Monday, February 27, 2012

On the Road Again

We're in Canberra for a few days and I was going to post some photos but the slow internet is making it very difficult so I'll post photos when we get home in a couple of days. We had a great day today, visiting the Australian War Memorial and we were very surprised to find there were many new exhibits since our last visit about 6 years ago.
We also visited a couple of Op Shops and managed to find a few good finds.
I also forgot to say on my previous post that when we were in Chengdu we visited the Panda Breeding Centre and saw lots of pandas of varying sizes and they are very cute. We also visited the Chinese Opera and saw them applying their make up and costumes before the Show.
We're off to visit Parliament House tomorrow and we're going to be during question time which should be interesting.
More to come, Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chengqing and Chengdu

Paid work and family commitments have kept me very busy for the past week so there hasn't been a lot of donation work happening. I have been doing some knitting and making more crochet squares so I hope to have more to show you soon.
In the meantime here are a few more photos of my trip to China. I don't have any great photos of the pandas as I was having camera troubles then. It was -10 degrees and my camera didn't seem to like the cold too much.
Off to work again today which helps to pay for some of the costs with donating but does give me less time LOL.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Upcycling Fabric for Quilts

I had bought some shirts for $1 at the local thrift shop and decided to use them to make a QAYG quilt for the homeless. I used the larger pieces to cut out for the backings first and I cut them 15" square and then trimmed them down to 14.5" when they were finished. That meant I needed less sashing strips to join the blocks and also less stress on the sewing machine to sew through the blocks.
I used pure wool or fleecy fabric for the batting as these quilts become very warm with all the seams of fabric. I used knit fabrics from t shirts and tops that were no longer fashionable and cotton or poly/cotton shirts for the backings squares and the extra was used as the string pieces, combined with a few leftover strips of quilting fabric.
I wanted to use clothing that people were virtually throwing away to make something functional to donate to the homeless as the organizations often think the QAYG quilts made from prettier fabric are too nice for the homeless to use on the streets and they prefer the plainer quilts.
I was happy with the exercise but found that de-constructing the garments took time that I could have spent in sewing so I will most likely continue with the way I usually make the QAYG quilts, using leftover sting pieces of fabric from trimming the backings etc. This quilt won't be an heirloom but it will keep someone warm. Really most fabrics are suitable for these quilts as long as the fabric doesn't fray.
I also received more beautiful donations from Lesley Lowe and 3 of her friends from Kyabram. The ladies have been very busy and have made quilt tops for me to finish as well as beautiful knitted teddies and other toys, tote bags, knitted baby clothes, beanies and scarves. There is also a set of QAYG blocks which will be lovely for a quilt to donate to a male.
Lastly I have also finished off another crocheted blanket and a knitted baby jacket so not a bad week despite the heat. I'll show the finished quilts on my other blog when I quilt the lovely tops that Lesley and her friends have donated.
The generosity of quilters always amazes me as these ladies have spent so much time and money using their skills to help others.
Thank you all for your continued support.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


While we were in Yangshuo we took a bike ride into the countryside and ate a lovely meal cooked by one of the village ladies. The food was simple and delicious. The bike ride was challenging as the road surface was uneven and there were many areas of half hidden rocks to trap the rider. Unfortunately I fell off my bike and was lucky not to have broken any bones as I fell on a downward slope with rocks. I had some large bruises and paid for a minivan to take me back to the hotel instead of riding the return trip. As the road rules are unclear and it was getting dark I was very happy not to tackle to ride back and was relieved when the others returned too. The scenery was interesting and it was great to be able to walk through a smaller village and see how the locals live.

We also took a cooking class which taught us 3 local dishes and also included a trip to the local market. Seeing all the different animals which were to be consumed was a bit challenging but we were out in a country area and China is a poor country with many people struggling to afford food so they eat everything, and I mean everything!
We enjoyed the cooking class and we cooked chicken with peanuts, beer fish ( a local delicacy) and vegetable dumplings. After the class we ate our creations for our lunch and the food was spicy as that is typical for the region.
More snippets of China to come soon.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Upcycling for $1

I've been checking out the local Op Shops for some bargains which I can up-cycle/remake into something useful to donate.
The first fleece blanket was made from donated fleece and I doubled it, stitched both pieces together, and then bound it so it will be a good blanket for the homeless.
The next item was a strapless top which I made into a carry/tote bag and it will be donated as will the second bag made from some board shorts. I bought both of these items for $1 and they were easy to re-fashion into bags. The strapless top had a band for the waist area so I took that off, stitched across the bottom to make the bag, and then used the band to make handles for the bag.
My pet peeve is seeing people having to use plastic bags to carry their worldly goods and I make and donate as many bags as possible. The homeless need them as well as kids going into foster care etc. Some make good shopping bags and others are great to carry quilts or blankets.
I've only managed to knit two beanies this week but I have also crocheted enough squares to make another blanket.
The Homeless Connect Day for Melbourne will be held on March 19th so I need to get some more items finished in time to get them to Melbourne. At least I can crochet while I watch the cricket on TV.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hong Kong to Yangshuo

The first town we visited in China was Yangshuo and it is a lovely small town 700 kms from the border. We took the train from Hong Kong to the border and then after lunch we caught a sleeper bus. An unusual method of traveling where you semi-recline on a seat with your feet in an enclosed area under the seat in front of you. We stowed our carry-on bags between our feet and that was that for the next 14 hours. As we went further into the countryside the toilets became more primitive and even a squat toilet in a separate cubicle with a door was not available. Of course we ate and drank little so we wouldn't have to use them more then necessary.
We arrived at Yangshuo at 3.45am and then took a tuk tuk to our hotel. Luckily the town gets quite a few western visitors and our hotel was relatively westernized with a western toilet- you see how even the basics are appreciated and not taken for granted.
Yanshuo is situated on the Li River which is the cleanest river in China, and it's surrounded by limestone hills which are very picturesque. We enjoyed our boat ride up the river although it was a bit strange to be sitting on chairs on a bamboo boat and it was very cold. We were very surprised to see McDonald's have reached this far in China but we didn't try their food, preferring the Chinese cooking instead.
More to come.
Hugs, Jan Mac