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

Monday, December 28, 2020

Blue Knitting Times Two

I quite enjoy knitting in the evenings, and also take knitting away on car journeys.  I don't know about you, but I seem to have a mental block when it comes to sewing up my knitting projects.  But with the end of the year coming up fast, I’ve put the extra effort in, sat down at the dining table for hours on end, and finally stitched all the pieces together.  After all, I told myself, they are almost at the finishing line, just get on and get it done this year, instead of carrying the projects over to 2021!

My first knitting project started life like this, when I purchased skeins of wool and needed someone handy to hold it while I would it into balls.  Lucky for me that Robin was a willing partner so I could get the job done.


He’s helping me, watched over by Gemma

The yarn is New Zealand made and a shade of pretty blue called Blue Topaz, 53% mohair, 35% rayon ribbon, 10% wool and 2% nylon.  Just a simple plain boat neck jumper, (called a sweater in USA.)   I’ve often wondered about the different names for the same garment and Mr Google told me the reason.   The word "jumper" when used to mean a sweater comes from an obsolete term for a large, loose men's jacket called a jump. "Jumper" is a term mainly used in England, while the term "sweater" is more common in American usage. Their activity would cause them to sweat, hence the term "sweater."  So now we know.  I’ll probably wear a blouse or skivvy underneath in the winter, as I’m not too keen on bare necklines.


All finished, but it wont be needed till next winter

And blue project number two was knitted from the extra yarn I purchased and used in the ribbing for my jumper.  I wasn’t too sure if I would have enough of the ribbon yarn to finish my project, and bought several extra balls just in case I had to add stripes into the body.  This is 14ply Crucci, 80% wool and 20% mohair, also made in New Zealand.  Once I’d sewn this toddler cardigan up, out came the button jar, I was on the hunt for five blue buttons.  And luckily, I found them, wasn't that lucky, so I don't have to take a trip to the shops.


Looking for blue buttons

It turned out quite nicely I’m pleased to say, Gemma certainly thought so as she gave it an inspection.  This little cardigan is knitted in stocking stitch with moss stitch bands, nice mindless knitting.


Cozy blue cardy for a toddler

I’ll probably keep this one in granny box, just in case a baby arrives in the family.  Or it may be donated, sometime in the future, who knows.  Wherever it ends up, it will be keeping some little child nice and warm.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Selvedge Spools

It’s so nice to have another Rainbow Scrap Challenge finish before the end of the year.  The reason I decided to assemble my selvedge spools was because it was small.  But it still took me ages after it decided it didn’t really want to place nicely with me and I had to get the unpicker out for a while.


I had stitched nine spool blocks during the year, using a free pattern from Lorna McMahon of Sew Fresh Quilts.  One each month using selvedges in the nominated colour.  On several of the spool blocks I used multi-colour striped fabric, courtesy of Jean who blogs as All Points of the Compass, she had kindly dropped me off a couple of bags of fabric pieces some time ago. 

My pretty little selvedge spool quilt is now machine quilted, binding, hanging sleeve and label added, and hanging in pride of place in the sewing room.


Selvedge spools

It is replacing Winter Quilt Festival, a pretty little panel which was sent to me as a gift, finished by me and hand quilted.  Our winter has been and gone so it’s high time this little quilt came down for a rest.


Winter Quilt Festival

So how many 2020 RSC projects do I have yet to be completed?  I’m only admitting to “several”.

Saturday, December 26, 2020


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, from our home to yours.


The Christmas Mice

Our Christmas Day started with the traditional family breakfast of hot croissants filled with ham and cheese, and a pot of “real” coffee.  Then we joined friends Dot and Derek and son Brent for Christmas Lunch out at a local restaurant, The George.    With three lunch sittings, the place was heaving with people, most of them oldies out with grown children, it seemed, and some of the patrons looked so much older than us, we commented.  Unfortunately, our table was situated right by the door, and the cold wind blew in every time there were comings and goings.



Dining out for Christmas Lunch

Dinner was buffet style so we all went to help ourselves.  There was a nice selection of food, and we helped ourselves to an entrée, where I tried an artichoke for the first time, and for the main course there was roast beef, chicken, hot ham, and baked salmon.  There was no contest for me, salmon it was, delicious, served in a nice creamy sauce.  Later on dessert, and what could be nicer to finish our meal than Christmas Pudding, custard and whipped cream!


Back home for a well deserved Nana nap in the afternoon, we then phoned and chatted to family to catch up on their Christmas Day news.  Gemma has decided that climbing up behind the village snow scene is a great place to hunker down and hide.  Must admit it took a while to find her there.


We realise we are so lucky living here without any restrictions in place (at the moment, depending on the situation changing).  We have been told than plans have been formulated, ready to put in place, in case the virus appears again as community transmission.  It must be so difficult for people in other countries to have to curtail their Christmas celebrations with family, and having a much  quieter time than usual, but in these trying times, needs must.  Hoping things will get better worldwide soon for everyone.

I’m leaving you with a picture of our New Zealand Christmas Tree, the pohutakawa, snapped in Palmerston North on a recent trip, which flowers at this time of year.  It is said that the crimson flowers predict a long, hot  Summer.  Merry Christmas, everyone.


Christmas Greetings from New Zealand

Thursday, December 24, 2020

It’s Hard being the Perfect Hostess

That’s what Gemma thinks, after welcoming Robin’s sister Kaye who came to stay overnight.  Gemma was enchanted with our guest and wouldn’t leave her alone.  I told Kaye that she should feel honoured, as Gemma has been known to be rather stand offish to visitors before, and not want to have anything to do with them.  When Kaye departed, Gemma took a well earned snooze on the dining chair, head tucked under the table cloth, and her back legs hanging down!


Job done, time for a rest

Having someone to stay in the sewing room/spare bedroom caused some mild panic.  There were the Christmas crates all over the floor, various projects everywhere, and the carpet was covered in threads.  Because of my sore wrist, Robin was roped in to help.  The crates were stacked in the garage, project bags were stuffed into the wardrobe, my sewing machine cabinet was closed shut, and the floor was vacuumed.  The spare bedroom then went through a bit of a transformation.  The fold up Murphy bed is a rather clever design, looking just like a free standing wardrobe.  Then it pulls down into a comfy double bed with an innerspring mattress, just the thing for those short on space but still wanting to accommodate the occasional overnight guest.


The innovative Murphy bed

Kaye is Robin’s only sister and youngest sibling.  It was so nice to have Kaye come for an overnight visit.  Living down in the South Island we don't see a lot of her, so we had a great catch-up.  And she brought gifts, flowers for me and a bottle of wine for Robin.


Kaye and Robin

After a leisurely breakfast Kaye continued on her journey, off to collect her hubby Jan and son from Palmerston North Airport, then driving up to Taupo to spend Christmas with Jan’s side of the family.  By all accounts this will be quite a big family affair.  Ours will be much quieter, and goodness me, it’s Christmas Day tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Unwelcome for Christmas

Look what I’ve acquired for the next few days, just in time for Christmas.  Putting the groceries away yesterday I tripped and fell, putting my hands out to break the fall, as you do.  Nothing broken but it seems I've sprained my wrist.   So now, for the first time, I’m sporting a wrist brace as it is quite painful.  Doing something like this makes you realise how often you use two hands to do so many things.  Hopefully in a few more days it will all come right.



Backing up a few days, we have enjoyed  a couple of social outings.  The first one was at Paraparumu, a mere 45km from home, but we left bright and early, allowing extra time for heavy pre-Christmas traffic and the never ending road works.  And wouldn't you know, we were so early we decided to venture into the Mall to fill in some time.  Malls are not our favourite place to be, but this one has a real attraction, Butlers Chocolate Café.  What would be nicer while we wait than a cup of Hot Chocolate, served with a complimentary chocolate of our choice.  Butlers Chocolates began life in Dublin's Lad Lane in 1932. The company was founded by a pioneering woman called Marion Butler who named her luxury chocolate creations Chez Nous Chocolates. Marion established the company in the heart of fashionable Georgian Dublin, making her delicious confections by hand.  I’m not sure if there are Butlers Chocolate Cafes in other countries, if there is one by you I’m sure you know all about it.


Butlers Chocolate Café

Then on Sunday we drove up to Feilding to catch up with my daughter Nicky and her two girls, and exchange Christmas gifts.  It was so nice to see them all again.  I am a little worried about my daughter’s health, but she has full confidence in her specialist, so I’ll have to be satisfied with that.



After wrapping up the family Christmas gifts I put the empty cardboard roll on the floor.  Gemma loved it –  gathered it up in her front paws and gave it a good old kicking with her feet.  Maybe she thought it was some kind of smooth hairless rat that she had to deal with!


She’s killing the cardboard roll

I received a lovely little unexpected gift in the mail, thanks so much Maria.  Its a pretty little Christmas coaster.


Thank you Maria

How about a peek at a couple more Christmas goodies?  Here’s a trio of Santas waiting for the big day.  I stitched the two larger ones several years ago.


Hello Santas

Of course, we all know that here in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Christmas over the Summer season.  So why do I love this little village snow scene, I wonder?  Probably because the early settlers came here from UK, and I, like many more a few generations on, have English, Scots and maybe a bit of Irish and Welsh blood in my veins.  Perhaps one day I’ll get to experience a real white Christmas.


Pretty twinkling snow village

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Christmas is coming fast

The Colourpoint Cats quilt only had a brief two day stint hanging up above the couch.  It’s almost Christmas after all, so down it had to come to be replaced by a seasonal quilt.  This one is Christmas Smorgasbord, made with blocks received in two different internet block swaps, stars and nine patches.  Never mind, the cats will get another turn to shine before too long.


Christmas Smorgasbord

I always seem to have more Christmas quilts than hanging room, these two small ones are favourites so  were chosen again.  The Selvedge Christmas Tree was fun to stitch, and the Red Robins and Christmas Trees quilt was sent to me by pen-friend Rose in UK.


Christmas Trees and Robin Redbreasts

The second couch has my Christmas ABC quilt over the top.  I really enjoyed stitching these pretty blocks, patterns designed by the very talented Michelle Ridgeway.  Gemma decided she was going to pose on top, perhaps she is trying to be a Christmas Angel?


Christmas ABC

More stitching on the coffee table – my Jingle Table Runner, a Red Brolly design.  Down one end, Santa gathers up the reindeer as they are munching in the meadow, and on the other end, they are hooked up to the sleigh, raring to go and deliver all those parcels.


Jingle Table Runner

Each year I like to display my small collection of James Shore figurines, so pretty.  They are alongside Santa who is sitting at the sewing machine stitching his Santa Hat.  These delights were all gifts sent over the years from my quilting pen-friend Carol of South Dakota.


Treasured gifts

There are a few other things dotted about inside, so everything looks nice and festive.  I just have the family gifts to wrap and then I’m all finished.  Christmas Day will be an easy one this year, we are dining out with friends, for a change.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Colourpoint Cats–finished

I’m so excited, this is my first RSC finish for 2020, and I’m so pleased with it.  Each month I diligently stitched a cat block in the nominated colour, and after nine blocks, assembled them.   My Colourpoint Cats quilt top was delivered to “Razzle Dazzle Quilter” Linda Bishop of Taupo, and she did a wonderful job for me.  Then I stitched the blue striped binding on, added a hanging sleeve, and laid it in the floor for a photo.  Guess who came to see what all the fuss was about, Gemma of course.  Any quilt on the floor is put there just for her, she thinks.


Gemma checking out these cats

Of course, it looks so much nicer hanging on the wall, don’t you think.  And the light catches that glorious quilting.  My own machine quilting is very basic, so I’m thrilled with what Linda did for me.



Colourpoint Cats

Just in case you are wondering, the pattern, Sawtooth Cats, by Janet Miller, was a gift from my penfriend Gail who lives in Canada.  I liked the design but it seemed rather complicated to me.  Then when I joined the Rainbow Scrap Challenge I decided I could stitch one cat block a month, so it was much more achievable.  And omitting the sawtooth border kept it simple for me.


So that’s one RSC project completed, with several more to go.  Wonder which one will get chosen next?  You will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Sew Wots Christmas

Invitations and outings come thick and fast in the lead up to Christmas, and sadly due to another commitment I could not attend the Sew Wots Christmas Lunch this time.  As usual, we were each given a challenge to make for one of our group and this year it was a pair of matching placemats.  I duly dropped my parcel off to Moira who took it along to the lunch for me.  My recipient was Heather, and I had stitched two Christmas placemats for her, bursting with Christmas poinsettias. 


Made for Heather

Sandra was allocated my name and called around this morning with my parcel.  And inside, were two beautiful place mats, thanks so much.  Oh look, Gemma has done some photo bombing – she is such a show off!



So pretty

And by the magic of the internet, Sandra sent a photo of the Sew Wot lunch, with the ladies proudly displaying their lovely placemat gifts.  Such a shame I couldn't attend this time.

sew wots xmas 2

Wish I was there too

Our Sew Wot group usually has a break now during the holiday season  and will resume in early February.  I’m sure there will plenty of show and tell after all this time when we get together again.  Wishing all my Sew Wot friends a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Family Time

After a horror trip over the Napier-Taupo Road on Tuesday we were pleased to arrive at our destination.  It may well have been the first day of summer, but the weather gods weren’t listening.  Strong winds, rain, swirling clouds and low temperatures combined with 150kms or so of hilly roads made for a rather trying trip.  We are staying at the Hawkes Bay Golf Club for several nights, and we were made very welcome when we went to pay our fees.  In fact we were advised that the club restaurant is open on the next few nights when twilight golf is in session and we would be welcome to dine there as well.  We just might have to try it out before we leave.


Well manicured golf links

A visit to see my elder sister Kathleen was top of the list.  She is facing an operation just prior to Christmas so I certainly wanted to catch up with her.  Kathleen is in good spirits and “just wants in over and done” as she says.  People say that we are looking more and more alike as we are getting older, and I have to admit that is true.  Can you see the purple bruise still on my left jaw?  At least the swelling has subsided.


Jenny and Kathleen

Imagine my delight when I found some gorgeous freshly picked cherries for sale on a road side stall when w were driving back to camp.  Of course I had to buy some, and lovely juicy peaches as well.  Robin doesn’t really care for cherries, as I do, so I guess I’ll just have to eat them all myself!  Don’t you just love summer fruit, and this area is known as the “Fruit Bowl of New Zealand”.


I love cherries!

In the evening we met up with my niece Lisa and her two children for a catch-up and evening meal at Breakers, a casual family style restaurant chain.   Plenty of burgers on the menu, but not really my food of choice,  so I decided on fish, and Robin enjoyed his lamb shank.



Niece Lisa, Adam, Kate, Jenny and Robin

In the evening the sky turned a glorious shade – such a wonderful sunset.  A wonderful finish to a great day.


Such a pretty sight