Tuesday 31 December 2019

Farewell to the past year

And so on the last night of 2019 I have been reflecting on the past year.   It has been one of change for me and (for my records) I have made a list ...

  • Reached Gold Card status
  • Retired from paid work
  • Sold one house and bought another
  • Moved to a new city to commence a new life
  • Without being convinced of the accuracy of my count it looks like I have stitched 26 individual items and only two still need construction and final finishing.  
  • Kept my weekly food bill under $100 - this year I managed an average of $95.65 per week

Tonight I completed the last stitch in the fascinating Temperature Chart.  Somehow in the house shift I have mislaid my graph paper so the centering of the letters on each side is not totally mathematically pleasing.   However, I intend to make this into a cushion to sit on my sofa -  once I find a suitable coordinating fabric.   In 2020 I will stitch the same for my new city and have a matching pair of cushions.
And I lined and constructed the Maria Katarin's Reticule (Betsy Morgan) for which I attempted a DMC subsitute for the Gloriana Silks.   All in all not a bad effort I say.
I lined the piece with a scrap of ivory silk which gave a pleasing neutral finish and a good shake of the button box revealed two small buttons for the fastening,
While I won't be sorry to say goodbye to this old year it has not been entirely unprofitable and I can only hope for better in the year to come. 

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Twilight stroll

Every evening in the beautiful twilight the DBEM and I go for a slow walk to the end of the driveway and back.   She isn't walking so far now and certainly not so fast but we toddle up and back admiring the neighbours gardens and appreciating the fine weather we are having.   It is a splendid way to end our happy days.

We are settling in to a new rhythm of life and finding plenty for which to be grateful.   

Saturday 21 December 2019

Settled in

With neither accident nor breakage the shift went well.   My sister-in-law is a bundle of energy and with her enthusiastic support all the boxes were emptied on shifting day and are now sorted into their permanent homes.   More to the point, the DBEM placed her chair, her Ott Light, her table and all essentials in "her spot" and has since been singing the repetitive chorus "I love this place".   I'm happy she likes it and feels settled already.
This is helped by a beautiful flower garden.   Just a little past its prime it is still providing beautiful roses to cut and we are enjoying these beauties.   I know nothing about roses, including names, but a pretty garden is a real bonus.
Also some stitching has been done. Back in September I purchased an Inspirations magazine because it had an interesting looking project from Betsy Morgan.   But I didn't want to pay the price for Gloriana Silks so attempted a substitute.   At this point my lack of "the artistic gene" was evident and I'm not super happy with my choices.   Not having a variegated floss required some adapting of the design too.  Anyway this is progress so far.  Only the wording left to do and I'm not sure what I will put in that box.

 Nothing daunted I purchased a Wildflowers silk variegated and attempted to choose toning DMC floss for the other colours.   I'm still stitching this experiment and am no more satisfied.   The second attempt is too dull I fear, but we shall see.

Anyway there is plenty to tempt me away from stitching at the moment.  For the first time I have a dedicated sewing space that is not in the main living area so I can shut the door on a mid-project mess!   First up is two sets of shorts and tops for my great nieces to take away with them on holiday in late January. 

We are having a quiet Christmas here enjoying the new surroundings.   Seasons Greetings to all out in Blogland who may be reading this.   Hopefully more updates will follow now that life is settling to a better, less stress-filled rhythm.

Saturday 14 December 2019

The Shift

Yesterday the packers came and my life was reduced to 149 labelled items.

After which the three hefty males loaded them onto the container  ... then all set and ready to go.

Early next week we move into  our new place and then after the unpacking is over my retirement life will begin  in earnest.   Stitching has begun too and photos will follow in a day or two.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Off Line

Just checking in to explain the blogging silence.   I have been on a stress filled roller coaster of selling my house and purchasing another.   And now I vow that the next time my house is sold will be by my executors after my funeral!!!
Normal blogging will be resumed when I return to normal pace of life and have time for stitching.
Meanwhile ......

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Christmas Stockings

In the interests of keeping a record I have photographed these two small Christmas stockings.   They are meant to be tree decorations which gives you some idea of size. 
Over the years I have made several of these as gifts but made the effort to try a hardanger lacy edge on one this time.  The one on the right has the lacy edge.   I found it to be a lot less difficult than I had imagined so will definitely try that again.   The stocking on the left was supposed to have picots in each of the square holes but I admit to being rather afraid of picots and generally leave them out.   Perhaps that is the next Everest to conquer?

Sunday 27 October 2019

Chasing My Tail

Ages ago I read somewhere that selling a house was among the most stressful events in life.  Correct!!  It is.   However my house is now cleaned and cleared to within an inch of its life and is listed with the real estate agent so I am over one hump of stress and on to the next :)    Open home viewings followed by auction and then The Big Move.  It is all feeling a little too much after 27 years in this place but onwards and upwards.
On the stitching front there have been finishes and one disaster.
The needle book holder (utilitarian at best) is completed and in use.

Two bookmarks are done successfully.
The "red set" came to a sticky end.   Scissor fob and biscornu went well but the needlebook was never going to work.  Frugality with linen is all very well but I do need to ensure there is sufficient seam allowance for construction.  In this case there wasn't so I discarded the needle book. 
The two fancy humbug shaped fobs almost reached the same fate but I was able to retrieve those.  I quite like that pattern and may revisit this again.
I began construct on the Betsy Morgan Etui but haven't made a lot of progress for two reasons.  I don't want to fail under pressure with this one so will take my time.  Also I have not yet decided on a lining fabric, so this one is back in the basket.
I have stitched the Hardanger tops for two Christmas Stocking Ornaments and completed those.
And now I have kitted up the Betsy Morgan Reticule with DMC thread.  Gloriana threads are just too ridiculously expensive here in New Zealand and mostly obtainable only by on line purchase from overseas.

All this activity is tiring but with benefits.   I have shed 3kg of the 6 that I put on while working for Corrections.  Happy me!  However I suspect this is the result of lots of housework, tidying up and daily walks :)

Monday 7 October 2019

Beginner efforts at DIY

I did get tradesmen in to do some work on my part eat while I was away but a small job in a wardrobe   I decided to tackle myself.
All the ingredients for this were purchased and I sailed away following the instructions given.   But I have rapidly lost confidence.

If it doesn't all go well I will call back my friendly tradie...:)   Tomorrow I need to plaster and smooth before painting.   Should be able to manage that -  everybody says I'm "just like your father" and he was an expert DIYer so I should be able to make him proud?

Wish me luck! 

Saturday 5 October 2019

My favourite red

As is usual I took many more stitching projects away than I had time for but did complete the cross stitch for this
It is stitched on 32 count linen with Threadworks 1089 floss and it has turned out large!   When I checked the instructions it definitely said said 32 count linen so no mistake there.   I'm thinking I might stitch the monogram and use that on a drawstring bag to hold all these and make it a complete set.   (However I have yet to decide what initial to use -  do I want this or do I want to gift it?) First I have lots of backstitching to do around the outer edges before I can begin construction.
I also wanted to make full use of a piece of linen on which I had begun a Wessex stitchery needlebook and scissor fob.   It is all tacked out for two humbugs and a bookmark.   Isn't the internet wonderful- it provided the chart for this cute little humbug/scissor fob which combines my favourite hardanger with relaxing blackwork.
And two bookmarks were completed on another scrap of linen.
So I am feeling very proud of myself but I am going to stitch this next -  but will convert the Gloriana threads to DMC as a cost saver.  The Inspirations Magazine containing this was my one and only holiday treat.
Since returning home I have been busy with housework as the painters left a fine film of dust over everything.  Nothing that a soft cloth and some Neepol couldn't cure and now the wood is positively glowing; as am I, feeling so virtuous over having cleaned so very thoroughly.

Saturday 21 September 2019

Away we go

The DBEM and I are off to Wellington while painters titivate my house.   We are having a leisurely trip (mainly because of the age of my passenger!) and today drove through Taupo.  For some unfathomable reason I hit upon the idea of a selfie.   I'm no good at those and after a series of gaffes finally produced this acceptable one.
Just how does one hold a cell phone and depress the "take" button with the thumb?   I managed this time, accidentally, but am sure I could not repeat the success again!

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Reply for Sandy

Hi Sandy,  the DBEM is my own created name for my Dearly Beloved Elderly Mother.
I took a photo on our walk today so she can say hello in person.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Picnic Bag

When one goes out with an elderly relative for a drive in the country one should always take a thermos flask and some homemade biscuits for afternoon tea.   At least that is so in the DBEM's generation.
The DBEM wanted a picnic basket.   I didn't see we needed that expense or that it was suitable and determined to make one so on went my thinking cap.
I was unsure how I was going to manage to make the thermos flasks stay upright?   Then.... I raided stash for
A cardboard box that once was home to C5 envelopes  +
Some remnants of plastic vinyl fabric   +
Some jute tape   +
A scrap of fabric  +
A tube of glue
All of these put together to create a suitable box which stands perfectly steady behind my seat in the car and houses two thermos flasks and a plastic container for the afternoon tea biscuits.
The DBEM is so proud of her idea that she kept insisting "you must put this on your blog"   So herewith!

Saturday 14 September 2019

Two completions

A few days ago now I completed these two little notebook covers and was feeling rather proud of myself when the DBEM said "do people still use notebooks now?"
Well, I don't know about people in general but I still do, so I'm assuming there are others of like mind out there somewhere!
Anyway, both were to use up scraps of linen and I'm proud to say that all ingredients in this recipe were sourced from my stash.
Hardanger lined in a bright red Japanese silk which makes the design pop.
Cross stitch in a Caron Waterlilies silk floss.
Both of these are destined for gifts and I do hope their recipients will be one of those people who use notebooks!

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Countdown to the Big R

It has been a week of food and farewells at work.   With the handover pretty well complete I am in the process of writing my final email and on Friday I will say goodbye to my working life.
The managers kindly bought this super sweet cake  and insisted on a photograph!  what an awkward pose:-)

Both the DBEM and I are looking forward to the start of a new life but I can assure you that next week will certainly be less food for me!

Tuesday 3 September 2019

A new project

For the past little while there have been multiple distractions and calls on my time and I have done little but kit up a few projects.
Then this week I decided I wanted a project to actually stitch.   This was the last in the basket and as it has been on the list since 2005 it is about time! 
I remember sending to America to Criss Cross Row for the fabric and the silks for this and they have sat awaiting some love ever since.
Here's a shot taken with the macro lens to show that stitched over one on 32 count linen it is very fine.  A labour of love I think but linen fabric and silk floss -  what's not to love?
My days of over one on fine linen are numbered so I need to get this finished.
There are a couple of other small finishes that just need construction which I hope to fit in over the next few days.  Hopefully I will be back soon with an update.

Monday 19 August 2019

Yes I have had it a long time

Tonight I called at the stationers to buy a new refill for my ball point pen. 
The very young assistant looked at the pen and said "have you had that a long time?"
Thinking "long before you were a gleam in your father's eye", I meekly answered "yes".
"A very long time", he said.
"Persistent fellow isn't he" I thought and told him "I received this as a gift for my 21st birthday."
"Is it engraved" he asked?
"No" says I.
"Well how do you remember then?" was his reply.
Cheeky fellow!!!   But in this pen lies a story.

On the grand occasion of my 21st birthday, Father was overseas on a business trip, Older Brother was out for the evening, Younger brother was living away from home working and Sister was at Church Girls Club so Mother and I sat on the sofa in our dining room and ate fish and chips from the newspaper wrapping and drank lemonade.    It was truly a non-event.   But I consoled myself with the thought that when Father got home he would arrange a restaurant dinner similar to the celebration we had had for Older Brother's 21st.   Father came home 2 or 3 days later and life went on.   A week or two went by and no mention of my birthday celebration; indeed, no present.   So I asked Father when I could expect my 21st and his response was that it was all past now so not worth arranging the dinner but he would ensure I received a suitable gift.   And a couple of months later after a further overseas trip he came home with a Parker Fountain Pen and Ballpoint Boxed Set purchased from the duty free store.  (I know that because the wrapping paper said so).   So I need no engraving to remember the saga of my 21st birthday;-)

Father had a habit of forgetting my birthday.   He did it again several years later when visiting me while I was living in Japan.   On that occasion he remembered the next day and was duly mortified - to the extent he gave me a substantial amount of Japanese Yen telling me to buy myself something.   I cannot remember what I bought but I can guarantee it wasn't a pen !

Friday 16 August 2019

A discovery - when is 5 metres not exactly 5 metres?

Today the DBEM wanted some tapes sewn on a mattress cover so I dug out my brand new package of white cotton tape, uncovered the sewing machine and stitched on one tape.   But it wasn't sufficient for two (grrrr)
So armed with a photo of the item - clearly showing 5metres of 25mm wide I went to the local haberdashery and found the same product.   Different manufacturer but the same product.
However the new one by Sullivans was exactly 5metres - not one millmetre more.   Whereas the Trendy Trims have a more generous approach and they give 5.5 metres.

Yeah and hooray for Trendy Trims.   And the DBEM is happy so all is good in my world.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Next project

In an effort to ease the boredom of eyelets on the Hardanger tassels I have stitched one rose (over one thread on 32count is hard on the eyes!) and sorted out my next project.
My current needle case for packets of needles is full to capacity of Tapestry needles and I need another to hold the sharps, chenilles, beading needles etc.
So a stash delve and a night of tacking has the linen ready to be put through the overlocker to secure the edges.   There's a lot of preparatory work for this but it comes together well.   I won't be doing Schwalm though - more likely some Sajou monograms.
I haven't decided what colour to stitch in - perhaps my favourite DMC115. 

Thursday 1 August 2019


The Angel Bookmark is all complete - although not yet cut out as I am using up the remainder of the linen and that is easier on an uncut piece.
Still all seven of them look good and I am happy.   More to the point the DBEM is very happy to have this gift to give her friend.
On the remainder of this piece of linen I am stitching Hardanger Tassels, 
There won't be too much waste when I have finished with this piece - which makes me happy.   I much prefer stitching on linen but with it being so expensive I try not to waste any. 
Contrary creature that I am, this has not scratched my stitching itch.   I really need a project into which I can get really absorbed - but what?   There is just too much going on at the moment to be starting major projects. 
But I did order myself the new Betsy Morgan book from Inspirations Magazine.   It is due to be delivered in October and I feel sure I will find an absorbing project in that.   Until then it will be a bit of this and a bit of that I think.   There are one or two half finished items that need to be completed before R day!   There has been less stitching in the last couple of weeks as I read aloud to the DBEM but we have now finished both books by Michele Guinness (and before the due date at the Library!) so my evenings are back to normal again. 
But life is good and The Countdown is almost on to the fingers of one hand:-)

Sunday 21 July 2019

Ah- Hardanger!!

I fished in stash and found linen and thread to create another Hardanger tassel.   All went well and the six components came together accurately.   Only the eyelets and construction are left to do.
Then the DBEM mentioned she would like a bookmark to give as a gift to her friend so I fished out a chart and some linen and started.   Oops!  Reverse stitching and a fresh start.   Oops again.   No reverse stitching this time I cut out the offending stitches with my trusty Clover Stitch Ripper.   Yet another start and another oops.   In disgust I put away that piece of 32 count linen and found some 28 count and made another start.   All good this time and the foundation is on the way for a Demonic Angelic Bookmark.
Each of the large central squares on the diagonal have to be cut and a hardanger angel stitched into them.   I think I will need to be relaxed and refreshed and have freshly cleaned spectacles before I attempt the cutting!
And on the discarded piece of linen I will stitch a cross stitch Christmas Ornament so my frugal self is not offended.   Linen is so expensive here I hate wasting any of it.

Three days of annual leave last week was most productive -  I stitched a new winter skirt, took the DBEM for a hair cut (and got a much needed trim myself), did the six weekly grocery shop and paid a visit to the Library.   And so tomorrow it is back to work - but only for another 8 weeks (and who is counting?)

Tuesday 9 July 2019


The stitching is now finished. 
This weekend I hope to go and find some suitable lining fabric to construct the notebook cover.   And then as a reward I will allow myself to stitch some hardanger :-)
My evenings are not totally devoted to stitching at the moment.   I am reading a book aloud to the DBEM.   A chance encounter at the Library with the book "Archbishop" by Michele Guinness led to a search for any others she had written and the discovery that the dynasty of the Guinness Beer Barons had a branch who had been intrepid missionary adventurers.   I further found that Michele's husband Peter's Grandmother had been brought up in the Brethren and that tenuous link with my own heritage has led to the enjoyment of this current book "Grace".   Perhaps not to everybody's taste, the DBEM and I are nonetheless enjoying our reading.

R Day

Ten weeks until R day = the last day of work.  Then six weeks of accrued annual leave and finally Gold Card Day.  The Filofax of  retirement plans is brimming with lists and the countdown is growing more exciting by the day.
Meanwhile life continues, filled with work, chores, care of the DBEM and some stitching.   The "C" is almost finished so photos tomorrow.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

See the C

A little progress has been made but with each stitch I am regretting choosing such a thick twill fabric.   It will wear well but it is hard to stitch on :-(

Friday 21 June 2019

Last of the socks

This is the last of the socks - the last I shall be knitting for some time.   The ten pairs I have is enough for one person's feet!!
Aren't the small pair cute?   I have put them with the DBEM's finished knitting and they can go to the Hospice Shop next time. 
Today the DBEM had her check at the doctor and stocked up on her prescription medicines again.   I had a pacemaker check and then crossed off a few chores from the list which included taking the remainder of the sock wool to the charity store so someone else can have the pleasure of knitting some small pairs :-)   All in all a good day

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Sock Wool

Lenore asked what yarn I had used for the berry pink socks.
I always use Opal Sock yarn and this is no exception.   Here's a photo of the ball labels.   I have no idea if it is still available or not.

This evening I have completed a pair of children's socks in the same yarn - photo to follow when they have been blocked and pressed.   I am in awe that my Grandmother managed to decipher the complicated knitting instructions but the DBEM assures me that Grandma knitted her school socks.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Diversion into sock territory

After finishing the 2019 Christmas Ornaments and being unable to decide on which one I want to stitch for my tree, I meandered into the knitted sock territory.   Two balls of Opal Sock Yarn were calling to me so I found my double pointed needles and got started.   One pair are now finished and I am happy to say that they turned out identical twins!  
The other pair are almost done and it looks like there will be enough yarn left to try a child's pair from an ancient book which once belonged to the DBEM's mother.
And this diversion has been worthwhile.  Not only producing two pairs of warm socks but also the inspiration for my next project.   I have the book.   I purchased a piece of beautiful twill fabric and today ran that through the overlocker.  
Now I can make a start.   This is to fulfill a promise I made to the DBEM to stitch a notebook cover for her favourite niece's 60th birthday.   Watch this space.


Monday 3 June 2019


It has been a productive weekend and finally the Christmas Ornaments are crossed off the list.   Creative finishing is not really my forte but here we go -  all but one are from 2018 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue
I really liked the wreath style finish used for Noel and happened to have one - re-purposed from a greeting card - so here's my attempt to copy the finish that JCS used.   Rather an amateur copy but .....
The pompom trim seemed to suit this ornament and I am quite satisfied with this one.
The elf has turned out well with a simple hanging finish.  I like him but stitched over one means he won't be repeated too soon:-)   A simple gold cord hanger and pins with gold beads holding a red ribbon edging he looks really cute.
And this one came from a chart on the internet and the finish is certainly not professional.   But for a brief appearance on a Christmas tree once a year this will have to do.

Now I have to decide on what to do next.   No hardanger inspiration yet but I am wanting a new mat to go on my bedside table so may revisit my charts and see if there's anything suitable. 
The Betsy Morgan etui needs construction but that is currently put to one side.   I need energy to concentrate on that.