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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hanging Kathryn’s Quilt

“Remembering Graeme” was stitched from shirts, ties, and tee-shirts and given to my friend Kathryn to commemorate the first anniversary of the passing of her partner Graeme in July.  After proudly displaying the quilt to family, friends, and workmates, Kathryn returned it to me with the request for a hanging sleeve.  That was easily done, and Robin duly cut a timber slat to size, and purchased the necessary screws and hooks.  With a few tools to do the job, we visited Kathryn so that we could hang her quilt.  She had just the spot for it, she told us.  So Robin duly measured, marked the spots where the hooks should go, and before you knew it, the job was all done. 
DSCF7255 Kathryn with her quilt
Kathryn had asked if I could make her a table runner “sometime”, and I had just the fabric in the bag full of clothing I used for the quilt – a rather nice paisley in browns with a touch of orange.  This silky fabric needed to be stabilised as it was very slippery.  I added some apricot with white spots fabric from my stash, plus some cream for the background, and used the brown paisley as the binding.  After tossing around all sorts of ideas for the table runner, I finally decided to stick with the star theme.  The lounge curtains are burnt orange, so both the quilt and the runner tie in nicely with the colour scheme.
DSCF7256 Table runner
After a nice cup of coffee and a piece or two of chocolate cake, Robin set to with the tools again and put the hall door back on his hinges.  “That was easy”, he told us, and I think he rather enjoyed his bit of Builder’s DIY.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pinestream Quilters August Club night

Our speaker for this month’s meeting was Claire Smith, (well known for her love of “spiky trees quilts”), who gave a slide show presentation  about her recent trip to the Tokyo Quilt Exhibition.  And what a huge exhibition is was – several slides gave us an overall view of this extremely large complex.  The slide show started with several pictures of monkeys soaking in hot pools surrounded  by snow.  We have all probably seen these animals on TV, and Claire had some marvellous close-up photos of the monkeys, completely at ease, as the tourists snapped away at them with their cameras.  Then came slides of the quilts, all very beautiful.  Claire mentioned that most quilts in the show were hand quilted, and hand appliquéd, probably due to the very small living conditions of most people in Japan.  We saw several quilts featuring the Japanese favoured taupe colour scheme, and most of the quilts photographed seemed to have that “WOW” factor with  intricate piecing, appliqué and hand quilting.   As the show was so crowded, often with 10 deep all looking at a particular quilt, Claire often returned later in the day to take photos when the crowd had thinned out a little.  She also showed us some delightful sightseeing slides.  The beautiful buildings, parades, and cherry blossom all captured the essence of Japan so well.
Patricia had brought along a Japanese inspired quilt for Show and Tell.   Using a commercial panel, she had accented the design with hand embroidery using silver thread.  Those colours are just beautiful against the black background.
DSCF7228 Geisha Girl quilt
Another panel quilt on show was made by Jo for her 14 year old grand son, who is obviously a motor bike enthusiast.  Any young budding biker is sure to be delighted with his Nana for making such a quilt. 
DSCF7230 Jo’s motorbike quilt for her grand-son
My friend Jenni brought along her stunning bag.  The blocks are made from multi layers of fabric, stitched in circles, then the fabric cut away to expose the under layers.  The circles are then quartered, and stiched back together again.  It was a good lesson in putting colours together, she said.  And such lovely shades too, just like the colours of a paua shell.
DSCF7231 Jenni’s bag
Such pretty soft colours in Faye’s nine patch quilt, beautifully set off with the appliquéd border. 
DSCF7236 Faye’s quilt
I’m sorry that I didn’t catch the names of who brought in these last few items I photographed, but they are certainly well worth including.  This lovely little beauty is a donation for the Neo Natal Unit at Hutt Hospital.
DSCF7234Neo Natal baby quilt
And I rather liked the knitting needle bag which rolls up neatly.  I heard that this is to be a gift, for an aunt, I think, and is made with knitting themed fabric.  Can you see the sheep busy with their knitting needles?
DSCF7239 Knitting needle roll
And last but not least was this vibrant Island tivaevae cover.  The large leaves and fruit have been heavily embroidered then appliquéd to the teal blue background.  These covers are traditionally left as tops (not quilted and no wadding used) and used as bed covers in the Islands.  I understand that a church group is making these tivaevae for sale to Island supporters who will be visiting New Zealand during the upcoming Rugby World Cup games.
DSCF7235 Tivaevae cover
Another excellent monthly meeting, with a very interesting speaker.  It is always good to catch up with others, and see what they have been working on during the month.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August Stonestead Stitchers

We had a good group gather as we met upstairs in the Stonestead Tea House for our fortnightly meeting.  We pushed two tables together and moved chairs around to give us plenty of room.  As it was a nice morning, there were plenty of other customers sitting outside enjoying their tea and scones in the sunshine.   Several of our group brought along finished items for our “Show and Tell”.   Vicki had not attended the group for some time so the regulars were pleased to welcome her back.  She brought along a lovely bright child’s quilt she had just finished.
DSCF7216 Vicki’s quilt
Vicki had used a lovely ABC print to back her quilt and stitched together some of the left over fabric to make a set of soft baby blocks.  What a great gift this set of blocks and the quilt will make for a new baby.
DSCF7221Baby blocks
Vicki-Ann brought along a big bag containing several UFOs with the hope of getting them all completed. Ambitious - but that never happens, does it?  She worked away stitching some binding onto a pot holder, and had bags of prepared fabric petals to make into flower brooches.  She proudly showed us one of her completed brooches, nicely finished off with a flower button.
DSCF7223 Vicki-Ann’s flower brooch
I was very taken with her beautifully beaded velvet glasses case, featuring the New Zealand pohutakawa flowers.  This was made by Caroline Mitchell.  Sadly this talented designer has passed away with cancer, but her family are carrying on with her business with the aim to “emulate her creativity and passion”.
DSCF7219 Beaded glasses case
I remember Ruth stitching away at her bright island inspired wall-hanging when I first joined this group, then she put it aside to work on other projects.  As there was not much left to do on it, Ruth said, she set to and soon had it all completed.  This is a Jennifer Pudney kitset, called Island Dreamers, and is stitched on felt.
DSCF7222Island Dreamers
Mary’s Christmas Angel wall-hanging in country colours is finished too, in lots of time for Christmas.  The black plaid fabrics are brightened up with the felt flowers, hearts and stars.  Here is Mary hiding her face as she trying to be incognito behind her little angel.
DSCF7224 Mary’s Christmas Angel
Cheryl was busy hand quilting her Christmas quilt, but also had something finished to show us.  She had made two soft kiddie’s books out of fabric panels, the Flopsy Bunnies, and ABC New Zealand.  Perhaps she has made them for future grandchildren?  Not just yet, she assured me, her girls are much too young.
DSCF7225 Two fabric books
DSCF7226ABC New Zealand book
At the conclusion of our stitching time I popped over to the adjacent Sawmiller’s Quiltery to see what was new.  Lots of wonderful fabrics of course, and class samples on display.  A large display of novelty buttons caught my eye and I just had to buy a packet of sewing themed buttons.  And yes, I have just the project to use them on – a gift for a friend so it will have to stay a secret at this stage.
DSCF7241 A collection of sewing themed buttons

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A visit to Pete’s Emporium

Pete’s Emporium say they have  “Something for Everyone”. That may well be quite true, but to a sewer, stitcher or craft person, they also have the most amazing haberdashery area.  Here there definitely something for everyone, and all at most competitive prices too.  Pete’s Emporium had moved since my last visit.  Not too far away, and I easily found the new shop just across the road.
The haberdashery area was the main reason for my visit, and the manager was quite happy for me to take a few photos.  My specific task was to choose some ric-rac to add to a border on my stitchery heart quilt.  As the ric-rac selection was on a very low shelf, I was soon on my knees while I looked through the colours.  I was after some green, and there were several different shades of that.  But then I spotted the burgundy – oh I like that colour too.  After a little humming and haw-ing, enough indecision – I decided on the burgundy. 
DSCF7198 Ric-rac decision time
There were shelves and shelves of goodies to look through.  As well as plenty of ric-rac, look at all that lace, braids and cord.  Need some buttons?  Heaps of those as well.  And something I’d never seen before, jar after jar of tiny little dolls.
DSCF7200 Lace braids and cords
DSCF7199 Buttons galore
DSCF7202 Jar after jar of tiny dolls
Pete’s Emporium also have some  knitting wool, a small selection of patchwork fabric, and lots of other fabrics including Pacific Island prints.  A whole stand full of ribbons, jars and jars of bells and lots of novelty items too.    If you are passing by, this shop is well worth stopping at for any craft related haberdashery.  I really could have spent hours there, “just looking”, but had to get on to my lunch with the caravan club ladies.  Guess I’ll have to allow a lot more time on my next visit.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finishing off the shaggy quilt

I’m on the home straight now with my shaggy floral quilt, with the binding finally all  stitched down.  There were just the last few seams to snip.  It was such a lovely warm morning that I sat with the quilt outside on the back deck.  A half hour or so of snip, snip, snip, and there it was all done.  I have yet to write a label and stitch it on the back of the quilt.  Then of course I will need to give it a quick wash and dry to fluff up all those exposed seams.  And give it a good shake as there seem to be loose threads everywhere.
DSCF7196 Snipping away at the last few seams
We have a “bird pudding” hanging in a mesh onion bag from a large tree and I was well placed to watch the birds feeding while I was snipping away.  I love to watch the busy native wax eyes and greenfinches flutter around as they land in the tree, then race down the wire to take a few bites before another bird arrives to take their place.  I hung half an orange in an adjacent tree to see if that would attract the birds too.  Sure enough, the wax eyes in particular thought it was rather tasty.  As the day wore on, the temperatures kept rising.  So much so that off came our jerseys and then Robin  changed into shorts when he was working outside washing the caravan down.  That’s not too bad for a winter’s day now, is it?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

No outfit is complete without cat hair

Isn’t there a saying that goes something like “you can’t make an omelette with cracking a few eggs”.  It’s a bit like living with a cat, because there is always a little cat hair floating around.  Not that our Muffy sheds a great deal of hair, it just seems to float around in the air and land on things.  This cushion I saw at the cattery says it all.
Muffy loves to be close to us, and evens climbs up on my sewing machine cabinet when my back is turned.  Of course she can’t stay there when I am sewing, that could be dangerous.  She has been known to pat away at the scissors until they drop over the edge – just hope she doesn’t do it to my box of pins because that top off is off!
DSCF6297 Climbing on the sewing cabinet
She is a very “laid back” cat and we find we can pick her up and she just stays where we put her.  Surely she can’t be very comfy tucked up like this?
DSCF7116 Just look at Muffy’s position - how comfy is that?
Cats and quilting just seem to go together, don’t they?  So it doesn’t really matter if there is a bit of cat hair floating around.  In all honesty, I find more snippets of fabric and thread on the carpet than cat hair! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sewing this, sewing that, and some mending

After keeping warm and cosy inside while the snow came down after the last few days, it was time to get on with some long overdue tidying up.  On went a load of washing,  and out came the vacuum cleaner to pick up the multitude of threads on the carpet.  As I work on my shaggy quilt, loose  threads seem to migrate from the snipped seams onto the floor.   With DH on bathroom cleaning duties, all the jobs were soon done and I could get on with some stitching.  First job was to bind some wool flannel blankets for the prem babies in the Neo Natal Unit of the hospital.  These little blankets are wrapped around the babies, then one of the little baby quilts stitched by members of my quilt club, Pinestream Quilters, go on top of the cribs.  The Neo Natal Unit had been given a quantity of wool flannel and the club  was asked if members could bind around the edges -  I stitched binding on three to help out, two with scrappy binding and one with a blue and white print.
DSCF7136 Wool baby blankets
Mending was next on the list.  Robin’s jeans needed mending so I placed some dark blue drill fabric under the tear and zig zagged all around it.  That should do it, and his jeans will now last a little longer.
DSCF7139 Mending jeans
With those two jobs out of the way, I could then get on with some of my sewing.  I stitched the last few blue Healing Heart blocks into sets of threes, and made some sashing strips.  I’ll need some time to lay all the blocks out on the floor to arrange them, but not today, so all the pieces went back in the bag.  But this project is now one step further on.
DSCF7143 Blue heart blocks and sashing strips
What next?  Oh yes, I think I’ll work on some more string pieced blocks for my “Roll, roll, cotton boll” quilt.  These blocks are quick and fun to do, and I am stitching the strips on a fine Vilene rather than on paper as per the instructions.  These are neutral blocks and the idea is to use any and every left over bit of white, cream, pale tan that is lying around, using only what is in your stash.  A bit of colour is fine and the strips can be any width.  I have a box full of left over strips and pulled out all the neutrals and was amazed when I ended up with a big plastic bag full.  The first strip is laid across the middle on the diagonal, then the other strips are added, stitched then pressed. 
DSCF7144  Two blocks all stitched
DSCF7145Trimmed blocks
This will probably be a long term project, as I haven’t worked on it for a while.  But never mind, I will get there eventually, I’m sure.  And to tell the truth, I quite like having a variety of things to work on, depending on how I feel.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stitching Monday – who braved the snow?

The Polar Blast was well and truly visiting the Wellington Region yesterday.  It was so pretty to see the snow flakes falling, and even more amazing to see it settle all over the ground.  Would Pinestream Patchwork’s Stitching Monday still go ahead?  I guessed it would, as it was not too far away, the roads were all on flat ground, so packed my bag full of hand stitching to last me for the day and headed out.  My main concern was the Totara Park bridge, which had ice patches last time, so I drove very carefully across.  I saw my first local snow man so just had to stop and take his photo.
DSCF7091 Hello Frosty
Luckily the lights were on in our hall when I arrived, so someone else had braved the weather as well.  Lane Park looked quite wintery with snow on the roof and all over the lawn, and dusting the trees in the background.  Hope the heaters are on inside to keep us warm! 
DSCF7093 Our hall for Stitching Monday
Only four of us braved the weather yesterday to do some stitching, myself, Margaret, Heather, and Gaye.  Our club Librarian Christobell was there too for a couple of hours, not to stitch but to carry out some library duties.  She was busily checking out crate after crate of books for library cards and any damage, nice and warm in her jacket and woolly hat.
DSCF7095 Christobell checking the library books
Heather has a new project in mind and came along with a big bag of men’s shirts.  She has been buying op-shop cotton shirts for some time and plans to use the fabric to make charity quilts.  She spent the day carefully cutting the cuffs, labels, collars and button bands off each shirt.  The buttons are going to a friend who knits for the prem babies, and Margaret happily took the labels, button bands and any other interesting bits and pieces to use on her journals and post cards.  Heather was very pleased with the amount of fabric she could harvest from each quilt, and nothing is wasted.  Her aim is to make quilts for the Wellington Ronald McDonald Home.
DSCF7096 Heather cutting the shirt to pieces
There was some wonderful fabric in the shirts and we all checked them out.  Heather has only been buying cotton shirts, and I imagine these are getting harder to find with all the fabric mixes on the market.  This is just a small selection, we were told, there were many more at home.
DSCF7098 Heather, Christobel, and Margaret admiring the shirt fabrics
Gaye had purchased a striking “outer space” panel and was stitching star blocks to go around it for her grand-son.  She had some gorgeous hand dyed batik fabrics, and was also using some commercial “glow in the dark” fabric too.  Sounds just the thing a young grand-son would love.
DSCF7102 Christobel and Gaye looking at the star block and panel
DSCF7105Gaye’s stars in stars block
Margaret always brings plenty of projects to work on and I saw her whizz up a couple of bindings, do a little stitchery, and goodness knows what else.  After lunch she was working on her colourful wonky log cabin blocks.  This is another idea to use up more scraps and will eventually be made into a charity quilt.  Such a good idea, we all have bags of little pieces of fabric hanging about.  The blocks are nice and bright and will look wonderful when they are all together. 
DSCF7107 Wonky log cabin blocks
I did home work on my stitchery blocks, then spent a little time taking the tissue paper off my burgundy and cream log cabin blocks.  I am really enjoying stitching the blocks using paper piecing as it takes all the guess work out of it.  I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to keep the logs nice and straight if I wasn’t using this method.  I’m leaving the outer strips of paper in place for when I stitch the blocks together. 
DSCF7106 My burgundy and cream paper pieced log cabin blocks
During the day we kept looking out the windows to watch the snow falling down.  Such snow fall has not happened in this part of New Zealand for almost 40 years, we have been told, so it is certainly a novelty.  The heaters worked very well in the hall and we were certainly warm enough while we enjoyed pour stitching day together.
DSCF7104 Looking out the window
I packed up a little early as I had shopping to do, a visit to Thimbles and Threads to get some light grey thread.  I had run out of this staple, and certainly needed it replenished so that I can spend time at the sewing machine if we get snowed in!  I was getting worried about the state of the roads, but thankfully there were no problems and I arrived home safe and sound, but my little blue car was covered in snow after a day out in the open.
DSCF7110 My car when I arrived home
DSCF7111Our house and caravan, in winter wonderland

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sewing and snowing

We had a lazy day at home today and I spent several hours at the sewing machine.  Of course, I had to stop to make cups of coffee, get the lunch, prepare the evening meal, (even had time to make a pudding), but even with all those interruptions, I am pleased with what I have done.  First job was to cut the binding for my shaggy floral quilt, and stitch it on with the walking foot.  I toyed with the idea of using up all the leftover floral pieces and make a scrappy binding but………  No, that is not really me.  Being a Libra, I really need to have everything “balanced”.  And a scrappy binding does not come into that category at all.  Wonder if I will ever get to be more liberated with my stitching?
DSCF7057 Stitching on the binding
That was quite a big job and took some time.  It was a cold day but we were quite cosy inside.  And I am nice and warm clad in my “special” quilting top.  It is a sweat shirt emblazoned with the logo of “Capital City Quilters, Juneau, Alaska”, and was sent to me some time ago by my pen-friend Diane, who lived in Alaska at the time.  (And we went to visit her in Alaska, but that is another story).  Next job was to cut and stitch some strips to make into nine patch blocks for another project.  There, all ready to assemble for when I want to work on that particular quilt again.
DSCF7058 I need some more 9 patch blocks
As the day wore on, the temperature kept dropping.  The Weather Service had warned that another Polar Blast was travelling up from Antarctica and severe weather would blanket  the whole country.  A friend phoned through excitedly to say there was snow falling in their suburb.  A short time later it had arrived here too.  Snow fall on the ground is most unusual in our part of New Zealand.  It looked beautiful, but brrr, it’s cold outside.
DSCF7076 Slippers in the snow
DSCF7077Snow on the balcony and gardenP8140146Our caravan in the snow at home

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I’m having my own sewing day today

My club, Pinestream Quilters, is holding a sewing day today.  There are several classes on offer, and space for those who want to work on their UFOs too.  It is a very reasonably priced day out, with the added bonus of a hot lunch and evening meal provided as an optional extra.  This allows the ladies to stay later and stitch into the evening, if they wish.  After a bit of soul searching, I decided not to attend, as much as I would have liked to.  But, to be honest, I have been getting out and about with quilt related activities lately.  I attended my fortnightly Stonestead Stitchers get-together on Thursday, and then met up with my monthly group the Friday Stitchers on Friday afternoon.  Then on Monday, I will be attending my other monthly stitching group, Stitching Monday.  These meetings all seem to have come together.  So I had my own sewing day at home today, and stayed behind to keep DH company. 
Before I got started on any sewing, I thought I  would get the ironing done and out of the way.  When my back was turned, Muffy jumped up on the ironing board to “help”.  I was in the middle of ironing some of the New Zealand fabric my friend Eileen recently gave me, it is such a pretty fabric.  I am one of those quilters who always pre-wash my fabric before using it.
DSCF7055 Muffy on the ironing board
Then I spent the rest of the afternoon stitching the green borders on my floral shaggy quilt, and doing some easy machine quilting on them.  Thank goodness that is done.  Hopefully tomorrow I will get the binding stitched on.  The weatherman has promised a severe winter storm, with gale force winds and snow to low levels, so it will be a good day to be tucked up safe and warm inside, wouldn’t you say?  
DSCF7056 Stitching the borders on