Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy hands

Gail’s and Rae’s quilts might have been the only finishes at our English Quilt group get-together last week, but on the other side of the room there were more works-in-progress.

Robbie was starting to knit the very nifty Alexandria cowl. I might just try one of these next winter – all the warmth of a scarf/shawl without having to continually stop it unraveling or slipping off my shoulders.


Lyn’s tea leaf blocks were coming together in a leisurely fashion (and isn’t that what its all about?), piece by piece using her chosen Aunt Grace fabrics in delicate pastels.


Anne’s Laurel’s Stars medallion quilt, a Lynne Alchin pattern, has gone from this…


…to this.


OK, she’s only added a few more stars, but Anne has been very busy with a brand new little granddaughter - as has Robbie!


Anne also brought along a very special “show and tell” - the christening gown she made for her firstborn daughter, which was also worn by the second, and has now become a family heirloom, worn by her each of grandchildren.


Plenty of creative inspiration in our past and present projects!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Using up, and cheering up

After singing the praises of Gail D in my previous post, today it’s another Gail’s turn in the spotlight – my friend Gail O, who generously hosts our English Quilters’ monthly get-togethers (along with group mascot, Evie).


Gail loves to challenge herself in quilting, and has recently turned these 100% cotton curtain fabric samples into a spectacular modern quilt for her son.




Under normal circumstances the samples would have been tossed out, but Gail took the time to trim off the sticky labels and use up these otherwise perfectly good pieces in a very imaginative way.


I think the purple triangles between the rows, and the paisley borders, provide the deep, dramatic perfect foil for her colour-washed strips.


Rae’s another friend with an eye for colour in quilts.  At this week’s get-together she was putting the finishing touches to a more traditional quilt for a friend in need of a good quilty hug.


Rae is usually a hand quilter, but she had this one professionally machine quilted in the ditch to save time. Leaving the squares free of quilting means the quilt is still nice and soft.



Bound in bias stripes, Rae’s quilt is all ready to be sent to its new owner.


Can you imagine how touched she’s going to be when she opens her surprise package?

I predict happy tears…


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Take a bow

While I can honestly say I love every one of the quilts we’ve made for RPA Hospital, as each has the potential to warm the heart of a grieving parent. However, every so often one of our St Mark’s Quilters comes up with a combination of fabrics and colours that makes my heart sing.

This beauty, by Gail D, is such a quilt.


Gail has used mellow, traditional florals in buttercream, raspberry, the palest aqua and cream – with an adorable finishing touch, a delicate silk bow on each corner.


Another quilt to be treasured.



Saturday, September 24, 2011

Circles of Life

I needed another quilt project like a hole in the head, but when Jenny of Elefantz unveiled her new Block of the Month, Circles of Life, back in June I fell in love with it – and with the fabric range she chose. You might recall I wrote about it here.

(You might need to sit down before you read what I have to tell you next…)


In a complete reversal of my usual form, I’m actually keeping up with each BOM as it appears in my monthly Elefantz home online magazine!!!


This is the latest block, Circle of Life.


And these are my two previously finished blocks, Sewing Circle…


…and Circle of Friendship.IMG_0778

Working on these blocks has given me so much pleasure, as I think about the meaningful circles in my life.

It’s also been my pleasure – though in an entirely different way – to make these two blocks as a contribution to Sarah’s gift to Amy.




Take a look at Cathy’s blocks here. Sarah has been overwhelmed by the response to her call for blocks, such is the compassion and generosity of quilters the world over. She has more than 160 blocks, but is very happy to accept more.

Email her at for the details.

* * * * * * * * * *

And now I have a special request…

If you live in Blacksburg, Virginia, or know someone who lives there, could you please leave a comment below, with your email details? I’d like to ask you a question. 

Thank you,


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ten tiny “treasures”

Measuring just 24 inches square these Blankets of Love are tiny – but then so are the little bubs who will be wrapped in them by heartbroken parents.

Moo, Barb, Gail, Susie and Liz and Di B pray that every parent who receives one of these quilts will find comfort in knowing a stranger took time to choose the fabrics, devise a design and create something beautiful - just for them.














Di B

















Saturday, September 17, 2011

I made this for Sarah’s birthday dinner last night


Ingredients for torte

125g hazelnuts

4 egg whites (I hope you like making egg custard, otherwise that’s a lot of leftover egg yolks)

1 cup + 1 tablespoon castor sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon vinegar


Ingredients for topping

450g raspberries (frozen will do)

3 tablespoons castor sugar

1 cup cream

vanilla to taste

sifted icing sugar



Spread the hazelnuts on a tray and toast them for about 6 minutes in a hot oven. (This is inexact – just keep checking them.) Cool. Then grind them (not too finely) in the whizz.

Beat egg whites. Add in tablespoon of castor sugar, beat in and then gradually add the rest.

Add vinegar and vanilla.

Fold in the ground toasted hazelnuts.

Spoon into 2 x 8 inch cake tins (lined or sprayed with cooking spray) and cook in a moderately slow oven for 40 minutes.



Beat cream, sugar and vanilla until thick. Spread tops of both torte bases with cream, then sprinkle over the thawed raspberries (or other berries of your choosing).

Lift one base and place it on top of the other to create a layer-cake. Sift icing sugar over the completed torte before serving.


This quantity serves about 8, but it’s my go-to easy dessert for a crowd so I just multiply the ingredients and use bigger tins.

Last night I was cooking for 10 and wanted generous servings, so I doubled the recipe and used a large and a small springform pan to create a tiered look to the birthday ‘cake’.



Maximum effect – minimum effort!

(and you can cover your mistakes with cream. Just saying Winking smile)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Blankets of Love made by St Mark’s Quilters

These little quilts are around 24 inches square, the perfect size for quilters wanting to try out a new block design or practice machine quilting.


By Di B



By Barb


By Barb


By Di C



By Moo



By Di C


18 Michaela

By Michaela

If they could speak our Blankets of Love would probably tell some anguished tales of the quiltmakers’ struggles to get them ‘just right’, but in the end we just do our best and stitch an armful of love and prayers into every quilt .

I’ve popped these quilts onto our Blankets of Love page (see tab above) where they’ll stay as a permanent record, and I’ll be back soon to show you some more of our quilts.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy birthday, Sarah!


Sarah with Meerkats1

For many reasons this particular birthday is very special because after all these years of studying and peering into microscopes you’re finally about to set off for faraway places to achieve your dream (leaving us with a spare bedroom, and two cats we’d never have acquired but for you Confused smile)

Sarah in Lab

We’re going to miss you (as will  Satchmo and Poodie) but you deserve this opportunity.

Animal encounters1

Animal encounters

You’re creative, smart and pretty, you’re loyal to your friends and caring towards anyone with a heavy burden.

You’re sometimes a little too adventurous, but God has guided you and kept you safe over the years - even when you weren’t aware of it.

You’re not afraid to try something new, and you give 110% to every challenge you take on.

You have high ideals and want to change the human and animal world, one paw-print at a time.


In fact, you’re one of the very nicest people I know.

Happy Birthday, darling – Dad and I are so proud of you and hope your big adventure will be amazing!

(just don’t hug any hipposWinking smile)