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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hand made for Christmas

There was a huge pile of gifts under the Christmas Tree, all nicely wrapped up in festive paper.  Our family at Kiwitea like to start Christmas early.  Grand-daughter Emma woke up early and banged on the caravan door at 6.15am.  After all, there are presents that need unwrapping.
DSCF5037 All the presents under the tree
One by the one gifts were passed around and unwrapped.  I had made several gifts this year and was interested to see how they would be received.  DSCF5040
Emma unwrapped her gifts and here she is with the Christmas Bon-bon on her knee, full of wrapped sweets.  I also presented her with a festive Kiwi, complete with a Santa hat on top of his head.  What did she think of these hand-made gifts?  I’m not too sure.  These were not my original choice of gifts for my grand-daughter – I had earlier made two items for her beloved little puppy.  But sadly the puppy met with an accident and passed away just prior to Christmas, so I had to quickly find alternative gifts for her.  
DSCF4988 Christmas Kiwi
I stitched a Christmas apron for my daughter with a large appliquéd old fashioned Santa on the front.  With bright red ties I thought it looked very festive indeed.
DSCF4900 Nicky’s Christmas apron
And how about a nice new oven cloth to go with that apron?  This is stitched with Christmas strips, has heat resistant wadding in the middle and backed with hessian.  “Oh good”, she said, I could do with a new one of those”.
DSCF4901 Christmas oven cloth
Nicky wasn’t the only one with a Christmas apron, I decided to make one for myself as well. 
DSCF5053 Nicky and Jenny modelling the Christmas aprons
While I was happily doing my Christmas stitching the last week or so, my daughter and grand-daughters were busy at their own hand made gifts.  Nicky makes and packages the most divine Russian fudge,  Emma made everyone chocolate fudge, and Megan made peppermint chocolates for us all.  Of course hand made is best!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Give-away prize in the mail

fThe postman brought me an exciting parcel – I won a prize in a give-away, the very first give-away I have won.  I received a little more than a metre of pretty blue fabric.  I love blue, it would have to be my favourite colour to wear, although I haven’t used it a great deal in my quilts so far.  That will have to change, won’t it.   Many thanks to Mummyzilla for hosting this give-away.  Do pop over to her  blog – she is a Kiwi girl too.
DSCF5005 My winnings
The Give-away Day Swap was worldwide and organised by Sew Mama Sew.  On Giveaway Day everyone with a shop or blog can give something away. All of the participants are shown on a master list, and there is a huge response each time from readers worldwide.   I have to admit I wasn’t aware of this exciting happening in blog land until I stumbled across the link while reading one of the blogs I follow.  So special thanks to Sew Mama Sew for putting this whole venture in action. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Try these Chocolate Cherry Balls

There is still time to whip up a batch of these delicious little morsels for the Christmas table.  Easy to prepare, and they are so yummy.  All you need is, 1 packet of red glace cherries. 1 packet of almond icing, and 1 block 250gr dark chocolate, or you could use chocolate melts instead.
DSCF4992 Cherries and almond icing.
Cut a hunk off the almond icing and roll out on a board between two pieces of baking paper till thin.  Break off a small piece and wrap right around each cherry till completely covered.  After this step I like to put them in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to set.
DSCF4993 Cherries all covered in almond icing
Next comes the messy part.  Carefully melt the chocolate in the microwave, then dip each cherry ball in the melted chocolate and put on a tray.  I have one of those handy little wire coiled spoons  which allows the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.
DSCF4998 Dipping each cherry ball in the chocolate
Just keep dipping each ball until all done.  You may have to give the chocolate another burst in the microwave to keep it runny.  Then place all those delicious little chocolate morsels in the fridge to set.
DSCF5001 All done
I shouldn’t really be let loose with melted chocolate.  It’s a bit like me working with glue, or paint, I tend to get it everywhere.  But never mind, the end result is well worth it.  Do give these a try, they are so rich and delicious it feels quite sinful to pop one or two in your mouth!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Come and see my Christmas Treasures

The quilts are up, then it’s time to dig deep in the boxes and bring the little treasures out.  My quilting pen friend Carol from South Dakota has sent me lots of lovely items over the years, and they are all very precious.  Over several years she sent me this collection of Christmas mice sitting on top of sewing items, and the cute little pincushion elf too.  I like to arrange them on a hand made lace mat made for me by a pen friend who has since passed away.
DSCF2293 Merry Christmas mice and elf
My Santa is sitting at his sewing machine patching his special red Christmas outfit, and is labelled  “A Stitch in Time”.   This also was a gift from Carol, aren’t I a lucky girl!
DSCF2289“A Stitch in Time”
How many of us have made a stuffed pinecone like this?  I made mine so many years ago that I can’t quite remember when!  I can remember cutting those little circles of Christmas fabric, putting wadding in the middle, stitching them up, then gluing each one in place.  It is probably vintage by now! 
DSCF4951 My stuffed pinecone
The three gold Christmas trees look down on my two little hand made golden Christmas Angels, made in a class ages ago.  Roly Poly angles, I think they are called, simple little things with ribbon bows for wings and a wooden ball for a head. 
DSCF4912 Roly Poly Angels
I found this Christmas decoration a couple of years ago and liked it so much I bought two, one for my daughter and one for me.  The Santa sack full of goodies opens up to show what is inside.
DSCF4914 Santa with a sack full of goodies
I love my Rudolf stocking, and this is the first project I have made using fabric dye.  Done in a class, we first traced the design, then dabbed the dye onto the fabric.  I stitched around his body, then finished off the stocking.  Poor old Rudolf, Robin doesn’t think much of him.  “That’s the funniest looking reindeer I’ve ever seen”, he declared when I got him out of the box.
DSCF4939 Rudolf Stocking
This is a peep at some of my Christmas treasures.  Each and every one has a connection to someone, or a story of when and where they were made or purchased, so they are all special in their own way.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Barbara’s Button Collection

I knew Barbara loves buttons, but didn’t realise she had such a wonderful collection.  Her buttons are artistically displayed on the dresser in interesting shaped glass containers, all nicely arranged in their colour groups.   Green ones, red and pink, black and blue, there must have been thousands of them.  Button lovers would be green with envy with this collection.

DSCF4964 Barbara’s button collection

I loved the little glass car filled with large coloured buttons.  What a wonderful idea.

DSCF4966 Cute little button filled car

Barbara has also used buttons very effectively on her hand knitted cushion covers.  Don’t they look great!

DSCF4967 Button decorated cushions

Her interest doesn’t stop at buttons, Barbara has a wonderful collection of fancy handbags too.  (I could have easily taken home a couple of the navy beaded bags while she wasn’t looking).  Green is her favourite colour and she showed off this amazing bag.  Yes, that is a heel you can see on the edge.  So……..is it a hand-bag or a shoe-bag, I wonder?

DSCF4961 How about this for a bag?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It’s our Christmas Stitching Monday

It’s the time of year when groups and clubs have their final pre-Christmas meeting, and yesterday was the wind-up meeting of our Stitching Monday group.  There were only a few of us to start with, but as the morning wore on, more friendly stitchers came to join in our last day.  We had planned a special shared lunch and Jo had a moment of panic when she couldn’t locate the cooked bacon she had brought along to top off her lunch dish.  She checked in the bag, went back to her car, even carefully retracing her steps back to the car park but all to no avail.  The fate of the missing bacon remained a mystery.  Petronella, our librarian, was busy doing a stock stake of all the club’s library books and didn’t have time for any stitching,  but stayed on and joined us for lunch.  Our lunch was delicious, and we told ourselves that the healthy savoury items more than balanced out us eating all the delicious sweet goodies.  Jo climbed up on a chair to get a bird’s eye view and take a photo of our  lunch tables.
DSCF4948 All ready for lunch
Joyce’s eye catching quilt, “Good Golly Miss Molly” had progressed in leaps and bounds since last month.  The borders have been completed and now just the corner units need to be constructed.  This will be an eye catching quilt when it is completed.  Thanks to Joyce too for cutting me off a few more of her selvedges to add to my collection.
DSCF4942 “Good Golly Miss Molly”
Margaret is always busy and I snapped her trimming up her Debbie Mumm blocks which will be made into a charity quilt.  The blues and yellows being used are always a winning colour combination.
DSCF4946 Margaret trimming her blocks
William Morris designs and fabrics are a real favourite with Sylvia and she was busy hand quilting her third William Morris quilt.  This one is a beauty with a large appliquéd design in the centre and is finished with an appliqué border. 
DSCF4943 Sylvia’s William Morris quilt
Sylvia also brought along a lovely cushion to show us, in pretty pinks and blues.  It will be a gift for a grand-daughter and the front had lovely stitcheries set with piecing.  The back of the cushion was a piece of intricate hand quilting done during a recent holiday.
DSCF4944 Pretty cushion for a grand-daughter
It was nice to welcome Rebecca back after an absence of a year or so.  She was working on an embroidery piece she was making for her City and Guilds course, set  by Sian Martin of the UK.  Rebecca was using her favourite range of turquoise in her colour palette.
DSCF4949 Rebecca with her embroidery
The others were all busy too.  Jo was doing more of her clever machine quilting on her quilt, and I saw Faye diligently stitching down a binding.  Maureen was  working on her 1930s flower blocks, stitching them down with black thread to highlight the design.
DSCF4945 Maureen showing her 1930s block
And as for me, I started a new project.  Four years ago when I was undergoing  cancer treatment, I received many blue  “healing heart” blocks from the Southern Cross Quilters internet group.  My aim is to slowly work on this quilt, and have it done by the end of next year.  That will be when I reach my five year anniversary from diagnosis and I am hoping the specialist will tell me that I need no further check-ups. 
DSCF4947 Adding sashing strips to my blue heart blocks
So that is it for Stitching Mondays for the year, and many thanks to Margaret for being the facilitator of this group.  Our next get together will not be till February, but no doubt everyone will be hard at work over the Christmas break working on their projects.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cats have a great life!

Muffy came away for a caravan trip to Otaki this weekend and as usual she didn’t do too much at all.  Mind you, the weather was not too good for part of the weekend, with quite heavy rain bucketing down.  We went to the local butcher’s shop to buy some of his wonderful sausages and came back to find Muffy as snug as a bug.  She has crawled under the quilt at the head of our bed and was nice and cosy having a snooze on the pillows when we came back with our shopping.
DSCF4918 Quite comfy in the caravan
Once we arrived back home she had a cursory sniff around and decided that she really needed to catch up on some beauty sleep after her weekend away.  Here she is, dead to the world, fast asleep on our bed.  Cats have a great life, don’t they!
DSCF4938 Fast asleep at home

Friday, December 10, 2010

Climbing on ladders

It’s time to hang up the Christmas quilts and I need a hand for a couple that go up quite high.  If I’m doing it by myself I usually drag one of the dining chairs out, climb up and totter around, fearing that I will fall.  Robin is here to help me this time.  Being a bloke, he brought his step ladder in from the garage, and  I have to admit that it made life much easier.   Most of my Christmas quilts are old friends, which have been around a while.  Christmas Stars was made in 1992, machine pieced and hand quilted.
DSCF2294 Christmas Stars
My crazy patched Christmas Tree is very special as it was made by my daughter Nicky many years ago.  She doesn’t do quilting so it is doubly precious.  I love the little presents along the bottom all tied up with ribbons, and the gold lurex star.  Sadly it isn’t dated with the year it was made, and is the first and last quilted item she has made.
DSCF2295 Crazy Patch Christmas Tree
Christmas baubles tied up with a large red bow decorate a newer quilt, sent to me last year from my pen friend Diane from Oregon.  She has done a wonderful job with her machine quilting using gold thread.  And getting it’s first Christmas outing this year is my Selvedge Christmas Tree quilt, (see earlier posting for a picture).
DSCF4911 Christmas Bauble quilt
A few years ago I read a good tip about decorating for Christmas.  It said to stitch items the same size as existing wall hangings, photos and pictures, then they are sure to fit in the space available.  I love to do stitcheries, and made these Christmas ones to replace a couple of photos.  They are hand quilted, and completed in 2006.
DSCF2298 Christmas stitcheries
My three red felt hearts were made as the Christmas replacement for three pretty little paintings of native flowers.
DSCF2296 Felt Christmas Hearts
These are some of my Christmas things hanging on the walls.  I love to get them out each year, and have a Christmas table runner on top of my sewing cabinet.  I even swap the washday wall hanging in the laundry with a Christmas Log Cabin quilt. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh dear!

It’s that busy time of year when the boxes full of Christmas decorations get pulled out of the spare wardrobe.  Not everything can fit in the two large boxes that I have, and my Christmas Wreath was wrapped in a bag and placed on top.  Most things are hung in their own special place each year.  A large beaten copper picture comes down in the hallway, replaced by the Christmas Wreath.   Things didn’t look right when the wreath was pulled out of the bag to be hung on the wall.  Of dear, what’s happened here?  This doesn’t look right.  The polystyrene wreath had two breaks right through.
DSCF4902 Not quite round any more
It turns out Robin leant on the bag while fossicking around in the wardrobe for something or other a while ago, and it must have snapped through then.  “I thought I told you”, was his excuse.  Maybe he did, but I don’t remember.  So I guess it’s off to Spotlight to buy a new wreath  sometime soon.  To be honest, I made that wreath years ago.  Do these polystyrene items get brittle with age, I wonder?   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Plethora of Pincushions

On Sunday evening my Friendship Group gathered for the last meeting of the year, our Christmas meeting.  The excitement was high as we all climbed the stairs, laden down with our stitching and yummy goodies for our Christmas supper.  We brought along a Christmas gift to go into the basket and our pincushion swap.  The name of the recipient had been drawn out previously, so we knew who we were making our pincushion for.  Some of us had worried long and hard about this project, me included.  I had looked through magazines, done a Google search, considered and rejected so many ideas before I finally made up my mind.  Who would have thought that making such a small item would be so hard?  But then again – procrastination is my middle name.  Or should be, if I had a middle name!  The presentations were made and everyone was delighted with their gift.  There was such a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and every pincushion was different.  Not surprising really, as they were each made with a special person in mind.
DSCF4886 Pincushions for all
This simple 4 patch pincushion was embellished with a little appliquéd angel.  This thoughtful touch suited the recipient, who has had health issues over the last year, and thankfully is now so much better.  She was delighted to receive her pincushion with the guardian angel looking over her. 
DSCF4887 Guardian Angel pincushion
These three were all quite different.  The gorgeous lady was presented to me – she’s voluptuous, I was told, just like me!  The tiny pink one in front is in the shape of a cup cake, especially fitting as the new owner is a marvellous cook who often brings her home baking to our meetings.  The third pincushion is made from felt and those scalloped edges are all hand stitched.
DSCF4890 Voluptuous lady with cup cake and felt flowers
Hearts were a popular choice and these are so pretty. Floral fabrics and wonderful embroidery, they are all lovely.
DSCF4892 Three heart pincushions
Funky Chicken was the name of the pincushion design that I finally decided on.  This was going to someone who loved country colours so I thought it should suit her quite well.  The chicken has felt for the beak, comb and tail feathers.
DSCF4897 Funky Chicken
We finished our evening with a gift from the basket and our wonderful supper.  The food was divine, sandwiches, tiny muffins, and cakes galore, plus chocolate too of course.  Thanks girls, for a wonderful evening.
DSCF4898 What a wonderful supper

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just a little brag!

Surely I’m allowed just a little brag!  My two little Christmas Tree quilts have been featured on the wonderful Selvage Blog, written by Karen Griska.  Do go and visit her blog, she writes about all sorts of interesting things, including plenty of selvage projects too, of course.  This is the Christmas Tree quilt I’m keeping for myself, finished off with a border of ivy vines and leaves on a red background. 
DSCF4885 My Christmas Tree quilt
The second quilt was made for my pen-friend Carol and is currently winging it’s way via airmail to South Dakota.  Carol was the one who let me know about using these colourful little strips in projects.  She sent me a little sample block she had stitched, and gave me Karen’s blog address, and I have been hooked ever since.  (If Carol is reading this her quilt won’t be a surprise when it arrives, will it?)
DSCF4444 Carol’s quilt now in transit
Interesting enough, the word itself is can be spelt two ways.  According to both the Collins and Oxford dictionaries on our bookshelf, it can be either selvage or selvedge.  Karen uses the first spelling in the name of her blog, while I would use the second spelling, but both are correct.  Just goes to show that quilters throughout the world are all the same, but just a little different too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas at Sawmiller’s Quiltery

Just a little way up the road from where I live is the delightful little shop, Sawmiller’s Quiltery.  There were some new red-work patterns in stock which I was quite keen to check out.  “Do you know what red-work is?”, I asked DH as I headed out the door.  “Of course I do”, he replied, “you made that red-work Santa”.  Isn’t he a clever quilter’s husband?  The shop looked very inviting, with quilts hung outside the shop.

DSCF4872 Sawmiller’s Quiltery
Bailey and Poppy were on snooze duty in the shop.  With all this warm weather that we have been having lately, there was nothing better to do than snooze in the sunshine.  It was too hot for them in the basket, nice and comfy with their very own quilts made for them especially by Sue.  So much cooler on the floor.
DSCF4871 Bailey and Poppy on snooze duty
There were lots of interesting things to check out in the shop, since my last visit.  The Christmas tree looked a picture decked out in ribbon bows and little quilt charms nestling amongst the branches.
DSCF4868 Christmas Tree
Also in the Christmas theme were the beautiful Jim Shore angel figurines, with their patchwork decorations.  Any quilter would love one of these.  I have a tiny one of these sent to me several years ago from South Dakota, and she comes out every year at Christmas time.
DSCF4869 Jim Shore figurines
As I was a little late checking out the red-work patterns, some of then had sold out.  I just had to take “Red-work Kitchen” home with me, featuring cups and saucers, jugs and plates.  I’m busy working on my current stitcheries at the moment, but this pattern will be all ready and waiting when I’m ready to start a new project.
DSCF4873 My new pattern