Tidying up for Autumn

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Fergus was off school on Monday with a sore throat so instead of minding the shop at Milton Studio I gained a day to do admin and waste quite a lot of time on the internet. I even considered upgrading my laptop or looking at specifications to get another one for the children to use instead of using mine. In the end I have ordered an external hard drive to back up all of my photos and documents. Freya has started using MSN to chat to her school friends and they send each other attachments with cartoons and sounds – it can only be a matter of time before some virus tries to creep in.

A box arrived from Italy containing some lovely samples of Aurifil thread all wrapped in the pink sports pages of an Italian newspaper. The variegated 50wt cotton looks lovely so it will be interesting to see how it behaves. I have also received my magnetic core bobbin samples from Glide USA but have not had the opportunity to use them yet either. I had a brainwave after idly browsing the web and looking up Whaleys of Bradford. I could buy plain white cotton fabric and dye the backing for the yurt panels using the Hungarian powder dye that I saw at a stall at FOQ and the OEQC. All I had to do was remember what it was called…

There was only one Hungarian trader listed in the FOQ catalogue so I gave them a call. By the magic of PayPal I have bought 15 different colours, typing their Hungarian names out carefully, and expressed an interest in being a UK reseller of the dye. It can be done on the cooker, in the microwave and in the washing machine with only the addition of 1 tablespoon of salt. It sounds wonderfully low-tech. I have been put off dyeing my own fabric before, thinking that there were too many stages and things to remember to add. I can’t wait until I can have a “Dyeing Day”!

I dashed in to Aberdeen to test out the cheap sewing machines in John Lewis. The assistant tried to tell me that they don’t do demonstrations anymore but I produced my scrap fabric and reel of thread, insisting that I did not want a demonstration, just wanted to plug it in and try it out. After seeing that I would not take “No,” for an answer, she was actually pretty helpful. She advised me that the John Lewis red machine is actually made by Janome and is a later model than the 2 cheapest Janomes also available and that no-one has yet returned one as faulty. It only has one large foot and about 5 stitches but the tension was great and I decided that Fenella would be very pleased with it. The only difficulty I had was seeing to thread the needle so later on I bought a pair of bright green off the shelf reading glasses just for threading needles. The sales assistant was a bit bemused when I made her pack the display model up in the box to take home but I explained that I knew that it worked and was not now going to pick an untested one off the shelf. Since then 2 of my friends have decided that they are going to go and get one just to carry to classes but they will also annoy the sales staff by asking to plug them in and check them out.

I got back in time to finish piecing the wonky circles yurt panel. Now I have several that are almost ready to quilt. I need to decide how long to make them all. I could have sworn that I measured the height of the new yurt’s trellis but will have to check with Yurt Man.

My resolve to only work on yurt panels this week wavered by midweek. I did some more piecing on the Christmas mystery project which seems to be never-ending. George, the Builder came to do some more measuring and checking before ordering insulation boards and replacement windows for my workshop. He pointed out a major snag. We will have to switch off the water supply and shut off the tap which is right in the way of the new door BUT the stopcock is hidden somewhere under the ground outside. I believe that every problem has some sort of solution so I ordered a set of dowsing rods from e-bay. When I have a quiet moment I will need to train them to find what I am looking for. If that fails I know an old countryman who may be able to find it with a couple of cherry sticks.

By the middle of the week I had received quite a lot of invitations to become “friends” with all sorts of people on Facebook. I have not really got to grips with Facebook yet. I can see that it could be the start of a new internet addiction checking what all your “friends” are up to. I have approved some but felt awful when I “ignored” others because I don’t actually know them –maybe they know me? It felt like shunning someone in the school playground and I’m not really sure what I am supposed to do. I daresay it won’t be long until I find out and then I will spend even less time sewing!

I was meant to catch up with a George owner this week but had to cancel as I ended up minding the shop for Barbara who was waiting at home for British Telecom. This meant that I had not now gained a day as I had thought on Monday. Thursday was very cold and the shop was not particularly busy so it gave me plenty of time to think about a couple of simple yurt panels. It would be great to make them all hopelessly elaborate but I don’t think I will have enough time. Perhaps I should make more than I need and then choose. I fiddled around cutting some sashing strips for the Flying Geese blocks and decided that I should cut up some small pieces to have as portable projects such as yoyos or covered buttons. Next I decided that maybe I should get a Dremel tool and make my own carved buttons out of antlers and thin slices of wood so I have been reading reviews about them on the internet to help me make up my mind.

On Friday I decided to bite the bullet and clear my inner studio out for George the Builder to start on the insulation so I can move the Longarm. Although I am dreading taking it apart and reassembling, it will be good practice if I need to take a frame to a show or set a system up from scratch. I also got started on the Bear quilt. I had planned to quilt some watery lines in the outer border but the patched and mitred corners would have made it look awkward. The client provided very fat poly wadding so I decided that allover medium swirls would be the best option in this case.

I drove down to Stirling with the family on Saturday. I attended a Regional QGBI meeting to discuss Regional quilting events up to 2014 and they went to the castle for the day. I have to compile a list of possible tutors for the Stirling Residential weekend in 2011. We met some gale force winds on the way down. By the time we got home all sorts of things had been blown all over the place.

Sunday morning was spent clearing up all the debris in the garden. A few branches broke off the trees and the flowerpots had all tipped over. I had to make adjustments to the yurt which had shifted considerably. A table had been knocked over and a jug got smashed. The cover had lifted and there were leaves and twigs to sweep up inside. The cat had opened the summerhouse door by jumping on the door handle so chairs and papers were strewn about in there too. It was a beautiful autumn day and it was really satisfying to spend some time outside tidying up.

I had to fetch the livestock trailer from the butcher. Our local farmer has opened up all of the gates in the inter-connecting fields so that the cows can wander freely. I had to undo the main gates, drive through, shut the gates, negotiate the very curious cows, back the trailer up, and try to prevent Ginger from escaping while we cleared the fence away so that we could get the trailer into the pig run to avoid any chasing on the day that she is due to go for bacon. She was very interested in all that was going on and would not be distracted by food. I got Tania over to help and for a few moments she had to hang onto Ginger’s tail to stop her from getting out while we did our manoeuvres. Unbelievably, she then wandered into the trailer and decided that it looked like a comfy place to lie down. Let’s hope it is that easy on the morning of departure…

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