Kiwi Karen quilts.

Written by AHQ

5 December 2013

I know you like to read the stories of special quilts so here is a story of two special quilts.  These were all made by Kiwi Karen.  Early on last year we had a sewing day in Penrith at Penrith Patchwork.  There were only two or three of us there but it didn’t matter. I had laundry bags spread out of the table at the end of our work area – the end that any unsuspecting quilters might walk past.  Everything a likely suspect would go past we would smile and say hello and just will them to ask what we were doing!  Hee Hee

Kiwi Karen was one who stopped to say hello.  I always have a raft of stories I can tell about the quilts and laundry bags and who they go to and before long Karen and her daughter Pene were hearing all about Aussie Heroes and what we do.  Karen was standing beside me as I was sewing so I wasn’t looking at her face but when I glanced up she had wet eyes and I realised that she “got it”.  

That very first day Karen asked me if we ever got requests from Kiwis as she is an expat Kiwi and would love to sew for Kiwis if the chance came up.  I misunderstood her at first and thought she meant those still serving in the New Zealand forces but we soon got that straightened out and Karen was set to start her first requests.  

It wasn’t long before I was asked to make a laundry for a young man, the past student of a friend of mine.   When the young man’s parents heard about the laundry bag they asked if it would be possible to arrange for one for his mate who was also deploying.  The mate was called Kiwi and they said it probably was asking too much to have a Kiwi in his bag but if they could have his nickname on the quilt that would be awesome.  Thanks to my cousin’s travels in NZ I had some Kiwi fabric and it was soon turned into a Kiwi for the front of the bag.  Before long two bags were sent off  – a quintessentially Aussie one and a Kiwi flavoured one.

Of course we did not stop at laundry bags.  I had the quilt made before the Aussie fellow departed and was privileged enough to be invited to hand it to him in person and Karen took on the task of making the quilt for our Kiwi fellow.  This was the first of Kiwi Karen’s Kiwi quilts!

Of course when you are making a quilt for a fellow called Kiwi what do you make but a KIWI quilt.  Karen took a a pattern for a cross stitch bookmark and with the permission of the  designer, Madeleine Findley, converted each cross stitch into a 2 1/2 inch square and proceeded to graph out her pattern.  Eventually she converted the squares to strips where possible and put the quilt together. The fabric for the feathers is a NZ design which is Moko – It is representational of moko tattoos; Maori tattooing on the face and body. Also included in Kiwi’s quilt is the silver fern and the NZ Anthem.

Karen received a very special letter from Kiwi and this is just part of it.

It was so humbling to receive the quilt.  I felt very proud.  I’m the only one (of my family) who has served in the military that I’m aware of.  I am constantly getting comments about my laundry bag and the beautiful quilt you made for me.  I cannot thank you enough for your efforts.  Thank you Karen.  Rest assured I will take good care of the beautiful quilt as it is now our new family heirloom. I can’t wait to show them the quilt, let alone the finer details.  You are not just a friend, I consider you family (if that is OK)

In the early days Karen sewed a batch of laundry bags.  One particular box was sent to the Executive Officer (XO) at Headquarters 7RAR Task Group.    As she described herself as Kiwi Karen, the XO sought out their own resident Kiwi and gave him one of Karen’s laundry bags and passed that information back to me.  

Of course Karen’s first question was “Well does he have a quilt?”  Her second Kiwi quilt was started and this time she translated a cross stitch bookmark designed by Lyn Manning into a quilt.  The red and green materials are Ponga Koru.  Ponga means silver fern and koru means either shrubby plant or fold, loop, coil or curled root, hence the swirls on the material.  Sorry the photo is not better. The fabric used for the eyes is inspired by paua shell.

Also written on the quilt is the word “Kia Ora” which is a New Zealand greeting wishing good health.  Also featured is the word “Aotearoa” which is the most widely known and accepted Maori name for New Zealand.  Once again Karen has included the National Anthem.  Karen never heard back from this recipient but someone who knew he had received it said he was pretty chuffed.  

Karen has made two other Kiwi quilts but those are a story for another night, mainly because I am too tired to write any more now after driving 8 hours today. I am off to anser emails and then hit the sack.

Till next time………………keep spreading the word and happy stitching!   JMxx

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  1. kiwikid

    Two beautiful amazing quilts, well done Kiwi Karen!

  2. Sue Niven

    beautiful stories, thank you for sharing.

  3. Beeshebags

    whakamihi Kiwi Karen (hopefully the translation programme wasnt having a lend of me!) Great work, and such great heirlooms you're creating. Hugs Naomi


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