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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sew Carterton

We are currently enjoying our caravan holiday at the Carterton Motor Camp, soaking up the lovely Wairarapa sunshine.  Walking uptown, I came across Sew Carterton, and popped in to check it out.   I didn’t realise that Carterton had it’s own craft shop, and Pam, the owner told me that she opened her shop in March 2011.  Being so new, it’s no wonder I had not discovered it earlier.   It is always so nice to look through a quilting shop on our travels.
DSCF8584 Pretty quilt on the wall
Sew Carterton has a nice range of quilt fabrics, and I enjoyed having a look through the shelves.  Pam has lots of the New Zealand themed fabric in store too, this is very popular with locals and tourists alike, she tells me.
DSCF8586View of the shop, with Pam at the counter
DSCF8585Quilt fabrics on display
This shop also caters for knitters and those who do all kinds of stitching.  There is a huge selection of buttons and lots of interesting trimmings to be found displayed in the wall cabinet.  This is a lovely shop and everything is very nicely presented, so do pop in if you are passing by.  I certainly wish Pam well with her new venture.  
DSCF8587 Threads, buttons and trims
I haven’t been idle just because we are on holiday, and never travel without my bag of hand stitching.  To date while relaxing under our shady gazebo in camp I  have completed a little Christmas stitchery, and am currently working on a couple of teddy bear  stitcheries.  And read a couple of books, chatted to the other campers, and generally having a relaxing time.  We have been out and about too, checking out the local attractions.  Do check out our travel blog on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com to follow our adventures.  
DSCF8574 We climbed up to Castlepoint Lighthouse

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hand Made for Christmas

Now that the big day has been, and the pressies have been opened, it’s time to show the “hand made” gifts which I have been working on recently.  I stitched these cute little Snowman gift bags from felt for the grand-daughters, just the right size to slip a couple of small things in.  They really tickled my fancy – and the girls thought they were “cute”.  The pattern came from “Handmade Country Christmas Crafts”, Vol 28 No 6.
DSCF8246 Snowman Gift Bags
There was a bit of a production line going as I busily stitched up Christmas Placemats.  This set of six were made with red seasonal fabric and appliquéd Kiwis sporting a Christmas hat and were made for my daughter, in the quilt as you go style.  As the red border fabric was all used up, the placemats are finished off with scrappy red binding, using up all sorts of small pieces of Christmas fabric in my stash.
DSCF8258 Six cheery red Christmas place mats for my daughter
As I had two Christmas Kiwis left over, I then made a couple of placemats for the pair of us to use in the caravan, using burgundy fabric to tone in with the colour scheme.  They’ll be great to eat our meals off over the holiday period.
DSCF8257 Two place mats for the caravan
My 16 year old grand-daughter Megan is very handy in the kitchen and had made me quite an assortment of hand made gifts for Christmas.  There was chocolate fudge all nicely wrapped, one packet each for Robin and me, so we don’t have to share.  The bottle of elder flower cordial will be a tasty variation when I am looking for a refreshing sunny day drink to sip.  And she had also made me a jar of lemon curd, so yummy.
 DSCF8530 Tasty goodies made by Megan
Megan had also been busy making goodies for the bathroom and presented me with a fizzy bath bomb, and a small bottle of bath crystals.  She is a very talented young lady indeed.
  DSCF8532To make bath-time special
So that’s my bit of secret Christmas sewing.  Can’t wait to do some blog-hopping and read what others have done for gifts.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Do you send Christmas Cards?

Some people I know have had enough of the whole Christmas Card performance each year.  It all takes so much time, buying the cards, writing each one, adding special messages or letters to those who we don’t see very often, buying the stamps, and finally posting the cards.  Of course, overseas cards have to be done early so that they don’t miss the cut off time.  I still write cards but try to cut down a little if I can.  I know that some people have washed their hands on the whole Christmas Card issue, and perhaps send e-mails instead.  My lovely pen friend Rose from UK sent me a copy of this poem (enclosed in her Christmas Card) and I would like to share part of it with you. Guess I’ll still be sending cards as I know it means a lot to some, especially those who live alone. 

I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book

And every year at Christmas time I go and take a look

And that is when I realise these names are just a part

Not of the book they’re written in but of my very heart

And every year when Christmas comes I realise anew

The biggest gift that life can give is knowing folks like you

And may the spirit of Christmas that forever and ever endures

Leave it’s richest blessing in the hearts of you and yours


Merry Christmas to friends, readers and fellow bloggers.  May you all have a Happy Christmas with family and friends, and if travelling, stay safe.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It’s been a very warm day

We have had a busy old day today, a bit of house painting, a trip to the library and the shops, then Robin was working away under the blazing sun cutting the lawn and pruning the grapevine.  Then we started on packing the caravan.  This takes many trips up and down the path of course.  Our clothes are in, and most of the food except for perishables.  Whew, it makes me tired just reading about it all.  Muffy is flat out on the bed, snoozing the hot afternoon away.  No doubt she will wake up when things cool down a little and come to the kitchen demanding food please, and now!  This lovely warm weather is meant to last for the next few days, so we certainly hope so.  We have a large hebe bush growing in front of the house and the purple blossoms are just covered in bees.  It is nice to see them all busily gathering the nectar in the sunshine.  We are not very good gardeners so it is nice when plants flourish without any help from us!
DSCF8414 Our flowering hebe bush is covered in busy bees

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making lists

I’ve been making lists, and getting things organised.  Christmas will be here in a couple of days and we have to get the caravan packed up.  Luckily all the shopping is done, the presents have been bought (or made) and they have been delivered and posted away.  Whew, that’s one job done.  We have brought all the essentials like Christmas Mince Pies, and Christmas Cake, ham and new potatoes.  Perhaps I should hang my head in shame and admit I have never ever made a Christmas cake.  The Christmas Day menu is worked out and all the extras brought.  Then I had to fossick around and find the Christmas lights which we put up around the caravan while we are away, such as the spiral multi coloured rope light Christmas Tree which we put up under the caravan awning, and the pretty little fibre optic Christmas Tree which stands on the dining table.  Not forgetting a few strands of twinkling lights which get strung around the outside of the caravan.
I was really surprised when Robin asked me if I had sewing organised to take away - guess he does notice when I sit and stitch.  Yes, my bag of hand stitching must be packed, as well as a few library books I picked up the other day.  And we mustn’t forget to take our beautiful Birman Muffy, and all her assorted paraphernalia.  Muffy even has her own “toilet bag” to keep her own personal things in!
clip_image002Muffy’s Bag
One last thing, we mustn’t forget to take the pressies, or there will be nothing to open on Christmas morning.  (I’m hoping for some chocolate peppermint creams, my favourite kind of chocolate).  So…… how organised is everyone else, I wonder?

Monday, December 19, 2011

It was a good buy!

I’m up to the last metre of my “ever so useful” Christmas fabric.  This was purchased as a 20m roll several years ago in a post Christmas sale at 75% off the full price, so I bought it at a really cheaply.  This cream fabric printed with Merry Christmas in red and green has been used as backing for one large (sadly still not completed) and innumerable smaller Christmas quilts, and as the backing of my Christmas stitchery cushion covers.
DSCF8410 My Christmas backing fabric
Last year I made two Christmas aprons with an “Old World” Father Christmas appliquéd on the bib, one for myself and one for my daughter.  Nicky’s apron was made from cream homespun and I used the Christmas fabric for mine.
  DSCF5053 Nicky and Jenny modelling the Christmas aprons
And just in time for Christmas this year, I have completed two sets of placemats – will show these after Christmas.  Once again, I used my handy fabric as the backing.  No doubt I will find another small Christmas project to stitch next year, to use the remainder of my fabric up.  There’s no doubt about it, that roll of fabric was certainly a good buy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

High Tea at Kiwitea

It was time to deliver the pressies to my daughter and her family, who live in the tiny rural hamlet of Kiwitea, so we drove up to spend the day with them.  We exchanged gifts, with the proviso being that they were not to be opened till Christmas morning, despite the half hearted pleading from the grand-daughters.  My daughter Nicky told me excitedly that we were to have a High Tea for lunch, and she was busy putting the finishing touches on the table.  Knowing I like coffee she asked me, “You do drink tea, don’t you?” Of course we do (occasionally) I assured her, after all, the table was already set with dainty tea cups and saucers.  It wouldn’t have looked the part with some big chunky coffee cups towering over the pretty bone china cups and saucers.  Our lunch was lovely, and the three tiered cake stand was full of bite sized goodies.  We enjoyed asparagus rolls, small lady-like sized egg sandwiches and dainty little savoury muffins served with smoked salmon and cream cheese.  We followed these with scones topped with jam and cream, then nibbled on chocolate truffles and whole strawberries.
DSCF8371   High Tea, Kiwitea style
The Christmas decorations were out, and I noticed several which I had previously made for the family.  There was my “Countdown to Christmas” quilt hanging on the wall, and I certainly remembered making the red Santa with a bell on his hat, plus a couple of other items that I had given to the family over the years.   It took a little persuasion to gather the two girls for a  three generation family photo – I’m sure they weren’t quite this difficult when they were youngsters!  Finally everyone was in place, and we managed to snap a few photos for posterity.
DSCF8382 G-D Emma, Jenny, daughter Nicky and G-D Megan
We had a lovely day together and caught up with all the family news.  We won’t be spending Christmas together but both families will be camping at different campsites.  Here’s hoping for warm sunny weather over the holiday season.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kirks Christmas Shop

I love Christmas, and boarded the big orange bus for a trip to Wellington today to see the Kirks Christmas Shop.  The weather was wet and drizzly but very warm, and the hills across the harbour were covered in mist.
DSCF8336 On the way to Wellington
Nobody does Christmas better than Kirks Christmas Shop, in my view anyway.  Kirkcaldies and Stains department store (affectionately known as Kirks) is a Wellington institution and has been around since the early days of settlement.  It was founded in 1863 by young Britons John Kircaldie and Robert Stains as a “men’s hosiers and linen drapers”.  The tradition of a Christmas Shop started in 1988.   As we have come to expect, the shop windows were beautifully decorated and groups of excited youngster watched all the moving displays in fascination.  Unfortunately, the reflections in the windows would not allow for good photos.

I climbed the curving staircase up to the 2nd floor and joined  the many Mums and their offspring to gaze in wonder at all the Christmas delights.  The staff were quite happy for me to take photos. 
DSCF8347 Views in the shop
There was a whole wall of little village houses with their windows all lit up and shining out across the supposed winter wonderland.  (We celebrate Christmas in Summer down here in New Zealand)  Each one could be purchased separately and you could chose from the Donut Shop, the Gingerbread Factory, Day Care, House of Chocolate, Fire Station, St Stevens Bell Chapel and many more.  They were all so perfect in their own way and a purchaser would be hard pressed to make a choice, I expect.
DSCF8348 So many little houses to chose from
DSCF8357Black and white tree
DSCF8355Lots of little cuties 
I was amused to see a whole range of special Christmas toys for those with pet dogs.  No doubt the dog would make short work of this Christmas chicken.
DSCF8358 Especially for the dogs
There was so much to take in that I had to walk around several times.  Displays were all themed and colour coordinated and the whole Christmas Shop was delightful.  Many of the automated toys were up and  running and the shop was filled with the sounds of happy songs and music.
DSCF8351 The Ferris Wheel was turning
DSCF8364A woodland scene
It certainly is a magical experience to wander through the Christmas Shop.  I read recently that Kirks are trying to modernise their image, so I do hope that the tradition of the Christmas Shop continues.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another peek at Christmas in our house

It is so nice to get the Christmas quilts out each year.  Most of them get hung in their own special places, and anything new can cause a mild case of panic.  Not that I have a new Christmas quilt this year, my newly completed item was my Tree of Christmas Cheer (shown in an earlier post) and I found a space for it in from of the gas fire.  Here a a few of my Christmas quilts hanging on the walls, some made by me  and some are gifts.
DSCF2294 Christmas Stars, made in 1992, and hand quilted
DSCF2298Two Christmas stitcheries, made in 2006, hand quilted
DSCF2392Christmas tree made with triangles, oops, forgot to date it
 DSCF2299Little Robin Redbreasts, 2002, gift from Rose, UK
DSCF4911Christmas Baubles, 2009, gift from Diane, USA
  DSCF8332Selvedge Christmas Tree, 2010, machine quilted
Each and every one of our Christmas items is special, aren’t they?  Whether we have enjoyed the time to stitch our own, or received some as treasured gifts.   I have more hanging up, plus several versions of Father Christmas, and a variety of small trees.  No doubt I will continue to make and find space for another Christmas quilt, another Santa, or whatever takes my fancy. And last but not least, I would like to share a Christmas poem written by my grand-daughter Megan when she was just 11 years old.  We had her poem printed and framed, so that she could give one each to her parents and grand-parents.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Stitching Monday

My goodness, this is our last Stitching Monday for the year.  The sewing machines were stitching feverishly away as everyone worked hard on their projects, and the hand stitchers were tucked away in the corner.  Heather brought in a lovely little angel to show us,  made for her by her niece to hang on the Christmas tree.  Very pretty, and the beads are so tiny. 
DSCF8301 Beaded angel tree ornament
Heather also brought in two more tops from her “Great Shirt Project”, and commented that op-shop shirts must be getting hard to find, as several other quilters she knows have now taken up the challenge.  Quilt number five is all pinned up ready for machine quilting, and quilt number six is in quite a different colour way with touches of yellow.
DSCF8302 Heather’s shirt quilt, pinned ready for quilting
DSCF8303Quilt top number six
Joyce is another who works hard all month and then stuns us with her output when we get together.  She was stitching a backing for her black and white Snail Trail quilt, using some of the left over fabrics to make a centre panel.
DSCF8305 Joyce making a quilt backing
“You’ve all seen this one”, Joyce commented, as she laid her Crop Circle quilt out to show us.  No, we hadn’t, this one must have been stitched in secret, we told her.  Joyce has used lots of New Zealand patterned fabric in this quilt, which has both Snail Trail and Star blocks.
DSCF8306 Crop Circle quilt
Jo was stitching a “commission” quilt for a workmate, in a stunning palette of teal and purple.  This is sure to look quite stunning, so we will be interested to see what the finished top looks like.
DSCF8308 Jo’s commission quilt
Fay was quietly stitching away, making a set of placemats as a gift for her overseas visitors to take home.  These are being made in New Zealand designed fabric, so will be a reminder of their trip to this country.
DSCF8309 Fay’s placemats are coming along nicely
As this was our last meeting for the year, we all brought along a festive plate for a shared lunch.  “Don’t start eating till I take a photo”, I told the ladies.  It was all delicious, especially Heather’s yummy carrot cake.
DSCF8304 Ready for our lunch
And as for me, I did a bit of sewing on my burgundy and cream log cabin blocks.  Then I switched to sewing some little selvedge blocks for an idea I had for a  bag.  I’ll have to see how that idea progresses, I think.  Thanks so much, ladies, for another year of stitching and friendship.  It’s been great to come along each month and sew together.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Button Cushion for Barbara and Bill

Barbara and Bill are caravan club friends. They recently celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on Armistice Day, and I wanted to make them something special.  Barbara loves buttons and has a huge collection in many beautifully shaped glass jars.   I made them a cushion featuring a jar with a red lid and stitched a selection of buttons inside the jar. The brown fabric used is particularly suitable as it is printed with little jars of buttons with red tops.  I gave them their new cushion at our weekend caravan rally.
DSCF8269 Bill and Barbara with their new cushion
Barbara and Bill were very touched with the gift, and Barbara spent a lot of time looking at all the buttons I had stitched on. She proudly showed it off to the other caravan club ladies, and I know it has gone to a good home.  It will find a place on the couch amongst the knitted cushions Barbara has made and decorated with some of her own button collection.
DSCF7864Jar of Buttons cushion

Friday, December 9, 2011

The caravan gets a Christmas touch

We are off this weekend to our Caravan Club Christmas Rally, so it was time to get the caravan looking Christmassy.  Being such a small space, it really doesn’t take too much effort.  Over the last few years I have stitched away and made several “red work” Christmas cushion covers.  The existing covers come off, and the Christmas ones go on, it’s that easy.

DSCF8164 Three Christmas cushions in the caravan

DSCF8162One more cushion and Santa Bear

While I had the original covers off, it was time to give them a good wash and hang them out to dry, making them fresh and clean for another year of caravan adventures.

 DSCF8153 Cushion covers on the clothesline

Then a few Santas stand to attention on the shelf above the door, and up goes my red work Santa wall hanging.  That didn’t take too long at all, did it?

DSCF2394 Six assorted Santas

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas has arrived at our house!

It always takes longer than you think, doesn’t it?  I’ve been busy bringing out the Christmas quilts and other decorations.  Some time ago I read a good piece of advice – to make sure the Christmas decorations fit into an existing space.  So…… I take a picture down, and put a quilt up in the same place.  Then after Christmas all the festive stuff comes down, the original stuff goes back on the wall, and the house returns to normal. 
I have made something new this year, not a quilt, but a Christmas tree, and I’m really pleased with it.  The pattern is “Tree of Christmas Cheer”, designed by Ami Downs of Hatched and Patched.  The simple stitchery panel  really sets it off, and tells of:
“Mistletoe and eggnog, plum pudding and turkey, family and Christmas cheer”.
Although the pattern used a multitude of fabrics in all different colours for the tree, that didn’t appeal to me, as my tree had to be green!  I had a dark green fabric pattered with gold  coloured fir branches tucked away in my Christmas stash which was perfect.  The tree has a pouch of plastic pellets in the base to make it more stable, and is stuffed with fibre-fill, and I found a gold star button for the top.
DSCF7932   Tree of Christmas Cheer
The tree joins a couple of other trees and a few Santas in front of the gas heater.  No, they won’t get singed, as down here in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Christmas in summer. 
DSCF8240Trees and Santas 
The top of the heater has been cleared of brass ornaments and replaced with some of my Christmas collection.  Pride of place goes to “A Stitch in Time”.  Here’s Santa sitting at the sewing machine busy repairing his Santa hat before he heads out on the big day delivering all those presents.  This was a gift from my pen friend Carol, of South Dakota.
DSCF2289A Stitch in Time
And standing on the hall table is a mixed selection of “gold” trees and roly poly angels, a couple of Santas and a snow man, a snow globe and two lovely Jim Shore ornaments.
DSCF8255 An assortment of ornaments
DSCF5762This Jim Shore piece came from Gail in  Canada
Now that the house is all Christmassy, I’ll have to turn my attention to the caravan – but that won’t take too long.  It’s our Caravan Club Christmas Rally this weekend, so we’ll have to make sure we take our Santa hats – ho, ho, ho!