Having the Red Stuff

Just the other day, I was allowed to give again.

It’s exciting news for UK expats. For the first time in nearly 40 years, people who lived in the UK in the early-mid 1980s are allowed to donate blood and blood products in Australia. At long last, the risk of potentially passing on variant-CJD is considered tiny enough that there is insufficient reason any long to exclude willing donors. Consider the interesting information that since that announcement was made, 21,000 former UK residents have stepped up to become donors. That’s just under 0.1% of the total population. We’ve waited patiently, and at last, we’re acceptable!

I first gave blood in the UK in 1994, following some fairly significant surgery during which I received a blood transfusion. I thought it was appropriate to give back, and kept it up for years until I emigrated.

I received my 25 donations badge and my Bronze donor card. I gave blood regularly and I think was turned away on only one occasion when my haemoglobin was too low. I got to know the phlebotomists at the Margaret Street Donor Centre in central London by name.

And then I emigrated in the early 2000s. Imagine my horror when I discovered they didn’t want my blood Down Under… I do get it, but I developed a distressing habit of yelling angrily at the TV whenever there was an ad asking for new donors. I did donate blood again on my visits back to the UK, but it has been years since I was able to travel that distance, so even that avenue was closed to me.

And then, a few weeks ago, they announced they were removing the ban. So I phoned and made an appointment, and I’m back at it. I admit, I do represent a slight challenge in that they can only use my left arm, in which there are only two usable veins. (Cancer and chemotherapy does wreck your veins, sadly). But they’re up to the challenge, and it was painless, and I was foolishly pleased when they told me I filled up my little bag nice and fast.

Oh, and the post-donation snacks are miles better than in the UK. You diddn’t get sausage rolls or Byron Bay cookies in London! So if you’re a UK expat Down Under who’s missed ‘doing something amazing’, get your backside down to the nearest Red Cross donor centre, and do that amazing thing again.¬† I’m just waiting for the phone app to prompt me it’s time to go again.

And my group? A+, of course. I am the eternal optimist. How could it be anything else? ūü§£

Anemone: let the quilting begin…

So, it’s time to begin the final stage.

This quilt has been sitting on my work table for the past 2 years, waiting for me to get my act together. And today, finally, I did.

I made a clamshell template to fit the width of the individual hexies, decided on pink quilting thread, found my thimble and needle and squissors, and away we went. I’ve pulled out both my pale pink ceramic quilt-marking pencil, and my 0.1mm lead mechanical pencil. The former’s for marking on dark fabrics, and the latter for light fabrics, and both wash out or rub off with an eraser quite easily.

I have the first three rows done. I decided the bottom row was going close to the edge, particularly as this is a faced (rather than bound) quilt. That has the function of holding the edge securely.

After that first row, my fingers have, thankfully, quickly remembered what they’re supposed to be doing.

I’m looking forward to the appropriate calluses forming I must say, as my fine quilting needle has a distressing tendency to ram itself backwards into a random fingertip when it hits thick fabric, despite the fact that I’m using a thimble!

Three rows down, many, many more to go…

ScrapHappy August

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the¬†day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host¬†ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

All plans have gone out of the window temporarily. The Husband and I are both laid low with an extremely nasty cold (all RAT tests so far are negative), and things we should/want to get done are falling by the wayside. The dog is being fed and walked, the chickens are cared for, there’s food… and that’s about it. So no coat. Again.

But I had already started this. It’s another car quilt for doggo, made entirely from scrap or recycled materials. As you can see, the top is made from the Husband’s old hi-vis work shirts. The batting is discarded spill kit batting, the back is bits of unwanted fabric scrap, the binding is made of ends of jelly roll strips from many, many projects. And stitching down binding is something you can do quite well even with a stinking cold.

In fact, while I was at it, I made a very long binding strip from ALL the unwanted jelly roll scraps I had, so there’s still a fair bit left over for some future scrappy quilty item.

And I’d like to point out that very handsome label which my friend Lyn made to test out her new embroidery machine. Mouse feels it adds that certain je ne sais quoi to make his quilt even more exclusive and hard to steal. Because of course every other doggo will want it…

On top of that, doggo has a pillow in the back, under which he likes to bury his face on long trips, the better to snooze in the dark, I suppose. By a lucky chance, the width of the Husband’s work shirts is exactly the width of a pillowcase, so with two passes of the serger/overlocker, I could make a nice matching cushion cover. Buttoned opening right there in the middle.Tidy!

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything ‚Äď no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture.¬†Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you‚Äôd like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me¬†page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact¬†Gun via her blog¬†to join. We welcome new members. You don‚Äôt have to worry about making a¬†long term commitment¬†or even¬†join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and¬†you‚Äôll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). Please note that Bekki has decided to concentrate on other projects and is leaving the group, so please remove her from your list of participants. The updated list is as shown below.

Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Viv

 

 

Storing up gold…

I have had a plethora of passionfruit.

My own vines are still too tiny to produce, but all around the neighbourhood, there are green globes hanging in great profusion from passionfruit vines. Often, as the fruit ripens, it lies unattended and unwanted on the ground for the birds to attack. There are just so many, and when they fall outside fences or on the verge of the roadside, I pick them up and bring them home. When I have enough, I hoard the resulting gold.

The fresh pulp produces the most intensely coloured and flavoured juice when you have sieved out all the pips. I had 150ml, just enough for a small jarful of passionfruit curd.

Experience has taught me that home grown eggs just have too much flavour for the classic curd recipe of fruit juice, sugar, butter and egg yolks; the mixture ends up ‘eggy’ if you use enough eggs to set the mixture.

So I added 75g caster sugar, 3 tblsps cornflour (corn starch) and a tiny pinch of salt to the juice, stirred constantly in a small pan over low heat until the mixture thickened, cooked it for a further 5 minutes, still stirring, and then added a tablespoon of cream at the end to enrich it. You could also use unsalted butter or coconut cream instead; the former will give a more ‘classic’ flavour, the latter a hint of tropical yumminess. It’s a little runny when warm and just made, but sets up firm in the fridge after a few hours.

This stuff is dynamite. It’s intense, tangy and vivid on the tastebuds. Some of the passionfruit weren’t 100% ripe and the acidity is just what is needed to prevent the mixture being dulled by the starch. Dessert tonight is a tablespoonful stirred through a small bowl of Greek yoghurt. Just heaven.

It won’t keep, so I’ll have to eat it quickly. Oh, the hardship…

Ovarian Cancer: CYTL complete

It’s done, and even a bit early.

Yesterday, I completed the assembly. It all got done painlessly and quickly, thanks to Aretha, my marvellous sewing machine. I have to say, all the bits of quilt-making I used to dislike most are much less intimidating these days, thanks to Her Stitchy Majesty.

Last night and this morning, I got the binding stitched down, and then the Husband did quilt-hanger duty in the back yard so I could get a photo or two. A beautiful still and sunny winter’s day made the process totally painless. Usually, I have to wait for gusts of wind to subside!

Even making and applying the label went without a hitch. Normally, I like to make two transfers in case the first goes wrong; it’s amazingly easy to try and take the backing off too quickly and peeling half the transfer off!

This time, however, I got it right, so the second transfer is a memento which can go into the project folder together with the original sketch, fabric calculations and swatches, receipts, quilt brief and colour references.

I’ve got a call out to the Trudy Crowley Foundation to work out a date to deliver both this quilt and Sue’s lovely Taking Flight contribution. It’s a bonus year for Ovarian Cancer fundraising quilts!

For anyone who’d like to contribute next time, be it one block or several, just leave a message in the Comments, or send me an email (address on the Contact Me page). All skill levels are welcome; all you need is fabric, a sewing machine and the will to help.

And that’s it for this year. On with the next thing!

Emu dressed as chicken

It’s the only explanation.

My Girls are still young, and I wouldn’t normally expect Extra Large (60g) eggs from chooks until their second year. However, they’re regularly producing eggs in the Large to Extra Large range, which I feel indicates they are well-fed and contented.

However, I think there’s an interloper in the flock.

It HAS to be an emu. It’s the only explanation.

Below, an Extra Large egg, at 59g/2oz.¬† Above… well, on its own, it weighed 110g/nearly 4oz. Ouch.

The Husband and I will be squabbling over who gets this one for breakfast ‚Äď it’s clearly a double-yolker. I have yet to discover which of the Girls offered up this monster. I only know it’s not Lacey, who lays more petite darker brown eggs. I have my suspicions, and Peachy is top of the list…

I’ll be keeping an eye on that girl.

A tiny teaser…

…of a future project.

This heap of wonderfulness recently arrived in record time from Sareeka, in Surat, in the state of Gujarat, western India. I have Plans!¬† Aren’t those colours and patterns just beautiful?

It’s going to take a while before I can get on with it, but I just wanted to share this foretaste with you. And while I’m waiting, it’s all sitting on my cutting table, where I can gloat and pet it, and where it shines in the sunshine.

Meanwhile, I have a quilt to finish. One-third of the way through…

 

ScrapHappy July

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the¬†day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host¬†ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

No progress on the coat I mentioned last month, as I’ve been busy with the Ovarian Cancer quilt I need to have ready by the end of July. However, I did manage to make something scrappy!

I needed another bench mat to alternate with the grey and white one I made earlier. That one’s now liberally stained with tea, coffee, pasta sauce, sriracha, orange juice…. well, you get the idea. It still works well, but it’s also good to have a replacement to alternate with.

I cut strings off the edges of most of the fabrics I use. It’s rare that I don’t have at least an inch of waste fabric at the end once I’ve finished cutting. I collect these strings in a bucket with my other scraps, and today, it was time to do something with them! I have a stack of batting scrap too, so I made up a piece with batting tape, and some random scraps of black and white fabric I pieced for the backing. The binding is leftover bits of jelly roll strips from earlier quilts.

So now, I have a bench mat and an empty strings bucket! Result.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything ‚Äď no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture.¬†Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you‚Äôd like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me¬†page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact¬†Gun via her blog¬†to join. We welcome new members. You don‚Äôt have to worry about making a¬†long term commitment¬†or even¬†join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and¬†you‚Äôll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Viv

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Ovarian Cancer: CYTL ready to assemble

It’s quilted and trimmed out.

I’ve done my usual wavy lines, using a warm medium grey which recedes on both dark and light backgrounds.¬† All the blocks are trimmed out to exactly the same size, which is important to keep the assembly process as simple and pain-free as possible.

I’ve cut the sashing, with a dark blotched batik for the front in deep blue-green, and a brighter, more turquoise spotty pattern for the back, which will be fun against the pale grey, silver and white of the stork-print backing.

Tomorrow, I can start the assembly. I haven’t decided yet which fabric I’ll use to bind the finished quilt; it’s going to depend on how different it looks with the sashing.

Time to wind a whole load more bobbins!

Amethyst and pearl

Nearly done.

I just have to work out how to fasten the strands, either all together, or individually.

But I’m pleased with how the strands look, and the solution I found for the pendants, grouping them together on the bottom strand.

Some of the amethysts are real, and some aren’t, some pearls are real and others aren’t. I had a beautiful pearl bracelet made for me by Dawn Gill, but because I’m a klutz I broke it twice, re-threading it three times. Finally, I realised that I just keep catching it because I’m clumsy. So I’ve recycled the grey/lilac pearls, ‘cornflake’ pearls and silver jump rings into this necklace. Hopefully having it round my neck for special occasions will make it a bit safer!

Once the clasp(s) is/are on, I think I’ll put the beading aside for the time being. I think I have it out of my system for now!

The CYTL quilt is calling my name!