Saturday 31 May 2014

I'm as blind as the HD3QBEM!

Today we drove down to Hamilton to see the "With Bold Needle and Thread: 1920-1960 Vintage Needlework" exhibition.   A beautiful golden day for the last day of Autumn and we enjoyed both the weather, the scenery and the exhibition.  
As we entered I looked for any sign relating to photography and couldn't see any so took this shot, turned around and spied a small discreet sign saying No Photography Allowed.   Too late!   So here's the one and only shot of a very interesting exhibition.   Do you need a Peg Bag?   These may provide inspiration!
Many years ago -  well around 48 to be precise - I used to go and stay each school holidays with my maternal grandparents.  My grandmother was terribly crippled with arthritis and could manage only the bare minimum of household cleaning.  So while I stayed I cleaned: ceilings (discoloured from Grandad's incessant smoking), cupboards (one in particular was small dark and full of spiders), the laundry (an ancient old mangle and a concrete tub needed lots of scrubbing), wardrobes (rivaling that famed by the Narnia series for large and capacious),  china cabinets (Clarice Cliff coffee set - unused, Royal Doulton tea set - again unused as these were to be admired only - the good stuff was always kept for 'best') and the greatest delights?   The linen cupboard and Grandma's stash cupboard. Treasure cupboards in my eyes. There were tablecloths, pillow cases, tray cloths, tea cosies and on the top shelf hat boxes with Old Gran's (Great Grandma) unwanted hats.   The stash cupboard had tortoise shell tatting shuttles, boxes of crochet hooks and the thread from which the fantastic crochet cloths were made, buttons, thread (Semco and Anchor but nary a DMC) and stamped cheval sets for the 'fancy work' that was so popular at the time. And an old suitcase full of knitting, dressmaking, crochet and needlework patterns and magazines. Oh, I could have spent the whole holiday cleaning those two cupboards!
Today at this exhibition it was like revisiting Grandma's linen cupboard.   Crinoline ladies on the corners of fine linen Afternoon Tea Cloths, embroidered 'afternoon aprons', peg bags, duster bags, laundry aprons, oven cloths and pot holders made of sacking, cushions, tea cosies, doilies and yet more doilies.
A very enjoyable day out and as a bonus we arrived home in time for me to wash the car.  It is sure to rain tomorrow!!

Friday 30 May 2014

A magnetic personality

A funny thing happened to me this week.   My watch (only purchased less than six months ago) was losing time.   I checked the 'pips' on the BBC.   I checked with the 'online' clock.  Yes it did seem to be losing time.   Unconvinced I still persuaded myself I was wrong until I ran late for an appointment all because of the watch :-(
So off  I strode to the Precision Watch Company.   With a name like that you can guarantee that they will cure this problem.   On the envelope I wrote my name and phone number and left my precious watch in the hands of Mr Watchmaker Wizard.  Two days later and a phone call.
"Excuse me Ma'am, your watch is keeping perfect time.  There is nothing wrong"  
What?   "Thank you," says I, "it must just be my magnetic personality upsetting it."  
And then....surprise surprise, Mr Watchmaker Wizard says, "well, you could be right.   Does your handbag have a magnet closure?" 
Mystery solved.   Apparently my deeply sensitive but well loved watch is a quartz movement and dislikes magnets so much that it stops momentarily whenever in close proximity.   In and out of my bag goes my hand and off and on goes my watch.  
Solution?   Apologies to the Watchmaker Wizard and a quick attack on the handbag; removal of the strong magnetic snap and voila!   All is well.
I'm off to stitch the front porch of My Cottage now.

Sunday 25 May 2014

I've been building a cottage

Tonight I've been building a cottage -  well three walls and a base.   Oops it's up side down!   I'm not sure that I like the Est. 2014 but I wasn't brave enough to attempt to change that completely.  The front door, window and trailing roses on the front side are more complicated and will need to wait until tomorrow.   The base has to have initials and I really want an entwined M and S but can't find any in my alphabet books so will have to get out the graph paper and a pencil and chart my own.   That's another job for tomorrow night.
And in the interests of frugality and because linen is very expensive at $140 a metre I have filled all available space on this piece and tacked out the pieces for another project.   This probably means I will need to stitch that project before I can cut out and construct the cottage ??? Oh well, so be it.   I will do that one next so watch this space.
Now another week starts.   Tomorrow is pay day at work so I will have to do the wages first thing.   Everybody loves me on wages day :-)

Friday 23 May 2014

Somebody told me I wear too much black so ....

Somebody told me I wear too much black so I decided to take a photo of what I wore to work each day this week.   It's not all black!
There is some grey, some white, a touch of silver, pearl earrings and one top even has pink roses!   But on the's black.  
Tomorrow is Saturday I and I will be in navy jeans, navy Chucks and a navy sweatshirt.   And the weather will ensure that I need to use my blue umbrella.   Proof that I don't always wear black!
Anyway now I'm off to stitch in white :-)   Once the white is finished I will be back on the beautiful colours of English Meadow as I begin the base of my Cottage Etui.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Sock Number 1

Despite the nasal congestion I have managed to finish my first sock.   There was a little happy dance, somewhat muted by the realisation that I need to knit another and it needs to match.
This specially dyed yarn which creates patterns and stripes with no effort on the part of the knitter is a wonder but also a worry.  Will I be able to find the identical spot in the remaining yarn where I can start sock number two and be assured that when I reach the toe these socks will look like identical rather than fraternal twins?   Let's hope so.
And don't worry, I am not suffering from cold toes while I am knitting these.   I already have four pairs knitted by the HD3QBEM!

Tuesday 20 May 2014

A surprise in the mail

Tonight I arrived home from work, miserable with a head cold generously passed on to me by the HD3QBEM, to find this wonderful surprise
Kris was the winner of a give away draw on my blog ages ago and she kindly stitched this cute little Just Nan Fairy for me.   I'm still pondering how I will finish it?   A pillow?  A flat fold? An ornament?   Maybe a notebook cover?   What I do know is that I will consider this carefully before I begin constructing anything.   This little fairy will not live at the bottom of my garden but in the front of my curio cabinet.   Thank you so much Kris.
Today has been a dreary cold day and although there was a wonderful golden sunset tonight the forecast is for rain tomorrow.   My cold means a holiday from the gym this week so I have more stitching time.  In fact I am knitting and the first sock is almost complete.   Updates to follow.

Monday 19 May 2014

Auckland Writers Festival 2014 and what I learnt from my day out ....

On Saturday I went into the City and used my new and universally-touted-as-super-convenient AtHop electronic ticket card to go across the harbour on the ferry.   Tag on, he told me so I did but at the destination there was no visible tag off so I didn't.   Bad move Margaret!   My super-convenient ticket is also intelligent and it locked me out and required me to visit the ticket office and plead for assistance.   Problem soon solved but the raised blood pressure took longer to subside.
The second hand bookshop on Devonport Wharf had a couple of shelves of Frances Parkinson Keyes books -  I've never seen so many at once since the days when my grandmother had an immense collection.   For nostalgia's sake I purchased two.
One day when I am rich, one day when I have money to spare,  I will buy a ticket to every event at the Writers Festival and sitting back in the comfortable chairs, indulge my bookish desires.
However that day has not yet come so I am required to limit my ticket purchases and this year went to hear Camilla Lackberg and Alexander McCall Smith.
First Alexander.   I knew what he looked like from publishers blurbs on the back of the book jackets but in my mind I had him with a broad Edinburgh accent and that is just not true!   A minor disappointment though as I was entranced from his very first words.   We had the occasional tantalising reference to Isabel Dalhousie and to Mma Ramotswe, but the title of the talk was about his book  "What W H Auden Can Do For You".   Obviously quite a lot, as Alexander talked for a full hour and answered several questions at great length and told us he not yet exhausted the subject.   Methinks  I need to read Alexander's book (I am first on the request list at the library) and to become acquainted with Auden.   I think I might like his poetry as two small quotes made their way into my notebook -

If equal affection cannot be
Let the more loving one be me.
Love made him weep his pints
Like you and me.

Watch out "Hard To Find Bookshop" I am coming and I expect you to have an anthology of Auden verse.
Second Camilla Lackberg.   Well actually, she was first but just as she confused her audience over ex-husband number 1 and ex-husband number 2, and their appearances in her books - not in that order - I have confused the order here ;-)
The convenor for the "Hour With Camilla Lackberg" was Jonathan Krebs, president of the NZ Law Society and well prepared he was too.  His obvious experience at cross-examination of interviewing people showed and he had given himself an in-depth crash course in Camilla's eight books.   Furthermore, he had insisted that his teenage daughters and friends also read them and had collated questions from them as well.   Even having read all eight books, he told us that being a criminal barrister meant he knows depravity in all its forms and the written efforts known as crime fiction pale into insignificance compared to reality!   Surprisingly, Camilla agreed.   Witty, charming, photogenic and highly personable, Camilla told us that her introduction to writing was the gift of a writing course given to her as the 'best Christmas present ever' by her mother, brother and ex-husband number 1.   Two and a half years in completion, the first manuscript was printed off in three copies to mail to a small, medium and large publisher respectively.   Apparently she held the packages so long over the postal slot, that passing Japanese tourists thought she was an art installation and took photographs!   However, the manuscript was accepted by the small publisher in the same week that her first child (5 kilogram son number 1) was born.   "How can you top that" she asks?   "Only with a Nobel Prize and giving birth to twins"! 
Not being a 'Large Plan and Post-it' type, she is however obsessed with maintaining 5-10 pages of writing per day.   She writes logically from the first page to the last, trying to maintain the progression that would happen in a real police investigation.   And the final question was "do you prefer Kindle or a real book".   Her reply -  "anything that sells but personally I like turning the pages of a real book".
And a final item of trivia.   Sitting in an audience at these functions one notices satorial aspects of both writers and convenors.      Camilla had zebra print trousers and loads of bracelets and gladiator style skyscraper high sandals.   Two years ago I remember being fascinated with Peter James' red silk socks.   Well, Jonathan Krebs wins this year's Satorial Contest for his paisley shirt, dark suit and grey and black striped socks.   Alexander's pink shirt shouldn't rate a mention.

So what did I learn from my day out?
- I don't like wandering around the city in the cold on my own  (you are a NZ'er, wear merino girl!)
- I don't like super-convenient semi-intelligent transport tickets (get with it Margaret, this is the 21st century!)
- Second hand bookshops can absorb time very rapidly (you don't have to read it you can buy it!)
- I like Writers Festivals and two sessions are not enough (Broaden your horizon's next year book three!)
- I need a pair of grey and black striped socks like Jonathan's (well, in the winter I wear basic black daily!)

Friday 16 May 2014

No eyes!

Life has been very quiet at our house this week.   The HD3QBEM has had a nasty head cold but seems to be on the mend now -  at least she is back to being able to dry the evening dinner dishes:-)
However she managed to complete what we both call the bumblebee sweater and has added it to the pile of knitting which will eventually go to the Hospice Shop.  There are now five garments towards the total for next year.   39 is the number to beat and she seems on track to win.
While she has been busy, I have completed the roof of the Cottage Etui.   Well, almost.   That gaping gap in the middle is an eyelet but needs to be done after the interfacing is attached.   Apparently I drill a hole with my awl and make the eyelet then... we shall see how that works out.
Unfortunately dreams of constructing the pincushion and scissor fob came to naught but I have the ingredients ready and there is always next week.   Doesn't the Colourstreams Silk Ribbon match well?
I did manage to pick up my knitting needles and make a start on a pair of socks.   Before the HD3QBEM's sight completely gives out, I want to be guided through the intricacies of a turned heel and to cross off another item on my 'before 60' list.   During the winter I always wear hand knitted woolly socks inside knee high boots and the winter temperatures are here now and these socks need to be off the needles and on the feet.   So my needles this week have had no eyes :-)
Coincidentally Little Sis and Little Brother are both in town this weekend so the HD3QBEM will have company while I spend a day in the city centre.
I plan on a ferry trip across the harbour to the delightful second hand book store on Devonport Wharf, a saunter up the street to Cushla's Quilt Shop (she may have the paper hexie templates I am searching for) and in the afternoon attending several lectures at the Auckland Writers Festival.   I booked in to hear Alexander McCall Smith and Camilla Lackberg - one because I love all things Scottish, in particular Edinburgh, and I want to see in person the creator of Mma Ramotswe,  and the other because I enjoy the occasional foray into Scandanavian Noir.   I am looking forward to the lectures very much.  Listed like that the day sounds positively indulgent!
We had performance reviews at work this week -  mine on Thursday morning so I had most of the week to build up a solid knot of nervousness in the stomach region.   All went well and was amazingly positive so tomorrow I plan to spend a small portion of my bonus (reward) on a  tripod for my camera and thereby hopefully, be able to produce better selfies than the current versions which rely on my dim memories of physics for mirror reflection angles. And a tripod is another item on my 'before 60' list.
So that's the news from my house this week.

Friday 9 May 2014

A quick catch-up

Only a  little progress to report this week.

This week I finished my target on Ring O Roses so she has been put to bed for a while and I have been stitching on my C A Wells Cottage Etui.   A little adapting here and there and I am happy enough with the finished result pale and delicate though it may be.

Actually the colour is not as pale and insipid as my photography.   The shades of the English Meadow floss are really quite pleasing.  The stitching is now done so that I can complete the scissor fob and the pin cushion - perhaps next week I will have the completed items to show as I need to get ribbon and wadding for the pincushion.  I did want to have a 'double monogram' with both M and S but couldn't find any alphabet like that in any of my books so gave up and settled for my usual M.   What difference will it make anyway as this piece will probably be discarded along with other pieces when my long suffering nephew sorts out my belongings one day.  Oh dear, how melancholy is that?   Fear not.   I am not depressed with dark thoughts-  merely telling myself not to get hung up on small details :-)
The plan for next week is to complete the other side of the roof - i.e.. the remainder of the alphabet and then the numbers.   After that it will be a temporary sayonara to the Cottage Etui and  hopefully on to construction of the Naxos Necessaire.   It was June 2013 when I went to the class for that Necessaire so I have promised myself it must be complete before 12 months are up but as they say "if wishes were horses,  beggars would ride."   There are too many variables in my life and indeed, too many other temptations also.
My diary - at least for the weekends -  is really full for the next six weeks but I was delighted to find that the Embroiderers Guilds Regional Day falls on the one free Saturday I have so I swiftly filled in that gap on the page.   I am looking forward to that immensely as it is always so inspiring to see what others are doing and to browse the merchants mall.

Little Brother is coming up to stay next weekend and both of us are looking forward to that.  Little Sister will be here the same weekend but she isn't staying.  There is only a certain amount of expansion room in a two bedroom apartment!   Perhaps I should invite Older Brother and we could have a family reunion?!   The HD3QBEM is full of anticipation and hoping that her health will cooperate.

Well that's all from me.  I have baked a Ginger Crunch Slice, some Chocolate Chip biscuits and a fruit loaf.   My busy schedule this weekend requires tight timetabling starting this evening.   Now it is time for my book -  I am hooked on a Katherine Neville book and lunch and tea breaks have been too short this week.   I shall read till I finish it tonight.

Night night everyone.

Sunday 4 May 2014

Everybody likes English Meadow!

Yesterday I took myself off to the LNS with my little list.   Did they have Silk N Colors English Meadow?   No.  What?   It is only four weeks since I bought a skein of that exact floss.   And now they have none?   Does everybody else like English Meadow?   Obviously.   I have emailed off to Sherelyn at Heirlooms to see if she can help before I attempt to extract one skein of floss from any on line overseas retailer.   My plans weren't totally thwarted but they sure were diverted.   I settled for a star frame instead of the circular one that was on my little list.   In fact the only item crossed off the list was DMC 535 -  so all in all a rather unsuccessful visit.
I did however complete this Christmas Ornament.   Originally stitched to go inside a Tim Holtz pocket fob, this was far too small and I have been searching for a small circular frame since.   Far from circular, this frame is perfectly satisfactory and another completed ornament for this year.
During the week I completed the base stitching on the lid of The Mermaid's Sea Chest.   I love this project but the over one stitching is hard on the eyes so I will mothball the piece and have a break for a month.
The "wood" looking panels have a pearl seed bead monogram in the centre panel and each side will be a bead anchor.
In April I didn't get to Embroiderers' Guild meeting so the Guild Project didn't get any further.  Last night I picked it up and completed the corner and all of page three.
Now I am working on the corner for page one and then will be one quarter of the way through.  
One third of the year gone and only one quarter of the project done?   I need to up my speed I think.
The HD3QBEM is not at all well this weekend so we are having a quiet time at home.   She is knitting what I call a bumble bee sweater (three guesses as to what colours the stripes are!) but her lack of energy means the knitting lies on her lap a lot.   Talking Books provide Sherlock Homes as background entertainment.   Our quiet times at home are quite fun!