Monday, 7 March 2016

Patchwork dogs

On Christmas Day I posted about the quilt top I made with dogs on it.  I am afraid it is still just a top because I do not seem to have any pieces of fabric large enough for the back and need to decide whether to buy something or to attempt to piece the back.  The same article in Todays Quilter had a pattern for soft toy dogs so I have been making these out of various scraps.  They are obviously ideal as items for charity stalls but I have not yet decided what is happening to them.

Here is one made from batiks.

And here is one made from primary colours.  As you can see, it is difficult to get the long strip that joins the two sides to meet at the right point for the corners.  The second dog has a distinctly peculiar angle to its ear but I am afraid it will have to stay like that.  Now I plan to make some that are more 'grown up' in proper dog-like colours.  It does not take long to make the sides.  It is just the joining strip that causes the problem.  I have given them felt eyes as then they are suitable for babies.

Lesser known books about Katherine Mansfield

I grew up in an atmosphere full of Katherine Mansfield.  We lived in a street in Karori, Wellington named after her father who had originally owned the land on which the street was built.  As children one of the 'dares' was to go into Chesney Wold, a derelict house on the edge of Karori Park which had been the home of the Beauchamp family and which is the setting for a couple of the stories.   Katherine attended the school I went to and other places that feature in her New Zealand stories were situated in parts of Wellington that I knew well.  As Wellington was a small colonial town at the beginning of the twentieth century, my maternal grandmother's family had known her family although interestingly my mother was not a fan of her work.  Maybe it was too radical for NZ tastes in the 1930s!

We also 'did' the short story as a literary form when I was in the sixth form.  As a result I have always read short stories but it was only as an adult that I learnt more about Katherine Mansfield, her links with the Bloomsbury group and modernism and, later, more about her life in NZ.   In the 1980s I read a library book about the trip she made in the central part of the North Island in 1907.  I had always wanted to read this again.  My father came from Hawkes Bay and we lived there before moving to Wellington when I was eight.   My paternal grandmother took me to Taupo for the first time when I was six and she pointed out the places where they broke the journey at the beginning of the twentieth century and told me all about  the country as we went.  It was extremely rugged terrain and steps had to be taken to prevent children being car-sick!  These stories have stayed with me so I was very pleased when I managed to track down what appeared to be the book I had read back in the 1980s: The Urewera Notebook   

Actually I am not sure it is the same book as this recent book by Anna Plumridge is not simply the diary of the trip but an analysis of the different editions of it.   I have learnt a lot about book editing from it.  Then I got out my copy of Katherine Mansfield's New Zealand which is a book of photographs compiled by Vincent O'Sullivan, a well known Katherine Mansfield scholar who taught us at university.  I think it is now out of print but when I opened it I found several pages of photographs of the area of her trip.  They add to my memories of my grandmother's stories.

Finally, I have also recently read 'My Katherine Mansfield Project' by Kirsty Gunn.   My Katherine Mansfield Project  Like The Urewera Notebook, this book considers Katherine Mansfield in context, in this case definitions of 'home' and identity with particular reference to Wellington.  The author spent a winter in Wellington and her descriptions of the weather (the famous Wellington wind) and the light are very vivid to those of us who grew up there.  The question of whether you can have two homes is also one that applies to all migrants so I have been recommending this book to friends.