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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Club Stitching Day

It was the final Town and Country Quilters stitching day of the year, and I was determined to get there!  But you know how it goes – things sometimes conspire against us and I had another meeting to attend in the morning.  So I squeezed both things in, attended the morning meeting, rushed back home for a quick lunch, and then I took myself down to the hall by 1.00pm.  Whew, life gets very busy, especially at this time of year with the pre-Christmas rush.

There were eight or so members working away on their various projects.  Ladies were pinning, or slicing fabric, a couple were pondering the next step on their work, and the sewing machines were whirring away.  I took along my very large horse quilt, with all the binding carefully pinned down.  My goodness, that quilt is heavy, and rather bulky, so it was just as well I had a nice large table to spread it out on, as I sat quietly stitching away.  By the time I had packed up at home time,  I was up to the last side – almost there now!

Still stitching that binding!

Ute had recently attended a club workshop on free motion quilting and was practising some of the designs shown by the teacher.  She was doing a great job, Ute’s quilting is wonderful.

Ute with her free motion quilting

I think one of the secrets of free motion quilting could well be those quilting gloves.  I noticed that Lynne was also wearing them as she machine quilted her Pacifica quilt, using gold thread while making tiny little swirls, no less!  (I’m certainly not that clever.)

Lynne’s Pacifica quilt

Another lovely design was Gill’s quilt colourful quilt top.  Made with an interesting pieced block with curves, I thought the floral applique border finished it off rather well.

Gill’s quilt top

It was a lovely peaceful afternoon spent stitching in the company of other quilt club members.  Thanks for your company, ladies.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Camping amongst the Pohutukawa Trees

Finally finished – several projects for our caravan – using up just about all of the remaining camping in New Zealand fabric, featuring cute retro caravans, beach scenes and flowering pohutukawa trees.  With their beautiful crimson flowers tipped in gold, the trees are known as New Zealand Christmas trees.  All that remains of this fabric is just a few tiny pieces, although I have a reasonable amount of the plain grey homespun left.

New Zealand summer scene fabric

My plan over the weekend was this – to complete two placemats, one apron, and a double handed oven cloth.  So a little after lunch time on a wild, wet and windy Sunday the current number 6 has been knocked off my List of Six UFOs.  In between showers I stepped out to get an outdoors photo, hoping that the wind wouldn’t pick everything up off the wooden bench and blow them all over the fence!  I’m so pleased with another finish, and these items will reside in our caravan and get good use, I’m sure.


Sewing for the caravan

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Roll the Dice Thursday

Where has this week gone, I wonder?  It’s Thursday, and I’ve only just got around to rolling the dice to see what UFO I’m working on this week.  Monday was spent machining the binding on my horse quilt, after I had dealt with lots of laundry.  Tuesday – spent the morning with the Sew Wot ladies, and then started pinning and hand stitching the binding down.  Wednesday – out and about purchasing fresh fruit and veggies from the market gardens, a trip to the library, then on to the supermarket. And so the days rush by.

And today, Thursday, I finally get to roll the dice, and the number stops at 6.  A quick check on my List of Six reminds me that this UFO is a set of place mats and an apron made from a New Zealand inspired fabric featuring cute retro caravans.  I had a piece of this fabric left over after making a memory quilt for Pauline after her husband Geoff passed away.  They were keen caravanners too and travelled with us on our South Island Odyssey a few years ago. Read about the quilt here.

Caravan fabric originally used on memory quilt

UFO number six saw the light of day early in the month just before we took our trip up to Hamilton.  And I had made a start by stitching  all the bits I’d previously cut out and pinned – straps for the apron, and started to assemble the pieces for the place mats.   Looking through my scraps, I’ve now decided to make a double handed oven cloth as well, to use up the last of the little bits of caravan fabric.

Assorted bits cut, stitched and pressed

I’m spending an hour or so at the sewing machine this morning, stitching this bit and that bit together.  And getting into a bit of a mess as I’m using sacking for the outside of the oven cloth, and strands of that gets everywhere. 


It’s almost time to switch the sewing machine off, as I’m “out to lunch” shortly with friends from our village.  But every little bit helps, and I’m planning on getting a bit more stitching done over the weekend, all going well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sew Wot Tuesday

Helen was the hostess for our Sew Wot morning.  It was a smallish  gathering, with a couple of our ladies unwell and not able to attend,  we certainly wish them well for the future.  Helen’s home has been fitted with a new kitchen, which we all admired.  So much storage, we commented, it looked very nice indeed.

I had taken my horse quilt along to continue with stitching down the binding. It’s a big job and I’m only a little way along, so I’ll just have to keep plodding along till I reach the finish line.  Everyone was most impressed with Paula’s beautiful machine quilting.

Checking out the horse quilt

Helen had recently attended a machine quilting class and brought her class samples along.  I really admire anyone who can do pebbles, swirls and feathers with apparent ease.

Helen with her machine quilting sample

There was plenty of Show and Tell in Mary’s bag. She had made a couple of outfits for the grand-daughters Cabbage Patch dolls in trendy pink and purple, all ready for Christmas.

Outfits for Cabbage Patch dolls

Mary also does lovely embroidery and has completed some pretty doilies which she brought along to show us.  And we loved the Christmas quilt, full of pretty stitchery blocks, going to a family member.  As is the lovely wall-hanging full of inspirational sayings – such a lovely idea.  Mary had machine quilted each family member’s name in the sashings.. 

Both made by Mary for Christmas gifts

Moira was sitting beside me quietly hand piecing, and Heather E spent the morning removing papers from her hexagon quilt.  And Heather B had recycled some tiny little cross stitch blocks.  They now reside in the middle of crazy patch blocks, which have been embellished with trims, lace, and buttons to make a very pretty bed runner.

Bed runner made by Heather B

As usual, we enjoyed a lovely morning tea, and discussed our up-coming Christmas get-together.  This is coming up fast, and we are lunching out at one of the local cafes.  Should be good fun, and something to look forward to.  And a first for me - I had forgotten to take my camera along to our get-together.  Many thanks to Heather B for taking photos with her phone, and sending them on to me, much appreciated.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quilt Binding

Five days away in the caravan for a long weekend can generate a lot of laundry.  Especially when the sheets and towels were added into the mix.  So that was my focus in the morning – get that washing done and hang it out in the nice warm sunshine.  And I even ironed it all in the afternoon – so I’m feeling rather pleased with myself.

With that job done I could finally get on with machining the binding on my grand-daughters horse quilt.  Luckily I had planned ahead and the binding was all prepared and ready and waiting to be attached.  I don’t know what others do, but I stitch it on with my walking foot and then carefully trim the excess backing and batting off.

Stitching the binding on

So now I’m up to pinning the binding over to the back and and stitching it in place.  This is a large quilt, so its going to take me ages, I’m sure.  But never mind, it’s quite a restful thing to be doing, stitching the binding down, no matter how long it takes.  It will be completed and all wrapped up by Christmas, of course.

Finishing off “ The Great All Breeds Horse Show” quilt

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A little Stitching in the Caravan

It seems that we have only just come home from a trip away, and then we are away in our caravan once more.  I always have my stitching bag with me when we travel around our little slice of Paradise here in New Zealand.  A little quiet stitching yesterday saw me finish off another block from my Christmas ABCs.

Q is for Quilting Bird

Looking a little rumpled as it is not yet pressed, is my Q is for Quilting Bird Christmas block, from the Alphabet Noel series, designed by Michelle Ridgeway.  My Christmas blocks will  eventually be made into a Christmas quilt.  In the meantime, I am enjoying doing my “slow stitching” mainly while we are away in the caravan.  And here we are, parked up in Carterton, enjoying a few days in one of our favourite motor camps.

Our home away from home

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Horse Quilt back home

The “Great All Breeds Horse Show” quilt has now been commercially quilted and is looking great!  I collected it from Paula’s quilt studio, Rabbits Patch Quilting on Monday and I am thrilled with what she had done.

Back of the quilt

My idea was to machine the binding stitched on, then sit and hand stitch the other side down over the next few days while we are away in the caravan.  But the binding hasn’t been attached yet, there has been too much happening with first the huge earthquake, and then flooding.  To be quite truthful I’m feeling a bit “rattled” myself and don’t feel like sitting at the machine just now.   But I’ll be doing the binding shortly when things are back to normal.

Quilting around each horse block

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

After the Quake

A mighty earthquake shook us awake at midnight while we were tucked us in our bed. The bed shook, the house rattled, but luckily no damage was sustained in our home.  Although the quake was centred down in the South island, the effects were felt over a large part of the country.

A graphic showing summarising the powerful quake which struck New Zealand in the early hours of November 14.

Luckily, loss of life has been minimal, but there has been a lot of damage to the roads and rail system in the South Island.    All this damage will take quite some time to put right.

Local residents Chris and Viv Young look at damage caused by an earthquake along State Highway...

Now GeoNet has confirmed it was in fact a quake collision, and they say:  "Our reports indicate that the combination of these two quakes lasted two minutes, with the most severe shaking at around 50 seconds. It was widely felt throughout both the North and South Islands. It looks like one was a strike-slip and the other was a thrust fault."
Scary stuff indeed.  Our thoughts go out to all those who suffered damage to homes and property.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Honey, Strawberries, and Ice-Cream

After a rainy night, the morning dawned cloudy but warm – it must be time to  do another lot of laundry.  The camp where we are currently staying, in the middle of an apple orchard, just happens to have a washing machine.  So I was a very happy camper indeed.

Washing in my pink bucket, all ready to hang out

Then I spent time relaxing under the awning while I did a little stitching.

Robin bought some more honey

We bought new season’s asparagus and strawberries, and ate them for dinner

Went to Rush Munro’s Ice-cream Garden in the afternoon with my sister and her hubby – a famous Hasting’s establishment.  After dealing with health issues lately, they were pleased to indulge in the simple pleasure of eating an ice-cream in the sunshine.  We had to eat them quickly before they melted!

Jenny (under my new hat), Dennis, and Kathleen

A day of simple pleasures indeed.  It was good to spend some time with my sister and her family, and indeed this was the reason we are staying here for the last few days.  But tomorrow it will be time to pack up and head for home – the road trip will be over.  Until the next one!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Happy Days in Hamilton

It was like stepping through the doors into the TV programme Happy Days.  Patrons sat at red chrome Formica tables, posters of singers graced the walls, and the music playing was all 50s and 60s that I knew and loved.  All the music that I grew up with, dancing rock’n’roll in my full skirts  and stiff petticoats as I did in my teenage years! Where was the Fonz?

We were having lunch at Classic Car Museum in Hamilton.  Easily found, just look for the car atop a tall pole as you drive along.

Parked outside the Classics Museum

Our lunches were great, fancy burger for him, and a huge plate of mushrooms on toast for her.  Washed down with an ice-cream soda each.  That certainly took me back to my time of attending Youth Club dances on Sunday afternoons.  Sodas were just the thing then, although we called them “spiders”.

Mushrooms on toast and an ice cream soda

And look who I found over by the jukebox.  My favourite, Elvis.  Perhaps I can dream I’m 16 again and Elvis is singing just for me?

Me and Elvis, just hanging out together

Monday, November 7, 2016

Treasures from Firth Tower Museum

There’s something about linen and clothing from earlier times.  All that beautiful work, painstaking stitched by hand from colonial times, when women really did have such busy lives.  I really admire all that beautiful work, and got to see some at the Firth Tower Museum recently.  Both the homestead and an adjoining  cottage had rooms furnished as they would have been, and cabinets full of lovely things.

Colonial bedroom with yo-yo bedspread

Hand made lace

Children’s bedroom with quilts on the beds

The old mangle and water pump reminds us how physical domestic life was back in those days.  And make us appreciate all of our modern labour saving devices.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mystery in the Laundry Room

Goodness knows what happened.  It all started like this – when I did a load of washing in the motor camp laundry while we were staying at a motor camp in Rotorua.  I added the soap powder, put my three $1 coins in the slot and returned back to the van.  Being a considerate camper, I kept an eye on the clock, and popped back every so often to see how the wash cycle was going.  There is nothing more annoying to finding someone else’s washing in the machine, all washed and not collected.

This load is taking an awful long time, I thought to myself, as I went to check yet again.  I’ll give it another 10 minutes, then go back again.  Then success – the washing was finally done.  Now I’ll hang it out in the line to get dry.  But what’s this?  Someone has put a sweatshirt in my washing!  A closer look showed that none of it was mine.  It all belonged to another camper – but where was mine?  Not in the tubs, or on the table.  I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Then I noticed that the dryer was going.  Surely not?  I peeped inside to see my load of washing being tossed around in the drier, and it was nearly done.  Now – how did that happen?  Why would someone take my load out of the washing machine, put it in the drier, and pay $3 to do so?

Who put my washing in the drier – and paid for it?

I wondered if someone’s husband had been sent over to the laundry with instructions to move their washing from the washing machine into the drier?  A mere husband wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between one lot of wet washing and another, I’m sure.  So I took my perfectly dried laundry back to the caravan, folded it all neatly, ready to put away.  And I never did find out what happened.

Washed, dried, folded

In between all this rushing around, I did some more stitching on my Christmas ABC blocks. Much more restful than trying to solve the mystery in the laundry room.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lunch with Linda and Peggy

We spent a delightful time yesterday talking quilts at the home of Linda and Peggy.  Linda is the genius behind Razzle Dazzle Quilter (do check out her blog) and I had asked her to work her magic on the quilt top I had recently completed.  We had kindly been invited to lunch, and arrived, with the caravan in tow, as we were heading off to Rotorua after our visit.  It was just as well that the ladies were not watching too closely while Robin maneuvered our 4WD and caravan onto their property – that was certainly a bit of a challenge.

Show and Tell took place as Linda showed me several recently completed projects, plus a couple of others which were due to be started shortly.  A quilter cannot have too many things on the go, can she? (Ask me how I know.)  Then we discussed the quilting and batting to be used on my caravan quilt.  Linda had several ideas for hand guided custom quilting, and after seeing some of her work on her blog, I’m sure I’ll be really thrilled with the results.

Linda pondering the possibilities

Then it was time for lunch, thanks so much ladies, and we admired the wonderful view from the picture windows, looking out over the Waikato River.

Gorgeous view from the dining room window

Then it was time to say goodbye, and we were sent on our way with a little home baking to keep our strength up!  I took a photo of the two sisters standing in from of Peggy’s lovely quilt, made with a new fangled curved ruler.  Linda did the quilting on this beauty too.  Peggy is recovering from surgery, and we wish her well for a speedy recovery.  Do check out her blog too, she writes as Kiwi Klippings.

 Peggy and Linda

Arriving at our destination in the late afternoon the caravan was soon put on site.  And what a great site we have, looking across Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island.  Happy Camping indeed.

Camping at Lake Rotorua

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Off on a Road Trip

I said goodbye to our babies – growing nicely in a couple of large pots.  I had planted butter bean seeds, or perhaps they should be called beans?  Together with seeds (or peas) I had collected from a few sweet pea plants which grew last year.  After nurturing them, not too sure if they would sprout and grow, I’m really pleased that they are lifting their little heads up and seem to be making a good start.  We will be away for 10 days so I’m wondering how big they will grow by then?  Guess it all depends on how much rain falls between then and now, as we will not be home to water them for a while.

Baby butter beans and sweet peas

The postman called recently with another lovely gift for my birthday.  This was sent to me from Carol, my pen friend from South Dakota, an is an addition to my growing collection of Jim Shore pieces, which she has sent me over the years.  Can you make him out – it’s a cute little snowman decorated with quilt block designs.  He is sitting on top of a small table runner Carol made me, and arrived safely all carefully wrapped up in a plastic box.  Thanks Carol, I love him, and will treasure him along with all my other Jim Shore pieces you have gifted me over the years.

Birthday gift from Carol

We left home in the rain this morning, towing our caravan behind us.  Travelling along the Desert Road Mt Ruapehu peeked out of the clouds to allow a few snaps.

Mt Ruapehu

Then the clouds rolled over and the mountain disappeared from view, just as well I had taken those earlier photos.  We are staying at Taupo NZMCA site for the next couple of nights, and of course I have packed my stitching bag, plus my knitting, and a book or two.  There is no way I’ll get bored!

Parked up at Taupo

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The dice rolls number 6

A new UFO gets to see the light of day this week. - number 6 on my List of Six.  All rolled up – what’s inside?  I remember now, I had cut and pinned several pieces together, all ready to start stitching.

Pinned up ready to start stitching

The New Zealand inspired fabric is covered in cute little caravans, sun umbrellas  and red flowering pohutukawa trees, known as the New Zealand  Christmas tree.  It shows scenes of summer camping holidays by the beach, the sort of holidays we grew up with.

New Zealand inspired beach fabric

I’m making an apron and a set of table mats to use in our caravan.  So far I’ve stitched up all the bits I’d previously cut out and pinned – straps for the apron, and started to assemble the pieces for the place mats. 

Stitching the pieces together

Tomorrow we are heading away on a road trip in our caravan, so I’ll be swapping the sewing machine and this project for hand stitching my Christmas ABC blocks while I am away.  But I’ve made a start on this UFO – and each little bit helps, don’t you think?