Quilt Around the World on Magellan –
diary of an Artista 630 – part 1
Who’d have thought it last year in March when Jan suggested that she could teach quilting to passengers on a ship going all the way around this planet of ours?
Since then it’s been a roller coaster of a ride with the highs of getting the patterns right and ready for printing, the lows when the sample blocks didn’t quite go the way they should have and out came the unpicker but in the end she had a quilt made in the nick of time to take on the ship that sailed from Tilbury on 5th January this year. I had a major part to play in this quilt as it was me who stitched all the blocks and put them all together for her. I had to cover my ears at times when she wasn’t happy with how things were going but I did my best for her as always.
Thanks to Lynette Harris (The Stitch Witch) for giving Jan the idea in the first place because of a class she had done with her making a ‘Round The World’ quilt; to Keith, aka her glamorous assistant, for tolerating all the moans and groans and shouts of “Yippee” and to Curlytop and Honeybun (longarm quilters from Upper Dicker) for quilting it for her at very short notice the day before we all sailed. The plan was to teach people how to make a quilt with 25 blocks which would represent 25 of the places we were due to visit on the trip. The quilt Jan and I had made (in the colours of Cruise & Maritime Voyages) was to hang in the ship to commemorate “The Grand Maiden Round the World Cruise” on MV Magellan, the company’s flagship at the time.
The requirements list had gone out with the pre-sailing information to prospective quilters on the passenger list but we had no idea how many would bring along what was needed, so Jan bought a load of fabric, wadding, thread and equipment for those who arrived on board without knowing they wanted to become quilters! She took along enough for a class of 20. Aided by our glamorous assistant, aka Keith, who cut fabric, hauled equipment around, mended various items with his trusty tube of Superglue and fetched and carried as necessary, I have to say I could not have done it all without Keith or Jan!
What if no one came to the classes? Would Jan be Billy No Mates for the whole of the voyage? She did get an email from one lady who tracked her down via The Quilters’ Guild Head Office and told her that she and her daughter were coming to the class! Hooray – we had two students!
Jan needn’t have worried as 44 of the people who turned up to her introductory talk signed up for the class there and then. Some had brought the requirements and some had not, so Jan divided them into two groups – those with fabric and those without. This made life easier at the beginning and those with fabric didn’t have to wait for the others who needed to choose and get it cut. We had ladies from the UK, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, India, St.Kitts and The Phillipines, plus of course me from Switzerland, so we were a truly international group.
Classes progressed as we headed for The Caribbean on azure blue seas as calm as millponds. We foundation pieced Tulips from Amsterdam, needle turned Sombrero Sue appliqué for Mexico and learned how to do Kuna Mola quilting from Panama. Swimming in a warm sea with turtles in Aruba was unforgettable for Jan. I stayed on the beach and sunbathed!
In New Zealand we actually spent some time with a friend of Jan and Keith who took us around the north part of the country and I found a Bernina shop in one of the small towns on our journey. Of course, I had to go in and see if any of my Aussie cousins were there and have a chat to them. The quilt blocks were progressing and a Kiwi appeared using raw edge appliqué. I stitched the edges down for Jan on hers and the ladies in the group did theirs by hand.
Then it was on to Australia where we had a few days in Sydney, Townsville, Cairns and Darwin. Jan went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns while Keith visited a part of the rainforest by Skyrail. I decided to stay on the ship that day as it was very hot outside. The two blocks for Australia were the Opera House and Harbour Bridge on one with a turtle swimming on the Barrier Reef on the other. The turtle was reverse appliqué while the others were easily done using the Steam-a-Seam Jan and Keith bought in Auckland and Sydney after they had run out of the stock they brought with them. It was very popular with the quilt group. I didn’t like it much as it gummed my needle up a bit but Jan soon wiped my gluey tears away as she stitched the shapes on to the background fabrics. The trip to see the jumping crocodiles from Darwin was amazing though. I just wish Jan had told me about those reptiles – I wouldn’t have taken my snorkel and flippers for that trip!
With seas as calm as millponds we went on to Komodo Island where I met the dragons. They were a bit scary but one let me have a ride on his back for a little while. (I don’t recommend this for humans as these animals can bite and they can kill with their venom!) I needed the sunshade as it was very hot and steamy there. Jan hadn’t done any blocks of the quilt for Komodo but one of her group had a very clever sister who is a graphic designer and she drew a picture of one of the dragons and made a quilt block from it. It was very popular amongst the quilters.
We went on to Bali next where I was lucky to go to the Bali Fest taking place in the temple grounds in Densapar. I sneaked a few goodies when Jan wasn’t looking – she was too busy having photos taken with the local security guards and children taking part in the cookery competition to notice me slurping on the local soft drink! Back on board the ship, the quilt group were busy making the block for Bali which was a mask based on the ones Jan and Keith had seen in temples on the island.
After we crossed the equator and took part in the “kissing the fish” ritual (I declined – as I didn’t want to go to class smelling of dead fish!) we went on to Borneo where Jan was very lucky and saw an orang utan. She has a photo of it sitting on the top branches of a tree on the other side of the river where her coach stopped for a short comfort break. I missed this treat because I was lying down in a darkened room at the time. I think I had guzzled too much of that fine Bernina oil the night before! I did visit the local beach though after the Batik painting and other activities on the second coach trip. The sand was silver, the sea was turquoise and it was heaven on Earth. I needed my sunglasses and a cold drink just to stay cool though. There was no quilt block for Borneo so I had a little break there. Jan only did 25 blocks in total and we were due to visit lots more places so she had to be picky about which places would be in her quilt.
In Manila, we had free time so we decided to get together with some others and take a people carrying taxi for a trip around the area. We ended up at Lake Tagatay with its spectacular Taal volcano sitting out into the huge expanse of water. We didn’t have time to visit the volcano but we did get to meet a local family who lived by the edge of the lake and they let me do some fishing from one of their boats. Jan and Keith spent most of their time chatting to the family so I just wandered off with my fishing rod! I did catch a little red fish but I threw him back as he was small and cute.
It was time to head up to Hong Kong next and I was really jealous when I discovered I’d been left behind on Jan’s shopping trip for fabrics and beads, but she made up for it when we all went on a sampan cruise the next day. It was noisy and busy on the water but the city was full of life and excitement as we went from place to place seeing the city from a different point of view. We were heading towards a floating restaurant for lunch when someone in the sampan behind us took my photo and passed it on to Jan when we got back to the ship. Black kites wheeled above us as we sailed around the waterways and I was looking forward to my Dim Sum dishes. Jan had decided that a Chinese lantern block would be suitable for Hong Kong now it is back in the hands of China and the group learned how to piece fabrics together once back in the craft area on the ship. Some of the group were beginning to look lovingly at me if I was on the craft deck with Jan in the mornings but she said they were not allowed to use me in case anything happened. She loves me really! I had a younger distant relative with me that was allowed to be borrowed and the look on its smug little face when it trotted off with one of the group was distasteful to say the least. I don’t think it was so smug when it came back as not everyone was gentle with it. Needless to say, it wasn’t out of my stable – the Bernina family.
Come back soon for the next thrilling installment of the adventures of Ariadne Artista 630!
Typed by Ariadne’s secretary, Jan Allston June 2017