Monday, July 30, 2012

A Parcel Arrived

Margaret A. from NSW sent a lovely box of fabric bits and pieces to be used on more donation quilts. I have some more tops to quilt and then plan to make some more QAYG blocks. In the meantime I'm bust watching the Olymics and knitting a baby jacket for a family friend. The baby is due in 3 weeks time so I need to get a move on. Thanks goodness I have finished the baby shawl and just need to block it.
 I'm working day shift this week so I plan to knit as much as possible this week.
I don't want to be racing the baby's arrival. Luckily the weather is cold and it's good weather to sit by the fire with my knitting. I hope you are all enjoying  some time to work on your projects too.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Change of Pace

 I took a break from work for a few days and visited our youngest DD who lives in Melbourne. It was great to catch up and spend more time together as well as some retail therapy. I also used the time to visit the Victorian Quilters Exhibition. Unfortunately you are unable to show any photos unless you get the permission of the quilters concerned so I have none to show.
 When we returned home I also finished off another crocheted blanket to donate as well as the baby shawl I was working on. I'll show photos of that when it's been blocked. The friend's baby is due in 4 weeks and I still have a jacket, dress, hat, booties and mittens to make so I need to spend more time knitting while the Olympics are televised.
  Today I spent time cleaning and re-organizing the pantry as well as preparing a slow cooker meal for this evening. My slow cooker is a cheapie and the knob broke on it's last use but luckily DH was able to replace it. We should have a lovely meal of steak with lots of vegetables which will cook itself while i knit and watch the football so life is good here and I have more paid work again starting tomorrow so I need to get busy with more quilts in between the knitting.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Monday, July 23, 2012

Searching The Stash

 Not a lot of quilting activity happening here for most of the week as paid work took up most of my time. When I wasn't working I was catching up on sleep. Today I finally had time for more finishes and time to blog.
 I quilted and bound 3 quilts and they will be shown on my other blog at Oz Comfort Quilts. I searched the stash and found some tartan fabric which was an ideal backing for 2 of the tartan quilts that Gina (Vic) has sent and they will be perfect for boys/men.
 I finished crocheting a large blanket for DH as he likes to take a nap on the couch and none of the quilts were long enough. I may still have to make him another longer quilt as he's not sure it's warm enough for him. I've been buying variegated yarn and crocheting whenever I have spare time so I also have another blanket that I'm finishing off to donate.
  I also received more lovely string pieced blocks from Kaite M. (NSW) and have joined them together with some others I've received so they are now a finished quilt (shown on my other blog). I also made some backings for more tops I need to quilt and donate as well as making a nut loaf, chocolate slice, yoghurt and a roast chicken with roast vegetables for our evening meal.
 The postman also brought a lovely baby beanie made by Ruth Crocombe and all the doinations will bring some warmth for this winter.
Many thanks, Jan Mac

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekend Projects

I am happy to report that I finished off another QAYG quilt from donated blocks yesterday as well as quilting 3 more donated tops. Check out my other blog to see the completed quilts.Unfortunately I also had a small metal part break from my 30 year old sewing machine and I'm not sure I can get it repaired. The bobbin seems to be sitting crookedly and the timing is off but I think that this may be the end of the road for my old work horse. It's a shame because I know this machine so well that I love using it. I can trouble shoot any problems and between DH and myself we've been able to service it for many years.
  Luckily I had a newer sewing machine which I can use but I was reluctant to use it on the QAYG blocks as they can require some heavy duty sewing if the batting is thick in places. I do trim the batting back from the seams but it's still harder on the machine than normal stitching. I decided that it was time to try the new machine and it handled it well so far.
  Today I finished off binding the 3 quilt tops I'd quilted yesterday as well as making yoghurt, a chocolate slice (to use up biscuits that no one wanted to eat) as well as an egg and bacon pie and a lemon cheesecake. It must have been my day for cooking while the day was cold and overcast. I'm back on night shifts tomorrow for a few days so I'm hoping to make a baby quilt for a gift before I return to bed again.
 I hope you all had time for some fun projects this weekend.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, July 14, 2012


 A busy week of lots of activities and a lot of versatility was required. We cut more wood before the expected deluge occurred and the paddocks are now awash with the resultant rainfall.  We already have 2 large and one small rain water tanks and I often think we should get more to take advantage of all this "free" water.
  Dressmaking was also taking precedence this week and I needed to be flexible to work around  Buffy, our DD's kitten. She likes to be where the action takes place and she kept lying down on the fabric and pattern. It was very slippery satin fabric and a difficult one to sew with as it was so we had to ban her until the cutting out of the pieces had taken place. This was a dress with one shoulder strap and made for a jungle theme party DD was attending soon. Sadly with the rush to finish it I forgot to take a photo of it when it was done. I also took in another dress and had to take the zipper out as it was a side zipper and the sides needed to be taken in. In future I need to remember to use patterns with zippers in the back so they are easier to adjust- as DD likes to have them fitted around her waist area.
  Next was altering a skirt which I'd found with matching top for the some price of $1 for both pieces. The frilly ruffle will make this ideal for DD's ballroom dancing costumes. It was made from chiffon and satin and had a satin ruched waist which made it look dated. I removed the ruched piece and then restitched the waist facing, not having to replace the zipper down further made this an easy change.
  Lastly I made another A line skirt. I can make these in less than an hour as I have the pattern drafted to the right side and they are very quick to finish now. It will make a nice skirt for spring time which I hope will be here soon.
  DD has gone back to Melbourne now that her holidays are almost over so I plan to have a big week finishing off more quilts. I love dressmaking but quilts are so easy when they can be made to fit anyone without tweaking the pattern LOL. Of course I have to fit this in with some more night shifts so I'd better get off the computer for now.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend doing what you most enjoy.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Little Time and a Little Yarn?

 There have been many requests for donations of blankets and warm garments, from different organizations which help the needy here in Australia. If you have a little spare time and some spare yarn please consider making squares for blankets for the needy. The squares can be either knitted or crocheted. I use up all my small pieces of yarn as well as some I buy especially and make crocheted squares every day. When I have 35 of them finished I crochet them together into a blanket to donate. The blanket is finished at 50" x70" and will fit a single (twin) sized bed or allow a person to wrap themselves in it to stay warm.
  I use 8 ply yarn or a combination of thinner ply to make up to 8ply and crochet using a 4.5mm crochet hook, completing 10 rounds for each square. If you wish to knit a square, just cast on 50 sts using knitting needles sized 4mm and knit in garter stitch or any pattern until it measures the same length as it is wide. Of course if you'd rather knit hats or gloves, they will also be much appreciated. I've included reports from 2 groups which help me to distribute the items to the needy both in Vic and in Qld. There are many groups in the other States which would also appreciate any donations. The constant message is that the number of people needing assistance is growing faster than the resources of those groups which help them. Please email me for the addresses if you wish to post donations direct to the groups.
The first account is from Karen of the group Knitting For Brisbane's Needy and they actually help in lots more areas of Qld than just in the Brisbane area.

Peter and I ventured out to Ipswich today to deliver items that had been requested from 7 different organisations when we were at the Ipswich Street Links Day last month.

We took over 1500 items, so we are looking "bare" again in our "warehouse" (aka spare bedroom!) but know it won't be long before we have another good stock!!

It was rather cold when we left home and when we got out there. 7 completely different organisations, with completely different clientele, but all with the same story, they have more clients than they have money, food, clothes, blankets etc to give them! We saw for ourselves just one instance of someone in dire need, doesn't know where to turn to next.

The first one we dropped off donations to, were telling us how normally once a week they are able to give financial help to pay bills etc to those in ABSOLUTE NEED, and sometimes give them food vouchers but they can't do that now as the funding they get from the government is $xxx per year, and they have already used up every $xxx and have to wait till September for the next round of funding and then they aren't guaranteed of getting any! They told us that on a normal Wednesday, when they have interviews for financial/food help they see AT LEAST 30 people or in other words at least 30 families. They were telling us about a man who had turned up there this morning before we got there, seeking help. He and his wife and child/ren (not sure how many children) had had to move out of where they were renting because first of all he was made redundant from a job he had been in since he left school, can't find another job as yet, then their rental property was sold and the rent with the new owners went up $100 p.w. extra and they just couldn't afford it. Same story, they go to at least 10 houses up for rent per day but always miss out. The last few days he has spent a lot of the day finding somewhere for his wife and child/ren to sleep, whilst he sleeps in their car. anyway the ladies at this centre told him they couldn't offer him anything in $$$ help or food, BUT to come back later as they knew we were coming. He turned up whilst we were there, and he was wearing a thin long sleeved top, jeans that had seen better days, and I couldn't tell you what was on his feet. But he actually cried when we offered a
nice new and warm 3/4 length jacket to him, and then when the girl told him that they could now give him some blankets for himself, wife and children and other things he got very emotional. When we left he was at his car, standing holding a baby of about 9 months old, wife was sitting in the car, but this little baby was dressed nice and warmly (it was 1 degree in Ipswich when we were there!) but coughing its little heart out, red eyes , very pale looking...apparently they had taken the baby to a doctor, given a prescription but didn't have the money for the prescription, that's why they were trying to get a few $$'s from the centre.
As a man from Shelter NSW said in the Today Tonight interview tonight, (where they interview a young mum with a 5 year old boy who are living in a tent in a caravan park for $180 p.w., its all they can afford) in such a rich country as Australia is, it just SHOULDN'T happen...but it does...then they went straight onto the next story ... the politicians pay rise...even the backbenchers RISE is more than some people earn in a year!!

But each and every organisation we went to were just so very, very truly grateful and overwhelmed with what we were able to give them. Unfortunately we couldn't fill every wish list, but we tried. One of the things we couldn't fulfill were toiletry bags... we have the bags but not much to go in them at this stage!! We have promised 100 toiletry bags to one place by the end of August ...

At some of them the talk got around to Christmas and how every year it is getting worse for organisations trying to help those in need give their child just one small present.

SO if you are wondering what to make and like making toys; clothing, etc this is a heads up of what we will be getting asked for! ONe place in particular also said that toiletries are much needed in the summer months, they have 2 showers where they are, that homeless are able to use and they use them especially in summer when its hot and sticks, but they normally don't have toiletries, and the organisation doesn't get the funding to supply them!
So Christmas may be over 5 months away but these places are already thinking about it!!

But they are all still worried about the cooler days/nights ahead of their clients. I think that from everyone we met at these organisations today 98% of them do what they do because they love doing it and trying to make a difference, not just for the pay! Beautiful people!

If you are able to make a few items, squares for blankets or even donate yarn that would be a huge help for so many people in need.
I also work with Janice of Needy Stitches in Melbourne and she has also asked for help with warm items. She has set a target of making 150 blankets to distribute and any squares you care to make will help her to reach her goal.
 She wrote:

It is REALLY cold here in Melbourne and according to the news it is cold almost everywhere so I got to thinking that everyone deserves at least a blanket!! Imagine sleeping rough without even a blanket to at least keep you a little warmer. I have come up with an idea! I have set a target of 150 single or larger size blankets for us to knit or crochet or quilt to give to those less fortunate. It is a way for us to use our 'crafty' skills to help keep someone warm.  If you crochet and just want to make squares do 6 rounds of any colour and then 1 round of black and send them to me and I will sew them up. It would be pretty cool to have a blanket or blankets made up of granny squares made by various members of Needy Stitches. The same would go for knitted squares. Cast on 50 stitches and knit til it is a square, send it to me and I will sew them up. Of course if you are in a sewing mood you could sew them together and send a completed blanket!! So let's get going on those squares and each blanket I get I will post a picture on the website and we can count them down til we have the target 150 completed!
 Things are getting tougher and tougher and charities are screaming out for things to help their clients so it is very easy to find a home for everything we get.
 So if you have a little time and a little yarn it will help many of the needy people in our communities. Of course I'll still be making quilts and donating them as there are so many elderly people who are sitting in cold homes because they can't afford the heating now as well as kid's quilts for abused kids and baby quilts for disadvantaged families etc.
 I'd better get back to the crocheting now and get another blanket done. At least it helps to keep me warm while I make them.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wood Fires and Baby Quilts

 It's school holidays here and it's time to have the children and grand child here to have fun and spend some time together. Youngest DD is home on holidays and wants to make lots of clothes as well as 2 baby quilts. Her best friend is having a baby very soon and she wanted to make the new baby a quilt but also wants it to be for a boy or girl. It would be very rushed to try and make one once the baby is born so she's making a boy and a girl quilt and will add the child's name and birth date when they are known. She'll get as much done as possible and then stitch the names when she returns to Melbourne. I'll finish it off and quilt it when I receive the stitchery. She wanted to use a 4 patch pattern and we made it up as we went, which is how I do lots of quilts. They will have a border to frame the 4 patches and I'll show a photo when they are finished. I also have quilts to make for nieces who have had babies recently- one was a boy and one a girl. I should have cut twice as many squares and made them at the same time but DD wanted her's to be different so I'll probably make a different pattern.
   As it's winter we also had to cut firewood today. It was a race to get it done before it rained again but it's all stacked neatly now and waiting to be used. My brother tells me that wood warms you 3 times- when you cut it, when you stack it and then when you burn it. The bonus with having DD home is that she loves to cook and I'm very tired after the wood cutting so I'm happy to have a meal prepared for us. her holiday time will go very quickly so I'm making the most of it and will get back to the donation quilts next week.
Hugs, Jan Mac