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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Any Guesses?

Any guesses what I’m up to this week?  It all started with this bunch of fabrics which I sliced and diced.

For a mystery project

Then I made a whole bunch of these.  Oh no - I'm making yet another UFO!

All stitched up

What do you think?  We have some exciting news coming, and this will be part of it.  Meanwhile, normal service on Rolling the Dice and the List of Six has been postponed for a while.  I’ll let you know all about it next time. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sew Wots Tuesday

The Sew Wot ladies welcomed me back to the fold after I had missed a couple a couple of meetings with my hospital appointments.  There was another birthday to celebrate – this time it was for Heather B, and lots of lovely gifts were coming thick and fast.

We all love “Show and Tell” and Heather started off and showed us the table runners she had made using some interesting “toile” type fabric featuring patchwork scenes.

Two table runners made by Heather B

Close up of fabric used in table runners

We all loved Mary’s “Domestic Bliss”  quilt top, showing scenes from the life of a housewife.  There's certainly a lot of humour in these stitcheries and we had a chuckle or two as we looked at all the blocks.


Domestic Bliss stitched by Mary

Mary loves anything with a vintage flavour and brought along a tray cloth she had recently completed.  Her work is always so beautiful, and we all commented on how the black stitching sets off the rest of the design. 

Stitched by Mary

Our hostess Carol had some Show and Tell too, another item in the stitchery mode.  This was a lovely red Sunbonnet Sue quilt top, and she is keeping this one for herself, she declared.  Sunbonnet Sue has been around for a long time, but she is definitely a classic design.  Lots of lovely pieced blocks to complement the stitchery blocks.

Carol’s Sunbonnet Sue quilt top

Grunge fabric seems to be all the rage these days, I had seen it mentioned on various overseas blogs, although most of us had never seen it before.  Moira had been shopping recently and brought along a selection of Grunge fabric to show us.

Grunge fabric, so that’s what it looks like

There was plenty of chit-chat going on, a little stitching, reading magazines, and generally catching up with everyone’s news.  Just a normal stitching morning, and another delicious morning tea, served up by our hostess Carol.  Including freshly baked scones with jam, yummy!

Mary and Heather B

And there was one more surprise, as some of our members were not aware that we have a “Cover Girl” in our group.  Heather E does volunteer work at the local library, and her photo is now gracing the latest issue of Elderberries Magazine.  Good one, Heather!

Our cover girl, Heather E

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saturday was Stitching Day

Saturday was Stitching Day and I was all packed up and ready to go.  Due to health reasons I hadn’t been to many club activities lately, so it was something I was looking forward to.  I joined a dozen happy quilters gathered together at the Red Cross Rooms on Saturday morning.   I was happy to be there too, and took my sewing machine along and one of my many UFOs to work on. 

Which UFO, you may well ask?  This particular one hasn’t made it to my list yet, so it is a bit of a mystery to all who follow the weekly “roll of the dice” project.  I’m making a bed sized log cabin quilt, stitched over printed tissue paper patterns.  This is a really good method for me, as although it is straight line stitching, it keeps the blocks nice and even.  I’ve already made a gazillion log cabin blocks, so I’m up to piecing the scrappy borders.

They start off like this

Paper piecing is slow.  It’s a matter of stitch, flip, and press, and I like to do a bunch of these at a time with chain piecing.  And yes, its another burgundy quilt.  I’m very fond of this colour in quilts and furnishings – it’s a lovely, warm colour, I feel.

And finish like this

Most ladies were working on their sewing machines, a couple of quilts got pinned out, and there was a little bit of hand stitching going on too.  Janneke makes many quilts for Ronald McDonald House, and was pinning up her latest one, ready for machine quilting.  Some little one is sure to love this.

Janneke’s charity quilt

Wendy has joined a little group of club members all busy hand stitching their own version of the fabulous La Passacaglia quilt.  This is surely a labour of love, and Wendy said that planning the fabrics and colours is so much fun.  These quilts take a lot of time and dedication, and we look forward to seeing the finished products some time in the future.

Wendy busy hand stitching

A quick look around the room brought up these lovelies. Madalyn was stitching up these cute little Eye Spy blocks for one of her lucky grand children.

Madalyn’s Eye Spy blocks

And Ute was machine quilting her lovely black, cream and grey quilt.  Ute’s machine quilting is wonderful and the colours in the quilt all go so well together.

Ute was busy machine quilting

I decided to take myself off home after lunch, as the energy levels were starting to flag a little.  As I told the ladies when we all sat down to eat lunch together, I’m still in recovery mode.  I was pleased with what I had achieved, went home and put my feet up for a little.  With Robin on kitchen duties for the evening meal, I could relax without feeling guilty.  It was lovely to catch up with everyone again, and have a bit of “me time”. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Daffodil Day Today

The daffodil is one of the first flowers of spring, whose bright yellow blooms remind us of the joys the  new season will bring. It represents the hope there is for the 1 in 3 New Zealanders affected by cancer.  As well as providing an opportunity to raise awareness of cancer in New Zealand, Daffodil Day is a major funding source for the Cancer Society.  I was more than happy to help with my purchases of two bunches of these pretty spring flowers from one of the many Cancer Society stalls dotted about our town today.

Purchased for a good cause – daffodils on Daffodil Day

I had left Robin helping out on a stall at one of the local Supermarkets for a couple of hours – no doubt enjoying the chit chat with all the customers as they walked by.  And encouraging them to purchase some Cancer Society goodies so that they would part with their hard earned cash.  Robin and Ray are both Volunteer Drivers for the Cancer Society, taking patients to the hospital for ongoing treatment.

Ray and Robin manning the stall

We have had quite a bit of contact with the Cancer Society lately with my recent medical issue, and they do marvellous work.  The organisation also produce quite a range of informative booklets, run a health line telephone service, support groups, and scientific research.  We can’t thank them enough for all their help.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Something to Celebrate

Check out this beautiful morning we woke up to on Wednesday – and I’ve something to celebrate.  Yesterday was my final day for radiation treatment.

Pretty colours in the morning sky

Off we went for the 120km round trip journey for 16 days of treatment each weekday.   Thank goodness we won’t be doing that every day again, and I was more than happy to hand my blue gown back.  I have to say that the staff were marvellous, very helpful and caring, enquiring how I was faring every day and checking on side effects on my skin. I have been warned that the radiation effects will still be happening even though treatment is finished and that “things will get worse before they get better”.  But armed with creams to apply, and a district nurse calling around, I’m sure my symptoms will gradually ease.

My last day

We had a lunch out to celebrate – I chose chicken breast in filo pastry, and Robin had tender lamb cutlets.  Both meals were delicious, as we expected.

Waiting for our celebration lunch to arrive

With such a lot going on this week, I decided not to roll the dice once more.  And with all my recent finishes lately, my List of Six badly needs updating.  But never fear, there are plenty of other UFOs waiting in the wings ready to be put on the list.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Textiles from around the World

What could be a more stunning reminder of holidays abroad than a beautiful collection of textiles from far flung places?  Our local library had an exhibition showing some of Judy Turner’s treasures collected over many years of travels.  Her collection started when she travelled to Beijing with the British Foreign Office in the 1960s. 

Embroidery over striped fabric from Guatemala

Added to over the years, she collected textiles as she travelled through Asia, India, and Africa. She is particularly interested in the cultural role the textiles play in their country of origin.  The beautiful dyed, printed, woven and embroidered textiles  have deep significance to their owners and are thought to convey protection or good fortune.

The Marsh Arab red rug made in Southern Iraq glowed with colour.  This traditional rug was woven by men and embroidered by women.  Judy Turner commented that Saddam Hussein drove the Shi’a Moslem Marsh Arabs out of their traditional home and lifestyle in the delta region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  The survivors have dispersed to refugee camps.

Marsh Arab rug from Iraq

The Toran at the top of the picture is hung over the doorway on special occasions to bring good luck and prosperity.  The embroidered cloth underneath is known as a Dharaniyo is designed to hang in front of a pile of folded quilts and household items  to make the room tidy.  Wouldn’t all quilters worldwide want one of these beauties?  Both items made in Kutch, north west India.


Toran and Dharaniyo from India

From Nigeria came the Status Robe, assembled from many narrow strips joined both horizontally and vertically to make the garment.  Both the weaving and the elaborate embroidery are the work of men.

Nigerian Status robe

This pretty fabric is actually an 8.5 metre turban length from Rajasthan, north west India.  The fine muslin was tie dyed and can be twisted and wound into a neatly fitting turban.

Tie dyed turban length

This is just a small part of what was displayed – all very beautiful and exotic.  Judy Turner points out that in many communities art is not a picture on the wall, but a beautiful, intricately made textile.  These are appreciated for the skills of the maker, and  the meaning behind the patterns, and are handed down over the generations.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Another top Finished

We woke to a lovely Saturday morning and looked out the window.  The sun had risen in the east, and the full moon was up in the west. The morning sky had just the lightest touch of pink, which doesn’t really show in the photo.  So with the sun and the moon in the sky in the same time, it look’s like we are getting a two for one deal today, wouldn’t you say!

Full moon in the morning sky

In between hospital appointments this week – nearly over, thanks for your concern, I worked on the checkerboard borders of my caravan quilt.  More by a stroke of good luck rather than any particular skill on my part, the side borders fitted exactly down each side of the quilt top.  As this is a square quilt, it followed that the border would also fit on the top and the bottom. 


But…….. when I went to lay the last two borders in place across the top and bottom, the coloured squares weren’t playing nicely at the corners at all.  Instead of following on burgundy, white, burgundy, I had two whites side by side, plus two burgundies.  How an I going to fix this, I wondered, without pulling everything apart?  So I started playing  around with a couple of four patches and finally folded one in half and laid it over the other.  That should do it – pinwheels in the offending patches.  Problem solved!

Solution to the corner problem

With the problem of the corner blocks solved, I just had to pin the top and bottom borders in place, (I like to use lots of pins) stitch them on, give everything a good press, and finally, another top finished.  This project is UFO number one on my List of Six, finally completed. 

Quilt top for our caravan – finished

The stitchery designs used are “12 Days of Redwork”, by Alex Anderson, although I had to add another design as I needed 13 stitched blocks.  I have happy memories of stitching them while travelling around New Zealand in our caravan.  The flowers and leaves were then coloured in using fabric pens.  And I must say – I love how it’s all come together. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

O is for (Christmas) Ornaments

Another block done on my Christmas ABCs.  It didn’t need to much stitching to complete it, and I had time to do a little stitching while away on a caravan rally last weekend.  The weather was wet, wet, wet, so what could be nicer than being tucked up nice and cosy in the caravan, and doing a little stitching.  The last little bit was completed today.

O is for Ornaments

All my Christmas letters are from “Alphabet Noel” design book by Michelle Ridgeway.  Some I stitch as they are designed, and some, like this one, I have adapted.  I’m really enjoying this stitchery project, just taking my time, so there is no pressure of a completion date.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Scrappy Checkerboard Borders

It’s border time today and I’ve been sewing my burgundy and white squares together to make a border for the quilt destined for our caravan.  They started off like this.

Lots of little twosies

And have grown to this, long lines of burgundy and white checks.

Growing ever longer

This week I’m working on UFO number One on my List of Six, and this is the final border on the quilt.  I should really lay it all out, see how long I need to make each side, and decide on how I’m going to do the corners.  Decisions, decisions.

The interim name for this quilt is my Caravan Quilt, as I did most of the stitchery blocks while on holiday in our caravan over a period of time.  We would travel in the mornings, do a little sight seeing, and then relax later in the day under a shady tree.  The blokes enjoyed a cool beer each, while I happily stitched away with a coffee to hand.  The flowers and leaves were then coloured using fabric pens, a first for me.

Stitchery block

I’m sure I’ll come up with a more appropriate name before this top is finished – just have to put my thinking cap on.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A little quiet Stitching

HI everyone, and thanks again for all your good wishes.  I have decided to take Annette’s advice and not “roll the dice” this week.  With a week chocker-block with appointments and a caravan club weekend away (on Friday) to look forward to, time wise it didn’t really work this week.  Sitting in my sewing room at the back of the house just didn’t appeal to me – so I didn’t!

But I have managed to a little quiet stitching, sitting outside on the patio with the birds keeping me company.  The bird feeder has been very popular, but the birds kept their distance for a while.  They were not too keen on me intruding in the space as I sat quietly at the table.  They lined themselves up on the fence and on next door’s roof, waiting to see if I would go away.

The birds are playing the waiting game

They finally got enough courage up to come closer to the bird feeder, playing acrobats as the hung off this feeder and that feeder.  There were plenty of Hedge Sparrows, and I was pleased to see native birds too, Wax-eyes and Greenfinches.


All the birds came calling

While the birds were feeding, I was sitting quietly at the patio table doing a little stitching.  I’m working on “O is for Ornaments”, part of my Christmas ABC blocks.


And here’s one I finished earlier – “N is for Noel”.  These stitcheries are based of Michelle Ridgeway’s  Alphabet Noel design booklet.

N is for Noel

My stitching bag will definitely get packed away in the caravan for the weekend, and hopefully I will get a little time to do some more work on the letter O.  If not, it doesn’t matter – there is no timetable in place for this project.  Hope everyone has a nice weekend too.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Just a quick Update

It’s been a while since I wrote about my “troubles”, so here is a quick update for all those readers who have been so supportive over the last few months.  I don’t want to dwell too much on health issues, (it’s more fun to talk about quilting, don’t you think) and it seems I’m on the home stretch now, as far as my treatment for breast cancer goes.

After waiting and waiting – these things take time and there is a due process to go through, I realise, I have now started my radiation treatment.  So off I go each day, with my little hospital bag packed.

All set for another hospital visit

My lovely new bag was a gift from Jean who blogs as All Points of the Compass.  Inside is my hospital gown – I was given one on my first session and was told it is mine for the duration, to launder as required.  It didn’t have a belt, leaving me feeling  rather vulnerable, so I quickly stitched a length of tape on the back.  So much better, I can keep in closed now.  I also have to take my Patient ID Card, to prove that I am who I think I am.  There is also room in my bag for my library book, to help if appointments are running late.

There was heavy frost everywhere when I started my journey today, all over the ground, and on each roof in our village.  As we drove up the the hospital, the paddocks were a swathe of white frost.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and away in the distance I could see the top of Mt Ruapehu  – the conditions have to be crisp and clear to see the mountain that far away.  Too far away to try and take a clear photo, though.

Frost on our roof at home

And for those who don’t know what a  Linear Accelerator looks like, I asked if I could take a photo.  My grand-daughters have no idea what happens and were concerned that I was feeling rather sad about it all – isn’t that sweet?  I’m sad because I got sick, I told them, but I’m really happy with all the health care I’m getting from the hospital. 

Linear Accelerator ready for action

“I’ll take your photo”, one of the very helpful staff told me – there are three Radiation therapists working each machine.  “Do you want to get on the bed?”.  No thanks, just by the machine would be fine.  So here I am in my fetching blue gown.


So that’s where I’m up to at this stage, and I’m travelling up to the hospital every day from Monday to Friday for three weeks.  Luckily they give me the weekends off for good behaviour.

I’m still planning on “rolling the dice” each week, although of course I won’t have the same amount of time available with the several hours taken out of my day with travelling for my treatment.  But I’ll get to check out which UFO is chosen each week, give it a pat or two, and see what I feel like doing in the available time.  Energy levels could well be down during this treatment so I’ll just have to take things one day at a time. 

I realise of course that some readers could well be going through something similar, or have a friend or family member touched by cancer.  So I do hope that I haven’t upset anyone with this post, that certainly wasn’t my intention.  I’m just trying to show how I’m coping, and to thank everyone for their ongoing support and kind messages.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cushion for Emma

I obviously miscalculated when I was whipping up nine patch blocks for Emma’s horse quilt and have a pile left over.  So I decided to utilise a few and make her a cushion.  A big cushion, using four of the black and grey blocks.  She can use the cushion on her bed, artfully arranged “just so” on top of her new quilt (read about the quilt here).  Or maybe she would like to cuddle up to her new cushion on the couch. 

Emma’s big cushion

After days of cold, wet, miserable weather, it was great to see the sunshine again.  With the washing hanging on the clothesline outside in the sun, I’m a very happy camper indeed.  And I’ve been busy in the kitchen too, and made some tasty leek and potato soup for lunch.   Yum – I’m a real home made soup lover, although Robin is not so keen.  My reply to him – just be thankful you have a nice wife who cooks you soup and looks after you so well!

Leek and potato soup for lunch

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Great All Breeds Horse Show Quilt

The top is finally finished – the Great All Breeds Horse Show quilt!  Previously known as the black, grey and raspberry horse quilt which I’m making (in secret) for my grand-daughter Emma.  After all these months, I knew I had to come up with a better name.  Emma has ridden since a young age, and loves anything to do with horses.  She requested black and grey, and with the addition of 18 embroidered named  horse heads encompassing the many different horse breeds, I’m sure she will love her new quilt.

Photo time was not terribly successful.  The quilt top was too long to hang nicely outside on the clothesline.  And I had to be aware of the damp pathway underneath.  

Photo shoot outside

Perhaps a photo inside would be better?  Here’s the top spread over our bed.

And an inside version

I’m also planning ahead and have got the binding prepared – all ready to apply.

Binding prepared

This top is much too big for me to handle the quilting myself, so I will be taking it around to commercial quilter Paula who did such a marvelous job on my daughter’s 50th birthday quilt last year.   It’s taken a while, and I’m really pleased that this top, UFO number 5 is finally completed.  Now, what shall I stitch next?