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Monday, February 29, 2016

Rolling the Dice

With the weekend spent away in the caravan at Lutz farm in Otaki, I didn’t have the chance sit at my sewing machine and work away on my Amanda Jean apron.  But we had a fun filled country weekend, and if you would like to see what we got up to, check out our other blog here.  And, believe it or not -  yours truly won the milking contest, not too bad for a girl from suburbia!

A new week, and another roll of the dice.  This time the dice fell on number 5, which is a new project I’m starting for my grand-daughter Emma.  She loves horses, and requested a black and grey quilt.  That’s a bit dull, I thought, so I’m sneaking in some of a pretty red/blue batik  in too, for contrast.  I’ve been gathering blacks and greys for a while now, so it’s a good time to start.  There will be horses involved in this quilt, but not till I’m much further along with the blocks.

At the moment I will concentrate on making 9 patch units, and cut lots of strips to to make a start.  Although I have quite a lot of plain black, I decided to use that just as the centre square of the 9 patch, and purchased lots of black fabrics with patterns,  for variety.

Strips cut and ready to sew

And after a couple of hours spent stitching strips together, pressing, then slicing, this is what I’ve got to show.  Next step will be pinning some of those 9 patch blocks together so they will be ready for my next session at the sewing machine. 

On the cutting board

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Amandajean’s Apron

This week I’m working on my version of Amandajean’s apron, designed and stitched by the very talented  Amandajean who writes her fun blog http://crazymomquilts.blogspot.com.  I’m a great apron wearer, (because I’m such a messy cook) and when I saw her lovely scrap apron some time ago, decided that I would love to make one too.  See Amandajean’s version here.

Digging into my box of 2 1/2in strips I sewed various lengths together, cut them again, and made a whole heap of 4 patch blocks, then longer groups of 8 patches.  It’s amazing what comes out of the box of scraps, bits of fabric from long ago quilts, horses from two quilts I made for my grand-daughter, butterflies, a kiwi, florals, some homespun,  even a little Christmas fabric.  Anythings goes, really, and the strips in the box never seem to get depleted either.

Making 4 patches from my strips

I needed a rough plan for my apron, so started setting the rows out like this.  I’m one of those people who just can’t have two bits of fabric the same side by side, so had to do a little rearranging before I sewed my rows together.  But knowing Murphy’s Law, I’m sure to get some of the same fabric together and never even notice.

The apron starting to take shape in the beginning, extra rows have been added now

I had previously been stitching the squares together intermittently and then it was bundled away for some time – out of sight, out of mind.  Then of course this project has made my list of the “lucky six” and with the roll of the dice, was chosen to be removed from it’s hiding place, and brought out into the light of day.  And, most importantly, will receive a whole week of care and attention from me, as I aim to get on top of my UFOs.

This afternoon  I’ve been sitting outside enjoying the lovely sunny weather, shaded by the sun umbrella, armed with the top of my apron, lots of extra multi coloured squares and my box of pins.  I’ve been assembling rows all ready to stitch together – so I’m getting there slowly.

A multitude of different fabrics

I’ve never really been into “scrap quilts” and such, usually I seen to work with a much more controlled pallette.  But this apron is definitely scrappy, with a multitude of different coloured squares.  There’s a lot more to be done, of course, so I’ll just keep plodding away, one step at a time.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Roll of a Dice

No – I’m definitely not a gambler with a problem, let me assure you.  But I’ve heard about a way to deal with those UFOs which never seem to get worked on.   I’m one of life’s butterflies and tend to flit from one project to another so I’m hoping this variation of what I’ve read on the Internet might well suit me.

So…….. what I’m going to do is list six UFOs.  (You don’t have any?  Don’t tell me that!)  Then each week with a roll of the dice, that will be the one I will work on during that week.  And so it will go each week.  Another roll of the dice, another UFO, and another week to work on it.  It’s unlikely that I will finish one of these UFOs in a week, but if I do, then I’ll add another UFO to the list.  How does that sound?

My six chosen projects are:

1:  Burgundy quilt for our caravan
2:  Amanda Jean apron
3:  Maple Leaf wall hanging
4:  Little Letters quilt
5:  Black/grey quilt for grand-daughter Emma
6:  Duvet cover

Projects 1-4 are in various stages of construction, while 5 and 6 are new projects. 

6 UFOs, ready and waiting

And yes, I have more than six UFOs tucked away.  How many?  I not counting because I really don’t want to know the answer to that.  But I’ve got plenty to keep adding to my list as time goes by.  And I must tell you – I was astounded when I read that my pen friend Carol stopped counting hers when she reached 70 or so – I’m sure I haven’t got that many!

This relates to machine sewing only, of course.  I plan to give myself permission to do hand stitching and knitting when ever I want.

It goes without saying that the amount of time spent sitting at the sewing machine will vary considerably, week by week.  It all depends of social outings, appointments, trips away in the caravan, and a myriad of other things which cut into stitching time, such as housework laundry and cooking.  But by focusing on one thing only each week, I hope to accomplish a little more than I have been doing lately.  Wish me luck.

And the first number rolled is…….2, my Amanda Jean apron.  More about that tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Back in Business again

I got the call I’d been waiting for – my sewing machine was ready for collection.  Barry, the super-duper sewing machine technician had it all set up ready and waiting for me, and asked if I would like a run through with using my Bernina BSR (stitch regulator) foot.  Certainly I would, I do free motion occasionally, but each time I have another try I seem to have forgotten what I knew earlier – must be a sign of getting older, I feel.  Barry reminded me to remove the foot pedal, and use the on/off button and then I had a play.  He is such a kind and helpful man, and I really appreciated the extra tuition time he gave me.

Barry’s sample piece to check the tension

My 440QE Bernina has now done a little over 4 million stitches, Barry told me!  That’s not to say it is getting old, he assured me, it is a good machine and will be around for quite some time.  Sewing machines are like cars, and need regular maintenance, don’t they?  My machine gets an annual service, because we all know that quilters use their machines a lot more than the average home sewer.


So far, I’ve just used the machine to do a little mending.  It’s Saturday today and I’ve been busy cooking up a storm.  How does ham and cheese quiche sound with hot rhubarb sponge pudding for tonight’s meal?  Plus I’m planning ahead and also made a cranberry loaf which I will slice up for expected visitors on Monday.

I’ve been mulling over a plan with how best to deal with my UFOs – tell you about it next time.

Have a great weekend, wherever you may be. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What’s a Quilter to do…..

What’s a quilter to do when her sewing machine is away getting serviced?  It’s not as if I actually sit down and sew every single day of the week, but when it’s not there you certainly miss it.

So, I’ve been making a list of what I really want to get done when my machine comes home.

I’ve been checking out various projects to see that all the components are there.

A little unpicking has taken place and a whole lot of pinning.

Last but not least, I’ve got my quilt documentation folder up to date.  I hadn’t written up about several of the smaller items I finished later last year, so that is now done and printed off.  And I’ve rummaged around to find swatches of fabrics used, cut them neatly and added to the appropriate pages.

Now I’ll just wait patiently until I get the call to come and collect my machine, and I’ll be all set to sew again.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine’s Day, our way

Valentine’s Day is well celebrated here in New Zealand by the young ones, with cards, flowers, chocolates, outings and no doubt with skimpy undies too.  As a pair of older and wiser Kiwis, this is how we celebrated Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

We have a Sunday morning tradition of a cooked “bacon and egg” breakfast – rustled up as usual by Robin.  Then as a little treat I had brought us some Whittakers Chocolates, made in New Zealand by brothers Andrew and Brian Whittaker.  They have persuaded the lovely Nigella Lawson to travel to NZ to make a series of TV ads, so that proves how good it is!

Whittakers chocolate, made with love in New Zealand

Then I spent a little time in the kitchen preparing a creamy potato salad, chock full of extra goodies such as crumbled bacon (Robin cooked extra at breakfast time) chopped hard boiled eggs and spring onions.  The trifle for dessert was next, layers of sponge cake, custard, boysenberries and blue berries - not  too hard to make at all.  With food prep out of the way, we could relax outside under the sun umbrella, just chilling out.

The “piece de la resistance” of our evening meal was a leg of tasty New Zealand lamb cooked on the Weber barbecue.  I’d been wanting to try this ever since we went to a BBQ demonstration and the staff  sliced it up for customers and prospective purchasers to try.  Onto the BBQ it went flavoured with sprigs of rosemary and it ended up looking like this!

Leg of lamb for dinner

It was a lovely meal, even if I do say so myself, and we enjoyed a glass of sweet dessert wine.  But although I enjoyed sipping away at the lovely sweet tasting wine, it never agrees with me and I always end up with a bad head!  I’m not much of a drinker and I guess it says something about my low tolerance to alcohol!  With coffee and chocolate to finish, we were well satisfied.

I do hope you enjoyed Valentine’s Day in your own way, sharing it with someone special.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Town and Country Quilters February Club Night

It’s been such a long time since our Christmas Club Night – way back in December.  But the monthly meetings have now started again, and it was great to attend and catch up with everyone.  Our speaker for the evening was Lynne, one of our very talented club members, who spoke about colour.  She stressed the value of constructing our blocks with lights, darks, with brights and a little zinger, and had many groupings of fabrics to illustrate her point.  This was a lesson I learnt in my early quilting adventures, when I made a sampler quilt, diligently choosing fabrics for each block and thinking how pretty they looked.  It wasn’t until the quilt was completed – and all hand quilted too, that I realised that there wasn’t enough contrast in the fabrics.  I didn’t realise while working so closely on the project that all those pretty colours just blended together when the quilt was viewed from further away.

Show and Tell is always a highlight of our meetings and there were some lovely quilts on display.  Jan brought along this very pretty star quilt which she had made for her niece’s 21st birthday.

Made for a 21st birthday gift

Grand children are special and deserve special quilts to welcome them into the family.  Kaye made this bright and cheerful quilt for a new grandson.

For a new grandson

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching we had a new segment for our Show and Tell, and invited members to bring along a heart quilt to show, not necessarily a new quilt.  Did you know that Valentine’s Day is named for the Christian Saint Valentinus?  He was imprisoned for ministering to the persecuted Christians and for marrying soldiers who were forbidden to marry.  According to legend during his imprisonment he healed the daughter of his jailer.  Just before his execution he wrote her a letter of farewell, signed “your Valentine”.  We had ten or so quilts on show with a heart theme, including my one “Hearts of Love”, made for our 25th Wedding Anniversary.

Hearts of Love

This was a trial at our meeting, to see what the response would be.  The idea is that we will continue this at our monthly meetings, choosing a different category each month, and gives some of our older quilts a chance to be shown and admired again.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy 20th Birthday to Muffy

Sunday was a very special day, and we wished our lovely cat “Many Happy Returns”.  She has reached the grand old age of 20 years old.  Muffy is away with us in the caravan for the weekend, in the Wairarapa.  We shared a birthday cake for morning tea with our caravan club members.

Happy 20th Birthday to Muffy

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Wearable Art in Levin Supermarket

Shoppers at the New World Supermarket in Levin got a first hand look at schoolgirl Eden Parker’s recycled dress.  Eden attends Koputaroa School and her assignment was to make a garment from recycled objects.  Using cardboard, masking tape, chicken wire, toilet rolls, and lots of of the store’s reused plastic shopping bags, the dress has been stopping shoppers in their tracks as they enter the doors on their shopping trip.



This talented young lady is keen to do more fashion design projects in the future, she says.