Monthly Archives: February 2009

All Under Control



I went on a jaunt with Tania and Mo to a wool weaving mill outside Peterhead. We found it on an old RAF base within sight of the power station and within shouting distance of the high security prison. The weather was typically dreich…After calling in at the reception desk we were taken to another disused building on the base where there was an unmanned shop. In the shop there were jackets, slippers, duffle coats, jumpers, rugs and a table piled with bolts of heavy wool tweed fabric all at £5 per metre. I decided it was too good an opportunity to waste and decided to buy LOTS for the exhibition yurt ceiling… and cushions and notebook covers and more cushions in the new quilt retreat, house, pigsty etc!!

After our fabric buying frenzy we went off for coffee in the very plush “Buchan Braes Coastal Hotel” – HA! It was on the edge of the old military base, with a view of the power station and no sea view. It was very trendy and citified but there was no-one there apart from us teuchters (peasants) and a large plasma telly running Daytime TV. We were not impressed by our expensive cups of coffee (no jug and no refill!) and poncey plate of inedible cakes.

On Friday afternoon we went to collect the 2 new piglets. I had a large dog crate in the back of the Landy and with memories of last year’s traumatic escape bid, had thought of all possible hitches. Amazingly, all went well. The owner cornered them one by one accompanied by much squealing and expertly carried each one by the back legs and threw it into the crate. They are surprisingly heavy for their size – like small spaniels.

When we got them home we managed to deliver them into the sty and shut them in and I still couldn’t believe how easy it all was. In fact, once we let them out the next day and they got stung by the electric wire they then spent the rest of the weekend hiding inside the sty so we couldn’t even get a good look at them. A far cry from the villainous wild boars! I eventually managed to take a photo and found out that we have 2 girls this time. No names so far. We had picked out Elvis but that just won’t do now. They have a Tamworthfather and a saddleback cross Gloucester Old Spot mother so now we have to work on making them a bit less panicky. They had been shut in a shed for a couple of weeks as it has been so snowy and they have left a pungent agricultural smell in my car.

Over the weekend I finished off the 1930’s Feedsack Double Wedding Ring Quilt. After doing an all over simple shell all of the wavers and bumps got tucked in. Some of it was only tacked but now it is well stitched! It will not hang straight on a wall but will be lovely and old fashioned on a bed (it measures 75” x 83”). After a good hot wash to remove years of grubbiness, the Warm & Natural cotton wadding made it lovely and crinkly. I don’t suppose anyone will rush to buy it so I’ll probably just keep it in my growing collection!

Craftsperson at Work


I was slightly shot down in flames when I received a call about my Arts Council Grant Application… I was told to reapply for a CRAFT Maker’s Award since I cannot really be considered a Visual Artist despite going to great lengths in my pitch to justify my project as an arty rather than crafty idea. I started to roll out the argument that people who work in textiles are fed up with the lowly status of “Craftsperson” – blah, blah. The woman on the phone was trying to be helpful and steer me towards applying for money that I might actually get but still – I got on my high horse and started a discussion on the APQS forum about the difference between art and craft and where does the William Morris Arts and Crafts Movement fit in etc?! There was much informed debate and the whole subject could be argued over until the cows come home but essentially it is the difference between being shown in a good gallery, selling pieces for higher prices or going to a craft fair where quilts might sell for flea market money if you can ignore the comments from potential customers about how expensive they seem.

Having thought about how much money I need to spend on my exhibition, how many quilt show and aeroplane tickets I want to buy (and new boots), I decided to set up an Etsy shop. This is an online eBay type of shop for CRAFTSPEOPLE. So far I have one item for sale which is a rather nice 1930’s Double Wedding Ring quilt that I completed. I am working on another so it will be fabulous if someone actually wants to buy something.

I also managed to do a simple customer quilt this week. It is an all over seashell – my stock freehander. I should do something quicker and bigger but I think it looks really good on all sorts of different quilts and seems to be the best way of easing in all the dodgy areas of the Feedsacks.

I checked the Show deadlines and decided that my next urgent thing to do should be to finish off the RWB forLoch Lomond. I have decided what to do so just have to do it!

I have received a great sample pack from Oakshott fabrics for the Quilt Yurt Project. I have been formulating all sorts of plans but MUST finish all of the other stuff first…

It as been the mid-term break so I decided to encourage the Young Quilters in this house by helping them to make a mini quilt on the theme of “Racing” for the next Region 16 meeting inPerth. The eldest was not terribly keen which I found irritating and generally they seemed to get bored and want to go and play. I made them finish the whole thing despite the grumbles because it is difficult to leave a project like this and come back to it later. In the end they were thrilled with what they had done but I find the whole business of working with my children frustrating – maybe they need to be older but actually – I think they need to be more enthusiastic!

I went to the cinema with friends to see “Slumdog Millionaire”. It was a brilliant film and I thought about it for days afterwards. There was a scene when one of the little boys got locked in the toilet shack when a famous film star arrived. Since he was a fan of the star, the only way out to get his autograph was underneath and through all the slurry!

I found myself digging in a heavy mixture of sludge and ice in order to free up the pigsty for the farmer to hoist and move it for the imminent arrival of 2 new piglets. A new area has been fenced off and will be put to the test – we don’t want any escape dramas this time round!

Spring Cleaning while it Snows



The whole of the UK has been covered in snow. The TV news has made it the most important bulletin each night with areas running out of grit, traffic chaos and pictures of children in the south of England sledging on ever so slightly white mud. I found myself apologising for the Brits being a bit pathetic to an American lady on the APQS forum. Our school was closed for 2 days as the school transport company was not risking the road conditions. This is all very well and safety conscious but the main roads were clear and I have a very sturdy 4-wheel drive. The children did do some sledging but the snow was very wet and slushy so not much fun. The temperature has dropped to -15 Celsius in the night so it was really cold out in the workshop. I worked on a simple quilt for a while before deciding it was too cold so I would tidy Freya’s bedroom to look for her missing DS games.

Well, that opened a can of worms… it is tidy at first glance then as you look in baskets and drawers, it becomes apparent that everything is just in a hidden muddle. This triggered a sudden urge to do spring cleaning. My spring cleaning does not involve polish or dusters but it means CHUCKING THINGS OUT!  I need to do the children’s rooms when they are not here as they start hauling the broken felt pens and junk models back out of the black sack. I made a pile of out of date catalogues, decided to part with the vodka soaked cherries that I had strained out of the cherry vodka and even threw away a tub of parmesan than went out of date in June 2007. I’m wondering whether to be ruthless with fabric too. I have scraps that I can’t really see myself using up but don’t know what to do with them and what if I part with something then decide later that I really need it after all?

I was on a mission to find a wholesale supplier of wadding. Everything is imported from USA and there are only a couple of distributors. I found that I could not get all of the wadding I wanted from one supplier. Some of the Forum gals are kindly sending me samples and bigger pieces to play with so I’ll get some shortbread, tea and other goodies to send as a thank-you. I can’t believe that Britain does not manufacture any of this stuff any more. I did find a mill in Cumbria over the internet so will see what they produce.

I sent off my grant application so it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when they open my envelope and compare me with all of the “proper” visual artists.

I did achieve a surprising amount last week. I made several mock-ups of flying geese units to get the size and style right. In the end they are conventional but face unexpected directions – perhaps a bit like the Red Arrows! Now I’m sketching ideas for the quilting and wondering whether to do a bit of Trapunto… it seems to be expected on show quilts.

The yurt got its pair of quilted door curtains which I thought should be known as “yurtains”! I am beginning to think seriously about getting another yurt frame to use as the LLQS exhibition next year with quilted panels for the walls.

The other mini project completed was the experimental trapunto Buddha head. Mo had given me a piece of moulded, stiffened silk. I filled it with toy stuffing and put a layer of Hobbs Polydown behind it. I did this on the DSM and discovered that I am now lousy at that sort of free motion quilting. This then went onto another layer of Hobbs and a backing. The head is a bit fat… it also has the wrong sort of wrinkles and could probably do with some clever hand sewing for features but the principle does work. I have to work out how to do my Buddha for the Pearls of Wisdom exhibit at Birmingham. I think I’m also going to do the Beryl Cadman longarm challenge for FOQ so at this rate I don’t know that it is feasible to do a competition entry as well. I received an email from Paducah to tell me that they had received an empty CD case from me. I quickly sent everything by email but wonder what happened to the replacement CD that I sent them the next day. It certainly took a long time for the Christmas airmail post to reach Kentucky!

I told Ellen that I would share with her for FOQ so I’ll need to book flights for that too before long. Tania has found cheap flights for a girly w/e in France but the offer is only valid for April (when I’m already going to Holland). Added to that I am coveting a new pair of boots, have ordered a roll of wadding and some other supplies so am in serious need of some cash! I do have some coming in but may have to do some reminding which I hate to do. I gave a free day’s lesson a couple of weeks ago as I obviously did not make it clear that I expected to be paid – so I must sharpen up my act professionally or I’ll have to call in the heavy mob!

Does an Unusual Haircut get you noticed?


I have been in the newspaper twice this week: I went on a Parent Council Chairperson training seminar for a new educational intranet site called GLOW. Nobody volunteered to be photographed apart from 2 men. Obviously I could not let the world think that only men can be Chairpeople or computer literate so I had to put myself forward (with the new hairdo).

I attended a public meeting to discuss Aberdeenshire Council’s long term building plans in our rural area. We had to give reasons why we do not approve of building 300 more houses on our doorstep. There are many: huge housing developments sprawling out of Aberdeen and Banchory already, light pollution, wildlife, traffic, not on mains sewage, no public transport or shops… I do hope I have not come across in the newspaper as some ranting, countryside fanatic – although I probably am just that!

I hosted the Aberdeenshire QGBI Area Day on Saturday. We had soup, fine “pieces”, demos on hand quilting, resourceful bag-making, and felting. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a lovely sociable day. There was not a single comment about the new hairdo – I decided that everyone was either too embarrassed to say anything about it, thinking it had either gone disastrously wrong or that I had taken leave of my senses OR they simply didn’t notice. One quilter did stare at me today at the shop with a stunned expression but maybe she was puzzled about something else entirely. I flashed a pic onto the APQS forum and they all said things like “Awesome!” which I thought was rather fun. Ferret thought that if we went to a quilt show everyone would think she was the sensible one.

Something that I found amazing was that my webhosts informed me that I had run out of bandwidth well before the end of the month because I had so many views on the blog. I know I type away each week but I can’t actually believe that other people look at it!

The trip to Holland has now been booked up – hooray! Now I’m told I have to book Birmingham too so I had better do some work to pay for all this travel.

I have been making samples up all week of different styles, colours and sizes of flying geese for a border on the red, white and blue quilt. I kept thinking I had made a decision when another idea would crop up. It was suggested that a border was not necessary but I believe that judges are usually looking for MORE on a show quilt, even if it is a subtle addition (or not usually subtle in my case). I have finally decided and it is not nearly as complicated as I could have made it but will add just a bit of interest. Of course, now that I have thought about it, I could have scaled the whole project down, invented some tricky corner areas and made a ROUND quilt. I am quite fascinated by the different ideas that I have had about flying geese – perhaps that might form the basis of a series!

I was browsing on ebay for 2-hole gold buttons when I discovered a button dealer in Aberdeenshire so I have ordered a selection that might pass for militaryish if I decide to run a few down an edge just for a tiny bit of gold sparkle!