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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Two Birthday Cushions–Delivered

It was a day out in the country for us on Sunday, when we drove up to the tiny rural hamlet of Kiwitea to have lunch with the family.  Passing by paddocks (fields) of bright yellow flowers – we presume that this is a canola crop.

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Out in the country

The two grand-daughters were celebrating their birthdays, and I had a big parcel for each of them.  Almost too big to carry!

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All wrapped up and ready to be delivered

Emma’s birthday was a few days ago, and she happily ripped the paper of the parcel.  I think she likes it!  What she doesn’t know is that I made the cushion from extra blocks from her new horse quilt, which is currently getting commercially quilted at the moment.

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Happy with her large cushion

There is no doubt that Emma is a horse lover – wonder how many horse photos she has on her bedroom wall.

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New cushion on Emma’s bed

Younger grand-daughter Megan came home for lunch and although there were several days to go till her actual birthdate, she just couldn't wait.  Off came the paper in a flash.  Yes, another happy birthday girl.  Megan flats in the town, and has since sent a “snap chat” photo showing her new cushion on her bed.

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Megan likes her cushion too

After lunch I had to borrow a pair of gum boots (Wellingtons) to walk over the squelchy paddocks for a meet and greet with the horses.  This is always a requirement when we come up to the family small holding.  First we said hello to Fire Dancer, Emma’s foal.  We took carrots out for the horses  and they were gently taken from our hands.

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Emma with Fire Dancer

Then to another paddock to check out Fire Dancer’s Mum, Sonata.  She had recently torn her leg but seems to be recovering well now.

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Emma, Sonata and Robin

We had a lovely day catching up with them all, and a tasty lunch.  The bags of licorice we took up were pounced on with glee, not sure how long they will last.  Then it was time to say our goodbyes, and head back home.  Another lovely family day in the country.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Sewing

It’s an excellent way to start a Sunday morning, our family tradition of bacon, eggs and tomatoes for Sunday breakfast, ably cooked by Robin.  After that great start to the day I was more than ready to start work on this week’s UFO, my Christmas swap blocks of stars and nine patches.  This was an internet swap and I received a great variety of 6 1/2 inch blocks.

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Christmas blocks

After laying the blocks out in rows on our bed, and rearranging them a few times, as you do, I was ready to start sewing.  One after the other, the rows were securely pinned, stitched, pressed, and returned to the top of the bed.  I don’t have a great deal of spare floor space so the bed often gets called into use for sewing projects.  Just have to make sure that I don’t leave any pins lying about.  And this is what I’ve achieved so far.

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Christmas stars and nine patch blocks, getting there

I’m pleased with my Sunday sewing, so far.  Four rows done and three more to go.  There is certainly plenty of variety in the colours and fabrics used, and the blocks I have received will make a lap sized quilt – to go on the back of the couch perhaps.   I’ll have to wait until it is finished.  And on Monday  I’ll be rolling the dice again to see which of my UFOs I get to play with for the following week. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let’s get that Dice Rolling again

I’m a little late working on my “roll the dice” UFOs this week.  What with a three day weekend away in the caravan – that was fun, and great weather too.  Followed by a hospital appointment on Tuesday, him, not me, for a change, and goodness knows what happened to Wednesday.  It’s now Thursday, and I’m raring to go again – but not till I do the vacuuming, I told myself.  Do you make deals with yourself like that, I wonder?

Most of you know about my system to deal with all those UFOs by now.  I have numbered and listed six, roll the dice, and then work on (for that week) whatever number comes up.  And this week it is a new addition to my List of Six, my assortment of Christmas Stars and Nine patch blocks.  These were from two internet block swaps I took part in many years ago, run by Southern Cross Quilters.

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Christmas Stars and Nine Patches

The criteria was to make 6 1/2 inch blocks in Christmas colours, red, green and cream.  But a bit of yellow and blue got sneaked in too, I noticed, along with a few in more country colourways.  The stars could be pieced or appliqued, it was our choice.  We stitched up the blocks in sets of 10, posted them off to the Swap Mistress, and received the same number back.  Goodness knows how long ago I took part in these two swaps, but the blocks have been waiting patiently for ages to be made into something.

I’ve laid them out to see how big it will end up, and discovered that I’m one nine patch short.  That didn’t take too long to whip up, with a few strips of suitable fabric from my box of bits.

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One more nine patch made

Guess I’ll be spending a bit of time arranging and rearranging all the blocks then I’ll start sewing the rows together. 

It was my birthday in the weekend, and the postman continues to bring me cards, so nice to be remembered, isn’t it?  And a parcel from my pen-friend Rose who lives in Southampton, UK, containing several pieces of lovely fabric shimmering with gold thread.  Thanks so much Rose, I’ll have to find something special to make with this lovely selection.

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Birthday gift from Rose

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two Birthdays to celebrate at Sew Wots

There were two October birthdays to celebrate this month amongst our Sew Wot ladies, Heather E (our hostess for the morning) and myself.  By the time I arrived Heather was surrounded by birthday gifts, so I added mine to the pile.  From what I could see, Heather received lots of lovely fabric – what better gift for a quilter?

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Heather E opening her birthday gifts

Heather also had a huge pile of quilt magazines she was culling, and encouraged one and all to take some home, and no, she didn’t want them back.  I know what she means, magazines seem to have a mind of their own and must multiply when left alone.  I came home with a nice big pile of Quilters Newsletter magazines – plus a few others.  Although I don’t buy it now, Quilters Newsletter was the first quilting magazine which I subscribed to, when I first started patchwork and quilting.  Oh, the excitement when it arrived each month in my letterbox!

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Lots of happy reading here

There were only six of us meeting today, sadly two of our ladies are not well, while Carol is on an exciting overseas trip.  Helen was doing some baby knitting and proudly showed off her lovely new knitting bag.  It was a gift from Mary, who had found some amazing fabric printed with words all to do with knitting.

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Helen and her new knitting bag

Meanwhile Mary was embroidering a dressing table set.  This was a project she had forgotten about – a  Semco kit tucked away in a drawer.  With the crocheted edges done earlier, it won’t take her too long to complete this set.

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Mary and her embroidery

Heather B was busy too, adding embroidery to her crazy patch project.  There she is, hiding behind her work – she is not usually so shy!

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Heather B and her crazy patch block

Both Heather B and I had to leave early, for hospital appointments.  But not before we had enjoyed morning tea and home made pikelets with jam, yummy.

I received a lovely lot of gifts too – thank you everyone.  A great selection of fabric, pins and a pin cushion, padded clothes hanger, and a pretty embroidered bag.  Wasn’t I a lucky birthday girl!

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My birthday gifts

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pink Ladies

The Pink Ladies are a local Breast Cancer Support group, and I finally managed to attend another monthly meeting.  What with hospital appointments, treatments, and finally our long awaited holiday in Australia, it is several months since I’ve managed to get there.  Wear something fun, I was told.  Mmm, I wouldn’t have thought anything in my wardrobe would be considered “fun”.  Then I had a brainwave – and climbed  the pull down ladder into the loft to retrieve a very special object, which certainly could be considered funny.  My Happy Birthday hat!

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Is that fun enough, do you think?  My hat looks like a birthday cake with big fat candles stuck in the top.  But the candles are a bit saggy and don’t stand up straight.  Never mind, it might make someone laugh.  And my birthday is coming up in the long (Labour) weekend,  so it’s only right that I should give my hat an outing.

Everything is always very nicely done at the Pink Ladies meetings, everything beautifully decorated, and shades of pink everywhere.  Some of the other ladies had dressed up too, I noticed pink flannel pyjamas, shocking pink tights, a pink chenille dressing gown, and various floral head pieces.  I didn’t win the raffle, but my partner and I won a small prize for the quiz.  And I received a little birthday gift with the other October birthday girls.  And just look at that beautifully decorated birthday cake.  I had a lovely morning meeting up with the ladies.

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Birthday Cake and gifts

Sadly, there were several newly diagnosed ladies attending for the first time, but they can be assured of a warm welcome and support as they go through their breast cancer journey.  It is a terrible disease and strikes so many.  But we have first rate health care here in New Zealand, so that is a blessing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Candlewick Quilt

This week I’m working on assembling my candle wick blocks together.  This is a really old UFO and I took these blocks away in 1999 when we did a 3 month trip around UK.  I remember stitching away after a busy day of sightseeing, while we relaxed in the evening at the various B&Bs we stayed at.  It’s so nice to look at all the blocks I stitched during that wonderful trip away.

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It may be fairly simple sewing, but still takes ages – although I always imagine when I start out that I’ll be finished in no time at all.   What with measuring, cutting, pinning, stitching and pressing each strip, it’s a slow process.  But I’m getting there.

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Two of my candlewick blocks

I’ve a couple of more strips to sew around the edges, and then I’ll have to think how I want to do the borders.  There are a couple of plans percolating in my little grey head, so I’ll just have to see works best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

P is for Plum Pudding

Not much hand stitching has been happening lately.  But with my P block from my Christmas ABC blocks half  done, it didn’t take too long to get it finished.  In fact, it was rather pleasant sitting at the table, in the sunshine, quietly stitching away as I watched the world through the window.

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P is for Plum Pudding

Although we celebrate Christmas in Summer down here in New Zealand, I still rather like a nice helping of rich fruit Christmas pudding with custard and cream on Christmas Day.  Yummy!

I’m working my way through the alphabet from Michelle Ridgeway’s delightful Alphabet Noel patterns. This is my “slow stitching” project, so I’m enjoying taking my time.  And with a long weekend away in the caravan coming up fast, my stitching bag will be coming away with me.  Perhaps I’ll have time for a little more stitching.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Update – and my new List of Six

Our Aussie Adventure holiday is now a distant memory, and we have been home a couple of weeks now.  So it is time to get serious, and start stitching again.  How else will I get through all my UFOs?

But first, an update.  My grand-daughter’s horse quilt (previously number 5 on the list)  is now in the care of Paula, of Rabbit’s Patch Quilting, for her to work her magic on it.  I’m gifting this quilt to Emma for Christmas.

And number 1, the quilt for our caravan, the top is completed and this will have to wait it’s turn with being commercially quilted too.  I find big bed quilts just too much for me to quilt on my domestic machine.

So with two numbers off the list, I’ve had to look around to see what I would like to replace them with.  I like to have a variety of both big and smaller projects to work on.  So…… without further ado, my new list is:

No 1:   Animal ABC quilt - new to the list.
No 2:   Stitchery Bag.
No 3:   Winter Welcome Wall-hanging.
No 4:   Candlewick quilt
No 5:   Christmas Stars and Nine Patches – another new addition to the list.
No 6:   Caravan Placemats and Apron.

So there we have it.  Two new additions, I’ve previously worked on No 2 and No 4 from the list, and although No 3 and No 6 have been on the list a little while, their number has not yet come up.

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My current List of Six projects, waiting for the roll of the dice

And the winner this week is………..number 4, my candle wick quilt.  There are nice big blocks in this, so hopefully it won't take me too long to get the top together.  Mind you, my social calendar is fairly full this week, so I had better get on with it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

For the Grand-daughters, two squishy Cushions

Our two grand-daughters are 5 years apart in age, but only a couple of weeks between them for their actual birthdays.  Which are approaching fast.  So I  decided to make them a big fat squishy cushion each, so they can get nice and comfy when they lay on their beds, texting to one and all as they do, or watching TV.

The cushions are made from left over nine patch blocks from Emma’s horse quilt, made in black, grey and a touch of dark pink.  This is currently away getting commercially quilted.  Emma will be gifted her horse quilt at Christmas, and I will be giving her the cushion with the pink bands very shortly.  Then I decided to make Megan a cushion as well, as it will tone in with the black, white and green quilt she has on her bed.  Originally made for her parents, but Megan decided she really must have it on her own bed.  Birthday gifts – done and dusted!!

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Cushions for Megan and Emma

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Megan and Emma’s quilts

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Town and Country Quilters October Club Night

It was certainly a busy night.  There were visitors from the local Rotary group who told us about their charity house project, where they design, build and auction a house with the proceeds going to charity.  Town and Country Quilters wished to donate one of our charity quilts to go with colour scheme of the new home, and the Rotary executive chose one from our (small) selection of finished quilts.  This was presented at club night.

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Quilt donated to Rotary House Project

Jo Dixey was our speaker for the evening, and what a .lively and passionate young woman she is.  She was born and grew up in the UK, with a sketch book always close to hand.  She started her formal training as an 18 year old apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework for 3 years, and then embarked on a City and Guilds course.  Then she moved to New Zealand, and works in her chosen field, teaching needlework and working on commissions. 

She also discovered quilting a little later, and enjoys doing both crafts.  Curves and needle turn applique feature in her quilts.  The quilt below, called Vodka Cruiser, is making a social statement, and is composed of Drunkard’s Path blocks with the appliqued figure of a young girl.  Jo is concerned with the out of control drinking habits of some young New Zealand girls, and the easy access to alcohol.

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Vodka Cruiser

Jo’s parting words were is to just let your creativity happen.  She feels very blessed to be able to make her living doing what she loves.

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Just two examples of Jo Dixey’s exquisite needlework

Our President Lynne thanked all members for all their help at running our quilt show the previous weekend.  Prizes were awarded to the Challenge quilt winners, and for the quilts which won Viewers Choice.  The two quilts which I liked best, came in first and second – does that mean I have excellent taste?

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Winner of Viewers Choice at the quilt show –  Other People’s Dreams, by Griet Lombard

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Runner Up Viewer’s Choice, Floriason Rouge, by Sandra Collins

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hello, again

It was like meeting up with an old friend again.  We were having afternoon tea at our friends Helen and Calvin’s home and what did I see folded over the couch?  It was a raggy quilt I had made for Helen several years ago when  she was going through a bad patch with her health.  So of course I had to pick the quilt up, have a good look at it, remembering all the different fabrics I had used – and say hello again, to my handiwork.

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Hearts for Helen

Hearts for Helen (finished May 2011) was made with alternate black and white squares, with a few dark red hearts appliqued on a white background.  Backed with a nice warm red polar fleece, it is a good sized lap quilt.  I certainly remember snipping all those seams to give it that raggy look. 

Helen told me it is always on one or the other of the couches.  She feels that if someone (that’s me) went to all that trouble to make her such a lovely gift, it deserves to be used and kept out on show and not hidden away in a cupboard somewhere.  What a lovely sentiment – it is so nice to make a quilt for someone who really appreciates it and uses it!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Town and Country Quilters Quiltfest

It was time for Quiltfest, my club’s quilt show.  All the details of running such a big event had been percolating behind the scenes for quite some time.  Due to my ill health and subsequent treatment over the last six months, followed by a long planned holiday in Australia, I was unable to help out.  We arrived home just in time for me to attend the show, so I didn’t miss out completely.

A trio of friendly faces were on the front desk, to take the entrance fee, and hand out a couple of slips of paper.  One was to write the name and number of Viewer’s Choice, and the other was for a chance to win a brand new sewing machine from our major sponsor Krazy Cow quilt shop – wouldn’t that be wonderful!  Then there were three more happy faces on the desk selling raffle tickets – what a nice friendly welcome.

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Welcome to Quiltfest

There were challenge quilts to check out, vendors to visit, and the T&C $5 bags of goodies to look at too.  These bags were certainly good value, and great from the seller’s perspective too, as it was a great opportunity to downsize and declutter one’s sewing room.  But what about the quilts, you want to know?  Our club members had been working hard over the last year, and there was a wonderful selection to look at, and linger awhile.  Here are some which I found particularly appealing.

Diane’s quilt which she made for her son’s 40th birthday really caught my eye.  His quilt was designed to depict icons from his country of birth, New Zealand, and also icons from his years living in London.  The Chinese characters featured show his paternal parentage.

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40th Birthday Quilt for Troy, by Diane Young

Other People’s Dreams by Griet Lombard is another great example of her love of working with recycled embroideries, crochet, and old linens.   I just love Griet’s work, so soft and pretty, and this got my vote for Viewer’s Choice.

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Other People’s Dreams, by Griet Lombard

I had seen Sandra working on this quilt at sewing days over a period of time and had always admired it.  Floriason Rouge is now completed, and looks wonderful.

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Floriason Rouge, by Sandra Collins

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Archer’s Safari Quilt, by Cathryn Christensen, and Cool Cats, by Maureen Taylor

Plus quilts have been on my “must make one day list” so I was rather drawn to this lovely version, Accentuate the Positive, by Marjorie Law.  This was made for a friend who is unwell, and has a passion for Anzac Day, World War 1, and poppies.

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Accentuate the Positive, by Marjorie Law

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Ramblin’ Rose, by Jan Rodgers and Autumn, by Diane Walker

Chock full of beautiful glowing batiks, Up and Down the Squares was made by Sandra Collins, based on a pattern from The Cloth Shop, in Palmerston North.  The black accent really sets of these fabulous fabrics.

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Up and Down the Squares, by Sandra Collins

After wandering up and down the rows of lovey quilts, I really needed to visit the cafĂ© for a cuppa and a scone with jam and cream for a “pick me up” and to rest my weary legs.  It was a great show, many congratulations to all who helped make it such a success.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Changing of the Seasons – and Mending

Spring has definitely sprung down here in New Zealand.  Which means a change in decorating too. The first change was to put my new duvet cover on the bed which I completed recently,  my giant Churn Dash.  Then off  with my heavy cat quilt on our bed with cozy wool batting which I like to use over winter.  This has been replaced with a my “Stars in the Garden” quilt.

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Stars in the Garden over Giant Churn Dash Duvet cover

Time to change the quilt hanging above the couch too.  My dark, moody, winter quilt International Maple Leaves has come down, to be replaced by the my New Zealand Bird Quilt.  Doesn’t that look more like Spring?  The birds will stay there until it it time for a Christmas quilt.

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International Maple Leaves has been replaced with New Zealand Birds

Even our tiny bathroom has a quick change.  I have two small fishy wall-hangings and like to use Hawaiian Rainbow Fish in the winter for a bit of extra colour.  This gets changed to the lighter hued A Fishy Supper, a gift from my English pen friend Rose a few years ago.  Like quilters everywhere, I love to ring the changes, and bring out some of my favourites.

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My two fishy wall-hangings for the bathroom

I’m pleased to say that I’ve dealt with my pile of mending – some for me and some for him.  Some quilters have been known to say “Picasso, or Michelangelo, don’t paint ceilings so I don’t do mending”  Not me – I’m happy to do a little mending for my hubby, and even more happy that I still have him sharing my life.   Like most of us, I have friends who have lost their partners, and I bet they would give anything to have them back in their lives, and do their mending too.

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My pile of mending

Shortening the legs on my new summer trousers was easy enough, as was stitching up a couple of seams on other items which had come apart.  Then I fixed the inside pocket on Robin’s shorts, a little bit trickier, but they are his favourite shorts, after all.  The last item was a lightweight back pack which we had taken away on our trip.  Made of parka nylon, it obviously wasn’t designed to carry a couple of heavy water bottles, snacks, and parkas day after day and the strap ripped out of the seam.  After I thought I had fixed it, zig zagging over the seam for extra security, I had a good look and thought, that’s not right.  So had to carefully unpick all my stitching, and do it again.  I won’t win any prizes in the Great British Sewing Bee, but at least it is done!