Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Friday, August 29, 2014

It’s that time again

It was time for my two yearly mammogram.  I liken it to a trip to the dentist, not something you look forward to, but so very necessary.  Especially as my Mother had breast cancer in her 70s, and  I have had bowel cancer a few years ago. I attended my appointment in the big blue bus, a first for me as I previously attended Hutt Hospital.  This mobile unit covers a large area, from the local areas of Manawatu and Horowhenua, up to Wanganui and Taranaki, then over to Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and East Coast regions.  It must be a real bonus for people who live some distance from a hospital.

P8280002 The big blue bus at Levin

My procedure was done quickly and professionally, although I will have to wait for the results as the x-rays are forwarded to Palmerton North Hospital to be checked by the radiologists.  So………fingers crossed that everything is as it should be.

I soon spotted a quilt hanging up inside the bus, which I really had to check out.  It features a photo transfer of the mobile unit as it travels around the country offering this very important breast screening service to women.  With hills and valleys, a bit of the coast line, Nikau Palms and Mt Egmont, and bordered with New Zealand plants, it is so typically New Zealand.  The label told me that this work of art was “Created by Marion Hamilton for Breast Screen Coast to Coast Mobile Unit in 2002”.

P8280003 Made by Marion Hamilton

Breast Screen Aotearoa is New Zealand’s free national breast screening programme for women aged between 45 and 69, and is a wonderful service.  With my 69th birthday coming up fast, this will be my last free x-ray,  and I must decide whether or not to continue screening with private mammograms.  Something to discuss with the doctor next time I go, I expect.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My little boy is HOW old?

Do all Mums have this thought at a time like this – how could I possibly have a son who is turning 50?   He was probably wondering how on earth this happened to him, too.  I think it sort of sneaked up on him. Our trip down to Christchurch was to join in son Michael’s 50th birthday celebrations.  And celebrate he did, with a dinner for 30 at one of his local haunts.  Together with his friends, and his Dad and his wife, we all enjoyed a tasty meal.  His good friend Fiona had baked him a birthday cake, decorated Star Trek style.  “Captain Groovy”  seems to be Michael’s knick name, we were told.

P8230003 Fiona with Michael and the birthday cake

After the meal, some of the guests danced the rest of the night away.  Michael and his friends attend Ceroc dance lessons, and I watched as he whirled Fiona around the floor.  He never used to be much of a dancer, but these days has taken to it with a vengeance.  And so he should – years ago, both his Dad and I very pretty good at Rock’n’Roll, if I do say so myself!  Our son should have picked up a few dancing genes from the pair of us.

P8230015 Dancing after the meal
Many of his friends came up to chat and several told us what a lovely son I had, so kind and well mannered, and what a great job I had done in bringing him up!  And they weren’t joking either.  Well, I was speechless, and didn’t mention those tiresome teenage years.  I’m glad he has matured well, and has such a nice bunch of loyal friends.  Moving down to Christchurch from Auckland several years ago has been a great move for him. 

He had an informal “at home” the day after his birthday dinner, and we chatted to even more of his group of friends.  It turned out to be a very busy afternoon.  Michael’s Dad and his wife came calling.  So did a whole swag of friends bearing plates of food and gifts,   Michael was kept busy at the coffee machine whipping up lattes and cappuccinos as required.

P8220041 Michael and his Mum

As well as the family celebrations part of our week away, we fitted in some sight seeing as well.  We looked through the wire fence surrounding the Christchurch Cathedral, sadly partly demolished now after the terrible 2011 earthquake.  We can remember looking through this wonderful building on earlier trips to this city.

P8220006 The Christchurch Cathedral

The city centre is now full of empty sections where large buildings have been demolished, and many other buildings shored up with steel framing while their fate is being decided.  We were keen to see the “Cardboard Cathedral”, the transitional cathedral which was quite quickly built and gives the churchgoers somewhere to gather and worship.  Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, it is constructed of cardboard tubes, timber and steel, with a polished concrete floor and polycarbonate roof.  Although we had seen pictures of this building, wasn’t quite sure what I expected as we walked inside.  It was so light and airy – and although there are no windows, the light filters through strips of the polycarbonate roof showing between the cardboard covered steel girders.  It is a very peaceful place indeed, and we were happy to finally get to see it. 

P8220023

P8220026
The Cardboard Cathedral

We joined the overseas tourists and jumped aboard the Christchurch Tram for a guided tour around the city centre.  These beautifully restored  trams certainly brought back memories of the Wellington Trams from long ago.  Our driver gave us a running commentary of all the interesting buildings we passed, some damaged by the earthquake which wrecked such havoc, some still standing, and lots of empty areas where large buildings had once stood.  This vintage  tram was obviously purchased from Invercargill in the deep south.


P8220019Christchurch Tram

Another little adventure was a trip to the seaside town of New Brighton and the stunning pier.  At 300m in length,  6m wide and standing 7m high it is certainly a sight to see as it stretches out into the sea. We walked along the pier, watching as family groups tried their luck fishing with rods and lines.  Some lowered their crab nets over the side into the water, baited with fish heads, and pulled them up again with paddle crabs trapped inside.   A meal at the New Brighton Club was another highlight.  A three course Sunday Roast for only $20 each was a real bargain.  Seated at a window seat, we watched over the pier as the lights twinkled in the darkness.

P8238429

 Our two ferry trips across Cook Strait couldn’t have been more different.  We experienced rough  windy conditions coming down, and the return trip was nice and calm.  Mind you, our original afternoon booking for the return voyage was cancelled, and we were rebooked on an evening trip.  By the time we docked in Wellington at 10.00pm, we still had quite a long drive home, arriving just before midnight!  No wonder we were tired.

It was a great week away, and today we collected Muffy from her stint in the cattery.  My goodness, did she tell us off!  The poor old girl is starting to feel quite insecure these days, and likes to keep us in view.  As long as she can see us, and has a handy lap to curl up on, she is happy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ninja Knitting at Latimer Square

“Stop the car”  I cried as we drove around Latimer Square during our Christchurch trip.  There was something decidedly strange that I wanted to check out.  Standing on the corner were two colourful woolley sheep.  Not real sheep, but brightly knitted ones, it seemed.  The first one was made of of knitting and crotchet, lots of different colours and textures all stitched together.  That little sheep face was looking straight at me while I snapped the photo.

P8240009 Sheep number one with a coat of many colours

Colourful pom poms covered the other sheep, who also sported a fine set of horns.  This one must be a merino, I think.  Another cute little sheep face looking straight at the camera.

P8240008Sheep no 2 is covered in pom poms

It seems the sheep have only recently arrived in Latimer Square.  “The Press” newspaper reported that the animal sculptures, covered in a crochet and knitted patchwork and accompanied by a bundle of knitted flowers, were a random act of kindness from a group called the "Ninja Knitters".  The makers shied away from publicity, but the group said it aimed to put a smile on people's faces. The pom-poms adorning one sheep were knitted by many Cantabrians.  The sheep are an expression of guerrilla art known as yarn bombing, whereby crafts adorn public areas, or sculptures.

What a lovely gesture, it certainly made me smile.  Three cheers for the Ninja Knitters of Christchurch!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Holiday in Christchurch

Occasionally we do go away on holiday without towing the caravan behind us.  This is one of those occasions, a six day visit down to Christchurch.  Much too short a time for the expense of taking the caravan across Cook Strait on the ferry, so we loaded up the little car, and booked accommodation in the city instead.  But…….. not taking the caravan means that Muffy could not come.  So it was off to the cattery for her the night before we left.

P8200002 Muffy is having a holiday in the cattery

The trip across Cook Strait was a little worrying, with strong winds blowing and heavy seas.   Our worries were made worse when an announcement came over the loudspeaker.  The seas would be rough, we were warned,  and be very careful if we walked around, better to remain seated.  And that sick bags were there for our use.  Oh dear – will we be in trouble?  It certainly seemed like it as big waves hit the front windows with force, and as the bow ploughed up and down through the open sea.  Robin is not a good sailor at the best of times, and decided that he would try and and sleep through the worst of the trip.  My way is to immerse myself in a good book, so I don’t have to worry about what is happening outside. 

P8210008 . We travelled down on the Arahura

We made it safely across the open seas, and enjoyed the trip more when the ship glided through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.  It was still very windy out on deck, but that awful up and down motion through the waves had been left behind.

P8210023 Cruising through the Marlborough Sounds

On the trip down the Kaikoura Coast we decided to stop and walk up to the Ohau Stream Rookery.  Baby seal pups come up the stream to a pretty pool to play while their mums are out feeding at sea.  In the peak of the season there can be 100 or more little pups frolicking around.   By the time we arrived it was late afternoon and the stream and pool looked empty.

P8218414 No seal pups in sight

We presumed that the pups had travelled back down to the beach to await the return of their mums.  But then we spotted two babies playing in the stream.  As we stood quietly on the path, they were having fun in the water, swimming together and rolling over and over.  How lovely to see them in natural surroundings. 

P8210050  Seal pups at play in the stream

Our accommodation is close to the city centre - not 5 star by any means, but then we are not paying 5 star prices.  It is very comfortable, and cosy and warm, with everything we need, including a large TV at the foot of the bed.

P8210069 Our room

There is a well appointed kitchen, dining room, and balcony up the hall, and we have been using the dining table to set up the lap tops and do some blogging. 

P8230043 It’s blogging time

And best of all, for a laundry fanatic like me, there is a laundry too.  I know that on such a short trip we have enough clothes to last us, but there is no way I could ever pass by a laundry if it is available.  And at only $2 a load, it would be silly not to use it, don’t you think?

P8240022 Keeping me happy, doing the laundry

Our trip to Christchurch is to share in son Michael's 50th Birthday Bash.  And I’ve told him I want to say a few words after the dinner, to spill a few family secrets.  He looked a bit worried when he heard that!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sew Wot Tuesday

It was time for another meeting of the Sew Wot ladies, and Mary was our hostess today.  Mary has very green fingers and likes to spend time in her wonderful garden.  The pretty Dutch Irises were looking good.

P8190011

And Mary had collected a whole range of shoes and boots, painted them blue, added plants, and arranged them beside the garden path.  How cute is that?

P8190012 Anyone missing their shoes?

The only one with Show and Tell was the hostess herself – the rest of us had nothing finished to share at all.  Mary had completed hand quilting her lovely wall-hanging, and there it was, in pride of place up on the wall. 
 
P8190013 Mary’s completed wall-hanging 

We worked diligently away on various hand sewing projects, and Helen had the knitting needles clacking.  Then it was just like Christmas - Mary was having a clean out and brought bags of unwanted goodies for us to look through.  And take home, if there was anything that took our fancy.  I claimed some blue knitting wool, just the thing for another kiddies jumper to put away in my Nana box.  Although I’m planning ahead for when my grand-daughters start producing the next generation, I may well be waiting a long time!

P8190016 Oh goodie – more wool

We enjoyed a tasty morning tea, plenty of chatting and companionship.  Thanks ladies, it was another lovely morning.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Town and Country Quilters August Club Night

For the first time at my “newish” club,  I was on Show and Tell duty.  The plan was to arrive at 7.00pm, to find out what my duties entailed.  Which were – help carry out and erect the display stands, write down the show and tell items in the red book, and most importantly, help to hold up the quilts on stage, while their makers tell us a little about them.  And help pack it all away afterwards.   Sounds fairly straight forward, I can do all that, no trouble at all.  And I managed to get up on the stage and down again without tripping myself up in front of everyone, so I’m pleased  about that.

Kathy had finished her Wise Owls quilt, which some of us first saw at a recent Remnants stitching night.  She machined quilted lots of swirls and flowers all around those cheeky little owls, and the quilt looks great.

P8130004 Wise Owls, by Kathy

Helen, another member of our Sew Wot stitching group, has finished quilting not one but two lovely star quilts with her trademark very professional quilting. This pattern was offered as a Block of the Month project by the committee last year.

P8130003 
Helen’s star quilts

Some lucky little person will be thrilled to receive this bright and cheery cot quilt. Jacquey stitched this quilt, full of happy little butterflies, caterpillars and flowers.  

P8130005 
Cot quilt by Jacquey

As I was helping to hold up the quilts on stage, I didn’t get a good look at them till after the meeting.  I was particularly keen to check out the Japanese style 21st birthday quilt Yvonne had made for her grand-son.  She related how she was given a small picture of the quilt he wanted, and was unsure how to go about it.  But the grand-son was so sure of Yvonne’s ability and told her he was sure that she would manage it.  It is indeed a work of art, from the hand crafted fishing net which makes up the central pane, to the beautiful sashiko quilting around the wide borders.

P8130008  Yvonne’s 21st birthday quilt

Our speaker for the evening was Anne who runs The Crafty Pear quilt shop, at 77 Main St, Pahiatua.  (Must keep that one on the list for a future trip when we are passing by, I’ve never been there before).  Anne makes more tops than quilts, she told us, and had brought along lots to show us.  Back on stage I hopped, to do some more quilt holding duty.  She has also made beautiful cross stitch and embroidery items, and some of these were passed around the hall for the ladies to see close up.

P8130009 Anne’s quilts and tops

After the talk everyone made a bee-line to check out the goodies which Anne had brought along to sell.  As any quilter knows, there just might be something tucked away in one of those baskets that you just can’t go home without!

P8130012 Looking through the wares on offer

Our meeting concluded with supper and a chance to catch up with others.  A very pleasant evening, as usual.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A gift for Honey

There’s a new baby come to live in our village.  Our friends Dot and Derek are now the proud owners of a beautiful little seal point Birman kitten.  She really needed a welcoming baby gift, I thought. So I got busy stitching last week to make her something special.

Honey is going to be a “camping” type of pussy, (just like our Muffy), going away on holiday in a motor-home.  Now she has her own special  bag to put all her bits and pieces in when she goes away for the weekend.

P8100002 A gift for Honey

The pattern for this cute little bag was designed by Judith Tetley, and published in Handmade Magazine, Vol 26, No 7.  I’ve stitched a couple of them so far, including one for our own special cat too, of course.

P8110005 Dot and Honey

Honey looks rather like our elderly Muffy did at that age, full of fun and mischief and always on the go.  Just look at those lovely blue eyes.