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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May contain nuts!

Quilters like to sew, and we like to cook too, don’t we?  I’d just popped over to read Linda’s blog at:


who shared an interesting sounding recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies.  Before I knew what I was doing, I had all the ingredients out as was mixing a batch of those cookies together.  Mmmm, they certainly are rather tasty, and made heaps.  I’ll be taking them away on our caravan trip this weekend.  Thanks Linda, for sharing your recipe with quilter blog land.  Of course, anyone who is allergic to peanuts should stay well clear of these cookies!

Now, back to my stitching once again.

DSCF1791 Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Bunch of Cheeky Kiwis

One step forward, and another step to go – that’s what it is like with any project, isn’t it?  I’ve finally stitched all my Rail Fence blocks together, trying very hard not to have two fabrics the same together.  But….now and again it did happen, but I decided I would just have to live with it.  No more unpicking for me. 

DSCF1788 Kiwi fabric for borders and backing

Borders were next, and I’m using some fabric covered with a bunch of cheeky kiwis.  This was given to me by my friend Eileen (who is not a quilter) who had purchased it some time ago with the idea of making clothes for the grandchildren.  As this didn’t happen, she passed it on to me, and there is enough of the fabric to use as the backing as well.  It goes quite nicely with my New Zealand themed Rail Fence blocks.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Selvedges in the Mail

I love surprises, and I love getting parcels.  The mail man delivered at lovely surprise parcel addressed to me from fellow quilter Roz.  And it was stuffed full of selvedges – how great is that!  Thanks Roz, I really appreciate it, and you can be sure they will be put to good use. 

DSCF1768Bag of selvedges in the mail

My rail fence blocks are coming along slowly.  I took them on our South Island caravan trip and used them as a diary, writing down places we had stayed, and attractions we had seen.  After going “great guns” earlier in the week and stitching them all into sets of two, I then had to unpick half of them because I really didn’t think things through properly.  Of course, with this pattern, I had forgotten that two of the blocks go one way, and the other two go the other way.  More haste, less speed!


That’s enough stitching for today, I’ll sit quietly in front of the telly tonight and pin up the rows of blocks I’ve stitched today, all ready for another stint at the sewing machine tomorrow.  Then I’ll know for sure that I’ve got them the right way around.

DSCF1787 Rail Fence blocks

Friday, May 25, 2012

Button Lady at Pinestream Quilters Club Night

It was good to be back at my patchwork club’s monthly meeting, after travelling around the South Island for the last three months.  The hall was abuzz, as it usually is, with groups of members chatting, catching up with friends, checking out the club library, while waiting for the meeting to get underway. 

Our speaker for the evening was Ruth Meier, known as “The Button Lady”, who calls herself a passionate collector of buttons.  So passionate, in fact, that she admitted to buying a collection of 700kg of buttons while she was living in Zurich some years ago.  She related how she and her husband hired a truck and drove through a snow storm to load up the tea chests chock full of all those glorious buttons.  Ruth told of the history of buttons and had many interesting historical treasures to show, from portraits painted on ivory buttons, to the home industry of Dorset buttons made by winding thread around rings, to examples of shell, metal and glass buttons.  Victorian black glass mourning buttons were popular after the death of Prince Albert, and she showed us a selection of these.  There were both loose buttons and mixed bags for sale, and these seemed very popular with the ladies.

DSCF1772 Buttons galore

Show and Tell is always a special part of the meeting, and as usual, there was a good variety of quilts on show. Sandy is very prolific and can be relied on to bring a finished quilt (or sometimes two) along to most meetings.  She related how she received a bag of donated hexagons, and completed this quilt which will be donated to the City Mission.

DSCF1779Hexagon quilt made by Sandy

This is a very special birthday quilt made by Faye in the Turning Twenty pattern for her husband’s birthday.  Her hubby is skilled at making violins, and Faye sourced many violin and musical fabrics for this quilt.

DSCF1781Musical themed birthday quilt

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get the maker’s name for this quilt, but it was made for a friend coping with a health issue, we were told.
 DSCF1778A special quilt for a friend 

It wasn’t all quilts on show, and I was rather taken with the little knitted dolly that Maria brought along to show us.  I’ve heard several others say they want to make one too.

DSCF1775 Cute knitted dolly

After the formal part of the evening, we had supper, (loved that apricot slice) and the opportunity to get a close look at the quilts on display.  It was a very enjoyable evening, and nice to catch up with others after so long away.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello Friends at Stitching Monday

It was great to return home (after three months away travelling around the South Island) to find that I was just in time to attend the May Stitching Monday.  With us on our travels, this is the first monthly meeting of 2012 I could attend, so it was lovely to catch up with everyone again. Shall I take my sewing machine, I pondered, or just work on hand stitching?  The sewing machine won, but I must admit I didn’t do too well at all.  The plan was to stitch up my Rail Fence blocks which I had made, recording places we had stayed, and attractions we had seen.  So I duly pinned them in twos and away I stitched.  So far so good.  But…..I forgot that two of then go one way, and then two more go the other way, to make the pattern appear.  Silly me, now I have to unpick half of them, and restitch with the blocks the other way.  Guess I should have laid all the blocks out first to get the correct orientation!
DSCF1760 Stitching my Rail Fence blocks
I’m sure the other’s were thinking straighter than me and working much better.  Jeannette showed her Disappearing Nine Patch which she is making for friends to use in their house bus.  The colours all work so well together but there is a little secret in this quilt.  Jeannette has used some recycled fabric, from denim, to jacquard, to stretch, and has stabilised where needed.  Just goes to show that anything goes, it treated with care.
DSCF1761 Jeannette’s Disappearing Nine Patch
Heather is on a mission to use up all those recycled shirts she has been buying from Op Shops, I think she is up to Shirt-tail quilt number eleven now.  But she is fighting a losing battle as she keeps buying more, and some of her other quilty friends have started their own Op Shop Shirt Challenge too.  Here are two she has recently completed,  both beautifully machine quilted in Heather’s indomitable style.
DSCF1762 Two more quilts made from recycled shirts
Black, white and yellow was chosen for this stunning quilt that Joyce is making for her grand-daughters 21st birthday.  It’s almost done, as Joyce was busy stitching the binding down.  She’s very shy, so she says, and is only allowing her fingers to be photographed!
DSCF1764  21st Birthday quilt
Maureen was busy most of the day preparing hexagons for stitching, and Margaret had a whole lots of squares ready to make up into four patches to use in another scrap quilt.  Margaret’s aim is to reduce her stash, but as every quilter knows, making scrap quilts hardly makes a dent in in it.
DSCF1766Blocks in  Margaret’s latest stash busting quilt
Another scrappy quilt under construction was Petronella’s Pot Luck flip and sew blocks.  These are being stitched over pages from a telephone book, and is a long term project, I imagine.
 DSCF1765 Pot Luck blocks
And for something completely different, we watched Gaye as she was working another her current assignment for her City and Guilds course.  Her triptych represents a scene from the West Coast of the South Island.
DSCF1763 West Coast triptych
It was a very enjoyable day, thank you ladies for your company.  Guess I had better get busy with my quick-unpick and start fixing those blocks up.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quilting the Light Fantastic – Capital Quilters Exhibition

How wonderful – I’d just returned home the previous day from our three month South Island holiday, and came home to find a quilt show.  Capital Quilters presented their 2012 exhibition “Quilting the Light Fantastic” at the Horticulture Hall in Lower Hutt.  Incidentally, I attended many dances as a teenager in the dim dark ages many years ago in this same hall dressed in my full skirted dresses over a stiff petticoat, all ready to rock’n’roll the night away.  My non quilting friends Kathryn and Dot accompanied me and we were delighted to find the entry cost a very modest $2 for us qualifying seniors.
DSCF1744 Overview of the quilt show
The raffles were set out in the foyer, together with a raffle quilt, so here’s hoping!  One of the prizes is a whole lot of fat quarters – wouldn’t I just love to win that!  The hall was wonderfully decked out with colourful quilts on stands, congratulations to the organizing committee for a job so well done.   Okay, let’s start looking at the quilts.  Here are some that took my fancy.  Just in the door was this New York Beauty variation, a wedding quilt made by Jeanie O’Sullivan.
DSCF1720 “Blessings of the Ancestors”, by Jeanie O’Sullivan
DSCF1724 Small can be beautiful too, a selection of wall-hangings on show.
I’m very partial to quilts made from wool, they always look so homely and cosy, both of these are made by Irene Anderton.  “Balmoral Park” was made from recycled wool fabric, and Irene’s daughters joined her in making “D I S Displayed”.
DSCF1731 Two very different woollen quilts by Irene Anderton
Stitcheries and quilts go together so well, I always think.  Christine Paxton wanted to make a blue quilt to hang on her bedroom wall, and “My Garden Patch” is the end result.
DSCF1727 “My Garden Patch” by Christine Paxton
Another wonderful quilt full of glorious stitchery and nicely finished with a border of stars is “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”.  Clare Grant stitched this delightful quilt while living in snowy Wisconsin for a number of years.
DSCF1739 “Living in a Winter Wonderland”, by Clare Grant
With a combination of appliqué and piecing,  “Springtime”, by Doreen Parker fresh and pretty and won two awards.    It would certainly look wonderful draped over a bed.
DSCF1751 “Springtime”, by Doreen Parker
Members who entered the club challenge worked around the theme of “light”.  As usual, all entries were quite different, as quilters interpreted the theme in their own individual way.  Entries ranged from a sunshine, a space theme, starburst, and a light bulb.
DSCF1745 Challenge quilts with the theme of Light
After all this walking, admiring, pondering, and trying to decide on our own individual “Viewer’s Choice”, we sat down at the cafe for lunch.  There was plenty of choice from a range of delicious home baked goodies, and we sat and rested our weary feet for a while.  Some of the club members were sitting and stitching, which drew quite an interested audience.  The ladies were only too happy to explain what they were doing and answer any questions.  Debra was busy stitching up little blocks using selvedges, which she then makes into children’s quilts.  I have lots of selvedges too, so I am always happy to discover new ways too use them. 
DSCF1757 Debra explaining how she makes her selvedge blocks
Janet proudly showed us her lovely pastel quilt, which is a combination of pieced blocks and a large amount of sticheries.  Just look at that wonderful embroidered border, it is just a work of art.
DSCF1758 Janet’s beautiful work of art
Congratulations to Capital Quilters on their 2012 exhibition.  I really enjoyed my visit, as did my two friends, and judging by the amount of excited chatter around the hall, everyone else had a great time too. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

From sunshine to winter

I’m quite sure it wasn’t winter in Picton yesterday, the last day of our South Island holiday.  The sun was out and the temperatures were quite warm really, as we waited on the wharf to board the Inter Island Ferry.  But once we crossed over Cook Strait to arrive in Wellington  the temperatures have dropped indeed.  Here we are, all rugged up in track pants, woolly jerseys, and our toes all nice and cosy in warm socks and slippers.  The gas heater in the lounge has been blasting out the heat, and my electric blanket is switched on before bedtime. 
I didn’t set out to do a “Shop Hop” during our South Island holiday, and only managed to get to a few patchwork and quilting shops while I was away.  Special thanks to the lovely Miche’le of By Hoki Quilts who welcomed me (and Robin too) to her shop with hot scones and coffee during our visit to Hokitika.  We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours talking about all sorts of things, quilts included, and I had a good poke around this lovely little shop.  Miche’le is a fellow blogger, and it was lovely to meet her in person. 
Copy of DSCF0754 Miche’le of By Hoki Quilts
Sadly, the last shop I visited on our trip (no names) was not a good experience at all.  After having a look around the shop, and standing by the counter for five minutes, the owner was still talking on the phone, so I turned away and walked back out the door.  Not good customer service at all.
One of the textile highlights of our trip would have to be my visit to Lillia’s Lace Museum in Geraldine.  Jean Hall named the museum after her grand mother Lillia who was a lace maker, and there is an amazing collection of (mostly) hand made lace on display. 
DSCF9250Lace maker Lillia
And then there was an invitation to come and see a collection of quilts while we were staying at a motor camp in Manapouri.  It all started when I noticed a wall hanging on the office wall and mentioned I was a quilter too.  The camp owner proudly showed me her vast collection of quilts and wall hangings.  Out they came from one bedroom after another, on beds and out of drawers, the linen cupboard, and her sewing room.  Needless to say, I had a lovely afternoon!
DSCF0218Here’s a clue, she must be a quilter!
Marie of Ashburton contacted me and invited us around to her home for an evening meal, such a lovely gesture to make to a couple of strangers, and after Marie had done a full day’s work too.    We had a lovely meal, a very pleasant evening, discussed all sorts of topics, and I had a private quilt showing too.  Thanks so much, Marie and Murray.
DSCF9216Marie of Ashburton
I love old textiles and saw quite a selection at various museums.  There’s something about those lovely hand made, pin tucked, lace embellished undergarments and babies clothes from earlier years, they are just beautiful.  And a real bonus was finding a quilt show in Dunedin – how lucky was that.  Talking of quilt shows, I’m off to view one tomorrow, so I’ll be getting another “quilt fix” then.  You can be sure I’ll report back. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rail Fence Travel Diary

Just where has the last three months gone?  We have towed the caravan down the east coast of the South Island, up the west coast, and in and occasionally through parts of the middle!  A grand total of practically 4000kms!
Every step of the way I have been recording our trip on the rail fence blocks constructed from New Zealand themed fabric especially made for this trip.  Every place we have stayed at, together with the attractions which make any trip special.  And there have been many special memories, such as staying at the Larchview Holiday Park in Naseby, viewing the Petrified Forest in Curio Bay, to enjoying our meal of a dozen Bluff oysters each!  It will be fun stitching all the blocks together when we get home.
DSCF1666 Rail fence travel blocks
And going home we certainly are, we are booked to travel over Cook Strait tomorrow morning.  Here’s hoping for a calm sailing.  We are spending the last two days of our trip here in Picton, known as the Gateway to the South Island.  Most travellers disembark from the ferries, then head straight out of town, and vice versa, for those travelling up to the North Island.  We’ve been guilty of that too, and wanted to spend a little time looking around Picton this time. 
So it’s a matter of keeping our fingers crossed for a smooth sailing tomorrow.  Robin isn’t a good sailor at all, so he will be watching the weather report with more than a little apprehension. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Silk Postcards at Omaka

The collection of beautiful embroidered silk postcards were not very well displayed, I thought, in the passage way leading to the public toilets at the  Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.  As I dashed off with Robin into the gallery to view Sir Peter Jackson’s WW1 aircraft collection displayed in imaginative sets designed by Weta Workshop, I looked forward to popping back later on to see these lovely embroideries. 

DSCF1600 Embroidered silk postcards from WW1

Produced in France and Belgium, these were particularly popular with British and Allied servicemen during the Great War, who brought them to send back home to their families.


DSCF1602Postcards with a British flavour

Early designs were usually sentimental and based on flowers, but  the war produced patriotic cards showing the flags of the Allied countries.  As the war progressed, many more designs eventuated, utilising place names, and the names of different ships and regiments.  Imagine how delighted the Kiwi servicemen would have been to find an embroidered postcard depicting New Zealand.

DSCF1603New Zealand embroidered postcard

The peacock tail feathers incorporate roundels of the Allies, Japan, Belgium, USA, Italy, Britain, France, Belgium (for a second time), Portugal and Russia.

DSCF1605 Peacock card depicting Allies

It is wonderful that some of these colourful little silk embroideries still survive after all these years.  An estimated 10 million of these beauties were produced, no doubt many of them bought by soldiers far from home for their wives, sweethearts and mothers.

We really enjoyed our visit to this “not to be missed” museum.  If you would like to see some of the planes and imaginative settings we enjoyed, please pop over to our Travel Blog on:  www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Rainy Day is Stitching Day

It’s not much fun camping when the rain is coming down and the ground outside is getting soaked.  The tall trees drip over anyone foolish enough to walk underneath them on the way to the ablution block – just as well we have onboard bathroom facilities.  It’s a good day to stay tucked up warm inside the caravan and get on with some stitching. 
I had to borrow Robin to help with my stitching project – just for a minute.  Perle thread number 5 is my stitching thread of choice and some time ago a stitching friend was horrified at the tangled mess my threads were in.  She showed me how to plait the skeins to keep them tidy and tangle free.  I was ready to start using my new skein of pretty blue thread and that’s where Robin’s help was needed.  He held the middle of the cut skein while I divided it into three and quickly plaited  it up.  Plaiting must be a “girl” thing, as Robin is always impressed when I do it.  Especially when I showed him I could accomplish this task either starting the plait with the right hand,  or for a change, the left. 
DSCF1496 He’s such a helpful hubby
A rainy day is also a good opportunity to give our cat Muffy a bit of pampering with a good grooming.  She laid  contentedly on my lap while I combed her all over to remove any loose hair.  First her tummy, then flipped her over on both sides.  She is so relaxed as I lifted up one leg after another, and moved her head around so that I could comb under her neck.  Muffy is not too keen on having her tail touched though.  She was also very calm and relaxed when I buckled her little pink harness back on, all ready to clip the lead on and take her outside for a walk when the sun decides to come out again. 
P5107368 Muffy enjoying her grooming
The weather forecast has promised that the rain should soon go and sunshine return tomorrow.  I hope so – we are currently staying here in Nelson which is the “Sunshine Capitol of New Zealand”. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A little stitching time

In between all the South Island sightseeing we are doing, I finally found a little time to sit outside in the sun with my hand stitching.  I’m (slowly) working on a cushion for my daughter, stitching all sorts of herbs in various shades of green.  There, I’ve just finished a bunch of flowering dill and a basil plant growing out of the planter box.  I’m getting there slowly, but not doing nearly as much stitching as I thought I would.  I very carefully traced off several extra projects to take away, and it looks like they will be going back home with me untouched. 
DSCF1399Herb cushion
We are currently camping  at the Richmond A & P Park.  The Nelson Race Course shares the grounds, and we often see the trotters getting an early morning workout as they are taken around the track.  The park has a long avenue of ;large oak trees and being autumn the leaves are fluttering down onto the ground and carpeting the ground.  We took Muffy for a walk on her lead under the trees to see if she wanted to play in the pile of leaves.  She looked at us as if to say, “What, me play, I’m an old girl now, remember?”
DSCF1452 Muffy (not playing) in the oak leaves

Sunday, May 6, 2012

WOW – World of Wearable Art

Billed as Nelson’s “Must See” visitor attraction, that’s where we went on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  Robin was there to see the Classic Car selection, and as we purchased our (discounted senior) tickets, he was told that he really should check out the clothes as well.  Interesting enough, he admitted that he was pleased he did.  Sadly, no photography was permitted once we were though the gallery doors.  The first Wearable Art Show was organised by Suzie Moncrief back in 1987 and attracted 50 entries.  It grew from strength to strength, and is now run by a team of professionals who share Suzie’s vision and dream.
We sat and watched a film of the 2011 Wearable Arts show in the comfortable small theatre. The entries were split into different categories, and artfully choreographed.  I particularly enjoyed the New Zealand inspired section, and the models shared the stage with a flock of sheep, with a group of farmers happily singing Fred Dagg’s Gumboot song, dressed in their black singlets and gumboots, of course. 
Leaving the theatre, we walked into the world of illuminated illusion.  The costumes in this darkened part of the museum were brought to life under the ultra violet lighting.
Through another doorway we were greeted by the sound of clanking mechanism as costumes moved slowly past on the carousel - the  stage was mirrored so that the we could see the back of the garments reflected.  Other creations were displayed around the walls, or hanging from the ceiling.
To be quite truthful, I am not really a fan of the more “way out” creations.  But they were beautifully displayed, and seeing the film of the 2011  show made me appreciate what a spectacular stage show the Wearable Arts must be.
DSCF1418 Found amongst the classic car display
Moving to another part of the museum we were in car territory, much more to Robin’s taste.  He was in seventh heaven as he gazed at the various models of classic cars on display.  Photographs were permitted in this part of the museum, and dotted here and there between the fabulous cars were a few costumes from earlier years.  Out came my camera, quick as a flash.  Using number plates and yellow road signs, these two creations are certainly “car related”, wouldn’t you say?
DSCF1432 Number plates and a hub cap
DSCF1426 Reminiscent of AA Road Signs
There were many beautiful cars on display for the petrol heads, and I rather liked this “Best of British” E Type Jaguar.  You wouldn’t misplace this in a parking lot, would you?
DSCF1422 Union Jack Jaguar
The WOW Museum is well worth a visit to anyone travelling through Nelson.  Check out more of these fabulous classic cars on our Travel Blog:  www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Friday, May 4, 2012

That’s a big Mangle

Here we are staying at Motueka for a few days as we continue to travel around the South Island, and we have been enjoying glorious sunny weather.  A bit chilly in the mornings and evenings, but that’s to be expected at this time of year.  “Mot”, as it is called by the locals, is a pleasant town with a rather laid back feel to it, and the climate is just right for growing hops (for beer making) apples, pears, kiwi fruit and grapes.  The main street has it’s fair share of trendy shops and cafes, and a nice little museum which we visited today.  Once again, some vintage underwear caught my eye, this time a pair of child’s pin tucked pantaloons edged with lace hanging up on a clothesline.  Somebody’s mother would have spent hours stitching these for her little girl many years ago, I’m sure.
DSCF1363 Pin tucked pantaloons
Close by was a huge mangle, and bars of hand made soap.  There was even a recipe on how to make your own soap.  Surely only wealthy households could afford to buy one of these solid machines, as I imagine such a piece of laundry equipment would not be cheap to manufacture? 
DSCF1362 A mighty big mangle
There were no old quilts tucked away in this museum, but I did spot a pretty vintage patchwork cushion, in blue, cream and mauve.  Wonder where this came from?
DSCF1368 Patchwork cushion
Motueka had a very busy port in the early years and has quite a family connection, on my mother’s side of the family.   It was in this town that a young man on the Green side of the family decided he didn’t want to continue sailing the high seas and jumped ship.  The story goes that he  hid under the voluminous skirts of the publican’s wife while the search was on for him.  Once the ship had set sail he was free to start a new life in the colonies and did quite well for himself in business, married and had quite a large number of children.  There is even a local street named after him, just around the corner from where we are camping.  One of his grandsons (my great grandfather) travelled to Martinborough in the North Island and set up his boot and shoe shop.  But we never did hear what the publican’s wife thought of that young man hiding in such an intimate place while the police conducted their search.