About the Varuna Quilt Project

by Monica Flynn

There are 12 patchwork quilts in Varuna, which were created in 1999 and 2000. Ruth Buchanan, then a Board Member of the Eleanor Dark Foundation, was the leader of the Varuna Quilt Project, and she enlisted the help of the internet-based Southern Cross Quilters in the project. She asked the quilters to contribute a 12-inch block, based on traditional blocks and colour ranges that she had selected, and also “orphan blocks” which are blocks that don’t quite work in your quilts under construction. Over 100 quilters from Australia and overseas contributed blocks to this project.

I was delighted to join the two quilting bees held at Varuna. At the final quilting bee in Canberra, all of the quilts were finished and quilted, with only the binding left to be added. The quilts were named after Eleanor’s books and stories, with names including Timeless Land and No Barrier.

Since that time, the quilts have provided much needed warmth and cheerfulness to each writer’s experience of Varuna. Varuna’s housekeeper, Joan, has washed and cared for these quilts beautifully over the years.

However, some quilts have experienced ink damage. I decided to take one ink-stained quilt, Lantana Lane, to my quilting group, the Quilts and Coffee Group of the Upper Mountains Ladies Probus Group. After much discussion and rummaging through bags of quilt materials, we found a perfectly matching piece of material which I appliquéd and quilted onto the offending ink spots and the outcome is pleasing. We are planning to work on the six ink stains on the quilt called Benevolence next.

So, when you are writing at Varuna, take that small quilt outside to tuck over your knees on a crisp autumn day, or write with a pen under that bed quilt with a help of a torch at 3 am on a cold winter’s night. We’re mad keen patchwork quilters, and we designed these quilts to help you create your masterpiece. We want you to enjoy the quilts, and let them make you feel comfortable, warm, creative, loved and appreciated.