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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Last UFO Night of the Year

The monthly UFO nights are fun – a casual evening where everyone does their own thing, with generally a whole lot of chatting going on too.  This was the last one of the year, with only a small turn out of about 8 ladies or so.  I didn’t make it in time for the shared evening meal, but arrived a little later.  But tasted one of Mary’s yummy Lemon Tarts, and the chocolate fish and grapes were offered around during the evening.

Mary had brought along her own “Show and Tell”, showcasing her many years of P & Q.  Everything used to be done by hand when she first started, she told us, piecing, appliqué and quilting. Mary does such beautiful work, and here are a couple of her creations which I especially liked.

PB290001 Mary’s quilting bag

PB290003 Tui surrounded by circular grape-vine

Sandra was as busy as ever, and the only one who brought a sewing machine along for the evening.  I was intrigued by her black and white quilt and she described how it was done.  Lots of cutting, stitching, and slicing, I think.  It certainly is very effective with the black and white fabrics and the splashes of colour.

PB290007 Sandra’s Shattered Angles

Lots of scrappy squares combined with stitchery blocks make this lovely child’s quilt.  Sandra is making this one for the Ronald McDonald House, and it is sure to bring a smile to a young patient’s face when they cuddle up with it.

PB290009 Lovely quilt for a sick child

Kaye was working diligently on her Ngaire Brooks block of a tui on a kowhai branch.  This is all needle turn appliqué, and we heard her muttering quietly to herself about the size of those tiny kowhai leaves.  I really admire people who take the time to do this type of appliqué, mine is machine appliqué or nothing!

PB290014 Just beautiful – Kaye’s tui on kowhai branch

Nan was sitting quietly beside me finishing off pot holders for Christmas gifts.  These are the last two, she told me, after making 12, or was it 20?  She had made a whole heap of them, to pop in with Christmas presents.

PB290017 Colourful pot holders

This Lil Blokes pattern, Gollies ‘n’ Dollies, was purchased by Hilary from Lynn Hyland’s shop while on an Aussie holiday.  Lynn is well known for her cute Golly patterns, and Hilary spent the evening tracing her pattern pieces out, all ready to appliqué.

PB290020 Gollies ‘n’ Dollies pattern

Kathy was crocheting a baby’s blanket together, for an expected grand-child.  Such pretty pastel colours too.  Most of the ladies are not too keen to get their photo taken, but I snapped Kathy while she wasn’t looking.
PB290021 Baby blanket for a new arrival

As for me, my plans for the evening didn’t eventuate.  I had spent most of the day machine quilting the borders on my Christmas quilt, and expected to get the binding on so I could hand stitch it down during the UFO night.  But because I had already unpicked some earlier machine quilting, the border fabric was not behaving, and seemed to have stretched a little.  So out came the unpicker yet again, and I pressed and pinned, and stitched, trying to get the darn thing finished.   Needless to say I didn’t manage to sew the binding on after all, so took along some hand stitching instead.  I really want to get this quilt done and dusted, so I’ll just have to keep on working on it!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A quilting Golfer

Quilts are found everywhere, and in some quite surprising places.  We recently stayed in the caravan at Rangatira Golf Club, in the wilds of Ohingaiti on SH1.  Golf clubs welcome caravans and motor-homes to stay in their grounds, and most offer power, water, showers and toilets.  As well as bringing some extra funds into the club coffers, people staying overnight deter burglars, break-ins, and boy racers.

Hanging in the ladies changing rooms was a small appliquéd wall-hanging featuring a tree and lots of numbered pockets, with words like birdie and eagle.  Now I’m no golfer, but it looks like the ladies place their number into a particular pocket when they have played well.

PB270001 Spotted at Rangatira Golf Club

The wall-hanging was signed on the back and made in 2006 by Marg McAlley.  Wouldn’t it be great if one of you lovely readers knew her?


Monday, November 25, 2013

Leisure Pursuits

Away in the caravan at Taupo, there is plenty of time for relaxing, minimal housework, and some sightseeing.   I had time to sit out with my knitting under the sun umbrella.  I really needed to be on my own as I was concentrating reading a graph while doing a fair isle pattern. 

PB240062  Enjoying the sun

Just because we are on holiday, doesn’t mean that the washing doesn’t get done.  Washed at the local laundrette, it is now hanging outside on my dinky little fold up travelling clothesline.

PB250044 The laundry must get done!

Last night we enjoyed a three course meal at the Wairakei Resort.  We started off with prawn salad, followed by roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, roast pork and crackling,  and veggies – so delicious.  Dessert was a choice of pavlova, trifle, cheese-cake and fresh fruit salad, all good Kiwi desserts, the chef told us.  Come back for seconds, he said, but no, we were quite replete, thank you very much.  I managed to sip a coffee to finish, but Robin was full to the brim.  At $29.50 each, it was excellent value.  We could tell it was quite posh as not only did we have linen table napkins, but the rest rooms had individual hand towels all nicely rolled up in a basket. 

PB240009 Enjoying a meal out

I’m still trying to shake off that dratted viral cough.  My voice seems back to normal, but although the cough has lessened, it comes back with a vengeance each night.  I’ll keep on with the nose spray, the lemon drinks, and the throat lozenges.  Surely I’ll come right soon!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Easier said than done

“Rest the larynx”, the doctor advised me the other day when I saw him about my sore throat and incessant cough.  That is easier said than done, especially as we are away on a caravan holiday with friends, and visiting family here in Hastings, so there are plenty of chatting going on.  But I do think he gave me good advice.  The more I talk, the worse I cough!  And it’s always so much worse at night in bed.

According to Mr Google, the larynx (voice box) is part of the respiratory system that holds the vocal cords. It is responsible for producing voice, helping us swallow and breathe. Mine is obviously inflamed and perhaps a little swollen from all the coughing. 
No wonder I’m still feeling poorly.  But we are enjoying the nice warm conditions in sunny Hastings.  It was nice and relaxing sitting under the sun umbrella in the morning doing a little knitting.  The knitting needles gently clicked together as I worked on a little baby’s cardigan.  Not for anyone in particular, but I’ll put it away in my “baby box” until it is needed. 

Yesterday we took a drive out to Arataki Honey Centre so Robin could replenish his honey supply.  And came across this interesting sign, so we just had to stop so that I could take a photo.  I think we need a sign just like this at home!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It’s no fun when you’re feeling poorly

It certainly is no fun at all being on holiday when you are feeling poorly, I can assure you.  We left home on Friday and travelled to Opaki, in the Wairarapa, for a caravan rally.  Then on to Hastings on Sunday.  My poor throat has been getting worse and worse, I’ve been coughing and spluttering by day, and twice as bad by night, and my voice has almost given up the ghost.  Enough is enough, we decided, and sought medical help.  The Hastings Health Care Centre takes casual patients, and we spent a couple of hours there today waiting our turn.  The good news is that I do not have a temperature, a strep throat, or bronchitis, pneumonia, or anything “germy”.  So it is probably viral, or maybe caused by dust or pollen, and needs good old fashioned care, rest, plenty of fluids, lemon and honey drink, and “rest the voice” I was told.  Mmmm, I’m not really that much of a chatterbox, but I did do quite a bit of catching up with folks we hadn’t seen in a while at the rally.  The diagnosis is not too bad at all, so I’m obviously over the worst.  I’m pleased I got checked out, now we can continue on our trip in a happier state of mind.  Now, if only that darn cough would disappear so I can get a decent night’s sleep.

I spotted a quilt hanging in the Health Centre, made in the raggy style with exposed and fluffy seams.  Called “Get the Message” it was made by Judy Barnes and Ros Lusk, and the centre blocks spell out “no drugs or alcohol in the home”.  Quilts turn up everywhere, don’t they.

PB190001  Get the Message

We are currently staying in sunny Hastings, parked up on an apple orchard.  There is everything we need, power, water, ablution block, and something close to my washer-woman heart, a washing machine.  Once I had returned from my visit to the doctor, a big load of clothes were in the wash with the soap powder, chugging merrily away.  Then pegged it all out, to flap in the breeze and the sunshine.  In my view, happiness really is clean laundry!

PB190005 Can’t help it, I have to keep the washing up to date

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Town and Country Quilters November Club Night

Numbers were certainly down for our November meeting.  Perhaps the “silly season” is starting early for some, or maybe there were members away sick – I know I couldn’t stop myself coughing sometimes.  Do hope I wasn’t passing my germs on.  Our President Leigh read out some facts and figures about our recent Quiltfest exhibition, and it was a great success.  Each month, members go in the draw to select one of the new library books to take home, and I was one of the lucky ones – I chose Quilt Mania, quilts for kids.  As I get to read it first, I’ll have to write a book review for the newsletter.

Our speaker for the evening was Jo Ransom, CEO of Te Takere, Levin’s showcase Library and Community Centre Trust.  She told of the original funding issues, the vision for the project, and the Trust's vision.  After only a year of operation, it seems to be exceeding expectations.  They hold regular exhibitions, free concerts, run a successful youth programme, and issue lots of books too, of course.  With a cafe and Info Centre, people are always popping in and out.  I’m a real library lover and call in regularly to get my book fix.  Libraries are not the quiet havens they used to be, and have a lot more community involvement these days.

Show and Tell is always the highlight of the evening, and there was quite a nice selection held up for us to admire.  Bev was justifiably  proud of her vibrant row by row quilt, made with the guidance of fellow member Lynn.  Bev had a bit of an issue with her flying geese blocks, she related, but it all came right in the end.

PB130001 Bev’s row by row quilt

Lesley is obviously very partial to this design, as this is the third quilt she has made from this graphic pattern.  This version is for her sister, and was quilted by Trish of Crazy Cow.  Sorry the photo turned out a bit blurry, and doesn’t show the pretty rose fabric properly.

PB130002 Made by Lesley for her sister

I’m sure I wouldn’t be tackling a hand pieced hexagon quilt for my very first quilt, unlike Jill who produced this lovely version.  It will be donated to that very worthy cause, Ronald McDonald House.

PB130003 Jill’s first quilt

There’s something about a playful cot quilt which makes you smile.  This one by Sarah is just delightful, with clever teddy, (or is he a mouse?) off enjoying a ride in a plane.  So cute!

PB130010 Sarah’s cot quilt

Hilary has made this lovely lilac and green quilt for her 93 year old aunt, what a lovely gift.  This was also expertly quilted by Trish of Crazy Cow.

PB130004 Hilary’s quilt for her aunt

Fellow Sew Wot member Heather brought along her stunning bobbin drawing quilt.  The secret to this type of stitching is to put the coloured thread in the bobbin, and stitch over the marked lines on freezer paper.  That narrow striped fabric Heather chose for the sashing and border was perfect with all those lovely thread colours on black fabric. 

PB130008 Heather’s vibrant bobbin work quilt

Sadly, I didn’t catch the name of who made this.  Here’s a Gingerbread Man Quilt made just in time to be hung up for Christmas.

PB130006 Cute gingerbread men

At the end of the meeting I selected some library books to take home, had a quick cuppa and a chat, said goodbye and headed back home.  Next month will be our last meeting of the year and will be very busy so it will be starting early, we were told, with entertainment, and a special supper.  So we will all have to get baking, and finish off our Christmas quilts to bring along for Show and Tell.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Reverse Stitching in the Caravan

Here we are, staying in the caravan in Petone, getting ready for my early morning hospital appointment tomorrow.  Travelling down here early means that we will not have to bother with a 90km trip leaving home at 6.00 in the morning!  I brought my Christmas quilt along for the ride, and have been getting stuck in with my Clover seam ripper, taking out some of my machine quilting stitches on my border.  The stitches themselves aren’t too bad, but I obviously didn’t do enough pinning to stop any movement.  As I continued to stitch along the border, the top fabric bunched up and wouldn’t lie flat.  Oh dear, unpicking is the only way to fix it.  

PB110010 Unpicking my flowers

I’ve certainly had my moments with this quilt, and will be pleased to see it finally finished.  If I don’t keep persevering, the darn thing will get thrown into a corner in frustration.  And it really is quite a pretty quilt, with it’s own story to tell.  So…. I’ll keep on keeping on!

Friday, November 8, 2013

One more Anniversary celebration

There was one more 30th Anniversary celebration yesterday, this time a lunch out with our SLG friends.  This group of 12 is known as the Super Leisure Group, and we have been meeting monthly for over 20 years now.  Once a year we pull names out of a hat, and each get allocated a month for the following year, which is your month to arrange an outing of some sort for the group.  We have been to all sorts of places, and it is always great fun.  When we were all younger, walking up hills, down dales, and along coastlines was eagerly undertaken.  These days, we have quietened down a bit, and enjoy much more calmer pursuits.  At the last draw, I asked if I could have the month of November, so that I could plan something for the group to come along to our anniversary celebrations.

I had booked a table at the very popular Quarter Acre Cafe at Manakau.  The food there is absolutely scrummy, the service was great, and it goes without saying that the company was first class.  My Eggs Benedict were delicious, and Robin certainly enjoyed his Big Breakfast, his plate was full with bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoe, sausages, meat patty and sautéed potatoes.  Wow, that certainly was a big breakfast!    Everyone else seemed very pleased with their food choices too. Three of the blokes just had to have a big squidgy dessert each, Ashley had chocolate gateaux, and Rex and Calvin ate their way through a huge serving of pavlova.  I think I might have to change allegiance - the Quarter Acre Cafe could well be my favourite cafe now!

PB070017 My Eggs Benedict

PB070019Everyone enjoying their meals

After that it was back to our home for coffee and anniversary cake.  Trish had brought me a bunch of beautiful roses from her garden. She is a real garden lover, and has about 100 rose bushes to take care of.  And we received some lovely cards too, from our friends.

PB070033 Roses from Trish

The electric kettle was boiling, tea and coffee orders were taken, and then we cut the cake.  The last 30 years have certainly  whizzed  by, we commented.



We had a lovely day, and it was so nice having our SLG friends celebrating our anniversary with us.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Special Day

It may well be Guy Fawkes Day, for those interested in fireworks, but it is a very special day indeed to us.  It is our wedding anniversary, and not just any old one.  No indeed, we have reached 30 years of togetherness, which makes it our Pearl Anniversary.

PB040015 It’s our 30th anniversary

What better way to mark this major anniversary than with a new charm for my bracelet.  And believe it or not, I just happened to have a spare pearl lying around, from our trip to Raratonga some years ago.  I took it in to my favourite manufacturing jeweller, Berrys in Wellington, we tossed some ideas around, doodled some sketches on paper and came up with a plan.  I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

PB050001My new pearl charm in a twisted gold cage

Around this time of year I like to have our “Hearts of Love” quilt on the bed.  I made this for our 25th wedding anniversary, so it gets to grace the bed during November.

DSCF5400 Hearts of Love Anniversary quilt

Tonight we had a celebratory meal with friends down at the local restaurant, then everyone came back to our home for coffee and dessert.  There was a new recipe I had been waiting to try, although I realise that trying an untested  new recipe when guests are expected can be a bit risky.  But I went ahead with the baked lemon and ginger cheesecake, and it didn’t taste too bad at all.  On reflection, baked cheesecakes are quite finicky to make, so next time I’ll stick to the more usual uncooked cheesecake recipe instead.

PB050011 Baked lemon and ginger cheesecake

I remember it was raining quite hard the day we were wed, all those years ago.  It really doesn’t seem that long at all.  And how about this peek into the past - my goodness, weren’t we a couple of sweet young things then?

PB050002 Our wedding, 30 years ago

Monday, November 4, 2013

Back to my Favourite Cafe

We travelled back to old haunts in the Hutt Valley today for a hospital appointment, and then met our friend Kathryn for lunch at my favourite cafe, Fig Tree, in Upper Hutt.

PB040016 Let’s do lunch

The food there is all so nice, it’s sometime’s difficult to choose.  I looked and dithered as I checked out the food cabinet – that looks nice, but then, so does that over there.  I’m the world’s worst procrastinator, believe me.  Finally I decided on a smoked salmon bagel, while the others chose a giant sausage roll.  Although it wasn’t so long ago that we had last seen Kathryn, we still had plenty to chat about.

PB040018 Jenny and Kathryn at Fig Tree

We were still chatting after we finished lunch and went back to Kathryn’s flat, we hadn’t been to visit her there since she had moved in.   Hanging on the wall in the lounge was the wall hanging I made her a couple of years ago, after her partner Graeme had passed away.  This was made from Graeme’s shirts, tee shirts and ties, and I also made a cushion using the labels from the items of clothing I had cut up.  Kathryn uses the cushion every night on the couch, she told me, so it was nice to know that these gifts are used and appreciated.  

PB040019 Wall hanging and cushion made for Kathryn

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On the cutting board

I’m trying to get a head start on a couple of Christmas gifts.  The months are galloping by and it is now November, and there are a couple of gifts I really want to get done.  Better to start now, I thought, than panicking in December.  So I’ve been standing over the cutting board, ruler and rotary cutter in hand, measuring and slicing the fabrics.  There, that’s two items cut out, a gift for each grand-daughter.   Although I’m pretty sure that neither of the girls, or my daughter for that matter, read our blogs, I won’t take the chance and will keep my lips sealed about what I’m actually making.  More will be revealed later.

PB020008 On the cutting board – Christmas gifts

All going well, I’ll start stitching the pieces together tomorrow.  Then there was the Chrissie decoration I wanted to make as another gift, plus one for me as well.  Just where does all the time go, I wonder?

Actually,  it’s been a busy old day today.   Did a big load of laundry, then the vacuuming, dusting, and cleaned the bathroom in the morning.  Did my cutting out in the afternoon – that always take more time than you realise, I always find.  Then cooked the evening meal, plus dessert, while Robin was watching the All Black game on TV.  (I can’t complain, because he’s been busy outside).  So I’m quite pleased with what I’ve achieved today.  Hope everyone else is having a productive day, doing what you like best. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Place Mats

I know, I’ve got all sorts of things half done which I’m trying to complete.  But I really wanted to make a set of place mats for our new little table.  We have a larger dining table for when guests come around, but needed a compact breakfast sized table to fit into our rather small dining area.  Here we eat our breakfast and play on our lap tops.  With a glass cover cut to size to protect the lovely native timber, I thought we really needed a set of place mats too.  There is a handy drawer built into the table to put the mats away when they are not required.

PB010002 Ready for breakfast

I had a half yard of pretty floral fabric, so cut it in strips and constructed the place mats with the “flip and sew” method with the backing in place, no further quilting required.  The couple of left over strips was just enough to make a small mat for condiments.  While I was making them, I could almost imagine Robin thinking, “why go to all that bother?”  The answer is easy, isn’t it?  Because I wanted to, and because I can.
Perhaps I will get on with some of those other projects tomorrow.  And I’ve still got a fair bit of unpicking to do on my Christmas quilt.  Never mind, I’ll get it done sooner or later.