This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting and textile arts, a sprinkle of my family life and some of my thoughts and ponderings. We currently live aboard an old wooden 1945 Navy boat, called MV Cerego, so you'll find me writing about that too. Welcome aboard!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Getting There

I finally feel like I'm getting on top of moving house.  We were pretty spread out - things on the boat, things at my studio, a few things at my mother in law's house.  And to try and get all those things into one apartment took a lot of sorting, throwing out, donating and consolidating.

Slowly but surely things are coming together.  And they seem to happen one corner at a time.  Which is why I'm showing you my kitchen nook and not my studio.  Because although I'm starting to sew again (yay! it feels great) the studio corner not quite photoshoot ready, but the kitchen nook is close enough done.  Last night, hubby and I made and installed the shelf from some old rimu timber we found in the attic (don't worry, landlord was cool with it).  It's doing those little things that are making it into a place we can call home.

It's a rainy day outside.  Ex-cyclone Hola is making her appearance.

The building we are living in is a Heritage Listed building (you can check out a 1915 photograph of her here.)  Which is pretty neat and also means that it has slight oddities.  Like the funny shaped 'window' above my kettle.  The toaster and tea tins sit into a recessed cupboard and then there is a weird little triangle shaped hole above it.  The hole looks into the storage cupboard that we fondly call the man cave, because it's housing the man's tools etc.  But what is the window for?  It has no glass, it's just a hole.

In the photo above, you can see it at the far side when you're looking into the man cave.  Apologies for the 'in the raw' photo, but it's a storage cupboard, it's never going to look pretty!  The triangle shape is because of the roof.  We are living on the top floor and so have sloped ceilings at either side of the house.  These little oddities are making this move fun.  And I guess, in a way, making the transition from living in the boat, with all her weird and wonderful corners, to living in a conventional house again, a little easier.

If anyone is interested in the little town where I live, you can visit this website here.  It's put together by Julie, a local photographer, who can often be seen wandering the streets with her camera.  She has included local history as well as current images.  There are some great up to date photographs of the building I live in too.  

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another Small Step in Resparking my Making Mojo

One of the first things I did in my 'resparking my making mojo' journey was to sit down with a paper and pen for five minutes and brainstorm. I wanted to see if there was anything holding me back that was an easy fix.  There were plenty of 'headspace' things, like finding time and inclination, but sure enough, there was one easy thing that I could tackle without needing to rearrange my head.

I had been holding off getting the rest of my studio moved into the apartment because I wanted to clean the carpets.  That's it, that's all I had to do.  Because not having all my gear in one place made it easy to make excuses not to make art.  And that's a pretty easy fix - I just checked that the weather forecast for the next day (conveniently a Saturday) was good and made a plan to hire a carpet cleaning machine.  I also let everyone know on Instagram that I'd be doing that so I had some accountability. Thanks to Colleen in particular for keeping me honest!

Saturday came around, four hard hours of labour later and we were done.  That spurt of industry got me rolling and over the next two days I (we!) shifted all the remaining studio gear and got it all cleaned and beautiful, ready to advertise for a new tenant. Phew!

Anyone want to rent a flat?

Now I'm busy sorting my studio gear into some semblance of order and use ability in the new place, but it's amazing how that one simple brainstorm got me motivated. Because I found one thing holding me back that I knew how to fix and could fix relatively easily.  

But what next in my creativity jumpstart program? Viv had commented on my blog how her  'go-to' is her sketchbooks when in need of inspiration, and that comment made me think of my own sketchbooks.  

Sketchbooks are a wonderful tool. You can record those brilliant ideas you have in the middle of a project that you don't have time to work on right then and there, then come back to them later to see if they are as brilliant as you first thought. Just picking up my sketchbook and flicking through can inspire me.  

One of my !00 Days of Faces pages

So I sought out my sketchbooks and my sketchbook supplies while I was unpacking and I scheduled in a creative appointment with myself.  To avoid getting 'blank page fright', I used a sketchbook that was themed - the one I had used for my 100 days of faces work - so I already knew my topic.  I even went so far as to photocopy one of the previous faces I had drawn and use it as a basis for colouring and collage.  I wanted success, because success breeds success. I wanted to achieve a small goal (put together a pleasing sketchbook page) so that I would gain confidence, feel good, and want to do more.

I'm taking baby steps in this remotivation journey. And it feels good so far, it feels like I'll get there.  How about you?  What small goal could you set today to take a step in your creative journey?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

You'll have noticed that it's been a bit quiet around here lately.  In New Zealand, Christmas and New Year's coincide with summer and the summer school break, so the country sort of shuts down, or maybe slows down is a better description.  But in my case, it was definitely a full on shut down!

A week before Christmas saw me camping in a paddock with our extended family.  This is a bit of a tradition - it's been eight years now - and usually we hang out there for a couple of weeks, then head back home and back to work.  But this year, on New Year's Day, we left the paddock dwellers to their tents and my little family of four jumped in our 'Hippo' and embarked on a month long South Island trip.

The Hippo is a 4WD that we bought a few months before Christmas and spent some time decking out with a rooftop tent, awnings, storage and a camp kitchen. We intended to get off the beaten track so needed something a little more robust than a traditional campervan!

After a month of off road adventures we made it back home, but life didn't slow down. It was straight back into school for the kids and work for the grown ups.  For me, my work schedule increased dramatically when my husband's business required some extra admin help.  I found myself working there and doing my midwifery work without time to take a breath in between!

You'd think that was enough to keep us busy, but then we added another twist to the plot - we decided to move dwellings.  We have been contemplating moving off the boat for a little while for several reasons.  The kids are growing bigger and bigger and wanting friends over and needing room for projects and just generally needing more space; I was ready for a change - the tiny galley was always doing my head in; and we were all just ready to have the boat as a holiday vessel rather than our home.  But we hadn't found the right place until now.  

The building attached to the wharf where our boat is tied up has an apartment upstairs.  It became vacant a little while ago and was then offered to us to rent.  As soon as we had a look around we knew it was perfect; three bedrooms, lots more room and still in the same area that we love to live in.  We began moving our belongings in the very next day!

The view from my new place at sunset.  There's our boat, bottom left.

It was quite good timing really, because a week later we slipped the boat (took her out of the water) and it's really inconvenient to try and live on a boat that's on the hard. Boats need regular maintenance and it was time Cerego had her bottom cleaned and repainted.  We also needed to check her for damage after a recent close brush with a beach during a storm while we were away.  We were very relieved to see that she only had very minor damage along her worm shoe (a sacrificial bit of wood along the bottom of her keel and very easily replaced) phew!  

Hiring the slip is an expensive exercise and you pay by the day so we've been working like stink to get her back into the water as quickly as possible.  She went in yesterday and is sitting pretty again.

So now that Cerego is back in the water, I can carry on shifting stuff, because that's the other thing we are doing - shifting my studio back into the house now that we have room again.

Holidaying, working full time, shifting house, shifting studio, slipping the that enough of an excuse as to why there's been a dearth of creativity round here?

And now we are to the nitty gritty of why I'm writing this post.  I haven't touched my art in about two months.  I guess that's not entirely true.  I did a little hand stitching while we were travelling in The Hippo, and I took lots and lots of inspiration photographs, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I haven't invested myself in my art for far too long.

Which is why I'm writing this down, putting it out there, gathering my thoughts and planning for a return.  The thing is, I feel a little apprehensive.  Scared is too strong a word, but uncertain isn't.  I'm not sure where to start. I've forgotten what I was working on, what I was excited about when I put down my needle, and now I feel I don't quite know how to start again.

So I'm going to share with you, my wonderful, ever supportive readers, the process I go through to get myself going again.  Because to share is to lighten the load and I'm also going to shamelessly use you for a bit of accountability!  But also because I know I can't be the only one who has been here, in a bit of a creative slump, and if I can help or encourage just one other person by sharing, well, it'll be worth it.

This is my first step in getting going again - writing about what's happening in my head.  I'm not entirely sure what the next steps will be, but probably some fun little creativity tasks mixed up with the daunting task of getting my studio moved, unpacked and in some kind of order.  

So come back regularly and travel with me on this journey to respark my making mojo, and I'd love to know the things that have helped you if you've ever been in this position.  

Thank you for sticking around and listening!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Amanda Stewart, Julia Arden, Helen Beaven and Julie Van der Putten on the NZ Quilt Show Podcast

It's that mad time of year again!  Here in New Zealand, Christmas and New Year's coincide with our Summer holiday period, so it's six weeks off school for the kids and lots of families travel and holiday around this time.  It's hot and busy and then there is the end of year stress with businesses and 'can you have it done by Christmas' requests.  But in amongst the chaos, there is time for me to squeeze in one last podcast!

This episode features another set of short interviews from the National Quilt Symposium 2017.  In the round-up we have:

Amanda Stewart from Provenance Textiles, supporting traditional individual craftspeople and groups in India and Cambodia.

Julia Arden, an Aotearoa Quilters member who entered three quilts into the 'Fragile' challenge.  She used metallic car paint for the background of the 'Save the Arctic' quilt, which you can see to the left in the picture above.

Helen Beaven, with her solo exhibition called 'Paint Modern' that began with a quilt that interpreted the knitting stitch form, but with paint on fabric instead of wool on needles.

(Apologies for the background noise.  Helen's was a popular exhibit in a small and noisy area!)

And last, but definitely not least, Julie van der Putten aka Puddle, from Quiltbooks - who I missed getting a photo of, much to my chagrin!  Julie is a delight to chat to and a regular at many of the quilt shows around NZ.  So if you ever see her, stop by for a peruse at her books and haberdashery and then a good yarn with the lady herself.

Now it's time I said a huge thank you to all my lovely listeners and sponsors who have given me so much support over this past year.  I really enjoy bringing the stories of our quiltmakers and professionals to you and I look forward to doing more of the same next year.  I couldn't do it without you, so THANK YOU!!  Have a wonderful, safe and peaceful holiday season, in whatever way you choose to celebrate and whatever season you are celebrating it in.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Rachel Maw, Kathleen Burford and Bobby Duncan on The NZ Quilt Show

The NZ Quilt Show took a little break over the last few weeks because of this little guy, my newest nephew!

I downed tools and flew to Australia to spend a week with my sister, her husband and the new addition.  It's such a special time with a newborn, but hard work!  I felt really lucky that I could help out a bit (and cuddle the baby, of course!)

This episode of The NZ Quilt Show podcast continues the National Quilt Symposium round up and includes interviews with Rachel Maw from Annie's Country Quilt Store, a lovely little quilt store in Ashburton, NZ;

Kathleen Burford from the Migrant Women's Quilt Project;

and Bobby Duncan of Fabric by Three, a family owned fabric dyeing company.  That's Bobbi on the left, her husband John in the centre and John's sister, Liz on the right.

A note about the Migrant Women's Quilt Group - Kathleen and her group of volunteers teach migrant women, whether they be refugees or recent immigrants, to make quilts.  This group fosters friendships, makes connections, helps with learning English, all while teaching sewing skills.  They use donations to help keep the group going.  If you have GOOD quality fabric, sewing threads, notions etc to donate, you can contact Kathleen via email seniorburfords at gmail dot com

Thank you to everyone who supports this podcast and helps me tell the stories of our quiltmakers, artists and professionals.  If you would like to support me, head over to iTunes and leave a five star review, pop over to my podbean hosting site and leave a donation, or consider advertising your business by sponsoring an episode.  Email me at  Cheers!