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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Birthday Wishes

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was lovely to be remembered by friends and family.  I wrote a message on our little blackboard (just because I could) which hangs in the dining room.

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It’s that day again

It was so nice to receive pretty cards - and this pretty selection were all hand made.  It’s not just quilters who are good with their hands – there are some very talented people around doing all sorts of crafts.

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The highlight of the day was a family lunch at the rather grandly named Orlando Country Club in Palmerston North.  There were three family birthdays to celebrate – my own, plus the two grand-daughters.  The three of us have birthdays within two weeks of each other.  And there was also another family birthday to celebrate, grand-daughter Emma reminded us.  Her foal Firedancer shares the same birthday as me and was two years old yesterday!
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Café/restaurant at Orlando Country Club

Sadly, grand-daughter Megan was unwell and couldn’t join us, so that was a shame.  Gifts were exchanged, and it was nice to meet grand-daughter Emma’s boyfriend Shimon at last.  A very pleasant young man, he did very well with meeting the grand-parents for the first time.

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Shimon and grand-daughter Emma

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Daughter Nicky and SIL Robert

We took a while to check out  the menu and made our choices, then had to go to the counter to order.

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Ready to order

There was plenty to chat about while we waited for the orders and soon plates of fish, burgers, and pasta were delivered to our table.  It was all delicious, and I was especially pleased with my choice of smoked salmon pasta, with tiny tomatoes and capers, so lovely and creamy, just yummy!  Have to admit that I’ve got a bit of a thing for salmon.

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Fish and chips for him, and salmon pasta for her

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GD Emma, Jenny, Robin, daughter Nicky, SIL Robert and Shimon

We all had a lovely time, and during lunch I received  a birthday phone call from son Michael, who lives in Christchurch.  So I was a very happy Mum indeed.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Quilt Club Exhibition at Te Takere

Te Takere, our local library, is much more than a library.  It is the Horowhenua Cultural and Event Centre, and hosts a regularly changing range of exhibitions.  And for the next few weeks my quilt club have a range of quilts hanging in the exhibition space.  I am a regular library user, just can’t cope without a book or two to read, so popped in on Friday to see the quilts.  There were several being exhibited from my Sew Wot buddies, I discovered.

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Helen made these two

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My Blue Heaven, by Heather E

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Gollies Galore

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Gorgeous Tea Cup Dollies

These are just some highlights from the exhibition.  Our club had a roster of ladies happy to sit and stitch and answer any questions the public may have.  They had both taken along some hand stitching to do.

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Club members Ellen and Rachel on duty

As I mentioned before, the library building is so much more than a library, although that is the part I mostly use.  Te Takere also offers an AA Site for driver and vehicle registration, an I-Site Information desk, a Genealogy and local history centre, and the Libretto Café, where you can stop for coffee and a snack.  Yes, I can vouch for the café – sometimes you just need to sit and enjoy a nice coffee, don’t you!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Catching up on the Mending

After the frustration of not being able to deal with making the Rustic Reindeer pattern, and tossing it in the rubbish bin, I decided that maybe I would be better doing a spot of mending.   You know what it’s like – mending is put on one side while more interesting sewing takes place.  And then when you actually get around to the mending, it really doesn’t take too long at all. So a pair of Robin’s jeans were mended, in double quick time.  Then a new pair of jeans of his were measured, the legs shortened, pinned, and quickly stitched around.  I drew the line at shortening two pair of “real” trousers purchased on our Aussie holiday though – these were done by the professionals.

Next job was to add a simple inside pocket with a button closure on the inside of my shaggy denim bag.  This bag with the long shoulder strap is so handy to take away on holidays, and the new pocket means I can put my phone, wallet or keys in the pocket, instead of rummaging around in the bottom of the bag trying to find them.

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And finally I decided to stitch up a drawstring bag to keep our “Karcher Window Vac”  tidy.  We use this in the caravan to remove the moisture from the shower walls, and it had nowhere to live in-between times.  Much better to keep it and the power cord safely contained in the new bag, and I can now hang it on a hook in the bathroom.

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None of these small jobs took very long at all, and it certainly feels good to get them finished.

And with my birthday fast approaching, there are a few more gifts from the wonderful Sew Wot ladies.   Yes, I opened them early, just because I couldn’t wait!  Heather B gave me a pretty coffee mug decorated with cup-cakes, and some matching paper serviettes.  Plus a piece of “no-calorie” fabric covered with sweets, chocolates, licorice, and peppermint sticks.

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From Heather B

Moira popped around with a parcel too.  I received a plant pot and seeds to grow some Micro-Greens, little sprouts named Mizuna Red Gems.  Just the thing to cut and sprinkle on salads, egg sandwiches, and the like.  Plus a block of New Zealand’s own Whittaker’s chocolate – how delicious and yummy does “Nelson Pear and Manuka Honey Milk Chocolate” sound? 

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From Moira

Monday is a public holiday here and we are having a triple Birthday Bash.  Both my grand-daughters and I celebrate our birthdays in a two week time frame, so it will be great to all get together for a family birthday lunch.  More about that later…….

Friday, October 20, 2017

I’ve Given Up!

That Rustic Reindeer I blogged about earlier has got the better of me – and I’ve given up on him.  The thick fabric I chose was no good, and there would have been no way I could have turned those narrow antlers right-side out after stitching around them. 

But I tried again, and cut the pattern out for the second time using a brown batik.  And once again, I had trouble when I stitched the head and tried to turn the head and antlers again.  So rather than have such a frustrating time, and not enjoying my sewing, I decided “enough is enough” and threw it all in the bin.  If anyone would like the magazine with the pattern, I’ll happily send it to you. 

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Rustic Reindeer – be gone!!

I do feel a bit of a failure, I must admit, and then I gave myself a good talking to!  This hobby of ours is meant to be enjoyable, and with this particular project I certainly was not enjoying myself.  And I know there are plenty more UFOs waiting in the wings for me, so I’ll concentrate on one of those, next time.

On a happier note, Sew Wot friend Carol called around with an early birthday gift, (next Monday is the big day) so that was a lovely surprise.  She gave me the sweetest African Violet in a pot, all beautifully wrapped.  Thank you so much Carol, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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Thank you, Carol

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rustic Reindeer

I’m a bit late with my “Roll of the Dice” this week with one thing and another, to see which UFO will be chosen for me to work on.  And it’s Number Six, a new project on my List of Six, which is Belvedere, the Rustic Reindeer.  To be honest, this is not technically a UFO as it has not yet been started.  But I’d gathered up the pattern and the fabrics, and listed it, to start “one day”.  And now that day has arrived.

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I found the pattern on an old Homespun (Australian) magazine, No 18 Vol 4.4.  Although I looked everywhere for a date of the magazine, I just couldn’t find it, so I have no idea how old it is.  And there will be one change I’ll be making to my reindeer – he won’t be having any trees growing out of his side.  No way, I just couldn’t live with that – my reindeer’s coat will be clean and unsullied!

He will be made out of my bargain priced 30c piece of dark brown heavy duty fabric, it will be just the thing.  And so far I’ve traced off all the pieces – or thought I had.  Just as well I checked the pattern again, as I’d missed his gusset – that’s sure to be very important.

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Getting ready to sew

So that’s my task for the reminder of the week – whether I get him finished I don’t know.  But my rustic reindeer will certainly get started.  And wouldn't it be great it I got him done in time for Christmas!

Monday, October 16, 2017

What to Do?

Help!!! I’m trying to decide whether to add a border or not to my Soul Searching top, which finished up looking like this.  Big blocks of saturated colour on a cream background.

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My Soul Searching quilt top

One suggestion was to stitch a scrappy border.  What a mess I got into, pulling out the various colours I had used from my containers.  Cut strips off, and stitched them together into a couple of long lengths.

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Lots of strips sewn together

Taking the quilt top outside, I arranged the border strip down one edge, plus some cream fabric across another, stood back and took some photos.

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With a piano key border, perhaps?

Mmmm – I’m not too sure.  But I’m leaning towards a “no” vote – It’s just a bit too busy for me.   I’m not really a “scrappy” person, and although there are nine colours in my quilt top, they are all nicely together in their colour families. (Perhaps I have a control problem?)  But I would appreciate some feedback, and would like to hear any other point of view.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

1930s Baby Quilt

I’m so pleased to report another finish this week – the top for a cot quilt made from 1930s fabrics.  It all started out like this, a pile of blocks I had made some time ago, then put aside for a while.  As reported earlier, I received a gift of assorted 1930s fabrics when we caught up with my pen-friend Margaret in Birmingham, England, way back in 2008.  On our return home I purchased a few more fabrics and made these Cobblestone blocks.

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Cobblestone blocks

I arranged and re-arranged the blocks till I was happy – can’t have the same fabrics side by side, can I?  Then set them together with white sashing and cornerstones using this pretty dotty fabric I had purchased.

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Fabric used for cornerstones

After some dedicated sewing time during the week, the quilt top came together.  I’m happy with the white sashing between the 1930s colours in the blocks – it gives the quilt a lovely crisp and Spring like look, I feel.  A trip outside to hang the quilt top from the passion-fruit frame for photos, and there, all done.

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But wait – there’s more, as they say on the TV.  With a few coloured squares left over I pieced them together checkerboard style to use on the back of the quilt.  Then used the last of the cornerstone fabric to frame the strip top and bottom.

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Then added extra white fabric to complete the backing

It’s a great feeling to have completed both the top and the pieced backing this week.  I’ll need to purchase some batting then pin it all together ready for quilting. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Town and Country Quilters October Club-night

It was great to attend our October club-night as I had missed the previous two months with our travels.  Our speaker for the evening was one of our own, Fay Davies.  Fay started her talk telling us she started sewing seriously as a teenager when she would whip up a dress for the Saturday night dances – I can relate to that, and did the same myself, all those years ago.  Quilting came some time later, after several years of sewing for children, and making curtains. 

Fay is certainly one of those prolific quilters and showed us some of her lovely work.  I was amazed at the work going into these tiny blocks of the 365 Days Quilt, designed by Susan Claire.  Each little block is a work of art and the borders are made up of a series of different landscapes, such as hills, trees and mountains.

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Fay’s 365 Day quilt

The striking navy and white star quilt was made for Fay’s grand-son for his 21st birthday.  And the Postage Stamp quilt, made of 1 1/2in squares took several years to stitch together.  I certainly couldn’t work in that tiny scale.

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More of Kay’s lovely work

Kay is very much at home with all the features on her sewing machine and had brought along a huge pile of machine embroidered and embellished blocks which members were keen to check out. There was also a large quilt on show made from even more of these embroidered blocks.

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There was great interest in these machine embroidered blocks

Club members also brought along a little Show and Tell as well.  Sarah had been busy sewing as there were two family members expecting babies.  She had stitched a cot quilt for one of the expectant Mum’s featuring the family’s two cats.  And a cheery yellow changing mat for the other new arrival.

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Made by Sarah – for two new babies in the family

And this lovely machine applique quilt made by Frances is hanging over my own candlewick quilt Raspberry Ripple which I was happy to show off at our club-night.

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Applique quilt made by Frances, and my own Raspberry Ripple

We adjourned to the Supper Room for a cuppa, to check out the library books, and the raffles were drawn.  No luck again for me, I’m sorry to say, but two lucky ladies got to take home an interesting wrapped parcel each.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Something I Prepared Earlier

I rather like Mondays.  It’s the start of a new week, and if we are not off and about somewhere in our caravan, it’s also “Roll the Dice” day.  Which I have done this morning, and the dice rolled to number three.  That's exciting, it is a new project on my list, a 1930s baby quilt which I started goodness knows how long ago.  And this is what I had prepared earlier.

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I received a gift of assorted 1930s fabrics from my pen-friend Margaret in Birmingham, England, when we visited while travelling around UK on holiday for 3 months.  And that was way back in 2008.  Readers should know by now that I have some very old UFOs indeed!  When we returned home I purchased a few more fabrics and made these Cobblestone blocks.  And then they sat, locked away somewhere, until I remembered them and added this project to my List of Six.

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Also tucked away with the blocks were some extra fabrics to use in the cot quilt, plus some 2 inch squares sent by another pen-friend.  Which I may or may not use - I’ll have to see how it all comes together.  We have a few things on this week, but I should be able to get some sewing done.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Going with Plan B

It was a good start earlier in the week when I completed stitching the final two Soul Searching blocks.  These stitched up nicely in dark purple and aqua.

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Last two Soul Searching blocks

Then I laid my twelve big blocks on the bed, arranging them this way and that,  and stitched them all together.  Hurray – a finish, or so I thought.  I mentioned previously that I had decided to stitch twelve blocks instead of the nine in the pattern.  Why?  Because I thought I knew better.  But three blocks across by four blocks down didn’t really work and was much too long, with the bottom row almost hanging on the floor.  So upsetting, but there was no use continuing on.   After I had recovered, it was  onto Plan B, and out came the unpicker.  Now that’s a job I dislike.

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Unpicking – don’t you hate it?

With the blocks pressed I rearranged them again.   Then the top was soon reassembled and I stood back to have another reassessment.  That’s better, although the jury is still out on whether to add a multi-coloured border or not.  Perhaps – perhaps not - any ideas?

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Finished top

I definitely prefer the contrast with stronger colours and have used dark grey, dark pink, black, red, forest green, dark blue, purple, burgundy, and aqua blue in the blocks.  The paler blocks have been removed and will become part of the backing.

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Pale blue, pink and lilac blocks will go on the back of the quilt

It’s always a good feeling to get a top done, the next step will be to sew up a backing, but I’ll need to purchase more fabric for that. 

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Quick outdoors photo in the rain

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sew Wot Tuesday

Yesterday it was my turn to host the Sew Wot ladies morning get-together.  Our numbers were a little low, but that didn’t matter, there was still plenty to talk about, and Show and Tell to admire.  Moira had brought along her panel featuring New York by night – a city she has always wanted to visit.  She sliced the panel and put it back together again with deep pink Grunge sashing, that’s a clever idea, I thought.

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Moira’s New York panel

Everyone was keen to see my new quilt “Raspberry Ripple” and there were ooohs and aaahs about all that glorious quilting done by Linda , of Razzle Dazzle Quilter fame. 

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Moira and Heather B admiring my new quilt

It was good to welcome Heather E back after her trip to hospital.  With a new hip and a pair of crutches to help her get around, she was doing very well indeed.  Heather likes doing handwork and was working on her teeny tiny Dresden Plate blocks – so pretty.  Moira was also doing handwork, and her pretty fox embroidery is coming along well.  Still plenty of stitching to do on his body, and he is going to look gorgeous when completed.

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Moira’s fox embroidery

Heather B has been thinking ahead to Christmas and had some pretty little felt hangings to show us.  So cute and I particularly like the Christmas Angel.  And many thanks to Heather for bringing me a pot of parsley – most appreciated.

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Heather B is getting ready for Christmas

I had baked an Orange Cake for morning tea and the recipe is so easy and all done in the whizz I thought I would share it with you all.

Orange Cake
1 orange, unpeeled
1 teaspoon baking soda
125gr butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup of sultanas or raisins

Preheat oven to 160C.  Line 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Cut orange into quarters, remove and seeds and whizz in food processor until finely chopped.  Dissolve baking soda in half cup of hot water and add to food processor with butter, sugar, eggs and flour.  Whizz to combine.  Stir in dried fruit.  Put mixture into prepared cake tin and bake 50-60 mins.

When cold, top with icing using fresh orange juice, and sprinkle with finely grated orange peel.

Do tell me if you try this cake – it really is delicious.