Monday 31 December 2018

Goodbye to the old year

It's always an odd feeling, this week between Christmas and New Year, when I am on holiday but at home; have a schedule of Things To Do but no particular interest in doing them; look forward to the new start of a New Year  but feel that the old year is in some way incomplete.
To make bad matters worse I seem to have a repetitive strain injury in my right elbow (tennis elbow when I don't play tennis?) and so my stitching time has had to be severely curtailed.   Baking the weekly batch of scones for the DBEM's lunches was rather painful as is any repetitive task. So I made a double batch of scones and of gingerbread loaves and am hoping the inflammation will have subsided before any more DBEM-baking is required.
Still I have managed quite a lot and have taken the DBEM out on fine days to various little beaches around the harbour where we have enjoyed sun and fresh air.   Jeffrey Archer's latest book followed me home from the library and that held my interest for some hours too!   I have been out walking each day covering quite a few kilometres around the neighbourhood.
Tonight I decided to try some stitching (after doing none at all since 20 December) and found that half an hour's work could be achieved with no increase in discomfort.   Here is where the Hardanger Doily is up to now.   Just the centre square and the outside lacy edging to complete.
I have been through my Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament editions and marked out those I want to stitch in 2019.   Also, I have cut the pelmet vilene (skirtex) for the Octagonal Box and have laced three of the small sides for the inner lining.  And I have sewn one dress and made a start on another.
Not too shabby an effort.
But I am not staying up until midnight so I will sign out for 2018 and wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all from New Zealand where the pohutukawa trees bloom red and where this year the North Island has steady heavy rain and the South Island has sun!

Saturday 15 December 2018

Goal Achieved!

Last Boxing Day, 26 December 2017, I embarked on what seemed an ambitious target to walk 1000km within one year.   As of Friday 14 December 2018 I have achieved that goal.   Perhaps on Boxing day this year I will up the distance and see if I can maintain the momentum?
I have no progress photos of the Octagonal Box.   All the component pieces have been backstitched and I am currently trying to decide whether I need more than two thicknesses of Pelmet Vilene (Skirtex) as stiffening.   
While I ponder on that I am scratching my hardanger itch and making good progress on The Doily.  A portion of the fourth side needs eyelets and then the fun begins as each of the "medallions" get their unique filling stitches.
This week Little Brother is coming to stay for a day or two so there will be more talking and less stitching but I have the next two weeks off work and have already drawn up my schedule of projects.
The remainder of the Spring Cleaning, the remainder of the Summer Dressmaking and plenty of stitching.

Saturday 1 December 2018

All the fishes in the deep blue sea

The inner base of the Octagonal Box is now complete.  It was fun stitching this one with its variety of fish and other sea creatures. 
Next step is to cut the pieces of Skirtex and lace each part and only then can assembly begin.   Such geometrical precision is beyond me at the moment so  I will continue on with my piece of hardanger for now.
My pacemaker replacement went according to plan and after an early start that morning I was home late afternoon in time to ensure the DBEM had a proper dinner!   During my convalescence I have done a lot of reading and sleeping but these last couple of days have felt much better and completed a couple of items off the sewing list.  The lengthy list of instructions included "Driving is not permitted for two weeks" so I have been walking everywhere and consequently am nearing my 1000km target.  945km as of today and I have until Christmas Day to complete the remaining 55km so all should be well.

Sunday 25 November 2018

One fish two fish red fish blue fish

The top, bottom and outer sides of the Octagonal Box are now completed and I've made a start on the inner.   As Land is the theme of the outside so Sea is dominant in the inner.
This will be very colourful!   Since this photo I have added three yellow fish and have my eye on the octopus next.

But I had to scratch the Hardanger itch and have started a doily.   The foundations were laid with no reverse stitching so I am feeling mighty pleased with myself.
I made one of these doilies some years ago in a very well run SAL, Confetti of Hardanger from Bee's Needlework.   This time I am stitching for a 70th birthday early next year so hope all goes as well for the second attempt.
Two projects on the go?   Well thereby hangs a tale.   I was told that I'd been placed on the wait list for a pacemaker replacement and fully expected that to take some months given the state of the public health system.   Instead, I received a phone call last Monday to say they had booked me in for the next Monday so a frantic week at work ensuring everything was up to date, a few lists to ensure that all home chores were accounted for, a couple of garments cut out and prepped ready to sew and after the Last Supper tonight nil by mouth until bright and early tomorrow morning.     
The worst thing about all this?   Driving is forbidden for two weeks!!
The best thing?   Plenty of time for stitching, reading, sewing and probably some walking as I have only 80km to go to reach the 1000km target.

Friday 16 November 2018

The Octagonal Box - progress

Despite best efforts I’ve not gotten back to the my blog but do have progress to record on The Octagonal Box.  A slight senior moment in forgetting which was land and sea ended up with the blue where the green should have been but I reversed out of that corner and now the top and the four square sides are done. 

Just four rectangle sides and the base to go.   But....the base has the date on it so I may leave that till last.  The reason??   I am getting the hardanger itches again and have promised myself that when the outer "Land" layer of this box is done and before I start the inner "Sea" layer I will start some hardanger.   Indeed the DBEM and I are going out tomorrow to buy the Perle thread.   Well, we are actually going to buy Christmas cards but needlework store is close by so we will call there too.

Monday 5 November 2018

Progress is being made

Visible progress is being made on the Octagonal Box.   Despite the fact that there are no specialty stitches to tempt me I am enjoying this one; even the over one lettering is fun.   And while stitching I have decided to make the needlework accessories that go into the box.   The reason being - I couldn't work out how to change the design of the words and remove "needlework" while retaining the overall balance of the design.
Anyway, here's progress -  I couldn't see why there was so much blue at the bottom until I took this photo.   But the missing words give the clue..."both sea and land to collect needlework treasures".   So squirrels or not the bottom had to be sea blue?!

Today my boss arrived back after ten days in Tokyo.  She and her husband went up specifically to go to the two All Blacks matches being played there and they had a wonderful time.   She brought back some sweeties for me.... White peach and melon flavoured Kitkats.
Apparently this was test run for them and if they liked it they would book to go back during the Rugby world Cup.   They loved it and are off to the travel agent very soon to book a longer trip and take in more of the country than they saw this visit.   I wonder if they need someone to carry their bags?

Monday 29 October 2018

Halfway there

The sampler for the top of the octagonal box is progressing well.   I've changed the colour of the fruit on the trees - the pale peach charted just didn't do anything for me.   And the colour of the owl is several shades darker than the chart dictates.   Overall I think it works.
What didn't work is the discovery that the lettering is in one strand of floss over over thread of linen!   I'm very grateful the DBEM bought me an Ottlight for my birthday.   The strain on my eyes is much reduced but the lettering is still going to take quite a while to complete.
Hopefully you can read what it will say when fully stitched as it is going to take the veritable month of Sundays to reach the final D.   I'm going to remove the word Needlework and centre the word Treasures as I don't intend to stitch the pincushion, needlebook etc to go inside the box.
And on the stitchy update, good night to all

Sunday 28 October 2018

At long last

Finally after all these years,  at breakfast today I got the chance to greet the Deaf Blind Elderly Mother with
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four
Her laughing answer was "But I need you and you feed me!   Happy Birthday".
But it wasn't just the ability to personalise the famous lyrics, the counter moved into significant territory.
Look!!  Exactly one year till retirement.
Birthdays lose their magic as the years go by and today probably goes on record as one of the quietest I have ever celebrated.   But then, it's hardly a significant number except to John, Paul, Ringo and George:-)   Next year is the big one when I receive my Golden Birthday card from the Government no less and become a superannuitant.
So on the note,  goodnight for now.   Stitching progress to report hopefully tomorrow.

Monday 22 October 2018

At last - a project that captures my interest

For a time my stitching mojo had completely disappeared but in a trawl through my stash cupboard I found this chart and the fabrics.   Most of the floss were in my DMC boxes too so I was able to quickly kit up and begin.  I am making the box on the right in the picture.   There are needlework smalls also charted but I don't have need for those so may stop at the box only - in which case I will have to change the words a little. 

It has been a long weekend here and splendid weather so not only have I done some sewing (a T shirt for me, a blouse for the DBEM  and two pair of "active wear" trousers) there has been a few excursions out to the various beaches around the city.   
My sweet peas are flowering and promise a profusion of blooms.   Currently they are only a deep cerise pink so I am hoping for some variation as that's what the packet promised.
Each evening as soon as the weather forecast is complete I don walking shoes and at a brisk pace, tramp the pavements around the neighbourhood while the DBEM stays home and plays her favourite computer game.   My reason is that the walk is good for health and well being; her excuse is the game is good for maintaining brain health and well being.   We can't both be correct-  surely?

Wednesday 10 October 2018

A Catch Up

No needles have been active at my house for quite some time.   Any enthusiasm for stitching seems to have died and each evening I look at my basket of "yet to be finished items" but cannot summon the will to begin.
I have been knitting and the short sleeve cardigan is almost completely finished.   If you remember this was knitted to use up left over yarn from a long sleeved cardigan.  Would you believe I still have yarn left-enough for two pairs of socks I should think.   This merino yarn has a tremendous yardage in each 50g ball.  I should have the pieces blocked and ready to be stitched up this weekend after the final buttonhole tonight.
A couple of weeks ago the DBEM gave me a scare with a trip to the emergency department at the hospital.   Thankfully she has mended well and is almost back to her usual self and is even knitting again!  

So last Saturday I went halfway across the city to hear some bell ringers and watch their practice session on a mini bell tower.

At long last I have heard the Stedman Triples which I had read about in Dorothy L Sayers Book TheNine Tailors.   It was a fun excursion on a beautifully fine day.   Auckland City Heritage Week usually has something of interest although it was a long walk to get to this one.   There is little parking in that area of the city.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Christmas Dinner is being prepared!

Today on my walk in the park I saw Christmas Dinner being prepared:-)
In 100 days most New Zealanders will add mint sauce and gravy then patting a full stomach sigh "I've eaten too much"

Saturday 8 September 2018

Out and about

Today the DBEM and I went to see an exhibition of the Mount Felix Tapestry.
This was part of a war memorial exhibition so there were no details given on the stitching, the fabric or the floss but it was wonderful to see close up. 
27,000 ANZAC soldiers injured during Gallipoli were cared for at this hospital in the UK and this is created as a record of that mighty endeavour.
Using the DBEM's magnifying glass I studied the stitching and got some inspiration for my own Arabian Knights piece which is of course different (and similar).
After a surfeit of embroidery I came home to my favourite counted work.   I have the fabric to make the apron and this is for the bib.   Just a row of snowflakes for the pocket top and this will be another project complete.

Saturday 25 August 2018

When in doubt read the instructions

This week I pulled out of the basket the Quaker Friendship Book and made great headway on the construction.   All the necessary squares of cardboard were cut.   All the squares of pellon were cut.  All the squares of stitching were laced to pellon covered card.   A trip to the fabric shop was made and silk was purchased for the hinges and lining.
Wait!  What lining?  And at this point I read the instructions.
Oh dear.   The stitched squares were to be laced over heavy skirtex (=pelmet vilene in NZ).   All that hard work will need to be undone.   I'm not in the mood for that at the moment so back into the basket they go and I'm going to start something else.

Meanwhile I am stitching up some of the DBEM's knitting and sewing buttons on those.   Surely I can't go wrong there?

Saturday 18 August 2018


The DBEM and I went to a city park today which is actually a working farm and 
Lambs + Daffodils = Spring.  QED

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Another Christmas Gift

I made a start tonight on another Christmas gift.   So far so good.

This will not be monochrome and nor will it be traditional Christmas colours.
And now I'm off to bed.   It has been a long and tiring day and all my own fault.   This morning I looked at my clock, jumped out of bed and had my porridge in the microwave before looking at the clock again.   Oh no, it wasn't 6am it was 5am.  Duh!!   Not worth going back to bed so I enjoyed an extra hour of my book but have yawned my way through the rest of the day and expect to sleep soundly tonight.

Sunday 12 August 2018

And more Christmas

Both of these stitched up quickly and turned out a "good size" (according to the DBEM!)
I was pleased to find the bobble edging at a local shop and can now consider this project complete too.
One job this week is to cut the card squares needed to complete construction of the Quaker Friendship book.   But I have been easily distracted over the weekend with a Laurie R King book.   I love some of her writing - "the cat poured itself onto the floor and departed".
In my sentences cats leap or jump or are pushed but they don't pour.   However Laurie R King's phrasing is more picture than prose I think and for that reason has transferred itself to my notebook of memorable quotes. 

Sunday 5 August 2018

Mini macro lens

On a recent visit to the Auckland Art Gallery shop I found a teeny tiny clip on macro lens for my iPhone.  And even more importantly I finally figured out how to use it!
Ta dah!!
I give you "Textures"
Amazing how my favourite stitched pieces are all very traditional counted work.

Saturday 4 August 2018

Christmas preparations almost complete

What does one do when there is no more DMC 221 left in the stash and one is part way through a cute ornament?
Today the DBEM and I went out to stock up on floss.   Well actually we went to a shopping mall and the DBEM went for a long walk.   She is on a "strength and balance" exercise programme and this was part of that. 
Since then I have done the household chores, been for a long brisk walk myself and completed two ornaments.

Now it's time for beauty sleep.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Happy Feet

Happy feet on chilly mornings and stash to continue the trend:-)

Monday 23 July 2018

Mid Winter Christmas

We are having a Mid Winter Christmas lunch at work this week - with all the usual festive trimmings.
My contribution is these super sweet reindeer cookies. 
No cooking involved.   Toffee Pop biscuits, chocolate icing, pretzel crackers, white marshmallows and a jolly red Jaffa lolly for the nose.   I did a dozen on flat Toffee Pops and a dozen on half sphere Mallow Puffs.   Flat is definitely best.  All very simple -  the most complicated step will be to ensure I carry them to work without the requisite face parts breaking off!

Sunday 22 July 2018

Stash busting

While I decide what to do next I  have stitched up the ingredients for a small Mary Stewart Hussif.
It has been some time since I did any Wessex Stitchery and the rhythm took some a while to find but all is well.
The linen is a left over piece of 28 count in that vintage cloudy look that Zweigart loved a few years ago. 
The Silk floss and perle cotton are from stash.   Very satisfying on all counts.   I am hoping there will be a piece of lining fabric in the box when I look although at present I can't really think of what could be suitable.   Gaye Eaton's book on Wessex Stitchery gives clear instructions for the finger knotted cord and for how to do the fiddly little tags that go at each end.
Guess what I will be doing tomorrow night?   That is unless the DBEM has some other more pressing repair needs for her current knitting.

Thursday 12 July 2018


Here she is - finished!
This one came together very easily and while conflicted over whether she needs a button in the middle or not (currently not obviously) I'm happy with how she looks. 
And the geometry of the basket was no major drama either.
On the remaining square of linen I decided to try out another chart I had kept for years.
I have not managed to attain the same level of satisfaction with this one.   This was a chart only and had no instructions so the needle lace is an amateur effort.   Now I want to get a book or printed instructions or some such to try again and learn this properly.  Does anyone have any ideas for me?
The small bullion flowers in the corners were fun and seemed to work well but that flower in the middle was an effort and no where near a passing grade either.   However on red velvet for a book cover will make make a useful item which someone else may love.

Monday 9 July 2018

Remember when..

Remember when there was a Biscornu Boom?   I saved this free chart then and finally 10 years later have stitched it.   Not without some reverse stitching I have to say but we made it to completion.
It's amazing what a trawl through the chat folders, a search through the fabric stash and a delve into the floss trove can do for stitching mojo. 
I am rather pleased with this and while I have the floss out will probably make another for a gift.  I only hope I remember enough basic geometry to set the points in the correct position to make that basket work!

Saturday 30 June 2018

From Morn till Night

Up early this morning to make the DBEM's favourite gingernut biscuits.   Then I finished this....
I'm rather pleased with this and will mount it on a blue silk book cover - once I find the stationery shop selling the notebook I want.
Next was the ironing, the shopping, the housework and then the DBEM and I went to a city park for some time in the sun.
I went for a walk around the park narrowly avoiding all the avid joggers and the numerous dogs taking their people for walks.   A jogger and I crashed when I stopped to take this photo.
What is happening?   It's winter here and the snow drops were flowering in abundance!   Even some beautiful yellow daffodils and some jonquils.   
And tonight I finally plucked up courage to try my hand with this.
Some faded black jeans needed to be re-blackened.   A colleague at work assured me that dyeing was a doddle and gave me a packet of the necessary.   I wasn't wearing the faded jeans anyway so if it doesn't work then nothing is lost.   They have "cooked" in their dyebath and are now in the washing machine being rinsed in"cool water and soft detergent".

After all that I deserve a rest I think....(These photos were taken on my iPhone and I'm not so pleased with their clarity.   It will be back to my proper camera from now on).

Wednesday 27 June 2018

And another flowery offering

My cousin has a birthday coming up later this year so I have made a start on a hand stitched gift for her.   These flowery offerings can become very addictive!   I am so far pleased with how this is turning out and will affix it to the cover of a notebook when complete.   
My cousin doesn't know about my blog so I am safe showing this progress report :-)

Sunday 24 June 2018

Welcome to my angel

Here she is in all her lacy glory. 
I'm rather pleased with her - she fulfills a long held wish and due to the very great kindness of Heather from Whanganui I was able to finish her.   Thank you very much for the heads Heather.  Plastic spray bottles, bamboo skewers, some pellon and a few yards of ribbon - and voila!
I wasn't able to obtain proper "hair" so dacron pillow filling had to suffice.   A couple of strands of gold cord for a halo and I will keep my eyes peeled for some tiny stars to sprinkle in her hair.
She's all lace and ribbons at the back too. 
And beside her colourful smaller older sister she looks rather gorgeous.   I'm leaving them both out to enjoy for a few days before they go to their special box for storage until Christmas.   Lace Angel is described as a tree topper in the chart but her body is an empty plastic spray bottle so she will stand on her own and won't go anywhere near my tree:-)