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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Friday Night is UFO Night

I’ve just attended my first Friday UFO night with my new quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  These are run on the last Friday of each month. Suits me during winter, as I can escape the incessant hours of rugby shown on TV, and Robin is happy watching his favourite sport. 

I arrived at the hall about 7.00pm.  Members can bring along a plate of food for the shared meal, but I ate at home.  But everything looked so tasty that I will probably join in with the meal next time.  Sandra had brought along some home made soup for everyone, and invited me to try some.  It was delicious, chock full of veggies, just the way I like it.

Unpicking was my “to do” plan for the evening.  I was not at all pleased with my free motion machine quilting efforts using coloured variegated thread, so I am unpicking all my hard work.  The test bit I have done using cream thread looks so much better, so all the coloured stuff has to come out. 

There were about 15 ladies in the hall, working on all sorts of projects.  Two were stitching down a quilt binding, one of the lasts jobs to do before a quilt is finished.  A couple were tracing patterns, knitting needles were clicking, and Vickie was working on her needle-turn appliqué.   I’m looking forward to seeing the end results of the shiny vinyl jacket which was being cut up and made into a purse, it looked really intriguing.

Of course, in between unpicking, I had to walk around and check out some stunning quilts.  Kaye wanted some advice on the best way to finish off her pretty pink and purple fairy quilt, and there were several people to help her.  This will be going to Kaye’s great-niece when finished.

DSCF5789 Kaye’s fairy quilt

Sandra was busy stitching borders on to her intricate foundation pieced quilt.  There is no doubt about it – this is the way to keep all those narrow points nice and sharp.  I was amazed when Sandra told me that she likes to stitch the arcs onto the foundations by hand!  I don’t think I would have the patience to do that.

DSCF5786  Sandra’s foundation pieced quilt top

I love quilts with a New Zealand flavour, and Nan was stitching a really beautiful version for her son’s birthday.  She had done a marvellous job with the needle turned native bird blocks, and has added some embroidery as well.  The background fabric is just perfect with the New Zealand theme.  What a wonderful birthday gift this will be.

DSCF5787 Nan’s New Zealand birds quilt

During the evening we had a raffle with a difference.  Our club President Leigh was over-run with free range organic eggs from her very industrious hens.  We put our names forward, at no cost, to be in with a chance to win a dozen eggs - I told Leigh I would gladly pay $2 or so for a ticket, but she was just happy for her eggs to go to one of the members.  Sadly, I didn’t get to take those eggs home, Kathy was the lucky winner.

We were treated to some special “Show and Tell”.  Kathy was asked to bring along some of her unique wool bags which she fashions from recycled woollen blankets.  Each bag is different, they can be embellished with embroidery, couching, fabric, or braid, whatever Kathy feels like doing.  Each bag is beautifully lined and has a long shoulder strap.  Check out Freedomart  here.

DSCF5790Lovely woollen shoulder bags

It was a very pleasant evening spent stitching, or in my case, unpicking, all together with club members.  You can be sure I’ll be there again, I’ve already made a note on the calendar for the last Friday of the month to remind myself.  Next time I’ll get there in time for the shared meal, I think.  Robin will be quite happy buying himself some take-aways for a change.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“Bless my Knees” birthday cushion

My friend Merilyn is an old friend from way back – we met at primary school as youngsters a life time ago.  Even though she moved to Dunedin, in the lower South Island, many years ago, we still keep in touch.  When we meet up, or talk on the telephone, it is just like we have only been in touch the day before.  We are lucky to find true friends like this who care for each other through thick and thin.

DSCF5496Birthday cushion

Merilyn was turning 68 and loves gardening.  (Not me – it doesn’t appeal at all).  I had been busy doing the stitchery off and on to make her cushion for ages, and luckily completed the project in time for her birthday.  The pattern is “Bless my Knees”, designed by Mulberry Street, USA.  I used No 5 Perle cotton for the stitchery, and added highlights with fabric pens. The body of the cushion is a pale green cotton fabric.  It fits in well with the decor, I was told, and has pride of place on one of the couches.
DSCF3407 Sunflowers in the garden

Last time we were chatting on the phone, believe it or not, we both said the same thing.  It doesn’t matter how many birthdays roll around,  we both feel 16 on the inside!  The outside, however, is quite a different matter – who is that grey haired lady in the mirror, I often think.  Oh dear, I think it’s me!  But never mind, we keep busy, have interests that get us out and about, our health is good, so life is not too bad at all.  Who cares about that funny old lady in the mirror!

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Sunday spent Quilting

What a lovely way to spend a Sunday.  My quilt club had organised a UFO Day, so I was very keen to join in.  But what to take?  I’m sorry to admit that I have an unmentionable number of UFOs packed away.  When we packed up and moved house, all my quilting things were packed into plastic crates, and they are still there, all these months later.  I opened up one of these crates and found my burgundy and cream paper pieced log cabin blocks.  I had  already made a whole lot of blocks, but I still needed more.  So this is what I sewed on Sunday.  It is quite a slow process:  stitch a log, trim the excess, walk to the ironing board, then press.  But I sewed a set of eight at a time, so at the end of the day, I was pleased with what I had achieved.  And sewing on the tissue foundations keeps the blocks square.

DSCF5753 Sewing more log cabin blocks

I had the company of about 18 or so ladies in the hall.  Some came early, and stayed all day, while others popped in later for an hour or so.  I noticed some mending being done, hand work, and plenty of machines whirring away.  I stopped to admire a lovely Christmas runner which one of the ladies was working on.  Like most quilters, I love Christmas things.  We all brought along something for the shared lunch, and as usual for these sort of outings, there was food galore.  With a spread like this, there was no chance that we would go hungry.

DSCF5748 Our tasty shared lunch

In between my stitching, I checked out what was happening on the other tables.  Moira had a nice selection of Sashiko stitching she had recently done, and plans to turn these into table mats.

DSCF5744  Sashiko stitcheries by Moira

Sitting next to Moira was Rae, who was busy beading.  She was making a lovely elephant using silk tie pieces in mainly reds and greens.  Before the elephant is assembled any further, he needs to be embellished with beads, braids and fancy stitches.  You can just see his pair of rather handsome beaded paisley ears at the top of the photo.

DSCF5745  Rae’s beaded elephant pieces 

Another exotic project was Yvonne’s Japanese Doll sampler quilt.  She was machine button holing around each doll, and it is going to look fabulous when it is completed.

DSCF5752 Japanese Doll blocks

Vickie was another who was also doing some button hole machine stitching.  She was making the most impressive border strips, full of swirls and points. 

DSCF5747 Vickie’s border strips

“Just using up my scraps”, said Jill, when she held up her beautifully shaded random scrap quilt, stitched in a crazy patch style.  The quilt just glowed with colour, all set off nicely with the black lattice strips.  She was busy hand quilting during the afternoon.  

DSCF5750  Jill’s quilt of many colours

Another lovely quilt was Debbie’s autumn toned hexagon quilt.  I really admire people who work with hexagons – all that cutting, tacking the papers on, then stitching together by hand.  Not for me, I don’t think, but I can certainly appreciate all the hours which go into these works of art.

DSCF5749 Debbie’s hexagon quilt

Sarah had her quilt laid out on the table when I arrived, while she contemplated just how to machine quilt it.  Decision made, she got to work on her purple hued quilt..

DSCF5746 Sarah machine quilting

I had a lovely day, as I’m sure all the other ladies did.  It was nice to meet up with some more club members too.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Scatterday - B

Oops, think I missed the previous scatterday, but I’m here to do homage to the letter “B”.  The categories are:  library, smell, equipment, blog.

Library:  book bag.  I love libraries, and when we moved house a few months ago, one of the first things I did was to sign up with the local library.  They run a monthly book club, so I joined that too.  The monthly categories take us out of our comfort zones, to read a book that we probably would never consider.  (I love serial killers, thrillers, authors like Lee Child, anything about the Tudors, historical novels, and whatever else takes my fancy).  My book bag gets taken along on my regular visits to the library.   It started off as a plain black library bag, with a logo front and back, purchased for $2, and I’m rather pleased with the make-over.

DSCF7519  My personalised library book bag

Smell:  boronia.  Boronia comes in many varieties and colours, but the unassuming  brown boronia is my favourite, with it’s delightful scent.   Boronias are Australian natives (I didn’t realise that before)  and have a profusion of flowers in the spring.  I love this little bush, so I’ll need to purchase one to plant in our new garden.

Brown boronia

Equipment:  Bernina.  My Bernina Aurora 440 Quilter’s Edition is a very special piece of equipment indeed.  Quilters like us use our sewing machines very regularly, and we grow very attached to them.  After sewing for many years in a corner of the dining room, my Bernina now has it’s own little room in our new house.  Aren’t I lucky!

DSCF4832 My Bernina machine at home

Blog:  That’s why we are here, of course, writing our blogs. Our household has two – my quilt blog, and our caravan/travel blog, so that keeps me busy.  I can always find something to write about.  And it goes without saying that I love to read other blogs too.  For any new readers, the links are: 

Quilt blog: www.romanyquilting.blogspot.com     

The “Romany” in our blog names refers to the fact that I can boast a Romany Gypsy way back in my family. My Great, great, great Grandfather Robert Beresford was a gypsy. I can just imagine this dark handsome stranger sweeping my G,G,G, Grandmother off her feet. This must be why we have a caravan and why I love travelling!!

DSCF5742 Blog writer at work

Friday, June 21, 2013

I don’t like it, so it’s got to go

I’ve got a big job in front of me, I’m sorry to say.  Unpicking a whole lot of machine quilting.  THe quilt is about half quilted by now.  I don’t like the way it looks, and I’m sure that if I keep going, I’ll hate it even more.  So I’ve started unpicking all my hard work.

The problem is, I’ve been using a variegated thread in Christmas colours of red, green and cream in the alternate pieced blocks.  The colours show up every swirl and loop which isn’t as nice and smooth as it should be, jumps out and hits me in the eye.  I’ve done a trial block using cream thread and the quilting blends in without being so intrusive.  So that’s what I’m going to do – unpick all the coloured thread and re-quilt using cream thread.  I’ll be much happier with the final result, I’m sure.  Wish me luck on my epic job!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Through the Kitchen Window

The rain has been coming down, down, down overnight,  and the view through the kitchen window looks like a swimming pool.  A very shallow pool, I admit, but full to the brim with water, never-the-less.  We had some workmen in yesterday as we are having some concrete laid in the back yard.  They dug, and dug, and put all the soil in a big heap.  Then the area was smoothed out, and some boxing put in place.  When the concrete is laid, this will be our summer BBQ area.  But today, it looks like a swimming pool!

DSCF5724 Anyone for a dip?

On a rainy day like this the sewing room beckons.  I’m doing some free motion machine quilting on a large quilt.  I’m no expert, by any means, but I do my best.  This quilt had been put away for some time, with some of the straight line quilting already done.  (I’ll tell you the story some other time.)  So now I’m adding some loops and swirls to finish it off.  My quilting isn’t always as smooth and rounded as I would like, but I’m doing the best I can.  I’ll never win any prizes for my quilts, but finished is better than perfect, I say.

DSCF5728 I’ve been machine quilting today

Monday, June 17, 2013

A (small) finish

It’s always nice to have a finish, no matter how small, and I’m quite pleased with how this has turned out.  Our new (larger) coffee table needed a table runner. The double wedding ring runner used on our former coffee table was so small on the larger sized table, it looked ridiculous!  So I got to work and cut out all the pieces for a new one, using my very handy book called “Around the Block”, by Judy Hopkins, which shows how to make 200 rotary cut blocks in six sizes.

The saw tooth stars were made from some of the extra curtain fabric, using a cream patterned fabric for the background, and plain green for the borders.  After a small glitch  with my cutting out, it all went together easily.  I’ve just finished stitching the binding down – there, all done.

DSCF5707 Coffee table runner

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Keep me away from Glue Guns

I just can’t be trusted with those hot glue guns, and that is why I got rid of my little cheapie one some years ago.  But a glue gun was required the other day at Krazy Cow stitchers group to finish my block roll project.  Our tutor Luchelle kindly brought her one in from home for me to use.  But….. you can imagine what happened.  I had to cover the heavy cardboard roll with fabric.  The first few dabs of hot glue were put on, and I had to smooth the fabric down over the roll and hold it in place.  My gluing had been too generous and drops were everywhere, and it stuck to my fingers.  Oh, those little dabs of glue were smoking hot, and I ended up with a big blister on my finger!  Luchelle took over the job, and it was all done correctly in no time at all.  No burnt fingers for her.

DSCF5686 Block Roll

My block roll started life as a “quilting” tea towel, sent to me by my UK pen-friend a while ago. I backed it with calico, added a light wadding, and stipple quilted the layers together.  Then I added the red binding and ties – and as mentioned earlier, I sadly failed the hot glue gun part of the job.  The tea towel certainly tells a story.

DSCF5694 Quilters Quips
Quilting and patchwork are fun to do
Use up your scraps or buy stuff that’s new
In goes the needle, then pull through the thread
Loads of bright colours, blue, gold and red
Techniques and traditions, from home and abroad
Enjoy your designs, and you’ll never be bored
Rustic or modern, you must have a go
Select your own templates, and start to sew

Quick as a flash, you’ll piece and you’ll patch
Unique masterpieces, you’ll very soon hatch
Ideas and designs of star, chain or plate
Pinwheels and triangles, they’ll grow at a rate
Start sewing today, you’ll find it’s just great
By Marjorie Carrier - 1996

I’ll be using my nice new block roll to keep my stitchery blocks tidy and flat, and I can carry them safely to stitching days.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Krazy Cow Stitchers

We had another good morning at Krazy Cow quilt shop yesterday.  That was, till I glanced out the window and saw the rain coming down hard.  Oh no, I had just hung a big load of washing out on the clothes line before I left home, and now it was out in the rain!  So what was everyone doing?

The “other” Jenny was there, working on her original elephant quilt.  For a first time quilter, she is doing really well.  It was time to sew the borders on.  No, teacher Luchelle told her, we don’t just sew a long strip on and chop off the ends,  we measure!  A new quilter wouldn’t necessarily know that unless told, but Jenny took it all in her stride.

DSCF5687 Jenny sewing on her borders

Glenys wanted to make a block roll, but first had to practise some free motion quilting.  Practise drawing it first, Luchelle advised, so that your hand and brain work together at the machine.  That’s really good advice.  Then with the feed-dogs dropped, and the darning foot on, away she went, free motion quilting her three layers together.

DSCF5688 Glenys machine quilting

With her table runner all done and dusted, Ann went back to work on her cot quilt.  Teacher Luchelle had taken it home and free motioned quilted it for her, so that was a bonus.  Ann machine stitched the binding on, then just needed to hand stitch it down at the back.  She is very proud of her mitred corners, she told me, a technique she has just learnt.  Don’t forget to add the label, I reminded her.  This is such a pretty little quilt, in blue and lemon.

DSCF5684Ann’s cot quilt, almost finished

Luchelle brought along two of her projects to show us.  A friend asked her to make a quilt using her baby’s pyjamas and stretch-and grows.  Not nice fabric to work with at all, we were told.  The end result used a selection of other fabrics, and embroidered pieces of the stretchy stuff appliquéd on.  Hasn’t it turned out great!

DSCF5682 Cot quilt using baby’s pyjamas

We all loved Molly with her knitted red wool hair.  Luchelle is making this for her grand-daughter’s birthday, and just needs to finish off the face.  The little pink pinafore has butterflies, snails and wiggly worms appliquéd on it.

DSCF5683 Molly the rag doll

And what was I doing all morning?  Wounded in action, but that’s another story.  There was a nice surprise waiting for me when I arrived home for lunch.  Robin had rescued the washing from the rain, and pegged it all up on the clothes horse.  What a good fellow!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Town and Country Quilters June Club-night

It gets dark early these days, with the shortest day of the year coming up fast.  So it was pitch black when I drove myself along to the Town and Country Quilters meeting.  33 pincushions were entered in the pin cushion swap, most participants made one, although some happy stitchers made two and even three to swap.  The pincushions were all numbered, and the members came up one by one as their name was called, when they put their hand into a bucket and pulled out the number of their prize.  There were some great entries, a couple of tea cup ladies, several chickens, a few mice, and even a giraffe.  Some were pieced, some embroidered, beaded and embellished.  Everyone did a great job on these little works of art.

DSCF5674-001 Lots of lovely pin cushions

“Show and Tell” is always inspiring, and we were in awe of Kay’s lovely quilt, which took her 4 plus years to complete.  And no wonder – this quilt was made with 10,000 one and a half inch squares, assembled into blocks of 100.  She was trying to use up her scraps, she said, but of course that never happens, does it.

DSCF5681 Ten thousand tiny squares in this quilt

Then we saw a jeans quilt with a difference.  Who would have known that jeans are available in such glowing colours?  Virginia’s quilt glowed with colour, red, green, yellow, and some denim blue too, and was fun to make, she said.  Jeans pockets and labels add extra interest.

DSCF5678 Bright denim quilt

Another bright quilt was shown, this one by Helen was made in brights, with black and white.  The coloured border sets it off nicely too.

DSCF5680 Helen’s colourful quilt

Small and perfect describes Paula’s incredible skill with her sewing machine.  She attended a workshop which showed how to appliqué a tray cloth or doily onto background fabric, then add embellishments.  This small piece has been beaded, and beautifully machine quilted.  It is a bit hard to see in the photo, but take my word for it, this is stunning.
DSCF5679 Paula’s appliquéd and quilted tray cloth

Our guest speaker for the evening was Kathy, a member who has spent five years living full time in a bus, while travelling around our beautiful country.  She brought along some of her early quilts to show us, then some of the things she had made by travelling around the country.  I particularly liked her Memory Quilt, with each block representing sights and places of interest discovered during her travels.

DSCF5676-001 Kathy’s memory quilt

Her lovely crazy quilt was made to while away the long winter evenings.  It was stunning, perhaps I’ll get motivated to do of these one day.  She also showed us some smaller pieces she had stitched, each and every one a special memory of her trip.

DSCF5677 Crazy patch quilt in foreground

Kathy had recently had a trip to India, and had lots of interesting textiles to show us.  Sari lengths, scarves, a glowing orange bed cover, and even a skirt embellished with those little mirror pieces, we admired them all.  Textiles can be purchased quite cheaply, by our standards, so it would be hard to know when to stop buying, I expect.  Perhaps when the suitcase won’t close any more.  She has plenty of fabric to work with for years to come, she commented.

Club President Leigh made an interesting observation during our meeting.  She had recently been to a stitching day and was looking forward to working on some of her older UFOs.  But, she commented, during the time they have been packed away, waiting to be pulled out and worked on, she decided that she just didn’t like a couple of them anymore.  Her message was – don’t put your time and energy into working on a quilt that you really don’t like any more.  Better to give it away, donate it, sell it, whatever, and channel your energy into a project that you love.  Wise words indeed – perhaps I’ll have to look through my stack of UFOs with a critical eye.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why I’ll never be a famous quilter

Isn’t there a saying that applies to quilters such as, “Measure twice, cut once”?  I didn’t do that today, so that is why I will never be a prize winning quilter, I expect.  But never mind, we do this for fun, don’t we?

I’m making a table runner for our new coffee table.  My first hurdle of the day was trying to find my very handy book called “Around the Block”, by Judy Hopkins, which shows how to make 200 rotary cut blocks in six sizes.  But my book wasn’t where I expected it to be, so I had to do a bit of searching.  There it was, tucked away in a corner of the bookshelf, I’m so pleased I found it at last.  I had some extra curtain fabric which I wanted to use, and found a couple of extra pieces which I thought would work well.  The chest freezer in the internal garage is just the right height for me to use as a cutting table, and there is room for the ironing board close by, so I was all set to go.

DSCF5643 All ready to start

Being predictable, I chose the saw-tooth star block for my table runner.  I cut and sliced, pinned and stitched, and finished up with a bunch of these. 

DSCF5644 Star points made

But……. when I came to stitch these pieces on to the centre square of the star, I discovered I’d made a cutting mistake.  The green centre squares were cut five and a half inches, and the star points were five inches.  What to do?  Easy, I’ll just trim the centre squares down to fit, that should do it.  Just as well I’m only making a few stars for a runner, and not for a large quilt, as all the measurements would be way out!

DSCF5646 Three star blocks done

Now I’ll just have to stitch them together and add a border.  But I think I’ll leave that for another day.  I’ve made a good start, and  I’m happy with my progress so far.  I’ll stop now before I make any more mistakes, I think.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Where’s my lemon zester?

I’ve been looking for my lemon zester for ages.  Looked in the cutlery drawer, and in the one underneath, where all the other kitchen bits and pieces are kept.  I even checked the caravan utensil drawer, just in case I had taken it away on a trip sometime.  But no – it was nowhere to be found.  But then, when I was looking in the cutlery drawer for something else, I spotted it.  So what I want to know is – who had it, and when was it returned? 

I finally got to use my lemon zester yesterday, on a lemon or two.  It’s such a handy little item, I don’t know how I have lived without one for so many years.  I’d seen them used on a TV cooking programme, and my daughter Nicky said they were really great.  If I didn’t know what to get her for Christmas,  could she have one of these, please.  No problem, I bought two, one for her, and one for me. 

DSCF5611 My long lost lemon zester

Caravan club friend Barbara had given me a big bag of feijoas.  They don’t last very long before they start going soft and squishy, so I cooked up a batch of feijoa jam.  The recipe calls for the rind and juice of a couple of lemons, so I was really pleased to finally meet up with my lemon zester again.  Not sure what I did to the jam this time, but it didn’t set properly.  Into the pan it went again for a second boil, and the results were much better this time.  Thanks for the fruit Barbara, one of these jars is for you.

DSCF5615 Feijoa jam

While cleaning up after my jam making operation, and putting things away in the kitchen cupboards, Muffy couldn’t help herself and jumped in to have a look.  Oh look, there goes her tail.

DSCF5618 Is that a tail I see in the cupboard?

No, nothing much of interest to a discerning cat, so she carefully turned around and wended her way out again.

DSCF5619I’m coming out now

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times she has explored the same cupboard, any opening always gets her interest.  We are pleased that she is feeling brighter, as she had a trip to the vet after having a funny turn a week or so ago.  She seems much better but needs a return trip to the vet shortly for another blood test to compare the two results. Fingers crossed – and I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Krazy Cow Stitchers

It was back with Krazy Cow Stitchers today, after missing a week while on yet another caravan trip.  This trip, we stopped off at Ekatahuna, of all places – just because it was there!

My sewing project today looked like this.  It’s cream, and burgundy, and isn’t quite finished yet, so that’s all that can be shown.  But it is coming along nicely, and hopefully it will be completed next week when I attend the group.

DSCF5602 Wonder what this is?

The other Jenny is still working away on her elephant quilt, and has done most of the machine appliqué now, and has framed it with a nice striped fabric.  Today she was making blue and green blocks with red centres to add as the second border.
DSCF5603 There's an elephant in there somewhere

Glennis and Suzie were two friendly ladies whom I hadn’t met before.  They were both making a sampler quilt, and today they were working on a paper pieced log cabin block each.

DSCF5604  Suzie happily ironing her strips

DSCF5605Glennis’s paper pieced block

Ann had almost finished her beautiful batik table runner, and was stitching down the binding.  This beauty is a birthday gift for her daughter, and the teals, oranges and dark blues  look wonderful together. 

DSCF5608  Ann with her table runner

With all of us doing different projects, Luchelle was running from one to the other.  But she took it all in her stride, and showed us her pretty hand embroidered blocks she works on when time allows.  A new creation was her Kaffe Fasset quilt top in a large tumbler patter, full of colour and flowers.  Ooops, I forgot to take a photo of that.

DSCF5606 Luchelle’s pretty pastel blocks

In between making coffees and serving customers, Trish was busy at her long arm machine, working on another customer’s quilt.  This one was a Mariner’s Compass in blues and reds.

DSCF5607 Trish working her quilting magic

A lovely morning, once again, and many thanks to Luchelle for her helpful advice.  Special thanks to the other Jenny too, for bringing in some home baking to share with us.