Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quilting Encounters Downunder

Auckland, New Zealand
After spending two months in the balmy summer weather of Australia and New Zealand, where the temperatures were around 30 deg. C, it was a bit of a shock to come back to Edmonton's biting winter cold and temperatures closer to minus 30 deg. C. But from a quilter's viewpoint, having less incentive to go out and more time at home is a plus. Having been away from my quilting "studio" for so long, I was eager to get back (especially since my carry-on bag was full of fabric which wouldn't fit into my already bulging suitcase). So less than 24 hours after I arrived home, the fabric was all washed and I was starting work on a new project. (More about that in a later blog.)
However, my two months "Downunder" were not without some quilting related experiences. As you would imagine, I visited quilt shops wherever I saw them, and found that in spite of the high cost of quilting cottons, most of which are imported, there are many very enthusiastic and accomplished quilters in both Australia and New Zealand.
In Port Stephens, about a 3-hour drive north of Sydney, a group of quilters were meeting at the Community Arts Centre the day we visited there. When I met them and explained that I was a quilter from Canada, they immediately asked me to join them. Some of them had visited Canada and another was excited about her plans to visit the Houston Quilt Show. I spent a very happy time comparing notes, looking at their projects, and generally enjoying myself, until my patient husband looked in the door and I knew it was time to move on.
In Whitianga, on the Coromandel peninsula in New Zealand, at an outdoor market, a stall full of brightly coloured quilts caught my eye and I stopped to talk to the owner. Her eye-catching quilts were priced at a very reasonable figures and when I remarked on this, she explained that she kept her prices low so she would sell her quilts more quickly, as there were so many more patterns she wanted to try. In fact that was the only reason she had the stall at all!
In the tiny town of Bungendore, NSW, where we'd stopped for a tea-break and a walk round, we found "Bungendore Country Patchwork". In Devonport, Auckland I was delighted to see fabrics with New Zealand motifs in "Cushla's Village Fabrics."
In Taupo, NZ, it was
"Clever Hands, The Patchwork Quilt Store"
which enticed me in.
'"Nancy's" in Wellington had a great selection of quilting and embroidery supplies. In all of these delightful shops, it was a pleasure to chat with the friendly staff (who were sometimes the owners) and I couldn't leave any of them without at least a token purchase to add to my stash.

So, here I am with happy memories of a wonderful trip, more fabrics to enjoy and plenty of ideas for future quilts. What more could a quilter want? Well, a little warmer temperatures would be nice!