Friday, September 30, 2011

A Special Delivery

We had a new member of the family making a very early arrival this week and how else to celebrate but to make him a quilt.
He's 10 weeks early but Mum and baby, Myles, are both doing well and after spending a few weeks in a Melbourne hospital he will be transferring to a hospital nearer to home.
I hope his parents like his new quilt as it has Peter Rabbit designs and cute baby animals on the fabric as well as some brighter blue for contrast.
I used my "Around the Block" book by Judy Hopkins, and enlarged a 12 inch block to 24". Firstly I deducted 1/2 inch from all the pieces, then doubled the size and added a 1/2 inch on again for the seam allowance.
It probably sounds like it's confusing but basically when the pattern asked for a 4 inch square, I took it to mean 3.5 inches without seam allowance. Then I doubled the size to 7 inches to make the block twice as large and then added on 1/2 an inch for seam allowance again.
It was an easy way to make a baby quilt and the pattern is called Rising Star. I added a border to make the quilt larger and added the lighter squares in the corners of the border so the bright blue wouldn't be too over-powering.
I will make a larger quilt for Myles when he grows enough to return home with his parents but wanted him to have his own quilt to distract from the medical paraphernalia while he's in hospital.
He was in a big hurry to get here and I hope he doesn't take life head-on all the time or his parents will be worn out. LOL Welcome little Myles!!
Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Donations From WA

I received two more lovely parcel of donations from Delys Rogers in Western Australia. Delys has very generously supported Oz Comfort Quilts all year and this time she has sent 12 lovely knitted beanies, 2 scarves and 16 more lovely QAYG blocks to be made into quilts for the needy.
All of these will soon be on their way to be given to the needy and the sudden burst of cold weather we're having has meant that these warm items are still in demand.
I've also been busy crocheting more squares to be made into blankets and hope to get another delivery made in the next week or so. Finishing quilts has taken precedence over making more mini Xmas stockings so I really appreciate those of you who have made and sent some too. I've been trying to finish quilts and Christmas gifts for the needy so I haven't made enough of the stockings yet.
Thank you all for your generous donation of time and materials to help the needy.
Hugs Jan Mac

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cats and Quilts

As I used to be more of a "dog" person than a "cat" person, the family think it is hilarious when I fuss over our DD's kitten. They are staying her for a few days and the kitten is very cuddly and full of mischief. I have to be careful to shut her out of the room when I'm using the quilting machine as she climbs all over the quilt when it's pinned and even when the machine is stitching.
Despite paid work, I did manage to finish 3 QAYG quilts so far this week and they are shown on my other blog. I've also been crocheting squares and knitting a baby jacket as well as some cross stitching so it's been a case of working on different things for small amounts of time but I have managed some finishes as well as some progress on WIPs so I should have more to show very soon.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Good Week for Finishes

I managed to finish 6 quilts this week and the last 3 are on my other blog at Oz Comfort Quilts if you want to check them out. One is another QAYG and the other two were donated tops.
I also finished off the red scarf and knitted a hat to match so they will be put away until they are needed.
I also enjoyed starting to work on the alphabet cross stitch that I showed on a previous post. I am enjoying it as I have bought one of those magnifying glasses which hangs around your neck, and being able to see the linen makes it so much easier to work on it. I was having trouble counting the linen threads before and I guess that's why I stalled on finishing it. I will probably make it into a quilted wall hanging and I appreciate the comments from my readers. I have some more finished cross stitch pieces which need to be made into something. I will make some into wall hangings and some into cushions but the really large pieces which have taken lots of hours of work may need to be framed. In that case I'll need to save my pennies for those special ones to be framed. I wonder if family are more likely to treasure them if they are framed or made into a quilt?
At least if I have them finished I can enjoy them rather than having them stuffed away in a cupboard.
Have a good weekend everyone. We have family coming to stay so there may not be much quilting done but lots of chat and laughter.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WIPs and UFOs

We had a lovely surprise birthday party for my youngest brother on the weekend and a lovely catch up with everyone. Then after work I cut my foot which meant I've had to rest up a bit more.
I wasn't able to use the quilting machine until today but I did manage to finish off 3 more QAYG quilts and they are shown on my other blog at Oz Comfort Quilts.
In the meantime I decided it was time to find some of my UFOs and get them done. The first one I've found/chosen was a cross stitch which I bought over 30 years ago. It's a Kate Greenaway Alphabet Sampler and I loved it and planned to stitch it for our firstborn. She turns 31 in November so you can see it's been waiting for completion for some time. Perhaps it will make a suitable gift for our first grandchild instead! Luckily there's no likelihood of one making an appearance too soon so I may actually get it finished before then.
I love cross stitching but I think I stalled with several of the projects because they are so expensive to have them professionally framed. I can make them into wall hangings and I think that may have to be my compromise as I have too many to be framed but I do want to display them. Anyone else have any suggestions? I think finished will be better than to have it languishing in the cupboard.
I also finished knitting a red scarf for myself and that's one UFO finished although it was probably more a Work In Progress (WIP) than an UnFinished Object (UFO). I've also started to knit a hat to match for a winter trip I'll be taking in the new year.
I keep looking at starting new projects but I need to focus on some finishes for me first. I have no problem finishing off quilts to donate but unless I have a specific date and purpose for a quilt, I tend to work on other things. I must remember to chant "Focus" whenever I start to think of new projects. LOL
Time to stitch.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Denim Day and Delivery

I was going to quilt some tops yesterday but had other things take precedence so I did manage to get a start on some gifts for the needy. I found some denim jeans in the "magic cupboard" and decided to make some tote bags and some covered notebooks for teens. I used denim for the books too and am still undecided whether or not to decorate the bags. I may just make a colourful sash to thread through the belt keepers so that can be removed it the teen doesn't like it. I've made lots of these bags in the past and not decorated them as that's the way I like to use them but I'm open to suggestions. I also have a teddy bear that is almost finished so the gift box will be filling nicely.
I also received another 35 lovely QAYG blocks from Cat Magraith in Sth Australia which will help[ to make more quilts to donate. I'll also add the pattern for the knitted mini Christmas stocking to my side bar.
I have paid work again tomorrow which will mean no sewing most likely but there's always Monday. Tonight we have a surprise 50th birthday party for one of my brothers so it will be a fun celebration with family and friends. I can mention it here because I know he doesn't usually read my blog. LOL
Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Can You Hear the Bells?

I know you don't want to hear it but Christmas will soon be here so it's time to get ready. I think I can hear Jingle Bells being played already even though we don't have snow here. It must be all that snow we saw on the Swiss Alps.
A lady who helps me to distribute goods to the needy in the Melbourne area is asking for 5,000 mini Christmas stockings which will be filled with lollies and given to organizations which work with the homeless and other needy people.
I took the wool and knitting needles with me so I could make them while we traveled but the heat wave in Europe meant that I only managed to finish 8 so I need to work on lots more now that I'm home again. I've also made one from fabric and plan to make more that way as they are quicker than the knitted ones, although those are quick to make too.
I made up a pattern based on the size of the knitted stocking which measures 2.25" by 4.5". I made the fabric stocking larger as it won't stretch and it consists of just two pieces of fabric, one for the front and a reverse one for the back, with a 1/4" seam and 1/4" hem at the top. The fabric one measures 2.5" by 4.5" and I'm sure that either will be welcomed by the needy. I think I may make the next lot of fabric stockings a bit wider so they can hold a few more lollies so maybe another 1/4 to 1/2" in width would be good. To make a pattern I just drew around the knitted stocking and added on more at the sides so it's nothing fancy.
If you have the time and some scraps I could use any you have time to make, especially as I'm also making toys and quilts to be given out as Christmas gifts for the needy. So far this week I've finished 5 QAYG quilts and 4 of them are shown on my other blog with more photos coming soon. Busy times now that I'm home again.
Many thanks for your support.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hong Kong to Home

We loved Hong Kong apart from the high humidity and it was a great way to take a break on our way home. We did a night cruise on the harbour to see the Light Show and we also did a half day tour up to Victoria Peak in the cable car as well as going to the Stanley market and visiting a fishing village in Aberdeen. We even toured around the fishing village by junk (boat).
I bonded with a new friend in a jewellery factory and she bonded with m y credit card and is keen to see me again. She was a very good salesperson and very friendly so I may see her when I go back again.
Bargaining at the Ladies Market was also a highlight and although we didn't purchase much we did get to try our hand at negotiating for lower prices. We had a very early start on Saturday when we flew home and since then we've been busy catching up with family and our sleep.
Our trip was a great experience and all the work we put into the planning really paid off as it went very smoothly. I didn't get much knitting done due to the heat but I do have a small pile of mini Christmas stockings to finish to donate to groups which help the needy. I have managed to finish off 2 QAYG quilts (shown on my other blog) over the last two days and I have another one almost finished so it's been a quick return to normal duties here.
Back soon. Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Verona and Venice

We stopped off at Verona on our way to Venice as we wanted to see Juliet's House which the recent film is based on and involves people leaving letters for Juliet of Romeo and Juliet fame. We saw the balcony along with hundreds of strangers, then had lunch and caught the train again.
When we arrived in Venice we were greeted by a brass band which, although very nice, wasn't really necessary. Then we saw gondola races up and down the main canal in front of our hotel. It seems we arrived during a special week of festivities.
We took a boar tour out to Murano and Burano islands and saw them make blown glass and lace respectively. We both bought a few souvenirs of glass for bracelets and small iutems of hand made lace but we didn't get carried away with spending too much.
We also walked all over the city, seeing St Mark's Square and the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte Rialto). There were crowds of people and we had some rain for the first time on our trip but we didn't let it spoil our plans.
We met some other Aussies at dinner last night and they told us there was going to be a rail stike today so we decided to get up a bit earlier and take the train to Rome while they were still running. When we arrived we found that there were demonstrations in the centre of Rome and we couldn't get a taxi to our hotel so we walked for 45 minutes dragging our cases. We were very happy that we havn't been shopping much yet.
We spent the rest of today wandering around and enjoying Rome again and we fly out to Hong Kong for 2 nights, leaving here in the morning. Not sure if we'll have internet in HK or not as we didn't have it in Venice but I'll update as soon as I get home if not earlier.
It's hard to believe that the trip is almost over after all the planning and we're looking forward to seeing Hong Kong and maybe doing a bit of shopping there.
Thanks for following our travels.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Beautiful Innsbruck

We have really enoyed our last two nights in Austria at the lovely old town of Innsbruck. We stayed at an hotel in the old part of the city and the hotel was first opened to guests in 1459. Mozart and his father stayed here in 1769 when he was just 13. The hotel is beautiful but the towels seem thin enough to have been in use since Mozart's visit.
We have enjoyed the quiet and relaxed air of the town and there were many weddings today at the town hall in the market place. We also visited the Imperial Palace and gardens and saw many beautiful rooms used by the Hapsburg family.
There were also many huge oil paintings of various members of the Austrian aristocracy and we were able to wander through the palace rooms inlcuding the chapel which was dedicated to Prince Franz Joseph, by his wife, Maria Therese.
The photo of the car being loaded onto the back of a truck was something we saw on our walk around the newer part of the city- a car was impounded for illegally parking in a parking space for a disabled person.
We're off to Venice tomorrow and can't believe that we will be home in a week's time. I have even resisted buying any fabric even though I found some today as I know I'll be busy when I get home and the fabric will probably sit in the cupboard. I'm also mindful of still wanting to travel light to make it easier to get on and off the trains.
Back later.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, September 2, 2011

Highlights of Vienna

We had two days in Vienna and of course we had to try the famous Sacher Torte which is a very rich chocolate cake with apricot jam filling and lots of cream.
We also managed to get tickets to the training session of the Spanish Dancing horses and watched them do some tricks and lots of walking and trotting around the arena. We also visited the Schonbrunn Palace which included an evening meal, followed by a concert with music by Mozart and Strauss. There were also two ballet dancers who danced to the Viennese Waltz, and two opera singers who sang in German. A bit hard to translate but basically I think she'd lost her cat, asked him to find it, he found a cat but not the right one and she wasn't happy to accept it. Glen thought a turkey was mentioned but I missed that bit.
Unfortunately we couldn‘t take photos at the Spanish Dancing school or the Mozart concert as they said it would frighten the horses and musicians respectively.
We‘re off to Innsbruck today for two nights as we want to take another spectacular rail trip over the Brenner Pass to Venice.
Bye for now.
PS I forgot to mention the "pooper scooper" man who did a great job at the Spanish Dancing horses show!
Hugs, Jan Mac