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

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Sew Wot Tuesday and Tommy Tornado

Tuesday morning was time to meet up with the Sew Wot ladies again.  Sandra was our hostess, and it was so nice to see Mary again, who hadn't been able to attend for a while. It was rather a chilly morning and Sandra soon had the fire lit and crackling away to keep the room warm.

Carol is very prolific at making knitted toys and had Tommy Tornado to show us – Tommy was born after a very scary incident which took place in our hometown early on Friday morning.  Believe it or not, Levin was hit by a small tornado at 6.30am, it may have been small but it certainly packed a punch, leaving a number of houses without their roof, uprooting trees, tearing down fences, and tossing garden sheds and trampolines all over the place.  Power was lost for most of the day, trees were down, roads were closed, it must have been a terrible day.  Sadly Carol’s home was damaged with smashed windows and missing roof tiles  - what a terrible thing to go through.  After a day from hell, Carol decided what she needed to do was to start knitting to calm her nerves, and Tommy Tornado came into being.

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Carol and Tommy Tornado

Robin and I were away in the caravan, having travelled to Wanganui the previous day so were not home when all this drama was unfolding.  The wind gusts  rocked us to sleep on Thursday night and the sound of shunting engines woke us in the morning.  What shocking news we found out on Friday morning.  A tornado had wrought a trail of damage through our hometown of Levin at 6.30am.  Some streets were closed, and several schools were also closed while they were assessed for damage.  A quick call to friends in our village reassured us that our home and arch-gola had not sustained any damage, but scarily the tornado had come within a few streets of us. Tornados seldom happen here in New Zealand, so it was a complete shock to us all.

Meanwhile, back to our Sew Wot’s morning.  There was more Show and Tell to admire.  Helen had finished her very pretty pink and grey heart quilt with her fabulous free motion quilting.

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Helen’s Heart quilt. 

She had been busy knitting too, and brought along a man's sized pair of socks she had made for her hubby.

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Helen’s socks

Our hostess Sandra had been working on a Mystery Quilt organised by the Kiwi Quilters internet group, and had stitched four rows so far.

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Sandra's row by row quilt

And I had taken along some charity sewing for Foster Hope children, four draw string bags, and three small aprons for little girls.  It’s good to keep using up those pieces of fabric!

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Donations for children in Foster care

There was plenty of hand work going on during the morning, with most of the ladies knitting.  Heather, Carol, Mary, Sandra and new comer Jude were busy clicking away on their knitting needles.  Helen was working on aa tapestry which had been started by her grandson, but now he had lost interest, Nana decided to take it over and get it finished.  And I was doing a stitchery on the front of an apron for myself.  As usual, a delicious morning tea was served, always a very welcome part of our get-togethers.  Many thanks Sandra, for a lovey morning.

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Saturday, May 14, 2022

More Green RSC Sewing

I’ve been working on a couple of more Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects this week.  First up was the four patch blocks, a project started part way through last year, and carried over to 2022.  I stitched two of the bigger blocks in a mixture of dark and light greens, and one more framed block in sagey green.  Need a count up, and I’m hoping I now have enough of the larger blocks to make a child’s quilt.

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Four patch blocks in green

Then I worked on my string pieced blocks, these are always quite satisfying to make, using up small strips and scraps hanging about.  I made a large 12in block in dark greens, and two 9in blocks, one dark green and one in lighter green strips.

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Green string blocks

I have been doing some other stitching this week, but nothing ready to show just yet.  And I’ve still got to make some green tartan scotty dog blocks as well, another RSC project.  So far I’ve traced out the pattern on the visoflix, ready to start cutting, fusing and machine applique.  Next year, I’ve decided, not to have too many RSC projects each month, but I’m sure I told myself that at the beginning of this year!  As always, I really enjoy seeing what everyone else is stitching.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Church, Chocolate Fish and Monsters

During the week we joined 40 or so members of our Probus Club for a Big Day Out in Wellington City.  The alarm clock was set bright and early as we were having an early start.  I’m pleased I decided to take my walker with me as we were to be on our feet for hours, and I didn't know how my back would cope.  I don’t use the walker much at all these days, but for this outing it was worth it’s weight in gold.  It folded up and tucked neatly away in the baggage compartment, so it was no bother taking it al all.

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Our coach awaits

The bus driver maneuvered the large bus around the narrow Wellington streets, and our first stop was a short but rather steep walk up the hill to Antrim House in Boulcott Street, thank goodness for the walker.  Antrim House was built for Robert Hannah (of Hannah’s Shoes fame) for his family back in 1904, and the surrounding area would have been quite different back in those days.  The views down to the sea would have been spectacular with no high rise buildings crowding the view back then.  The interior is a warm glow of polished kauri and totara paneling, and features a lovely kauri staircase.

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Antrim House

Down the hill we walked to our next stop of St Mary’s of the Angels Church, built in the Gothic Revival style, and opened in 1922.  I can vividly remember my previous visit to this Catholic Church.  It was way back in October 1962, the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the world waited with baited breath,  we thought we were on the brink of nuclear war.  A group of my office workmates and I decided to attend a church service here, to pray for peace, I was 17 years old at the time.  Even down here in far away New Zealand, we felt threatened by the unfolding events.   An American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba.   President Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba, to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. He demanded the removal of the missiles already there and the destruction of the sites. On October 22, President Kennedy spoke to the nation about the crisis in a televised address.  What on earth was going to happen?

No one was sure how Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev would respond to the naval blockade and US demands. But the leaders of both superpowers recognized the devastating possibility of a nuclear war and publicly agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would dismantle the weapon sites in exchange for a pledge from the United States not to invade Cuba. In a separate deal, which remained secret for more than twenty-five years, the United States also agreed to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey. Although the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba, they escalated the building of their military arsenal; the missile crisis was over, the arms race was not.  How many can remember living through this troubling time?  The interior of the church is very peaceful, with many beautiful lead light windows.  After looking around, many of us were happy to sit and reflect awhile, after all, the world is still troubled by unrest in many countries and an unjust ongoing  war in Ukraine.

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St Mary of the Angels

The bus was waiting outside for us, we climbed aboard and drove through the city streets.  The conversations were interesting, as people exclaimed of the new buildings erected since their last trip, many years in some cases, replacing the places they knew in earlier years.  We drove around to Shelly Bay to our lunch stop, Chocolate Fish Café.   Our group was ushered into a covered courtyard, the heaters were glowing to keep the chill at bay, and we sat and pondered the menus.  Whitebait fritter sandwich was on the menu and it seemed that this was the most popular choice, with seafood chowder coming a close second.  Whitebait is a real delicacy, and can be rather pricey, so how often do we have it?  No wonder it was so popular – however Robin bucked the trend and went with a steak sandwich.  After our meals were cleared away, the staff returned with little dishes of chocolate fishes for us to enjoy, that was an unexpected touch, and very welcome.

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Robin with Bruce and Julie, our neighbours from the village

The highlight of the day was our 90 minute tour of Weta Workshops, of Lord of the Rings fame, both of us had been wanting to come here for ages.  Kevin, our very enthusiastic host, took us around the display rooms, explaining how the film props were made going through many stages  from conception to the finished products.  And those heads and bodies which the actors wore, turning them into monsters, all these took an awful lot of time to make, and to get in and out of for filming  As Kevin told us, since starting Weta Workshops, technology has come a long way in making these creations. 

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Kevin, our host

Interesting to find out that there is a full time sword maker on staff a required, and his original work of art is used in close ups by the hero and copies are made from this for the crowd scenes.  All very interesting and absorbing, and we were pleased to be able to handle examples of exquisite leatherwork, chain mail, and weapons as they were passed around.  Taking photos was limited to the reception room, and masks were required during our time here.

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There’s a monster behind us!

It certainly was a great day out, we were on the go all day, and pleasantly tired enough on our trip home for many to nod off in the bus.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

RSC - Going for Green

Green is the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for May, both sage and forest green, so let’s see what I found to work with.  I started with my butterfly blocks first, and made a little four patch with a green cross out of my white background/multi coloured butterfly strips of fabric.  I’m starting to run very low on these strips, so may well have to get some creative piecing done next month.  I really want 12 of these little blocks if I can.  Here is my green block at the top with all it’s fluttery little friends.

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Butterfly blocks

You may remember that I have two butterfly projects going, the other one being Puss in the Corner blocks.  But my big bag of gifted fabric didn't have any green butterflies at all.  So this project is on hold till next month.

The boys Happy Blocks yielded several green squares to work with, camping, giraffes, tennis and maps of the world. These simple blocks are fun to do, and as I have quite a few novelty children’s squares I’ll pick a different  theme and make another quilt along these lines next year.

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Boys Happy Blocks

I’ve still got four patch blocks to work on, although, as I said earlier, I’m getting a bit tired of these.  And string pieced blocks to make as well, next week, hopefully.  And I mustn't forget my tartan scotty dogs, I’m sure I have a couple of green tartan pieces in the bag.  That’s it from me this week for RSC sewing.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Autumn Time

I know it’s been Autumn here for a wee while, but I’ve only just got around to changing my wall hangings in the sitting room.  Before we know it Winter will be nipping at our heels and it will be time for a change again.  But in the meantime, here is Autumn – nothing new to see,  but its always nice to ring the changes.

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Autumn quilts out again

You may remember that last time we were up at my daughter’s home, she had handed granddaughter Megan’s quilts to her to look after.  I've just received this snap chat photo from Megan, with such a lovely message.  Its good to know that these early quilts have been loved, and still are appreciated.

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Megan’s first quilt

And at long last I've taken my wedding ring to a jeweler to get resized, after I had a couple of occasions where it slipped right off my finger and went missing.  My goodness, did my heart sink when that happened.  I had been waiting to take a trip into the big city to go to a jeweler there I have used several times, but that didn't happen, so went local instead.  It feels great to have it back on again, I didn't realize how much I used to touch it, till it wasn't there.

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Got my ring on again

Sunday, May 1, 2022

At Last

Finally finished, the stitching on two tea towels, one each for my grand daughters.  I decided to make them for the girls for when they finally get engaged perhaps, and settle down.  Now that Megan has become a home owner with her boyfriend, I think that qualifies, don't you?  The iron on transfer is from  the very clever Stitcher’s Revolution Cute Kitchen Sayings pattern booklet.  I need to add strips of fabric to the top and bottom of each tea towel and have some “kitchen” themed fabric purchased and ready to go.  That’s the next job.

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Hand stitching done, now to finish them off

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Gemma, the photo bomber

Now the tea towel stitching has been completed, I’ve just prepared another stitching project.  This time I’ve done an iron on transfer onto the bib of an apron – this one will be for me.

I’m also working away on my sock knitting for the grand daughters.  But why, I decided, knit one pair when I could be knitting two?  Socks are great projects to take away on car journeys – the straight knitting on the legs and feet.  Not those tricky heels and toes though, I need to sit quietly by myself when working on them, marking off each row in my handy little notebook.

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Socks on the go

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Sew Wot Tuesday

Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again, and it was my turn to be hostess.  I saw a flash of High Vis drive up our path, and thought for a moment it was a special mail delivery.  But no, it was Heather on her scooter.  Robin backed it safely  out of sight behind our front fence for her, just in case.  Not that we thought it would get taken, but better to be safe than sorry while we were all inside chatting away.

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Robin enjoyed trying out the scooter

Sandra brought along some flowers to share from her garden, a bunch of beautiful yellow bronze chrysanthemums.  We divvied them up, and here are mine, thanks so much Sandra.

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Such beautiful flowers

There wasn't a great deal of Show and Tell this time.  Only from Heather, who had brought along two little baby quilts to show us.  One for a boy, and one for a girl, and these are going to extended family members.

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Two baby quilts, made by Heather

There was a bit of knitting going on, myself, Carol and Sandra, and Helen was busy with her EPP project.

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Carol and Sandra

Morning Tea was served, and I had made some yummy toasted Southern Cheese Rolls.  These supposedly originated in the South Island, and every café down there seems to have their own secret recipe for the cheese filling. 

Home time rolled around and Heather had to get dressed for her return journey.  On went the high vis jacket, gloves and a hat.  No, she doesn't have a black leather jacket like the bikers have, she told us, but her jacket does has a cow on the back, which must be just as good!

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Heather is NOT a bikey, she assures us

It was so nice to have the Sew Wot ladies here, there is always plenty to chat about, hand work to do, and enjoy morning tea together.  And it will all happen again in two weeks time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Family and Old Quilts

Sunday is the day Robin makes a cooked breakfast, whether we are at home or away in the caravan, as we are currently.  So he cooked up a storm, little breakfast sausages, eggs and tomatoes, yummy.  And because it was Easter Sunday, in place of our regular Dilmah teabags in a cup, we decided to go all fancy and get the tea pot out, together with our cannister of Russian Caravan Tea.

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Breakfast tea

After breakfast we went to another family lunch, this time to daughter Nicky and her husband Robert’s  rural home.  A big pot of cheese and potato soup was simmering away, and grand-daughter Emma had made a loaf of bread in her new bread maker.  It all smelt and tasted delicious.

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Freshly baked  bread, yummy

I was delighted to see a couple of old quilts – now that Megan has her own home, Nicky told her it was time to look after them herself.  I certainly remembered making these for Megan, and it was nice to see them again.  The first one was a pinwheel quilt with alternate blocks featuring little rabbits in the garden.  This was backed in cozy flannel and made in 1999 when Megan was about 3 or so.

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Bunnies and pinwheels

A few years later the family moved to their current rural property and it was time to stitch Megan a new quilt. What does she like, I asked Nicky, and the reply was that she loves being on the farm.  So I made her quilt, with different blocks featuring life on the farm.  I stitched blocks with Babe the border collie, Dad on his blue tractor, Fanta the cat, their farm house, chickens, and because Megan and her sister were riding horses by this stage, a couple of horses too.  This was also backed in flannel, I like to use this on the back of quilts made for children.

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Life on the farm quilt

Now that my daughter Nicky has a spare bedroom, she has turned it into a sewing room.  With both girls being mad about horses, she had a label on her sewing machine saying “no horse gear”.The girls often like to sew and repair their heavy horse covers, but not on Mum’s sewing machine!  They can use their own machines they were told.

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Girls, take note!

Now she has got back into sewing, Nicky has stitched a pretty embroidered cushion to go on the sofa in her sewing room. 

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Nicky’s velvet cushion

My daughter is also very keen on cooking and is currently making fruit vinegar – how clever is that!  I wouldn't even know where to start.

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Making vinegar

This morning four of us met up for breakfast at their favourite local café.  Us two, Nicky and Megan, the others had returned to work after the Easter break.  We had lovely food, nice hot coffee and it was so nice to have yet another catch up.

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Three generations, Grand daughter Megan, daughter Nicky and me

We had a wonderful Easter break, staying at a “new to us” camp site, and having plenty of family time.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Hello Gracie

Our granddaughter Megan and her boyfriend Michael have recently purchased their first home.  Not only that, they also now have a new corgi puppy, Gracie.  So today we got to see the new house and the new arrival.  I had been busy making a couple of gifts to welcome Gracie into the family.  So what did I make?  A fleece blanket with her name on, and an embroidered pet bag to keep her brush or maybe her toys in.  Plus two plaited pull ropes and some tennis balls, or should that be dog balls, perhaps?  Megan wasn't sure if Gracie likes balls, so we will have to see how that goes.  Seems she is rather fond of squeaky toys instead.

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Pressies for Gracie

We were invited around for lunch, yummy home made chicken soup, so tasty.  Gracie wasn't too sure what to make of the visitors in the house,  so she was having time out in the bedroom, minding her own business.  Such a pretty young dog, although not too sure yet of the grand parents.

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Gracie and Megan

There was a working bee going on outside, all for Gracie’s benefit.  The existing fence was being raised, and gates added, all to keep Gracie safely contained in the yard.  I’m sure this young dog will bring much joy to Megan and Michael’s lives.

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The fencing crew

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Sew Wot Tuesday

Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again, and this time Heather was the hostess with the mostest.  On arrival, I had to relate my tale of being navigationally challenged, and needed the Sat Nav to get me there safely.  I “sort of” know where I’m going, but ……… it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

There were five of us there today, and it was nice to catch up with Carol again, she hadn't been able to attend recently.   So I got to finally give her a rather belated birthday gift, which I’ve had for a while.  Carol had some rather exciting news, with family recently arriving from overseas for a holiday – it was wonderful to see them after our country had been in lockdown to overseas visitors for so long.

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The birthday girl

Carol had a whole lot of knitted toys to show she hadn't been idle all this time.  Dolls with beautifully knitted outfits, and cute little animals too.

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Carol’s knitted toys

Carol had also been busy stitching up some of Zola’s donated fabric and had two lap quilts and a pretty little baby quilt to show us, all to be donated.

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Made by Carol

I had taken along my last pair of socks, previously shown, plus a gift for a family member, so I’ll show that later when it has been presented.

Most of us were busy knitting as we chatted away, except for Helen.  She was glueing down tiny pieces of paper onto fabric for her EPP project.

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Helen, Heather and Sandra, putting the world to rights

We enjoyed a lovely morning tea, as usual, including some Easter Eggs, which we were encouraged to take home.  “Take two”, Heather told me, “Robin would like one as well, I’m sure”.  He certainly would.

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It was so nice to catch up with the Sew Wot ladies again, there is always plenty to chat about.  Heather had some unwanted fabric on the table looking for a good home, so I took several plain pieces, which would work well with my draw string donation bags, I thought.  Thanks so much Heather, it was a lovely morning.