Saturday, April 30, 2011

Generosity of Quilters

I received more donations of knitted garments and 8 QAYG blocks from Bev Dean (WA) as well as more finished quilts (shown on my other blog) from the Kyvalley and Girgarre Pathworkers (Vic) as well as a lovely scarf and knitted beanie and more beautiful knitting yarn. I knitted 2 scarves over the last two days and the new yarn is knitting up beautifully. I'll show more photos soon and I also have enough squares for a crocheted blanket ready to piece them together. I also received another parcel from Helen Evans (Vic) with a quilt top, some orphan blocks as well as 12 QAYG blocks.
All of these donations will be on their way to warm people who have lost their homes to floods. My thoughts and prayers are also with the people who lost their lives in the tornadoes in the US. It seems like this year has taken a heavy toll with all the natural disasters and I pray that no more will follow.
It was lovely to watch the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton and it was so nice to have some positive news to watch while I worked on my knitting.
Tonight I decided to take a break from my donation works and I've been doing some hand-piecing for a quilt I'd like to finish for me. I would love to have it finished in time to enter it in my state exhibition in July this year. I've never entered a quilt and the donation quilts always take the majority of my time but I decided that entering one of my quilts was on my "bucket list" so maybe this year should be the year that I actually do it. I know that every year I will always be busy making quilts to donate so I decided that I need to make time to finish one of my UFOs. It involves lots of hand work but if it's not done in time for this year there's always next year.
I'm going to set myself a half day a week to work on it and see how much I can achieve, while still finishing off a lot of comfort quilts.
Hugs Jan Mac

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Comings and Goings

Today was another busy day with 35 quilts going to the flooded area of Rochester in Victoria. I've been very lucky to have the help of Lesley Lowe from Kyabram and she has been bringing over donated quilts and tops from the Kyvalley and Girgarre Patchworkers and then taking finished quilts back to Rochester for distribution. Thanks to all the wonderful work and support from you all we have managed to donate 241 quilts so far this year and many more will be ready to send off very soon.
Today I received 3 quilts from two different groups in Tasmania and the quilts are shown on my other blog.
I also received a parcel from Helen Evans (Vic) with more QAYG blocks and fabric, as well as a parcel from Bev Dean (WA) who also sent 14 QAYG blocks and a baby sweater.
Jo-Anne Dick (Tas) also sent a lovely quilt as well as 2 knitted hats and 4 fabulous scarves which will all be so appreciated as the cold weather is certainly here at night time. I am enjoying our sunny days but when the cold night air comes I start coughing again so I'm spending the days sewing and not talking!
Hopefully I'll shake this cough off soon!
In the meantime there's more quilts to finish.
Stay well and thanks for all your help.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Took a Break

More wonderful donations have arrived from around the world and they are so welcome as it makes it much easier to donate so many quilts where needed. Fran Williams (Tas) sent 3 sets of binding which will be a big help for getting more QAYG quilts finished.
Di Jobbins and the St Marks Darling Point Quilters (NSW) sent another 2 parcels with 36 beautiful QAYG blocks and they have been very busy with supporting this quilt appeal.
Delys Rogers (WA) sent another 2 large parcels with a baby quilt UFO, 3 scarves, a blanket, orphan blocks, fabric, knitting wool and 9 QAYG blocks which will all help warm a lot of people in need.
Irene Baldock and the Friendship Quilters of Kent (UK) also sent a large parcel containing 43 fabulous QAYG blocks as well as fabric strips.
Elizabeth Powell (ACT) sent 11 beautiful QAYG blocks as well as binding strips and Cat Brown (NZ) sent a large parcel of a set of blocks, orphan blocks and a wall hanging which I will re-fashion into a quilt top.
Kaite Matilda (NSW) sent a lovely bag filled with knitting yarn suitable for crocheted blankets for the homeless, and for beanies and the bag will be a wonderful gift for them to use to store their blanket.
Helen Evans (Vic) sent 3 large parcels of fabric and blocks which will help to make more quilts to donate.

We went camping in the Victorian high country over Easter, as it's our favourite place and although the days were lovely and sunny the nights were very, very cold. Consequently I still have the head cold and plan to take it easy this week until I get over it. I do however plan to finish off some more quilts as well as knitting the scarves and crocheting blankets that I've been working on. I'm looking forward to being able to sleep through the night again without waking with coughing fits. At least we're home again where we are warm and dry and it does remind us that others are not so lucky thanks to recent earthquakes and the floods.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Sorry that I've been missing for the past few days. I had a wonderful time at the Australasian Quilt Convention (AQC) in Melbourne and took 2 day classes with Gloria Loughman and Margaret McDonald. When I got home Monday night I spent the next two days in bed with a case of the flu.
I'm taking it easy and as I couldn't even sew or quilt my DH knew that I was feeling very unwell. LOL. We were supposed to be going camping with friends today and staying away for Easter but are hoping I'll feel well enough to go tomorrow.
As for the AQC it was lovely attending classes, shopping as well as viewing all the quilts on display.
My classes with Margaret McDonald were on a Feathered Star quilt and one she calls "Whirling Twirling". They are both her designs and her instructions and notes are excellent. My blog title says it all- What was I thinking!! as I have decided to piece these blocks by hand. The diamonds are 3/4" in size and I found it quite quick to hand piece them. I thought it would be a good project to work on while traveling. I'll show my progress as it occurs and I have enjoyed the quiet time of hand sewing. I feel my body relax and just enjoy the moment. I can recommend it after spending a lot of time on the sewing machine and I plan to prepare the pieces for blocks so I'll have some ready to take with me.
I also used my time in Melbourne to deliver quilts with 30 going to a person who is taking them to Charlton in Victoria for flood victims; and 9 going to a lady who is taking them to Cat in New Zealand for distribution in Christchurch.
I may be quiet for a few days while we are away but will be working on my knitting for the homeless as the need seems to be increasing this year with so many affected by the floods.
Take care and thanks for stopping by.
Love , Jan Mac

Friday, April 15, 2011

Luminous Landscapes with Gloria Loughman

For the last two days I've been taking one of Gloria Loughman's classes and had a wonderful time. Her forte is more for innovative quilts depicting natural landscapes and she has developed techniques which make me appear much clever than I am when it comes to artistic quilts. I completed the background on the first day and then finished the wall hanging today. I decided not to make my project too large as I knew that when I return home I'd be very busy with the comfort quilts and I didn't want another UFO.
I'm pleased with the result and only have to square it up and apply the binding. It looks like I'll have a quilt to keep this time. I based it on a photo of the sunset in the Australian desert and It's one of my favourite scenes that I've photographed and I plan on having the photo enlarged as well as it's one of DH's favourites too.
Gloria was a lovely teacher and very helpful with techniques etc so I learned a lot and had a fun time doing something different to my usual quilting style.
I will sleep well tonight and I have 2 more days of classes so more fun to come.
More later, Hugs Jan Mac

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Donations for Christchurch and Australia

I received more wonderful donations from around the world. The first donations were 3 large packages of QAYG blocks made by Merilyn Francis (NSW) and she also sent a quilt shown on my other blog, Oz Comfort quilts. Patricia Thornhill from the UK sent a lovely parcel with 4 scarves, and 16 QAYG blocks. Pat Chubb from the USA sent 16 beautiful knitted beanies for the homeless and they will be so welcome with our weather turning colder already.
I also finished off some knitted beanies and matching scarves as well as a knitted soft toy- a rabbit.

Today I attended the first day of classes with Gloria Loughman at the Australasian Quilt Convention. It's a great class and I have another day tomorrow which I'm really looking forward to.
I'm taking a couple of days break but will soon be back and finishing more quilts. I'm taking the time to deliver more quilts while I'm in Melbourne and will soon be home to take photos of more donations.
Thank you all so much for your help with these quilt projects.
Hugs Jan Mac

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Guessed It- QAYG Again!

I have received more donations of QAYG blocks and they are making it possible to make some lovely quilts to donate on your behalf.
The first photo shows 10 QAYG blocks donated by Jo Congerton (Vic) and the lovely bright pink and purple colours will make a lovely quilt. The next blocks were donated by Terry Patterson (NSW) and they will join some other blocks of differing sizes to make a lovely quilt to comfort someone. I can use any size blocks so please don't worry if they measure differently to 10.5 ". If I don't have enough to make a quilt in a particular size then I just make more to join them so it's not a problem. Terry said that she found these blocks when she was cleaning out a cupboard and they will be a good start for a quilt with larger blocks.
I also received a lovely QAYG quilt made by Di Jobbins and St Mark's Quilters from Sydney (NSW) and it's shown on my other blog.
I also received a lovely email (quoted on my other blog) of thanks from one of the quilters who helped to distribute quilts to Rochester (Vic) and it's always lovely to hear how much the quilts mean to the people who receive them.
Paid work has kept me busy for the past few days and I have a few more donations to acknowledge tomorrow, but for now it's time for bed as tomorrow will be a big day too.
Many, many thanks for trusting me to finish and donate the quilts on your behalf. We are able to make a difference and imagine if every quilter made enough blocks for one quilt, how many people we could help.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More International Donations

The boxes are still arriving with beautiful QAYG blocks for Australia and New Zealand to bring comfort after the natural disasters of floods and earthquakes. The first photo shows the two large boxes from Nadine Kirk and Judy LaCass from the USA. They sent 3 sets of 35 QAYG blocks as well as another set of 24 QAYG blocks and fabric for bindings. The blocks are beautiful and will make some lovely quilts.
There was also a second box from Margaret Sunter and the Dunfermline Quilters from Scotland, containing another 40 QAYG blocks. The ongoing donations have made it much easier to get so many quilts finished and distributed on your behalf.

Yesterday I heard from a contact in Vic who has been working in the northern part of the state to try to clean-up one of the smaller towns of Charlton where a lot of homes have been damaged.
She was telling me that they feel that they have been COMPLETELY ignored and have received nothing. Apparently a lot of the insurance companies are not paying out for the flooding so these people have no idea about what they are going to do. She also said some are living in one room of their house because the rest has been demolished and stinks of mould from the water. 
The lady has very kindly agreed to take quilts up to be given out by the recovery centre and so I'm busy getting more finished to send with her.

I also have a lady who is taking another 10 quilts for Christchurch when she visits there in a few weeks time. Luckily I've managed to get a lot of quilts finished and have enough to send to these places as well as gathering more for Qld.
I finished off another 3 quilts today and they are shown on my other blog.
Thank you all for continuing to donate so that more quilts can be distributed and bring comfort.
Hugs Jan Mac

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spread Too Thin?

I know many must think that I am flitting around trying to help too many people and agencies. Firstly I'm making and donating to the homeless in Vic and Qld; the flood affected areas in Qld and Vic; the earthquake survivors in New Zealand and Japan; as well as the local woman's refuge; agencies to support teen mothers as well as East Timor.
Yes I support all of these and more when asked for my help with quilts but don't feel that I'm spread too thin as I make many quilts every week. It's because I have so many contacts and places to donate quilts and other items that I can make sure that things aren't stockpiled but are given out and used as soon as they are donated. This also means that I don't overload any one agency with more than they can handle. The variety of places I am able to support also means that everything donated will be useful to at least one or more agencies so I can always find a good home for items. It also means that I can multi-task and if I'm getting muscle fatigue from quilting I can change to knitting or crocheting etc so I can always be productive. I also take my knitting everywhere with me so I don't have to sit idly if I'm waiting at an appointment. I love what I do so it's not a hardship for me to keep busy making something that others can use. They do me a favour by using what I love to make.
Today I received more parcels from Joanne Hinchcliffe (NSW) who sent 8 lovely QAYG blocks in bright colours and G. Svartsjo from Finland who also sent 6 beautiful QAYG blocks in shades of green and yellow. The next parcel came from Robin Walker (Tas) who sent a lovely quilt shown on the other blog as well as 3 patterns and some lovely fabric with scenes of wildlife. These will all be used for quilts for Christchurch as per Robin's request, and Cat will be delighted to distribute the quilts when they are finished.
The last parcel came from T. Cox of Vic and contained a lovely set of blocks in greens and browns which will make a lovely quilt.
Today I sent off a box containing a quilt and crocheted blanket, knitted beanies and scarves to a group which helps the homeless in Brisbane as well as 6 more quilts to Cat for distribution to Christchurch. Thanks to all of your generous donations we are able to help so many people who will be grateful for the warm garments and quilts this winter.
I hope you all continue to have fun with the QAYG blocks and know that you are all helping us to make a difference to others.
Hugs Jan Mac

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Helping the Homeless

Many of the people affected by flooding in the Brisbane area were already homeless and struggling to stay warm and dry during winter. Now that the weather is cooling for winter again they are in need of more help with bedding as well as beanies, scarves and fingerless gloves.
I've made QAYG blocks over the past few days and managed to get another quilt finished and it will be shown on my other blog. I also finished off a crocheted blanket as well as some hats and scarves and they will be on their way to help the homeless in Brisbane. I like to send the quilts and blankets in bags so they can easily be carried as well as kept clean.
I was disturbed to read in the Herald Sun yesterday:

"ON any given night in Victoria there are 6,400 young people aged between 12 and 25 with no place to call home.

According to the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP), many of them have been in and out of state foster care and almost half are not in school. many of the young homeless were escaping problems at home and some couch surfed with friends."

It is shocking that so many young adults are homeless and vulnerable on the streets so the ongoing need for quilts, crocheted blankets and warm garments like beanies, gloves and scarves will be much needed to bring comfort to this large group of people. Any donations will help not only those affected by the floods and earthquakes but also those who may be homeless through no fault of their own.

The quilt I made used up lots of odds and ends of scraps of fabric and I also used donated blocks which had been backed with fleece with the intention of practicing machine quilting or making cushion covers. I re-purpose these blocks as backings for the QAYG blocks and they make warm and sturdy quilts.

I've also been asked for my pattern for knitting beanies so I'm more than happy to share.

I made this pattern up as follows:

Using 8 ply and no. 10 needles for rib and no 8 for stocking stitch.
Cast on 120 stitches.
Knit in rib for 12 rows.
Change to larger needles and stocking stitch for 28 rows.
To decrease for the crown:
*Knit 10 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 9 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row
Next row purl.
*Knit 8 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 7 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 6 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 5 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 4 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 3 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 2 stitches, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
*Knit 1 stitch, K2 together and repeat from *until end of row.
Next row purl.
Knit 2 together across row.
Draw leftover yarn through the stitches left and pull up and then stitch it in to finish it off.

Hope this makes sense.
It makes a good size for adults and I add stripes etc as I feel like it. They also like them in acrylic yarn too as they wash well when they don't have much access to hand washing facilities.

I also make them in smaller sizes with 100 stitches and knit 24 rows of stocking stitch before decreasing starting with knit 8 then knit 2 together and repeating. I often knit the rib as knit 2 purl 2 for this size and it's a good size for young children.

For older children I also knit a size with 110 stitches and knitting 26 rows of stocking stitch and decreasing the same but starting with knit 9, knit 2 together and repeating to the end of the row.

Let me know if it doesn't make sense.

I've spent today finishing off more quilts for Christchurch and will send another box off tomorrow. The pile for Qld and Vic is growing again too and I'll soon be sending another shipment off to those places.
Before all these disasters occured I had booked to attend the Australasian Quilting Convention and I'm off to Melbourne for a week starting next Weds so I'm getting as many quilts finished as possible before I take the break for the AQC.
Hope to see some of you there too.
Hugs Jan Mac

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

God Bless Australia Post

You may have guessed that I spend a lot of time at my local post office. In fact the staff know me by name, I don't have to spell my surname, I get parcels address to Jan Mac and not my full surname and they even know my DH as he often picks up the parcels for me so I can keep quilting.
Yesterday was exceptionally busy at the post office and I had to park quite a way from the store. When I arrived at the counter, without my DH to help carry the parcels the young lass suggested that I should drive in to the hallowed turf at the back of the post office and they would bring the parcels out to me.
I walked back to fetch the car and when I drove into the yard there was a postal employee with a trolley laden with parcels which he then loaded into my car. What incredibly good service and it made it so much easier than making several trips to carry the parcels and as she said they didn't want me to trip over while juggling parcels. Have I perhaps crossed over into the senior citizen category of their customers? Who cares- the service was great and made it much easier to get everything home. I wonder if I'll be driving into the back again this week?
I've received many wonderful donations as you can see here. The first set of 35 QAYG blocks were made for Christchurch by Sharon Lee (NSW) and will soon be made into a quilt and on their way across the Tasman to Cat.

Penel Bigg (NSW) sent a bag, 35 lovely QAYG blocks as well as fabric for sashing and binding.

The Colleambally Quilters (NSW) have been very busy and they sent down 2 sets of QAYG blocks, 5 quilts as well as fabric and batting for more blocks.

Janet Stewart and the Candelo Craft Group (NSW) sent a large parcel with 4 lovely quilts, 4 pillowcases shown here and 2 lovely tote bags, and they will be treasured gifts for their new owners.

Pat Tenorio and the ExSANity Quilting group (NSW) sent a large parcel with 3 tablecloths, 1 cushion cover, a cot-sized top ready for quilting and including batting and backing, as well as two other quilt tops and backing and they will be lovely quilts when finished. The quilts will be shown on my other blog tomorrow.

Elizabeth Raymond (NSW) sent a lovely QAYG quilt and a matching quilted bag shown here. The quilt will appear on my other blog tomorrow.

Tina Smith (Vic) donated 4 lovely QAYG blocks.

Margaret Taylor and the ladies from St Paul's Anglican Church group made 18 lovely QAYG blocks and also sent fabric for binding.
All of these very generous donations will warm and comfort the recipients when the quilts are distributed.

Many thanks for all your help with these quilt appeals.

Hugs Jan Mac

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Time to Push On!

Thank you seems hardly enough but I'm so very grateful to all of you who took the time to write. It was especially lovely to hear from the wonderful Mum's in Christchurch who wrote about what the quilts mean to their children. I guess I needed to hear it and be reassured that all the work I put into making comfort quilts is worth it to the recipients. I guess the question should also be "why donate quilts anywhere?" I make so many that they are doing me a favour by taking the donated quilts as I've finished off 108 so far this year. Of course this is only possible because of all, the generous donations of tops and QAYG blocks.
Making the quilts does more for me than the recipients would know. I've had a difficult 14 years with two of my children and myself being sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One of my children was so sick that they told me they thought she wouldn't survive and the doctor told me that I would most likely get MS or Cancer.
We had to travel to Melbourne weekly for treatment and I had to insert intravenous needles every day to give my child and myself experimental drug treatment. It was a hard time and one of the few things I could do was to sew a little most days. I found that focusing on others helped me to stay positive.
We all recovered eventually but I had to abandon my PhD studies and lecturing position with the university. I decided to continue to make and donate quilts because I get the fun of playing with fabric and I love finishing off other people's UFOs and making them into something useful. I know it's sacrilege to say it to quilters, but I think fabric is only beautiful and useful if it's made into something people can get joy from. Owning quilts doesn't bring me joy but making them does.
So there you have it- more information than you probably wanted to have but that is why I quilt for others. It helped me through a very difficult time and I hope it brings comfort and joy to others. I also knit and crochet and have made some hats and scarves for Christchurch too and along with the quilts they will be heading across the Tasman to NZ this week.
My other blog shows the quilts I've finished for the last two days and now it's time to push on and get more quilts out there.
Thank you all for your kind and considered words and your feelings about donating quilts. I only talk about the donation of quilts because I know it can have a ripple effect and encourage other people to use their talents to help others.
Thanks for stopping by and letting me know your feelings too.
Love and hugs Jan Mac

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Why Donate Quilts Overseas?

I've been praying over whether or not I should write this post as I usually avoid writing any negative posts and prefer to focus on what is good and positive. However I've decided to tell you about the event and see if any of you have any comments.
Recently I heard from a NZ quilter who told me that I have offended the quilters in her country by sending quilts to Christchurch. She said they have plenty of quilt guilds and quilters who will be making and donating quilts and I should focus on my own country, Australia. In fact she said that if they received a quilt from me that people would be very offended! She did tell me that the people need money but if I wanted to knit and send beanies and scarves that would be OK, which was interesting as I know that there are also many knitters in NZ.

I've been pondering this off and on since and spoke with Cat about it on Skype this morning. Cat has the contacts who are asking for quilts, baby items and knitted hats and scarves etc and although the avenue we were going to use to ship quilts to her has become difficult at the moment, I have started to post quilts off to her. For me it is important to work with people who have the local contacts and to make sure that the quilts are given out directly to the people who need them. Cat told me that although they aren't featuring in the world news, things are still far from settled in Christchurch and as an example a midwife she knows has given up 3 weeks of her holidays to work in Christchurch as the midwives there are exhausted. The areas hit the hardest are where the people have the least resources of their own.

It's interesting that the blogging world has connected so many women from around the world and the response to my request for QAYG blocks has resulted in very generous donations from around the world. As Cat said, many quilters don't belong to quilt guilds, or they don't have contact with other quilters other than through the internet and our World of Blogs. Really I think it's due to so many of you sharing information and blog sites that we get such a wonderful response to our request to help make quilts to donate to others.

Thanks to one of my blog readers I've even had requests for quilts for Japan and although it won't be cheap to post them I will be sending some over as soon as they are in a position to receive them and I thank Sandra very much for her input on what colours would be most appropriate for the Japanese people.

This donating of comfort quilts was never meant to be about me and in fact I only started to blog and talk about it to encourage others to do the same in whatever way they are able to make a difference in their own communities.
I actually pray that the quilts will reach where they will do the most good and I used to pray for fabric but now I'm praying for money to buy batting and pay for postage etc. I told Cat I would pray for a solution for sending the quilts to NZ and at the Retreat last week I received some wonderful donations of money which will enable me to donate more quilts overseas. When my prayers are answered I know that I need to continue what I'm doing by bringing comfort to others. I call them "Comfort Quilts" because they are intended as a gift and maybe the NZ quilter sees them as charity which was never intended. I'm a bit puzzled as I'm so very grateful for all the help that has been given to me with Oz Comfort Quilts and the response has been wonderful from New Zealand even though there is obviously a need in their own country.

So I'm wondering have I offended quilters by sending the quilts overseas? So far I've sent quilts to Kosovo, Bosnia, China, India, Sth America, Armenia, USA, and East Timor. I think I may have forgotten a few places but if I hear of a group which has asked for quilts then I post what I can afford to send. I know that the need is great here in parts of Australia but I decide what goes where based on the need as well as the thickness of batting. I send a maximum of 70 to 80 at any one time so that the organization has the time to distribute them before I send more. Of course that was different with the quilts for the Australian bush fire appeal where I was delivering 200 quilts very 3 to 4 weeks.
So I hope I'm not offending people by donating Comfort Quilts and I'd be interested in any responses. If this blog message offends I apologize as that wasn't the intention.
In the meantime the quilts continue to leave here to help others and I have my DH working to make a blog button so that anyone who wishes to will be able to donate a few dollars into a Paypal account.
Take care and have fun with your quilting,
Hugs Jan Mac

Donations Still Arrive

While I was away last week I received these very generous donations. The first one was of 24 lovely QAYG blocks all the way from Italy. Luisa Boldori made the blocks and also sent me a beautiful quilt pin as a gift with the writing- Luisa's Quilt Friends. What a lovely gift idea and I'll be very proud to wear the pin too.
Delys Rogers (WA) sent another large parcel with tote bags, 30 QAYG blocks, bindings and fabric and they will make some lovely quilts for Qld.
The last photo shows some lovely binding made and donated by Kathleen from California in the US.
All of these wonderful donations are a gift of time for me and allow me to get more quilts finished and donated on your behalf.
Thanks you all so much for your generosity of spirit and gift of quilts to comfort others. It really does make a difference to those who receive the quilts as well as lifting the spirits of those who give them out on our behalf.
Love and hugs, Jan Mac