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

Friday, March 6, 2015

First visit to Stitchbird

What to do when a visiting quilter comes to the big city?  Why not visit a “new to me” quilt shop in Kilbirnie, Stitchbird, a place I had long wanted to check out.  As out of towners ourselves, this was the ideal opportunity to give both me and my new  friend Sharyn a quilty experience. Sharyn arrived on the Dawn Princess cruise ship just that morning for a day in Wellington,  and we were giving her a quick sightseeing tour around the capitol city.

Stitchbird is a lovely shop, light and airy, and obviously the business is on the way up, as they have already changed to bigger premises.  Here we are – this is the place.

P3030013 Stitchbird in Kilbirnie

We both got a warm welcome as we entered the doors – very important I feel, as a friendly greeting always makes you feel you are coming to a nice friendly establishment.  We were free to browse around, take photos (I asked first, of course), and the girls were at hand to offer help and advice if needed.  Stitchbird Fabrics was born out of a desire to bring some gorgeous fabrics that are available overseas to New Zealand, and offers contemporary, retro and vintage style fabrics as well as accessories and gift ideas.

P3030010 Quilting fabrics and patterns

I loved the large selection of baby gifts, tiny little soft shoes, little hats, bunnies, even some cute bunting.  Just a shame that no one in my family is at the baby stage at the moment, otherwise I wouldn’t know where to start – or stop, for that matter!

P3030009For the well dressed baby

There was a lot to look at, from cushions and aprons, to a wide range of haberdashery items.  Something for everyone, I’m sure.  Sharyn picked out a couple of green fat quarters to go into her latest project for when she returns home, and I purchased a couple of patterns.  You can find Stitchbird at Shop 25 Kilbirnie Plaza in Wellington, or check out the web site.

P3030012It is a lovely, airy shop

The friendly advice even extended on where we could go for lunch.  Try the Spruce Goose, we were told, in Lyall Bay,  just before Wellington Airport.  So we did, the food was delicious, and we watched out the large windows as one plane after another took off for an adventure.

P3030017 We lunched at the Spruce Goose

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dawn Princess comes to Wellington

The Dawn Princess cruised into Wellington and we drove down to meet up with Sharyn, from Adelaide.  Sharyn, a fellow quilter and a blog reader, was cruising around New Zealand on the Dawn Princess and wondered if it would be possible to meet up.   Of course we could, so we started off bright and early joining the commuters on the trip to Wellington.  After a bit of a worry about where we would meet up, Sharyn arrived at the pick-up point on a shuttle bus – she had an advantage over us as she had seen our photos on the blog.  Greetings over, we set off to show her a little of “the best little capitol city in the world”. That’s not just an idle boast – it’s official!

P3038619 Dawn Princess in Wellington

Wellington was putting on a great day for the visitors from the cruise ship, nice and warm – as the popular song goes, “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day”.  Other days can be wet, wild and windy, but this day was a beauty!  There was hardly a breath of wind when we drove up the narrow winding road then climbed up the steps to the top of Mt Vic Lookout.  What a great view, a panoramic 360 degrees view taking in the city, the airport and Wellington Harbour.  We weren’t the only ones up at the lookout - there was a bus full of cruise liner passengers there ahead of us, as well as plenty of others milling about. 

P3030007 Sharyn with me at the Mt Vic Lookout

Next stop was to find a quilt shop – more about that later.  Then with lunch time looming, we followed the quilt shop owner’s recommendation and tracked down “The Spruce Goose” in Lyall Bay – somewhere by the airport, we were told.  There it was, with a handy car park just across the street.

P3030014 The Spruce Goose Cafe

What a busy bustling place this, packed with customers and plenty of friendly staff who not only looked after our orders but happily took a couple of photos for us as well.

P3030015 Lunch at the Spruce Goose

Then a bit more sight-seeing, we headed off to Petone Beach, where the first European settlers arrived on this very beach all those years ago.  We could get good views of Wellington City from here and Robin told Sharyn all about the sad story of Leper Island.  This sort of treatment wouldn’t happen these day, thank goodness.  On a happier note, we watched as the sea birds went about their business on the beach, there were lots of red billed gulls and a pair of variable oyster catchers looking for something for their lunch.

P3030029 Red billed gull

We continued our coastal trip and drove around the Eastern Bays to Eastbourne.  It may be a pricey place to buy a property, but it has a lovely village feel to it.  Here we saw the foremast from the  Wahine which now stands at Eastbourne as a memorial to the Wahine disaster which took place in April 1968, with a loss of 51 lives.  Robin and I can still vividly remember that tragic day, with pictures of the ship stuck fast on Barrett’s Reef playing over and over again on TV.  Many of the passengers, both dead and and survivors, were washed up on the rocky Eastbourne coast. 

P3030037 Wahine Memorial at Eastbourne

Then it was a short drive back to Days Bay.  William's Park has always been popular with visitors, and we called into the Pavilion Cafe for an ice-cream.  Sharyn was persuaded to try the great Kiwi delicacy, hokey pokey ice-cream.  It was a race against time to get the ice-cream finished before it melted away and ran down our hands!

P3030040 Yummy, hokey pokey ice-cream

It was time to head back into Wellington and return Sharyn to her cruise ship, Dawn Princess.  Sharyn was certainly enjoying her cruise, and was travelling with a group of like-minded ladies.  Who wouldn’t enjoy life on board, with great food, entertainment, and nice rooms.  But before we parted, I gave Sharyn a little gift, two fat quarters of batik fabric printed with New Zealand birds, one dark blue and the other brown.

P3030004 Batik New Zealand bird fabric

How exciting - Sharyn had a gift for me too.    I opened it up once we had returned home to find some lovely Aborigine designed fabric.  On closer inspection, I discovered that Sharyn had made me an apron.  Just what I need – I always wear aprons when I’m cooking.


P3040054 My new apron from my new friend

It was so nice to meet up with Sharyn and make her acquaintance.  Guess this happens to other bloggers from time to time, who get to meet after exchanging emails for a while.  (A bit like going on a blind date, she remarked).  What a lovely lady, and it was a real pleasure to show her around Wellington.  Her next stop was Akaroa, on to Dunedin, then cruising into Milford Sound, before the Dawn Princess then headed back to Melbourne.  What a great trip.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Friends from the South

Our friends from Dunedin, Merilyn and Colin, have been to stay for a couple of nights.  You know what that means – my sewing room must be tidied up!  My Bernina sewing machine is generally left on top of the sewing cabinet, ready for go at a moment’s notice.  But no, that won’t do with guests sleeping in the room.  So I pulled the little lever to make the machine drop down, and closed the cabinet up tight.  That doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you!

We had recently purchased a bed settee sofa for an occasion such as this, and thought we should really have a trial run with it, to make sure it worked properly.  And make the bed up.  My goodness, the bed is low – just as well it is only for a couple of nights.

P2260001 Bed settee all ready for the guest, with Maple Leaf quilt on top

They arrived carrying all sorts of goodies – it was just like Christmas!  Beer to share with Robin, a bottle of wine for dinner, cheese, grapes and bikkies for nibbles, and even a couple of hot roast chickens.  With the food I’d prepared as well, we certainly wouldn’t be going hungry.  Merilyn and I go back many years, and have been friends since those long ago school days, and I was one of her bridesmaids.  Matron of Honour, actually, as I was already married by then.  There is always plenty to talk about when we get together, and it’s just like we have never been apart.

P2260003 Me and Merilyn

Colin and Robin had plenty to talk about too, both are very interested in sports.  Muffy jumped up on Colin’s lap and settled down.  We told him he should feel honoured – Muffy is very choosy who she cosies up to.

P2260006   Colin talking to Muffy

We took our visitors out and about around the region.  They like licorice too and didn’t know that we have a factory and shop right here in Levin.  Of course we both ended up buying some.

P2270007 At RJ’s Licorice Factory

After lunch we continued our tiki tour going northwards and stopped at Foxton to show them the deMolen Windmill.  Then on to the Moutoa Sluice Gates, built in 1962 to  protect over 100 sq km of farmland from the risk of flooding.  The sluice gates cause much of the river flow to take a shortcut, bypassing 30km of low capacity river channel, instead being directed down the 10kmm long Moutoa Floodway.  The sluice gates are a bit like the ones making up the Thames Barrier, I told them, but very much smaller of course.  Colin in particular was quite impressed by this clever piece of engineering.

P2270019 Moutoa Sluice gates

Next stop was to see  was the Te Apiti Wind Farm.    The turning blades had quite a hypnotic quality about them as we drove nearer and nearer, finally reaching the lookout on Saddle Road, north of the Manawatu Gorge.  This is an ideal spot for a wind farm, with the Manawatu gorge acting as a wind funnel, creating consistently high wind speeds.  Parking in the car park, we could hear the swish, swish of the blades as we stood just under a huge wind turbine.  I could just imagine the blades flying through the air and decapitate us.  (Too much imagination, says Robin).

P2270033 Just one of the many huge turbines

Merilyn was quite spooked by all the swishing blades.  The wind power increased in speed at one stage and the noise and speed of the blades above us increased dramatically.  She got quite a fright and wanted nothing more than to get in the car and away from the huge turbines surrounding us.

P2270038I don’t want to stay here, says Merilyn

We needed a cuppa to calm her down so drove to the Bridge Cafe, at Ballance, just over the long bridge at the Woodville end of the Manawatu Gorge.  This is a place I have long wanted to stop at, but we always seem to be towing the caravan behind us as we pass by.  We enjoyed our coffees and slices in a nice shady area of the garden.  Then we climbed back into the car, drove through the Manawatu Gorge, and headed home.  They enjoyed their trip, we are happy to say, as they visited places they had never been to before, or even heard of.  Even driving through the Manawatu Gorge was a first for both of them, surprisingly. 


Colin and Merilyn at the Bridge Cafe

.Sadly, their time with us came to an end and they packed up their belongings to continue on their holiday.  It was lovely having them to stay, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get together again.  Merilyn and I both have major birthdays this year, and I am hoping we can organise a weekend away somewhere together.  We’re working on the plans.

P2280067 Goodbye and safe travels

And here’s a test for you.  Merilyn gave me a copy of an old photo from when we were schoolgirls enjoying a holiday at the beach.  Can you tell which girl is her and which one is me?  Hint – there is not a grey hair to be seen back then!
P2280066 Bevy of Beach Belles

Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Remnant Night

The end of the month rolled around, and after a break over the Christmas/New Year holidays, it was finally the first Remnant night of the year.  It’s such a long time from our last one in November to February that I was suffering from  withdrawal symptoms.  Even though we had visitors staying for a few days, I just had to pop in during the evening leaving DH in charge of our guests and see what everyone was getting up to.  Not for the whole evening, you understand, but just for an hour – and I didn’t even take any stitching with me.

There was a lot happening.  Vickie was kindly finishing a quilt for a friend who had started it and come to a big halt – how kind was that.  She was busy stitching strips together to make the sashings.

P2270056 Vickie’s project for the night

Leigh had purchased the pattern for the pretty quilt “T’was the Night before Christmas” recently, and has been busy doing some of the stitchery panels.  It’s going to be great, and I love was she has done so far.

P2270057  Leigh has been busy stitching

She is also taking charge of all the blocks some on the ladies have been whipping up for the charity quilts the club wants to put together and hand out to people in need.  Val and Ruby were newbie Remnants and busily churning out these blocks. ( I heard a whisper that Ruby had baked some Ginger Gems for the ladies so just had to try one out.  It was delicious!)   The variety of Floating Four Patch blocks look great and we expect a lot more to be handed in at our next club night.

P2270058 Floating Four Patch blocks

Debi was also working on some more four patch blocks for the club charity quilts.  Plus some batik blocks which will be going in the raffle quilt for later in the year.  We were given several batik squares and were asked to add batik strips around the edges in complementary colours.

P2270060 Debi was still working on her club blocks

Janelle and Sara were chatting away together as they worked on their projects.  Both these girls do lovely work so I had to check out their progress.  Janelle does exquisite needle turn and was starting to appliqué vines with 3D buds.  She needs nine big blocks like this, she told me, to make a bed quilt for herself.

P2270061 Needle turn appliqué by Janelle

Sara was doing cross stitch, stitching away on a darling little pincushion, Le Poulet, a French Pincushion.  The pattern was purchased on-line and is a Blackbird Design.  A lucky friend will be getting this.

P2270062 .  Sara’s cross stitch pin cushion kit

Club President Sandra was doing some machine quilting on the last of her long appliqué panels.  These pretty black, red and white quilt sections will then be joined together with the QATG technique.  I’ve never done this before so I will be interested to see how it all comes together.

P2270063 Sandra’s appliqué panels

Sitting quietly and a study in concentration, Linda, who goes by the mantle of “Queen of the Recyclers” was unpicking  her Op Shop bargain buys to use in future projects.  They all seemed to be variations of black and white to me – wonder how it will all end up?

P2270059 Linda getting those seams opened up

So I left the ladies to their work and hurried back to see how my guests were getting on while I was playing hooky.  They were fine – in the middle of watching a TV drama.  Hopefully I will get to the next Remnants meeting next month.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eeek – save me from big spiders

Big spiders and moths are sure to upset me.  I know they can’t hurt me – but that is not the point, is it?  I can’t abide a big moth fluttering around my head, but little ones don’t bother me.  And as for big spiders, the thought of all those legs walking over me – ugggh!  I’m sure that’s what happened last night.  There I was, safely tucked up in bed, reading my library book.  What’s that, I thought, it felt like little tiny legs walking around my neck.  I sat up in bed, as quick as a flash, and checked the sheets and pillows for any furry little bodies.  But there was nothing to be seen, so after a little more reading I settled down to sleep.

But there had been something there all the time.  I didn’t discover it till I picked up my clothing the next morning to put into the washing machine, when out dropped a horrible big spider!  Ahhh – I couldn’t let it get away, then it would be free to come out again and walk all over me in the night.  Robin was taking a shower so I ran to the kitchen, got a glass, and dropped it over the spider.  There – try to get away from there, you monster!

Muffy decided to see what all the fuss was about and sat down by the upside down glass on the carpet.  She was taking quite an interest.  Perhaps she could see all those little legs wiggling as the spider tried to find a way out.

P2250018 What’s in there?

Robin’s job, when he emerged fresh and clean from the shower, was to do his husbandly duty and get rid of that big spider.  He didn’t think it was that big, but being a good husband, had to humour me and dispose of it.  After all, we can’t have an upturned glass sitting on the carpet for days on end, can we?  So he slipped some newspaper under the glass, opened the door and took it all outside where the spider was released.  If he had been wearing shoes, he told me, he would have squashed it on the grass.  But not with bare tootsies.

P2250020 The old newspaper under the glass trick

Thank goodness the crisis is all over.  I’ll be able to rest easy in bed tonight.  And it’s not as if I’m a real scaredy cat.  I’m not scared of mice, or bees, or even wasps. But rats would be a different matter, along with big fluttering moths and big hairy spiders!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Club blocks – done!!

It’s a great day here in my part of paradise.  The sun is shining, the washing is drying in the gentle breeze, the birds are chirping, and the cicadas are making just as much noise as they can.  It is the male cicadas making all that noise and it is all done for one reason only – to attract a mate.  The sound is made by membranes known as tymbals on each side of their abdomen – this is pushed out, causing a burst of sound, and then it pops back in. By rapidly repeating this, the cicada makes its song. Some New Zealand cicadas also make clapping sounds by flicking their wings against the branch on which they are sitting.  These insects may be noisy, but to us Kiwis, it is the sound of summer!

But I haven’t spent all my time outside enjoying the sunshine. No indeed, I’ve been working on the charity blocks I needed to make for my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  There is nothing worse than putting off a job like this till the last minute, then getting into a panic because the time has run away.  So I got the instruction sheets out, selected some suitable fabrics, and got cutting.

First up was the Floating Four Patch blocks which will be made into charity quilts.  These are all to be made scrappy, with no colour stipulation,  just a variety of light and dark backgrounds required.  I’m sure there will be lots of these returned next club night.

P2140026 Floating four patch blocks

Our club runs Quilt Fest later in the year, and the fundraising raffle quilt will be made up of batik blocks.  Included with the instruction sheet were six squares of batik fabric in various colours.  We had to add contrasting batik strips around the sides, in either light or dark tones.  Luckily I had some batik fabrics on hand which I felt worked quite well, so I cut some strips and sewed the blocks up.  Another easy block, and it’s going to look great when it is all put together.

P2140025 Batik blocks for the club raffle quilt

The next sewing job was to make one more cushion for the caravan.  I had already stitched four, but felt I needed one more.  This one will be going in the corner of the caravan couch which Muffy has claimed for her own.  She will be able to snuggle up to it as she snoozes her time away.  Yes, it will get covered in white cat fur, but that’s for me to clean up, of course.  

P2170057 Last cushion made for the caravan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blowing in the Breeze

It has been such lovely weather lately, nice and warm with a gentle breeze.  Just the right kind of weather to wash a quilt, I thought.  I have several quilts to use for our bed, and like to change them around from time to time.  Off came one, and I thought it was starting to look a little grubby.  We can’t have that, can we, so into the machine it went.  On a gentle wool cycle – I hasten to add, and then hung out in the gentle breeze.

P1210127 Fresh and clean again

I’ve been busy in the kitchen too, and several weeks ago I purchased a whole lot of locally grown strawberries to make some jam.  But it didn’t set very well at all, and I wondered what on earth I was going to do with my jars of runny jam.  Seems that soft fruit jam needs some extra pectin added.  Then I discovered some packets of Hansells Jam Setting Mix in the supermarket.  On the back of the packet was instructions for “jam that has not set”.  All my runny jam was poured into my preserving pan, in went a packet of the magic mix, and the jam was re-boiled for 5 minutes while my jars were washed and reheated.

P2140024 What to do with strawberry jam that didn’t set

Then the jam was ladled back into the jars, and sealed.  That looks better, not so runny this time.    Success at last.    Hopefully I will be able to buy some Omega plums soon and make a  batch of yummy plum jam with them.   There is something quite satisfying in making home made jam, I feel.

P2140029 I love home made jam!