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

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?

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Another Colourpoint Cat

I always enjoy linking up with Angela of So Scrappy for organising all the RSC sewers, the colour this month is dark green.  Once again, I decided to tackle the more involved block that I stitch each month, to get it out of the way before sewing the easier blocks.  The cat block involves both paper piecing and curved seams, and takes me absolutely ages to complete each month.  Phew, but it’s safely done now, thank goodness.

This month’s cat block

The very dark green fabric chosen is a grey-green, and looks rather like our seal point Birman Gemma.  The fabric used in all the tummies of the cat blocks has little pussy paw prints over it.  And here they all are together, all the cats in the cattery so far. 

Five blocks so far

Like most cats, Gemma can’t help herself and has to investigate anything quilty laid down on the carpet.  After all, she thinks, isn’t it all about her?

Gemma thinks she is in charge

So this particular block is now done and dusted for RSC stitching, although I do have others I’m making as well.  Better get the dark greens organised and prepare my other blocks for later in the week.  I like to have them cut out and pinned, ready to sew.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Top (almost) finished

I’ve been working away this week assembling my rather old (from year 2000) swap blocks into a top.  These have been tucked away in a crate all this time and only now get the chance to come out and be liberated.  Row by row the blocks have been sewn together, adding pale lilac sashing.  And as I usually do, while stitching my main project, I do leader and ender sewing as well.  In this case, assembling blocks for a donation quilt, it’s amazing how quickly these get stitched up.

Sashing strips and leader and ender sewing

With the rows all together the next step was to add the sashing around the outside edges.  Folding the top in half, I laid in on the floor to measure.  And Gemma  immediately thought this was put down for her amusement.

I’m trying to measure the edges, Gemma

Finally, the last sashing strips were added to the edges, and it was time for a photo shoot.  Almost finished, but not quite.  I’m thinking of what to do for the border, and have a little of the floral fabric left, so will have to come up with a creative idea to finish this project off.

All the blocks assembled

As well as stitching away over the last few days I’ve also done some baking.   It’s feijoa season at the moment and Paul and Elaine’s trees were covered in fruit.  Would you like some, we were asked?  Yes please, and they were dropped off at the door for us.  Thanks so much, much appreciated.  I love them but Robin is not keen on them at all.

A big bag of feijoas

Such a lot of fruit in the bag, and I decided to use some in baking.  So I made feijoa muffins flavoured with cinnamon, these were yummy, and we had one after our evening meal last night.  Just pretend they are made with apple instead of feijoas, I told Robin, and you will enjoy them more.  I also baked a feijoa loaf, which I have packed away in the freezer.  This will be handy to take away once we are permitted to travel around the country again on a caravan trip following our lockdown period -  I’m sure a slice of buttered feijoa loaf will be very tasty for afternoon tea.

Baking with feijoas

So that's been my week safely staying at home during lockdown, what have you been getting up to?

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Stitching and Mopping

It’s been head down at the sewing machine today, working on my “Old UFO” from the year 2000.  It’s been tucked away for so long and now only just coming out into the light of day.  Most of the blocks were from an internet Birthday Block exchange, and I stitched a couple of extra ones for myself.

Two rows assembled

For each block I received, I made and posted one to each participant during their birthday month, so it was a year long commitment.  There was only one sent to me which I remade, as it had yellow in the block, which I thought didn’t go with all the others 

The floors needed attention today – with a white cat shedding fur and threads all over the carpet from my stitching, it doesn’t take too long to get messy.  Robin helped with the vacuum cleaning and I decided the kitchen and bathroom floors also needed mopping.  “Why don’t you try that new mop?” he suggested.  We had won it in a raffle several years ago and it was still in the box.  What an effort to assemble  it  – if I was attempting it on my own I would have given up after a minute or two and gone to use my old mop.  But Robin persevered, and finally got all the pieces together.  There – all done now, till the next time!

It must be Sadie, the cleaning lady

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

How Old is this UFO?

It’s time to “roll the dice” again (don’t the weeks roll around quickly) and this week I’m working on number 2 on my list, my Sampler quilt.  This poor project has been sitting on the list for ages, waiting for it’s number to be called.  As well as waiting on the list, the Sampler quilt has been tucked away  in a crate for absolutely ages, since the year 2000, in fact.  Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Blocks for Sampler quilt

Way back then, I was a member of the internet quilt group, Southern Cross Quilters, open to Australia and New Zealand quilters.  All messages came through emails, quite often 70 or so each day.  SCQ used to organise swaps, and this group of blocks was a birthday block swap.  I provided the floral fabric and the sewers did the rest, choosing background fabrics and their choice of blocks.  Sadly, over the years, SCQ email traffic died and the organisation went to Facebook some years ago.  I don’t do Facebook so that was the end of of my involvement with SCQs.  But I have this lovely group of blocks to remember times past.

Gemma is helping with the layout

So now I’ve decided on the block arrangement, they are all in rows, adding the sashing as I go.  Wonder if I will get this top together by the end of the week?  Probably not, as I will have to decide on borders too.  It’s certainly good to get this project moving along again.