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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Visiting the Rellies

We have just spent several days up here in sunny Hawkes Bay.  The weather has been great, and we have been able to spend some time catching up with rellies.  My sister Kathleen and her family have recently moved house, so it was nice to see their new home.  And it was great to see some of my hand crafted gifts which I had made for Kathleen some years ago in the new home.  Like the “Hargreaves Family Tree” which I made to celebrate Kathleen and Dennis’s 45th Wedding Anniversary.  The fruit on the tree signifies their four children, and each leaf has the name of the grandchildren.

P3290055 Hargreaves Family Tree

Folded across the foot of the bed was the Healing Heart quilt I made for my sister ten years ago when she was suffering ongoing health problems and was in and out of hospital.  I machine appliquéd all the heart blocks then sent them to family members for them to write a message on.  When I received the heart blocks back from everyone, the nine patch blocks were added, and I appliquéd hearts onto the border. It was so nice to see these things used and appreciated.

P3290054 Healing Heart quilt for Kathleen

The four of us went to the “world famous in Hawkes Bay” Rush Munro Ice-cream Parlour where we all enjoyed an ice-cream sundae sitting outside in the courtyard.  It was great to catch up with them again and spend some time together.

P3310004Kathleen and Dennis at Rush Munro’s

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.

P3270011

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..