Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shirley's Stitches

When in Hawkes Bay last week on a wee holiday we popped in to see my Aunty Shirley. Whilst we sat in her tastefully appointed lounge I couldn't help but allow my eyes to wander onto her beautiful needlework. It was artfully displayed just behind and to the right of where she was sat as we chatted. Her home is FULL of a great variety of her exquisite stitches. One piece she claims to treasure more than any other as it was stitched at a painful time when her son's health was precarious.

As we moved into her living area for her to make our tea we spotted 'stitches in progress' on the table - Christmas decorations for the gala to raise funds for her granddaughters teeny country school. She is aiming to make 100 of them and I'm sure she will do just that!

I have lots of 'stitch-related' memories of Aunty Shirley which are precious to me. I feel honoured to have had many women in my life who have inspired me to stitch... not least of all my own dear, patient mother who untangled many a wayward stitch of mine! AND allowed sewing chaos to take over our small family lounge room for many years - all in the name of giving our creativity full rein!

Holly, a niece of ours has lately been keeping me up-dated with her own fledgling journey into the world of stitching which reminds me of my own beginning... a Girl Guide biscuit box crammed full with fabric fragments, pins, needles and threads, domes and lace and a Mary Poppins doll just begging for a trendy ensemble! And many an ensemble I did stitch including a little lace bra... imagine the teeny-ness of it if you will!!!

In 1932 Lady Bledisloe, wife of the then Governor General attended the handicraft exhibition of the Women's Institute's annual conference in Wellington and was overheard to say, 'I feel I want to go home and make something.'

Where did all these desires to stitch have their inception? Not everyone is taken with it... are there less and less taking up needle and thread or needle and yarn? Or is there in fact a revival of such things?

'New Zealand had more home dressmakers per head of population than any other country in the world, proclaimed NZ Woman & Stitch magazine in 1974.'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary - on this day 28 years ago we were wed in Rotorua at St Micheal's Catholic Church. We are enjoying a quiet day at home - sat by the fire - Darling Man with the Saturday papers and me with a copy of 'Inside Stories - A History of the NZ Housewife 1890 - 1975' by Frances Walsh - reading interspersed with knitting Kaedin's little jacket. In my book I read some interesting statistics 1930 one divorce for every 18 marriages, 1965 one divorce for every 12 marriages and 1975 Approximately 1 divorce for every 4 marriages.

One can't help reflect on why ours has lasted so long... I think it is mostly by God's grace. God has been our place of safety and He has strengthened and helped us through many a troubled time. We have been committed to each other no matter what and have decided that it's important for us to stay together because of our commitment to God and for the sake of our children. One of the girls wrote in an anniversary card - 'You two are a shining example of love through difficult times, of enjoying and appreciating each other in everyday moments' and another in a text - 'Thank you so much for the fantastic example you show us.'

There is no sense of pride in all this - we know as well as the next couple that marriage can be a treacherous and difficult thing to navigate at times - full of potential pitfalls. All I can say is thank you God for these years you have given us and thank you for your generous and forgiving love shed abroad in our hearts to share with others. First and foremost with our nearest and dearest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


A week ago we became grandparents which has just got to be one of life's most delicious pleasures! Kaedin James van der Poel is wrapped in his blankie that I spent countless pleasant hours knitting - lots of love and prayers going into it as I stitched. It is 4 ply merino and Amy tells me it is really good because it is soft and fine enough to stay firmly wrapped around him, keeping him cosy without getting all bunched up.

This morning we have enjoyed a slow start - the weather isn't much good for anything else and whilst sat up in bed I had some un-knitting to do. I am now making Kaedin a little Merino Cashmere jacket that will fit him next winter - but I somehow got out of step with the moss stitch while knitting and chatting to my friend last night - hence the rescue mission this morning! Moss stitch has a certain pleasant, mesmerizing rhythm about it which has you hiking along.... however woe betide any wee lapse in concentration and one stitch out and you're done for!

We have had a very busy few months and a feast of family occasions, a lovely engagement party for Steven and Amy, a happy, happy wedding day for Davieth and Annah, my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary celebrations and this new arrival! But wait there's more... we have another grandchild expected in December so we are feeling very blessed and our hearts are overflowing and fit to burst with thankfulness.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Little By Little

We have an emerging wood pile - it's actually got way bigger than this since I took the photo! It's gorgeous Manuka collected from Clevedon by a bunch of blokes. Little by little Darling Man is 'making mosaics' as he saws and chops and splits and stacks our winter bounty and places it in a pile that is a pattern. I love it - it promises me hot, steamy, scented baths and cosy winter nights by the fire - while it basks in the summer sun in readiness for later on. For this to happen Darling Man has to be out there and at it - little and often - however slowly but surely that pile is growing!

Little by little I am getting my extra home jobs done - that's the only way to approach it when you work full time outside the home and opportunities for domestic affairs are limited! Last weekend I cleaned my stove and oven which was honestly a little overdue - now I am beaming with virtuous-ness every time I sweep by it and glance over its gleam-y surface!

Last weekend a girlfriend and I went and saw the movie 'The Kings Speech' I was inspired by his patience and persistence as he overcame the challenge of his stutter and eventually embraced the kingship - something I am sure he would never have thought he could do at one time of day. I really like movies that are based on a true story.

Finally - little by little my confidence to ride pillion on the back of our motorbike is growing... Darling Man has been so lovely and patient and encouraging to me. I have surprised myself realizing now how much I enjoy it! We had some great little jaunts last weekend and I find that one seems to see so much more from that viewpoint. I saw this amazing letterbox that was all done in mosaics - it would certainly have taken some time and patience to put all those little pieces in place. I want to have a go at that. My sister who lives in France sent me these 'naked' plaster of Paris hearts that are begging for it - I WILL mosaic them in the colours of Oyes one day.

One final 'finally' - I spent a good deal of time un-picking my knitting and little by little getting it back on an even keel but that's another story - do you think there is such a word as 'un-knitting'? And what is it that you are doing 'little by little'?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Bouquets are the loveliest things! Especially the impromptu kind like this one created for me by one of our daughters on our family weekend at the beach. Such a sweet girl! When you are a Mummy you tend to get given lots of little bouquets gathered together in a chubby, grubby hand but it is extra nice when they still do it even though they are all grown up!

My Darling Man is not really the flower buying kind - however on the odd occasion when he does I am really chuffed! The other day I asked him to get me some parsley from the garden to chop and sprinkle in our hot, butter-y new potatoes. He presented it to me in bouquet fashion which rather appealed to me. I said, "Oh darling you have brought me flowers!" He is a kind and thoughtful man who gives me many 'bouquets' of thoughtfulness and words of appreciation which mean a lot more to me than a florist-bought bouquet anyway!

I think bouquets are any kind of little thoughtfulness-es that spur us on and lift our spirits. Like when Darling Man says, "Thank you so much for doing my washing." I have been doing his washing for years now but I do like that he still regularly shows his appreciation for that.

Our little niece gave me a bouquet when we were with them at New Year. It was a single rose that we wrapped carefully in damp tissue and foil so that I could transport it back to my house and pop it in a vase. It didn't stay fresh for long in these hot summer temperatures but it has 'aged' in the most charming way so my 'antique' rose is still on my window sill for me to enjoy long after it was given to me.
Today I have been working on our daughter's wedding dress and have finally stitched the last stitch and it's all ready for one final fitting. I then firmly stitched the teeny wee bouquet back on my, freshly washed, old blue garter so she can wear it on her wedding day too! I will always treasure the time spent with her as we have worked on her dress together. Beautiful, darling girl!

Monday, January 3, 2011


A deeply soothing quiet descended upon us shortly after we arrived at Welcome Bay. The empty home of our relatives welcomed and embraced our weary souls and invited us to rest. Darling Man's sister and hubby were away off up the coast on their yacht and offered us their place to stay in. Have you ever stepped into someone else's home when they are absent? Quite nice - it's like they are there but not - there is this familial comfort and connection - an 'at home-ness' but away from home. After the busy-ness of Christmas and the rush of the lead up to it - we enjoyed crashing with books, magnificent harbour views and food when we felt like it.... and quiet.

Even our little dog reclined on the sun lounger and rested up too!
Quiet is good for our souls for sure - we never turned the TV or radio on once while we were there and we didn't miss it. We have returned home and canceled SKY TV and are hoping to bring a little more quiet into our daily lives by removing some of the 'over-stimulation' factor.

Perhaps a home needs a quiet room like this one at 'The Mission' in Hawkes Bay that we visited last year with my parents....

I hope you have enjoyed some peace and quiet over the Christmas / New Year Break as well.
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