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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sewing Afternoon

After a busy Saturday morning, I spent the afternoon at my quilt club’s  Sewing Day – or half day, in my case, and joined the half dozen already there.  Took some hand stitching along, two projects, in case I ran out of things to do.  It’s better to take too much, but you never do run out, do you?  In between chatting, coffee breaks, and checking out what the others are working on, the afternoon just whizzed by.  But I did manage to hand stitch the binding and hanging sleeve on my small wall hanging, so I’m very pleased with that.

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Small wall hanging almost done

My quilt club has been stitching many Charity Quilts to donate to worthy causes, and there were quite a pile of these on the tables.  There has been a name change, and they are now referred to as “Gifting Quilts”, sounds much nicer, I feel.  A large box of blocks and fabric squares has recently been donated, which will find their way into many more quilts to gift.

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Quilts for gifting

I’m a big fan of “leader and ender” sewing, so I was very interested to see that Wendy was using ideas from Bonnie Hunter’s Adventures with Leaders and Enders book.  She had a huge pile of teeny tiny squares she was working with. 

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Wendy’s many fabric squares

Two of our members were sitting at a table together hand appliqueing mushroom, or maybe they were toadstool blocks.  They were both taking part in a BOM from one of our local quilt shops.

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Liz and Kath’s BOM blocks

What else?  This striking blue and yellow gifting quilt was being machine quilted by Dianne.  Those colours always look great together.

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Machine quilted by Dianne

And Jan had a great quilt kit “Scattered Triangles” which she purchased in a bargain bin recently.  With the pattern and fabrics supplied, it certainly seemed a good deal.

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Jan’s bargain priced quilt kit.

And lastly, I just had to take a photo of Wendy’s caravan tote bag.  This great bag was brought over by friends from America who came to visit our country.  I want one of those!

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Wendy’s tote bag

What with one thing and another, it’s been a while since I attended a Stitching Day, so it was lovely to spend the afternoon with fellow club members.  And I’m happy that one (of my many projects) has progressed further. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trimming, Pinning and Sewing

Today has been busy, I’ve finished retrimming all my 30 Christmas ABC blocks.  You may remember that when I started assembling them into rows the other day, I was concerned that my wall hanging would end up huge.  Cutting very carefully, I must add, as I’ve been known to cut the same side twice by mistake.  After checking all my stitchery blocks, and seeing which were the largest, I decided I could only take half an inch off each side.  Not a huge difference, but by reducing the blocks down from 9in to 8in square  will reduce the overall size of the quilt.

Then I got busy laying the blocks on our bed, which saves me getting up and down onto the carpet.  Pin, pin,  and stitch, stitch, I assembled and pressed the first three rows.   This is the point I reached the other day before I decided to unpick the sashing and trim the blocks a little smaller. Here they are hanging on my quilt rack – still need to add the horizontal sashing strips.

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So I’m pleased with this afternoon’s sewing.  Now I need to deal with this little lot next.  We are home this weekend, so I’m hoping for some more sewing time.

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Christmas ABC blocks

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mid Year Christmas

It’s mid Year Christmas sewing this week, according to the throw of the dice, which brought up number 5.  These are my Christmas ABC blocks from “Alphabet Noel”, designed by Michelle Ridgeway of Rag-Tag Stitchin’.

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With the blocks all trimmed, and the Christmas sashing strips cut, I was all set to go, and started stitching the rows together.  The first few rows were looking good, but I wasn’t happy.  As I had increased the size of the stitcheries, this quilt was going to be much bigger than I anticipated, almost as wide as our bed.    Much too big, I decided.

So sadly, all my sashing is being unpicked, and I will trim the blocks down a little smaller.  There was no good carrying on, I decided,  knowing I wasn’t happy, better to stop now and do something about it.   Hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have something more to show you.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Cutest Little Sweet Shop

During our weekend away in Hastings, we found the cutest little sweet shop.  In fact, it was recommended to us, as Robin had commented to a local that he really loved black ball sweets and was having trouble finding them anywhere.  So we were sent along to Birdwoods, not too far away in  in Havelock North.  As well as having a sweet shop, there is also a gift gallery, a café, and a sculpture garden to wander through.

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Lots of cute ceramic birds for sale

We walked down the path to the tiny sweet shop, made out of recycled materials, we were told.  There were a pair of topiary birds by the fence.

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This way to the sweet shop

And it was such a wonderland inside.  Large glass jars filled with sweets of every description lined the shelves.  Robin soon found his black balls, and I decided on acid drops and raspberry drops.  We find boiled sweets are handy to have in the car when we are on long journeys.

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Robin busy checking out the sweets

There were all sorts of old toys, kitchen items  and containers displayed from days gone by, including these two little darlings, Teddy and his girlfriend Dolly.

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Happy hanging out in the sweet shop

With our purchases made we checked out the gallery, peeped into the café which was full with customers enjoying their lunches.  Everyone looked happy and the food smelt divine.   The sculpture garden outside had such a variety of things to check out, and I was rather taken with flock of sheep.  Closer inspection showed that they were created from lots of tiny beads – amazing indeed.

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Beaded sheep

This was such an interesting place to visit, Birdwoods will definitely be on our list next time we visit this area again – I can’t wait to try the cafe and Robin is sure to need some more black balls again.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Farewell to Jody

This weekend we set of on the 200km journey up to Hastings.  Rather a sad trip this time, to support my sister Kathleen and Dennis as their younger daughter died of a brain hemorrhage in Australia last week, where she had lived for some years.  We joined family and friends at a  memorial get together on Saturday to remember Jody and celebrate her life.  Her older sister put together a photo board showing aspects of Jody’s life, and friends had sent or brought around some lovely floral tributes.

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We are staying at an apple orchard in Hastings, and apple picking is still in full swing.  Some of the people staying here in their caravans and motor-homes have seasonal work at the nearby packing houses.  Boxes of apples are waiting to be collected and taken to the processing centre.   

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Staying at the apple orchard

After recently completing my yo-yo Rudolph the Reindeer, I had packed my bag of yo-yos to make the next seasonal yo-yo toy, a snowman.  And got this little lot gathered together over the weekend, so I’m quite pleased about that.

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Yo-yos for a snowman

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sew Wot Tuesday

Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again, and it was my turn to be the hostess, a slightly smaller group with a couple of our ladies away.  There was a birthday to celebrate, and Mary had fun opening all her lovely little squishy parcels, and she was given a pretty little gerbera too. 

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Happy Birthday to Mary

Mary had recently returned from an Australian holiday, catching up with family, and came home with a couple of lovely goodies.  Such as this pretty little tablecloth purchased in an Op Shop.  She just had to finish stitching two of the ballerinas, added the lacy edge, and then, another lovely vintage cloth for her collection.

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Op Shop bargain

This beautiful crocheted cloth was hand made in Italy, and when Mary’s sister purchased it she knew it would be just the thing for Mary’s birthday.  It is so lovely with stunning workmanship, that we all would have happily spirited it away for ourselves.

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Hand made Italian tablecloth

There was a little woolly scarf knitting going on, with both Heather B and Moira sitting there with clacking knitting needles.  Heather’s scarf was knitting up in colourful chevrons, and Moira’s was a pretty dusty blue.  Who will finish first, I wonder? 

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Heather and Moira with their scarves

Heather had a finish to show us, she had been experimenting with appliqued butterflies.  This pretty quilt will be donated to a worthy cause, and someone is sure to love snuggling underneath it.

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Heather’s butterfly quilt

Carol loves embroidery, and was working on her latest stitching project, a basket of flowers.
 
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.Carol’s basket of flowers

As for me, I was stitching some binding down on a secret sewing project, so no photos yet.  And my Rudolf made an appearance, and was judged as not too bad as a first attempt.  I think he rather liked all the attention!  If he is very lucky, he may have his friend the snow man to join him sometime in the future.

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Rudolph joined the Sew Wot morning

So that was our morning, always fun to catch up with the ladies, and help Mary celebrate her special day.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Welcome to Randolph

Completed at last, my Rudolph the Reindeer with his red nose.  After being packed away so long, (out of sight, out of mind), this project finally re-surfaced this week and I’ve been working diligently to get him finished.  There wasn’t really that much to do, all the yo-yos were done, and I used a mixture of tan and cream fabrics, most with a Christmas theme.  But I was a bit worried about putting all the pieces together.  The head needed all the features hand stitched in place, button eye, Rudolph's red nose and ears stitched in place, and his mouth embroidered.  My goodness, those antlers caused me grief.  Then came the business of stringing  him all together.

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Follow the instructions

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Lots of baby yo-yos for arms and legs

I had a few false starts, and a little un-stringing and starting again, but eventually Rudolph was all done.  Probably not perfect, but at least he is finished. Then cheeky little Rudolph decided he wanted to check out the rhubarb patch.

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I must admit that I didn’t really enjoy this project, guess I’m not really a yo-yo lover or a toy maker.  But I feel committed to making the snowman too from this pattern.  After all, I’ve got all this much done, so far.  And I rather like Santa too, but I may or may not make him, I'll see how I feel after I struggle putting the snow man together.

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Snowman parts done so far

My stitching yesterday was done sitting outside on the patio area under our new “Archgola” canopy, read about it here.  We got it installed to give us much needed shade in the summer, and it seems that it may well be handy in the cooler seasons too.

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Canopy over the patio

Saturday, June 9, 2018

What’s happening with the Yo-Yos?

Remember this?  I purchased the pattern Yuletide Yo-Yos ages ago while on one of our caravan trips. I’d never made yo-yos before and rather liked these happy Christmas creations.

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As I mentioned last blog, this project las been sitting in a bag for ages.  After all this time, I wondered what I would find inside.  I certainly remember working on making yo-yos for the reindeer some time ago.  And here are all the reindeer pieces, several bags of brown yo-yos in different sizes, looks like I’d finished making them.  Plus a stuffed head, four little black hooves, ears and a tail.  I stitched and stuffed the antlers from brown felt yesterday.

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All the pieces

It’s all coming back to me now – I was rather concerned on how on earth to assemble this.  So I bundled it all up, and hid it away, but that doesn’t really make the problem go away, does it?  Just as well I finally listed this project on my List of Six UFOs and the dice called it's number this week.  Out came the instruction sheet and I’ve slowly been putting Rudolf’s head together.  Wish me luck that he will be in one piece tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

One of those Days

Do you ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right?  I wanted to do a quick bit of machine quilting “secret sewing” with my walking foot but the stitching just wasn’t going well at all.  Something was wrong, but what?  Perhaps it was the reel of thread I was using, I admit it was an old reel I’d picked up somewhere along the way.  No change, so I took the walking foot off and reattached it.  No difference, but the foot didn’t seem to be working as it should as the layers were shifting.  The backing fabric I had chosen was puckering, so maybe it was a mixture and not quilting fabric quality, so that was changed as well.  Each of these changes entailed a whole lot of unpicking, some more careful pressing and pinning, and a whole lot of time.  I concluded that my machine was due for a service, and I’d get the walking foot checked out as well.  What a pain, I’d wasted hours with nothing to show in the end.

Interesting though, was the fact that there was no problem with ordinary stitching.  So I joined a few lengths to make some binding for my hand quilting project, and prepared a hanging sleeve.  Thank goodness that small job went well.

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It was time to roll the dice again, and with two projects on my List of Six up to the machine quilting stage, I had previously been hoping, before my troubles started,  that one of these would see the light of day this week.  But it seems it will be mostly hand sewing this week, as the dice landed on number six.  Which is, after several years of neglect  “Yo Yos – just do it” with all sorts of bits and pieces tucked away in this bag. This might take a bit of sorting out before I actually start – wish me luck!

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Yo-Yos hiding in this bag

Winter has officially started down here in New Zealand, and will continue during the months of June, July and August.  It’s one of those cold, damp days today, so I’ve got my crock-pot (slow cooker) looking after the evening meal for me.  I’ve prepared steak and kidney casserole with heaps of veggies added in.  There's something quite therapeutic chopping up the meat and browning it, chopping and slicing carrots, parsnips and onions to add to the meat.  And then you get that lovely smell of slow cooking wafting through the kitchen as meal gently cooks all day – I love winter food!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Display of Tivaivai

Yesterday our group of friends met for lunch followed by an outing to the adjacent small museum.  I was delighted to find an exhibition of tivaivai, traditional bed covers (made without batting)  and cushions stitched by  Cook Island ladies who now reside in New Zealand.  These brightly coloured bed covers reflect the way of life in their home islands, and are similar of those made in Hawaii.

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In the islands the tivaivai are either traditionally made by one woman or stitched in groups called vainetini.  The vainetini use this time together to bond, sing and catch up on village news. Tivaivai are valuable in ritual exchanges which mark family ‘life’ events, and other gifting events which draw people together through family and social networks. 

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Taku Mama” exhibits the work of Pacific women in the Community, keeping their island culture alive and passing on their skills to younger women. The Tivaivai depicts personal narratives that have been shared and passed down for generations.

Photo courtesy of Pataka Museum

Monday, May 28, 2018

Pink Ribbon High Tea

We were invited to a Pink Ribbon High Tea on Sunday, and I was requested to “please bring a plate, Nana”.  Organised by grand-daughter Megan and her land-lady Jane, it was a very swish affair indeed.  Megan met us at the door and ushered us inside.

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Megan and Jane had been busy all morning, in the kitchen, and decorating the house with balloons and ribbons.  The table was groaning with all sorts of delicacies, most with a hint of pink.   Other guests arrived, dropping their contributions on the table, and we settled down with a hot drink.   Then the hostesses  brought out sausage rolls, and tiny quiches, hot from the oven, it was time to start on this wonderful spread.

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There were about 20 people, friends and families of Megan and Jane.  Dave entered into the spirit of the day, and after a morning doing he-man stuff like duck hunting with his trusty dog, was happy to slip  a sparkly pink tutu over his hunting gear.  And Jane looked a picture as she passed food around to the guests.

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Dave and Jane

It was a lovely morning indeed.  We all know someone who has been touched with breast cancer, and it was great to gather together in celebration of Pink Ribbon Day in May – this year is the 10th Anniversary of Pink Ribbon events.
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Dave and Corrina, Jenny and daughter Nicky, grand-daughter Megan and Robin

And as a bonus I have just received my MIR scan results (for breast cancer) from the specialist last week, clear with no sign of cancer, I was told.  So that’s a relief – let’s celebrate and get on with our plans!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer Kites–quilt top finished

Colourful kites and their fluttering tails dance across my quilt top.  I won ten of these blocks in a block swap quite some time ago, and stitched up two more.  The suggestion was to use stripes, checks or spots if possible, and most people did.  With the kite blocks stitched together, today I added the dark blue with splashes of colours as a border.  I then prepared a length of binding – it’s always good to get this job done and out of the way.

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What to use for backing, I wondered?  My original choice wasn’t long enough, so I had a rummage around through a couple of plastic crates and found a length of mid blue fabric.  That will work great but I decided that the backing fabric needed to be washed to freshen it up, after languishing in the crate for ages.  It is now drying off on the clothesline in the sun shine, then will get ironed, and the quilt layered and pinned tomorrow.  I may even get the machine quilting started, hopefully.  We’ll see what else tomorrow brings.

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Summer Kites