Sunday, February 23, 2014

Amazing day

Just popping in for a quick update. We had a very late night last night (happy birthday Mrs CT), and today I had a big adventure. I was invited to take Zanny out to Woodend Beach for a ride. In spite of my terror, I joined four other riders, and had a brilliant time. The outing was a special one for one of the horses, but I will explain about that another day. 

I was so lucky to be going out with a group of incredibly experienced riders, so they supported me so well. Zanny was a bit uptight when I got on, but once we were moving, she did everything I asked of her. She was perfect. We walked along the beach, then two went ahead and three of us trotted along. Zanny took a bit of time to loosen up in the sand, but once we got going she really trotted. We went along faster that we have ever gone before at trot, and it was such fun. 

I was so proud of myself for being brave enough to give it a go. And even though I felt so anxious I wanted to throw up when we first started, I loved it and hope to go again. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I decided to show you a quilt that I have just finished binding. I have actually been snuggling under it unfinished, while my loathing of binding simmered away. The top is entirely made from Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics, and the reverse side is a red wide backing fabric with a floral pattern, also in red. 
Oh dear, the light isn't too good, but it looked glorious in real life. 
I'll have to do a morning photo shoot so that you can see how fabulous it looks in its entirety. 
Lime green sashing and binding. Who would have thought it would be so brilliant?

I really must have another go with my other camera. My wee I-pad tries hard, but doesn't quite cut the mustard compared to my proper camera. 

Zanny and I managed a ride yesterday. I was hoping for a lovely relaxed stroll, but after Zanny siddled up against the wire fence, spooking at who knows what, and my foot hooked a fencepost, sending her upwards in fright, things were fraught with nerves. I was fine, even though I was launched well upwards out of the saddle, luckily coming straight back down again with a good clunk. Then Zanny decided the spooky hayshed (which is actually a lovely hayshed), was horrible, and she tried to persuade me that home was a far better idea. Then there were those banging buggers, the birdscarers, blasting like cannons every five minutes or so, in dramatic volleys. Anyway, like a good special needs teacher, I couldn't possibly let her get away with not doing what I planned, which was just to pass the spooky shed, turn around and walk safely home. If I gave in to her, she would have learned that carrying on like she was about to be killed was the way to get to go home whenever she wants. I'd never see the end of it. So, in spite of feeling a bit scared myself, we did it, and she didn't do anything I couldn't handle.

 I am so looking forward to the crops being harvested so that the farmers will stop polluting the soundscape on my riding territory. I will find tackling spooky sheds (and troughs, rubbish bins, animals, things on the ground, different coloured patches of grass and other miscellaneous monsters) much easier without sudden bangs mid spook. For now we will call it Character Building.

We have had some horribly hot days this week, with another forecast for tomorrow. Poor crispy garden. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Isn't it great when everything just comes together to make for a smooth and happy weekend? Yesterday was fun with the day out at the craft fair. Today I fitted in everything I wanted to do. My darling Zanny appeared to be pleased to see me, and we had fun in the arena then walked down the long drive and back. She was behaving like a youngster, snorting at anything out of the ordinary, and trying to go fast. It was very quiet at the farm as almost everyone seemed to be out, so I had a peaceful time and could really concentrate. I gave her a good wash when we finished, which we both love to do. 

The garden is looking good, although the weeds in the undergrowth would upset more pedantic gardeners. The apples are ripening. 
Yes, I grew that!! Even more amazing, Miss Dog didn't get to it first. 
I had the usual assistance in the vege patch. 
I did a bit of sewing this afternoon. Not before I attempted to take photos of the fabric I got yesterday. I had a bit of trouble with the light, and my assistants. 
I was drawn to the vintage styled fabrics. The charm pack on the top has some really sweet designs. We'll have a look at that another time. I think I have a plan for that. I love the blue dotty floral and would really love a dress made from it. Sadly two fat quarters was all that was available. 
Note the black liquorice-like object in the bottom left corner of this photo. One of my assistants decided to poke her nose into my fabulous roll of vintage styled fabrics. I just couldn't resist these beauties. The sweet little animal and floral prints on jolly coloured backgrounds appeal to me so much.
When I open the roll we will examine the fabrics in detail. Right now I have another project that needs urgent attention. 
I'm testing a stack and slash technique to create a modern look for this little quilt. Hope it works. 

Now I would like to introduce you to my new friend. She isn't named yet, but my sewing machine doesn't have a name either, and I have had her for a long time. 
Wow - an overlocker!!! She goes fast and is slightly daunting, but so far, so good. She helpfully came fully threaded and has coloured thread guides and a DVD to explain how to work her. They can be notoriously tricky to thread, but I think we will be fine. I hope to have plenty of adventures sewing clothing with her. She will be especially useful for knit fabrics. I'm thinking of the beautiful merino fabrics I have admired every winter. 

I hope you all have a lovely week. I'll try to do some wee posts during the week, but no promises. I am shattered after a day at school and usually a little grouchy too. Hmm, I need to work on that. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Be my Valentine

I hope you had a lovely week. We had a Valentine theme going on at school, and had fun making iced spiced shortbread hearts, sewn hearts, screenprints with a heart pattern and sending a bit of love out to a friend who needed cheering up. I was a lucky girl and when I opened a gift from my Valentine, this is what I found:
Meet Pugsly. He also enjoys sitting on the couch snuggled up in the blankets. 

I've always loved pugs. I'm not sure if their colouring appeals, with their dark faces like a Siamese cat, or whether it is their squashed snouts, or their compact, solid little bodies. Poor pugs have been dreadfully malformed through breeding, causing breathing and eye difficulties, so it really isn't the best thing to support the puggy breeding industry. Fortunately Pugsly is in tip top health, and doesn't snore either, a common complaint in pugs. 

Today The Crafty Neighbour and I went to the quilting and craft fair at Pioneer Stadium. We had a lovely day out, and I did purchase some fabric, which I will show you soon, and got a few craft bits for school. My favourite stand was The Make Cafe's one, which was a delight, with lots of sweet fabric and crafty bits and pieces. They had a button maker and were making wee brooches for $2 each,which  appeared to be very popular. Cushla's Quilting was fantastic too, and had lots of gorgeous fabrics. Some shops specialise in fabrics I'm not at all keen on, but Cushla's had a wide range of fabrics. As a result they were very busy. There were some businesses that had just dull colours, others with really bright and pictorial fabrics, and batiks featured strongly too. Not my taste at all. I had to resist the wonderful half metre pieces of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics at one beautiful stand. 

I feel very guilty that I haven't seen Zanny all week. I was busy every day after school, and by the time we got home from the fair it was time for a cup of tea and a sit down, and was much later than I thought. Johnny reminded me that the Coast to Coast race would be blocking up the roads out to the farm anyway. Tomorrow, Zanny, I promise. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tilda Blanket Quilt

Wow- a project actually finished, and in record time! This wee darling has been a joy to work on, and I'm very pleased with the results. This is the Tilda Blanket Quilt, and is a lap sized quilt for snuggling under on the couch. It was made out of pre-cut so-called squares. Well, they looked like squares until I joined them together.
 I adore the floral fabrics.

 Look at the birdies!!! I'm in love!!!!
The backing is an old vintage blanket. My (recently temperamental) sewing machine seemed to love stitching this project. It was much easier to work with than layers of batting and fabric.
 Mr Mouse really loves this quilt, so I might make him one all of his own.
 I made a big padded one for darling Jasper that matched his ginger coat. I wonder what Mouse would like? He isn't getting an entirely grey one, but I do have a cute piece of Tilda fabric that has tea cups on a grey background. Not too keen on grey - it reminds me of school uniform skirts. High school sucked. Of course, on Mr Mouse, it is just perfect. He is like a happy storm cloud.

Miss Dog has been feeling a little under the weather at times. She's eating grass in this photo. Poor lovely has serious liver issues, so we are living on borrowed time. I need to get her blood tested to check her liver enzyme levels again. Doggies are good at covering how ill they really are. She gobbled up her dinner tonight, so must be feeling OK right now. Labradors are basically eating machines on legs, so it is a sure sign things are not right when a plate of dog food sits around for a wee while.
 She is still full of love for her family, and delighted to see visitors. She and Mr Mouse are best of friends. Mousie has been very sweet with her lately, washing her face and rubbing on her.
It has been a lovely weekend. We went for brunch this morning with friends at the wonderful Robert Harris Cafe down at Hornby. They have the most delicious food and hot chocolates. Johnny and I went for a big walk early this afternoon, ranting away to each other about school stuff. Then we had two lots of afternoon teas with visitors. I managed to finish binding the Tilda quilt (it was fun!!), and starting cutting the fabric for another little quilt project. Mr Mouse will have to wait for his own quilt creation. He is making good use of Jasper's one currently during the day, after discovering it fairly recently. I made a Jasper quilt nest for him and he ignored it for ages. Funny boy. 

Not too keen on a full five days of work this week. Short weeks are so fantastic. I've got a headache, and I think it is one of those three day jobs that cling on and make me a bit miserable. So much to be happy about, so I'm going to ignore it and carry on. 

Oooh- Valentine's Week! Maybe something romantic will happen. Hint, hint! 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In a bind

I'm working on binding my wee wool blanket backed Tilda quilt. It is a darling, and has been a pleasure to work on. I find binding pretty dull, but am working on modifying my attitude towards the task. Neat little stitches are easily accomplished with the tv chattering away. The Winter Olympics are fun to watch, providing no one goes postal with a tube of toothpaste. The security includes mounted police, so must be good. We think the venue looks absolutely beautiful, and the competition courses look amazing. 

I mounted up for a lovely ride today. I thought I would work in the arena today, but decided once I got there that Zanny and I needed to get over our fear of the banging birdscarers. It was my fault that Zanny is keen to avoid them because the first time we got a fright I was happy to let her head home rather than face the monster, so she decided that the bangs were a good excuse to turn around. I had no idea whether she would throw a big hissy if I insisted that we keep going on up the road. She had been jumping and spooking badly when she heard them, but I took the risk and we survived intact. The birdscarers sound like a gun blasting and are quite close to where we go. They go off in sets of four, around 5 minutes apart, I think. Zan and I agree that they are bastards, but that they are no longer worth worrying about. She is still to be entirely convinced, so I had her on a gentle, but firm rein, and we managed to walk further than we have gone in a while. Well done to both of us. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Corners of my world

I'm very nosy. I love peering into nooks and crannies, bending over to have a closer look. This morning I was doing just that around my garden and scurried back inside to invite my camera to join me. 
 I spotted all sorts of shapes, colours, surprises and old friends. Can you spot the Mouse hair caught on this foxglove? He loves the garden like I do.

 This cabbage is truly enormous. I enticed Mr Mouse up so that you could see the proportions, but he makes it look rather small. Mouse is actually huge himself, and the cabbage is much, much bigger than he is.
 I was rather keen to make courgette fritters today, but (can you believe it?), there was not a courgette or squashy relative to be found of any size. Well, there is rather a large lineup of big, woody marrows that have grown like monsters when my back was turned. They don't qualify for fritter creation.

I adore my garden, but the weeds do rather cause me considerable grouchiness on frequent occasions. I was ripping away in the cherry tree corner today, and decided that the only way to truly eliminate the nasty, deep rooted weeds that shred when you pull and pull at them, is to employ chemical warfare. Oh dear! Not keen on that idea, but I'm feeling rather hopeless at the thought of ever getting control of the rampant growth around here. I did manage to fill the greenwaste bin. Yes, I'm bad- I can't keep up with all of the composting required, so send most of my weeds to the council composting place. Piles of weeds depress me even more than masses of them growing in the garden.

I had intended to sew this afternoon, but after gardening I headed out for a ride on Zanny. I had planned to ride then sew, but socialising took a bit of time too. I had a fun ride on Zanny, with a friend along on a very uncomfortable borrowed bicycle. Zanny was happy with the bike alongside, and I enjoyed a good chat. Zanny tried it on a bit when she heard the bird scarers banging, but I insisted we keep walking towards the booms until she was proceeding willingly. I didn't want her to think she was controlling when we headed home. I just have to tell myself I have a firm seat in my saddle, and that she is just messing with me a bit, and won't throw a massive wobbly.

I thought you might like to see my other horsey girls. Not the big babies, the older girls.

Here's Tara, looking pleased because Zanny is returning to the paddock. She loves cuddles and carrots. Hope the tiny foal in her tummy is growing happily.
 Introducing Thistle. She is a 27 year old Standardbred lady who is spending her time in retirement boarding at the horse farm. Her owner has moved to another city, so I am chief spoiler. She is a dear girl with warm, friendly eyes. She is in great condition, although obviously tends to run to fat as her neck has quite a pronounced wobbly top.
 Funny that Dolly had a very similar expression on her face too. She is also a girl who carries extra weight - in fact it is a miracle she never founders (which means, in simple terms, very sore inflamed hooves). Dolly is also retired and is allegedly "ancient." She is a funny girl who isn't keen on people, but I have wormed my way into her affections because I know her favorite places for a good scratch. I think Dolly is a real sweetie who probably developed a defensive attitude in her former life as a harness racer and broodmare. I like to take the time to give her a good scratch until her lips quiver with pleasure. Love it.
Well, apart from the lack of sewing, I did get lots of gardening done, and had horse fun too. Not a bad way to celebrate New Zealand's national day- Waitangi Day. I am always immensely grateful to have a short week not long after starting the first term. It softens the blow of starting the new term and getting everything and everyone sorted. I hope you had a fun day too.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tilda - before the new term

School is back in, so I have had my focus elsewhere while we got up and running. We've got a Thursday holiday tomorrow, so I can recharge my batteries with a ride and some sewing. Mr Mouse and Miss Dog will be very pleased indeed. Mousie has been irritated with my morning getting ready for school routine, and we suspect Miss Dog has been barking a lot. They find it hard when they have to stay home while we go to work. I have been having a lot of fun at school, and have had some great creative ideas, so it hasn't been too hard to go. 

I felt like there was not enough time for sewing projects over the Christmas break. I did buy a lovely Tilda fabric pack, and used an old blanket to back a patched panel I made from it. 
Thanks for the blanket, Mum. 
I just pieced the squares together. They were not quite perfectly matched in size, which did create a few corner issues, but never mind that. If I worried about perfection I wouldn't make anything. Perfection is a cruel and unforgiving misteress. 
The next step involved layering and pinning. I actually took both layers back to the ironing board and gave them a good smooth out because you really need good, flat layers to help to prevent puckers. 
Mr Mouse decided to test drive the quilt - unimpressed, by the look of it. 
It looks a bit rough here still, but it was fine - thanks Mouse! I pinned the two layers with quilting pins. They are like small safety pins with a curved spiky part. They are quite sharp to go through the quilt layers and there was one ouchy incident. You need to put plenty of pins in, and in case you feel resentful about the time it takes kneeling on the hard floor, just remember you could be hand basting instead. 
Now I have shown you this much I am keen to get the job finished! I adore Tilda fabrics. There is one other brand of fabric that I used to make some extra squares, which matched beautifully. The vintage blanket is a perfect match too. The next steps are quilting and binding. I will show you tomorrow, all going to plan. 

More big sewing news coming soon.