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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Club Stitching Day

It was the last club stitching day of the year, and 18 or so keen and dedicated ladies brought their sewing machines and hand work along to the hall.  I’d decided on hand stitching for the day, and feeling rather ambitious, took along three bags of different projects!  I did a little on this one, a little on that one, then settled down for the rest of the time to work on my Christmas ABC blocks.  Diane’s Nostalgia blocks were so lovely, made of of family doilies, lace, trims and buttons and beads.  This will be a fabulous quilt when it is completed.

PB300001 Just a small sample of Diane’s completed blocks

Sewing machines were quietly humming away, and on the extra large table a couple of ladies were basting a large quilt.  It is always handy to have another pair of helping hands with this job.  There were a lot of different projects being worked on, from a child's bag, to placemats, machine quilting and piecing.

PB300006 Sashiko placements almost finished

PB300005 For a young girl, pretty in pink and purple

It was a lovely relaxing day, and we all sat around the extra large table for coffee breaks and lunch.  There were a few freebies up for grabs – someone brought along a surplus of free range eggs, and another lady had some tomato plants looking for a new home.  I had a great day out, plenty of stitching and plenty of conversation with like minded ladies.  Although perhaps next time I will take my sewing machine and one of my many UFO projects along.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It must be Christmas

It looks like Christmas has arrived!  A few Santas  have popped up here and there, a trio of golden Christmas trees are arranged on the dining room window ledge, and the Christmas Wreath is hanging up outside.  Festive quilts and wall-hangings have been hung up on the walls, and other treasures have been arranged “just so” on the dresser and other empty surfaces.  Such as my treasured Jim Shore snowman collection.  I had one of these little darlings, then received two more for my birthday.   I believe my pen friend Carol bought a set of four, and plans to send the last one out for a birthday gift next year, if I’m really lucky.

PB290050 Three Jim Shore Snowmen ornaments

PB290052Just hanging about, Jingle Bell Santa

While all the decorations look lovely, the same can’t be said for my sewing room.  That’s where the plastic crates are currently residing, empty now of all the Christmas treasures.  They had been stored up in the loft in our storage area, over the garage.  This is accessed by a drop down wooden ladder, and I didn’t fancy taking the empty crates back upstairs, only to get them down a few weeks later to pack everything away again. So they will stay where they are, in the meantime.

PB290054 Selvedge Christmas Tree wall-hanging

Our snowy village scene gets switched on every evening, and looks so pretty as the lights twinkle and sparkle.  Not that we ever have a white Christmas,  living in our part of paradise.  Here in New Zealand we celebrate the Christmas season in mid summer, so it is sand, sunshine, and barbeques all the way, lucky us!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Stitching Bag

Finally finished – my new stitching bag.  What’s not to love – it’s blue, and pretty, I love it.

PB250041 My new stitching bag

PB250043Detail of the wildlife

It all started out with me attending a class way back in August to learn about re-using doilies.  I was very lucky to collect some when my MIL passed away, and had grand visions of using them to make a quilt.  But this one, being blue, didn’t really go with the rest, so I thought it would be just the thing to use on the front of a bag.  It started out like this, after I had stitched some words in the centre.  I needed a little help to get started, but was told, oh no,  you just can't plonk it right in the middle, it must be placed off centre.

P7280003 My blue doily

So I had a change of plan, and with a little help, came up with a different idea.  How about a leafy branch and a bird up here, and arrange the doily artistically  in the lower corner?  By the time I arrived back home, all I had to show for my day out sewing was this.  But the plan was to work away diligently  on my bag, otherwise it will get put away and join the ranks of UFOs already in residence in my sewing room.

P8090011 All I completed in class

Once home I added  a few pretty blue flowers on the corner of the bag.  The flowers were machine appliquéd in place, and I added a button in the centre - then just a little hand stitching to link the flowers together. And while I was sitting at the sewing machine I constructed the straps and machine quilted a piece for the back of the bag.

P8170005 A few flowers in the corner

The doily was trimmed down and stitched in place, as was the cute little butterfly which I found on another of MIL’s doileys.  And then I spent many peaceful hours doing   “big stitch” quilting with Perle No 5 thread.

P9260014 Big Stitch quilting

Once the hand stitching was completed, assembling the bag didn’t take too long at all.  I love how it has all come together, using the vintage doilies, and a combination of machine and hand stitching.  And the best thing is – it’s finally finished!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My turn to host the Sew Wots

We take turns to play hostess to the Sew Wot group and my turn rolled around on Tuesday.  There was a full group, except for one of our ladies who is recovering from surgery.  Our elderly cat  Muffy made a beeline for Pam, and the two of them were squashed up in the Lazy Boy chair, when Muffy insisted on lying down behind Pam, while she was perched on the front of the chair.

Helen had brought along her two entries in our recent quilt club Challenge – a very wise looking owl, and a Tiki.  Check out that red rosette pinned to the owl – Helen won First Prize in the Advanced Section!  Well done, Helen.  And many thanks for the lovely flowers.

PB240035 The owl and the tiki

PB240040Helen brought me a bunch of Sweet Peas from her garden

Carol’s contribution to Show and Tell were two cute little stuffed dogs, made from an Indygo Junction pattern.  They took an awful lot of stuffing, she said.  The red dog is staying with Carol, and the pretty purple dog will be a gift for her grand-daughter.

PB240036Carol with her colourful dogs

You can tell Christmas is not far away when a Tree Skirt makes an appearance.  Heather B had finished this just in time to give to her daughter.

PB240038Heather’s Tree Skirt

And what about these two little cuties?  Heather B was putting the finishing touches on tiny little Father Bear.  Mary decided he needed to have a friend in the photo, and she passed over the pretty dolly hanging from her scissor fob, so they could pose together.

PB240039Two tiny toys

In between chatting  and morning tea, everyone was busy stitching.  Heather E was stitching even more hexagons together, she is a real whizz doing these.  Moira was working on another of her William Morris blocks, and Carol was doing a dainty stitchery.  Mary had found a real Op Shop bargain of a panel - a set of dressing table runners.  She had added some of her beautiful crochet edging, and was now embroidering them.  I didn’t even get my stitching out, much too busy taking photos and organising morning tea.

Our next fortnightly get-together will be rather special, as we will be lunching out at a cafe for our Christmas “do”.  There we will have a big reveal on the surprise gift we have been making.  Everyone was given a name so it will be fun to see who gets what.

Monday, November 23, 2015

More Christmas Stitchery Blocks

I did a little stitching on my Christmas ABC blocks while we were away recently on our road trip.  Two more done now, to add to my rather small pile of completed blocks.  But that’s OK, I’m not in a rush, and I’m enjoying some quiet stitchery time when I get the chance.  These lovely Christmassy designs are from “Rag Tag Stitching, Alphabet Noel” from the very talented designer, Michelle Ridgeway.

PB230034I’m using designs from my Alphabet Noel book

I’ve just finished “E is for Evening (Christmas) Star”, and I did my own interpretation for this letter, with the star shining down on the hills.  Also completed is “F is for Frosty” – he is rather cute, I think, with his warm plaid scarf and top hat.  Would you know – I’ve never made a snowman in my life!  We don’t get snow fall where I live in the winter, only on the high hilltops and mountain ranges, not falling on the ground.  And living here in New Zealand, we celebrate Christmas is in the hot summer sunshine.

PB230033 E and F blocks completed

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Off on a Road Trip

We have been out and about this week, off on a road trip, towing the caravan behind us.  Living in such a beautiful country, as we do, we have seen some marvellous sights, had some fun, and stayed at places we had not visited before. 

PB130048 Looking over Lake Taupo to the mountains

The Jukebox Diner in Hamilton was a delight, full of bright red  Formica, shiny chrome, black and white lino flooring, Betty Boop, Coco Cola, and the waitresses are suitably attired in their 50s style hair and make-up.  It’s just like stepping back in time, and travelling over to the good old USA for an episode of “Happy Days”. 

PB150006 Jukebox Diner

It was rather like stepping into rock’n’roll heaven with paintings of Elvis (I’m a real fan) and his contemoraries hanging from the walls.  I was very keen to try the American Hot Dog for lunch, and Robin enjoyed his Chilli Dog.  With a Coco Cola Soda to complete our meal, we were very happy campers indeed.  Mind you, we call these beverages “Spiders” down here in New Zealand.

PB160012 Lunching at the Jukebox Diner

The Diner was always busy, with a whole bunch of classic car enthusiasts, all dressed in their black club uniforms, and wonder of wonders, what’s this?  A very different type of clientele.  The Red Hat Hamilton ladies arrived, dressed in shades of purple, and sporting red hats, long red gloves, and lots of sparkling bling!  I asked if I could take their photo, and they told me they meet for lunch monthly, and for morning tea every two weeks.  Sounds like a fun group to join – and I know there is a local branch back home.

PB170015 The Red Hat Ladies

And check out the wonderful places we stayed this week.  Here we are enjoying the peaceful surroundings at Lake Karapiro.  The ducks, geese and swans paddled serenely around until the air was split by the sound of high-revving speed boats.

PB140060Camping at Lake Karapiro

Then we stayed off the beaten track on the banks of the Mohaka River.  The cattle are not the least put out when the campers drive into camp, and have been known to enthusiastically rock the caravans while they are busy scratching themselves!  Luckily it didn’t happen to us!

PB180037 With the cattle at Mohaka River

I’ve managed to read two books, do a little stitching, plus a few rows of knitting  - so I haven’t been entirely lazy.  We are now back at Napier for a couple of days, and I do so enjoy sitting outside in the lovely warm air, working away at my projects.  It’s not the most glamorous of photos, but you can see that I’m enjoying myself!

PB190004 Stitching in the Hawkes Bay sunshine

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Town and Country Quilters November Club Night

My goodness, what a night we had.  Our speaker was Shirley Mooney, judge of our Challenge Quilts, and she talked to us about “La Passacaglia”, the millefiori quilts which are taking the quilting fraternity by storm.  Not everyone, but those with the patience for tackling such a huge project and who have a passion for paper piecing and handwork.  Various sized rosettes are made up of tiny, tiny pieces, and are constructed by the English Paper piecing method.  Shirley was assisted in her talk by fellow convert Wendy Welsh.  They talked us through a PowerPoint presentation discussing the pattern, the method, fabric choices and tools.  With a worldwide Face book group of over 4000 members, this quilt is starting to appear everywhere in all sorts of colour combinations.


PB110026 Wendy’s partially completed La Passacaglia

PB110027Shirley is using a palette of grey, black, yellow and white

Do note Shirley’s dress, which she informed us, started off black and white.  She then coloured in some of the flowers using fabric pens, experimenting till she discovered which ones worked best and wouldn’t wash out.  The dress looks rather like a mini La Passacaglia quilt, doesn’t it?

After supper, Shirley presented the awards for the quilt challenge.  Twelve entries were received, with several members forgot to stop and produced several entries.  1st prize was awarded to Helen for her wonderful Owl quilt, 2nd was Paula with her low contrast (grey with white squares) quilt, and 3rd was Luchelle who produced her cute peeping kitten.  Paula scooped the pool winning awards for both Judge’s Choice and Viewers Choice with her little black and white spotted number topped with an orange flower.  We have some very talented ladies in our club, and many thanks to all who entered.

PB110024 The Challenge quilts

It was a busy but fun night, and the meeting format was changed around to accommodate our special programme for the evening.  For those of you who like to “blog surf”, both Shirley and Wendy write a blog.   Shirley’s blog is www.dontwaittocreate.blogspot.com and you can find Wendy’s blog on www.wendysquiltsandmore.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sew Wot Tuesday

It’s no secret I can be navigationally challenged, especially when I have to travel somewhere new - as I did today, off to a rural property just outside Shannon.  I carefully wrote down the address, plus the phone number in case I got hopelessly lost.  Checked the map, and Robin called up Google Earth on the lap top to show me where to turn off the main road.  So off I went.  My only problem was that I missed the turnoff because of a big truck following much too close behind me and I didn’t want to risk crossing the road in front of him.  No trouble, I went to the small town just up the road, turned around, and finally made it onto the narrow country road.  Up, up, up I went, driving up a single lane,  mostly unsealed road, hoping that I wouldn’t meet a big stock truck coming the other way.  Finally found  Heather B’s house up on the hill – whew, arrived at last.

PB100018 Driving up the unsealed road

Mary started off the show and tell when she produced a lovely Jacki Karl design kit she had recently finished.  The pretty embroidered blocks have been finished with yo-yo flowers, with the quilting design echoing the flower shapes.


PB100021 Mary’s pretty quilt

And just to show that nothing need be wasted, Mary took apart these Holly Hobbie framed stitchery blocks, gave them a good soaking, and made them into pretty “girly” bags for her two little grand-daughters.

PB100022Also by Mary, special bags just for little girls

A donation of plaid fabrics was just the thing for Carol to turn into a little boy’s quilt made up of sailing ship blocks.  A lovely charity quilt indeed.

PB100026  Sailing ship quilt made by Carol

Our other Heather had just celebrated her birthday and she received all sorts of birthday presents from the group, lots of fat quarters of course, and I even spotted some chocolate being unwrapped.  And just because it was her birthday, Heather made all of us a gift too, a pretty hexagon bag filled with a few first aid items.  What a great idea – thanks so much, Heather.

PB100025 It’s Heather’s E’s birthday, and we all received a gift too

I was intrigued by the star shaped crocheted wool blanket gracing one of the arm chairs.  It was made by Heather B’s youngest daughter, we found out.

PB100027 Cosy woollen rug on the arm chair

Our hostess then took us into the guest bedroom to show some of her beautiful work.  We all loved her beautiful doily quilt, started a staggering 21 years earlier, we were told.  But it is finished now, and lovingly hand quilted.  This beauty is going to Heather B’s eldest daughter, and will become a treasured heirloom, I’m sure.  The photo does not do it justice, but take it from me, it is just fabulous.

PB100028 Heather’s doily quilt

I had previously been shown a couple of the other Sew Wot ladies Round Robin quilts, and Heather showed me her version, “My Blue Heaven”.  There was much discussion amongst the ladies as to who had done which row, they weren't quite sure after all this time, but this was finally sorted out. 

PB100030Heather’s Round Robin quilt

And lastly, I had a peek at another Sew Wot challenge, the Japanese quilt, made with silks and brocade.  Heather’s version features Mt Fuji on the top, and lightly stuffed koi fish on the bottom row.  Isn’t it wonderful!

PB100031 Heather’s Japanese quilt

It was a wonderful morning, amongst good company, and a lovely morning tea, of course.  This  was my first visit to Heather B’s home, and it goes without saying that the drive home was so much easier than my arrival – and I’ll know where to go, next time.
 PB100032Our hostess’s lovely hill top garden

Friday, November 6, 2015

I love to see a line of washing

I’ve got a little secret – did you know I’ve got a bit of a laundry fetish?  But that can’t be a bad thing, surely.  There is nothing nicer than a line of freshly washed clothes drying in the sunshine helped out with a little gentle breeze.  I needed to wash our winter quilt and today was just the day to do it.  It’s my pink and grey pussy cat quilt, my quilt of choice for the winter months as it has lovely warm woollen batting.  But this quilt is now getting a bit too heavy on the bed, so it’s time for a change.  The pink background fabric has faded over the years, as have some of the grey blocks, but I still love it. Now washed and dried in the sunshine, smelling lovely and fresh, I’ll fold it up and place it on my quilt rack till it’s needed again next winter.

PB060017 My (faded) pink and grey cat quilt

I’ve also washed and ironed my new patchwork fabric.  My birthday fat quarters, the fabric I purchased recently at the Fabric Fair, plus a couple of pieces from a recent shop visit.  The black pieces will be going into a bag ready for me to start cutting and piecing a black themed quilt for the older grand-daughter.  All the rest will be slotted into my various containers – maybe I’ll have to tidy them up as I go.

PB060020 New fabric, all washed and ironed ready to get put away

Poor old Muffy had another trip to the vet today so she is feeling a little out of sorts.  At 19 years old, she is developing health problems, so we are trying to make her life as comfortable as possible.  All she wanted to do on our return home was to have a snooze on the bed for a while and forget about the poking and prodding she had to go through.  I replaced the quilt on our bed, and she relaxed on our Anniversary quilt, full of hearts and stars.  This was made for our 25th Anniversary (goodness, that’s 7 years ago) and I took part in a block swap and stitched and swapped red heart blocks.  The stars are part of the sashing strips.  

PB060003 Muffy recovering from her vet visit on the Anniversary quilt

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Finally - the very last birthday bash

Turning 70 has been a long drawn out affair.  But that’s OK, 70 years is a lot to celebrate, wouldn’t you say?  Each little celebration has been a delight, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them all.  Today was the lucky last, (and about time, says Robin), and I was joined by local caravan friends Dot and Eileen for a lovely casual lunch at the Emporium Cafe.  Robin and Geoff took themselves off for a blokes lunch elsewhere and left us ladies to it.

PB050031Jenny, Dot and Eileen

There was a lovely vintage feel to this establishment, and they do a lot of business with groups of ladies who come for High Teas, we were told.  Mmmm, that will be worth remembering for a future occasion, I feel.  We enjoyed our lunches, (quiches for two, plus macaroni cheese for me), coffee and cake.  As usual when friends get together, there was always plenty to talk about.

PB050029 Looking through to the kitchen

After our lunch we had a look around the Emporium, packed full of gift items and house wares.  And yes, I managed to find a little something which took my fancy.  Our guests came back to our home for a while for yet another cuppa, plus a slice of home baked chocolate cake.  Not that we really needed more cake, you understand, but it was freshly baked and waiting for us.

PB050032 The Emporium

After the guests departed, I felt like I was suffering from quilty related withdrawal feelings and needed to do something about it.  So I spent a little time tracing leaf and flower shapes and fused them onto fabric for one of my UFOs -  I still need to cut them out, fuse then machine appliqué them onto my quilt border.  Each little step helps along the way,  I’m getting there slowly.

PB050033 Flowers and leaves for appliqué

As well as being the “Last Hurrah” for my birthday celebrations, today is also our Wedding Anniversary.  Our 32nd anniversary, to be precise.  As we had both dined out for lunch, we decided we really didn’t need to go out for the evening meal too.  So we settled for pizzas in front of the telly, and stayed nice and comfy at home.  While all around us, fireworks were being let off.  No, not especially for us – we married on Guy Fawkes Day all those years ago!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I’m Inspired by Amanda Jean

Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts has been an inspiration to me for quite some time.  She is celebrating her 9th blogging birthday and by way of celebration, she wants us to share if we have been inspired by something we have seen on her blog, and to share a link.

I was inspired to make a knitted rag rug, using up some of my selvedges – read all about it here.  The instructions said to use size 35 needles, but I had no idea what they were – just used the largest ones I had.  The other change I made was to stitch the selvedges together instead of knotting them and leaving tails.  I also decided to use a single string instead of two together as the instructions said.

P1220001Knitting with my big ball of selvedges

I just love how all the different colours came through, offset by the various neutrals.  I used up long lengths, and shorter selvedges too, whatever came to hand, but kept the short lengths less than 12 inches for other projects, plus threw in a few narrow plain strips too.  The finished rug  fits nicely in front of my laundry tub, adding a pretty splash of muted colour.  I’m really pleased with it.  Robin did wonder what on earth I was doing in the evenings, wrestling with large needles and a big ball of fabric,  which was regularly replenished.  And of course it washes well too.

P3120007My knitted selvedge laundry rug

Thank you so much, Amanda Jane, for your wonderful blog and such creative ideas.  I really enjoy reading about your prolific projects, and you are an inspiration to quilters worldwide.  Please do keep on blogging – at least for another 9 years!!!

I have another WIP from one of Crazy Mom’s designs, I’ve started to make an apron made from a zillion small squares, my Amanda Jean apron I call it.  Must get it out again and put it on top of my “to do” list, and get it finished.