Sunday 31 December 2017

Out with the old and in with the new

During this last week of the year I have crossed lots of items off my list.  
A red rose pincushion was made for my friend Kazumi.  
The stitching in the large Hardanger Angel was finished. 
I got the Hardanger Bag out of the basket, had a look at it and promptly put it back.   
No, I needed a new project to finish off the year.
So what to do.
I had an old Anchor Embroidery book, carefully saved for the last 45 years and on a recent trip I purchased closewoven black linen to stitch one of these
But would the 45 year old iron- on transfer still work? With great faith I purchased the necessary DMC equivalent floss and found a packet of sharp needles in my bag.
One fine morning I cut out the fabric and overlocked  the edges before tacking a line down the vertical centre.   Then and only then did I pin on the transfer, heat the iron and with bated breath transfer the design.   IT WORKED PERFECTLY!!
So here I am venturing down the road of a new adventure.   
This piece is not counted.  
This piece requires an eye for line and design.   
This piece is a mammoth step into the unknown.   
And last night to the accompaniment of an Agatha Raisin movie on the TV I crowned a minaret:-).  

Progress will probably be slow and I foresee necessary hardanger therapy at intervals but it would be good to fulfill this long held dream.   Well done Anchor for the high quality of your publications.  Did their technical advisers ever think that transfers would last 45 years??

Sunday 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas

The DBEM and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday 10 December 2017

An afternoon with the Corsini's

Today I met up with my friend and together we visited the Corsini exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery.   A fantastic collection of renaissance paintings from the private collection of the illustrious Corsini's whose history goes back to somewhere around 1300 and includes a family saint, three cardinals and Pope Clement XII.   I was interested as I had read that one painting was by Caravaggio and another by Botticelli.  Well, I didn't hit it off with Caravaggio but the Botticelli was amazing!
The two angels on the left hold the hyssop and the spear, while the two on the right hold the nails and the crown of thorns.  Mary has her eyes closed "as she anticipates what is to come"  - the notes told me all this.  But I was most impressed with the painting of the velvet robes of the Madonna.   I felt that if I reached out and touched they would be soft and luxurious.   Well done Botticelli.
It was a well curated display and obviously every effort had been made to impress - this is the first time the private collection has left Florence.  Fancy coming to the Anitpodes on your first overseas trip!   The portrayal of the robes, the lace, the velvet, the brocade was amazing and the ornate carved wooden gilded frames were to be envied.   Some of the ancestors looked forbidding and one Cardinal was distinctly austere.   The religious iconography was interesting; I hadn't realised there were so many styles of halo.   The two paintings which were the samples painted for the ceiling frescos were incredibly detailed - one was of smiling fat cherubs carrying the palace and the coat of arms heavenward.   A facsimile of that one was on the ceiling in the room which had the ornate table setting of Corsini family china and cutlery and reinforced that the rich and famous live totally different lives. 
Obviously castles are cold places and this huge portal curtain was on display - not for its draught stopping qualities but because it bears the coat of arms of the family.    Embroidered in gold and silver on a heavy velvet type of fabric it had survived the centuries reasonably intact.
Thank you to the princes and princesses of Corsini for your generosity to Aucklanders in allowing your valuable painting to come to our City.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Christmas has arrived at my house

I have had a productive weekend and two Christmas finishes are now done.
Neither would be given a 100% pass mark for construction but given they will appear for only one month each year  I am happy with them and will enjoy them
The Heirloom Nativity Sampler by Victoria Sampler was stitched on the designated fabric and with the thread and beads finishing kit sent all the way from Canada.   This one was on the wish list for a long time (7 or 8 years?) so I am well pleased to have it done.   The tightwad in me didn't want to purchase a hanger for the top so I snapped an old bamboo knitting needle to the correct length using my Dad's old pliers and sharpened the point with my heavy duty pencil sharpener.   Two wooden beads from stash - some glue and some brute force and voila!  The silver and white cord came with a bunch of flowers some time ago and has been kept "in case it is needed" :-)
The Quaker Christmas Sampler was stitched to be framed but fiscal prudence dictated that was an unnecessary expense so I have created a runner for the top of my wooden coffee table.   I matched the quilting fabric to the thread of the sampler and am very pleased with it.   The deeper red 'ends' are perfect for a couple of Christmas Ornaments - the first of which is Hardanger Angel Number 1.   Her big sister Hardanger Angel Number 2 is still without a body, a head, arms or even a skirt so she will not be appearing this Christmas :-(
Yesterday the DBEM and I went to the shopping mall for the last time until 2018.  An aged parent using a Zimmer Frame and the Christmas crowds do not mix well and it was a test of patience for both of us.  We are having a quiet Christmas this year - just the two of us -  and with the DBEM's dietary limitations it will not be the traditional fare either.   If the weatherman is to be believed it will be fine and hot so we may take a gourmet picnic to the park and enjoy the wonderful Pohutukawa which flowers Christmas Scarlet at this time of the year.

Friday 1 December 2017

Frustrating Friday is Finished

It has been a long week.  A very long week.   And today, Friday was a long and frustrating day.
But there was one episode to brighten my day.
After spending all day up at the prison yesterday (for work!) I was surprised to find this on my desk this morning.   Well it was actually in a box and well concealed.   I won this for participating in our Spring Challenge at work and coming .......fourth!
It's cute but would be difficult to drink from. 
We are promised a fine weekend so the car will get washed and chores will get done.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Silver Anniversay

Today was a day for celebration so I was up early this morning cooking.
Part of that was two ginger cupcakes for the Silver Anniversary.   Shall I tell you who and why?
Today marks 25 years since the DBEM came up to Auckland to live with me.   We have looked back nostalgically over the time, remembering overseas holidays and those in beauty spots around New Zealand; a shopping weekend in Sydney when Continental Airlines flew the Tasman (the DBEM still feels guilty about that one); concerts and shows we attended together; countless shopping trips to yarn stores and the bad years when we had frequent flyer status at the City Hospital. 
Good health and good weather combined to make today a very happy day of celebration.   Here's to the next ?? years.

PS The DBEM says she wants a commemorative photo when she is dressed in Sunday best so we will do that tomorrow after church.

Thursday 23 November 2017

An unwelcome visitor

This evening I noticed a mark on one of the vertical blinds in my sun porch and went out to investigate.   It didn't look like dirt .
When I moved the panel of the blind - here was the culprit.
At least he was on the outside of the glass - obviously enjoying the warm sun and spinning an ever growing web.   My first job for Saturday morning will be to get out the ladder and re-home this fella.
But for tonight I am back on my hardanger angel.

PS   The book about the tsunami victims didn't haunt my dreams last night.  But I did have an appointment on the 29th floor of a waterfront building in the city today and admit to a feeling of unease.   To think, they probably pay premium rent for their location and views but haven't given a though to earthquake or tsunami risk.   Well inland and single story for me from now on :-)

Wednesday 22 November 2017

In which I attempt constructing an angel

Having completed this years ration of Christmas ornaments I pulled out the next ziplock bag from the construction pile.   Blithely I opened it up to find....
the stitching is not completed.   There are several hours of fancy lacework.   I am halfway done the wings and then there is the long border of the skirt.   You can see the foundations of that at the top of the photo. 
Just as well I love hardanger!
But tonight my favourite stitching is competing with a gripping book.
I'm hoping that my dreams tonight will not be haunted by this heartbreaking account of the tragedy at Okawa Primary School during the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011

Friday 17 November 2017

A snowman

A couple of hours, some determination, a pair of rather tired eyes and the roly poly snowman is completed. 
The kit came with a circular bottle green plastic frame so tomorrow I will lace him up and slot him in ready to add to the Christmas package travelling to Kazumi.   She placed an order for him but the other contents of the parcel will be a surprise:-)

Wednesday 15 November 2017


The 2017 Christmas ornaments are done!   I was in such a hurry that one is already wrapped and ready for the post.   But here are the others.
And now I have started another.   My good friend Kazumi fell in love with this snowman kit which had Aida fabric and thread of unknown provenance.   I swapped out the fabric for a 36 count linen even weave and am now stitching.  Believe me each cross is a labour of love!
It has been a really busy two weeks back at work and I am once again in sleep deprivation mode.   However tomorrow I have the afternoon off for an appointment which should also be a good opportunity to sew the cover for my piano.   Recently we moved furniture around so that the DBEM doesn't face into direct sunlight which makes her vision even worse.  And the piano is therefore living against a different wall.   To keep the dark wood from changing colour in the bright sunlight I will be like my late Grandmother, suitably Victorian, and cover even the legs on my piano;-)

Saturday 11 November 2017

After an absence

No blogging for a week!  I've been helping the DBEM with her knitted sweaters.   She knits, I sew.  Believe me, stitching up knitted garments is not my favourite occupation but it is a job that needs to be done and currently I have no stitching project gripping my attention.  So voila!  All sixteen of them.

And with only 44 sleeps until Christmas I need to make a start on finishing this year's batch of stitched ornaments.   The current state is this...
So tonight is to be spent lacing ornaments to card and tomorrow will be cord, ribbon and titivating.  Two are complete, which leaves five to finish.   

Saturday 4 November 2017

An answer to a question

"Heritage Hall" asked where the Snoopy Christmas ornament came from but is no-reply so I will answer here.

Well, I googled images of Snoopy and that came up on this link  so I chose my colours and away I went.   It has turned out as expected but I didn't really like the large blocks of colour and if doing it again would use a finer linen. 

Hope this helps.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Back to my favourite

After a marathon of Christmas ornaments (finishes to follow later) I'm back to my favourite - hardanger.
However this is to be a tote bag so the fabric is a coarse 30 count linen and the threads are Perle #3 and Perle #5.
At the moment this is side one but hopefully it will look good when done. The jury is out on what colour lining I should use.  The blue of the blanket it is lying on for the photo isn't satisfactory.  Any suggestions?

Thursday 19 October 2017

And the lights go on again

The "not so little" Snoopy ornament is finished and the lights have gone on.  I had imagined they might look a great deal brighter, however the desired effect is there even if at a dimmer wattage.
I have decided to make this into a circular finish but in the meantime it has joined the pile of "yet to be constructed 2017 Christmas Ornaments".   All is well - there is still six weeks till they will be needed.

Friday 13 October 2017

And another one

This year's ornaments seem never ending but five down two to go and this one is almost finished.
I'm not fond of stitching blocks of colour but that is what this needs.   Onto the green wreath will go the tiny fairy lights (individually spaced) and voila - a cute ornament, I hope.
Then I am having a break and starting a piece of hardanger for a tote bag.   In the interests of durability I'll be working in heavy linen and thick DMC perle which is not my preferred fabric and thread.   Some degree of persistence will be necessary but I really want to make this bag so will make the effort.
So another long week over and only another 24 month and 13 days until retirement:-)
Off now to some overdue emails.

Saturday 7 October 2017

This one just needs a fall of snow

Hat on and scarf tied but this snowman needs a good snowfall of DMC 712 to fill out his fat body.  Guess what I will be doing tonight?
The DBEM has said no excursions this weekend, so just the usual chores for me.   But tonight's reward is two hours of the Morse prequel on TV.   Lucky me.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Another ornament

Finally finished.   I rather thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew with this one.   The lettering over one thread on 36count linen was hard on the eyes.  But all good, it spells correctly and looks satisfactory.   This is for a gift, but much as I like it I won't be repeating this and making one for myself.
Do you like?
DQ was asking where I got the pattern for the Sunflower Santa so I took a photo of the deets.   Sorry DQ but you were no reply so couldn't email.
This afternoon I took the DBEM to the doctor and as I used her credit card to pay still managed to keep to my Fiscal Famine.   I picked up that wording and idea from someone else and although I may not be able to do a month's FF like she plans I am enjoying the challenge.   No spending on anything except predetermined direct payments and food(within a stricter budget).   You can read more on Frugal Queen's blog here.
And now to get back to my book...

Sunday 1 October 2017

He only needs a moustache

A sunflower Santa??   Even in the Southern Hemisphere such a Santa is unknown and the chart for this came from the North where sunflowers would never be blooming at Christmas!
However he is rather cute and will possibly be even more so when his white mini tassel=moustache is added.   But that is later on.   Tonight I start on a stitched mistletoe.

Saturday 30 September 2017

Another Santa

Another Santa but this one came accompanied by unfriendly gremlins.   As a consequence there has been weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.   I have unpicked, restitched, unpicked again and restitched again.   One error I have decided to leave but "the hat faux pas" will have to come out.   Before I do so, here's a sufficiently poor snapshot in which you may not be able to see the errors:-)
And Spring has definitely sprung here.   We have bluebells
and we have sweet peas
and we have a tui in the kowhai trees.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Almost but not quite #2

Despite my best efforts tiredness stopped me reaching the finish line last night.   Here is the Quaker Christmas Sampler- almost completed.  The last gap is top right but do you think I should stitch the date centre bottom in the gap there?
I have fabric to make this into a table runner to fit my coffee table and given my usual reluctance to decorate for the Christmas season this may be the only ornament in my room in 2017!
Meanwhile it will go into the "to be constructed pile" and will not be touched until November, or December, or the new year....

After a run of good health the DBEM isn't too well today and is sitting quietly in her chair knitting happily.   We have had to move her chair as facing the picture windows directly was too bright for her eyes (which really only detect contrast now) so the whole room has had a reshuffle.   She's happy and I am adjusting to my new spot so all is good Chez Nous.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Almost but not quite

For the past 23 days it has officially been Spring and the daffodils and freesias have cooperated.   However the sweet peas are more stubborn but today the first signs can be seen so hopefully this week.

Election night in New Zealand and while we are listening to the results on the TV the DBEM is knitting a pretty pink sweater and I am frantically trying to complete my Quaker Christmas Sampler.   The end is in sight and a photo will follow

Monday 18 September 2017

Almost half a flower

Tonight, despite some reversing I have managed almost half a flower.   This is the last of the big medallions on this piece so it may seem smooth sailing after this.
I must admit I am sick of cross stitch and have even found myself thinking of a piece of free style embroidery!!   However the piece I want to do requires a piece of navy woven material so that will have to wait until I source the correct fabric.   I do have another piece in mind but that is done on black..... oh dear what a choice.

The DBEM is well today and chuckling to herself over her audio book.   She and Jeffrey Archer are becoming firm friends as she steadily "reads" her way through his Clifton Series.   I'm pleased that charming rascal is proving such good company.

Sunday 17 September 2017

She loses I find

Last weekend Little Brother came to stay and commented that the DBEM had lost weight since he last saw her.  Even at 87 years of age she was upset about this!  So this morning she asked me to weigh her.   We did and she has lost 4kg in two years (yes it is that long since I have weighed her.  Bad daughter!)
Anyway now I know where the 4kg gain I have made in two years has come from.   My dear and generous DBEM has given them to me:-(

I have been sewing up small knitted sweaters for the DBEM and tonight made a start back on the Quaker Christmas Sampler but reversed out everything I put in.   No progress shots as there was no progress.   Check in tomorrow night and I may have better news.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Another finish

Heartfelt Harry I think this one is called.   A very happy fat snowman to be made into a ornament to decorate the tree for an Antipodean summer Christmas!   Rather strange,  but he is so cute and a fun fellow don't you think?

Monday 11 September 2017

Another finito

Yesterday my friend Kathy led me into temptation.  We met for coffee and I nobly refrained from cake but when we went next door to the Hard To Find bookshop it was a different story.   Recently the local paper ran a story of this bookshop and the landlord who is cancelling the lease to sell the building.  Along with several thousand other devoted customers, Kathy and I are feeling bereft. Armed with our lists we entered.   Books in front of us, above us and all around us.   How long do you think we spent lost in the stacks?  Too long!

Whether they will take this cute old man with them, I don't know but an eager customer will buy his piles of Clive Cussler.
Once home I finished off this red NOEL ornament.   My favourite red floss and a very simple chart but the effect is just what I wanted.   I left the outer border off in an effort to make this a more "tree friendly" size.   All good I think.
Next up is a friendly snowman.

Friday 8 September 2017


The Christmas Cat Tree is finished.   This I rather like so see more of these, but maybe not this year.
Stash provided the little beads for the candles and now this will rest in the pile to be constructed closer to C Day.
Thank you for all the good wishes for the DBEM.  She tells me she feels much better than yesterday:-)
I'm wondering if charity shops would sell stitched Christmas ornaments.   Unlike the DBEM I will not be knitting sweaters for toddlers when I retire but I would be happy to stitch small items like ornaments, book markers etc.  Any suggestions?

Thursday 7 September 2017

Half a tree is better than none

Interruptions to the smooth flow of stitching have resulted in almost half a tree. Each green curl has a small red cross to come but I am toying with the idea of a bead instead.
But so far so good.
The DBEM hasn't been well and a visit to the doctor resulted in a phial of large white tablets to swallow. Two in the morning and two at night.   They are huge and I wonder how she manages to get them down.  
But so far so good.

Little brother is coming to visit this weekend and I am making a menu and a shopping list.   Saturday morning will be busy as I try to fit in all the chores (and a visit to the Library) so tonight I have baked a Gingerbread Loaf.   The room is now cosy and warm and the DBEM is salivating.  She loves Gingerbread.   I have joined the Spring Challenge at work and along with others am trying to eat less and be more active.   Hard work.
But so far so good.

Monday 4 September 2017

A finish and a start

The blue knitting is finished, the last stitch is recorded and the much used pattern has been ceremoniously despatched to the place all good patterns go to.   Having knitted this one three times I am not about to do another:-)
My cardigan needs a good steam with the iron and it can go in the drawer until the cool weather comes again in 2018. The photo above is a better indication of colour -  the garment is certainly not two toned!
As a reward I have made a start on this...
The Christmas Cat Tree.   Check back in a  few days to see how this turns into a tree.
Today was an easy day at the office as I took part in day one of a Transitions to Retirement workshop. Apart from the one hour of Tai Chi in which I unskillfully and unwillingly participated I have not learnt anything new.  Maybe day two tomorrow will be more productive (and inspiring)

Saturday 26 August 2017

Farewell to footwear

What do these two photos have in common?

Well, those on the top are "Swedish Hasbeen" and those below are "Margaret's Has Beens"
Ten years would seem too short a life for leather shoes.   I like these and they have served me well.   But they are Has Been.   Today I farewelled them to the rubbish man.   Why?  Well look at the soles; the heels have holes and they squeak and leak.   The uppers are still good but the sole has gone.
My soul has gone too :-)   I will need to look for new shoes and being possessed of a narrow foot in a land of wide-footed people that is no mean task.
So as a "pick me up" I fetched out the Christmas Ornament books, selected six and found appropriate fabrics.   Tonight I will sort out the floss and kit them ready to go.
All in all not a bad day.