Monday, January 30, 2012

Delivering cuddles

Last Friday Di B and I delivered three bags full of ‘cuddles’, around 40 child-sized quilts, to the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning & Care Centre, now affectionately known as “The Marcia”, at Liverpool on Sydney’s fringe.

It’s been more than a year since we’ve made a visit, but as always we were greeted as part of the family and Margie (in reception) and Netti (the Director) were so warm and generous in their praise of our St Mark’s Quilters and the beautiful quilts they’ve made for the children attending the kindy.

Every little one gets to choose a quilt to keep for themself, and Netti told us how thrilled and moved the kindy parents were to receive our quilts.


(L to R) Netti, me and Di B

There was even a pretty “thank you” note for us all, and an Autism Awareness ribbon pin which we had never seen before.


Like us, you’ve probably seen other awareness ribbons, for example pink (breast cancer), red (AIDS) and sky blue (prostate cancer) to name a few. The Autism Awareness ribbon consists of multicoloured puzzle pieces, and has an interesting story.


The puzzle pattern of this ribbon reflects the mystery and complexity of autism.

The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of people and families living with this disorder.

The brightness of this logo represents hope – hope through research and increasing awareness in people like you.


Because having a couple of strangers in their midst could potentially upset the children in their secure environment we aren’t able to see the children when we visit, but we hear about their progress in general terms (no names) from Netti.

This time we shared her excitement when she told us several of the children had progressed into the mainstream school system. Small victories, but a huge cause for celebration.


It might not sound a big deal to most of us, but just imagine a 4 year old autistic child finally being able to say “I love you” to a parent for the very first time.

That’s the kind of miracle they’re striving for at The Marcia, and it’s a privilege to be part of this as we deliver quilty ‘cuddles’ from the St Mark’s Quilters.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Toe to toe

It seems Gail and I share a similar taste in shoes. Hers are peep toes and mine are ballet flats, but as you can see we both love flowers on our toes.


We’ve both making progress with our Daisy a Day quilts too (though Gail’s calling hers Joseph’s Coat). These pictures were taken last time the English Quilt girls met (I neglected to share them at the time), but they’ll give you an idea of the size of our quilts.


Gail’s beautiful fabrics are Liberty prints, some from the V & A Collection produced last year, and some from Liberty’s modern-day collection. To give this quilt a mellowness befitting such timeless classics she has chosen a self-patterned background in a creamy beige.


My daisy petals are somewhat brighter, perhaps too bright some might say. I’ve cut into my collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and added other brights that looked as if they would play well with the Kaffes.


There are even a couple of fabrics that I received as gifts, during the year I’ve been hand piecing my quilt, and a piece of Sarah Fielke’s “From Little Things” range that she sent me for spotting her book “Quilting - From Little Things” in The Brown Bookshop in Bowral.


We’re now so close to finishing hand piecing our quilt tops! It’s not a race, I know, but I can’t help but speculate … who will be finished first? Be right back


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Please vote for my quilt in the Aurilil Thread Quilt Contest

(I wasn’t going to ask, but…) If you liked my Alhambra Romance Quilt you might be interested in knowing I’ve entered it in the Aurifil Thread Quilt Contest. Please click here if you’d like to see it again and would like to give it a vote.

The competition ends tomorrow.

Thank you very much,


Where’s ya wheelie-bin?*

[As a nod to the fact that it’s Australia Day here tomorrow, this post has a touch of the Aussie vernacular. I hope my American readers will forgive me for being a little silly.]

Where’s ya bin?

I suppose after a week and a half of silence from this end you deserve to know where I’ve bin been.

What if I told you I’ve been on a cruise, relaxing in a deck chair, ice-cold lemon, lime and bitters in one hand, engrossing, mindless page-turner in the other, with nothing but the sea and the sky to look at?

517 At sea

But where’s ya wheelie-bin?

OK, I ain’t bin away I haven’t been away, I’ve been right here, trying to tick off some of my January “To Do’s” while the new year is still in holiday mode and I have to think twice about what day of the week it is when I open my eyes each morning.

At the top of the list has been some tossing out. There’s been some eBay action, which is a rather slow and painful way to de-clutter, and not recommended if you want to see quick results (I still have to look at boxes of sorted eBay items in the corner of my study as the process of selling grinds on). In addition few boxes of household goods have gone off to a charity garage sale, and some unwanted clothes have gone to the  Anglicare bin.

I’ve culled I HAD culled quite a few bags of fabrics that I am growing tired of looking at, or for whom the romance has soured (or which I never really liked at all!). Yes, I HAD culled them – before I saw this scrappy quilt Linda’s making.


So my scraps are staying, but they’re going to be made to work. No more lazing around taking up valuable space in my stash for no reason!

I’ve had a small finish too, another baby-sized quilt to be added to our 2012 St Mark’s Quilters collection for RPA Newborn Care.


My walking foot decided to drag its heels and not walk as evenly as it should, but I was reasonably pleased with my free motion quilted flowers on the feature blocks.


I used a fresh-looking red spot on the back, and bound it with a red fabric with just enough of a fine white pattern to make it interesting.


Finally I added a tiny label, the same one we attach to all our Blankets of Love.


Happy Australia Day, everyone.Thumbs up


* A “wheelie-bin” is a council-issued garbage bin in Australia.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Child’s play

So far Sydney’s summer has had a decidedly soggy feel, but with perfect beach weather last week we enjoyed getting wet with young Jack and his Daddy down at our favourite harbourside beach.IMG_0460

Today, passing through squalls of rain as I drove, I returned to another favourite spot by the water, Di B’s place, for a relaxing and fun day of stitching and chat with friends. The streaks of rain were still clearly visible across the harbour as we sat on the balcony.


With such an inspiring outlook, a cool drink and plenty of laughter I tackled the binding on a quilt that has languished in my cupboard for far too long. It’s a cot-sized “Fishes and Loaves” quilt (from Linda Hungerford’s pattern) for a little one at the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre at Liverpool, one of the charities St Mark’s Quilters supports.


I do like striped bindings!

The fabrics were all from my stash, and with the rows of sheep, cows, picket fences and apple trees, as well as the little chickens, I think there’s a bit of a farmyard theme going on here.


I hope a little boy or girl from “The Marcia” comes to treasure it one day.IMG_0271

It feels so good to finish a quilt, and I’m happy with this one.


Tonight I’m raising a glass to celebrate - Bottoms up!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Alhambra Romance

Have you ever looked back at something you achieved and asked yourself “How did I ever do it?”

Yesterday my sister-in-law, Sheridan, currently wandering around Spain, sent me this photo she’d just taken of an intricately tiled wall at the Alhambra in Granada.

I’ve never stood in front of that wall, never even been to Spain - but ah, the memories!


Back in 2005 I offered to make a wedding quilt for my son and future daughter-in-law. They happily accepted and I slid a small pile of quilting magazines in their direction for them to choose a design.

“Not necessary!” they protested. What they would really love would be a quilt inspired by this wall in the Alhambra, because it was while they were on a holiday in Spain that they became officially engaged.



Oh, how I wished I’d paid more attention in maths at school as I scribbled and doodled, studied tessellations and lost a lot of sleep trying to draft a pattern. I was quite pleased with myself when I finally managed to reduce the tessellations to a grid of equilateral triangles, and draft the little curvy swoosh shapes.

I decided to make “tiles” of the positive shapes (chocolate, green, blue and rust) as well as the negative spaces (beige), and after marking my whole cloth background fabric with the triangle grid I planned to applique these “tiles” across the cloth leaving narrow spaces in between to represent the grouting. Using hand-dyes for my tiles gave them a more realistic appearance, I think.


But the challenge of creating the wedding quilt didn’t stop there. I pre-cut all the tiles, pressed them to cardboard templates using spray starch, and bagged them up. Then I took the whole kit in my cabin bag on a 3 month long service leave holiday my DH and I took across Europe and the Middle East.

“Alhambra Romance” was stitched in some amazing locations including a café beside the Grand Canal in Venice, a villa in the Tuscan countryside, the terrace of a hotel near Petra in Jordan - and a ward in a Cairo hospital where I was admitted (initially to intensive care) with severe dysentery.


If these two dear people had not given me a nudge I would never have ventured so far out of my quilt-making comfort zone, and I would never have experienced the absolute exhilaration of clearing those hurdles and finishing such a special quilt.

Have you ever made a quilt that took you totally out of your comfort zone? How did it feel?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

The kindness of quilters … yet again

Back at the end of August Sarah of The Last Piece made a very special request for quilt blocks. The lovely Amy of Mrs Schmenkman Quilts had sadly just lost her husband Dan, and like many quilters around the world who had followed Amy’s blog and admired her work, it was a pleasure for me to contribute blocks for the two quilts Sarah planned to make for her and her daughter Anabel.


The blocks are supposed to look like the bass lines on a stereo, and we were asked to use Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Such a simple concept, and with Kaffe’s fabrics how could these blocks not look fresh and vibrant?


Over the last few months Sarah’s been busy piecing together the blocks, in between her other commitments. She received more than 160 blocks, exactly enough for the two quilts with two to spare, and now you can see Anabel’s very pretty quilt top here on The Last Piece. I even spotted my block!

Apart from representing an incredibly generous outflowing of love for Amy and her daughter by the worldwide quilting community, these quilts are a credit to Sarah.

She’s now looking for someone in Australia who would be willing to donate the machine quilting on one or both of the quilts. Could that be you?


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bargain shopping

There’s no doubt about it, the January sales are a great way to pick up a bargain – or two!

Spotlight’s been having a “30% off everything” sale and I’ve been resolutely telling myself for a week that I don’t need any more fabric. Really I don’t. But I finally changed my tune yesterday. I would be irresponsible, I told myself, if I didn’t at least make sure I wasn’t missing out on some bargain fabrics for children’s quilts.

So half an hour before our local “Spotty” closed yesterday and the sale ended, I popped in. Just looking, you understand.

And when I found some fabrics going cheep cheap, of course I did the responsible thing.


Here’s what I bought - three bright stripes, just perfect for bindings, some seriously cute chicken fabric, a bright and beautiful yellow blender (because I LOVE yellow in quilts) and an alphabet panel that reminds me of my own schooldays and those classroom reading charts.


Oh, and I also bought these flats in DJs a few days before, just because I loved the flowers Smile


And while we’re on the subject of bargains - If your tastes run to more traditional quilt fabrics, and you live in Australia*, you might like to take a look at my eBay listings.

I’m having a serious de-clutter, selling off some household items, but mostly fabrics I’ve kept for a few years “just because”. These are beautiful fabrics I haven’t been able to bring myself to cut into, from lines such as Moda Chocolat, Peace on Earth, Dominique (not yet listed), and At Water’s Edge, as well as many others, and they include a couple of wide backings. I’ll be adding to the list over the next few weeks so you might like to keep checking back.


* It’s becoming very expensive to post parcels internationally, especially to the United States where an AU$9 surcharge is now imposed on all parcels over 250g to cover necessary security checks. However, if you live outside Australia and really want to purchase / bid on something just let me know and I’ll email you privately with a postage estimate so you will know whether to go ahead or not.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Daisy a Day

Have you noticed I’ve gone a little quiet lately on the subject of my Daisy a Day quilt?

If you say it quickly (and perhaps underwater!) “Daisy a Day” can sound like “lazier days” - and that, my dear readers, describes what’s been happening around here. At least as far as quilting’s concerned.

December has been full of shopping, end of year break-ups and Christmas parties. We even had another graduation in the family, to match Sarah’s December graduation last year.Sarah's PhD Graduation-1

In this post I was confident silly enough to claim that

1) I could make “a daisy a day”, and

2) Another 16 daisies and I’d be done.

I wish!


Don’t misunderstand me, I’m in love with everything about this quilt. It’s just that I can’t wait to see it finished and in use. It’s become clear, though, that I’m going to need many more daisies if it’s to cover the bed properly, and rather than piecing “a daisy a day” I seem to be currently averaging a rather more laggardly “four daisies a week”.

That doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does itEye rolling smile?


But, as all quilters know, creating a quilt is as much about the journey as the destination, and for now I’m simply enjoying the ride.


Are you?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

It’s 2012 here in Sydney, Australia


You’ll definitely see better photos of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display, but perhaps not quite as soon as these. They’re hot off the press, taken just for you with my humble Canon Ixus camera from the street where I live  - all except the above photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which I took from the TV.


As usual, the focus of the display was the Bridge, and these (below)were just some of the spectacular effects, with our Sydney Opera House silhouetted against the lights.

NYE 2012 Collage

It’s well past midnight here but the partying goes on in the high-rise apartment buildings that surround us. I predict a few sore heads in the morning Thinking smile