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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A help or a hindrance?

I have been stitching away quite merrily lately on a couple of projects, but nothing quite finished yet to show off.  Our cat Muffy has been “helping” me, or so she thinks, sitting up on top of my sewing cabinet.  At least she is not trying to touch any  moving parts, and sits quite still, just watching.   Muffy really wants to stay close by, and gets quite upset and cries piteously if she can’t find us.  We think that as she is getting older, she is starting to feel a little anxious.   She loves to spend the early evenings cuddled up in our laps, either one will do, she is not really fussy.  Then at bedtime she settles down quite comfortably on the foot of the bed.  I remember reading somewhere that cat owners have lower blood pressure than non cat owners, as petting a cat is very soothing.  Don’t think anything could be more comforting than a purring cat curled up on your lap, do you?
DSCF7492 Muffy is helping me sew

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dolls of Joy

Tucked away in rural Ekatahuna is “Dolls of Joy”, Joy Cole’s much loved collection of 2000 dolls beautifully displayed in  four rooms.  This collection started slowly, as most do, and Joy started collecting dolls from markets and op shops.  They usually needed new clothes, and the knitting needles were kept busy producing  beautiful woollen garments to dress these dolls.  Prams, pushchairs, cribs and highchairs were collected too, and once Joy and hubby Bruce retired, they discussed how best to display the collection for people to view when visiting their other love, Waieka Country Garden.  The one room planned was not big enough, and this increased to four rooms, packed with dolls of all shapes, sizes and colours. 
There are some family heirlooms on display too.  This pretty blue dress was worn by Joy’s grand-daughter when she was flower girl at a family wedding.
DSCF7447 Grand-daughter’s flower girl dress
And here is Joy standing with a doll wearing the flower girl dress from her own wedding many years ago.  How special is that?
DSCF7468 Joy with her flower girl’s dress
I’m sure we all can remember the inevitable tea parties we enjoyed with our dolls.  Our dollies were arranged “just so” and were always well behaved, as I remember.
DSCF7465Dollies Tea Party
DSCF7462A collection of Asian dolls
DSCF7463Native American dolls
DSCF7457Two little gollies
DSCF7459Even more dolls
We loved looking at the beautiful knitted outfits, the tiny hand smocked dresses, pretty dresses with ruffles and lace, and a collection of wedding dolls too.  The “Twin Room” had twins galore, plus a smattering of triplets as well.  Dolls were arranged by country, then by manufacturer.  There were several little quilts hanging up on the wall adding another touch to the collection. We had a lovely time admiring Joy’s collection.  Our visit there was rather like walking into girly heaven.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Have you tried Kiwifruit Jam?

I’ve been busy in the kitchen cooking up a batch of kiwifruit jam.  I much prefer home made jam to what we buy in the shops.  At least with home made jam you know exactly what is in it – fruit, sugar and no nasty stuff to make it thicker.  Kiwifruit jam has lemon juice added too, and is rather nice on a piece of toast at breakfast.  There is something very homely about seeing a big jam pot of fruit bubbling away, and the smell is divine.  I sterilize the jars in the hot oven, and put the seals in boiling water.  So far this year I’ve made plum jam and grape jelly, and now my new batch of kiwifruit jam.  I’ve just been given a whole lot of lovely lemons, so I'm going to have a go and making lemon honey next.  Wish me luck, I’ve never made that before.
DSCF7425 Kiwifruit jam

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pinestream Quilters September Club-night

The hall was packed on our club-night and we had a very full programme.  Award winning quilter Fyvie Murray was our speaker and she related her quilting journey.  Fyvie’s first experience of patchwork some years ago were duvet covers, now in use on the cat’s bed, she told us.  Then her daughter signed her up for her first class, and she has never looked back.  Fyvie had a slide show presentation of her work, and also brought several quilts, so that we could see them in the flesh.  For someone who only came to quilting in the 1990s, Fyvie has produced an amazing number of Baltimore Album quilts – most of us would be delighted if we managed to do only one.  After mastering the traditional needle-turn method of appliqué, she has perfected a method of doing a needle-turn variation on her sewing machine.
DSCF7430 Two of Fyvie’s beautiful Baltimores
This talented quilter then went on to experiment making a Baltimore using a palette of cream and white for the appliqué blocks.  She decided that the quilt needed some extra colour so added  some dark pieced stars.  I have seen this work of art displayed in a quilt show and it is just gorgeous.
DSCF7431 White and cream appliqué with star blocks
Pinestream Quilters club members have been making quilts to cover the beds at Te Omanga Hospice.  Our local quilt shop, Thimbles and Threads, has been very generous with providing fabric, batting, and quilting services.  Two staff members from the Hospice attended our meeting and Margaret, our Charity Quilt Co-ordinator, together with our President Brenda, made the presentation to them.
DSCF7429 Presenting the Hospice quilts
Show and Tell was delightful, as always.  Here are just a few of what caught my eye, there were lots more as well, as our members are always very prolific.  Several members had made little quilts for the Neo Natal Unit at Hutt Hospital.  These little teddy bears are so cute and will certainly brighten up the ward.
DSCF7434 Neo Natal quilts for Hutt Hospital
Sharon had brought two quilts along, both pink, and both will be donated to Wellington Hospital.  Sharon also expertly quilted these on a long arm machine.  The plan for this one, in retro pink colours, is to be given to a teenager who is sure to love the bright, trendy colours.
DSCF7437 To be donated to Wellington Hospital
Who doesn’t love Christmas?  Cathy started this Christmas wall-hanging in a class, and it is just lovely, and heavily embellished. 
DSCF7428 Cathy’s Christmas quilt
Another nice wall-hanging was the country style chicken house, made by Claire.  The rooster is keeping an eye out for danger while his  flock go about their chooky business.
DSCF7426 Claire’s fowl house
Blue and white colour scheme is always a winner and Margarite brought along her Bear’s Paw quilt to show us.  She certainly made a very nice job of this.
DSCF7433 Margaruites Bear’s Paw quilt
Some lucky rugby supporter is getting his very own quilt for Rugby World Cup.  Fay made this for her husband using a panel, and coordinating fabric for the borders.
DSCF7427 Fay’s rugby quilt
June teaches quilt making each week in the women’s prison and brought along a couple of quilts in progress from her pupils.  Here she is hiding behind the quilts.   June is always very grateful for the support from the club, and the many donations of fabric she receives from the club members.
DSCF7435 Two quilts made by June’s girls
It was another great club night, with an interesting speaker, tasty supper, and plenty of quilts to look at.  It is always good to catch up with other members too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More of Barbara’s Treasures

We visited our friends Bill and Barbara yesterday, to take Bill a little “Get Well” gift after his recent surgery.  Barbara is a keen crafter and she likes to keep her hands busy.  She was keen to show me her lovely Witch Doll, a gift from her daughter.
DSCF7419   Barbara and her Witch Doll
Two knitted tots were sitting on a chair.  They are so cute,  a little Gingerbread Man and a doll dressed in a pretty knitted lemon dress and hat.
DSCF7420Two knitted toys
I noticed a little basket on the table full of pretty pincushions in lovely soft colours.  A couple were embroidered, there was a blue-mauve patchwork pincushion, and a lemon heart shaped pincushion embellished with ribbons and lace.  And can you see the tiny little doll in the front with her pretty lace dress?
DSCF7421 A collection of pincushion
And look what I found displayed on the bathroom window sill.  Two glass jars shaped in the female form filled with tiny coloured pebbles.  I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. 
DSCF7422 Pebbles in glass bottles
Barbara has the most interesting collection of all sorts of treasures, and there is always something different to see each time we visit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September Stitching Monday

Who would forget our previous Stitching Monday when the snow kept falling down all day?  I was really worried that my little blue car would have a nervous breakdown and not get me home safely.  No snow this month, just cold and persistent rain.  Luckily we were all warm and cosy inside the hall with sewing machines whirring away, cups of coffee as required, and plenty of friendly chatter to keep us going.  Some members had new projects underway, and others had ones they were still working on.  Joyce was working on a new project.  She is making  Snail Trail blocks in black and white for her grand-daughters upcoming wedding.  She laid the blocks out on the carpet and we all helped with views of the arrangement, after all, you can’t have two blocks with the same fabric together, can you?  Several of the ladies offered their  black and white fabrics to Joyce, and she cut off a few pieces to incorporate into her quilt.  This is going to look stunning when it is completed. 
DSCF7408 Black and white Snail Trail blocks
Maureen was sitting quietly doing hand appliqué on her teddies and butterflies block.  This will end up as another little quilt to be donated to the Neo Natal unit at Hutt Hospital.  Many of our club members like to make these little quilts and they are really appreciated by the new parents of the tiny babies who have to stay in the ward. 
DSCF7418 Cute appliqué block
A beautiful selection of Hoffman fabrics with a Japanese flavour are going into Pamela’s current project.  The pattern is Kaffe Fassett’s Garden Tapestry, and Pamela is making this lovely quilt for her herself.  Just look at all those gorgeous fabrics in such lovely soft colours.
DSCF7415 Garden Tapestry blocks
Gaye wasn’t stitching at all, but playing with paper and glue.  She was working on a series of “colour studies” for her Level 1 City and Guilds Embroidery course.  Pictures showing the required colours had been collected from magazines and made into a collage.
DSCF7412 Gaye’s colour studies
Stitching the quilt binding down is a good job to do on a day such as this.  It always takes longer than anticipated so it is a good thing to tackle while chatting away to friends.  Christine is up to this stage of her soft and pretty 1930s Irish Chain variation. 
DSCF7413 Christine’s 1930s quilt
Fay has recently celebrated a very special birthday and brought in her extra special birthday gift to show us all.  It is a beautiful little fabric book made by her quilting buddy Margaret.  All the pages have a very special meaning and there are several photo transfers which make it so personal, along with lots of embellishments.  This is certainly a treasured gift.
DSCF7411Fay and her birthday book
Margaret seemed to be buried under a whole pile of fabric.  She was busy cutting out pieces of bright kiddies fabrics to make I Spy quilts for two little grandsons.  I spotted the Hungry Caterpillar, Dr Seuss, animal prints and lots of other interesting fabrics in her pile.
DSCF7417 Margaret busy cutting fabric
And what was I doing?  First I made some more of these New Zealand Postcard blocks.  I had previously made four quilt tops and a set of place mats from NZ fabrics to take away as gifts on our UK trip a couple of years ago.  So it was time to make something with a NZ flavour for us too.
DSCF7409 New Zealand Postcard Blocks
Then I went on to make some Rail Fence blocks, again with a New Zealand flavour.  I will take these down south early next year when we do our South Island Odyssey trip and write down all the places we stay at on the pale green rails.  So this will eventually end up as a memory quilt of our trip.
DSCF7414 New Zealand Rail Fence blocks
After lunch I packed my sewing machine away and spent the last hour doing a little hand stitching on my Christmas project.  We all had an enjoyable day, and thanks again to everyone for allowing me to photograph their work.

Friday, September 16, 2011

All the Seasons Table Runner

I love doing stitcheries, but I’m the first to admit that I’m quite slow.  After all, I’m still plodding along with my “Under the Sea” blocks, and they are still not finished!  But…… in the meantime I stitched four little seasonal blocks, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, designed by Scrubber Creek.  Each block shows the outline of a tree, and the differences as the seasons progress.  I stitched my Spring tree with light green leaves, and pale pink blossoms.  Summer shows the tree with darker green leaves, and rosy red apples, while the leaves turn gold and brown for Autumn as they fall onto to the ground.  The tree is bare in Winter.
DSCF7189Four seasons
The blocks are designed to be made into four individual wall hangings, but I wasn’t really keen on that idea.  So I stitched them into the corners of a small table runner, and measuring 24 inches by 20 inches, it just right for the caravan.
DSCF7284 Seasonal table runner for the caravan
The green fabric used is the last piece of Debbie Mumm fabric from long ago.  I used this green check in a quilt for my grand-daughter Megan, completed back in August 1999.  I can be sure of the date as I remember hurrying to get her quilt finished so I could give it to her before we departed on our big 3 month OE to England.  We had stop-overs at Disneyland then Juneau,  Alaska on the way over.  Then had seats booked for the Edinburgh Tattoo, after which we travelled by car around Scotland, Ireland and England.  Followed by an 8 day whistle-stop bus tour of Europe, before finishing off with a week’s R&R in Hawaii on the way home.  That was some holiday!
Megan's quilt0001 Megan with her pinwheel and bunnies quilt
Megan is quite the young lady these days at 16 years of age, and I have made her several more quilts over the years.  I am sure her tastes have moved on from the bunnies and pinwheels in this quilt.  Guess she would like a proper “grown-up” quilt now she is in college, I must ask her what her preferences are now she is all grown up – no doubt like most teenagers she will want something with black in it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Any day is Washing Day

It’s a great day for washing today.  The sun is out, although the temperature is rather on the cool side.  But the breeze is blowing nicely, and the load of washing is flapping outside.  There is nothing like washing dried outside in the sun, is there?  But laundry waits for no one, even in cold wet wintry weather.  During the winter months I hand my washing out of the rain and in the garage.  I’m one of those people who quite enjoy doing the washing, and I have this hanging above the washing machine.  I rather like ironing too.
DSCF7281Wash Day – made in 1994
My little wall-hanging “Wash Day” has been over seeing the laundry duties for quite some time now.  I made it in a class in the local quilt shop in 1994, and remember the tutor telling me that it was a hand appliqué class.  But that didn’t appeal to me and I was the only one in the class to do my appliqué by machine.  The Holly Hobbie girl has a little quilt, a pair of pantaloons, and an apron pegged out on her clothesline.
Yesterday’s weather was quite spectacular with thunder and lightning and a freak hail storm which hit the capital and continued up the Hutt Valley.  Over 500 lightning strikes were recorded in the city, the temperatures dropped dramatically, and hail rattled down.  Just as well it’s a much nicer day today.
       MID: hail 1 MID: hail 1                              Photos by MATT VELDE – hail in Wellington

Monday, September 12, 2011

To my Hubby on his Birthday

It’s Robin’s birthday today and the card I bought him goes like this: 

Sometimes I’m absent minded, sometimes I’m kind of cross
Sometimes I do make out as if I think I am the boss
Sometimes I shop too much (quilt shops) and you get kind of worried
Sometimes I’m just plain stubborn if I think I’m being hurried
Sometimes I act the Diva, sometimes I’m nutty too
But there’s one thing I always am, and that’s in love with you!!

Robin told me I’m all those things, from time to time.  Now, just what does he mean by that, I wonder?

DSCF7166 Happy Birthday, Robin.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Embroideries on the wall

As a quilter, I am always delighted to come across any sort of textiles when we are out and about, especially if they are hand crafted.  We were away at a caravan rally over the weekend – staying not too far from home at Camp Elsdon in Porirua.  Friends from our club invited us to join them for Saturday lunch at a little Indian restaurant they enjoyed going to.  So six of us drove down to the Cobham Court shopping area to enjoy a curry for lunch.  We strolled along under the covered walkway decorated with various carvings and soon arrived at Curry Village.
DSCF7346 Covered walkway in Cobham Court, Porirua
The restaurant offered $12 lunches:  your choice of curry, rice and a delicious puffy naan bread, (yum, I just love those naans), and a soft drink.  Very good value, I think.  The meal was delicious, and the restaurant nicely appointed. 
DSCF7343 Ready for our lunch
I noticed there were several framed embroideries hanging on the walls, and approached the desk to ask if I could take some photos.  Yes, certainly, was the surprised answer.  After wondering if they had perhaps been stitched by the owner, I was told that they had purchased to decorate the restaurant.  So they were not family heirlooms as I had thought.  Some were appliquéd and others were embroidered, and I think the owners were quite surprised by my interest.  Unfortunately the lighting was very subdued, so I had to use my flash.  The photos aren’t perfect, but you can get the idea of just how attractive these wall-hangings are.
DSCF7339 Hanging on the walls at Curry Village