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It is all over.  After months and months of constant stitching the nine Walled Garden quilts are finished and on show at ArtsPost Galleries in Hamilton.

I set myself an almost impossible task of making nine quilts in less than a year and in the end it took a village to complete the quilts.

With about four weeks to go, my daughter, Yvette, realised that I was not going to finish on time. She counted 1690 yo-yo’s and more than 500 hexagons that still needed to be joined and promptly appointed herself as project manager.

She worked out a daily quilt program for me and checked every evening to make sure that I kept to the daily stitch quota of about 70 yo-yo’s and 20 hexagons.

I worked from six in the morning till midnight, seven days a week, and got there in the end. Yvette’s tight program did not allow for any dream time or staring at the design board.  But I now know that without her help and schedule, I would never have finished on time.

A few lovely things happened since my last progress report.  In June my son, Mauritz, felt that his mum and dad needed a break since we had not been on holiday for more than 10 years.  He took us on a short holiday to the beautiful island of Aitutaki – to look after our granddaughter, Lara, while he was kite surfing.

Before we left I was so inspired by the Internet pictures of the island and the colour of the water that I bought a selection of sea green and blue fabrics to take with.  I sat with Lara on the beach in Aitutaki and taught her to paper piece.  Subsequently she did quite a bit of the paper piecing in the fountain quilt on show.  The photograph shows her handwork and beautiful knots.

Yvette took time off from lace making and also spent many hours paper piecing as well as making yo-yo’s.  We shared wonderful family time stitching and my husband, Mauritz, joined us for our late night sessions unpicking papers.

And then it was time to name the quilts and send them out into the world to earn their keep. Naming the quilts is part of the creative process for me. Sometimes the title comes first; other times the title comes to me while I am working or afterwards. 

In this collection all the titles relate to the Walled Garden theme and includes: Rose Bower, Secret Garden, Hortus Conclusus, Heart of the Rose, Pleasure Garden, Garden of Delight, Strewn with Flowers, Walled in by Flowers, and A Fountain Sealed.

Since this is my last progress report, it is time to acknowledge and say thank you. 

First of all I would like to say thank you to Linda Young who did a wonderful job on three of the quilts with her long arm quilting. Her work, especially on Secret Garden, is exquisite and worth a trip to the gallery.  Sometimes I asked the impossible of her – like to machine quilt a paper pieced top.  We both knew that the quilt should have been hand quilted, but there was just no time, so Linda agreed to help me out.  Thank you Linda for your kindness as well as your professional advice and help.

Thank you, once again, to Aotearoa Quilters for the scholarship and the opportunity to share the process with all the members.

Thank you to Anne Scott for the book, Warm Heritage that sparked the idea. And I would like to acknowledge the following quilts in the book that inspired my quilts: The paper pieced hexagon coverlet by Maria Hackworth, the hexagon Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt by Jane Philips Tryon, the McClure Quilt, as well as the Suffolk puff pillowslip from the Onehunga Fencible Cottage. 

Thank you to the staff of Waikato Museum and ArtsPost Galleries in Hamilton for the opportunity to show the quilts as well as their help with the exhibition.  They have done a beautiful display.

Thank you to my husband, Mauritz, for your help and support and taking care of the household. To Yvette for your time, effort, support, technical guidance, financial advice, project management, as well as for organising the opening function. To my son, Mauritz, thanks for the holiday and taking the photographs. And thank you Lara, for stitching with me on the beach in Aitutaki. 

Thank you to all of you who are reading this and with whom I have shared the process.  And many thanks to all who plan to visit the exhibition while in Hamilton for the Quilt and Craft Fair. I would love to hear your feedback via this forum or by email because I value your opinions and advice. 

I am signing off now to go and do some real gardening.   With regards, Norma

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