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!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crafty Christmas Camping

This is what I'm taking camping.  A spindle, roving, knitting needles, yarn and my hand cranked sewing machine.  And my Mother in Law is taking her spinning wheel (which she hasn't used for a looooong time and is hoping she remembers how).

We are going to have a crafty Christmas.  I want to learn how to spin and the kid have been fascinated by it too so hopefully they'll show more than a passing interest.

Then there is knitting.  I've been holding off learning because the last thing I need is a yarn stash and more WIP's.  But I can't hold off any longer, this is the year!

I'll let you know when I come back whether our experiments were successful.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hand Dyed Thread Lusciousness

These are the hanks of thread I've been dyeing.  

I want to eat them!

(Maybe Suz was right when she left a comment saying they looked like shrivelled Asian delicacies)

They are a beautiful silk cotton blend thread, almost the weight of perle cotton. 

I received a huge hank because that's how they sell it and I started to wind off 10 metre lengths.  Well that lasted for about five minutes - I could see a huge tangle starting.

It turns out you need the proper skein winding tools for that job.  So (gasp in horror if you like) I cut the hank in half and then I can pull out 1.3 metre threads.  I take out 10 at a time and knot them into a bundle and dye them like that.

So, so beautiful.  I can't decide which is my favourite.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Out my back door

The view out the back door of my studio has been captivating me lately.  Particularly in the evenings. I guess this is the first summer I've had the studio (is it?  I have no memory for dates) and the views can be absolutely gorgeous.

And who's that at the neighbours having a beer and a man gossip?  Watch out Hubby, I got a pretty good zoom!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stressfully squeezing in some fabric dyeing

Hand dyed fabrics, silk habotai on the top and cotton sheeting from the pink down.  And my cute little storage bucket.  I feel a few more of these might just have to be made...perhaps in graduating sizes?
So I managed to get the little fabric buckets (because that's what they were if you were trying to guess) finished in the nick of time for the kids to take off to school in the morning.  

I had chosen the highly patterned fabric for mine, but of course that's the the one BOTH children wanted.  I got the orange hatch mark fabric in the end.  

The outside is made of a heavy linen and the contrast fabric is on the bottom of the bucket as well.

  Suz asked why there were three?  Because my daughter had a new graduate teacher this year and so had an older teacher helping out every week = two presents to stress me out!

Holiday prep is kicking my butt.  That's why you got the terrible iPad photo and post the other day.  I feel like I'm a wee bit stretched.  But it's really my own making.  Why on earth I would try and fit a little bit of fabric and thread dyeing in when I have a to-do list that just squeezes onto an A4 sheet of paper, I just don't know.  

But today was the first day of school holidays for the kids and I'm on annual leave for the next couple of weeks so that's making it easier.  

All the presents that had overseas destinations have been organised and I'm well started on packing for our annual camping trip.  

I've been a bit of a grinch and said no to a lot of Christmas functions and that's helped ease the load too.  Why do we feel the need to go to party after party after party?  I could go to at least three work related do's if I so felt the need!  But being the bosses wife, I do have to make an appearance at Hubby's work BBQ tomorrow - I'll put my non-grinch face on and fake it!

I hope to be back with a few more posts, but if I'm not Merry Christmas or happy whatever-you-happen-to-celebrate and keep it safe, people.  I want to see you all back in 2014!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last minute...


So tomorrow is the last day of school.  Can you guess what I'm doing?  It's 8pm and I'm attempting to make three teacher gifts before the morning.  The fourth fabric choice is one for me...if I'm going to all this effort then I'm blimmin' well going to make one for me too!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

'Bin Quiltin'

I've been spending a bit of time with quilts under my sewing machine needle lately.

I want to get this one finished for our club exhibition in January.

This one is done and just needs a hanging sleeve and label.

I'm binding this one ready for donation to the maternity unit.

And binding this one too.  It's a table runner made as a sample for a set of beginner classes I'm going to run next year.  Know anyone who wants to learn basic patchwork and quilting in the Bay of Islands?  My email address is lottiemscott at yahoo dot com!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Frogs in the Pond

It's raining today, and it rained yesterday.  Good rain, the heavy saturating sort, the sort we need.  Our water tank is full, I can hear the creek running from the house, the ducks are happy and the sheep are stoic.

I went up to check the pond when there was a little break in the weather.  I took my camera because I could hear a chorus.  And sure enough, I could see three of these guys hanging out in the water.

Can you see him?  He's a green or golden bell frog.  Introduced from Australia.  I'm happy to have them around - they are a good indicator as they find sprays and chemicals very toxic.

I wandered around for a bit, fed the chooks (collected MORE eggs, groan, time to give some away) and then it started to rain again.  So it's an inside day for me today - I might go quilt ;)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Last night I made an eggy pie that had 15 eggs in it.  Today I made a Christmas cake (my second one) that had 10 eggs in it.  I made pikelets - one egg, apple pudding - another egg and when I open the cupboard this is what I have left.  Cripes.  I'm off to boil some eggs for lunches, make an egg custard and generally just drown myself in eggs....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Freezer paper masks are your friend

Whoever invented freezer paper needs a medal.  And whoever discovered that freezer paper sticks to fabric when ironed and then peels off easily with no residue needs a REALLY BIG medal.

I wanted to carry on with my coloured pencil Tui experiment and had decided to paint the background.  But how to get there?

Well, here's an 'almost finished product' picture.  Next I need to work on the branch that the Tui is perching on.

First off, I placed my freezer paper shiny side down over my Tui and carefully traced the outline.

It's taped up on my window.  I have got an insert for my SewEzi table to turn it into a light box but  for a quick job it's just easier to use the window.

Then I cut carefully around this outline.  Use small, sharp, point-tipped scissors and take your time.  Once I was done cutting, I ironed it over my Tui until it was very firmly adhered.

And then you can paint over the top.  Easy!  

Just a couple of tips.  Don't dilute your paint too much or it will run under the paper.  Paint in strokes away from the freezer paper - if you paint towards it you risk lifting the edge.  It's better to wait till the paint is dry before peeling the paper off, but if you are impatient you can, just be careful!  And you can stamp, mono print, do whatever you like really.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Further Feathers

After my last post with my feather quilts, my good friend Suz pointed me in the direction of Michele Hill's blog and this post:

It's a post about a textile art exhibition that was held in Michele's town and it includes some beautiful feather quilts by quilt artist Julie Haddrick.

So then I went to the google machine and typed in 'feather quilt'.
Feather Bed Quilt

Look what I found!  This is a quilt kit sold by Anna Marie Horner and you can buy it here.

I obviously live with my head under a rock because there were HEAPS of these feather quilts floating round the interwebbies.  Beautiful, and each version was a little different in it's own way.

Of course I found lots of images of feather free motion quilting and feather duvets (mmm, snuggly), and some lovely bedding with peacock feathers all over it.

Logan & Mason YOLANDA Charcoal Peacock Feather~Quilt Doona Cover Set~QUEEN, KING

There was this beautiful circa 1860 antique quilt for sale at an interesting site called 1stdibs.  I got lost there for a while in the beautiful antique quilts...go look and wonder at the skills of our foremothers.

Red and White Applique Quilt
Feather Mini Quilt_Feather quilting_Modern Applique

And then there was this little beauty from

I believe Amira made it for a mini quilt challenge.  Isn't it a cutie?  She has a nice blog, so hop on over and have a look.

Then, oh my, I found The Magic Feather Project.  Jude Hill started stitching feathers and many people sent there own little stitched feathers to her as a collective stitching project for creative sharing and giving.  She intended to try and put them together for use as a charity project.

504-506 kristin

There is a set of photographs of the feathers on Flikr.  Click here to go and view them, please go, they are SO beautiful.  They are mostly embroidered.  I think I could actually contemplate embroidery if mine ended up looking like these.

And for those who foundation piece (by the way I bow down to you in homage), there is this (scarily intimidating for me) feather block pattern.

Designed by Shape Moth who has a list of jaw-dropping paper pieced patterns that if you are into them, you need to check them out.  She also has tutorials and free patterns on her blog too.

So it seems I'm not the only one who likes feathers...just thought you should know!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Drawing and Quilting Birds - my feather fetish (let's see how many hits I get from that title!)

I've put down the UFO's for a little while and I'm working on a few new projects.  I've been mulling over thoughts for a while and then it's like they all collide and I'm away again, inspired and enthusiastic!

This swallow quilt is a what I'm working on today.  It's going to end up as 12" by 12" and will probably be an entry into the BLUE challenge that is being run by Aotearoa Quilters.  You can read more about it here.  It's open to non-members too, so go have a read.

This is a two layered quilt, with a cotton broadcloth base and a silk organza overlay.  I've mono-printed both layers, with a freezer paper mask in place over the swallows.  I've then painted the swallow on the top layer and worked them in coloured pencil on the base layer.

My coloured pencil work is a follow on from this experiment I did the other day.  I worked the Tui (a native New Zealand bird, pictured here puffed up in full song) from a photograph taken by my talented cousin.  You can see his work here on Flikr, he's dazzla65 - go check him out, he's amazing!

The top photo shows the 'before' version, before I painted over the coloured pencil with fabric medium.  It worked so well that I can't wait to use the technique in more quilts.  

This feather piece measures about 20" by 30" and it's work towards a challenge run by the Auckland Quilt Club.  It has a spine now, which makes it look better and now I'm debating on how to do the quilting.

I tried out some quilting ideas on this little piece.  The feather was drawn using Neocolor water-soluble pastels then painted over with fabric medium.  I've trimmed and bound it now and even added a label and hanging sleeve (I usually procrastinate over those tasks!) and it's another contender for entering into the 12 x 12 BLUE exhibition.

So can you see the theme?  I'm guessing I like birds....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blog worthy recipe

Although I shouldn't really say a recipe, more of a food experiment.

The kids asked if we could make cheese.

Umm, No.  Cheese making is not that simple.

But I told them we could make a soft cheese.  So we did.

And then I wondered what to do with all that soft cheese. 

This is what I came up with and it is so good!

  1. Make a batch of creamy yoghurt in your yoghurt maker (or buy a litre - thick greek style is good).
  2. Line a sieve or strainer with cheese cloth (pour boiling water over it first) and place it over a bowl.
  3. Pour all your yoghurt (minus a few spoons the kids had for tasting purposes) into the sieve, place in fridge and let it drain overnight.  
  4. Discard the liquid (or you could probably use it for baking bread or something) and place your yoghurt - now soft cheese - into a mixing bowl.
  5. Melt about (I wasn't measuring) 100 grams of chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.
  6. Beat this into the soft cheese quickly.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a couple of spoons of sugar or honey to taste (I used milk chocolate so I didn't need much as it is already quite sweet.  With dark chocolate, you may need more).

We had a big dollop with fresh fruit and it was delicious.  I would also use it in place of a ganache or mousse or to add an extra 'wow' on top of a cheesecake or other dessert, like warm brownie.  It was velvety and rich but not cloying and not too chocolatey either.  Devine!

And just because it feels like Summer is truly here now, I'm leaving you with my favourite summer evening photo.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Show Day and Spinning

Last weekend was the Bay of Islands P and I Show.  Show days can be a big thing in rural areas.  Agricultural and pastoral shows or pastoral and industrial shows, whatever you want to call them, they are a chance for everyone to get together and socialise and show off their talents, whether that be cake making or calf rearing. 

Now that I have kids at school, I have two show days to prepare for.  The kid's school show day comes first, so nothing got entered into the town show this year.  But the kids are keen to enter some categories, so next year's town show week is shaping up to be a busy one.

Instead, we concentrated on the school show day.  I admit I had fun helping them with their vegetable models for the classroom display!  They also made pikelets, lego models, aqua jars and dressed up.

The town show (Bay of Islands P and I Show) was great fun too.  The kids wanted to ride everything, but we managed to narrow it down to the bouncy castles and then a mechanical bull ride for my son and a blow up floaty ball thingy for my daughter.

We sat and listed to local music, ate candy floss and admired the animals and crafts.  Then we came across the local creative fibre stall.

My kids were fascinated by the spinning wheel and wanted to learn how to do it.  Who knew?!  The woman who was spinning generously gave us some carded wool to take home and now the kids are pestering their Grandma (who happens to have a spinning wheel tucked away) to teach them how.  I also said I'd youtube how to make a drop spindle and we'd learn that too.  Me and my big mouth!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another UFO bites the dust

Sorry for the radio silence lately - my internet has been down - peaceful at first and then frustrating!

I've been thinking about my pile of UFO's or WIP's - yeah, I know, nothing new about that!  But I do want to whittle them down.  I was taking stock today and I saw this piece in the stack.

It's been taking up valuable real estate in my cupboard for several years.  I don't even know what it was intended to be.  Some sort of fractured/stained glass thingy that I had fused and then appliqu├ęd random patterns, not even around each edge so not very stable!

So I shoved it under my needle and quilted it in black thread around each piece of coloured fabric.  It gave it a sketchy look I liked and would help hold the fused bits of fabric down.

Then I found Catherine Parkinson's tutorial on making little pouches/purses out of practice quilts and followed the instructions.  Catherine is a New Zealand blogger who quilts and photographs and sketches and is well worth checking out.

There were a couple of things I did differently.  In step 8, you need to put your pieces right sides together - but you'd have figured the out anyway.

When you are stitching two layers together around the edges to then turn right sides out and you have to leave a gap to turn them through, I always mark when I have to stop stitching with a double pin.  It must be the way my brain works, but too many times I've kept on going right the way round the whole edge - doh!

I used a popper, or dome fastener instead of stitching on velcro - but that's personal choice.  They are easy to put in, you just need a cheap tool that you buy at the same time as the domes, a hammer, some brute force and a little bit of patience to line them up.

I ended up with two cute little purses.  The back one has been claimed for my rotary cutter and the front one will go in the 'to be gifts one day' stash.

Yay!  One UFO finished, one cute pouch for me, one gift for my gift stash and one happy quilter! (and one gap in my cupboard - does this mean I can start another project?)

I'll leave you with an image of what's happening outside my back door.  Tui feeding on flax flowers - so lovely to watch.