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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Remnant Night

The end of the month rolled around, and after a break over the Christmas/New Year holidays, it was finally the first Remnant night of the year.  It’s such a long time from our last one in November to February that I was suffering from  withdrawal symptoms.  Even though we had visitors staying for a few days, I just had to pop in during the evening leaving DH in charge of our guests and see what everyone was getting up to.  Not for the whole evening, you understand, but just for an hour – and I didn’t even take any stitching with me.

There was a lot happening.  Vickie was kindly finishing a quilt for a friend who had started it and come to a big halt – how kind was that.  She was busy stitching strips together to make the sashings.

P2270056 Vickie’s project for the night

Leigh had purchased the pattern for the pretty quilt “T’was the Night before Christmas” recently, and has been busy doing some of the stitchery panels.  It’s going to be great, and I love was she has done so far.

P2270057  Leigh has been busy stitching

She is also taking charge of all the blocks some on the ladies have been whipping up for the charity quilts the club wants to put together and hand out to people in need.  Val and Ruby were newbie Remnants and busily churning out these blocks. ( I heard a whisper that Ruby had baked some Ginger Gems for the ladies so just had to try one out.  It was delicious!)   The variety of Floating Four Patch blocks look great and we expect a lot more to be handed in at our next club night.

P2270058 Floating Four Patch blocks

Debi was also working on some more four patch blocks for the club charity quilts.  Plus some batik blocks which will be going in the raffle quilt for later in the year.  We were given several batik squares and were asked to add batik strips around the edges in complementary colours.

P2270060 Debi was still working on her club blocks

Janelle and Sara were chatting away together as they worked on their projects.  Both these girls do lovely work so I had to check out their progress.  Janelle does exquisite needle turn and was starting to appliqué vines with 3D buds.  She needs nine big blocks like this, she told me, to make a bed quilt for herself.

P2270061 Needle turn appliqué by Janelle

Sara was doing cross stitch, stitching away on a darling little pincushion, Le Poulet, a French Pincushion.  The pattern was purchased on-line and is a Blackbird Design.  A lucky friend will be getting this.

P2270062 .  Sara’s cross stitch pin cushion kit

Club President Sandra was doing some machine quilting on the last of her long appliqué panels.  These pretty black, red and white quilt sections will then be joined together with the QATG technique.  I’ve never done this before so I will be interested to see how it all comes together.

P2270063 Sandra’s appliqué panels

Sitting quietly and a study in concentration, Linda, who goes by the mantle of “Queen of the Recyclers” was unpicking  her Op Shop bargain buys to use in future projects.  They all seemed to be variations of black and white to me – wonder how it will all end up?

P2270059 Linda getting those seams opened up

So I left the ladies to their work and hurried back to see how my guests were getting on while I was playing hooky.  They were fine – in the middle of watching a TV drama.  Hopefully I will get to the next Remnants meeting next month.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eeek – save me from big spiders

Big spiders and moths are sure to upset me.  I know they can’t hurt me – but that is not the point, is it?  I can’t abide a big moth fluttering around my head, but little ones don’t bother me.  And as for big spiders, the thought of all those legs walking over me – ugggh!  I’m sure that’s what happened last night.  There I was, safely tucked up in bed, reading my library book.  What’s that, I thought, it felt like little tiny legs walking around my neck.  I sat up in bed, as quick as a flash, and checked the sheets and pillows for any furry little bodies.  But there was nothing to be seen, so after a little more reading I settled down to sleep.

But there had been something there all the time.  I didn’t discover it till I picked up my clothing the next morning to put into the washing machine, when out dropped a horrible big spider!  Ahhh – I couldn’t let it get away, then it would be free to come out again and walk all over me in the night.  Robin was taking a shower so I ran to the kitchen, got a glass, and dropped it over the spider.  There – try to get away from there, you monster!

Muffy decided to see what all the fuss was about and sat down by the upside down glass on the carpet.  She was taking quite an interest.  Perhaps she could see all those little legs wiggling as the spider tried to find a way out.

P2250018 What’s in there?

Robin’s job, when he emerged fresh and clean from the shower, was to do his husbandly duty and get rid of that big spider.  He didn’t think it was that big, but being a good husband, had to humour me and dispose of it.  After all, we can’t have an upturned glass sitting on the carpet for days on end, can we?  So he slipped some newspaper under the glass, opened the door and took it all outside where the spider was released.  If he had been wearing shoes, he told me, he would have squashed it on the grass.  But not with bare tootsies.

P2250020 The old newspaper under the glass trick

Thank goodness the crisis is all over.  I’ll be able to rest easy in bed tonight.  And it’s not as if I’m a real scaredy cat.  I’m not scared of mice, or bees, or even wasps. But rats would be a different matter, along with big fluttering moths and big hairy spiders!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Club blocks – done!!

It’s a great day here in my part of paradise.  The sun is shining, the washing is drying in the gentle breeze, the birds are chirping, and the cicadas are making just as much noise as they can.  It is the male cicadas making all that noise and it is all done for one reason only – to attract a mate.  The sound is made by membranes known as tymbals on each side of their abdomen – this is pushed out, causing a burst of sound, and then it pops back in. By rapidly repeating this, the cicada makes its song. Some New Zealand cicadas also make clapping sounds by flicking their wings against the branch on which they are sitting.  These insects may be noisy, but to us Kiwis, it is the sound of summer!

But I haven’t spent all my time outside enjoying the sunshine. No indeed, I’ve been working on the charity blocks I needed to make for my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  There is nothing worse than putting off a job like this till the last minute, then getting into a panic because the time has run away.  So I got the instruction sheets out, selected some suitable fabrics, and got cutting.

First up was the Floating Four Patch blocks which will be made into charity quilts.  These are all to be made scrappy, with no colour stipulation,  just a variety of light and dark backgrounds required.  I’m sure there will be lots of these returned next club night.

P2140026 Floating four patch blocks

Our club runs Quilt Fest later in the year, and the fundraising raffle quilt will be made up of batik blocks.  Included with the instruction sheet were six squares of batik fabric in various colours.  We had to add contrasting batik strips around the sides, in either light or dark tones.  Luckily I had some batik fabrics on hand which I felt worked quite well, so I cut some strips and sewed the blocks up.  Another easy block, and it’s going to look great when it is all put together.

P2140025 Batik blocks for the club raffle quilt

The next sewing job was to make one more cushion for the caravan.  I had already stitched four, but felt I needed one more.  This one will be going in the corner of the caravan couch which Muffy has claimed for her own.  She will be able to snuggle up to it as she snoozes her time away.  Yes, it will get covered in white cat fur, but that’s for me to clean up, of course.  

P2170057 Last cushion made for the caravan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blowing in the Breeze

It has been such lovely weather lately, nice and warm with a gentle breeze.  Just the right kind of weather to wash a quilt, I thought.  I have several quilts to use for our bed, and like to change them around from time to time.  Off came one, and I thought it was starting to look a little grubby.  We can’t have that, can we, so into the machine it went.  On a gentle wool cycle – I hasten to add, and then hung out in the gentle breeze.

P1210127 Fresh and clean again

I’ve been busy in the kitchen too, and several weeks ago I purchased a whole lot of locally grown strawberries to make some jam.  But it didn’t set very well at all, and I wondered what on earth I was going to do with my jars of runny jam.  Seems that soft fruit jam needs some extra pectin added.  Then I discovered some packets of Hansells Jam Setting Mix in the supermarket.  On the back of the packet was instructions for “jam that has not set”.  All my runny jam was poured into my preserving pan, in went a packet of the magic mix, and the jam was re-boiled for 5 minutes while my jars were washed and reheated.

P2140024 What to do with strawberry jam that didn’t set

Then the jam was ladled back into the jars, and sealed.  That looks better, not so runny this time.    Success at last.    Hopefully I will be able to buy some Omega plums soon and make a  batch of yummy plum jam with them.   There is something quite satisfying in making home made jam, I feel.

P2140029 I love home made jam!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sew Wot Tuesday again

The last two weeks went by very quickly, and yesterday was Sew Wot Tuesday again.  This time we met at Rae’s home, and little Rosie was so excited with all the ladies arriving.  She ran around and barked, then once we had settled down in comfy seats, she went around everyone to sniff and greet them.  Rosie was then banished out on the deck, and looked longingly through the window.  Surely some of these visitors might want to play with her, she seemed to be thinking.

P2170053 Rosie wanted to come and play inside

Everyone made it to our stitching morning and while we all worked away at our various projects, we were treated to a good lot of “Show and Tell”.  Pam, together with the ladies from her Thimbelina group, makes quilts for Ronald McDonald House, and brought along the latest creation.  It was very easy to put together, she said, and made with a wedge ruler.  The blocks certainly look quite complicated, and very effective indeed.

P2170049 Pam with her quilt for Ronald McDonald House

Moira was still working steadily hand appliquéing blocks for her 1718 Coverlet Quilt.  She is not in the least bit daunted by all the work in this historic quilt she will be reproducing.

P2170056 Moira doing hand appliqué

Helen always likes to keep busy too, and was finishing off a blouse she was making for her sister.  Such lovely summery fabric, it looks very pretty.  And I had to thank Helen for leaving me a big bag of grapefruit in the letter box the other weekend while we were away in the caravan.  We arrived home to find the mystery bag of grapefruit, and I had no idea where they came from.  That didn’t stop me from eating them, though.

P2170055 Blouse for Helen’s sister

Mary had a wonderful Op Shop find – a gorgeous linen tablecloth which was partly embroidered.  Mary loves this sort of handwork, so she did a beautiful crotchet edging first.  Now she is happily finishing off the embroidery. 


Mary’s Op Shop find

Heather was working away on her hexagons, but doesn’t like her work photographed.  Then she gave us all a gift – an early birthday gift for each of us.  Over the Christmas break she had made each and every one of the Sew Wots a little sewing bag, all different, and packed with goodies inside, such as cotton and needles.  What a lovely surprise, and this is what my one looks like.  Thank you so much, Heather.

P2180059 My pretty little sewing bag from Heather

Former member Carol came to our meeting too.  After spending several years touring the country in a campervan with her husband, they have now given up “life on the road” and settled down again to living in a house.  Carol brought along a very pretty quilt top to show what she had made while living on the road.


P2170052 Carol’s embroidered quilt

Our hostess Rae was doing something quite different.  She was knitting soft “boobs” for the Cancer Society.  These will be offered to ladies who had lost a breast and don’t want to undergo another operation for breast reconstruction.  Knitted in soft wool, and lightly padded, they come in all sizes and are soft to wear next to the skin.  Read about the project here.

P2170054 Rae’s knitted boobs

And what was I doing, besides talking and taking photos?  Not very much, I’m afraid to say – just a little work on my stitchery.  It’s almost finished, so I really should get on with it.  It was another great morning with the Sew Wot ladies, and sadly I won’t be able to attend the next fortnightly get-together.  But never mind – there is something exciting happening that day.  I’ll share it with you later on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Little Boy and Chocolate Crunch

My little boy, or to be quite truthful – not so little, came for a visit yesterday.  He rang through on Saturday to tell me that he was up in Wellington from Christchurch for the weekend and were we free on Sunday?  Luckily we were, so he came drove up to have lunch with us.  We hadn’t met up since Michael’s 50th birthday last year, so there was plenty to talk about.  This was Michael’s first visit to our new home, so he got the grand tour, and later on we took a walk around the village complex.  After lunch I served some baking which had quite a family connection and brought back some memories.  I used to make batch after batch of Chocolate Crunch for my two ever so hungry school kids for their school lunches.  Those were the days!

This is a good easy recipe and mixes up in no time at all.

1 cup flour, 1 cup coconut, half cup sugar, 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking powder.  Mix together in bowl.  Add 6oz melted butter and combine.  Put into greased Swiss roll tin and pat down.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  When cool ice with chocolate icing and sprinkle with coconut.

Or if time is short, do what I did this time and cook in microwave for 5-6 minutes.  This makes a softer slice, so I then keep it in the fridge.

P2160038 Chocolate Crunch slice

It was only a fleeting visit and he flew back to Christchurch today.  No matter how big they grow, or how old they are, Mum’s can still remember those baby and toddler days, can’t they?

P2150030 Michael with his Mum

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lunch and Quilts with Shirley

Come to lunch, Shirley and Lewis invited us, together with our mutual friends Robyn and Barrie.  We couldn’t turn down an invitation like that, could we?  Lunch was delicious.  Chicken and various salads, including Lewis's famous Canadian Potatoe Salad.  And to finish off our meal, Shirley brought in a wonderful trifle – so yummy.  While the blokes were doing a little “male bonding”  the three ladies retired to the sewing room to check out some quilts.  This is her latest creation, all made from stash fabrics, Shirley proudly announced.  The pattern came from her book “Pairing Up – 2 block quilts”, by Nancy Mahoney.

P2130014 Shirley’s new quilt

She had recently made two new cushions for the settee in the sewing room.  These handsome cushions were made panels purchased a while ago, from a trip to Canada, I believe.  You don’t want to take my photo, she is saying. 

P2130018Shirley and her owl cushion

P2130017Check out this cute wall-hanging

My friend Shirley is multi-talented and does beautiful paintings too – a talent I certainly don’t have

A couple of Shirley’s paintings

We rejoined the men and spent the afternoon reminiscing about our younger days.  Believe it or not, but many years ago when we were all so much younger, Shirley, Lewis, Robin and I spent several days walking the famous Milford Track together.  The walk was hard going at times, but what a sense of achievement we all had when we had completed it.  Those were the days!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Town and Country Quilters February Club night

It’s been such a long time since our last meeting of the Town and Country Quilters, so it was great to meet up with everyone again.  There was lots of news to get through.  Our club runs Quilt Fest later in the year, and there needs to be a fundraising raffle quilt, of course, so we were asked to stitch up a few batik blocks for this.  The club’s stock of charity quilts has been exhausted, and Leigh had the block pattern available for this worthy cause. 

The movers and shakers in our club  from Symposium were thanked, and several were asked to speak about their experiences.  Paula talked about the huge task of hanging the quilts, Helen related her day as an Angel helping one of the tutors with her class, Heather told of her White Glove duties at the exhibition, and Linda talked about arranging transport to take quilters and day trippers between the two main venues.  We can all appreciate what a huge amount of effort goes into running such a big a big show. 

Show and Tell was next – not a huge amount of quilts on show this month, as most put their efforts into quilts for the recent Symposium.  Janneke had brought along her hand appliquéd Happy Elephants quilt.

P2110001 Happy Elephants

Dianne showed us her wall-hanging made of lovely glowing silk fabrics.  She had seen a version of this quilt some time ago and wanted to make one for herself.

Dianne’s silk wall-hanging

And Kaye had been hard at work lately.  She purchased a quilt kit from one of the merchants at Symposium and whipped it up in  no time at all.  As well as being pretty in pink, it is soft and cuddly in Minky fabric.

P2110003 Kaye’s pretty Minky quilt

This one has the interesting name of “My Brain is Full”.  Yvonne liked the sound of that name so started this quilt in a Symposium class.  A nice easy to put together pattern, she said, with big and little squares.

P2110007My Brain is Full quilt

As we moved into the supper room for a cuppa, I picked up instruction sheets for the charity quilt blocks, plus the batik blocks for Quiltfest.  That will keep me busy for a wee while. But  I must remember to do them early – there is nothing worse than leaving them till the last minute and rushing about like a flea in a fit!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ladies Probus Group

It was quite a momentous morning as I was one of three new members inducted into the Levin Ladies Probus today.  As required, I had been attending meetings as a visitor for the last three months, and today was induction day.  Six of us were invited up onto the stage, the three prospective members and their sponsors.  We were warmly welcomed into the group, given our name badge and set of rules, and then presented with a pretty rose wrapped in cellophane each.  Many thanks to Dot for being my sponsor, and thanks to the Levin Ladies for welcoming me into their group.  (Robin and I are also members of the Levin Combined Probus.)

P2120012 I’m now an official member
Probus:  An association for active retirees who join together in clubs, to keep their minds active, expand their interests and to enjoy friendship.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Missing in the Chaos

Do you ever have days like this?  I’ve been looking for days for a couple of things in my sewing room.  Looked on top of my sewing machine cabinet, there are all sorts of things lurking there.  In a basket beside my machine where I store a few yet to be started or not yet completed projects.  I flicked through a couple of likely looking fabric crates.  And checked out a bag full of bits and pieces hanging on the hat stand, with lots of other bags full of UFOs keeping it company. 

Then success – I found the first item I was looking for, several metres of fabric for the border of one of my UFOs.  But did I start to measure, cut and pin once I found the missing fabric?  No, that would be too easy.  However, I’ve tucked the border fabric away in the bag with the quilt top, so at least they are now together in one place. 

And I finally found the other item, a bag of strips and squares I had previously cut ready to stitch into some sashing strips and setting squares.  No wonder I couldn’t find them, they had fallen down to the floor between a basket and the settee.  This sort of thing is quite handy to use as leaders and enders while you sew other projects, which is what I did today.

P2090110 Finally found my little sashing strips

Although I spent some time stitching and pressing today, I haven’t completed anything.  But I stitched these sashings, and made four small pinwheel blocks.  Then I stitched and cut strips to make some scrappy 4 patches.  This was after I had hung a load of washing outside, done the ironing, and prepared our evening meal.  So although there is nothing completed to talk about, every little bit done is another step towards completion.  And I can pat myself on the back for finding those two missing items, can’t I?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Sew Wots meet at last.

It’s been ages since the Sew Wots had a get together, so it was great to finally meet up again for the first meeting of 2015.  There was lots of chatter, as we all caught up with each other’s news.

Helen had been to a machine quilting class at Symposium with Australian tutor  Deborah Louie and showed us her samples.  Helen shared a couple of good tips which she had picked up from her class.  No 1- wear quilting gloves.  No 2 – use #50 100% cotton thread in the bobbin.  No 3 – use a denim needle when machine quilting.  As I’m a “not very good” machine quilter, all these tips are certainly worth trying.  After trying freehand work, Helen went on to working with stencils and quilt pounces.  It certainly sounded like a fun day.

P2030001 Practise piece of machine quilting

Helen then showed us what she had been working on since we had last met up.  She is calling this her Summer Quilt, with lovely big 18in blocks and a pretty floral appliqué border.  I love the pretty soft colours which she has used.

P2030002 Helen with her summer quilt top

The others were working quietly away, or not, or just chatting, depending on how they felt.  Heather was stitching hexagons together, and Pam started trimming little squares down to size using a small cutting board on her lap.  That didn’t look very safe to us, and she eventually gave up as she couldn’t quite remember what size she should be cutting!  Rae had ordered some new templates on-line and brought them along to show us.

We had a visitor come along too. As it turned out, Heather B was a foundation member of the Sew Wot group, and joined us today after a bit of a break – hopefully she will rejoin the group again.  We were very impressed with her industrious sock knitting – that is something I wouldn’t mind having a go at sometime.  The colours in the yarn make the most amazing patterns.

P2030004 Heather was knitting socks

Our hostess for the morning Moira has planned her sewing time for the year with not one, but two long term projects.  She has already started work on her version of the “1718 Coverlet”, the the oldest dated British Patchwork coverlet discovered.  Armed with her copy of the Susan Briscoe book which details each and every one of the 69 quilt blocks in this historic piece of patchwork, Moira has already made two of the large corner blocks.

P2030003 Susan Briscoe’s book

P2030008 Two large corner blocks all done

Moira’s second project is to hand blanket stitch a William Morris quilt.  Moira loves hand work, and is stitching down the first block.

P2030007 William Morris appliqué block

Moira then brought out a lovely Japanese inspired quilt, done as a group Block of the Month some years ago, as I hadn’t seen it before.  Pam purchased the pattern from Madison, USA, while on a trip, and the Sew Wots decided to stitch up a block each month to make their own version of the pattern.   Moira has just made a very pretty matching cushion.

P2030010 Sew Wot Block of the Month Quilt

P2030005Pretty matching cushion

We had a lovely morning chatting away, and doing a little stitching, plus a very tasty morning tea too, of course.  It was great to catch up with everyone again after such a long break.. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pinestream Quilters Exhibition

A trip to the Hutt Valley last week to get the caravan fridge repaired meant that I could also visit the last days of the Pinestream Quilters Exhibition in Upper Hutt.  This was my previous quilt club when we lived in Upper Hutt before moving to Levin, so I recognised many of the exhibitor’s names.    The theme for the exhibition was “Warmth”, and I noticed that many of the quilts were in orange tones, relating to warm flickering fires at home, perhaps?

On entering the exhibition this beauty caught my eye.  “Baltimore of Abbey” was stitched by Jeannette Orr for one of her adult daughters to “wrap herself in the warmth of a mother’s love when she is far from home”.  Hand appliquéd, embellished with beads, and commercially machine quilted,  this is indeed a stunning quilt.

P1290007 Baltimore of Abbey, by Jeannette Orr

Heather Harding excels in all kinds of P&Q and I loved “The Warmth of Wool” quilt she made from recycled clothing and blankets, which all came with New Zealand Woolmark labels.  This cosy quilt is machine pieced and hand quilted.

P1290016 The Warmth of Wool, by Heather Harding

“Love Letters” by Fay Breslin is a pretty quilt made in 1930s reproduction fabrics in postage stamp blocks.  Machine pieced and commercially quilted, and I love those soft colours.

P1290010Love Letters by Fay Breslin

Allison Pullar stitched “A Roman Summer” while living in a small inner city apartment in Rome during hot summer days when the temperature reached 40C.  Thank goodness the flat had an air conditioner.
P1290020A Roman Summer, by Allison Pullar

Yes, there really are emus in Upper Hutt – we have seen them on a Blueberry Farm in the Akatarawa Valley!  Pam Ritchie’s version of an  “Akatarawa Emu” was pieced by both hand and machine, and machine quilted on a domestic machine.

P1290014 Akatarawa Emu by Pam Ritchie

Best in Show went to Dianna Carroll for her stunning quilt, “Here comes the Sun”.     She also picked up awards for “Best quilting on a domestic sewing machine”, and “Best machine appliqué”.  You can’t get much better than that, can you?

P1290022 Best in Show – Here Comes  the Sun, by Dianna Carroll

The theme for the quilt challenge was to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of WW1 and the involvement of women both home and overseas.  There were many wonderful challenge quilts on display, and here are my favourites.

P1290032 “Thank You, those Maidens and Wives”, by Shirley Mooney.

P1290034“Too Far Away”, by Karen Johnston

PInestream Quilters has recently celebrated it’s 25th Birthday, and is still going strong.  I was a member of this club for quite some years, and I have many happy memories of meetings, classes and the monthly “Stitching Mondays” which I never missed.  I was so keen to attend I always requested a day’s Leave without Pay from work each month!