Sunday, May 31, 2009

Suitcase Packed

Yes I've packed my case ready for our trip to Melbourne early in the morning. No this isn't for my clothes, like all quilters I have packed my hand sewing first. I bought this little case when I was at the Southern Cross Quilters retreat in Adelaide last month. I couldn't resist it and it's an ideal size for hand sewing and scissors. The hexagons are a new project I've started to use up all the 2.5" squares I swapped for the millennium quilt I was going to make. I enjoy hand piecing so much that it's been a lovely project to work on and I plan to get lots done while I wait for Ray to get out of surgery.
We're off to the Epworth hospital early tomorrow as Ray's surgery will be at 1pm and we'd just like to ask if you could all keep us in your thoughts and prayers for a good outcome. I'll still be working on the quilts for the bush fire appeal and we'll only be away for 1 or 2 nights and then I'll be doing some home nursing.
Just a note for those who are knitting hats and scarves for Kinglake people, their football team wears green and gold so hats in that colour would probably be popular too, as well as using the colours of the AFL teams.
Take care. Jan Mac

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Knitted Hat Pattern

As there have been a few requests for a beanie pattern I thought I'd post it here. This is one I made up.
Adult Hat:
50gm 8 ply wool.
Cast on 120 stitches and work in rib (knit 1, purl1) for 12 rows using size 10 needles.
Change to size 8 needles and knit 28 rows of stocking stitch. (I work the stripes in with the stripes about 4 rows for each colour)
To shape the crown, knit 10 stitches, knit 2 together, and continue to end of row. Purl next row. Next row knit 9 stitches, knit 2 together and cont to end of row. Repeat rows while decreasing in alternate rows by one stitch between knitting 2 together. ie. 1st row, knit 10, knit 2 together, 2nd row knit 9, knit 2 toget, 3rd row knit 8 knit 2 together and so on. Continue until last row where you knit 2 together across the row. Then put remaining stitches on sewing needle and draw up before sewing down the seams of the hat.
I also make a slightly smaller size for young adults or teens, using 110 stitches and rib for 10 rows, then knitting for 26 rows before decreasing for the crown.
There's many pattterns you can google for so have fun if you want to make some hats for the bush fire survivors. I also make these and send them to East Timor.
My post raised quite a few questions about whether or not the donated money has been distributed to those affected by the fires and questions were raised about whether or not they could afford to buy a hat and scarf. I don't know how many have not received money and I'm certainly not questioning whether or not the funds are being administered properly. I do know that the task is huge and that many are still experiencing a great deal of stress after their terrifying experience. Normally many people in those communities would most likely have been able to knit for their own families. However, as many have lost their homes, the effort of replacing their knitting supplies, sewing supplies or whatever is needed is something they are just not able to face yet. Some have said that when they went to the relief centres for assistance, because they escaped with only the clothes on their back and in many cases didn't even have shoes, they were unable to even make decisions about what they needed. This is a common reaction to stress and many are still in this situation. The clothing given to recovery centres were summer clothes as it was during a period of intensely hot weather conditions and now warmer clothing will be needed. I'm sure that there are many groups such as the Salvos helping in these communities as they recover and rebuild their lives, but many people will not necessarily ask for more help. Often their response has been that there are others worse off than them and they are reluctant to accept too many donated goods. That is why we chose to start giving the quilts out through the schools and then the adults have been willing to accept them when they saw their children's happy reactions to them.
As there are so many people affected and many rules and regulations regarding donations of money, it has been much easier for us, along with many church and community groups to offer assistance in a tangible form. I don't expect that thousands of hats and scarves are needed but I'm sure that they will be appreciated, especially as they will have trouble drying wet clothes and staying warm if they are living on their home site in a caravan or whatever.
I'll leave it up to you whether or not you want to make and send a hat or scarf and I'll be distributing them when we hand out more quilts via the locals in each area.
Thanks for all your support.
Jan Mac

Friday, May 29, 2009

Time To Knit

After our visit to Kinglake yesterday I can tell you that winter is on the way! The sun was out which was a lovely surprise as it usually rains when we're there, but by 4pm it was very, very chilly. I was happy to get back into the warm car for our trip home.
Of course we had a lovely time chatting with new friends there and enjoying a cuppa in their caravan. They had built their own home 10 years ago and now they face the huge task of rebuilding. They have only taken a day off since the fires on Feb 7th and must be exhausted. They are spending every waking hour to set up a liveable area for them on their fire ravaged land. They have worked non-stop and have yet to start on their new home. They were connecting a toilet to a septic tank while we were there and it must be a wonderful luxury to have a functioning toilet instead of retreating to the bush when nature calls! It must have been a very unpleasant experience when it rains as well. They are just one of many many families who face the task of rebuilding their lives. They spoke openly about their experience and told that even those who had homes in well-cleared areas, or had fire bunkers did not all survive. The fire plans that had served them in the past were insufficient as the conditions were unlike any experienced before.
Where they are living there was no smoke but just flames reaching 300 metres in the air. The sight was so terrifying many can't recall it now but have blocked it from their minds. Like many others they haven't been able to take part in the feel good days that have been held with massages etc. They have been trying to get bearable living conditions established before winter really sets in. They say that it gets so cold at night that their heads ache. Common sights are people standing around open fires trying to warm themselves before they go to bed in their caravans or shipping containers.
They are very grateful for the quilts not just for the warmth of body but they also warm their heart with their tangible message of support from around Australia and the world. I came home and started knitting a warm hat and ask for anyone else who is enjoying their warm home, to do the same. I suggest hats in football colours for men and boys as well as hats in softer colours, and scarves for women and girls. I am happy to pass them on when I give out more quilts and I know they will be appreciated by those who receive them. I gave out 86 quilts yesterday as well as some household goods, sewing kits and knitted hats. I hope to see more warm people when next we visit. The hat I'm working on is red and blue which are Melbourne Football colours.
Hugs and thanks, Jan Mac

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Quilts Finished

Here's two more of the quilts I've finished this week and they will be going to Kinglake when we visit again this Friday. The Dresden Plates were donated as plates and I hand stitched them to background fabric and added some border fabric. The other lovely quilts was donated with backing and batting and I only had to quilt and bind this one. The colours are lovely and will makea beautiful gift of love for someone who has lost their home. As for Kaite's question about using a walking foot- I used to have one but it shook apart after about the first 1,000 quilts I used it on. I haven't found a need for one now really as I usually use a fairly flat batting and don't have a problem with the batting shifting. I'm working on quilting some of the lovely tops that have been donated as well as piecing backings for them. I measure all the donated tops and then look for fabric in my stash which I can use to piece a suitable back of the right size. It takes time but it's a good way to use up some of the fabric I'm no longer in love with.
Back to stitching. Hugs Jan Mac

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Light is On Again

Well it's a simple thing but it's amazing how much easier it is to thread the needle when the machine light works. I've been going through so many globes that I thought my machine must be faulty. It's a 30 year old machine and I've sewed and machine quilted over 2,000 quilts on it. It's getting a heavy work-out now with putting the QAYG quilt blocks together into large quilts.
The needle threader isn't working again either but as I've just had it fixed for $90 I can manage without it for a while.
I've been busy with paid work but also making backs for donated tops and I've been quilting some of them on my short arm quilting machine. Today I need to finish off binding on some more and then I'll post photos on my other blog at http:ozcomfortquilts.blogspot.com
This quilt was donated from Western Australia and I had the perfect colour for binding in my stash so it won't take long to finish it.
Thanks for all your messages on the blog. When you write to a blog you never know how many people actually read it. I used to have a visitor counter but I found that it's easier and less time-consuming to have a simple blog so I spend less time on that and more on the quilts for donations.
Hugs and thanks for reading.
Jan Mac

Thursday, May 21, 2009

TV interview

For those who missed it and our overseas friends, click on the following address and it should bring it up. I didn't realize how old I looked- never mind I've earned all those lines. LOL


http://today.ninemsn.com.au/videoindex.aspx
Hugs Jan Mac

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Than Quilts

Our trip to Kinglake again yesterday was very heartwarming as we had the chance of speaking to some of the people who literally faced their own fears that they were going to die in the Black Saturday fires.
It's healing for them to tell their stories and they tell us that the quilts have helped them to look forward and not back. Some of the families have said that they will treasure the quilts because they will become their family's heirlooms. Others will use them to tell their young children about what happened on that day and how kindness of strangers helped them rebuild their lives. One lady said she can feel all the love that was stitched into her quilt and it brings her great comfort. She lost everything and said she doesn't even have an envelope to post a letter so the quilts remind her that they will recover and she is going to help pass quilts on to others in her community who also lost their homes. She said that she has nothing to give but will love being able to bless others with the beautiful quilts you've all donated.
So although it doesn't seem we can do enough to help these communities, please be assured that they are very grateful and appreciative of all your beautiful quilts you donated. The kids are so happy with them that they were asking for quilts for their friends or family members, who hadn't yet received a quilt. They took a lot of pleasure in choosing one which they thought would suit the person and I'm sure they will be much loved. One lady said she'd always wanted a quilt but didn't know how to make one and didn't think she deserved one as others were worse off. This is a common theme when we give out the quilts as they can all think of others who are less fortunate.
I intend to keep working on the quilts and giving them out as long as there are people who need them. As there were 3,000 homes burned down in just the Kinglake/Whittlesea area, I think we will need many more than 7,500 quilts. Yesterday was the first time we'd visited there when it didn't rain and the people are worried about the cold and wet winter they are facing while living in caravans and shipping containers. So if you have time to make a block, finish a top or a quilt, or even send prepared bindings, you can be sure that they will get to the people who need them and will be much loved and appreciated.
Thank you for all that you have done already.
Hugs Jan Mac

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day



My lovely Mum passed away just over 2 years ago and we all still miss her so my DH challenged me to work on a project of my own for a change, on Mothers day. So in honour of my lovely Mum I decided to work on some 1940s star blocks. I had started appliqueing these to plain cream background fabric. It's been a WIP for some time but as I bought them as someone else's UFO I don't think the slow progress matters too much. The colours remind me of the sort of dresses Mum used to wear when we were young and there were 36 stars but I eliminated one as it had very flimsy material.
I started putting the blocks together and only got a couple of rows done as we had family commitments, but I am pleased with the way the sashing is making them look a lot more interesting. I had a lovely day with two of our children coming to visit and our son rang to say that he's cooked me a lamb roast. Unfortunately he was in Melbourne and we live 2 hours away so I've taken a raincheck.
In the evening I rang one of the lovely Mums I'd met at a Kinglake school. She's going to help us to get the quilts to families who don't have children old enough to attend school. She said that the quilts have made a huge difference to the families who've already received them and rather than us trying to give them a quilt in their favourite colours, many have decided to base their decore colours around the quilts they've received, when they rebuild. I also rang a lovely Mum who's DH was a fireman who died while fighting the fires here in Vic. We'd never met and I had tried a few other times to ring her but couldn't find her at home. When I rang last night we spoke for 40 minutes and she said that I must have known she needed a kind word. I rang to offer quilts to her and her 3 children as a thank you for her DH and their father's service to our state. We decided that it was probably meant to be that I couldn't contact her before until she needed me to ring. I always find that a kind word can do more than you think and we've decided to stay in touch. I think I got as much from our conversation as she did. She said that the firefighters have been a huge support for her and her young family and they have made things a lot easier for her. The CFA do so much unpaid work for the community and need more recognition so please pass on our sincere thanks if you know a firefighter.
It's time to get back to the machine and finish off the QS quilt I'm putting together and then post more photos on my other blog.
Hus to all and thanks for reading.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Packing quilts

I was trying to reclaim the rumpus room as it looks like an explosion of quilts has occurred in there. We took about 140 quilts down to give out in Kinglake on Thurs and have had some lovely big deliveries of more quilts over the last few days. I met up with Lois McDonald on Friday and she had driven over from South Australia to deliver quilts. I haven't had time to photograph them yet but will put them on my other blog soon. I haven't counted yet but there were a lot of them!! So many thanks to the Loxton ladies.
We have a Dr's appointment in Melbourne on Weds so we plan to drop more quilts off on our way down. Our youngest DD came home for the weekend and wanted to know what had happened to make so much mess. Surely she knows by now that I have a "quilting house" and not just confined to one room.
I'm always grateful when people are happy to receive a quilt as it makes more room for the next lot I'll be finishing. I've finished a single bed one today and now I'm working on a queen sized on as I've just heard of another family in the Knglake area, who haven't recived a quilt yet.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Watermelon Quilt

Here's an email I received from a recipient of one of the beautiful donated quilts we gave out in Kinglake.

"Hi Jan,
Thanks for sending the contact details of the person who made the watermelon quilt. I was disappointed there was no address on the quilt because it is such a generous gesture and I wanted to thank the maker.
The strange thing is the only thing I ate from about 4.00pm on Sat Feb. 7th until about 11.00am on Sunday morning was frozen watermelon because we fought the fire all night and I couldn't actually eat so survived on water and watermelon. Was the quilt destined to come to me? I didn't choose it either as the quilts were numbered and names drawn out.
Thanks again for contacting me,"

It just so happens that I knew the person who donated the quilt and this is the main reason that I photograph every quilt I receive or finish so that if any recipients want to follow up then I will be able to tell them who they can thank. The person had emailed me with the details of the quilt and a description and I was very happy to be able to tell her who had made and donated this lovely quilt to her. I'm sure that U-M will be very happy to hear that her quilt found a new home where it will be much loved.
Hugs and thanks to all of you for your very generous and loving hearts.
Jan Mac