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

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Bit of an Oopsy

There I was, sitting at the sewing machine for all of 30 seconds, trying to get on with the memory quilt I’m making for a friend.  When – clunk*#%!  The machine is stopped in it’s tracks.  What’s wrong, I wonder?  Oh dear, the sewing machine needle has dropped out of the shaft and got itself lodged right through my quilt and into the bobbin casing.  First I turned the power off for safety, then tried to pull the needle out.  It was stuck fast, no matter how I wiggled the quilt, the wheel, and the needle.  Help!!  And to add insult to injury, my camera had a hissy fit and wouldn’t let me take a photo of the offending needle stuck fast.

Robin was called in to lend some expertise to the situation, so I left him to it.  And wouldn't you know it, the problem was resolved in just a couple of minutes.  He then proceeded to undo the bobbin housing to see if any damage had been done by the errant needle, (no, thank goodness).  Next he asked for my little cleaning brush and then set to brushing out all the accumulated lint.  Obviously I hadn’t attended to that job in a while!

With the machine put back together, and a replacement needle firmly attached, I did a test run to make sure everything worked as it should.  Thank goodness it did.  I remember changing the needle the other day when I started machine quilting in the ditch around the sashing strips, so can only conclude that I didn’t tighten the screw sufficiently.  Something that needs checking regularly, I guess.

Now I’ve got my breath back I’ll start work on the quilt again.  As you can see, I like to carefully pin each bit before I quilt in the ditch.  Yes, it’s much slower, but I feel much happier with it all pinned securely.  What do others do – are you a careful pinner or not?

PA280044 Memory quilt with the sashing carefully pinned

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Sew Wot Tuesday

It was lovely to catch up with my Sew Wot buddies again, as I had missed the last get-together due to travelling north to get our caravan serviced.  We met in Helen’s home in the country and settled down to chat and do a little hand sewing.   Rae had recently attended a “Quilt as you Go” class and showed us her reversible blocks.  These were made with hearts on one side and pin wheels on the other.

PA280034  Rae’s Quilt as you Go blocks

Mary does the loveliest embroidery and showed us all the parts she had been working on to make an embroidered  “etui”.  For those who don’t know - a small ornamental case for holding needles, cosmetics, and other articles – or in this case, sewing items. (I didn’t know what that strange word meant, Mr Google told me)   Mary found the  pattern for her Rose Delight in Country Craft magazine.

PA280035 Many parts go into making an etui

What a stunning bag Helen had made, black, white and red is always a winning combination.  Love that Paris inspired fabric too.

PA280039 Helen’s new bag

Two of the group were celebrating birthdays, myself and Heather.  Thanks so much for the cards and gifts ladies, what a lovely surprise.
 PA290001  For my birthday – aren’t I a lucky girl?

As usual, we enjoyed a scrumptious morning tea.  Helen’s fluffy cat was all set to join in too, and sat herself down at the head of the table.  Move along pussy, that seat is needed for the guests.

PA280037 A saucer of milk, perhaps?

Another great friendly morning, I’m so pleased I’m part of the Sew Wots.  Otherwise known as the Eat Alots – so one of the husband’s says!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another Parcel in the Mail

We enjoyed a four day weekend going to a caravan rally, not too far away in the beach town of  Foxton.  A sign at the edge of town says   “Welcome to Sunny Foxton”.    Unfortunately there was only one fine day out of the four when it was warm enough to sit outside, and I got on with the job stitching up my little kiddies jumper.  The other three days were cold and windy, with heavy rain on our final day.  Never mind, Spring weather is often temperamental, and we spent the weekend in the good company  of our caravan club buddies.

PA250003Enjoying the sunshine on the only sunny day of the weekend

There is always plenty of fun and laughter at our caravan rally weekends.  Imagine this – everyone sitting outside enjoying morning tea, when in walks the Ebola Inspector!  He is medically suited up from head to foot and had come to check out one of our members who was feeling a bit off colour, carrying a lethal looking length of tube.  Goodness knows where he intended to poke that.  The patient, Eileen, laughed so much she had tears running down her cheeks!

PA250008 Fun at Foxton

We arrived home on Monday to find more birthday cards and an overseas parcel in the letter box, plus a couple of Happy Birthday messages on the answer phone.  Carol from South Dakota sent me an interesting selection of goodies.  A floral pincushion, and a packet of Moda two and a half inch squares, tucked inside the  little gift bag – which was decorated with a floral brooch, and a Christmas pin.  I was pleased she enclosed a letter too, I love getting nice newsy letters.

PA280040 Gifts from pen-friend Carol

Some of my cards were cute too, including these two with a sewing theme, both from quilters, of course.

PA280042 Lovely birthday cards

PA280043Card from my daughter – telling me I’m not as young as I used to be!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to me

It was my birthday yesterday and the postman had brought me a couple of parcels from my quilty pen friends which I had been saving to open on the day.  I had phone calls from my son and daughter too, plus from a couple of friends, so that was lovely too.  Janet from Cromer, UK, had made me a lovely little “mug rug” in pinks and blues, so pretty, and has my name embroidered on it too.  And Glennis from Chipping Norton sent me a cute little fold up shopping bag, from Marks and Spencers. 

PA230013 All the way from England

Goodness knows where my daughter Nicky found this gorgeous little wooden box, with a sewing theme.  Very appropriate for a stitcher, of course.  I love it, and will have to put it pride of place in my sewing room. 

PA230014 Pretty little box from my daughter

Robin and I went shopping for my pressie, and came home with “The Great New Zealand Cookbook” for my birthday gift.  I’ve only had a quick flick through so far, so there is sure to be plenty of inspiration in these pages.

PA230015 From Robin

We are away in the caravan for the long Labour Day weekend, so there is sure to be a few more birthday cards in the letter box when we return home.  And maybe if I’m really lucky, there may even be another parcel waiting for me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ticking off my List

Its been a busy old day today, but I’ve got a few items ticked off my list, so that’s a good feeling.  The washing is done and hanging outside in the sunny breeze, then I whizzed around with the vacuum cleaner, did some dusting and cleaned the bathroom.  Whew – I needed a cup of coffee after that little lot!  Then I took a trip down to the quilt shop to buy some batting for the Memory quilt I’m making – which took a wee while to get it all layered and pinned in place.  I’m so pleased that job is done, so now it is all ready to get on with the machine quilting  when I’m ready to cope with that job.

PA220010 Memory quilt pinned together

Later in the afternoon I did some baking to take away for our caravan weekend away.  Goodness knows why I decided to try a new recipe which I hadn’t made before?  Guess it will either be very nice or a big disaster.  We will have to try a bit when it cools down, and hope for the best.  I’ve got a chicken roasting in the oven so must put the roast veggies in too.  Robin has had a big trip away helping his mate so will starving hungry when he finally returns home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creative Chaos

My sewing room is in a mess, you can’t see the floor,  the iron has been hard at work all day, as has my sewing machine.  Luckily no one came visiting today as I’ve been busy stitching.  I’ve felt a bit guilty as I haven’t had much spare time to be working on the Memory quilt I’m making for a friend – too many trips away in the caravan and other social activities have been cutting into  my sewing time.  So today I made a big effort, left the housework for another day, and just got on with it.

I’m pleased to say that with the addition of the borders, the top is now finished.  And I pieced the backing as well. You can tell I’m a bit pedantic with my backings – I don’t usually piece them at all.  But Memory quilts use fabrics which are very special to the recipient, and I wanted to incorporate what I could.  Not for me the way some people do it their backings - a bit of this fabric here, and some other there.  No, I’m a Libra so that means everything must be balanced.  There is a piece of dark green tee shirting with printed words in the centre, surrounded by a strip of white shirting, then another strip of train fabric.  Our friend Geoff loved trains, model railways and full sized trains too.  Home spun was added to the centre pieced panel to bring it to the right size.

PA210007 Pieced backing for Memory quilt

There was a bit of a problem when I added the borders to the quilt top, because I had used some of Geoff's checked shirt for the sashings.  Not cotton, as it turned out, and it started to fray quite badly.  Oh dear – I quickly changed the foot on my sewing machine and zig-zagged the offending fraying edges – that should stop the fraying.

PA210006 Adding a row of zig-zag stitching to the seams

I’ve been stitching squares together at the start and completion of each seam and they certainly mount up.  It’s a great idea to have  “Leaders and Enders” project cut out ready while you stitch away at something else.  As I’m sure most of you know, Bonnie Hunter came up with this idea.  Mine is a long term project, and a great way to use up all those left over bits we seem to have lying around.

P9010003 Leaders and Enders project

There will be another busy day tomorrow, I’m sure.  I’ll need a trip down to the quilt shop to buy some wadding for the Memory quilt, then I can get it all pinned together.  Need to do a bit of baking so I have something nice to share on my birthday during our four day weekend away in the caravan.  And I really must clean these floors, there is cotton thread and snips of fabric everywhere!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stitching in the Caravan

We have been away all week in the caravan, up to Hamilton, over to New Plymouth, and on to Wanganui.  While in New Plymouth, we stayed at “Pirongia Clydesdales”, a truly wonderful place with the most beautiful big horses.  Do check out our Romany Rambler blog to see what we got up to on our travels.

A lovely place to stay

With all this tripping around, only a little stitching got done.  I worked some more on a secret project.  The hand stitching is now done, and I must make it a priority when we return home to sit myself down in front of the sewing machine and complete it.  Then I can breath a sigh of relief that it will be completed in good time for the gift giving, when all will be revealed.

PA160059A little secret stitching

My knitting bag always comes on trips with us as well, and I’ve found some time to get the knitting needles out.  Up to the second sleeve now, so not much more to go on this little kiddies jumper.

PA160062 Did some knitting too

We will be home tomorrow, and I know what that means.  After the caravan is unpacked, the fridge washed out, the bathroom cleaned and the  floors vacuumed,  I will tackle all the washing.  Most unusually for me, I haven’t done any laundry while we have been away – that will need to be rectified, won’t it!  Wonder how many load it will take to get it all done?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Town and Country Quilters October Club Night

Almost before we knew it, October has rolled around and it was the night of the monthly meeting.  Our numbers were certainly down, perhaps the inclement weather kept some at home.  After the announcements, raffles, new books purchased for the club library shown, it was time for Show and Tell.  There were some lovely offerings held up on stage for all to see, and it was good that most makers gave an account of their work.  It is always nice to know the history behind the making of a new quilt, all the whys and wherefores add to the story.

Kathy made this pretty little wall-hanging for her daughter’s significant birthday, and will be taking it to London to present to the birthday girl.  She added the advice,  “Live the Life you Dream”  to the quilt.  There is a little surprise in the middle of the appliquéd flowers.  They are not beads, Kathy told us, but her daughter’s baby teeth (carefully saved for all this time) stitched into the flowers.  She wasn’t quite sure what her daughter would think of this little personal touch.

PA080029 Pretty quilt made for Kathy’s daughter

Jean and her quilting group all made this quilt  pattern using black and white adding their own choice of colour.  Jean decided to use red with her black and white fabrics, and added a striking red and black fabric patterned for the border.  This quilt will soon be going to Hong Kong, we were told.

PA080032 Jean’s black, white and red quilt

Another family birthday quilt, this time for a 40 year old son.  Diane made this using both New Zealand and British designed fabric for her son, who lived in UK for a while.  But she won’t have to post it over, as her son has announced he is finally coming back home.

PA080030 Made by Diane for her son

Heather has completed her Shadow Appliqué blocks and put them together into a top.  Don’t the blocks look so pretty together!

Shadow Appliqué by Heather

New club member Avon has been very prolific.  She brought along this cute Crazy patch cushion to show us.

Crazy Patch Gollies

And lastly, her beautiful “In Loving Memory” quilt honouring her Father is so very special.   It is backed with a piece of her Dad’s tartan scarf.

PA080035 In Loving Memory, by Avon

The speaker for the evening was, drum roll please……..me!!  Our President Sandra had asked if I would talk about our caravan adventures.  Guess our biggest adventure was when we were attending a National Caravan Rally up in Auckland where it never stopped raining for days.  We were fed up with sloshing through the water-logged grounds ever day, so decided to take a trip out to the Lion Safari Park for a change of scenery.  Driving into the large fenced off area we joined the line of cars just in time to witness feeding time.  As the truck drove slowly by, lions ran after it, and some jumped up on top of the protective mesh cage as staff pushed large chunks of meat out for the hungry animals.  The truck was alongside our car when a lioness on top of the cage decided to use our car as a stepping stone to get down to the grass, where she could enjoy her meal.  Imagine the impact a fully grown lion makes when she crashes with two feet on top of the roof, and two feet hitting the windscreen.  It all happened in a flash, the window caved in, the windscreen wipers were ripped off, and we were sitting there thinking, “what happened then?”.  We were just so lucky that we had a double paned laminated windscreen, and although it was shattered, all the pieces stayed in place.  Otherwise we could well have had a frightened lion with big feet and claws scrambling around on our laps as she tried to get free.  Our damaged car was the talk of the rally, with fellow campers coming to see what happens when you tangle with a lion.  You can imagine the raised eyebrows at the insurance company when Robin went to make his claim later on!

I talked about our various caravans and more specifically about our extended South Island Odyssey trip we did a couple of years ago.  And I couldn’t give a talk at a quilt club without showing a few caravan quilts, cushions, and Christmas decorations which get hung in the caravan.

PA080038 Shown during my talk

Whew - that was a new experience for me, and I really needed a cuppa in the supper room after the meeting to calm my nerves. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

More Quilts from Cotton-On Quilters Exhibition.

Speaking for myself, I really appreciate an on-site cafe at a quilt show.  After walking around the hall for a while, Maria, Carolyn and I really needed a sit down.  It was close enough to lunchtime so we ordered some tasty homemade  soup, (choice of pumpkin or chicken and veggie) served with a bread roll, and so reasonably priced. Well done, catering staff, the soup was delicious.  Well rested, fed and watered, it was back to the hall again.

With a cry of, “That's my cousin”,  a lady in blue rushed up to me.  My cousin Barbara is also a quilter, and a member of Cotton-On Quilters.  Like a lot of families, we just seem to meet up at funerals.  We had a good chat, caught up with news of our last remaining maternal Aunt, then she took me to see one of her quilts on display.

PA040031 My cousin and me, Barbara and Jenny

Barbara called her black, white and red quilt “New Zealand Sisters”.   The Disappearing Nine Patch Jelly Roll pattern was designed by Mary Metcalf.

New Zealand Sisters, by my cousin Barbara

Judy Potts made “Poppa’s Digger” for her friend’s grand-son.  What a great quilt for a little boy, so colourful and graphic.  I’m sure he loves it.

Poppa’s Digger

Rosalie Conder’s quilt “Cappuccino”  was a “Block of the Month”  quilt from The Cloth Shop in Palmerston North.  Very nice too.

PA040041 Cappuccino

Another pretty stitchery quilt caught my eye.  Simply called “Red Work”  it was stitched by Betty Boss.  The stitcheries are country themed, and I could see sheep, chickens, a rabbit, pigs and pumpkins amongst the blocks.

PA040049 Red Work

Veronica Davidson stitched “Not Forgotten”  in memory of her parents.  This wonderful family heirloom  quilt features poppies, Celtic appliqué, and photo transfers of her parents in their military uniforms.  What a wonderful loving tribute to create.

PA040047 Not Forgotten

And lastly, this was my Viewers Choice, a most beautiful version of a Baltimore Album quilt, called “Betty’s Quilt”.  The hand appliquéd masterpiece took Alison Brockway  two and a half years to complete, and was expertly machine quilted by  Robin Frost. I love the appliqué vine borders, full of leaves and flowers, birds and dragonflies.  Just superb!


PA040007 Betty’s Quilt

So there you go, a glimpse of some of the work by the Cotton-On Quilters.  I was very restrained looking through all the wonderful goodies on offer from the various merchants and only bought a piece of brown felt to make a set of antlers for my yo-yo Christmas reindeer.  A lovely exhibition indeed, and I enjoyed my time there.

Friendly Welcome to Cotton-On Quilters Exhibition

What a big surprise I had at the Cotton-On Quilters Exhibition.  There I was in the foyer, just having paid my entrance fee,  purchased a few raffle tickets, while waiting for Maria to arrive so we could look around the show together as planned.  Two ladies selling tickets for the raffle quilt beckoned me over, and asked if I was Jenny.  Well, of course I am!  Joy and Judy follow my blogs, this one Romany Quilting, and our other,  Romany Rambler, which relates stories of our caravan trips and outings.  It was lovely to meet you both ladies, and thank you so much for your friendly welcome and your kind words about my blogging efforts.  I’m sure I’m not the only blog writer who wonders if anyone out there is reading our blogs, and more importantly, enjoying them.  Introducing yourselves to me really made my day!!

PA040002 A friendly welcome from Joy and Judy

I’d never attended a Cotton-On exhibition before, and have to say that it was very well organised.  Lots of lovely quilts to admire, merchants galore, and most importantly, a cafe where we could sit down with a little something to revive ourselves.  Maria had brought Carolyn along with her from Marton to view the show, and the three of us wandered slowly up and down the rows.  Club members had taken a class recently with Claire Smith, well known for her love of spiky New Zealand Cabbage Trees and flaxes.  These wall-hangings certainly call out “Kiwi”, don’t they?

PA040003 From a Claire Smith class

I could have quite easily have taken “Warm Wishes” home with me.  The pink and green colour scheme would fit so well in my bedroom.  Made by Maureen Govenlock, it was inspired by a pattern from a Quiltmaker magazine.

Warm Wishes

“Colours of Asia”  was a particular favourite of Carolyn’s, she said, as we stopped in front of it.  I can see why, those colours glow.    Pauline Walton bought off-cuts of Thai silk during a trip to Bangkok, and stitched her lovely quilt, making it a memory of her time there.

PA040022 Colours of Asia

It’s no secret that I’m very fond of stitchery in quilts, and “Teddy at Play”  has stitcheries galore along with pieced blocks, all in lovely a soft and subtle colour way.  Rosemary Neilson purchased the kit from Grandmother’s Garden shop, and enjoyed doing the hand stitching as she was resting from a shoulder operation.


PA040027Teddy at Play

Veronica Davidson stitched “Mile a Minute”  with her  Quirky Quilters Friday group.  With a name like that, these must be fun loving ladies indeed.  I love the addition of the flowers on this quilt, gives it quite a lift.

PA040039 Mile a Minute

I think we all must suffer from “Quilter’s Brain” sometimes.  Another one by Maureen Govenlock, sourced from the internet.

PA040008 A Quilter’s Brain

There were so many beautiful quilts on display that I’ll just have to share some more tomorrow.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Marton Arts and Crafts Exhibition

I wondered if I would be lucky enough to see some quilts at the Marton Art and Crafts exhibition.  Yes, there were, along with pottery, glass, bronze pieces, weaving, embroidery and paintings.  Arts and Crafts are alive and well in Marton, and the Centre caters for all taste, it seems.


There was only one problem.  Photography of the exhibition was not permitted unless I had the express permission of each maker.  Bother!!  But then I met up with Maria, DIL of former caravanning friends, who was on white glove duty for the morning.  She was my own private curator as we walked around the exhibition (the hall was not busy at all)  and joined me while I indulged in a Devonshire Tea.  Maria posed happily while she showed me her recently completed Saddle Bag.  It’s so roomy, she even keeps her small laptop inside!

PA020002  Maria with her Saddle Bag

Maria’s friend Sue was also on duty, and was happy to show me her work in the exhibition, directing me over to her lovely orange and cream bag, .  Thank goodness – I had visions of a blog post with no photos.

PA020010 Sue’s bag

There were only two quilts at the show  I was able to photograph, more of Sue’s work.  “Cats, Dogs and Friends”  was purchased as a kit and is a  Lynette Anderson design.

PA020008 Cats, Dogs and Friends

“Throw with Daisies” was made by Sue  in lovely country colours.  An elongated four patch, with appliquéd daisies as the alternate blocks, it it just right to snuggle under.

PA020003 Throw with Daisies

And lastly, Sue told me she had so much fun working on her Christmas Stocking, she was often found stitching it in her night attire.  Oops, maybe that was to be a secret!  The Father Christmas Stocking was purchased as a kit, and is heavily embellished with beads and sequins.

PA020006 Father Christmas Stocking

Thanks so much to Maria and Sue for allowing me to show their work. Being such keen quilters, we are meeting up again on Saturday at the Cotton On Quilters Exhibition at Wanganui – should be fun.

Later in the day we called around to see my blogging friend Jean who writes her All Points of the Compass blog.  Over a cuppa and a chat, she brought out her lovely batik block of the month quilt she is working on.  Lots of lovely colours and fabrics here.

PA020014 Jean’s work in progress

So I had a lovely quilty day.  It was so nice to catch up with Maria and Jean again, thanks ladies and especially Sue, who I had only just met, for sharing your work with me.