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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cross Stitch Beauties

I attended the Coffee Club Support Group morning run by the Levin Branch of the Cancer Society, and our we had a very interesting speaker. Marion, from St John’s told us all about St John’s Medical Alarms.  Most of the ladies present had a personal alarm and we ourselves are St John’s Supporters, which entitles us to emergency call-outs and ambulance transport to hospital if required.  As we now live outside the Wellington Free Ambulance district, becoming  St John’s members now gives us peace of mind.

Sharon is one of the very busy Cancer Society volunteers who helps out at our Coffee Club mornings.  She is a very talented needle worker and brought along her framed piece of black work embroidery to show us.  She proudly told us that this lovely piece had recently won a silver plate at the Mana Embroidery Group meeting.   And we could see why, it is so beautiful, elegant ladies stitched with black thread with just a little touch of gold.

P3240053 Sharon’s winning black work embroidery

And Sharon has almost completed her latest creation, full of cute teddies and bunnies with their very own quilt.  I don’t do cross stitch myself, I tried once but failed miserably!  But I can certainly appreciate all the hard work which goes into making one of these beauties.

P3240055 Sharon with her teddies and bunnies

My quilt club, the Town and Country Quilters, supply a never ending supply of quilts to be displayed at the Cancer Society rooms.  The quilt on show this month had quite a New Zealand flavour.  Designed and stitched by Luchelle Cottrell, it was inspired by NZ artist Shane Hansen and the 10 cent New Zealand coin.  

P3240051  “Myth”  by Luchelle Cottrell

Visitors to Winchester House,  the Cancer Society rooms, always enjoy looking at the quilt on display each month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nature’s Bounty

Our produce from our small raised summer garden is coming to an end, with the last of the tomatoes appearing on the plants.  We have been carefully watching our green peppers plants (capsicums), and these needed staking when the peppers seemed too heavy for the fragile stems.  The three large green peppers seem to have taken ages to grow, and now was the time to pick them, I decided.

I wanted to cook up some Capsicum Chutney – but my three home grown peppers were nowhere near enough.  A quick trip to the veggie store to purchase some more and I had enough to get slicing and cooking.  I used a mixture of green, red, yellow and orange peppers and made seven smallish jars.  This (sweet) chutney is delicious with cold meat, or on crackers with cheese.  Perhaps if you have some growing, you may like to try making some too.  The quantities are easy to halve if you wish.

P3240056 Capsicum Chutney and bags of rhubarb

Capsicum Chutney
4lb capsicums
2lb brown onions
5 cups brown vinegar
6 level tablespoons salt
3lb sugar

Cut peppers open, discard seeds, slice finely.  Peel and finely slice onions.  Place together in large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Leave for 2 hours then rinse well  in colander under running cold water.  Drain thoroughly.  Place into preserving pan, add vinegar and sugar.  Bring to the boil and boil for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool then bottle in sterilised small jars.  Cover and seal.

Our rhubarb plants are also doing very well, so I harvested some of this as well.  I chopped the stalks up into small dice and have three bags full ready to freeze to cook up later.  We enjoy stewed rhubarb for dessert with custard or icecream, and even on cereal for breakfast.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quest for some Ric Rac

Some things are harder than others to find.  I’ve been after some green Ric Rac for ages.  But not just any green – it had to be an olive greeny/grey colour, to go with one of my current projects.  Yesterday we had an unexpected trip to Porirua to meet some friends.  If we get there early, I suggested, we could pop in to Pete’s Emporium for a wee while.  Robin was happy with that – as well  as having an enormous amount of ribbons, trims, and buttons, they also sell flags.  Robin likes to fly the flag here at home, and wanted a nice new one to keep in reserve.

P3190014 Lots of lovely trims

I headed straight to the haberdashery aisles.  There were trims with feathers, sequins, and sparkly bits galore.  Buttons, ribbons and braids of all kinds.  You could spend hours here, just looking.  But what about the ric rac?  They didn’t have the sort of green I was after last time I called in.

P3190015 Buttons galore

Then I spotted it, a card of green ric rac, close enough in colour to what I was looking for.  Thank goodness – my quest was finally over.  Robin found himself a new flag too, so we went to the check out with our modest purchases.

P3200001 Just what I wanted

Shopping done, we continued on to meet our friends for a day out. Which is always a bit of a surprise, as we don’t actually know where we are going until we meet up.  As it turned out, we went to the Zealandia Sanctuary to see a marvellous display in the Visitors Centre.  To find out about New Zealand wildlife and our visit yesterday, read about it  here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Club blocks stitched for March

I nearly forgot – and had to rush around and find where I had put the instructions.  Yesterday one of my Sew Wot guests brought her charity blocks out to show us all, and I remembered that I had forgotten all about sewing my contribution.  Our  quilt club Town and Country Quilters is having a drive to make more charity quilts for good causes.  Each month we are given a different block pattern to stitch.  Nice and easy, as it turns out, so that is always a bonus.  This month’s block doesn’t even have a name but is composed of eight strips each 2 1/2 by 4 1/2.  We could use any colours, and the only criteria is that the right hand corner strips are to be black.  I imagine that the black strips in the blocks will make a cross effect when they are arranged together. 

P3180007 Charity blocks for March

I always have various 2 1/2 strips tucked away in a box, so this was a an easy block to put together.  And as the  Leigh, the charity block organiser commented, there are no seams to match up.  Thank goodness  I’ve finished mine now, so I don’t have to worry about them later in the month.  And the block patterns provided are handy to keep for future projects, when I might be looking for some simple blocks to whip up for a quilt for someone.

What else?  Looks like I’ve made sufficient nine patch blocks for my daughter’s quilt, so that was a job I was happy to complete.  The next stage is to sew some more appliqué leaf blocks, and I estimate that I need about 20 more of these.  So today I’ve been pressing fabric, measuring, and cutting my cream homespun into squares.  The next step will be to get my light box out and trace off the different leaf shapes I’m using.  But one step at a time - I’ll leave that job for another day.. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Sew Wots came calling

Today was my day to host the fortnightly Sew Wot get-together, and I had been busy baking.  I know the experts say to never cook  new untried  recipes when guests are due, but I couldn’t help myself.  I made a different version of the old favourite Ginger Crunch, and this one had rolled oats in the base, which made it nice and crunchy.  And I’m pleased to say that the apple and walnut cake worked our fine too.

Seven of the ladies came calling - it was a bit of a tight squeeze as we only have a small lounge, but we found room for everyone.  Pam likes to sit and chat and not bother with sewing, and that is fine.  Heather E was busy stitching diamonds and teensy tiny triangles together, she does like to keep busy, she always says.  And Moira was quietly working away on one of her William Morris appliqué blocks.  In between the busy fingers there was plenty of chatter going on, as we all seem to do.

Carol brought along some Show and Tell – two lovely kiddies quilts to be donated to Ronald McDonald House.  We all loved the baby quilt, done in soft and pretty 1930s fabrics with pretty stitchery blocks and finished off with Carol’s very first attempt at Suffolk Puffs.  Such a pretty little quilt indeed, and the photo doesn’t do those colours justice.

P3170001 1930s quilt for Ronald McDonald House

Carol had also made an Eye Spy quilt, full of all sorts if interesting things just waiting for a child to discover.  Ronald McDonald House will be very pleased to accept Carol’s  donation, I’m sure.

P3170002Carol made this Eye Spy quilt too

I know all about having long standing UFO projects tucked away, but I think Heather B’s current project is older than my oldies lurking in the cupboard.  She confessed that she started making a couple of cushions for her daughter, for her 10th birthday.  That birthday has long gone, and the daughter is coming up for 40!  The cushions have been brought out again, and now will be given to Heather’s grand-daughters instead.  The pattern is quite different, it features embroidery on the front and pockets to tuck little soft toys in.  It certainly sounds intriguing, and I hope we see the finished cushions before they go to their new homes.

P3170004  Tiny soft toys to get tucked away in the cushion

As well as working on finishing the embroidery on her Op Shop bargain tablecloth, Mary had a surprise for us.  She had organised the 2015 Sew Wot Challenge for us all.

P3170003 Mary handing out the Challenge to the two Heathers

Firstly she got us to choose a cotton reel.  Inside was the name of the person we were to make our gift for, and keep it secret, of course.  Then we received a card with the instructions.  We are to make a toilet bag, which should include some appliqué, or embroidery, plus a traditional block.  The size, shape, colour and fastening of the toilet bag is up to whatever we choose.  I’ll have to put my thinking cap on for this for some ideas.  Or even better, go on the internet, or maybe  flick through some of my craft books.

P3170006 The secret name and the instructions are all here

It was a very enjoyable morning, as always, it’s always so nice to meet up with the ladies.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Away in the Caravan

We have been off camping at the beautiful Mt Lees Reserve.  The camping area is surrounded by native bush, and the bird song is spectacular.  Three black and white ducks made several appearances, as they slowly waddled past the pink  “Naked Lady” plants which were flowering well.  The ducks did look rather comical as they first walked one way along the path, then back again.

P3140062 The ducks came calling

The weather was hot and sunny and I spent some time relaxing under the sun shade with my stitching.  My first job was to start sewing up a little pink fluffy  toddler’s jumper which has been put aside for a while.  It may be little, but this sort of job still takes a while.  I’m not quite finished as I feel that the attached hood needs a knitted band around the edge to finish it off nicely.

P3130021 Sewing all the pieces together

Then I did some more work on the stitchery cushion I’m making – this is the second of these I’ve done.  The first was a gift and I’ll be keeping version number two for myself.

P3130022 Then a little bit of stitchery

While I was whiling away the day sitting by myself  enjoying the fresh air, the birds, and my hand work, Robin was hard at work with a team of Cancer Society Volunteers manning a stand at the Central District  Field Days at Manfield Park.  They were there to promote men’s health, as everyone knows that some men are notoriously difficult to look after their own health.   He was exhausted when he finally returned back to the caravan, after being on his feet the whole afternoon is such sweltering conditions.  (Nothing that a cool beer couldn’t put right).

P3130031 Robin ready for action in his Cancer Society volunteer tee shirt and hat

As well as the waddling ducks, I spotted a collection of gnomes on the path to the Bed and Breakfast homestead which shares the grounds at Mt Lees Reserve.  Looks like someone had fun collecting and arranging them.

P3120018 Lots of little gnomes

P3120012 Camping at Mt Lees

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Town and Country Quilters March Club Night

Our quilt club night had rolled around again, and a bunch of happy quilters met in the hall.  I handed in the blocks I had made for the charity quilt, and the other  blocks for the raffle quilt.  The charity quilts are an ongoing project and block patterns were handed out for another easy pattern to stitch up this month.  Raffles were drawn – and sadly, my numbers were once again not called out.  Perhaps one of these months I’ll finally win a raffle prize.

Show and Tell is always interesting.  Heather showed her quilt made from Japanese inspired fabric panels given to her by her daughter.  She added extra fabrics and embellishments and the end result is this stunning quilt.

P3110006 Heather’s quilt started life as panels

Kathryn’s Celtic quilt was started in Symposium – and what a beauty it is.  All that intricate Celtic swirling binding carefully stitched down is certainly a work of art.

P3110005Kathryn’s Celtic quilt

The kits for these cute little make-up bags were purchased as kits during an Australian holiday.  I didn’t quite catch the name of who made these.

P3110009Little make-up bags with stitchery panels

Our speaker for the evening was Liz from Angels in Gumboots quilt shop, in Ashhurst.  Liz started her working life as a trained scientist working at DSIR – and in a complete turn around, is now a partner in her shop Angels in Gumboots.  Cross stitching was her first love, then she told us about her quilting journey.

P3110001 Liz from Angels in Gumboots

Liz is still very fond of one of her early quilts, foundation pieced pine trees.  And I rather liked the purple and green bed quilt with stitchery panels

P3110002 Pine trees quilt

P3110003Pretty stitcheries on this quilt

An extra special quilt was the cat quilt made for her daughter as a graduation gift.  Liz’s daughter has brown Burmese cats, rather like these happy little critters.

P3110004  Graduation cat quilt

When the meeting had concluded the ladies flocked around the stall which Liz had set up with goodies from her shop.  There were patterns, fat quarters, and jelly rolls galore.  I left them to their bargain hunting and went and had a cuppa.

P3110008 Looking for a bargain or two