My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Moving in to the new studio

Last week saw us move our son into his new bedroom, which means his old bedroom was now free to become my studio.

(happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!)

The first order of the day was moving all my fabric into the cupboard.  The fabric had been living in cardboard boxes on the floor of our bedroom.  Not convenient to use, nor convenient to walk around.


Just that one little job made a huge difference to the usability of the house and to how much I loved the new room!  Seeing all my pretties nicely loaded up on clean white shelves was such a great feeling, immediately inspiring and I kept seeing intriguing colour combinations that I hadn't noticed before.

But there was no time to start playing with fabric!  I had to get the design walls up.  They had also been resident in my bedroom, just leaning against the wall, in the way, with the annoying habit of falling on me in the middle of the night.  Hubby helped out a little here.


I unpacked my HQ Sweet Sixteen and was very relieved that after a year in storage, she still purred - that is once I put the needle in the right way around....!


I've set up my Bernina 440 and the Sweet Sixteen in front of the windows with a work table in between, so I'll have plenty of light for working during the day.  And if it gets too bright, the curtains seperate so I can pull them to exactly where I need them.  I have to have my cutting mat and ironing pad on that worktable for now, which is not the best height, but workable, and there is a little storage underneath.


The wall opposite the windows was the only big full wall, so that's where the design wall had to go, and I wanted my design wall big.  I've never, ever regretted a large design space and in my opinion the bigger the better.  It gets plenty of light for viewing quilts, and for taking photographs too.

I have a set of drawers set up under the pre-existing shelf and tools hanging from under the shelf.  Eventually I'd like to have a bigger set of drawers here, wider and slightly longer and at bench height.  It would have my cutting mat set up on it at perfect cutting level.


In the picture below I'm standing in the doorway to the room.  Behind the open door is another door that leads into our bedroom.  It's a leftover from when this sewing room was a porch, and we never open it.  We have plans to take it out and build a recessed book shelf where it is, so that will help with storage.


I was all set up and ready to sew this weekend just been.  Conveniently it rained, so I had the perfect excuse to test out my setup the WHOLE weekend.  And I'm very, very happy.  I need a better sewing chair, preferably with wheels that can swap from machine to machine and then everything will be perfect!  Happy sigh.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Best Business Cards Ever!

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know I don't do a lot of plugging of products.  I don't advertise to make money and I don't do a lot of sponsorship posts, but occasionally I like something so much, I'll recommend it, which is what I'm doing today.  And I'm not getting paid for this - although if you follow my links to MOO, you get a discount on your first order and I get a credit towards my next.

I was having a conversation with an exhibition-goer during The Great NZ Quilt Show, about quilts, art, paint, dyes, all the good things, and I lamented that I left my business cards in my car so I couldn't give her one.  She replied that she doesn't really do business cards because people throw them away.  I had to respectfully disagree!  She obviously hadn't come across MOO cards yet.


MOO has been my business card provider for a while now and they are so good that sometimes people ask if they can take two!  So with that thought in mind, I thought I'd pass on their details so you too can have awesome business cards.  My quilty friend Mathea gave me their info a few years ago, so it's only fair to keep passing it forward.

So why are they so good?  What's their point of difference?

It's the photographs.

I can put photographs on the back of the cards.  And I can add up to 50 different pictures!  Of course I use photographs of my quilts, usually cropped details, and the colour and images really attract attention.  People often sort through to pick their favourite quilt and I can use them as discussion points for different techniques etc.  They are the perfect business card for artists.


MOO cards are truly luxurious.  They are made of a good thick card and come in cool boxes that provide protection while they are in your hand bag, but also double as display boxes.


They are not super cheap, but they also don't feel cheap.  They have options that you can use to really beef up the quality and interest factor - round corners, square cards, extra thick card, cotton rag paper, foil highlights, mini cards...

Plus they are fast!  They come from Australia, so we are dealing with the postal service, but as for the printing, my last order took less than 12 hours from ordering till printing (they send update emails.)

Have I convinced you?

You can also order cute sticker books!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Christchurch

Most of you will have heard about the sickening attack on two Christchurch Mosque's last Friday.  It has been a sobering week since.  My first reaction was shock - that sort of thing doesn't happen in NZ!  Then anger - who the hell has the right to do that to others?  Grief - for the families, imagining myself in their shoes. And a myriad of other emotions.

Then I began doing a little more thinking and a little more reading.  One of the most popular hashtags around this event is #thisisnotwhoweare, or words similar, with the meaning that this isn't who New Zealand is, we are inclusive, we aren't racist or religionist or any other 'ist'.  Except I've come to the sad realisation that this IS New Zealand.  There is subtle and not-so-subtle racism and exclusion around us everyday.  I tend to be non-confrontational and non-engaging with it, but by doing that and not calling this behaviour out, I'm starting to wonder if I'm letting those attitudes grow and actually contributing to it?
"I have been getting more and more angry since Friday at the centering of Pakeha (White NZ Europeans) in their response to the murder of Muslims in the #christchurchterroristattack.
For all those horrified at the 'off shore' white supremacy coming to NZ, please take the time to check your privilege at being able to ignore the white supremacy that exists all around us in this country.
Muslims and people of colour see it everyday.
NZ was colonised by White Supremacists. And the legacy of this continues in our institutions and way of life. We accept this in the casual racism, jokes, opinion pieces by prominent racists such as Mike Hosking and the abhorrent Don Brash. For how many years was 'controversial' Paul Henry at the helm of the 7 o'clock evening show? We turn a blind eye at the Duncan Garners of the breakfast and talk back shows. Please take the time to look at the pyramid below. Think about your role in turning a blind eye to the racism and white supremacy around us. Actively think about how you can be an effective ally to Muslims and people of colour in NZ. Question your #whitefragility. Why you feel defensive about this. Why you are distancing yourself from what has happened, as if it is a foreign concept in this loving country. Who is this country loving to, exactly?
If you feel affronted by my words, instead of getting angry, dig deep and question why.
Here are some good resources, some of which I've used to further my understanding. • Book – White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DeAngelo https://bit.ly/2Hp49LV • Free workbook – Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad https://www.meandwhitesupremacybook.com/book • Podcast – Good Ancestor podcast by Layla F. Saad • Instagram (and Google them for their other platforms – many may be here on Facebook) – Layla F Saad, Erika Heart, Laura O'Connel Rapira, Rachel Cargle, Sonya Renee Taylor, Glennon Doyle, Shaun King, The Aunties (Twitter), No White Saviours. 
And lastly, this is not about Christchurch.this is not about you. This is not about the gunman. This is about the people who were killed because of their difference, because of their religion."
The above Instagram post by Shelly from @justonemorerow made me think very deeply about my country and myself.  And then I began to see more and more articles about casual racism, white privilege and it really began to sink in.  The saying 'white silence is violence' began to echo in my mind.

Here is the image Shelly provided with her post:


So. I intend to work my way through the resources Shelly provided and see where I end up. And I'm beginning with the 'Me and White Supremacy' workbook by Layla F. Saad.  Shelly suggests that if you use the book, the right thing to do would be to help Layla with her work by donating, and there is a link on her page to do that.

Shelly has also given me a link to a podcast by Robin DeAngelo, which is apparently very good.  It's on my to-listen-to list next time I have some quiet time and room to think.
https://www.wheelercentre.com/broadcasts/podcasts/the-wheeler-centre/robin-diangelo-white-fragility

Thank you Shelly.

💚

The other issue I've been having is how to discuss these events with my children.  We have been talking a lot about how we need to be accepting of everyone no matter how different they are to us and I think that's a good start.  They also want desperately to help, to try and make things better for those affected.  So to try and lessen their feelings of helplessness, to give them something physical to do, we joined in the healing hearts program that has been started, and each of us made a heart quilt block.


These will be put together into quilts to give to the victims and their families to show our love and support.  If you want to know more about this project and how to get involved, head to:


This is the post on the Angels in Gumboots facebook page that outlines everything and should answer any questions you have.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Great NZ Quilt Show 2019

Phew!  Aotearoa Quilters once again put on an awesome event.  The Great NZ Quilt Show was held in Rotorua, and I had the opportunity to attend all three days, both viewing the lovelies and helping out.

I helped out at the door, selling tickets; as a white glove lady, showing people the backs and closeup details of the quilts; and on the AQ stand selling raffle tickets and templates for the new colour challenge that AQ unveiled at their breakfast (silver and hexagon shape btw.)

I also got to help out of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) stand, which AQ generously let us have set up to inform everyone of what SAQA was and hopefully attract a few new members.  And I think we signed up at least five!

All of those helper jobs let me blab away about quilts and techniques and colour and all the things I'm passionate about, so they are not really jobs, I love doing them!

But I know you don't really want to hear about my croaky voice from talking too much, you want to see pictures!  So here goes.  These aren't all the prizewinners, they will be up on the Aotearoa Quilters website shortly, but they are quilts that caught my eye for some reason or another, and, since I love talking about quilts so much, I'll be giving you a rundown on exactly why they caught my eye.


These three quilts were part of the NZ Through Our Eyes challenge display.  I'm excited to report that all quilts submitted for this challenge are travelling to Canada for the Ailsa Craig Quilt and Fibre Art Festival in May.  The top quilt is mine, titled Subantarctic, the middle is by Lorraine Holmes, Braided River - Raikaia and the bottom quilt by Shirley Sparks, Hinemoa.  I liked how these three quilts looked together and I appreciated how, throughout the whole show, the quilts had been hung sympathetically so that they worked as a whole display as well as showcasing individuals.


Another NZ Thru Our Eyes quilt, only 8" x 8".  Look at that glorious colour scheme!  And the detailed hand stitching gives a wonderful texture to the background without distracting from the subject.


Here was another pleasing collection from the NZ Thru Our Eyes.  Anne Groufsky made Christchurch Window 1 and 2 on the left and Margaret Rogerson with Layers on the right.  The windows particularly caught my eye, beautifully composed and with interesting colour schemes, the stitching was such an important element in bringing them to life.


At first glance I thought these three must have been made by the same person because they looked so good together.  But no, from left to right: Rae van't Hof, Weatherboard Gothic; Donna Cumming, A Maori Paddle; and Lorna Newsome, Aotearoa - Land of the Long White Cloud.

The church reminds me of the small country churches we have dotted around the countryside and one in particular that I pass on the way to work.  I'm a sucker for clean lines and symmetry and both the church and paddle exhbit this in spades.  The button NZ is very clever, for at first glance this seems simple, but Lorna has managed the shape almost exactly, which I can imagine is much harder than it looks.


Mary Jane Sneyd.  Me and My Sisters. What gorgeous painterly work!  And it's not photos on fabric, this is applique at it's finest.  My phone tried to insist that I tag a few of the woman as it was sure it recognised them!


Here's another by Lorna Newsome, titled Swan and Rush.  As I said, I'm a sucker for symmetry.  I also appreciate the slightly unusual treatment of the subject matter - no lifelike stitch painted birds, or dreamy romantic perfect swan on pond applique, but an interesting arts and craft style rendering.


Timeless by Shirley Sparks.  I really enjoyed the painterly quality of this quilt.  The hexagon is a timeless shape in quilting, but this is quite a different treatment of them.


NZ Bush Walk - Please Stay on the Track, by Valda Sutton.  Valda has been working with the circular format for a while and I'm pleased to see her stick with it and hope she continues to push it to see what else she can do with it.  This was laid out on a plinth in the middle of the show and it was a good counterpoint to have something horizontal to balance all the vertical quilts.  I wasn't able to get directly above it for a perfectly circular shot.


La Passacaglia by Maggie Bentley.  La Passacaglia quilts aren't anything new anymore, but this one has a particularly pleasing difference with colour scheme.  And I immediately thought of my quilting buddy, Jane, who the colours may appeal to.


Anna Williams, Catch a Falling Star.  Lovely piecing with silks, lovely quilting, lovely flow across the top, just an all round lovely quilt.


Whytangi by Merrilyn George.  I listened to some viewers comment that it seemed very somber and why hadn't she made it more cheerful?  I took the time to ask if they'd read the artist's statement, which commented that this treatment of the poppy, a symbol for our ANZACs (returned servicemen), may more accurately depict the effects of war.  So for me, the quilt was poignant rather than somber.


Exotic Wildflowers by Mary Metcalf.  I had to take a detail shot of this so you could delight in all the colours and details as I did.  So fun!



Peace by Piece. By Lois Parish Evans.  I see a theme of symmetry happening!  An interesting quilt with beautiful workmanship.  There are clever shading details on the white lillies, which take them from being white shapes to lovely curved flowers.


Jean McLean with Lava Flow.  Stunning use of colours and the section below imitated the way lava cracks as it cools and you can still see the red glowing under the crust.  Jean won best of show with another of her applique quilts, she has a real talent for it.


I adored the colours in this quilt, Southern Abstraction by Rachel Ratten.  Rachel said the colours of the wild South were her inspiration, and I can totally relate from my recent trip around the South Island.  The turquoise of Lake Tekapo, the purples and pinks of the lupins, the tussocks, the blue and purple of the mountains in the distance....


And another quilt that firmly reflected my memories of the South Island.  Lindis Pass by Rae van't Hof was a small delight.


My Mother was Dutch and this quilt called A Piece of Holland by Ann Gregory was just a beautiful reminder of her.  Such a peaceful, beautiful and cohesive quilt, no wonder it won first place in the large category.


My favourite piece in whole show.  "As man disappears from sight, the land remains".  Merrilyn George has such a strong sense of place that comes across in her landscape quilts.  And I adore these colours.  Whenever I drive through the central North Island, I see Merrilyn's quilts everywhere I look.    And this one has a sobering message too.  Closeup below.



And last but not least, Kaleidoscope by Mary Metcalf.  Perhaps another in my symmetry collection?!  I love this play with how one block can look so different when made out of different colours.  The change in scale and the half blocks lift the level of interest nicely.

So that's it from my photo roll.  There was plenty more to see, great merchants and other attractions like the daily judges talks and the guest speaker, Linda Werner, who was very interesting.  Next time the Great NZ Quilt Show comes around, I urge you to come along and see for yourself!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Studio Planning (again)

We've been living off-boat/on-shore for about a year now and about nine months in this particular house.  I'm feeling well settled, in fact, it's starting to feel too small.  I'm resigned to the fact that however large a space we have to live in, we'll soon fill it, so it's probably best that we stick to fairly small abodes!

This house is only 90 square metres (970 square foot) and it only has three bedrooms and one bathroom.  It does have three metre wide decks on three sides of the house, so that has given us more 'living' space, but we knew we would be looking at expanding the house as soon as we could.

One of the reasons to extend is to give me an area to sew in.  Hubby promised a dedicated space when we moved out of the apartment and into here - it was one of my conditions for settling for a smaller place.  In the meantime, I've been squeezing into the corners:

My machine takes up one corner of the living room
And using the hall as my storage space:


The funny coloured square on the wall used to be a window.  It's in the process of being filled in because we've been extending the house on the other side, and eventually there will be a big floor to ceiling cupboard on this side.

We've (well, really it's been newly retired Hubby doing all the work with executive design decisions by me) filled in one of the decks on the side of the house and have created a fourth bedroom, another w.c and a new entrance way.

The new entrance looking right through the new bedroom to the other side of the house.

I'm looking out from what used to be my front door to the new entrance way and the new w.c.

And the new bedroom, awaiting paint and flooring.
It was finished just enough and just in time to install my sister, brother in law and nephew who are visiting for a couple of weeks.  And now that they are just about to head home, we are gearing up for another push to get it all finished.  That means plastering the ceilings, painting, flooring, plumbing up the loo and then installing my son in the new bedroom.

Which gets me to the point of this post.  I get to takeover his old bedroom for my studio, which means I get to plan my studio layout!

This messy bedroom will be my new space. I didn't clean up, I'm sure you all know what teenage boy's rooms are like!


It's 2.25 metres wide and 4.2 metres long. The windows run the whole length of the front wall, so two whole walls are taken up with glass - good for light, but not great for storage solutions.  And in here, I want to fit my: 
  • HQ Sweet Sixteen machine and table, 
  • my Bernina 440 on my Sew-ezi table, 
  • a big wardrobe type cupboard for fabric, 
  • a cutting surface, an ironing surface 
  • and a design wall.  
Hmmmmm, time to get planning.