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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Muffy’s Back

Here we are in sunny Hamilton, enjoying the giant Camper Care Show at Mystery Creek.  But prior to arriving here, we returned our caravan to the factory where it was made to get some work done.  What to do with Muffy while our caravan was off the road?  She has been staying in a local cattery, and we collected her yesterday.  Now she is a travelling caravan cat, it’s been some time since she was last put into a cattery.  She coped quite well, we were told, but now she is aged 18, we do tend to worry about her.

We collected her yesterday, and brought her back to the caravan.  After she had soundly told us off for abandoning her, as cats do, she settled down for a cuddle and reassurance, followed by a hearty meal.  Then she stretched out on the couch for a nap.  So everything is fine in her world again.

P2270037 Fast asleep after her cattery adventure

Now Muffy is getting older she is not very keen to leave the security of the caravan and come outside into the big wide world.  But we like her to get a bit of fresh air, and our fellow caravanners are always happy to give her some extra attention.  Peter decided that Muffy might like to explore the outside locker on his caravan and opened it just so she could jump inside and see what was what.  Then he got right down to her level to whisper in her ear and tell her what a good girl she was.  Not sure who was enjoying this little tete-a-tete the most, Muffy or Peter?

P2280065Peter talking to Muffy

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wright’s Fabrics of Morrinsville

Quilters nationwide know Milton of Wright’s Fabrics in Morrinsville.  He travels the country extensively, attending quilt shows as a merchant, with his wonderful range of batik fabrics.  As luck would have it, we are currently camping at a dairy farm in Morrinsville.  And, as I told Robin, I really need to go to town to check out Milton’s shop!

P2250001 Camping in Morrinsville

With a shop full of beautiful batiks it was hard to choose.  But I managed to find a couple of fat quarters which would work well in a new project, plus some plain white cotton. Sounds a little boring when I could be buying something more colourful, but I need it for one of my many UFOs.   The batik prices are very reasonable and Wright’s Fabrics always have such a great range.

P2250010Lots of lovely colours

Milton was his usual chatty self,  and waited patiently while I dithered around.  He is off on another trip to the South Island, he said, so has a lot of packing to do to get his stock organised.  He happily wrapped my small purchase, chatting to Robin who had come into the shop to find me.

P2250008Milton of Wright’s Fabrics

Nice friendly service at this shop, plus a website for online purchasing available.   He is taking his stock down to Kapiti Coast shortly, so I may well catch up with him and his batiks again soon.

P2250007 Tee shirt tells a story!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grandmother’s Garden Quilt Shop

What would a visit to Hamilton be without a side trip to Gordonton to check out Grandmother’s Garden quilt shop?   What a busy place it was.  The big red van was parked outside the doors and staff members were busy loading up crates of fabrics for an upcoming trip down to the South Island.

P2240039 Loading up the van outside the shop

Shop owner Hazel gave her permission for me to take some photos of all the goodies inside, and I got to meet her later.  I wandered around the shop looking at the vast range of fabrics, kits and patterns.  The staff were very attentive when needed and happy to help and guide me to the correct place while I was looking for a particular item.

 P2240030 Views inside the shop

There were lovely shop sample quilts hanging up too, including a lovely appliqué quilt festooned with ribbons from a recent show.


P2240024 Quilts on display in the shop

With my choices finally made, it was Hazel herself who served me, and it was great to meet her in person after enjoying the newsletters she sends out regularly.  I particularly enjoyed her recipes which she adds to the newsletter, I told her.  Big Mack, Hazel’s dog, was quite at home in the shop, saying hello to the customers, and I gave him some attention.  Then Hazel asked if I would like to meet her puppy, and brought him down to the shop.  What a bundle of energy he was, still at the very playful stage, including nibbling on my shoelaces!

P2240031 Hazel and her dogs

P2240036Nibbling on my shoes

I had a wonderful time looking around the shop, and admiring the quilts hung all around.  Well worth a visit if you are passing by – I was made very welcome.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Visiting the Rellies

We are cruising in our caravan for a couple of weeks, and are currently camping at a kiwifruit orchard in Katikati – such a pretty little town.  We called around to see my cousin Brian and his lovely wife Bev today, for a cuppa and a good catch up.  Do you still do quilting?, Bev wanted to know.   I assured her I was still happily quilting.  Then she told me she had been given a surprise gift of a quilt by another cousin, and brought it out to show me.  It was lovely, a beautiful blue and white Log Cabin quilt, named “Home is Best”.  And doubly precious as it was an unexpected gift made especially for her by a family member.

P2220017 Brian, Bev and the surprise gift

Katikati is such a pretty little town, and the main street is decorated with colourful hanging baskets.  And murals, lots of murals painted on formerly blank walls throughout the town.  Each one tells a little of history of the town. 

Kiwifruit grows everywhere, protected by wind breaks of huge trees.  Katikati’s first first kiwifruit vines were planted around 1952 and by the late 1970s many dairy farms had been carved up for orchards.  Today, New Zealand kiwifruit earns about $1 billion annually with the Katikati district alone producing over12 million trays from around 1500 hectares.  And we are happily camping in the grounds of a kiwifruit orchard in this lovely piece of paradise.

P2220025 Kiwifruit ready to harvest

P2210083Camping at Katikati

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hello again, Nancy J

Heading north in our caravan, we stopped for the night at Marton.  And popped in to see my blogging friend Jean, who writes her interesting blog: All Points of the Compass - do check it out.    Poor Jean had a nasty fall recently, cracked some ribs and has a mighty bruise.  Her doctor warned her not to cough, sneeze or laugh, and keep up with the pain relief, but nothing much keeps this irrepressible lady down.  Just look what she managed to whip up since her accident.

P2190018 Fabric bowls

She made a whole lot of fabric bowls.  What do you put in them?, I wanted to know.  Seems the idea is to use them under a bowl of food when you heat it up in the microwave.  The fabric bowls become a made-to-measure holder so you don’t burn your fingers.

P2190017 Bowls inside the holders

While I was chatting with Jean and her friend, Robin was outside on the patio putting the world to rights with Hugh.  It was good to see them both again, and remember Jean, no more laughing for the next six weeks!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Morning with the Sew Wots

These little get-togethers are meant to be stitching mornings, but you know what happens when a group of quilters meet.  That’s right, there’s a whole lot of talking going on and not too much stitching.  But never mind, we obviously had a lot we wanted to say.  Including Pam, who had seen a bright idea on constructing notebook covers.  With the next Quilt Symposium being held in January 2015, the five local clubs have been asked to help make a zillion notebook covers for the goodie bags.  Pam showed us a simpler way to make them that didn’t require any hand stitching.

Our Hostess Heather had been busy and made a whole lot of pretty tags, asking us all to choose one.  When it was my turn I procrastinated as usual, deciding between this one or that one, or maybe one of those others.  Making decisions is not my strong point.  The piece of plain fabric stitched on the top is to write our own inspirational saying on.  What shall I write?  How about – take time to smell the flowers, or maybe, I love quilting?

P2180011My pretty tag made by Heather

There wasn’t a whole lot of show and tell this time.  Heather showed us on of her hexagon quilts, split hexagons, I think she called it.  I really admire the ladies who work with hexies, as they are all stitched together by hand, much too time consuming for me.  She didn’t want her photo taken and was hiding behind her quilt.

P2180006 Heather’s hexagon quilt

Rae didn’t run from the camera as she held up the pinwheel quilt she was making for her grand-daughter.  These are pinwheels with a difference, as the triangles are stitched into the seam lines, leaving the points free.  Just right for little fingers to play with.

P2180012Rae with her pinwheel quilt

I got right down on the carpet to snap a photo of this handsome fellow, Heather’s crazy patch elephant, which is embroidered and beaded.  So cute! 

P2180014  Hello, Ellie

After a yummy morning tea, and a little hand stitching, we said our goodbyes.  Our hostess kindly handed out some fresh picked green beans and zucchini from her garden to anyone who wanted some.  Thanks, Heather, I really appreciate the fresh veggies.

I’m really pleased that I could attend today, as we are going away in the caravan tomorrow for the next couple of weeks and I will miss the next fortnightly get-together.  Luckily I talked Robin into leaving a day later than originally planned, so that I could meet up with the Sew Wot ladies today.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Off to Hospital

No, not me, thank goodness, but my hard working Bernina 440.  You know what we quilters are like – we can’t bear to be parted from our sewing machines while they get serviced.  The trick, I’ve discovered, is to book the machine in just before you go off on holiday for a couple of weeks.  So that’s what I’ve done.  The Bernina has been packed up safely in it’s own little bag, and dropped off at Barry’s place.

P2130001 On the way to sewing machine hospital

Barry was recommended by members of my “Sew Wot” stitching group, so that was good enough for me.  I expected him to be an elderly  retired gentleman, perhaps an engineer in a former life, who repairs the occasional sewing machine.  Barry is not elderly at all, nicely middle aged and quite jovial.  He services machines dropped off at the two local quilt shops, as well as “private customers”, like me.  So he is kept very busy indeed, and obviously has a good name.  I’m sure my machine is safe in his hands, and I look forward to collecting it after our couple of weeks away.

There is a big hole in the cabinet where the sewing machine used to be.  But I’ve got a couple of projects all ready and waiting.  The maple leaf quilt which I’ve been working on is all folded up, just waiting for the next lot of machine quilting.  And I’ve pinned up my current selvedge project, all ready to stitch when we return home.

P2170004 Ready and waiting for after our holiday

I’m all prepared for holiday stitching in the caravan too, and traced off a couple of patterns from the lovely Rag Tag Stitching books I recently purchased.  That should keep me busy if we get the occasional wet afternoon while we are away in the caravan. 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Memories of Juneau, Alaska

I attended our first Town and Country Quilters club-night earlier in the week, and was pleased to have something for Show and Tell.  That doesn’t happen every month, I can tell you.  The (long winded) story of my eagle wall-hanging dates back to 1999, and goes like this.

We were busy planning our big 3 month OE to England in 1999, with a stop over at Disneyland, and my pen-friend Diane suggested we visit her at Juneau, Alaska. So we did - what an opportunity, it was too good to pass up.  We stayed with Diane a week and had a great time. It was salmon spawning season, and the salmon were flapping about in the water as they made their way up the streams to lay their eggs. We were thrilled to see bald eagles everywhere, perched on top of the tall trees, and down by the water as they caught and ate the salmon.  This magnificent bird has been the national emblem of the United States of America since 1782.

In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from endangered and threatened species list kept by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  Their successful recovery is due to years of concerted conservation efforts along with the ban on the pesticide DDT in 1972.  Living near a constant source of water, bald eagles feast on fish, ducks, snakes and turtles. They will also eat rabbits, muskrats, and dead animals. Utilizing their acute sense of sight and powerful talons, bald eagles attack their prey by swooping down on them at an angle, reaching speeds of 160km per hour.  With a 2 m (7 ft.) wing span, a weight of 3-7 kg (7-15 lb), and an overall size of 71-96 cm (28-38 in), the bald eagle is one of the largest raptors in the world.

Diane took me to the local quilt shop, where I looked for something with a local flavour to remind me of our trip. The Eagle Spirit pattern was just what I was looking for, but I got myself into a bit of a quandary. Shall I buy the more pricey kit, with all the fabrics included, or just the pattern? (We were just starting our 3 month trip of a lifetime and I was worried about spending too much cash so early on our travels.)  Finally, sense prevailed - with all the fabrics, including the different colours of ultra suede for the eagle heads, the kit would be the more sensible buy. 

DSCF6191 Assembling the eagle heads from ultra suede

Sadly, the eagle wall-hanging pattern lay forgotten for quite some time. I finally traced the pattern pieces out last year, and after working on it spasmodically, it was eventually completed in early 2014. The trees and the black eagle were machine appliquéd in place, then I machine quilted the whole piece. The eagle heads were constructed from ultra suede, and hand stitched in place. There – all finished. Good things take time!

P2030005 Memories of Juneau, finally finished

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Town and Country Quilters February Club Night

It seems such a long time since our last club night, as we don’t have a January meeting.  The members arrived at the hall, happily chatting away to their fellow club members.  Our President Leigh, looking very glam with a new hair style, told us what the committee had planned for the next few months.  There was lots planned, a weekend retreat, classes and a couple of UFO sewing days, plenty to keep the members busy.  Paula from the 2015 Quilt Symposium committee spoke about the different categories available to enter our quilts in.  The five local quilt clubs are combining forces to help run the Symposium.

With a lot of notices to get through for the start of the year, there was no speaker last night.  Raffles were drawn, and sadly I missed out again.  Then came Show and Tell, always the highlight of the evening.  The Tuesday Stitchers, a small house group, showed us all the quilts they had made for charity, including utilising orphan quilt blocks that had been donated.  Such a busy, prolific group, and all the items are going to others less fortunate.

Sandra is another very prolific member who had also just completed a quilt for charity.  This one will be donated to Ronald McDonald House and will certainly comfort a sick child.  Sandra used up a whole pile of two and a half inch squares, complemented by stitchery blocks as well.

P2120002 Sandra's quilt for Ronald McDonald House

Moira, (a member of my Sew Wot group) had brought along her star quilt, all finished, which was a club block of the month with the star patterns provided.  This has been made into a Christmas table cloth.
P2120007 Christmas quilt

We were all amazed when Heather, (another member of our Sew Wot group), announced that she had redrafted this Wedding Ring variation pattern smaller, then stitched the pieces together by hand.  It is all pinned up, ready to quilt.

P2120008 Heather’s hand stitched quilt

Little Max will certainly love his 3rd birthday quilt, lovingly made by Aunty Luchelle.  This appliqué pattern is so cute, and features animal mothers with their babies.

P2120003 For Max

Another little boy is also getting a special quilt, and he hasn’t quite arrived yet!  Katherine made this I Spy quilt for her grandson, who will be arriving shortly.

P2120004 I Spy quilt for a new baby

And last, but not least, Kaye brought along her hand-bag, covered in “bling”, as she said.  It is made with black and gold fabrics, with an assortment of buttons and brooches.  Kaye is bright and bubbly, so this bag will suit her personality perfectly!

P2120006 Kaye’s  bag covered with bling

Our evening concluded with supper, and a short game to wake up our brains.  No winners at our table, unfortunately.  It was good to catch up with members again, and see what everyone had been working on over the Christmas break.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Words of Wisdom from 1949

Advice from the Singer Sewing Manual of 1949 to the housewife.

“Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or the beds unmade.  When there are urgent house-keeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.  When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible.  Put on a clean dress.  Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on.  If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing”.

Well, what do we think of that, I wonder? 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Camping in the Rain

We are away for a few days in our caravan, camping at Eketahuna.  The large 6.2 earthquake felt a couple of weeks ago was centred 16km from Ekatahuna and the small town got quite a shaking.  The local supermarket made the TV news showing quite as mess as bottles were smashed all over the floor.  Luckily the after-quakes have settled down and we have not felt a single shake this weekend.

After several nice sunny days the weather has changed, and the rain is coming down fast.  Our planned picnic today will not be happening!  We will probably have a day in camp instead, quietly amusing ourselves.  I’ve hand sewing to do, books to read, and Muffy will be getting groomed shortly – she always enjoys this extra attention and helps out by licking herself as I am busy with the comb.

Selwyn and Kath arrived at our caravan rally towing their newly purchased European caravan, and very nice it is too.  We were all interested to peep inside, and I was most taken with their bright and breezy set of cushions, featuring retro caravans.


If this dratted rain eases up after lunch, we may well go for a drive and explore the surrounding countryside, since our picnic plans are in disarray.  Or maybe we will just stay put and keep dry. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sew Wots get together

My stitching group, the Sew Wots, had their first get-together of the year today.  We met at Mary’s home, and admired her lovely garden – she spends a lot of time in her garden and certainly gets results.  Beautiful gladioli were in full bloom alongside the garden path, and I’ve never seen gladdies so tall - they must have been almost 6ft tall. 

P2040007  Lovely gladioli

There was a lot of catching up to do with everyone, and show and tell to admire.  Then we had a real treat – Mary showed us many items from the past, made by her Mum and Grandmother, and things Mary had made as a child and young woman.  Doilies and table clothes with crocheted edges, a pair of dainty knitted child’s cotton socks, beautiful lacy gloves, and a pair of hand made kid gloves were passed around and admired.  Most of us could relate to the embroidered oven clothes made from sacking, in fact I could remember stitching one in sewing class as a child.  Then there were cosy woollen blankets, aprons, and knitted handbags, such a lot of creativity in this family.  One particular hand bag took my fancy, it was knitted from cut up nylon stockings.  It was certainly an era of “waste not, want not”.

P2040009 Some of the family treasures

After presenting everyone with a pretty hand made pin cushion, Mary then issued our challenge for the year, and we each pulled a name out.  The challenge was to make that person a small wall hanging 12 inches or smaller, not square or oblong, and it must include some “bling”.  This is to be the Christmas gift to the person whose name we have drawn.  Guess I’ll have to get my thinking cap on – doing something neither square or rectangular will certainly be a challenge to me!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Playing with Selvedges

It’s not as if I don’t have plenty of sewing to do, what with having so many UFOs that I’m too scared to count them.  But I really wanted to make another set of place mats for our breakfast table.  Thought I would use up some of those selvedges that are hanging about in a bag.   I used two fabrics, one for the backing, and another layer in the middle.    This is such easy sewing:  lay down the first selvedge, place the second one over the raw wedge, sew and repeat.  When it is big enough, trim, then bind.  Easy peasy.

P2010014   Selvedge placemats

Some of the strips are really narrow, while others are wider to show off the fabric.  They certainly look nice and colourful but I hardly made a dent in my selvedges.  Never mind, I’ve got another project in mind to use some more up.

I’m working steadily on a couple of UFOs too.  One just needs some hand stitching to complete it, and then I can take it along next week to our first quilt club meeting of the year.  It will be good to see what others have been doing over the holiday season.