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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Another Road Trip

Our trip to Hamilton was to get some repairs done on our caravan.  We stopped at Jukebox Diner for lunch, always a favourite place for a casual meal.  We both enjoyed a Coco Cola “Spider” with our lunch.  As I told Robin, he is not the first fellow to tempt me with this beverage.  Many years ago, in my Youth Club days, my boyfriend Barton (later my first husband)  and I used to enjoy a Spider after we had been rock’n’rolling the afternoon away, that’s going back quite a few years!  And I just had to stop and say hello to Elvis!

Jukebox Diner in Hamilton

The next day we had to be up bright and early for the workmen to take our caravan into the factory for repairs at the extra early time of 6.30am!  With a spare day to fill in, first port of call was to find a cafĂ© in the city which was open for breakfast.  We ordered bacon and eggs for him, and scrambled eggs for her, followed by coffee, and spent a leisurely time eating our breakfasts and reading the papers.  With a day to fill in waiting for the repairs to be completed we took a trip out to Raglan on the coast.  A visit to the local museum was very interesting and exceptional value at just $2 each.   I’m always interested in the beautifully stitched clothing from the early colonial days, and spotted some vintage sewing machines as well.

Seen at the Raglan Museum

On the way back to Hamilton we made a short diversion to see the Bridal Veil Falls – we had last been to see them way back in the mists of time, so long ago that we had almost forgotten. I bravely walked down hundreds of steps along the track, and then all the way back to the top again – well it certainly felt like that many. The Bridal Veil Falls drop 55m into a 5m deep pool at the bottom.  It’s certainly not the biggest waterfall we have seen, but so pretty in the bush setting, and we were joined by a steady stream of tourists along the track.

Bridal Veil Falls

After the caravan repairs were completed we hooked up again and spent the night out in the country at Putaruru.  We awoke to the most glorious sun rise, blazing with beautiful morning hues.  So out I padded into the fresh morning air, camera in hand, to capture this sight before the colours faded away.  I’m not sure which photo I like best, (probably the second one with the softer tones) which do you prefer?


Sun rise at Putaruru

With all this travelling going on, I’ve only had time for a little stitching.  But it all helps, doesn’t it.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

50th Birthday Bash

My niece Lisa was turning 50 and decided that she needed a party to celebrate.  And why not?  The birthday bash invitation was waiting for us when we returned home from our South Island trip - we checked the calendar, and yes, we were free.  In fact, the travel plans worked out well, we will go to Hastings for the weekend, then move on to Hamilton to get some urgent work done on the caravan.


So a gift was needed, and quickly - I decided to make a lace cushion for her bed, knowing I had some lace pieces tucked away somewhere.  But where?  Searching high and low, through one basket and another I wondered if maybe it had been packed away in one of the plastic crates.  And wouldn't you know it, I found what I was looking for in the very last plastic crate I looked through.  Plus even more long forgotten projects, but that’s another story.

I knew it was in here somewhere

I added  the lace pieces crazy patch style to cover the front of the cushion until I was happy with it, deciding against a lace ruffle as I didn’t think Lisa would like it that frilly.  With a simple envelope back it was all done.


The lace cushion

Happy Birthday, Lisa

Lisa’s Birthday Bash had a 50’s theme, with the guests dressed in their rock’n’roll inspired clothes, ready for a night of music and fun.  Older ones, like us, had lived through these years, and reminisced about  our dancing days when full skirts and stiff petticoats were all the rage as we rocked the night away.  The candles were lit, the birthday cake was cut, and the gifts were opened.


Lisa and her daughter Kate had fun putting the photo board together, and I found several photos with my own children too.


Three sisters – Jenny, Karla, and Kathleen (Lisa’s Mum)

It was a lovely night, catching up with far flung family members, listening to the  music of my youth club days, and joining the youngsters on the dance floor.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sew Wot Tuesday

After so long away on our South island holiday, it was great to catch up with the Sew Wot ladies today, and Heather E was our hostess for the morning.  We were a smaller group, with two of our ladies unable to make it.  But there was plenty of happy chatting amongst those who were there.  Two of our ladies told us about the plans for their own upcoming overseas trips, so there will be plenty of traveling amongst our group over the next few months.  I loved the sweet blue crocheted blanket that Mary was making for her Granny Box, it looked so cuddly and warm.

Mary’s baby blanket

It seems I’m not the only one who unearths long forgotten UFOs.  Helen discovered all the blocks for a quilt she started making for her baby daughter about 30 years ago, she admitted.  These were the days before rotary cutters were around, and everything was cut and stitched by hand.  The blocks are now assembled, and Helen is adding a little embroidery here and there.  This is another beauty which will wait for the new generation of babies in the family.

Helen and her long forgotten quilt

And Helen’s piece of embroidery is coming along well – just needs to add some beads to finish it, she told us.

Helen’s embroidery

Heather E is well know for her love of making hexagons and had an intriguing double sided quilt to show us.  In lovely muted shades, it was very pretty indeed.

Heather E’s double sided quilt

Heather had also finished another hexagon quilt top in a medallion setting.  This one featured an inner  border of stars around an interesting central appliqued block.  Heather is certainly a very prolific lady, and doesn’t like to sit with idle fingers – it certainly shows, with all the quilts she manages to produce.

Another hexagon masterpiece

Carol had brought along a bag to show us, made for her sister’s birthday.  It was very pretty, with an embroidered panel on one side, and a Japanese print on the other.

Carol made this birthday bag

As for me – I managed to do a little work on my fourth New Zealand botanical block, but nothing really to show, too much talking I guess.  We have another caravan trip coming up fast, so I’ll make sure I pack my stitching bag, and hopefully will get a little time to sit and stitch.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Holiday Project – Finished

It’s a bit sad, isn’t it.  Here we are, mid March, and I’ve  only just completed my first finish for the year.   But….. to be truthful, we have barely arrived back home after our long caravan trip away, exploring the South Island of New Zealand.   I prepared umpteen memory blocks using New Zealand themed fabric and packed them way with my Pigma pen.  As we toured around for 10 weeks or so I diligently used the patches as a type of fabric diary, writing each evening on the plain cream squares where we had stayed, places we had explored, and attractions visited.  During the week I started assembling the blocks, and finally completed all the rows.


After a lot of pinning and stitching the top was together, and the borders added.  Luckily I had enough of the smudgy green fabric for the borders, with just a little strip left over.

The top is done

But we all know that the job isn't over till the top is quilted.  This is going to be used as a table cloth, I decided, so I used light pellon as the batting.  The quilting was simple, with some stitch in the ditch to hold it all together.


Once again, I was fortunate to have just enough of one of the New Zealand themed fabrics to use as the binding, hand stitching the back edge down while Robin was engrossed in a rugby game on TV last night.  A few extra patches were utilised on the back.  And here it is, finally finished.


The completed table cloth

There are lots of lovely fabrics used, showcasing our native birds.  The kiwi, fantail, kereru, and the world’s only alpine parrot, the kea.  Then there are trees and ferns, kaka beak flowers, and the  crimson pohutakawa blossoms, which appear in summer, giving this tree the name of the New Zealand Christmas Tree.

The inspiration for this design was taken from my book Triangle-Free Quilts, by Judy Hopkins, using the pattern, Spruce Root Basket.


Looking back, it seems that making this type of holiday memory quilt is getting to be a habit, and this is the second quilt I have made to commemorate travelling around the South island. We had a three month trip in 2012 and the result of that trip was a Rail Fence memory quilt.  Read my earlier blog about the quilt here

South Island Traveling Rail Fence, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Town and Country Quilters March Club-night

With tripping around the country, its been a while since I attended a quilt club night, so it was nice to be back again.  It was a very busy night indeed, with one thing and another.  Sheryl Meech was our speaker for the evening, and brought along a crate or two of quilts to show us.    Sheryl is a very prolific quilter and belongs to the group of international textile artists, Fifteen by Fifteen.  You can read her profile here, (click on the link).

Sheryl likes to extend herself and enters many competitions and challenges, preferring to make her own designs.  Shown are just a few of the many small wall-hangings she brought along to show us.


She had some lovely bed sized quilts as well, including this purple Baltimore quilt with a swag border.

Sheryl’s lovely quilts

Sheryl was on double duty during the evening, as she had judged the club challenge.  She gave some excellent tips to those who entered a quilt, with the main one being to make sure that the entry complied with the theme. This year the challenge quilt had to reflect a book title.  The members at the meeting the voted for “Viewers Choice”.
Checking out the Challenge entries

Diane won two prizes for her tear drop shaped entry, inspired by the book “Bridge across  my Sorrows”.  She won “Best Interpretation of the Theme”, and “Viewer’s Choice”.  Well done, indeed.

Diane’s entry

It’s always great to see what the ladies bring along for Show and Tell.  Janneke was feeling very pleased with herself as she had just completed her La Passacaglia Quilt.  I heard a little whisper that several members are also working away on this intricate hand pieced design.

Janneke with her La Passacaglia

And Cheryl is getting ready for camping and exploring our beautiful country.  With the recent purchase of a 5th Wheeler van, she has made two quilts to keep them cozy and warm on their travels.

Two caravan quilts

And Barbara deserves an accolade for the cream and gold quilt she made for her daughter’s wedding – a seven year effort.  The photo doesn’t do the quilt justice, it is so lovely.

Wedding quilt for Barbara’s daughter

After the meeting supper was served, the raffles were drawn, (not my number, again)  and there was plenty of chatter going on.  It was another interesting club night.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Holiday Project

I’ve been working on putting my holiday memory blocks together today.  These are the ones I prepared using New Zealand themed fabric and took down to the South Island.  As we toured around for 10 weeks or so I diligently used the patches as a type of fabric diary.  Each evening I would write in the plain cream squares where we had stayed, places we had explored, and attractions visited, using my Pigma Pen.


All my patches were carefully laid out on the floor in the sewing room, arranged and then rearranged again.  Then I started pinning.  Oh dear – this wasn’t going to work.  Since when did my knees decide they no longer liked kneeling on the  floor while I bent down to do some pinning?  And then, to make matters worse, they decided they really didn’t enjoy the process of getting up again!  So I had to carefully pick everything up in order, and lay all the pieces across our bed.  That’s better, no more kneeling on the floor.

So far, I’ve stitched a few rows together, and pegged them up in the garage on our small internal clothesline.  That certainly works well, and I can see how I’m getting along.


Instead of “Rolling the Dice” this week to see which of those on my List of Six to work on, I’ve sneaked this project to the top of the list instead.  It would be nice to get this top completed during the week if I can – although according to the calendar we have quite a busy week with one thing and another.  Fingers crossed though – I’ll certainly do as much as I can.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Now I’m back home……..

It’s only been a few days, but it’s certainly great to be back home again.  To sleep in our own bed, have more room to move around instead of just a caravan sized dwelling, and to be able to have my own washing machine again without sharing!  And as I said in the comment section of my last blog post – thanks for all for the comments and good wishes, and I’m pleased that so many of you came along for the ride with us on our trip.  The South Island of New Zealand has stunning scenery, and of course, we who reside here are well aware of what a beautiful country we live in.  And it’s always good to catch a glimpse of Kapiti Island on the drive up the coast on the way back home.

Kapiti Island in the distance

After all that hot summer weather we have been enjoying, the clock has now ticked around to Autumn.  So down came my Christmas quilt which has been hanging up in the lounge since December – to be  replaced with my Autumn toned Baskets of Blessings wall-hanging.  To be honest though, we don’t see a whole autumn colour here in New Zealand.  Our native trees are evergreens, and it is the “exotics” (from the Northern Hemisphere) planted in home gardens and parks  which change colour and drop their leaves.

Baskets of Blessings

So what else have I been doing this week?  Some secret sewing, that’s what.  Although, as a secret, I can’t really show much until it is gifted in a couple of weeks.  We arrived home to find an unexpected Big Birthday  invitation so my mind went into overdrive thinking about a gift.  Here is a tiny sneak peek.

Secret sewing has been happening

I’ve been playing around with my New Zealand themed fabric holiday memory patches and have them all laid out on the floor in my sewing room.  As “something I prepared earlier”, I took a whole lot of these away, and each evening I would mark where we were staying, and places we had visited.  Not sure if it will become a wall-hanging or maybe a table cloth yet, but it’s always fun to look back and reminisce.

Holiday blocks

And lastly, I’ve done a tiny bit more hand quilting on my “Winter Quilt Festival” panel, stitching around the snow people. 

And a little hand quilting

So that's been my week so far.  Dare I say that we are off on another caravan trip on Friday – just a short weekend away with our caravan club buddies.  And….. we have to sneak away from the rally weekend for several hours to attend a Family Reunion!  So it’s all go, again.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hi-de-hi campers, it’s time to go home

Our seemingly never ending caravan trip around the South Island has come to an end.  After 80 days away, it was finally  time to head home.  This snap was taken at the Picton Lookout, and you can just see the Inter Island Ferries behind us.

At Picton

Should be a calm trip

Finding ourselves a table aboard, we settled down to the journey.  Things got interesting when the Captain announced that a drill was taking place.  After several blasts of the siren, staff members came with life jackets to show how to put them on, and answer any questions.  Other scenarios took place, a life boat drill, and a (supposed) fire in the engine room,  reminding us on the loudspeaker that this was only a drill for staff training taking place.  Just as well it was a drill, because my heartbeat certainly got raised when the Captain started calling out, “Abandon ship, abandon ship” very loudly!


Views from the trip

Our journey from Picton to Wellington

We arrived home to a huge pile of mail, including our Census Forms which had to be dealt with pronto. The caravan is unpacked, and the caravan fridge needed a really good clean after it had been assaulted by a jar of pickled onions which tried to escape!  Several loads of laundry have been done – it’s not as if I neglect this task while on holiday.  But washing, like rust, never sleeps.  And I had been to umpteen different laundries while away on our trip, including this one with the interesting sign outside.  There is no mistaking what that is!

This way to the launderette

So now we are home again, I’m hoping to reacquainted with my sewing machine again.  Perhaps tomorrow.