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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Horse Quilt Number Two

After several days sitting at the sewing machine, I’m pleased to say that Horse Quilt No2 is now a   finished top.  The final two rows of blocks were added, then the plain black borders were cut, measured, pinned and stitched on.  I laid it on top of our bed, to see how it looked.

How about a photo out on the clothesline?  There was just a touch of gentle rain falling, but I didn't think the horses would mind, as they were galloping through the river!

I’m pleased with how it all came together, and I do hope grand-daughter Megan likes it, when she finally receives it.  Gemma has been helping too, keeping my seat warm by the sewing machine while I’ve been doing other things.

The gentle rain has gone, and we are sweltering!  Seems that all those extra high temperatures that Australia was melting under have flown across the Tasman Sea to spend time here in New Zealand.  Our home town of Levin has been experiencing temps in the early 30s, unheard of here.  Its rather like being away on a tropical holiday without leaving home.  I’m doubly hot as I’m slaving away over a hot stove this afternoon, doing some baking.  We are off on another caravan adventure tomorrow for several days and I like to have some  things  prepared to take away.   In case you are wondering, I’ve made a quiche, a chocolate slice, and prepared some potato salad.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Time to Open the Gift Basket

I received a lovely gift basket for Christmas from my daughter Nicky.  Full of home made goodies, lovingly prepared.  Must admit that I opened up the cellophane tied up with a big bow to see what was inside, and then left everything inside the basket.  Gemma had a lovely time jumping all over the cellophane on the floor, delighting in the crinkliness and patting her little toys around on top of the rustling paper.  What fun!

But the cellophane is gone now, and it’s time to empty the basket, and put the contents away in the pantry.  So just what did I receive?  An amazing selection of home made goodies, as it turns out.

Plum and tomato sauce, tomato relish, bread and butter pickles, tomato and cucumber relish, and pear and feijoa chutney.  And two sweet items as well, japonica jelly, and sweet hedgerow sauce.  All nicely bottled and labeled.  I really appreciate this gift, and can only imagine the time it took to prepare, cook and bottle each different recipe.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Back at the Sewing Machine

It’s fair to say it’s been some time, but I’m back at the sewing machine again.  Before I start 2019 using my “List of Six” method when I roll the dice to see which one I will work on each week, I’ve decided to complete two long standing projects from my list which have been hanging around for ages.  I’m starting with finishing the piecing on Horse Quilt No 2.  No wonder this project seems to have been sitting around for ages – a quick check back on the blog reminded me it hasn't been touched since last August.

This quilt will be for our younger grand-daughter Megan, who just like her elder sister, is an avid horse woman and often goes away with the family to compete in horse events.  I’m using a panel for the centre and left over nine patch blocks from Emma’s horse quilt – more of these needed of course but it was a good start.  There was a bit of a mild panic trying to fit the nine patches around the panel, but with a little adjustment it all worked out. 

Over the last day or two I’ve been stitching extra  rows and making sashing strips,  so I’m getting there.  I like to pin everything securely before I stitch, so that slows me down.  Not that I really mind, I’ve been pinning outside on the patio this morning, before it got too hot.

Gemma was curled up on a chair beside me.  It  was very pleasant sitting quietly, both of us enjoying the warm summer air, birds chirping away, and with a coffee to sip, what could be nicer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Long Weekend away in the Caravan

Life tends to be one long holiday when you have a caravan.  We spent   four  nights away at Pohangia Reserve with our caravan buddies.  This is such a pretty place – originally a small country school till  it closed some years ago, it is now available for camping and picnics for all to enjoy.  There was even a few animals over the fence who came to check us out.

Camping at Pohangia Domain

We were busy with BBQing a couple of meals and driving around to explore the area, and relaxing together under the shady trees.  On Sunday afternoon we then walked down the road to a lovely little café called Country Fayre, originally the Pohangia Council buildings.  Our group was seated around the large horse-shoe shaped Council table, where no doubt many important decisions were made in earlier times.  We enjoyed our scones with jam and cream, served with tea or coffee as requested.  The café is run by volunteers and opens in the weekends, with all profits going back to the community.  Many old photos were displayed on the walls, telling the history of this once thriving little town.

Afternoon tea at Country Fayre

Our nine month old kitten Gemma enjoyed time outside safe on her harness and lead.  There were interesting smells around, birds to watch, leaves fluttering in the wind, all sorts of things to keep her happy and interested.  I did a little stitching on my current NZ Botanical stitchery block, caught up with friends, and joined in the fun and games which the rally captains had organized.  It certainly was a lovely weekend away.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Blue flowers, and a blue native bird

I’m pleased that another of my stitchery blocks has been completed, I’ve been stitching away on my Chatham Island Forget-me-knot block.  Designed by Jenny Hunter, this is block seven of nine New Zealand botanical blocks, and is my “slow stitching” project.


The threatened Chatham Island forget-me-not grows naturally on the Chatham Islands - on coastal cliffs, rock outcrops and sandy and rocky beaches.  Grazing, trampling and rooting by domestic and feral animals and weed encroachment, especially by marram grass, are major threats to this species in it’s natural habitat.  This large showy plant is also available to home gardeners, and is widely grown in nurseries and gardens throughout New Zealand and overseas.

Chatham Island forget-me-not
Photo from Te Ara NZ

I unrolled my block roll to put the newly finished block away with the others and have a count up.  Gemma must approve of my stitched blocks, as she has settled down on top of them for a snooze!  So I can't disturb her, can I?

The snooze of approval

We have another native bird to join our ever growing collection.  This beautiful metal and glass piece of yard art was a Christmas gift from grand-daughter Megan, and is now lives happily outside under the eaves. 


The kokako make up two species of endangered wattlebirds which are endemic to New Zealand, the North Island kokako and the presumably extinct South Island kokako. They are both slate-grey with wattles and have black masks.  We have only ever seen these beautiful birds in bird sanctuaries.
Image result for photos of kokako

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jumping on the RSC Bandwagon

Each year I had read about the annual Rainbow Scrap Challenge organized by Angela of SoScrappy.BlogSpot.  And finally, this year, I have decided to jump on the band wagon and join in.  Angela writes, “Each month I will announce a color.  Your job is to use your scraps to make something.  A block, a few blocks, a small project, an entire quilt.   Hopefully, by the end of the year, you will have enough blocks for a quilt, or a finished project or two”.   This month the colour chosen was red. 

What to stitch – that was the question.  People seem to make all sorts of things, and the link-up is always fun to read.  I decided to make some bow tie blocks, four each month, that shouldn’t be too hard.  So here are my very first RSC 2019 blocks, nice and simple and didn’t take me too long at all.

Red Bow Tie blocks

Then I had another thought, perhaps a second project might be fun too.  So then I made two Asterisk blocks, using selvedges.  I’m not too sure whether I like these or not enough to continue each month – what do you think?

Asterisk selvedge blocks

I know I have heaps of UFOs, but who doesn’t need another project or two to keep us happy and motivated?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I seem to have a theme going

Christmas is over – it’s all packed away till next year.  Robin’s been up the ladder again taking down the strings of outdoor lights, with me steadying the ladder, just in case.  As we get older we are not so nimble, are we.  I’ve taken care of indoors, the various decorations are now safety packed away in their crates, (farewell till next year, my precious Jim Shore ornaments) and the Christmas quilts have come down too.

I’ve put three quilts up in the sitting room, and I seem to have a theme going - they all feature New Zealand native birds.  These aren’t new, so you may well have seen them before.  Hanging over the sofa is “My New Zealand Bird Quilt”, although it also features a tuatara, an ancient species from the dinosaur age.  (Do click on the link and read all about these interesting native animals).  This was hand appliqued and hand quilted and was completed in 2003. 

My New Zealand Bird quilt

Hanging by our computer desk is a a bird from the same pattern, a Kea (NZ alpine parrot)  made for my son for his 37th birthday.  As a youngster Michael was very interested in native birds.  Unfortunately when he moved house some years later he didn’t want his wall-hanging any more, so I made sure it came home to me. 

Kea – Nestor Notabilis

There are even more native birds on the wall by the entranceway.  “New Zealand Native Birds” was machine appliqued and quilted, and completed in 2017.

New Zealand Native Birds

It was while we were on a trip to USA some years ago that we were impressed by how patriotic everyone seemed.  We were staying with my pen friend in Juneau, Alaska, and she had several amazing local photos displayed on her walls.  As we traveled around we noticed there were flags flying everywhere, and we commented that we didn’t seem to do that back home.  Robin  purchased a flag pole several years ago and flies the New Zealand flag, and it seems that more people are doing this these days.  We certainly should be proud of our respective countries, I feel.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

We are now back home from our Christmas/New Year holiday and it’s that time of year when quilters and crafters like to take stock of what we have achieved during the year.  Whether it’s been a little or a lot, each finish is special and something to celebrate.  I’ll never be in the league of some of the “super quilters” out there in blog-land, but I’m still happy with what I have done.

Lace cushion for niece’s 50th birthday and table cloth recording our South Island holiday

For the caravan, hand stitched native birds, and two sets placemats

Baby quilts

Winter wall-hanging and mats/blankets for the new kitten

Two piggy quilts

Then I had some big finishes, Soul Searching and Our Australian Adventures, both commercially quilted.



And last but certainly not least, I completed Alphabet Noel in time for Christmas.  These stitcheries were done over the previous two years, machine pieced and machine quilted with wonky stars.  I have to say that this was a most enjoyable stitchery project.

Alphabet Noel

I’m not as clever as it might appear - some of these projects had been already started and hanging around as UFOs for a while, so just needed finishing off, and others  were brand new.

What now?  As some of you know, I have been listing six projects at a time and throwing the dice to see which one I will work on each week.  I will continue doing that, but first I want to clear two long standing projects from my list, Animal ABC and Horse Quilt No 2, both which didn’t seem to have their numbers come up very much during the previous year.  I’ll be pleased to see the back of both of these two, so watch this space.

Then I will write a new list and continue from there.  It seems that there are still plenty of UFOs lurking about in bags and crates waiting to see the light of day, plus a few new projects I want to make.  I’m still working on my current stitchery project, the New Zealand Botanical designs, and once these blocks get completed the project will get swapped over to my List of Six to get made into a quilt.  And I really should make more of an effort to get on with my knitting.  As I often tell Robin, I’ll never run out of things to do.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Home Again

After (almost) two weeks away in the caravan, we are home again.  We stayed at Foxton, not too far from home for several days, then traveled up to Hawkes Bay, and finally home today.  The temperatures in Hawkes Bay were HOT, hovering at 27-29C and some days in the 30s, much warmer than we are used to here at home.  Thank goodness for sun awnings on the caravans to give us some much needed shade.  I only did a little hand work while I was away, finished the stitching on Time for Tea.  This is going to be a mug rug for my USA pen friend.


Did a little more work on my New Zealand Botanical blocks, stitching blue flowers on the Chatham Island Forget-me-not.

Just a little holiday stitching

So what have we been up to while we were away in between trying to keep cool? This huge ice-cream helped, the real fruit ice-creams were $5 each and certainly took a bit of licking to get to the end, trying to get them finished before we ended up in a melted mess.


We enjoyed the ice-creams at Birdwoods in Havelock North after walking around the free sculpture garden.   Birdwoods imports sculptures from Zimbabwe and has other interesting items available for sale in the gallery.  There were metal and stone sculptures, and others, like the sheep, were made from beads.

At Birdwoods Gallery

A trip to the Saturday morning market with our traveling companions was another nice outing.  After a few purchases we walked through the very pretty and historic  Clive Square.  The gardens were formed in 1884, after the area had previously been  used as a sports ground and village green.  After the devastating 1931 earthquake, the square was used as a temporary shopping centre known as Tin Town.  A friendly local took some photos for us.


We also dined out a couple of times, including a meal out with my sister and her family in Hastings.

Sister Kathleen, niece Lisa and BIL Dennis

Our fast growing kitten Gemma had all sorts of exciting experiences while she was away.  She climbed her first tree without any help from us, she was after insects and just knew what to do to climb up the tree trunk to find them.


And the easiest way to keep cool inside the caravan was to stretch right out on the floor, she decided.  That pose isn’t very lady-like, Gemma!  She is quite happy in the caravan, and loves to get outside too, we always make sure she has her harness and lead on when she ventures outside.

Gemma enjoyed her holiday too

We've unpacked the caravan, and the first load of washing is in the machine.  Mind you, we will be doing it all again shortly, our next trip away is in two weeks time.