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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Knitting String

Remember this?  I don’t think it’s really string, but that’s what it feels like – knitting cotton I think.

With a bit of perseverance, I’m not a speedy knitter by any means, this is what I ended up with.  Two veggie/fruit bags to take shopping.  Now that single use plastic bags are a thing of the past, we have to think what to do with the loose produce we want to buy, although I notice that larger quantities are still bagged.


Two produce bags

Just had to change the pattern.  The overall lacy design on the bottom of the larger bag was not difficult, but so slow to knit with those big needles.  So after several rows I changed to garter stitch, and it went much quicker.  The smaller bag was knitted in alternate rows of garter stitch and holes.

As we had recently returned from our recent Aussie Adventure holiday there was another job to get on with.  I had made this quilt as a memory quilt to record the adventures on our first Australian rail trip.  With plenty of spare room on the sashings it now records the adventures we have enjoyed over four Aussie Adventures.  Places we stayed, scenery, attractions visited, rides, exotic (to us) food eaten, any thing of interest got written down.  It is a visual diary of our holidays.  Of course, the quilt was constructed with Australian, mostly Aboriginal inspired designs.


Aussie Adventure quilt

So that’s been my week – what have you been getting up to?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A visit to Pete’s Emporium

With a super busy week, full of various appointments, I’ve decided not to roll the dice this week.  I’m sure I’ll find lots of other crafty things to keep me busy in any spare time I have available.  We had to take a trip to Porirua yesterday and after we had done what we needed to do, went to visit Pete’s Emporium.  This shop sells all sorts of things, but I love it for the craft area – you are sure to find what you are looking for here, and at very reasonable prices too.

Gidday Pete, nice to be back again

I was after some cord for the little draw string bags I’ve been making for the charity Foster Hope.  Children in foster care use the bags to put their toiletries or sometimes use them for pens and pencils.  Armed with some fabric for the next lots of bags, I went to see if I could match some cords. I found three out of four colours I was after, so I’m pleased with that.

These will do nicely

And here is a selection of cords available.  There were also stands full of buttons, lace, ric rac, ribbon, a veritable Aladdin's Cave of treasure!  You could spend such a long time here just checking the haberdashery selections.

Cords in all colours

There was also a good selection of quilting fabrics, but with Robin hovering nearby, I didn't have time to check them out.  And I really only like to buy fabric with a project in mind these days.  But I did pick up a couple of family birthday gifts, and Robin bought a new flag to fly on his flag pole, so he was happy too.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Just a little Stitching

Not much time for more than just a little stitching when we joined 1600 caravans and motorhomes at the Motor Home, Caravan and Leisure Show held at Hamilton.  We arrived the day before the show started, as did most of the other campers, and I sat outside under the awning doing some stitching on my Autumn project.  I’ve finished the yellow petals, now need to fill in the middle with brown seeds.  That will keep me quiet for a while, I’m sure.

Autumn stitchery

This is what arrival day looked like, when we lined up with hundred of other vans waiting for the gates to open.  To get us off the road, we were guided into a large paddock high on a plateau overlooking the venue.  At midday the gates opened and we all rolled in, driving gingerly down the unsealed road, then we were directed to the parking areas. You would have to take particular note of where you were parked up, as all these white vans look so similar, it would be so easy to get lost.

Here we come,one after the other

The huge Event Centre was chock full of bright and shiny campers and caravans.  New Zealand built, Australian, and plenty of European vans too.  Where to start looking?  We started with our favourite brand, Leisureline, and looked through their newest vans.  Then checked out overseas brands such as Winnebago, Dethletts, Eldis, Jaeco, and whatever else took our fancy.  Some of these fancy motorhomes cost serious money, beautiful, but very pricy.

Just a small part of the show

Lunch was calling so we went outside to check out the food stalls, finally deciding on a Hot Dog each.  Mind you, we could well have chosen a whitebait fritter, fish and chips, kebabs, or even Chinese for lunch.  We were lucky to find seats under cover in the huge tent to escape from the hot sun beating down, and ate our lunch serenaded by a golden voiced singer.  With so much to see, I’m sure we missed some of what was on offer.  This one piqued my interest, wonder if it built for Aussie conditions to keep them safe from crocodiles while camping by the river?

Tenting on top of a big red truck

I had intended to walk up the hill so that we could get photos of the vans parked up, but in the end we took the easier option and drove up.  Just look at them all – there are sure to be areas of parked vans hidden behind buildings  that I couldn’t see from the top of the hill!

Our white caravan is in there somewhere

Then it was time to start heading home and we spent a night at Taupo.  It was fish and chips for our evening meal, and we both commented that it was the nicest fish we had had for a long time.  Mind you, we paid extra and ordered schnapper fillets, well worth the money, we thought.. Gemma was beside herself to see a cat running around outside our caravan, and really wanted to go outside and give it a piece of her mind.  In the end, she gave up and relaxed on a sunny spot on the bed.

What a life!

I always like to stop at the Lookout at Taupo before continuing on our homewards journey.  And what a beautiful sight, looking over Lake Taupo at three snow capped mountains.

Lake Taupo and Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro

We stopped for lunch at the National Army Museum at Waiouru.  This building looks rather like a castle, doesn’t it?

National Army Museum

Rather than have a sandwich inside our caravan we ate in the museum café.  Look at this gorgeous view through the café window.

Mt Ruapehu

There were lots of interesting posters on the café walls relating to the war years, and I thought this one was great.  Guess housewives had to be rather inventive in the lean years of food rationing.


A few hours later we arrived home – this was only a short trip, and it’s always nice to get back home, isn’t it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Just a little Road Trip

It’s been all go since we arrived back from our holiday last Thursday – we quickly packed the caravan and left on Sunday, will be away about a week.  We are heading up to Hamilton to get the back window of our caravan repaired, then we will be attending the annual Motorhome, Caravan and Leisure Show. 

We stopped in Ohakune one night, home to the Big Carrot.   At 7.5m tall, the carrot was built for a TV commercial for ANZ Bank, and then donated to the town.   Visitors love the Big Carrot and often stop and have their photos taken here.   Carrots were first grown in the area during the 1920s by Chinese settlers, and Ohakune now grows two-thirds of the North Island's total crop. 

Ohakune, where the carrots grow

And no stop at Ohakune is complete without a visit to the much loved “world famous in Ohakune” Chocolate Éclair Shop.  In fact, some people go out of their way to stop off here on their winter travels.  This establishment only opens during the ski season, and the huge chocolate éclairs are legendary!  There was a car park right outside the shop just waiting for us to call in.

Chocolate Éclair shop

Gemma has got over the trauma of being locked away in the cattery, and settled down quite comfortably on my lap as we drove along.  Sometimes she likes to curl up on the back seat too.


Passing through the little village of Owhango we spotted a sign we hadn’t seen before. We were now at Latitude 39 degrees South.  This line passes through Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Tasman Sea and Bass Strait.


While we have been away these last few days I’ve spent a little time hand quilting this Christmas project – it had been tucked away and forgotten for a while.  This stitchery will eventually become a cushion, I’ve decided.

Christmas stitchery

I’ve also been doing some knitting, using cotton and big needles.    Any guesses what will this end up as?

Knitting project

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Purple Passion

This month the colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is purple.  This fun challenge is run by Angela of Sew Scrappy.  I don’t really wear purple, but I’m rather partial to the colour of soft lilac/lavender.  And I love the smell of lavender - that’s showing my age, I guess.  Getting my RSC blocks done has been a bit of a rush.  I cut the blocks out on Friday, and finished stitching them today, Saturday, so that’s good.

Purple Asterisk blocks

Four Bow Tie blocks

The last few days have been really busy.    We arrived home from our Aussie Adventure on Thursday night, and collected Gemma from the cattery on Friday morning.  She was not a happy kitty while she was locked away and wouldn’t let anyone near her.  Once home she took a wee while to settle down, and now won’t let us out of her sight.  Poor thing, we feel she may have been traumatized by the whole experience.

And tomorrow, Sunday, we are away on a week long caravan trip to Hamilton to get a repair done at the factory and then visit the annual Motorhome, Caravan and Leisure Show.  Gemma will come away with us, she is quite content to be a caravan cat.  Much better than being locked away in the cattery!  I’ll be taking my hand stitching with me, and hopefully will get some done when we are settled on site.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Heading Home

What else did we do in Auckland before we headed home?  We went to Britomart Station, which was only a short walk away, and there we organised a tap on, tap off AT Hop Card, and we were good to go.  The cost to Kiwis was $10.00 for the card, $1 to load on it, and for Seniors, all our travel would be free after 9.00am, trains, buses and most ferries.  Pretty good value, don’t you think.  So we gave the trains and buses a try one day, and the next, boarded the Devonport Ferry, just a short ride across the harbour.

At Devonport Pier

Devonport is a historic seaside village, with interesting Victorian architecture.  Maori settlement is believed to date  back to the mid 14th century, the time of the great ocean going canoes in which Polynesians migrated to New Zealand.  The suburb of Devonport was settled in the 1840s by European merchants and was originally called Flagstaff, because of the flagstaff raised on nearby Mt Victoria.   After a wander around, and a coffee in a very attractive wharf side café, it was time to board the ferry back to the Auckland.  Auckland is also known as the City of Sails because of the numerous yacht marinas and sailboats anchoring offshore.

Lovely old hotel in Devonport

And what better way to celebrate our last night in Auckland with a live show.  We had tickets to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical School of Rock at the beautiful Civic Theatre.  This tells the story of Dewey Finn, a washed up former band member who poses as a teacher at a prestigious prep school purely to earn some money for his long overdue rent.  The only teaching he is interested in is rock music, and he turns a class of straight-A pupils into a mind-blowing rock band. Their aim is to qualify for Battle of the Bands.  The children in the show are amazing, singing, dancing and playing their own instruments like professional rock musicians.  It was a great show.

School of Rock at the Civic Theatre

We’ve said it before, being on holiday can be hard work.  Especially when the alarm clock is set at 5.30am.  Up early for a shower, arrive at breakfast at 6.00am, and no, we weren’t the first ones there.  Back down to the room to collect our bags, return the entry cards to reception and jump in a taxi at 7.0am.  We were off to Auckland Strand Station to board the Northern Explorer, for a leisurely trip home.  Why fly when you can travel by train?  And being retired, we certainly had the time for an all day train trip.


The carriages are very comfy, plenty of legroom and nice big windows.  The café car had options available to keep us fed and watered, and in the afternoon staff came through the carriages selling world famous in New Zealand Kapiti Ice-cream.  Even though we didn’t know we wanted an ice-cream, once they were offered, of course we said yes. 


An announcement was made over the sound system that there was no Wi-Fi available on the train.   But they did have “Windows Live”, just look left or right out the windows and we could see it all.  However, Windows Live did not work in the tunnels!  Very clever play on words, I thought.  We certainly saw some glorious vistas though the windows.

Rolling farmland and bush clad hills

Chugging over the viaducts and looking down at the deep ravines

Snow capped mountains

Our train journey ended at Palmerston North.  A taxi came to pick us up and take to the airport where our car was in Long Term Storage, then off we drove to home.  The holiday was over.  Guess my days of smoked salmon and brie for breakfast are now over!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sydney to Auckland

It was time to leave Australia, so off we went, pulling our wheelie cases behind us.  Robin has a new case with four wheels, and it certainly is much easier to manage than mine with two wheels.  My “I Love Quilting” tag was a gift several years ago from pen friend Elaine from Oregon.

Yes, I do love quilting!

Our trip through Security at Sydney Airport was a little stressful.  Both of us were directed to the body scanner, stand there and hold our arms up we were told.  Nope, that wasn’t right, and a female officer was called in to pat me down – oh dear.  The trouble seemed to be the passport and money I had in a holder around my neck, that had to be removed, put on a tray and through the bag scan, and I went through the body scanner one more time.  Robin was getting patted down too, and all the while people are looking on, wondering what these people had been getting up to!  When we were finally sent on our way, we waited, and waited some more at the correct terminal gate, and finally were called to board.   Oh look, Air NZ knows our names!


This flight was a much shorter trip this time, just under 3 hours.  Hopping aboard the Sky Bus at Auckland Airport we drove through the rain as it got progressively darker, luckily the driver told us when to get off.  Booked in at reception, and then we were informed that we had been upgraded to  King Room, so that was a nice surprise.  It was a bit of a wrestling match to peel those extra tight airline socks off, and then we could relax.

Our room for the next 3 nights

I was a bit foxed by these sockets by the desk, and plaintively told Robin there was nowhere to plug my lap top into.  But I was wrong, seems that these strange things were universal power connectors, my 3 pin plug had to be turned upside down, and then it would fit.  How was I meant to know that – it was all a bit too technical for me.

New fangled power sockets

Up to the 13th floor we went the next morning for breakfast, and there was a lovely view over the harbour.  The rain had eased and the weather was clearing.  The breakfast buffet was amazing, much more choice and so much nicer than our previous hotel.  Robin was in Honey Heaven when he found this delightful honey comb – liquid honey was ready and waiting to be poured into a dinky little dish and spread on his breakfast toast!  And I found some smoked salmon and fancy cheese, so I was extra happy too.

Some of the delightful breakfast choices

We were told that just  across the road from our hotel was The London Lolly Shop.  So while Robin was resting his sore knee after our day sightseeing I popped across to find out.  Sure enough, there it was.  Have to admit some Fry’s Bars and Acid Drops were very keen to come back with me.

The London Lolly Shop

And lo and behold, quite by accident,  I discovered a quilt shop, called New Zealand Fabrics and Yarn tucked down an arcade.   As I entered, the girl behind the counter called out, “I do like your bag”.  I was carrying my  blue denim raggy bag, with my little blue koala purchased last year in Sydney hanging from the handle.  I like to take this with me on holiday, as I have attached “dog clips” inside to keep my wallet and camera safe.  (My bag will need a good wash when I get home).

My ever so handy raggy denim bag

This young lady is a Bag Lady, she told me, and likes to make all sorts of bags.  She showed me two which she had recently completed.  And by the look in her eye, I think she will be making herself a shaggy denim bag before too long.

Self confessed Bag Lady

New Zealand Fabrics and Yarns

It was so nice to talk to somebody so crafty, pet some fabrics and yes, a couple of fat quarters did come away with me.  Some nice batiks with NZ designs, a dark purple paua shell design and the other printed with pale green kowhai.  I’ll need the purple one when I get back to work on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks.  That’s my excuse anyway.

New Zealand designed batiks