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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Dice Rolls 5, again

Who would believe it!  For three weeks in a row, my pretty pink dice has come up with the number 5 from my UFO list.  And I gave it a really good shake around too.  But never mind – rules are rules, so number 5 it is again.  For those who don’t know, or have forgotten, that means that for the current week, I’ll be sitting at the sewing machine working on my black and grey blocks for grand-daughter Emma’s surprise horse quilt.

Number 5, three weeks in a row!

We were away in our caravan over Easter taking part in a huge Easter Rally (read about what we got up to here) so of course I didn’t have my sewing machine with me.  But I managed just a little stitching done on one of my Christmas ABC blocks.  We were on the go for the long weekend, and luckily the Easter Bunny managed to track us down, to leave us Easter Eggs and Easter Buns.  Muffy came along too, and spent the weekend snoozing her days away inside the caravan.  She is not too keen to venture out much these days, the world has turned into a scary place for her.

Muffy received an attendance ribbon

With Easter intervening, cleaning and unpacking the caravan, doing several loads of washing, I didn’t get to roll the dice till today, Tuesday.  So I plan to start the week off with slicing up plenty of sashing strips all ready to start stitching tomorrow.  I don’t really enjoy sitting at the sewing machine late in the afternoon (like today) so will be all ready for an early start tomorrow. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Craft Fair at the Rally

Its always fun to see what is on display at a craft fair.  And there was plenty of choices at the fair held over on Sunday at the Easter Rally.  I climbed up on stage to get an overview of the stalls and shoppers – what a cacophony filled the hall.

A hall full of bargain hunters

There was plenty to tempt the shopper, as I found out.  I purchased a big pot of Manuka honey, (Robin’s favourite), 2 jars of home made jam, and a couple of apricot pastries for lunch – well, we do have to keep our strength up, after all.  And a cute little wooden mixing spoon with an engraved horse’s head, one of the grand daughters will love that, no doubt.

For one of the horse lover’s in the family

There was a fabulous stand full of bags with machine embroidered panels which caught my attention, created by Louise of Bagendbabe.  The calico bags had all sorts of embroidered sayings, and were nicely lined with fabric that continued the theme.  Yes, I know I can make bags myself, but these were rather special.  So I came away with one with an embroidered caravan on the front and back.


Front and back of my new bag

We had a great time at the Easter Rally which was huge, with 700 or so caravans and motor homes in attendance.  There was entertainment on every evening, and plenty on offer to fill in the day time hours too.  Or you could just relax in the sunshine with friends, if you preferred.  Being the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) AGM Rally, people came from all parts of the country, some from Australia, even a bloke all the way from Ohio!  The plus for us was that it was held in our home town, just a short 3km drive away. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Quilted Banners at 60th Rally

We joined 700 or so caravans and motor homes over Easter to join in the 60th (Diamond Jubilee) NZMCA Rally.  This huge event took place in our home town, so of course we had to attend, with just minimal driving required.  People came from all over the country, plus campers from Australia and USA.  Arriving later in the day than we would have liked, we were parked up in the adjacent school grounds, besides large trees giving us much needed afternoon shade.

At the Easter Rally

The official opening took place with a piper leading in the banner bearers, followed by speeches from VIPs, and then the rally was officially opened.  I went to check out the banners after all the dignitaries had left the stage, and there were some rather special lovely ones on display.  The Wellington group had created a new banner especially for the occasion, and it shimmered under the lights.

Wellington’s banner

The West Coast banner caught my eye, especially the clever use of New Zealand themed fabric.
West Coast banner

The banner from Auckland featured well known Rangitoto Island, a flowering pohutukawa tree, and a rather non traditional interpretation of the Sky tower.  

Auckland’s banner

The Marlborough banner showcased the region’s award winning wine growing business, and sea life frolicking in the Marlborough Sounds.

From Marlborough

It was great to see such creativity in these lovely banners – obviously designed and stitched by quilters! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Black and Grey with a touch of Raspberry

The dice rolled 5 again so I’m working on my black and grey nine patch blocks for the second week in a row -  I knew this would happen sooner or later.  And no, I wasn’t tempted to have another roll of the dice, that would be cheating, and I can’t do that.  So project 5 it is again.  Although I am champing at the bit to get back to my Amandajean apron, and the Little Letters quilt which is now all pinned up ready for machine quilting.  But I’ll just have to be patient and wait till they get their turn.

I didn’t manage a great deal of sewing time last week, with all sorts of other commitments, and this week will be much the same.  With our 60s Up meeting in the morning, and visitors in the afternoon, yesterday was a write-off as far as any sewing time was concerned.  So I was determined to make the most of a day at home today. 

The first job was to carefully trim the embroidered horse head blocks to the size of the 9 patch blocks.  After I’d cut the first couple, I was seized with a terrible thought.  Had I actually measured the 9 patch blocks, or was I just presuming I knew the size?  You know that wise old saying – measure twice and cut once.  Thank goodness I had the correct size in my old grey head, so a catastrophe was averted. 

Horse head blocks, trimmed to size and pressed

Sashing strips were next, and I stitched, and stitched, and stitched some more, until I had a nice pile of 9 patch blocks with a sashing strip stitched down one side.  And I used the “leader and ender” technique to sew black squares on the end of sashing strips to go between each row of blocks.  I rather like the touch of raspberry with the black and grey blocks - what do you think?

The results of several hours at the sewing machine

I’m always rather intrigued with quilters in the Northern Hemisphere who lay their new quilts over snow to take a photo.  Doesn’t all that precious work get wet and grubby?  No snow down here in my part of paradise in New Zealand, but I can share grass and sunshine instead.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A little fabric buying

Just a little, mind you, to replenish my stocks of black fabrics so I could continue with the black and grey nine patch blocks.  So down to Krazy Cow quilt shop I trotted, with some blocks in my hand.  I wasn’t trying to match up the black patterned fabrics, but seeking to buy a few more different ones.  After peering at all the shelves, and checking out the fat quarter baskets, I’d made my choice.  And making choices can be difficult for me, as I’ve got a reputation of being a bit of a procrastinator!  You should see in in a cafe, trying to decide between this or that, it can be quite a long drawn out exercise sometimes.

The result of my shopping spree

The new fabrics were washed as soon as I returned home and hung out to dry.  Not everyone washes their quilting fabrics, I know, but I always like to.  Firstly, in case they bleed some of the dye, which doesn’t really seem to happen these days with good quality fabrics.  And secondly, to remove any dressing which is used in the manufacturing process.  Then I happily pressed all my freshly washed and dried fabrics, sliced them up and got stitching.

Once again, I had another good batch of nine patch blocks to show for my stitching time.  Perhaps I should have a count up now instead of just making more and more.  I’ll lay them out on the bed with the embroidered horse blocks to see just how many I have and how they all look together.

Another bunch of 9 patch blocks

This will be the end of my sewing time on Project number 5 this week, as we are taking a short journey away in the caravan for the next few days.  But I won’t be completely idle, my stitchery blocks and knitting will be coming away with me.  Plus a couple of books too, of course.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sew Wot Tuesday

It doesn’t seem two weeks since I last met up with my Sew Wot buddies, but of course it is.  Heather B was playing hostess today, and she lives out in the country, and up a long rural road running up a hill.  I had collected Heather E and we drove up and up the road, until we came to a house at the end.  But it wasn’t Heather’s home, we had come too far, it seemed.  Oh dear, that’s what happens when there is too much chatting going on.  So we turned the car around, drove a little way down hill and stopped and asked a nice young farmer for directions.  Goodness knows what he thought, as we were practically outside the house in question!

It was lovely to catch up with everyone again, with just a couple of ladies away.  Everyone settled down to do a little handwork, or in my case, knitting for a change.   Pam brought along her  Row by Row quilt from a few years ago.  It was a bit of a mystery quilt, it seems, as clues were given for each row, with those taking part making their own interpretation of the words.

Pam’s Row by Row quilt

Helen was busy doing a little stitchery, which looked familiar to me.  It’s just like one I did and put on the cover of my quilt documentation folder.  The pretty little circular stitchery features a sewing machine, and is surrounded by a line of text.  Moira was busy hand piecing more blocks for her 1718 quilt.

Helen and Moira

Cover of my quilt documentation folder using the same design as Helen

There was a little story behind the cushion Carol and Heather B are holding.  Carol stitched this lovely piece, made it into a wall-hanging and then gifted it to Heather.  Who later decided to change it into the pretty cushion is is today!

Carol and Heather B

Walther the cat wasn’t shy when all the Sew Wot ladies came to call, and curled up on the coffee table while we were out of the room enjoying our delicious morning tea.  He certainly earns his keep, we were told, and so far this year has caught and dispatched 24 rabbits, 2 stoats and 1 rat.  Good on you, pussy!

Walther – the great hunter

It was a lovely morning, as usual, plenty to chat about, a little show and tell, a lovely morning tea, and a great time spent with friends.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What am I working on this week?

The dice rolled the number 5, so it’s welcome back to my black and grey 9 patch quilt for grand-daughter Emma.  She doesn’t know she is getting this quilt, so it will be a nice surprise when it is finally completed – however long it takes me.

I really need to take a trip to the quilt shop and purchase some extra black fabrics, so I’ll certainly be doing that in the next day or two.  So today I spent a little time on preparation, carefully washing the embroidered horse blocks which will be going in Emma’s quilt.  Once dry, they were carefully pressed – so that job is done.  I’ll trim them down to size when I’ve completed all the 9 patch blocks.   These little beauties came from King’s Treasures, and I’m thrilled with them.  The embroideries were very reasonably priced, and the service was great, they arrived very speedily.  Emma lives and breaths horses, so I know she will love this quilt.

One of the horse embroideries

The next little job was to cut some strips for sashing so I’ll be ready to go once I have enough blocks pieced and start laying them out.  To tell the truth, I wasn’t expecting number 5 on my list to turn up again so quickly – but that’s OK.  Whatever number I roll with the dice, that’s what gets my attention for my sewing time each week.

Strips cut for sashing

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Little Letters top finished

I’m really pleased with my sewing result this week, and can report that I have finished my Little Letters top.  Just the top – mind you, not the whole quilt.  There was a little more time available for stitching this week, although we were away on a 60s Up bus trip to Caccia Birch on Wednesday, read about it here, and out for a couple of afternoon teas.  Life is always busy, we find.

It was a big help that I had all the components already stitched in this particular UFO bag.  The blocks, the filler blocks, and the sashing strips – all ready and waiting for me.  So I laid it all out into rows, pinned the rows together, and got stitching.  Stitch, press, lay that row out, and do the same with the next row, and the next.

Ready for a good press all over

Then today, I cut, measured, and stitched the border fabric on – the same fabric I used in the colourful setting squares.  Originally purchased for another project, there is more than enough to use in both, and the nice bright design helped pull all the different fabrics together. 

The finished top

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a real fan of “leader and ender” sewing, and stitched the little top squares onto these sashing strips while working on another project.  And while I was stitching my alphabet rows together, I used the easy strip piecing as I start to assemble blocks for my Soul Searching quilt.  (More about that one later when it gets added to my UFO list).  It’s really bonus sewing, almost like getting something for nothing.

With the quilt top completed, the next step will be to pin it all together, top, batting and backing, ready for machine quilting, and it’s next turn when the dice stops on number four.   And tomorrow, I get to roll the dice again.  Wonder what number I’ll get to work on next week?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Town and Country Quilters March Club Night

There was a good crowd for our March Club Night, and the members at the Special General Meeting agreed to adopt the new Constitution.  With that bit of business out of the way, our meeting got underway.
Show and Tell is always interesting, and there was a great selection of items, such as Carol’s pretty little French inspired tote bag.

Carol’s tote bag

Sarah is thrilled that she will finally be a granny soon and I loved the pretty striped quilt she had stitched up, based on the colours the parents-to-be had selected for the nursery.  The appliqued pussy cats are such a nice touch too. 

Sarah’s cot quilt

The blocks for the pretty pink hexagon quilt were stitched while Barbara was in South Africa, she told us.  This quilt is finished with a lovely braid border, and wonderful machine quilting.  In front is one of the Row by Row quilts which was the category for our special Show and Tell segment.  Members were invited to bring a Row by Row quilt along this month, not necessarily a new finish, to get our older quilts a chance to share the limelight again.  I brought my one along too, which was made for my 60th birthday, by a bunch of generous quilters from my former home town!

More show and tell

Instead of a speaker for the evening, some of our talented members set themselves up and showed various techniques, such as the Acuquilt cutter, and the felting machine, both of which I have never used before.  I was interested to see how easy it was to make  “quilt as you go” place-mats and little pouches  – I’ve tried it many moons ago, and it certainly is a great way to use up extra strips of fabric. 

Quilt-as-you-go” items

After a cuppa and a scone topped with jam and cream for supper, catching up with friends, admiring the show and tell, it was then time to collect my things, say my goodbyes,  and head home. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MIL’s Throw-Over

Clearing out cupboards when Robin’s Mum passed away, after the siblings had taken whatever they wanted for their families, I was very fortunate to take my pick of what was left.  No one wanted the hand embroidered doilies or tablecloths, or the multitude of crochet and tatting.  Most of these items had been made by Robin’s grand-mother, so I’m very grateful to have them.  And I’ve got plans percolating on how to re-purpose them to show them all off to the best advantage.

Tucked away in the bottom of the linen cupboard was a grubby looking hand embroidered throw-over.  This had minimal hand embroidery with a basket of flowers in each corner, and was hemmed in black.  After an overnight soak, a gentle wash, and a cool iron, it came out sparkling white, fresh and clean once again.  

Hand embroidered throw-over

It’s so nice to have these beautiful family treasures, and I’m sure that if I hadn’t rescued them, they would have ended up being disposed of.  Robin and his brothers don’t remember their Mum doing hand embroidery, so we don’t know if she worked on any of the items I now have.  Although I do wonder who actually made this pretty little cloth, the important thing is that it now will be used and appreciated for it’s simple beauty.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Dice rolls Four

Monday is my “roll of the dice” day, and number four is the lucky number this week.

It’s number 4 this week

Which is…….my Little Letters Quilt.  This is a design from the Temucula Quilt Company blog as a free quilt-along project in 2014.  The pattern for each letter of the alphabet was posted on the blog weekly, and although I was a little late starting, I soon caught up.  All the different fabric colours came from my 2 1/2in strip scraps and I used plain white for the background.

All the little letters have been completed

Then it didn’t take too long to complete the extra filler blocks.  The pattern gave four different designs but I decided to make my four as pinwheel blocks.

Pinwheel blocks

And lastly, I sewed some sashing strips as a “leader and ender” project some time ago.

Sashing strips

As you can see, I’ve already made quite good progress with this UFO.  And now it has a week out of it’s bag after being hidden away for a while, the next step will be to assemble the quilt top.  Until I lay it all out, I won’t know if I need to stitch some more sashing strips or not.  So that is my challenge for this week, working on putting my Little Letters quilt top together.

And if you are wondering, as I’ve already told Robin, there will be no cheating when I roll the dice.  If the same number comes up several weeks in a row, (it hasn’t happened yet) that’s the way the dice fell.  It’s actually quite fun to see what number UFO I get to work on each week, and I’m sure I’ve been spending a little more time sitting at the machine lately.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The things you see on Sunday!

We enjoyed a day out and about on Sunday with friends, travelling down to our old stomping grounds, the Hutt Valley.  During our travels I spotted a couple of quirky textile items which I’m sharing with you all.  

1:  Giant Knitting.  On Sunday morning we viewed the “Shapeshifter Sculpture Exhibition” at the Civic Gardens, Lower Hutt, and came across some very pink giant knitting artfully arranged in the gardens.  This sculptural piece by Mia Hamilton was called  “Its a girl – birth to old age”.   It wasn’t just for fun, but had a story to tell as well.  The artist stated: “Baby pink knitting heralds the birth of a little girl.  On closer inspection it becomes obvious that the knitting needles are old, wooden, walking sticks.  Age is creeping up on me.  Friends I considered young are dying.  I am not done here yet, I have so many artworks to make, so many stitches to complete, so many threads of life to follow”.

Giant knitting,made with pink plastic

2:  A patchwork jacket for Elvis:  Actually, it was an Elvis look-alike puppet and he was at the Sunday Strum ukulele jam at Expressions Gallery at Upper Hutt, which we attended in the afternoon.  I was told that his jacket was especially stitched by a quilter who resides in Tawa, to fit over his white satin jump suit.  “I’m a quilter too”, I told Shane of the Ukulele Institute, .who kindly let me take a couple of photos.  Perhaps someone knows the name of this elusive quilter from Tawa?  We sang along to all the songs played by a group of ukulele enthusiasts,  including the Elvis classic, “In the Ghetto”.  Can you tell that I’m an Elvis fan?

Elvis puppet wearing his patchwork jacket over his white satin jump suit

The closest I’ll ever get to Elvis

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Nine Patches roll off the Asssembly LIne

There’s no doubt about it – I’ve been on a roll this week.  The grey and black 9 patch blocks for my grand-daughter Emma’s horse quilt have been rolling off the assembly line.  And I’ve got 40 completed.  


I’ve been cutting fabric and stitching up strip sets, then sub cutting them.  Pin them into place, stitch and press - you know how it goes.  I’m using plain black homespun for the centre squares, but I’m running low on some of my “patterned” black fabrics, so will need a trip to the quilt shop to buy some more blacks.  It’s been quite exciting to see my pile of 9 patch blocks grow during the week, but I know I’ll need a lot more.  Still, it’s not a bad start, I feel. 

As well as my time spent sewing, it has been a busy week though, with a hospital appointment one day.  Then a  morning spent with my friendship group, the Sew Wots, it was lovely to catch up with them all.  And yesterday, it was lunch out with old friends – another nice social activity.  So I’m really pleased with what I have achieved in the sewing room this week.  There will be no stitching done tomorrow (Sunday) as we will be spending the day out and about with another group of friends, and I’m sure a nice lunch will featuring heavily on the agenda.  Come Monday, I’ll get to roll the dice again, and work on another of my UFO projects for the coming week.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Meeting up with the Sew Wots again

It’s been a long time since I met up with my friendship group for a morning spent stitching and gossiping.  Mind you, we don’t meet over the long Christmas break, and then, due to other circumstances, I missed the first two February meetings.  So it was great to meet up with a full contingent of Sew Wot ladies today.

Pam and Helen were sitting together on the couch, both very busy.  Pam always make us smile when she talks about her colourful  “Rest Home” blanket which she is crocheting – so it will be ready for when she goes into a Rest Home, whenever that day comes.  And Helen was sewing the binding down on her pretty Bronwyn Hayes  designed wall hanging.  This will be hung in her sewing room, she told us.

Pam and Helen with their projects

Moira and Heather E were busily stitching away, and Mary had almost completed a lovely vintage Noah’s Ark stitchery.  This will be going into the centre of a child’s quilt, she said, and as usual, Mary’s work was lovely.   I really like that happy hippo hanging over the bow of the boat!

Mary’s Noah’s Ark stitchery

Heather B was appliqueing a couple of dolly figures onto pretty pink gingham.  This will become a cot quilt and Heather intends to put it away in her “Great Granny Box” for the future.  I understand her reasoning completely, as I already have some hand stitched goodies and knitting tucked away for when my grand-daughters settle down.

Heather B and her cot quilt in progress

These three little cot quilts were made by Carol to be donated to a good cause.  Made in such soft and pretty colours, they are sure to be much appreciated.

Carol’s charity cot quilts

As for me, I did a little stitching on my Christmas ABC blocks, but had to leave a little early.  But not too early to miss the lovely morning tea our hostess Rae provided.  I especially love her shortbread, and now make it myself, using Rae’s recipe.  Thanks, ladies, for a lovely morning.