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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Enjoying the summer weather

I’ve been tying thread ends this afternoon and sewing them in.  Now that doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?  Actually, it’s been rather pleasant, and restful, sitting outside in the shade of the sun umbrella, with a cold drink at hand.  There’s a gentle breeze, the song of birds chirping, the occasional hum of traffic over the back fence.

Enjoying the warm summer weather

But………I’ve got a little problem and hope someone will know the answer.   I’ve had to remove a few applique pieces, stuck down with Steam-a-Seam, which I had ironed.  Now I have a couple of sticky white patches from the adhesive.  Does anyone know how to safely remove this sticky mess?  I had thought that perhaps I could place my applique mat over top, then press with my iron, and maybe that might make the gunk easier to scrape off.  Or maybe there is some solution I could dab on.  Any ideas will be very much appreciated.

Our elderly cat Muffy wants nothing more than to keep up close and personal to one or other of us.  Presently she is squashed up on my lap against the table as I’m blogging.  It can’t be terribly comfy for her, as she keeps slipping and sliding, and I have to readjust her legs.  But she is determined that this is the place she wants to be right at this moment, and that’s where she is staying, squashed up or not!  At her age, we feel she can have what she likes, anything to keep her happy – and quiet!  Senile vocalisation can get rather trying!

Muffy is helping with blogging

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tapestry Cushions Project at St Stephen’s Church

First stop on our Probus bus trip yesterday was at St Stephen’s Church, Marton.   And what a treasure the church is.  Made of beautiful native timbers, with the sunlight flooding through the stained glass windows, and featuring a gorgeous array of hand stitched tapestry cushions.

Tree of Life window at St Stephen’s Church

Back in 2007 a suggestion was made to the Women’s Fellowship that tapestry cushions would enhance the lovely old church.  A committee was set up, and the members were soon enthusiastically stitching away.  The design brief for the project was: Traditional designs featuring a cross or other religious symbol, or historic buildings of the area, or farming activities, or flora and fauna of the area.  It was decided not to restrict the background colour, and for the stitchers to decide which colours best suited their designs.


Cushion kits were made up, photos and some graphs were supplied if required,  although some stitchers chose to develop their own design.  The project was well publicised, and this led to a number of new stitchers in to join in.  An amazing  total of 80 cushions were stitched by 60 people.  At a service in June 2009, Archdeacon Elizabeth Body dedicated the cushions and gave thanks to those who had stitched them.



Although I don’t do tapestry and failed miserably at cross stitch, I can certainly appreciate all the work and love which went in to making these lovely tapestry cushions.  Well done, ladies of Marton.

You can read about the rest of our big day out on our Probus bus trip here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Art Deco Buttons

With just a week or so  to go till the exhibition ended, I finally made it down to the Hutt Valley to the Dowse Art Museum to view the Art Deco Button Exhibition.   Drawn from Ruth Meier’s  fabulous collection, this exhibition show cases some of her special Art Deco beauties.  Art Deco began in the Roaring Twenties,  through to the share market crash of 1929 and the financial depression of the 1930s.


The rather subdued lighting made it essential to get up close the the wall cabinets at see what was on show.  I preferred the floor cabinets with their different categories well set out.

English Glass buttons

French buttons

For dog lovers

Cheeky Silk Garter buttons

I have heard Ruth speak about her button collection previously, and she always happy for crafters to look through the cards and cards of buttons she brought along to illustrate her talk.  Most of the buttons were bought one at a time, painstakingly building up the collection over 40 years. However once she acquired 700 kilos of buttons in a single purchase, requiring Ruth and her husband to hire a truck and drive through Switzerland in a snowstorm to retrieve hundreds of buttons stored in old tea chests. Her collection started when she purchased a small Oxo tin filled with buttons at an antiques fair in Manchester. They intrigued her and from that moment, as she describes, “it was like a love affair and I couldn’t stop”.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Two more Christmas ABCs

Slowly but surely, my Christmas ABC blocks are coming along.  A bit of stitching here, and a bit there, and they are soon done.  I have now completed “I is for Ivy” and “J is for Joy”.  As mentioned before, I am using Michelle Ridgeway’s Alphabet Noel patterns for inspiration, and made a couple of small changes again this time. 

Christmas Alphabet I and J blocks

I have the next few blocks all traced out, ready and waiting for some more stitching time.  My stitching bag always comes away with me when we have a trip away in the caravan.  And with a  long holiday  weekend coming up, I should be able to find a little time to make a start on the next block – it really depends on how busy the weekend will be.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

First Finish of 2016

Finished –   two cute place mats for our caravan.   I found the pattern on Suzy’s Artsy Crafty SitCom, a fun blog I follow which is full of all sorts of things.  Craft, cooking, dogs, and living in a  RV.  I used Suzy’s pattern for her free Happy Camper potholder pattern and made it into a set of place mats.  And here they are set out on the caravan table.

Set of place mats for the caravan

All colour coordinated of course, to go with the burgundy furnishings in the caravan.  So cute, and the stripey sun shade really adds a little something, I feel.  These were fun to make, and I appreciate Suzy’s Sitcom making the pattern available to a fellow happy camper from this side of the world.

Dept of Conservation Camp

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Works in Progress

I shouldn’t really be doing this “new” project – certainly not with the number of UFOs I have.  But then, sometimes you just want to start something new don’t you?  What do you think it is?  It certainly looks like a caravan or two in there, don’t you think?  With any luck I’ll have it finished shortly.

What’s hiding here?

Our other work in progress is this: large quantities of Christmas chocolates, gifts from family and friends.  Oh dear, they are a bit like a siren song, calling to us, “eat me, eat me”.  We are trying to be sensible, and just enjoy two or three each evening after dinner.  (The After Dinner Mints, my favourite,  are long gone).  It’s not as if the pair of us really need to eat chocolate.  But since they were gifts, it would be rude not to, we feel.  That’s our excuse, anyway!

We won’t run out of choccies

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Parcels in the Post

It’s always exciting getting parcels in the post, and I was expecting a little gift from my pen-friend Carol before Christmas, but it didn’t arrive in time.  While we were away over New Year, we had arranged for the Post Office to stop and hold our mail.  And sure enough, on our return, the missing parcel was delivered.   It wasn’t really missing, of course, just held safely until we arrived back home.

Christmas gift from Carol, of South Dakota

Carol had sent me two patterns, both from Chickadee Hollow Designs.  One was a little miniature, Baby Steps, featuring four patch blocks and embroidery.  The other was a pattern for Butterfly Memories, and Carol had included a great selection of 1930s squares for the butterflies.  She also writes such lovely newsy letters too, so it is always a joy to hear from her.

Another recent arrival was this lovely new book I had ordered, Splash of Colour, by Jackie Kunkel.  I don’t buy many quilting books, but was really taken with what I had read about it.  Lots of lovely projects, and it is quite interesting to see that all quilts have been made in two colour-ways, which can give quite a different look. 

My new book

It is certainly so much more fun to receive a parcel or two, rather than a pile of bills, wouldn’t you say.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bye Bye, Santa and friends

The house has been de-cluttered of Christmas – it’s all been packed away.  Back into the crates went Jingle Bell Santa and his various Santa cousins.  My precious Jim Shore figurines were carefully wrapped up, placed into a carton, then packed into a plastic crate.  The Christmas wall-hangings have been rolled up, and once again I realised that I have more small quilts than places to hang them.  Our previous home had more wall space than here, so I will have to remember to rotate them next year, so they all get a turn to show their beauty.  The flashing lights were unhooked from above the sitting room window, and my pretty snowy village scene is safely back in it’s box.  Then one by one, the plastic crates containing my Christmas goodies, (not a huge number, I only have four) were man-handled up the narrow drop-down wooden stairs to our loft storage area, till next year.

That's it till next year, Santa and Santa

With Christmas packed away, back went everything else which had been cleared away.  Such as this photo from many years ago, which shows Robin and I the night we announced to our friends that we had just decided to get married.  Please note – not a grey hair to be seen!  But then, it was 32 years ago.

Way back when

With that job out of the way, I finally got to sit down at my sewing machine for a wee while. But not to start a brand new project, or even to work on one of my various UFOs.  I had to attend to a little mending, repairing a worn pocket on a pair of Robin’s summer shorts.  How is that for wifely devotion?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A lovely Surprise

It’s the last day of our tripping around today and we stayed for the night at Norsewood. After yet another leisurely breakfast, (and why not, we are on holiday after all) we were starting to tidy up the caravan, and make preparations for the last part of our drive home.  Press all the “locking” buttons on our drawers, put things away securely, shut the windows, wind up the caravan legs, all that sort of thing.  Then a car pulled up, and who should get out but Felicity, who lives in nearby Ormandville. 

Jenny and Felicity 

Feliclity is a quilter too, and had been reading our Romany Rambler blog about our recent adventures in her neck of the woods, so decided to come for a visit.  We meet up from time to time at quilt shows, so it was lovely to see her again.  There is always plenty to chat about with a fellow quilter, isn’t there?  And I really appreciate her taking the time to pop by to say “Hello” to us. 

We arrived home safely after traversing the Manawatu Gorge.  I really dislike that piece of road and always let out a sigh of relief when we are safely through.  But I think I’ll be better off not dwelling on the Gorge too much, nothing has happened to me while we have been driving through, it’s just that it does seem to have quite a number of rock falls from time to time.  I have a fear of a rock fall sweeping the car, caravan and us over the edge of the road and into the gorge below.  Perhaps I can think calm thoughts instead.

The caravan has been unpacked, and the first of several loads of washing done and hanging out in the sunshine. As well as the usual sort of laundry, I also have to wash the duvet cover and the quilt.  Don’t ask – we have an elderly cat who gets an upset tummy, enough said!

So what shall I do tomorrow?  More washing, it goes without saying.  Then perhaps I should pack the Christmas things away.  Do hope I can squeeze a little sewing time in – I’ll see how it goes.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year–and Reflecting Back

Happy New Year wishes to all.  I do hope that 2015 was a good year for you, and that 2016 will be even better.  Robin and I didn’t do very well at all in staying up late to see the New Year in – but that doesn’t matter.  Instead we were camped in glorious isolation on a farm in Ongaonga.  Just us, plenty of birds everywhere, a few bunnies to keep us amused, and a herd of dairy cows.  Where is Ongaonga, you are probably wondering?  It is a tiny rural settlement in the southern Hawkes Bay, and a lovely camping spot it is too.

On reflecting back, it seems that 2015 has not been a terribly prolific year for me.  But then, I was never one to be churning quilt after quilt out.  It’s easy to get intimidated, reading what some other bloggers achieve.   On the whole, I’m relatively pleased with what I’ve accomplished, but its just a shame I didn’t make more of a dent in my pile of UFOs!

So without further ado – my first finish of the year was a Memory Quilt made for our friend Pauline after her husband Geoff passed away.  I was delivered a big pile of tee shirts and other clothing, a green football scarf, and a great assortment of badges which I put to good use.  Geoff and Pauline were part of the group which travelled with us during our South Island Odyssey a few years ago, but none of us knew that Geoff was quite ill during our travels.
Geoff's Memory Quilt

Cushions (or pillows, some call them, depending where you live) featured quite heavily in my finishes for 2015.  I made several cushions for our newish caravan, after purchasing some extra upholstery fabric from the factory which manufactured our caravan.  I’m very pleased with how they turned out. 

New cushions for the caravan

The next cushion was the second of a stitchery pattern, “Give Thanks”.  Full of inspirational sayings, I had previously stitched one for my penfriend Carol, of South Dakota.  As I liked it so much I decided to stitch one for myself.  This one sit on the settee in my rather small sewing room.

Give Thanks cushion

My big project of the year was to make a special quilt for my daughter Nicky’s 50th birthday.  This was a long time coming, but of course  I got there in the end.  Nicky had quite a bit of input into her quilt and wanted dusky pinks, grey-greens and plain cream calico fabric.  We agreed on nine patch blocks, with the alternate cream blocks featuring appliqued leaves.  The quilt was finally completed, and I sent it away to get commercially quilted.  The quilting was marvelous – as I knew it would be, and she loved her birthday quilt.

The 50th Birthday quilt

Next to be completed was “Basket of Blessings”, made from a kit which was a gift, together with all the fabrics for the centre panel.  This I put on point, and extended it with caramel fabric from my stash.  The quilting was a little outside my comfort zone, as I was very keen to try spiral quilting, which I had seen on blogland.  This turned out a little more challenging than I had expected, but when the quilting was finally completed, I worked out where I was going wrong.  Must be a bit of a slow learner, I think.  But I am keen to try spiral quilting again, sometime soon, as I like the effect it gives.

My first attempt at spiral quilting

My pale green cushion was an easy make – using left over fabric from my bedroom drapes, and finished off with a hand made crotchet doily I was gifted many years ago.  Here it is sitting on the bedroom chair.

Doily cushion for the bedroom

The next two items were started in classes organised by my quilt guild.  My first (and probably last) attempt at sashiko resulted in a set of sashiko place mats, finished with batik strips around the outside.   They didn’t take too long to make at all.

Sashiko place mats

My Stitching Bag took a lot more work, and incorporated simple hand embroidery, machine applique and quilting, and Big Stitch quilting all over the front.  The idea started when I gathered up a pile of doilies after my MIL passed away.  With the addition of a bluebird sitting on a leafy branch, flowers and a butterfly, it all came together nicely.

My stitching bag

Things then got a bit busy and the sewing machine got a workout with last minute Christmas gifts.  I quickly made two cushions for my daughter, using left over leaf applique blocks from her birthday quilt.

Two cushions to match my daughter’s birthday quilt

My grand-daughter Emma loves anything “horsey” and likes to cook as well, so I made her an apron, and a matching two handed oven cloth, both covered with prancing horses.

Horsey gifts for my grand-daughter

And lastly, I made two Prairie Point Stars in festive colours, just in time to hang up for Christmas. 

Praire Point Stars

What else did I get up to?  I joined my quilt club committee last year, and write the newsletter.  I got to see six quilt shows, so that was great.  And discovered five “new to me” quilt shops on our travels. And family wise we celebrated my daughter’s 50th birthday, my grand-daughter’s 21st birthday, and my 70th birthday,  so it was quite a big year.  I enjoyed writing my quilt blog, and love reading other quilt blogs too.  There is always plenty happening out there in blog land, creative ideas floating around, and generous people offering hints, tips, and free patterns.  Thank you so much to all who take time to read my blog, and pass comments from time to time, which are always so nice to receive.  And I hope we all have a wonderful, creative year,  and blog about it, so we all can share.