Wednesday 28 January 2015

Onward and upward

Auckland City celebrated its 175th birthday last weekend with beautiful hot weather and a three day party down on the waterfront.  Oh yes, we had a public holiday on Monday too!   My personal celebration was to take the ferry across to Rangitoto Island with a friend.  
We climbed up to the crater (one hour), half slid down the other side (one hour) and walked back along the coast to the wharf over seemingly endless 'rivers' of black volcanic rock flows (one and a half hours) and past one very tempting small beach where the water was so very clear and so very warm.   At the wharf, we collapsed in the shade to wait for the ferry back to the city.   A reviving cup of tea and a short bus ride home to a refreshing cool shower and a sound sleep.   It was great fun and I still have the muscle aches to prove it.
The white Hardanger on red evenweave was completed but it will remain a trial piece.   This is not the effect I was wanting as it looks more like Christmas than a ruby wedding celebration.  
So the thinking cap is back on and in the meantime I stitched the skeletons for two Hardanger Christmas stocking tops and  a square to top a velvet pincushion.   Win win!  Another piece of scrap fabric has been converted into useful product.
Elementary is back on our TV screens and although I'm not totally comfortable with a female Doctor Watson I am hooked on the series and while watching last night made a start on the front panel for my casket.  
There are multitudes of bullion rose type knot things (?) to go throughout these branches but as I stitch with a small hoop and move it about I will leave the 3D effect stitches until the end to avoid them being squashed,
And my treat for yesterday was a trip to the movies - part of my Christmas gift was a voucher.   I went to see The Imitation Game and now I want to read the book:-).  The trailers at these movie sessions are tempting aren't they?   Well to me they are, unless I have already read the story, so yesterday I was not tempted by Still Alice (read that one), nor by The Theory of Everything (read that one too) and neither Selma nor Wild seems like my kind of movie.   So I will be keeping my remaining vouchers until the next James Bond (roll on November)  and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (only have to wait till March for this one).
Today I ran a few chores for the HD3QBEM and found a new favourite place.   Yes!   I can see that this would be very tempting so just as well I only know one outlet in a shopping mall I only go to about once a decade:-(

Thursday 22 January 2015

A day in the life of....

This morning I took the HD3QBEM with me on a thirty minute trip north to the maximum security prison and faced down the cameras (many of them) at the entrance, before being permitted to enter and to have my "criminal record" searched.   The camera checked us again as we left.   I wondered what happens if they cannot verify the faces within a thirty minute time span?  Paremoremo Prison didn't look a particularly inviting stay!
And in the afternoon we went out west (only twenty minutes drive this time) to have the drug and alcohol test .   Such a nice looking young male nurse and so personable!   I was perfectly composed until he told me I needed to leave the toilet door open while I provided the sample.   You try it!   Despite the two full glasses of water before leaving home, it was very hard to relax and provide.   But once the deed was done results were instant and the all clear was given.
So I have crossed off two items on my non-existent bucket list.   Visiting a high security prison and successfully passing a drug test must surely rank high on any list.
For the past weeks I have been wondering why a couple of dresses weren't fitting well and consulted the scales this morning.   I was delighted to find that I have lost two kilo since leaving work.   So now I am off to the gym to assist in the loss of a couple more:-)

Wednesday 21 January 2015

And tomorrow I go to the prison...

Today I have been busy.
First,  I finished all but the initials and date of the back panel of the Sampler Casket.   Milestone number one achieved :-)
Second,  I made a start on my Guild project -  the Sweet Strawberry Bag.   I rather like this.   A band sampler bag is just what the doctor ordered.   The rows are started so I can continue on at Guild meeting and not have to consult the chart all the time.   Clever preparation n'est-ce pas?
Third, as a reward to self I started a small hardanger trial piece.   The fabric is a coarse even weave from stash and I am using Perle #8 thread to try out this stitch taken from the Anchor Book of Hardanger. I want to make a hardanger piece in red for a ruby wedding anniversary so am trialing both the stitch and the fabric.   Currently the jury is out.   I will finish the piece but may not use either stitch or fabric for the final gift.
Today's extras were to take the HD3QBEM to another yarn store where we found a 30% off sale and suffered a consequent accumulation of stash :-)   I picked runner beans from the garden and froze them.   This year's crop is not as abundant as last year but it is still fun to grow some of my own produce and to be able to enjoy it throughout the year.
This afternoon I received forms from the Department of Corrections that needed to be filled out and signed so tomorrow I go to the prison to deliver them to the person in charge.  While I may be a "preferred candidate" there are still many hoops to be jumped through before the job is mine.   
On Monday I went for an interview for an accounting position with the City Council in their water control board.   I'm to hear within two weeks if I am successful.   

Sunday 18 January 2015

Half done

Progress to report.   Half of the back panel is now complete.  I am a little disappointed in this chart as it is not absolutely symmetrical but I stitched as charted and will just live with it:-(
Somehow this project which has been on my "Want To Do" list for around 10 years is not proving to have the satisfaction levels I envisaged.   At present I am wanting more speciality stitches rather than the loveable little crosses, or perhaps a hardanger project?   I shall have another search of the stash and see if I can find a smallish project with the requisite satisfaction/speciality stitch ratio.
Currently I seem to have too many items on the go.   I need to finish sewing my summer dress, while the weather is still warm!   I need to quilt the placemats I have had cut and pinned for a week or two.

And I need to make a start on my 2015 Guild project which is Carolyn Standing Webb's Sweet Strawberry Bag and Toys.   Has anyone out there stitched this one?   I'd like to see photos of the back of the needlebook; is it the same as the front or is it only a floral wreath?   Help please.

Tomorrow I have another job interview so this afternoon I went to check out the address I need to go to.   It is very close to home, a brand new building in a nice part of town so we shall see what happens.  

Thursday 15 January 2015


The day before yesterday was memorable for two reasons.
I actually made a start in the back panel of the Sampler Casket.   Here's a shot of the bottom right corner of the floral wreath.   There are words of a verse to go all round, while I decide what I will put in the centre of the wreath.   My initials and the year may make this casket less acceptable to nieces or nephews who I am hoping will treasure this when I am gone.   Any suggestions for alternatives?
Also I had an interview for a position with the New Zealand Department of Corrections and returned home after a two hour grilling on, among other topics, my cultural sensitivity(they seemed fascinated that I had lived in Japan and worked for 21 years for a Japanese company - strange when most of the Corrections clients will be of a very different ethnicity!);  a typing speed test and a test of ability with Microsoft Excel.   Somehow I felt as if I had sat a major examination and was certain I had failed. That night was a bad bad night!   And then last night I had a call telling me I was a preferred candidate and would need to have a Drug and Alcohol test and have my criminal record checked.   Considering my only drugs are prescription medicine and my last glass of wine was around 4 years ago I suspect I may pass these checks and so have high hopes.
This afternoon I started sewing another summer dress before it all got too hot in the house and the HD3QBEM and I took a cool drink to a local park and found a shady tree.   Now with dinner over I am about to take up my needle again.

Sunday 11 January 2015


Despite the best of intentions I have not yet made a start on the Sampler Casket.   First of all I completed the Christmas Ornaments.  The small pewter grey stars don't look too bad and after all these ornaments are only on display for a few days of the year -  so don't sweat the small stuff Margaret!

Then, itching to do some hardanger I looked through all my books but made no decision.   So as a stop gap I completed a small square which I will make into a lavender sachet.
My "to be constructed" pile has grown again!
Today I went down to the city waterfront for a Vintage/Retro Outdoor Fair.   It was fun but hot - 27 degrees today -enough to melt the icecream I had as a treat.  A beautiful day to wander along and gasp in amazement that goods I remember using on a daily basis are now considered vintage!!
Tonight I have sewn up a small knitted cardigan for the HD3QBEM and added it to the ironing pile.   Now, with the dishes done I am settling down to watch the Antiques Road Show and to cool down before bed.   And guess what, I have another new start on the hoop!   Another scrap of linen and perle threads from stash are being converted into an Aztec Stitch bookmark while I analyse my reluctance to start the stitching on the casket;-)

Friday 9 January 2015

Joy and delight - finishes to show

Christmas lingers on at house as I stitch ornaments.   Mary Beale's Christmas Wreath is finished and I am very happy with this one.   Great Grandma's sewing box revealed an old covered button kit; my stash produced green velvet for the back and the button and voila we are finished.   I stitched this on 27 count linen so the finished size is about that of a medium dinner plate, around 9.5 inches in diameter.
I have two small ornaments underway and purchased small pewter stars for them today.   Would you believe the LNS had no gold stars?   So Christmas is really over and the stars are out until December?? Anyway these will be perfect as the lettering is in DMC 310.  The red is my favourite DMC115.   Linen is 32 count Antique something from my stash.   The 2013 JCS ornament issue (the tempting pre-Christmas issue) had these as the front and back of one ornament but split into two separate items they will increase my count:-)
The Sampler Chatelaine is finished.   I will never ever use this I know so it is now rolled up and in my Curio Cabinet.   Was it a waste of my time stitching it?  Not really.   I did enjoy all the specialty stitches and I like acorns so the silver charm in the top panel is a favourite.   But I would never wear something like this so the pleasure was in the making and not in the use.
Now with all the finished items fully constructed I can start the Sampler Casket this weekend.   I did read through all the instructions and have decided to start with the back panel first.   That has the lettering, initials and the date.   Well obviously the date will need to be left and filled in later!
Yesterday afternoon I spent sorting through all my DMC threads, returning 'orphan' spools to their rightful homes and having a good clean up.   This afternoon my pleasurable task is to sort out a Guild Project for this year.   I think it will have to be hardanger or at least one with lots of speciality stitches as I am tiring of the lovely little crosses.
This beautiful hibiscus is flowering in profusion just down the street, reminding me that Auckland is classified as a sub-tropical climate.   As if I needed reminding when the nights are almost as hot as the days!!

Tuesday 6 January 2015

The Doctor's visit

Today I had a visit from the doctor - this doctor, The Rug Doctor.  
Now my carpets are looking beautifully clean and smelling sweet and fresh.   Another hot day today so they will dry well too.   Clever me ;-)
And as a reward, tonight I am going to start my Sampler Casket.   The fabric and threads are all ready and waiting, I just need to stitch up a small scissor fob and get that out of the finishing pile.  I stitched this up quickly last night to use up a scrap of the linen from the Acorn Sampler Reticule and the very last of my DMC 3777.   Attached to a small pair of scissors it should make a suitable item for the Embroiderers Guild sale table later this year.
A thorough search of the stash didn't provide any backing fabric for the Sampler Chatelaine so I will take the HD3QBEM out on a jaunt on Wednesday to buy something suitable and finish that.   I have a job interview next Tuesday so need to reconnoitre first and make sure I know exactly where I am going.   Combining stash enhancement with that chore should make for a fun trip.
I'm off to make dinner now.

Monday 5 January 2015

Acorn Sampler Reticule

Today I completed two of the three parts to this set and on my satisfaction scale of 1 to 10 this is probably about an 8.   Not perfect but it makes me happy.   I found Dupion silk in my stash the exact colour of DMC680 and in sufficient quantity to line the small reticule and the scissor holder so I was very happy about that.   In fact the only cost for this was a couple of hanks of DMC floss and all the rest of the ingredients came from stash.
Instead of the heavy looking flip open needlebook on the bottom that was part of the original instructions,  I made a padded pincushion and on my next visit to my LNS will be looking for a squirrel or acorn charm to hang from the tassel. There is still the scissor holder to finish tonight and then this project can be declared finished!

Sunday 4 January 2015

All put away until next time

I didn't wait until 12 days after Christmas but packed up the ornaments and tree a day early.   Three boxes of ornaments but I only took a photo of the handmade ones.   Seeing how full the box is I have told myself that I will make only one for my own tree this year and I will wait until the JCS Ornament book comes out before I decide.   Hopefully I can remember this "promise to self".
I did make a little angel though but she is currently asleep in a box waiting to become part of a gift for next Christmas.  
Yes, I know.   Sad isn't it.   I am already thinking about next Christmas.  Even the HD3QBEM laughs at me as I write lists and muse out loud at preparations for the year that is only four days old.
The Acorn Sampler Reticule is coming along well and I plan on spending some time with the sewing machine tomorrow to get the construction underway.   Photos to come then when the item is in a more photogenic state:-)
Our lovely weather lady promises fine weather tomorrow so I am going to attack the garden, remove weeds, dead head a few of the flower plants, pick some more beans and generally give everything a good clean up.  Then having delayed for long enough I will get started on sewing the summer dress which has been cut out for some weeks now.   Today was 26 celsius (79 farenheit)so cool lightweight cotton dresses are more comfortable than jeans and a T shirt.   Once the pleasant jobs on the list are done I will tackle the sanding and repainting of the window sills -  unless I can think of other pleasant chores that will relegate the painting even further down the list!
And so a lovely day comes to a close.  Good night everyone.

Friday 2 January 2015

A New Year and ....

The second day of 2015 is almost over and after an afternoon at Wynyard Quarter down on the Auckland waterfront, I am nursing some sunburn and am feeling a little tired.  
Not too tired though.   I plan on a new start but in actual fact I have been finishing off the last two projects from 2014.
The teensy tiny Adam and Eve sampler will get to spend a couple of nights on the Christmas Tree before being put away for the next twelve months.   I am pleased with this one.  It is only a smidgen over 4cm square and I have finished it with red ribbon studded on the vertical sides with silver pins and gold beads.   Ornaments need a little bling don't they?
The stitching is finished on the Mary Beale Christmas Wreath and I have dark green velvet in my stash for the backing.   I plan on making this into a circular cushion style wall hanging and will post photos when the construction is complete.   Meanwhile, wrinkles and all here is a photo of the current status.

Just as I don't ever do reviews of the past year I am not going to publish a list of my planned projects for 2015 either.   However one thing I have decided to stitch is my Sampler Casket and I have the threads and linen ready for that.   Once a couple of finishing jobs are completed I will make a start on that.   So the list of necessary finishes is
Acorn Sampler Reticule -  I need to purchase the lining for that
Sampler Chatelaine -  just needs lining
Mary Beale Wreath -  needs backing and stuffing

I don't want to have a lot of projects on the go at once and once these three are done I will be able to proceed with a clear conscience.   Wish me luck!