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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sew Wot Tuesday

After so long away on our South island holiday, it was great to catch up with the Sew Wot ladies today, and Heather E was our hostess for the morning.  We were a smaller group, with two of our ladies unable to make it.  But there was plenty of happy chatting amongst those who were there.  Two of our ladies told us about the plans for their own upcoming overseas trips, so there will be plenty of traveling amongst our group over the next few months.  I loved the sweet blue crocheted blanket that Mary was making for her Granny Box, it looked so cuddly and warm.

Mary’s baby blanket

It seems I’m not the only one who unearths long forgotten UFOs.  Helen discovered all the blocks for a quilt she started making for her baby daughter about 30 years ago, she admitted.  These were the days before rotary cutters were around, and everything was cut and stitched by hand.  The blocks are now assembled, and Helen is adding a little embroidery here and there.  This is another beauty which will wait for the new generation of babies in the family.

Helen and her long forgotten quilt

And Helen’s piece of embroidery is coming along well – just needs to add some beads to finish it, she told us.

Helen’s embroidery

Heather E is well know for her love of making hexagons and had an intriguing double sided quilt to show us.  In lovely muted shades, it was very pretty indeed.

Heather E’s double sided quilt

Heather had also finished another hexagon quilt top in a medallion setting.  This one featured an inner  border of stars around an interesting central appliqued block.  Heather is certainly a very prolific lady, and doesn’t like to sit with idle fingers – it certainly shows, with all the quilts she manages to produce.

Another hexagon masterpiece

Carol had brought along a bag to show us, made for her sister’s birthday.  It was very pretty, with an embroidered panel on one side, and a Japanese print on the other.

Carol made this birthday bag

As for me – I managed to do a little work on my fourth New Zealand botanical block, but nothing really to show, too much talking I guess.  We have another caravan trip coming up fast, so I’ll make sure I pack my stitching bag, and hopefully will get a little time to sit and stitch.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Holiday Project – Finished

It’s a bit sad, isn’t it.  Here we are, mid March, and I’ve  only just completed my first finish for the year.   But….. to be truthful, we have barely arrived back home after our long caravan trip away, exploring the South Island of New Zealand.   I prepared umpteen memory blocks using New Zealand themed fabric and packed them way with my Pigma pen.  As we toured around for 10 weeks or so I diligently used the patches as a type of fabric diary, writing each evening on the plain cream squares where we had stayed, places we had explored, and attractions visited.  During the week I started assembling the blocks, and finally completed all the rows.


After a lot of pinning and stitching the top was together, and the borders added.  Luckily I had enough of the smudgy green fabric for the borders, with just a little strip left over.

The top is done

But we all know that the job isn't over till the top is quilted.  This is going to be used as a table cloth, I decided, so I used light pellon as the batting.  The quilting was simple, with some stitch in the ditch to hold it all together.


Once again, I was fortunate to have just enough of one of the New Zealand themed fabrics to use as the binding, hand stitching the back edge down while Robin was engrossed in a rugby game on TV last night.  A few extra patches were utilised on the back.  And here it is, finally finished.


The completed table cloth

There are lots of lovely fabrics used, showcasing our native birds.  The kiwi, fantail, kereru, and the world’s only alpine parrot, the kea.  Then there are trees and ferns, kaka beak flowers, and the  crimson pohutakawa blossoms, which appear in summer, giving this tree the name of the New Zealand Christmas Tree.

The inspiration for this design was taken from my book Triangle-Free Quilts, by Judy Hopkins, using the pattern, Spruce Root Basket.


Looking back, it seems that making this type of holiday memory quilt is getting to be a habit, and this is the second quilt I have made to commemorate travelling around the South island. We had a three month trip in 2012 and the result of that trip was a Rail Fence memory quilt.  Read my earlier blog about the quilt here

South Island Traveling Rail Fence, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Town and Country Quilters March Club-night

With tripping around the country, its been a while since I attended a quilt club night, so it was nice to be back again.  It was a very busy night indeed, with one thing and another.  Sheryl Meech was our speaker for the evening, and brought along a crate or two of quilts to show us.    Sheryl is a very prolific quilter and belongs to the group of international textile artists, Fifteen by Fifteen.  You can read her profile here, (click on the link).

Sheryl likes to extend herself and enters many competitions and challenges, preferring to make her own designs.  Shown are just a few of the many small wall-hangings she brought along to show us.


She had some lovely bed sized quilts as well, including this purple Baltimore quilt with a swag border.

Sheryl’s lovely quilts

Sheryl was on double duty during the evening, as she had judged the club challenge.  She gave some excellent tips to those who entered a quilt, with the main one being to make sure that the entry complied with the theme. This year the challenge quilt had to reflect a book title.  The members at the meeting the voted for “Viewers Choice”.
Checking out the Challenge entries

Diane won two prizes for her tear drop shaped entry, inspired by the book “Bridge across  my Sorrows”.  She won “Best Interpretation of the Theme”, and “Viewer’s Choice”.  Well done, indeed.

Diane’s entry

It’s always great to see what the ladies bring along for Show and Tell.  Janneke was feeling very pleased with herself as she had just completed her La Passacaglia Quilt.  I heard a little whisper that several members are also working away on this intricate hand pieced design.

Janneke with her La Passacaglia

And Cheryl is getting ready for camping and exploring our beautiful country.  With the recent purchase of a 5th Wheeler van, she has made two quilts to keep them cozy and warm on their travels.

Two caravan quilts

And Barbara deserves an accolade for the cream and gold quilt she made for her daughter’s wedding – a seven year effort.  The photo doesn’t do the quilt justice, it is so lovely.

Wedding quilt for Barbara’s daughter

After the meeting supper was served, the raffles were drawn, (not my number, again)  and there was plenty of chatter going on.  It was another interesting club night.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Holiday Project

I’ve been working on putting my holiday memory blocks together today.  These are the ones I prepared using New Zealand themed fabric and took down to the South Island.  As we toured around for 10 weeks or so I diligently used the patches as a type of fabric diary.  Each evening I would write in the plain cream squares where we had stayed, places we had explored, and attractions visited, using my Pigma Pen.


All my patches were carefully laid out on the floor in the sewing room, arranged and then rearranged again.  Then I started pinning.  Oh dear – this wasn’t going to work.  Since when did my knees decide they no longer liked kneeling on the  floor while I bent down to do some pinning?  And then, to make matters worse, they decided they really didn’t enjoy the process of getting up again!  So I had to carefully pick everything up in order, and lay all the pieces across our bed.  That’s better, no more kneeling on the floor.

So far, I’ve stitched a few rows together, and pegged them up in the garage on our small internal clothesline.  That certainly works well, and I can see how I’m getting along.


Instead of “Rolling the Dice” this week to see which of those on my List of Six to work on, I’ve sneaked this project to the top of the list instead.  It would be nice to get this top completed during the week if I can – although according to the calendar we have quite a busy week with one thing and another.  Fingers crossed though – I’ll certainly do as much as I can.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Now I’m back home……..

It’s only been a few days, but it’s certainly great to be back home again.  To sleep in our own bed, have more room to move around instead of just a caravan sized dwelling, and to be able to have my own washing machine again without sharing!  And as I said in the comment section of my last blog post – thanks for all for the comments and good wishes, and I’m pleased that so many of you came along for the ride with us on our trip.  The South Island of New Zealand has stunning scenery, and of course, we who reside here are well aware of what a beautiful country we live in.  And it’s always good to catch a glimpse of Kapiti Island on the drive up the coast on the way back home.

Kapiti Island in the distance

After all that hot summer weather we have been enjoying, the clock has now ticked around to Autumn.  So down came my Christmas quilt which has been hanging up in the lounge since December – to be  replaced with my Autumn toned Baskets of Blessings wall-hanging.  To be honest though, we don’t see a whole autumn colour here in New Zealand.  Our native trees are evergreens, and it is the “exotics” (from the Northern Hemisphere) planted in home gardens and parks  which change colour and drop their leaves.

Baskets of Blessings

So what else have I been doing this week?  Some secret sewing, that’s what.  Although, as a secret, I can’t really show much until it is gifted in a couple of weeks.  We arrived home to find an unexpected Big Birthday  invitation so my mind went into overdrive thinking about a gift.  Here is a tiny sneak peek.

Secret sewing has been happening

I’ve been playing around with my New Zealand themed fabric holiday memory patches and have them all laid out on the floor in my sewing room.  As “something I prepared earlier”, I took a whole lot of these away, and each evening I would mark where we were staying, and places we had visited.  Not sure if it will become a wall-hanging or maybe a table cloth yet, but it’s always fun to look back and reminisce.

Holiday blocks

And lastly, I’ve done a tiny bit more hand quilting on my “Winter Quilt Festival” panel, stitching around the snow people. 

And a little hand quilting

So that's been my week so far.  Dare I say that we are off on another caravan trip on Friday – just a short weekend away with our caravan club buddies.  And….. we have to sneak away from the rally weekend for several hours to attend a Family Reunion!  So it’s all go, again.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hi-de-hi campers, it’s time to go home

Our seemingly never ending caravan trip around the South Island has come to an end.  After 80 days away, it was finally  time to head home.  This snap was taken at the Picton Lookout, and you can just see the Inter Island Ferries behind us.

At Picton

Should be a calm trip

Finding ourselves a table aboard, we settled down to the journey.  Things got interesting when the Captain announced that a drill was taking place.  After several blasts of the siren, staff members came with life jackets to show how to put them on, and answer any questions.  Other scenarios took place, a life boat drill, and a (supposed) fire in the engine room,  reminding us on the loudspeaker that this was only a drill for staff training taking place.  Just as well it was a drill, because my heartbeat certainly got raised when the Captain started calling out, “Abandon ship, abandon ship” very loudly!


Views from the trip

Our journey from Picton to Wellington

We arrived home to a huge pile of mail, including our Census Forms which had to be dealt with pronto. The caravan is unpacked, and the caravan fridge needed a really good clean after it had been assaulted by a jar of pickled onions which tried to escape!  Several loads of laundry have been done – it’s not as if I neglect this task while on holiday.  But washing, like rust, never sleeps.  And I had been to umpteen different laundries while away on our trip, including this one with the interesting sign outside.  There is no mistaking what that is!

This way to the launderette

So now we are home again, I’m hoping to reacquainted with my sewing machine again.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Last few Days on Holiday

It’s hard to believe that our loooong South Island holiday is almost at an end.  We are currently at our last stop, Koromiko, for two days before we board the Interisland Ferry.  And I’m relaxing outside doing a little afternoon stitching.  This is a nice roomy place to camp, and the property is surrounded with huge Totara trees, one of our beautiful native trees.  The bird song is amazing, and so nice to listen to as I’m sitting outside under the sun shade.
As far as stitching goes, I’ve started on another New Zealand botanical block.  But I’m feeling all “stitched out” on these and have put it aside for a while.  I had planned it as a long term stitchery project, after all, so it doesn't matter if I put it aside for a while.

Another botanical bock

Instead, I’m doing a little hand quilting on my Winter Quilt Festiva panel, for a change.

Winter Quilt Festival

I’m pleased the weather has warmed up again. Over the last few days when we were staying at Blenheim the rain came down and the ground was just a mud bath – not nice at all to slosh through.  There was a washing machine available so I did a load this morning and brought it with me to hang up here.  So that makes me a happy camper indeed.  There is nothing nicer than laundry drying in the sun shine, is there?

Drying in the sun shine

Most of the places we have been staying at have a “Swap a Book” area, where you recycle your books or magazines and pick up something new to read.  Here the books are housed in an old fridge, which appears to be plugged into a power point on the tree.  Many visitors are fooled by this, we have been told, and some have been seen trying to plug their appliances into the power point!

It’s a trick, of course

We will be enjoying our last couple of days on holiday, and then we will be aboard the Cook Strait ferry on Saturday.  And it goes without saying that we are hoping for a nice smooth crossing.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kowhai Circlet

I put the finishing stitches in my Kowhai Circlet block today.  This is number three of the nine botanical blocks I plan to make.  Designed as applique patterns by the very talented Jenny Hunter for the New Zealand Quilter magazine, I have decided to do my blocks as stitcheries.

Kowhai Circlet block

Regarded by most New Zealanders as our national flower, Kowhai are among the most beautiful of our flowering trees.   They produce tubular flowers that are around 3-5 cm long and are a favourite of tui, bellbirds and silvereyes who feed on the nectar. Once established, they flower over a long period in late winter and early spring. The flowers are bright gold yellow – hence the name, which means “yellow” in Maori.

Tui  in a kowhai tree

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Another Quilting Shop

Quite by accident, we stumbled across another quilt shop on our travels.  “June’s Room” has only been trading for about three years, so was not here when we last visited Nelson six years ago.  I had a look around while Robin sat on the handy seat outside on the verandah.


What a delight of colour inside the rather plain shop front.  Beautiful fabrics, knitting yarn,kits and patterns,  and I rather liked the embroidered “chocolate” tea towels with the cute sayings.  There was a gorgeous range of batiks, I’m always rather drawn to them, and lots of black and whites, which are always very popular.  June was a very elegant lady who told me she had taught sewing for many years.

June at June’s Room

So what else have we been up to on our holiday?  Before the storm arrived we enjoyed a week in Golden Bay, right at the top of the South Island, and traveled as far as the road would take us.  We had never been to Cape Farewell before, and  we trudged up the hill to the lookout point, joining the other tourists all looking over the rail at the  rather impressive sight in front of us.  The sea was surging in endless waves and over the rocks.  We looked down to the seals far below.  Some were sunning them selves on the rocks.  And another group were gently bobbing about in the waves, they didn’t seem to be feeding, just enjoying themselves and having fun.


Cape Farewell

On another unsealed road we traveled up hill and down dale, and over the multitude of causeways, finally arriving at the pretty little Kaihoka Lake.  There was a swimmer in the water, cooling off on another hot day, and kayakers paddling around.  It looked a lovely place to go for a picnic and enjoy playing around in the water.

Driving over yet another causeway, and Kaihoka Lake

Back in Nelson again, which is known as the “Sunshine Capital of New Zealand” because of all the hours of sunshine it enjoys.  Just up the road is the remains of a huge Tasmanian Blue Gum tree, known as the Otterson Gum.  Following a branch falling down, it was discovered that there were major structural problems and this notable tree was felled in 2005 at the age of 158 years.  It’s hard to imagine just how tall this mighty tree must have been before it was cut down, the stump itself is huge.

At the stump of the Tasmanian Blue Gum

With only a week of our holiday to go now, we are slowly making our way back to Picton to cross over on the ferry.  Returning to Nelson gives us the chance to catch up with Robin’s sister Kaye once again before we move on.