Monthly Archives: July 2009

Summer Holiday Sweatshop



I have put in very long hours this week in an attempt to get everything done in time for our trip to Norfolk which is one week before the FOQ deadlines for quilts to arrive. Some mornings I had fed the animals, left breakfast out for children and started in the workshop by 8am. Apart from stopping to throw them together a bit of lunch, I quilted all day long. My back, shoulders, neck, elbows and hands all ached.

When I was not working on my quilt, I was cracking the whip over Freya and Fergus to make sure that they got theirs done too. Fergus was to add hand sewing and pearl beads but I confess that I added most of the beads for him because the T-shirt transfer areas were like tough plastic and he did not have the strength to get the needle in there. I hope the spec is enough like the entry forms we sent off. I forgot to make a photocopy of the forms and the children did not actually start their projects until the start of the school holidays, after the forms had to be sent in! Their finished projects look great and I admit they had a lot of supervision and demonstration otherwise they would not have been able to achieve what they did.

The weather was very Harry Potterish this week. We kept getting huge thunder clouds and heavy downpours. Despite having a power surge plug attached to the Longarm machine, I felt a couple of power bursts rush through it. I was worried that the Stitch Regulator was playing up again but it seemed to be fine. One afternoon I even had to switch off and have a cup of tea while a storm rumbled overhead.

We did go and see Harry Potter. It was good but we were all disappointed that so much of the book was missing from this film. It will have to be a mega long film that manages to tie up all the loose ends of “The Deathly Hallows”.

I learnt a lot on the PinknOrangeproject too. Doubled up Dream Puff does not make a super puffy fake trapunto. It needs a rigid layer too. I think Double Hobbs Polydown is more effective. When it came to adding the gold braid at the end it was like wrestling with a carpet under the DSM and it is heavy so will be expensive to post.

I had decided to use the same colour in the bobbin as in the top in case there was any trouble with tension. This meant there were a lot more bobbin changes and the tension was great with So Fine in the bobbin so I should have just stuck to one colour after all.

I started off filling the spaces of the shell filler with a different thread but in the end realised that this was far too tricky so stuck to the same colour. These spaces were later painted in with Lumiere and a tiny brush. This was like painting with ink and it took hours. I experimented with Stewart Gill paint around the strangely Welsh feathers and after 4 coats I was just about satisfied but I thought the colour could have been more shocking. It was fun to use neon coloured thread as a micro filler. Instead of real trapunto, which I had already decided was too hazardous, I quilted tiny bubbles up to the motif so that it puffed up. The corner star blocks were a bit of a triumph. I managed to remember how to print a block from EQ6 so found an 8-point star and stuck it onto a plastic folder to turn it into stencil.

Pig on a Diet



I looked at the calendar as I booked the Cat in for her summer holiday and did a double-take when I realised that EVERYTHING must be finished in less than 2 weeks! That is: Freya and Fergus’s entries to FOQ, my Longarm Challenge Quilt, Trixie’s Golden DWR, at least 60ft of wedding bunting and all of the other things that happen in school holidays.

I dashed around on Tuesday after spending the morning on the computer. I took Buddha to the Post Office in a long tube. The Post Office Mistress, who is due to retire after 43 years, always asks how my projects are coming along. I told her about the deadlines and she cheerily told me I would be able to get on with quilting in the afternoon. I informed her that I had to collect a pig from the butcher.

The butcher advised me to put Ginger on a strict diet or she would be far too fat for bacon. Splodge had quite a substantial layer of blubber. I discovered that I have been far too generous with the rations, although I did look it all up in a book… Apparently the pig pellets that we had were highly fattening. I took home 3 boxes of roasts, chops, burgers and ribs. We sampled some this week and it was wonderfully tender and tasty. I decided to tell Freya that I had swapped some Splodge meat for another random pig otherwise she was not going to eat any. However, I came clean in the end and she had to agree that we should be very thankful to Splodge for a delicious meal. Ginger is not impressed with her new regime – she complains bitterly when people do not just give her a handful of pellets every time they look in her direction. Perhaps it would be easier to get her to chase the children up and down the pen for a bit more exercise instead.

On Wednesday I finally started work on the PinknOrangequilt. It ought to get a proper name soon. So far I have thought of “Rise n Shine”, “Bedazzled” and “Be Done with It”.

Considering that I have a very tight deadline, I wonder why I decided to make it so intensively quilted. Well, I don’t wonder – it’s what I do instead of feathers and rulers to give the impression that I know what I’m doing. I decided to give my shells a bit of filler but then I spotted some gaps that I didn’t like. I gave them a different fill but didn’t like it so decided to paint them. I didn’t like the colour of the paint so painted them again, then again. Still not happy, I ordered yet more fabric paint from Ario so hopefully that will satisfy me. I wonder if I will have to stay up all night to complete this? For some reason I have decided to use neon colours on this quilt. I think it is a reaction to the relatively subtle colours of “Buddha” and “Smashing Crockery”. I have done some large Sort-of-Welsh feathers across the log cabin blocks, infilled them with some scribble and painted around the echo. I’m trying to come up with something that I don’t think anyone else will have thought of. In the corner stars and spaces around the big Lonestar I have done tiny pebbles so that I get a great big trapunto star popping up. Now that I have settled on the design I am hoping that it will all go more quickly, although it is mostly labour intensive. It has taken 2 full days and evenings to complete a third of the project so far. I was very impressed by the children who decided that self-catering was the best option – they made their own sandwiches and snacks.

Tania took me along to her birthday treat which was a Spa Day. I was concerned that I would worry about my project all day but I coped… During the “relaxing” massage my brain did not shut down so I would definitely be no good at meditation. The masseur was quite forceful and at times it was quite sore but I decided that it was meant to do me good so I didn’t say anything. I could actually hear crunching at particularly knotty places. Afterwards I felt surprisingly loosened up but I will probably undo all of the good work by quilting excessively. We also had a manicure. The beauty therapist asked if I worked with my hands since I had no nails at all to tidy up. I thought of pins, buckets, dogs, moving chicken houses, fixing electric fences and mumbled, “Sort of…”

I travelled down to Stirling on Saturday for a QGBI Region 16 (Scotland) committee meeting. I felt duty bound to attend since I was away in Hollandfor the last one but with school holidays and an impossible schedule I could have done without it. It was a long meeting – I prefer meetings that last about one hour, maybe 2 if there is an enormous agenda!

I spent most of the day on Sunday working with Freya on her FOQ entry. She was well motivated. We did the Paper Foundation Piecing together. I can never remember how to do it so it was going to be a complicated process to pass on my dodgy knowledge. There was some unpicking involved. In the end I lined up and pinned the pieces while she sewed and tidied them up. There was a small Sashiko section which I tried to persuade her to do by hand because I thought it would be easier but she insisted on doing it by machine. The final frustrating part was setting the embroidery machine up to do 3 koi carp that we downloaded. There were 3 attempts at this. We wanted them in a vertical line so chose the biggest hoop. It did 2 fish beautifully then when the hoop had to be shifted along it either sewed on top of the last motif or got completely tangled up underneath. Finally it was decided that it would be better to do 3 separate fish and put a narrow sashing around them like a ladder. The piecing is now complete and looks great. Freya needs to decide whether she feels brave enough to use the Longarm but she will have to wait until I have finished my quilt first!

Late in the afternoon we made a last minute decision to go to Zippo’s Circus which had set up at Milton of Crathes. It was the most fantastic experience. It was in a colourful big top and not too big. It had a wonderful old-fashioned feel to it. The food stalls were like circus wagons and there was real candy floss on a stick. There were trapeze artistes, tight-rope stunt men, silly clowns, and dancers in gypsy dresses. The ring master was an elderly gentleman in a top hat and red tailcoat. He had a troupe of hilarious performing budgies! There were gorgeous Palomino ponies doing dressage without riders with a trainer who had them turning and stopping with the tiniest of commands. They were in superb condition and there were notices explaining that ponies had only recently been reintroduced to the circus under strict legislation. There even 2 tiny Shetland palominos pulling a tiny caravan. This circus has performed for the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the whole family thought it was terrific. I’m glad I stopped sewing and went along!