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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The sad story of little Sasha

Sasha, the little dog belonging to my grand-daughter, passed away just prior to Christmas.  Sasha was a fox terrier cross and went everywhere with Emma,  to work, and out visiting friends and family.  This little bundle of energy was much loved and will be sadly missed.  Unfortunately, she met an untimely end when one of Emma’s horses got spooked and stepped back on the little dog.  It was an unfortunate accident and Emma is understandably heartbroken.
my puppy!! 006Emma and Sasha
This sad event has put me in a bit of a quandary.  I had stitched a  little dog blanket for Emma and Sasha as a Christmas gift, on which I appliquéd Sasha’s name.  It is made of polar fleece and the name is appliquéd on four sides, using both black and dog bone fabric.  It is big enough to fit in a basket, or a carry crate.  If Emma gets another puppy in the future, I am sure she will not name her new dog  Sasha again.  So I am offering my new unused dog blanket to anyone (or perhaps a family member) who has a dog called Sasha.  Please leave me a comment about your dog if you would like to go in the draw for the blanket.  I want it to be used and loved.
DSCF4830 The polar fleece dog blanket

Friday, January 28, 2011

January Quilt Club Night

Our quilt club night in January is always a casual meeting, without the more usual speaker.  Instead we have a “Bring and Buy” night, where members can set up a stall to sell off unwanted fabric, books, notions, even UFOs.  Several took advantage of this opportunity, and some brisk trading took place.    Plenty of quilts were completed over the Christmas holidays, ensuring lots of Show and Tell.  Some of our members had taken part in the Nancy Crow workshop and brought their samples along.  They had to cut fabric without rulers, stitch it up, recut, and stitch again.  Three weeks of intense sewing would not be quite my idea of a holiday, but our ladies enjoyed it so much they have signed up for the next workshop when Nancy Crow returns again to New Zealand. 
I had seen Joyce working on her “Good Golly, Miss Molly” quilt over the last few months, and she had just finished stitching the binding down in time for our club night.  This vibrant quilt is amazing, and a real credit to her, especially as Joyce says. “I don’t do brights!”  She has done brights very well indeed.
DSCF5298 “Good Golly, Miss Molly”
Jean loves butterflies, and was thrilled when her stitching group made her a lovely butterfly quilt to celebrate her 80th  birthday.  She brought it along to share with us too, it is a lovely quilt in blues and lilacs.
DSCF5297 Jean’s birthday butterfly quilt
Another  very special quilt brought along with a lovely story was the family hexagon quilt.  Grandma had stitched hexagon blocks in red, white and black before she passed away.  Her grand-daughter found them and asked her partner’s Mum to help her turn them into a quilt.  The result is this hexagon quilt which the grand-daughter treasures.   So often you hear of old textiles being disposed of, so it is wonderful that in this case the quilt remains as the family connection through the generations. 
DSCF5301  Family hexagon quilt
Several bright and happy kids quilts were finished over the holidays, and they looked so nice hanging up.  It seems that several new babies are set to arrive shortly.
DSCF5300 A few of the cot quilts brought along
There are lots of gorgeous Japanese  fabrics in this stunning quilt, made by Jenny H.  Simple in design, and set off with black, it certainly makes a statement.  The Fons and Porter pattern  is Venetian Dream, and Jenny is generously donating the quilt to the hospice. 
DSCF5299 Jenny H’s Venetian Dream
It was good to meet up with all the ladies again, and catch up with all their holiday news.  None of the raffle prizes came my way, as usual.  Perhaps I’ll have more luck next month.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Isn’t that Reindeer a Moose?

I know that the month of January is almost over, but I am pleased to announce I have finished my first project of the year. (And it won’t be required till next Christmas, so I’m really early.)  It is another Rudolph the Reindeer stocking – to go with the one I completed last year.  I hung the original stocking over the little reading light on my side of the bed in the caravan.  But then, I reflected, Robin could do with his own Rudolph on his side of the bed.  Whether he actually wanted a stuffed Rudolph stocking for Christmas is debateable.  Nevertheless, I set to work, and dug out the pattern, and traced off Rudolph.  My original stocking was made in a class, and dye was used to colour in the body.  But what to do - I didn’t have any dye, or paint, or even a brown coloured pencil, and didn’t want to  buy any just for this one little project.  With necessity being the mother of invention, I mixed up some brown shoe polish with a little water, and sponged it on.  My Rudolph was diligently stitched in the afternoons while I relaxed on our shady back deck.  Then it didn’t take too long to stitch and stuff the stocking.  There, he is all done, ready and waiting to be hung up in the caravan next Christmas with his brother .
DSCF5296 Robin’s stocking
Robin was looking at the pattern and was flabbergasted.  “That’s not a reindeer at all”, he declared, “it’s a moose!  Look at this, your pattern is called Maxwell Moose”.  He is quite right, the pattern from Homespun magazine is in fact called Maxwell Moose.  But that is not Christmassy  at all, is it?  Rudolph the Reindeer sounds so much nicer.  And he has got that big red nose!

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Friday Night Sew In

I had signed up to take part in the Friday Night Sew In but didn’t realise that I would be away in caravan for the weekend.  Friday nights away with the caravan club is usually a social time when we all catch up with each other on how things have been since the last trip away.  Never mind, I did my stitching on Friday afternoon instead.  (I do hope that I can bend the rules a little?)  The weather was wet and drizzly (and worsened as the weekend progressed), so it was an ideal time to sit quietly and stitch.  I was very pleased with my progress as I have now completely my stitchery “Every Day is a Good Day”.  What am I making?  I’m not saying, as I am changing the design to suit my needs better.   You will have to wait and see!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A cat, a quilt and a cushion

Our cat Muffy seems to take this hot, muggy weather in her stride.  What else is a cat to do but snooze the day away, until it is time to eat.  Muffy does “relaxation” very well, but after all, she has had years of practise.   Here’s Muffy, snoozing the afternoon away on top of my quilt, “”Garden Tapestry”.  The pink cushion on the bed was made by my pen friend Diane, from Oregon.  She used a photo transfer of Muffy lying on this particular quilt.  It makes quite a pretty picture, don’t you think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hands, knees, and boomps-a-daisy

It doesn’t take much to guess what I’ve been doing.  After I finished assembling the quilt backing for my burgundy and cream cobblestone quilt, I took a trip to my local quilt shop, Thimble and Threads.  I checked out all the varieties of batting on offer, cotton, wool, poly, and mixtures.  I personally love the wool batting, but would not use it in a “give-away”quilt, as this current project will be.  Although I would carefully wash a quilt containing wool batting by hand, there are no guarantees that the recipient will.  The next decision to make was to choose the quilting thread.  I love the look of variegated thread and there were several choices in the burgundy colour way.  I was lucky that both Anne and Margaret were available at the shop counter to help me decide. 
DSCF5234 Variegated for the top and plain for the back of the quilt
By moving the recliner chairs right back against the walls, I had just enough room to lay out the three quilt layers.  Backing first, all carefully smoothed out.  Then the batting, which I had to first join down the middle, that went over next, then finally the quilt top.  It was a very hot afternoon, although the windows were wide open, the sliding door was open, and the fan was going.  So hot in fact, that I had to keep getting up to go and wash my hands and face trying to cool down.  Robin’s task was to take a couple of photos but he had strict guidelines to work with.  “Don’t show my red, hot face, and no photos of my derriere”. 
DSCF5233 Working on my hands and knees
With the bulk of the pins in place, I could  pick the quilt off the floor and moved out to the coolness of the back deck.  There I rolled the quilt up and unwound part at a time over the timber picnic table to put the last of the pins in place.  The cool air and gentle breeze as delicious!  Thank goodness that job is out of the way.  I’ll need a break before starting the machine quilting as my shoulders are a little tender today.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A bag with a difference.

Arriving home from our holiday last week I was delighted to find a Christmas parcel waiting to be discovered in the mail box.  What fun, I love parcels, don’t you?  It was from my quilting buddy Carol, who lives in South Dakota.  What could it be?  I try to avoid reading the customs declaration so that I get a nice surprise. It was a bag, made from woven selvages.  Now, that’s a clever idea, I haven’t seen selvedges used quite like this before.  A lovely label is sewn on to the inside pocket.
DSCF5203 My new selvedge bag
It was thanks to Carol that I discovered the wonderful world of working with selvedges, and she also gave me the link to Karen Griska’s great Selvage blog.  Do check it out, it is full of all sorts of inspiring works of art.   I bet I’m not the only stitcher who laments on all the selvedges which were cut off and discarded over the years.
 DSCF5204Close up of woven strips
Carol and I obviously both had these interesting little strips on our minds for Christmas, because I sent her a little selvage Christmas Tree wall-hanging.  Great minds must think alike!
DSCF4732 My gift to Carol

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Borders, bindings and backing

I’ve been feeling rather guilty about the burgundy and cream cobblestone quilt that I’m making for my niece.  With Christmas sewing to finish for gifts, then a holiday away, I haven’t touched it for quite a while.  But, I’m pleased to say,  I have been working away steadily over the last few days.  The cobblestones were all sewn together, and I just needed to add a plain burgundy border to it.  It doesn’t seem such a big job, does it, but it took me ages.  Then I thought to myself, perhaps now would be a good time to make the binding.  It would be terrible to be cutting the binding strips up when the quilt is completed to find I had run out of fabric!  So that was a job well done, all stitched, and pressed in half.  Of course, I did measure the binding to make sure I had more than enough.
DSCF5219 Plenty of binding prepared
The next job was to assemble my excess blocks to use as part of the backing.  The backing takes a horrendous amount of fabric, doesn’t it?  This strip goes down the middle so I have yet to stitch the rest of the backing fabric around the pieced blocks.  But I’m getting there, one step at a time.
DSCF5221 Extra cobblestone blocks are going in the backing
It is a good feeling when  things are coming together.  Wonder how I’ll feel when I’m down on my knees for hours pinning all the layers together?  That is not my favourite part of quilt making.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas is packed Away

I know I’m a bit slow, but I’ve only just taken the Christmas wall-hangings down.  Some years ago I read a handy hint about Christmas decorating – make items to fit the space available.  This works very well as the hooks are already in place so it is just a matter of taking photos, paintings and the like down, and replacing them with the Chrissie stuff.  The cards have now been removed and all the other festive paraphernalia packed away into their respective crates.  With two new Santas on show this year, it is getting to be a bit of a tight squeeze to get everything in the crates. Perhaps I’ll just have to buy another empty one and see how long it takes to fill up.

I have just hung up a new (to me) wall- hanging in the dining room above my sewing cabinet.  This was originally made for my adult son and  shows an appliquéd Kea, a New Zealand native bird which is also known as a mountain parrot.  My son decided he didn’t really need it when he moved houses.    It goes quite well with our new green curtains, don’t you think?

DSCF5215Kea - flying high

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reflecting back

Now we are back home from holiday I’ve had the chance to catch up with some of my favourite blogs.   Some of the ladies can lay claim to finishing an impressive number of quilts.  Good on them – wish I had been more productive over the last year.  So I decided to have a count up of my own, to  acknowledge how I have done over the last twelve months.  Oh dear, it is not the least bit impressive, I’m sorry to say, but I have completed:
Only one large quilt - “Black, white and a Splash of Lime”, made for my daughter Nicky and son-in-law Robert who were celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary.  My generous overseas pen friends sent me lots of different fabrics to use in this quilt.  Not that I couldn’t have gone shopping myself to buy more, you understand, for of course I could, but to add lots of variety.
I made three double handed oven mitts, kept one oneself and gave two away.  I like to use the “silvered” heat resistant wadding inside these and back them with sacking.  Hemp sacking is almost impossible to find these days, so I am guarding my remaining sack with my life!
Also completed was a pretty little needle case in blue with a floral stitchery front.  This was made to go with my sewing pouch I had made the previous year.  There was a  little bit of animal flavour in my sewing too.  First came “Daisy the Turtle” made for Joy, who collects turtles and has many hundreds.  Daisy’s body was green, and her shell was covered in white daisies.  Next came “Funky Chicken” pincushion, made for a pincushion swap I was involved in, she was rather cute too.
I achieved more in the Christmas line, completing two Santas and a Rudolph the Reindeer Stocking, these were for me.  Then I made two selvedge Christmas Tree wall hangings, kept one and the other was sent to South Dakota.  One stitchery Christmas cushion for the caravan, and two Christmas aprons.  And I nearly forgot, I completed two Christmas Kiwi appliqué blocks, which I set in small timber  frames, both these were gifts too.  And not forgetting the mending I diligently did during the year,  the never ending repairs to Robin's work shorts, and repairing the stitching on our vertical venetian blinds!
It is not a huge list, but I’m quite pleased with what I have done.  I’m still working on the Cobblestone quilt for my niece, just need to finish the borders then I can start the machine quilting.  And my Angel stitchery quilt is ready for quilting now too.  I don’t even want to know what is lurking in other bags that I have started and put aside, there is no way I am ever going to count up my UFOs!
I’ll leave you with some words penned by my quilting buddy Carol from South Dakota:  “May 2011 be filled with fun loving quilting.  Our stash may be overwhelming, and our hopes and dreams for all of these UFOs will be getting them finished.  What would life be without quilting for us?”
Happy Quilting, everyone.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hearts aplenty

I have been quietly stitching away at my heart blocks this holiday, just a little bit now and again.  In between sightseeing, catching up with friends, having a dip or two in the hot pools, and reading my books.  Although the hot sticky weather is not too conducive for hand stitching, I can occasionally be found sitting under a large shady tree diligently stitching away.  I have only completed two blocks over the last week or so, but that’s OK.  This is my “take away in the caravan” project, so I’m not really in too much of a hurry.  Mmmm, I’ve just remembered, there is another stitchery quilt I want to start, so perhaps I had better hurry up after all and finish these hearts. 
DSCF5169 Two of my “Twelve days of Redwork” blocks

Friday, January 7, 2011

A shame indeed

The rain came down overnight while we were away on holiday and the family in the tent behind us at the campsite were drying out their belongings.  A large tapa cloth was flung over a wall and walked over to have a look at it.  The tapa cloth was soaking wet, the layers were coming apart, and it was was full of holes.
“We just use it as a ground sheet”, the young couple told me.  I told them that tapa cloth was completely made by hand, and was a highly revered item in the Islands, and usually given as gifts for weddings and funerals. “It doesn’t matter”, they told me, “we’ll just chuck this one out when it gets too holey, then pick up another one from the local Auckland pawn-shop.”  It seems a shame indeed, that something so wonderful can be treated so little respect.
DSCF5153  Rips and holes everywhere

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The first rule of travelling

The first rule of travelling is…….. check out the local quilt shop!  We are currently very happily ensconced at Awakeri Hot Springs Motor Camp and soaking in the thermal hot pools, such bliss after a hard day of being on holiday.  So a drive to Whakatane to check out the local quilt shop was a welcome diversion. “Pins 2 Patches” of 46 Domain Road is a shop full of all sorts of wonderful goodies, with a very welcoming owner.  She was a little late opening the shop after the Christmas break, she told me, and had customers queued up waiting on her doorstep.  Sounds like her shop is just the type that customers can’t wait to get to!
The fabric selection is very extensive and is arranged by type in different rooms.  Lovely bright prints for children, and co-coordinating pastels  fill one room, together with a selection of printed panels so suitable for a cot quilt.  Children’s quilts line the walls of this happy and cheerful room.  
DSCF5156The kiddie print room
There are quilts everywhere, and baskets of fat quarters to rummage through.  There were threads and needles, and notions galore.  I  checked out the patterns, looked through the magazines, and chatted to another customer about how we would both like to make one of the quilts on display.
DSCF5160 Patterns and notions
Step into any of the other rooms and more fabrics are displayed on shelving in their colour families.  I love batiks and noticed a large selection of these glorious fabrics on display. 
DSCF5157 A whole lot of glorious colour
While I dithered and decided, Robin was waiting patiently outside in the car beside the beautiful flowering tree.  (I think it is a jacaranda tree - am I correct?)  I finally purchased a couple of Christmas prints, and bought a new magazine for my holiday reading.  What bliss, pottering around a quilt shop!  It doesn’t take much to make a quilter happy, does it.
If you would like to follow our holiday adventures, check out our Travel Blog on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com