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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Here We Go, AGAIN

I have to admit it – may be I have a little problem.  Last week I went to see the movies, Mamma Mia, Here we go Again.  And yesterday I went to see it again – because once was not enough.  I loved every minute of it, the songs, the music, the story going back to Donna’s youth.  I laughed, and I cried in the sad bits, and luckily it all ended well.  Maybe I’ll go and see it again – there’s nothing obsessive about that, is there?

Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Cher, Andy Garcia, Meryl Streep, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine, Alexa Davies, Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, and Josh Dylan in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Another repeat performance is making more marmalade.  You may remember brother-in-law Gary brought around a big bag of his home grown oranges some weeks ago, which I turned into marmalade.  Friends have recently dropped off some grapefruit for me, so I’m “marmalading” again.  Robin can’t eat them because of his medication, so I’m enjoying them fresh for breakfast, as well as turning some of them into more marmalade today.

Cooking up grapefruit marmalade today

We’ve only had our new kitten Gemma a few weeks, but we are sure she has grown already.  She bounces around like a kitten possessed, then crashes and sleeps like a baby for a little while.  She has made herself quite at home and likes to keep us close by.

Playing with her ball and snake, and curled up on top of the pink and grey cat quilt

With the movie dates and marmalade cooking out of the way, I’m hoping for some free time tomorrow to do some sewing, fingers crossed.  I’ll leave you with this glorious sunset from last night, so pretty.

Sunset in Levin

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Saturday was Stitching Day

My quilt club, Town and Country Quilters, runs a monthly Stitching Day, which I like to attend if at all possible.  This is a casual, drop in, kind of affair, where members can bring their own projects to stitch,  or maybe work on one of the charity quilts, if they wish.  I could only manage to spare the morning, you know what it’s like, other things get in the way.  It was a good opportunity to carry on with hand stitching the scrappy black binding down on my large quilt.  This was expertly quilted by club member Paula of Rabbits Patch Quilting.

Hand stitching the binding

Sew Wot friend Moira came just for the morning too, bringing along her romantic looking quilt top.  Made with a Layer Cake from Grandmother's Garden shop,  she came up with this lovely design, adding a few of her own fabrics to the mix.  This one will be hand quilted, Moira said, and I’m sure it will be gorgeous when completed.

Moira’s layer cake quilt top ready for hand quilting

As usual, there was quite a selection of different projects being worked on, it is always so interesting to see just what is happening around the hall.  Two of the ladies attend a fortnightly class on heirloom blocks run by club member Fay and were working on the latest block. This is a class I would like to do sometime, as it teaches you to use all the different stitches and functions of your sewing machine.

Homework for Kath and Madalyn

Margaret was making tiny little hexies to apply to the front of a tote bag, there were several plastic boxes of them,  all neatly contained.  The bag, a Lynette Anderson design, will be stunning when it is completed.

Margaret's hexies are going on this bag pattern

Jane was machine quilting one of our club’s gifting (charity) quilts, and doing a lovely job of it.

A lovely gifting quilt

And Cheryl had almost finished a cheery cot quilt for her friend’s great-grandson.  I loved the farm scene fabric used in the centre of the quilt, full of farm animals, barns and tractors, just right for a little boy.

Made by Cheryl

Kath had brought along a couple of boxes of fabric from a friend who was having a bit of a clear-out.  It was a bit like bees around the honeypot as we all had a look through to see if there was anything that wanted to come home with us.

Lucky dip in the boxes

It was so nice to spend the morning stitching together.  Sadly, I’ll be missing the next sewing day, as we will be returning home after  holidaying in Australia, but that’s another story!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The New Kitten Keeps us Busy

We'd forgotten, or chose not to remember, jus how much of a time waster having a new kitten can be.  There’s balls to be rolled, cuddles to be shared, and antics to be exclaimed over.  And  keeping a good eye out on such a live wired little Missy when we are opening doors.  We don’t want her venturing outside until she has had her second vaccination, and been micro-chipped. 

Gemma loves patting those little balls around

Then last Friday we had an all day trip to collect a new to us car.  The dealer drove the car down from Tauranga, we drove up, and we all met up at Lake Taupo at mid day.

Lake Taupo

The cars were swapped over, as we had traded in our older 4WD, and Robin was thrilled with our new purchase.  We stopped for a photo shoot with Mt Ruapehu in the distance  on the drive home.

Mt Ruapehu

So there’s only been a little sewing going on this last week, such as this “secret sewing” which I can’t show just yet.  But it’s coming along nicely.

Secret Sewing underway

We’ve another rather busy week, so I’m not sure if I will be “rolling the dice” this week.  I certainly hope so – there’s all those projects on my List of Six which I really want to get on with!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Getting Ready for the Baby, and Birman Legend

Waiting for our Birman kitten to grow big enough to come home with us gave me time to sew a few things for her.  It’s not as if she needed a “layette” as such, baby knitting and sewing little baby nightgowns as I did for my own babies all those years ago.   But I did a little sewing, never-the-less, of pussy cat items.  A while ago I had acquired a grey fleecy blanket which I cut up and hemmed to make half a dozen smaller blankets.  These have been placed in her carry cage, one in her cat tower, one in her little basket, and the others will be handy I’m sure.


Out of a half yard cut of cat fabric I made two “placemats” (about 26in X 18in).  One of these is under her feeding station, and the other is under her dirt box.  A good way to use up some cat fabric which I’d had for ages.


Most family members have “hand-me-down” items and I have re-used the little bag I originally stitched for our previous cat Muffy.  Freshly washed and pressed, it holds such things as her brush and comb.


And this handy little mesh bag holds Gemma’s toys – this was a little purchased bag.  So far she hasn’t learnt to roll the little balls along the floor and chase them, but it’s early days yet.


Gemma loves playing in her little tunnel, and has just discovered her cat tower.  Robin and friend Derek made this and covered it in carpet.  We will have to impress on her that yes, she can scratch and climb all over this, but not on the furniture.

Happy exploring

Have you heard of the “Legend of the Sacred Temple Cats of Burma”?  It goes like this:

“Many centuries ago the Kymer people built beautiful temples to worship their gods.  One such temple housed a beautiful golden goddess with sapphire blue eyes, who watched over the transmutation of souls, which means, to change into another form.  Mun-ha, one of the most beloved of priests, often knelt in meditation in front of the golden goddess with Sinh, one of the white temple cats, always at his side.  As the priest prayed, the sacred cat would gaze at the brilliant goddess.

One night raiders attacked the temple and Mun-ha was killed.  As the priest died, Sinh placed his feet on the body of his fallen master and turned to face the golden goddess.  Immediately the hairs on his white body turned golden, her beautiful blue eyes became his very own, and his white legs shaded down to a velvety brown.  But where his feet rested on his dead master, the whiteness remained white, as a sign of purity.

By the next morning the other one hundred white cats had been transformed like Sinh.  This faithful cat died seven days after his master, and carried the priest’s soul with him into Paradise”.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Welcome, Gemma

Exciting times in our household.  Yesterday we have collected our new seal point Birman kitten.


Over the last couple of months the breeder encouraged us call in and see how the our kitten was progressing.  She was one of five, so certainly a good sized litter.  She was so tiny when we first saw her.



Later visits showed the babies growing up and playing happily together while their Mum  Angelina watched on.  Angelina is a blue point Birman and the kittens are a mixture of both seal and blue points.


Kittens and their Mum

Gemma is not too sure what’s happening in her life just now – where are her brothers and sisters and her Mum?  I’m sure she will settle down in a day or so, and stop hiding in corners and under the bed!  We are giving her space to find her feet, after all, it is a big change for her.

First day home hiding in a corner

But she is slowly getting braver, comes out from under the bed when she is called, and has spent some time this morning playing in her tunnel, attacking the dangly ball hanging in the front opening with gusto.  Hunger has sent her to polish off her first meal with us, and she has found and used her dirt box. What a clever kitten!  I’m sure that in a few more days she will be much more settled.

Playing in her new tunnel

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer Kites – Finished

I was getting near the end of machine quilting Summer Kites, it just  needed some more quilting in the blank spaces surrounding each kite.  But what to do?  In the end I decided to straight line quilt this way and that as suggested by the nine patches in the kite block.

Blocks all quilted

With the borders quilted, and the binding attached,  I turned the binding over and pinned it all down.   Really, I reminded myself,  I must invest in some of those binding clips which everyone except seems to use, one day. Then I was all ready to sit and hand stitch the binding down to the back side of the quilt in the evening, keeping Robin company as he was engrossed in a rugby game on TV.  And got this last job done in the evening, thank goodness.

I’d rather be stitching than watch sport on TV

So here it is, Summer Kites, all finished. Rather a long winded UFO, if I do say so.  I took part in a BOM competition way back in 1995, and won half of the blocks. The pale blue fabric was supplied, and it was suggested that we incorporate spots, stripes, or checks in our block. After the excitement of the win, they were put away and forgotten about till earlier this year, when they were rediscovered, and added to my List of Six.  I received ten blocks back, and made two extra to make a three by four block setting.  Luckily I had purchased a little extra of the background fabric way back then.  The kite blocks make a nice cot sized quilt, and I will tuck it away until a baby boy quilt is needed. 

P1200601  P1200604
Summer Kites

Thursday, July 12, 2018

It’s Thursday already

I can’t believe it is Thursday already, another week almost done and dusted.  So just what have I been doing all week?  On Monday I had my preserving pan bubbling away on the stove top.  Robin’s brother Gary had called around with a bag of windfall oranges – would we like them?  Of course, I prepared the fruit, added several limes, and now we have a nice little supply of orange and lime marmalade.  There’s nothing better than homemade, I always think.  The excess oranges have been juiced and enjoyed at breakfast.

A lovely batch of marmalade

Tuesday morning was spent with the Sew Wot ladies, grocery shopping was on Wednesday morning, and then I finally got to sit and sew.  After it’s service, my Bernina just hummed along.  Remember this?  The dice brought up number 3 this week, the cot sized kite quilt.  It was all ready layered and pinned, just waiting for the next step.


First of all I stitched in the ditch around each block, to keep it all secure.  Then debated how to quilt each block, finally decided to quilt three straight lines through the kite, and a wavy serpentine stitch through the tail, to mimic it fluttering in the wind.  Repeat 12 times for each kite.


Now, what about those empty spaces?  Perhaps a meander, but I often feel intimidated by free motion quilting.  I've decided to continue with straight line walking foot quilting, and will be doing this next stage tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sew Wot Tuesday

Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again, and what a wet morning it was – a real raincoat and umbrella sort of day.  But during the time we spent at hostess Moira’s home, the rain stopped and the sun came out for our journey home.  With a couple of birthdays to celebrate, there were little wrapped parcels in all directions.  Happy Birthday to both Moira and Helen.

It was rather like a knitting circle, with the click clack of needles as three of the ladies were busy knitting.  Mary was trying to decipher a pattern from a pretty lacy scarf made years ago, that seemed rather a challenge to me and I think I would have taken the easy way out and looked for a similar design.  But knowing Mary, she is sure to work it out.  Heather B had completed her colourful scarf which she was working on last time we met, and was now busy knitting a black scarf for her daughter.

Heather had finished this scarf and started another

And Carol had almost finished this little jumper for charity, it will certainly keep some little person toasty and warm.

By Carol, almost finished

There was some quilty Show and Tell too.  Helen was just finishing hand stitching the binding down on this turquoise quilt for her nephew’s 21st birthday.

Helen’s quilt for her nephew

And I certainly remembered Heather B‘s cat quilt “Sophistikitties” from earlier get-togthers.  Now completed, with fabric pens adding a little colour to the cats,  it is backed with warm and cozy fleece.  Looks like one for the Hope Chest.

Heather B’s Sophistikitties quilt

Moira had a quilt top to show as well.  After purchasing a Layer Cake from Grandmother's Garden recently, she came up with this lovely design, adding a few of her own fabrics to the mix.

Moira’s Layer Cake quilt top

As for me, I was working on even more yo-yos.  Yes, I’ve admitted that they are not really my thing, and I haven’t yet completed my Snowman yo-yo design, but I felt the need to start another one.  Wonder was these are going to be?

Even more yo-yos

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Where has the Week gone?

This week has just rushed by, and I haven’t really got much to show for it.  With my sewing machine away been serviced, I thought I’d have plenty of time to do all sorts of things.  But that didn’t really go to plan, although I did a little hand stitching during the week.  And stitched on the label for my Winter Quilt Festival wall-hanging too.  Although one of my aims was to get my Christmas ABC quilt pinned ready for quilting, but that didn’t happen.  I took a trip up to the quilt shop to purchase the batting during the week, with my quilt top in hand so I knew how much batting to buy, and the top was duly admired by the shop owners who then insisted on showing it to the other customers in the shop.   Hopefully I’ll get it pinned up this coming week – or not, I’ll see how I go.

My  sewing machine was returned on  Friday afternoon, and Barry the technician related that it has now done a little over 5 million stitches.  But still good for many more, he assured me.  But there was no time for sewing, as we were heading off for a caravan club rally over the weekend. 

Back home again, all ready to go again

Our weekend caravan club rally was very close to home, and the weather was wet, wet, wet.  The ground was very slushy, with puddles everywhere.  Not that we can complain, because it is mid winter after all.  These cheeky little sparrows weren’t worried about the damp conditions, in between the rain showers I saw them all lined up in a row on top of a caravan roof.   Sparrows are not native to New Zealand and were introduced here from Britain in the 1870s.  Many farmers have rued the introduction of house sparrows – as they were intended to help reduce the swarms of crop-eating insect pests. While the sparrows do feed their nestlings on caterpillars, beetles, flies and spiders for the first week after hatching, at other times they are more interested in grains and fruit than insects. They can cause significant damage to wheat, barley and maize crops.

Waiting for a hand out perhaps?

On Saturday afternoon our group car pooled and drove up to Murrayfield Café.  With orders taken we sat down to enjoy our coffees and cake, with several up our end of the table deciding to indulge in a milkshake instead. With a large piece of carrot cake for him, and lemon meringue pie for her, Robin and I were both full to bursting after we had indulged in these tasty goodies.

Afternoon Tea

Part of our Saturday evening entertainment was trying to match up baby or toddler photos to our members.    The photos were numbered and laid out on a table, and then we had to guess who was who, not an easy task at all.  This is mine, with my Dad and dolly, aged about three.

Me with my dolly, and Dad

Our weekend concluded after morning tea on Sunday, and we all packed up and went on our way.  With all the wet weather and mud and puddles underfoot, there was no point in staying over for lunch as we often do on nicer days.  Wet weather or not, it was still a great weekend, it’s always nice to get away and meet up with our caravan club friends.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Winter Quilt Festival–Finished

Finished just in time for our Southern Hemisphere winter – my Winter Quilt Festival wall-hanging.  This panel was a Christmas gift several years ago from my quilty pen friend Carol, who lives in South Dakota.  She had stitched on two borders before posting it half way around the world to me as a lovely gift.  I machine quilted in the ditch around the three straight lines in the borders, then several curvy lines around the blue border.  This was to be one of my “slow stitching” projects, and I decided to do some hand quilting in the centre of the panel.
Ready to start hand quilting

I must say that this has been a very slow project indeed.  It came away with us on our South Island holiday for 10 weeks, and was occasionally taken out of the bag and worked on.  I slowly quilted my way around those cheeky snow people, the trees, banner and the quilts in the background.


Then I decided that I would stitch around the teeny tiny printed block patterns which surround the centre panel.  I’m not the world’s best or fastest hand quilter, so it took another wee while.  The binding and hanging sleeve was added last week, just leaving a few more of those tiny blocks to stitch around, which I have finally finished.
Quilting around tiny blocks

I made it to hang in my sewing room, actually the back bedroom, over the winter months, and it looks nice and seasonal.  So down came the floral wall-hanging which has been there for ages – and I’ll swap them back again in the Spring.  Ooops, this one’s not quite all finished, I forgot to do a label.  I’ll get onto that little job shortly.

Hanging in the sewing room

I also have another wintry wall-hanging displayed, Winter Welcome, which was also a gift from Carol.  A wintry scene indeed, with a church and a cheeky snowman.  Carol sent me the pattern and added a few fabrics to start the project off, and I completed it last year.

Winter Welcome

Our winters here in my part of New Zealand are nowhere as severe as Carol experiences in South Dakota.  The only snow we see is on top of the mountains, but we have our share of wind and rain over winter.