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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Time for a little Stitching

I’ve finally found time to start my holiday stitching, after several days on the road at the beginning of our South Island adventure.  We arrived in Christchurch yesterday, and after this city had experienced two weeks of unbelievably high temperatures in the 30s, yesterday afternoon was wet, wet, wet.  Just as well, as the region is very dry indeed.  So what better to while away an hour or so starting my holiday projects.  With several projects packed, it was a matter of deciding what to choose.

P1100063

With nine blocks traced of New Zealand tree and blossom designs, I decided to start with Puriri Wreath.  Although these patterns are designed for applique, I’ll be doing my blocks as stitcheries.  They won’t look quite the same, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy stitching them. 

I’ll back track a little and give you some highlights of our trip down from the North Island.  Cook Strait separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand, so the only way to travel with a vehicle is to board one of the roll-on roll off ferries.  Our trip was lovely and smooth aboard the Kaitaki.  Cook Strait can be notorious for rough weather and high swells, but our trip down was great – just as well as Robin is a rather poor sailor.

P1090714-001
We crossed on board the Kaitaki

Onboard Kaitaki
Windblown selfie taken on the trip

Disembarking the ferry, we left the busy port of Picton, and drove through the Wairau Valley.  Grape vines have been planted in this part of the country, as far as the eye can see, together with their respective wine making establishments.   Big money and big business indeed, fortunes must be tied up in all these thousands of acres of wine plantings and the specialized people and equipment needed to develop world famous wine.

P1090875
Grape vines as far as the eye can see

We stayed the first night at the NZMCA park in Murchison, and right next door was a lovely old historic Commercial Stables building, now a 2nd Hand Shop.  I bet this building would have have interesting tales to tell from years gone by.

P1090903
I love this old building

On the road again the next morning we saw one of the results of that massive 1929 earthquake when we stopped at Maruia Falls, on SH65.  There was a nice large car-park set away from the busy road, plenty of room for our 4WD and caravan.  And what’s this we saw poking around in the bushes – it’s a weka, one of our native flightless birds.

P1090911
Weka foraging in the bushes

A landslide in the Maruia Valley, a result of the 1929 earthquake, diverted the course of the Maruia River further west, forcing it to cut a new channel over an old river bank. Once the river had eroded the gravels, the bank became the Maruia Falls.

P1090931
Maruia Falls

We are currently staying in Christchurch for three nights, to catch up with son Michael.  It’s been a while since we last got together, so it was lovely to have some time together.  After a good chat, and a home made coffee courtesy of his fancy coffee machine, we took him out for lunch.

P1100077
Michael and his Mum

There will be more adventures to follow, I’m sure, and hopefully a little more stitching time too.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Packing my Stitching Bag

Exciting news – we are away on a 10 week caravan holiday touring around the South Island!  You know what that means -  no rolling the dice, no sitting at my sewing machine, it will be hand stitching only. How much hand stitching I will actually do is debatable – as we will be travelling high roads and low roads, stopping to explore, and generally having a good look around.  But it’s good to be prepared for those times I’ll be relaxing with a little time on my hands and feeling the need to stitch.

So what have I got to take away?  I’ve traced out nine blocks of stylized New Zealand trees and flowers, designed by Jenny Hunter, onto the pale green fabric I’m using for the background.

P1090183

Then I’ve got some hand quilting packed as well.  Remember this?  It’s my Winter Quilt Festival panel, and I plan to quilt around the snow people and quilts.

P1040257
Ready for hand quilting

And then of course I’ve got my two small native birds blocks to quilt.  When completed, these will be hung in the caravan.

P1080215P1090138

So that should keep me busy, and I’m sure I won’t get through that little lot.  Our journey starts on  Sunday, and there is just time for another social get-together or two before we head off on our adventure.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tui Stitchery

Finally I’ve finished stitching my second New Zealand native bird, this time its a Tui.  Although tuis appear black when they sit high in the tree tops singing their hearts out,  their feathers are actually shades of iridescent dark green, blue and bronze.  They have white curled feathers at their throat, and wispy white feathers around their neck.  The early settlers to New Zealand called them the Parson Bird. 

P1090138
My version of the tui

I have prepared my two native bird stitcheries and they will be my holiday hand quilting project, while we are away on our next caravan trip.  I don’t do a lot of hand quilting these days, so should just be able to manage something small like this.  Picture me sitting outside the caravan under the shady awning on a warm summers day with a cool drink in hand, doing a little hand quilting!  That’s the plan, anyway.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

And this week I’ve……

Another busy week in the pre-Christmas rush. The highlight of the week so far was to celebrate our special get-together with the Sew Wot ladies on Tuesday.  I’ve been out and braved the queues at the busy local post office, standing in a long line to get an overseas parcel to my quilting pen friend Carol weighed and posted – and purchased plenty of stamps while I was there.  If there’s something I really dislike it is queuing at the post office – no matter what time I go, there is always a queue!  But that job’s done now, thank goodness.  Then I sat down and wrote cards and letters to overseas friends – another job off the list.

P1090325
Cooking up marmalade

Another job done was to make a batch of marmalade – not something which was on my “to do” list, but just sneaked on.  When my friend Shirley picked some grapefruit for me straight off her tree, I couldn’t say no.  Seems a lot of older people cannot eat grapefruit if they take a particular medication, so the fruit is not as popular as it once was.  The fruit was prepared, put through the food processor and left to soak overnight.  Then the next day I cooked it up, ladled the hot mixture into the prepared jars, and just look at all that golden goodness.  Robin can’t eat marmalade either, so it is all mine – this little lot will last me for ages.

P1090328
Grapefruit marmalade

We’ve been out and purchased a ham for the holidays, just a small one, so it can fit in our caravan fridge.  And cut, chopped and frozen bags of rhubarb growing rampart in our garden so it doesn’t go to waste.  I’ve managed to factor in a trip to the hairdresser for a long overdue hair cut, and we are away for the weekend to attend our Christmas Caravan Club Rally.  No wonder I haven’t had time for any sewing this week!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sew Wots Christmas Lunch

It’s that time of year again when all the Christmas functions start coming thick and fast.  Instead of our usual Tuesday morning stitching day, we met for lunch  at the Emporium Café.  But before we got down to the serious business of eating, a few non Christmas gifts exchanged hands first.  Heather B presented Mary with the gift of a “Bessie Bag”, made to honour the memory of Mary’s Aunt Bessie who passed away recently.  Such a lovely kind thought and we all thought is was so pretty with the hand made doily on the flap.

P1090331
Bessie Bag made for Mary

As I was unable to attend several Sew Wot mornings in a row due to holidays and appointments,  I received a couple of belated birthday gifts, and took them home to open.   From Mary I received a pair of hand knitted thick wool slippers, they will be handy in the caravan, plus two fat quarters. 

P1090361P1090355

And Helen chose two vibrant fat quarters for me.  They go so nicely together and the floral one looks rather like an Impression painting to me.  Thank you both so much.

P1090362
Birthday gifts

There was plenty of choices on the menu, from quiche, to pancakes, eggs benedict, and BLTs, all very tasty.  With a cool drink, coffee or tea, we were well satisfied.  I asked the owner if he would mind taking a photo of us all when he had a spare minute, and he kindly obliged.  Here we are, all dressed in our “glad rags”.

P1090340
Back row: Carol, Heather B and Heather E
Seated:  Me (Jenny), Mary, Helen and Moira

Several months ago we were issued with a Christmas Challenge, to make a pair of “Mug Rugs”.  First I had to go online and find out what size a mug rug was.  Smaller than a place-mat, and bigger than a coaster – the criteria seemed to be that it should be big enough for both a mug and a small side plate for a biscuit or two.  Of course, I found pictures galore online with a huge variety of shapes and styles.  I made mine early as I was worried about running late as we had several trips planned.  We placed our wrapped parcels in the basket and each chose one after lunch.

P1090334
Basketful of goodies

It was a lucky dip, and we took a parcel as the basket was passed around.  Oh – how exciting as we each unwrapped our parcels.  They were all gorgeous, made in such a variety of styles, designs and colours.  Some had a little extra gift enclosed too, such as a little packet of tea and coffee bags, and a hand made dish cloth, which was very generous.

P1090346
Such an assortment of mug rugs

I am so thrilled with my set, hand stitched on wool by Moira, featuring two pretty little birds.  Plus a box of  Twinings Cranberry and Pomegranate tea bags.  Sounds very tasty and exotic, especially as the box reads “Close your eyes, imagine yourself on a beautiful island and savour this flavoursome pairing.”  How’s that for a piece of descriptive writing!

P1090367
From Moira

We were then issued with our next challenge – to make something with a very large rubbery button before February when we start meeting again.  Goodness me – what on earth shall I do with this?

P1090370
Our next challenge

I have really enjoyed another year of friendship and get-togethers with the Sew Wot ladies.  And someone mentioned at lunch, the group has now been running for eleven years.  Long may it continue.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Saturday Stitching Day

I was really looking forward to attending the stitching day organised by my quilt club – especially as I hadn’t managed to attend since July.  Too much tripping around, I guess.  These stitching days are easy and fun, with  everyone taking their own projects to work on.  Sit and sew at it’s best, with plenty of companionship and chatter added into the mix.  I decided to take my light box and prepare my next stitchery project, a series of New Zealand native trees designed in a roundel shape – now all ready to work on during our next big  caravan trip away.

P1090183

Variety was certainly the name of the game, and it was so interesting seeing what the other ladies were doing.  Some were doing handwork, and I loved Annette’s red work Santas.  She was also working on her beautiful Patchwork of the Crosses blocks, all hand done too.

P1090174P1090178
Annette’s lovely work

I can’t imagine myself ever stitching the La Passacaglia Quilt, but certainly admire those who do.  Ute brought her quilt top along, almost completed now, except for a few filler blocks needed along the edges.  The La Passacaglia design is beautiful, a riot of colour with all those little pieces hand stitched together.

P1090197
La Passacaglia stitched by Ute

Two completely different hand projects were the intricate hydrangea petals which Lynne was assembling.  She enjoyed this making this project to much that this is her second one.

P1090211
Lynne’s Hydrangea blocks

And Dianne was pinning folded petals onto balls to make a series of Christmas baubles.  I remember doing that many moons ago.

P1090194
Dianne’s Christmas balls

The machine stitchers were busy too.  Margaret is taking a class on heritage style blocks, all aimed at getting the most out of the sewing machine and using those fancy stitches we all seem to ignore.  Her crazy patch block in soft greens with a touch of navy is lovely indeed.  And Kath’s Peekaboo Owl block is one of a series to eventually become a cushions for her grandchildren.  Madalyn’s Daily Dot blocks are coming along.  With 365 to stitch, this is a long term project.

P1090172P1090206
Crazy patch block and Peekaboo owl

P1090200
Daily Dot blocks

And for something completely different, Cheryl had a production line gong on sun hats.  She is a real expert on these and has made over 300 hats now.  Here she is modelling a very fetching navy blue hat.

P1090236
Sun hat made and modelled by Cheryl

While we were all beavering away inside the hall, there was plenty going on outside too.  Just across the road is RJ’s Licorice factory, one of the many local producers taking part in Horowhenua Taste Trail where customers can get free tastings and purchase local food.  I saw people leaving RJs with big bags and even cartons of licorice!  Also on offer was fresh veggies, asparagus, pesto, free range poultry and pork products, wine and even eels – all local farms and factories. 

P1090230

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pieced Backing and Parsley Butter

I can see that there won’t be much stitching done this side of Christmas.  But I did give the dice a rattle and roll today to see what number came up.  It’s number 4, my Soul Searching quilt, and decided to make a start on the pieced backing.  It may not get finished this week, as there is one appointment and/or outing after another this week, including the weekend.  But that’s the way it is, in the pre-Christmas rush.

P1090152

I started by using the three remaining pastel coloured blocks I had made in pink, pale blue, and lavender.  Pin, pin, pin, and away I went.  This piece will need extra cream fabric added to each side, then I’ll have another think about how to proceed from here.

P1090158

P1090154
Beginning of the pieced backing

Parsley butter was next on the agenda.  With my parsley plant starting to seed, I picked as much as I could, chopped it up, and mixed it through softened butter.  Then rolled it into a log (more or less, I’m not a fussy cook) to set, then cut it into portions.  These are now wrapped up individually, placed in a plastic container and put in the freezer.  I can use the parsley butter on vegetables, or when I make a cheese sauce.

P1090161
Parsley butter

As for our busy week, we had a day out with friends yesterday enjoyed a nice lunch together.  The Clareville Bakery had won an award for “The Best Regional Rural Café of the Year 2017”.  There is always plenty to talk about when we meet up with this group, and as expected, the food was great.

P1090041P1090046
Lunch with friends on Tuesday

With a visit to the doctor on Monday, plus a visit to the surgeon on Wednesday, there was a bit of medical stuff going on this week.  I’m pleased to say that after an x-ray on my sore knee I was told there was no arthritis detected, so obviously it’s something minor and I’m hoping it will fix itself.  And the surgeon is pleased with how things are progressing after my breast cancer lumpectomy last year.  But, he said, remain vigilant, keep taking the pills, and I’ll need annual mammograms for the next few years.  No trouble, I can do that.

So what else?  Out to dinner with friends tonight, a luncheon tomorrow, a sewing day with the quilt club on Saturday, yippee, and out to visit the family on Sunday.  Whew – that's a busy week.