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

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Pink and Red

There was more pink sewing for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this week.  Three pretty pink butterflies made their appearance, although I’m sure they were not too impressed with the cold wet winter weather we have been experiencing lately.

Three pink butterflies

They fluttered off and soon settled down with the their friends.  Did you know that a group of butterflies  is called a "swarm", "rabble", "kaleidoscope" or "flutter" of butterflies!  A flutter of butterflies certainly seems to describe them best, I think.

My flutter of butterflies

My second bit of RSC sewing this week was checkerboard blocks.  As these will be made into a boy’s donation quilt I did not want to use pink, but chose some brick red squares instead.  If red is chosen for RSC  later in the year, I can use brighter or deeper red then.

Checkerboard blocks

It’s always fun stitching the RSC blocks each month, then just as much fun to check out all the other beautiful blocks which appear in the Linky party.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Taking Stock

I’ve just done a bit of a “stock take”  This came about because of a recent question I had from Janice who blogs at http://jannimary.blogspot.com/.  She wanted to know if the sampler quilt blocks I had just made into a top was my oldest UFO?  I knew there were a couple of other half done old projects still hanging about, so perhaps I should get them out of the crates and see exactly what I had.  This partially constructed Clamshell top is the oldest one.  I started it ages ago – so long back in the mists of time that I have forgotten when.  This is machine, not hand pieced and started in a class.

Purple clamshells

I have taken part in numerous internet block swaps in earlier years, and these cat blocks date back to 2003.  I provided a choice of patterns with the request to use black homespun for the cats, and any color plain homespun for the backgrounds.
Black cat swap blocks

And lastly, there is my paper pieced log cabin project, in burgundy and cream.  I really love this, and it will be for our bed.  I’m not sure of the date, but I know I brought it with me when we moved house, so it is probably 8-10 years old, I expect.  Most of the blocks are completed, and I’m part way through paper piecing the border blocks.   It looks like I have them organised into rows, so I’m a good way through this project.   Why did this one stall, I wonder?

Burgundy and cream log cabin blocks

I enjoy doing stitcheries and have two in bags with the corresponding fabric to finish them off.  It wouldn’t take too much effort to complete these, I expect.  And they are not too old, I think I stitched them last year.

Two little stitcheries

Then there are the Leaders and Enders projects.  I’m a real fan of this type of stitching and it seems to suit me very well – I always try to have some little bits and pieces ready to stitch along with whatever project I’m working on.  Once again, there was more here than I remembered.  I have only recently finished stitching the boy themed blocks, and the fabric squares all came from a bag of goodies dropped off from Jean.  And the coins for boys, (not trimmed to size as yet), was stitched from scraps in mostly greens, tans, cream, both of these will be for donation quilts.  I’m always happy to use up these bits and pieces of fabrics that have just been hanging about.  Then there are a pile of house blocks, I really enjoyed making them, and another pile of little tile blocks, both using scraps from 2 1/2 in strips.

Leader and Ender projects

And just to show that I can't really help myself, and there is really no hope for me, here is my next L&E project ready to go.  I have some little cat blocks and sashing all cut out ready to put under the needle as I stitch the next “real” project.  Leader and Ender sewing really seems like getting something for nothing to me.

Next Leader and Ender project, all prepared

What else?  I found some star blocks, a bunch of HSTs, and two more sets of 9 patch blocks.  And then there are the “not yet started” projects, usually a pile of fabric put away with an illustration and the idea of starting it one day soon.  These probably don’t count as UFOs, but may well get added to my list one of these days.

Oh dear, seeing them all set out like this is a bit daunting.  I can either panic, or take things calmly, adding these projects to my List of Six as others get completed. I’m quite keen to get on with the log cabin, the boys blocks, and finish up the stitcheries fairly soon.  As I often tell Robin, I’ll never run out of things to do!  Do tell me that I’m not the only one out there with more projects than I know what to do with? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Winter has Arrived

The days have ticked over and the 1st of June heralds in Winter in my part of the world.  And just to show us that Mother Nature is boss, yesterday was cold and rather wet.  So wet in fact that there was flooding and road closures further up the country.  Pity the poor holiday makers trying to get home after the long three day holiday weekend – luckily we had stayed home this time and were tucked up safe and warm inside. 

The change of season always  means a change of wall-hangings.  (Forgive me if you have seen them before).  Down came my recently completed Autumn one to be replaced by “Winter Welcome”.  Yes, I know we don’t get snow like this where I live, only wind and rain and the occasional bout of hail.  This one hangs in the sitting room just inside our front door.

Winter Welcome

And over the sofa went “International Maples”, made with blocks from an internet block swap.  I like to have this up in the winter because of the black background seems more in keeping with winter days.

International Maples

The maple leaves came from different countries. These are two of my favourites, such beautiful fabric from a quilter in Indonesia.  And I love the different fabrics used in the small blocks from Canada.

P1340738  .   P1340739

I didn’t need to change the small wall-hanging in my sewing room (spare bedroom) as the winter quilt has been hanging up through Spring, Summer and Autumn already.

Winter Quilt Festival

The cozy winter sheets are now on our bed, as is the winter quilt with warm woolen batting, so we are all set.  Mind you, today has turned out bright and sunny, a real change from the dreary day yesterday.    But there is not much warmth in the sun these days unless I can find a sunny spot to sit outside, protected from the wind.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Binding Time

Today I’ve been enjoying some slow stitching time, hand stitching the binding down on my neutral strings  donation quilt.  This is always a very pleasant task, one which I quite enjoy.


Of course, before I got to this stage, I had to sit and machine quilt it.  Once I removed Gemma from the chair by my sewing machine – with the quilt to be worked on draped over the back.  It’s obviously nice and cozy there for her.

My turn on the chair now, Gemma

I kept the quilting simple, in the ditch around the sashing,serpentine stitch through each block, and wavy lines in the borders.  Then today, when I had finished stitching the binding down, it was outside in the morning sunshine for a photo shoot.  This single bed sized quilt will be donated to Foster Hope, a charity which looks after children in care.

Donation quilt

This is the second quilt I have made using these neutral string blocks (not QAYG).  I made a whole pile of the blocks some time ago, sewing the strips over very light Vilene when I was interested in taking part in one of Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilts.  That didn’t eventuate so I’m pleased to be putting these blocks to good use, and have enough still left for a cot quilt.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pretty Pink Pussy

It’s almost June and Angela of So Scrappy who organises all the Rainbow Scrap Challenge sewers had announced the colour for June - pink - a few days early.  So there could well be a mixture of both dark green and pink showing up on this weekend’s Linky Party.  I had already finished my dark green stitching so it I was very happy to start on pink a little early, and first up was another of my colourpoint cats.  These always take me ages, what with paper piecing the arc, and then curved piecing.  I like to allow myself plenty of time to stitch each cat, it usually takes most of the day, what with other things in-between.  Just as well I’m only making one a month, that’s quite enough for me each time.   First I had to chose some pink fabric, then I was raring to go.

Pink pussy – finished

This pretty pink girl was happy to meet her cattery friends and make their acquaintance.  I think she is going to be very happy here with the other cats.

All together

And almost immediately our real live cat came to check these other colourpoint beauties out.  Move over Gemma, I’m trying to take a photo here!

Inspection time

I had a comment from a reader asking about the pattern I’m using.  Sorry I don’t know your name, but you are coming through as a “non reply blogger”.  The pattern was sent to me several years ago from my quilty pen friend Gail, from Canada.  It is called Sawtooth Cats, designed by Janet Miller.  Hope this helps, but I’m not sure if the pattern is still available.  With the wonder of the internet and Mr Google, who knows, it might still be for sale somewhere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Number One on the List

What UFO to work on this week?  The roll of the dice tells me it is number one on my list, the second neutral strings quilt I’m making from my supply of previously stitched neutral strings blocks.  There are still enough blocks left in the bag to complete a third cot quilt – so you can see I had a good supply of them tucked away.  Its all layered and pinned up, ready to go, so I’ll see how I get on with the quilting this week.
Ready for quilting

I’m really pleased that I’ve achieved the three items on my “Getting out of Lockdown” list.    I managed to get an appointment with my hairdresser last week.  Like most of the country, I was overdue for a visit and things were getting a little shaggy.  Second on the list was a hankering for a nice cup of coffee.  We met a few friends for lunch at a café on Friday, but sadly, the anticipation after all these weeks for the coffee was not met by the actual product.  It was nice enough, but not really what I had rembered and hoped for.  And seeing all those other people at the café was a bit scary after sticking to our own little bubble of two for so long.  There were six of us at our table, all well separated from other diners, according to the rules, but it was strange to look around the room seeing all those strangers.

Last on my list was a trip to the library, which happened today.  I was very impressed with the entry system to get into the library.  No sign in sheets, but a staff member was stationed there and took my details straight on to the tablet, keeping it private from others following after me.  Then someone else signed me out when I left, carrying several exciting books home.  I had run out of reading matter and was plodding through a not so interesting paper back, so I’m happy to have books now more to my liking.  I found a few from some authors I particularly like, so I’m a happy camper!

I’ll enjoy reading these

With one earthquake felt on Monday morning, followed by a second one today, we have to hope that the "Big One" is not coming.  In between there are lots of little earthquakes, usually too small to be felt.  These small ones are good, we are told, as they release pressure.  New Zealand is not called "The Shaky Isles" for nothing!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Little Slow Stitching

It’s  always nice to sit outside in the sunshine to do a little slow stitching.  It’s Autumn here in my part of the world and we are still getting nice days, as long as that pesky wind doesn’t get up.  Mind you, mornings and evenings are not too warm at all.  So any chance of an hour or two outside on the patio is always gratefully accepted. 

Big stitch quilting

Gemma joined me too, making herself quite comfy on a freshly washed and dried quilt – I had it outside over the back of the wooden seat to get an extra airing before putting it away.  How nice to give me a quilt to lay on, she is no doubt thinking.

She is quite comfy outside

After quite some time of not touching this project, I’m pleased that I’ve finally finished quilting the final block on my New Zealand Botanical quilt.  This block represents a native fuchsia.

Finished the last block

What to do in the border, I wondered?  Originally I had planned quilting around each flower motif, but didn’t like the effect when I started on one or two.  So that stitching was removed and I’ve now decided on wavy lines – doesn’t look too bad, I think.

Big stitching the borders now

I’m so pleased this project is out of the bag and getting some work done on it.  Once the borders are quilted, I’m almost done!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Green Selvedge Sewing

I’ve a little more dark green sewing to share this week, using some of my selvedges.  Don’t know why, but no matter how many selvedge strips I use each time, there seems to be just as many hiding in the bag!  Many thanks to Angela of So Scrappy for organising all the Rainbow Scrap Challenge sewers and running the Linky Party.  It’s always so nice to see what others have been stitching too each week.

So what RSC stitching have I done this week?  Another selvedge block to add with the others I’ve already stitched.  These will probably get made into a tote bag, unless I come up with another idea.  And while I had the green selvedges out and all over the floor, I thought I would make a double handed oven cloth. Luckily I had some sacking for the backing, that always wears well, plus some toweling for the middle layer.

Sewing with green selvedges

Let’s see how the selvedge blocks all look together, I’m sure they will play nicely and behave themselves.  Will still need to do more of course as the months progress, wonder what the colour for June will be? 

Selvedge blocks so far

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Donation Time Again

For a change this week, I decided not to “roll the dice” to choose which UFO I would work on.  Instead I chose one which was not even on the list – a very pink cot quilt made from cozy flannel. This project started with six flannel squares from Jean  -  she had dropped off several bags of scraps some time ago full of all sorts of interesting bits and pieces.  Jean    blogs as https://jeanmckinstry.blogspot.com/.  I added pink squares to go with them and the idea grew from there.

How it all started

Made in a strippy style with other pieces of flannel, all  found in my stash, it soon came together  This was assembled this some time ago in between doing other stitching, and it was at the pinned up stage, waiting to be machine quilted. 

Helping with the layout

After a couple of afternoons quilting away at my sewing machine, plus an hour or so hand stitching the binding down, this cozy little quilt was completed.  I really wanted to get it finished this week, as we will be passing by a drop-off point for FosterHope, a charity looking after children in foster care.  I’m also sending along a quilt I made recently, this  one for a little boy, full of earth moving equipment. 


Two children’s quilts for donation

Included too are the draw-string bags I completed a while ago.  The children use these for toiletries or maybe their pens and pencils.  Once again, I try to make some suitable for boys as well, rather than just girly ones.  And I’m sending along the two little beanies I knitted, now that the winter is fast approaching I’m sure they will come in handy, keeping little heads warm.


Tomorrow we are having “a big day out” meeting four friends for lunch in a café, so that will be exciting.  This will be our first social occasion since we went into Lockdown in March, and is out of our local area, somewhere we haven't been for some time.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Lockdown Knitting

Although there hasn’t been much slow stitching taking place during our Lockdown, I have been slowly knitting away.  I’m not a fast knitter by any means, more of the “slow and steady” type.    My first finish was – wait for it – my very first pair of socks!  They turned out a little large, but I’m not undoing them and starting over.  They will be fine keeping my toes warm at home worn with my slippers, after all, winter is just around the corner here in my part of the world.  Just so you don’t think I’m Wonder Woman, these socks were about half done so I just kept going till the end!  I’ve got some more of this wool, and will be knitting another pair, but I’ve gone down a needle size to see if that makes a difference. 

My first socks

I’ve also made two little children's hats, using some fancy yarn given to me ages ago.  I finished knitting the dark blue several weeks ago and remembered putting it away “somewhere safe”.  It took me ages and I had to look in all sorts of places until I finally found that hat!  The pink one is knitted in Eyelash wool, I think it was called, and remember knitting scarves for my grand daughters out of this type of yarn.   These will be going into my donation box for the children in Foster Care.

Two little wooly hats

And lastly, I've been working away on my jersey (sweater) – this is such pretty wool threaded with ribbon, blue -  my favourite colour,  since it is for me.  You really don't want to know how long I've had this wool tucked away.  Made in New Zealand, and called Blue Topaz,  it is 14 ply made up of 53% mohair, 35% rayon ribbon, 10% wool and 2% nylon. Just a simple pattern in stocking stitch on biggish needles, I’ve knitted both sleeves.  And look who came to see what it was all about!

Gemma inspecting my knitting

This wool came in hanks and I needed to wind some more balls.  Robin helped out, and we both remembered being called in to help our mothers back in the day when they wanted to wind their wool.  It was a hard job sitting there with your arms stretched out when you were a young child!

Robin called into service

We are out of Lockdown now, and New Zealand has now dropped restrictions to Level 2 meaning most shops can now open, as long as they adhere to the physical distancing, sanitising, and customer record requirements.  I’m not in too much of a rush to venture out into the big wide world, so will take things slowly.  Like most of the country, I need to get to the hairdressers sometime, and I’ve long finished my library books.  Guess what I’m really hankering for is a nice cup of coffee, but am I ready to go into a café just yet, not too sure.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Green Butterflies and Checkerboard Blocks

I’ve been stitching up dark green this week, and it’s that time again to share what we have made for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  This time I’ve made three more butterflies, and here they are, waiting to join their other colourful cousins in the butterfly collection.  This is a pretty little block, especially with their feelers added, and will make a nice girl’s donation quilt, I think.

Three dark green butterflies

Then it was on to the Checkerboard blocks, using dark green again. Can you see the little kiwi peeping out?  There is not a great deal of contrast between the dark green and the black and white sashing fabric, I feel.  But there are blocks of brighter colours already made, so I’m sure it will all be fine in the end.  This one will eventually become a boys donation quilt.

Four Checkerboard blocks

Our Lockdown restrictions have been eased here in New Zealand a little so Yellow Ted has stood down from his window duties, looking out at people walking by and giving them a cheery wave.  Well, he would if he could move his arms, I’m sure about that. Teddy Bears have been placed in windows all over the country over the last couple of months.  Yellow Ted was very proud to be part of the National Pandemic Home Guard Team, he told me!

Good on you, Yellow Ted

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday Finish

My Sampler top is now finished, once I had decided what to do with the border.  Although I had some floral fabric left, used in each block, it wasn’t enough to go right around.  I know, I thought, I’ll make some four patches, using  shades of red which tone in with the colour of the focus fabric.

Four patches

Once again, I had help when I was measuring up the borders before pinning each one in place.

A helping hand from Gemma

Job done – borders attached

Today I’ve prepared the binding, always like to get that done and out of the way.  Then thought about a label.  I wanted to use the “signature blocks” I received from quilters who took part, as well as having an area where I can write the details myself about the block swap.  This will be quite a big label so I will incorporate it into the quilt backing fabric, when I go and buy some.  Our country has now dropped restrictions to Level 2 meaning most shops can now open, as long as they adhere to the physical distancing, santitising, and customer record requirements.  I’m not in too much of a rush to venture out into the big wide world, so my shopping for wide backing fabric can wait for a while longer.  After all, this quilt has been hanging about since the Year 2000, so what's another few weeks in the scheme of things?

One of the Signature blocks sent

Monday, May 11, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day, (I know I’m a day late)  to all the Mum’s out there – hope you all had a great Sunday.  Ours was a very quiet, stay at home kind of day.  But I did have the excitement of opening a parcel, couriered down from my daughter Nicky.  Wonder what’s inside?

For Mother’s Day

Inside was a little hand woven basket, or kete, made from flax.  Wonder how she managed to do that, it looks a bit tricky to me.  And a little cellophane bag of no, not potpourri as I first thought, but coated walnuts, they look delicious.  I know she gathered the walnuts herself, cracked them all opened, then baked them with the flavouring, so it was quite a long drawn affair.   I think we will pack them in the caravan for when we can get away, and enjoy them for 4zees (Happy Hour) with our caravanning friends.

As a treat, I told Robin we would forgo our usual Sunday morning breakfast of bacon and eggs, instead I cooked some blueberry pancakes.  Nice and easy, a Jamie Oliver recipe.  We still needed bacon, Robin decided, and Maple Syrup on top.  But, I obviously didn’t read the label properly when I purchased the new bottle of sugar free Maple Syrup.  It was Blueberry flavoured, quite nice but not as nice as the more usual one.

Bacon, blueberry pancakes and blueberry maple syrup

Being Monday morning it’s time for another “roll of the dice” .  It’s number 2 again, the same as last week.

Number 2 again this week

I don’t mind working on number 2 again this week at all, hopefully it will give me the chance to get the border on my Sampler quilt.  Or at least make a good start on it this week.  I’ve got something in mind, lets see how it all works out.

What to do for the border?