My January ALYOF finish

ALYOF logoFinished off my January project for the ALYOF challenge last week, but only just got round to taking photos over the weekend.

This will be a donation quilt, and to me it definitely should go to a fella.  I re-purposed an old woollen blanket and used it for the batting, which has made it very heavy; hopefully it will be warm as well!  I tied it rather than trying to quilt it, due to the thickness.  Apart from the satisfaction of being able to tick it off as my January project, I’m glad to see it finished so I can now look through my other WIPs and sort out something for February 🙂  One WIP down, 17 to go!

DSCF6765 cropped   DSCF6769 cropped

I did make another quick “fun!” quilt (similar to this one) over the weekend for a colleague who’s moving to Wellington next month (and just realised I never took a photo of it before giving it to her today – duh!), and have made a little more progress on two WIPs, one of which has now reached the flimsy stage; however, neither of them has really enthused me as a February ALYOF contender, so I might have to dig a little deeper in the pile and see what I can come up with …  Or I could start something new … I’ve come across enough ideas recently in various blogs, websites, etc to make my cutting and designing fingers a little itchy 🙂

On Sunday I spent quite a few hours sorting through some of my books in the back bedroom (which has sort of turned into a junk room over the last few years, so it needs a good cleanout), and weeded out 4 banana boxes of books which I dropped off today to a friend who helps organise the annual book sale for one of the Christchurch Rotary clubs.  Several times I found myself opening up a book, reading the blurb at the beginning, flicking through a few pages and hesitating over whether to put it in the box or back on the shelf; and, yes, I did weaken from time to time …  However, a number of the books I have on my shelves were bought several years ago for the express purpose of using them for Bookcrossing, and since I no longer do that, I don’t really have a legitimate reason for holding on to them – that’s what my head was saying, anyway, although my heart was telling quite a different story 🙂  I have held on to some old favourites (Georgette Heyer, D E Stevenson, Neville Shute – you know, really old stuff!), and also all those by New Zealand authors, of which I now have quite a surprising number.  The book purge isn’t finished yet, but I did manage to clear one complete shelf (in which the books were three deep), so it was a good start.  Between books and fabric, I’d be hard pressed to say which one has consumed most of my discretionary dollars over the years! 🙂

Anyway, time to head off and watch a some of the Australian Tennis Open – Andy Murray against the young Australian, Nick Kyrgios (who might be a very promising young player, but has a bit to learn about on-court behaviour, in my opinion!):  go, Andy! 🙂




My word for the year …

I read about the challenge on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s blog to adopt a word for the year, and decided that my word for 2015 will be fun!  (And always with the exclamation mark!)  It was originally going to have a capital F, but I decided that was a bit too PC for such a great word 🙂

So here’s the little quilt I made to celebrate my word for the year:

2015 word quilt - Fun

Quilting Assistant Henry Lee
Meanwhile, Quilting Assistant Henry Lee remains close at hand to help with the current WIP …

(He’s great company, but does he have to sit quite so close??!) 🙂



Such is the way of good writing

Having a lazy Saturday morning this morning, relaxing – still in my PJs – in the LazyBoy with a cuppa and my current library book, The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe, the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

Handsome Man's De Luxe CafeAnd I’m smiling as he writes of things African – the colour of the evening sky, the heat of the day, the cattle standing in the shade of a thorn tree, a dusty country road – which are so familiar to me … and then suddenly there are tears as well, as I realise how dear to me those memories are, of another time, another place, so many years ago.  But with the tears there is also an overwhelming appreciation and thankfulness that I was lucky enough to have had those experiences, lucky to have had such a wonderful, almost enchanted childhood with loving parents and family, lucky to have such happy memories.

Yesterday I finished reading An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay – a powerful, harrowing story of a Haitian woman who is kidnapped, tortured and abused when her father refuses to pay a ransom for her return:  Untamed Statea story almost as far removed from the gentle nature of McCall Smith’s Africa as it’s possible to get, yet just as emotional to read and ponder over.  I suspect that my love of McCall Smith’s writing, whether it be of things African or things Scottish (I find his various Scottish series equally entertaining) is partly because of my familiarity with both settings, having been born and raised in Zimbabwe of Scottish parents:  it’s sort of like I’m pre-wired or programmed to enjoy those stories because of my upbringing.  But that doesn’t stop me appreciating his ability to capture a moment or thought and relate it so accurately that I know exactly what he means, and my smile (or tears) is in appreciation of that skill.  Roxane Gay’s writing is equally powerful and moving, just not as pleasant.

Did some more work on the ALYOF quilt I’ve committed to for my January finish, and now only have the ties left to do.  As you can see from these photos, Assistant Quilter Henry Lee was close at hand to make sure I stuck to the task 🙂  I’ve also sorted out a couple of possible project finishes for February.

DSCF6738  DSCF6739

Today is forecast to be hot and humid, so I’m planning to spend as much time indoors in the cool as possible … and besides, there’s a cricket match on TV this afternoon, the third ODI match between New Zealand’s Black Caps and Sri Lanka, to be played in Auckland.  And with the 7-match series tied 1-1, I think it’s important that I lend my support in voice if not in person, so it’ll be tieing the quilt in front of The Box for me this afternoon 🙂  Go, Black Caps!


41 years ago …

I just realised that 41 years ago today, on 11 January 1974, I arrived in New Zealand!  And what an amazing time I’ve had in those 41 years – lots of laughter and love and fun and travel and lovely people and times with family and friends and a beautiful country to explore and make my home.  And yes, some huge personal challenges and sadness in there as well … but that’s life, and after all, you can’t have a beautiful rainbow without a little rain, can you?

So here’s to you, New Zealand:  thank you for a wonderful 41 years, and for allowing me to spend it with you.   Here’s to the next 41 in magical Middle Earth! 🙂


A Lovely Year of Finishes!

ALYOF logo

Came across this cool idea in a blog I read today, and thought it would be a great way to help me achieve two of my quilting aims for this year:  firstly, to finish off some of the WIPs I have on hand at the moment, and secondly to reduce my stash, which requires some serious attention!

With this in mind, I have selected one of my WIPs with the aim of finishing it off by the end of the month – and I thought I’d ease into the project gently by choosing first a quilt which only requires binding and then to be tied for completion, so I should be able to achieve that in 25 days, right?  It was started early last year (or was it the year before?) with the aim of donating it to a welfare group at Christmas, but somehow I just never got there.  So, here’s a photo of the quilt in its present state, and the clock is now ticking … 🙂


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First finish for 2015!

A good start to the year for me, with my first quilt for the year, which I started on Boxing Day, finished off yesterday afternoon. The fabrics were ones I discovered during my recent WIPs and stash audit, and I used my Sizzix Fabi Cutter (bought after seeing one demonstrated at the Brisbane Quilt Show while I was there in October) to cut the blocks before sewing them together in a very simple pattern. I have to say using the Fabi Cutter certainly reduced the time spent cutting and ensured the pieces were all the same size, so I can see it being put to much more use in the future 🙂

I decided to have another go at some big stitching, paying more attention to achieving a more even and consistent stitch length. As you may notice in the photos below, I did end up with a bit of an issue with the backing fabric (which was a sort of polar fleece – microfibre fleece, I think it’s called) wrinkling, which I didn’t really notice until very late in the piece – too late for me to feel inclined to unpick and resew to sort it out! However, in no way does the wrinkled backing affect the cuddliness of the finished quilt, so I’m prepared to live with it 🙂

Today I’ve been relaxing and taking it easy after the flurry of finishing off the quilt, which suited me well with the second cricket test between New Zealand’s Black Caps and Sri Lanka starting in Wellington. The Black Caps were going well until a collapse after lunch to be all out for 221, but then our bowlers got stuck in and at stumps Sri Lanka were 78 for 5, so on balance I think the first day has belonged to New Zealand. My son is planning to head to the game on Monday and Tuesday – I’m just hoping the game lasts long enough for him to enjoy some of it! 🙂

What Lies BeneathHaven’t done nearly as much reading during my two weeks’ holiday as I planned to do (quilting kept getting in the way!), but today I did manage to finish reading a very moving memoir by NZ author Elspeth Sandys, called “What Lies Beneath”. I have read and enjoyed quite a few of her novels, so it was interesting to find out more about her own life. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book from the library website:

“Writer Elspeth Sandys was born during the Second World War, the result of a brief encounter between two people who would never meet again. The first nine months of her life were spent in the Truby King Karitane Hospital in Dunedin, where she was known as Frances Hilton James. With her adoption, a new birth certificate was issued and she became Elspeth Sandilands Somerville. Tom and Alice Somerville lived with their son John in Dunedin’s Andersons Bay. While Elspeth was happy among the ebullient and welcoming Somerville clan, she had a difficult relationship with her adoptive mother, who was frequently hospitalised with mental health problems. Elspeth’s search for her birth parents did not begin until much later in her adult life. What she discovered after an exhaustive search provided answers that were both disturbing and, ultimately rewarding.”

I really did enjoy this book – very readable and well written in a style that made me want to find out what happened next.

I like the option offered through Bibliocommons, the system used by Christchurch City Libraries, to track the books you’ve read, and to create a “For Later” shelf – I’m about to add some of my unread library books to that shelf, as I know I won’t get through them before they’re due back next week. It’s also good to be able to look back on what you’ve read during the year, and to record comments and rate the books you read, and to read what others thought of them as well.

Sadly it’s back to work on Monday!  But I really have enjoyed my break, and the weather has been lovely, with very little rain and not too hot, plus I’ve been able to quilt and read and watch lots of sport on TV, so that’s all good 🙂