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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Quilt Rack – Made with Love

With my large quilts are all packed away, my quilt rack is looking rather bare.  It is a beautiful piece of furniture, and was hand made for me some years ago, when my clever daughter Nicky attended night classes at Feilding High School.  As well as woodwork, she learnt about stained glass and made a wonderful lead-light panel for the front door of her house.  Sadly, the Government removed funding for adult education classes several years ago and local schools can no longer offer such courses.

DSCF3459 My hand made quilt rack

This nice sturdy rack has been smothered with quilts for so long that I had almost forgotten how lovely it is.  There is a heart shape cut into each end, and the timber is beautifully smooth.  The rack will be set up in my “sewing room” of our new home when we move in.  And this time, I resolve NOT to have all my quilts and UFOs piled on top.  Perhaps it will be better just to have a few on display at a time, and change the selection now and again?  That way, my beautiful quilt rack will also be able to be admired.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mournful Muffy

Poor Muffy is quite distressed with all this “getting ready to move” business that’s been going on.  Mum and Dad are rushing around, boxes are being filled, things are getting moved and there are a whole lot of things happening outside her comprehension.  The last straw, as far as Muffy was concerned, was when the bedroom furniture was taken away.  After all, that’s HER bed, don’t you know, and it’s just not there anymore!  We found her in the corner of the empty bedroom, looking quite mournful.  Her whole world has turned up-side-down and she just doesn’t know what to make of it all.

DSCF3452 Where’s my bed gone?

But don’t worry, we all have a bed to sleep in after all.  We are sleeping in the caravan (parked in front of the house) for the next week, till we move out of this house.  Muffy is quite content being in the caravan, and we are making sure she gets lots of cuddles and attention to see her through these trying times!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Whole Pile of Quilts

There was a whole pile of bed quilts ready and waiting to be packed away – goodness, have I really got that many?  They have all been folded over my quilt rack, one on top of the other.  I see there are several quilts featuring stars – no surprise really, as I’m rather fond of star quilts.  The easiest way to store them, I decided, is to roll them.

DSCF3439 Time to pack the quilts away.

Hidden away under the quilts were several that were not yet completed.  Both the Christmas Stars and the Maple Leaf quilt just need some more machine quilting to finish them.   I was working on both of these quilts five years ago when I received my cancer diagnosis, and had too much on my mind to worry about unfinished quilts, so they have been on the back burner all this time.  Perhaps when I am settled in my new sewing room I can make these two a priority?

DSCF3441-001 They just need a bit more machine quilting

Also tucked away I found two quilt tops, again not yet finished.  The burgundy quilt on the left has floral stitchery blocks and will be going in the caravan when it is completed.  And the scrap quilt (more stars) is a memory quilt from our UK trip.  I took a whole lots of half-square triangles away with me, and got them signed at attractions we visited, B & Bs, and on each and every train, boat and plane trips we took.  This particular quilt will be overflowing with memories.

DSCF3440 Hearts and Stars

Only a quilter can understand that we just can’t stop at one quilt, or even two or three.  I’m looking forward to spending time at the sewing machine when we are settled into our new home.  We will be quite busy over the next couple of months, I expect, so In the meantime, I’ll make do with some hand stitching.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pinestream Quilters November Club-night

This was another “final” for me, the final monthly club-night of the year and the final one I will attend  before moving house.  The tables were dressed with Christmas table clothes, and there was fruit juice for each table.  Members were asked to bring along a donation for the Food Bank, and a couple of boxes were soon filled up for those less fortunate.  And because it was our Christmas meeting, there were a double number of raffle prizes handed out.  Not at my table though, we may have had twice as many prizes, but not one of us were lucky to get our raffle numbers called out.

“Show and Tell” was interesting and varied, as usual.  There were bags, and quilts, including several lovely little ones made for the Neo Natal Unit at Hutt Hospital.  Two Christmas Angels made an appearance – these were years old and had been unfinished all that time.  Then the ladies concerned issued themselves a challenge to hurry up and complete them for the coming festive season.  I also noticed a black, white and lime green quilt recently finished for a 14 year old nephew.  His aunt told us that the teenager was still using a quilt she had made for him when he was 6 years old,  so she thought he really did deserve a more grown up quilt.

Over the last few months our members were issued with a Challenge for a charity Christmas gift.  They dipped into a bag and pulled out a slip of paper – this told which age group the gift was to be for, such as 3 year old girl, or teenage boy.  The purchased gift was to be $5-$10 value, and the challenge was to make a fabric bag, stocking, or package to pop the gift inside.  The creative juices must have been working overtime as there such a lot of lovely packages on display.

DSCF3420 Some of the Christmas Challenge items

“Viewers Choice” winner was Jenny H-A who made a rather splendid turkey to contain her gift.  The bags and gifts will be given to the Upper Hutt Leader Christmas appeal.

DSCF3419 Christmas Turkey at the back with skate board package in front

The Organising Committee from our recent exhibition had two announcements to make.  The raffle quilt on display at the exhibition raised $1400 for the Wellington Free Ambulance.  And after counting up the votes, the Viewers Choice at the exhibition was June’s lovely quilt, “Amazing Grace”.

DSCF2813Viewers Choice – Amazing Grace

The meeting concluded with a tasty supper, as usual, and I enjoyed my first slice of Christmas cake of the season.  After being a member of Pinestream Quilters for many years it will be sad to move on.  But new challenges await, and I hope to become a member of the Levin quilt club in the near future.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Corralling up the Wild-Life

There is a collection of critters living in various parts of the garden.  They needed to be gathered up, inspected, washed clean and put away.  The lizard, tuatara, cat, piggy and worm are all coming up to Levin with us.  They will have a stint in the lock-up unit with all our other boxes, and then we can liberate them in our new garden.

DSCF3418 Garden Art

All these critters are special, with the tuatara being purchased at a weekend market in Oamaru many years ago.  The cat and worm were hand painted in a class by Robin and myself , and the piggy was bought just because I liked the look of him.  Poor piggy is a little splattered with white and green paint from our house painting days, but he doesn’t seem to mind.  And the green mosaic lizard  was a hand made Christmas gift from my daughter a couple of years ago.  They all come with memories, so there was no way I would be leaving them behind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Will she make another?

After taking a trailer load of boxes to our lock-up unit at Levin today, we called around to our friend’s new home for lunch.  This is at the same village where we will be building shortly.

Dot made her first quilt several years ago and I helped her with the rotary cutting, although she was determined to do every stitch of the sewing.  This lovely quilt is now elegantly draped over the banister of the mezzanine floor of their new home.

DSCF3409 Dot with her first quilt

My challenge to Dot is – when will she start work on her second quilt?  I’m always happy to help with advice!

Monday, November 19, 2012

November Stitching Monday

Today was tinged with sadness, as it will probably be the last Stitching Monday I attend.  We move out of our current house in two weeks time, and I’m not quite sure at this stage if I will drive down from Levin to attend the December Stitching Monday. It was a lovely surprise to receive a “going away gift” from Heather, who had made me a needle holder.  “I’ll treasure it”, I told her, Heather is an award winning quilter, and such a lovely warm hearted lady, always willing to help with friendly advice. 
DSCF3397  A hug from Heather

The outside of the needle holder is made from a pretty purple “cotton reel” print.  It opens up to reveal named pockets made to slip your packets of needles into, made of wool felt.  The inside fabric is another sewing print, of rows of needles and hand quilting.  Thank you so much, Heather.

DSCF3399The inside of the needle holder

There were all sorts of projects being worked on today.  Heather was busy stitching more six pointed stars from her shirting fabrics.  And Gaye was doing a little upholstery work.  She had brought in some squabs and was covering them with a layer of batting, then they will be getting new covers.  That’s quite a challenge she’s set herself! 

DSCF3406 Gaye and Heather busy hand stitching

Margaret was quietly working away on her bright “Daizies” a Jan Mullen design.  She had already made quite a pile, but needed some more.  These blocks are really pretty with turquoise backgrounds and different coloured flowers.

DSCF3403Margaret stitching more Daizies

Another pretty quilt on show was Petronella’s, in shades of pink, purple and lime green.  It just needs the binding stitched down, then it will be gifted to a nursing friend, Petronella told me.

DSCF3405  For a lucky friend

Joyce is a dab hand at machine quilting, but is not too sure if hand quilting is her thing.  But she is persevering with hand quilting “Crop Circles”, her lovely quilt made with a nice variety of New Zealand prints.

DSCF3404 Joyce hand quilting Crop Circles

Pamela is getting ready for Christmas dinner, and is making a set of Kiwi Christmas place mats.  She is well on the way, all the parts of the little kiwis have been cut out and assembled, ready to be appliquéd in place.  This is a Susan Claire design from my book Country Christmas. 

DSCF3401   Six Christmas Kiwis

We were all rather taken with Pamela’s pretty flower brooch.  It’s very easy, we were told, it’s made from organza, and the snipped edges are burnt with a candle, which makes them fluff up.  That sounds like fun. 

DSCF3402Organza flower brooch

I was working on a “secret” stitchery which will be a gift, and finally finished the last little bit of stitching.   I’ll just show the sunflowers which I completed today.
DSCF3407 Part of my “secret” project

We had a bit of a treat today - I took along a chocolate cake to share at lunch time with everyone.  Would you believe I have been making this never fail recipe from my Edmonds Cookbook since my days as a young Mum, many years ago?

DSCF3400 Chocolate cake to share

Stitching Mondays and I go back a long way.   When I was working as a “temp” I often had (unpaid) time off during the month, and occasionally , but not often, this would coincide with the Stitching Monday.  I really wanted to attend each month, so I decided the only way this would happen was for me to take a day’s leave on the third Monday of each month.    My Team Leader once asked me why I always wanted this particular day of the month off. The cheek of it, what has that got to do with her, I thought!   It’s because I attend a Support Group,  I told her.  I could almost read her mind as she processed this little snippet, and could image her thinking, “I’ve always thought Jenny had a problem”. 

And it really has been a support group over the years, I’m going to miss the friendship and fellowship of all the ladies.   I just hope that I can find another like minded group to join when we move to Levin.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I wonder what’s hiding in the Sewing Cabinet?

Today I decided it was time to check just what was hiding in the drawers of my handy Horn sewing cabinet before it gets packed up tight and carted away.  Perhaps there will be things lurking in the drawers that I can dispose of, who knows.

I found quite an assortment of little bags in drawer number one, I didn’t know I had quite so many!  Some I’d made myself, (ones on the right in shades of pink and blue)  and the others were gifts.   These little bags are so handy to contain sewing bits and pieces.  Marking pens, pencils, chalks, packets of needles, I’ve even got a padded one especially to keep my super sharp pair of Friskar snips in.  These small scissors are just the thing to use for snipping shaggy quilts.

DSCF3390 Lots of handy little bags

What’s this I found in the next drawer?  A little container full sequins and beads – goodness knows what I have them for, I certainly don’t do beading!  Another of those flexible plastic bobbin holders, I’ve got one full up so this one will come in handy.  And two more little bags – you just can’t have too many of these.

DSCF3391 Beads and more bags

I’ve found interfacing, pins, four pairs of scissors, a container of buttons, bags of assorted ribbons, trims. cords and velcro, a ruler or two, and even a zip.  Some tracing paper I purchased for a class and never used, and lots of tatty things which ended up in the bin.  Oh yes, there’s the book I got when I purchased my Bernina 5 or so years ago, I probably should read it again someday. 

 The cabinet drawers have now been sorted, but…… what about this cotton reel mess?  Oh dear, I’d better deal with that next!  (Incidentally, I keep my most used cottons, such as black, grey, cream and white, in one of my handy little bags.  These are just the odds and ends.)

DSCF3392 That’s rather untidy

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Love a Man in Uniform

“What’s this?”, I wondered, as I parked the car outside Stonestead Tea House.  A bright red fire engine was just along the road.   I hoped that Kevin hadn’t had a fire in the kitchen as he cooked up a batch of scones for his Devonshire Teas.

DSCF3377 Fire engine at the ready

It wasn’t the Tea House on fire, but a car which had caught fire.  I don’t know the full story, but when I came along the firemen were busy peering underneath the car.  It looked like the fire had been extinguished by this stage, and the firemen were no doubt checking for any smoulders, or maybe leaking fuel lines.  An ambulance arrived shortly afterwards, so presumably one of the passengers was in need of medical attention.  What a fright it must be to have your car catch fire as you drive merrily along.

DSCF3376 Checking under the car

After all this excitement I left the men in uniform behind and joined the other members of the Stonestead Stitchers upstairs in the Tea House.  Everyone was quite busy with their various projects.  Therese had brought along an Advent Calendar quilt which she had just finished.

DSCF3378 Therese’s Advent quilt

There was a bit of a production line going on with this pattern, as Amanda had brought her sewing machine along and was busy finishing up  her version.  Amanda is a keen new quilter, with a couple of projects already completed so far.

DSCF3382 Amanda working on her Advent Calendar

I had taken a unwanted items along (after yet another tidy up) to see if any of the ladies were interested.  Ruth put her hand up for my little basket, and put it to use straight away, storing her embroidered Christmas decoration project inside. 

DSCF3379 Ruth and her Christmas decoration

Carol had just started stitching her cross stitch Poppy, a lovely little design from The Country Diary Cross Stitch book.   This lovely little book has lots of very pretty botanical designs.  And Liz was another who was also working diligently away, on her Indian Garden tapestry.

DSCF3385 Just started – Carol’s poppy

I just love Bridget’s pretty little stitcheries from Chickadee Hollow Designs.  These came pre-printed and colour shaded to add depth to the stitcheries.  She is contemplating how best to put them together, or perhaps just make them separate little hangings.

DSCF3380 Bridget’s stitcheries

Cheryl is always busy and had two things to show us.  She had completed her lovely Christmas stitchery wall hanging, complete with three different Santas.

DSCF3381 Cheryl’s Christmas wall hanging

Her other project took us by surprise – it looked a bit scary, rather like a version of ET.  I had a look at the pattern, and it will be a pretty doll called Amelia Pippin when completed.

DSCF3383 Amelia Pippin and her green legs

Yvonne, from the adjacent Sawmillers shop came upstairs to show us a lovely hexagon quilt, You can just see her fingers holding up the quilt top.  This design will be offered as a class in the New Year.  Whirligig blocks made from diamond pieces with a hexagon centre are appliquéd in the centre of each large hexagon.
DSCF3384  Yvonne holding a new class sample

And what about me?  I did a little stitching on a cushion cover, and all the ladies were very interested to hear about our impending move to Levin.  It was great to catch up with everyone again, then I had to hurry home as I had a very busy afternoon planned with yet more cleaning.   I’m well pleased with my afternoon’s work – I’ve cleaned out the cupboards under the bathroom vanity unit.  Lots of old medicines and such like got tossed in the bin, the remainder has been sorted and tidied, and the shelves have been washed clean.  That’s another job crossed off the long list.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Changing of the Quilts

Now the weather is warming up nicely, it was time to change the caravan quilt for a lighter weight one.  Off came my nice warm winter weight burgundy star quilt, “Romany Stars”, made especially for our caravan, and completed in 2004.  After being on our bed for a while, it was definitely in need of freshening up.  Not to mention Muffy leaving some white fur all over it.  Into the washing machine it went, on a nice gentle wool cycle, then I hung it out on the clothesline to dry in the sunshine and gentle breeze.  (I do wonder how people get on overseas, who do not have,  or are not permitted outside clotheslines, and put everything in the dryer.  Guess it’s something you grow up with).  To my mind, there is nothing nicer than a line of clothes drying outside in the sun.

DSCF3369Romany Stars, freshly washed

Onto the caravan bed went a lighter quilt for the summer season, my “Twin Fabric Sampler”, completed in 2005.  And hand quilted too!  That took me a while, I have to say.  Each block has different fabrics,  but the same two black prints are repeated throughout. 

DSCF3371 Twin Fabric Sampler

I’ve been busy cleaning too – just couldn’t put off tackling the pantry any longer.  Out into the bin went all sorts of items well past their use by date.  I found things I didn’t even know I had.  Everything in the pantry is sorted now, and the shelves and floor have been freshly washed.  (I’m ashamed to say it was in dire need of a good clean).  I’m looking forward to my new modern kitchen when we move, with nice “easy to clean” melteca cupboards, drawers and pantry.  I just won’t know myself, will I!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Found tucked away

The great tidy up, chuck out and pack up continues.  Who ever said moving house was stressful, wasn’t joking.  Still, we are trying hard to get it all done in the time allowed, so fingers crossed, we will get there.

We will have two months, more or else, living in our caravan while our new home is being  built.  After careful consideration, I have decided against taking my sewing machine, several projects, cutting board and rulers, and all the other necessary bits and pieces into the caravan.  We’ve worked it out, we will be parked up on our friends property for three weeks, then away on our Christmas/New Year break for the next two weeks.  Back at our friends place for the next couple of weeks, and then heading off with a group of fellow caravanners for our Safari road trip.  In between times we will no doubt be travelling back and forth to keep and eye on how our new home is coming along.  So there probably won’t be too much time to be sitting at my sewing machine.

I will be taking my hand stitching away, of course.  Plus some silk ribbon work, which I found tucked away in a basket last night.  Goodness knows when I started this, far back in the mists of time, I imagine.  It is now carefully put away with my other hand stitching, and I’m taking my knitting bag too.

DSCF3358Silk ribbon kowhai flowers found – and I didn’t even know it was missing

Another load of boxes and containers were transported to our lock-up today.  Included were my three handy zipped bags.  One contains Christmas fabric, another is full of conversation type prints, including the last of my New Zealand fabrics.  The last one is a project waiting to happen – all the bits and pieces for a crazy patch bed quilt, that I will get around to stitching “one day”.  There is nothing bright and garish in this bag, my crazy patch quilt will be made from lots of cream lace pieces, and some pretty pastel embroidered fabric. 

DSCF3357 Bags of fabric

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coffee Time

What a treat - we were taken to my favourite cafe, Fig Tree Cafe,  today.  Our real estate agent Sharlene found out from Robin which was my extra special all time favourite cafe, and invited us out for morning tea.  As a “thank you” for listing our house, which of course, has now sold.  The thanks went both ways.  We thought Sharlene had done such a great job, liaising with us, showing people around, and successfully concluding the sale.  So as a “thank you” to her, we presented this professional young lady with a bunch of flowers.

DSCF3314 Sharlene with her flowers

Although quite empty when we first arrived, the tables in this popular cafe soon filled up.  We sipped our lattes, enjoyed our cake and croissants, chatted about future plans, and generally spent a very pleasant hour together.  Thanks, Sharlene, for inviting us out for morning tea.  I couldn’t have chosen a better place myself!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us

It hardly seems that long, but we have just celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary.  We like to go out for a meal to celebrate, but being a Monday evening not every local restaurant is open.  But there was one a short drive away which services the adjacent motel units seven days a week, so that was our choice.  Graze Restaurant has been updated, renamed and redecorated several times over the years.  Currently it is a family type of restaurant, serving nothing too fancy, just hearty family type meals at reasonable prices.

Roast pork was on the menu, followed by apple crumble for him and a yummy boysenberry trifle for me.  Clinking glasses, we toasted each other, and asked the waitress to take a photo for us.

DSCF3308It’s our anniversary

Next year is a big one for us, 30 years!  There’s plans brewing for that anniversary, I’ve already warned Robin.  Just make sure our passports are valid, I’ve told him, and I’ll take care of all the arrangements.  Somewhere warm, sunny and overseas perhaps.  We will be celebrating that one in style!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Packing up, and taking down

Now, what shall I pack up today, I wondered.  (In all honesty, there’s so much to do I’m starting to get a bit frazzled.)  I know, I thought to myself, I’ll finish clearing out the drawers in the spare bedroom.  Tucked away in the last remaining drawer were my Christmas wall-hangings and a few assorted Christmas table runners.  I’d  forgotten just how many of these I had.  Some I’d stitched myself, and some were gifts from pen-friends.  Into the crate they went, one by one, allowing myself just a quick peek at each item.  Guess none of them will be hung up this Christmas season, they will all be in storage while we live in the caravan waiting for our new home to be built.

The crate was only half full, so I decided to take down the wall-hangings throughout the house as well.  Down came my “Washday” quilt from the laundry, and my New Zealand Native Birds from the hallway.  What else?  Oh yes, my High Tech Tucks way up high over the doorway, I’ll need to get the ladder to get that one down.

DSCF3303 High Tech Tucks, made in 1998

That’s the last of the wall hangings packed away, and one more crate ready to take to the lock-up for storage. 

DSCF3300 Wall hangings packed away

The builders haven’t even  started on our new home yet, so we will be living in the caravan for a few months, with everything else in storage.  Wonder how many crates I’ll need to pack the bed quilts away?  I’m not ready to do them just yet,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Not much time for Stitching

For all those people who have moved house recently, we now know how it feels.  Our house sale has just become unconditional, so now we can go forward with our plans.

DSCF3263 Our agent attaching the Sold sign

With five weeks to go, there is a lot more to happen before the actual move out day.  DH and I have been in this house for 29 years, so you can imagine what is hiding in wardrobes, cupboards and drawers, the garage and the shed.  All sorts of things, and a lot that we had forgotten all about.

We have had a garage sale, listed some things on Trade Me, and given a lot away.  “Dress for Success” is a charity which passes on corporate and office wear to women who do not have anything suitable to wear to a job interview.  They received several nice jackets and other items from my days of working in the big city.  The local OP Shop is continuing to receive bags of stuff on an ongoing basis as I continue to clear out cupboards.  I even found a home for some worn flannelette sheets.  Seems that the garage who services our cars buy used sheets from the OP shops, rip them up, and use them as rags to wipe their oily hands.  The mechanics have been happy to take several pair of of flannelette sheets off my hands – must admit that whenever I have replaced my winter sheets the old ones just got pushed right to the back of the linen cupboard.

So you can see why I haven’t had much time for stitching, although I did a little mending the other day, but that wasn’t very interesting.  What I did squeeze in though, is cook up another lot of kiwifruit jam.  (I couldn’t have left the fruit much longer, my big container of kiwifruit was extremely ripe.)  There’s something rather homely and therapeutic about making jam, (and making soup too, in the winter) that appeals to me.  And there is nothing nicer that admiring the jars of jam in the pantry which you have made yourself.