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

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gidday to Lou and Tony

One of the lovely things about blogging and travelling is the chance to meet up with fellow bloggers, as we did yesterday. Lou and Tony live in Timaru and Lou blogs as Manxgirl.  I was hoping we would get the chance to meet up, and they kindly invited us to their home for a BBQ meal – so kind.  What a great evening we had, getting to know each other, meeting Belle the cat, having a wonderful meal, and of course, a little Show and Tell on Lou’s part.  Here’s Lou in her sewing room with a WIP hanging up.  As well as patchwork and quilting cross stitch and crotchet, she collects tiny sewing machines and yes, they certainly do sew.

Lou in her sewing room

Then there were all those wonderful quilts that came out of such a huge cupboard (I want one that size).  It was interesting to hear the stories behind them


Some of Lou’s quilts

We had a tour of the garden, and a peek in the glass house full of tomatoes and peppers.  There’s nothing like the smell of fresh tomatoes on the vine, is there?  Tony fired up the BBQ and started to cook our dinner.  It was a lovely meal, with a variety of salads made with ingredients from the garden.

Tony on BBQ duty

Finally we said our farewells – they are a working couple after all, not like us on holiday.  Thank you so much, Lou and Tony,  for your hospitality, it was so nice to meet you both.  I must say that with reading other’s blogs you feel that you already a little bit about them, and it is so nice to get the opportunity to catch up with other bloggers.

Lou and Tony of Timaru

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Where are we Now?

We are still slowly traveling around the South Island of New Zealand, with plenty to see and do, and if I’m lucky, time for a little stitching too.  So what have we been up to lately?  We’ve now moved on from the Otago Gold Fields and here are a couple of snaps on our last days in the area.    The lovely old Wedderburn Tavern was one of the many featured in my book about notable old New Zealand pubs,  so the driver was persuaded to stop and call in for a coffee.  The friendly server not only signed our book with a friendly greeting but also invited us to stand behind the bar while she took a photo of us both.

Wedderburn Tavern, built 1885

The big green goods shed just along the road is just as famous as the pub as it features in one of Grahame Sydney’s paintings.

Wedderburn Goods Shed

Historic Ophir was another interesting stop, crammed full of lots of interesting vintage buildings from the gold rush days.  Some have been lovingly restored, but this old Haberdashery shop is in  need of a whole lot of TLC.  A peep through the windows showed some lovely old items on display.


Old Ophir Haberdashery Shop

The scenery changed dramatically when we left Otago behind us and traveled up the East Coast and saw nice green farmland again.  A visit to the the Victorian Precinct in Oamaru to view the streets of (protected) lovely old buildings is always special.

Victorian Precinct in Oamaru

And I couldn’t help myself and just had to clamber up on the penny farthing bicycle, a little difficult but I’m pleased to say I persevered and finally made it.  Just as well the bike was on a stand and not going anywhere.

Riding high!

Down  by the coast we came across an amazing sight – hundreds of pied shags resting on the old derelict wharf.  They were all quite happy, sitting in the sunshine and preening themselves, and not at all  disturbed by the paparazzi .  We had never seen so many all together.

Pied shags sunning themselves on the old wharf

We are now staying at Waimate, home of wallabies!  Yes, that’s right, wallabies here in New Zealand. Back in the 1870s  several were brought over from Tasmania and later released.  They made the most of their freedom and their numbers soon increased dramatically.  They are declared an animal pest and land occupiers must contain the wallabies within specified areas. The wallaby is now widely regarded as a symbol of Waimate.

Hop in for a Visit

Waimate also grows luscious soft fruit, lots of yummy summer berries.  With the temperatures climbing up, we decided to take a trip to visit Butlers Berry Farm to get some fresh fruit, and maybe an ice-cream.   This must be the right place, just look at the size of those berries!  We sat and enjoyed a mixed berry sundae in the café – oh my goodness, just delicious!


Butlers Berry Farm

I’m off now to sit outside under the shady awning with a cool drink and my stitching – it’s a busy life being on holiday.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Puriri Wreath

Finished at last – my Puriri Wreath stitchery block.  So that is one down, and eight more to go.  But I’m in no hurry, and I am treating this project as my long term stitchery project
Puriri Wreath stitchery block

New Zealand designer Jenny Hunter designed nine blocks featuring New Zealand trees as applique patterns, but I decided to do my version as stitcheries, using Perle No 5 threads. I’ve prepared all the blocks, and I’m enjoying doing a little stitching as we are travelling around the South Island on our caravan holiday. Now - what one shall I start next?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Art Deco Delights

Lovers of Art Deco would love Ranfurly – a interesting town we visited on our travels in Central Otago recently.  Ranfurly is known for it’s art deco buildings – built after a series of suspicious fires in the early 1930s.   The fires remain a mystery and no one was ever charged for all the damage caused.  The most attractive building, in my mind,  is the Centennial Milk Bar which used to serve refreshments to passengers who alighted from the adjacent railway station. 

Centennial Milk Bar, now an Art Deco Museum

These days it is an art deco museum, chock full of art deco crockery, furniture, and furniture.  I’m sure our family used to have some of this crockery in the cupboards when we were growing up.

Lots of interesting crockery on display

There were racks of clothes from the period, and a rather glamorous flapper girl all decked out in her best dress and fox furs – dressed for a night out on the town, it seems.

All dressed up

And I loved the underwear casually laid out on the bed.

Lovely items in the cabinet

Of course, thee 30s weren’t all about glamorous dressing – house work still needed taking care of.  I found this interesting loom, and a lovely old Singer sewing machine.  I learnt to sew on a Singer treadle machine when I was growing up – sadly it’s long gone now.  There was also quite a display of kitchen items in another room, including one of those mincers which were clamped onto the bench.  I used to have one of those too, and now they are vintage! 


Weaving loom and sewing machine

Lots of lovely art deco delights to admire, and the museum was ably staffed by very friendly and helpful volunteers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Creative Heart – Cromwell, and Holiday tales

I have been after some dark green Perle No 5 thread for my stitchery project, and while on our South Island holiday I have visited several shops trying to find this elusive thread.   As we passed through Cromwell last week, I called into the shop “Creative Heart” on the off chance that I would find what I was after.    Not all shops keep a large range of Perle No 5 threads, I have found.  But success at last, I found the shade I was looking for, and purchased the five hanks they had in stock.  I took them all, as I plan to use the same green thread in the leaves in all the stitchery blocks I will be doing - all I had left was a few strands.


I found exactly what I was looking for

The shop has a good range of wool, haberdashery, and quilting fabrics.  The owner told me that there are a lot of stitchers and embroiderers in the area, and that hand crafts are alive and well.

Lots o goodies in Creative Heart

Luckily the weather has been good on our holiday – it is Summer after all.  So we are still busy checking out the area.  We’ve walked over the Shaky Bridge in Alexandra which seems to be a bit of a well kept secret.   Originally a vehicle bridge into Alexandra opened in 1879, it fell into disrepair and now serves as a footbridge.  And yes, it is rather shaky to walk across, just as well that we are brave!


Shaky Bridge
The Shaky Bridge, and selfie

Another interesting trip was to Cromwell, where much of the original Cromwell main street was submerged in 1993 when Lake Dunstan was created behind the newly created Clyde Dam.  The “Old Cromwell Group” together with the Ministry of Works retained as many of the original buildings as possible, creating the Cromwell Heritage Precinct.   And what a busy little place it was, some had been turned into trendy shops, while others were left as they would have been.  It was great to walk around and explore.  There were people everywhere, looking around, or relaxing on the lake edge throwing bread out to the ducks.

Visited the Heritage Precinct in Cromwell

The whole region was taken over with “gold fever” in the early days  and there are monuments everywhere to the early miners who set out to make their fortunes.  One was particularly sad and tells the story of an unknown number of miners who perished in the hills and mountains during the “Great Snow of 1863” in Central Otago.   Mining settlements and camps over an area of more than 800 square miles were isolated or engulfed by the snow, and an unknown number of men perished.

Monument to miners who perished in 1863

Another interesting day was a trip to St Bathans.  We stopped to look down at the Blue Lake, where miners dug away a 120m hill to create a 70m hole. They blasted the hole using powerful jets of water that came from races cut into the sides of the hills, using picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows.   This was once the site of the deepest hydraulic mining lift in the world.  After the gold ran out, the men and machinery went away, and the hole in the ground filled with water.

Blue Lake, St Bathans

Then we visited the Vulcan Hotel, built in 1882,  which the jewel in the crown in tiny little St Bathans, the last remaining pub out of twelve from the heady days when this was a busy, thriving gold town. The pub is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young prostitute known as Rose, who was strangled to death in the hotel in the 1880s, and allegedly still  appears from time to time.   Poor Rose, no wonder she is not at peace, but luckily we saw no sign of Rose on our visit.

Afternoon tea at the Vulcan pub

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A little New Year Stitching

Trying to fit in some stitching while away on a road trip doesn’t always work.  What with traveling around and checking out the sights, I don’t always have too much spare time.  But with a little diligence, sitting and stitching an hour here and an hour there, I’m coming along with my block.  It’s not finished yet but certainly coming along.  I’m stitching Puriri Wreath, one of nine New Zealand tree and flower blocks designed by Jenny Hunter.   There are the berries and flowers to stitch yet.  Although these patterns are designed for applique, I’m  doing my blocks as stitcheries. 

Puriri Wreath block

So where have we been traveling to lately?  We’ve been down to Bluff in the deep south and posed for our photo at the famous sign post.  It was so busy that we had to wait our turn while all the others took photos.

Bluff Sign
At the famous signpost in Bluff

Back down on the coast road we found a sculpture paying homage to the Bluff oyster.  Harvested since the 1860s, the oyster has long been a Bluff icon, providing industry and employment for the area.  Sadly we won’t be around for the next  Bluff Oyster Festival which takes part next year at the end of May – there is nothing nicer than deep fried battered oysters and chips!

Bluff Oysters are famous!!

While driving around Roxburgh, famous for apricot orchards, we came across some amazing stone ruins.  What could it be, we wondered?  It was such a massive size, and if we were in England we could almost blame Henry VIII for it’s ruin. Mr Google told us that the Teviot Woolshed  was erected in 1870 and was once the largest woolshed in the southern hemisphere. Measuring 137m by 47.3m it could hold more than 8,000 sheep.  A fire in 1924 destroyed much of the shed, with just  the stone walls with rounded façade and arched windows remaining today.  It was an amazing sight to come across in the middle of the country.


Stone ruins of an old wool shed

Robin is very keen on power stations and dams, and there are several in the area we are traveling through.  We have visited each and every one we have come across, and her was thrilled when we were able to drive the car across the top of the Roxburgh Dam. I hopped out of the car part way across and took his photo!

Roxburgh Dam

We have been lucky with our weather on holiday.  While parts of the North Island have had terrible storms over the last day or so, down here in the South Island it has been mostly fine, sunny and warm.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year and Looking Back

Happy  New Year to all – may you all look forward to a peaceful, happy and healthy 2018.
And it’s that time again when quilters in blogland look back to see what we have completed over the year.  As some of you know, I list six UFOs  at a time and use the “roll the dice” method to choose one to work on for each particular week.  It goes without saying that the sewing time available each week varies considerably.  Sometimes my week is very busy with meetings, appointments or social activities, and then other weeks I get to spend more time on sewing.  And then again…….sometimes we are travelling around the country in our caravan,and I don’t do any machine sewing at all!

Checking back through the blog, I can happily show off these finishes.  And my first finish of the year was this tote bag, made with an embroidered panel sent to me some time earlier from my pen-friend Carol who lives in South Dakota.  She had stitched a design of a quilt shop onto thicker needled batting, and I thought it would be perfect for the front of a tote bag.

Quilt Shop tote bag

I have very happy memories of stitching each block of  using the designs  “12 Days of Redwork” by Alex Anderson. while travelling around in our caravan, so it was always going to be a caravan quilt. The flowers and leaves were then coloured using fabric pens.   My finished top was expertly machine quilted by Razzle Dazzle Quilter, Linda, quilted feathers around each embroidered block and beautiful freehand McTavishing and pebbles around the applique border.

“Hearts in Bloom” on the bed in the caravan

Next up was a table runner made with three gifted candle wick blocks, and a little left over fabric in cream patterned with pink and green from my daughter’s 50th birthday quilt.  I sized it to fit on our coffee table.

Candlewick table runner

Another small finish quickly followed my Winter Welcome wall-hanging.    This pattern was another gift from my pen friend Carol, she kindly included some of the fabric and I added the rest. 

Winter Welcome

Another rather long winded UFO finally finished was “Christmas Smorgasbord”.  Ages ago I took part in two internet block swaps using Christmas fabrics, for stars and nine patch blocks and combined them into this quilt.  And what a smorgasbord of colours and fabrics it was.  Stars of all shapes, mostly pieced, with a few appliqued as well.  And many different fabrics were used in the nine patch blocks, all looking so nice and Christmassy together.

Christmas Smorgasbord

What’s next?  In July I finally made my  polka dot apron plus a matching two handed oven cloth which had been on my list for ages, waiting for the right number to be rolled.  Quite some time ago I had done four little stitcheries from “My Vintage Kitchen”, designed by Jenny of Elefantz, especially to tone with my polka dot fabric.

Polka Dot Apron and Oven Cloth

Next came my small wall-hanging featuring New Zealand native birds.  The birds were cut from NZ themed fabric and appliqued on.   Have to admit that I’m really pleased with this finish and love the way it all came together.

New Zealand Native birds
It was so exciting getting my candlewick quilt Raspberry Ripple back from Linda of Razzle Dazzle Quilter fame.  This was a very old UFO indeed and dates back to 1999.  I traced out the candlewick blocks and packed them, my cotton thread, needles and small scissors away in my suitcase when we travelled around England for three months, stitching the blocks in the evenings after a hard day’s sightseeing.  These twelve blocks surround “Ribbons and Lace” in the middle, a larger pre-marked mini which I stitched some time after we had returned home from our trip.  Finally, it was finished, and I took the top up to Linda to work her magic on my quilt.

Raspberry Ripple

So that’s my finishes for the year, although I have also completed three extra tops.  But as they are waiting to be quilted they’re not actually compete yet so I am not counting them in this list.  But you can be sure they will be added to my List of Six for next year!.  I also finished hand stitching my Christmas ABC blocks, now waiting to be put together into  quilt top. 

We have  enjoyed innumerable trips away in our caravan, currently away on a long caravan trip exploring the South Island, so no machining for me till we get back home in early March.  Last year we also celebrated Robin’s 70th birthday, and enjoyed a three week trip to Cairns, Australia, so it certainly has been a great year.  Hope your 2017 has been just as great and that you managed some finishes too.