hope that humans can find a way
to live at peace with each other.