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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Horse Quilt Number 2

The dice has been rolled this week and it has brought up number 2 – which is horse quilt number 2 for want of a better name.  You may remember that last year I completed a large horse quilt for equine lover and horse owner Emma, my elder grand-daughter.  So now it’s the turn of her equally horse besotted younger sister Megan to have her own horse quilt – eventually.  As any quilter knows, these things take time!

I had stitched so many black and grey nine patch blocks for Emma’s quilt last year that I still have a large assortment left over.  And that’s after making both girls a large squishy bed cushion for Christmas last year.  It would be sensible to use these blocks in Megan’s quilt, I feel.

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Two cushions stitched up with extra 9 patch blocks for Christmas

So I guess the first thing to do is count all the nine patch blocks I have tucked away and just see how many I have, and lay them out so I can get a good look at them.  I’m be making a similar quilt for Megan but with different horsey accents – that’s the plan, anyway

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How many blocks are there?

And I still have quite a selection of black and grey prints to make more blocks, if required.

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Extra fabric

I had originally planned to make something really clever for the centre of the quilt, but that has been more difficult than expected and hasn’t happened yet.  But I’ll persevere a bit longer, although I may have to go with Plan B instead.  Let’s just wait and see what happens.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

He talks quilt talk

The conversation went like this:
Him – you’ve got lots of strips on the bed – what are you making?
Her – that’s a new quilt for us, and those are my leader and ender strips.
Him – I know what leader and enders are, you talk about them often enough!
Isn’t that sweet – he can talk quilt talk!

And the strips in question are these, all stitched as leaders and enders, as DH knows. 

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Something I prepared earlier – as the TV cooks say

This week I’m working on stitching a few more Soul Searching blocks together.  Although I’m sewing straight seams, there are a lot of pieces.  I like to lay them out on top of the bed to make sure I have them in the correct order, using a completed block for reference.  Then I pin them in pairs, sew them up, pin some more and make sure I have the strips right side up and not back to front.  Yes, I have done that previously, and had to unpick.

With some dedicated sewing time slotted in this week, I’m pleased that I’ve got three more blocks stitched together.  I’ve done lilac, pale pink, and bright pink blocks.  These are quite big blocks at 29in square.  So far, that’s six blocks stitched, and six more to go.

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Three more Soul Searching blocks completed

It was nice to use some more of the pale pink fabrics which part of my daughter’s 50th Birthday quilt a couple of years ago.  But as for those lilacs, that’s a whole different story.  I cut these strips from a (yet another) long forgotten UFO which I started umpteen years ago, put it away, and forgot all about it.  And rediscovered when I was looking for more lilac fabrics.  Maybe one day it will get a chance to get worked on again when it finally ends up on my List of Six.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Town and Country Quilters June Club Night

We braved the cold for our quilt club evening on Wednesday – but it could have been worse, at least it wasn’t raining.  Our speaker for the evening was Glynn Singleton, the Managing Director of Bernina NZ.  He related the history of the family owned Bernina brand, and asked how many in the hall own a Bernina sewing machine.  Many of us, as it turned out.  Glynn touched on several of the problems with home sewers  which can occur from time to time.  Tension is a biggy – different threads and different fabrics can mean that the tension needs to be altered.  Don’t be afraid to turn the dial, he said, it wouldn’t be there if we weren’t meant to tinker with it.  (I've always been a bit hesitant to touch the dial.)   Needles – change them regularly and only buy reputable brands.  And keep the needle race free of lint, and lightly oil.  These small things will keep your sewing machine running sweeter for longer.  And don’t forget the regular maintenance, especially for patch workers who use their machines so much more than the average home sewer.  I take mine along for an annual session with sewing machine guru Barrie – who works his magic with all brands, but he particularly likes the Bernina brand, he told me.

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Glynn, from Bernina NZ

Show and Tell is always interesting.  Griet showed us her Chicken quilt, made with many fabrics she found in the Op Shop.  This is such a bright and cheery fun quilt.

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Griet’s Chicken quilt

Didn’t catch the names of the next sewers, but the teddy panel is destined to make a sick child very happy at Ronald McDonald House, and the square in a square quilt is going to the maker’s grand-daughter.  And I’m sure a horse lover will appreciate the attic window quilt.

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Three more at Show and Tell

Our club recently had tutor Anna Williams take a class on her very popular Celtic Circles.  Anna has now retired from tutoring so the club is very pleased that we had secured her expertise for several recent classes.

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Club members with their Celtic Circles

It was a very chilly night, so as soon as I had sipped a nice hot cuppa, I slipped away a little early.  There’s nothing like your own home on a cold winter’s night, is there.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A new UFO this week

The “roll of the dice” has been done this week – and it landed on number 4.  Which is a new project on my List of 6, “Soul Searching, designed by Kathy Doughty.  I’m doing my blocks with a little more contrast than shown in the book.

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The design is similar to a Log Cabin, and this has truly been a “leader and ender” project.  The strips had been cut and pinned, and fed under the needle as I was sewing other things, just one small seam on each strip.  And it’s amazing how quickly these little strips mount up.  This project hasn’t been touched for quite some time so I’m rather pleased it has made it’s way onto my list.  This is what I rediscovered when I unwrapped my bundle, it was all rolled up and tied with a selvedge strip to keep it tidy.

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Strip sets, waiting to be assembled

There’s already three blocks assembled, so I’d made a good start before it all got rolled up and put away.

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Green, burgundy and black blocks all done

As I’ve decided to make twelve blocks, instead of the nine in the book, I’ve still got quite a lot of stitching to do.  Today I started off working on a lilac set – with all straight seams, how hard can it be?  Harder than I thought, as I got my trusty unpicker out to rip out a couple of seams.  I had picked up two strips, pinned them together, but got them upended so they were pinned and stitched on the wrong side, – if you know what I mean.  More haste – less speed, double check what I'm doing, and I was soon on the right track. 

We are out and about all day tomorrow, but I should be able to squeeze a few hours sewing time on Friday.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wet and windy Sew Wot Tuesday

The weather wasn’t at all for nice for today's Sew Wot get-together.  But as it was my turn to be hostess, I stayed at home where it was warm and cozy, ready to welcome them as they got blown through the door.  Medical appointments kept our numbers a little lower once again – just a sign of getting older, I guess.

So what was everyone doing?  Heather E was working with her beloved hexagons.  She loves handwork but I’m sure I would find those itty bitty hexagons much too fiddly for my fat fingers.  Carol was stitching chickens, to be made into a cushion for a family member who has chooks at home
Heather B was making a stained glass table runner.  Love the colours, it’s going to be stunning.  I remember doing something with black bias strips myself many years ago.

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Heather B’s stained glass table runner

Mary asked “Want to see my jacket?”  Of course I did and I was expecting her to pull a quilted jacket out of her bag.  But this appeared instead – a lovely white lacy 4ply baby’s jacket made especially for the baby to wear to church with the proud parents.  So sweet.  And check out this detail – the pretty flowers were embroidered on after the sleeves were knitted.

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Mary’s baby jacket

That reminds me – I really must get on with my knitting too.  It’s not at all fancy, I’m knitting myself a winter weight cream cardigan, and I’m up to the back.  Never mind, I’ll get there sooner or later.  Heather B asked to see my just completed Animal ABC top, so that got passed around the ladies to be admired.

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My Animal ABC quilt top

As usual, we had plenty to talk about, magazines to flick through, and morning tea to eat.  Plus some knitting and stitching was achieved – I managed to do a little more on one of my Christmas ABC corner blocks.  Another lovely Sew Wot morning.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Weekend at Home

As much as I enjoy travelling far and wide towing our caravan behind us, it does cut into my sewing time.  So it’s nice to have a weekend at home, like this weekend.  This means I had extra time to continue with my UFO of the week, number 1, my Animal ABC quilt.  You may remember that most of the top is assembled, but I had a problem with the letter Z.  So I got busy with my unpicker, and carefully removed the machine button hole stitches holding things in place.

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I had seen an idea that I wanted to try, so started sewing beige, cream and pale yellow strips together.  Mindless sewing really, for this part of the block.

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These strips formed the base of the African savannah, and then I added blue sky and hills away in the distance.  Next I stitched my letter Z back in place.  Then it looked like this.

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Letter Z has progressed to this

Add a herd of zebra plus a young cheetah spying on them behind a bush, and this is the result.

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African savannah

This last row was attached to the rest of the blocks, and then the borders attached.  And the top is now done – I’m rather pleased with it too.

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Finished Animal ABC top

I have to admit that the Z panel was not my original idea – I had seen a picture of something similar in an older magazine and thought it looked great.  The original design had a strip pieced sunset sky, but I decided to go with the blue and white cloudy fabric I had tucked away.  The backing will be pieced from some of my left over animal prints, I’ve decided, then I’ll have to consider how I’m going to quilt it.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Dice Rolls 1

Monday was a public holiday so there was no “rolling the dice” on my usual day.  So it’s no surprise that we were away for the weekend in our caravan, enjoying the cool winter sunshine, and catching up with our caravan club friends.  But now we are home again, I’m a little late this week to finally roll the dice to see which number comes up.  It’s number 1, my Animal ABC quilt, so that’s what I’ll be sewing this week.  So what stage did I leave this project in last time I worked on it?

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Animals A to O

That’s right, I had assembled the top three rows, so that was a good start.  So there was more cutting sashing strips that needed to be done, and then I sashed the last couple of rows together.

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Animals P to Y

One more seam, followed by some pressing under the iron, and the project now looks like this.  It’s coming along well, if I do say so myself.

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But what happened to the letter Z, you may be wondering.  I wasn’t quite happy with what I had done,  so got my unpicker out to pull it to pieces.   You will have to be patient and wait till next time to see what I’ve planned for Z.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Another Christmas Stitchery Block done

It’s not much to show after four days away in the caravan, but I did manage to complete another Christmas stitchery block, so I’m pleased about that.  I’m making four extra blocks to put in the corners of my Christmas ABC quilt – to make the number up to 30 instead of 26.  He is quite cute, isn’t he?  A slightly cross eyed reindeer peeping out of a Christmas stocking!

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Another block done

We have been away in the caravan for four days at Foxton over the long weekend enjoying the company of our caravan club members.  The weather was mostly fine, with a little rain, so we were very lucky as we are now in Winter.  Although it was sunny, it was too chilly to sit around outside – luckily we had a hall to use for our get-togethers.

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Sunset over Foxton

We celebrated Queen’s Birthday over the weekend, and I ran a quiz on Saturday evening to see how much everyone remembered about the Royals.  I must admit that I’m a bit of a royalty buff, especially relating to the Tudor period.  So I really thought that everyone would know the answer to such questions as “name the six wives of Henry 8th”, and “who was the Virgin queen”.  But Robin reminded me that not everyone devours books about this period of history as I do.  Some people did quite well with their answers, and it was just for fun anyway.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

First Day of Winter

Today is the first day of winter in my part of paradise, so it’s time for my “Winter Welcome” wall-hanging to be up on the wall.  I hasten to add that we don’t have to worry about snow covering the ground in winter where we live, we never see snowmen, and I’m not really sure how I would cope living in snowy weather conditions.  But we have wind, and rain, sometimes hail.  Flooding and land slips can occur in our region, so that is wintery enough for me.  This little wall-hanging is on the wall just inside our front door, all ready to welcome our winter visitors into our home.

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Welcome Winter

It’s been a busy week so far and all set to get even busier.  With a long weekend coming up, we are heading away in the caravan for the next four days.  So the weekly “roll the dice” to see which UFO I will be working on this week has been temporarily put on hold.  But next week, I’ll be raring to go again.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sew Wot Tuesday again

I’ve spent another morning with the Sew Wot ladies – we meet every 2nd Tuesday and it quickly rolls around.  This time we met at Moira’s home, so she qualified as “the hostess with the mostest” today.  Moira had completed her lovely hand appliqued  William Morris quilt and we were all so interested to see her beautiful work. 

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Moira’s William Morris quilt

Both Helen and Mary had birthdays due so they received all sorts of interesting parcels and goodies, including a pair of cozy hand knitted socks each.  And here is the sock knitter herself, Heather B, busily knitting yet another pair!  I wonder if she will remember me when my birthday rolls around?  And that my favourite colour is blue?

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Heather starting another pair of socks

As well as having birthdays close together, Helen and Mary have something else in common.  They are both stitching away on their Zenembroideries.  Don’t they look great!  It’s the same pattern but they stitching in different shades of thread which makes a difference.

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Helen and Mary’s embroideries

Helen had something else for show and tell, a jelly roll quilt in batiks, set off with gold coloured squares.  Just lovely.

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Helen’s jelly roll quilt top

Carol had been busy knitting cotton dish cloths lately, she told us.  I have knitted a few of these in the past, they are handy to do if you are between projects but still want to keep your hands busy.

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Carol’s knitted dish cloth

I had taken my Christmas Smorgasbord around for show and tell, and then continued on stitching the extra blocks I need for the corners of my Christmas ABC quilt.  Of course, in-between the chatting, birthday wishes, morning tea, admiring the show and tell,  not a great deal of stitching really gets done.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday Stitching Day

Saturday dawned wet and miserable – just the sort of day to join other quilt club members for a day of stitching and companionship.  We were meeting in “new to me” premises, the local Vintage Car Club, and what a lovely building it was.  Warm and cozy, with lovely carpet under our feet, and  good kitchen facilities for making our cuppas.  Some hardy souls braved the rather wet conditions for a day of sewing and companionship.  There was plenty of room, and we could have accommodated many more club members, but perhaps the wet weather put them off.

Several members had recently attended a workshop run by Anna Williams on Celtic Circles and had brought along these intricate looking projects to work on.  Very beautiful indeed, and I’m sure I have Celtic blood running in my veins, but not for me and my fat fingers, I feel.  Lynne demonstrated how to make bias tape pulling the fabric underneath a pin and pressing the strip with a tiny iron.  Ooh, I could almost feel the iron burning my fingers, if I tried to do that!

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So that’s how you do it!

Others worked on their own projects.  Susan is still making blocks for her daughter’s bookcase quilt, and had hand stitched a spider web on one of them.

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Two of Susan’s bookcase blocks

And Madalyn was working on her Daily Dot blocks.  With one for every day of the year, 365 is an awful lot of tiny applique blocks to stitch, but she is coming along quite well with this project.

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Madalyn’s Daily Dots

As for me – I took along my Christmas Smorgasbord quilt and sat quietly hand stitching the hanging sleeve and label.  All done now.

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Christmas Smorgasbord all finished

With friends due the next day for lunch I needed to get back home and get busy in the kitchen, so  I could only manage half a day stitching time    But I was pleased with my morning’s work, and it’s always so nice to stitch with others.

Friday, May 26, 2017

New Zealand Birds

My New Zealand Birds quilt top is finished, so that’s a big smile from me.  Mind you, it’s quite small, but even so, a small finish is still rather pleasing.  I’ve been carefully machine blanket stitching around each of these little birds during the week.  Then today I assembled the rows using a leafy green fabric.

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The top row is the fantail (piwakawaka), followed by the tui, known as the parson bird by the early settlers because of the white feathers at the throat.  Row number three features the stitchbird (hihi), a rare honeyeater now only found in bird sanctuaries.  Followed by the intelligent and inquisitive kea, the world’s only alpine parrot.

In true “use it up” style, I’ve pieced the backing, and stitched two pieces of batting together to give me the correct size.  My little quilt is now layered and pinned, all ready to quilt.  It’s been a busy week socially with a coffee morning, and a ladies lunch later in the week, so I’m really pleased with what I have achieved so far.

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Pinned up ready to quilt

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chirpy chirpy, cheep, cheep

This week it’s all about birds.  New Zealand native birds, to be precise, as I’m starting work on my bird wall-hanging.  There has been a bit of fusing and stitching going on, and this is what I’ve got to show for it.   New Zealand has some very special birds, such as the kea,  the world's only alpine parrot, living amongst the tussock grasses on the mountain-side.  The kea is a large, strong-flying, olive-green parrot with scarlet underwings and a slender grey-black bill.

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The kea

I’ve also stitched around some pretty little fantails.  Fantails use their broad tails to change direction quickly while hunting for insects, flitting from here to there at speed. They sometimes hop around upside-down amongst tree ferns and foliage to pick insects from the underside of leaves.

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Fantails

One thing I have learnt from stitching these birds down is that if you are not happy with how it is going – stop immediately.  Instead of plodding on to the end, as I did on some other birds.  I had used an older, thicker thread, which looked fine colourwise, but stitched up much too thick and looks ugly.  So I'll be spending some time with my unpicker, trying to gently remove the offending stitches without stretching the fabric.  Wish me luck on that job.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Roll the Dice – Pink or Blue?

In the weekend I did an unscientific experiment with my dice.  As you know, I like to give my pink dice a shake, rattle and roll on the carpet to determine which UFO I will be working on for the current week.  But I’ve long suspected that not all numbers are coming up regularly – in fact, I don’t remember number 6 being selected for many months.  So with Robin’s help as scribe, I rolled my pink dice, just as I usually do, ten times.  Interesting enough, two numbers did not get selected at all.  Perhaps that is what “the dice is loaded” means.  Mr Google tells me, that when  the dice are loaded, weight has been added  to one side or another of dice so that they will always come up with certain numbers facing upward.

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Luckily the bag of dice I purchased from the $2 shop contained several more of different colours.  So I repeated the experiment with the blue dice, and this time all numbers came up.  Strange but true.  Robin doesn’t think this proves anything and tells I would be better off using a random number generator each week instead.  But I feel that’s a bit too new fangled for me and would take all the fun out of choosing a number.

My pink dice has been pensioned off, and it’s blue cousin had a turn.  It’s a new project, first time called up, and this week I’ll be working on my New Zealand native bird wall-hanging.  What's in the bag?  Let’s see how much of this I had actually started.  Lots of birds cut out with fusible attached, all ready to be appliqued.

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Birds cut out ready to applique

I've had a busy morning out and about, doing a few quilty things, such as buying more batting, and some cord for a future project.  Did a little shopping, and went to the library – I just can’t live without a book or two to read.  And just look at this lovely sight I saw while I was driving around, the first sprinkle of snow on the Tararua Ranges.  In our part of New Zealand the snow seldom falls on the ground.

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First snowfall of the season

So I didn’t really feel like sitting at the machine in the afternoon.  But at least I know where I’m up to,  and I’ve also prepared some “leader and ender” sewing as well, and hopefully can make a good start tomorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Christmas Smorgasbord

Finished at last – and now officially called “Christmas Smorgasbord”.  And what a smorgasbord of colours and fabrics it is.  Red and green, of course, with white, cream, tan, yellow and a little blue.  Stars of all shapes, mostly pieced, with a few appliqued as well.  The prints feature Father Christmas in many variations,  reindeer and holly, angels, wrapped gifts, bells, and baubles, Christmas trees, stars and teddies, in fact, everything Christmassy.

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It started out like this, Christmas stars and nine patch blocks received from a couple of internet block swaps I took part in ages ago.  One swap for the stars, and the other for the nine patches in Christmas colours.  Thinking they would go well together, I combined the blocks into one quilt top.  And of course I didn’t have quite enough so stitched up a few more blocks to make it even.  I made the quilt top square, with seven blocks across and seven blocks down.

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Most of these blocks were received through internet block swaps

Once the top was assembled, I machine quilted through the nine patch blocks, and individually quilted through each star block.  Then I quilted gentle curves around the borders, and lastly, applied and then hand stitched down the binding.  Some quilters don’t like stitching the binding down, but I quite enjoy this step - with just the label to go,  it means I’m almost at the finish line.

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Almost finished

Like most of my UFOs, this quilt has been hanging about for much too long.  But it’s finished now, in plenty of time for next Christmas.  Which is only 7 months away, for those who are counting.

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Christmas Smorgasbord