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

Monday, September 28, 2015

Enjoying the Sunshine

We know that the weather is getting so much warmer when I’m happy to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a quilty magazine enjoying the morning sunshine.  In my part of paradise it is Spring and the time has come to alter the clocks for Daylight Saving.  (I’m starting to think that the time is almost here to put my winter clothes away, and start wearing something lighter.  But then we have a few more cold days and I change my mind again).  Muffy came outside  too, and I’m sure that she felt much better with the sunshine warming her poor old bones.  At 19 years old, she is getting rather stiff and no doubt sore too, and likes nothing better that being close to her people, preferably sitting on a lap. 

P9260011 In the bright morning sunshine

The air was filled with the sweet scent of yellow boronia, which has just burst into flower.  Such a lovely smell, and I’ve picked a few sprigs to bring inside.

P9260012Yellow boronia in flower

While enjoying the sunshine, I’ve also been doing a little “big stitch” quilting with Perle No 5 thread on the corner of my new stitching bag.  I’m getting there slowly.  The trouble is that I have several hand stitching projects on the go at the same time.  So I always have to decide which one will I work on.  No wonder I’m so slow!

P9260014  Big stitch quilting on my bag in progress

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just a little sewing

So what have I been doing today?  Just a little sewing, trying to clear up the backlog.  First I finished up some “secret sewing” for a gift, so I have to keep that under wraps for a little longer.  But the pieces have been sitting on my sewing cabinet for a wee while, and kept reminding me to just get on and finish it.  Which I have done now, I’m pleased to say.  The job didn’t take too long at all, and it made me wonder why I procrastinated so long.

Next up was a new bag for the caravan from parka nylon, not at all glamorous, I hasten to add.  This is to store our (rolled up) rubber door mats in, which keeps us from tracking mud inside the caravan.  The previous bag was made some years ago, and had finally given up the ghost with a large rip appearing in the bottom.  First I had to find some more parka nylon, and couldn’t get quite the colour I was after, so settled for red instead of burgundy.  I made the new bag a little larger and here we are, all finished.  It won’t win any prizes for beauty, but does the job of containing our often damp and muddy rubber mats, which are then stored away in a locker under the caravan.

P9240008 The new bag for muddy rubber mats

P9240007Oops, a big hole appeared in the old bag

Once again, this job didn’t take too long, just a bit of quick sewing and it was all done and dusted.  Perhaps I can sew something a little more prettier next time?

Monday, September 21, 2015

A couple more Christmas ABC’s

Slowly but surely, I’m quietly working away on my Christmas ABC blocks when I get the chance. I like to take this sort of stitching to my Friendship Group when we sit and stitch together, in between all the talking and stopping for delicious home baking at morning tea times, of course.  I also pack my stitching bag for the times we go away in the caravan, and I completed my “D is for Deer” block this weekend when we were camping at Foxton Beach. 

P9200067 C is for Candle and D is for Deer

I needed Robin’s help recently when I purchased some more skeins of Perle 5 cotton.  He had to hold each skein for me while I cut it in half and plaited the strands together.  This keeps the cotton (reasonably) tidy in my thread bag, and it is easy just to pull a strand out as required.  Didn’t he do a good job!

P9020004 He has been a big help!

Plaiting the cotton reminded me of those long ago years when I used to plait my daughter’s long blond hair into pig-tails before she left for school.  Mornings were always such busy times with a young family, school lunches to make, school bags to get packed, and long hair to brush and plait, before my two children rushed out the door on their way to school.  Those were the days!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sew Wots 200th Birthday!

It was a very special Sew Wot’s day on Tuesday, as the group was celebrating their 200th meeting – can we call it our 200th birthday?  And to celebrate, we gave ourselves a little present!  Everyone brought along a wrapped fat quarter which was placed in a bag, and we all had a dig and a delve and pulled one out.  What a lovely variety there was, everyone was very happy with their little gift.  I received a lovely piece of Japanese fabric.

P9150025We all got to choose a fat quarters from the bag

And that wasn’t all – Mary had a little gift for us all too.  She had been going through her  bits and pieces of crotchet cotton and made a whole lot of pretty book marks. We got to choose one – it’s no surprise that the pretty blue book mark was my choice.

P9150027    Mary had made us each a pretty book mark

As if that wasn’t excitement enough, Moira had put on an extra special morning tea to celebrate our 200th meeting, with a little help from Carol.  We had hot savouries, dainty sandwiches, pikelets, tiny coconut cup cakes, and a cream sponge.  What a great spread.

P9150030Morning tea

With such an exciting morning, there was not a great deal of hand work taking place, just a little stitching and knitting. As the newest member of this group, it was interesting to learn about the history.  Starting in mid 2006, the ladies have enjoyed making several quilts together over the years, a Row by Row, a Japanese themed block of the month quilt, and a Round Robin quilt.  Moira brought out her   Round Robin quilt to show me – and everyone reminisced about the particular round they did on this quilt.  The "Dancing Dollies" on the top border signify each Sew Wot member participating.

P9150024 Moira’s Round Robin quilt

It was a very special morning  indeed, and I am so pleased that I am part of this group of wonderful ladies.  House groups are very special indeed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Allcomers Stitching Day

“Come one – come all”, and they did, to the new venture for my quilt club, a day spent stitching together with fellow club members.  To someone navigationally challenged like me, my quest was to find the hall – not only one I had never heard of, but was also tucked down a driveway.  In my defence, I should state that we have only been living here for a couple of years, so there are still places I need to discover.  I arrived in good time to find the hall humming with ladies, setting themselves up on tables, chatting away, and getting ready for a good day’s stitching.

P9140013 All set for a good days sewing

As I had never been to this particular hall before, I didn’t take my sewing machine as I wasn’t sure of the availability of tables and power points.  I needed have worried, as there seemed to be plenty of room for those with machines.  Although I happily worked on my hand stitching all day, and perhaps next time I’ll take my sewing machine for the day.  My Sew Wot buddies Pam and Rae arrived in time for lunch, and I was intrigued with the tassel on Pam’s embroidery scissors.

P9140014 Pam’s scissors and fancy tassel

There was lots of lovely work going on around the hall, and most were happy for me to take a few photos as they told me the stories behind their projects.  Such as this wonderful “Op Shop” find of a set of six hand embroidered blocks  which she is surrounding with colourful scrap squares.  It makes you wonder how these lovely embroideries ended up being given to the shop – perhaps family didn’t want (or appreciate) their relative’s hand work when she passed on?

P9140018 Janneke making another charity quilt

Chloe was busy assembling not one but two soft fabric books for new babies in the family.  Made from fabric panels, these books have a decidedly New Zealand flavour.

P9140022Chloe’s books for grand-children

I sat with Kath who had also attended the Sunday Sashiko class, and we hand stitched away on our projects together.  There is no doubt that our quilt club’s first stitching day as a great success, with 17 people attending.  The plan is to have alternate weekday and weekends each month, so that those working will be able to attend as well.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sashiko Class

Fourteen keen ladies gathered on Sunday morning to attend a class on Sashiko stitching, with tutor Claire Smith, organised by my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  Claire started her workshop with a brief history of sashiko stitching.  Sashiko originated in rural Japan in the 18th century where women made garments for the family and the people developed ways to recycle fabric and extend the life of their clothes.  The stitching was originally designed for strengthening a single layer of fabric or for patching worn clothing or quilting together several layers of indigo dyed fabric for warmth and durability.This simple running stitch was born from the necessity of conserving and repairing garments at a time when cloth was not so widely available to farmers and fishermen. Their wives made sashiko items at home, particularly during the long winters when the ability to work outside was limited.

P9130002Class samples of sashiko stitching

Before we were let loose with fabric and thread, we practised drawing the designs first on pre-printed gridded paper.   I quite liked the curvy design marked with a coin over 1 inch sqaures.  We were shown how to mark up other designs too, some curved, and some made with straight lines.  Once we were sure of the process, the next step was to mark the chosen design on our fabric.  This was surprisingly time consuming, as the grid lines had to be drawn in first.

P9130003 Practising my curves

Our tutor was teaching the traditional hand stitching,  and most in the class decided to use this method.  Another option was to stitch the pattern by machine, and Marjorie was going well using this method.  Her choice of black thread on natural coloured linen looked very sophisicated indeed.

P9130008 Sashiko by machine

My sashiko was done by hand, using green thread on cream fabric.  The stitches should be the size if short grain rice, the tutor informed us – my stitches were more like jumbo sized grains, I have to say.  Later in the afternoon as we were flagging a little with all the concentration, we had a pick-me-up with a Kiwi speciality, Pineapple Lumps.  For those who have never tasted this Kiwi delicacy, imagine small chocolate covered pieces of confectionery with a soft, chewy pineapple-flavoured middle. 

At the end of the day we put our samples together on one of the tables to see what everyone had been working on during the day.  Some had chosen to work on the traditional blue fabric, others cream, and there was also green and burgundy fabric used – anything goes these days.  It was a very interesting class, and I’m pleased that my placemat was almost completed.  Just need to stitch the other one to go with it, and I’ll have a matching pair to use at the breakfast table – that’s the plan.

P9130012 Our day’s work

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Town and Country Quilters September Club Night

The weeks certainly roll by, and before we knew it, it was September Club Night.  The notices were read, the raffles drawn, and then it was time for Show and Tell.  It was lovely to see several finished quilts from the recent Kingfisher thread painting class.  They all looked wonderful, and it seems such an interesting technique to learn.  Perhaps one day I’ll give it a go, if I’m brave enough.

P9090031 Kingfishers from a recent class

Heather had been working on her William Morris inspired designed for a while, and finished it off with adding a lot of beading. 

P9090032Heather’s William Morris quilt

It was another UFO crossed off the list for Cheryl, with this striking design in black, green and pink.

P9090020 Cheryl’s triangle quilt

Our speaker for the evening was Aimee from Aimee’s Homestead Quilts.  She brought along a lovely lot of goodies from her new shop to tempt us with, and also had a selection of quilts to show us.  Like most of us, Aimee loves Christmas, and we loved her Christmas quilts with all the lovely stitchery blocks.

P9090028 Aimee’s Christmas quilts

Aimee related the little story behind Taupe Daisies.  The king sized quilt top was made by Aimee’s Mum, who then passed it over to Aimee to quilt for her.   Wow – that would be a big job.

P9090023Taupe Daisies

Then we got a chance to check out Aimee’s stock of goodies, which she had brought along for the evening.  There were several tables groaning with stock, and I joined the others investigating what was on offer.  Of course, a couple of items jumped into my hand and I had to take them home with me.

P9090029Aimee chatting to a customer

Another good club night – I always go home with ideas buzzing around my head after seeing everyone’s lovely work. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

CanTeen Fibre Art Bandanna Challenge

Colourful Cancer Society bandannas were at the heart of this exhibition, organised by CanTeen Manawatu, and held at the Globe Theatre, Palmerston North.  I walked in the door, paid my gold coin donation,  and looked at amazement at over 100 wall hangings and cushion covers, all made from bandannas.

P9050001 Globe Theatre, Palmerston North

This is the first time such an exhibition has been held, the ladies on the desk told me.  The Manawatu team decided to take up the challenge, and organise the competition and exhibition.  Not as I had naively imagined, with the entries being made by patients.  This competition was opened up to schools, and the general public, and was wholeheartedly supported.  There were four categories, entries from Primary schools, Secondary schools, and Learning Support.  Then quilters and crafters alike got behind the idea and the entries poured in for the Open Section. 

P9050007 An overview of the exhibition

Each entry had to contain a recognisable portion of one or more of the colourful bandannas which the young cancer patients like to wear.  And what a colourful variety there was, made in all sorts of techniques and styles. 

P9050017  This one says it all - Fight Cancer
 P9050009 Many featured hearts for hope

P9050015The coral is shaped like hands, to signify help available to patients and families

Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer, as I have been myself, so it was good to see all the bright and colourful works of art bring a positive message.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Nature’s Bounty from the Freezer

We had a great crop of tomatoes last summer, so some got put away in the freezer, after I had blanched them to remove the skins.  There they sat for months, and every time I went into the freezer I wondered what on earth I would do with my large container of tomatoes.  Yesterday was cold and chilly, and I had a hankering to make some soup for lunch.  Tomatoe soup, I decided.  So the box was retrieved from the freezer, and I flicked through a few cook books.  I’d never actually made tomatoe soup before – but how hard could it be?

P9030007 Full of good tasty recipes

Actually, it wasn’t hard at all.  In went the tomatoes, chopped onion, a little of this herb and some of that, garlic, salt and pepper and it simmered away for the prescribed time.  Then I got the stick wand out and very carefully zapped the tomatoes to make it all nice and smooth.  And I’m pleased to say that I didn’t lift it out with the motor still running, so didn’t splatter the soup all over myself.

P9030006  Home made tomatoe soup

I’m not too keen on tinned tomatoe soup as I find it a  bit sharp tasting, but my home made soup was delicious, I’m pleased to say.  So delicious that I just had to have another helping!  Don’t know why I’ve never made it before – it is easy to make and really tasty.  So that is another soup variation  to add to my repertoire.

With a couple of quilt finishes lately, I spent a little time writing up the details with photos, printing the pages and adding fabric swatches.  These are now put away in my quilt documentation  folders.  I’m up to date with new quilts, but still have a backlog of older quilts to document.  One day I'll be completely caught up, I hope.

P9040010 Folders for my quilts documentation

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Meeting up with the Sew Wots

Due to other appointments, I hadn’t been able to meet up with the Sew Wots over the last few weeks.  So it was good that I could make it on Tuesday, and the whole gang was there.  There was plenty of news to catch up with, plenty of chat, crafts magazines were doing the rounds, and lots of Show and Tell.

Helen had recently attended a class with Sonya Prchal on thread painting and proudly showed us her finished creation, a kingfisher.  It wasn’t too hard at all, she told us.  I don’t know, it looks rather tricky to me.  The secret seems to be printing a picture onto fabric and then stitching over that.  Helen’s little quilt was just perfect – lovely choice of fabrics, great quilting, and of course, a perfectly stitched kingfisher.

P9010064   Helen’s kingfisher from a recent class

Helen was also stitching away on the final row of her festive “Christmas Memories”, designed by Michelle Ridgeway of Rag Tag Stitchin’.  Quite a coincidence as I was also working away on another Christmas design by the very talented designer – “Alphabet Noel”, which I tend to refer to as my Christmas ABC blocks.

P9010068 Christmas stitchery rows by Helen

Carol is very prolific with whipping up Charity quilts and had brought along her latest one to show us.  Carol is part of the Thimblelina Group, and the ladies work together to make (mainly) children’s quilts for Ronald McDonald House and other worthy charities.

P9010066 Another Thimblelina quilt

Heather B had two lovely things to show us.  We all loved the toilet bag which Heather had made for her daughter using two Op Shop doilies – so pretty.

P9010065 Toilet bag made from doilies

Heather B’s other recent finish was a lovely purple and blue toned quilt for a friend’s adopted daughter, Tatiana.  What a lovely gift to welcome someone into the family.

P9010067 For Tatiana

In between chatting, Carol, Moira, Heather, Helen, Rae and myself were working on our embroidery and stitchery projects.  Mary completed the crochet edging she was working on, the switched over to knitting, and Pam was just happy to sit and enjoy the companionship.  Heather E  was the hostess for the day, and I especially enjoyed those freshly made pikelets with lemon honey – just delicious.  Another great morning, as usual.