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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

You don’t see this very often

Oh no, visitors are coming tomorrow. Guess I’ll have to drop my sewing machine down in the cabinet and close everything up. My “sewing room” is actually the dining room and my cabinet is tucked into a corner. More often the not the cabinet is opened up wide. It just makes it so easy to do a little sewing when the mood strikes, doesn't it? I’m at work all day so often sew a little in the evenings.

DSCF2588 A sight not often seen, the sewing cabinet is closed

So here is my cabinet with everything all tidied away. (Don’t look at that pile of projects piled up in the corner). On top of the cabinet is a lovely six sided drop-down sewing box that my clever daughter made for me many years ago. And about those visitors – I’ve spent the afternoon in the kitchen cooking up some goodies for morning tea. The temperature is so high I feel like I’m on an overseas holiday!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Quilt Garage Sale

It’s been a long time between quilt club meetings in my neck of the woods with our last one being way back in November, two months in fact. My quilt club, Pinestream Quilters Inc, started the year off with an informal meeting. Instead of the more usual guest speaker, the committee gave the members the opportunity to hold a quilt garage sale. Those who wished to sell some of their unwanted items were responsible to set up their own sales table, run it themselves, including having change available. There was one major flaw to this plan. For some unknown reason, all the tables had been removed from the hall. I wonder why – perhaps they were required at some other part of the complex, or maybe they were being refurbished and having their legs tightened! The down side was that the sellers had to arrange their spare fabric, notions, patterns and magazines on top of a couple of chairs.

DSCF2582 Looking for garage sale bargains

All this selling reminded me of my “other” life many years ago when we owned a dairy in Petone. Standing behind the counter, rolling ice creams, making milkshakes, and selling anything from bread to cigarettes. It was a rather different sort of cliental last night at the quilt garage sale. I sold some orphan blocks, numerous pieces of fabric, a couple of patterns, a bag of checkerboard 2 patches, and some magazines. It was fun, and the buyers certainly picked up some good bargains.

DSCF2581 Come and see my wares

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quilter at work

Ho, ho, ho, it’s back to work I go. Actually, it’s been a couple of weeks already. It certainly feels like I’m working down in the coal mine (or should that be the salt mine?) sometimes. Bosses seem to focus on numbers these days, productivity, statistics, input and output, and all sorts of accountancy type terms. But never mind, it is good to catch up with my colleagues again. And then I have these little friends looking over me while I toil away on the computer.

DSCF2537 My friends at work

Why pigs?, you might ask. Don’t really know, I’ve always just loved them. The real live ones one especially. I can remember going to A & I Shows (Agriculture and Pastoral) in years gone by and I just loved to see all those pigs and piglets in the stalls. I used to drag my children around these shows in the pushchair so that they could share my passion for pigs. But they never did, I’m sad to say. I wasn’t even born in the Year of the Pig, think it was the Year of the Rabbit, or maybe the Rooster? Does anyone know what Chinese Year it is, for those born way back in 1945? My blue floral pig is a pincushion who was gathering dust at home, so I thought she would be better employed looking after me at work. And the little pair on the right, Mr and Mrs Pig decorated with hearts, were a gift from a workmate when she discovered Robin and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary a couple of years ago. In the dish are polished stones I purchased from the Natural History Museum in London when we were there in 2008. Pink and blue, my favourite colours, and they are nice and soothing to touch.

DSCF2516 Quilts and the Beatles

Then I have two postcards pinned up on the screen around my desk. There is the one from Ohio, showing a quilt shop with beautiful quilts hanging up out in the fresh air. Then there is my Beatles postcard, sent from our friends travelling the canals of Britain in their very own NB Gypsy Rover. They stopped off at Liverpool a while back and visited the famous Cavern Club. Last but not least I have my very own mouse pad, featuring even more quilts, a gift from another pen friend. I may be at work, but my mind still turns to quilting from time to time. And pigs. And the Beatles.

DSCF2541 Quilter’s mouse pad

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Any old sacks?

I’ve made a few of these oven mitts lately. I like to back them with “real” sacking but this can be hard to come by these days. All that seems to be available are those polypropylene synthetic sacks, like the bags onions come in. Potatoes used to come in potatoe sacks, but not any more. Small quantities come pre-packed in plastic bags, with the larger quantities packed in heavy paper bags. Luckily I’ve got a hessian sack or two hiding out in the garage, and with a good soak and a hot soapy wash they come out all ready to use. This sort of sewing is great to use up some of those strips you have cut and put away in a bag.


The bottom one used up the strips of Pukeko NZ bird fabric, together with a little purple/green stripe and some other toning strips I had. Would grand-daughter Emma like it, I wondered, not knowing what she would think of such an old fashioned gift. She had especially requested a pair of those rubbery new fangled oven mitts that just fit on to your fingers tips for when she goes flatting. I tracked down some of these, (they look like duck beaks to me) and a few other bits and pieces to pop in her parcel. And yes, she was very pleased with her gift. “Thanks Nana”, she said, “for making me one of your special oven mitts”. Think I’ve got a reputation for whipping these up. I’m keeping the one with rosy red apples on it for myself.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

To mend or not to mend

I’ve been doing a little mending today. Mending the pockets of Robin’s work shorts, to be precise. They get holes in them because that’s where he keeps the biro pen. Over the years I have noticed that it doesn't matter what fabric shorts or trousers are made from, the pockets are generally constructed from some sort of flimsy fabric.

DSCF2524 Mending the pockets

Lots of quilters don’t do mending, I believe. “Would Michelangelo paint a fence/house/kitchen cupboards”, they say. Well, my answer to that is that I am certainly no Michelangelo of the quilt world. I am just so pleased that I haven’t lost my hubby to ill health (or any other reason, come to think of it). So I’m more than happy to do a bit of mending when asked. We hope to retire next year, so if I can get his work shorts to last the distance, so much the better. Then we can go tripping away in the caravan for as long as it takes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finally finished

I have finally finished clearing the decks of all that Christmas paraphernalia. My first (and last) hand appliquéd quilt is now hanging in it’s rightful place in the hallway. It is “Naturely New Zealand” and was designed by Mary Fletcher. The quilt features many of our beautiful New Zealand birds, plus a tuatara. But there was no way I was going to appliqué that horrid weta from the pattern, I substituted pohutakawa blossoms instead.

DSCF2501 Naturely New Zealand

My cute little “Washday” wall hanging is back in place in the laundry. Wonder how many other quilters have one similar to this hanging up? Yes, I do put up a small Christmas wall hanging in the laundry, doesn’t everyone? “Happiness is clean laundry”, I always say, especially when we are on holiday and far from home, searching for a laundrette to keep the washing up to date

DSCF2496 Washday wall hanging in the laundry

The string of Christmas cards have been taken down and packed away, as have my selection of small Christmas trees, Santas and a couple of angels. I just knew that I had a Santa kit or two ready to stitch packed away somewhere. After a lot of searching I finally found one of them. Wonder where the other one has got to? I’ll have to get busy so that I can at least have one new Santa for next Christmas.

DSCF2508Santa in a brown paper bag

Like many stitchers, I like to have something new for Christmas each year. It doesn’t seem to matter how much you have, (and I’m not a Christmas fanatic by any means), there is always room for one more item, isn’t there? One good tip I learnt a few years ago is to make wall hangings and such like the same size as family photos, plaques, etc which are already hanging up. Then it is just a simple matter to substitute your Christmas decorations for the ones already there, and the hooks are already in place.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quilters are everywhere

I’ve had a few days off work this week.  “Temps” are at the mercy of the workflow, so when the work runs low we get sent home.  This is  to ensure that the permanent workers have enough work to keep them gainfully occupied.  So I had a day in the big city today.  I was browsing around the patchwork fabric selection at  Arthur Toyes, just to see what took my fancy when I overheard this conversation.

“This is nice, but I don’t really need any more fabric”, said an American voice.  “So why are you buying it if you have so much at home”, queried the second American voice.  “Well, you know, she who dies with the most fabric wins”, stated voice number one.  Quilters are everywhere, so I just had to agree with her,  and ended up chatting about their trip to New Zealand.  Julie, the quilter, didn’t know that there was a range of New Zealand designed fabric.  Sadly, this particular shop didn’t have any available, so I couldn’t show her any.

There was a book shop close by and I took the two ladies in to introduce Julie to our home grown magazine, “New Zealand Quilter”.  Yes, she certainly wanted to take a copy of that back home with her.  As we parted and went out separate ways, I reflected regardless of the accent,  quilters all speak the same language!

Wellington City has many art works on display and I walked past this  statue on the way to catch the bus back home.  John Plimmer emigrated here from England in 1841 as a carpenter and went on to become a builder, brick manufacturer, land speculator, importer, merchant, landlord, and an important civic leader.

PA100051 Statue of John Plimmer and his dog Fritz at Plimmer Steps

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Don’t you think it’s time….?

“Don’t you think it’s time those Christmas things came down?”, said Robin the other day. Christmas is long gone now, so I guess I can start packing everything away. Doing the caravan was fairly straight forward. The Christmas cushion covers came off and the plain burgundy ones, freshly laundered, went back on. The Redwork Santa came down and back went Golden Kiwi, made from a small painted panel I had purchased.

DSCF1901 My lucky Golden Kiwi

And above the door where the cheeky Santa collection sat doing Christmas duty, I put back my tiny wall hanging featuring New Zealand trees and flax, and set off with a brown kiwi on guard.

DSCF1902 Above the doorway in the caravan

We needed the step ladder to get a couple of the Christmas wall hangings down in the house and the replacements put back. I decided to ring the changes and hang up some which had not had a turn for a while. This Amish style is now hanging high above the doorway into the spare bedroom. Made in a class many years ago, I shudder to tell the world that I used poplin, not cotton. I was new to quilting, and really didn’t know any better! But the colours are pretty, and look good set off with the black.

DSCF2497 Amish Bricks

Another to get an outing is this lovely little fishy one sent to me by the lovely Rose in UK. She made it especially for me when I had written describing a glorious fish buffet we had in a posh hotel one evening. It is beautifully hand quilted with a meandering design and scallop shells.

DSCF2492 A Fishy Supper

I still have to pack away the Christmas ornaments, but I think that’s quite enough for one day. I’ll finish the rest tomorrow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

It’s my Local

I’m so lucky to have my favourite quilt shop just 5 minutes drive away. Thimbles and Threads has been serving stitchers in Upper Hutt for 17 years. I can remember the excitement all those years ago when the quilt shop opened for business! Over the years it has expanded several times and offers an enticing array of fabric, notions, books, wool, magazines, patterns and giftware. Sharon also sells Bernina sewing machines, and offers a commercial quilting service.

DSCF2019 Thimbles and Threads

Over the years I have attended many classes here. Being so nice and handy I can easily “pop in” to purchase that roll of cotton when I run out, or pick up those buttons or needles. It’s a great place to look for last minute gifts too. And I have to admit that the fabric selection is mind boggling - we have travelled around the country extensively in our caravan and have not come across another quilt shop to rival their vast selection.

DSCF2017 Just a small part of the fabric on offer – there is much, much more

Sharon, and Thimbles, (as it is affectionately known) featured on the front page of our local paper this week. Sharon has offered the local Intermediate School ongoing sponsorship for an annual Young Designer award. With two pupils equal in ability, both girls were awarded a cup and a Bernina Bernette each in this, the inaugural 2009 prize. The girls were thrilled to finally have their own sewing machine, as they have been using their Mum’s machines until their win.

DSCF2016 Threads, notions and fabric

Congratulations to Sharon for supporting the school’s fabric technology course. The quilting fraternity is so lucky that Sharon and Harry took that gamble 17 years ago when they opened their shop. If you are visiting Upper Hutt, come and check it out at 40 Park Street, Upper Hutt. I love the shop, but then, it is my local!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

View from my sewing room window

My Internet group SCQ (Southern Cross Quilters) have been sharing their stories about the view from their sewing room window. I don’t actually have a sewing room, as my sewing cabinet is squashed in the corner of the dining room, so you won’t want to see a picture of a wall now, will you? But I can show you a view of my machine with my little helper keeping an eye on things.

DSCF2011 Muffy the Birman checking out my sewing project

Out the ranch slider door I can see our garden shed and clothesline and an assortment of roof tops and garages of the neighbours properties. You can tell I live in suburbia. Not as glamorous as the views some quilters have shared with the group. We get a variety of birdlife in our back garden. Our English imports the sparrows, blackbirds, starlings and thrushes visit us when we put some bread out on the lawn for them. The native tuis feed off the yellow blossoms on our kowhai tree in Spring. And in the Winter we hang up a “bird pudding” which is a real favourite with the native wax eyes and greenfinches.



We have an easy care garden and the fuchsia and hydrangea are in flower at the moment. Have to admit that we are not good gardeners, we would much rather be away in our caravan than work in the garden! Or doing sewing, of course. What could be nicer!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

She’s had enough!!

Muffy, our beautiful Birman cat did really well during her longest caravan holiday ever – 10 days over Christmas and New Year. Previously she had only travelled with us for a weekend, so it was a lot longer than she was used to. To keep her safe, we kept her on a harness and light lead while she was outside. This ensured that she didn’t take fright and run away.

PC250303 Muffy at the motor camp

There was a lot going on for Muffy to keep an eye on. There were the dogs from the “Dog Bay” who got taken for walks. Lots of children riding their bikes. And of course, the other campers close by our site. All our neighbours wanted to come and pat our lovely cat. No wonder she needed a bit of time to herself to curl up on the couch and rest.

Muffy was really pleased to get back on her home turf again. After a quick sniff around outside to make sure that no strangers had been visiting her property, she raced inside and jumped up on our bed. And just to reinforce the fact that she had really had enough of this holiday lark, we found her burrowed right under the quilt. Guess she was saying to herself, “If they can’t find me, they won’t be able to take me away again”.

DSCF2453 There’s a cat under this bump!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Six of us celebrated seeing the New Year at Paekakariki Motor Camp,  with the full moon casting it’s cold silvery glow down on us mortals below.  The strong winds kept the clouds scudding across the sky, whipping the branches of the tall trees back and forth. 

P1010332 Full Moon at New Year

We joined in with four friends to see the New Year in.   In the far reaches of the camp a lone guitarist hooked up with multiple amplifiers belted out songs for the private party taking place down at the Lodge.  He sounded pretty good to us, especially when he played my very special favourite song, “Ten Guitars”.  “Pop” went the cork from the bottle of bubbly and we drank each other’s health and wished good things for the coming year, wondering what 2010 would bring to us all.

P1010334 Stitching in the caravan, watched over by my  Rudolph Christmas Stocking

I’ve been doing plenty of stitching while we have been away in the caravan.  Perhaps my New Year Resolution should be to make sure that I do a little sewing every day – what could be nicer than that!  Happy New Year to all, and wishing everyone a year full of time to do the things you love best, and most of all, good health.