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

Monday, September 28, 2020

Roll the Dice and Family Get-together

It’s Monday, so that usually means its time to roll the dice to see what project I’ll be working on this week.  I have six projects listed so it’s always a surprise to see which number gets chosen.  And this week it is number three.


Number three is on my List of Six as printed panels.  Yes, panels plural, so I had to choose one of the two.  I’ve got a horse panel, and a boy’s rugby panel in the bag.  As I had stitched a horse panel quilt earlier this year,  I decided to go with the rugby panel.  Which incidentally, I purchased on sale for only $5, and decided it would be ideal for a boy’s donation quilt.  The game of rugby is the most popular winter sport here in New Zealand, and many youngsters aspire to becoming one of the mighty All Blacks, our national rugby team.


Rugby Panel

As printed panels are never quite big enough, I’ll be adding borders to increase the size.  That will keep me busy over the next few days while I work out exactly what to do.

We had a family get-together over the weekend, on Robin’s side of the family.  We were camping in our caravan not too far away in Foxton.  His sister Kaye and her hubby, who live in the South Island, had been on holiday further north and were starting on their journey home.  A couple of phone calls later we had arranged a lunch date with them, plus Robin’s other brother Gary and his wife, who drove up from Levin.  We met for lunch at the Dutch Oven cafĂ©, and had a nice meal and catch-up.


Robin, Kaye, her husband Jan, and Gary

The  of Foxton has a strong Dutch connection and boasts a working windmill, used for grinding flour.   De Molen was completed and officially opened on 13th April 2003. Built to plans and specifications obtained from the Netherlands, it is a replica of a traditional 17th Century Dutch flour mill.


The windmill – de Molen

Friday, September 25, 2020

String Block stitching this week.

There hasn't been a huge  amount of stitching time available this week, but this is what I’ve managed so far.  You may remember that my “Roll of the Dice” brought up number one on my list, neutral string blocks.  These blocks were made quite some time ago for another project, which I didn’t continue with.  So I’ve been using them in donation quilts.  This week I started with this last pile of assorted blocks and some pink fabric.


The last of my neutral string blocks

After some time spent diligently at the  sewing machine, this is what I finished up with.   Can you spot Gemma sneaking over for a photo bomb?  After all, she thinks, if I lay a quilt on floor, it must be for her to check out.



The quilt inspector

I’ll add a border later, and it will be big enough for a cot quilt.  That’s all the stitching I’ll be doing this week, as we are off on a caravan weekend away, but I’ve managed a little stitching time this morning, in-between packing the van.  Our destination is reasonably close, and we are not to arrive till after 2.00pm.  So we will have an early lunch before we go, then head off to Foxton.

It will be nice to catch up with caravan club members again, and we are looking forward to a nice social weekend.   I’ve packed my library book, and my knitting, just in case there is any spare time. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Roll the Dice again

It was time to roll the dice again on Monday – it’s always exciting to see what number comes up each time.  This week it was number one, working on my neutral strings blocks.  I’ve already made two quilts from these blocks already, and there are enough left over to make a cot quilt out of the remainder. I‘m planning on using a half yard piece of pink and gold patterned fabric with these blocks.  Let’s see what I come up with during the week.


The last of my neutral string blocks

I did have a problem with the sewing machine yesterday.  Goodness knows what was wrong, but the machine was making a loud humming noise, that can’t be right, surely.  So I switched it off and on, no, that didn’t work.  I was worried that the machine would go “poof” and blow up under my hands!   In the end I left a message on Barry’s phone, he is the very helpful and friendly  sewing machine mechanic who recently did a service on my machine.   As it turned out, Barry was on holiday at Mt Cook,  in the South Island.  He suggested I check that the bobbin winder had not been moved to the “on position”.  Sure enough, that was the answer, my machine won’t blow up in my face after all.  I really appreciate his helpful advice, guess this problem must have happened to his clients before.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Binding and Pinwheel USA Highlights

This is always my favourite part of a project, sitting quietly somewhere while I hand stitch the binding down on my pinwheel quilt/tablecloth.  Slow stitching at its best.


Finishing off the binding

It’s a nice sunny day today for an ourdoors photo shoot.


Front and back

There, it’s done.  Let’s see what it looks like on the table.  We can check out the messages while we are sitting here.


On the dining table

It’s fun to check out the messages on this.  We had a stop-over at New York on our return trip, the “city which never sleeps” is such an amazing place, but I’m sure you all know that.  Places we visited were Ground Zero, Times Square, Central Park, and we took a harbour trip and viewed Lady Liberty.  Then we boarded a coach for a a week long trip to Niagara Falls, (the falls were amazing) and invited all our fellow travelers to sign a block for me.  My pen friend Gail drove up from Orangeville, Canada to spend the day with us, it was so nice to meet up with her, and of course she signed a block too.  On our trip back we stopped at the such places as the Liberty Bell, Arlington National Cemetery, Lincoln Memorial, the Air and Space Museum, so we got a quick overview of USA history.  It was just a taste of this amazing country, but so very interesting.


Our trip on the harbour

This project may well have taken quite some time to completion, and I am pleased I went with Plan B and turned the blocks into a tablecloth.  Now we can enjoy the signed blocks, a much better option than having them tucked away as a quilt backing.  But its finished now, and as everyone knows “good things take time”.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

More Red RSC Stitching

Another trio of butterflies joined my collection, pretty red ones this month.  They will be joined by their yellow flutterby cousins next month, I’m sure they will be just as pretty.  Then I’ll probably need to have a count up and see how many I’ve got, and work out how I want to assemble them together.


Three more butterflies

Then I stitched up some easy-peasy flag blocks, that took hardly any time at all – no photo this time, for whatever reason, I must have forgotten.  Next were the four checkerboard blocks.  I’m always impressed how nice these easy blocks  turn out, and they will be made into a boy’s donation quilt when the time comes.


Red checkerboard blocks

So that’s it from me so far, I’ll go and check out what the other RSC stitchers  have been making.

Friday, September 18, 2020

More Pin Wheel Stitching, and Memories

We woke up to cold temperatures this morning, rain and strong winds.  Our Spring here is often temperamental with rather changeable weather.  It was a good morning to have a nice warming breakfast today, a nice bowl of porridge!

With the stitch in the ditch completed around the pin wheel blocks, I then decided to do some serpentine stitching along the diagonal lines.  Although there is no batting involved, I felt it was easier to use the walking foot, particularly as I had to stitch over areas where all the seams came together.


Serpentine stitching

It’s been such fun re-reading all the messages on this quilt.  I remember taking my bag of blocks and pen everywhere we went and asking people to sign them.  While in England we travelled far and wide, visiting castles was certainly on the agenda.  I have signed blocks from Dover Castle, Bodium Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and the amazing Buckingham Palace!  Although the Queen was not there to greet us, we were certainly impressed with the beautiful state rooms, all done out in crimson, white and gold – such a sight to see.

Then there was the visit to Tintern Abbey. We arrived to hear the sound of singing coming from the ruins.   A church service was taking place, and when the ushers found out we were visiting from New Zealand they invited us to sit down inside the ruined abbey with the other guests.   At the end of the service several  white doves were released and they fluttered up to roost in the rafters, it was a very spiritual morning indeed.  Although the abbey’s walls are still standing, the roof  was destroyed from the time of Henry VIII.

Another notable church visit was to Canterbury Cathedral where I wanted to see the memorial to Thomas Becket, slain after King Henry II said “who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”  You can probably tell that I love English history!  My block here was signed by Rev Jacky who wrote “May God bless this precious work with his love”, making it so special.


We caught up with my quilty penfriends as well, Margaret from Birmingham, Rose from Southampton, Glennis from Chipping Norton, and Janet from Cromer.  I had stitched a quilt top for each of them using New Zealand prints of our flowers and fauna.  Another notable visit was to spend a week on the narrowboat belonging to our friends Dot and Derek, who took us along the Llangollen Canal – what fun that was!  I had stitched Dot a couple of place mats for the narrow boat, using NZ fabrics.

And I must mention viewing one of the Changi Quilts (from the fall of Singapore) held at the British Red Cross building in London.  I had read that this treasure was available to view, if an appointment was made.  Four quilts were made by ex-pat women detained by the Japanese, using whatever scraps they could lay their hands on. 

Then when we were at Reading, we went to see the English version of the Bayeux Tapestry, so amazing. This faithful replica is 70 metres long. It was made by 35 skilled Victorian women embroiderers in 1885 and depicts the events leading up and includes to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  Reading’s copy was the idea of Elizabeth Wardle, an accomplished embroideress and wife of Staffordshire silk-dyer Thomas Wardle. In 1885 they organised the members of the Leek Embroidery Society to create the full sized and accurate replica so that ‘England should have a copy of its own’. It took them a year and it was then exhibited across Britain.

Bayeux Tapestry image

That’s enough reminiscing and history lessons  for today.  Better get on with finishing up that quilting, I think.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A new list, and rolling the dice

It’s taken me a while to get on to it, but I’ve finally organised a new List of Six projects for myself.  Some items are recurring, and there are a couple of new ones added.  This newly updated list contains:

1:  Strings blocks – still have enough of these to make another donation quilt.

2:  Pinwheel blocks, previously stitched together but I’ve come up with a Plan B now.

3:  Printed panels – I have two of these in the bag for another couple of donation quilts.

4:  Burgundy Log Cabin, first time on the list for this long winded UFO.

5:  House blocks, heaps of these made as Leaders and Enders some time ago.

6:  Boys Coins – another L&E project, waiting to be assembled.


Six projects on my list

And as I usually do, I roll the dice to see which number project I will work on this week.  It doesn't have to be completed, and is often not, depending on the time I have available each week, what with appointments, outing, and sometimes caravan trips away.  But as long as it is worked on and progressed a little, I’m happy.

Number Two was the lucky project this week, the pinwheel blocks.  These were my traveling HST blocks which came along on our trip to UK in 2008 when I stitched up a bunch and took them along with my Pigma pen. Memory blocks they certainly are, as I got them signed at all the accommodation we stayed, trips we took, and places of interest we visited.   Originally I decided to use them as a quilt backing.


Then I changed my mind and decided to make a table cloth instead, removing two of the rows which are now incorporated into the backing.  The first job was to get the layers were pinned on the outside table.


Pinned up and ready to go

Then some stitch in the ditch around each pinwheel block to hold it all together.


Gemma sometimes comes and joins me.  Here she is, focused on something, probably a bird I imagine, out the screen door.  I’m sure she is wishing that I would sometimes forget to close that dratted door, then she could show those birds just who is boss around here!


There are birds out there!

It has been fun reading some of the writing on the pin wheel blocks.  The very first one I had done was “Bon Voyage” written by Petra, our travel agent.  It took us three flights to get to Singapore, and airline crew kindly wrote on my blocks, although I did wonder what they thought about it.  I had a block signed by a staff member at the Singapore Flyer – so new back then that our travel agent had not heard of it!  After several days in exotic Singapore, seeing as many sights as we could, we winged our way to London.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sew Wot Tuesday

I was a little late getting to meet up with the other Sew Wots today.  Why?  Because I was waiting at home for one of those new fangled telephone consultations with the specialist.  Never had one of these phone consults before, but it seems to be the way of the world now in these Covid times.  The phone call was duly received, seems things are tracking well with a  follow up needed sometime in the near future, and I was soon on my way, out the door, to meet up with the other ladies.

On arrival, Moira told me that she had just taken the sausage rolls out of the oven, so I was right on time for morning tea.  So that worked out well, didn't it.


Morning tea time

There was just a little Show and Tell this time.  Carol had been busy making knitted toys, two smaller ones, and a larger gorgeous clown doll.  All beautifully dressed, of course.  It didn’t seem too long ago when she had brought another group of dolls to show us.


Carol’s knitted dolls

Heather had recently completed a quilt to give to a friend, made with 3in squares and backed with cozy fleece.  It certainly does look nice and warm.


Heather’s new quilt

Heather had brought along a pile of donated fabric from a friend for the Sew Wot’s to choose and take home.  It was inspected and pawed over as we made our choices, and it all found its way into our bags to be rehomed and recycled.

Then Mary had a handful of envelopes and we each chose one.  Inside were the instructions of our Christmas Challenge, and the name of the person (must be kept secret) we were stitching it for. All will be revealed at our last get-together of the year, our Christmas Lunch at one of the local cafes.

In between the chatting and catching up with news, we were all busy with our various handwork.  I had taken some knitting along, as had Heather and Helen.  Mary was sorting through her box of Lucy Boston hexies, Moira was doing applique, and Carol was busy with her embroidery.  What a busy bunch we were.


Mary, Moira, Carol, Heather and Helen

It was lovely to catch up again today, and see what all these lovely ladies were working on.  It’s always a most pleasant way to spend the morning.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A little slow Knitting

Perhaps you recall the pair of hand knitted blue socks I completed recently?  Although these socks took me forever to knit, it didn’t take me too long at all to finish this “baby beanie” with the little bit of wool left over.  And that didn’t take me very long at all!  This will go in the bag for the next time I make a donation to Foster Hope charity.


Baby blue beanie

Another recent finish was a little baby bunny toy.  However, I had trouble working out the instructions for the head and ears, so had to fudge it a bit and hope it would all work out.  (I wont be making any more of these, I decided).  Another one for the donation bag.


Baby bunny toy

So now I’m doing a little more knitting with the remaining white yarn.  Perhaps another baby beanie, I decided, and I’m using some pretty pink yarn which needed using up.


Another baby beanie

To celebrate Robin’s birthday yesterday we went out to dinner at the local Cossie Club.  WE both chose pork, cooked different ways.  Robin enjoyed his Belly Pork meal, and mine was pork cooked with tamarillo sauce.  When I was growing up, we knew this winter fruit as tree tomatoes.  Like some other well-known kiwi favourites, tamarillos are world famous in NZ. The New Zealand Tree Tomato Promotions Council is responsible for dubbing them the tamarillo - originating from the Maori word “tama,” meaning leadership, and the Spanish word “Amarillo,” meaning yellow.


Happy Birthday Robin

He certainly deserved a birthday cake, so today I baked him an orange cake – one day late, I know.  Goodness knows what I did with the cream cheese icing, sadly it turned out runny.  But never mind, it still tasted good.


Orange Cake

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Red Colourpoint Cat

Red is the colour for Rainbow Scrap Challenge stitching this month, so I decided to start off my RSC sewing with a cat block first.  I laid them on the bed and auditioned some red fabrics.  After all, red comes in all sorts of shades, bright red, orange/red, pinky/red so I wanted to see which shade would work best with the existing blocks.  Gemma decided to come and help out too, as she likes to do.  She wasn’t really much help at all, she was much more interested in keeping up with her grooming routine.


Gemma and the colourpoint cats

After some consideration, I decided on a dark red and black print.  These blocks always take me ages, and I prefer to get all the pieces cut and laid out, and the sawtooth arc stitched.  Then I like to leave it till the next day, when I sew all the pieces together.


Red cat block done


The seal of approval

It’s Robin’s birthday today.  He’s another year older and still going strong. After cooking scrambled eggs for a birthday breakfast he had some “cuddle time” with Gemma.  She likes to jump on on his lap, then snuggle up on his shoulder while he is sitting at the table in the mornings.  We are having a quiet day at home, I’m sure there will be some sports to watch on the TV to keep him occupied.  Then we have booked a meal this evening at the local Cossie Club.  So no cooking for me and no dishes for him tonight.


Happy Birthday Robin

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Blue Socks finally finished

Its taken me quite some time,but I’ve finally finished knitting my pair of blue socks.  These are knitted on two needles, and they came on a holiday in the caravan with me where I stitched the side seam up.


My blue socks

I’m quite new to this sock knitting business and found the heels a bit of a challenge.  These were started in a class at my favourite quilt shop some time ago.  As I had long realised that I couldn’t cope with knitting on four sock needless, it seemed the ideal pattern for me.  Sewing up a side seam seemed a small price to pay.


Start of my sock knitting class

Our time spent  in Carterton was lovely, and we were joined by several other friends.  It’s always nice to share good company with like minded people isn’t it. 


Staying at Carterton Holiday Park

Spring has sprung in my part of paradise, and as well as pretty daffodils popping up in the camp site gardens, and Spring blossoms on the trees,  we came across some new born lambs in the adjacent paddock.  Gemma came with me a short walk on her harness and lead but got rather upset when one on the ewes bleated her displeasure at seeing this feline so close by.  So it was a race back to the safely of the caravan for Gemma, well away from the protective new mother and baby.


Mother ewe and her new lamb

Waking up to another  glorious day on Saturday, the suggestion was to go visit Mt Holdsworth and take a picnic lunch.  Great idea, we agreed, as none of us had been there for quite some time.  And just look at the views we got of the sun glistening on the snow topped Tararua Ranges.


Such a lovely sight

Our small group found a nice grassy picnic area and sat out in the sunshine.  Out came the lunch boxes and the thermos and we were soon happily tucking in to a nice hot cuppa and sandwiches.  For the more energetic, there are many walking tracks available in this Department of Conservation Park, from short gentle walks up to much more rugged ones lasting several days.  Hunting by permit is allowed in the park, and back country huts high in the hills are available for hire for those on hunting trips.  We decided to take a short walk to the nearby river which we could hear tinkling away in the background.


Waiohine River

Gemma like to help on with this blogging business, and makes sure the lap top bag will not escape while I’m sitting at the caravan table tapping away.


Gemma thinks she is helping

Spring can be very fickle here, and on our last day away, the rain came down, and the wind rather rudely rattled the caravan overnight.  So much for Spring, it looks like Winter is not quite ready to depart, just yet.  Just as well I have a “just finished” pair of woolly socks to wear, I think!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Sew Wot Tuesday

We met at Helen’s home in the country for our Sew Wot morning, and once again, there was another birthday to celebrate.  Happy Birthday to Heather,  she had some lovely parcels to open.


Happy Birthday Heather

Show and Tell started with most of us showing the masks we had stitched up over the last few weeks.  They came in various styles and colours, but as long as they cover the nose and mouth, they are doing the job.


All masked up

There were two Sashiko panels to admire, both purchased as kits from our favourite quilt shop.  Carol bordered her panel with Japanese style fabrics, and made it into a small wall-hanging, and Mary turned hers into a cushion.


Sashiko panels

Helen showed us the quilt top she had just finished for her step-grand-son Kaden.  He is sure to love it, this quilt is made with lots of “boys” fabric, and has his name appliqued on the top.


Kaden’s quilt

Moira had just received her quilt back from the local commercial quilter, who always does a lovely job.  She is calling this her “Covid Quilt” and it has been claimed by her son.


Moira’s Covid quilt

I had taken along my recently completed  “Under the Sea” quilt.  Helen’s very fluffy cat Scrappy thought this was well worth a good inspection and checked it out to make sure I had done a good job!


Scrappy checking out the sea creatures

Sandra had been busy and brought along a pair of knitted slippers she had just finished for her friend’s Mum.  She also enjoys making cards and brought some of these along to show us. 

P1000451 P1000453

Sandra’s handcrafts

In between the chatter, Carol, Sandra and myself had our knitting needles clicking, and Moira was busy working on her wool embroidery.  Both Helen and Mary were working on their EPP projects.  Very intricate, but rather too fiddly for me to want to try.


Helen’s lovely EPP project

As usual, we had a wonderful morning tea – no wonder Helen’s hubby says we should be called “The Eat-alots”.  I’m sure there was plenty of home baking left over for him when he returned home.  It was another lovely morning, and so nice to catch up with everyone again.

On the drive back home I stopped off at the Moutoa Sluice Gates, built in 1962 to protect the low lying farmland from flooding from the Manawatu River.  NO sign of flooding today, but we have been here when the gates have been firmly closed against the build up of flood waters.  I find it an interesting piece of local engineering which does it’s job exceedingly well.



Moutoa Sluice Gates at the ready