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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Textile Treasures at Government House

Government House in Wellington is the official residence of the Governor General and his family.  Twelve members of our caravan club did a tour through this wonderful old building, which was recently refurbished and earthquake strengthened at a cost of 40 million dollars.  The House is full of all sorts of treasures, lovely old furniture, paintings, silver, ceramics, and although I didn’t spot and quilts, there were many beautiful textiles on display.  Such as this beautiful silk screen in the State Dining Room which dates from the 1860s.

P9290039 Silk Screen

The Norrie State Dining Room in Government House features a long, extending table from about 1880 and can seat up to 26 guests, and is where State Dinners for visiting Heads of State are often held.  I was particularly interested in the 38 tapestry chairs which were created by branches of the Country Women’s Institute in the 1950s, for the cancelled visit of King George VI.   The design on the back of each chair is the coat of arms of a New Zealand city or borough.  The carver chairs (with arms) are from  the four major cities: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.  Our guide kindly found me the chair stitched in Levin, our new home town, so I could get a photo taken.

P9290036Chair with  the coat of arms from Levin

The Blundell Room is characterised by New Zealand’s native Tui, known for its social, chatty nature. The dark oily blue of the Tui’s plumage and the bright yellow Kowhai flower whose nectar the Tui feasts upon, have guided the selection of drapery and upholstery fabrics.  Plump embroidered cushions are arranged on the settees in this room.

P9290018Embroidered cushions

The woven kowhai screen had quite a story.  It was being made at the Arts Centre in Christchurch when the massive earthquake struck, and laid buried in the rubble for some time.  It was finally dug out, and was finished in time for when the refurbishments were complete and Government House finally reopened
P9290025 Woven screen featuring kowhai blossoms

Government House has an unique tapa cloth dress in the foyer.  The World of Wearable Art collection loans a rotating range of items with a Pacifica theme, we were told.

P9290047 Tapa cloth dress on loan

Owen took us through the house starting at the Ballroom,  which is used for receptions, concerts, balls, investitures and other award ceremonies.  Most significantly, it is the room where the Prime Minister and his or her Ministers as sworn in as members of the Executive Council by the Governor-General after a General Election.  At one end is the dais on which stand the two thrones. Above these hangs a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, painted by Denis Fildes in 1960.   The two beautiful  Czech crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling were completely disassembled and rewired with energy-efficient bulbs as part of the Conservation Project during the refurbishment.

P9290015 The Ball Room

P9290009Government House and the Reflecting Pool

We had a great tour, and as we walked through this room and that, our guide Owen told us the function of each room.  He pointed out various interesting objects and was a font of knowledge.   Such as the fact that Government House was built on the site of the Mt View Lunatic Asylum, which was dismantled and the patients moved to Porirua Hospital – we didn’t know that before!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Enjoying the Sunshine

We know that the weather is getting so much warmer when I’m happy to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a quilty magazine enjoying the morning sunshine.  In my part of paradise it is Spring and the time has come to alter the clocks for Daylight Saving.  (I’m starting to think that the time is almost here to put my winter clothes away, and start wearing something lighter.  But then we have a few more cold days and I change my mind again).  Muffy came outside  too, and I’m sure that she felt much better with the sunshine warming her poor old bones.  At 19 years old, she is getting rather stiff and no doubt sore too, and likes nothing better that being close to her people, preferably sitting on a lap. 

P9260011 In the bright morning sunshine

The air was filled with the sweet scent of yellow boronia, which has just burst into flower.  Such a lovely smell, and I’ve picked a few sprigs to bring inside.

P9260012Yellow boronia in flower

While enjoying the sunshine, I’ve also been doing a little “big stitch” quilting with Perle No 5 thread on the corner of my new stitching bag.  I’m getting there slowly.  The trouble is that I have several hand stitching projects on the go at the same time.  So I always have to decide which one will I work on.  No wonder I’m so slow!

P9260014  Big stitch quilting on my bag in progress

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just a little sewing

So what have I been doing today?  Just a little sewing, trying to clear up the backlog.  First I finished up some “secret sewing” for a gift, so I have to keep that under wraps for a little longer.  But the pieces have been sitting on my sewing cabinet for a wee while, and kept reminding me to just get on and finish it.  Which I have done now, I’m pleased to say.  The job didn’t take too long at all, and it made me wonder why I procrastinated so long.

Next up was a new bag for the caravan from parka nylon, not at all glamorous, I hasten to add.  This is to store our (rolled up) rubber door mats in, which keeps us from tracking mud inside the caravan.  The previous bag was made some years ago, and had finally given up the ghost with a large rip appearing in the bottom.  First I had to find some more parka nylon, and couldn’t get quite the colour I was after, so settled for red instead of burgundy.  I made the new bag a little larger and here we are, all finished.  It won’t win any prizes for beauty, but does the job of containing our often damp and muddy rubber mats, which are then stored away in a locker under the caravan.

P9240008 The new bag for muddy rubber mats

P9240007Oops, a big hole appeared in the old bag

Once again, this job didn’t take too long, just a bit of quick sewing and it was all done and dusted.  Perhaps I can sew something a little more prettier next time?

Monday, September 21, 2015

A couple more Christmas ABC’s

Slowly but surely, I’m quietly working away on my Christmas ABC blocks when I get the chance. I like to take this sort of stitching to my Friendship Group when we sit and stitch together, in between all the talking and stopping for delicious home baking at morning tea times, of course.  I also pack my stitching bag for the times we go away in the caravan, and I completed my “D is for Deer” block this weekend when we were camping at Foxton Beach. 

P9200067 C is for Candle and D is for Deer

I needed Robin’s help recently when I purchased some more skeins of Perle 5 cotton.  He had to hold each skein for me while I cut it in half and plaited the strands together.  This keeps the cotton (reasonably) tidy in my thread bag, and it is easy just to pull a strand out as required.  Didn’t he do a good job!

P9020004 He has been a big help!

Plaiting the cotton reminded me of those long ago years when I used to plait my daughter’s long blond hair into pig-tails before she left for school.  Mornings were always such busy times with a young family, school lunches to make, school bags to get packed, and long hair to brush and plait, before my two children rushed out the door on their way to school.  Those were the days!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sew Wots 200th Birthday!

It was a very special Sew Wot’s day on Tuesday, as the group was celebrating their 200th meeting – can we call it our 200th birthday?  And to celebrate, we gave ourselves a little present!  Everyone brought along a wrapped fat quarter which was placed in a bag, and we all had a dig and a delve and pulled one out.  What a lovely variety there was, everyone was very happy with their little gift.  I received a lovely piece of Japanese fabric.

P9150025We all got to choose a fat quarters from the bag

And that wasn’t all – Mary had a little gift for us all too.  She had been going through her  bits and pieces of crotchet cotton and made a whole lot of pretty book marks. We got to choose one – it’s no surprise that the pretty blue book mark was my choice.

P9150027    Mary had made us each a pretty book mark

As if that wasn’t excitement enough, Moira had put on an extra special morning tea to celebrate our 200th meeting, with a little help from Carol.  We had hot savouries, dainty sandwiches, pikelets, tiny coconut cup cakes, and a cream sponge.  What a great spread.

P9150030Morning tea

With such an exciting morning, there was not a great deal of hand work taking place, just a little stitching and knitting. As the newest member of this group, it was interesting to learn about the history.  Starting in mid 2006, the ladies have enjoyed making several quilts together over the years, a Row by Row, a Japanese themed block of the month quilt, and a Round Robin quilt.  Moira brought out her   Round Robin quilt to show me – and everyone reminisced about the particular round they did on this quilt.  The "Dancing Dollies" on the top border signify each Sew Wot member participating.

P9150024 Moira’s Round Robin quilt

It was a very special morning  indeed, and I am so pleased that I am part of this group of wonderful ladies.  House groups are very special indeed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Allcomers Stitching Day

“Come one – come all”, and they did, to the new venture for my quilt club, a day spent stitching together with fellow club members.  To someone navigationally challenged like me, my quest was to find the hall – not only one I had never heard of, but was also tucked down a driveway.  In my defence, I should state that we have only been living here for a couple of years, so there are still places I need to discover.  I arrived in good time to find the hall humming with ladies, setting themselves up on tables, chatting away, and getting ready for a good day’s stitching.

P9140013 All set for a good days sewing

As I had never been to this particular hall before, I didn’t take my sewing machine as I wasn’t sure of the availability of tables and power points.  I needed have worried, as there seemed to be plenty of room for those with machines.  Although I happily worked on my hand stitching all day, and perhaps next time I’ll take my sewing machine for the day.  My Sew Wot buddies Pam and Rae arrived in time for lunch, and I was intrigued with the tassel on Pam’s embroidery scissors.

P9140014 Pam’s scissors and fancy tassel

There was lots of lovely work going on around the hall, and most were happy for me to take a few photos as they told me the stories behind their projects.  Such as this wonderful “Op Shop” find of a set of six hand embroidered blocks  which she is surrounding with colourful scrap squares.  It makes you wonder how these lovely embroideries ended up being given to the shop – perhaps family didn’t want (or appreciate) their relative’s hand work when she passed on?

P9140018 Janneke making another charity quilt

Chloe was busy assembling not one but two soft fabric books for new babies in the family.  Made from fabric panels, these books have a decidedly New Zealand flavour.

P9140022Chloe’s books for grand-children

I sat with Kath who had also attended the Sunday Sashiko class, and we hand stitched away on our projects together.  There is no doubt that our quilt club’s first stitching day as a great success, with 17 people attending.  The plan is to have alternate weekday and weekends each month, so that those working will be able to attend as well.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sashiko Class

Fourteen keen ladies gathered on Sunday morning to attend a class on Sashiko stitching, with tutor Claire Smith, organised by my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  Claire started her workshop with a brief history of sashiko stitching.  Sashiko originated in rural Japan in the 18th century where women made garments for the family and the people developed ways to recycle fabric and extend the life of their clothes.  The stitching was originally designed for strengthening a single layer of fabric or for patching worn clothing or quilting together several layers of indigo dyed fabric for warmth and durability.This simple running stitch was born from the necessity of conserving and repairing garments at a time when cloth was not so widely available to farmers and fishermen. Their wives made sashiko items at home, particularly during the long winters when the ability to work outside was limited.

P9130002Class samples of sashiko stitching

Before we were let loose with fabric and thread, we practised drawing the designs first on pre-printed gridded paper.   I quite liked the curvy design marked with a coin over 1 inch sqaures.  We were shown how to mark up other designs too, some curved, and some made with straight lines.  Once we were sure of the process, the next step was to mark the chosen design on our fabric.  This was surprisingly time consuming, as the grid lines had to be drawn in first.

P9130003 Practising my curves

Our tutor was teaching the traditional hand stitching,  and most in the class decided to use this method.  Another option was to stitch the pattern by machine, and Marjorie was going well using this method.  Her choice of black thread on natural coloured linen looked very sophisicated indeed.

P9130008 Sashiko by machine

My sashiko was done by hand, using green thread on cream fabric.  The stitches should be the size if short grain rice, the tutor informed us – my stitches were more like jumbo sized grains, I have to say.  Later in the afternoon as we were flagging a little with all the concentration, we had a pick-me-up with a Kiwi speciality, Pineapple Lumps.  For those who have never tasted this Kiwi delicacy, imagine small chocolate covered pieces of confectionery with a soft, chewy pineapple-flavoured middle. 

At the end of the day we put our samples together on one of the tables to see what everyone had been working on during the day.  Some had chosen to work on the traditional blue fabric, others cream, and there was also green and burgundy fabric used – anything goes these days.  It was a very interesting class, and I’m pleased that my placemat was almost completed.  Just need to stitch the other one to go with it, and I’ll have a matching pair to use at the breakfast table – that’s the plan.

P9130012 Our day’s work