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

Friday, March 31, 2017

A finish – candle-wick Table Runner

It all came together rather well, if I do say so myself.  Three gifted candle wick blocks, and a little left over fabric in cream patterned with pink and green from my daughter’s 50th birthday quilt all worked well together.  And here it is, machine quilted and bound.


How to quilt it – that was the question.  I finally decided to do some echo quilting around the outline of the stitching.  And add a heart in each corner.  As I started marking the heart I had a worrying thought – hoping that I was using my Frixion pen and not just any old biro.  All was well, thank goodness.  I love the way the pen marks just disappear with the touch of the iron.

Quilting and marking

I added a little bit of quilting to the centre of each block, to hold it down nicely.  Then did gentle wavy lines around the borders.

The middle block

With this project finished, that’s another one I can cross off my list.  Now, what shall I replace it with, I wonder?

New runner on the coffee table

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Good and the Bad

It’s good and I’m so pleased that the lovely Poinsettia which my daughter gave me at Christmas is still thriving.  Three months later and I haven’t killed it with kindness – or in my case, neglect.  I’m not much of a gardener at all, and that includes pot plants.  The label told me that these plants like diffused light, so it is sitting on the table in front of the large windows.  And although it is nice and warm, the bright sunshine is certainly diffused  by the white sun filter curtains. 

Poinsettia on my NZ tablecloth

The plant pot is sitting on my New Zealand tablecloth, started when we did our South Island Odyssey trip several years ago.  I prepared lots of rail fence blocks using all sorts of NZ themed fabrics and pale grey.  As we travelled around I used my fabric marker pen (on the grey strips) to record places we had stayed, sights we had seen, trips we had done, (rail, bus and boat) and even special meals we had eaten.  Such as whitebait and Bluff oysters – so delicious.  The tablecloth is a great memory of our three months holiday down in the South Island. 

We have friends doing a return trip around the South Island at this time, and we wish them all the very best for a safe and happy trip.  Our plans are to go down again early next year again, there is so much to see and do.

Our lemon tree is sick

And the bad side of things?  What has happened to our lemon tree, we want to know.  All the leaves have turned yellow and dropped off, and we don’t know if the tree is dying or just having a bit of a seizure.  One of our neighbours said the same thing happened to her lemon tree last year, and it finally started growing fresh green leaves again.  Perhaps we will just have to wait and see if our small tree recovers too.  The weather has been really weird lately, so maybe that’s the trouble.  Who knows?

Monday, March 27, 2017

What shall I sew today?

Monday is”roll the dice” day, if I’m home and not tripping around in the caravan.  It’s number 4 today – first time out for my candlewick table-runner.  Sew Wot friend Moira had previously given me eight candlewick blocks which she no longer wanted.  I had used four of the blocks in the outer corners of my candlewick quilt “Whipped Cream and Raspberries – read about this quilt here.  I had quickly assembled three more of Moira’s gifted candlewick blocks as a table runner when I was finishing up this quilt.  Which promptly  got slotted into number four on my List of Six UFOs.

Start of my coffee table runner

Moira had added a touch of colour when she stitched four of her blocks, and I used these three as a table-runner.  And the last block has bright pink flowers so will be the just thing for a label on the back of of “Whipped Cream and Raspberries” quilt.  I had the perfect fabric for the runner, a piece left over from my daughter’s 50th birthday quilt in cream, pale pink and green.

The next step was to add the side borders and get it layered and pinned.  Then I did stitch in the ditch quilting around the three blocks to hold everything in place.

Layered, pinned and ditch stitched

The next job is to add more quilting – perhaps I’ll leave that till tomorrow.  With just a couple of appointments this week, I’m hoping to get it all finished and bound by the end of the week.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

First Club Sewing Day of the Year

A small group of keen dedicated stitchers met at the Scottish Society Hall yesterday morning for our first club sewing day of the year.  This was a “new to us” hall as our usual one was no longer available.  It seems lots of public buildings are now considered “earthquake risks” and are not to be used until strengthened.  There were  pennants of clan tartans hanging from the ceiling, and other interesting clan information on the walls.   Although I looked hard, I could find nothing relating to my Scots ancestors, the Gunn Clan.   Before too long the sewing machines were humming, and we settled down to a good day’s sewing.

The day wasn’t just for machine sewers, two of my Sew Wot friends came along for half a day each to do a little hand work.   Moira stayed for the morning doing hand stitching, and Heather E came along in the afternoon and worked on her hexagon quilt.  Heather also brought along a quilt top she got from our friend’s Pam’s collection after she passed away.  Now quilted and embellished with some beads, it is a lovely memory of Pam for Heather to keep.

That’s Heather behind her very striking quilt

Kath was working on her red, black and white quilt – her very first quilt!  She just has the borders to quilt now - what a great job she is doing.

Kath and her first quilt

We were intrigued by Madalyn’s project – the Daily Dot quilt, designed by Susan Claire.  Lots and lots of tiny appliques, one for each day of the week.  This was a gift from Madalyn’s daughter, so it is really special.

Madalyn’s Block of the Day quilt

Susan had a big job ahead of her too – she was working on a Bookcase quilt for her daughter’s 21st birthday.  She appreciated having quiet time away from home, she said, as she pondered the possibilities of the bookcase.  Several blocks had been made already, so she has made a good start.

Susan’s Bookcase quilt

Lynne had brought along patterns and fabric to make a rotary cutter pouch.  Most of us took the pattern to do later, while Marilyn took up the challenge and whipped up a pouch in an hour or so.  These would make nice gifts for a sewing friend, I think.

Marilyn’s rotary cutter pouch

And I worked away on my “go to” project to take to stitching days, working on paper pieced borders for my long term burgundy and cream log cabin quilt.  And, I couldn’t believe it when I ran out of burgundy strips so had to pack that project away!  One day this project will make it to my “List of Six UFOs”. 

I’m still working on my paper pieced border blocks

Luckily I also took along my stitching bag so I spent the last couple of hours working on my Christmas ABC blocks.  I certainly enjoyed my stitching day, it was a bonus to have a weekend at home and not be travelling away somewhere so that I could attend.  It’s always so nice to meet up with other club members. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sewing Machine and Horse Head Applique

After a week apart, I’ve now been reunited with my sewing machine.  It only took a week, so that’s not too bad at all.  My Bernina 440QE is about 10 years old now, and still going well, technician Barry informed me.  He gave it a good check, adjusted this and that, removed a few threads stuck inside (oops), checked, cleaned and lightly oiled all the bits and pieces, so I’m good to go again.  Just in time for my quilt club’s sewing day organised for tomorrow.  And, Barry told me, my trusty machine has done 4,734,093 stitches!

Back home again

Today I’ve started tracing off pieces for an applique pattern – and wondered if I have bitten off more than I’m capable of.  The plan is to make grand-daughter number 2 a horse quilt, and I have purchased a kit from Toni Whitney Designs, to put in the centre of her new bed quilt.  It’s a beautiful picture of a horse’s head, but I didn’t realise there were so many intricate pieces involved.  After spending all afternoon, I have only traced and fused two small portions of this design, and just about torn out my hair with frustration.  Guess I’ll have to work on it “little and often” till it’s finally done.  Must admit that it’s a much bigger job than I anticipated, with lots of tiny pieces.  And with my fat fingers, I don’t really do tiny.

Mistral – a Toni Whitney design

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sew Wot Tuesday

It was my turn to host the Sew Wot ladies on Tuesday, and Heather B was the first to arrive – while Robin was busy pushing around the vacuum cleaner.  I had asked him to help with the last minute chores, as  I had been busy in the kitchen organizing the morning tea so needed a helping hand.  Carol arrived soon after, and kindly brought me a lovely white lily, with gorgeous perfume.

Beautiful lily from Carol

Soon everyone had arrived and the ladies were busy stitching, or knitting, and chatting away merrily, of course.

Carol and Heather B

That’s Mary hiding behind the quilt she finished for Rae, who is not at all well.  Rae can now pass the finished quilt on to one of her grandchildren.

Mary completed this quilt for Rae

Helen had been busy too and had quilted two of Pam’s quilts which she had started before she passed away.  These will be returned to Pam’s family.

Pam’s quilts now completed

Carol loved stitcheries but she is all “Sunbonnet Sue” stitched out, she told us.  These designs were purchased while on a trip to Canada, and Carol has used lots of bright and cheery 1930s fabrics in the sashing.


Carol’s Sunbonnet Sue quilt top

We had a very pleasant morning indeed.  We reminisced about our days as young Mum’s, way back then.  And what it was like to take our brand new baby home from hospital not really sure if we were up to the task.  We wished our Sew Wot friend Rae well for her birthday – she is certainly in our thoughts as she fights her illness.  Rae was the one who invited me to join the Sew Wots when I moved to Levin (without knowing any local quilters) so she is a very special lady to me. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Feilding Kowhai Quilt Show

A quilt show while away on a camping weekend – that sounded like a good idea.  Two of us went off to see what it was all about, non quilter Kath and myself.  When we arrived at Coach House Museum to find the car park quite full.  Always a good sign, this means that there were plenty of keen and interested ladies inside.


We paid our entrance fees, bought some raffle tickets and entered fairyland.  The quilts were draped all over vintage coaches and gigs right throughout the large museum.  The Hoffman Challenge is always interesting to check out.  Each entry had to contain some of the interesting border type challenge fabric, and could not be rectangular or square.  I loved the tall giraffes, made up of lots of tiny pieces, and very definitely not rectangular.

Hoffman challenge fabric and my favourite pick

We wandered slowly around the quilts on display, stopping to inspect those which really took our fancy.  Such as “Flowers in Art” by Bronwyn Dungan, combining both cross stitched blocks and applique.  Nice restful colours and very pretty indeed.

Flowers in Art

With a call out to her quilting buddies for some extra dot, spot and circle scraps, Marino Kitto soon had enough to complete “With a Little help from my Friends”.  Such a lovely bright and happy quilt. 

With a little help from my Friends

Stitching a patriotic Anzac Poppy quilt is on my wish list for “sometime” so I was really interested in “Anzac Poppies” by Margaret Arama.  Margaret was the lucky winner of the poppy blocks through a Block of the Month competition and assembled the blocks like a banner.

Anzac Poppies

What’s not to love about this striking zebra?   Joyce Waugh was asked to make a zebra quilt for her friend’s daughter.  Once it was made she found it difficult to give away so decided to make another!

Zebra by Joyce Waugh

And in keeping with the savannah theme, I rather liked “African Adventure” by Mary Lloyd.  After collecting enough African themed fabrics, Mary then stitched the quilt using many half square triangles.  You can see some of the old vintage machinery at the museum peeking out behind the quilt.

African Adventure

We saw several William Morris inspired quilts at the show.  This one, “William’s Irises” was a five year long labour of love stitched by Aimee Torwick.

William’s Irises

And look at these two stitchers sitting outside the vintage Hawkers Van from years ago.  These two happy ladies were hand stitching away and chatting to the show visitors as they walked by. 

Two friendly club members, happy to show us what they were doing

It was a lovely show, and a first for my caravan buddy Kath, who enjoyed it too.  Well done, Kowhai Quilters.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend away in the caravan

We’ve just returned from a three day weekend away in our caravan, staying in beautiful surroundings, enjoying great weather, and all in the company of our caravan club friends.  I had time to do a little stitching, working on Christmas ABC stitcheries.  “W is for (Christmas) Wreath” - not finished yet, but I’ve made a good start.

W is for Wreath

There were plenty of ducks around to keep us amused.  The black mother duck no doubt hatched out lots of little ducklings but she only has two left now.

Hello duckies

We were staying at Mt Lees Reserve, a beautiful property gifted to the Crown many years ago for all to enjoy.  There are wonderful mature trees, a children’s playground, a bush walk, a large area for camping and the old homestead is now run as a B & B. 

Found in the garden

Although we had stayed here at Mt Lees Reserve several times, this was the first time we did the bush walk. We walked through native trees, exotic trees, and groves of bamboo.  Pretty native birds kept a watchful eye on our group as we passed by.  The fantails in particular are always happy to see people, as we stir up the insect life as we walk past the trees and bushes -  the fantails then catch them on the wing.

Ready for our bush walk

One particularly cheeky fantail stopped us in our tracks on the path as he twittered and hopped, flew from this branch to another, then back on the path again.

This fantail was happy to see us

There was also a quilt show on in an adjacent town, so of course I had to go for a visit.  More about this next time……..

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sadly, too busy to sew

Its been a busy week,  too busy to sew this week.  So that means that I haven’t “rolled the dice” this week, sadly.  We’re off and away in the caravan tomorrow, and my sewing machine is coming with me.  Not to sew with, it’s all packed up and will be getting delivered to Barry (in Feilding) tomorrow, sewing machine fixer-upper extraordinaire.  Hopefully he will get it serviced quickly and I can get sewing again.

All packed up to visit Barry

But although the sewing news this week is a bit sad, I’ve got some really good news to share.  After waiting with fingers and toes crossed for the last two weeks, I’ve just been informed that my anniversary mammogram of “the bad one” has come back clear, with “no sign of recurrence of breast cancer”.  Thank goodness for that, now I can stop holding my breath.

I’ve also been having a clean up.  I’ve been on a bit of a search, looking through crates, boxes, and bags of this and that.  Looking for pieces of fabric I no longer required, for orphan blocks, patterns, wool, haby and craft books that are past their use by date, in my mind at least.  But one crafter’s cast offs will be swooped on with glee by others, I’m sure.  And the reason behind this clear out?  The Altrusa Club of Levin are collecting all these things for the Levin Fabric Bazaar, with the proceeds going to the  Arohanui Hospice, which is a very good cause indeed.

My donations for the Fabric Bazaar

Monday, March 13, 2017

Checking out my stitching bag

Where was I up to with my Christmas ABC blocks, I wondered?  I knew there was one in my stitching bag very near to completion, so a little stitching time would soon see it finished.  Actually, there were two blocks inside, I had already completed U for Under the Tree. 

U for Under the Tree

There wasn’t too much to do on the next block, and I soon had V for Virgin Mary (in silhouette) completed.

V for Virgin Mary

With another caravan weekend coming up fast, it’s good to know where I am up,  as I seem to do most of my hand stitching when we are away in the caravan.  What’s next?  W is for (Christmas) Wreath.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Last three A B C blocks

I’ve been working away and have finally finished the last three blocks of my Animal ABC quilt – X, Y and Z.  The letter Z was easy, as I had fabric printed with zebras. 

Z is for zebra

As for X and Y, I thought I would see what I could find on Google and trace a picture of something off.

X was rather tricky, but then I found images of x-ray fish.  Yes, there really is such a thing.  X-ray Tetra fish have translucent skin and their bones shine though!  Here is my version of an x-ray fish.  Then today a blog reader told me about Xenops, a South American bird.  And I believe there is also a frog starting with X.  Who would have known?

X is for X-ray Tetra fish

As for the letter Y. I decided on yak, found and printed a picture, traced it off, and appliqued it down.  So Y is for yak, a big shaggy beast with horns.

Y is for yak

I’m really pleased that I persevered this week and completed the last ten blocks.  I’m so much further along with this project than I was last week.  Now all I have to do is put it all together.  And quilt it.  I’ll get there – one step at a time!

And tomorrow, I get to roll the dice again, and see what number UFO I get to work on for the next week - that's always exciting.