Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

Well, 2011 is about to come to a close here in New Zealand -  a little earlier than for most of you folks who read this.   Our weather is appalling and most of the major holiday destinations have cancelled their fireworks celebrations.  So instead of the usual Happy New Year picture I will leave you with this photo of a sad looking Pohutukawa tree on the mountain I can see from my window.   These trees flower in brilliant scarlet at Christmas and have usually faded to a dull red by New Year.   That fading coupled with the inclement weather make a dismal New Year's eve!  

But.... on a happier note.   All cleaning is finished.   My computer photo files are sorted and a full back up done.   Now all I need to do is wait for midnight :-)

The HDHBEM is frantically knitting to finish yet another Hospice Cardigan before the start of 2012.   We took a photograph of all that she has completed and pressed.
Just look at them.   How many do you think there are?

I see that my Blogaversary is on 7 January and so in honour of the occasion I will be doing a surprise giveaway.  If you would like to be included in the draw please leave a comment on this post and please mention in your comment how many Hospice Cardigans are in the photo above.   Those with the correct number will go in the draw over which the HDHBEM will preside on 7 January  (NZ time).

Friday, 30 December 2011

And the cleaning is almost finished....

Today I had two things left on the list -  a trip to the library to stock up on books for the New Year long weekend and to "spring clean" the kitchen.   The library trip is done and these books followed me home!

The kitchen is half done and there are only the oven and saucepan cupboards to do tomorrow.
While cleaning out the linen cupboard I found these.  

A small box which when opened contained this piece of embroidery.

The HDHBEM did this when she was around 8 years old.   The back is as neat as the front.   My Grandmother did the crochet edge.

In the same linen cupboard but tucked away in a far corner (out of shame I imagine) was my first piece of embroidery.   Done at around 8 years old too -  how much more crude the stitching. 

 I sure had a long way to go on the improvement road.   However I will say in my defence that this was my first piece.   Fifty years down the stitching road I feel I can confidently say I am better than I was.  The piece above, that the HDHBEM did was not her first piece but she tells me it was the first she gave away.  Looks like it came back to her.   My Grandmother did the crochet edge on my piece too. 
The linen cupboard had lots of treasures screwed up in a bag -  several crochet cloths by Grandmother, one crochet cloth by me and a tatted mat, again by Grandma.   You'd almost think this was the first time I had cleaned the line cupboard out!   That is not so, but I had forgotten about these pieces.

This afternoon I have edged around all the pieces of linen for the projects for 2012.   Scissors, needles and threads are sorted and I'm ready to go.   But I promised the HDHBEM I would knit a lacy edging for one of her "Hospice Cardigans" and so I want to ensure I have that completed this year.   Tomorrow I hope to have a photo of that and of the collection of "Hospice Cardigans" - the HDHBEM is concentrating on finishing her current sweater before this year closes.

At the library today I got an audiobook with10 CDs; that should ensure we both have a productive New Years weekend.   The weather is lousy -  we have had constant heavy rain for 24 hours now and they say that there are still two days of rain to come.   Where oh where has the summer gone to?

Well until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

I am a lists girl!

Currently I am on two weeks holiday - the annual Christmas New Year Closedown here in New Zealand and at the start of the break,  I made lists.   A shopping list for Christmas and New Year groceries; a menu for Christmas and New Year meals; a "spring cleaning" list for all the cleaning that didn't get done at the start of Spring and a list of what stitching projects I needed to finish before the end of this year.

Shopping list is done - a big tick here

Menu list is done - another big tick here

Spring Cleaning is three quarters done but there are still 4 days till the end of the year!

Stitching projects are complete -  a very big tick here!

And what's more I have had time for some holiday too - yesterday the HDHBEM and I went south to Hobbiton.   Very close to the small rural town of Matamata is where Sir Peter Jackson is filming most of Hobbiton and the town is justifiably proud of its fame!

On the way back we drove through an even smaller rural town (possibly only a village?) where they had the main street decorated with hanging baskets and these flower pot sculptures.   Top marks to the businessmens association for this bright idea.

We saw this "wagon" outside the Wagon Wheels diner -  those old Morris cars were sure made to last weren't they!

Today we went to see this
Meryl Streep was brilliant I thought -  although I can't honestly say I'm truly a fan of Baroness Thatcher herself.   She must have been extremely difficult to get along with.   As we were getting back into the car after the movie a bee landed on my left hand and stung me!   Nasty beastie.  I flicked him off and extracted the sting.   All my life I have been told how like my father I am but obviously that is not true.   He was wildly allergic to bee stings and obviously I am not although my hand is rather red and a little painful but not enough to stop me making the effort to finish my stitiching tonight.

I have finished the needlebook

and it needs a good press but on the whole I am pleased with it.

And the red ABCD hussif is constructed too but as I stitched over one thread of fabric this has come out half size and so will hold only the scissor pocket.   I need to find a suitable bead/button to form the closure but for the purposes of the lists will consider this a finish!

The left hand side is folded over to form a pocket which will easily fit a packet of needles so this could be quite a useful "mini-hussif".   Several years ago Little Sister gave me stork scissors which just fit the scissor pocket and their gold handles tone well.   I am well pleased with this item.

For Christmas I gave the HDHBEM a book and so she is absorbed in her own little world and it has been a silent evening in our house!  Knitting has been laid to one side and she will very soon need to be called back to reality and sent to bed.   Wish me luck as I go and call her back to the here and now.

Have a happy evening evrryone.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

And a merry Christmas to all

Good evening from New Zealand.   It's Christmas Eve here and I have been super busy yesterday and today with a total clean of the house from ceiling to floor in every room.   My car needed a wash but time ran out as did energy levels.   Groceries are bought, the menu is decided, preparations are made and tonight I can stitch in front of Midsomer Murders Christmas Special.  

I have two items left on my stitching list for this year -  the red needlebook which needs one day to construct it; and this.....

which needs more than one day to complete the stitching and to construct.   Just as well I have two weeks holiday from work isn't it?
Santa has been to visit my house already and left a stack of gifts under the tree. I know this for sure as his elves delivered some of them to the Post Office and I had to go and collect them.
Some years ago before her sight deteriorated badly, the HDHBEM stitched this for my tree

And that is what I wish you all.   Have a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All the way from Asahikawa

My postman and I are getting really well acquainted lately.   Boxes and packages are coming from all parts of the world and on Friday he brought me a real beauty from my friend Yuko in Asahikawa.  
We go back a long long way, Yuko and I (1988 we first met I think?) so she knows my tastes really well.
So let me show you what the package contained - by the way, nothing was wrapped in Christmas paper so I feel justified in opening them all!
A box of my favourite Kibana cookies (an Asahikawa specialty), some tiny decorated memo cards (which the HDHBEM has already purloined), a fancy tape dispenser, some cotton fabric, a sweet Santa stocking ornament, and ......

these spools.   Won't they be a great addition to my Sampler Casket when it gets finished.

And this cup of coffee -  well it's a pin cushion actually

And these gingham reindeer clips which are already on my Christmas Tree.
This was a real delight to open and I am sure going to enjoy all these goodies.

On the stitching front, I have finally finished the cover panels of my hussif.   Tonight I want to tack out the shapes for the needlebook, the scissor pocket, awl holder and scissor fob.   The decoration on each of those is up to me and my design skills are not good so this could result in some trial and error.   This final panel of the hussif was stitched around three times as I reverse stitched almost all of it at least once!  
Time to go and cook dinner now so I will sign off.   Have a good weekend everyone.

Friday, 16 December 2011

At the request of Little Sister

My little sister always has a "decorate the Christmas Tree" party at the beginning of December.   She lives about 7 hours drive away from me so I never get to the party or see her tree.  But every year she asks if I have put my tree up and am I going to put photos on my blog????   I wasn't going to this year your request Little Sister here are some photos.
These mittens are one of my favourite ornaments on the tree.

Last year I made three hanging ornaments - here's two of them

And the third was this Nativity Scene.   "Christmas Joy" was done several years ago now.

Little Sis gave me the kit for this one a couple of years ago.   Do you remember it Sis?

Not all the ornaments are stitched - this Russian painted bell was a gift from the HDHBEM, purchased here in Auckland at a wonderful little gift store in the arcade.

Of course it is necessary to have a Santa ( a Prairie Schooler card from decades ago). 

And angels I have aplenty.   This one came all the way from Japan and is of stiffened crochet lace.

Clip on ornaments have come from Japan too -  a Santa Bear, joined this year by a gingham reindeer.

And finally a shot of the tree itself.

It looks a little sparsely decorated from this angle but believe me, there is an ornament on every branch!   I know I placed each one myself.
So, Little Sister, hereby endeth the report of the 2011 Christmas Tree.   Hope yours looks as beautiful as mine :-)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A new recipe, a new arrival and ABCs

Good evening all.   Today has been another day of wind and rain, although as the wind is coming from the north it is warm.   Our weather forecast is for another four days of rain!   Where oh where has our summer gone??   Please send it back to us if you find it.

I have been trying out a new recipe -  broccoli, parmesan, lemon and breadcrumb stuffed chicken breasts.   Delicious!   The HDHBEM said "we must have these again" which in our house is high praise.

This morning before work the postman brought two parcels.   One I have to leave until Christmas but the other long box was from Nordic Needle and has my supply of Congress Cloth.   I was really distressed to find that unobtainable in New Zealand - apparently Zweigart supply only to the USA but Nordic Needle were able to mop up my tears and supply exactly what was needed.  And they enclosed their latest catalogues so I have been absorbed in studying those tonight.   Great bedtime reading!
The poor postman has been really busy visiting our place recently - and not all Christmas presents either.   I have been internet shopping for fabrics and threads for next years projects.   Only one more package to arrive - unless Santa's elves have some surprises in store for me.

And my new hussif is almost finished.   Just the scissor pocket and the needle book cover for the inside. This is stitched in one thread of floss over one thread of 28 count Cashel linen.   Somehow there has been a lot of reverse stitching done on this and the final panel (on the right of the photo) almost brought me to tears of frustration.   The bottom section was stitched three times!   Anyway it all meets up perfectly and now I need to find my box of alphabets and select an M to put in the middle and if I hurry I can put 2011 in the bottom space.   The HDHBEM and I will go and select the lining fabric this Saturday -  at least I will select the fabric and she will select buttons to go with the cardigans she has knitted.   Perhaps next time I will show you her ever-growing stock of winter woollens.
I have completed all my Christmas shopping and will wrap the gifts and put them under the tree this weekend.  Christmas baking will be on the agenda too and I need to write my grocery list to be sure not to miss anything.   Hope you are all well advanced with preparations too.   Have a good evening  everyone.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A trip down memory lane

This week the HDHBEM has been trawling through old copies of the New Stitches magazine.   What a trip down memory lane it has been.   We no longer subscribe to this magazine but as you can see we have quite a collection! 

Among the ones that the HDHBEM extracted and handed me with a "do you remember this...." was the following.

My one claim to fame in the world of embroidery.   All but one of the panels were taken directly out of the Heritage Sampler series in the magazines but the bag wasn't capacious enough with just six panels so I concocted the seventh from a sampler chart I had at the time.   This bag was stitched over several months and completed in 2001 but since then has never been used.   It sits on a shelf in my cupboard holding a variety of needlebooks and hussifs no longer in use but I brought it out tonight for an up date photo of other panels.

What else has the HDHBEM been doing?   Well she has been reading and eating.   We both chortled over this book

but at the time she read it the  HDHBEM hadn't seen (or didn't remember seeing) Baumkuchen.   Sadie, the wife of Mr Rosenblum cooked this cake numerous times - a kind of therapy -  but try as I might I couldn't explain to the HDHBEM exactly what these cakes would look like.  Then my kind friend Sonoko sent a box of these and I pounced.   "Mother! These are the ones mentioned in that book!" and instantly they became even more desirable.  

They are delicious but so far in the preparations for Christmas I am managing to avoid unnecessary calories.
Thankyou Sonoko for giving my mother so much pleasure.
Have a good evening everyone.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A catch up

Where oh where does the time go to when it flies by so fast???   What have I been doing???
There has been some finishing done here -  the Christmas prism is done and filled with delicious Lindor chocolates.   This week it will be on the way to its final destination.

A small ornament was made and sent to Little Brother (and I forgot to take a photo) because Little Brother has bee hives on his mini-farm.  For that sentence to make sense, I need to tell you that the ornament said Must Bee Christmas and the 'bee' was actually a stitched bee. It was a freebie off the net but I can't remember where.   He also has walnut trees, apple trees, plum trees and a huge bed of lavendar.   I love Little Brother's mini farm -  and of course I love Little Brother, all six foot four inches of him!  
I have been and visited six day old Kelly -  isn't she soooo cute.

I have been given this "fragrance sachet" in the shape of a cow.   All the way from Japan, this ornament is filled with a fragrance that is sure to last the year long.

I have attended a farewell for my god-daughter who is going away to Hong Kong to live for a year before coming back to study at university in Auckland.   It is exciting to see her growing up and becoming independent but I will miss her badly.   Two boxes of her "must keep" memorabilia are stored in my garage so she will be back.   Besides which, she promised!

A friend, who together with her husband is in missionary work in the remotest part of Zambia, was home briefly and brought me this fantastic handbag.   An entrepreneurial ex-pat woman Gillie Lightfoot has started a business in Zambia, employing local Zambian woman to manufacture these bags.   They are genuine cowhide leather and exceptionally well made.   I am delighted - when Rachel said red, I had visions of cherry or tomato but this is actually a fantastic cranberry colour.   Happy happy happy!

I have made Cattern Cakes -  inspired by those I ate at the Lacemakers Guild on St Cattern's Day.   They are delicious.   Cinnamon, currants, all spice and a hint of carraway rolled up in a similar fashion to a Catherine Wheel.   The internet was the source of my recipe and these were a major success.   I shall make them again and well before the next St Cattern's Day.

And finally a marathon of stitching produced these-  well this is only a teaser photo as they have yet to arrive at their destination.
And that's all from me.   I am off to get dinner for the HDHBEM who has been unwell and laid up all day.   Such a beautiful day too!   But she sent me off this afternoon to buy my own Christmas gift -  some new clothes.  I told the ladies in the shop that I wanted my Little Sister to go wow when she saw them and they jumped into action.   So Little Sister you are warned -  you need to practice your Wow now.   I will see you on January 21st next year!
Have a great evening.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Lucets, Lace and a Little Progress

Today I spent the morning as a visitor at the Embroiderers and Lacemakers Guild.  It is St Cattern's Day (otherwise known as St Catherine) and she is the patron saint of Spinners, Weavers and Lacemakers.  This was the reason for their Open Day but the reason I went was for a refresher course in Lucet Cording.   Several years ago I learnt this but never felt confident so off I went today.
However in the "meet and greet, have a cup of tea" time I spied an elderly lady setting up a beginners bobbin lace table and I was then sidetracked from Lucets to Lace.  

She kindly introduced me to Twists and Crosses and I started to see how bobbins and threads and pins can create lace.   Much practice is still needed but I think I am hooked and now I will try and get the book she recommended through Amazon.

I did manage to get the necessary refresher in Lucet cording though and will try and practice this week to cement the technique and the tips in my memory.
There's a few too many nobbly bits on this practice piece for any degree of satisfaction but as with the piano -  practice makes perfect!
On the stitching front I have finished the pulled thread cushion (this is not its permanent home -hence the colour clash)

and made some progress on the Red Needlebook.   But the other stitching is for gifts so no photos, sorry.
Work promises to be a lot busier this week which will be great -  better busy than bored - but I have Thursday off and plan on a visit to the bookshop (Christmas presents), the clothes shop (a new jacket) and of course the Needlework Shop!   Have a great week everybody.