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

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Elephants and Socks

I've been slow stitching on my pair of elephants  for my Noah’s Ark stitchery project.  Such magnificent animals indeed.  Now this block is completed, I only have one more block  to do, so that’s exciting.


Elephants, walking two by two

Goodness knows how I’ve come to be working on three pair of socks at the same time!  This is all secret knitting for gifts so I’ll have to keep knitting away.  Guess all this knitting cuts into my hand stitching time, but never mind, variety is the spice of life, so they say.  As a quilter, I’ve always had multiple projects on the go, so I guess it’s not so different with knitting projects.  I like to  tell myself, I’ll get there in the end!


Three pair of socks in various stages

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Red Blocks and Bags

Some more red RSC stitching has taken place this week.  I stitched up some Horizon blocks in black/grey backgrounds using splashes of red.  These blocks will be eventually made up into an older boy’s donation quilt.  I do like the visual impact these simple little blocks have.  And as an idea for next years RSC, this design would no doubt look lovely using up some of my cream base ditsy florals as the background, with brights for the colour accent.


This months Horizon blocks

I've also made some draw string bags to be donated to  the Foster Hope charity for kids in care, they  use these bags for toiletries or pens and pencils.  I stitched up three using a small nurses panel I bought while tripping around the South Island earlier in the year.  This small offcut cost me the grand sum of $1 and featured six different nurses heads.  Much too small to make something quilty with, so I used two of the prints on both sides of each bag, adding grey and red.  The extra bag used up the last piece of the red and white diamond print fabric I had hanging about,  so it was great to use that up too.


Draw string bags for Foster Hope charity

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Caravan, Show and Tell, and the Marines

We’ve just enjoyed a three day weekend away with our caravan buddies at Paekakariki Holiday Park.  Robin and I were the rally family, so had been working on a couple of ideas to keep our caravan buddies entertained for the weekend. Friday was a public holiday celebrating  Matariki which is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in midwinter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Matariki is a time to reflect on the past and those who have passed on, to celebrate the present with our friends and family and kai (food), and to look ahead and plan for the future.


We camped here for the weekend

On on first night in camp we met in the kitchen after dinner, all gathered around the long table.  Everyone had been asked to bring along a can of soup wrapped in newspaper, and we asked our club members to share about any future trips they were planning, caravan or otherwise,  as they selected one of the mystery soup cans to take back to their van.


Get your mystery can of soup here

Friday night was a Talent Night – members had been asked to talk about their hobbies, what they make with their hands, and bring some examples to show.  I wasn't sure how this idea would be received, but we were thrilled with the enthusiastic response.  We all knew Sue was an artist and she spoke about how a friend got her started in painting ten years ago.  She prefers to paint in oils but sometimes uses acrylic on the base and oils for the subject.  Sue showed us several examples of her lovely paintings, still life, birds, and portraits.  She is very talented indeed, and two of our members have already commissioned her work.


Sue with her paintings

Helen likes trying new things, she told us, as diverse as glass blowing, flax weaving, mosaics, painting bottles and cross stitch.  Knitting is still very much part of her life and she enjoys baby knitting and making socks.


Helen with her socks

Dot was up next to talk about her hobby of card making.  It all started when she moved to Levin and attended card making classes with her new neighbours. She told us about embossing, and upcycling used cards to make interesting new creations.  She really enjoys her hobby and often donates a collection of cards to the Op Shop to sell for their funds.


Dot enjoys making cards

I took along a selection of children’s quilts to talk about.  Some had embroidery, one was a panel, others were pieced, and all had been made in anticipation of the arrival of great grand children in the future.  The horse panel quilt, made because my two granddaughters are keen horse women, was voted the favourite of them all.  As I told everyone, this was the most simple one on display.  Just a panel, and borders, but I think it took top vote because it was so graphic.


Holding up my horse panel quilt

Several of the men spoke too, and showed us examples of wood turning, matchstick models, and one of the men brought along samples of his bread making for us to sample, that was rather tasty.  Rebuilding a car, working with the Amateur Emergency Radio Service, and e-biking both in New Zealand and overseas were other manly topics.  We certainly have a great bunch of talented people in our club.

Paekakariki Holiday Park is part of Queen Elizabeth Park, which has a connection with the American Marines.   In 1941 Japanese forces attacked Hawaii and the concern was that they would continue moving south.  To keep our country safe the government agreed to New Zealand becoming an American staging base, and camps had to be built immediately for the expected troops.   Camp Paekakariki, next door to the present day motor camp became an instant camp and housed over 5,000 Marines.  There were three main camps, all situated in or adjacent to present-day Queen Elizabeth Park. Camp Russell housed the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Camp Mackay housed the 6th Infantry Regiment, and camp Paekakariki housed the 8th Regiment. At one stage there were over 20,000 Americans stationed in the region.  The camps went up in a record six weeks, bringing monumental social change to the whole Wellington region.

The camps were used for training purposes as well as rest and recreation for those returning from the Pacific combat zone. The steep surrounding hills proved suitable terrain for marching and mortar practice, and the beaches were used to stage amphibian invasions.


Telling the story of the military camps

We had a great weekend away, fine weather but rather cold as to be expected in winter.  I did a little sock knitting, every row helps, doesn't it.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

New Socks for Winter

This pair took a while to finish, as all my knitting does, but here they are at last, in time for winter.  I knit my socks on two needles and have finally finished stitching the side seams up.  I laid the socks on the floor to take a picture, and Gemma thought they were put there for her to inspect and give the seal of approval.


These thick triple knit socks were knitted using 8ply white hand spun wool, a birthday gift last year from my friend Merilyn, together with left over 4ply burgundy Zauberball  sock yarn.  This is my first time knitting with hand spun wool, and I’m really pleased with how they turned out.


My new socks

Robin and I had a movie date on Friday.  We don't go to the movies very often, but when there is a film we particularly want to see, we certainly make an effort.  Films don't seem to remain too long at out local cinema and we have missed some we really wanted to see by not acting quickly enough.  So we  drove down to Focal Point Cinema to attend the 5.00pm session.


Our local cinema

And look who we bumped in to.  My younger sister Karla and her partner Murray.  They were having a coffee and snack before going to visit some friends.  We had plenty of time before our session started, so joined them for a coffee and a good catch up while we were waiting.


Jenny, Murray and Karla

The film we were going to see was Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.  “Daredevil archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary dial that can change the course of history. Accompanied by his goddaughter, he soon finds himself squaring off against Jürgen Voller, a former Nazi who works for NASA”.  Indiana Jones is the first to admit that he is not as young as he used to be, with the passing years giving him aching joints and slight memory loss!  It was a rollickingly great yarn, with plenty of action scenes, and an unexpected story line.  Indie fans will love it!


Saturday, July 8, 2023

Moving on to Red Stitching

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for July is red, so that’s what I have been stitching up this last week.  I’m making two projects with the cute little bricks blocks this year, one in the original setting, and then I wanted to try a zig zag setting as well.  The zig zag blocks are being constructed in rows, and the original blocks will have colours sprinkled throughout the quilt.  These little blocks are quick and easy to stitch, and I know several others taking part in RSC are stitching some up too.


Little Bricks

What next?  How about some Happy Blocks, such a cute name.  I stitched up some for a boy and some for a girl, using red squares, or maybe those with a touch of red, whatever I felt suited.  What’s hiding in here – knights in shining armour, alien bugs, black cats, airplanes and circus animals in the boys blocks.  And gardens, flowers, puppies, red houses and Minnie Mouse in the girls selection.  I have plenty of 5in squares so will continue with these blocks next year.


Happy Blocks in red

That’s all my red stitching so far, but there is sure to be more next week.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Sew Wot Tuesday

The next Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again, and it was my turn this fortnight.  You know what that means, I had to make sure I was up bright and early, flick the duster around, vacuum the cat hair away, and make sure I had the morning tea all organized.  One of our ladies was collecting her granddaughter for a school holiday visit, but the others all made it here.  It was a chilly morning, so the heat pump was working well, keeping us warm and cozy.

Of course there was show and tell.  Mary is rather a whizz doing crochet, and was part way through a new blanket she is making.  She is so fast, just sits and quietly crochets away, and before you know it, another block is completed.


Mary’s new blanket

The colder weather obviously brought the knitting needles out, and there was lots of knitting to admire.  Sandra had finished a pretty little baby jumper and another lovely basket weave baby blanket, both for donation.  She has knitted several blankets in this pattern, it’s a great design. 



Made by Sandra

Heather has been busy too, knitting for grandchildren.  First was a nice warm vest for her little grandson, and then she made a pretty little hat for her granddaughter.  The hat goes with the fair isle jumper she finished recently.  I’m sure these woolies will be much appreciated, keeping the children nice and cozy.



Heather as been knitting for grandies

But that’s not all – Heather has taken up spinning again after quite a break.  She proudly showed us the first skein she has completed.


Isn't she clever!

I had some show and tell as well.  My purple clam shell top is finally finished, what a job that has been.  I vowed and declared that I would never make another one,  and perhaps someone might like my clam shell template?  Heather was delighted to take it off my hands, and I was delighted to see the back of it!


My clam shell top

Morning tea was served and eaten before  I thought to take a photo, but never mind, it went down well.  We sat and chatted away, with Jude, Heather and me knitting socks, while Mary continued with her crochet.  Helen had forgotten to pack her knitting, so Sandra passed over another baby blanket to her to keep her occupied.  Sandra was working on a jumper for one of her clients who had given up on the project, how kind of Sandra to do that for her.


All busy together

It’s always so nice to have these get togethers, and a real privilege to be the hostess when our turn rolls around again.  Thanks for coming, ladies.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Out and About

We've been away on a caravan trip for the last week or so.  Our destination was Cambridge, and we had a nice leisurely time getting there.  The first stop was the Gumtree Motorhome Park at Taihape.     Checking out the sign, I wondered what the overseas visitors would think, there are no koalas in New Zealand.  Although there were plenty of gum trees in the park.


Gemma travels quite well in the car, but I suspect she just puts up with it.  But once we get to our destination, she bounds into the caravan, jumps up on the bed, and relaxes.  She heard some magpies calling and was keen to check them out through the caravan windows.


Those are very big birds, Mum

Then we moved on to Taupo for two nights.  The iconic Love Taupo sign was still there, but not so easy to get to with the road changes and no parking available in front of the sign these days.  Tourists love taking their photos in front of this sign, so I was lucky to snap it with no one in front as we drove slowly by.


Love Taupo sign on the lake side

I had read about the award winning new Taupo Airport building, so we went inside to have a coffee and check it out.  The interior of the building reflects the local area.  Huge rimu logs salvaged from Pureroa Forest are a feature, as is the mauri stone that came from Tauhara Quarry.  Giant photos of majestic scenery adorn the walls.  It is certainly very well done.


Inside Taupo Airport building

The following day we pulled into the Cambridge Race Course, to meet up with the International Caravan Club (ICA) group for our four day rally.  This group come from different parts of the North Island and only have 3-4 rallies each year.  It was great to catch up with them all again.  Most of this group have motor-homes, we are one of two caravans attending.  Once settled, we joined the others in the large circle out in the wintry sunshine. 


Meeting up in Cambridge

The following morning we all headed off to the Muscle Car Garage, and the petrol heads in the group were in seventh heaven.  Inside the museum was a multitude of bright shiny cars and motorbikes.  Racing cars and street cars galore - where to start looking, there was so much on display.  The walls and ceilings were decorated with posters, and there was an assortment of car related items dotted around.


Such a lot on display

I’d had enough of being on my feet by this stage so went back to the main hall to sit down.  Robin joined me on the shiny sofa by the 60s style Milk Bar, just a pity it wasn't open and serving milk shakes.  There were plenty of photos of rock bands on the wall which I recognized.


Ready to sit down

The final evening at our rally was the celebration “0 and  5” dinner, all about sharing with those of our members who are celebrating big birthdays and anniversaries during the year, ending in an 0 or 5.  After our meal the names were called out.  Birthdays first, up they came to be handed a gorgeous hand made card.  Anniversaries were next, and we were called up, along with others, as we are celebrating our 40th anniversary later this year.  Of course there was a cake to share as well.


The anniversary couples


Our beautiful hand made keepsake

The rain had set in overnight, and the next morning the ground was sodden.  Everyone was packing up to leave but some of the large motor homes had a little trouble and needed help to get off the wet slushy grass.  No problem, Robin was happy to help again. With the strop in place, it was a matter of gently, gently, and the motor home was pulled off the grass and onto the shingle.  It was lucky that we had a car and could help.


Robin pulling the motor-home off the grass

The weather conditions were checked the following morning, a winter storm was travelling up the country, with cold temperatures, wind, rain and snow  forecast.  That was a worry, but we would just take it easy and drive carefully.   We saw several groups of snow ploughs parked up on the Desert Road, ready and waiting for the snow to fall.  That’s not something we ever see down where we live.


Waiting to clear the snow fall

The snow did fall as we drove along, falling  soft and sludgy on the windscreen.  And the temperature dropped lower and lower, right down to –1C.  Goodness me, that’s rather cold for us.  There was no chance of getting a glimpse of Mt Ruapehu in these conditions with the clouds so low.

Once past Waiouru the temps started to slowly rise and we left the low clouds, rain and sleet  behind us.  We decided to stop at Flat Hills for lunch, but a bus load of passengers beat us to the lunch counter, so we tagged onto the end of the queue.  This is just one of three buses which stop here each day for lunch, we were told, which must make such a difference to the turnover, I imagine.  As it was such a chilly day I was so pleased to see soup on the menu.  So it was pumpkin soup for me, a steak and cheese pie for him, a nice hot coffee each, and we shared a piece of carrot cake.


Sitting by the fire at the café for lunch

A couple of hours later we were pulling into our village.  I don’t know how Gemma always knows when she is almost home, but she does.  The caravan was unpacked and put away in its parking area, the first load of laundry was put on, and we sat and had a cuppa.  It was good to arrive home safe and sound, and luckily the expected bad weather did not arrive during our trip.