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

Friday, December 31, 2021

More on the not so secret socks

Those three pair of 4ply secret socks for Christmas took me ages to knit, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times.  Bur it was all worth it to receive this snap chat message today, from grand-daughter Emma.  So sweet!


From Emma

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Moving on to Napier

Saying goodbye to the family in Kiwitea we drove up and over the Saddle Road, where the huge windmills on Te Apiti Windfarm kept me mesmerized as the blades turned slowly round.  Hopefully Robin wasn’t watching them too, as he needed to keep his eyes firmly on the hilly road as he drove around all those corners.


Driving over the Saddle Road

We arrived at Eriksen Road NZMCZ Park in Napier in the early afternoon, a little hot and bothered, and ready to choose a site, set ourselves up, and have a late lunch.  No wonder we were hot, the afternoon temperature was 30 degrees C.   The park was a little empty when we arrived, but plenty more camper vans  and caravans have been arriving each day. 


We are staying here for several days

Poor Gemma was rather hot too, and after a cool drink, slept the rest of the afternoon away. 


It’s a hot day for pussy cats

It was a lovely balmy evening, and a joy to sit outside, watching the sky change colour, and we heard the roar of the stockcar races from nearby Meeanee Speedway.  This is the life while camping, enjoying some R&R.


Sunset in Napier

The main purpose of coming here to Hawkes Bay, as well as for the usually hot and sunny weather, was to catch up with my sister’s family.  Sadly, Kathleen passed away four months ago, and due to Covid restrictions, we hadn’t seen anyone on this side of the family for some time.  We met up with BIL Dennis, my niece Lisa and her adult children for lunch on Wednesday at the Station Bar and Grill in Napier.  The meals were great, and there was plenty of news to catch up on, it was so nice to see them again.


Dennis,Lisa, Adam and Kate.   Jenny, Lisa and Robin

I wanted to visit Skeinz Wool Store while we were in Napier.  I’m on their newsletter mailing list but had not had the opportunity to visit the shop before.  “I’m just going to have a quick look”, I told Robin, “I probably won’t be buying anything”.  Well I didn't buy much, just two mall balls of sock yarn, and they were at half price too!


A visit to Skeinz and a small purchase

I don’t think Gemma really cares about my shopping, but she doesn’t mind playing with some wool if she can get away with it.  What she really did like was inspecting the paper bag which my purchase came it, that was fun, she decided.


Where’s Gemma hiding?

Guess I don’t really need any more sock yarn, as I have these two pair on the go.  But it doesn't go astray, does it, and at half price it certainly was a bargain.


More sock knitting on the go

You may remember that we received three interesting gift bags from the family on Christmas morning?  Full of interesting goodies, mostly food related.  My daughter Nicky made me a bottle of elderflower cordial, and a jar of dukkah, which will be coming home with us unopened.  And joy of joys, some delicious home made  Russian fudge.  After holding out for several days, I finally gave in, and we’ve started nibbling on the fudge, just a few each day, to make it last.  I sent a text to Nicky and told her I’d finally opened her jar of fudge, and the answer was “What took you so long!”


Tastes divine

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Family Christmas


Our Christmas was spent in rural Kiwitea, just north of Feilding, at my daughter and her family’s smallholding.  We were staying in our caravan, tucked around behind the house.  Just through the trees was the chicken run, and we could hear the chooks cluck clucking away.   I went with Nicky into the chook run to feed them some scraps and see how they were getting on.


Daughter Nicky with one of her hens

Grand-daughter Emma welcomed us with a pre-Christmas gift, home baked Christmas fruit mince pies and shortbread, such a lovely surprise.


Pre-Christmas gift from Emma

Emma loves Christmas so knocked on the caravan door door  bright and early on Christmas morning.  This family always have a Christmas tradition of hot croissants with ham and cheese for breakfast,  delicious indeed, so much so that we have borrowed their tradition when we have Christmas on our own.  Then came the presents, and what a stack there were.


Presents galore

I’m pleased to say that the hand knitted secret socks were well received.  Grand-daughter Megan had asked it I could knit her a pair “sometime” so I thought it would be nice to also knit some for Emma and my daughter Nicky as well.  Emma got the purple ones, Megan got the yellow, pink and blue ones, and daughter Nicky got the navy ones, all knitted with   Zauberball 4ply sock yarn.


Socks for the girls for Christmas


And this is what was waiting for us under the tree

Christmas lunch was a feast of BBQ chicken, glazed ham, salads, yummy desserts and a glass or two of bubbly, eaten picnic style outside under the shade of the gazebo.  We were fit to bursting and I must admit to a nana nap in the afternoon. 


Megan glazed the ham

The family dog Noodle kept us entertained as he demolished his Christmas piggy toy.  He gets one every year and when he heard the squeak inside his wrapped parcel, he could hardly contain himself.  There wasn't much left of piggy by the end of the day.


Noodle and his Christmas pig

Poor Gemma was traumatized by the household cats.  The older cat PK (Psycho Killer) had gone missing for several months and only just returned home.  Meanwhile, the family had just acquired a young kitten, so both of the felines were rather put out with each other.  And then, we arrived with Gemma in the caravan, so there was a bit of hissing going on and Gemma couldn’t cope with this at all. We decided that it would be better for Gemma, and our peace of mind, if we kept Gemma in the caravan, away from the other two cats.


PK is waiting outside the caravan door

The weather has been lovely and warm, and I’ve sent some time under the gazebo doing a little stitching.  This is going to be a set of placemats for the caravan.


Stitching time

We have had a lovely time here in Kiwitea, the girl’s boyfriends have been staying so we got to knw them a bit better.  And several neighbors have popped in, and stayed for a meal.  One of them was relating how she had two sows almost ready to farrow, this was a first for her so it was rather exciting.  Such is life in the country.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Last minute things to do

Christmas is coming fast, and there are last minute things to tick off the list as we are packing the caravan.  I’ve wrapped the family presents, including those three pair of secret socks which took me ages to knit.  We are taking our (half) Christmas ham away with us but where was the ham bag?  A rummage through the linen cupboard, and there it was, tucked away at the back.  There's just a little Christmas baking to do, I’m making my very rich Chocolate Cherry Slice to take away with us.  This was almost a non event as glace cherries were nowhere to be found!  Luckily just a few days ago they reappeared in the supermarket, so I quickly grabbed two packets for my recipe – which actually says one packet but using two makes it so much nicer, I think.  This has a layer of chocolate on the base, cherry and coconut mixture on top, and is so delicious!  Just out of the oven and smelling so good, it will look more pretty when cut and arranged nicely on a plate, and in the meantime it will be stored in the fridge.


Chocolate Cherry Slice

We always seem to have a lot of extra food for Christmas, don’t we.  There’s Christmas Cake and Fruit Mince pies to pack away, not forgetting those bottles of bubbly.  This year we are spending several days with my daughter and her family, and I have food to prepare for the big day, which I will get ready on Christmas Eve.  Its been a while since we had a family Christmas, so its sure to be fun, if not a little noisy!

Goodness knows what’s happening to our Summer weather, it’s  been dull and windy lately, with a few showers thrown into the mix for good measure.  2021 has been quite a year, hasn’t it.  Keep well, that nasty Covid is still lurking around.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas, and safe travels for those who will be on the road over the holiday season.   Hopefully we can all take a little time out from the hectic season to sit and relax with our hand work for an hour or two.  I’ve packed my stitcheries and knitting bag, so hope to get a little time to work on these projects.  If not, never mind, I’ll still be having a great time catching up with everyone.


My Jim Shore snow people, many thanks to Carol of SD

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Something for Gemma

I've finally finished stitching a couple of cat mats for Gemma.  As you know, she comes traveling in the caravan with us, and she uses a litter box for toileting.  The box is kept in our shower cubicle and I had a piece of matting underneath to stop it slipping and scratching the lino while we travel.  Not good enough, I reckoned, so thought what I could do to make something that looked nicer.  Quilters always have heaps of fabric tucked away and I had several cat fat quarters, just the thing.  I decided to back the mats with toweling.  Oh dear, what a mess that made, little bits of cut  towel fluff went everywhere! But here they are, finished at last, just in time for our next trip away.


Toweling backed mats for under the litter box

So what dos Gemma think of this?  Not much it seems, she doesn't seem to have particular views on caravan décor.  As long as she is well fed and comfy, she is happy.


Gemma on top of her tower

Sunday, December 19, 2021

More Slow Starts

As I’ve finished my secret socks in good time for Christmas, its time to start knitting again.  So I’ve cast on two more pair.   One pair in burgundy using the wonderful Zauberball wool, and the blue pair will be frankinsocks, using up the blue sock yarn from a previous pair, with a darker yarn blue added to make them stripey.   At the starting stage, like this,  these socks are great to knit while we are on car journeys, towing our caravan behind us.  I'm not in any hurry for these to be completed, so I can just take my time with them. 


More slow sock knitting

I’ve been thinking ahead on my stitchery projects to take away on holiday too.  Although I have two tea towels I’m stitching for the grand-daughters, it might be best to have something else ready to stitch as well.  So I prepared two more camping themed stitcheries, and these will be made into placemats for our caravan table.  The design is a little hard to see, and it says “I love camping”.  I really enjoy sitting outside under our awning  in the fresh air doing some hand work on a sunny afternoon, or the early evening. 


Planning ahead with slow stitching

Many thanks to Kathy who hosts the Slow Sunday Stitching linkup each week.  And thanks also to all the ladies who share their slow stitching adventures each week.  Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

RSC - Getting there slowly

With the busy lead up to Christmas, I haven't had much spare time to work on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, and I felt like I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms.  Sometimes, you just want to get on with it.  Finally today, I sat with my boat donation quilt in the afternoon, knotted off my horizontal quilting rows and buried the ends.  That took ages, but I prefer to do this rather than make knots by machine.


Working on the bot quilt again

Next step is to machine quilt in the borders, but I don't think this will happen before Christmas.  But, I have prepared the stripey binding, so that's all ready to be applied as soon as the quilting is completed.


Something I prepared earlier

Its been such fun making these little boats throughout the year, all done with 2 1/2 inch strips and flip and sew corners.  I experimented with the first one, and it came together quite easily, so it became one of my RSC blocks for 2021.  As time went on I also added a few applique blocks for interest, a few whales and dolphins and South Sea islands to sprinkle among the boats. 


Colourful boats and a tropical island

Although I have several RSC projects to complete for 2021, and horrors, I'm sure there is also one or two from the previous year, I cant help thinking about what blocks I want to make for 2022.  I was lucky to be given a bag full of pretty butterfly fabrics, so I want to make a butterfly donation quilt for a girl. Although I’m sure one quilt will hardly make a dent in the bag – maybe there will be several butterfly quilts to make over the next year or so. And perhaps for a boy, a chance to use up some small pieces of plaids and tartans I have tucked away and make a scotty dog quilt.  I know many RSC ladies are also making plans for next year too.  Many thanks to Angela for hosting the link-up and giving us inspiration throughout the year, I certainly appreciate the time she puts into this, and love to see what everyone else is stitching too.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Busy as a Bee

Although there has not been any quilty type stitching going on here, I’ve been busy with alterations.  Fixing a neckline or four here, and run in a couple of pair of summer trousers.  In fact, I rather feel like Father Christmas does as he sits and mends his Santa hat!  Isn't he cute?  Santa was a gift from Carol of South Dakota several years ago.


HE’s finishing off his mending too

In the absence of any projects, I thought I’d show you a Christmas quilt or two, which I have hanging up.  “Selvedge Christmas Tree” was an idea of mine, and was made in 2010.


Selvedge Christmas Tree

And hanging above the sofa is “All the Love of Christmas” a Bronwyn Hayes design and made in 2007.  I had to make some changes as the pattern had people around the four sides in the centre, and there was no way I could stitch people hanging sideways on my quilt, so I replaced them with trees.


All the love of Christmas

Gemma has been getting into the Christmas spirit, and I saw her laying on the carpet in front of the Santa trio.  I made the two at the back with bobbles on their hats.  Gemma wasn't there too long, as she must have moved and the front Santa fell on top of her, and gave her quite a fright.  Naughty Santa!


Gemma and the Santas

I’ve started a sewing project for Gemma, something I’ve had in mind for a while, so hopefully it will get completed in a day or so.  And I’m having withdrawal symptoms for my myriad of quilting projects on the go, but realistically don't expect to get them done just yet.  We are just about up to date for Christmas, just a couple more items to get early next week, wrap up the family gifts and we will be good to go.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Christmas Caravan Rally

We had beautiful warm weather for our caravan club Christmas Rally, for the most part, anyway.  As often happens, the heavens opened and the rain came down on our last day.  But never mind, it didn't dampen the Christmas spirit.  Our caravan was decorated with the Christmas Cushions, and Santa Bear was perched on the corner of the sofa.


Christmas Cushions and Santa Bear

I found my Christmas Coins tablecloth, safely tucked away, and this was inspired by Jocelyn of https://canadianneedlenana.blogspot.com/   I made this when I saw something similar on her blog some time ago, using small Christmas strips and scraps.  Originally this started as a leader and ender project, as I often do, just sewing strips together while I was working on something else. 


Christmas Coins tablecloth

Our last rally of the year was held at Rangiotu School.  The first school was built here in 1896 on 2 acres of land gifted by Enereta te Rangiotu. In 1996 the school, with a role of 24 pupils and four classrooms, was closed by the Government, along with a number of others through out New Zealand. The school and the land was then  passed back into Rangitāne ownership, and  now used for seminars, conferences and the like, and is also available for clubs like us to use from time to time.


Staying at Rangiotu School for the weekend

Although Father Christmas didn't come to visit, and no gifts were exchanged, we still had a great time.  We all gathered under the nice shady trees for morning teas and 4zees, and we had the use of a small hall for the evenings.  It was a bit of a squeeze, but we all managed to sit around the table  to eat our meal together on Saturday evening.  Some had been busy barbequing, others cooked in their vans, or brought cold salads over for their meal. The tables were decorated, bottles of bubbly were popped, glasses raised, and we wished each other well. Dessert was provided by the club, lovely locally grown strawberries and ice-cream, to finish off our meal.


Dinner time

Gemma seemed to enjoy her time away too.  She was keen to get outside and explore, so we took her safely under control on her harness and lead – we don’t let her run loose, while camping, both dogs and cats must be tethered and under control.   While we were sitting down outside with the others under the shady tree, she was investigating what she could find in the undergrowth, then settled down for a snooze.  Of course, she is very fond on relaxing in the caravan as well and makes herself comfortable on the bed or the sofa.


Afternoon nap time

The rain came down overnight, so we packed up in the rain on Sunday morning.  But not before we had our final morning tea, with delicious Christmas Mince Pies courtesy of the club.  Goodness me, we seem to have been eating all weekend and it was great to catch up with our caravan friends before we all head off in different directions over the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Helping with the Mending and Silly Season

You may remember that my wedding ring has slipped off my finger a couple of times recently.  Another consequence of loosing a little weight is that items don't fit quite as well as they used to.  Especially around the neck line, and I cant stand it when a top slips off my shoulder.  So rather than getting rid of my favourites and buying new summer tops, I’ve been making a few adjustments.  Gemma has been helping, as she likes to do, keeping the clothing in check on my  sewing cabinet till I’m ready to take in an inch or so on the shoulder line.  She’s such a big help and takes her duties very seriously.


Gemma likes to help

The “Silly Season” is in full swing and we have end of year outings for various groups lined up for the next couple of weeks.  Last Saturday our monthly ladies lunch group invited the men to join us for a Christmas get-together, down at the Cossie Club.  The main courses were very tasty indeed, I chose fish and Robin had steak.  Plus we enjoyed a small bottle of bubbles each.


Dessert was described as a selection so we weren’t very sure what we would get.  As it turned out, it was most impressive, lots of individual desserts all carried out on a big mirrored tray.  There was crème caramel, chocolate mousse, fruit salad, brandy snaps, Christmas mince pies, Christmas pudding  and no doubt other dainties I’ve forgotten to mention.  Plenty for everyone and as they were small servings we got to try several different desserts


Very nicely presented

Then today we attended our Probus meeting, which was followed by a meal to celebrate Christmas.  Once again, all very tasty, with hot ham and chicken plus veggies for the main course, and I certainly enjoyed my dessert of Christmas Pudding with caramel sauce.  Here’s a photo of me with Dot, a special day for her it was her birthday.


Happy Birthday Dot

So what else is happening?  We have a lunch tomorrow with our SLG friends, we meant once a month, and it is my turn to organise our December outing.  Everyone is calling here to our home for morning tea and a catch up, and then we will go out for lunch.  During the weekend we will be attending our Christmas Rally with the caravan club, so it's certainly all go.  You need to have stamina to keep up with the Silly Season, I feel.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Too warm for wooly Socks

Its Summer now here in  New Zealand, so too warm to wear the 12 ply wooly socks I’ve just completed.  But never mind, I’ll put them away in my sock drawer, and enjoy wearing them when Winter  rolls around again next year.  Last time I showed them I was just past the heels.


With a little more time spent knitting the feet, and grafting the toes, (doesn’t that sound like I know what I’m doing?) they were finally finished, and the side seam stitched up.  Now they look like this.  I rather like the colour, lavender blue with a few flecks of black and white here and there.


My newest socks, all ready for winter next year

However, I was not happy with the previous pair of socks I had completed, in a darker shade of blue.  The toes were about an inch and a half too long, and I felt this really mattered in such a thick pair of socks.  So I cut the toe seams apart with scissors, and unpicked the seams about 8in or so.  This wasn’t at all easy as I obviously had done such a good job stitching the seam but I persevered slowly.  Then I unraveled the toes  plus the extra rows to shorten the foot, picked up the stitches, and reknitted the toe shaping.  Stitched up the seam, and voila, they fit perfectly now.  I'm so happy I persevered with the alterations as I wasn't happy with the socks the way they were.


Fitting much better now

I love hand knitted wool socks, as I really suffer from cold feet in the winter.  Yes, I know they are rather plain, and are knitted on two needles with a side seam, but that’s not a big deal to me, warm and cozy is what I’m after.  After years of wanting to knit socks, now I can!