Tuesday 29 December 2015

How do you spell Christmas

In my house this year Christmas has been spelled C H O C O L A T E !!!
Look, here's the proof.
The HD3QBEM and I went to Lake Taupo for a holiday over Christmas weekend and had a great time with beautiful weather.   Our hotel provided a delicious dinner on Christmas night with really good Christmas crackers.   Look what came out, with a bang, a hat and a crazy joke.  
It was fun.   A young fellow on the piano and his good looking friend on the double bass provided carols as accompaniment.   We had a good time.
I even managed some stitching -  the reruns of old movies on TV were excruciating so I found the off switch and stitched instead.   Woodland Delight is now finished - well, I need to construct this into a small zippered purse.   In spite of my worries I am pleased with the finished product.
Next day we went for a drive around the western side of the lake.   Both of us decided that to have a holiday home here one would need a million dollars, a good architect, a cleaning lady and a gardener besides which a boat and a couple of jetskis would be essential too.   The homes were mostly huge with large landscaped grounds and huge expanses of glass making most of the view.  
The civic authorities had realized that people like me come to visit with library bags stuffed full of books so provided an armchair and a lamp at this superb lookout spot.   Fun!  But it wasn't comfortable -  the mosaic was so very very hot to sit on.
My Christmas gift to myself was to stay up late reading and then to sleep without turning my alarm clock on!   I did just that :-)
We also travelled down the eastern side of the lake and found a less exotic lookout point at which we had a picnic lunch.  We could see Mt Ruapehu across the water, still wearing its snowy cap.
My icecream was about to melt in the 26 degree heat so I couldn't get a photo of that  -  just the smile of delight for a wonderful holiday.
And I have made a start on another project - releasing it from the stash where it has sat for years.  I ordered the basket from CrissCross Row (back in the good old days) and will be pleased to have this project finished and to regain the space on the shelf !
Working for the government does have some benefits and today I had another days holiday (an extra on top of annual leave).   A departmental day!   It felt good to have time to get my hair cut, change my library books and above all to get the grocery shopping done knowing that I wouldn't have to go out again into the mad rush that is retail this time of year.
Back soon - it's dinner time now.

Thursday 17 December 2015

A Spanish Christmas tree

Look what the mailman brought me!
I am so impressed with this wonderful tree card sent to me from sunny Spain by creative blogger Sheryl.   Isn't it great?   Maybe next year I will try my hand at making one or two of these myself.
This photo is not true to colour.   Imagine Christmas Red, Sherwood Green and sparkly gold, green and red and you'd be right!
Thank you very very much Sheryl.

Saturday 12 December 2015

The Festive Spirit

Today is hot and sunny so I set off on an adventure

I shall take the bus into The City and admire the Christmas Decorations
I shall ignore the fact that these decorations are showing their age!
I shall admire at length the animated marionette Christmas display in the department store windows.
I shall ignore the small children who creep in under my legs and whose parents excuse such behaviour
I shall find a Christmas tree or two or fifty
I shall admire the plastic Santas adorning almost every retail display
I shall make Christmas Special!!.
I shall refuse to be tempted by the unending array of chocolate, gingerbread and other confectionery
I shall admire the arcade decorations
I shall put life and limb in danger to photograph Queen Street
I shall wonder where all the "foreigners" have come from until I spy this
I shall meet the Jolly Fat Fellow
I shall even wish him Merry Christmas
Hey ho, the bells are ringing

Friday 11 December 2015

Woodland Delight

Another long and tiring week is over.   Christmas is almost here and the supermarkets are filled with chocolate.   Visitors come to my house and leave behind boxes of chocolate.   Current project, Woodland Delight, is failing to delight.   And the result of all this?  Lowered resistance to temptation!!

However I am determined and so the "ceased to be delightful" Woodland Delight is being put on ice and I am sorting through my stash for a new project.   So before I start something new here's a progress photo of the back-  a completed medallion
 and the front - barely half done
My friend Yuko sent me an early Christmas gift -  this beautiful book.
Cross stitch based on old lace patterns, these are all really intriguing.  The bottom small image is the real Cluny lace and the top larger image is the cross stitch version!
Doesn't this look great?   Stitching on a dark fabric might be hard on the eyes but I'm determined to try and am inspired by these projects.
Methinks I need a small blue purse like the one on the bottom right, although the book cover on the left is tempting too.   Better this temptation that the chocolate though!!

Sunday 6 December 2015

Christmas is coming

This year I am not putting up my tree at home - my sewing cabinet is in the "tree spot" at the moment and is in use!  But we have a competition at work to decorate our desks and I have put up a tree there!
And I have made a large batch of Date and Ginger Balls, Cranberry Fudge and Ginger Crunch.   Yes! Some of my friends are getting 'home made gifts' this Christmas.   So with the kitchen redolent of Christmas fragrance I am off to watch Kevin McCloud on TV.
Hopefully I will be back tomorrow.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Almost, but not quite

This week I have been conscientiously working on the Sampler Casket and can now report that it is almost, but not quite, finished.   Amish folk would be happy to know that it is not perfect but I am very happy with it!
The front and top (I have blacked out the name)
The back and top (I opted to leave off my initials in the centre back)
And the inside is red silk -  I have yet to fasten in the inside lid.   Any suggestions as to how to?   I don't really want to use glue with all its inherent acids.
Inside I will place the "almost but not quite" finished hardanger jewellery roll. Here is the inside replete with pins and basting guidelines.  It still awaits zip closures for the large pockets.
And the outside -  I need to decide whether it will be a button or a tie fastening.
I have yet to buy a 1st birthday card and a 21st birthday card but hopefully next weekend I can, then complete this project.   My plan is to place a pair of earrings in the jewellery roll and with it a card and a letter to my great niece in which I will write of my hopes and prayers for her.  This is all to be wrapped in acid free tissue then be-ribboned and marked "not to be opened until your 21st".    The casket will be wrapped in gaily coloured birthday paper and the 1st birthday card attached.   But I am thinking that an explanatory letter to the parents may be advisable?   Oh, this has been such fun, creating what I hope will be a memorable present.
Woodland Delight was not very delightful as I chose to use linen from stash and failed to take into account that natural linen is not the same colour as raw linen and definitely not the same as dirty linen.   So I started again on a piece of natural linen and am much happier with the floss colours on this new piece.   Still from stash, but much more satisfying even to my non-artistic eye.
And tonight I am cutting out another top for the HD3QBEM.   If cut out and ready to go I am more likely to find time through the week for the sewing.   Our temperatures are warming up a little and she needs this now!

Sunday 15 November 2015

Missing in Action?

My absence from this blog was planned.   The two of us went north for a few days break at Waitangi. Blessed with wonderful weather and good health for the HD3QBEM we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
One day we went shopping at a small country town which happens to boast an excellent shoe shop and I acquired a new pair of summer sandals.   Long narrow feet are a problem to fit and I find it very difficult to find shoes I like and that like me!  This shop stocks European brands and they fit well.  Success :-)
I went for a walk along the beautiful bay and at the ferry terminal found what has to be the smallest library ever.   An old red telephone box has been repurposed.   There were no instructions but I am assuming that one leaves an offering and takes another book.   Having no offering to leave I reluctantly left behind a book I would rather have liked to snatch.
The next day we travelled around the country lanes to the HD3QBEM's school girl haunts.   The houses are long since gone and the mangroves have invaded the harbour but in her mind's digital camera it was still a place of happy memories.
Hotel light is not good for stitching but I did make a start on Woodland Delight.   In my humble opinion the colours of the thread are too close to the colours of the linen and after considerable cogitating I have decided to keep the same colours and differentiate with stitch.   This will mean rice stitch and smyrna cross but a happier stitcher!
Since coming home I have completed the stitching for the Hardanger Jewellery Roll and am really pleased with it.   This is a terrible photo and the colour doesn't show well but I am recording each stage of this project.   So before I construct -  here are the inner small pockets. Caron thread is not good for this type of work and the colour I chose is far too subtle in its variegations but the finished product will be exactly what I want.   More on this saga to follow.
And on that note, good night all.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Birthday cake

My work colleagues surprised me with two beautiful cupcakes which the HD3QBEM and I have shared.  
So full of chocolate and passionfruit and an amazing episode of Downton Abbey I am off to bed.   Work is so busy and I am so tired, I certainly feel a year older!

Monday 26 October 2015


Today,  two metres of fabric + two hours of labour = one happy HD3QBEM
And the proof? Look at this!
The colour suits her doesn't it.   QED

Sunday 25 October 2015

Bits and pieces

Life is getting in the way of stitching at the moment but I am making slow progress on crossing things off the list.
Today I packed up an unusual 'Advent Calendar' that will have to be in the post by 1 November if it is to reach its destination by 1 December.   Looks tempting doesn't it?
Then I am trying to use up the linen around the angels and have the outside of a needlebook completed.
I laced the first panel for the Sampler Casket and hope to do another tonight while watching Grand Designs.
The HD3QBEM and I are going up north for a long weekend in early November so I kitted up this cross stitch piece - all from stash which makes me really happy.  The linen is a 28 count fairly open weave so I expect that even hotel lighting should make stitching on this one possible.   I plan on making the purse only as I feel that I don't need any more needlebooks, pin holders, scissor fobs etc
Today was a beautiful warm Spring day so we went out for a drive to a local park and on the way called at The Ribbon Rose, my local needlework store.   But guess what?   The owner has decided recently to branch out into wool and has given over about one fifth of his store to the HD3QBEM's drug of choice.   And today, despite the vision impairment she spied a basket of bargains and we came home with this:-)
And the very best news?   Tomorrow is Labour Day in New Zealand and we have a public holiday to celebrate the 40 hour working week.   Strange feeling really, as despite working for the Government that in 1840 enacted that law, I have averaged 44.25 hours per week since commencing this job!!   However I will enjoy the day off and plan to stitch a new summer top for the HD3QBEM.   we are promised fine weather so I will also go for a walk, and cook the meals for the coming week.   But I don't need to do any cleaning as on Saturday I managed the usual basic house work as well as a full Spring Clean of the bathroom and the Linen Cupboard.  
I'm off to have a good week.

Monday 12 October 2015

I'm feeling a little angelic!

Despite this post being later than planned, I am feeling very pleased with myself.
Seven little angels all done.   The last time I attempted this bookmark the angels defeated me and I settled for a very ordinary Dove's Eye instead.  
So for this effort I read the instructions two or three times and worked very methodically and yay!
I'm not sure that the pink linen is quite appropriate but it is what I had in stash that matched the DMC perle in my tin.   Now I'm wondering what to stitch on the 'spare' linen of this piece.  I think there's room for another bookmark but I'm not sure about another 'angelic effort' straightaway.
There have been several nights of waking and gazing myopically at my alarm clock to read 6am and jumping out of bed only to find it was actually 3am or some other ungodly hour!   After the latest episode I decided to cash in one of my gift vouchers and get a clock that glowed in the dark and had clear numbers to read.  
I can't work out how to get the alarm to cooperate so the bell rings on the old clock but I tell the time on the new one.  And it works so well that I woke at 3am this morning so it has been a long day.

Now, I do have a very interesting book so will sign off and go back to that.   Has anyone else read "My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me" by Jennifer Teege.    A German-Nigerian woman happens to pluck a library book from the shelf and recognises photos of her mother and grandmother in the book.  She also discovers the horrifying fact that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant of Schindlers List.  This book is her journey to comprehend her family's haunted history.   Not a book to be devoured in one speed reading marathon, nor perhaps too late at night.   However I am finding this a gripping read and recommend it after only 25 pages!

Good night all.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Cherry blossoms, shopping and stitching

Today I took the HD3QBEM to see some of the beautiful flowering cherries.   We don't have any on our section but there are may trees in the area and one or two streets nearby are avenues of pink cloud.   Very pretty.
We also went to the fabric store and the HD3QBEM chose three pieces of fabric for me to sew into summer tops for her.   We have a public holiday later this month and if I can get the fabric cut one evening beforehand I will go into assembly line production that weekend and then hopefully voila!
Yesterday was a regional embroidery day and it was fun to spend time with others and be stimulated by the projects they have done and are doing.   I persuaded one lady to let me photograph her cylindrical hussif and I plan on copying that next year.
One of our speakers Priscilla Lowry, is both a textile artist specialising in silk (fabric and yarn) and a university lecturer in medieval history.   She gave an illustrated talk on women and embroidery in medieval art.   It was fascinating and makes me wonder if I could somehow find the time to attend a few lectures before my longed for trip to the UK as it would certainly make visits to art galleries more interesting.   After her lecture she showed us many of the garments she has designed - wearable art in the true sense of the word.  
I did manage to find time last week to stitch some more on the Hardanger Jewelry Roll.   However I have now put this to sleep while I finish off a Christmas gift which is destined for overseas and needs to be posted at the beginning of November.   The hardanger is needed for March so can wait.   It is pretty though and I am really enjoying this project.
At Regional Day I needed something a little less all-consuming so did the foundation for an Angel Bookmark.   Yes!   This one will go to sleep for a while too but then I will stitch angels and hope that it will reduce my ever growing stress and put me in an angelic frame of mind:-)
Meanwhile I am off to finish the housework and cook the dinner.