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

Monday, March 30, 2015

It’s a Three Label Quilt

The labels on the back of my caravan quilt Romany Stars tell the story of the changes we have made to our “home away from home” over a ten year period.  I stitched the quilt  in 2004 for our Australian Golf caravan.  Made with 8 pointed stars and plain alternate blocks, and a double HST border, it was commercially quilted by Barry Scott.  Below is a picture of a younger version of me standing beside the quilt when it was hung in the Pinestream Quilters exhibition.  I made a photo label for the back showing the pair of us proudly standing beside our brand new caravan.

Romany Stars Romany Stars hanging in Pinestream Quilters exhibition

Two years later we changed our caravan to a locally made Leisureline caravan  .I kept with burgundy for the upholstery, so that I could continue to use my caravan quilt.  This new van had the added bonus of a bathroom - what luxury – especially in the middle of the night.  Another photo label was stitched on beside the original one.

Then in the middle of last year we upgraded again.  The selling point of our new van was the full width bathroom across the rear of the van, with a separate toilet, shower and vanity unit.  Once again, I chose burgundy for the upholstery.  I find it a lovely warm colour, and of course it goes with my caravan quilt.  I’ve only just got around to making a third photo label for the back of the quilt.  Muffy decided to add her input too, and she sat and watched as she made sure I was doing it correctly.
 P1220128 Muffy is the supervisor as I stitched yet another label on the quilt

And here they are, three photo labels stitched to the back of my Romany Stars quilt.  Now the weather is getting a little cooler I have replaced the lighter weight quilt I use over the summer months with this much warmer one.  Freshly washed, and ready to keep us cosy and warm during the colder months away, especially when we are camping off power.  No power = no electric blanket!

P1230135It’s a three label quilt

We are currently away in the caravan for a few weeks, up in Hawkes Bay over Easter, and then doing a tiki tour on the way home.  Keep up with our travels on our Travel Blog www.romanyrambler.blogspot.co.nz to follow our adventures.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Floating Four Patch Blocks and Chocolate Fish

Friday night was Remnant night – when quilt club members gather together for a fun social stitching night.  It is always interesting to see what everyone brings along for the shared meal.  Mary made one of her famous sausage pies, there was quiche, curried sausages, a dish of home made chocolate balls, and bread rolls.  I took along a plate of cream cheese, and chopped dried apricots and crystallised ginger sandwiches.  “Yuk”, said Robin when I was preparing them at home, “nobody will eat those!”  He was wrong – the ladies loved them!  And there is always a bowl full of chocolate fish to dip into, just the thing for a pick-me-up after a bout of sewing.

Some of the ladies worked on the charity quilts our club is making for needy people.  The members had stitched up a whole pile of floating four patch blocks, requested with light and dark backgrounds.  These were laid out on one of the big tables and we all gathered around to check out the colour placement.  Helpful comments abounded as the light and dark blocks were shuffled around the table until everyone was happy with the arrangement.  The blocks were pinned into rows, Vickie and Leigh had their sewing machines humming, and Janelle and Kathy were on pressing duties.  They really worked hard and by the end of the evening two quilt tops had been stitched together – they just need a border added.

P3270013 Floating Nine Patch quilt top

P3270006 Leigh and Vickie stitching all the blocks together

There was lots of other stitching going on.  Kaye is starting an exciting new project, and was busy preparing a block for the heirloom quilt she has signed up for in the local quilt shop.  And I was tracing, cutting, then fusing more appliqué leaf blocks for my daughter’s birthday quilt.  That took a whole lot longer than I anticipated, I can tell you.  Janelle showed us her latest needle-turn block in traditional green and red.  It is so lovely, and she only needs to make nine of these large blocks, she told us.

P3270009 Janelle’s appliqué block

Prospective member Ute came along for the evening and happily helped with some of the pressing.  She had brought along this striking quilt she is making for her young grand-son and wanted some advice on how to quilt it.

P3270012For a young grand-son

Lois was another lady working on family projects.  In this case, the grand-child number 5  has not quite arrived yet.  Lois is making this lucky little one a lovely soft blue knitted jumper, and wanted advice as the best way to go about making a double sided merino blanket.

P3270007 For Lois’s grand-child number 5

It is always a good night, catching up with fellow Remnants.  There is plenty of room to spread out, and always a lot going on.  Everyone is always willing to share their expertise and offer friendly advise.  Nice food for our shared evening meal, tea and coffee as required, and as mentioned earlier, plenty of chocolate fish to nibble on.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cross Stitch Beauties

I attended the Coffee Club Support Group morning run by the Levin Branch of the Cancer Society, and our we had a very interesting speaker. Marion, from St John’s told us all about St John’s Medical Alarms.  Most of the ladies present had a personal alarm and we ourselves are St John’s Supporters, which entitles us to emergency call-outs and ambulance transport to hospital if required.  As we now live outside the Wellington Free Ambulance district, becoming  St John’s members now gives us peace of mind.

Sharon is one of the very busy Cancer Society volunteers who helps out at our Coffee Club mornings.  She is a very talented needle worker and brought along her framed piece of black work embroidery to show us.  She proudly told us that this lovely piece had recently won a silver plate at the Mana Embroidery Group meeting.   And we could see why, it is so beautiful, elegant ladies stitched with black thread with just a little touch of gold.

P3240053 Sharon’s winning black work embroidery

And Sharon has almost completed her latest creation, full of cute teddies and bunnies with their very own quilt.  I don’t do cross stitch myself, I tried once but failed miserably!  But I can certainly appreciate all the hard work which goes into making one of these beauties.

P3240055 Sharon with her teddies and bunnies

My quilt club, the Town and Country Quilters, supply a never ending supply of quilts to be displayed at the Cancer Society rooms.  The quilt on show this month had quite a New Zealand flavour.  Designed and stitched by Luchelle Cottrell, it was inspired by NZ artist Shane Hansen and the 10 cent New Zealand coin.  

P3240051  “Myth”  by Luchelle Cottrell

Visitors to Winchester House,  the Cancer Society rooms, always enjoy looking at the quilt on display each month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nature’s Bounty

Our produce from our small raised summer garden is coming to an end, with the last of the tomatoes appearing on the plants.  We have been carefully watching our green peppers plants (capsicums), and these needed staking when the peppers seemed too heavy for the fragile stems.  The three large green peppers seem to have taken ages to grow, and now was the time to pick them, I decided.

I wanted to cook up some Capsicum Chutney – but my three home grown peppers were nowhere near enough.  A quick trip to the veggie store to purchase some more and I had enough to get slicing and cooking.  I used a mixture of green, red, yellow and orange peppers and made seven smallish jars.  This (sweet) chutney is delicious with cold meat, or on crackers with cheese.  Perhaps if you have some growing, you may like to try making some too.  The quantities are easy to halve if you wish.

P3240056 Capsicum Chutney and bags of rhubarb

Capsicum Chutney
4lb capsicums
2lb brown onions
5 cups brown vinegar
6 level tablespoons salt
3lb sugar

Cut peppers open, discard seeds, slice finely.  Peel and finely slice onions.  Place together in large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Leave for 2 hours then rinse well  in colander under running cold water.  Drain thoroughly.  Place into preserving pan, add vinegar and sugar.  Bring to the boil and boil for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool then bottle in sterilised small jars.  Cover and seal.

Our rhubarb plants are also doing very well, so I harvested some of this as well.  I chopped the stalks up into small dice and have three bags full ready to freeze to cook up later.  We enjoy stewed rhubarb for dessert with custard or icecream, and even on cereal for breakfast.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quest for some Ric Rac

Some things are harder than others to find.  I’ve been after some green Ric Rac for ages.  But not just any green – it had to be an olive greeny/grey colour, to go with one of my current projects.  Yesterday we had an unexpected trip to Porirua to meet some friends.  If we get there early, I suggested, we could pop in to Pete’s Emporium for a wee while.  Robin was happy with that – as well  as having an enormous amount of ribbons, trims, and buttons, they also sell flags.  Robin likes to fly the flag here at home, and wanted a nice new one to keep in reserve.

P3190014 Lots of lovely trims

I headed straight to the haberdashery aisles.  There were trims with feathers, sequins, and sparkly bits galore.  Buttons, ribbons and braids of all kinds.  You could spend hours here, just looking.  But what about the ric rac?  They didn’t have the sort of green I was after last time I called in.

P3190015 Buttons galore

Then I spotted it, a card of green ric rac, close enough in colour to what I was looking for.  Thank goodness – my quest was finally over.  Robin found himself a new flag too, so we went to the check out with our modest purchases.

P3200001 Just what I wanted

Shopping done, we continued on to meet our friends for a day out. Which is always a bit of a surprise, as we don’t actually know where we are going until we meet up.  As it turned out, we went to the Zealandia Sanctuary to see a marvellous display in the Visitors Centre.  To find out about New Zealand wildlife and our visit yesterday, read about it  here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Club blocks stitched for March

I nearly forgot – and had to rush around and find where I had put the instructions.  Yesterday one of my Sew Wot guests brought her charity blocks out to show us all, and I remembered that I had forgotten all about sewing my contribution.  Our  quilt club Town and Country Quilters is having a drive to make more charity quilts for good causes.  Each month we are given a different block pattern to stitch.  Nice and easy, as it turns out, so that is always a bonus.  This month’s block doesn’t even have a name but is composed of eight strips each 2 1/2 by 4 1/2.  We could use any colours, and the only criteria is that the right hand corner strips are to be black.  I imagine that the black strips in the blocks will make a cross effect when they are arranged together. 

P3180007 Charity blocks for March

I always have various 2 1/2 strips tucked away in a box, so this was a an easy block to put together.  And as the  Leigh, the charity block organiser commented, there are no seams to match up.  Thank goodness  I’ve finished mine now, so I don’t have to worry about them later in the month.  And the block patterns provided are handy to keep for future projects, when I might be looking for some simple blocks to whip up for a quilt for someone.

What else?  Looks like I’ve made sufficient nine patch blocks for my daughter’s quilt, so that was a job I was happy to complete.  The next stage is to sew some more appliqué leaf blocks, and I estimate that I need about 20 more of these.  So today I’ve been pressing fabric, measuring, and cutting my cream homespun into squares.  The next step will be to get my light box out and trace off the different leaf shapes I’m using.  But one step at a time - I’ll leave that job for another day.. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Sew Wots came calling

Today was my day to host the fortnightly Sew Wot get-together, and I had been busy baking.  I know the experts say to never cook  new untried  recipes when guests are due, but I couldn’t help myself.  I made a different version of the old favourite Ginger Crunch, and this one had rolled oats in the base, which made it nice and crunchy.  And I’m pleased to say that the apple and walnut cake worked our fine too.

Seven of the ladies came calling - it was a bit of a tight squeeze as we only have a small lounge, but we found room for everyone.  Pam likes to sit and chat and not bother with sewing, and that is fine.  Heather E was busy stitching diamonds and teensy tiny triangles together, she does like to keep busy, she always says.  And Moira was quietly working away on one of her William Morris appliqué blocks.  In between the busy fingers there was plenty of chatter going on, as we all seem to do.

Carol brought along some Show and Tell – two lovely kiddies quilts to be donated to Ronald McDonald House.  We all loved the baby quilt, done in soft and pretty 1930s fabrics with pretty stitchery blocks and finished off with Carol’s very first attempt at Suffolk Puffs.  Such a pretty little quilt indeed, and the photo doesn’t do those colours justice.

P3170001 1930s quilt for Ronald McDonald House

Carol had also made an Eye Spy quilt, full of all sorts if interesting things just waiting for a child to discover.  Ronald McDonald House will be very pleased to accept Carol’s  donation, I’m sure.

P3170002Carol made this Eye Spy quilt too

I know all about having long standing UFO projects tucked away, but I think Heather B’s current project is older than my oldies lurking in the cupboard.  She confessed that she started making a couple of cushions for her daughter, for her 10th birthday.  That birthday has long gone, and the daughter is coming up for 40!  The cushions have been brought out again, and now will be given to Heather’s grand-daughters instead.  The pattern is quite different, it features embroidery on the front and pockets to tuck little soft toys in.  It certainly sounds intriguing, and I hope we see the finished cushions before they go to their new homes.

P3170004  Tiny soft toys to get tucked away in the cushion

As well as working on finishing the embroidery on her Op Shop bargain tablecloth, Mary had a surprise for us.  She had organised the 2015 Sew Wot Challenge for us all.

P3170003 Mary handing out the Challenge to the two Heathers

Firstly she got us to choose a cotton reel.  Inside was the name of the person we were to make our gift for, and keep it secret, of course.  Then we received a card with the instructions.  We are to make a toilet bag, which should include some appliqué, or embroidery, plus a traditional block.  The size, shape, colour and fastening of the toilet bag is up to whatever we choose.  I’ll have to put my thinking cap on for this for some ideas.  Or even better, go on the internet, or maybe  flick through some of my craft books.

P3170006 The secret name and the instructions are all here

It was a very enjoyable morning, as always, it’s always so nice to meet up with the ladies.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Away in the Caravan

We have been off camping at the beautiful Mt Lees Reserve.  The camping area is surrounded by native bush, and the bird song is spectacular.  Three black and white ducks made several appearances, as they slowly waddled past the pink  “Naked Lady” plants which were flowering well.  The ducks did look rather comical as they first walked one way along the path, then back again.

P3140062 The ducks came calling

The weather was hot and sunny and I spent some time relaxing under the sun shade with my stitching.  My first job was to start sewing up a little pink fluffy  toddler’s jumper which has been put aside for a while.  It may be little, but this sort of job still takes a while.  I’m not quite finished as I feel that the attached hood needs a knitted band around the edge to finish it off nicely.

P3130021 Sewing all the pieces together

Then I did some more work on the stitchery cushion I’m making – this is the second of these I’ve done.  The first was a gift and I’ll be keeping version number two for myself.

P3130022 Then a little bit of stitchery

While I was whiling away the day sitting by myself  enjoying the fresh air, the birds, and my hand work, Robin was hard at work with a team of Cancer Society Volunteers manning a stand at the Central District  Field Days at Manfield Park.  They were there to promote men’s health, as everyone knows that some men are notoriously difficult to look after their own health.   He was exhausted when he finally returned back to the caravan, after being on his feet the whole afternoon is such sweltering conditions.  (Nothing that a cool beer couldn’t put right).

P3130031 Robin ready for action in his Cancer Society volunteer tee shirt and hat

As well as the waddling ducks, I spotted a collection of gnomes on the path to the Bed and Breakfast homestead which shares the grounds at Mt Lees Reserve.  Looks like someone had fun collecting and arranging them.

P3120018 Lots of little gnomes

P3120012 Camping at Mt Lees

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Town and Country Quilters March Club Night

Our quilt club night had rolled around again, and a bunch of happy quilters met in the hall.  I handed in the blocks I had made for the charity quilt, and the other  blocks for the raffle quilt.  The charity quilts are an ongoing project and block patterns were handed out for another easy pattern to stitch up this month.  Raffles were drawn – and sadly, my numbers were once again not called out.  Perhaps one of these months I’ll finally win a raffle prize.

Show and Tell is always interesting.  Heather showed her quilt made from Japanese inspired fabric panels given to her by her daughter.  She added extra fabrics and embellishments and the end result is this stunning quilt.

P3110006 Heather’s quilt started life as panels

Kathryn’s Celtic quilt was started in Symposium – and what a beauty it is.  All that intricate Celtic swirling binding carefully stitched down is certainly a work of art.

P3110005Kathryn’s Celtic quilt

The kits for these cute little make-up bags were purchased as kits during an Australian holiday.  I didn’t quite catch the name of who made these.

P3110009Little make-up bags with stitchery panels

Our speaker for the evening was Liz from Angels in Gumboots quilt shop, in Ashhurst.  Liz started her working life as a trained scientist working at DSIR – and in a complete turn around, is now a partner in her shop Angels in Gumboots.  Cross stitching was her first love, then she told us about her quilting journey.

P3110001 Liz from Angels in Gumboots

Liz is still very fond of one of her early quilts, foundation pieced pine trees.  And I rather liked the purple and green bed quilt with stitchery panels

P3110002 Pine trees quilt

P3110003Pretty stitcheries on this quilt

An extra special quilt was the cat quilt made for her daughter as a graduation gift.  Liz’s daughter has brown Burmese cats, rather like these happy little critters.

P3110004  Graduation cat quilt

When the meeting had concluded the ladies flocked around the stall which Liz had set up with goodies from her shop.  There were patterns, fat quarters, and jelly rolls galore.  I left them to their bargain hunting and went and had a cuppa.

P3110008 Looking for a bargain or two

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I need more Nine Patches

I’ve been feeling guilty as I haven’t touched my daughters Big Birthday quilt for some time now.  Last time I spoke to her on the phone she reminded me that I had promised it for her birthday later in the year.  And  I had to admit that it had been put on the back burner while I did other things.  So today I got the blocks out and laid them on my bed.  You can guess what I discovered – I haven’t made nearly enough!

This quilt is all to Nicky’s design, and she requested nine patch blocks in dusky pink and grey-green.  Then she wanted alternate appliqué blocks on calicoe – and we settled on appliqué leaves in different shapes.  I knew I hadn’t prepared enough of the appliqué blocks for me to machine button hole stitch around, but I can do more of those later.  I’ll have to deal with the nine patch blocks first.  So today I’ve cut more strips of pink and green and set about making more nine patch blocks.

P3080001 I’ll have to turn these

P3080002 Into more of these

So guess I’ll be working on this project only from now on for a while.  No more going off on another tangent as I seem to do, flitting from this, to that, and not getting anything finished.  As this is a gift for a special birthday, I’ll be sending it to a commercial quilter to work her magic on, so I’ll need to allow extra time for that. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

First visit to Stitchbird

What to do when a visiting quilter comes to the big city?  Why not visit a “new to me” quilt shop in Kilbirnie, Stitchbird, a place I had long wanted to check out.  As out of towners ourselves, this was the ideal opportunity to give both me and my new  friend Sharyn a quilty experience. Sharyn arrived on the Dawn Princess cruise ship just that morning for a day in Wellington,  and we were giving her a quick sightseeing tour around the capitol city.

Stitchbird is a lovely shop, light and airy, and obviously the business is on the way up, as they have already changed to bigger premises.  Here we are – this is the place.

P3030013 Stitchbird in Kilbirnie

We both got a warm welcome as we entered the doors – very important I feel, as a friendly greeting always makes you feel you are coming to a nice friendly establishment.  We were free to browse around, take photos (I asked first, of course), and the girls were at hand to offer help and advice if needed.  Stitchbird Fabrics was born out of a desire to bring some gorgeous fabrics that are available overseas to New Zealand, and offers contemporary, retro and vintage style fabrics as well as accessories and gift ideas.

P3030010 Quilting fabrics and patterns

I loved the large selection of baby gifts, tiny little soft shoes, little hats, bunnies, even some cute bunting.  Just a shame that no one in my family is at the baby stage at the moment, otherwise I wouldn’t know where to start – or stop, for that matter!

P3030009For the well dressed baby

There was a lot to look at, from cushions and aprons, to a wide range of haberdashery items.  Something for everyone, I’m sure.  Sharyn picked out a couple of green fat quarters to go into her latest project for when she returns home, and I purchased a couple of patterns.  You can find Stitchbird at Shop 25 Kilbirnie Plaza in Wellington, or check out the web site.

P3030012It is a lovely, airy shop

The friendly advice even extended on where we could go for lunch.  Try the Spruce Goose, we were told, in Lyall Bay,  just before Wellington Airport.  So we did, the food was delicious, and we watched out the large windows as one plane after another took off for an adventure.

P3030017 We lunched at the Spruce Goose

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dawn Princess comes to Wellington

The Dawn Princess cruised into Wellington and we drove down to meet up with Sharyn, from Adelaide.  Sharyn, a fellow quilter and a blog reader, was cruising around New Zealand on the Dawn Princess and wondered if it would be possible to meet up.   Of course we could, so we started off bright and early joining the commuters on the trip to Wellington.  After a bit of a worry about where we would meet up, Sharyn arrived at the pick-up point on a shuttle bus – she had an advantage over us as she had seen our photos on the blog.  Greetings over, we set off to show her a little of “the best little capitol city in the world”. That’s not just an idle boast – it’s official!

P3038619 Dawn Princess in Wellington

Wellington was putting on a great day for the visitors from the cruise ship, nice and warm – as the popular song goes, “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day”.  Other days can be wet, wild and windy, but this day was a beauty!  There was hardly a breath of wind when we drove up the narrow winding road then climbed up the steps to the top of Mt Vic Lookout.  What a great view, a panoramic 360 degrees view taking in the city, the airport and Wellington Harbour.  We weren’t the only ones up at the lookout - there was a bus full of cruise liner passengers there ahead of us, as well as plenty of others milling about. 

P3030007 Sharyn with me at the Mt Vic Lookout

Next stop was to find a quilt shop – more about that later.  Then with lunch time looming, we followed the quilt shop owner’s recommendation and tracked down “The Spruce Goose” in Lyall Bay – somewhere by the airport, we were told.  There it was, with a handy car park just across the street.

P3030014 The Spruce Goose Cafe

What a busy bustling place this, packed with customers and plenty of friendly staff who not only looked after our orders but happily took a couple of photos for us as well.

P3030015 Lunch at the Spruce Goose

Then a bit more sight-seeing, we headed off to Petone Beach, where the first European settlers arrived on this very beach all those years ago.  We could get good views of Wellington City from here and Robin told Sharyn all about the sad story of Leper Island.  This sort of treatment wouldn’t happen these day, thank goodness.  On a happier note, we watched as the sea birds went about their business on the beach, there were lots of red billed gulls and a pair of variable oyster catchers looking for something for their lunch.

P3030029 Red billed gull

We continued our coastal trip and drove around the Eastern Bays to Eastbourne.  It may be a pricey place to buy a property, but it has a lovely village feel to it.  Here we saw the foremast from the  Wahine which now stands at Eastbourne as a memorial to the Wahine disaster which took place in April 1968, with a loss of 51 lives.  Robin and I can still vividly remember that tragic day, with pictures of the ship stuck fast on Barrett’s Reef playing over and over again on TV.  Many of the passengers, both dead and and survivors, were washed up on the rocky Eastbourne coast. 

P3030037 Wahine Memorial at Eastbourne

Then it was a short drive back to Days Bay.  William's Park has always been popular with visitors, and we called into the Pavilion Cafe for an ice-cream.  Sharyn was persuaded to try the great Kiwi delicacy, hokey pokey ice-cream.  It was a race against time to get the ice-cream finished before it melted away and ran down our hands!

P3030040 Yummy, hokey pokey ice-cream

It was time to head back into Wellington and return Sharyn to her cruise ship, Dawn Princess.  Sharyn was certainly enjoying her cruise, and was travelling with a group of like-minded ladies.  Who wouldn’t enjoy life on board, with great food, entertainment, and nice rooms.  But before we parted, I gave Sharyn a little gift, two fat quarters of batik fabric printed with New Zealand birds, one dark blue and the other brown.

P3030004 Batik New Zealand bird fabric

How exciting - Sharyn had a gift for me too.    I opened it up once we had returned home to find some lovely Aborigine designed fabric.  On closer inspection, I discovered that Sharyn had made me an apron.  Just what I need – I always wear aprons when I’m cooking.


P3040054 My new apron from my new friend

It was so nice to meet up with Sharyn and make her acquaintance.  Guess this happens to other bloggers from time to time, who get to meet after exchanging emails for a while.  (A bit like going on a blind date, she remarked).  What a lovely lady, and it was a real pleasure to show her around Wellington.  Her next stop was Akaroa, on to Dunedin, then cruising into Milford Sound, before the Dawn Princess then headed back to Melbourne.  What a great trip.