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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Successful Stitching Day

Yesterday was spent at All Comers Day, a casual monthly stitching day organized by my quit club, Town and Country Quilters.  I took some hand stitching along, my two little baby quilts, and got the binding stitched down on both, so I’m really pleased about that.  I photographed them once I returned home.

For the backings I had a piece of nice warm  Winceyette (flannel) for the blue quilt – I like to use this for backing on quilts for little ones.  It stops the quilt sliding off, and is nice and cuddly.  The pink quilt was backed with a piece of pink seersucker, picked up from the freebie box at club night recently.  These two quilts will be kept here for a while, you never know when a baby quilt may be required, and it's good to have a couple on hand.  Other wise, they may get donated sometime in the future.

Showing the backings

Madalyn, our club President had asked for people to help at the March All Comers Day. The Quiltfest Raffle Quilt needed some willing sewers to sew the donated hexagon flowers together.  Anyone who could spare  1/2 an hour, an hour or a couple of hours to come and help sew would be welcomed with open arms she said.  When I arrived the flowers were laid out on the backing, and pinned in place. And before too long a group of willing workers were sitting around the table stitching all those hexagon flowers together.

Hexagon flowers cascading down

I’d never worked with hexagons so brought along my own projects, plus my packed lunch, of course.  With the bindings hand stitched down on both before the end of the day, I was a happy quilter indeed.

Our groups meets in the Vintage Car Club Rooms, and there was all sorts of activity outside in the car park.   The members were gathering there before they went  off on a ride, showing off their wonderful cars.  I went outside to take a few photos.  I rather liked this one, a Model T Ford, the owner told me.  But he didn’t offer to whisk me away on a vintage car jaunt, so I went back inside to get on with my stitching.  I could just imagine me sitting there like someone really important,  with the wind blowing  in my hair!

How is this for a vintage car!

It was  lovely day out, chatting with club members, getting to know a couple of newer members I hadn’t met before, while we all worked on our favourite pastime.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Pink and Blue Nine Patches

It’s been a busy old week with several social outings to attend, but I’ve managed to do some work on my two little nine patch cot quilts.  These little blocks had been hanging about for ages and I stitched the rows together a while ago as leader and ender sewing.  I can’t even remember why I made all these little nine patches, but it must have seemed a good idea at the time.

An hour or so sitting at the picnic table outside on a sunny day and they were all pinned up, and ready to go.  And while I was thinking about it, I prepared the bindings too.

All pinned up and the bindings prepared

I admit I’m sometimes a bit slow with quilting ideas, but after reading about it for sometime on other blogs, I’ve just discovered that my machine will do a type of Serpentine stitch.  Mind you, it's not called that in the manual, so I didn’t even know I had this stitch variation.  Doesn’t it look pretty?

Pink nine patch all quilted

My hope is to get the blue quilt finished by Friday.  My quilt club has a casual sewing day organized for Saturday so that will be ideal for me to take them along and get the bindings hand stitched down.  I don’t usually bother unhooking my sewing machine from the cabinet and lugging it down to the hall on  these sewing days, and much prefer to take along some hand stitching.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Modern Day Dinosaur

Did you know that New Zealand can claim to have a modern day dinosaur?  We saw one of these living fossils recently when we visited Nga Manu Nature Reserve.  Peering into an enclosure, we saw  one sitting still, as they do, basking in the sunshine.  There were several young ones in another enclosure, but they we too small for us to spot as they hid amongst the greenery. 

Tuatara showing the spines on his back

Tuatara are the only surviving members of the order Sphenodontia, which was well represented by many species during the age of the dinosaurs, some 200 million years ago. All species except the tuatara declined and eventually became extinct about 60 million years ago.  The endangered Tuatara are New Zealand’s largest reptile, with adult males measuring up to about a half metre in length and weighing up to 1.5 kg when fully grown.  The male has a distinctive crest of spines running along the neck and down the back, which he can fan out to attract females or when fighting with other males.

Another rather rare species was the Tecomanthe vine which was climbing all around a frame by the entrance to the tuatara display.  Amazingly, we read that only one plant has ever been found in the wild, on Three Kings Islands.  Luckily it survives as a popular garden plant, and this well established plant was covered in clusters of large cream flowers.

Tecomanthe vine in flower

A charitable trust, Nga Manu Nature Reserve has become a sanctuary for up to 60 different bird species, many free to come and go as they please. It plays an important role in wildlife breeding programmes, working alongside DOC and the SPCA to provide recovery care for injured native birds.  Walking through the aviaries we came face to face with a Kaka enjoying his breakfast.  The kaka is a large forest parrot and feeds on a wide range of fruit, insects and nectar.  His neighbour, the Kakariki,  a small parrot with  bright green plumage and the red pattern on its head was also enjoying the morning sun shine.

Kakariki and Kaka

Some of us walked up the hill to the Lookout.  From here we had great views over the reserve, and waving back at us were our friends down on the flat ground.  The reserve is set in the remains of lowland swamp forest and is full of native birds flying free.  We couldn’t leave without a group photo, and arranged ourselves around the swan sculpture.  As you can tell by Robin’s shorts and the men in hats, it was warm and sunny, and we couldn’t have had a nicer day for a visit to the reserve.

Out enjoying nature

Proudly hanging in the Visitors Centre was a quilt featuring New Zealand wildlife.  It’s always a bonus to see a quilt when we are out and about.

Quilt at Nga Manu

No wonder it looked familiar, I have one just like it at home!  Arranged slightly differently, and done in different shades, they both show case our native birds and yes, that is a tuatara on the quilt.

My quilt at home

Lunch in a local café followed our visit to Nga Manu Reserve, the weather was excellent, the food and company were great, and it was fun to catch up again with everyone.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Time to make a new List

Finally, its time to write my new List of Six UFOs, so I can get back to rolling the dice each week.  Whichever number comes up, that is the UFO I will be working on that particular week.  Looking through my “stuff”, I’m always amazed just how many things I’d previously started and not finished.  I’ve tried to get a bit of variety in my new list, bigger projects and some quicker ones.  So……the new list for 2019 is:

1:  New Zealand Botanical Quilt.  I’m so pleased I just completed stitching the final block, and will now get to assemble it sometime soon.

2:  Sampler Quilt.  This is quite an old UFO which dates back to an Internet Birthday Block Swap I took part in.

3:  Machine quilt two cot quilts.  These were made from my seemingly endless supply of nine patch blocks, (I’ve found plenty more in one of my crates) and assembled a while ago using the leader and ender method.

4:  Selvedge Bag.  I rediscovered this project recently, selvedge blocks were tucked away in an old quilt magazine. 

5:  Christmas Mystery Quilt.  This was started late last year and then I ran out of steam, so it didn’t get finished in time for Christmas. 

6:  Memory Quilt.  When we travelled to England way back in 2009 I took along a good supply of HST and a fabric pen to get them signed as we travelled around.

Six new projects on my list

I can’t possibly wait till Monday to start so I rolled the dice today.  And the project chosen in number three, the two nine patch cot quilts, waiting to be machine quilted.  Goody, it will be great to get on with these little quilts, I’ll be doing simple walking foot quilting.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New Zealand Fuchsia Stitchery Block

My final New Zealand Botanical stitchery block is now completed, designed by Jenny Hunter.   The bright purply-red bell shaped flowers have stamens laden with intense blue sticky pollen.

My final NZ Botanical stitchery block

Photo bombed by Gemma

Kotukutuku  is considered to be the world’s largest fuchsia. In damp forest it can grow to 12m tall and form a trunk over 1m in diameter. It is one of New Zealand’s few truly deciduous trees, losing its leaves in winter in all but the warmest areas. Attractive, small flowers appear between August and December. They change from greenish-yellow to purple-red. The flowers are rich in nectar and are visited by honey-eating birds, especially tui, bellbirds and silvereyes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sew Wot Tuesday

It was lovely to catch up with the Sew Wot ladies today, as I had missed the previous meeting, due to another commitment.  We met in Moira’s new home, and were given the grand tour.  Then it was time to settle down and do a little stitching, together with plenty of chatting too, of course.

Mary, Carol, Heather, Helen and Moira

There was only a little Show and Tell this time -  I had taken along my Animal ABC quilt and a couple of my new Project Bags.  And Mary had a book cover to show us, a Christmas gift from her daughter.  The idea was for the family to recycle gifts from other things instead of going out and buying them.  Mary’s book cover was just lovely, a crazy patched piece with embroidery and a little applique.

Mary’s Christmas gift

Heather was adding tiny beads to her Red Rose crazy patch block.  She had also brought along some silver beet from her garden to share, thanks so much, Heather.

Heather with her crazy patch block

Several of us had brought along a stitchery to do.  Mary had just started on a stitchery for her daughter.

And Carol was working on a Sue Bonnet Sue stitchery, she will probably make several to put into a baby quilt, she said.  I did a little work on my stitchery project too.

Pretty stitcheries

And our hostess Moira was working on her wool cross stitch cushion.  It’s going to be a beauty, stitched in vivid glowing colours.  Helen had popped in briefly, too excited to do stitching, as she is about to embark on her first cruise.  We certainly wish her well, safe sailing, and look forward to hearing all about it when she gets back.

I had recently had a clean out of my “might make one day” folder.  You know, those patterns you download and print off because it seemed a good idea at the time.  I took a pile along to the morning,  those patterns which I knew I wouldn’t ever be making, for the ladies to look through.  Some found new homes, so that is a good bit of recycling done, perhaps I’ll take the others to our next quilt club night to put in the freebie box.

Another lovely Sew Wot morning, with a tasty morning tea, thank you Moira.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Stitching Fuchsias

We have been away in the caravan this weekend, a nice restful couple of days and I had time to enjoy a little stitching time outside under the awning.  I’m coming along quite well on this block, stitching fuchsias around the circlet of leaves. 

Working on my fuchsia block

Gemma came away with us too, she is quite at home in the caravan and likes to find a nice spot to lie down and keep an eye on us.  Right by the door, this time.  She is certainly getting bigger now.

Gemma likes caravanning too

We were staying the weekend at a small rural school, just 32km up the road.  And what’s this we spotted?  It was the Tooth Booth, a caravan fitted out as a travelling dental clinic.  In my school days, most primary schools had a dental clinic building on site.  I certainly remember those foot operated dental drills which seem to take forever as we sat there in fear!  When one of our class mates was called over to the clinic, they came back clutching the name of the next pupil to go to the “Murder House”.  We all hoped it wasn’t our name on that piece of paper.

The Tooth Booth

On Saturday evening we went out for a meal at the local establishment, a fairly casual place which was doing a roaring trade.  There was a group of bikers outside and as one was leaving we saw him lift a small dog up onto the bike.  Off I went with my camera for a closer look.  And there was four year old Millie, happily settled into her seat on the bike.  She has been riding around since she was a little pup of four months, the owner told me.

Millie goes motor bike riding

The weekend was tinged with sadness as the news unfolded about a terrible tragedy  in Christchurch, in the South Island.  Shooters had been on a rampage in two mosques in Christchurch, schools and businesses were in lockdown, and 50 people were confirmed dead.  Christchurch Hospital was also in lockdown, treating another 50 with gunshot wounds, with others going to other health facilities around the city.  Patients ranged from young children to adults, with minor to critical injuries.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the shootings a terrorist attack.  "It is clear that this is one of New Zealand's darkest days," she said. "This is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."  We always considered our country very safe and peaceful, and this is the first such incident which New Zealand has suffered. What a sad way to start the weekend, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Project Bags

Now I’ve got my two long standing UFOs out of the way (Horse Quilt and Animal ABC Quilt) I decided to make some project bags.  Why, you may ask, haven’t I got plenty of UFOs to be getting on with?  Because……… I really dislike having my projects in ugly plastic bags and wanted something nicer.  As much as I admire those quilters who can whip up a project bag using clear vinyl and zips, this design was much too involved and wasn’t for me.  My inspiration came from the little drawstring bag we use to keep our kitten Gemma’s toys in.  Simple and easy.  (Ooops, don’t know why I can’t rotate the picture.)

Gemma’s toy bag

I purchased some white net, then had a rummage through my stash for some pieces of fabric to use for the bags.  Then I went to visit local manufacturers Cordall for some cord, purchasing pink, blue and white.  They make all sorts of cord, tape and elastic in their factory and sell to the public at very competitive prices.

A visit to Cordall’s factory shop for some cord

Then several afternoons cutting, pinning and stitching and the bags were done.  I will keep my hand stitching in one, or maybe two, and they others will be handy for keeping the bits of various projects safely corralled, and I'll be able to see what I have in each.

Previously I had made some 1930s 4 patches out of charm squares I had which were hanging about, so they got stitched together to use on one bag.  Then used up other pieces from my stash, which is always a good thing, isn’t it? 

Now the bags are done, my next job will be to write a new “List of Six” UFOs and start rolling the dice again for 2019.  Wonder what projects I’ll find to put on my list?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Stitching Green RSC Blocks

This month the colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is green.  This fun challenge is run by Angela of Sew Scrappy.  This week  I made my usual four Bow Tie blocks and two more Asterisk blocks.  It is fun gathering up the fabrics each month, I am trying to use up my small scraps without having to cut into larger pieces.

Green is the colour for March

This is the first time I have taken part in the RSC, and I am really enjoying it.  So much so, that I have already decided on which pattern I will make next year.

We are continuing to enjoy warm Autumn weather, mostly sunshine, with just a little rain.  Mustn’t complain about the rain, quite a large part of the country has been very dry over the summer, so any rain is a bonus, especially for the farmers.

I met up with a friend during the week for coffee and she kindly gave me some tasty passionfruit grown on her vine.  They look rather strange, the skin goes wrinkly as they ripen, but they are so sweet and delicious.

Bowl of passionfruit

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Finally–a Finish

My Animal ABC quilt is finally finished, and it has been in hibernation for ages.  I’ve always said I had very old UFOs and this certainly proves the point.  Started way back in 2012 (read my first post about it here) the project started off reasonably well with my plans to stitch one alphabet block each month.  That plan fell by the wayside, and I eventually added this project to my List of Six where I  “roll the dice” each week to choose which UFO I will be working on.  But…….. the quilt was still uncompleted at the end of last year, so I decided to finish it,  before starting a new list for 2019.  So here is the last little bit  - machine stitching the previously prepared binding on.

Adding the binding

After a couple of afternoons hand stitching, the binding was done.  Finally-  photo time.  The extra animal fabric was used to make a pieced backing.

Back and front

Most of the animals were cut and applied from printed fabric but I had to get creative and trace out several shapes which I found in the Internet.  I couldn’t have a New Zealand made quilt without featuring a Kiwi, could I?

K is for Kiwi

The letters X and Y proved rather difficult.  Pristella maxillaris, is commonly known as the X-ray fish  because of its translucent body, and is found in the Amazon and Orinoco basins.  And what to do for Y?  I finally settled on Yak.

X for X-ray fish and Y for Yak

I’m so pleased I’ve finally finished this quilt, and it won’t be going anywhere for a while.  It will be kept safe and sound until one of my grand-daughters (both in their 20s) produce a great-grand child!

And if you think the border fabric seems familiar, you are right.  I used the same fabric on my Little Letters quilt, which I’m also keeping for future babies to arrive.

Little Letters

Monday, March 4, 2019

Enjoying a little Slow Stitching

There’s nothing nicer than a little slow hand stitching, is there?  I’ve been working away on my final New Zealand Botanical block, sitting outside and making the most of the warm temperatures.  The circlet and leaves are now done, with just the fuchsias to be added.  I’ve also been “sewing in the ends” after machine quilting on my Animal ABC quilt, another restful job to do while seated outside.  With a drink to hand, and a quilt magazine to flick through when I want a break, the birds chirping, it’s very pleasant indeed.

Starting on my NZ Fuchsia block

The calendar has just clicked around to Autumn in my part of the world, (Fall to USA readers).  So down came my New Zealand Native Bird wall-hanging above the sofa, and up went my Autumn toned Baskets of Blessings.

Baskets of Blessings

It may be early Autumn, but our weather is March is usually warm and settled - although we are noticing that the overnight temperatures are now a little cooler.  It’s a lovely day today, and Gemma is enjoying the sun shine streaming in the windows.  Here she is stretched right out on the carpet, legs akimbo, making the most of the warm weather.  She is certainly a contented kitty.

Gemma enjoying the Autumn sunshine

Saturday, March 2, 2019

It’s Getting Closer

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting closer to the finish line on my Animal ABC quilt.  All the small blocks have now been machine quilted and I’m working on the Z is for Zebra panel across the bottom of the quilt.  Then I just have the borders and binding to complete.

Z is for Zebra

You may remember that I mentioned earlier that Gemma doesn’t sit on my sewing machine and watch me sew.  But lately she has decided that curling up on the quilt being worked on is a good idea.  She waits till she has the sewing room to herself then settles down for a nap, although she is not too sure if this behaviour is allowed.  But she looks so cute cuddled up on the quilt that I just let her be. 

Gemma on my sewing cabinet

We had a day out in Palmerston North yesterday and decided to treat ourselves to lunch at  China Town.  This is very reasonably priced, is always busy and offers lots of  interesting dishes to help yourself.  Another excellent point is that many local Chinese eat here, so that certainly shows that the food must be very good.  Mind you, the Chinese people seem to order off the menu, while most of the other customers are happy to serve themselves from the buffet.  It was a good day out in nice sunny weather, with several jobs being ticked off our “to do” list, and a lovely lunch.  At only $15 each it was certainly value for money, with soup, desserts and coffee included in the price.

Lunch at China Town

However, we did come across a couple of situations which were unusual, certainly as far as we were concerned.  The first was when we came across several police cars surrounding a car, the driver was out on road and was having hand cuffs put on him.  It was rather like watching a TV show and we did wonder what he had  done to have the police after him.  And the next situation would have been amusing if not for all the foul language being bandied about.  A middle aged grey haired woman  was riding a bicycle and was rather upset with a van driver, and the language being shouted out at the van driver was atrocious.  Perhaps he drove too close to her and her bike, I don’t really know, but she didn’t let up for a good five minutes, riding around and around and swearing and cussing at the top of her voice. My goodness, I’m not used to such carrying on and was pleased when we started driving back to our quiet little town!