Friday 20 October 2023

Christmas Ornament finished.

 Today I finally finished this small Christmas Ornament and with this I think the 2023 requirements are fulfilled.  As I won’t be in New Zealand for Christmas I have to make sure they are all ready and sent to the nieces and nephews before I depart.

What do you think of this one.   Partway through I regretted stitching over one but it was the only way to ensure the finish was an appropriate size.  And I wanted to use everything from stash.  Success on both counts.

What shall I stitch next I wonder?   The first weekend in November I am doing an embroidery class which is a Ukrainian Whitework clutch purse.   So until then I may just dabble and sort through charts and linens in the stash cupboard without starting anything fresh.   I don’t want too many projects on the go at once!

Sunday 15 October 2023

And a finish

 Regulations in New Zealand forbid me from driving for two weeks after my surgery so what am I going to do while imprisoned at home?   Finish my Blue Hussif of course.   So last night as the results of our General Elections rolled in and the Blue colour of the winning National Party filled the screens, I put the finishing touches to my Blue Hussif.   I’m rather pleased with this one and it already has a safe place in my Cabinet of Wonders

I’m rather pleased with the detail on this  - the covered button fastener mirrors the pattern exactly becoming almost invisible.  And the attachment of the needle pages and pin cushion fit exactly the pattern of the quilting on the inside.   Quite a fiddle to get all this correct but well worth the trouble.

I’ve now started on the last Christmas Ornament for this year.   I’m not sure what the linen is - an oddment from my stash - but I’m stitching it over one and wondering why on earth I ever though this was a good idea?  But sometimes it’s necessary to get the final item to a correct size for the tree.   I’ll show progress later on this week. 

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Cabinet of Wonders

 Tomorrow Niece #2 and her three little girls are coming to visit.   It is school holidays and this is part of their routine.   I try to create memories for them and this time they are to be allowed to handle the contents of the Cabinet of Wonders (so named by Little Sister).   Today I emptied it out into two laundry baskets - removing the few vases to a safer place.   

Then inside three of the items I hid small named gifts.   It will be fun to see them inspecting, chattering, describing and eventually replacing on the shelves, all these goodies.

After all that expended energy lunch will be hummus, crackers, veggie sticks and fruit.   Yes!  They are a healthy eating family.  But inside these small tin cases are hidden a couple of chocolate surprises.

Oops!  Don’t tell their mother😳

Friday 22 September 2023

Flip side of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

 I’ve been having a run of these days for a week now.   Despite my righteous attempts to improve fitness and maintain strength and balance (oh and lose a little weight) with five times a week gym visits and training under professional supervision, last Wednesday I twisted my knee getting out of the leg press machine (I know!!) and since then have been crippled and in such pain.   Buckets of tears, a doctors visit, physiotherapist visits and a deluge of self pity later, I confess that while I may be almost 69 I feel more like 89!   I grimace at the pain, swallow anti inflammatory and painkiller and do everything so very very slowly.   Praise the Lord for audiobooks and embroidery.

But the flip side - My Blue Hussif is coming along and providing maximum enjoyment.   The outside is almost complete.

Today the post man brought me some linen for my next project so I am well stocked for this rehab period.   Tomorrow or the next day or even Monday I may brave the supermarket, hanging on to a trolley, and stock the pantry and fridge.   Then I will be confident of maintaining a fully supplied season of hermit life😂😳

Friday 8 September 2023


 The small bag/tin/container is now fully finished so I can call it a success.   

I’m not fond of having more than one project on the go at a time but currently have two so am working hard and solely on one so that I can get back to my comfort zone.   And then…I signed up for a two day workshop in Ukrainian Whitework at the beginning of November,   While I have mastered the eyelets now, the long rows of “narrow edging” proved a challenge so I’m hoping to get help with those.   In my small bag/tin/container, I resorted to a saw tooth satin stitch to finish top and bottom but that is not strictly kosher:(

Sunday 3 September 2023

Inspired by The Sampler Gathering

 When I went to the TSG at Lake Taupo I took a one day class with Kerry Seeley to make a Ukrainian Whitework Scrap Bag.   The first stitched piece ended up in the rubbish bin but I started another and am well pleased with the result.   Yesterday I went to get some cotton fabric to make the bag and so hopefully tomorrow these “ingredients” will turn into a small bag.

And I purchased this chart from another tutor at the TSG and am making great progress on this.   The designer sent me an email explaining how she had been inspired by tiles she had seen on a trip to Portugal.   I am loving this as it’s my favourite blue and so rhythmical to stitch.

While stitching I am dreaming of my next project which will be to use up the jewel coloured thrums my weaver friend Claire gave me.   For that I’m thinking a small canvas work zipper purse.

Spring has sprung her in New Zealand and I am enjoying sitting out in my sheltered back yard absorbing lots of Vitamin D but I’m making sure not to get sunburnt😉

Saturday 19 August 2023

Small Pillow

 My embroidery cupboard already has way too many small pillows but the chart I received at the Sampler Gathering seemed to cry out for this finish.   I’m super pleased, even with the colours, but it will reside in the cupboard to become unviewed and probably unappreciated 😉

If you see the back you’ll understand why I felt compelled to stitch this.   

The linen was originally Permin#32 and was buried in mud for many days following the fierce cyclone in February.   Sherelyn and her friends laundered and relaundered many times to get the linen to this “antique” (let’s be kind, it is stained) finish and renamed it Gabrielle Linen.   

Today I have tacked out the linen to make a start on a new project.   Antique white Belfast linen and DMC 930.  What will this turn into I wonder?

Thursday 10 August 2023

Back in the groove

 Last weekend I drove through the centre of the island to the beautiful Lake Taupo and joined around 60 other women for a weekend of stitching, speakers and chat.   It was fun. 

I took a class in Ukrainian Whitework - although mine is actually blue 😂 and am back to my enthusiastic stitching self.   Indeed when this piece is done I have an idea for another in this technique.

And the apocalyptic mud bath that was my garden has been transformed and I now have to wash the dust an dirt off everything, resurrect my pot plants, and when the weather cooperates welcome the guys back to paint my fences.   I am so very very pleased with the result and feel this was a good investment for the future.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Taking a break from stitching

 Well, not a long one.   

Next year Little Sister and I are planning a trip to the UK.  To be brutally honest Little Sister is going with me on my trip to the UK🙂  as she says she has no specific wants and I have a looooong list.   So I have a large road map, my little notebook and plenty of time to create an itinerary.   But I have a shock at how close towns/cities are to each other.   Looking at the map I think “oh if Oxford is next that will be a days drive from Winchester” and then checking with Dr Google Maps I find it is around one hour😳.  This is a fun way to spend a day when I am stuck indoors with a head cold.

Our trip is not until May 2024 so I have plenty of time to plan the intended five weeks.   As a bribe I have promised to send  Little Sister to visit her son and grandson in Amsterdam for a week then meet her there and fly home from Schipol.   I shall probably explore London in that time if I pluck up the courage to do it alone.   Gold Hawk Road Fabrics are on my list along with 84 Charing Cross Road, and  Heatherwick’s Rolling Bridge  A very eclectic mix.

And my next project is a Wessex Stitchery Japanese Komebukuro for which I have selected colours and tacked out the linen.   I’m looking forward to this one.

Sunday 23 July 2023

 Two more Christmas Ornaments completed.   I'm happy with these and part of the satisfaction comes from knowing that everything was from stash.   Can you tell that I'm on a campaign to reduce my size of stash?

I also have some knitting on the needles and am making good progress with that.  But currently have a nasty head cold so am spending most of my time curled up on the sofa under Grandma's knitted blanket with a good book.

See you later.

Wednesday 12 July 2023


 At Guild we are doing a group project of a Concertina Wessex Stitchery Needlecase.   This has been an exercise in patience and reverse stitching for me; and I thought I could count😉. However I have made progress as this photo proves.   The panel of the right has to have needle lace flowers to complete it and the panel on the left , although the stitching is correct, is actually in the wrong place.   So I will have to get out of that and start again correctly.  Oh dear.   

Meanwhile on the estate we have M U D !   My little cottage stands in a quagmire which is being tamed by two hunky landscapers as frustrated as I by the incessant rain.   Yesterday I chose paving stones, said no to the suggestion of an extra garden bed and prayed that all this would soon end!   The finished result will be good but I don’t love the process.

And as an added bonus I went to the hospital for a Venogram which required an IV lure in each arm.   My right arm is always a challenge and yesterday it took 7 attempts and three different nurses to admit failure before they decided that Ultrasound Guidance was needed.   After all that trauma the actual procedure was only a matter of minutes but I am happy that the cardiologist is now confident he can do the surgery here in Palmerston North and I won’t be sent to Auckland.  Such is life.  Good and Bad.  Sweet and Sour.  Or as Maisie Mosco said in her book, Almonds and Raisins.

Having slept well I’m ready to face another day.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Return of my Mojo

 At long last my mojo has returned and I am currently enjoying a piece of Wessex Stitchery and am continuing with another Christmas Ornament.

And as a bonus, my weight has dropped.   Yes since my dear Mother passed away I gained some bereavement kilos but this past two weeks I have become friends again with the bathroom scales as well as with my John James Tapestry Needle :)

Here’s a snap of the two current projects - the ornament almost complete and the Wessex needlecase only just started.

Meanwhile on the estate I have two hunky landscape gardeners tearing up the flower gardens in preparation to replacing it all with a “next to no maintenance” garden which is part of my future proofing.   Currently it is an awful muddy mess and I wonder if it will ever come to resemble the beautiful sketch they drew for me when we were deciding on shrubs, plants and trees.   I am trying to keep positive I promise !

Thursday 22 June 2023

A new start and a little progress

 While talking with Little Brother recently I realised that Christmas is not too far away and this years ornaments for the family have not been started.   So I went through my collection of Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues and chose six that looked promising.   This week I have made a start on one and in the process discovered that I enjoy stitching once again :)

I finished this as a small hanging pillow - it’s not too firmly stuffed.

Also I was commissioned by a friend to make a bag as a thank you to the lady who donated a lot of fabrics to our stitch group.   I had taken three pieces so was only too happy to make a bag and hope that this creation suits.   The felted ornamental front came in one piece and I merely attached it.   All in all a good sturdy bag which should be useful.

So on a roll, I dived into stash and also made a bag which I was convinced would not work geometrically as it has no side pieces.  But voila!   I shall send this to an aunt who is going through a tough time as she loves roses and pink!!

And I have started on a kit I purchased eons ago.   I was slightly unnerved to find it was over one thread of 32 count linen but so far so good.   I’m using a mix of DMC and Dinky Dyes to keep the costs down but I must confess that silk is far easier to stitch with than cotton.   If I were a rich woman I would stitch only with silk!  Pictures of that to come when enough progress has been made!

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Taking a break

 I have a finish to show - the Frisian Whitework strawberry decoration is complete.   It hangs on my cabinet door.   

Despite finishing this and still having boxes of thread and fabric in stash I cannot find anything that inspires me.   This week I went through all my charts and books but …. No.  Nothing seems to bring on the enthusiasm.   For the next week I have a visitor staying so will take a break from stitching and make some progress on my knitting and then see what happens.

What am I knitting, you ask?   I am hoping this will turn into a warm and wearable cardigan of the variety my beloved Mother described as an “at home cardie”.   I’m knitting from a cone of wool so I can avoid too much sewing in of ends.   After a lifetime of sewing in the ends on Mother’s striped knitting I think I’ve earned a respite 😂

Sunday 23 April 2023

New Start

 I seem to have lost some of my enthusiasm for stitching and only the prospect of yet another month going by with nothing to show at stitch group has got me to put needle into new project.

This is to be a Frisian Whitework Strawberry but will be smaller than the chart dictates as the linen is 32count from stash rather than the suggested 28 count.   But as the idea is to continue using up stash I will go with what I have.  The linen is what used to be called Confederate Grey and I’m using #12 white DMC Perle.

I have a couple of knitting projects on the go as well so plenty to keep me busy.   See you again soon.

Sunday 9 April 2023

Finally…..a finish

 Life is back to my usual now after Older Brother’s funeral.   However stitching mojo has not recovered yet and I have forced myself to complete this set.

In an effort to reduce my huge stash of embroidery fabrics I have decided to make some covered coat hangers.   First up is one for a birthday gift needed for the beginning of August.   I’m thinking of using a hardanger pattern from deep stash.   So tonight’s pleasurable activity is to go through my fabric and select an appropriate linen.

My great nephew who lives in Amsterdam should be warm next winter!  Little Sister, his Granny, and I are both knitting pure wool sweaters :)   Here’s my latest effort.

And I have booked a weekend away in the central North Island to attend the Sampler Gathering and have enrolled in the Ukrainian class.   Four classes are offered and all are counted work but I found this one most appealing although I certainly do not need another small bag!   It will be good to have friendly company for this adventure.  Here’s the tutor sample.  Mine of course will be blue!

See you later

Friday 10 March 2023

My Precious

 Today my sewing machines were discharged from their “hospital” and I gladly collected them.   It has been lonely without them and I admit, I was rather worried that my Blue Elna wouldn’t be able to be repaired.   However both are working beautifully.

That Elna has been with me for something like 55 years?   I remember Father persuading me to spend more than I really wanted to and purchase one the same brand as Mother’s was at the time.   It was painful parting with so much of my hard earned holiday-job-money but it was a wise buy.   Mother’s machine eventually stopped working and not long before he died Father bought her a small basic Janome.   I’m so glad I kept that and have a back up.

Recently a friend gave me two lengths of fabric from her mother’s estate and I am going to stitch a blouse with the fine Japanese cotton and attempt a pair of lined trousers from the wool gaberdine.   An pair of  trousers bought many many years ago are being sacrificed for the pattern and I have found a helpful series on YouTube to guide me through.   Not right now though.

My older brother is very unwell and next week I am making the journey north to see him for possibly the last time.  A 9 hour drive will be quite an adventure but I have the satisfaction of knowing that only yesterday my Mazda passed it’s check with flying colours.   I will be taking a bag of embroidery, knitting and some books with me as well as low expectations of how much may be accomplished.  Little Sister will also be there and hopefully we can ease some of the burden for Sister-in-law.  So once again I may be off the radar for some time.   But there may be something of note to record when next I’m back at the blog.

Friday 3 March 2023

Presents for little girls

Tonight I have finished  dress and doll for “soon to be 8, Great Niece I”.  The dress fabric was on sale so I was happy.   She is tall and her mother has supplied the finished length measurement so hopefully all will be well.

The parcel that went off for Great Niece X last week was obviously a success.  I was pleased with it.

Her mother said all the girls enjoyed their gifts but the dress was a great hit!   It is a full wrap and with the frill definitely has the twirl factor!   Dearly Beloved Elderly Mother’s button box provided the decorations for the dolls shoes.   I love it when I can use bits and pieces from stash.  Great Niece I has a small cloisonné butterfly brooch on her doll.   It belonged to Dearly Beloved Elderly Mother’s Grandmother.   My niece and her husband like history so I’m hoping that Great Niece I will enjoy having a brooch which belonged to her Great Great Grandmother   Or maybe all that will be too much for an 8 year old mind to comprehend.   

Next I need to complete the Blue Boston Etui.   I’m currently making a pin cube and still have the top of the bag to finish off.   Then I have some wool and a new pattern to knit a pair of winter socks.   But I want to dig into my stash and find another embroidery project too.   Hopefully my embroidery mojo will return now that Dolls and Dresses are out of the way.

Monday 6 February 2023

The construction is never so satisfying

 I have completed the cardinal pocket from Betsy Morgan’s Willing Hands book but am not really satisfied with the construction.  Still, as I was telling a friend this morning, I have had the pleasure of stitching it and the satisfaction of doing something else from the book my dear Mother bought me.   

And now I’m working on the Bristol Sampler bag but doing it in blue.   The air has been almost blue too as the small 1.5” paper pieced triangles defeated me and I resorted to square and changed the style.   I think I’m happy with what I have done (?) and am currently working on the small needle book and scissor fob.   The needle book has a fun plaited ribbon spine which looked like a doable challenge! But in actuality defeated me and I had to adapt!  Now I just need to actually finish the scissor fob and make up the bag and pin cushion.  This week?  I’ll see.

The little dresses and dolls for the Great Nieces were a hit and the six year old and eight year old are being very noble in containing their impatience.   I have cut out the dress for the six year old and tonight plan on cutting the doll pieces.   I need to find suitable dress fabric for the eight year old but the local shops didn’t have anything I liked.   An hour away in the city where my younger brother lives there’s another fabric store so methinks I need to have a day out. 

Today has been HOT and WET but I have donned a raincoat and been out in full scale war against the caterpillars devastating my cauliflower.   Let’s just say that war victims were great in number and I think my cauliflower will survive.  Dratted white butterflies and green caterpillars.   I need to find some way of creating a insect proof cage thing that will still allow sun and water in….or may be just resign myself to summers of war against invading insects!

Thursday 19 January 2023

Two sets complete and now back to my first love

 Soon-to-be 1 year old and soon-to-be 4 year old Great Nieces N and V have their "sets" completed.   I think they look cute and am quite happy with them.

Each girl has a matching dress - N the dots and V the geometric blue - and I tell myself that even if they are not worn much I've had tremendous fun sewing love into these.  Once my sister can find her dress patterns I will make a set for the 7-next birthday and 8-next birthday girls.

But now I am back to my first love, embroidery, and am stitching an etui from Betsy Morgan's Willing Hands II .   Once again I am stitching from stash as much as possible and so far am really enjoying the rhythm of cross stitch while inwardly lamenting the lack of specialty stitches.  I don’t like the draw cord and tags either so will be constructing mine differently but will ensure that it is a complete etui when done 🙂

My vegetable garden is producing well and I am freezing beans daily.   I fight the birds for the cherry tomatoes and so far I am winning.  I am propagating Egyptian Walking Onions to give to friends.   I don't want many more in my garden nor do I want them 'walking' the length of the bed either.   Apparently they are expensive to buy so my friends have been keen to receive their first Walker.   In taste they are rather like shallots so are very useful in cooking.  My gardener neighbour was distinctly disinterested when I told him but others are happy to find a place in their gardens.

Saturday 14 January 2023


 A recent day spent in the company of six great nieces and a great nephew was noisy but fun.   The oldest - nearly 8 - was happy to chat to “Great Antie” (sic) and I was telling her how I’d made one of her cousins a dress and a rag doll with a matching one.  Her wistful comment “cute” set me to wondering and now I’m in a quandary.   If I make her a set like that then I’ll need to do one each for her two younger sisters.  Question is have I the stamina to do three rag dolls??

Anyway the set for the soon-to-be-one year old is nearly complete.  Today the bodice and buttons will go on the dress for Baby Nell and the doll will get her knickers and face.  I rather think the black slippers need a ribbon tie too so while I’m out I will search for the appropriate very very narrow ribbon.

Tuesday 3 January 2023

What will 2023 bring?

Happy New Year.   I contracted the dreaded Covid on Christmas night so was in self isolation for seven days from Boxing Day.   Prior to this I’d have said I was quite content with my own company but….I certainly felt the impact on my mental health and now although I’m really cautious I am going to try to meet up with friends each day for a while.

But I did manage to finish the Frisian Whitework and have begun the construction of the cushion.  Step one is as below.   I’m now puzzling over what to do in the ‘windows’ behind the cut work.   They need a dark colour so perhaps a small patch at each window?

And I’ve made a new start on a pattern from an Inspirations magazine last year.   I ordered the fabric especially from a New Zealand company.   It’s called Bay of Island Blue and will be all stitched in white so should look quite stunning.   

And I plan on working on Betsy Morgan’s Virgin Queen’s Stitching Pocket although I will substitute floss as Gloriana is out of my price range.

And that's all for today.