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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh Goodie - I’m a Give-away Winner!

It’s always exciting to enter a blog give-away, and even more exciting to be told that you are the winner! I entered one of the three “Sew Easy” blog giveaway’s on the lovely Maryanne’s blog www.sentfrommyiron.blogspot.co.nz.  Do check it out, Maryanne and Mr C are owners of the Wellington craft shop “Made on Marion”, (formerly Goldings.)

The give-away was a surprise, so I had no idea what was coming.  So what did I get?  A lovely parcel containing some Perle No 5 threads in pretty colours, (just the sort I use) a packet of needles, and, just for fun, four colourful, chickens!  (I think they may well get added to a kitchen inspired wall hanging sometime).  Thanks so much, Maryanne, I really appreciate your gift. 

DSCF4630 My give-away gift

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A little Stitching and a lot of Reading

I’ve still had time to do a little stitching, even though we have been rushing between Otaki and Levin for weeks now, checking up on our house building, and making all sorts of arrangements.  I’m working away on a (free download) Red Brolly stitchery design and it’s coming along slowly.  Mind you, with all this hot weather lately, I don’t always feel like doing much stitching in these warm temperatures.

DSCF4533 Red Brolly design

I always have a book in my hands, no matter the weather.  As a new member of the rather grand, brand new Levin library, I’ve been there several times to check out some reading matter.  I’ve just finished reading one of Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts novels.  Most of the series I’d read previously, but found  “The Wedding Quilt” tucked away on the shelves.    Each chapter traces the history of individual characters of Elm Creek, but the actual wedding quilt doesn’t make an appearance till the final chapter.  A good easy read, and makes a change from the “serial killer” type of books I usually devour late into the night.

DSCF4618 The Wedding Quilt book, by Jennifer Chiaverini, sitting on my caravan quilt

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happiness is Clean Laundry

It doesn’t take much to make a committed “washer woman” like me happy – my new laundry tub is now installed.  When we called around to the new house today, there it was, all shiny and new, fitted into place in the back corner of the garage.  (There is no separate laundry room in our new house).

DSCF4607 New laundry tub installed

When we finally move in, (it’s getting closer all the time), the washing machine will get hooked up beside the new tub.  My trusty washing machine has been languishing in the storage unit these last few months, so it is time it got to work again.  And with a clothesline installed in the back yard, I won’t know myself.  I bet it won’t be too long before I get that first load of washing done and hung out to dry.   As I’ve said before, happiness is clean laundry.  PS:  Just so you don’t get the wrong impression, I’m not so fanatical about housework!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It’s Curtains time – or “How to Frustrate the Husband”.

Our new home is coming along extremely well, and now the internal painting had been finished we had the curtain lady around to give us a quote.  What with a whole house lot of sheers (nets),  drapes, a blind or two, plus all the curtain tracks, it won’t be cheap.  But I’d said all along that  I won’t be stitching all these curtains myself – what a big job that would be.

I can remember my curtain sewing marathon of many years ago, when we moved into our first house over the hill in Wainuiomata.  This suburb was known as “Nappy Valley” as it had affordable housing for young families.  We had two young children aged about two and three at the time, and I was working fulltime.  My busy evenings went like this:  arrive home from work via train and then a bus ride and collect the children from day care.  Walk them home in the double push chair, and cook the family meal, keeping hubby’s meal aside to heat up later while he worked his second job.  Bath the children, read them a story and put them to bed.  Put a load of washing on.  Then sit at the sewing machine and yet another set of lined drapes.  Heat up hubby’s meal when he finally arrived home.  Collapse into bed late at night, and do it all again the next day - those were the days! 

Looking at the curtain samples drove Robin to distraction.    I knew what I didn’t want, nothing bright, no florals or anything too garish.  But I wasn’t quite sure what I did want.  We had a sample of our new carpet available and various curtain lengths were laid across to see what took my fancy.  Robin couldn’t understand why I didn’t take the first sample which looked kind of OK.  But that’s not the way it works, is it?  Curtain samples came out, I looked at them, some were dismissed outright, and some were put in a pile to reconsider when I had viewed even more samples. 

Choosing a roller blind for both the kitchen and bathroom windows was easy.  Then after a lot of looking, considering, and checking colours I finally made my choice on the lounge/dining room curtains.  Then the bedroom curtains were chosen.  Done at last, and Robin heaved a sigh of relief.  “What took you so long?”, he wanted to know.  Men just don’t understand these things, do they?  (What did I chose?  You will just have to wait and see!)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Memories are made of this…..

While packing up our house prior to moving out one of the jobs I did was sort through my plastic crate of knitting wool.  I found a couple of unopened packs of knitting wool – kept those for future projects, of course.  Odd and partial balls of wool went to the op shop, as did a whole swag of knitting patterns.  I came across four balls of navy double knitting, just enough to make a little toddler sized jumper, I thought.  The little jumper is now finished, stitched up, buttons for the neck purchased and sewn on.  I don’t do a whole lot of knitting these days, but it  doesn’t look too bad at all.

DSCF4506 Knitting project – finished!

Knitting this little jumper really brought back memories.  I remember knitting this same pattern in light blue for my little toddler Michael many years ago.  My little boy is now – gulp – 48!  The pattern is Patons 1845, and is knitted in double knit wool. 

With my two grand-daughters now aged 23 and 18, I’m planning ahead for the time I’m a Great-Nana.  There are already several items tucked away in a box, some bibs, a knitted baby blanket, another little jumper, and a cot quilt.  The grand-daughters aren’t at all impressed with my forward planning, and just roll their eyes at me and say, “Oh, Nana!” in an exasperated tone of voice.  But I’m still waiting patiently, the great-grandbabies will come in their own good time, I’m sure. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Scatterday - T

Brought to you by  the letter “T”, and the categories are:  Tasty, Tiny, Terrifying, and Threads.

Tasty:  Tomatoes.  What can be more tasty than lovely red tomatoes growing on the vine, and they have that lovely fresh tomatoe smell.  I found these growing in our hosts garden.

DSCF4397Tasty fresh tomatoes on the vine

Tiny: Temptation Cat Treats for Tiger.  Tiger is one of the two resident cats belonging to our hosts Geoff and Eileen.  The ritual each day is to feed the cats a few tiny Temptation treats each day.  Tiger had eaten her allocation and decided that there were plenty left in the packet!

DSCF4405 Tiger eating tiny treats

Terrifying: Tsunami.  Living as we do in the island nation of New Zealand, the thoughts of a huge tsunami is truly terrifying.  The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 lead to the deaths of over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, with waves up to 30 meters (98 ft) high.   It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.  Then in March 2011 an earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako, and travelled up to 10km inland in some areas.  Adding to Japan’s problems were the meltdowns in the nuclear power plant. 
Picture of a tsunami flooding a road after the Japan earthquake


Threads:  I like to do stitcheries using the thicker Perle No 5 threads – those stranded cottons are not for me and big big fat fingers.  My thread collection used to look like this, all jumbled up and rather messy. 

DSCF6530Not tidy at all
Liz from the Stonestead Stitchers suggested that I plait the threads to keep them tidier.  Once home,    “Robin”, I asked, “will you help me with some plaiting?”  “Plaiting?  I can’t do plaiting”, he said.  “I just want you to hold these for me”, I reassured him.  “Okay then,” he said with a sigh of relief, “I can do holding”.

DSCF6531Robin practising his holding

So with his help, we sat there for half an hour, bringing order to the chaos.  He was holding, and I was plaiting.  I reminisced how I used to plait my daughter’s long blond hair when she was a little girl.  Finally the last colour was done.   Now I won’t feel ashamed next time I get my threads out in company!  And it is definitely easier to pull one thread out at a time.  Thanks for your tip, Liz.
.DSCF6532Is this tidier?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day (or Eggs, Undies and Ice-cream)

No red roses, diamonds, chocolates or even cards changed hands in our household, or should I say, our caravan, today.  But the morning got off to a good start as Robin cooked up some scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast.  Made with free range eggs with the addition of a good slurp of cream, they were deliciously creamy and  tasty. 

A trip to the Otaki Outlet shops mid morning led me to Bendons.  I was after some knickers, and whoopee, they had the sort I always buy on sale.  I commented to the sales lady that I should really be checking out the bras on sale, but it was just too hard to rush around finding what fits.  No problem – the nice young lady measured me, suggested a particular brand which would suit me best, found one in the correct size, and left me to try it on. It fitted well, and at 30% discount, I bought three.  Bras and knickers  are not in the same league as a negligee or camisole on Valentine’s Day, but they suit me fine!

DSCF4526 A bag full of new undies

In the afternoon we walked down the road to “Koro Ice”, a local company on SH1 who make the most delicious ice-cream on the premises.  They also specialise in real fruit ice-cream and gelato.  We sat and enjoyed our full to overflowing waffle cones – in my case it was a race against time to get it finished before it all melted and ran down my hand.  I asked one of the other customers if she would mind taking our photo “for Valentine’s Day”.  Wonder what she thought of a couple of oldies like us having a Valentine’s Day ice-cream together?

DSCF4521 Enjoying our ice-creams

We’ll finish the day going out for an evening meal somewhere.  Not quite sure where yet, we will drive up town to see what is open.  I do hope you having a great day, whether you are sharing it with a partner, family or friends, or maybe you have spent the day stitching your current masterpiece.  As long as everyone gets the chance to do what they really enjoy, we should all be having a great Valentine’s Day.

Mind you - my day wasn’t completely without drama though, you can read all about it here, if you would like a laugh. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Finding my way around the new Library

Do all quilters love books too, or is it just me?  I’ve been issued with my brand new library card for the striking new Levin library and called in today to make my first selection.  I’m still finding my way around the shelves, and this is what I’m taking back to the caravan with me.


I chose a nice new C J Box book – just love to read about the character Joe Pickett and his life as a game warden in the wilderness of Wyoming.  Eliza’s Gift, by Rachel Herron was on a display table with all sorts of romantic books especially for Valentine’s Day.  Not my usual “serial killer” type of novel that I read, but nice and light-hearted, and truthfully, I’ve read about 100 pages already this afternoon!  Then I found an Elm Creek Quilts novel which I hadn’t yet discovered, so that came back with me too.  Then friendly librarian showed me how to zap my books out at the self service desk, so I’m all set.  There’s nothing like a pile of good books to read, is there?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stonestead 5th Annual Out Door Quilt Festival

The sun was shining, the quilts were wafting in the breeze, and happy quilters were everywhere.  My friend Kathryn had come to look at the quilts with me and Robin dropped us off while he went to find somewhere to park the car.  Robin and I had recently moved out of the area but maybe I would meet up with some former Pinestream Quilters, I hoped.

DSCF4462 Some of the quilts on display

The happy smiling faces of fellow quilters Beverley and Bridget greeted us and handed out the catalogues.  And look, they are busy stitching away too.  The quilt show was free but a gold coin collection was being made on behalf of Te Omanga Hospice.

DSCF4460 Beverley and Bridget

Catalogues in hand, Kathryn and I wandered along the rows and admired the quilts.  With 60+ on display, I couldn’t photograph them all, but here are some of my favourites.  “Emanon” is a Stained Glass Stack and Whack design, and was made by my former “Stitching Monday” member, Joyce.  And the edge of that lovely Drunkard’s Path just showing in the photo was also made by Joyce.  That one is a Friendship Quilt and I, together with members of the Friday Stitchers, made some of the blocks for Joyce.

DSCF4441 Stained Glass Stack and Whack quilt by Joyce

This was rather nice - “Lilies in Retreat” was made from an Adrienne Walker kit, a gift from Jill’s husband, and made at a quilting retreat.  I particularly liked the assortment of black fabrics used in the background, so much more interesting that just using one solid black, as I would probably have done.

DSCF4447Lilies in Retreat, made by Jill

We hadn’t gone very far along the lines of quilts when a lady approached me.  “Are you Jenny?”, she asked.  It’s a long story, but Felicity who comes from Norsewood, and her friend Marie who lives in Ashburton belong to the Kiwi Quilter Internet group, as I do.  Last year I had mentioned on KQ list that we were having a caravan holiday touring around the South Island for 3 months, and Marie kindly invited us to her home for a meal.  Since then both Marie and Felicity have been reading my quilt blog.  Thanks so much Felicity for making yourself known to me, and thanks again to Marie for a wonderful evening.  All this goes to show how sharing and caring quilters are!

DSCF4448It was lovely to meet you, Felicity

Very graphic and stylish, “Not a Traditional Double Wedding Ring” was a wedding quilt for Yvonne’s daughter.

DSCF4453 Wedding quilt made for Yvonne’s daughter

Quilt novel author Jennifer Chiaverini of Elm Creek fame designed the pattern for “Silvia’s Bridal Sampler”.  (Yes, I’m a fan of her books too).  This lovely quilt was made by Jenny H.
DSCF4454Silvia’s Bridal Sampler stitched by Jenny H

Made in soft colours with lots of trademark Bronwyn Hayes stitcheries, this pretty quilt “Quilting Friendship” was made  by Janet
DSCF4465 Janet’s Quilting Friendship

It’s highly unlikely that I will ever make a hexagon quilt, but I was in awe if all the work which went into making “Hexagons for Sue and Kevin”.  “That’s all done by hand”, I told Kathryn, “all hand pieced and hand quilted”.  Made with 15,343 hexies, it really is a labour of love.

DSCF4467 Hexagon quilt lovingly stitched by Sue

The hot sun was taking it’s toll, so we wandered over to the adjacent Stonestead Tea Rooms to find Robin chatting with a group of caravan friends from the Wainuiomata Caravan Club.  They were having a weekend rally close by and popped in to view the quilt show.  We happily took over their table with the shady sun umbrella as they got up to leave.  Now, how about a nice Devonshire Tea – or coffee, in our case?

DSCF4459 Kathryn and Robin ready to eat their scones

It was a lovely morning spent admiring all the quilts.  With all my quilting stuff packed away with the furniture in the lock-up unit while our new home is being built, I have been certainly been suffering from withdrawal symptoms.  It was great to chat with local quilters, and a special “hello” to fellow bloggers June, Jenny H and Julz.  And congratulations to Yvonne from Sawmillers and all the helpers for organizing such a wonderful quilty day.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Almost finished

While we are living in the caravan, awaiting the build of our new home, I haven’t had access to my sewing machine for such a long time.  But I haven’t been completely idle,  I’ve been getting on with my knitting from time to time.  Although I’m not a fast knitter, by any means, it’s good to have a little something on the go for when I’m feeling in the mood.  So I’m pleased that my current knitting project is “almost finished”. 

DSCF4418 Little toddler’s jumper

I’m just knitting the last few rows on the collar, then it’s done.  Just as well, as that’s the last of my wool.  Then of course I’ve got the job of  stitching it up,  and sewing a few buttons on the neck opening band.

Our new home is “almost finished” too.  We have been up country on holiday in our caravan for a couple of weeks so haven’t been able to check up on progress till just recently.   The inside plastering has just been finished, and the painters are due in early next week.  There’s about 3-4 weeks still to go, we understand.

DSCF4390 It’s almost finished too

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Best Dressed Caravan

And the award for the “Best Dressed Caravan” goes to…….

Geoff and Eileen’s caravan decorated with several of these very appropriate cushions!  Aren’t they great!  They were gifts from their daughter Helen, and look so nice on the caravan settee.

DSCF4338 Caravan cushions

And as a little extra, Helen found a length of bunting that matched the cushions, and duly presented this to her parents for Christmas.

DSCF3948 Bunting to match the cushions

Geoff and Eileen, together with their caravan cushions, were part of our group of caravan buddies who joined us as we travelled around the lower North Island on our recent Caravan Safari Tour.  We visited all sorts of interesting places, and stayed at, amongst other places,  a beach, a golf club, a farm, behind the National Army Museum, and a Domain overlooking a cemetery.  All good fun.  Do check out our caravan adventures (if you would like to see what we got up to) on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Herb Farm

While camping at the very pretty Ashhurst Domain for a couple of days, we visited the nearby Herb Farm.   Started by Lynn Kirkland 20 years ago,  the bare paddocks have been developed into the wonderful herb garden it is today.  The company manufactures 100% natural skincare and healthcare products which are sold throughout New Zealand.  My daughter Nicky works here and just loves her job with the Herb Farm.  After  working in various areas of the business including accounts and  labelling she now heads the manufacturing department.

DSCF4374 Herb Farm gardens

Nicky took time from her busy day and joined us and our caravan friends for lunch at the Herb Farm Cafe.  I bravely decided to try something new and tried Eggs Benedict for the very first time.  Very tasty, but oh, so rich!  A song thrush kept us entertained as he hopped around from chair to chair looking for titbits. 

DSCF4372 Song thrush inside the cafe

The ladies in our group took time to look around the adjacent shop and try some of the tester pots. I just love the smell of lavender and came away with a couple of lavender products – I’ll be trying a little lavender spray on my pillow tonight to see if it lulls me into sweet scented sleep!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Housework – caravan style

Housework doesn’t take too long when you are travelling around in a caravan.  Once the bed is made, and the dishes are done, you are almost  there.  The bathroom got a quick going over.  No laundry today (I did it yesterday)  but just look at that floor!  There is dried grass tracked in from outside, and bits of fluff all over the floor.  Luckily we are on a power site yesterday at the Rangiwahia Domain (that’s a bonus in the middle of nowhere)  so out came the vacuum cleaner from under the bed.  Let’s do it early, we decided, before the day gets too hot - Robin helped too.  There, all done!

Muffy needs a bit of a comb through, she is really feeling the heat with all that hair.  She loves to get groomed, and lies completely at ease as I have her lying on her back,  head down and legs in the air.  Then she gets put on one side, then on the other.  As I’m busy combing her coat, she helps by licking any bits that she can reach.

DSCF4336 Combing Muffy

There now, the caravan is tidy – till we bring some more bits of grass in from outside.  Muffy has been groomed and will be feeling a little cooler now some of her loose hair has been combed out.  And we have been staying at a lovely peaceful bit of rural paradise.  All’s well in our world!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Junk and Disorderly

That's what the sign on the letter box said, in the middle of rural Rangiwahia.  We were on a caravan safari with our group of friends and stayed for a couple of nights at the Rangiwahia Domain.


Jim and Bridgette teach school classes on wearable art and recycled art workshops, and how to make giant puppets using willow grown on the property and covered in paper.   Their emphasis is on recycling, the environment and having fun.  They kindly gave us a tour through their  workshop at the Old Dairy Factory, which is a treasure trove of puppets hanging from the ceiling, materials ready to be made into something wonderful, and lengths of willow to be woven into the skeleton of the next puppet creation.

DSCF4356 Giant puppets and recyclables ready to be used

Bridgette showed me a huge hand bag made from strips of plastic knitted together.  This was worn as an entry in WOW one year, and certainly shows what can be achieved using recycled materials.

DSCF4363 World of Wearable Art entry

This outfit was made by a Feilding High School pupil and came complete with moulded leg and arm pieces, plus a hat.  The fabrics were lengths of curtain samples acquired from a local shop.  This is another example that the materials for art works do not have to be new and expensive, in fact, anything goes.

DSCF4364Wearable art made by high school pupil

Thanks very much to Jim and Bridgette for showing us around, and explaining what they do.  They are full of enthusiasm for their work,  and have taught creative art to children in many countries overseas.  When  it was time for them to return back to New Zealand they did it in style in their beautifully painted Daf truck, showing the route they took.  It  was a pleasure to meet this enthusiastic and talented couple.

DSCF4357 Map showing the long way home

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Queen’s Scarf and the Amazons

Our caravan safari was planned to include a visit to the National Army War  Museum in Waiouru.  I’m always on the lookout for interesting “women’s” type exhibitions to report on and came across these two which were quite new to me.

“The Queen’s Scarf” on display was one of eight woollen scarves personally hand knitted by Queen Victoria.    Four went to Imperial troops, and four to Colonial, one each going to soldiers from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.   These were awarded for an act of bravery during the Anglo-Boer War, and came with a gold star and clasp, ordered by King Edward 7th. Trooper Henry Coutts of the 1st New Zealand Contingent was one of the lucky eight soldiers chosen.  He presented his scarf to the New Zealand Government in 1913, and it was displayed in the General Assembly Library before being presented to  the Army Museum. 
  DSCF4320 Scarf knitted by Queen Victoria
During WW1 women joined both the Khaki Girls Brigade and the Women’s Volunteer Corps and both groups were known colloquially as Amazons, dressing in full military uniforms.  They were fully behind the war effort and demanded donations in the streets, often stopping cyclists and horse traffic to get money.  They also sought donations of horses, saddles and bridles and knitted items to send overseas to the troops.  The Amazons organised patriotic processions and meetings with bands playing.  Halls were embellished with flags, banners and bunting, and donors were given token patriotic ribbons and medalettes.  This fund raising work proved popular with women as it provided an opportunity to get involved with the war effort and was a release from tedious social etiquette of the time.  I must admit I had never heard of this energetic group of women and was very interested to read of their endeavours.

DSCF4318 An Amazon requesting donations

Our caravan safari is now into it’s last few days, and we have travelled far and wide and been to some very interesting stopovers.  You can check up on our adventures on our travel blog at www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com