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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shades of Green

I’m working away on my new coffee table runner, which utilises some of the left over curtain fabric.  It’s all layered and safety pinned up, and I’m doing stitch in the ditch machine quilting along the strips.  But what to do in the middle square – that is the question?  Perhaps I’ll stitch around the leaf motives, what do you clever quilters think?  I’m attending the quilt club UFO night on Friday, so I’m hoping the binding will be on so I can hand stitch it down. 
P8210040 Coffee table runner

There is a different (paler) shade of green in the bedroom, and I am really pleased with the latest addition.  Using one of our old former dining chairs, I carefully chose the one in the best condition, and I had to purchase an extra length of the bedroom curtain fabric, we took it down to the local upholsterer.  He did a really good job of recovering the chair, added some extra padding, replaced the webbing, and voila, a pretty matching chair for the corner of the bedroom.  Just the thing to sit on while putting footwear on.  And no, it’s not there to put your clothes on, I told Robin, put them away or put them in the wash.  But does he listen?

 P8150003 The new bedroom chair

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Surrounded with Daffodils

Daffodil Day is almost here and the ladies attending the Levin Cancer Society Coffee Club this morning were only too happy to lend a hand.  Local landowners donate their spring blooms, which are gathered by volunteers.  Our job today, after our usual very filling morning tea, was to prepare the daffodils for sale,  outside at  the back of the building.  There tables had been set up with all the necessary equipment, such as rubber gloves, scissors and a huge packet  of rubber bands. 

P8270005 Daffodils aplenty

Our job was to put the daffodils in bunches of 10, trim the ends, and secure with rubber bands.  We had quite a production line going, but I did wonder if we would ever finish, as bucket after bucket of daffodils kept appearing.

P8270003 I’m in there somewhere, amongst all the ladies

I’m pleased that I had thought to bring an apron with me, as we all got wet down our fronts.  Everyone worked really well, with a couple of the volunteers keeping an eye on things, lifting down the filled buckets from the tables and replacing them with more loose blooms.  We didn't mind helping al all, as all of us at the Coffee Club have been touched by cancer.

Daffodil Day is the Cancer Society's annual flagship event and one of the most important fundraising and awareness campaigns in the country. The daffodil is one of the first flowers of spring, and is synonymous with the Cancer Society.  The flowers represents  hope for the 1 in 3 New Zealanders affected by cancer.  Donations received go towards vital scientific research into the causes and treatment of all types of cancer, as well as providing a wide range of support services, information, health promotion and education programmes.  The Cancer Society do a wonderful job of supporting those affected by this terrible disease, after diagnosis, and both during and after treatment. 

Some of the blooms with bent stalks were trimmed right back and the helpers were invited to take a bunch or two of these shorter blooms home.  Mine are adding a splash of colour as they sit on the bathroom windowsill.

P8270007 Daffodils – the sign of Spring

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spinners and Weavers at the Wool Shed

Packing up the caravan, we headed off to the Wairarapa for the weekend.  As usual, I packed my knitting, and my hand stitching, just in case I had some spare time.  But no handcrafts were done all weekend, although I spent quite some time with my nose stuck in my very interesting library book – I could hardly bear to put it down, wondering “who done it?”. 

We visited  the “Wool Shed” museum in Masterton, which is housed in in two relocated pioneer wool sheds and tells of sheep farming in New Zealand. The first sheep flocks were brought over from Sydney. Australia, and driven around the rugged coast from Wellington to the Wairarapa coast, and currently there are about 35 million sheep in New Zealand.  We were given a sheep shearing demonstration, with the shearer deftly removing two fleeces with seemingly little effort at all.  It must take a lot of skill and years of practice to make it seem so easy, I think

P8250050 The fleece is almost off

The local Spinners and Weavers group meet regularly at the museum and the ladies were only too happy to show us what they were doing.  They all stated that spinning is a very soothing pastime, and they really enjoy their craft.

P8250082 Showing us how to spin
A couple of  looms were set up around the museum, and one had a notice stating: “Project in progress, do not touch”.  This smaller one  invited visitors to “Have a Go!”. 

P8250070 Have a go at weaving

P8250112 Woven scarves on display

Remember those woollen cloaks from the Lord of the Rings films?  The Wool Shed museum has one on display.  The special fabric used to make the Magic Elven cloaks was woven locally in New Zealand by Stansborough Fibres. They grow their own unique naturally grey wool at their farm just north of Wellington. These rare and unusual grey Stansborough Gotland sheep, are the only flock of their kind in the world and produce fibre which is strong, soft and lustrous.

P8250068 Elven cloak on display

Barry with Greybeard, one of the Gotland sheep

So if you want to know all there is about sheep, shearing and wool fleeces, this is the place to go.  We found it very interesting indeed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Eagles – flying high

Tucked away in my sewing room was a piece of eagle fabric, eagles soaring against a blue sky.  I knew that Brent (son of my friend Dot) has a real affinity with the American Bald Eagle and has quite a collection of eagle related items. Perhaps he would like a pair of eagle cushions for his new home?  It didn’t take too long to stitch up a pair of simple cushion covers.
DSCF6224 Cushions, all done
Dot gave Brent his surprise gift recently when he popped up to visit his Mum.  And yes, he was thrilled with them, and he sent a photo showing them looking  good on his black leather couch.  (Just between you and me, Brent reminds me so much of my son Michael, it’s quite uncanny how similar they are).

Brent's Cushons Brent’s eagle cushions

The magnificent American Bald Eagle was adopted as the official bird emblem of the United States of America in 1782.   Chosen because of it's majestic beauty, great strength, and long life - in the wild, an eagle will live 30-35 years.  A full-grown bald eagle has a wingspan up to 7 feet. They fly up to 30 miles an hour and can dive at 100 miles an hour.  And no, Bald Eagles are not actually bald, the name derives from an older meaning of "white headed".

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stop shaking the Caravan

Eat, sleep, lift her head to meow, and sleep some more.  That is how Muffy passes her day away in the caravan.  We were away for the weekend with our caravan club friends at Paekakariki, on the Kapiti Coast when the big 6.6 earthquake struck at 2.31pm on Friday afternoon.  Its centre was 10km south east of Seddon in the South Island which has been having a lot of earthquake activity lately.  But the tremors were so strong we were sure it was happening right underneath our feet.

We had just finished stocking up at the supermarket with some essential weekend supplies when things started going strange.  Pushing our trolley across the supermarket car park, tremors ran up our legs and the ground started bucking up and down.  It was such a weird feeling.   Holding on the the trolley as our legs tried hard to hold us up, we looked in wonder as the parked cars started bouncing up and down.  Wow – that was a big earthquake! The biggest one we have felt for some time. 

Back at the caravan park we experienced many aftershocks, one after the other, and our caravan shook and swayed each time.  But the myth that animals know when an earthquake is on the way is untrue, especially in Muffy’s case.  As an early warning device for incoming earthquakes, Muffy fails spectacularly.  She didn’t even lift her head to see what was going on.  Just slept blissfully through each and every one.  “Stop shaking the caravan, I’m trying to sleep”, she was probably thinking.  It’s a good life being a cat!

P8170015 Stop that shaking, I’m trying to sleep!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Town and Country Quilters August Club Night

An enthusiastic group of members gathered last evening to attend the Town and Country Quilters Club Night.  August may well be in  the depths of winter, but there was no sign of wind or rain, thanks goodness.  With the upcoming quilt show in October, there was a lot of business to get through.  Rosters to help with this event were circulated amongst the members, and like most others, I put my name down in a slot or two.  Help will be needed to sell tickets, duties in the kitchen, and being a “White Glove” lady at the show, amongst others. 

Our speaker for the evening was Sandra who is passionate about Zero Waste.  Sandra really practices what she preaches and with chickens in the backyard, a couple of worm farms and compost bins, told us she gets by with using one rubbish bag every few months.   She trotted out all sorts of horrifying statistics about the amount of waste in New Zealand and overseas.  Plastics are the major waste problem worldwide, as the items never actually decompose, they merely break down into smaller and smaller pieces, and get into the food chain. We were all urged to take to heart the mantra of “reduce, recycle and reuse” and do our bit for the environment.   And did you know that the cuddly polar fleece which we sometimes use to back quilts is made from old plastic bottles?  I didn’t. 

Show and Tell perked us all up considerably after all this doom and gloom.  Several of the quilts held up for us to admire had been expertly machine quilted by club member Paula of Rabbits Patch Quilting, who always does such wonderful quilting with her long arm machine.  Here are a some of the quilts which I snapped with my new camera, this is the first time I have really used it so I wasn’t sure how the photos would turn out.  Chloe brought along her warm and cosy looking tartan quilt, using some old shirts, I believe.

P8140019 Chloe’s tartan quilt

Helen’s Row by Row quilt was a challenge quilt made with her group of Sew Wot friends and has a lovely story.  Each row in the quilt  relates to her journey while undergoing a recent cochlear implant to help improve her hearing.  (I’ll let you into a secret – I’m a very recent  Sew Wot member.  The lovely ladies invited me along to join their group).

P8140021 Helen’s Row by Row quilt

Helen’s second quilt was done as a Block of the Month quilt by one of our local quilts shops, Cherry Pie Bernina.  Helen does wonderful machine quilting – it shows up so nicely on the dark brown triangles.

P8140024 Block of the Month quilt

Heather is another Sew Wot member and showed us two lovely appliqu├ęd table runners she had recently completed.  I think they have a Jacobean look about them with all those lovely swirls. 

P8140023 Heather’s table runners

Cheryl brought along two sporty quilts made with panels, a cricket quilt and a rugby quilt.  Kiwis are known for their love of sports and Cheryl obviously has some sports mad people in her family.
P8140022 Rugby quilt

And lastly, I really loved this soft and pretty rose quilt.  Sarah has made it in celebration of her MILs 90th birthday, who loves roses, we were told.  It is just so beautiful.
P8140018 90th birthday quilt

After a quick supper, I went home from the meeting with my head buzzing, full of all the lovely quilts I’d seen, and ideas of more.  I’d better get sewing, I think.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Treasures at the Library

August is Family History Month and the Historical Society have set up some lovely displays in my local library.   So I was delighted to come across some gorgeous vintage goodies of yesteryear.  The Crawford Family christening gown and petticoat were found in a secret drawer inside an old Scotch chest when the children were orphaned in 1908.  It is thought that the garments were hand made by the nuns and that they have possibly been shortened at some time.

DSCF6226 Crawford Family christening gown and petticoat

This display shows what every well dressed lady would wear to a night out at the opera.  With her set of opera glasses, long white gloves, a gold bracelet, a pretty shawl and a lace hanky, she was all set for a grand night out.  These items were brought to New Zealand from Australia by Amelia Wonnocatt in the early 1900s.

DSCF6228 A night at the opera

Also belonging to Amelia Wonnocott was this lovely Royal Albert tea set.  I can just imagine her presiding over the tea trolley as she served her visitors with afternoon tea.

DSCF6234 Royal Albert tea set

There was several of these beautiful little hand embroidered envelopes on display.   These were purchased by soldier Enoch Eastham while he was in France during WW1, and sent home to his wife in England.

DSCF6232Hand embroidered envelopes from France 

It was a real treat to look at these lovely treasured items at the library.  As a real book lover, I go there every week or so to get my fix of reading material. My choice today was: one royal historical novel, one about a killer virus circling the world, and two serial killer detective books.  That will keep me going for a wee while. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pin, Stitch and Press

It’s a miserable rainy Sunday so what could be better than spending some “quality time” in my sewing room?  But what to work on?  I’ve plenty of options but decided that I really felt like starting on the runner for the coffee table.  The strips were cut out, and as directed, I had already sewn some squares on to the end of half of them.  But before I started, perhaps I should read the pattern thoroughly.  It looked easy, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to put it all together.  Finally, the light bulb went on in my tiny brain, and I was away, pinning, stitching, then pressing.  Up and down, up and down, just like a jack-in-the-box, going from the sewing machine to the ironing board and back again.  All this exercise has got to be good for me!

DSCF6222 Pressing time

Things are very compact here in our new house.  I use the top of chest freezer to do my cutting out, as it is just the right height for me.  Then I’ve set the ironing board up in front of the freezer and the laundry corner.  It may look a bit squashed, but I really do have enough room.   This is at the far (house) end of the internal garage, and my sewing room is just through the hallway. 

‘There's just the borders to do now, but I’ll leave that till tomorrow.  Such a miserable wet Sunday deserves a roast dinner with perhaps apple crumble to follow, so I had better get on and start getting everything in the oven.  There’s nothing nicer than a home cooked meal made with love, is there?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Unpicking and a little Stitching

It may well be the middle of winter in my part of Paradise, but it was warm enough today that I could sit outside in the sunshine.  This winter has been very mild indeed -  I really marvel that I can be seated outside at this time of year!  There I was, sitting at the picnic table, doing that least favoured job – unpicking.  On reflection, I seem to have done a fair bit of unpicking lately.  It’s all been because I haven’t been happy with my machine quilting efforts lately.  But the last bit has finally gone, and I can remind myself to “try harder” at the next attempt.

DSCF6207 Unpicking!!

Next job was to be a “builder’s mate” and lend a hand where required while Robin cut, sawed, nailed and screwed timber together.  After all that bending over, measuring, and banging about, he really needed that nice cold glass of beer to perk himself up again.  And a few crackers and cheese.  What’s he making?  All will be revealed when it is completed.

Then late in the afternoon I finally got to sit down at they sewing machine.  But not for too long, as it was almost time to get the evening meal organised.  But I did have time to shorten the legs on a new pair of jeans for Robin, then do a little stitching on my new table runner.  Hopefully I’ll spend more time in my sewing room tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Getting there

I’m getting there as far as sewing goes, although I haven’t actually sat at the sewing machine yet for a wee while.  But I have done a little cutting out.  First up was some cushions, cut and pinned, all ready to go.  Then today I cut out the pieces for another table runner.  As far as I’m concerned when sewing, I like to have things all ready to go. 

DSCF6197 Pieces for my new table runner

It’s been a busy day in the kitchen too, as I’ve been boiling up some jam.  Kiwi fruit jam this time, nice and tasty with lemon juice in the mix.  Yum, that will be nice on a piece of toast for breakfast.  Then I cooked up a nice big bowl of home grown rhubarb and apples.  I just know that Robin will want to add some icecream to his stewed fruit dessert tonight.

DSCF6196 Kiwifruit jam
Maybe I will get around to doing some actual stitching tomorrow?  I hope so – there’s a big pile of UFO’s calling to me.  Plus another pair of new jeans to shorten for Robin.  Days are certainly busy when one is retired.

Monday, August 5, 2013

We can’t Disturb the Cat

There’s something about cats, isn’t there?  Somehow they seem to rule the roost, get their own way in all things, and the whole household revolves around their wishes and desires.  This morning was no exception.  We all seem to have our household routines, and I generally make our bed after breakfast, while Robin attends to the dishes.  But not today.  Muffy was fast asleep on our bed, and I didn’t have the heart to disturb her.  Bed making can wait a while, I decided, we can’t disturb the cat.

DSCF6193Fast asleep in the morning

Now Muffy is getting into her twilight years, she seems to be quite restless and wide awake during the night.  She often jumps on and off the bed and can’t settle.  And if I get up for a nocturnal walk, she is always wide awake and meowing and needs a cuddle to settle down again.  No wonder she is worn out once morning arrives – she needs to catch up on her beauty sleep.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nursing Duties

There’s not been much sewing going on lately.  I’ve had nursing duties to perform.  Soothing a fevered brow, offering encouraging words, and keeping the hot drinks coming.  Poor Robin is feeling poorly.  With a sore red nose, watery eyes, a raised temperature and a head ache, he seems to have caught a dose of Man Flu from our friend Geoff.  Of course, it’s not really flu, as we are vigilant about having our flu jabs every year.  Just a nasty cold, which can leave the patient feeling rather grotty, especially with those restless nights and not much sleep.  Perhaps I can offer a nice lemon and honey drink?  Our baby lemon tree has just produced it’s very first lemon!

DSCF6192 Our very first lemon

My patient does seem a little better today, but the poor dear was really quite miserable over the last couple of days.  I hope those germs realise that Man Flu is for men only, and should definitely not be a trans gender disease and jump over to me!  Oh well, it must be time to put the kettle on again.  Would you like a nice hot drink and a home baked cookie, dear?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Trying to stay Tidy

My sewing room is tidy, my sewing machine is all packed away in it’s cabinet and the room as a whole has never looked so good.  I’ve imposed a self ban on machining this week.  But why, you may well ask?  Several lots of visitors are calling in to see us and our new home this week, who have not been here before.  So I don’t really want to show them through the house and take them into a sewing room with things every which way, as they tend to be.  Just a few days more, then I can liberate my sewing machine and make as much mess as I want to.  (Yesterday’s visitors brought us two jars of home made plum jam, which is most appreciated).

So I’ve been finding things to do this week which don’t involve the sewing machine.  Recently I spent the afternoon cutting, snipping and pressing my ultra suede project together.  But I’m not 100% happy with how it all turned out so this project needs some more time spent making some adjustments.

Today, for a change, I’ve been on the computer working on my quilt documentation.  All the current finishes have been photographed, written about, printed off, and filed away in my special folder.  But I’m still working my way through the details of some older quilts.  Like my “Memories of Misty” quilt, which was made to commemorate our previous cat, Misty.  This was a friendship quilt, and I asked my overseas quilting pen friends, local quilters,  family and friends to make me a signed block or two for my quilt.  Cosy warm wool batting was used in this, and it is my quilt of choice for our bed during winter.

Memories of MistyWrapped in in my  Memories of Misty quilt

This quilt was completed back in 2001 – you could probably guess this quilt has been around for some time, by the colour of my hair in this photo!  I’m much greyer now.  Wonder if that means I’m wiser as well as older?