Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just slap me (gently) across the face with a fat quarter*

…if I ever again start whining about not being much of a finisher.

Admittedly my big quilt finishes are so rare it’s been rumored there are small principalities where a national holiday’s declared when Di comes to the end of stitching a binding down. But when I trawled back through this year’s photos I couldn’t suppress a tiny “Hooray” of my own.

Hey, small projects count as finishes too – don’t they?

2011 Finishes 1

I’ve made sock monkeys (“Stella” for Toni’s Auction for Queensland Flood Relief, and “Blossom” for the St Luke’s Hospital fundraiser).  Along with my friends Di B and Gail I made origami bags for the Gumtree Designers’ New Beginnings appeal after the QLD floods.

In addition, for the St Luke’s Hospital (Potts Point) fundraising event mid-year I crocheted and knitted baby bootees and beanies, sewed pincushions and pink origami bags embroidered with grub roses, and created a ‘parliament’ of cute little sock owls.

I sent off two cosy knitted cowls to Sarah, shivering with the approach of winter in the USA – they arrived there just a day before she left for tropical Botswana (but that’s another story!). My dear friends Moo and Margaret scored mug mats for their birthdays this year, and there were baby singlets appliqueed with an elephant, a teddy bear and a ladybug for our new grandson, Jack.

2011 Finishes 2

And there were just enough quilt finishes to keep those principalities happy Winking smile. I had great fun making the red, white and navy hippo quilt for Jack, and tried my hand at a quilt-as-you-go scrappy quilt that went, along with others from St Mark’s Quilters, to help victims of the Christchurch (NZ) earthquake.

I managed to complete several Blankets of Love for RPA Newborn Care, and put the finishing touches on my Scrappy Hexagons quilt which hung in the Victorian Quilters’ Fabric of Society Challenge at the Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair in July.

Collaborative projects 2011

Then there were the projects Di B and I worked on together, though when I think back to our stitching days throughout the year I’m amazed we were so productive with all the fun and laughter going on.

We delved deep into our scrap bins for the most colourful and girly fabrics we could find and made a large hourglass-patterned bed quilt for our friend Alicia’s 60th birthday. This was extra-sneaky of us since we’d only just completed a bowtie quilt Alicia had asked us to make for her to give her friend Ian, and she certainly wasn’t expecting to be presented with a quilt of her own at her birthday party in January.

Our St Mark’s Quilters made individual blocks with appliqueed teddy bears which Di and I sewed together into a quilt for the arrival of our Assistant Minister’s new baby boy in the middle of the year.

We quilted and bound a large cheater cloth in time to cover the table in the entrance to St Mark’s for the Advent and Christmas season, and Di helped me sew and machine quilt all the “healing hearts” blocks sent to my mother by Southern Cross Quilters when my father passed away last year. This was a real labour of love.

Finally, there were the cupcake potholders we made as Christmas gifts for our lovely St Mark’s Quilters. Let’s just say the question “Whose bright idea was this, anyway?” might have been uttered a few times, as we tried to wrangle several thicknesses of fabric and batting beneath our sewing machine feet and machine needles constantly broke under the pressure of stitching through Insulbrite. We expended quite a bit of blood, sweat and … laughter on that project Be right back.

* Non-quilters, be assured this isn’t some kind of masochistic plea. A fat quarter is just a small piece of fabric (18” x 22”) whose uses include small projects, piecing … and silly hyperbole such as this. 


I have a little more to add to this story about baby Morgan:

One of our St Mark’s Quilters, Ruth, has moved out of town but still makes Blankets of Love for us and keeps up with our doings via this blog. 

I was so excited when, after reading about Morgan, she emailed me this - “You’re not going to believe this! The couple featured were in the cabin next to us on that cruise.” Ruth and her DH shared the same dinner table with Paul and Leanne a couple of times, but Ruth had no idea of the drama that eventually unfolded and was very happy to hear the positive outcome.

What a small world it is – and what an uplifting ending to 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone. God bless you and thank you for reading my ramblings.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The kindness of quilters

Do you think that might be the collective noun for quilters?

Let’s start with the kindness of one particular quilter, my friend Lindi

Lindi and I have never met face to face, and until last Saturday, when I finally called her up for a chat (so pleased I did!) we didn’t even know the sound of each other’s voice. We both belong to the Australian online group, Southern Cross Quilters, and when my dear father passed away last year it was Lindi who put out the call for “healing hearts” for my mother.

These were just some of the beautiful 6 1/2 inch blocks that began to arrive in my letter box as a result of that request. My mother and I were overwhelmed by the sensitive and gentle messages of sympathy on the squares, and by so many cards and letters enclosed with them.

Healing Hearts Quilt-2

The quilting community is certainly a caring one, and my mother couldn’t believe so many women around Australia would take the time to embroider, applique or piece a token of affection for the mother of a “friend” they only knew online.


I slipped the cards and squares into plastic sleeves in a display folder, and that’s probably where they would have stayed but for the nagging encouragement of another generous friend, Di B.


I used a little subterfuge to spirit the folder away from my mother’s house, and Di and I together chose fabrics my mother would like and which would set the healing hearts off to advantage.

We spent a day machining the squares together and sandwiching the quilt, and then Di ditch-stitched along every seam and free motion stitched around every heart.


Then she handed the quilt back and it was my turn to fill in all the blue areas. Since I always like to “run” before I can “walk”, and I do aspire to free motion quilting feathers (crazy, I know!), I used a stencil and chalk pounce to mark the pattern on the border and made a “courageous” attempt at a feathered vine.

No, you’ll not be seeing any close-ups Winking smile but you can probably just make out the wavy pattern on the border, and the feathered sprigs on each blue square. Let’s just say we all have to start somewhere and there is plenty of room for improvement!


I missed the anniversary of my father’s passing, so I set myself the deadline of Christmas Day to have it quilted and bound – and made it with a day to spare.

Mummy was taken completely by surprise, but filled with delight and happy tears, when she opened the parcel.

Once again we were simply lost for words to express our gratitude to all the Southern Cross Quilters who made the hearts.


If you were one of them, please accept our deepest gratitude.

And as for Lindi and Di B, they’re simply angels in disguise Angel 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And so that was Christmas …

Some snippets from my extended family’s Christmas.

Christmas 2011-1





I hope yours was as enjoyable as ours.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

A happy ending…

I thought you might enjoy this little postscript to my story about the St Mark’s Quilters’ visit to the Royal Prince Alfred Newborn Care nurseries last month.
On that day Dahlia Brigham, the Fundraising Manager for RPA Newborn Care introduced us to a rather special little group – baby Morgan and her family, from Melbourne – and filled us in on her background.

Photo from The Friends of RPA Newborn Care Newsletter
With their baby due in 13 weeks her parents, Leanne and Paul (from Melbourne) had been enjoying a last holiday on their own in September, a one week Pacific cruise, when it became clear that something was very wrong with the pregnancy. Despite the best efforts of the ship’s doctor and her obstetrician back home  Leanne started going into labour as the ship was entering Sydney Harbour.
When the ship docked at the Sydney Overseas Terminal an ambulance was waiting to rush Leanne and Paul to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and three hours later Morgan was born at just over 27 weeks’ gestation and weighing 1030 grams.
Morgan’s birth was dramatic but when we saw her on that sunny November morning she looked healthy and beautiful, peacefully curled up under a blanket against her Daddy’s bare chest with her Mummy and doting grandparents (who had flown up from Melbourne for the day) looking on.
Photo from The Friends of RPA Newborn Care Newsletter
Di B’s mother Margaret gave her a tiny pink beanie, and we all laughed at the way it came right down over her little face, it was so big on her.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Di B with Dahlia Brigham
When Di B and I went back two weeks ago to deliver the rest of our quilts to Dahlia, she told us that baby Morgan was doing so well that she had been moved from Intensive care in RPA to a smaller hospital in Victoria just 10 minutes from her home. Great news!
Then, as we stood there in the hospital car-park sorting the quilts into two piles, those destined to swaddle stillborn bubs, and those to go to the Newborn Intensive Care nurseries, all three of us had the same thought – we should send baby Morgan a quilt for Christmas!
Di and I looked at each other – we knew exactly which one to send!
The prettiest, girliest, daintiest quilt of the lot, with old fashioned floral fabrics and silk ribbon bows in the corners, and fittingly made by G, one of our beautiful quilters who lost a newborn bub herself many years before.
We hope Morgan’s parents will feel all the love that G stitched into this little quilt, and pray that Morgan will continue to thrive after the expert start in life she received from all the doctors and nurses at RPA Newborn Care.
This Christmas may you know the greatest love of all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

wreath_3‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house

We finally rested, except my poor spouse -

For a preacher the Christmas church programme is gruelling,

With barely a moment to stop for refuelling.

Sarah with Meerkats1

We’d Skyped with our Sarah across the wide world,

The baubles were hung and the tinsel unfurled.

The gifts were all wrapped – ‘twas a last-minute rush,

We’d braved busy malls, and we’d coped with the crush.


The binding and label now stitched to this quilt,

I relaxed with a coffee, quite ready to wilt.


The cherry tomatoes I’d carefully stuffed;

With the spud salad made, I was feeling quite chuffed.


My hair had been trimmed and my nails had been done -

(Yes, I know it’s bright, but isn’t it fun?!?!)


The countdown to Christmas was almost complete

With Christmas tunes playing I felt quite upbeat.


The night before Christmas is my favourite time

To focus on God’s Greatest Gift so sublime.

Midst the tinsel and toys and the hype of the season

Let’s remember to celebrate CHRIST as the Reason.


Prayers for a wonderful Christmas to all my blog-buddies Star


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carols in the Domain

Thanks to our generous friend Robyn Hobbs, founder of Carols in the Domain, we were once again able to experience all the excitement and wonder of this annual Sydney performance last Saturday from some of the best seats in the house park.


From meeting up with little friends


to the face-painting


to meeting Santa


to the beautiful carols, dancing and fireworks


– it was a night of pure pleasure.


Especially for one little Princess!

Thank you, Robyn Smile




Friday, December 16, 2011

David Jones Christmas Window Display for 2011 (and a cheeky visual Mondegreen!)

It’s been a Sydney Christmas tradition since even before I was a child (and let’s just say that was some years ago). Thousands visit the decorated windows of David Jones Elizabeth Street store where automated marionettes wave, nod, walk and dance to broadcast Christmas songs and carols, and little children stand and point, wide-eyed with wonder, at the whimsical telling of the Christmas story. The people-watching is almost as engrossing as the show!

Last week when I visited, Santa was dozing in his chair, a little weary from all his toy-making.


But the Main Event was still given pride of place.


Curious animals watched on as Mary and Joseph laid the newborn baby Jesus “away in a manger”.


The shepherds watching “their flocks by night” looked up with suitably amazed expressions as “the angel of the Lord came down and glory shone around”.



“We Three Kings” in exotic costumes, leading gentle-eyed camels, brought him their precious gifts.




Even a little mouse, riding on a magic carpet, appeared to be bringing a gift. The tag on the little purple sack reads “To Mary and Joseph, with all our cheese. Pip and Barry Squeak xo”.


By now you’re probably wondering about the Mondegreen. (And if you’re asking yourself “What exactly is a Mondegreen?” click here)

Tucked away in a bottom corner of the shepherds’ window, where you could easily overlook them, I spotted this pair of shepherds, sitting on the ground engrossed in a particular task.

Perhaps it’s just my corny sense of humour, but it made me laugh (and laugh!)


Can you work out the MondegreenWinking smile