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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

All Tied Up – Minerva Exhibition

Cuba Street was full of people out enjoying the sun, eating lunch and sipping lattes while they sat at tables outside the many cafes which lined the street.  It was the last day of the school holidays and the children shrieked as they watched the famous Bucket Fountain splash water all over the footpath.
DSCF6915 Bucket Fountain on Cuba Street
I was off to Minerva Gallery to check out the exhibition “All Tied Up”.  Two exhibitors were showing their creations made from recycled ties.  Margherita Allan had a series of wall quilts  on show, and Jan Huthwaite  was exhibiting some wonderful handbags.  As luck would have it, Margherita was in the gallery and she was quite happy for me to photograph her amazing work.  It was wonderful to meet her and talk about her passion of working with ties. 
DSCF6921 Stained Glass
DSCF6918Purple Reign – woven together
DSCF6920Half Way Round, and Kimono
DSCF6922Red Variation 
All these pieces were very beautiful and some featured yarn couching. 
All the bags made by Jan Huthwaite were well worth a close look and there was a lovely dark blue one that I could have happily taken home.  I loved the way Jan had colour co-ordinated the ties for each bag, and it was interesting to see the subtle differences between them.  The creative talent of these two women is amazing and the two exhibits together certainly compliment each other.  Ladies, this shows what can be done with all those  ties lurking in your husband’s wardrobe.  
DSCF6919 A selection of handbags made from ties
I was lucky to make it in to the gallery just before the end of the exhibition – I am so pleased I didn’t miss it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Inspirational Evening – July Quilt Club

There was a very full turnout to Pinestream Quilters July meeting.  Our speaker was member Gaye who talked about “Inspirations for Quilts from Iranian Art and Architecture”.  Gaye and her family had travelled to Iran for 10 days in September 2006 for a family wedding.  A very professional presentation took us through beautiful tiled mosques in glowing colours of blue, turquoise and gold.  The tiled patterns were a combination of geometric designs, interlocking stars, as well as vines and flowers. Gaye had made up samples of quilt blocks from some of these patterns.  Visits to the bazaars were another highlight, showing inlaid woodwork, block printed fabric, and the dazzling gold bazaar. 
DSCF6871Block printed Iranian fabric
DSCF6870 Lovely enamelled plate
As usual, the “Show and Tell” from members was just as inspirational too.  Jo showed us her double sided quilt made from New Zealand fabrics which will shortly be en route to Holland.  Those New Zealand prints always look so good together when sashed with black.
DSCF6872 Jo’s New Zealand quilt
The paper pieced Mariner’s Compass had me intrigued, and I loved the way the pattern just flows from the centre.  Jeanette had made a wonderful job of this challenging design, and it was beautifully commercially quilted by Sue B.
DSCF6873 Jeanette’s Mariner’s Compass
I love Elvis, so just had to get “up close and personal” and have a really close look at this quilt.  Sandy had made it especially for her husband, so I guess he is an Elvis fan too.
DSCF6866 Red, black and white Elvis quilt
As much as I love Elvis, I love Christmas too, and Clare had brought along this gorgeous Christmas quilt.  There was a bit of a story behind this quilt, as Clare had worked on the stitchery blocks while on several flights between New Zealand and USA.  And the pieced blocks were stitched while snowbound in Wisconsin.
DSCF6867 Clare’s Christmas quilt
DSCF6868 Snowman family block
Brenda had been busy and came along with not one, but two quilts.  The fabrics chosen were in a lovely rich red colour-way and they have been stitched for her partner’s beach house.
DSCF6869 Twin bed quilts for the beach house
This is just a selection of the quilts on show, there are always lots to see.  Several of the ladies had been working on Neo-Natal quilts during the month too, and brought these along as well.  Once again, another good meeting, an interesting speaker, plenty of quilts to look at, and good company.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why are you cutting up my dressing gown?

Robin doesn’t usually take too much notice while I am cutting fabric and stitching it back together but he is always interested in the finished product. But he was rather taken back at my latest creation.  I like to do my rotary cutting on the kitchen counter as it is just the right height for me.  On my cutting board was a jumble of cream and orange fabric, and an old brown silky dressing gown.  “Why are you cutting up my dressing gown”, he asked me accusingly.
DSCF6865 Whose dressing gown is this on the cutting board?
Of course, it wasn’t his dressing gown at all, although I must admit it looks quite similar to the one hanging in his wardrobe.  The dressing gown in question belonged to our friend Graeme, who passed away a year ago.  I received a whole bag of his assorted clothing and recently made a Memory Quilt for Kathryn, Graeme’s partner.  She had also asked if I could possibly make her a table runner, so that was what I was working on.  Made up of two brown silky stars with orange points, and one with the colours switched around, I had decided.  This would tone in  nicely with the colour scheme at her home. 
DSCF6864 Table runner in the making
After several hours spent at the sewing machine yesterday, it’s coming along quite well.  Just the machine quilting to do now, then the binding and it will be completed.  And Robin is pleased to know that his dressing gown is hanging up safe and sound where it belongs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hunkering down

Snow falls in the Hutt Valley?  It’s hard to believe but it’s happening right here and now!  The sight of snow flakes dropping down outside our window is not a sight we often get to see, but it has happened twice so far today.  We do get snow falls in winter on the higher back hills surrounding the valley, but today there is snow covering the lower slopes too.  The cause of all this is the polar blast all the way from Antarctica which is working it’s way up the country.  Snow is even predicted for the warmer climes of Auckland, practically unheard of.
P7250107 Snow on the hills
So after venturing out in the cold for an appointment this morning, we are spending the rest of the day hunkering down inside and keeping warm.  And what better way to warm up with a bowl of home made soup for lunch.  I often make pumpkin soup, but this time tried a slightly different version, roasted pumpkin soup.  Yesterday, while cooking the dinner I roasted  a dish of pumpkin and onions, so it would be all ready to finish off today. This rather flummoxed Robin, who commented that he had never heard of using roasted veggies in soup before. 
DSCF6849 Ready to be turned into soup
Cooking the pumpkin this way, instead of the usual boiling, gives the soup a lovely nutty taste.  It didn’t take too long to put it through the kitchen whizz, add a bit of stock and some chopped cooked bacon, and there, all ready for a nice warming lunch with a hot bread roll.  Oh, mustn’t forget to add a swirl of cream to the soup, it really does make all the difference!
DSCF6851  Lunch is ready
The evening meal (beef and veggie casserole) is simmering away in the crock pot.  In all honesty, I couldn’t live without my crock pot in winter, it is such a useful appliance.  It’s strange, isn’t it, how we seem to focus more on hearty food once the temperatures drop.  Now, I think it’s time to put the kettle on, then I’m going to settle down by the gas fire and do some knitting, it’s a knitting sort of day, I think.  Hope everyone else is keeping warm and cosy too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I’m covered in threads

I’ve been busy today assembling the last portion of my shaggy floral quilt and snipping away at those exposed seams.  So it’s no surprise to find that I’m covered all over in threads.  They are clinging on tight to my woolly jumper, and they absolutely love coming along for a ride all down the legs of my fleecy trousers.  Plenty of the threads are lying all over the carpet in the lounge too, you wouldn’t think that I vacuumed yesterday.   
DSCF6830 The floral shaggy quilt
The quilt was thrown over our bed to try it out for size – no, it’s just a bit small.  It could do with another row or two around the outside.  So out came my dwindling collection of light and dark florals to cut up into squares.  That will be the next job – perhaps I’ll cut them today and pin each block up with the winceyette and backing, That always takes a lot longer than you anticipate.  Then I can get on to stitching the blocks tomorrow.
DSCF6829 All ready to cut into more squares
I’ll need a new name for this quilt, as “shaggy floral” isn’t a very inspiring name.  As I’m making it for my sister’s Golden Wedding Anniversary, perhaps something like “The Garden of Love”, or “Golden Anniversary Bouquet”?  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

70th Birthday Lunch

We met with old friends Shirley and Lewis, and Robyn and Barrie yesterday to celebrate Shirley’s 70th birthday. The drive around the Paremata side of Pauatahanui Inlet was glorious with the surrounding hills reflected in the calm waters of the estuary.
P7200077 Reflections in the Inlet
The venue was “The Winemaker’s Daughter”, at Otaki, on the Kapiti Coast,  good food  with the extra attraction of $10 lunches.  How could six “golden oldies” pass that reasonable price up?
DSCF6802  The setting was so pretty, with a flowering bougainvillea climbing in the rafters of the gazebo.
There was plenty of chatting, as to be expected when we all get together, and reminiscing too of just how many years now we have all been friends.  We all met in the years when we our hair was so much darker, and we were all a bit slimmer back then too.  As it turned out, we ladies have all taken up quilting now, so that is another bond we share.
DSCF6808 Jenny, birthday girl Shirley, and Robyn – all quilters
P7200079 Checking the photos – are we really that grey these days?
Our lunch choices were nice and tasty, and we all managed to tuck away a dessert too – after all it was a special occasion!  The husbands were firmly told that after such a big lunch there would not be a big cooked meal in the evening, they would all be making do with a sandwich.  It is so nice to get together with old friends, and although we all now live in different areas we resolved to do it more regularly.  On the way home we took a detour down to Waikanae Beach to check out the damage caused by the recent tornado from a couple of weeks ago.  The damage to a stand of pine trees was mind boggling, trees were toppled over and some were snapped right in half part way up the trunks.  It was just so lucky that no one was killed.
P7200082 Damage caused by recent tornado

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July Stitching Monday

There were plenty of eager beavers all ready stitching by the time I arrived.  Several had their machines all set up and whirring away, while the hand stitchers were sitting together, sewing and chatting.  I had missed all the early morning excitement which happened when the first couple of ladies had arrived.  There was a starling fluttering around the room, getting more and more distressed, before flying high up in the exposed rafters.  The local handyman on site came to the rescue with a tall ladder, and managed to throw his jacket over the bird.  With that lucky catch the bird was carried outside and set free.  What a shame I was running a little late and missed it all  – imagine what sort of action photos all that excitement would have produced!
Heather arrived with her latest creation.  She had enjoyed doing needle-turn appliqué on the large 20 inch basket blocks, and was not far off completing her exquisite hand quilting.  One of her quilting friends has decided that this quilt will go very nicely in her bedroom, and Heather is happy to give the quilt to someone who will appreciate it.
DSCF6768 Heather’s lovely quilt
Margaret has been working on this charity quilt over the course on several Stitching Mondays and brought the finished quilt along to show us.  This started out as a bunch of left over blocks – strips cut into wedges and reassembled.  Margaret sewed the blocks together, and added a nice strippy border to finish it off.
DSCF6769 Charity quilt in greens and cream
As it was  the school holidays our President Brenda – who works as a teacher, could come along and join in with the group.  She was sewing the binding down on a “Shabby Chic” 60th birthday quilt.  The centre blocks were a very pretty hydrangea print in pinks and lilacs. 
DSCF6770 Brenda’s Shabby Chic 60th birthday quilt
After making three black and white quilts for her children, Pamela finally got the chance to make something for herself.  She was using the most gorgeous Japanese fabrics printed with gold tracings and the pattern was Kaffe Fasset’s Garden Tapestry.  It seemed quite a simple pattern with a large square in each block to showcase those lovely fabrics, so should come together quite quickly, I expect.
DSCF6779 Pamela’s Japanese garden Tapestry coming together
Maureen had been very lucky at our quilt club meetings lately and had won the draw for “Block of the month” over two consecutive meetings.  She has stitched up the blocks of one of her wins and appliquéd a few butterflies for extra interest.   She was busy hand stitching the binding down, and has generously decided to donate the quilt to a charity.   
DSCF6778 Maureen’s Block of the Month quilt
I had taken along some of my stitched together raggy floral blocks and spent most of the morning snip, snip, snipping the seams.  Enough of that, I thought, and pulled out the current Under the Sea stitchery block I’m working on.  I’ve almost finished Octavius Octopus doing his speed cleaning.
DSCF6775 My latest stitchery block – Octavius Octopus
And last but not least, Linda was working on a brand new project, a surprise quilt for her 12 year old son.  His interests are soccer and skateboarding, and Linda had all sorts of interesting fabrics on this theme.  The pattern she is using is based on “Urban Stripe” out of the current issue of New Zealand Quilter magazine.
DSCF6773  Linda busy stitching
DSCF6776Linda’s quilt so far featuring sports prints
It was another very pleasant get-together with a lovely bunch of like minded ladies.  I always enjoy our monthly Stitching Mondays and appreciate everyone agreeing to have their work photographed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Slow food for a wintry day

There is something about the smell of smell of home cooking isn’t there?   And especially on a cool winter’s day – although the sun was shining, there certainly wasn’t much warmth coming through.  So this morning after a leisurely Sunday breakfast of bacon and eggs, expertly prepared by Robin, I decided to get busy in the kitchen.  I had planned on lasagne for our evening meal, which meant several steps in the preparation.  First, make the meat sauce, then cook the lasagne.  I cheated with the cheese sauce and used cottage cheese instead.  Assemble all the layers, top with grated cheese, cover and place in fridge – there, all done.  Perhaps a pudding to cook at the same time?  I prepared an apple and rhubarb crumble (fresh cut stalks from our rhubarb patch) and popped that in the fridge too.  And since I will be using the oven, I decided to mix up a spicy apple cake to cook at the same time. 
All this early food prep meant that I could sit down at my sewing machine after lunch, knowing that the meal was ready to pop in the oven at the required time.  I’m pleased to say that my shaggy quilt is coming along quite well.  It’s still all over the floor, but I’ve been pinning and stitching the floral blocks together all afternoon.  Just as I thought, I needed to make some more light floral blocks to fill in the spaces.  That done, I’ll just keep stitching them together, knowing that I don’t have to stop early to prepare the evening meal.
I can look out the window from my machine and see the little native birds outside.  Greenfinches and waxeyes have been feeding all day on the bird pudding hanging from one of the trees, while the pretty little yellowhammers and sparrows like to perch on the seed container and daintily peck at the wild bird seed inside.  And I’m pleased to find that my daphne bush is in flower too.  Now we are past the shortest day – roll on Summer!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Now – what shall I do next?

I often wonder how other quilters work?  Are they super organised and work on one project at a time?  Or are there others like me, who tend to flit about from one project to another, and have heaps of things on the go at the same time?  Just have a look at this!  These bags of UFOs are usually stuffed in the corner by my sewing machine, in an effort to keep things tidy.  (I’m not even going to mention the other UFOs hidden away in the spare bedroom.)  But when I am sewing, I sometimes work from this bag, and sometimes from another.  And the bag with the pigs in the quilt shop contains my hand stitching so that gets taken out regularly. 
DSCF6762 Choca-block full of projects
Actually, I didn’t choose any of these bags, as this particular sewing project hasn’t even got a bag to put it in, but has been wrapped up in an English tea towel quoting all sorts of quilting sayings,  such as “Quilters do it morning, noon and night.” I’ve decided to work on the raggy floral quilt I’m making, and laid out all the blocks on the floor.  Then I had to arrange them, and rearrange them, can’t have those two together, and then perhaps I need to stitch a few more light ones?  You know what it’s like, all this takes time.  I’ve decided to stitch them up in blocks, instead of long rows, to make it easier to handle.
DSCF6765 Stitching the squares into blocks
In the middle of all this creativity a visitor arrived.  “Careful in the lounge”, I warned her, “there’s a quilt laid out”, as she stepped over all the blocks.  “What’s in all those bags?” she wanted to know.  My other projects of course.   Then she spotted my quilt rack with a couple of half finished quilts all pinned up, and wanted to know about those too.  I often wonder what non-sewers think of all this creative mess!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunny morning at Stonestead

How nice to see a change in the weather today, after days of wild and stormy weather,  when I drove up to meet the Stonestead Stitchers group.  As we arrived one by one, and settled ourselves down, out came the bags of stitching.  It was obvious that Cheryl was not making a quilt when she pulled out some delicious red slinky satin.  She was turning straps on a ball gown she was making for her daughter to wear to the School Ball.  We didn’t have school balls in my long ago college days, although I do remember attending a dance or two.
DSCF6755 You shall go to the ball!
There were two hexagon projects being worked on today.  Bridget had a whole bag of pretty pink and green hexagons all assembled into flower blocks, and she busily stitched some more together. 
DSCF6758 Bridget working on her floral hexagons
Liz was going hexagons too, in an autumn hued colour way.  This is a good “take-along project” and goes all over the place, she said, particularly when she accompanies the family to the swimming pool.  Then she can sit and stitch, while she watches.
DSCF6756 Liz with her hexagons
Liz had brought along a big bag of goodies to show us.  Her daughter had visited the town of Intercourse, in Pennsylvania, and had bought her Mum a whole heap of Civil War reproduction fabrics, a quilt kit, books and magazines.  It would have been a bit like Christmas to get such a gift, wouldn't it?  These were all passed around for us to see, feel the fabric, and flick through the books and magazines.
DSCF6757 Look at all these goodies
Mary was working away on her large Christmas banner, one letter at a time, and today’s letter was  “L”.  That is a lovely Christmassy background fabric being used.
DSCF6760 Part of Mary’s Christmas banner
We are all very impressed with Ruth’s beautiful piece of Mountmellick embroidery.  She stitched away and explained that the part she was working on needed to be stitched over three times to give it the required padding.  This is obviously a long term project and we enjoy watching it as the piece progresses.
DSCF6759 Ruth is concentrating hard
I was the only one with knitting today.  I’m using up some left over shaded yarn and making a toddler’s jumper to put away in my “baby box”.  I’m up to the sleeves, and then just have to knit the little hood.  Who knows, sooner or later there might well be a new baby in the family – a great grandchild perhaps sometime in the future?  
DSCF6761 Knitting sleeves
After our stitching time had concluded, I drove back home in the sunshine.  And wouldn’t you know it, the sky clouded over, the temperature dropped, and the hail came down!  Luckily that didn’t last too long, but it is winter after all. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Secret Sewing

It was a good day to be inside sewing yesterday, away from the wild and woolly weather raging outside.  I commented to Robin that he would be glad he wasn’t still working as a truck driver.  He would have been climbing in and out of his truck all day, calling in to shops to take the  order, walk back to his truck to fill it, and back again to the shop to deliver the order.  At least in my previous working life I was safely tucked up in front of a computer in a dry office all day.  A tornado came ashore at the Kapiti Coast on Saturday and wrecked havoc, and although the weather is slowly improving, we have been promised a return of storm conditions later in the week.  Amidst all this chaos, my hyacinth bulbs are flowering beautifully.  Luckily I had taken them inside so they escaped a battering by the storm. 
DSCF6594  A little pot of beauty
Now, back to this secret sewing.  The Friday Stitchers meet monthly and decided to have a “paper bag swap”.  Everyone decides on a block they would like made and stitches the first one, specifying their colour choice.  These blocks are then swapped around the group each month, safely tucked away from sight in a bag, and the owner doesn’t get to see her blocks till the swap has run it’s course.  So far I have worked on a split nine patch, a paper pieced design, and spent yesterday afternoon putting a large block together using the requested warm and cool colours.  (No photos until we have our great reveal meeting.)  My choice doing the rounds is a log cabin block.  This block swap is a lot of fun and stretches our creativity as quite often the blocks requested are outside our comfort zone, and the required colours are not necessarily in our stash.  It will be great to see everyone’s blocks in a few months time. 
Also had time to stitch some more floral blocks for the Anniversary raggy quilt I’m making for my sister.  The next step will be to lay them all out on the floor to see if I have made enough, then start stitching them together.  Then cut some strips and sewed them together to make more nine patch blocks to  border my caravan quilt.  While I was doing all this Robin said to me, “you do a lot of sewing, don’t you?” Has he only just noticed, I wonder?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cherry Pie Quilt Patch

A caravan rally at Levin?  Oh goody, now I have the chance to call in to see Cherry Pie Quilt Patch, situated in the main road, at 294 Oxford Street, Levin.  I had previously visited Cherry Pie several years ago when it was at a different address out in the country.  The shop sold about a year ago, and moved from rural surroundings to the present position.
DSCF6732 Cherry Pie Quilt Patch
The former owner of Cherry Pie works at this shop a couple of days a week, and was there when I arrived.  Her speciality is “crazy patch” and there were lots of kits, beautiful threads, and bits and pieces to chose from to make your own lovely creation.  I loved this gorgeous crazy patch quilt which was hanging up in the shop.
DSCF6727 Crazy patch embroidered quilt
The shop supplies kits for many different “block of the month” quilts, and this golly quilt has been one of the most popular, I was told.  I can see why, imagine stitching this for a little girl, or maybe keeping it for yourself?
DSCF6726 Cute golly quilt
There were shelves and shelves of patchwork fabrics, the choice is very wide so there would be something for everyone.  The whole shop glowed with colour.  Shelves of notions, buttons, zips and patterns too, as well as a selection of dress fabrics.
DSCF6731  Plenty to chose from
But of course it is the quilts on the wall which set the scene in a quilt shop and customers just love to see them in all their different varieties.  I loved the quilt featuring both stitchery and pieced blocks.  And those sports panels would make wonderful quilts for a young boy.
DSCF6730Quilts on the walls
And talking of stitcheries,  I found this beautiful Bronwyn Hayes Christmas Baskets stitchery pattern in the shop.  This designer produces beautiful patterns, and as I love anything “Christmas”, it was no surprise that I just had to take this pattern home.  It is a lovely shop with friendly staff only too happy to help.  Do pop in if you are passing by.
DSCF6745 New stitchery pattern
On Sunday morning our friends Robyn and Barrie called into the Motor Camp for a visit.  It was so nice to see them, and Robyn brought along a plate of lovely home baked scones with apricot jam for our morning tea. 
DSCF6746  Barrie and Robyn came with morning tea for us all
Robyn is also a quilter, and Kathryn had brought her memory quilt “Remembering Graeme” along to the caravan rally to show all the other members.  (Graeme and Kathryn had spent many happy years attending caravan rallies with our club.) Would Robyn like to see the new quilt, she asked.  Of course she would, and they stood together admiring the quilt as Kathryn pointed out all the different pieces of clothing used to make it.
DSCF6747  Admiring the new quilt