Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Big Move, and the Journey to Get There

When out of the blue a move across the ocean to another continent is suggested by your daughter, this after spending your whole life very happily in South Africa, the answer comes neither quickly or nor easily. But, add to that the indirect question my father asked in a different context the night before he very unexpectedly passed away "Could you live there?" and we got to thinking about uprooting our lives to settle in Australia and be near two of our precious grandchildren and a shorter plane journey from the other precious two. That was five years ago.

Once the decision was made to submit an application for residency, there was a delay of over a year before we qualified to apply for a permanent residence visa. It's been been an unsettling and uncertain journey since.  For who knew whether our application would be successful or not? Moving countries is complicated to say the least. There are several rounds of paperwork to complete and many other criteria to be met along the way, and there is absolutely no guarantee of success at the end.

At the outset we were informed that the processing time for our visa would likely be just over a year. At each step of the process we complied as timeously as we could. In the end it took three nail-biting years! The number of applications to immigrate to Australia (in our visa category) has apparently increased remarkably over the last 4 or 5 years and as the number of visas granted each year is limited and static, it simply takes longer and longer for your application to reach the front of ever-lengthening 'queue'.

Eventually, having met the various conditions along the way, we briefly visited Australia earlier this year to 'clock in', and so comply with the final visa requirement. And we now officially have permanent resident status! It's a relief to have that certainty and know that we will after all be going.

Next step is The Big Move. We are going through cupboards trying to thin out a lifetime of possessions. I wish I could be more ruthless but there are boxes of things with sentimental value that are just too hard to part with. I don't know where I will put it all in the little house we will be moving into. I am also not good at goodbyes and parting from very dear friends and family. In all of this I find I have to keep my focus on the future and the big adventure that we have chosen to go on.

We will be in transit for quite some time while we live out of a suitcase and our goods are shipped across the Indian Ocean. I will try to post along the way when I can. It's always lovely to hear from you, so do keep in touch by posting comments here on my blog or email me directly at my usual address lynette.warner[at]gmail[dot]com.

My Etsy shop Lynlubell will close in early November and re-open in February once I am a little more settled. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but it will be tricky at times for me to monitor the shop.

In the meantime I have packing to do and a quilt to make  ...

'Till next time, happy stitching!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Restringing my wire necklace

One of my favourite wire necklaces broke.  I started restringing it but the beads rolled around wildly - even on a nice, soft, non-roll bead mat. The round glass beads really had a mind of their own! No photo of that but I did take one of the bead mat afterwards. It works well for smaller, lighter beads.

As my husband would say, time for Plan B: I transferred the broken string to my bead design board that lives at the back of the cupboard. With the broken string of beads lying in one groove, I could control the beads and transfer them to the new wire. It was easy to keep the beads in the same sequence.

The light wasn't good when I took the any of the photos but this one gives you a better idea of the colour. I love the pretty greyish blue as well as the shape of the big beads.

It didn't take long to restring the necklace.  I also added a few spare beads I had to the ends to lengthen it. 

A special trip to the bead shop was necessary before I could go any further. I had run out of crimps for the ends! Luckily The Big Tree bead shop (also known as Big Tree Design and Big Tree Yarn) is fairly close by.

It's nice to know I can wear my necklace again.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Things always take longer than you think

Last week I finished binding one of the quilts I have been working on and it's ready to go off to my youngest grandson. He ran around excitedly pointing and saying 'that's my quilt' when he saw the pieced top on the table. That was a few months ago. Why the delay in finishing it? I'll tell you more about that in another post. 

Blue fabric for binding?

Auditioning it against the quilt ... and, yes it's a go.

I used fleece on the back of the quilt for a soft snugly feel. It's easy to machine quilt too. I think I stretched the fleece when I laid it out with the quilt top over it and tacked the two layers together. After quilting, the quilt top is not as smooth as I would have liked.

I trimmed the excess off the edges off the quilted layers, cut 6 cm binding strips on the straight, joined them and ironed them in half lengthwise. The 6 cm strip finishes to a 1 cm wide binding.

I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt matching the raw edges. 

The walking foot for my machine fed the layers through evenly with no pinning necessary.

Checking on-line to refresh my memory about binding a quilt, I came across Jenny Doan's excellent video. I had forgotten how easy mitred corners can be when you sew straight off the end as you get to the corner, lift the foot, make a quick fold and sew straight down the second side. Believe it or not that odd looking corner below turns over into a neatly mitred corner. Watch Jenny show you how in her video here

Correct way to machine stitch corner for a mitre.
I hand stitched the binding down on the back and put a few stitches in the corner to hold the mitre in place.

Finally, it's done. 

Now to finish my granddaughter's quilt.


Disclosure: I did have a bit of unpicking to do. Thinking 'mitre' when I sewed the binding to the quilt, I folded a 45 degree angle by mistake - twice! This does not work no matter how hard you try.

Wrong way to machine sew a mitre for binding on quilt!
Till next time, Happy stitching!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Spring Tea

The Cape Embroiderers' Guild Spring Tea was a great success.

The aim was to raise funds for the Ighali 2018 teaching convention in September next year. (Ighali means 'threads' in one of the local indigenous languages.) Bookings for the classes have yet to open, but if you are interested in the programme then do keep a watch on the CEG Facebook page here or the Embroidery Network SA website here.

The warm friendly welcome at the door, the elegantly decorated tables and the novelty of a silent auction all contributed to the happy chatter of the afternoon.

Then there was the attractive "tea party" display on the stage that set the scene and drew many admiring glances.

The Rainbow Leaf Hanging that members are stitching in techniques of their choice was also on display

as were a few very beautiful embroideries on show in the small exhibition corner.

Finally, what is a tea party without the cake? And of that there was plenty.

It was a splendid afternoon of catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and enjoying an excellent 'high tea'. Incidentally, I did overhear a few wishful comments about having another Spring Tea next spring... 

For more about the Spring Tea visit the CEG Facebook page and click through the photos.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Thursday, August 24, 2017


If you were wondering what happened to that UFO, the lavender bookmark, it's finished. I gave it to a friend who is an avid reader of books - the real paper kind of books, but it's ended up in her glass display cabinet, not in a book. It's nice to know it's appreciated, but I'd be just as happy if it found it's way between the covers of a good read.

You may recall from my blog post some weeks ago, that I left the darker straight stitches on the lavender to stitch right at the end. I would not have thought of adding them if it weren't for the pattern, but they do provide extra depth and interesting detail. You can see how flat the flower spikes looked before I added those stitches in my previous post here.

When I got to putting the ribbon on the back, I had a moment of disappointment thinking that the ribbon was way too narrow.

It did work in the end though. I folded in the two ends of the green fabric to make sure that the raw edges would be hidden when the ribbon was stitched into place.

And the ribbon was just wide enough to cover the back of the stitching - well almost anyway. There was a tiny bit of the white stitched frame showing down one side. I couldn't seem to hide it without puckering up the front. I put it all away for a few days  to think about and when I looked at it again, it seemed neat enough. 

Finally, the silky tassel that came in the kit finished off the bookmark with a bit of pizzazz.

Now I'm working on my granddaughter's quilt. It's long overdue.

Till next time, happy stitching!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fog in Brisbane and Keep Your Camera Ready

The trip to and from Australia is a long one from most places, but it's especially so when you live in Cape Town. There's a domestic flight to Johannesburg, a long haul flight to Sydney and finally a local flight to Brisbane.

Incidentally, I find it interesting that it takes 11h45m to fly eastwards from Johannesburg to Sydney but a whopping 14h10m flying the other way. I did feel for the crew who, working a daylight flight, seemed to be on their feet for most of those 14 hours. I spoke to one of the stewards who looked exhausted and he said he had just had his allotted half hour rest!

After our lovely visit to our family, which you can read about it my blog post here, our long journey home began with a false start that made it seem longer still. We arrived at Brisbane airport at 5.30am on Saturday 8 July only to find the airport 'closed', filled to overflowing with long queues, lost looking travelers and our flight cancelled!

Over 100 flights had been turned away from Brisbane airport the previous night due to very heavy fog.

Brisbane fog.
From the Brisbane Times. Photo: Nine News Queensland - Twitter
As a result there were no planes there to fly us to Sydney in time to catch our connection. Luckily Simon our son-in-law insisted on coming into the airport to help with our luggage and make sure that everything was okay. Things in the terminal seemed a bit disorganized. After queuing in 3 different long queues and waiting anxiously to find out when we could fly, we found we had to stay another day in Brisbane. We were lucky. Some people had to stay another 2 days.

Over on her stitching blog, Carolyn Foley commented with some photos on that unusual foggy day. You can read about it here.

Standing in the milling crowds at the airport we couldn't help thinking about all the people who had paid taxi fares to the airport or booked out of their accommodation and who were stranded. Many were sitting around on the floor with their luggage piled up next to them, most on their phones or iPads. We stood next to a troubled group of elderly musicians who were trying to keep track of their large musical instruments as well as their luggage. It's the first time something like that had happened to us and it was all surprisingly disconcerting.

Next morning we and Simon had to get up at 3.30am! We had to catch the only flight available to get us to Sydney in time for the connecting flight home - and it was very early.  I am not an early morning person and two early mornings in a row before that long trip, as well as a long day that has 32 hours instead of the usual 24, meant we were really feeling the jet lag after we arrived home. I often wish my day had more hours in it. I found it's not always a good thing after all.

But, I found one positive in all of this. In 1971 I had a short stay in Sydney on the way to visit my cousin Pixie in Condingup, Western Australia. On the day my mom and I took a bus and visited Sydney Harbour Bridge, there was a brilliant blue sky and the sparkling blue water was filled with the white sails and billowing spinnakers of hundreds of yachts. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It's been my only visit to Sydney and the spectacular sight from the bridge on that dazzling day made an impression that has stayed with me ever since.

On the approach to Sydney airport a few weeks ago, I caught unexpected glimpses of the extensive harbour, the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House through the plane window.

1. Arriving Sydney (Commons.Wikimedia)
The man in the window seat was taking videos and photos and his broad shoulders blocked out most of the view, but what I saw briefly as we circled around in the early morning light was the kind of thing you usually see only in travel brochures.

I have since found two Wiki Commons photos of the scenes I saw from the air. Neither quite matches the unforgettable glimpses I had in the fresh, clear morning sunlight. It struck me then that I would not have seen the exact same glorious view if we had caught our original flight the day before, and it was spectacular!

2. Sydney Harbour Bridge from the air ( Commons.Wikimedia)
I do wish though, that I'd asked the man at the window to take some photos for me too. I'm sure he would have understood despite him not speaking any English. Next time I'll keep my camera ready even if I'm not sitting in the window seat. I find aerial views fascinating and you never know just what you might see.

In case you were wondering, despite the delay, our the trip home was very good indeed. I'd choose to fly Qantas again anytime.
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Licence notices for photos:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Needle Painting

Renette Kumm of Knysna, South Africa does exquisite needle painting of birds. Her beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller appears on the cover of the latest Inspirations Magazine.

Congratulations Renette!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rockets and haircuts

I recently spent a lovely few weeks with my daughter and her family in Brisbane.  It had been three years since we'd last been together and I couldn't wait to see them all again and spend time with my grandchildren. Skype is wonderful but it's just not the same as actually being there. I have some very sweet new memories of our visit. Being there for the soccer match when Jake (6) scored his very first goal for his team was priceless.

What is it about a new colouring in book and fresh box of crayons that is so exciting?
Knowing that Jake had loved a visit to the planetarium, I told him about a Kindle book I'd enjoyed that chronicled the Apollo 11 space mission. And, we were off reading together. Although it is an adult book, he was fascinated, often reading along with me. The two of us had long conversations about rockets, space, the race to the moon and the meaning of words he didn't understand. It was amusing to have him picking me out too when I skipped bits that I thought he'd find boring! - bits about the background and politics of the time. We eventually got as far as the successful launch of the spaceship. The rest of the story is waiting for next time.

While Jake and I read, Lila (4) would listen, playing contentedly alongside of us with her mermaid doll but clearly not as deeply interested in the men going to the moon. Our chats were more about her craft work that she had carefully collected in a file, or the knots I combed out of the back of her hair. Knots she told me that the pillow made while she slept.

Like many young children, Lila is not at all keen on having her hair cut, but when I asked her for about the third time if I could cut her fringe, she agreed. I whipped out a comb and my tiny sharp embroidery scissors and before she could change her mind it was done. Anyone who knows me will be very surprised that I used my scissors for anything other than embroidery! I think the long fringe in her eyes was bothering me far more than it was Lila and I felt very privileged to be allowed to cut it.

Did I do any stitching while I was away? No, but if it counts at all, the intention was there.

The holiday flew by too quickly and it was soon time to leave for Cape Town. The day we were due to depart, things didn't go quite as smoothly as we expected and I'll post more about that next time.

Till then, happy stitching!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lavender bookmark progress

All the cross stitch on my lavender bookmark is complete. The flowers are not exactly the same shape as those on the original pattern but I think they are close enough. I still have to add dark straight stitches to give the lavender blooms more depth and decide what to put in the empty oval at the bottom.

The last stage will be adding a ribbon backing and finally a tassel. I like that the ribbon and tassel came with the kit. It saves hunting around for the materials to give a nice finish to the bookmark.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lavender bookmark

This UFO (unfinished object) has been in my cupboard for quite a while. Somehow the pattern became separated from the embroidery, and cross stitch is not my favourite, but I do want to finish it.

I've started working on it again doing 10 minutes here and there when I can. The extra few stitches soon add up. It's involved a bit of guesswork using the photograph provided on the kit cover as a guide. Stitching on the dark green fabric I need very good light and magnifiers too.

I will post my progress as I go.

'Till next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Giraffe and Elephant

My grandson Liam (6) has an artistic eye. Read proud granny there! When I mentioned that I wanted to photograph the little giraffe I had knitted as a Christmas present, he was quick to make suggestions. He decided the grass would make a good background and then took some pics for me.

Giraffe in the sun - Liam Dobrowski (6)
 I love the giraffe spots, the little horns and the swishy tail.

Giraffe in the shade - Liam Dobrowski (6)
When Aidan (3) opened his present on Christmas morning, he had to twist his tongue around that difficult word, but he knew instantly that it was a 'girrwaffe'.

I knitted an elephant as well. I thought the little knitted toys would be good stocking fillers. The boys were also about to go game viewing and see the real animals at home wandering in the African bush.

Well, the giraffe and the elephant took a safari to the Pilanesberg National Park before I had taken photos. It seems the elephant decided he felt more at home there and he stayed behind.

The only photos I have of the elephant were taken with Aidan on my knee and Liam sitting next to me stitching the ears onto the head while I held them in place. It was a 'bad hair day' for all of us having just been for a swim and those photos, although precious to me, are not going to make it onto the internet.

The patterns are from previous issues of Stitches magazine and were designed by Dana Biddle. I have seen the patterns for sale somewhere on the internet but can't recall where.  You can probably track them down via Dana's Pinterest pages.