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? 🤣

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!

Turquoise and coral

The first set’s done!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, although two of the necklaces had to be adjusted so the lengths sat together correctly. I’d forgotten to allow for the extra length created by the clasps. In the end, I added more length to both the turquoise one on the left and the single strand coral one with chunky turquoise glass beads at the front. Results below, and I really love how it all looks layered together.

You learn as you go, don’t you? Which is why I’m going to think a bit more about how to put the next one together. Sorry about the rather dark photo; turns out amethyst and black pearls are hard to photograph. This is where I’ve got to so far.:

I’m reconsidering the pendants on the top two strands, which means I’ll be able to drape all three strands closer together. I need to be careful with the length of this one, as I want to wear it below a multi-strand freshwater pearl choker I already own. Yes, it will be totally OTT, but I love the look, and so long as you keep the rest of the outfit simple, you can get away with it. I have earrings to go with, which inspired the whole idea.

I’m enjoying this, but it’s never going to become my passion in place of quilts. For one thing, my fingers and wrists aren’t good for hours and hours of beading, especially on my right hand, where the middle joints on the two middle fingers are already sore and make alarming clicking and crunching noises…

Onwards! I’d love to hear what you think 😊

And now for something completely different

You probably have to be a Monty Python fan to appreciate the title…

Anyway, this IS completely different from anything I’ve posted about before. Let’s get to it. I’ve been trying to find a couple of necklaces to go with both outfits and earrings I already own. Sometimes you get an idea of what you want and you just can’t find the reality. My solution has always been to try and make what I want. I’ve never got into beading or other jewellery making, thinking I already had too many crafty ideas and I wasn’t going to get hooked on yet another process.

Um. Too late…

I had a box full of beads. Everything you see here except for the clasp and the coral-coloured beads is stuff I already had. Over the years, I’ve scooped up bits of this and that, recycled the other and chopped stuff up to save things I like and pass on the rest. Same with buttons. I even had the beading needles, left over from another project where I needed something really fine. So it was just a matter of laying stuff out in an arrangement I liked. I think maybe I’m going to weave the 3 coral strings in and out of the turquoise string, but I’ll see how it looks before I tie everything off and add the end caps and clasp. Maybe I’ll add another coral string to make it chunkier.

Fingers crossed I don’t make a mess of it. This is the first time I’ve done something like this, so wish me luck. I’ll show you the finished thing if it all works out. If not, well, everything can just go back into my bead box and I’ll carry on looking.

Also, if it does work out, I’ve got a second and more complicated necklace already laid out. That one’s going to need a bit of thought…

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m halfway through quilting Can You Teal the Love.

Midwinter sunset

Down here, it’s the middle of winter.

The temperatures recently have been very chilly for our tropical latitude. Not what the south would call cold (or indeed, the northern hemisphere), but for us thin blooded types, it’s perishing! Although we’ve had days of heavy rain and chilly winds from Cairns south to Sydney, tonight there was a short break in the dismal deluge, just long enough to give us this:

Which, I think you’ll agree, is about as triumphant a sunset as they get.

Tomorrow, it’ll probably be pouring again…

Bee, Myself & I #57: Parterre Block 26

And finally, I got my act in gear and got another Parterre block done.

It’s been months… This is Block 26, a darker one because the collection needs a few more dark ones.

I still haven’t quite decided how many more I’m going to make, particularly given how easy I’ve found it to slack off with this project! The blocks are 10″ square, so I feel it needs to be at least 6 across. Probably 7 down, although I’d accept 6, for a 60″ square quilt. So that’s either 10 or 16 more blocks to to do. Still a long way from a finish…

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column of this blog.

And a small update on Choli #2.

Well, I decided not to progress with this one.

I got the bodice section finished. And I hate it on myself. 20 years ago, I might have gone with it, but I just felt too exposed, too tightly fitted, too Madonna. This link will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. All a bit ‘in yer face’. I’m just not an underwear on the outside kind of girl. So I won’t be showing you any more of that, I’m sorry. And for those who hate waste, don’t worry, I’ll definitely find a way to recycle that pretty fabric!

However, I do still love the princess-line Choli #1, so that will see a few more incarnations, I feel sure. And of course, it’s absolutely possible to buy ready-made cholis that have a bit of stretch so they’ll fit the most demanding figure. Not to mention the fact that the event for which I wanted the choli is in June in Melbourne a couple of years hence, and therefore it will be perishing cold…. I think I may be considering an even more covered-up outfit option, though hopefully one just as becoming as a sari.

I’ll keep you informed 😊

Under colder skies

We’re in Melbourne. And it’s bloody freezing!

We arrived late-ish last night, slightly delayed, after a long day spent either on planes or at airports. It was good to finally bend my back in a different direction and relax in the company of much-missed friends.

We have eaten delicious curry, slept in comfortable beds, shown our handwork to each other, and caught up on reminiscences and gossip. It was wonderful.

And today we made a trip down to Torquay, on Victoria’s Surf Coast. It’s a two hour drive, but pleasant.

The purpose was to have a delightful rootle on the shelves of Amitié Textiles, which had relocated there. Oh, and have lunch.

And rootle we did, after a brief unscheduled stop for a really excellent farmers’ market, where the party purchased locally distilled gin stuffed with Australian botanicals, a very authentic boerewors sausage, a bag of locally grown apples and some extremely luxurious baked cheesecake.

My friend Chippy and I both came away with fabric loot which I’m sure will be featuring on our blogs in the not too distant future. And then there was lunch, which was epic and awesome and warming and filling, and eaten overlooking a dark and blustery Bass Strait. But later, while we were checking out the surf at Bell’s Beach, there was a rainbow, so that was alright.

And then we came home and ate more curry. And tomorrow, there’s going to be a bigger gathering: friends, and family, and a lovely brunch at the Terrace Café at Melbourne Botanic Gardens.

So more on that later.

Unauthorised absence!

Mouse is Not Happy with us today… He has some justification, but this is one trip he can’t come along on. I’m sure we’ll be paying the price when we get back.

Happy Greys Social Club

I am outraged! The Staff are off on a jolly WITHOUT ME.

They are going to see Aunty Chippy in Melbourne and apparently, I can’t go. (Well, if you want to spend hours and hours and hours in a small crate in the hold of the plane, and maybe sit on the tarmac in the cold, and not get any treats or snacks or company…. Up to you, boss, but we were only thinking of your happiness and comfort – Mum).

It seems I am to pay a visit of my own, to stay with Aunty Lyn and Miss Lotti. As Mum has pointed out, this will be more fun than travelling on a plane for a large doggo such as myself, and certainly much more enjoyable than the Dreaded Kennels. We went to visit the Kennels once. It was very pleasant, but the accommodations were more…

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Lest we forget…

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia.A time to remember those who fought for our freedom, who made the ultimate sacrifice and who served and are still living with the consequences of their service.

I am grateful, and I do not forget.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

From The Fallen by Laurence Binyon