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

Friday, July 31, 2020

Moving on to Plan B - Under the Sea

Oh dear, sometimes things just don’t work out as you have hoped.  I had FMQ two of my Under the Sea blocks with wavy lines to depict sea currents, and decided I didn't like the look of it at all.  So out came my trusty seam unpicker and I got to work unpicking all those lines, which took absolutely ages, I might add.


I unpicked all this FMQ

I decided to quilt around the stitchery block, then added serpentine stitch to mimic the movement of little eddies rising up from the sea floor.   The first finished block looks like this.


Quilting, Plan B

I think I like it better than Plan A.  I do know that I’m not doing any more unpicking so will continue on with Plan B.  And have a finish sometime soon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Under the Sea

This week I’m working on my “Under the Sea” quilt, number 5 on my list.  It’s been all layered and pinned up and raring to go for a while so I’m really pleased it is getting a turn again.  Goodness knows when I stitched these blocks, quite some time ago now.

Under the Sea

As usual, the first job was to stitch in the ditch around all the blocks, to hold it all securely in place.  Well pinned along each seam line, as I always like to do.

Stitch in the ditch

With all the different stitchery blocks, I couldn't really do straight line quilting so decided to try for an undersea wavy effect using free motion quilting.  I don’t really enjoy FMQ much at all, so I’m taking it slowly.  Here’s the first block done, finished but not perfect, but that's OK.  So I’ll be persevering to see how I get on with the other blocks this week.  We are home this coming weekend, so I really hope to get this quilt done, fingers crossed.

Jellyfish block

And this is what our cat Gemma is doing, being really brave – she’s blending in with our winter  “polar bear” cover on the recliner chair.  The caretaker is outside cutting the lawns with his noisy lawnmower and she is trying to ignore the noise.  Usually she runs away and hides in the wardrobe when she is upset with loud noises.

Tell that man to stop that noise, Mum, so I can have a snooze

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Where has the Week Gone?

It’s been a busy old week, as they sometimes are, with Sew Wots on Tuesday, a trip to the hospital on Wednesday for Robin to get a knee assessment, a Birthday Lunch on Thursday, and friends around on Friday to help with a job on the caravan.  So not a great deal of stitching got done, unless you count the mending, that must be worth something, surely.  I darned a small hole in one of Robin’s good woolen jerseys, perhaps not the best darning job in the world, but it got the job done.  Then I took up the hems on a new pair of winter trousers for myself, and altered another pair of trousers.  Mending is something which always seems to get put aside, but its so good when it’s done.  And it doesn’t really take that long at all, once the decision to start is made, I find.  Don’t ask me how I’m coming along with that blue sock!

Now it’s Sunday and its our family tradition to enjoy a cooked breakfast.  Bacon, tomato  and eggs for breakfast, cooked by Robin – with the addition of mushrooms as well today.  With such a hearty breakfast, it was just soup for lunch.

Sunday breakfast

Our weather is just glorious today, in my part of paradise.  The sun is shining, just a gentle breeze, the birds are chirping, so it’s hard to believe we are in mid winter here in New Zealand.  I took my hand stitching outside this afternoon and sat under our handy Arch Gola on the patio.  It was so pleasant, and I enjoyed doing some more big stitch quilting on my New Zealand Botanical quilt.  It was a game of “thread chicken”  as I came to the end of the pale green thread on the roll.  Didn’t really want to go and buy a whole new roll at this stage.  Luckily I found some other thread in my bag which is very close in colour to finish off the quilting.

Luckily I had a similar thread to finish off the quilting

Gemma joined me outside too, happily snoozing on the wooden bench.  She likes being outside with us, there are always things to sniff and look at, then jump up on a seat for a rest.  When she has had enough, she walks to the sliding door and  asks to go back inside.  Cat’s have great lives, don’t they.

Gemma came outside too

There’s a bolar roast cooking away in the crockpot, the veggies are prepared, as is a boysenberry crumble (cobbler) for dessert, so I’m well organised for the evening meal.  Must be time for a cuppa, I think.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Donation Time again, and a Birthday

It was time to do another donation drop off to Foster Hope, the charity who strives to make things easier for children in care.   My ‘just finished” crazy cat draw string bag was added to the other bags previously made.  These are used as toilet bags or to hold pens, pencils or other treasures.  I like to make some for boys as well, and had stitched a couple in plaid fabrics.  Also included were four little baby hats I had recently finished.

Draw string bags and baby hats

It was time to say goodbye to my neutral strings single bed quilt, set with turquoise, which really brightens the pale blocks up, I think.  Backed with a floral flannel so will be nice and cozy in these cold winter nights for a child.

Neutral strings quilt

We set off today to Silverstream, Upper Hutt for our monthly outing to meet with a group of friends – sadly two of our friends couldn’t be with us.  The big occasion was to help Helen celebrate her recent 80th Birthday.    Six of us had a great lunch out at a local restaurant, then back to Helen and Calvin’s home for coffee/tea and Black Forest Birthday Cake, so yummy.

Happy Birthday Helen – blowing out the candles

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Sew Wots Tuesday

Today was another interesting Sew Wot morning, this time held at Heather’s home.  Hadn't been here before, as Heather and her hubby have only recently moved in.  This time we were celebrating Sandra’s  birthday and she had a whole lot of interesting parcels to unwrap.  Fabric and threads, knitting yarn, such a lovely selection for Sandra to take home and drool over.

Happy Birthday Sandra

Our Crazy Cat challenge set by Heather was unveiled.  I had decided to make a draw string bag for the Foster Hope charity I donate to.  So my cat square was surrounded by red and white dotty fabric and should be suitable for a young girl, I think.

My cat bag

And this is what the other ladies came up with, bags, a cushion and a place mat.  Don’t they all look great together, well done us!

Crazy cat projects

Some of the ladies had been busy at home and had brought in lots of little knitted dolls.  We were given this pattern at our last get-together, and being a visual person I wanted to see it made up before I attempted it.  Now I’ve seen them in “real life” I’ll be ready to give them a try.  Here they all are, dolls made by Carol and Helen, just the right size for a baby or toddler to cuddle and love.

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Knitted dollies galore

There was a marvelous “Show and Tell” today.  I brought along my recently completed blue secret sewing (for a 21st birthday) to show the ladies.  No photo of this until after it is gifted.  Helen had plenty to show and brag about.  The pretty wall hanging was made from family doilies and beautifully embellished.  And the Aussie Memorial quilt was stitched during lockdown and made from fabrics purchased on an Australian holiday.  The soccer quilt was made for a grandson.

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Helen’s recent finishes

Carol had stitched such a pretty little baby quilt in 1930s fabrics.  Lots of  cute little houses and appliqued flowers in the corners, this is such a sweet quilt and is going to her niece.

Baby quilt for Carol’s niece

Sandra had been busy too, and had made two sets of place mats and knitted a woolly hat and scarf.

Sandra's show and tell

And we can always count on Mary to come up with beautifully embroidered  things to show us.  She had made an embroidered Dilly Bag, a small pouch and needle case.

Made by Mary

But the “piece de la resistance” was surely the 70th Birthday quilt made by Helen for Mary, to celebrate Mary’s big birthday during lockdown.  Featuring Helen’s beautiful machine quilting, it certainly is a lovely gift indeed.  Our Sew Wot ladies were asked to sign this quilt around the edge.

Celebrating Mary’s big birthday

We had a lovely morning, and enjoyed a tour through the new house.  And of course there was a marvelous spread for Morning Tea.  Thanks so much Heather, for being the hostess today.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Purple Colourpoint Cat

My blue RSC colourpoint cat decided it really wanted to be purple instead – after all, there were already two blue cats in the cattery.  There really are purple cats in the cat world, you know, breeders call them  “Lilac”.

Purple colourpoint cat

This new addition was warmly welcomed into our home by the resident cat, Gemma, who is a Seal Point Birman.  Wonder what she thinks of all these other cats of many colours?

Gemma inspecting those other cats

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a great pinner when I’m stitching.  But while stitching this block, I knocked the pins all over the floor!  What a butter fingers –  I was down on my knees picking them all up.  Has this ever happened to you? 

Pins everywhere

Thursday, July 16, 2020

It’s not always easy being blue

Sometimes things just don't work out nicely, do they?  Although I’ve been sewing for ages, I’m not really an expert, by any means. This week I’ve been working on a “secret” gift project and have had a few hiccups  along the way.  This gift involves a little stitchery, some applique, and piecing.  I was asked to make the gift in blue, not a problem, as I have plenty of blue fabrics, some smaller than others, and I was looking for a half yard cut, or something similar.

Ready to start the secret gift

Over the last few afternoons it’s been one step forward and two steps back.  First I did the small stitchery, looked at it and thought, “I don’t like that” so unpicked it and started again.  Then the applique – cut out but not pressed down, fortunately -  too small, doesn't  look right, I decided.  So I tried again, and spent some time today at the sewing machine button hole stitching  the applique in place.  That was enough for today, I need a bit of time out, so I’ll get back to this project tomorrow.

The other blue project this week which has been a little difficult for me is a pair of blue socks, knitted on two needles.  I took a class with the local quilt shop a year or so ago, and obviously didn’t keep up. Reading the pattern, and looking at the sock, I had no idea where I was up to.  Luckily the LQS has regular knitting mornings so I went along and shop owner Robyn kindly put me on the right track.  There was a small group of lovely ladies, all regulars, so I thought it might be nice to attend the knitting mornings occasionally too.  That would surely move my knitting projects along.  One of the ladies was knitting a sock with five needles, I was most impressed with that, I thought knitters used four of those little pointy needles!  Can’t cope with four needles myself, so I’m pleased the class showed how to knit socks on two needles.

   Blue socks. 

So that’s what I’ve been doing this week, working with blue fabric and wool. I’ll keep plodding on, and hopefully the secret gift will be finished this week.  Not sure about that sock, though. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Teddy Bear Stitching

This bit of slow stitching was completed while we were away this weekend on a caravan trip.  I finished stitching the flowers surrounding the teddy bear, using blue/purple, and two shades of pink.  I can’t do “random” so the colours were used in the same place on each spray.  What does that say about me, I wonder?  I like to think I work this way because my star sign is Libra, the Scales of Justice, and I like things even and balanced.  That’s my story, anyway.

Teddy Bear Stitchery

The next step on this project is to add some borders and layer the quilt.  Then I can use the blue dashed lines to do some big stitch quilting around this panel.

It has been a bit chilly this weekend while we have been away.  Just as well we have a diesel heater in the caravan to keep this nice and warm.  And the reason things are a little chilly is the cold temperatures which have brought more snow to the top of the ranges.  Snow does look nice glistening in the sunshine, but I wouldn't like to live amongst it underfoot at all.

Snow on the Tararua Ranges

Gemma has been keeping an eye out of the window to make sure things are as they should be.  There has been a black cat wandering around outside, it probably lives in one of the permanent caravans here on site.

Gemma is on guard

The rain came down on Sunday when we were packing up to come home.  Can’t really complain, it is mid winter here, after all.  And we are always nice and cozy in the caravan, with an efficient heater, and my favourite fluffy winter “polar” sheets on the bed.  We certainly don't rough it when we go camping!

Waiting for the drive home

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Dark Blue RSC Stitching

This week I’ve been working on two of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, it’s dark blue this month.  First I made three pretty blue butterflies, then sat and hand stitched their feelers on.  This little addition always makes then look so much better.  They will be joining their other friends in the butterfly sanctuary shortly.

Three dark blue butterflies

Next up were the checkerboard blocks, these are always a nice easy block to stitch.  I try to use small pieces of fabric in the monthly colour to stitch these, so I’m not cutting into larger pieces just for a tiny square.  If I'm lucky I will find small charm squares in the nominated colour of the month.

Checkerboard blocks

I rather enjoy this monthly RSC challenge, so much so that I’m already thinking of what blocks I would like to make for RSC 2021.  Crazy – but true, of course I know that this years stitching is far from finished!  But it always a good thing to plan ahead, don't you think.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sew Wot Tuesday

The Sew Wot group is now back in business after Lockdown, but with being away on our caravan trip, I had to miss the first two meetings.  But I was there today, and it was so nice to catch up with everyone again.  Moira was the Birthday Girl today, and she was showered with lots on interesting little parcels, and beautiful cards.  We watched with interest as she unwrapped each one, it was rather like Christmas morning!  Pretty fabric and sewing items, a coffee cup full of goodies, and plants for her garden.

Happy Birthday, Moira

There was such a lot of Show and Tell.  Our hostess Carol had been busy knitting toys during Lockdown and had quite a collection to show.  They are all so cute – such a lot of work with knitting the clothes and embellishments as well.

Carol’s knitted toys

Sandra had been rather busy too, and showed us the donation quilts she had made recently, all beautiful.  I loved these two designs, such clever ideas working with squares.

Two of Sandra’s donation quilts

This Eye Spy quilt was also destined to be a donation quilt, but the ladies talked Sandra into keeping it for her new grandbaby, due soon.  A much better idea, a quilt from Grandma, made with love, all ready to present to the new baby.

Eye Spy quilt for the new baby

Mary had finished a heart quilt each for her granddaughters, same pattern but in different colourways.  Oops, looks like I only got a photo of one of them, but take my word, they were both gorgeous.

Heart quilt for Mary’s granddaughter

Helen had two knitted projects al done, a wooly hat for a friend and a cozy scarf -  I encouraged her to model her creations for a photo shoot. Doesn’t she look well protected from the winter chills! Helen was also working on an EPP project, Lucy Boston.  I really admire the ladies who can do this sort of work, sadly, it’s much too fiddly for me.

Helen and her Show and Tell

And Heather was working on her pre-printed  Sashiko stitchery, taking the colours from a lovely piece of gifted fabric she will be using for the border.

Heather and her stitchery

We had a lovely spread for Morning Tea, including scones with jam and cream, so yummy.
Before we departed, Heather reminded us that she was hosting the next Sew Wots morning, and don’t forget to bring along a finished item using the cat block she gave us ages ago.  I certainly had forgotten, and had to rush home and find it – luckily I did have an idea of what I wanted to do with it.  So that's what I’ll be starting this afternoon.  It will be fun to see what the others do with their cat blocks at our next get-together. 

Found it – the elusive cat block

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Holiday Knitting

I took a couple of knitting projects away to do during our caravan holiday recently, and knitted these four little Baby Beanies as we traveled in the car and also during the evenings.  It used up some partial balls of wool which was hanging around, so I’m pleased to see the oddments turned into something useful.  Since we returned home, I set to and stitched them up.  Must admit that I’m rather pleased with how they turned out.

Baby Beanies

As you may remember, I do some sewing for the Foster Hope charity, and found this knitting pattern on their website.  So these little beanies will be included in my next donation bag shortly, as it is now winter here, warm hats will no doubt be needed for little heads.  I’m sure I could work out how to make them larger to fit toddlers, I know I have a little more wool tucked away somewhere.

Gemma has her own little bit of "knitting" too.  I gave her some scrap yarn of her own and she often plays with it.  Other favourites are her feathers, which she really loves to carry around in her mouth, and her little mousey toys.  Birman cats are quite playful, you know.

Gemma’s "knitting", she often plays with this in her paws

Cats love playing in boxes too