Monthly Archives: February 2010




We have had days of thick snow, heavy rain and overnight temperatures of -19 degrees. School was closed for another 2 days and I shattered the glass hen drinking jar by pouring on some lukewarm water to defrost it. Dog walking through a foot of thick slush was not that pleasurable but I felt that I really deserved my coffee afterwards. One morning I was quilting in my hat and coat because it was so cold but I did have to take my Wellies off because I was tripping over my feet.

I didn’t go out all week apart from commuting to the workshop and made do with what was in the freezer. We had Roadkill venison stew; it was pretty tasty but even a rich blackcurrant jam gravy did nothing to improve the liver in my opinion. I have always disliked liver and have come to the conclusion that I don’t have to keep trying it any more. My spinach and risotto rice soup was less successful as I forgot about it and left it bubbling for hours. It was just like green rice pudding.

I did a lot of intensive yurt quilting this week. I thought it would look interesting if I microscribbled in between the nested Celtic spiros on the Shield panel but it took ages and my hands and elbows became numb after a while. I also finished the Half-Circles panel but after a billion bubbles in 2 colours, became a bit bored with micro quilting. I measured all of the tweed to see how much of it would have to be pieced for the yurt roof – hopefully Tania will give me a hand with that. I ordered another 45 metres of fabric for dyeing and a roll of wadding so I’m just about bankrupt.

I received an abrasive email on Friday that put me in a fairly bad mood. I was so distracted by it that I deviated from my plan for the Pub Carpet panel. I had intended to do some long, smooth vertical lines but instead I produced angry crossing-over lines. I should have stopped and unpicked at this point but I decided to carry on and make it a feature. It did not improve so I ended up scribbling over it all with frustration. It now looks like a Shetland shawl or mycelium (underground fungus growth). I have bound it and put it away for now but may paint over the mess with some gold paint and add some crochet circles to make it look like an intentional design. I am NOT going to experiment any more on this project…!

I made several marathon, fruitless phone calls this week to a Boiler Man who is ignoring my calls about the strong smell of kerosene fumes and the Reject Office Screen Company which is denying that my purchase was ever returned to its depot. I got very annoyed at being put on hold for 20 minutes every time I called and being fobbed off so I am going to call Trading Standards in a last ditch attempt to recover my £135.

Mo is preparing to set off on a jolly to Georgia, near Russia next week with a friend who wanted to take a travel companion on a business trip. She will be collected in a limo from the airport and have dinner with the ambassador at the British Embassy. Tania and I have been pulling her leg and reminding her to take a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates because that is what “The Ambassador” always serves at parties (according to the corny 1980’s adverts). She is also going on a helicopter trip to inspect a pipeline with her friend so we have told her she will probably bump into James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) who will then take her on one of those trolleys under the mountain to a secret rendezvous where they will drink champagne and eat caviar. Well, you never know! She is hoping to visit a market selling folkarty things that would be useful for felting or quilting. Mo has been working hard for months so she deserves to have a great trip.

A Friday night out with Tania and Mo made up for all of the week’s trials. We had a delicious supper at the new cafe at Woodend Barn. Smoked mussels in a shot glass of exotic oil were a huge improvement on Roadkill. The special guest warm-up act was Tempole Tudor who used to tour with the Sex Pistols. He looked like he had been on the road (and something else) for the past 30 years.His guitar was held together with string and was covered in scorch marks and holes but it still bashed out a tune. The main band was called “Hayseed Dixie” from Tennessee. They wore dungarees, had big beards and were delighted that we had worn cowboy hats. They played smokin’ hot bluegrass versions of Bohemian Rhapsody, Mozart and originals such as Alien Abduction Probe. It was the best fun we have had in ages!



Quilt Vandal


I enjoyed a hectic few days with family in Norfolk as it was the February midterm break. We met Baby Daniel and the children loved fussing over their new cousin. We packed a lot into our trip and the time flew past. There was a visit to The Farm where I found myself asking about the milk yield of the new Jersey herd and I wondered if I might have room for a small cow in Scotland. The children made lumpy but tasty sausages with Grandad and enjoyed the novelty of walking to a shop. When a boy on a bike with a fishing rod who was wearing a kagoul and some particularly unfashionable specs, yelled across, “Wotcha!”, I knew that I had stepped into a time warp. My Dad announced that he wanted to look at fountains on the Internet. My mother was not impressed and expressed the opinion that he should really finish a project before embarking on a new one. That sounds vaguely familiar…

I would like to be a fan of British public transport but somehow it always lets itself down. I took the train to Colchester to do some longarm tuition with Janette. I missed the first train because some crucial traffic lights had broken down. When I finally arrived we had a really good day. She is not a novice so there was plenty of time to practise free-handing techniques and discuss her plans for a new studio in a log cabin. On the way home, my train was cancelled because someone had been run over. This meant getting on a crowded commuter train to Ipswich then catching a connecting train to Norwich. In Mumbai 20 people are run over by trains every day but the trains still manage to run on time! The journey back to Scotland was less eventful apart from the old bus that replaced the train from Norwich to Peterborough in thick fog. A Canadian tourist enquired hopefully, “Is there a bathroom on board?” The great thing about train journeys now that the children can occupy themselves with IPods and don’t need to go to the loo very often is that it lets me read a book.

I am reading the latest Diana Gabaldon tome in the “Outlander” series. It took me a while to get stuck into this one as I had forgotten who all the characters were but after 6 hours between York and Stonehaven I was back in the Americas of 1777. I did try to check emails using the wifi on the train but it was quite slow and typing on a moving train is quite tricky. I bet all the commuters take ages to check their work for typos or perhaps they are just pretending to work and are really playing solitaire.

I have a few more technological challenges to sort out. My Quilt Quine email address wasn’t working because my mailbox was full. My IPod has decided that it won’t let me sync all the podcasts that I told it to. This is annoying as I am trying to research what makes a good programme. I have been jotting down ideas for content and have ordered a hand held microphone so there is no backing out now. My husband was very puzzled when he told me that my computer had been making a funny noise like a phone ringing. That must have been Skype which is another gizmo that I have yet to master – a bit like Facebook. I have avoided taking my laptop out into the workshop because I’ll never get any work done if I do.

I did get a lot of work done on Saturday because I got up at 5.30am to drop Freya and 2 other Girl Guides off to meet the coach for a day trip to Edinburgh. We have had a lot of snow in our valley over the past few days and it was very icy. I had to defrost the Landy doors and start it up for about half an hour to clear all the ice from the windows. When it was time to leave the doors had frozen shut again. I drove slowly into Banchory and got out to see the girls off but when I tried to get back into the car the doors had all frozen solid again. Luckily, I was able to prise open the door of the boot and climb over all the seats.

I have completely finished 2 yurt panels and sewn on the binding. I actually finished another one but didn’t think the colour was right for my muted Scottish theme so I dyed it a wonderful gungey green. The trouble was that a hot wash was necessary and the panel is now 3 inches shorter so may have to have an extension to get it back up to 54″ in length. Not content with shrinking it, I decided to paint large areas. However, the washed and dried panel is now all crinkly so it is not going as smoothly as it should. I will need to work considerably faster than this and I dare not even look at the calendar as there are 22 more panels to go AND a roof.

My target for the week is to complete 2 (preferably 3) panels and cut up all the pieces of tweed for the roof. The first Stunt Quilter panel arrived from California. Sharon did a great job of the feathers on her Celtic knot. I could not resist adding about a million more pebbles to make the feathers pop out more. Then I decided to celebrate them even more by highlighting them with some Jacquard Lumiere paint. I LOVE Lumiere – it goes on so smoothly but doesn’t run. David reminded me that I really don’t have time to add all these details until later. He may have a point – I should just quilt everything and complete the panels at the exhibition with my tiny paintbrush and pots of paint.

No Time for Frivolity!


I have been so focused this short week that I have had no time for adventures or jaunts. I did manage to go and see “Avatar” – it would be handy to have a carbon fibre blue double to help me get my yurt project done or to do the household chores for me AND it would be cool to go flying on a dragon! Instead I discussed plumbing with George the Builder, cleaned out the hens and sorted out the dogs and cat before packing up for our 11 hour drive to England to see my family. The gadget chargers now take up more space than spare knickers… there is one for the Ipod, phone, DS Lite, computer, camera. I sometimes wonder whether I might get arrested for carrying all these wires and gadgets into airports.

The time that I wasted on the Internet this week was spent researching the shipping cost of an Accuquilt Studio cutter. It will cost around £300 for shipping and customs. I may have to decide whether to post my clothes home from MQX and carry it in my luggage.
I have also been looking into podcast recording gadgets. There is a vast choice of these but I want something that records sound well and is easy to upload and edit. I think I will go for an Olympus. I have sounded out some friends to see if they are willing to do a Doric section and include some recipes for “fine-pieces”.
There was a morning when the Postie handed over a parcel and I looked at him blankly, wondering what I had ordered. It was from Tracy and contained ziploc bags from IKEA. These are fantastic as they are perfect for holding small projects and are all flowery.
Most of the stunt quilters have received their packages of fabric and are raring to go on their panels. They have been posting photos of how much snow they have had, although Wyoming has not had its usual quota. We have a few small clumps of snowdrops here at last despite snow flurries at the start of the week.
I have quilted 2 panels this week. I used the Quiltazoid to do some concentric circles with fillers. They look quite good and I decided to used Jacquard Lumiere paint to highlight the circles. This is a very slow embellishment since the poaintbrush is TINY! I also worked on the jagged triangles. These are quilted with wavy lines and embroidered with a thick thread. My friends think they are done and I should move onto the next panel but I never believe “less is more” so may have to do some embroidered triangles in the rather dull plain areas. They will also get some gold lurex rickrack to pep them up a bit more…
I wonder if people will appreciate my “organic” patterns or declare me too lazy to use a ruler for straight lines. The way I see it, there are many wonderful quilters who do superbly accurate work and I don’t think I can top that so I should just work out my own informal quilting style.

Currying Favour



Mo promised Tania and me a spicy Friday night curry if we helped to do a couple of felted masks for a project that she is working on. She is going to run a series of workshops on mask-making with adults who have undergone trauma in their lives. They may have had no previous artistic experience so she wants to have a few samples to show that anything is possible. My two friends both worked on lion heads but I wanted to make a dragon of sorts. This proved to be a very fluid idea… I laid all sorts of purple, green and blue fluffy fleece out and added a few dreadlocks at the edges and decided that it would be a lady instead. I added large eyes and a wobbly mouth. I have to confess that I don’t really enjoy wet felting as it is rather hard work but I did have to earn my supper so I got on with it, rubbing soap suds into the fleece to mat it together. The results are never quite what you expect. We decided that the face looked a bit odd when we laid it onto a mould in order to get a 3D effect so we turned the whole thing upside-down. Now the lady is far more interesting, especially now that her lipstick is on her forehead.

I have been getting faster at typing in Hungarian. I had to send off 2 orders for dye and carefully copied out the spellings of the colours. My typing in English is not great. I never learnt to touch type and I have to look at the keyboard and spell the words out with a few fingers. I did not add any Hungarian accents to the words but I now know what some of the colours are without looking at the chart – dark blue is “fermerkek” and greenish-yellow is “bananzold”.

There were 2 longarm machine enquiries this week that were a little unusual. One person’s first question was, “So – how do I get to be a dealer so I can get a cheap machine?” The other (English) one was sent to me via Germany as she had been advised by that Claudia Pfeil was her nearest APQS sales rep… Ho-hum!

Since deciding to post the blog on Blogger as well as on the website, I have been tweaking the layout of the new BlogSpot. This is a very time wasting activity. I cannot figure out how to get a slideshow to run despite reading all the instructions carefully. In order to do this I have set up several Picasa web albums that can be accessed via the Internet. These all have to be sorted and labelled. It is a curiously addictive pastime. It is possible to change all the fonts, add blinkies, geotags and adverts! I am in danger of becoming a blog nerd. I bought a back issue of a patchwork magazine in order to read an article about online journals only to discover that I knew far more than the blogging expert.

Ellen is spending her recuperation reminding me to get on with writing a book about the yurt project and pointing out that it is time I started to do podcasting too. She is quite right, of course. There has been some serious interest taken in the yurt project in America that may lead to some exciting opportunities so a book in the pipeline is exactly what I need to get on with. I have asked all of the stunt quilters to keep all their sketches, notes and take lots of photos of work in progress. The stunt packs have started to arrive in the USA. My tiny local post office didn’t bat an eyelid when I sent off lots of packages of fabric; it’s a good job there wasn’t a queue since I had to fill in quite a few customs forms. The postmistress informs me that I am her best customer, or at least – I send the most interesting parcels…

I have already started to plan a series of monthly podcasts and spent some time on the Internet researching voice recorders. That proved to be pretty fascinating. I could get a small hand-held gadget that is the same type as those used in police investigations or a tie-pin microphone from an online Spy shop. There is a vast choice but if I want to do any interviews on my travels I will need one that doesn’t require lots of trailing wires and complicated software. I can pretend that I am really a secret agent. I watched a how-to video on YouTube so I now know about mp3 and wav signals. (I may know about them but will I know what to do with them?!)

I managed to finish piecing 3 more yurt panels that had been in bits for some time. I will try to get some quilting started with a simple panel involving randomly placed concentric circles and some fillers. I tried to do the outline in thick cotton thread but could not get it to co-operate. I slackened the tension discs so much that they weren’t doing anything but the top thread was still far too tight. I think I have decided not to work with tricky thread on such a large project as any delays may lead to me having a nervous breakdown or eating far too much chocolate. I am also considering ways of attaching the panels together so that they can be alternated easily. Heavy duty zips or velcro is an option but I may have to make some interesting dangly things in case there is any bulging at the joins. I will measure all the tweeds for the roof panels in case I have to do some piecing if any lengths are too short. It looks likely that I will have to get another roll of wadding and some more fabric for dyeing. I may have to do a couple of customer quilts as well so that there is some money left in the bank!

There’s just one thing I have to figure out with Blogger… how to position the pictures where I want them!

Jumping Ship


Rather bored with Fasthosts closing me down if I exceed my bandwidth, I have been persuaded to try EBlogger… I will give it a whirl and continue to post in both places but eventually the battle will be won by the most accommodating blogspot!
I have been having fun dyeing in the washing machine with the fantastic Hungarian Columbus powder dye and have had to order more colours…
I am trying to get all of the unfinished piecing and dyeing up to date in order to start on some funky quilting – 30″ x 720″ for the walls of the quilted yurt and THEN a roof too!