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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Its just not my day

Monday is “roll the dice” day, if I’m home and not tripping around somewhere or other.  And I have to admit that I was rather pleased to get number 4 again this week – my candlewick quilt, the same number as last week.  Sadly I didn’t do as much as I had hoped last week, so I’m very pleased to have a second chance again this week.

But first things first, and before I got to work on UFO number 4 I needed to deal with a big bag of plums.  Caravan club members Barry and Diane had brought a whole lot of excess fruit from their trees to the weekend rally, apples and plums, so I was more than happy to take some home to cook up.  The plums got halved, and into the crock pot (slow cooker) they went.  There they could simmer away without any attention from me.

Two varieties of plums cooking away

There was one more thing I needed to do before I got on to working on my UFO.  The hem on the caravan door mat had started to fray, so I needed to fix it.  In fact, it had frayed so much that I decided the best way to deal with it was to make a facing and stitch it securely down.  It was hard work stitching through so much thickness and partly through the job my needle snapped.  I’ll just change it and get on with things, I thought.

Facing on the reverse of the mat

Wrong – try as I might, I just couldn’t loosen the screw which held the needle in place – it was just done up much too tight.  And I really didn’t want to force it and cause any damage to my sewing machine.  Robin was away for most of the day, so I just had to wait till he returned.  So I pottered around all day, not able to get on with my sewing, but cut a few strips for the borders on my candlewick quilt, all ready to start stitching when I finally could.
Once Robin returned home in the mid afternoon, he soon had the broken needle removed and a new one in place.  The mat was soon finished.  It’s not pretty on the back side, but it is all fixed.  Finally – I can start sewing.  But I hadn’t gone too far when I needed to get the unpicker out!

Time to unpick this seam

So what had I done wrong?  It shouldn’t have really mattered which way I stitched the plain cream strip on.  But I had forgotten I had a seam in it to get the required length and I didn’t check that “right sides were together”.  So I started again, stitched a seam or two, pressed them open, and then put my sewing away.  The afternoon was almost over and I had achieved very little!  Think I’ll try again tomorrow, and hopefully nothing will go wrong.  It’s just not my day today.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1 Day Sewing and 5 days Camping

Not much time has been spent sitting at the sewing machine here lately. I spent last Monday sewing borders on my candlewick quilt, but only managed to attach them to two sides of the quilt top, not the four sides as I had hoped.   And then we have been away for 5 days in our caravan enjoying wonderful weather.  Looks like the weather has finally settled, and Summer is here at last.  I took my stitchery blocks with me, and spent a little time working on them, not quite finished so nothing to show just yet. 

We have been camping – first at Ashhurst, a favourite place to stay, and then we moved on to the beautiful Pohangia Valley.  On our first morning there we awoke to find mist hanging low in the valley.

Misty morning in Pohangia Valley

Several of our caravan club ladies were keen to see my new quilt for the bed in our caravan, so of course I was more than happy to show it off.

“Hearts in Bloom” on the caravan bed

As well as spending time with our caravan friends in beautiful surroundings, whiling away the hot afternoons by sitting outside under large shady trees, we also explored this lovely valley.  And came across a whole paddock of tall, nodding sunflowers.

Sunflowers everywhere

A group of us walked down to the local café to enjoy a Devonshire Tea – that was fun.  I am always so pleased that café staff happily take photos when requested.

At Country Fayre Café

I purchased honey next store to the café which used the honesty box system – take the honey out and place your money in the slot, so trusting.  Then we discovered a local cheese maker and being very partial to a nice piece of cheese we just had to stop for a tasting.  And of course we ended up taking some home.

Cheese tasting at Cartwheel Creamery

Who would have thought there was so much happening in such a tiny place?  There were a couple of other attractions in the valley too, but we will have to leave them till our next visit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

First Sew Wot Gathering of the Year

Not the very first, I hasten to add, as I missed that, but the first I have attended this year.  So it was great to catch with everyone’s news on Tuesday.  Sadly, most of us met up last week to say farewell to our lovely Sew Wot member Pam, who passed away suddenly.  It was lovely to see so many of her quilts displayed in the Chapel and the Lounge where we all gathered later for afternoon tea.

Five of us met at Heather E’s home, a couple of our ladies couldn’t make it.  As usual, there was plenty of chatter going on.  Not so much Show and Tell though.  Carol was presented with several little gifts – it’s her birthday, you know.  And not just any old birthday.  I’ll let you into a secret, she recently celebrated the BIG 70 birthday.  Carol had a lovely day out with her family, and a scrumptious meal at an Indian Restaurant.

Heather was sewing more hexagons together – something she really enjoys.  Don’t know about me – all that basting, hand stitching them together, then ripping the papers out just doesn’t seem something that I would get excited about.  To each their own, of course.   Mary was busy knitting, and informed me that I had missed her Show and Tell, as I didn’t attend the last get-together.  She does such lovely work, it’s always so nice to see what she brings along, so it was a shame to miss seeing it. 

Moira has decided that she would like to try working with wool, and brought along  a bag pattern and a Moda Scrap Bag full of beautiful wool squares in such lovely colours.

Moira’s new project

I had my Hearts in Bloom quilt to show, and the ladies were in awe of Linda’s fabulous quilting.

Moira, Carol holding the quilt, Heather E and Mary

There were magazines being passed around looking for a new home, and I managed to do just a little stitching.  We enjoyed a delicious morning tea – just loved the pikelets, yummy.  After some more stitching time, then it was time to pack up and head on our way home.  It was so nice  to catch up with everyone again.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Candlewick UFO

The dice was well and truly shaken and rattled about this morning before I rolled it on the carpet.  And it brought up number four today.  A quick look at my list tells me that number 4 is my candlewick quilt which goes back a long long time.  This is a really old UFO and I took these blocks away in 1999 when we did a three 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.

Number four today

I did wonder when I last worked on assembling this quilt.  Seems it was way back in October last year when I was cutting, measuring and stitching strips around the blocks.  
Last time at the sewing machine

The first thing to do today was to lay it out on top of the bed and see where I have got up to.  I don’t suppose that the quilting fairies have been working away on my quilt while I haven’t been looking?  No, they hadn’t.  But I had done more than I’d remembered, with most of the top being assembled.

The top is coming along well

I’ve got an idea for the borders so I’ll be working away on that today.  Looks like there will be more of the cutting, measuring, stitching and pressing going on today.

Pretty heart block

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Be-twist and Between

What’s a girl to do on Saturday when there hasn’t been a roll of the dice early in the week to let me know what UFO to work on?  I had finished stitching the binding on my new quilt, added the label, took some photos and wrote a blog about it.  What can I do now, without upsetting my “roll the dice” campaign, which incidentally, always (or like this particular week, sometimes) happens on Monday morning?

I know, I’ll work on that summer skirt I’ve been meaning to make for sometime.  It’s been cut out and put away for ages.  The pretty autumn hued leafy fabric was purchased on our trip to Australia from the Aboriginal Fabric Gallery in Alice Springs, and I purchased enough to make a skirt.    I suspect that they are gum leaves, but I’m happy to be corrected.  Read about my visit to this lovely quilt shop here.

Cotton quilting fabric for my new skirt

The pattern used was nothing too fancy, just a simple summer skirt with an elastic waist band.  It didn’t take too long at all to stitch up, and will be nice and cool to wear now that the weather has changed yet again.  We have gone from the torrential showers of yesterday, to hot, muggy and sticky temperatures today – rather like Aussie, actually.  No two days seem to be the same lately.

My new summer skirt

With that extra bit of sewing accomplished, I’m looking forward to rolling the dice again on Monday morning.  Wonder which UFO I’ll get to work on?  I’ll just have to wait and see what number comes up.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hearts in Bloom

Finally finished - another UFO bites the dust!  The binding has been hand stitched down, and I’ve added a label.  So my beautiful quilt is completed at last, has been taken outside for a few photos, and is now at home on the bed in our caravan.
Hearts in Bloom, on the caravan bed

This quilt was always going to be a caravan quilt.  I have very happy memories of stitching each block while travelling around in our caravan on Summer Safaris with a group of friends. We would travel in the mornings, do a little sight seeing, then relax later in the day under a shady tree, with a cup of coffee and my stitching. The flowers and leaves were then coloured using fabric pens. The floral designs were “12 Days of Redwork”, designed by Alex Anderson.  I then put the embroidered blocks together with 9 patch alternate blocks in pink and green.

The pattern was 12 Days of Redwork

Next was an applique border, using large green ric-rac in place of a vine, with appliqued flowers and leaves.  And I needed an extra border to complete the quilt, and decided on checkerboard in mixed burgundies. More by a stroke of good luck rather than any particular skill on my part, the side borders fitted exactly down each side of the quilt top.

Ric rac border and checkerboards

My finished top then took a trip to Taupo to be expertly machine quilted by Razzle Dazzle Quilter, Linda.  And what a wonderful job she did – I am absolutely thrilled with her skills.  There is beautiful freehand McTavishing and pebbles around the applique border.


And beautiful feathers around each floral block.  This is the first quilt that Linda has done for me and it certainly won’t be the last.

Linda’s beautiful quilting

Arty shot on the back fence

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Farewell to Pam

Today we said farewell to Pam, a valued member of of Sew Wot group.  Pam also had a lot to do with the local Town and Country Quilters, getting the quilt club up and running, becoming the first President of the club, and later on receiving Life membership.

The Sew Wot Ladies at a quilt shop
Carol, Helen, Jenny, Mary, Pam, Rae, Heather B, Moira, Heather E

Pam was full of fun and used to keep us laughing as she worked on her Rest Home blanket.  She was making it, she said, to take into the rest home with her.  But we don’t think she ever intended to go, at all.  And she liked nothing better than sitting with our cat Muffy on her lap, when it was my turn to host the Sew Wot ladies.

Pam with her long running project, the rest home blanket

Pam at our Christmas Toilet Bag swap

Pam was a big part of our Sew Wot group, and will be sadly missed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day

I guess like most of us, we have more than one quilt for our bed.  One of my family rituals is to put my quilt “Hearts of Love” on our bed on particular months of the year.  On February, to celebrate the month of love, incorporating Valentine’s Day.  And then again in November, to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary month.  Robin, as it would be expected, is blissfully unaware of the significance of these occasions – a quilt is a quilt, to him.   But I always remind him, of course. 

Hearts of Love, made for our 25th Anniversary

There is a lot going on this week, so we don’t plan to dine out tonight, instead, we will collect a favourite take-away.  And to finish our Valentine’s Day meal, I’ve been busy in the kitchen, making a chocolate cake and some jam drop biscuits, cookies to those from other shores.  There’s more than enough for us, and plenty to share with our expected visitors too.

  Valentine’s Day baking

And how about this as a “blast from the past”.  This is what we looked like, all those years ago when we decided that we wanted to marry.  We both used to have dark hair, back then!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow Sewing Sunday

With the binding of my new quilt all pinned in place, today was a slow sewing kind of day.  The plan to sit outside on the patio, shaded from the summer sun under our large umbrella while enjoying my stitching time just never happened.  Summer deserted us today, after a gorgeous day yesterday.  The  cold wind was blowing, a few showers passed by, so there was no sitting outside for me.  Instead I set myself up at the dining table. 

Stitching at the dining table

Everything was at hand.  My pin container – check, small scissors – check, thread catcher – check.  It’s a bed quilt, so stitching the binding down by hand will take a while.  But this is a rather restful task to do, so I’ll take my time, and enjoy it, every step of the way.  And I don’t have to finish the job in one day, do I?


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Something I Prepared Earlier

We’ve returned home from our latest caravan adventure, and I could hardly wait to stitch the binding on my wonderful new quilt.  Luckily I had prepared the binding earlier so it was all ready to apply.  And I’d stitched a small applique flower onto some fabric, all ready to complete the label.

All prepared earlier, started the label and made the binding

Next step was to wrestle that big heavy quilt and stitch the binding on.  I just took it slowly, and carefully, maneuvering the quilt around bit by bit.

Stitching the binding

I always get into a bit of a pickle when it comes to cut and join the two ends of the binding together when I reach the end.  Brainwave – why don’t I find the exact way to do it on Mr Google, and print it out for next time?

Now the binding has been stitched on, I’ll pin it in place, and start hand stitching it down – that will take me a while.  But it doesn’t matter, it’s quite a restful job to do, I find. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Love that Razzle Dazzle Quilting

Our caravan trip to Taupo was planned to collect my quilt from Linda at Razzle Dazzle Quilting.  Of course, it could have been couriered home to me but……..what if it went missing, got stolen, or damaged – the possibilities  just didn’t bear thinking about.  Call me a worrier by all means, but I much preferred to collect it in person.  And as Robin always says, it’s an excuse for another trip away!  But first things first – it was time for a trip to the local laundromat.

Knitting at the laundromat

And what a busy place it was.  Locals came and went, plus people passing through the town like us.  A group of French people came it with bags and bags of washing and started loading it into the driers.  So I approached them and pointed out that the washing machines were over on the other wall – and they thanked me for helping them.  They had so much laundry that they loaded up machine after machine.

Later in the day we went to see Linda and her sister Peggy.  There is a lookout on the top of their hill, with a great view of Lake Taupo, and always full of tourists clicking away on their cameras.

Lake Taupo from the lookout

And here it is – my lovely quilt, expertly quilted by Linda.    There is beautiful free hand quilting around each floral heart and the ric-rac border,  I’m so thrilled with the work she did!  And I can’t wait to get it home and put the binding on, (something which I prepared earlier, as the TV people say) so I’ll be ready to start.   Thanks so much, Linda.

Linda with my quilt

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunny Days at Feilding

We are currently enjoying a caravan rally at Feilding, at Manchester Street School.  With the family living fairly close by, we have had visits from daughter Nicky on her way home from work, and both grand-daughters came calling too.  Megan came on Saturday morning with the family dog Noodle in tow, to take him on a “doggy playdate”.

Megan and Noodle

We had called in to see Emma at McDonalds on Saturday morning where she having a break at just the right time so could sit down for a wee chat.  Robin enjoyed a chocolate milkshake and I had a large latte, specially made and delivered to the table by Emma.  She is a little camera shy (unless she is riding a horse) so we asked her to take a photo of us instead.

Grandparents at McDonalds

Emma also called around to see us on Sunday morning, before heading out to have brunch with friends.  It was lovely to see them both over their busy weekends.  Emma reminded us that she attended this school as a youngster before the family moved further north to Kiwitea.  The school has lovely gardens, big shady trees and a huge play ground full of equipment to climb and swing from.  I was really interested in the colourful sign but couldn’t find the giant’s castle or the chocolate factory anywhere!


At Manchester Street School

And we found two aviaries of colourful happy birds, chirping and squawking as they fluttered around.

Pretty budgies at school

I’ve done a little stitching this weekend, working away on my next Christmas ABC block.  This is my “slow stitching” project so I don’t really mind how long it takes, I’m enjoying the process.

Just a little stitching so far

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Quilt Shop Tote Bag

This bag had a rocky start, when I had stitched the handles on incorrectly, and didn’t realise the error of my ways until I had finished the last line of top stitching.  And telling myself how clever I was with my first finish of the year.  Out came my trusty unpicker, and slowly all the lines of stitching holding the lining in place was undone.   The handles were stitched down in their proper place, and I was ready to start assembling the bag for a second time.


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.

And look, I nearly made another mistake earlier on.  Just as well I noticed before I stitched that I was all set to sew the top of the bag up, instead of the bottom!  Out came those pins, and they were soon put in the correct end.  What was I thinking?

That’s not right

I’d forgotten how to stitch the lining in the bag – you know, that tricky way with an opening in the bottom of the lining.  But after a quick check on Google I was headed in the right direction.  With right sides together I stitched around the top of the bag.  Then came the fiddly bit, pulling the bag through the lining, and hoping it was all going to come out OK.  And it did – then the lining just needed a little hand sewing to fix up that opening.

Getting tricky with the lining

I gave the top of the bag a press, and after a lot of careful pinning I did a row of top stitching.  All done – how does that look for a second time remake?

All done

I’m really pleased with how the bag turned out, and it lovely to finally use the embroidered panel which Carol had so kindly stitched for me.  Both the blue floral fabric and the pink lining fabric have been in my stash for ages, so I didn’t have to go and buy anything especially for this project.  That's another UFO to tick off my "List of Six".  And you can never have too many bags!

Ready to take shopping