Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fine Weather Equals Work.

Sunshine equals orchard work and gardening around here, so it's been a busy, productive week. Spring is everywhere....opening buds and planting time for veges and flower seeds. Most of the roses are pruned and lots of weeds are murdered!
Photos show a small planter bowl with miniature daffodils , which greets us at the backdoor. The most poppies out at one time so far is 7. As always the orange seem the most vigorous but I loved the white and the lemon, but I can't get a picture that shows off their delicate beauty to my liking....maybe I'll have to pick some and try again.( they do prefer the dry days )

Just one space left to embellish on ball # 17. It is going to be a black cat. The other 11 motifs I used are a strawberry; an avocado ; a red admiral butterfly; a star; a goldfish; a birthday cake; a drink mug; a blue and white umbrella; a frog; a Ruru( owl ) and a balloon.

Helena I posted your pattern this morning so it should be with you in about 5 days.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hand Made Felt Balls.

Having run out of hand quilting to do I went back to making a felt ball. Before I started quilting I had made 16 of these balls. ( if you were reading this blog back when it started in April 2006 I showed some of them there. ) As I have plenty of the supplies of felt, embroidery cotton and parts it is probably just as well to keep making them.
I keep a note book with all the details of each one; time started, colours used , motifs added and where the ball ended up [sometimes in other countries ] as no 2 are the same. Some are personalised with an initial of the baby's name, or a creature from that country).
* *I have the complete instructions with pictures, for making these written out in a word document that anyone wanting to make one can request and I will email you a copy.** ( or snail mail )
Briefly this is how one is made:
1.Cut out 12 different coloured felt pentagons with 5 and a quarter cms sides.Iron on fabric stiffener to back of each shape.
2. Lay 2 shapes face to face and using 3 strands of embroidery cotton blanket stitch along one side. Keep adding a new shape in on each side till you have one pentagon with 5 others attached to it's sides. Do this for the other 6 the same. Join the connecting sides - it will become obvious where you need to sew.
3. Now join together some of the sides of the 2 sets of shapes. BUT NOT all as quite a wide space has to be left to insert the ball stuffing.( in the middle photo above you can see a ball shell, inside out, but sewn together )
4.If you wish the ball to have a little rattle you need to begin with it. ( small bell inserted in 2 metal bottle tops works well. Bell alone will be deadened by the stuffing muffling it )For the stuffing the best way is to cut long strips of batting about 1.5 inches wide and wind them around your rattle like winding up a ball of wool or string. This will give a good round, springy ( bouncy ) shape. Wind tightly.Some trial and error is needed the first time, to get a ball stuffing big enough to make the ball really firm.
5. Turn the felt shape right side out and insert your wound stuffing ball into it.
6. Using 6 strands of cotton baste the last sides together; pulling really firmly; use big stitches as they have to be pulled out later. When the opening is completely closed up you now need to neatly button hole these last seams. Then remove your basting.
7. This step is optional. I chain stitch along all the seams in a contrasting colour to hide any of the sewing up. You can see this in the top photo.
8. This is where you personalise your ball - the embellishing using motifs.I have got a whole range of different little shapes I like to use. ( if you can't draw a kiddies colouring book or or applique pattern shapes might help )You can see some of the shapes I am using for this ball lying ready in an above photo.( a pink mug; a green frog; a green avocado, a red admiral butterfly, an owl, an umbrella, a cake on a plate. )Some shapes are quick like the avocado others like the butterfly take ages. The choice is yours. Cut out your 12 motifs and buttonhole stitch around them. Sew in details, then using hidden stitches, sew on to the ball. It's good to have a real mix. As many fancy stitches in a variety of colours, as you wish may be added.
In the photo with the 2 balls the one on the left is complete the one I am making at the moment on the right is a work in progress. So far just one strawberry when I took the photo. Last night I added the mug, the butterfly and a star.
Answers to Questions I get asked.
* It takes about 50 hours to make a ball. ( depends on the detail that is added ).
* Yes, you could add the motifs right at the beginning, before sewing the pentagons together. I prefer this sequence as the direction and placement is easier to get right this way.
* purchased motifs could be used ( but that's not really the point if making a handmade item! )
* I have seen one sewn together by machine and it was yukky.
* if you perfect getting the stuffing really tight the ball will have a small bounce when dropped. Squishy is okay too - depends how you want it.
* clumps of loose stuffing gives a lumpy ball, but could work if done really well and firmly.
* babies don't seem to mind the feel of felt in their mouths - amazing.
More photos when I finish this current ball.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breathe deeply.

The sun came out and I could work in the orchard and in the garden. These little darlings responded to the sun and began flowering. I have often wondered what my favourite flower perfume is........ but it's an impossible question.
Freesias, especially old fashioned Burtonii ones would have to be in my top 10.
Ah, even those few are filling the room with their delights.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Finishing Some Quilty Things.

Before I get on to the quilty bits I want to say I'm so glad you enjoyed your walk on Sunday Evening. I will certainly take you to other parts of the country Gudrun, I love going on different walks when I get the chance. Thinner thighs eh Julie -that's very encouraging!

Thankyou Laurie for giving me an award, I'm glad I help keep you in touch with NZ. Anyone on my Blogroll can consider themselves also awarded as your name wouldn't be there if I didn't wish to read your blog! I realise that some of you have far more time to devote to blogging than others and that can alter depending on one's current circumstances so I allow for variation. ( I'd like to spend hours each day with all of you but...... You know....other duties.)

Some finishing has been happening while I watch the Olympics. My Funky Flower quilt is now complete. Each flower has 2 circles of handstitching. The quilt also has machine quilting in the ditch along the sashing and around the edges etc. This quilt was made to use up scraps, and I don't actually like it all that much ( never mind ). It was made with the intention to be given away so can lurk in my cupboard till I decide on it's real home.

What I do like is the tiny wee girlie's bucket bag I just made. 2 inch squares means it's really cute. I had run short of needle punch batting so got some new and it is twice as thick as I had had before. I thought it might make it hard to deal with, but no, it worked well. So well, that the bag stands up alone quite easily.
And still it rains. We are water logged!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Let's Go to Sea.

If you want to come on a walk with me you better hurry cause it's 10 to four and it's quite a long way. We leave from my house and walk the 1 kilometre to the main highway. It's often quite busy so be prepared to run if you have to, across the 4 lanes.Phew!

Now we are around the corner of a long country road the leads right down the peninsula to the inland sea.There is no real walking path so sometimes there is grass under our feet, sometimes stones and rubble, sometimes tar seal.( in places we even walk in the drain if it's the flattest, widest part )
I purposely came this way today because I knew that Mrs. A's daffodil patch would be a picture. She has lived here a very long time and every year, her host of golden daffodils is a picture; or a poem. ( Thanks Wordsworth )

Now this isn't all plain sailing or flat road although we are slowly going down to sea level we have to climb some hills to do so. ( stop puffing so loudly ).We cross the railway line by an overhead bridge and look down on both sides. What is that heap of logs doing there ? ( did they fall off a train ?) It's flatter now and more closely populated. Someone has a lovely blossom tree - an Apricot perhaps, as it is a little early for Cherries.There you can spy the water behind the houses. Now we are getting really civilised as suddenly a footpath begins. Much easier walking now. Past houses of all ages and sizes most with well tended gardens and finally we round a bend and there down a slight slope is that ancient gum tree by the waters edge. Council has had to do drastic surgery to make sure it's old limbs don't fall on anyone. It is a mere shadow of it's former self. ( did you see the Mount in the distance ? )

Now if you have a small boat you could launch it here ; if it's bigger you may anchor it out in the stream. It is quiet and peaceful. I am not alone, a gull has found a bollard to perch on and help me look out to the harbour entrance.

You have just walked 6.5 kilometres in an hour and 5 minutes, and it's getting dark. Do you want to walk back now? No ? Well you better catch a ride with me and that bloke in the blue car.....he often comes and picks me up when I run away from home! ( photos are clickable )

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hellebores and Mondogreens.

I had to get right down at ground level and point the camera up to capture the face of this lovely Helleborus (or Winter Rose or Lenten Rose.) I just have to look at little harder at this time of the year, ( Winter ) to notice the delights in the garden.
Do you get things stuck in your mind that just won't go away? For me, for some strange reason the song , an old one indeed, that pops into my head and stays is " My Grandfather's Clock." My Maternal Grandfather had died before I was born and I don't remember my Paternal one having a clock of any distinction so it can't be some early memory doing this to my head. I do suspect it is because it is an easy tune and I know all the words and they make sense! ......Now that leads me on to my next item in the title to this post......Mondogreens. I have only been aware of that word for a couple of years but have know about them and probably made them since early childhood.
A MONDOGREEN is a malapropism in lyrics - you mishear the words. Apparently the origin of the word is " Oh, they hae ( have ) ( slay ) slain the earl of Moray and Lady Mondogreen ( and laid him on the green ).
Yesterday on the radio people had been sending in great examples, which all started because some Australians were heard to to singing their National Anthem using the words -"Our home is dirt ( girt ) by sea." ( cause they didn't know the old word girt which means to bind or encircle ).
When I was teaching (years ago now ) I know I heard kids singing some very strange things which meant one had to kindly start a discussion over the correct words and what they meant. Today copying things down from a board is frowned upon but as a school child I liked to write down the words of a song or poem from the blackboard then illustrate it and learn it. I think that helped eliminate some mondogreens. ( I still have a couple of said books and the Anthology of Poetry I compiled at Teacher's College to use in the classroom ) - it might be a girlie thing!
Do you have any mondogreens in your family ? ( modern songs supply ample scope , as do some very old ones. ) Good for a laugh anyway.
Now having written that perhaps I can get Mondogreens out of my mind for a while!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Iceland Poppies.

I mentioned in my last post that I loved Iceland Poppies (papaver nudicaule ); and that my first few flowers got trounced with the storm. As Gudrun lives in Iceland I asked her if they grew there. She was gracious enough to answer me and said she would find out a little more. (The usual Google search didn't really tell me anything new.) I may have misled Gudrun into thinking that the orchids in my last post were poppies ( there was NO photo of poppies with that post ). The photos in today's post show a big fat Iceland poppy bud ready to open soon; the label from one of the plants punnets of seedlings I planted and some of my very wet roughed up little poppy plants.I am sure that when the sun returns I will be rewarded with more bright, dancing but delicate poppies. ( I hope so ) Do click to enlarge the poppy bud photo so you see the hairy stem and raindrop .We were always taught to singe the hairs off the stem before placing the flowers in the water in the vase to prolong their vase life. ( does that really help? )
When I was a very small girl maybe 5 or 6 I asked to be allowed to have my own garden. Both my parents were keen gardeners and I realise now very successful ones. I got my wish and used a small concrete edge patch that had previously been a sandpit that we had outgrown. Iceland Poppies were one of the flowers I remember growing and I always loved Carnations. My garden soon had a very vigorous maiden hair fern at the back which climbed the wall and was useful for picking for with flowers in a vase.I grew many different flowers, choosing the seed and weeding and watering. Later when I was bigger I got a second garden plot in and around a water tank stand. I wish I had some coloured photos of my garden but the few B & W ones I have don't now look interesting at all.( taken with my own box brownie camera )
Do Iceland Poppies grow in UK, Australia, Canada or USA?
( My own Poppy flowers photos coming soon I hope )

Friday, August 01, 2008

Rough Week.

This week has been a rough one for New Zealand - weather wise.

Strong winds and heavy relentless rain has caused mayhem in almost all areas of the country. Slips on roads and under folks houses; falling trees; power outages; floods, high tides and even snow, depending where you live. Shirley has photos of excess water in her garden and I think there was more heavy rain there last night, so hope she isn't afloat.
Compared with many our clean up is of a more normal nature as it happens quite often. The huge gum trees behind the house have spread leaves and limbs for hundreds of metres. One drain blocked and flooded a Kiwifruit block till we cleared the drain. The creek flowing into the dam took an extra path and created a new island but of course dumped lots more silt in the dam. Plants in the garden got trashed but most will be just fine. I rushed out and picked 6 Iceland poppies but they were already partly shredded. There are more buds coming so maybe those will brighten the garden next week. Some shrubs like the Magnolia Stalata , burst into flower with the rain and the first real daffodil popped open.There are still patches of colour out there but the overcast day makes things look a little dreary. The broccoli didn't get trashed and I picked 2 heads this morning.
DH has had a nasty throat and cold this week so on Tuesday I had to drive by myself to Rotorua to the funeral of my 93 year old Aunt. She has had cancer for a few years now and decided not to have radical treatment for it( sensible at her age ) and so has gradually declined till she passed away last Friday with her 3 daughters there with her. I have now just one Uncle -my Dad's younger brother and one Auntie - my Mum's younger sister left in that generation. I drove by the direct road from Pyes Pa to Ngongotaha, ( a back road but the shortest from here )and normally it has a beautiful view of patches of bush set against green paddocks. On Tuesday I was floating in the clouds much of the time and got a face full of slanting rain when I pulled over to try and take some photos. So there is just one there I took on the way home of the bush close to the roadside; so I will have to leave lush bush photos till another trip.
I stopped at Cottage Flair in Ngongotaha to buy a gift for a quilter friend. I spent a pleasant 45 minutes or more checking out everything in the shop out before collecting a jelly roll, a book, a pressing sheet, and some of the new misty fuse and a pattern for her. Please note I did not buy any fabric for myself......I can be quite strong willed sometimes LOL! The shop was surprisingly busy for a wet, cold, miserable day so I guess there were lots of quilters inside houses in the area busy sewing who needed extra supplies - good for them!
Finally I wanted to tell Gudrun that I have been reading an article of the progress some New Zealanders ( Gareth and Jo Morgan and co ) are making on their motorbike trip. They circled Iceland before venturing even further north. You can check it out on
I love Iceland Poppies and want to know do they come from Iceland Gudrun and do you grow any?

I have not started any new quilting projects, rather I am doing a stock take and finding small projects to complete or reading some mags and in the evenings I have UNPICKED an entire quilt top I made while learning that I didn't like, to retrieve some nice fabric from in amongst some yuck fabric.( how's that or perseverance ???)