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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Making a Mask each

It's Day Six in Lock Down and there was some rather urgent sewing to do, I needed to make a couple of masks.  Thanks to Dot for providing the pattern, no physical contact, it was safely left in our letter box for me to collect.  Did I have any elastic, I wondered?  It’s not something I use a lot these days.  This elastic must be rather vintage, it cost the grand total of 95 cents back in the day! 

These masks should have been an easy make, after all, Dot whipped then up in no time at all, she told me.  But I made a boo-boo, and had to do some unpicking.  All because I didn’t read the instructions correctly (the story of my life it seems) and had the elastic on the inside when I stitched the two pieces together.  After my years of sewing, I should really know better, shouldn’t I?  The white one is for Robin, and of course, I just had to make a blue one for myself.

My first masks

These masks are necessary, I decided, after our visit to the supermarket the previous day.  In line with the medical view that over 70s should not be going out to get their groceries during the lockdown, we investigated on-line shopping and delivery.  Not easy at all.  First, we had to register, then spent quite some time checking the website for the products we needed. Then came the frustration, with our order ready, we had to pick a “slot” (day and time) for either pick-up or delivery.  But there were no slots available, and seemingly no way of leaving the order ready on-line for the next available slot.  All this took a couple of hours, and Robin rang through to the office and told the person on the other end of the phone about our predicament.  How could we stay home as advised and get our groceries delivered.  The answer was, “Come down now, the queue is not too long”.  So that’s what we did, donning a couple of old face masks which Robin found kicking around somewhere.

The line outside the shop was orderly, all standing well apart, and the one at the front of the queue was handed a trolley and allowed in the door each time someone exited with their trolley of groceries.  After 15 minutes of waiting, it was finally our turn – although shoppers are meant to go on their own, he allowed both of us in together.  Perhaps we looked rather old and doddery?  With a list in hand, we quickly got what we wanted.  But then we had to wait in an even longer queue snaking around the store till we finally reached the checkout.  Goodness knows how the really elderly cope with all this standing and waiting.

The checkouts were quite different since our last visit.  Perspex screens for safety, and the items were scanned and placed into another trolley behind the operator, who then wheeled it around, for us to collect.  Payment was made by credit card, no cash allowed, and although I didn't witness it, I presume that the terminal would be wiped down between customers.  We had to pack our own groceries into bags, which we did at the car.   Walking around the shop we never witnessed anyone coughing, sneezing or spluttering, so that was good.  Still couldn't buy any flour though, although there seemed to be plenty of TP in stock.  And as a treat, a packet or two of Easter Eggs jumped into our trolley, we needed them after all that stress!

Although all us oldies were standing patiently in line with plenty of room between is as we wait for our turn at the checkout, one young woman decided to jump the queue and walked to the front.  How dare she, we muttered amongst ourselves,and she was told to go and  take her place at the end of the queue.   But no, she just hung around for a while, finally walking up to the next available checkout and unloading her trolley.  The manager came rushing up, telling her to put her things back into her trolley and get to the end of the line, as she had already been told!  Swearing at the manager, she flounced out of the store, leaving someone else, of course, to put all her items back on the shelves. 

After all that excitement, we were pleased to get home, put everything away, sit down with a hot drink and put our feet up.  Next time we venture out we will have our new masks to wear.  I know we have been told they aren’t as good as “real” ones, but surely they will be better than nothing.   We will give on-line shopping another try in the near future, hopefully it will be more successful next time we try.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Selvedge Blocks for RSC

I really wasn’t going to make any more different blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, kindly organised by by Angela at So Scrappy.  But the  selvedge RSC quilt I made last year hardly made a dent in my bag stuffed full of these colourful little strips.  Tucked away with the selvedges was a bag pattern, so I thought, why not?  I had a bit of catching up to do but have now completed an orange, light and bright green and teal blue blocks.  Who would have thought I had so many orange selvedges, its not a colour I really use much.  But then I remembered, back in the past I used to attend a monthly stitching group and one of the ladies regularly handed me lots of selvedges.  This was easy, mindless sewing, and don't they look pretty!

The start of a new bag

But wait – there’s more, as the TV commercials say.  I found this cute selvedge spool pattern on Lorna’s blog Sew Fresh Quilts.  You can find the post and free pattern here.  These cute little blocks with there selvedge spool tops and bottoms are 5 1/2in square and I will be making them into a wall hanging for my sewing room (spare bedroom).  So that’s two green, a teal blue and an orange all done.

Spool blocks

So that’s me all caught up with my RSC blocks for March.  Wonder what the colour for April will be?  Now most of us are staying safe at home, there will be more time for sewing.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Finish

I'm’ pleased to say that the horse panel quilt is finally finished.  I completed the simple walking foot machine quilting a day or so ago, then applied the binding – always like to have the binding made ahead of time.  Ooops, a case of the edge of the excess backing caught up and folded over, that needed a bit of unpicking and resewing.


Then the  next day I sat and hand stitched the binding to the back of the quilt.  Luckily it was fine although a little breezy for an outside photo, but the Autumn weather is starting to get chilly now.

All done

This single bed quilt was originally intended as a donation quilt, but I may change my mind and keep it in the meantime.  I sent a photo to the grand-daughters asking if they thought I should donate it or keep it for a future great-grandchild.  Interestingly enough, they both had different replies.  The younger one said I may as well donate it, and the older one said, please keep it!  So I’ll keep it for a while, and I guess by the time they finally produce a baby or two, I’ll have plenty of time to make more.

The Autumn weather here in New Zealand has started to cool down a bit.  Sitting outside to do a little stitching may well depend on just how cool and windy it gets,  and summer clothes are starting to be replaced by warmer ones.  Today it is cool and quite wet.  It is day three of our lock down self isolating period, and Gemma is self isolating too.  She is quite happy, her favourite hobby is looking out the big sitting room windows, her own reality TV set, she thinks.  She was getting vocal, making little chirruping noises as she watched the birds outside.

There are birds out there

Over the last few days I have been trying out several new recipes.  Some I wont bother making again, but its good to try new ideas.  After discovering cooked pumpkin in the freezer yesterday, that is now turned into pumpkin soup in the crockpot for lunch – just the thing for a chilly day.  Stay warm, stay safe, and stay inside and stitch.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Working Slowly

I’ve been plodding away this week working on the horse panel quilt, and I’m getting there slowly.  Done straight lines with my trusty walking foot here and there, and started quilting around the panels.  If I was more proficient with free motion quilting this could have been done in half the time – it’s much slower using a walking foot as I stopped and started, making my way around the designs on the panels.


We’ve recently removed one of our raised garden beds and the caretaker has raked it all over for us and added some lawn seed.  As far as the sparrows are concerned it might as well be bird seed, put there especially for them.  Robin had laid some chicken netting across the soil but the sparrows laughed at his effort.  I know, I thought, and added some garden stakes with strips of selvedge tied up.  Although these do flutter in the breeze, the birds aren't really put off by my effort either.

Selvedges fluttering in the breeze

It’s been a strange week, with the Covid 19 confirmed cases rising every day.  We have daily TV news conferences with the Prime Minister and other officials on measures put in place to try and stop the escalation of the virus.  From midnight tonight New Zealand is going into lockdown, all schools, libraries and non essential businesses must close, and people are to remain at home for the next four weeks.  The only exceptions, other than those working in essential services, is going out for medical reasons, and most doctors will be consulting by telephone, we have been told.  We can also make brief trips to the supermarkets for supplies, but must practice social distancing at all times, and return home quickly, no popping in to see friends or family.

So I have been a little distracted this week, trying not to worry too much – each day brings more details as more and more plans are put in place.  On the bright side, there has not been a single death  here from the virus so far.  That’s certainly good news.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

My Little Helper

Gemma always thinks it’s rather fun to help me make the bed.  Lots of opportunities to prance around and get in the way!  First she had to make sure that I had put the clean sheets on properly.  And then fluff up the duvet and lay it on top, after I had removed the cat, of course.

She thinks she is helping me

Then it was time to put the quilt back on the bed – she likes to flatten out underneath while I lay it on top of her for a while, then she pops out, a bit like playing peek-a-boo.

There, all done, was I a big help?

Yesterday, Saturday,  we went to the Health Centre to receive our flu jabs.  These had just come in, and we had phoned in the off chance to make an appointment for later in the week, and were invited to call in straight away.  We didn’t realise that they were doing Saturday Clinics for the vaccinations, so were really fortunate to get in so early.

Off to the Health Centre

Today, Sunday, we awoke to rain, quite a heavy downpour.  So it’s been a rather “slow cooking” kind of day, with a beef bolar roast in the crockpot for tonight.  And soup for lunch, just because it’s wet, although it’s not really cold.  I made broccoli and cheese soup, cooked in the microwave, and rather tasty.

Broccoli and cheese soup

Like everywhere, things are changing in our world. This weekend we were expecting to attend our monthly Caravan Club Rally.  This was cancelled, and those scheduled in the near future.  The advice is:  “keep calm, stay safe and stay at home”.  The directives from our Government are that over 70s (that’s us), because many in this age group have underlying health issues, should be limiting movement outside their homes.  Also all New Zealanders should be limiting their travel throughout the country because every unnecessary movement gives Covis 9 a chance to spread.  So there should be more time for this. 

Time for a cuddle

Gemma doesn't understand about this virus, but is always happy for more attention, and cuddles.  The various clubs and groups we attend have been put on hold, and the Levin Community Health Shuttle has just advised that all their volunteer drivers who are over 70 will be stood down for the foreseeable future to protect their health.  Robin usually has a Tuesday afternoon shift driving the shuttle each week. We are not confined to the house, can venture outside, or go for drives, or quick trips to collect groceries.  Just as long as we keep away from close contact with others.  It is terrifying how quickly the number of confirmed cases in the country have risen from our first case, to over 60 now in a matter of a few weeks.  But we will keep calm, and carry on.  Guess there will be plenty of time for sewing, cooking, and spending time together.  I’m pleased to say that we get on well together!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

One Blue Colourpoint Cat

Another block on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge now ticked off the list.  This block is a little more complicated (for me)  and as I’ve been on holiday recently  it’s been a while now since I last  tackled this block. Must admit that some unpicking in the assembly process took place!   I think next month I will read the instructions properly, and lay out all the pieces before I start putting the cat together.  And here she is – a Blue Birman, that’s what I’m calling her.  No face yet, it might be a good idea to stitch their eyes and whiskers on as I complete them.

Teal blue cat

She wanted to meet her other kitty friends too, and get to know them.  So here they are,one green, one teal blue and one orange.

Three cats in a row

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge is run by Angela at So Scrappy – I love taking part in this and seeing what the other ladies create too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Horse Panel Quilt

This week I’m working on my Horse Panel quilt – the top was completed way back in August.   AS you probably know, I decided to finish off the three quilt tops I had stitched last year so I have a clean slate before I get back to “rolling the dice” again.  Two small quilts are now finished and this is number three, so I’m doing quite well.  And just to remind you, this is the quilt in question.

Horse Panel quilt

I’ve had a busy time putting it all together.  Once again, my pieces of batting had to be joined in several places, but I’ve learnt my lesson, make a clean cut of the edges before zig zagging the pieces of batting together.  Otherwise it stitches up wavy, and has to be redone!  I always like plenty of safety pins to hold in all in place.

Lots of safety pins

So far I’ve done some ditch stitch quilting around the stripes to hold it all securely.  Machine quilting is always a slow job for me, as I like to pin each quilting line, just to be sure that nothing shifts.  As it happened, I’ve already had to undo a little of the stitching as I found a couple of puckers on the back!  I’m making the most of the sunny Autumn weather, sitting outside under our Archgola while I pin up on the table.

Even more pins

I’ll need to take a break from this as I want to get on with my final RSC block for March, which will be a teal and cream Colour Point Cat. 

The corona virus madness has finally caught up with us here in New Zealand.  Although so far our numbers are very low, a total of 20 confirmed cases, all overseas travel related.  All travelers, except for those coming from the Pacific Islands will have to self-isolate for 14 days, residents and visitors alike.  All cruise ships have been banned from our waters, overseas travel is not recommended, and mass gatherings are starting to be cancelled.  And on a shopping note, I was unable to buy flour today,  the shelves were bare, although toilet paper was available!

Keep safe everyone, and we can enjoy our self isolation with our sewing machines and hand stitching.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Sew Wot Tuesday

It’s been a while since I met up with the Sew Wot ladies, about six weeks.  That’s what happens when we have been galivanting around the country on a caravan trip.  So nice to catch up with everyone today, and Moira was the “hostess with the mostest” today.

Lots of great Show and Tell, including two finished Heart quilts which we are making, with the patterns provided by Mary.  Moira’s pretty Heart quilt was made in the muted “old rose” colours she loves, finished off with a gorgeous floral fabric on the back. 

Moira’s Heart quilt

Heather had almost finished her Heart quilt, in fact, she was busy stitching down the border.  Same designs, but this one made in a softer colour range.  They are both lovely.  Sadly, my Heart quilt has stalled, I have all the block designs, and will get back to it sooner or later.

Heather’s Heart quilt

Sandra had her class sample from a ruler workshop she had recently attended.  She had gone along to the class with her practice piece all layered up, and was shown how to do various designs with straight and curved rulers.  Although this technique seems effortless while watching quilting videos, I think it probably needs lots of practice to get to grips with it, it certainly would for me.

Sandra’s ruler workshop piece

Mary was sorting through her UFOs at home and decided to use this pretty stitchery on the front of a draw string bag.  Lovely sentiments, just right for a stitcher.

Mary’s pretty bag

Carol does a lot of stitcheries too, and brought along a little quilt incorporating Sun Bonnet Sue stitchery, so pretty.  This and another little quilt she brought along will be donated to the Wanganui Hospital Neo Natal Unit.

Sun Bonnet Sue

Jenny N was  stitching together some lovely mohair crochet squares to make a cozy blanket.  This is quite a long winded project, she told us, and has been on the go for ages.  WE all wanted a touch, such beautiful soft wool in pretty shades. 

Jenny N’s beautiful blanket

And what was I doing in-between chatting and enjoying Morning Tea?  I had  taken along my butterfly blocks from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge to embroider the feelers on each one.  Didn’t quite finish each and every one during my morning out, but I’ve since sat and finished stitching them all.  And here they all are, they look a bit more finished now.

My RSC butterfly blocks for January, February and March

And here is something rather special, this lovely Robin Red Breast was passed around our group and duly admired.  This gorgeous embroidery was loving stitched by her sister in England and sent out here to the colony.  What a lovely reminder of home for Moira.

Embroidered Robin for Moira

So that’s what I got up to today, hopefully it won't be such a long time for me before the next Sew Wots get-together.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Binding Completed

Are you like me and love getting the quilt binding done on your project?  It’s so nice to sit and stitch, knowing that the end is almost in sight.  Even nicer when you can hand stitch outside on the patio, as I did, making the most of the warm Autumn weather.

Hand stitching the binding

This was a very economical quilt to make, as most of the squares used were gifted.  The border fabric came from the “freebie” table at my quilt club, and the flannel backing was also a give away, so I feel I've done very well indeed with this little donation quilt.


Little girl’s cot quilt

The squares include bunnies, fairies, chickens, frogs, high heel shoes, butterflies and flowers, all sorts of things for a little one to find.  This quilt will be going to Foster Hope, a charity for children in foster care.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Getting started with Teal

The month is half over so I’m running late with my RSC blocks for March.  That’s what happens when you go away on holiday for several weeks!  But I’m back home now, sorted out some fabrics, cut and pinned the pieces, and stitched them up.  The simple checkerboard blocks are fun to make, and look quite nice in this colourway,  I think.  These blocks will eventually become a boy’s donation quilt.  I had a small scrap left of teal fabric printed with creepy crawly insects, enough for two squares, let’s hope a boy will think they are interesting.

Teal checkerboard blocks

Next I stitched three butterflies, they will be able to flutter off to  join their other pretty friends now.  Another fun block for a donation quilt.

Three more butterflies

What does it say about me that I’ve tackled the easy blocks first?  The more tricky paper pieced and curved piecing Colour Point Cat block will have to wait till next week. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Little Girl’s Cot Quilt

I’ve been busy working away on my donation cot quit over the last few days.  Last time I mentioned it, all the layers were pinned together, and I had ditch stitched around the blocks.  So it was time to add some straight line quilting to the body of the quilt with my walking foot.  How did we ever manage without these, I wonder?


Then it was time to quilt the borders.  With a print like this, I decided to quilt in the lines between each coloured segment, making use of the diagonal shapes.  This worked quite well, and I’m pleased with the results.

Ready to quilt the borders

The binding will be added shortly, and I hope to have this little quilt finished in time for “Slow Stitching Sunday” link up.  That’s the plan, anyway.

As well as quilting the cot quilt I’ve been busy sorting out some teal or turquoise fabric for my next round of Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks.  Pleased to report that I’ve got the blocks for two of my RSC projects cut and pinned, ready to sew.  The easy blocks, I have to add,  I still have to organise the fabric for my paper pieced and curved piecing Colour Point Cat block.  Why didn’t I tackle the harder one first, I wonder, and get it out of the way? Guess I'll have to work on this block next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Home again

We are now safely back home after our trip away.  The caravan has been emptied and cleaned, and I’ve finally caught up with the laundry.  Although we visited the laundromat regularly while we were away, there always seems to be mountains of washing when we return home – of course the sheets and towels all added to the pile.  Just as well I quite enjoy being a washer woman!

Autumn has now arrived in my part of the world, so it was time for a seasonal change.  I’m really pleased with my little Autumn wall-hanging stitchery up on the wall for the first time, hand quilted too.  Although the season has changed, our weather is still rather mild, and we are still in summer clothes.

Autumn has arrived

Hanging above the couch now is my Autumn toned “Baskets of Blessings.  This was my first attempt at spiral quilting, slow going, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Baskets of Blessings

I like to have a quilt over the back of the other couch, and this has now been changed to “Maple Leaf”, blocks I received when I took part in a block swap some time ago.  This quilt is purely for decoration, it’s never cold enough here to want to have a quilt over our legs in winter.  So that is the extent of my Autumn decorating.

Maple Leaf quilt

So what's next this week?  I would like to get on with quilting the little girl’s donation quilt.  So far I’ve stitched in the ditch around the blocks, and prepared the binding, the same fabric as what I used for the borders, so that’s a good start.

Girl’s donation quilt

And I really must be on the hunt for some teal/turquoise/aqua fabric to use in my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for March, I’m sure to have a little of that colour tucked away.  Then I can get the blocks cut out and ready to sew.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Last Days on Holiday

So what have we been doing on the last days of our holiday?  Plenty, it seems, although sadly  no more stitching took place, we were much too busy traveling and sight seeing.  We stayed in Solway Park, Masterton for a couple of nights.  Our group made the most of sheltering under the large shady trees for Happy Hour.  The clock has just ticked over to Autumn and already the ground is carpeted with fallen leaves.  These crunchy leaves almost want to make you to get out there and kick them around.

Staying at Solway Park, Masterton

From here we spent two nights at Cape Palliser.  I must admit that I found this portion of the drive a little challenging - wouldn’t you if you came across these road signs?  So we slowed right down, taking our time as we drove along this part of the road, well aware that the seaward side of the road had been falling into the sea, taking some of the coastal homes with it.

Drive carefully!

“Fish and Chips with a difference” was on the menu for dinner, ably cooked by Becky of Coastal Cove Cuisine, who brought her mobile kitchen with her to our campsite.  How’s that for great service!  Lovely battered fish, crunchy chips, coleslaw and tartare sauce were served, together with bread and butter produced by Bill, all enjoyed outside in the fresh sea air.  What could be nicer!

Traveling fish and chip shop

Bare hills behind us

The weather was wet, rough and blowing a gale during our second day at Cape Palliser, luckily after lunch things started to improve so we headed off to Ngawi, a small fishing village  just a short way up the road.  Ngawi has more bulldozers per capita than anywhere else, we read.  The bulldozers are used to haul fishing boats into and out of the water as there is no wharf or other access to the ocean other than the beach, which can be notoriously rough.  Ngawi is known for its exposed climate, its intense and prolonged wind and the fact that there are almost no trees nearby. The weather can be extremely hot in summer.

Boats and bulldozers on Ngawi Beach

It was a few kms up the road to  see Cape Palliser Lighthouse,  perched high on a cliff. The lighthouse  was built in 1897, originally fueled by oil  and the light was fully automated in 1986.   There is something rather romantic about lighthouses, isn’t there?  This one is no longer manned, and I’m sure life as a lighthouse keeper’s wife would have  be full of challenges.  For those energetic enough, there are 258 steps up a 58mt cliff to reach  the lighthouse.   We decided not to climb the stairs this time, although we certainly did on our last visit here.


Cape Palliser Lighthouse

There is a large fur seal colony in residence at the cape with the breeding season from mid-November to mid-January.   We saw seals on the rocks, and laying about, looking  fat and contented,  on the grassy shore.

New Zealand Fur Seals

The next morning it was time to hitch up head off to our next stop, a longish drive up and over the Rimutaka Hill.  There was a Devonshire Tea waiting for us at Aston Norwood and very welcome it was too.  There was a room set aside for us, with the tables nicely set.  This is the same room where we celebrated Robin’s 50th Birthday with family and friends, quite some time ago now.  We all enjoyed our tea or coffee, and freshly baked scones served with jam and cream.

Devonshire Tea at Aston Norwood

The last stop on our ICA Rally was at the Petone Rugby Club.   Although we had booked the car park space for the next two nights, that hadn't stopped the local workers from parking there early in the morning.   We all squeezed in as best we could, and when the last workers car had left for the day, rearranged ourselves a bit better.  This is our view out of the caravan kitchen window.

Staying at Petone Rugby Club

The following day we took a drive further round the bays to Eastbourne, as the others had not seen  the Wahine Memorial.  The sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine on 10 April 1968 was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster. The Wahine was within sight of land and many other vessels, including the smaller New Zealand Railways Wellington-Picton ferry Aramoana, which stood by to pick up survivors. Many were blown across the harbour towards Eastbourne Beach, an area with difficult access. Rescue teams found the road to Eastbourne blocked by slips. Eventually 200 survivors struggled through the surf to safety on this coast, but it was here that most of the 51 fatalities occurred. A number of people who reached shore alive did not receive medical attention quickly enough to prevent death from exposure. Others were drowned or killed when thrown against rocks.  This tragedy was a coming of age for television news broadcasting in New Zealand as images of the disaster were beamed into the nation’s living rooms. What a terrible day that was.  I was home in Wainuiomata with my two young children, terrified the large picture windows on our new house would be blown out in the storm. I didn't know Robin way back then, but he was working in Wellington, and had to bunk down at a co-workers home as Wellington Station came to a standstill and all trains were cancelled, buses too, road slips everywhere.

Wahine Memorial

Later that evening we all gathered in the Rugby Club bar for our Farewell Dinner, catered by Chalet Caterers.  What a wonderful meal it was, a great array of dishes on offer, all cooked to perfection.  Bill and Val were thanked for their stirling efforts in planning, organising and running the three week ICA Art Deco to the Capital Rally and were presented with a token of our thanks.

At the Farewell Dinner

Everyone said their goodbyes, with a group of our happy travelers heading down to the South Island for a fishing adventure.  Some were staying locally for a few days to catch up with friends, and others, like us, were heading home.  We personally had a great time on this rally, going to some “new to us” locations and some old favourites.  It was our first time experiencing the Art Deco weekend, that was a lot of fun.  Many thanks to Bill and Val for all their hard work in making this three week  ICA Rally such a success.