my life in the land down under


Postage Stamp Quilt Swap 2013: #1

In my last post I talked about building up my stash of quilting fabrics, so I could participate in the Postage Stamp Quilt Swap taking place this month.

I’m going to be using 2 1/2″ squares, and had just begun cutting when I thought I should re-check the instructions for the swap, just to make sure I was doing everything right. I came across this info on pre-washing… oh no, just as well I had only cut a few squares so far. I would really hate for someone on the other side of the world to sew my squares into their PSQ, and have them shrink or the colour run and ruin their quilt!! 😦

So I started again and hand-washed all the fabric I’d acquired recently, in several batches, around my work hours and other commitments. Its autumn here but we’re still having summer temps – mid-twenties C – so the fabric dried quickly. Then it was off to the ironing board, trim off the frayed bits and back to the cutting table – currently set up on the dining table to be more sociable – here’s hoping we don’t decide to invite people over for a meal this week. (Yes, we did – sorry Bryce!)


Pre-washed fabric drying




On the cutting table


Some of the resulting 2 1/2″ squares

Have to go now, I have lots more squares to cut! 🙂



Stash Building

Mid-February, this announcement of an upcoming Postage Stamp Quilt Swap made me think seriously about acquiring some more fabric so I could participate. You can only do the newbie thing once and that was me in October last year; this time around I wanted to do a proper swap – but to do that I needed to have some ‘stash’ to share.

In late February we spent a few days in Napier, where I gained some inspiration from John’s sister Joan who is a quilter, and browsed two quilt shops she recommended: JJ’s Crafts in Greenmeadows and Patch & Quilt at Riverside Winery, Puketapu. Patch & Quilt was first on our list, and when we got there John decided to set up a folding chair under some shady trees in the parking area and work on his i-Pad, telling me to take my time and buy / spend whatever I liked – dangerous talk! Rachel at Patch & Quilt was amused when I told her, and tried to sell me a new sewing machine, but I resisted the temptation and only bought fabric. When I reappeared outside after more than an hour, John’s response was ‘You spent what?!’ Tongue-in-cheek of course, as I’d been quite restrained! Well I thought so anyway. 😉


Fat eighths and tenths (?) from Patch and Quilt


Tenths in blue


Pretty patterns


Eighths in red and brown


Multicoloured eighths


Eighths in green


Eighths in brown


Last but not least – eighths in pink, yellow, green & blue

Then we headed to JJ’s and I found more to my liking, picking up several colourful fat quarters.


Fat quarters from JJ’s

After we got home from Napier I visited the local Spotlight store, looking for novelty fabrics for another project (more to come on this later).


Novelty prints from Spotlight

Joan had already started my collection of novelties by donating these bits from her stash.


Novelty prints from Joan

When I’m free on Tuesday mornings, I’ve been going along to a ladies patchwork group that a friend from camera club invited me to. Last week they had arranged an outing to visit some quilt shops in our area. We started at Village Fabrics, Te Puna, where I did my beginner’s quilting class last year, then moved on to Patches & Cream in Paeroa and had lunch at the Courtyard Cafe. Then we headed back by way of Cushlas Village Fabrics in Waihi and Katipatch in Katikati, finishing at Te Puna and then home. I was still keeping my eyes open for novelty fabrics as I wanted around 60-80 different ones, but also had the PSQ swap in mind. Every shop had different goodies on display so it wasn’t difficult to spend some money in each!


Fat quarters from Patches and Cream


Fat quarters from Cushlas Village Fabrics


Fabrics from Katipatch (0.3m each)


Novelty fabrics and probable border from Village Fabrics

This was more than enough to be going on with. John’s comment when I showed off my purchases – ‘You’re really good at picking colours. I wish you were as good at sewing!’ 😉

Watch this space…

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Last of the Treasures

The last of three ‘newbie gifts’ from last year’s Postage Stamp Quilt swap arrived in the post a couple of days ago. These were from Irene, in the States; unfortunately the first ones she sent didn’t show up, so she kindly posted a second batch. I wondered if the others had been somehow caught up in the Christmas mail; I kept hoping they would arrive, but there’s been no sign of them yet!

Charm Squares Package

Charm squares package

Charm Squares #4

Charm squares #4

Thanks Irene for this colourful mix!

Now to decide where to go from here. A reasonable-sized quilt will need anywhere from 1000-4000 x 2.5″ squares – see here for approximate figures. So far I have about 200…

Older treasures:

Treasures in the Post

Treasures from Around the World


Looking Back / Looking Ahead

Its that time again, when we tend to look back at what’s happened over the past year, and look forward to what the new year has in store for us.

I’ve appreciated reading other’s summaries of the high & low points of their year, so I thought I’d write a list of my own. Rather than letting the year fade into obscurity it would be good to remember and appreciate what 2012 held for me (or alternatively, be glad its over! though thankfully not too much of that). Some of these I’ve already written about in more detail, others may become blog posts in the future. Here follows a mix of good & bad:

Shared meals during the year with family, celebrating birthdays, Christmas and ‘just because’.

Missing other family members who live overseas, and appreciating the technology that enabled us to make a Skype call to some of them last week. It was a nice surprise for my parents, who didn’t know why we had invited them around!

The sad loss of my brother and sister-in-law’s baby at two days old (Elijah had Trisomy 18).

Extended family (and non-family) dramas and confrontations that I could have done without. Hoping 2013 is a year relatively free of stress in this area, though realistically we expect some of it will continue well into the New Year. I just need to learn how to deal with it more calmly!

The occasional coffee outings with a supportive friend; very necessary at times to keep my sanity. 🙂 Looking forward to more of these in 2013.

Injuries of various kinds, which made us appreciate parts of our body we would normally take for granted (e.g. shoulders, toes!).

The privilege of holding my nephew’s hand as he went under anaesthetic for surgery on a fractured toe this week. Even though I’ve worked in paediatrics for a long time and in operating theatre for a year (way back), it’s quite a different feeling when your own family is involved. All went well and he’s back home now.

The children’s ward where I work moved to a new environment mid-year; hopefully the last move for some time.

I joined a beginners’ quilting class back in May and started to make my first quilt, then attended a couple of quilt shows and had my eyes opened to the amazing creativity, variety of patterns and colour combinations out there. Later in the year I learned what a Postage Stamp Quilt was and participated in my first swap as a newbie – see Treasures in the Post and Treasures from Around the World. Progress on the Made with Love quilt has come to a standstill recently, but I plan to have a more positive report soon.

In May I also started this blog and have since ‘met’ other bloggers from around the world with shared interests. I have enjoyed their humour and been inspired and encouraged. Thanks to all who have read my posts over the year, liked, commented and followed. You are much appreciated!

We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in September.

Around the same time I joined a Christian women’s book group and read ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Anne Voskamp; although I missed a few of the meetings I did finish the book and highly recommend it. I look forward to seeing what’s on the agenda for the group this year.

Early in the year I changed from a PC to a Mac computer, and felt as though I was learning a new language for a few months!

I learned how to use the movie capability on my Nikon D7000, and the Mac programme ‘Fotomagico’ for the first time to put together a fusion audiovisual (digital photo slideshow with music and video incorporated). Christmas in July has some of the images I used in the AV and gives the background story.

Over the year we have photographed hair models and family portraits, and learned more about drawing out shy children in front of the camera.

In early November, I attended a photographic convention out-of-town with friends from camera club, which meant being away from home for four days without my ‘other half’. The convention was great, but I missed him!

A Garden & Art Festival was held here in mid-November. Thanks to friends I received a free ticket for one of the days; we visited some beautiful gardens to which I did not do justice with my camera.

I resigned from the position of webmaster for our camera club website, after 11 years; the End of an Era.

I also decided not to renew my subscription to a B&W photography magazine after almost as many years. This doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in B&W photography, just that I have quite a number of unread magazines and it seemed silly to keep buying them when I wasn’t keeping up!

My darling (he suggested I call him this rather than the impersonal ‘other half’) recently introduced me to the brain training website ‘Lumosity’ as an attempt to keep us young and sharp. Challenging but great fun. 🙂

With some help from a friend, we survived a swarm of bees which made their home in the wall of our house; see Bees in my Bonnet and Fake Rain.

Last but not least, we successfully raised and released a grand total of 128 monarch butterflies from caterpillar stage in November / December. I celebrated the 100th with this post. Our swan plant is slowly recovering and the next batch of caterpillars are growing up, but we’ve shut down the ‘nursery’ for now. I love seeing butterflies flying around the garden. 🙂


So goodbye 2012, welcome 2013.

Happy New Year everyone!

What’s on your list? I’d love to know! 🙂


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Treasures from Around the World

More ‘charm squares’ for a future postage stamp quilt (PSQ) project have arrived in the post this month (see Treasures in the Post). These are the first two of the three newbie gifts I have the pleasure of receiving. 🙂

Firstly from Nina in Sweden:

Charm squares & stamps

Charm squares #2

I have collected stamps in the past, and my Mum still does, so I was excited to see these on the package. Thanks Nina!

Then from Astrid in Mauritius:

Charm squares #3

This one surprised me by arriving much more quickly than expected.

There are a great variety of colours & patterns, and both packages came with friendly notes enclosed. Thanks ladies for your generosity!