Wednesday 30 July 2014

Patchwork Progress

I remembered my promise-to-self and made a start on stitching together the hexagons.  Wanting this runner to be totally random I decided to make each 'flower' different and tonight's progress is this
While I am convinced I will never become a patchworker, this type of piecing appeals to my frugal nature and uses up lots of little pieces from my fabric bin.  My vision of a granny quilt looks as if it might be possible so I am happy.  
Back to The Mermaid's Chest tomorrow night....

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Tomorrow Is International Embroiderers Day.

Pamela reminded me on her blog that July 30 is International Embroiderers Day.  How will you celebrate?   I desperately want to start something new as this seems like such an auspicious day to begin a new project.   BUT I'm not prepared for the stress of having more Works In Progress.   Currently I have two projects on the go and a box of Hexagon patchwork that is having little attention paid to it.   Now, there's a thought.   I will declare tomorrow to be hexagon patch day at my house and make an effort to complete the tacking of these pretty little fabric hexies.   Who knows I might get some joined together!
My fabric bomb has been occupying my thoughts and I now have "a plan" so am hoping that over the weekend I will be able to begin work on this.   I need to find my Gygli cloth interfacing and some black linen for the hair.   Not being a creative person this feels like an extensions class at one of our Guild classes.   Hopefully the finished product will be useful or at least beautiful.
Anyone who wants to participate in the draw to receive a fabric bomb from me please leave a comment here as I will have the HD3QBEM draw a name in the weekend.  
I kept company with my mermaid last night and made good progress on her Chest.   As I am still unsure about the verse on the base I decided to stitch all the pockets and the wave border before I make the final decision.   I can't quite see why even a mermaid would need a lattice of ropes on the inside base of her Chest so will probably opt for a legible verse and no ropes.   There will be ropes aplenty on the outside.   She won't be ready to display in our Guild Exhibition this year but I plan on completing her before Christmas as I', already planning my list for next year!

Sunday 27 July 2014

Another item off the list

This weekend I have been down to Tauranga to visit my friend and completed another item on The List.
Beautiful fine weather on Saturday but a cold 14 degrees celsius when Judy and I set off round Mt Maunganui.
I had intended to go up this volcanic knob but inclination did not equal energy so I amended my List and went round - twice.  
Judy is a slooooow walker so I strode off ahead, turned around and came back to meet her and managed to complete two full circuits
 - hence earning my first ever Waffle Icecream Cone from the tempting shop on the ocean side of the mountain.   Lemon CheeseCake flavour with passionfruit sauce!
Later that afternoon Judy took me to see her friend who collects Singer Sewing Machines.  These are displayed in a large room beneath her house and she has the story about most of them.   One is a 1906 model and came complete with the sale receipt - 5 pounds sterling and sold to a lady from Yorkshire as part of her preparations to marry and come to New Zealand.  This visit was right up my alley.   I was fascinated to see them all, some over a 100 years old but still sewing beautifully.
 Raewyn has painstakingly restored them all and ensures that they continue to run well.   What an amazing room.  Raewyn also converts 50 year old Singers from electric models to hand wound machines, checks they are sewing correctly and together with other volunteers ships them to Papua New Guinea where ladies in the mountainous highlands are taught how to sew and make a small income from dressmaking.  Apparently the 50 year old models she uses are the most stable "workhorse" models and they can be assured that mechanical problems will be extremely rare.
Amongst all her treasures she turned up this small one at which I exclaimed "My first machine was exactly like that!"   I remember sewing dolls clothes on my mini-Singer and a might fine job it did too.  Raewyn asked whether I was still loyal to my first love and I had to admit that no, I now own an Elna bought for the princely sum of $299 when I was 18.   My father was adamant that I bought the Elna and accompanied me to the shop and stood over me while I parted with my hard earned cash.   His foresight has to be admired however, as 42 years and many thousands of kilometres of sewing later, that Elna machine has never had a service and has never broken down.  I love my Elna and long may she love me.
Now, needles of a slightly different sort were plied with some energy over the weekend and I completed four letters of the Prairie Schooler Christmas Alphabet.   Four letters selected with special attention to form a Christmas Gift for a friend -  so no photos of that yet.
The HD3QBEM managed well while I was away and the respite nurse came at the appointed times.   Pat on the back to myself though, as I gather the HD3QBEM is pleased to see me back.   I have fixed up three dropped stitches, sorted out a couple of knitting problems and generally got things to rights.   So life returns to normal and it is back to work tomorrow.


Thursday 24 July 2014

Catching up

Spring has come to my garden and the daffodils are blooming.   However the weather is still really cold and wet and in the south they have snow.   These winds come straight off Antarctica and cut to the bone.   When oh when will winter end?  I am mighty tired of boots and woollen coats!
I have been stitching away on Ring O Roses since Guild day last Saturday and have now completed the next page.   Only four pages to go I think, so for now I will put this away and return to the Mermaid's Chest.    I am eager to get this finished and constructed but I tell myself it was to be a Guild project for the year and it is only July!!  This weekend I am going away for a couple of nights to visit a friend and will take a couple of small Christmas ornaments with me.   We will be talking non-stop I'm sure, so concentration levels may be low and a simple small will be just right.
Yesterday I took the HD3QBEM to the ophthalmologist and he confirmed that her vision is much poorer than a year ago and seemed genuinely sorry there was little he could do for her.   Neither of us were surprised and it was really to check out the health of the eyes that we had gone to see him.   She continues to knit and has multiple projects on the go so that dropped stitches can be laid aside until I come home to fix them for her.   Admittedly, she is slower and the knitting plainer but still the small cardigans and sweaters are warm and welcomed by the Hospice Shop.   Last weekend we went to the wool store to stock up on some more yarn for the next 5 or 6 projects.   The HD3QBEM is always busy with something on her needles
I'm off to do my chores and place a few things in a bag.   Judy and I are planning to go for a soak in the hot pools.  Lovely!

Sunday 20 July 2014

A Fabric Bomb!

Have you heard of Fabric Bombs?  I hadn't and then I was the lucky recipient of a Fabric Bomb from Pamela.   Do go and visit her blog and see her lovely variety of work.   You can read more about the beginnings of these fabric bombs here.   
Yesterday I collected my bomb from the Post Office and here is the grand unveiling (in photos). 

Thank you so much Pamela.   I love blue and am sure that even such an uncreative person as 'moi' can make something beautiful with these ingredients!   Crazy patchwork?   Trapunto?  Fabric weaving?   Applique?   Who knows I may yet try a completely new technique.
My bomb contained
2 one yard pieces of Japanese Yukata fabric
2 cotton fat quarters
1 small piece Japanese silk
1 vintage whitework handkerchief
1 packet John James Twin point needles
Petite Frosty Rays
Quilters Yardage Card
2 Star Buttons
DMC Perle cotton #3 colour 798
DMC Perle cotton #5 colour 334
Needle Necessities Spring II colour 358
One yard of lace trim
3 pieces ribbon
Mill Hill Beads colour 62034
Embroiderers Guild of America Charm
I don't know what I will make yet but I do know that I have a pair of wooden bag handles and that I need a new tote bag for work and that mathematically,  handles + fabrics + time = new bag.   All I need to provide is the time and a couple of days annual leave in front of the sewing machine should complete this equation.  
Now, I’m offering a bomb to someone else. I will ship internationally.  In order to enter, leave a comment below and be willing to offer a fabric bomb of your own. I will choose a winner in two weeks time on 3 August.   If you want to play along, here's what you do - please leave a comment on this post 
1.    The fabric bomber should try to be as creative in their selection of materials, buttons, beads, threads and whatnot, as the recipient will be in their use of them.
2.    The fabric bomb must fit into an A5 envelope, to keep postage costs to a minimum, and to make life easy for the postman.
3.    The recipient can make whatever they like with their fabric bomb–patchwork, toys, bags, collages, doodles, fabric books–anything goes. However, in the spirit of fabric bombing, the packet of scraps should be used creatively, preferably to try out something new, or something you wouldn't usually turn your hand to.
4.    You can add other fabrics to your make, but please don't just incorporate the fabric bomb into an existing make.
5.    You don't have to use every item in the fabric bomb in your make–but it would be great if you could!
6.    It isn't just about getting: once you've received your fabric bomb, please make a bomb of your own to send to someone else. Perhaps photograph the fabric bomb you've received, or the item you make with it. 

7.    Once you've done that, grab the fabric bomb button, post about your make, and prepare a fabric bomb (it must be a surprise, so don't reveal what's inside it) to send to one of your readers, so starting the process all over again.
Today I have come into the 21st Century and my new SmartPhone is all connected.  The very nice young man at the Vodafone shop happily set it all up and told me it was like teaching his mother!   Strangely enough that felt like a compliment as I'm sure his mother would be very proud of having such a well mannered son.
Now I am off to cook -  Lamb Shanks in Maple Syrup and Orange Juice, Pork Fillet and Mushrooms in Balsamic Sauce, Chicken Drumsticks in Sticky Plum Sauce  and that should be enough to keep the HD3QBEM sound in body and soul for the week.   I have Wednesday off work to take her to the ophthalmologist and we are both anticipating a "I am sorry for the further degrading of your vision but there is nothing I can do to help" report from the lovely doctor.   So long as the verdict is only that and nothing more sinister we will be able to manage.   
Have a good week.

Friday 18 July 2014

Baby blue and girly pink...

I have returned to The Mermaid's Chest now and am working on the stitched lining.   The linen is as close as I can get to that specified and the floss is exactly as the designer ordered.   Strange colours for a mermaid don't you think?
I have both ends done and the respective pockets.   Next the sides and their pockets while I think about what I will do for the base.
Here is what the instructions say ( a photo of a photocopy) - I don't like the way the letters are spaced unnaturally so that they peek out between the ropes.   Either ropes or lettering, but not both I think.  Any suggestions?   Can you even read the verse?   I feel like offering a prize to any who can as I think it is such an unintelligible puzzle.
Our rain had gone and we had three days of near freezing temperatures and clear skies and just as we enter the weekend we get....rain again.   I am baking a batch of Cranberry, Chocolate and Pumpkin Seed Cookies tonight -  the oven will keep the room warm and I can get a head start on my weekend chores.   Little Sister is coming to visit tomorrow and the HD3QBEM likes to have home cooking to eat with "crystal tea".   Strangely enough the females in our family only drink hot water (although I am known to have decaffeinated coffee when out) and as requests for this are always greeted with strange looks I coined the phrase Crystal Tea.   Even though an explanation is still required, people seem to accept it better than"just Hot Water please" ;-)
Tomorrow is Embroiderers' Guild and I am looking forward to that.

Sunday 13 July 2014

At my house today

Come join with me at my house today for the
The Naxos Necessaire is finish-finished!
So a few photos to show off

I learned a few new techniques with this including how to make a small detached buttonhole stitch button which the tutor assured us would be unobtrusive enough to allow the splendour of the stitching to shine forth.  Huh?  A year after the class and I managed to finish-finish this and to feel happy with it.   Now all I need to do is to find a place in the cabinet for this.   Shall I displace Grandma's Royal Doulton bowl or the HD3QBEM's wedding present tea set???

Friday 11 July 2014

And the Naxos Saga is almost over

If I am honest, the construction of this Leporello style Necessaire rather scared me and although the stitching was completed months ago the pieces languished in their bag while I plucked up courage. 
Now I wonder why!   The class may have been a year ago but Alison Snepp is a magnificent tutor and she gave such wonderful instructions that I have been able to follow step by step and, miracle of miracles, to feel 100% satisfied with my work.   Precise counting of linen threads may have made the pre-stitching a pain but it certainly pays off in the construction phase when every piece matches so well.
So here it is -  all the pieces ready to be lined.   That red gingham silk is what I will use for the lining.   Considering it is a year since I did this class I am pleased I still have all the pieces - even the floss ring, the piece of flannel and the hand stitched button.
Ah, this weekend I refuse to be interrupted by household chores or any such thing.   I will finish this Naxos Necessaire even though I have a hole in my middle finger from lacing the squares and sewing the pieces together.
Oh dear, I have just remembered.   We have dinner guests coming on Saturday evening :-(

Now what to do next....Some patchwork hexagons, a Sashiko Tote Bag, a piece of hardanger, the other sock??   No, I must make a start on the 'inner' of The Mermaid's Sea Chest.   From now on I will go back to one a time so I don't feel overwhelmed with too many projects on the go at once.

Saturday 5 July 2014

We have crossed the Rubicon

Today has been momentous for two reasons.
1.  The HD3QBEM told me she can no longer see well enough to read large print books and so life for her is now circumscribed by talking books supplied by the Foundation for the Blind.   I, who read voraciously, cannot imagine what it must be like to live in such a limited fashion.   Life will become more oral in our house from now on.   Her left ear still has good hearing and we are glad of that. Like Pollyanna, we will go forward finding things to be glad about and generally be cheerful.
2. I built me a house.   All the talk here is about affordable homes.  It is election year and all political parties have policies and views as to how every New Zealander can have a home of their own.   I too have an idea.... build a C A Well's Cottage.
Isn't this so cute?   From either front or back, this house is picture book material and I am more than satisfied.  The road to completion seemed long and at times was fraught with difficulty but I am so pleased with the result.
Here then, is my Cottage Etui.   I still need to get three pearl buttons and make the twisted cord fastenings but getting this far has allowed me to feel that I can cross this one off The List.
Tonight I shall stitch another page of Ring O Roses and watch Midsomer Murders, full of self satisfaction.  Ahhh.

Friday 4 July 2014

Half a roof, half a cottage and a whole fairy.

This week has been full of interruptions and plans gone awry.  At least the HD3QBEM is feeling better and now able to wash and dry the breakfast dishes so I am not late for work of a morning!
The Needlebook is finished and I even fond a tiny pair of scissors to put into it.
My Cottage has half a roof.  I used my new Clover Awl to make a hole for the eyelet and was so happy when it worked well.   Scrabbling through my fabric stash I found some gorgeous cream silk duponi which will make an excellent lining for this cottage.   My that does sound luxurious -  stitched in silk and lined in silk!  Hopefully over the weekend I am going to get the Cottage itself constructed and then I can check the fit of the roof.
Christmas is coming so I took time to iron on Giggle Cloth to these printed squares.   I have plans for these and if all the ingredients are ready then construction will be simple....I hope.   Note, these are not technically a new start just a preparation.
Some time ago, Kris sent me a stitched Fairy.   Last night I finished her into a small Christmas Tree ornament.   She is cute and will look good on the top of my tree.   Thank you once again.
Next is the Naxos for which I have all the ingredients.
So busy week it may have been but some small progress has been made.

Thursday 3 July 2014

Well I never ....

My friend Kathy laughed at me when I told her and I can hear the chortles of many who read this!

 Recently I embarked on Peter May's detective/mystery series in which Enzo MacLeod  solves previously cold cases  and wins the hearts of so many French maidens, visits Michelin star restaurants, vineyards, exotic countries, is reunited with his estranged daughter and has altogether too many adventures.   I am engrossed.   There are to be seven books in the series and I have impatiently read numbers one through four.   A request to the library and they obliged with book five and then to my utter astonishment I found there was no book six or seven yet written! Alas,alack.  What to do?  Even Peter May's website provided no satisfaction.   But it did have a contact me button on which, with no expectation of a reply, I left the following message.

When will number 6 and number 7 be available.   I am holding my breath with anticipation so you may have another murder on your hands when I expire from waiting !

Kathy laughed and teased me when I told her.   She may even have thought me a little mad?
So can you imagine the surprise and delight when today's email brought me a reply from Enzo himself!
Peter May / 

9:58 PM (21 hours ago)

Dear Margaret,

Hoping to get that slacker Peter May to finish the final instalment of my biography some time next year!

Best wishes,


I' m not sure if I love Enzo but this exchange sure made my day and Peter May isn't too bad either!