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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What’s wrong with this picture?

I can’t believe that I made such a mistake – can you see what I’ve done?  Sewn each handle on the front and back of my bag, instead of attaching one on the front and one on the back.  It’s no good leaving them this way, as the bag gapes open when it is carried.

I put the handles on incorrectly

So instead of celebrating my finish, I’ve got to spend some time with my unpicker instead.  I felt so good when I put the final line of top-stitching  around the bag opening – but now it all needs to be pulled apart, take the lining out, and reposition the straps.  Then put it back together again.

I hate unpicking!!!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

It’s been a while

A new week – a new roll of the dice, and a new UFO project to work on.  This week it is number 2, my stitchery bag, it’s been a while since this one has been called up.  And here it is, all rolled up.  Wonder where I got up to last time I worked on it?

Number 2, it’s your turn this week

I unrolled it to see where I had left this project.  Oh yes, I remember now.  The embroidered panel was a gift (several years ago) from my pen-friend Carol who lives in South Dakota.  She had stitched a design of a quilt shop onto thicker needled batting, and I thought it would be perfect for the front of a tote bag. 

All the components

Previously I had cross hatched machine quilted some blue fabric for the back of the bag, and constructed two handles.  And found some pink fabric in my stash for the lining.   Next step – put it all together.  That’s what I’ll be doing this week.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sewing

What’s nicer than a lazy Sunday at home, and a little sewing time?  We welcomed the start of the day with a breakfast of bacon, eggs and tomatoes cooked by the man of the house – his Sunday morning specialty.  A load of laundry was pegged out side to dry in the sunshine and the next job was to deal with the ironing.  After that I felt rather virtuous and settled down at my sewing machine, to work a bit more on my Christmas Stars and Nine Patches quilt. By mid afternoon  I had completed “stitching in the ditch” around all the blocks to hold the quilt together, and also both sides along the inner border.

Quilt backing – a little hard to see the quilting lines

I’m always rather slow while machine quilting as I like to take the time to securely pin each straight quilting  line.  But I’m quite pleased with what I have achieved this week, and this is a good place to stop on this project.  Tomorrow I’ll get to roll the dice again and see which project on my List of Six I get to work on for the following week.

Christmas Stars and Nine Patches

Friday, January 27, 2017

It’s the Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things which make us happy.  I’m so happy to live in an area which excels in growing things.  It is just a short drive to collect some lovely fresh summer strawberries.  We enjoy strawberries for dessert, and even on our breakfast cereal some mornings.  Mind you, the rather wet and cold weather lately has not been kind to the growers in the region.

Fresh strawberries waiting to be packed at Shirley’s Strawberries

We have a favourite market garden not too far away where we buy our produce from their gardens.  It’s always nice to see the lovely fresh greens growing, knowing that they are harvested and in the shop in no time at all.

Fresh crops growing at the Garden of York

And we love to buy our free range eggs from another local business, The Big Egg.  We occasionally find double yolkers, so that is always exciting.  Sometimes the chooks are out close by fossicking around in the ground and plants so I get to go and say hello to them.

Free Range hens at the Big Egg

Our own tiny garden was a bit late getting planted this season.  But the passion fruit vine is fruiting well, so that makes me very happy.  The leaves have just about all disappeared, and we think it has something to do with the unseasonably cold weather and winds.  Just hope those luscious fruits start to ripen up soon, they turn from green to purple when ripe.

Plenty of passion fruit on the vine

And I am doubly happy and relieved that my Poinsettia plant, a gift from my daughter,  didn't turn it’s toes up and die while we were away on holiday.  I watered it well before we left, and came home to find out that not only is it still alive, there are even baby new green leaves appearing. 


I’m very happy for my sewing time, and I know that with all my UFOs I will never run out of projects to do!  We’re happy for our health, for getting away on so many caravan trips, and living in such a wonderful country.

Still stitching away.

Little things in our lives they may be, but we certainly appreciate them.  What makes you happy?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Dice rolls Five

After weeks and weeks away from my sewing machine (blame it on summer holidays away in the caravan) it was time to get serious again with my List of Six UFOs.  Don’t be fooled – I’ve got so many more than six.  But six is all I can cope with at once.  I looked long and hard at my list before I rolled my little pink dice.  There are a couple on the list that I really, really would like to work on this week.  But rules are rules, and I decided when I started that I wouldn’t manipulate the results.  So number five it is, which is my Christmas Stars and Nine Patches.

All pinned up and ready for quilting

I last worked on this project in early December when I finished assembling the blocks and adding the borders.  Then in the pre-Christmas rush I got it layered and pinned all ready to start machine quilting - then put it away.

The backing

I’m starting with stitch in the ditch straight line quilting around the blocks to hold it all together. Then later I will do something or other in the star and nine patch blocks. Quilting is always a slow job for me as I like to pin, pin, and pin some more along the quilting line I’m working on.  Slow and steady I may be, but I’ll get there in the end – eventually!

I like to use plenty of pins!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ready to go again

We are now home from our latest caravan trip  of 12 days which took us to the Music Festival, Moata Farm and Kahutara, all  in the Wairarapa.  The weather ranged from hot, warm, very windy, blowing a gale, wild and stormy, and snow on the mountains.  Quite a variety of weather indeed in January, when it is meant to be mid summer.  We enjoyed the sun some days, sheltered from the wind on others, and got severely buffeted by the strong winds when I wondered if the caravan would survive the night without getting blown over!

Wairarapa sunset

I’m now ready to go again, and start sewing again with my new updated “List of Six”.  And here are my current projects, all lined up, ready and waiting for me.  Some have been on the list a while and worked on when their numbers came up, a couple have been on the list and have been waiting patiently for the dice to roll, and there is one new addition.

My new List of Six

No 1:  Animal ABC quilt – this hasn’t been called up yet so far.
No 2:  Stitchery Bag – almost there, just needs all the parts assembled now.
No 3:  Winter Welcome wall-hanging – another project waiting for a call.
No 4:  Candlewick quilt – I’ve worked on this several times, blocks and borders to finish.
No 5:  Xmas Stars and Nine Patches – top is completed, all pinned up and ready for quilting.
No 6:  Polka Dot Apron – a new project to replace the caravan apron finished for Xmas.

I’ll be rolling the dice tomorrow morning – wonder which project I’ll be working on this week?

Monday, January 23, 2017

T is for Teddy

Nothing is nicer than relaxing on holiday doing a little stitching.  Here I am, away in the caravan for a while, sheltering from the hot sun, stitching away at another of my Christmas ABC blocks.  It must have been a really hot day – here I am in my shorts, and that doesn’t happen very often!

Stitching under the caravan awning

“T is for Teddy” is my latest Christmas block from Michelle Ridgeway’s Alphabet Noel booklet. This little teddy is looking so cute in his little green waistcoat.   I am so enjoying stitching these blocks that I’m sure I’ll be sorry to reach the end!
T is for (Christmas) Teddy

Monday, January 16, 2017

All the fun of the Music Festival

Although we are not mad keen country music fans, a weekend music festival still seemed like fun.  Especially as we could take the caravan too and join all the others – hundreds of vans as it turned out.  We just about filled up a huge paddock with all our vans in rural Tauherenika.  We are in amongst the crowd somewhere.


And we couldn’t say no to a fast food treat for lunch over the weekend.  Hot dog for him, and a curly potatoe for her – delicious!

Our not so healthy lunch

There were three nights of country music entertainment.  I was thrilled when Eddie Low sang two of my favourite songs with his lovely deep rich voice, “Ten Guitars” and “Save the Last Dance for Me”.  That’s the sort of music I really enjoy, lovely ballads.

Kiwi singer Eddie Low

But the stars of the weekend were definitely  the Topp Twins, with their funny skits, crazy outfits, jokes, playing the spoons, and yes, they can sing too, as well as yodel.  These two are a New Zealand institution, and certainly well loved.  The crowds gave them a warm welcome, clapped and hollered, and joined in with exhilaration.

The Topp Twins

Doing a silly dance

Most of the campers had the hassle of finding a good spot for their folding chairs on the grass in front of the stage each night.  Not us - we were so pleased that we had paid a little extra over the weekend for our “allocated seats” in the grand stand.  And we had a great view.

Our own personal seats in the grand stand

This country music festival was a first for us so we were not too sure what to expect.  But it  was a great weekend, full of fun and music, and meeting up with plenty of old caravanning friends and acquaintances.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Oops – Christmas not completely packed away

We are off on another road trip tomorrow, so I’ve been traipsing in and out of the caravan with clothes and provisions.  I thought I’d previously taken all the Christmas things inside – but what’s this still hanging about?  For a start there were the two rather knock kneed Rudolph stockings, which get hung each side of our caravan bed.  After I’d stitched the first one, I decided that I really needed to make another for Robin!  He’s thinks they are a bit strange, but I rather like them.

Two Rudolph (stuffed) stockings

And still hanging on the wall at the foot of the bed were two small Christmas stitcheries I had made some time ago.  Down they came and these last remaining vestiges of Christmas have now been packed away in the crates.

Two Christmas stitcheries made for the caravan

You would think after all this time, and all these trips away, we would be experts at packing the caravan quickly and efficiently.  We do try, but it always seems to take ages.  And I have to make sure that my stitching bag gets packed, as well as a couple of library book – both very necessary in my view. 

Caravan packing day

We are off to a Country Music Festival, a first time for us, so it should be fun.  And when we return home I really want to get reacquainted with my UFOs and start sewing again.  I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Two more Christmas ABCs

Drum roll please – I have two more Christmas ABCs to show you.  Although to be completely honest, the first one had been stitched and forgotten about, so I really only have one little block finished over Christmas.  So here are “R is for Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” followed by “S is for Santa and his Sack”.

Two more Christmas ABC blocks finished

Christmas has now been put away in our house, and in the caravan.  The lights have been taken down, the ornaments carefully wrapped up and put away, and all placed in the plastic crates which have been cluttering up the spare room (my sewing room) for ages.  Sitting there waiting for DH to carry them up our pull down ladder in the garage up to the loft.

Christmas is packed away

One Christmas item is still out – my Christmas quilt is still over the back of the couch.  Might just leave it there for a little longer.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

A little Extra for Christmas

Christmas wasn’t quite over for me, I was told.  My daughter Nicky had ordered me an on-line gift which never arrived in time for the big day.  As we were on a caravan holiday quite close to their home town, we called in and collected it earlier this week.  And what a lovely gift it was – just right for a couple of “Happy Campers” who enjoy going away for trips in the caravan.

My new cushion

Nicky also gave me a lovely Christmas Poinsettia.  I’m not usually very good with pot plants, so I’ll have to be really careful to look after it well.  It survived several days tripping around in the caravan, and is now safely home.

So pretty – Christmas Poinsettia

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Laundry - it was hard work in the old days

It’s fair to say that I’ve got a bit of a reputation as a “washer woman”.  I like nothing better than seeing a nice line of freshly washed clothes flapping in the sunny breeze.  And strange as it seems to some, I quite enjoy doing the ironing too.  We are enjoying a week or two away in our caravan and are currently staying in Feilding.   A visit to the Coach House Museum  reminded me that doing the laundry was very hard work in old colonial times.

Doing laundry the hard way

I always enjoy looking at displays of old household implements – washing buckets, wash boards and old mangles.  All items to make the life of a housewife a little easier, and they must have been so glad to have them.  But how would I have coped, I wonder?  And I loved the old sewing machine, stitching up a sacking work apron, but making it pretty with a coloured edging.  There would have been little leisure time for ladies who lived in these early days.

Tools of the trade for colonial housewives
Further around the museum I was delighted to come across a “virtual horse and buggy ride”.  I followed the instructions and clambered aboard, picked up the reins and pushed the big green button.  The buggy gently swayed, as the horse on the TV screen took me on a ride along the streets of Feilding.  Such a thrill for a townie like me who is just a little frightened of great big horses.

Enjoying my virtual ride.

Later in the afternoon it was time to attend to our own laundry.  But I did it the easy way, non of this back breaking stoking the fire, moving clothes around with a copper stick, and working that heavy mangle.  Instead we drove to the local launderette, loaded the clothes, added soap powder and a few dollars, and sat back to read my book while the machine did all the work.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Meeting up with Nancy J

It’s always so nice to have a catch up with a fellow blogger.  We were staying in our caravan in Jean’s hometown – she blogs as Nancy J on All Points of the Compass.  Jean has been unwell lately so I wanted to pop in and see her, and took a bunch of flowers to cheer her up. 

With Jean

We had plenty to chat about, health matters of course – sad but true as we get older, family and quilting.  Jean is taking part in the 150 Canadian Women quilt project, which pays homage to the women who made Canada great and honours Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday.  She showed me the blocks she had made so far, and the glorious red batiks she has gathered for this project.

Jean’s Canadian blocks

It was nice to meet up with Jean’s house guest Joyce again, (hello Joyce) and members of Jean’s family who were staying for a few days.  We didn’t see any of the cats, they were keeping well away from the visitors.  This was just a short visit as the house was full, and as we said our goodbyes we reminded Jean to take care, and went back to the camp. 

Part of Jean’s lovely grounds