As You Like It – Done!

As You Like It – Done!

I finally committed to getting the FOQ sampler, “as You Like It”, done from start to finish. I did nothing else in my workshop all week, just working for a maximum of a couple of hours at a time. Obviously, a teaching workshop is only 2-3 hours long but I think a finished sample should show what the piece can evolve into, hopefully inspiring the student to add more to the basics at home. 

I had a vague plan in my head that the sample should include twin needle, echo quilting, rulers and couching but I was not working from a pattern. I just plonked down some main motifs and elaborated from there. I jotted down thread and tension settings so I can write up a handout later. 

Honestly, there is a far more in that one class than would normally be covered in a half day class but the piece is small and it is really just a taster of what the machine can be used for. When I run classes I show students how to use the tools, run a few techniques by them then set an exercise in working on the quilting. I have always believed in pupils learning and becoming more confident from doing and experimenting.

I used a vintage linen pillowcase on top of an old practice piece so the reverse is a hilarious mess. I tried to incorporate some of the original vintage crocheted lace but it must have been made to fit then sewn on by hand.  By the time I had quilted the old pillowcase and trimmed it the old lace was too big so I had to fiddle about at the corners to get it to fit. I wish I had stuffed it with a feather pillow form for the photos as it looks a bit lumpy and although the afternoon shadows look arty, they are not great for a class catalogue. 

At any rate, it is done – I am relieved and found that I enjoyed it once I got going. The next thing to do after catching up with customer quilts is to be brave and have a go at the Wiksten Haori jacket…

Note – WordPress has done an annoying update to a Block Editor and I can’t yet work out how to attach more than one photo…!

Big Stuff Happening


What a week of Big Stuff happening… I finished the tricky customer quilt re-do after 30 hours of work. It would hardly have taken more time if I had worked on the entire thing in the first place. Considering that it had issues, I think it turned out pretty well:)

Nella was offered a place at the Norwich University of the Arts to study a BA in Fashion & Communications. She was also offered a place at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen but she has already accepted Norwich. This is monumental progress for her and she has to work hard to get anorexia under control by September. I am thrilled for her but also have concerns – in a way, a major goal is what she needs to get her life back on track. We both know and love Norwich so it is not quite as daunting as going to an unknown city. 

Freya came home for my birthday weekend and we collected the caravan. It towed home successfully and we gave it a good scrub. There are a few teething problems like not getting the gas cooker going but hopefully nothing major. We will make sure that we get it serviced and familiarise ourselves with everything before we attempt a sleepover in the garden, let alone go on a road trip! We will certainly have plenty to keep us occupied in the next few weeks.

Customer Quilt Almost Done


I have spent the week just chipping away at the customer quilt. There was a lot of time consuming ruler work and freehand swirls to scoop up the fullness. Unfortunately, the customer chose plain batiks for the back instead of a print which would have hidden any minor wobbles. The back will not look immaculate since there was a lot of back-tracking. Although I make it sound messy, it really is pretty neat and an awful lot better than it was;)

It will take me a while longer to take out the basting stitches and figure out what to charge.

Nella had a really good week – she submitted her application to Uni, got a part-time job at a local cafe and applied for a passport so we can plan a trip to London (by plane). She still has a long way to go with her anorexia struggle but these milestones are amazing.

Off to a Leisurely Start in 2022


The year has got off to a leisurely start – I have worked on a tricky customer quilt a little at a time. There was a hiccup when I had to rip out some FMQ that I was not happy with and replaced it with a small, traditional stipple. I am happy with the radiating lines in the red section but the next bit looks challenging as the quilt is too full in its outer areas. Ideally, I would like to finish it in the next week or so to get back to more straightforward quilts. Typically, for January, the workshop is very cold and not particularly inviting. 

I bought a new gadget on sale on a bit of a whim. I have had fun learning how to use a Circuit Joy cutting machine, making vinyl decals and labels. 

I have to remind myself that the only person putting pressure on me to get anything done is me. We are still in a Pandemic and Nella still needs much support so all I really “need” to do is just get through Life one day at a time;)

What Will 2022 Bring?

invisible SID and temporary basting stitches

I have usually had enough of Christmas Festivities after Boxing Day and cannot wait to get back into  my workshop to get cracking on projects or a major spring clean. However, this year I have been utterly content and embraced doing nothing – in fact, I wonder where I will get the oomph required to restart for 2022. 

I have a tricky customer quilt to work away on a bit at a time. It is a re-do of a quilt that was unsuccessfully long-armed by someone else and its owner has removed some of its quilting. The major issue is to outline all of the Celtic knot-work invisibly. 

I helped Nella to run up a pair of elasticated trousers using leftover teddy fleece. There were only 2 pieces and no pockets so we got that done in a couple of hours. 

Having thought about it on and off for years and looked out on and off for months, Nella and I took a road trip to Forfar and viewed a well-used, small caravan. It seemed to be solid, not too grubby and modestly priced, with a remote controlled mover, so I bought it! It will remain in storage until I sort out a tow-bar for my car but it is an exciting project for us. We will tart it up a bit then aim to go off for some adventures. Maybe we will even manage to do a Festival…:)

Christmas Cheer


I am so glad to report that Christmas 2021 has been a far happier time here than it was a year ago. Obviously, the Covid pandemic is still prevalent and nobody has yet come up with an instant solution for climate change BUT all 3 of my children are home for Christmas. Last year Nella was on a hunger strike during a short pass home from a psychiatric unit – this year she has been battling anorexia and tried to join in as much as possible. She is so happy to be here and hopeful for the year ahead.  

Christmas Day was very casual – I had my usual cooking frenzy on Christmas Eve but kept it all simple and did not bother with a fancy table setting or crystal dishes for the sauces. We did not even watch any telly because Nella taught us how to play Dobble and Uno. There were lots of lovely parcels to open throughout the day, including several pre-loved items and I received a super home-made knitted hat from Nella. 

Boxing Day has been even more chilled out so far – we have plenty of leftovers to eat, we enjoyed a walk up to the stone circle in Durris and intent to spend the rest of the day watching a film or reading – bliss!

Christmas Lights


We are edging towards Christmas and have been getting into a festive spirit. I wrapped all of my gifts scruffily in brown paper. It was meant to be printed with a rubber wallpaper roller but the paint took ages to arrive so it remained naked. 

Nella has been working at Crathes Castle for the Christmas Light festival. She has been dressed as The Grinch, Olaf the snowman and an Elf in freezing conditions. The lights in the walled garden were spectacular and it was a lovely experience. 

I made Date and Apple chutney twice using my Granny’s vague recipe. She wrote down rough amounts and simply said to cook in a low oven for a couple of hours. The first batch got forgotten and turned into treacle but the second round was much better. 

Freya has arrived home for the holidays so I feel that our low-key festivities can now begin:)

Low Key Festivities


I have completed all of the customer quilts that had to be done by Christmas so now I have to prepare a couple of custom ones to quilt on and off as time allows. 

Nella and I had an evening of Christmas shopping, just doing M&S, Paperchase and TK Max. We did not actually buy much – it was just nice to experience the Christmas lights. We sorely miss John Lewis in Aberdeen to get into the festive mood.

I have not gone overboard on making Christmas gifts this year. I sewed up a few obligatory face masks, a couple of handy pouches and one or two hair scrunchies. Nella foraged some evergreens that had blown down in the storm to make a wreath and we made a batch Scottie-dog gingerbread cookies. She was not able to do any of those things last Christmas so all of that is a blessing. 

Fergus celebrated his 20th birthday for which I made a tasty, if rather childish, chocolate cake. Unlike a couple of years ago, he did not go out partying which is just as well as there is yet another wave of Covid (omicron) on the rise. 

My plan for the week is pretty simple – wrap gifts, possibly in home-printed brown paper and at least try to brush Nessie daily…

Send in the Troops


There are still quite a few households without electricity following Storm Arwen, over a week later. Soldiers were deployed to check on remote properties – maybe they supplied hot food and blankets. At least we had the wood burner and a camp stove when we were without power – many homes are fully electric and have no alternative means for cooking or heating. 

I went for my Covid / Flu booster this week and felt that I could have been in a Dystopian TV Drama. The Aberdeen vaccination centre is now in the ex John Lewis department store. There was a queueing system like at an airport followed by field-hospital booths in what had been the Menswear and Haberdashery departments, where my jabs were administered by a British Army medic. 

I was bemused and impressed when a 4×4 pickup truck with blazing arc lights parked outside and a guy in full hi-vis waterproofs knocked on the door to check up on Nella. He had been deployed by someone at the Council to see if a vulnerable person living at our address was OK. 

Up-river from me somebody has lost a few logs! They had washed up onto the bank and I managed to pull a few out of the water and load them into my festival trolley. 

After the hiatus of the long power cut I did not get much quilting done and I was keen for some quilts to be collected – since ordering several rolls of wadding and big cones of thread my bank balance was shockingly low at £5.10…

Quilt-Con 2022 rejected “Rainbow Warriors” from its juried show. I was quite disappointed but recognised that many other amazing quilts had not made the cut either. To be honest, when I visited Quilt-con in Savannah, I thought that many of the entries were very similar to each other and it was not a huge show with many diverse entries, unlike Houston which is also juried. What really hacks me off is that I have to subscribe to become a member of the Modern Quilt Guild in the USA before I can even enter so it is an expensive process. It makes me appreciate that FOQ encourages everyone and simply offers a discounted entry fee to existing Guild members. I will enter “Rainbow Warliors into the World Quilt Show if the UK is entering and see what happens, otherwise it will join all of the other vanity projects on one of my workshop shelves!

At the end of a wintry week, it was decided that we would cheer the house up by putting up the Christmas tree. Nella missed all of that last year as she was in hospital. Although she is not exactly thriving, it was a significant reminder that she is always better off on the road to recovery.

A Storm Blew In!


Nella and I had a grand day out in Edinburgh on Tuesday. We drove down and got the tram in from the Ingliston Park and Ride. It took about half an hour to get to the city centre then we had to tramp for a while to get to the Grassmarket, where we had booked a table for lunch. I wished I had a paper map and bus timetable to find my way around as I do not think using a phone is as useful. We ended up stomping for a total of 5.5 miles that day by the time we had visited the revamped shopping centre where there is a lovely John Lewis. We got Glühwein from the Christmas Market off Princes Street – it was not nearly as good as a German Christmas market and there were significantly fewer stalls this year due to Brexit and Covid. We did have a lovely day, although it was a bit rushed. We agreed that it would be great to stay overnight and explore vintages shops and galleries at a more leisurely pace. 

I have been trying to crack on and get through a few customer quilts, particularly as I ordered several rolls of wadding and a batch of thread. I was running low and reckoned that prices would creep up or there could be supply issues if I left it too long. Everything was actually in stock but prices have risen since my last order.

We have had weeks of mild, autumn weather and I kept saying how unusual it was for me to go out for a walk without a coat in late November. On Friday a storm arrived out of the blue and blew down trees, power lines, fences – leaving us without power and wifi all weekend. We had to cook on a camping stove and spent all of our time in one room with the wood burner. It highlights how reliant we are on electricity and it was pitch dark by 4pm. It is surprising how much effort goes into staying warm and wearing multiple layers of clothing. Our power was off until mid afternoon on Tuesday and after 4 cold, dark nights the novelty had definitely worn off. I felt relieved and privileged to get the power restored! We have not had a power cut this bad in years and it really made me think how challenging life is for people who are homeless.

I Forgot!!!

Customer Quilt

I have been writing a weekly blog since 2008 and it has become a ritual or habit that I write something every Sunday unless I am busy travelling but this week I actually FORGOT to do it. Perhaps it is because Nella and I are trying to keep weekends sacrosanct since she has started college? Instead of catching up on customer quilts or working on projects we have been trying to do as little as possible.

At any rate here are some photos from the past week…:)

Nessie’s New Raincoat
Sunset at Brigton Farm
Homemade Tofu
Trip to the Theatre to see “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”
Goodies from the Chinese Supermarket
Cutting into a Quilt to make a Coat
Another Customer Quilt

Virtually Busy


As I write my weekly blog I scroll through my camera roll to see what I have been up to during the week. This week there were only 2 photos of a mushroom ring in the garden and a very nice customer quilt. It would seem that I have done very little of any consequence yet I have felt constantly busy. 

Nella and I had a trip into town for coffee and books, we walked Nessie daily as usual and she was busy working on college projects. I did some tidying and mending, taught a Qmatic class by Zoom and did a follow-up video afterwards. So I have not exactly been idle – I just did not have any photographic evidence or a project to prove that I have not been playing on “Animal Crossing” all week!

Coos and Cosy Coats


The cows in the field next door escaped this week. After exploring our driveway and leaving a couple of cow-pats, they trundled off down the track and trotted speedily up the road, causing a bit of a traffic jam. I phoned the farmer as soon as I saw the herd dispersing and he quickly rounded them all up again.

I quilted the Bewitched quilt (to be repurposed into a coat) using a Karlee Porter design called “Swivel Circle 2”. The gold lame looks fab, of course and it has made me wonder if I should invest in some new, shiny gold boots;) 

Images of quilted coats filled my Instagram feed after I posted a photo of my progress and I sent a link to Nella on how to make a quilted hoodie. We found a suitable looking sacrificial quilt on Ebay. It was made from 1980’s furnishing fabrics, minimally and badly quilted with a hideous satin ribbon binding. We cut up a teddy fleece blanket and over-quilted it with a simple meandering pattern. The resulting quilt was thick and heavy, not ideally suited for garment making. She drew around a hoodie to make a rough pattern and it went together reasonably well, although the sleeves and the body did not quite line up so some jiggery-pokery had to be deployed. We broke 5 needles and could not overlock anything due to the bulk but it looks OK and she likes wearing it. IF we ever make another one, I will make sure that we use a very thin, cotton quilt!

Nella and I decided to go to the local firework display since the weather was reasonable and there had not been a bonfire in Banchory at all in 2020. In all the years of living here I ave never seen such a huge crowd. It seemed that there were no other organised displays in the area and even the Aberdeen Beach show had been cancelled again. We stood at the edge of the park, not wanting to venture deep into the throng and as usual, the firework show was great. Some of the coffee shops were open late so we got a takeaway afterwards. 

I got one customer quilt done, using a nice digital pattern called Marmalade. After a couple of weeks of having nothing on the go it looks like I will have a steady stream running up to Christmas. I suppose I will have to start thinking about doing some C-shopping and / or making before too long…

Halloween 2021


Another week just flew by, probably because we had been away and we took most of Tuesday to catch up with ourselves. I had to think of a project since I had no customer quilts waiting (although there are now quite a few, all of a sudden). I dug out a long-forgotten reincarnation of “Bewitched” that I had intended to become a show quilt once but then realised that it was not really show-worthy. It seems to be all the rage on the internet to make coats from quilts so I have jumped on the band-wagon and will use the Wiksten Haori/Unfolding jacket pattern. It has also inspired Nella to make a quilted hoodie out of an old quilt. I was not prepared for her to sacrifice a family quilt so we ordered a scruffy one from Ebay.

Other things that we footered about with this week included having a go at making Tofu. Of course we can buy it but it is always fun to give these things a go. It worked fairly well so we soaked it in a marinade and took it with us when we visited Freya for the second weekend in a row because she had invited Nella to a grown-up Halloween party. Nella has really struggling lately with motivation for anorexia recovery so we decided it was a good idea to go to the party despite having cold feet at the last minute. We are hoping to go to Edinburgh for a wee trip soon just to keep reminding her that Life can be fun!

Nella’s 18th Birthday in Glasgow


We had a funny kind of week, anticipating our weekend in Glasgow to celebrate Nella’s 18th birthday with Freya. I got the zippered leaders finished while Nella made sure her college work was up to date. We also made her a simple halter-neck top and a couple of hairbands. The thing was that we thought Freya was coming home midweek to go to the dentist so we did not plan much, thinking that we would be doing stuff with her. She cancelled that because she felt too busy so we were kind of kicking our heels for a couple of days at a bit of a loose, holidayish end. 

We arrived in Glasgow mid-afternoon on Friday and found the Volvo an even trickier beast to park than the Landy. There is no parking anywhere near Freya’s flat so I had to hunt for some suitable street parking where I could safely leave it for 3 days.

We had an itinerary that included a yarn festival, lunch out, a visit to the Tenement Museum, pumpkin carving and even a cocktail. It was a lovely weekend, far better than last year’s hospital birthday, even though Nella is still very much struggling with her anorexia. Trips like this are essential for reminding her that there can be a life of freedom and fun if she chooses Recovery. It is hard, though because after an event such as this, the “voice” in her head will demand a relapse. We have to stay several steps ahead which is why we are planning to return to Glasgow this weekend for Halloween…

Mellow Autumn Days


It has been mid-term for Nella so there was no need to rush anywhere. I got her quilt all joined together with a majority of the points matching and downloaded a pumpkin-patch  digital quilt design from Intelligent Quilting. It was quite a busy pattern so it took most of a day but it looked cute and was dense enough to hold all of the pieces down. I had the binding ready to go so I attached it as soon as it came off the frame and the quilt was on Nella’s bed by Tuesday evening!

We had an outing on Wednesday to St. Andrews, via Dundee. We checked out 2 fabric warehouses in Dundee which mostly stocked stretch jersey or upholstery fabrics. Nella bought some cinnamon coloured corduroy but otherwise we did not find anything that we could not leave without. 

It was strange to visit St. Andrews without Freya – I think the last time was 2 years ago since the 4th year of her degree fizzled out without a graduation ceremony due to the pandemic. The town was very busy with students and visitors and it was tricky to find a cafe without a long queue. We just mooched around some favourite shops and wandered on the beach for a few hours, enjoying a very nice day together in glorious autumn sunshine.

I finally got around to filming the process of making “zippered leaders” for a longarm quilt frame. Nell was the main camera person and I somehow forgot the use another camera for B-roll. It will take her a while to edit it all together, even if it all makes sense. I am not even sure who the video is for – I can’t exactly highlight it for Bernina owners since I am showing them how to make a non-branded product. Perhaps it is just one of those “because I can” projects. I think I would like to teach via the medium of video but only if I think it is really good;)  To confound myself even further, I will write up the instructions for my fictional pupils. At any rate, I now have a very smart set of Q24 zippered leaders for sale because the zips I used are a different size to the ones I have myself.