Sofa So Good

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The new-old sofa in the workshop has been a great success – I have been heading straight out to my workshop after a morning cuppa to get started on customer quilts for an hour or two then Nella can have an after breakfast snooze while I continue. That is how I got 5 customer quilts done this week, nothing custom – just utility but all very nice. Since it is officially half-term we have not felt obliged to keep up with school work but I will have to mug up on Hamlet before the new term.

I had a go at screen-printing foil glue and applied gold transfer foil to my doilies. One was a bit splodgey but the other was quite crisp. The gold foil is rather a yellow gold and would probably look better on hot pink fabric but I bought 6 metres so I will just have to use it somehow. I have decided to go with the doily theme now that I have started. A fellow student wondered why I did not just sew doilies onto cushions instead of printing them but I never actually said I was simply going to make cushions;) I do have another, separate idea in mind as well so we will see what happens. I invested in a few blank screens and one ridiculously large one so I really need to come up with a project to use them on.

I made a couple of bolster cushions from some African wax fabric that Freya brought from Tanzania. The Youtube videos on how to attach zips to bolster cushion covers were useless but I figured it out. I foolishly decided to ignore the advice about Pi when measuring up the cushion tube but I winged it and produced 2 piped cushions that look acceptable. 

I took Nella for a pre-birthday hair colour and cut. We started off with the mirror covered but she managed to relax and enjoy the experience. I enjoyed a fringe benefit and persuaded the hairdresser to cut mine so I can actually see out. 

Our week was generally mundane and of a strict routine but at present that is fine. Bumble is still my best canine pal, despite having lost a lot of weight due to cancer and she sleeps most of the time. Even the vet is amazed that she is still around and since she does not appear to be in any pain I hope that will be for a while longer!

Where Do We Go From Here?

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Just when I thought things were going well with re-feeding Nella, I was told that she had lost another 1.2kg by secretly exercising, panicking that she was putting on weight. I was furious and told her that if I find out that it is continuing I will pack her bag and drive her straight to hospital. She was genuinely sorry and scared so I have had to be even more vigilant, stepping up the quantity of nuts and swapping low calorie almond milk for a fortified coconut milk. I read a book called “Brave Girl Eating” where the mother battled with her daughter’s anorexia for a year, somehow getting her to consume 4000 calories per day to restore health. I have no idea how I am even going to get close to that on a strict vegan regime.

By getting up earlier I managed to fit in 4 customer quilts in bursts before breakfast and during the afternoon while Nella worked on school assignments. I showed her how to do free motion stitching and she took to it straight away so she might put some examples into her Art portfolio.

Nella is utterly exhausted most of the time and struggles to sit at the table in my workshop for long so I decided to look for a second-hand, small sofa or a “fainting couch”. I found one on Facebook and collected it in the back of the Landy with the door open, strapping it in with ropey granny-knots. It fits perfectly and looks great covered in an old quilt so hopefully I will be able to get a bit more quilting done if she is warm and comfortable.

I went to my evening class on printed textiles and developed the acetate that I had drawn of a crochet doily onto a photo-emulsion screen.  I really could not decide on a theme so I thought this could be a good starting point to get back into screen-printing. I was amazed at the detail of the print using opaque white printing ink on white cotton and rough, organic linen. It looks like this will definitely be the theme that I develop this term so I have drawn out 2 more doilies and plan to draw one that has a diameter of 28 inches. It will take ages – I have no idea what I will turn it into but I think it will work.

 

The grand tidy-up has now made its way out to the summerhouse which is now Fergus’ music studio. He is obviously incapable of organising it himself so Nella and I will supervise. The part we like the best is the IKEA pegboard with all of its neat accessories. I have put one up in the kitchen in an attempt to get clutter off my worktop. I think it is wonderful and would love to put it up everywhere there is a spare piece of wall!

A Place for Almost Everything

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It is unbelievable that we are already a week into October! I got into a new routine of getting up early and managed to complete 6 utility quilts during the week for a customer but forgot to take photos for my records. It is tricky to really get stuck into anything with all of our medical appointments and the meals regime but I gradually tackled all of the disordered downstairs cupboards, making a substantial mess before ruthlessly getting rid of cloudy glasses, chipped mugs and taking posh glasses out of boxes to be used. I rounded up DVDs from all over the house and put them all in one place which makes it look like I could own a video shop. 

Books still need to be sorted – I don’t think I need a 1999 road atlas or any decorating manuals from the 1980s. I was especially pleased with the curtains that I made for the TV cabinet to hide boxes of cables and Nintendo games. It is satisfying to know that everything is now better organised, rather than stashed in multiple locations. Next I have to deal with a disastrous linen closet which is probably home to mutant spiders;)

Nella has been getting anxious about how much school she is missing and we have been working on a little of each subject on most days. We had a go at making a PJ top using leftover stretch jersey. We did fairly well and produced a wearable item. It is definitely better on the seams where we used the overlocker but even after using a stretch stitch and dual feed, the stitching on the hems seemed a bit taut. I think the answer is to construct cuffs and attach them using the overlocker.

The homework for my screen-print class was to draw a design onto acetate that can be transferred onto a photo-emulsion screen.  I just could not decide on a theme so I have a temporary one which is crochet doilies. I spent ages doodling out a lace effect which is probably far too intricate but perhaps I simply need to enjoy the process of the course without necessarily requiring a finished product!

Mindful Decluttering

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I am a great believer in keeping busy and tidying up so it should be no surprise to discover that this can be a form of mindfulness, particularly if prepared to do a bit at a time rather than in one fell swoop. My workshop is very well organised, except when I have put something in a safe place that I can’t remember. However, I felt that my house had become a place of glory-holes and unnecessary clutter. I have a useful kitchen pantry but it had become impossible to find anything without all of the gadgets and bowls toppling over. It was surpassingly easy to sort everything into baskets, ditching quite a few spare jam-jars and plastic boxes without lids. 

Of course, this had a knock-on effect to the other kitchen cupboards. I discovered several packets of opened or out-of-date nuts and seeds and found 28 missing clothes pegs. Reorganising is so oddly satisfying that it has spurred me on to tackle other dreadful cupboards. Just how many old teapots, DVDs and old road atlases do I really need?!

Nella’s blood results were not noticeably better and showed that she is lacking protein but we have been given a grace period to keep persevering. I have been getting her to eat lots of dried fruit, nuts and grains and I will have to think out of the box to find other sources of protein such as millet to add to lentils and quinoa. She saw a Reiki therapist which she found calming and I am looking into alternative medicine to deal with anxiety and low mood.

We had a lovely day visiting Freya in St Andrews on Saturday, just having a wee wander around the shops and chilling in her flat. She loved the Halloween box that we had made for her with seasonal bunting, vegan wax wraps and home-made almond Nutella. I could not resist a rather nice sewing box in a charity shop. Hopefully, Nella will be spurred on by the idea that if she can get a bit fitter she will be able to stay overnight with her student sister.

I have not worked on any of my own projects or decided what to work on in my screen printing evening class but I had 2 lovely, regular customers drop off half a dozen quilts which they helpfully labelled with measurements and even cut all of the wadding to save me some time. None of their quilts are huge so I should be able to work my way through them while Nella does artwork in my workshop. 

Catch The Pigeon

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Since I had I finished up the last 3 “easy”, all-over pattern customer quilts, I had to move onto a custom quilting job. It was not a major, over-the-top custom quilt, more like low-key custom. I find that deciding what to do in the first place takes a while then it is just a matter of getting on with it. The pattern is a Lynette Anderson seagull pattern but the gulls are not like great big “skerries” that steal sandwiches in Aberdeen – they are more petite and because of their colour sometimes reminded me of pigeons, except for the webbed feet. 

Somehow, the cartoon adventures of Dastardly and Mutley come to mind when they repeatedly attempt and fail to catch the secret-agent pigeon that carries messages. I sympathise with their efforts. Despite making good progress with Nella eating just a little more, we were told that her health parameters remain poor and the weight loss is continuing. It was a hard week for both of us as I had to increase all of her intake in a last ditch attempt to avoid hospital admission. She felt very low as it feels like things will never get back to normal. Every meal and snack almost rolls into one and I am very aware that she is not taking in enough calories in her restricted vegan diet for her health to improve. She has become really bored with not going to school and finds it hard to find any joy in life. 

 

In an attempt at another easy craft activity we have started a scrappy rag-rug which has got off to a promising start but will take ages to complete. However, we felt very pleased with ourselves when we managed to make a pair of pyjama trousers without making any boo-boos!

Against all the odds, Bumble is still just about in the land of the living. She is not eating much, sleeping most of the time but not complaining so has been keeping me company for a bit longer than I had expected. 

Happier news was that I was informed that a member of the QGBI, London Region, Jaclyn Horton, had award me an alternative prize at FOQ – “I Want That Fabric!” I was particularly thrilled because the fabric she meant was the Warli figure fabric that I designed and screen-printed for “So Many People”. The write-up that she gave the quilt was really complimentary which made me feel proud of my work:)

Thinking Creatively

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I have to keep a food diary for Nella, adding a range and quantity of foods each day if possible. She has so many fear foods that this is a difficult task. I blended together dates, coconut and walnuts to make energy balls and introduced some weird grains such as freekeh and red quinoa to try and increase her protein. This weeks blood results were marginally improved so she had another stay of execution from hospital admission. She feels like a fake anorexic for eating anything at all but I keep telling her to repeat the mantra, “I am doing this to stay out of hospital!”

Poor Bumble is not doing too well and had a visit to the Vet this week. I know she is not herself when she is not eating. He could not pinpoint a particular problem but thinks her mammary tumours have probably spread to her lungs. She has been put on a course of antibiotics but to be honest, I think her time will be limited. She does not seem to be in pain but her back legs are wobbly, she sleeps most of the time and only eats little bits of chicken if I feed her by hand. I have to remember that 12 years is a good, old age for a Scottie but I will be heart broken when she pops her clogs.

Food preparation and the painfully long time that every meal takes use up most of my days but I have managed to fit in one or two crafty projects to keep us both occupied. Over the weekend we have tried out rag-rug making, shrink plastic and printing notebooks with a gelli plate. On weekdays when we are not attending appointments, Nella works on school stuff in my workshop while I try to carry on with customer quilts. 

I even managed to stitch a few eyelets and sort though the rainbow warily blocks that I have already got to see how many more are required. I think I probably have enough to make a double sided project except that I can’t actually stitch through the large mirror sequins. I still don’t know whether I am aiming to make a tent, a canopy or more sensibly, a one-sided quilt – it will be a while before that becomes clear.

Last, Last Chance

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Earlier this year I bought an iPad thinking that it would take over from my 2012 MacBookPro but for some tasks it just does not perform the same way and I crank up the straining laptop to do spreadsheets, online banking or resize pictures for printing. I expect the iPad can do these things but I don’t know how to make it so I either have to figure that out or consider whether it is time to trade in the laptop.

Having become a bit of a Marie Kondo convert (Tidying Up and Spark Joy), I decided that it was time to let go of the old school desk that I have had for 30 years since rescuing it while on teaching practice. The school rabbit hutch had sat on top of it so it had been out of classroom use for years. It had inkwells and lift up lids but was designed for small children who only had minimal stationery and books. I decided to offer it free to a good home on a Facebook buy, swap, sell site and it was quickly snapped up by someone locally who has a small child, so far with minimal stationery. Nella and I took a similar approach to 2 bookcases of children’s books and donated 5 boxes to charity so others can enjoy them. Getting rid of stuff that is no longer being used or enjoyed is cathartic. I really must work through the entire house (at some unspecified future date!)

Keeping my youngest under close supervision has not been easy – she had to spend some time in my workshop this week while I worked on 4 customer quilts then I had to spend afternoons in her room working on Higher English. Luckily, it is Victorian melodrama which I studied at school and uni but my understanding of modern textual analysis and citing references is sketchy. Having rediscovered some of my cringe-worthy old essays, written in fountain pen I don’t think I would be awarded a degree today!

Freya returned home in one piece from her trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, having had incredible experiences and adventures. She brought me some gorgeous fabrics which I have put away until I decide what sort of projects they are for. I made her a welcome-home vegan carrot cake with cashew “cream-cheese” icing – which was much better than I had expected. 

 

While she was home to help keep an eye on her sister I managed to fix the faulty needle threader on the Bernina 710 to stitch a few eyelets onto plain fabric so I can layer it up with silver lame to make mock shisha mirrors. The quilt that I am making of so far unspecified size either has far too many blocks or will need many more smaller units. I won’t know until I lay it all out and see.

Sadly, Freya was only home for a couple of days before packing up her plants and books to begin her final year at St. Andrews. We filled a surprise box with treats to start the year off and left her at her flat to cope with a washing machine which has duck tape to seal its door. 

Over the weekend we cajoled a little almond milk and pieces of tangerine into Nella to see if that is enough to stave off the threat of hospitalisation but this huge effort may just not be enough to avoid that fate. It really is a game of cat and mouse…

 

Positivity

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The one thing that is essential when dealing with a child with Anorexia is maintaining a positive outlook. Even when it seems that there is no improvement, the only thing is to keep trying and keep hoping that the vicious cycle can be broken. On Thursday we were warned that a hospital admission is looking increasingly likely if the medical checks show up increasingly failing health and weight continues to drop. We were given the weekend to turn things around, even the tiniest amount. Her friends visited and gave her a brave and loving “talking to” which I hope struck a chord deep within. 

I now have to provide almost 24/7 supervision so there is no opportunity for her to exercise and I must insist that some food is at least tasted 3 times a day. Everything revolves around mealtimes and the issue of food, even though my daughter will only touch one piece of fruit and a few spoons of home-made soup each day. 

We kept ourselves occupied by building an IKEA desk and bookcase, getting started on some school-work and trying not get sick of each other’s company. She had to sit in my workshop while I had a DIY quilt customer for a morning. This new regime will curtail my DIY work since I usually work through lunch but I will have to figure a way of keeping going with some quilts otherwise the business will just disappear. I have not worked on my Rainbow Warli quilt at all and I really want to make some progress towards getting all of the pieces finished, even if I don’t know what sort of quilt it will become. I almost decided not to proceed with Year 2 of my textiles printing evening class but I will do it anyway as a lifeline for my sanity or at least a change of scene. 

 

I used the little Elna sewing machine that now lives on my daughter’s new desk and finished piecing the “Positivity” quilt. This is a pattern by Christa Watson using the fabric that I won as a door prize in her class in Florida, mixed with a few extra scraps and multi-coloured squares instead of neutrals. I got the Bernina Q-matic to quilt spirals all over it for texture and backed it with an Indian mandala cotton bedspread. While she made a short visit to her friend’s house I got the binding on and made up her bed. It is bright and cheerful – she loves it and IF she has to go into hospital this is something that she can take from home that I have created especially for her. 

Dropping In and Out

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You hear about people dropping out of Uni or Life all the time but I have never thought about what that actually meant. I feel as though I have temporarily dropped out of Quilting, certainly when I look at social media and think that Everybody Else is beavering away, teaching, launching new patterns or inventing new techniques. I have barely had time to think about quilting, let alone actually do any. 

We waved Freya off on a Grand Adventure to Tanzania where she will be staying with a university lecturer whom she met on the way back from her trip to Egypt. Her journey of 24 hours ended up in Mwanza where passengers on the 8-seater planes can either carry hand-luggage or a bucket of fish. She will explore Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar with her host and probably foster a desire to do an internship there in the future. 

I have been able to work on some basic customer quilts using Qmatic in between medical appointments and school meetings. I chose the same pattern, Flower Child, in various sizes because it was straightforward and suited several different quilts. 

I finally finished piecing the Positivity blocks over the weekend so it will be fun to put them all together with my youngest daughter. We have been spending a lot of time together, not only in the battle to get her to eat but also because she is currently unable to attend school. I persuaded her that it would be calming if I helped to sort out her messy room so we looked up how to fold clothes the Marie Kondo (Japanese) way so they take up less space and it led onto a major clean-up. She is actually thrilled with how ordered everything now is. 

The knock-on effect was that we moved the piano out of her room then shifted all of Fergus’ music gear out to the summerhouse so he has a space that is more of a studio. This involved moving a sofa-bed into the ex-music room via a tight front door and ridiculously small hallway – if I move from this house I swear most of the furniture will have to stay behind to avoid a repeat of those shenanigans. Hopefully those 2 siblings will now clash less over practise, noise and taste in music! The rest of the house would also benefit from a major declutter but really I would rather sew;)

Not Knowing

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One of the really hard things about living with my daughter’s Anorexia is the not knowing what will happen day to day, each week, months or even years ahead. I had to make the enormously difficult decision to cancel a planned teaching trip to Bernina India because  in January she could be at the same stage, in hospital or hopefully maybe in recovery but there is just no way of knowing. 

I have to confess that I am finding it difficult not to be “busy”, trying to fit as many multiple projects and thoughts into 24 hours as I possibly can. All of my work is suspended apart from customer quilts that I can fit in when convenient. I do not have the luxury of time to continue with my Rainbow Warli quilt at present but I am trying to do a few little sewing projects to retain my sanity. I made a small bag for the Elna Lotus plug, shortened some trousers, completed a small customer quilt and found myself becoming an Art Therapist rather than an Artist.

I have been providing opportunities for my daughter to create in my workshop as a distraction from her mental torment. We have had a go at soy wax candle making, vegan food covers, bunting and screen-printed a duvet cover. We also put together an IKEA Raskog trolley to organise some of her art materials as she hopes to be allowed to study Higher Art even though she is not well enough to attend school which resumes this week. 

The team at CAMHS (Child & Adult Mental Health Service) has insisted that she should be told her weight at every session twice a week but I think she should be weighed blind since this fixation is a major stumbling block in convincing her to eat to improve her health.  The CAMHS service does not provide any counselling until some weight gain has been achieved but she has started to see a private therapist just to help calm her mind and provide some relaxation techniques so she may be able to shut down some of the Anorexia some of the time. 

I suspended my daily vlog snippets because I did not have any work to report on and I found it difficult to come up with any silly or quirky comments of my day. Consequently I was spending less time checking in on social media so it was not until I received a message from my friend, Kay that I discovered that Iconoclast had won “Best in Country – UK” at the World Quilt Show. I was delighted and it was a lovely boost to my confidence, particularly when the quilt seemed to have underwhelmed judges in the UK. I had so many wonderful congratulatory messages and it reminded me that it is actually a very nice quilt that took me a long time to complete:)

 

By this time on a Sunday evening I would normally review what I hoped to achieve in the week ahead but in my new role the priority is to make a note of appointments and work out what sort of soup to attempt each evening. Thinking positively, at least she is still at home with me where I can only try my best to keep her going mentally and physically. 

Try to Act Normal

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Life is far from normal at present – it is challenging trying to not make everything about my daughter’s struggle with Anorexia. We are attending medical appointments at least twice a week in a desperate attempt to keep her out of hospital. Normally an ill child should be getting well in hospital but in the case of this illness that could be the worst thing. It could mean being sent to a secure unit away from home with limited family visits and fed forcibly under sedation without taking into account my daughter’s strict vegan diet. 

We had to attend a session where the family had to go through the motions of having a meal that she would not eat and became very distressed. The family based treatment is to make insist that the child eats 3 normal meals a day plus 3 snacks when they want to eat nothing at all. I am finding it frustrating that counselling is not recommended until weight is restored so we are unable to break the cycle of becoming increasingly unwell and the illness means that she cannot think rationally. She is freaked out every time she is told her weight and feels compelled to eat even less and exercise even more. 

It is emotionally exhausting watching a child suffer and knowing that the only medicine is food which she cannot allow herself to eat. She is suffering from fatigue, hypothermia, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low white blood cell count and it is amazing that she is even able to function at all. 

I have been trying to make soup that she will eat and it is a triumph if she will eat a few teaspoons. My older daughter and I have been trying to distract her with activities including making a dress from an old shirt, wax food wraps, artwork and even patchwork. We have to approach each new day as a new one and hope that our strong will can break the deadlock. 

Life is a long way from normal – everything is on hold. My family and friends worry that they cannot do anything to help but just hearing that they care is enough to give me the strength and courage to keep going. I simply have no alternative.

Festival of Quilts 2019

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I set off from Norwich to Birmingham thinking that the trip would take 3 hours but roadworks and heavy rain delayed me. Notwithstanding, we cracked on with setting up 6 long-arm machines in a classroom and 4 more on the main stand. It was a huge job but the team worked really hard and I was ready to start teaching on Wednesday afternoon. 

My classes all went really well with just 6 students, each with their own machine. My classes were designed so that there was more than enough to do, even for the most capable pupil. It was an opportunity for the students to try out all sorts of templates, and experiment with stitch regulator or manual free-motion designs. There was not really any chance to add colour to the “How to Eat an Elephant” piece because there would not be time for paint to dry but at least the students could see the possibilities and learn some new tips. There was a bit of a panic for my twilight class when it was discovered that all of the master templates had been taken away by the morning pupils in error and I could not get any photocopies made. I had to think on my feet, give the pupils other exercises to do while each one traced the image straight off the sample quilt. 

I had to “wing-it” through a  Facebook-Live demo using a crackly headset microphone but I managed to keep quilting and talking for a good 40 minutes! This can be found on the Bernina UK Facebook page. Other demos were given by the talented, improv quilter, Nicholas Ball, (see his Judges’ Choice quilt below) Philippa Naylor, Sarah Ashford, Janice Gunner and Amanda Murphy.

I did not manage to find time for much of a look at the show other than to see the winners and whizz past the others. There were some beautiful quilts this year. My Warli quilt was on the end of a row in good light and looked respectable, especially as it was never designed as a competitive entry. I was fascinated by India Flint’s eco-dyeing exhibition. This collection was made using rusted, wrapped objects which were displayed alongside the finished textiles. 

During the entire time that I was there I had to mask how worried I was about my youngest daughter’s Anorexia which had escalated to a critical point where she refused to eat anything at all. My older daughter and dear friend tried very hard to keep her going but it was clear that I needed to head home to take over her care. Fortunately, my teaching commitments were complete by Friday night so I headed home on Saturday, feeling guilty that I was not working at the show and equally guilty for being away from home. 

I realised that I was totally naive when the illness was first diagnosed. I had no idea how quickly it would take hold and take over my daughter’s every decision regarding her well-being. I have heard horror stories from other parents on the type and duration of treatment and do not feel at all prepared for the struggle ahead which could even last years. I will have to become her full time carer and must hope that I will be able to quilt some of the time as my therapy.  We have an important appointment today which may determine whether she should be hospitalised so we are all on tenterhooks to see what happens next. 

Lisbon

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I don’t know what possessed me to leave my “good” camera out of my hand luggage and take a sewing project instead. I did not touch the sewing and regretted not having a camera around my neck in a really photographic city. The kids and I flew from Norwich via Schipol then called for an Uber taxi to take us to an apartment in the Bairro Alto (high town) area of Lisbon. The streets were narrow, cobbled and on steep hills. We settled in for the afternoon on our little patio-balcony after a visit to the mini-mercado for ripe peaches and beer. 

The week was spent wandering the streets of Lisbon and I reckon my legs were far stronger by the end of the week. It was hot but not sticky and I always wore my hat. There was so much to do but we only did a fraction of it. It would have been easy to have spent the entire time in museums, finding out about Portugal’s history of exploration and colonisation. One evening we went to a lovely, old cinema to watch a strange French film with Portuguese subtitles which would have been difficult enough without a surreal plot. 

The city was mostly rebuilt after a huge earthquake in 1755 and the neo-classical buildings were all crammed in, some now painted and many covered in a facade of tiles. I have never been in a city where there was so much graffiti but nobody seemed to be bothered by it and it certainly added character. The city felt multi-cultural and welcoming, teeming with tourists. 

We did not rush around and used fun local transport such as the tram for a leisurely city  tour, a funicular tram down a steep slope, a train to get out to the impressive contemporary Art Gallery, and even an electric Tuk-Tuk. 

We had Tapas snacks a couple of times and bony sardines at a family street-side cafe but mostly we enjoyed the fresh fruit and veg. There were many shops full of tourist-tat and handicrafts but with hand-luggage only we had to be careful. I was interested to see so many bags made from cork fabric and I liked the fabric sardines that hung from balconies. The girls each bought an up-cycled lamp from the Thieves Market, a huge Saturday market selling everything from ceramics, Catholic icons, half-used bottles of perfume, old shoes, to gas stoves and table-cloths. 

It was a really nice week spent exploring Lisbon, not being in any hurry, people-watching, enjoying the balcony and drinking cheap wine. I left a day before the kids to get back to Norwich where I had left my car full of camping gear and everything necessary for the next phase of my Summer Tour, Festival of Quilts in Birmingham!

Utter Clutter

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With 3 days to do packing for my mega-trip I avoided packing altogether and decided to do a little light pruning. I have an enormous Cotoneaster bush outside my workshop that has grown to the size of a really large tree. It was arching over so much that everyone had to duck to get past it. The last straw was when some of its branches got tangled up in my hair and snatched the specs off my head. I only meant to snip a few twigs but 3 hours and a blister later, I had cut down so much that I was trapped behind a huge mound of vegetation and had to get my kids to help clear it all away. 

 

I did eventually gather all of the stuff together for my trip and managed to fit all of it into the back of the Landy. I prefer to travel light if I am going away on my own but I had to include camping gear, deckchairs, a gas stove, teaching materials for Birmingham and a month’s worth of clothes for all occasions. The kids also had to pack stuff such as sleeping bags, funky outfits for a music festival and various vintage cameras. Even Bumble had luggage as she was going to spend the holiday firstly with a friend of Nella then later will go and stay with Mo. Typically, Fergus did not pack his gear until the last minute which was intensely irritating and I had to go and calm down by doing some easy-piecing.

We left on time at 8.00am on Thursday morning, drove 5 miles before we realised that nobody had loaded up the guitar so we turned around to fetch it. We completed the entire 540 mile trip in 10.5 hours, only making 2 brief stops which I would say is impressive for a noisy, old Landrover Defender!

 

We spent our first day in East Anglia mooching around in Beccles where we were disappointed to find that our favourite vintage junkyard was closed for the day. However, it was nice to buy some fresh, local tomatoes and I found a great second-hand rainbow raffia hat that will do nicely for Latitude. We may have overdosed on Vintage after a lengthy foray into Bungay and a fruitless trip to the old convent near Ditchingham where the goods really were just junk on this occasion. 

After a busy few days everyone was ready to settle down, read, make dreamcatchers and just laze about in cloudy weather that is at least a bit warmer than Aberdeenshire. The days are not action-packed and time just slides by without actually doing anything. I have a couple of hand stitching projects with me but I will be surprised if I actually get around to doing them;)

Patchwork Therapy

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Life is not always a beach so it is good to have an interest such as patchwork and quilting that offers an escape from worry. We had our first Eating Disorder appointment which did not wave a magic wand but at least got my daughter accepting one tiny meal of vegetables per day. This is a small step in the right direction, mainly due to the threat that she will not be able to go to Latitude if she is not fit enough.

I took Bumble to the vet because one of her mammary tumours had opened up. She is not actually unwell but we were told that she had half a dozen tumours, some of which could be surgically removed but that they would come straight back. I decided that my beloved 12 year old dog would not be put through any further operations and just asked for antibiotics for the wound instead. I am sad that Bumble can’t come on holiday with us but I can’t leave her with my folks for too long and I would have to go back to Norfolk from Birmingham to collect her so I just have to hope that she is OK staying with friends for almost 3 weeks. 

One of my friends had a nasty road accident – she was badly shaken, bruised and her car was a wreck. I gave her a couple of lifts in Fergus’ little car which was making an alarming squeaky noise like a constipated hen. Hopefully it is just a dirty brake and won’t be another expensive fix. 

 

 

The last customer quilt before the summer holidays begin was a cream quilt for a Golden Wedding present. It was quilted with a Qmatic pattern then I had to attach a row of slippery bridal lace. I made a thin strip of folded bias to hide the raw edges then sewed it down with a decorative blanket stitch. 

A delivery van dropped off a package that I had forgotten about which was a Bernina eyelet kit. I spent a morning fiddling with settings and thread and was impressed at how well it performed. My plan is to make eyelets then layer them over silver lame fabric so they look like Indian mirrors to add to my rainbow Warli quilt. 

Another parcel contained my new Bernina style trolley-rucksack. I have designed a name badge so it looks like one of the bags that I coveted at BU and I need to find someone to embroider it for me. 

I decided that I needed a therapeutic “just because” patchwork project so I cut up the Christa Watson layer cake that I won as a door prize in her class. One of her patterns , “Positivity”, called for neutral greys in the background but I swapped that part for plain coloured fabrics from my stash. I really enjoyed some mindless patchwork where all I had to do was simple chain-piecing. I can just pick up around 5 blocks at a time and allow my brain to switch off. 

 

This week we will be working through my pre-holiday/packing lists and hoping that everything just ticks along without any drama.