Quilts done and dusted!

While everyone watched the All Blacks/Springbok RWC game last night I completed the quilt for son #2. I am happy to say both quilts have now been completed and are ready to be gifted to as Christmas presents

In the meantime I decided to make a quilt for my daughter’s partner too. The blocks have been embroidered and sashed. This week I will be joining them and add the outside borders



It is funny how a person can live under the illusion that you do not have any UFO somewhere in the sewing room. It took a while to let my brain know that if you start a project, put it in a box to work on later, forget about it and not touch it for months and months…………..well………..UFO!!!!!!!!!! Even if you put it away for a reason, is the still an unfinished object.

So, although I am working hard to complete the two quilts I started for my two sons, for Christmas I looked through my stuff and found three UFOs to start with:

  • Splendid Sampler quilt – needed 7 more blocks to complete .………..spend time on the blocks this week and completed all seven this week. As I finished each I made the little blocks – fabric/batting/minky…….and the crocheted around each block. This afternoon I joined the seven blocks, added the row to the rest of the quilt and the crocheted the border right around the whole quilt. Fusion quilt all done and dusted! Not sure why it took me so long.
  • Going to the Zoo playmat – needs something in the centre to finish it off nicely, and then backing and binding…………will take it out this week to determine exactly what still needs to be done and get started
  • BeeUtiful Quilt – all the blocks have been embroidered, sashing added to the blocks, all blocks joined together, all rows joined – I basically had a completed quilt top. Even the little bees have been sewn on………the quilt top was finished weeks and weeks ago, the backing sorted a couple of weeks ago……….I just didn’t get time (with the knee replacement and the pneumonia) to take it to the quilt shop for a chat and quote to get it professionally quilted. But it has been dropped off, we’ve had the discussions, I paid a deposit on the quilting (although it is not how the shop normally does it, they prefer you pay when collecting after it has been quilted. I find it easier to pay a good deposit and the a small amount when it is done. She is quite busy at the shop at the moment, and there is a whole pile waiting to be quilted – she aims to have mine done by the end of November
    Not sure how this happened, but I only have one photo of this quilt and it is when I started the first block
  • There are a few other UFOs, including all the smocking I did while recovering from knee surgery. I knew I wouldn’t be able to use the sewing machines for a while and pleated about 10 pieces of fabric, to be smocked during recovery. Done all the smocking and of course those now immediately find themselves to be UFOs. …………completed one little dress from this pile, except for the buttonholes. This is for a friend and I will do the buttonholes and buttons this week so that the dress can be gifted.
    I am not going to rush through the other smocked pieces as there is no rush and I also know they will be completed. Smocking is not really something I put away and forget about it

IMG_4944 (1)

But there is another quilt top UFO and I will take it out and put it somewhere visible. The top has been done, just needs wadding, quilt back, quilting and binding. Maybe work on it as and when I have a few minutes to spare every now and then.

My main focus will be on the quilts for my sons and get them done asap, especially the one which will have to be mailed to Hong Kong, to make sure it arrives before Christmas

I have quite a few things planned, a few dresses I would like to make. As well as a quilt for my daughter’s partner – this has gone through the planning stages……..I am waiting for the fabric to arrive, I have selected 20 designs to embroider on the blocks (just waiting for the fabric so that I can pick thread to embroider the blocks, the embroidery must complement the fabric.

But I basically only have until the end of October to finish as much sewing as I can. October onwards will be busy as the National exams are taking place and the papers to be marked will be arriving at the beginning of November. I also have, as Panel Leader, organise two marking meetings to make sure my team knows what we are looking for and understand the marking schedules. Marking runs through until just before Christmas

During this time we are expecting my husband’s brother and wife to visit from South Africa, in November. And husband’s knee surgery has been scheduled for the beginning of December

Autumn colour trip


For a long time I wanted to do a trip down to Queenstown/Arrowtown to take photos of the Autumn colours. But every single year something happened which meant I couldn’t do it. This year in April, with very short notice, my eldest son and I decided it is time for THAT roadtrip! He had time off, I always have time off, husband said he will look after the zoo. So off we went!

It was so lovely to spend these few days with my son. I have never done a roadtrip with him before. We took our time driving, stopping everywhere for me to take photos, we ate, we relaxed, we watched Game of Thrones……….we just had a great time

Autumn colour roadtrip

Health, knees and other stuff

I have not been very active here for quite a while as I am smocking and embroidering and cooking and cleaning and thought there is not really much to write. I made dresses, a llama bag, doggie poo bags, a quilt for the husband, embroidered a set of towels for my daughter………..

But, since 2016, I have been struggling with a new health issue and started limping really bad. This started soon after I started using Letrozole, a drug prescribed to women after breast cancer treatment. This should be used for 5 years as part of the cancer-prevention and management program and is supposed to basically reduce the risk of breast cancer developing again. It works well for most, except for a very small percentage of women. And yes, I immediately joined that ‘small percentage women club’. And I basically had every single side effect – I talked a lot about it in a previous blog post. After discussing it with my oncologist I stopped using this horrible stuff and my body slowly recovered. Though the fatigue decided to stick with me, as well as the limping

After a bone scan it was obvious that I have developed osteoarthritis in my knee. I am adamant that the Letrozole played a huge role in the development of the arthritis, as I have never had problems with this before and it started suddenly and progressed rapidly. But there is no medical evidence of this

So I have been limping and living with a very sore knee since 2016. Earlier this year I begged the doctor to give me a referral for xrays so that we could see what was exactly going on with my knee

Before saying more about this request – I live in a very small town on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is not the most popular place to live in this country and therefore extremely hard to attract doctors to basically open a practice here. As our doctors retired we were basically left with 2 medical centres. Both have one permanent doctor, but otherwise we have locums and medical students. The locums come here to earn a bit of pocket money before going on some exotic cruise or holiday. The students are placed here for a couple of months and then back to uni. This means you NEVER see the same doctor when you are sick. There is simply no doctor/patient relationship in the way it used to be where you could walk into the surgery and at least recognise each other. Because of the shortage of doctors it is also very difficult to get an appointment quickly, you always wait a couple of weeks. I suppose if you do not plan your ‘I am sick’ carefully you will be other over it before you see a doctor, or dead……..sorry, that is just my opinion.

So the beginning of the year I went to see a doctor to ask for help with my knee, basically to get it xrayed as I wanted to know if it was as bad as it felt. Oh, what needs to be mentioned here – yes, I am overweight. No, I didn’t exercise much at that stage as I could barely walk and I struggled/struggle with fatigue

Met this older doctor, definitely one of those locuming for pocket money. I explained to her what I wanted. She said no. She told me she doesn’t need an xray to diagnose me. She told me we don’t look back, only forward and that I am fat and should loose weight as that will be better for my knee. She went further to say that I will be wasting a specialist’s time as they won’t even look at me while I am fat, that they will tell me to see a dietician and lose weight. She then said I also won’t qualify for further consultation unless I can basically not walk from one side of the room to the other, basically that I was not in a bad enough stage to be seen and must continue to use pain medication and anti-inflammatory as I was at that stage. And get rid of the fat. She was also not going to refer me to a physiotherapist as they will also just tell me to lose weight and that I should google muscle-strengthening for my leg

I told her that I did have private health insurance and ask her for a referral letter so that I could make my own arrangements. Again I was told that I was fat and will get nowhere with a specialist, again told me that I will be wasting his time

That was more or less enough………..I was hating myself for being fat, I was angry at the way she was talking to me and making me feel worthless, and frustrated because it felt as if I was banging my head again a wall and not getting anywhere.

But that gave me strength and I took my teacher’s face and teacher’s voice out of retirement and told her I wanted a referral for an xray and I wanted a referral for a specialist. She gave me the referral for the xray and said they can still refuse to give me an appointment to get it done – in my mind I thought ‘they will not dare;’

For the referral to see the specialist I again had  a problem. She insisted I organise an appointment and then tell them to contact her and she will send a referral. I said no. She said she cannot give me one without the name of the specialist as she has to address it to him. I said no, refer it to ‘whom it be concerned’. By then my appointment time was over and she could see I was not leaving without the referral. So she gave me a very general one

Walking out of the medical centre I was so upset, I was crying by the time I got to my car. I didn’t even think about filing a complaint against her and the way she treated me……..which I should have done because it was not human at all

Long story short – I had the xray done. The surgery texted me to say I had osteoarthritis. The referral for the specialist was left on my sewing room table for months as I was convincing myself that she was right – I was fat and that is why I had osteoarthritis and limping and non-stop pain

Beginning of June I perked up a bit and felt less sorry for myself and googled orthopaedic surgeons. I contacted my health insurance and they gave me advice on where to find the surgeons affiliated to them. Decided to call as few and go and see the one where I could find the quickest appointment. Luck was on my side and the first one I called could see me basically the next week

Husband and I drove over for the appointment and I kept on telling myself he was going to send me to a dietician and won’t even look at my knee. What a surprise – he showed me the xrays and even I could see that it was bone-on-bone in the knee. No wonder I was limping. He examined my knee and said I was a candidate for a partial knee replacement. Either that or continue with pain management, which wasn’t working very well. He didn’t say a single word about my weight. Handed me over to his PA to organise surgery.

I was lucky as the theatre was booked for another patient who developed pneumonia and cancelled her appointment while I was seeing the surgeon. The PA asked if I wanted that slot and I said yes immediately – the surgery was booked for the next Friday!!!!!!

Back to today – my new knee is just over two weeks old!!!!!!!!!! My recovering is like a dream. I basically got out of bed the moment I was returned to my room fro . the recovery room as I wanted to put my own clothes on. The nurses were getting ready to help me change – but by the time they turned back to the bed I was sitting upright, with my legs hanging off the bed. I asked them to give me the crutches and before they could do much I was standing next to the bed. And off I went to the bathroom. They were shocked and speechless

By the next day I could already bend my knee 90 degrees and I was walking all over the place with the crutches. I had a shower and even washed my hair. The physio arrived and took me up and down a flight of stairs. She also demonstrated a couple of other exercises. I did these whenever I could

I am amazed at my own recovery. I still take panadol every 6 hours to manage pain, as the surgeon said I should. But I threw the one crutch away after a week, and then a couple of days later the second one too. We live in a double storey house and go up and down the stairs three to four times a day

But I am banned from cooking and cleaning. My husband is looking after me so well.

I use ice packs on my knee as it can be a little sore and swollen after too much walking or standing. The cats love the ice pack and I usually have a cat on top of the ice pack on top of my knee


I am watching netflix, reading and smocking. And healing. Not sure when I will have time to make all these dresses with the smocked fabric. My knee is not ready to sew yet. Although I have started working on the embroidery machine for short periods – and then have to get rid of the swelling with an ice pack



Well actually, no, that was not back to today……….I saved the post and life continued. My new knee is now nearly 9 weeks old and it feels so normal. I walk without limping, I walk fast. I walk like I used to walk and I feel SOOOOOO good about it!

I also started preparing for a market (no, I am not sure why I registered again). Thankfully, after I made only five Reading Pillows, the market was cancelled. I was planning to make some bags and doggy bags. Most of these pillows already found new homes, so it is all good


Two weeks ago I met my son in Melbourne, for a Harry Potter week. We had tickets for the two Harry Potter shows, as well as for the movie with the Symphony Orchestra. It was just wonderful spending time with him and to do things we both love. He also had quite a few restaurants he wanted us to try, which we did. I did not enjoy the Mexican food, but the Thai Food restaurants was simply the best

With the protesting in Hong Kong we weren’t sure whether he would be able to join me as his flight for the Monday evening was cancelled when the protestors took over the airport. Early Tuesday he went back to the airport, managed to check in and boarded the flight…. this was the last flight leaving the airport before everything was cancelled again. I was very happy that he was able to join me in Melbourne eventually


We walked a lot, it was the perfect time to try out my new knee. We managed to walk just over 10000 steps every single day, with one day just over 13000 steps. The first night my knee was very swollen, but not hurting, so I just ignored it.


Home again and basically started coughing and sneezing the first day back. Sore throat, just miserable. Saw the doctor a week later, this week Monday, and yep……….pneumonia. Not even going to say more about that 😦

Embroidery wise I am busy embroidering blocks to be made into two quilts, as Christmas presents. I have finished 20 blocks for the first quilt, and 13 for the second quilt. It is going to look beautiful



Now it is time to recover from the pneumonia and finish the two quilts. We have family visiting later this year and I want to make bags for them to take home. I also want to start making all the little dresses I smocked during the time I recovered from knee surgery. Lots to look forward too 🙂




New Zealand today

Friday changed New Zealand forever. 50 people lost their lives at the hands of a piece of rubbish, with a gun in his hands. We are all in shock, it feels impossible that this really happened in our country

Personally I feel anger as I have never experienced before. There is no place for this in our country. There is no place for people like this in our country. He came as a guest and ruined our country for everyone living here

Everyone is grieving. Grieving for the innocent people who died. Grieving for the New Zealand we all know and love. Grieving that there is so much hate in this world. Grieving that this hatred made its way to New Zealand

But I am also so proud of the people of New Zealand. We are standing together as one in our grieve and sadness and anger. I am so proud of this country, of its people. I am so grateful to this country, we came as immigrants and became Kiwis.

We are a strong, but compassionate nation. We might be different, we might have differences of opinion, we might argue and fight ……..but when you hurt one of us we stand together; we come together as one

New Zealand is going to be different from now on. I am not sure how things are going to change, I am not sure how we are going to move on. I am not sure what is going to be the new normal. But I hope this will never happen in our beautiful country again


I’ve reached my full potential…….

When my daughter was in high school, the comment for Maths in one of her school reports read ‘……. has reached her full potential in Mathematics…..’ I wasn’t very impressed with this comment as I thought it was telling her she doesn’t even have to try as she will never do better. I was actually really angry. Yes, she wasn’t good at Maths, but she was/is really good with languages and did well in her other subjects

I am taking part in a Hardanger SAL. It is something I really wanted to do my whole life and was very glad about this opportunity. The first coouple of steps were hard for me and I had to start over many times. but I got it right in the end. The rest wasn’t too hard and I had to unpick less. Because life happened I couldn’t finish the steps for last week. Yesterday I picked it up again, hoping to catch up before the next tutorial. I struggled to get my ‘eye’ and ended up putting it down. Today, with better light, I picked it up again. Halfway through I noticed I made a mistake and this of course meant I was out and things didn’t line up. But I did quite a bit of stitching before I noticed.

I’ve put it down.

I admire hardanger work, I admire those who can do it, especially now that I know it is actually quite easy to get it wrong. But I have not been enjoying the process and I believe that neeldework must be enjoyed to make sense in my life. Therefore my hardanger journey is over. I will use the fabric and thread for something else. At least I can say I gave it a go

I have decided that I have also now reached my full potential.

Note: before retirement I was head of department for my subject area. We appointed a new teacher to teach a couple of classes and yes, it was my daughter’s old Maths teacher. When report writing time arrrived I took him aside and reminded about the comment he made about my daughter’s Maths ability. I made it very clear to him that no such comments will be made to any students by him again……….after many years he apologised.

What an effort!!!!!!!!!

For the past two weeks I have been busy with one single dress! It is unbelievable as I am totally capable of smocking and making two to three dresses a week if I need to. I have never before smocked and smocked for over a week to get a dress finished

I saw the specific smocking pattern soon after I started smocking, more than 30 years ago. And since then I wanted to make this dress, but actually always thought it would be too complicated. Nope, not complicated at all………just very time-consuming. And I also had to back smock on the wrong side of the fabric to keep the pleats neat and tidy


Yes, it was a huge effort and except for cooking and packing the dishwasher, I smocked hour after hour for over a week (and listened to Netflix movies and TV series). But I love the dress, I think it is the prettiest dress I have ever made. Totally worth the effort. Never to be repeated again

At this stage I have no idea who it will be gifted to, but it will be a very special little girl

Today I took a break from smocking and made a bag for my sister in South Africa. My eldest sister and my brother-in-law are planning to visit us in April and I decided to make each of my sisters and sisters-in-law a bag. The sister I made this bag for loves red and I had a beautiful machine embroidered poppy design to try.  And I was also very lucky to find the perfect fabric to go with the design (my husband claims he found the fabric, but I secretly popped the fabric he chose back on the shelf in the fabric store)


At this stage I am one lesson behind on the hardanger SAL, but hope to get it done this weekend. After the slow start it is going well and I am quite happy with it so far

For week 9 of the 52 week Sewing Challenge I embroidered and made two shopping bags. The theme was ‘Something green or environmentally friendly’ and as our supermarkets here in town stopped providing plastic bags we have been using our own shopping bags. Of course I ambroidered cats on them. The bags are superstrong and I also added lining

9:52 Something green:environmentally friendly