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

Monday, August 31, 2020

Making Masks

I spent several hours on Sunday afternoon, making a few masks.  Have to say I really admire those ladies who have been churning them out by the dozen, or hundreds, don’t know how you did it.  Previously, I had stitched a couple with triple pleats, and my friend Dot found out about a new design, tracing a circle with a dinner plate, of all things.  After seeing her sample, I decided to give it a go, luckily I still had some elastic tucked away, as it it in really short supply these days.  So I made four, two for me, and two for Robin.  His masks were a little small, especially with that beard, so I used a larger dinner plate to mark  the circle and make two bigger ones for him.


Blue floral for me and Kiwi silver ferns for Robin

The trick, it seems is to use something across the top of the nose to keep the mask secure.  Dot kindly gave me some thin plastic coated wire which (to tie plants up in the garden) she used on her masks.  It just gets zig zagged in place and then you can bend it into shape over the nose.


And here we are, all masked up.  Please excuse my “just out of the shower wet hair” look.


Wearing our new masks

The country is still in Level 2, so we can go out and about as long as we take precautions.  Such as sign in to shops, or scan the QR codes, practice social distancing, hand hygiene, and now masks must be worn on public transport, which seems a very sensible idea.  This is our “new normal” these days.

As well as mask making this weekend, there was some cooking going on.  It’s still winter here in New Zealand (although Spring is not too far away) so I made a big pot of pumpkin soup, so yummy.  That lasted us for several warming lunches, and it is so nice with a swirl of cream on top!


Pumpkin soup for lunch

For our Saturday evening meal Robin fired up the Weber BBQ and we cooked a tasty leg of lamb with roast veggies, so nice.  And the smell…..out of this world!  Even better, we purchased the lamb on special!  Did I tell you I love roast lamb?


Roast lamb on the BBQ

And our Sunday mornings usually start with bacon and eggs for breakfast, our Sunday morning tradition, and cooked by Robin.   Once again, the food didn’t disappoint.  It’s always a lovely leisurely start to the day.


My Sunday morning breakfast

My daughter Nicky celebrated her birthday on Friday, so it was nice to have a chat with her on the telephone, and yes, her birthday parcel arrived in time.  She was born 1 year and 4 days after her brother, so I was a very busy young Mum indeed back in the day!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Hug it Forward

I had heard about a request from Plunket for pre-loved baby clothes for needy families.  I’m happy to support the clothing drive – no pre-loved baby clothes in this household, but I do have several hand knitted baby beanies I’m glad to donate.


Baby beanies

Plus I had two little cot quilts I made sometime ago, one for a girl and one for a boy.  These were made out of a pile of nine patches which were hiding in a crate, so I was pleased to put them to good use.  Dare I admit that I’m sure I have even more 9 patch blocks tucked away?  Never mind, they are the good basis of another baby quilt sometime in the future.


Two baby quilts looking for new homes

Image may contain: text that says "Hugit HUGGIES plunket whanauawhina forward Bring in your pre-loved baby clothes and we'll give them to a Plunket family in need PYTFON OYL"

What is Plunket, you may be wondering?  It is a New Zealand institution.  Dr Frederic Truby King helped form the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children at a meeting in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1907. Later that year, Plunket opened the first Karitane Home for Babies in Dunedin, followed by a further six Karitane Hospitals to supplement home and clinic visits.

The Royal New Zealand Plunket Trust provides a range of free services aimed at improving the development, health and wellbeing of children under the age of five within New Zealand, where it is commonly known simply as Plunket. Its mission is "to ensure that New Zealand children are among the healthiest in the world".   In my day as a young Mum, Plunket nurses came to the home to visit new Mums and their babies, and their help was invaluable. As the babies grew, we attended local clinics.   Most New Zealand babies were Plunket babies, and I am pleased to give them a donation to help them with their good work..

Monday, August 24, 2020

What I’ve been up to

The last few days have been a bit of a mixed bag.  Sadly on Friday we had a family funeral to attend as  Robin’s cousin Steve had passed away.  The day was wet and wild, and we drove up to Palmerston North to attend the church.  Reflecting in the car that as the aunts and uncles have now all passed on, sadly the cousins are the older generation.   Quite a sobering thought.  With our part of the country being in “Level 2”, gatherings are capped at 100 people.  Therefore, the family  wanted to know who was likely to attend, and no doubt a bit of number crunching went on, with emails finally sent out inviting us to attend.  It was a lovely service, and we were well spaced out in the church.  I did wonder if refreshments would be served afterwards, and it was done quite well, I thought.  Instead of everyone helping themselves from the platters of sandwiches, savories and cakes, servings were arranged in individual containers, rather like airline food. 

Saturday was still rather wet, but by Sunday the weather had changed for the better.  I spent the morning keeping an eye on my large pot of boiling marmalade, feeling rather like a witch as I bent over the boiling cauldron.   Found myself muttering  “Hubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble”  while I stirred the boiling fruit.  Many thanks to Robin’s brother Gary for the fruit from his trees. 


Orange and lemon marmalade

Gemma decided that since it was a lazy Sunday morning and after she had enjoyed some crunchies for breakfast, why not go back to bed.  I didn't have the heart to disturb her, so the bed stayed in disarray for a while longer.  Which goes to show who is really in charge in this house!


Can’t disturb the cat

Sunday afternoon was so nice and warm that we sat outside for an hour or so enjoying the weather.  I was quite happy with my knitting and a cuppa, and Gemma was snoozing on the seat making the most of the sunshine and warm temperatures.

And here it is Monday, my son’s birthday.  He lives in Christchurch so  I phoned to wish him Happy Birthday. “ How old are you now?”, I asked.  Michael was shocked and told me as his mother I should know exactly how old he is!  Of course I knew, well, my guess was quite close.  Bet he can’t remember how old I am, and that I have a biggish birthday coming up soon.

Today I’ve been piecing some backing for a quilt top I finished a while ago.  The blocks for this quilt were part of a long ago block swap, so I’m incorporating the signature blocks from the those who took part into the backing.  Then I can take it to the commercial quilter to work her magic, it’s a bed sized quilt so too big for me to quilt at home. 


Signature blocks will be part of the quilt backing

It’s been a while since I updated my List of Six and rolled the dice again to choose which project to work on.  I want to get the pieced quilt backing completed in the next day or two.  It’s going to be a busy week with several appointments, an outing or two, and possibly the weekend away in the caravan, so it could well be next week before I get to work on my new list. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Butterflies and Flags

My trio of purple butterflies are now stitched and are ready to join their other colourful friends.  I quite enjoy stitching these pretty little blocks each month and choosing the nominated colours as I work through my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks.  Then I get to sit quietly and hand stitch the feelers on, for the finishing touch.


Three purple butterflies

Call me crazy, but I’ve decided to add another set of RSC blocks to the mix.  Nothing too elaborate, just some simple Flag blocks.  These came about because I found some cream/white squares I had previously  cut and forgotten all about.  I’ve made some in this month’s colour of purple, then back tracked and used dark blue from the previous month.  No, I’m not going right back to the beginning of the year, but will just keep adding as the colours come up, so it will probably carry over to next year.  There is no hurry, and will end up as a donation quilt, no doubt.


Another new project – simple flag blocks

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Something for Gemma

I’ve been doing some sewing over the last coupe of days, something for our beautiful Birman Gemma.  She really needed another couple of “cat mats” – I have one under her litter box and another under her feeding tray.  They certainly serve the purpose of keeping the flooring clean but of course they need frequent laundering.  It goes without saying that cat lovers would have some kitty fabric in the stash, and I found two novelty type fat quarters tucked away, so that is what I used.


Two cat mats for Gemma

These were made very simply, just two layers bagged out, with out any wadding, stitched across the middle and around the edges to hold them together.  They are now in use, here is the green version protecting the carpet under Gemma’s feeding tray.


I've also stitched up a little something for the caravan.  We have found that occasionally the glass  turntable in the microwave comes off the fitting while we are travelling.  I remembered I had some thick upholstery fabric (used to make caravan cushions earlier)  tucked it seemed just the thing to make a simple draw string bag to protect the glass while we travel.


For the caravan

So that’s what I’ve been up to the last few days.  Our regular fortnightly Sew Wots get-together did not take place as there were concerns about not able to do social distancing while we are currently in Level 2.  I’m sure we all had plenty of stitching to do in our own homes.  I know I have, together with trying a couple of new recipes – there is always something to keep us busy, isn’t there.  It’s currently raining quite heavily here. Mother Nature is reminding us that yes, it still is Winter here in New Zealand.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

21st Birthday Cushion

After a period of uncertainty because of new Covid cases in Auckland, we were pleased that our family celebrations went ahead on Saturday.  Leaving Gemma in charge of the caravan at Takapau, we drove up to Napier to meet up for the family lunch.  Luckily, I had remembered to take the birthday cushion with me – wouldn’t it be terrible if I had left it at home?  Birthday girl Kate had asked for a patchwork cushion in blue, and mentioned she rather liked hearts.  So… blue hearts it was, luckily I made it in plenty of time, so I wasn't rushing around at the last minute.  I used a pretty little doily for the label, many thanks to Heather who passed it on to me.


Kate’s Birthday cushion

It was so nice to meet up again, and share in this special day.  Kate is not a big time party girl, and wanted this small lunch with family and friends, and will also be having other small get togethers with people close to her.  Such a good idea.


My great niece Kate with her cushion

Sadly Kate’s grandparents (my sister and BIL Kathleen and Dennis) could not attend the birthday lunch.  As they reside in a Rest Home and because of the Covid cases at the moment, all Rest Homes have gone into Lockdown, with no one except staff and essential provisions allowed to enter, or the residents permitted to leave.  It was sad they couldn’t be with us, but so much better to be safe than sorry.

We had a lovely meal, with everyone enjoying their choices.  Kate received some lovely gifts, and we watched as she cut the cake – cutting duty then taken over by my niece Lisa.  The chocolate cake was scrumptious, with butter icing and decorated such pretty piped flowers.


Kate and Lisa, and the delicious cake


The birthday guests


And here we are

It was a lovely day, so nice to spend it with family and their friends.  Happy 21st Birthday, Kate.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Will we - wont we?

Here we are camped in the little town of Takapau in the Hawkes Bay where we have been for a couple of days. Other than the caretaker, we ae the only ones staying here, so had the choice of where we wanted to park.  This is a very reasonably priced camp, and we are nice and toasty with a power site, plus our cozy diesel heater too, keeping us warm.


Staying at Takapau

The weather started out fine, but rather chilly, probably because of the snow on the Ruahine Ranges.


A little snow on the Ruahine Ranges

Our trip to Hawkes Bay was to attend a family 21st Birthday on Saturday, but things are a bit unsettled at the moment.   Unfortunately, after 100 plus days of nil cases of Covid 19, there have been a cluster  of cases detected in Auckland.  The Auckland area is now at Alert Level 3 in the meantime, many workplaces closing and only those returning to their homes can enter or leave this area.  The rest of the country is at Alert Level 2, and we are all waiting to see if we go up a level as well.  Further plans will be announced on Friday evening, then we will know  if the family party can go ahead, or will have to be cancelled.  So it is “will we, won’t we?” at the moment.  Just as well we have a nice pleasant place to stay here at Takapau – there is no point heading into the Napier NZMCA Park just yet, as we had planned, till we know for sure what will be happening.  We are thankful that the Health Department and the Prime Minister are acting decisively to nip this outbreak in the bud.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing a little knitting, and  hand quilting around the cute little girly teddy on my stitchery.  Then I will be doing big stitch quilting with Perle thread along the dashed blue lines.


Hand quilting around the teddy

While we are waiting to see if we will be driving up to Hastings or not, we have been doing some exploring.  Takapau is quite a small town, but must have been rather prosperous in it’s time.  In fact, the caravan park where we are staying used to be quite a busy sock manufacturing business some years ago.  The local hotel is now closed, but is still rather a handsome building.  It doesn’t look derelict, so I do hope someone is living in it, and taking care of this building.


The Takapau Hotel, no longer trading

I wanted to have another look at Onga Onga, founded in 1872 by runholder H. H. Bridge. Like other runholders who founded towns, Bridge built a school and church and provided land for a recreation ground.  These days the small village draws admirers to view the wonderful historic buildings dotted along the main street. The Coles Brothers building is the jewel in the crown.  The category 1 listed building was built in 1878 and housed the Coles Brothers’ various businesses including carpentry, surveying, interior decorating and even coffin building and the local undertaker business.  Fund raising is taking place to help with the restoration of this wonderful old building.


Coles Bros building, Onga Onga


Another interesting building was the recreation of a bush settlers cottage.

The weather then changed to rain and a marked drop in the temperature.  We went for a drive this morning and called into the sleepy little village of Ormondville.  For those train lovers amongst you, Ormondville Station is “a modified Vogel Class 5 station building, the only surviving Class 5 station left on the operating system”.


Historic Ormondville Station

Next stop was Norsewood, which together with other southern towns emerged in the 1870s from the bush that covered most of southern Hawke’s Bay. This was burned and felled by Scandinavian immigrants who were brought to New Zealand in 1872 to clear and farm the land. The process of transformation from forest to farmland was a huge task, which took decades.  We called onto New Zealand Natural Clothing, formerly Norsewear Factory Shop.  This must be the right place, just look at those signs.  It was lovely and warm inside, with the wood burner giving out plenty of heat.  Lots of knitwear to check out, but interestingly enough, Robin was the one who came out with parcels, not me!


Norsewear – now known as New Zealand Natural Clothing

While we were away, Gemma kept herself occupied with catching up on her beauty sleep.  Cats have a really good life, don't they!


Gemma snoozing again

There will be a news briefing given by the Prime Minister and the Dir Gen of Health early this evening to inform the country what further steps need to be taken to deal with this latest Covid outbreak.  Then we will be able to plan the rest of our weekend, whether we travel on to Hastings, or go back home.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

It’s been a beautiful day here in my part of paradise.  So mild you could almost think it was Spring, instead of mid winter.  I’ve spent some time outside today doing a little knitting.


My knitting is coming along well

Then it was time to hand stitch my quilt binding down, something I always enjoy.  This is a cot size quilt, so didn’t take me too long.  And here at last, Under the Sea quilt is finished.  I started the stitchery blocks way back in 2010, so it was well overdue to become a finished quilt.


Under the Sea

Under the Sea was a free stitchery  Block of the Month sew-along, by Willowberry Designs.  I increased the size of each block, and certainly enjoyed stitching each one.  The whimsical designs are highlighted with fabric pens.  Once all the blocks were stitched, they all got packed away – goodness knows why!  But the pretty little quilt is now finished, and I’m keeping it for a future great-grandchild perhaps.


I’m so pleased this pretty little quilt has now been completed, as it certainly deserved to be.  It’s always a wonderful feeling to get another long winded UFO off the list!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Purple Blocks

It was time to stitch up a few more purple blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. How about some Checkerboard blocks?  I enjoy stitching these, and finding little bits of the nominated colour each month to put in them.  Can you see the iconic Combi vans?


Purple Checkerboard blocks

Next up was a purple Spool Block to add to my collection.  The pattern can be found on Lorna’s blog Sew Fresh Quilts.  You can find the post and free pattern here


Gemma didn’t want to miss out from a photo opportunity so rolled around on the spools and tried to rearrange them for me.  Looks like she is telling me she likes the pale blue one best.


Gemma and the Spool blocks

It’s mid winter here in my part of the world, although the temperatures have been reasonably mild, with a few cold days now and again to remind us that it really is winter, after all.  Winter to me is soup season, and I made some broccoli and cheese soup yesterday for lunch, so tasty.  It’s green, so it’s got to be good for you!  This one is done in the microwave, and is nice and easy.  In my mind, there is nothing better than home made soup.


Broccoli and cheese soup for lunch

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Under the Sea again, and Medical Matters

I’m still working on the quilting on my Under the Sea quilt.  You may remember that I reported last time “no more unpicking” but…….. just didn’t like Plan B Serpentine stitch after all.  You know what it’s like, if you don’t like something in the beginning, you will never like it.  So it got ripped out, and I went for the look of gentle little eddies coming up from the sea floor instead.


Quilting, Plan C

Gemma has been a big help keeping all those marine creatures under control.  She wasn’t going to let a single one swim away!


Watching those fishies

Poor Gemma didn’t have a good day at all yesterday.  It was time for her annual WOF and she was not a happy cat at all.  We made the mistake of getting her cage out early in the morning, hoping she would get used to it.  But no, she remembered the last time she was put into the cage and put up a bit of a fight, which really  stressed her out.  Then in the car and down to see the vet.


Waiting for the vet

The vet gave her the once over, then the indignity of a thermometer you know where, a cat flu vaccination, and a worm tablet.  She didn’t like all this medical attention one little bit  Everything was fine, Gemma is a beautiful cat we were told, keep doing what you are doing with her, she is in excellent condition.  Once we returned home she took herself into time out for a while, to recover from the vaccination, and by evening was back to her normal self.

And talking of things medical, I’m happy to report that I had an appointment with my oncologist recently.  Four years on from my diagnosis of breast cancer, the annual mammograms and MRIs have been coming back clear, so everything looks well.  I’m still taking my daily pill, and will continue with the mammogram and specialist appointments for a wee while yet.  I’m so grateful for the medical treatment I have been receiving, hospital treatment is delivered free here in New Zealand, unless you decide to go private instead.

So that’s been my week, I still have a few fish blocks to finish quilting, plus the borders.  With any luck I’ll get the binding attached too.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Purple Selvedges

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for August has just been announced as purple.  Luckily I had rummaged through my bag of selvedge strips and gathered up any purple ones I could find, so I was ready to quickly make this block, in time for this week’s linky party.  Just a few purple strips, but enough to stitch up a purple selvedge block.


Purple selvedge block

And here is my collection of selvedge blocks I’ve stitched so far.  Don’t they look nice all together.  I’m aiming to make them into a tote bag when I get all the other colours stitched – that’s the plan, anyway.


All the blocks so far

There’s always a lot of memories when stitching with selvedges.  Long forgotten fabrics that have been used in various projects, and some you can’t remember at all! They must be the donated ones, I expect.