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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Haste, less speed

I really should know better.  I’ve been cooking up a batch of kiwifruit jam this morning, and I’ve made it many times before.  Into the preserving pan went the fruit, which is then squashed down with a potatoe masher.  But did I bother to read the recipe properly?  No, I thought I knew exactly what to do. In went the sugar, then the lemon juice, all carefully measured.  Then I re-read the recipe to see how long the mixture should bubble away for in the pan.

Ooops – I should have cooked the fruit before adding the sugar.  Oh dear, it’s too late now.  So I just stirred it all together and hoped for the best.  Luckily my jam turned out well.  It’s all bottled and labelled.  But the kitchen bench looks a bit like a bomb site.  Never mind, I’ve always said I’m a messy cook! That’s why I need to wear an apron.

DSCF2314 Kiwifruit jam

Sunday, July 29, 2012

D is for Dog

I’m running a little late with my A-Z block challenge this week.  What with being away in the caravan for a week, then staying glued to the TV watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, time has run away with me.

It probably is not much of a surprise that D is for Dog.  And what a cute little puppy it is too.

DSCF2054 D is for Dog

Just over 29% of households in New Zealand own a dog.  Medium and large breeds are most popular but there is a definite trend towards smaller breeds, and there are plenty of “designer dogs” around these days.

Although we are a cat household, I have been a dog owner in the past.  I had a cute little black and tan spaniel called Joey when I was  a young teen, and loved taking him out for walks.  Sadly, he ventured too close to the road one day and lost his life when he was struck by a car.  Then when I was a young Mum, I owned two pretty little Maltese, Bobo and Angie.  I used to drag my young family around to dog shows for a year or two until I decided it was wasn’t fun anymore.  Those were the days.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pinestream Quilters July Clubnight

There was a “rugby” theme at our meeting last night and our speaker Tina Downes spoke about “Insights into the history of the NZ Rugby Jersey”.  Most of us probably wondered what that would be all about.  Tina is a lecturer of Fashion Design at Massy University and told  how the Rugby Museum had asked if her team could replicate copies of early New Zealand All Black jerseys.  This challenging brief led to much research, and the jerseys chosen were from the 1884, 1905 and 1925 touring teams.  These early rugby jerseys were made from knitted wool fabric and surprisingly some early knitting machines were still available in a Manawatu factory.  Once set up with yarn after standing idle for many years the machines had no trouble in producing the woollen fabric, then the silver fern emblems were hand embroidered on the completed replica jerseys.  One of the replicas was passed around the hall for us to inspect.  Sadly not a single All Black could make our meeting – that would have been an eye opener for our bunch of quilters!

I was on hall duty holding up the quilts for “Show and Tell” and didn’t really expect many quilts to arrive, since our quilt exhibition is coming up fast.  I imagined that most would have their quilts hidden away till exhibition time.  However, there was a good selection, including several items from recent classes.  Penny had been rather busy and had brought several quilts along to show us.  Her wall hanging was as a result of a challenge with her stitching group to use a particular fabric, and this is what Penny came up with.

DSCF2295-001 Penny’s wall hanging

Penny also showed us a quilt she had made from some floral blocks she had won  from a “block of the month” draw, adding nine patch blocks to complete the quilt.  This is Penny’s first attempt at free motion machine quilting.

DSCF2298-001   Pretty floral quilt

This lovely quilt was made by Jeanette.  She took her blocks along to a quilt shop and the assistant suggested that she use this particular fabric for the background.  Although not a fabric that Jeanette would have originally considered, she was pleased with the choice and it certainly does go together very nicely.
DSCF2296-001 Jeanette’s quilt

Words, words, words - Margaret R is a teacher, and that is probably why she chose to use a selection of fabrics printed with text as the background of her quilt.  The simple design looks very effective and the text fabrics adds extra interest.
  DSCF2299-001 Margaret’s quilt

A lucky little boy named Charlie will be getting this bright quilt very soon.  You can’t see it as the quilt is folded over, but his name is appliquéd in large letters on the top of his quilt.  Lynley made this great train quilt which will surely be a huge hit with Charlie.

DSCF2301 Charlie’s very own train quilt

And last but not least is Heather’s Op Shop Shirt Challenge quilt number 12.  I asked her if she had used up all her op shop shirts yet, but no, she still has plenty of them left to work with.  The red centre squares of this log cabin quilt came from a blouse, not a shirt, but that’s close enough, isn’t it.

DSCF2300-001 Heather’s latest shirt quilt

Another interesting quilt club night, showing you just a selection of the show and tell.  We all found out things we didn’t know about early rugby jerseys.  There was great show and tell, as usual, and nice home baked goodies for supper.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Help with the Knitting

Muffy is quite relaxed with car travels these days, and doesn’t make a sound.  Not like the early days when she would look out the windows and cry because she couldn’t understand why all the sights were flashing quickly by.  More often than not, she passes the time in the car snoozing on my lap.  She is still safely attached to the seat belt so that she can not crash against the window if we have to stop suddenly.     I wondered if she would stay quiet if I got my knitting needles clacking?   It didn’t bother her in the least, so I could do a little knitting with her snuggled up on my lap. 

DSCF2260 Front seat passengers

We are on our way home (with the caravan) after three nights staying  in the Hawke’s Bay area to catch up with my sister and her family.  Unfortunately, it all didn’t go to plan.  Kathleen phoned up to advise us not to come visiting  as two family members were quite unwell and she didn’t know if it was anything contagious.  Then sadly her husband was taken to hospital in the middle of the night, and finally admitted to a ward after several hours.  He will be there for a few more days, I understand.  I am pleased that we managed to spend a little time  together, with all this going on.

 DSCF2257 My sister Kathleen.  Do we look alike?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New home for Music Quilt

Some years ago I made “There's Music in the Stars” for my son’s 40th birthday.  My son’s line of work was writing about hi-fi and music so I made him a quilt with a musical theme.  With stars in graduated orange and yellow, and alternative blocks made from a black and white musical print, it was quite a graphic quilt, I thought.  I took  the quilt to be commercially quilted, and it was very nicely done  with musical notes quilted in the stars and borders.  Michael never used the quilt and when he shifted house he told me he didn’t want it.  Having visions of the quilt ending up in the tip, I asked him to send it home to me. 

DSCF2502The quilt sent back to me

The quilt spent the next couple of years folded up out of sight on my quilt rack while I pondered what to do with it.  I didn’t want to use it myself as the colours didn’t really suit our bedroom.  Perhaps I would offer it to my 17 great nephew?  Young lads usually like music and  anything black, I reasoned.  We travelled up to Hastings to catch up with this side of the family.  Success – yes he likes it!  This one is certainly more grown up than the train quilt I made him some years ago.

DSCF2253 Adam with his new quilt

Planning ahead, I had brought up the makings for a new label, which I quickly finished off and stitched beside the original one.  There, that keeps the quilt history intact.

DSCF2254 This is a “two label” quilt

That’s a worry off my mind – I didn’t want to sell the quilt so I am really pleased it now has a new home.  Even better that it is with a family member.

DSCF2503   “There's music in the stars”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hidden Treasures in Otaki

I was on a bit of a hunt in Otaki to track down Sanders Ties.  “It’s around here somewhere”, I told Robin, by the Post office”.  No it wasn’t, so as Robin grumbled about not knowing where I was going I checked the instructions sent to me by Leeann of Whangarei.  “There it is, across the road from the Library”.  The colourful sign on the footpath declared that the Factory Shop was open.  I was after some silk off-cuts, and came away with a big bag full of luscious silk pieces for only $5.  What I’ll do with them, I’ve got no idea at this stage, but at that price it would have been criminal not to buy a bag.  That’s my story, anyway!

DSCF2198 Lots of lovely silk off-cuts
DSCF2179 Inside the tie factory

Then we spotted a lovely old church across the road that certainly needed a second look.  Now known as “Keepers”, the former Methodist Church which was built way back in 1891 was moved a short distance to the present position at 19 Aotaki Street, Levin.  Inside was an amazing  treasure trove of goodies.  Proprietors Kathy and Terry warmly welcomed us inside to have a look around, and we discovered we have a friend in common.
DSCF2191Keepers, the 1891 former church

There was such a lot of lovely things to look at.  Terry does wood work and the warm hues of his hand made pieces certainly invite inspection.
DSCF2183 Hand crafted wooden items made by Terry

Kathy’s selection of jams, jellies, sauces, chutneys and relish were inviting displayed.  She also makes shortbread, cakes and fudge.  Now, what shall I take home with me?  A jar of this, and a jar of that, and perhaps one of those as well – it all looks so yummy.

DSCF2182 All sorts of tasty goodies

But it was all the beautiful  craft items that really took my fancy.  Knitted items, soft toys, cushions, and all these lovely aprons.  I’m definitely an apron wearer, I need to be as I’m rather a messy cook, I’m sad to say.  Is that a quilt tucked behind?

DSCF2185Lots of aprons on display
DSCF2186Quilt for sale

As well as offering quilts for sale, Kathy also collects old quilts to keep.  This lovely old vintage unfinished piece of a hexagon quilt still has the backing papers inside.  The patches have been roughly zig-zagged together by machine, and Kathy has plans to unpick the machining and remake it by hand.

DSCF2189 Vintage hexagons

The beautiful old Cathedral Window quilt must be Kathy’s pride and joy, I think, and certainly looks at home in the old church setting.  She purchased this quilt quite some time ago, and has loved it ever since.  Made by Rosalie Gwilliam of Wanganui in 1981, the label states the quilt took over 500 hours to complete.

DSCF2187   Hand made Cathedral Window quilt

I really enjoyed having a look around both of these establishments on our visit to Otaki.  It just goes to show that there are all sorts of hidden treasures in small towns just waiting to be discovered.  If you are passing by, they are well worth checking out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

C is for Cat

Living in a home ruled by a cat,  what else could I possibly choose for the letter C?  This pretty fluff-ball of a cat cat came from leftover black and white fabric I used for a quilt backing some time ago.

DSCF2053 C is for cat

I also used a piece of the cat fabric to make a “pet grooming” bag for Muffy.  This contains her comb, harness and lead.  This handy little bag gets packed away in the caravan when Muffy comes away with us for a caravan weekend (or longer trips).

DSCF1495 Muffy’s pet grooming bag

Kiwis have a very high involvement with pets, and our pet ownership statistics are one of the highest in the world.  Over 48% of households own at least one cat and 20% own two or more, making it the highest cat ownership rate in the world. That is more than a million cats!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July Stitching Monday

It must have been the wet weather which kept the numbers small at our monthly Stitching Monday yesterday.  But then again, it could well be that our quilt club had organised a whole weekend of quilting classes – perhaps some of the ladies were all quilted out!  Never mind, the old faithfuls were there to keep each other company. 

My sewing machine was whirring away as I worked on more of my paper pieced log cabin blocks.  This is quite a slow process with stitching a log, then jumping up to my cutting board to trim the excess, then on to the ironing board to press the block.  But I stitch six blocks at at a time so the numbers of finished blocks soon adds up.

DSCF2164 My paper pieced log cabin blocks

Everyone else was doing hand work.  Maureen was finishing off the last of her place mats which will be offered for sale at the upcoming craft fair.  Joyce was keeping her company as she was  busy hand quilting her Crop Circles quilt, made from lots of New Zealand fabrics.

DSCF2161 Joyce and Maureen working side by side

Karen and Brenda had recently attended an abstract  workshop with well known tutor Claire Smith, with the students choosing their own design.  Karen spent some time cutting and sticking her fabric on to the background.  The pieces are then heavily machine quilted with different threads.  Brenda had brought along her finished piece for show and tell.

DSCF2162 Preparing her art piece
 DSCF2163 Brenda’s finished sample

Margaret loves vintage linens and has quite a collection of old embroidered doilies.  She was hand stitching her latest batch of “doily dollies”  and they are coming together very nicely.  They are so pretty with colour coordinated buttons for their hair and it is a lovely way to make use of old doilies.

DSCF2160 Margaret sewing her doily dollies
DSCF2167 Blue doily dolly

I was rather taken with Margaret’s blue and white hexagon bag.  This is a Bronwyn Hayes design and features Bronwyn’s trademark stitchery designs.  Margaret had dug into her collection of vintage buttons to add to the bag. 

DSCF2165 .Margaret’s blue stitchery bag

The numbers may have been small, but we all worked happily away on our projects during our stitching day, sharing good company.  That is, after we got the lighting sorted.  It was so dim inside the hall on our arrival that we really wondered how we would see to do our stitching.  In came the electrician who went up to the light dimmer switch and turned the big knob right around.  Thank heavens, the hall was bathed in bright light.  And we didn’t even know there was a dimmer switch hiding on the wall!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A nice compliment

It’s nice to get compliments, isn’t it?  I was out and about this morning after buying some fabric for a new (secret) project and was waiting for Robin to come back to collect me.  As I waited on the footpath another quilter (whom I hadn’t met before) was making her way inside.  We both reflected that having a sale brings stitchers out of the woodwork to pick up a bargain or two.  Like me, she has heaps of UFOs too, but sometimes you just feel like starting something new, don’t you.  As she turned to go, she commented, “I do like your bag”.

DSCF2150 My shaggy denim bag

The bag in question was my shaggy denim bag, made especially for our UK trip several years ago, as I didn’t want to take my handbag with me.  Stitched into the inside seams were straps with D rings, and I clipped my wallet and camera onto these for safety.  With a button and tab closure, and a handy shoulder strap, my denim bag was sturdy and invaluable during our 3 month overseas holiday.  It travelled with me on 8 flights, 4 shuttle rides and local taxis in Singapore, London and New York.  It accompanied me during the 1780 miles we travelled in a rental car in UK, and on our canal boat holiday as we slowly glided towards the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales.  The bag was firmly on my shoulder during our 5 day bus tour to Niagara Falls, sightseeing boat trips, and cable car rides.  It was a well travelled bag indeed, and so very useful.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stonestead Show and Tell

It was a fine but cool day yesterday when I made the short journey up to join the other Stonestead Stitchers yesterday.  Some customers were  enjoying their tea and scones “al fresco” in the wintery sunshine.  We hold our stitching get-togethers upstairs behind the windows which look over the courtyard in the cooler months, and in the summer we enjoy sitting outside in the extensive gardens under the sun umbrellas.

DSCF2137 Stonestead Tea House

The ladies had been very busy as there was a whole lot of show and tell to enjoy.  Dorothy was pinning up a table runner she had stitched in shades of purple, ready for machine quilting.  This will be a Golden Wedding gift, and the background fabric with gold printing goes very nicely with this theme.
DSCF2142 Table runner for a Golden Wedding gift
DSCF2141 Close up of fabric selection

Rosemary’s ruffle scarf created lots of interest.  It was a wee bit tricky to knit, she said, but now she can’t wait to start another one.  It certainly looks interesting, and I’m wondering if I could manage to knit one.  I’m sure my grand-daughters would love one of these, I must find out what other colours the yarn comes in.

DSCF2140 Rosemary and her ruffle scarf

Another interesting item of apparel was the fascinator made by Vicki Ann.  This dainty little head-dress would look just the thing worn at a wedding or a day at the races.  Made with hand fashioned fabric blooms, a whisper of lace and a feather or two, it is very pretty.

DSCF2146 Fascinator made by Vicki Ann

Then the quilts came out of the bags.  Liz has finished her Christmas quilt in plenty of time for the big day and features both appliqué and piecing.  I just love Christmas quilts, and this one in country colours is wonderful.

DSCF2144 Christmas quilt made by Liz

Purple and green was the colour choice of Mary’s grand-daughter, and this is a stunning quilt with the wide polka dot border.  Mary’s grand-daughter will be sure to love it.

DSCF2143 Mary’s quilt for her grand-daughter

Another quilt for a young lady was held up for us all to see.  Bridget made her “stack and whack” heart quilt in pinks and blacks for her fourteen year old niece.  This quilt also featured a polka dot border.  Mmmm, I just love that pattern.

DSCF2145 Heart quilt made for Bridgett’s niece

Cheryl was whirring away on her sewing machine for a while, then did some more work on her Christmas stitchery.  This is just one of three designs on the panel, so there is quite a bit of stitching to go yet.

DSCF2147 Cheryl’s Christmas stitchery

I meanwhile was stitching a hanging sleeve on a small quilt.  No photos of this yet, as it will be shown in my quilt club’s upcoming exhibition to be held in September.  I’m pleased I’ve got my entry finished in good time so I won’t need to be rushing around at the last minute.  It was another very enjoyable get together with the ladies at Stonestead, they are a very talented bunch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

B is for Butterfly

This week’s block is B for butterfly.  Goodness knows how long ago I purchased the butterfly fat quarter – it already had a few butterflies cut out of it, used for a block swap sometime back in the dim distant past, I think.  The butterflies look nice and bright, and I’ve added hand stitched antennae to them.  It makes one think of Spring, doesn’t it, with the butterflies fluttering by.

DSCF2136 B is for Butterfly

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I feel like Knitting

Guess it’s a combination of sitting in the passenger seat of the car lately for hours on end over the last few days, and the winter weather, but I really feel like getting the knitting needles out.  I rather like knitting in the car.  Especially as I’m not now required to do any navigating.  I have been replaced with one of these new fangled Sat Navs, purchased recently on our South Island Odyssey trip.  Ours is a Garmin, and it calls out loudly when Robin deviates from the straight and narrow.  “Recalculating, recalculating”, the voice calls out, then tells us to “Do a U turn”.  Robin declares that his Garmin is the “best thing since sliced bread”, and my answer to that is “what’s wrong with looking at the map?” So you can tell which of us gets on well with new technology.

DSCF9527 Robin’s new toy

Now, what about that knitting project?  I pulled out the box of knitting wool hidden away in the wardrobe of the spare bedroom.  Then had a rummage through my old knitting patterns.  That one will do, it’s a little toddlers jumper that I remember knitting umpteen years ago when my son Michael was a youngster.  According to my calculations, I should have enough dark blue wool to complete it.

DSCF2128 I’m all set to start knitting

Tucked away in my box of wool is enough yarn to make three adult’s jerseys, the pretty blue mohair will be knitted up for me, someday.  I’m quite a slow knitter, so I guess I won’t need to buy any more yarn for quite some time.  But first, I really must finish sewing up a child’s hooded jumper I started last year out of my left over wool.  Then I can put it away in my “Baby Box” ready for a  new arrival sometime in the future.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rummaging in the box

Do you have a box (or bag) like this?  Mine is full of little bits and pieces of fabric, and left over strips from bindings.  I was looking for a little piece of a particular fabric, and sure enough, there it was, just what I had been looking for.  I am slowly writing up my quilt journal of all the projects I have made and like to add a piece of each fabric as I go.  Usually, I have kept photos and swatches, but not this time.  Thank goodness I found what I was looking for.

DSCF2068 My box of small scraps

I don’t usually keep such small pieces of fabric but hidden away in the box is an old copy of a Traditional Quiltworks magazine from long ago.  The idea was that “one day”   I just might get around to making this quilt out all all my little scraps.  Who knows?  Perhaps I will, or perhaps I won’t.  But the magazine will stay where it is, just in case I get inspired.  And I know where to go and rummage around for that piece of missing fabric.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A is for Antelope

Here it is, the first block done for my A-Z Challenge Animal Quilt.  I’m using a white cotton with a small white spots (hard to see, I know) for the background fabric, and the die cut alphabet letters were purchased from Susan Claire some time ago.  Animals starting with the letter A proved a little sparse, I could only come up with aardvark, anteater and antelope – there could well be more, I’m sure.  The plan was to find one of these animals printed on fabric.  Luckily there seems to be a wealth of African safari cotton prints in the quilt shops, so A for antelope, it is.  That’s one down, 25 to go!

DSCF2051 A is for Antelope

Is anyone else interested in joining in with their own challenge?  There are lots of possibilities – you don’t have to make something each week.  Let me know what your idea is. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

A – Z Challenge

Some months ago I read about an A-Z Challenge happening on several caravan blogs, and the idea has been simmering away in my mind.  So I have decided that this could well be the boost I need and I am having my own little challenge - all by myself.  It’s time to get started on my A-Z animal quilt, after collecting a whole lot of animal fabrics, and the plan is to stitch one block a week.  And talk about it when it is done, of course.

DSCF1986 All ready for my A-Z challenge

Does anyone else care to join me in their own challenge?  The original idea had people writing blog posts and I certainly could see that happening with someone clever writing about quilting tips and techniques, such as A is for Appliqué, B is for Binding.  Or maybe someone has always wanted to do an appliqué flower quilt, wouldn’t that be pretty with A for Anemone finishing with Z for Zinnia.  Or do a whole heap of pieced blocks, from Aunt Addie’s Album to Yankee Puzzle – sadly no block starting with Z in my book, but there is sure to be one somewhere.  Do let me know what you think, otherwise I am quite happy to potter about in my own little challenge.

Do check back later to see what animal will be on my first block.  I may well need a little cyber space help as time goes on, as I do not have an appropriate animal for every letter of the alphabet yet.  Some letters are proving rather difficult.  But it should be fun, and after all, what’s one more UFO to a dedicated quilter?