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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Remembering Graeme

It is one year today since our friend Graeme passed away.  We certainly miss his company, his friendship, and his pithy sense of humour.  His partner Kathryn misses him greatly too, of course.  To help Kathryn get through this day, the three of us went out to lunch to my favourite local cafe, Figtree.  The weather was wet and miserable outside, but inside the cafe was buzzing, as group after group arrived to settle down for a leisurely lunch.  It was just as well we arrived early to grab ourselves a table.  We two ladies enjoyed corn fritters and bacon, and Robin decided on a bacon and egg croissant, all washed down with tea and coffee.  There was plenty of reminiscing as we ate our very tasty lunches.  Kathryn then came back home with us for another cuppa and yet more chat.  I then presented Kathryn with a gift bag.  “Oh, I know what’s in that”, she said.
DSCF6673   Kathryn guessed what was in the bag
Inside was a memory quilt, made from pieces of Graeme’s shirts and ties.  I had offered to make Kathryn a memory quilt soon after Graeme had passed away, and received a big bag of tee shirts, ties, even a light jacket and a couple of woolly hats.  Now, where shall I start?
DSCF5248 Shirts, tee shirts and a bunch of ties
I needed something extra to tie it all together, and settled on a white print I had in my stash, scattered with small designs in blue and rust.  After a quick look through my ever so handy book, “Around the Block”, by Judy Hopkins, I decided on Sawtooth Star blocks. 
DSCF5252Around the Block book and background fabric
The quilt took several months to construct, as I decided how best to use the available items of clothing.  Using the logos on the front of polo shirts, I cut off pieces and backed the knit fabric with non stretch interfacing to make the centre of the stars.  Graeme’s light navy poplin jacket with the Motorcross emblem became the centre of another star, and further pieces of this jacket was used for the points of several lighter hued stars.  Ties were also backed with interfacing before I cut the pieces out to size. His pale blue dress shirt was cut up and used for the sashing, and I added a peach cotton from my stash as the corner squares.
DSCF6648 A favourite tee shirt, bought at an Island Resort while on holiday
The memory quilt was machine quilted and the binding was navy cotton.  Extra labels were added to a panel on the back, including a piece of a black  jumper featuring an English Football  club logo, a gift from his son Adrian who lives in London.  Also used was the logo from Graeme’s red woolly “Holden” hat.  There are two distinct types of Kiwi blokes in New Zealand, those who love Holden cars, and those who favour the Ford brand.  The pros and cons of both brands have been discussed long and hard at many a caravan rally.  Graeme was a Holden man, through and through!
DSCF6650  Extra labels and tie points on the back of the quilt
I was honoured to make this memory quilt for Kathryn, and especially pleased to be able to give it to her today.  I named the quilt “Remembering Graeme”, and hope she will enjoy cuddling under it on the couch during these chilly winter evenings.
DSCF6677 Jenny and Kathryn
DSCF6647A full view of the quilt

Monday, June 27, 2011

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece has been operating in Karori, Wellington for the last three years and I have finally made it there.  To say it was a difficult journey would have to be an understatement – it was fraught with tension between Robin as the driver and me as the passenger.  It all went something like this.
Robin - “So where is this quilt shop?”
Me  - “It’s in the Karori shops somewhere.  I think it’s on the main road.”
Robin - “What is the street number?”
Me – “I don’t know the street number.”
Robin – “Well, then, what is the name?”
Me - “I can’t remember the name.  I should have brought my NZ Quilter magazine with the ad with me.”
Robin – getting exasperated - “How can you expect me to find a shop when you don’t know where it is and you don’t know the name?”
Me - “Oh look, there’s Marsden Village, I think it’s there.”
And it was!  Thank goodness for that.  Robin went to buy a paper to read while I went inside to check out the shop.
DSCF6634Piece by Piece, Marsden Village, Karori, Wellington
Piece by Piece is a small shop, full of colour and glorious fabric.  I introduced myself and asked if I could take some photos for my blog, and was graciously given permission.  I pondered over some glorious black and whites, including some with Japanese designs.  But after recently completing two black and white quilts, I probably won’t be making another.  I was still temped, though.
DSCF6631 All sorts of fabrics including some rather special black and whites
Robin came into the shop with the newspaper in his hand and was offered a seat to sit and read while waiting.  “Just move those quilts aside”, he was told.  So as he sat on the comfy chair with his nose buried in the newspaper, I looked at the fabric on the shelves surrounding him.  Christmas fabric was in the corner, and I checked out the 1930’s for a piece to use in one of my many UFOs.  Found just the right one too.
DSCF6630Handy seat for waiting husbands
I love batiks and this shop had an extensive range of these glorious fabrics.  A nice piece of a pretty purple and blue batik came home with me too. 
DSCF6632  Look at these yummy batiks.
DSCF6633 More quilts on display
I love exploring new (to me) quilt shops and Piece by Piece is a little treasure, I’m sure I’ll be back next time I’m in the vicinity.  And next time I’ll know exactly where to go, won’t I?  It is well the journey to those visiting Wellington.  Just make sure you have the address written down!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June Quilt Club Night

The hall was particularly crowded with a big turn out of members attending the Pinestream Quilters June meeting.  It just goes to show that wet weather and dark winter evenings are no deterrent to a good night out for our bunch of happy quilters.  Members Maureen and Joyce were our speakers and they introduced some of the ladies from the New Settlers group, to whom they teach sewing skills.  Maureen told how she first starting teaching a group of Sudanese ladies to sew in 2004.  These first pupils have since moved to other areas and the current group hail from Thailand, Italy, Russia, Nepal and Singapore.  The ladies held up the aprons, quilts, knitting, crotchet, and clothing that they had made in the sewing classes.
DSCF6606 Ladies from the New Settlers sewing group
The clothing on display was exquisite.  There was a pair of  green satin Russian shirts which shimmered under the lights.  And we also admired the most gorgeous white satin and stretch lace dress which was made as a wedding gown for a daughter.  I think these new settlers could teach me a thing or two about sewing!  When you realise that all these items are made from donated fabrics, the results are even more spectacular.
DSCF6615Russian style shirts and a wedding dress
I wanted to get up close to have a good look at this beautiful embroidered panel.  The branches and berries were heavily embellished with silvery snow, no doubt to remind the Russian lady of the severe winters of her homeland.  The ladies thanked Maureen and Joyce for running the sewing group.  “Our group is like paradise”, we were told, “and we are very blessed”. 
DSCF6616 Embroidered bird panel
Show and Tell from our club members was inspiring too.  Gillian told how she and her 91 year old Mum sat down and each sewed a quilt together.  We didn’t get to see her Mum’s quilt, but Gillian’s version was spectacular.  Black sashing really makes the jewel colours glow.
DSCF6610 Gillian’s quilt
We all love looking at children’s quilts and these two quite different styles took my fancy.
DSCF6612Pretty quilt for a grand-daughter
DSCF6609This one is being sent to China

It was another very busy evening with a lot going on, quilts to inspect and admire, people to catch up with, and supper to enjoy.  All in all, another very enjoyable meeting.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Final few stitches

It's a good feeling when you put the final few stitches on a quilt, isn’t it.  This one is quite special, being a memory quilt, using items of clothing such as shirts and ties.  The machine quilting was completed, then I stitched on the binding.  I have finally worked out how the mitre the two ends of the binding together, instead of just tucking one edge under the other, as I used to do.  It’s all to do with measuring and snipping, then matching up the snipped edges of the binding.  I know it sounds a bit complicated, and you can guarantee that I generally try to match it the wrong way around to start with.  That’s why I always pin that final seam before stitching it, just to make sure!  Maybe next time  I’ll do it correctly the first time around.
DSCF6537 Attaching the binding
The binding was then folded and stitched down by hand, then the last job was adding the label today. 
DSCF6605 Binding completed and label on the back
The quilt will be coming with me to my Pinestream Quilters meeting for “Show and Tell” tonight.  Then it will be presented to the new owner next week, which may well be a sad day as it is the anniversary of our friend’s death, after which I can show a photo of the completed quilt. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June Stitching Monday

June already – goodness, isn’t the time flying by.  I took along several bags of “stuff” to sew on Monday, and managed to do quite a bit.  My main aim was to stitch some more floral squares together for the raggy anniversary quilt I am making, layers of top fabric, flannel in the middle and green backing fabric.  This was soon done, then I needed to cut some more squares to stitch, and later moved on to another project.  I didn’t quite get everything done, but I always like to take more than I might need.  Imagine sitting there with nothing to stitch, wouldn’t that be a disaster!
DSCF6587 Lots of floral squares stitched with flannel wadding and backing
Joyce was up to the binding stage on her Mariner’s Compass quilt.  We were all intrigued when she got a can of spray starch out and started spraying her binding strip before sewing it on.  “Doesn’t everyone starch their bindings?”, she wanted to know.  None of us had ever heard of this tip, but Joyce swears by it.  Joyce had cleverly quilted some cute little freehand whales over her quilt.
DSCF6580 Starching the binding strip
There was another Mariner’s Compass quilt in progress as well.  After carefully removing the paper backing Fay then sat and hand appliquéd her circle over the middle.  This small quilt is in red, black and grey.
DSCF6586  Fay’s Mariner Compass
It was nice to see Betty again and she was stitching down the binding on a quilt for her grand-daughter. In lovely shades of purple as requested, it had pinwheels of lime green and purple scattered across the top.  The quilt was commercially quilted by Sue B, who always does a wonderful job.
DSCF6582 Betty’s quilt for her grand-daughter
Lime green was a feature of Petronella’s quilt too, along with pink and purple.  She had stitched strips around each block and was working out to to put them all together.  This was a Block of the Month from Natalie Murdoch.
DSCF6584 Petronella’s blocks
Silvia was busy stitching her Block of the Month too.  This is “Kid’s Stuff”, a mystery quilt from Susan Claire.  Several other Pinestream members are stitching this BOM as well.  They all look quite different as everyone is using their own individual colour schemes. 
DSCF6585  Kid Stuff blocks by Silvia
We hardly ever see Maureen without some button hole stitch work in her hands.  Here is her latest creation, adding butterflies to her teddy bear block.  This will eventually end up as a little baby quilt for the Neo Natal Unit at Hutt Hospital.
DSCF6583 Maureen working on a baby quilt
It was another lovely day spent stitching together, plenty of chat and putting the world to rights.  Thanks ladies, for your company, and for your patience when I get the camera out and start snapping photos of your work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Under the Sea - Josephine

I finished stitching Josephine the Jellyfish (from Under the Sea) this weekend while away at a Motorhome Rally.  Luckily, they do let caravan owners like us attend as well, even though we are in the minority.  Josephine just needed her last few tentacles stitched and she was finished!   Oops, I’ve just checked the pattern , she is not quite finished after all.  I’ve missed some little blue bubbles – that won’t take long to put right.  Then I can start on one of the other designs.  
DSCF6578 Josephine the Jellyfish

Friday, June 17, 2011

Two Weeks on

Two weeks on and it was time for another meeting of the Stonestead Stitchers.  Although I was running a little late, I still managed to be the first to arrive, so took the end seat by the heater.  These mornings have been very chilly lately.
DSCF6539 Two quilts hanging at Stonestead Tea House
One by one the ladies arrived, walked up the stairs, and sat down to enjoy the day.  Ruth was working on her Mountmellick embroidery piece and hadn’t got very far, she told us, as she had unpicked some of her earlier stitches.  This is a large piece of embroidery, so there will be a huge amount of time put into it.  Bridget was also having trouble stitching around her tiny Christmas stars, they were so small I’m not surprised it was difficult to stitch.  Liz was going great on her Klimt tapestry since we last saw her, it is full of interesting designs and in such lovely rich colours.
DSCF6542 Liz was working on her tapestry
It’s not that long till Christmas, Mary had decided, so she had started work on a new Christmas project.  This is a “Welcome” Christmas banner in lovely seasonal fabrics and we look forward to seeing it’s  progress.
DSCF6541 Mary with the blocks for her Christmas banner
The wool owl that Joyce was working on had been finished and suitably embellished.  The next step will be to make it into a cushion cover and it will then be a gift for her grand-daughter.
DSCF6544 Woollen owl
And we should have given Joyce an award for the oldest UFO!  She brought along some serviettes which she embroidered way back when she was only eighteen and hadn’t quite got around to finishing them.  (We weren’t allowed to guess how long ago that was).  They just needed a little extra embroidery to finish them off, so that was her task today.  Joyce’s mother had done the beautiful crotchet edge all those years ago.  These serviettes certainly are family heirlooms and very precious, aren’t they?
DSCF6545 Lovely family linen
We wondered what was in the great big bag that Cheryl brought in.  It was full of fabric for her next quilt, called Chestnut and Vine.  Cheryl’s husband loved the colours and design and chose this quilt while they were doing a bit of browsing on the internet.
DSCF6546 The start of a new quilt
And to show us that she hasn’t been sitting idle at home, Cheryl brought along the centre block which is is coming along nicely.
DSCF6547 The centre block of Cheryl’s new quilt
And what was I doing?  A bit of “secret squirrel” work which can’t be shown just yet.  And I just had to show off the tidy collection of threads in my little bag which were now all nicely plaited, (with a bit of help from Robin, I  might add).  So that is our get-together for this time.  I won’t be able to make the next fortnightly meeting, so it will be four weeks till I get back there with the ladies again. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holding and Plaiting

I’m enjoying working on my “Under the Sea” stitchery blocks, a free download from Willowberry Designs last year.  Yes, I’ll admit I’m a bit slow with them, and so far I am up to working on the fifth block.  But they are a “take-away” project and I quietly stitch away when I’m attending a sit-and sew group, or away on a caravan rally weekend.  I’ve enlarged the patterns and do my stitching with Perle no.5 threads, rather than the more usual stranded embroidery cottons, and keep the threads for this project in my little draw string bag.
However, I’ve long suspected that most stitchers are rather more tidy than me, when it comes to their threads.  This is what mine usually look like, all jumbled up and rather messy.  At the previous Stonestead Stitchers day a fortnight ago, Liz helpfully suggested that I plait the threads to keep them tidier.  Oh dear, I think I’ve been told off!
DSCF6530 A bit of a mess
So now I don’t dare return to the Stonestead Stitchers day tomorrow, without tidying up my thread bag.  “Robin”, I asked, “will you help me with some plaiting?”  “Plaiting?  I can’t do plaiting”, he said.  “I just want you to hold these for me”, I reassured him.  “Okay then,” he said with a sigh of relief, “I can do holding”.
DSCF6531 Robin practising his holding
So with his help, we sat there for half an hour, bringing order to the chaos.  He was holding, and I was plaiting.  I reminisced how I used to plait my daughter’s long blond hair when she was a little girl.  Finally the last colour was done.   Now I won’t feel ashamed next time I get my threads out in company!
.DSCF6532 Is this tidier?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Slicing and dicing

I was full of good intentions to spend some time at the sewing machine today, but when I finally had a bit of time, it was getting too late in the afternoon.  I find that I really don’t enjoy sewing late in the day, so I did some some slicing and dicing instead.  First I measured and cut the binding strips for the memory quilt I’m making.  I’ll be sure to get the machine out tomorrow so I can get this stitched on.
DSCF6534 Quilt binding all cut
With the quilt club monthly stitching day coming up,  I sliced and diced in preparation for that.  Cut lots more floral squares to use in the raggy anniversary  quilt I’m making for early next year.  This quilt is certainly giving  me a chance to use up some of those smaller pieces of fabrics sitting in my baskets.  And those others which have been hanging around for a while.  They should all tie together nicely with some green to give it a garden look.  And I’ll have lots of squares all prepared to take along to the “Stitching Monday”. 
DSCF6536 Getting ready to cut those florals
So although I didn’t do any sewing today, I have been productive.  And there’s always tomorrow………..

Monday, June 13, 2011

The history of Anzac Biscuits

Kiwis and Aussies know all about Anzac biscuits, but I had a request from Linda on the previous post to let the secret out to the American ladies.
During World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied to their men. Any food they sent to the fighting men had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy, which travelled at a slow  ten knots an hour.  The ships had no refrigerated facilities, meaning that any food sent had to be able to remain edible for several months. The  answer was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats.  Oats were used extensively in Scotland in a heavy porridge that helped counteract the extremely cold climate.  The ingredients they used in the biscuits were: rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water. All these items did not readily spoil. At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed Anzac Biscuits.  No eggs were used to bind the Anzac biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services, and eggs were very scarce. The binding agent for the biscuits was golden syrup or treacle. As the war drew on, many groups like the CWI (Country Women’s Institute), church groups, schools and other women’s organisations devoted a great deal of time to the making of Anzac biscuits. To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in used tins, such as tea tins.
Anzac Biscuits:
Melt 125gr butter and 2 tablespoons golden syrup.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add to  butter mixture. Place half cup of coconut, half cup of sugar, 1 cup of rolled oats and 1 cup flour in mixing bowl, and mix well with melted butter mixture.  Roll into small balls, place on greased oven tray and flatten slightly with a fork.  Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I should be sewing

Today is another cold, damp day and the rain keeps coming down.  I should really be making the most of a day inside by sitting at sewing machine, but days like this bring on the urge to do some baking. The crock pot (slow cooker) has been simmering away all day, with beef and vegetables cooking nicely for dinner tonight.  After lunch I whipped up a batch of Anzac biscuits, and also made a spicy apple cake. This recipe has a nice crumble topping made from rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter and is so very tasty.   We will have some warm apple cake with whipped cream for dessert, and eat the rest as cake.  On second thoughts, since there are only two of us at home, I think I’ll freeze half of the cake for later consumption.  The lovely homely smell of baking fills the kitchen and Robin is suitably impressed with my efforts.
DSCF6485 Spicy Apple Cake and Anzac Biscuits
The birds are getting a little extra too as we have hung bird feeder up in a tree out in the back yard.  It doesn’t take long for the birds to find the feeder and we have been visited by greenfinches.  They land on the feeder and peck daintily at the wild bird seed through the openings.  I’ll have to make another “bird pudding” and hang it out now the weather is getting so much colder.
DSCF4102Looking after the birds
There is sure to be several rugby games on TV late this afternoon and in the evening,  I’m not really sporty so that will give me a chance to get a bit of sewing done.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I’m turning into my Mother!

Is this the fate of every daughter?  I’m turning into my mother.  She used to have a “baby box” full of little items for the next generation, and it looks like I’m heading the same way.  My late mother loved babies and did a lot of knitting.  Her box of little items included booties, matinee jackets, pretty jumpers and hats.  Whenever someone in the family announced that a baby was on the way, her knitting needles started clicking, and in no time at all lots of  little garments filled her box.  With the first five grandchildren arriving within two years of each other, she was certainly kept busy.  And once the grandchildren had all arrived, she was still ready for any new arrivals.  Neighbours new babies, friends grandchildren, even the cafe owner’s new baby, they all got a little something out of the famous baby box.
This is what I have to put in my baby box, to add to my very small collection so far.  More time ago than I care to remember  I started knitting squares out of some  yarn left over from another project.  I really enjoy knitting during long car trips and these little squares kept me busy for many a mile.  Some  plain, some striped, till I had used up all my leftover yarn.  These were sewn together then put aside and forgotten.  Then……..you know what it’s like, you go fossicking around and find things that had been put aside.  My little blanket needed some sort of edging to finish it off.  What to do?  So I picked up the stitches and knitted an edging with Feathers yarn. 
DSCF6481 My knitted blanket
It doesn’t look too bad for something made out of leftovers, does it?  Perhaps one day I will see my blanket on the floor with a cute little great-grandchild lying on it, waving little chubby legs and arms in the air.  My eldest grand-daughter is 21, so who knows what it in store in the future.  In the meantime, I will fold my little blanket up and put it away in my own baby box.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I’ll just let her sleep

Muffy came away with us for a four day weekend in the caravan.  But we notice that she always needs to catch up on her sleep after a few days away.  Probably because there is so much more happening in her pussy cat life when she is away from home.  There are people to greet, new smells to sniff, things to watch through the caravan screen door, and of course the car journeys to endure.  She seems much more relaxed these days, now she is getting to be a seasoned caravan traveller.  I didn’t have the heart to disturb her this morning when it was time to make the bed.  There she was, all curled up, nice and comfy, having her after breakfast nap.  So I left her there, undisturbed, and she didn’t surface till lunch time.  But after all, who really cares if the bed is late getting made?  Are other cat lovers loathe to disturb the cat, or is it just me?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Warm Welcome at Stonestead

It was a cold grey day when I set off to the fortnightly meeting of the Stonestead Stitchers.  Yvonne from the adjacent Sawmillers Quiltery stopped to talk as she was taking the two little dogs, Bailey and Poppy, outside for a bit of fresh air.  These two cuties spend their time at the quilt shop, greeting visitors, and snoozing the day away. 
DSCF6378 This way to the Stonestead Tea House
You can always be assured of a warm friendly greeting from Kevin when you walk into the Tea House.  “I’ve put the heater on upstairs”, he told me, after I had ordered my lunch and started walking up the stairs.  Mmm, think I’ll sit right here by the heater, I thought to myself, while I wait for the others to arrive.  Quilts  were hung on the walls, and draped over the rail, giving the Tea House a nice homely feel.
DSCF6379 Looking down from the balcony
Before too long other eager stitchers arrived and we all got busy working on our own projects.  Mary was doing a bit more stitching on her plaid Christmas block, and Ruth showed us how she was progressing on her long term Mountmellick embroidery piece.  Carol had brought along her felt wall-hanging kit, purchased from Sawmillers and started some time ago then put away.  The flowers and leaves around the border still need to be stitched down, so there is still quite a bit more stitching to do.  The felt shapes combined with plaids give this piece a nice country feel.
DSCF6380  Carol’s felt wall-hanging
Liz was doing tapestry and was pleased to finish the last little bit of stitching.  Called “Albion”, this very patriotic UK piece has been claimed by her son, and will be made into a cushion.  An awful lot of stitching went into this flag.
DSCF6381 Flag tapestry all finished
Bridget was busy with appliquéing tiny pieces onto her Christmas Tree block.  All the blocks on her Christmas Tree quilt feature different appliqué designs.
DSCF6385 Christmas Tree block
Cheryl was “doing Christmas” as well.  Her quilt was a Block of the Month from Thimbles and Threads with both pieced and appliquéd blocks.  Cheryl explained how to use marked “Glad Press and Seal” as a quilt motif to hand quilt through.  The plastic just rips away and this idea can be used for either hand or machine quilting.  I had heard of using this product for quilting but had never seen it demonstrated before.  Thanks Cheryl, that was something new we all learned today.
DSCF6384You can just see the quilt motif marked on the plastic
DSCF6382Cheryl’s Christmas quilt
We were all ready for our lunch when Kevin delivered our trays up the stairs to our table.  Hot scones straight out of the oven, with tea or coffee, what could be nicer on a cold day!
DSCF6386 Cheese scone and coffee for me today