Monthly Archives: April 2010

Buns in the Basement



We were due to fly home on Tuesday evening but due to continuing ash plumes from the Icelandic volcanic eruption, our flight was cancelled. We got straight onto BA’s website as soon as rebooking opened but the earliest next available flight we could get was 10 days later. This took some time to sink in – it felt exciting to be “stranded” but also very odd not to be returning after an already long and exciting trip. We went off to Wal-Mart for some basic groceries and I bought some sweeties and multi coloured goldfish to take home for the children. The next store was Home Depot, where I was able to buy a couple of imperial socket wrenches for my longarm machine. We called in at Aldi to see what it was like. Instead of cheap European tins of fruit there were budget American brands. I had to make another trip to a liquor store to stock up on gin. Bonnie drove us to see the view of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River from Rip van Winkle Bridge.

We made a modest start on the spring cleaning in Bonnie’s studio. While Tracy had fun sorting out the bolts of fabric behind the 1960’s bar, I made a very smart sleeve for my latest gadget… Tracy and I had egged each other on after seeing ipads in Providence and bought one each. Although I have brought my laptop to the States, it is quite heavy to carry around all day. It has been fantastic to just pop the ipad into our handbags. Tracy has been able to keep in touch with friends and family during our extended stay. We can both sit and check messages and forums so quickly and easily, even in coffee shops with Wi-Fi. Ipads are not available in the UK yet and I had already wondered about getting the Amazon Kindle electronic reading device for carrying several books on a long trip. We can’t get the mini programmes or apps yet since our iTunes accounts are from the UK but eventually I will be able to word process, blog and load up photos on the fly straight from the ipad. Tracy did the cooking after I deboned the giant chicken joints then we spent the evening typing and surfing the internet. We stayed up late as usual before making an early start at 6.00am to crack on with more studio sorting…

Bonnie had never had the spare time or two willing assistants to sort through stuff that had been packed since her move from Nevada to New York State so there was quite an accumulation of boxes. She was actually a bit shocked at how much fabric she had forgotten that she had. Although we were sorting through and throwing some things away, the studio looked as though it had been trashed – it was at the worse before it gets better stage. We tested every reel of thread because the temporary studio that Bonnie had after moving to New York had been a bit damp after the dry heat of Nevada. We were ruthless and got rid of a lot of thread but it is no use keeping it if is weak and simply keeps breaking.

It was my turn to concoct something for supper so I made a potluck soup with the stock from the chicken bones. It was reasonably edible after the addition of some left over pasta and some corn scraped off the cob. While I was pottering around the kitchen I put some uneaten leftovers in a bag to carry them across to the amazing mechanical compacting trash can. The bag had a weak spot and the bottom burst, spilling lasagne into the clean laundry basket. Luckily, only the shirt on top had to be washed and since the leftovers were cold I was able to pick pieces of pasta out of the bottom of the basket before anyone noticed. There was quite a lot of congealed debris all over the floor but I was able to get rid of the evidence before anyone slipped on the slimy mess that I had created. Bonnie made me a batch of sticky cinnamon buns as a reward for clearing out her studio; they were magnificent! We posted pictures of them on the APQS forum and now people from all over the USA are threatening to come here for buns or inviting us to visit and sort their studios out too. We went for a stroll in the evening and had a nosy around the lovely timber house being constructed on the next property and spotted a huge toad. Frogs and crickets are starting to make a noise in the evenings now but we haven’t seen any yet.

On Thursday morning, after an early start, we dropped Siana off at her High School in Albany and sat in on a students’ meeting about their forthcoming yearbook. We were a bit puzzled over the lack of discussion in the meeting until we realised that they were instant messaging each other on their laptops so didn’t see any reason to actually speak. They were quite subdued in the company of Bonnie and two British Quilters and Siana reported later that they were in awe of my gold boots, specially worn for the visit at her request. Bonnie said that we were the “shock & awe” curiosities for the day. We drove through the centre of Albany to admire the grand old buildings constructed by the original Dutch settlers. We arrived at Joann’s Fabrics in Colonie as soon as the doors opened and spent a couple of hours wandering around on fabric overload mode. It was easy to spend a few dollars without even trying. We bought a little bit of funky skull material because it was so unusual even though we may not have a plan for it yet. We recovered over a cup of coffee in Barnes & Noble before scouring the automotive section in Wal-Mart for stick-on “tats” for our quilting machines. Tracy rustled up a fabulous spaghetti Bolognese while I ran up an ipad sleeve for her out of some of the new skull fabric. I quilted it on Bonnie’s Millennium which is a very well balanced machine.

We continued with the studio spring cleaning on Friday, squashing boxes and finally putting things back where they belonged. We had a little snack from the amazing carnival issue popcorn maker before fixing the windblown whirligig with a piece of steel tubing and a roll of ducktape. It was a lovely bright and breezy day for drying the washing. Tracy made a deal with Siana that I would make her a camera/mobile phone pouch if she sorted through her laundry.

After breakfast on Saturday morning I followed Bonnie to the County Dump in the Pontiac minivan, making sure that we obeyed the sign by not dumping large dead animals or explosives. Tracy and I pretended to be Thelma and Louise but she kept telling me that I was heading into the ditch. After that we went on a jaunt to a couple of small malls in Kingston. There were a small Joann’s Fabrics, Dollar Tree, and an automotive store where I hunted for a magnetic dish to hold quilting pins. Style Fabrics happened to have a 30% discount today so I bought a couple of small pieces, including one printed with Converse baseball boots for Freya. Bonnie picked up a huge rack of ribs at Sam’s Club to make sticky ribs with rice-a-roni and corn cobs for supper. On the road back we spotted a turkey vulture and some American bald eagles feeding their chicks in the treetops above a swamp. I finally got around to reloading the Yurt panel that defeated me in Providence and doodled random patterns all over it. It has now been titled, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.



MQX at Providence, RI and travels in New England




 The first thing we did after checking in at the Westin Inn was to find a liquor store to restock on Gin & Tonic. After the frenetic activity of New York City, we crashed out for a couple of hours, had quite a lot to drink then decided we had better go and get something to eat in order to soak up some alcohol. Some students recommended the Luxe Burger Bar but we couldn’t find it without asking for directions. We had to follow and keep up with a guy who was out on a power walk workout at a very fast pace. The build-your-own burgers were excellent and very good value and had the desired effect.

During the course of the next morning we started to meet members of the APQS Forum. I received a super Amish String Yurt panel from Connie which didn’t yet have a name. She told me the story of how she had the quilt hanging up outside in order to take a photo when her husband accidentally splashed it with the garden hose and a little of the navy blue fabric bled through to the bright orange back. She told me that she was not at all pleased with him – she almost said to him that she would have to go out and look for husband number 5 to replace him… so her panel is now known as “Looking 4 # 5”

We were disappointed to discover that all of the tickets were sold out for the first evening event, The Ice Cream Social so we volunteered to help out so that we could attend anyway. They put us in charge of Security and promised to let us have a bowl of ice cream with M&M’s if there was any left over. It was a low key event where the organisers performed a song, some of the teachers gave an outline of the classes on offer and door prizes were flung across the room. They were not impressed that we shouted out the answer to the question, “How many tickets were sold for the Ice Cream Social?” as we had counted them all up as we checked off the names from our list on the door. There was not a prize for using our initiative.

Despite feeling a bit jaded from all of the dashing about since we arrived in the USA, I still managed to read my book until after midnight and wake up full of energy before 6.00am so Tracy and I used the time to make up some British quilting trivia quiz questions so we could give out our “prizes” of goodies from the UK at the APQS supper on Thursday evening. By the time my class started at 8am in a chilly air conditioned room, I was almost dozing off due to a lack of caffeine. So far I have attended a most thorough class on APQS maintenance by Amy Anderson and an interesting class on what to quilt on customer quilts by Deloa Jones. It made me realise that what I quilt for customers is imaginative enough but far too detailed to be cost effective. I spent a few hours hanging around the coffee bar in the conference centre so that I could use the wifi and do some people watching. Someone who admired my boots asked if I was there for the Roller Derby where roller-bladers dress wackily and bump into each other just like stock car racing.

I decided that I needed to pluck up the courage to ask some of the quilting superstars if they will let me interview them for my new podcast. I made up some silly questions and pretended to interview someone to check that I could remember how to operate the tape recorder. I spotted Matt, the Man Quilter eating salad and got him to agree to an interview on Saturday while he had a mouthful of lettuce and couldn’t say “No”.

The only trouble with dashing around, drinking Coke and being in a foreign country is that I can’t seem to get more than 5 hours sleep. Every morning I wake up far too early, raring to go. By the time I get into an 8 o’clock class without coffee in an air conditioned room, I find it hard to stay awake and pay attention. Deloa Jones’ Challenge class was fascinating, with lots of ideas on how to do great looking customer quilts without spending days working on them. I had a long gap between classes which gave me time to relax, watch the people and think about blogging and interview questions. The evening class was with the legendary Karen McTavish. She is very entertaining and the class was a lot of fun. The purpose was to gain a teaching certificate for her McTavishing techniques. It was really good to see her show the flowing style on a machine and to have the opportunity to practise it. After 5 minutes on the machine I was offered the certificate and told that I could leave if I wanted to… I decided to stay, of course! Karen told me she had seen my work and thought it was pretty cool – I was thrilled to hear that from her.

On Thursday morning I whizzed around the vendors and just glimpsed the quilts but it seems to be a relatively small show and some of the vendors had not brought their full complement of stock. I bought thread and a couple of rulers but did not tick all of the must-have longarm gadgets off my list. It was fairly quiet so it was easy to chat to several quilting teachers if they were helping out on the booths. The big news of the day was that a volcanic eruption in Iceland had closed all of the European airports due to huge clouds of ash in the atmosphere. It was suggested that we should just stay in the USA and head on down to the AQS show in Paducah next week!

I took an intense class on advanced artistry with Linda Taylor. There was lots of drawing which I struggle with at speed but she just kept talking and drawing while the students all waited for their turn at the longarms. Each person had about 15 minutes of hands-on time which is a very short time on an unfamiliar machine and what I produce is not usually of a good standard. I spent the last hour of the show chatting to Heidi, Charlotte and Anne before meeting up with a crowd from the APQS Forum at “Fire & Ice”. This restaurant was a Mongolian barbecue – the diners fill a bowl with meat or fish, vegetables and sauces then it is cooked on a huge circular cooking plate manned by 3 guys with knives and spatulas while everyone observes their meal progressing clockwise until it is cooked. It was a bit like throwing all sorts of everything into a wok and just seeing what would happen at the end. We did “show & tell” with Anne and Sandra’s Yurt panels, did the British quiz where the prizes included tea, shortbread and Royal Navy hats, and took lots of pictures of the APQS crowd. It was really fun to put real faces to all of the chat room avatars.

On Friday morning I made myself look at the show quilts and take photos early before I got distracted by vendors and chatting to quilters. I was absolutely delighted when I spotted a teacher ribbon from Cathy Franks on LSD. I saw her to say thank you and she was really pleased that she had chosen my quilt – she said she loved it!! On the back of the rosette she wrote, “Cool, Cool, Cool!” I spent the rest of the day talking to vendors, quilters and doing some typing. I wondered if I should have booked some more classes and realised that the demo classes are probably more valuable than hands-on where time on a machine is really limited. Later on Deloa Jones kindly let me use her machine to work on the unquilted yurt panel that I had taken with me but since so many people were attending the Gala Dinner that we did not manage to get tickets for, the whole place felt deserted so after a while I decided to pack up. Deloa arrived and very kindly basted the panel for me so that it would be easy to reload at home. Tracy and I went out for supper with ex-pat Anne from Stowe and gave her taste of the UK. We had a good hearty bar supper which was most welcome after several days of living on sandwiches. I was told later that the Gala Dinner was not the most spectacular food so I reckon we had the better evening.

On Saturday morning we had another chase around the vendors getting product demos and trying to wheedle free samples. I had a nice chat with the Filtec Threads team and Jamie Wallen wanted to know all about the Yurt project. The interviewees that I had lined up were nowhere to be found so Cathy Franks and Deloa Jones very kindly agreed to be my guinea pig interviewees. I had jotted down some questions but mainly winged it without a rehearsal, being very conscious not to interrupt, sniff or mutter. Both interviews are 5 minutes long at the most but it is a start so I will need to work out how to edit and upload these with some other podcast content to make a real Episode One.

We helped to get the show quilt return bags ready and then waited to collect LSD before heading up to Albany with our next hostess, Bonnie Botts. After arriving back at her house fairly late, we had a very quick tour around her huge basement studio and settled in for the night with a cup of tea.

We got up early on Sunday to fetch Sarah the Dog from kennels, passing wild turkeys on the way. Apparently the tom turkeys can get as large as 70lbs but would be tough to eat. The day started properly after a splendid brunch at an original aluminium 1940’s Diner where I was able to order a fried egg, “Sunnyside Up!” with ham and home fries and plenty of coffee. We had a busy day on a quilt shop tour that took in Pumpkin Patch, Tala’s Quilt Shop and A Notion for Quilting – all of the owners were friendly and helpful and had lovely displays of fabric. I bought a couple of novelty pieces to turn into book covers or another laptop sleeve. After driving around for most of the day, we stopped off at the Yankee Candle Emporium and sniffed all of the delightful fragrances and eyed up the colourful Vera Bradley quilted bags. I was very tempted to buy a glass Christmas ornament of a dill pickle but thought that it might break in transit. We stopped off for delicious Chinese food on the way home but the portions were huge so we took a doggie bag home each in case we felt like a snack later on.

We had another early start on Monday to make a long road trip through Vermont and New Hampshire to Keepsake Quilting. The scenery was beautiful and we passed many beautiful clapboard houses and barns. Some were painted in soft Shaker colours with neat front yards while others were dilapidated and surrounded by broken down pickups. The towns were really quaint throughout historic New England and we passed the time talking about quilting, Bonnie’s childhood in Montana, life, the universe and everything. We saw eagles, mountains, forests, lakes, beaver dams, trucks, hillbilly trailers and white churches – it was the most beautiful trip. Keepsake Quilting was a very nice shop in a large white clapboard building with a huge range of fabrics, although not all of what is displayed on their website was available in the shop.  We decided that the staff could have been a bit more cheerful and obliging. We bought a couple of books and notions between us but were quite restrained.

When we finally got back to eat Bonnie’s marvellous meatloaf with mashed potato and gravy, we checked the news regarding the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud. Our Tuesday evening flight has been cancelled. Air travel worldwide has been severely disrupted and the volcano is still active. There are many rumours that the Royal Navy will rescue us but I suspect that we will have to make a convoluted journey back to the UK via France. We will find out in the morning and help Bonnie with some chores in her studio so we can try to earn our keep. She has been so kind, offering to let us stay on instead of camping at the airport like several hundred stranded passengers so we will do our best to be helpful guests after all of her marathon driving over the past couple of days.

Uptown Girls


Marilynn’s neighbour and fellow Big Apple Greeter, Dana, joined us on Sunday. She is a native New Yorker so there was considerable banter between our two guides about which were the best subway stops and sights. The first stop of the day was to Junior’s in Brooklyn for coffee and genuine New York cheesecake even though Marilynn insisted that it should be enjoyed in the evening as dessert. Several families and a school basketball team were out for Sunday brunch.

Dana persuaded us to visit Ground Zero where the Twin Towers had been attacked. Marilyn works for NYFD but she had not visited “The Pits” since the tragic events of September 11th unfolded. She has watched in disbelief from her office building as the planes hit the skyscrapers and people jumped from the upper storeys. It was a powerfully emotional experience to stand in the Visitor Centre and St. Paul’s Chapel where rescuers slept and ate in shifts for almost a year. The site is vast and the feeling of atrocity was incomprehendible. There was an inspiring quilt that had been left deliberately unfinished to symbolise the loss of so many unfinished lives.

After our sobering experience in the Wall Street area we headed for Macy’s where there was a magnificent flower show throughout the world’s largest department store. There were beautiful displays of flowers, floral sculptures and even caged finches in every department. Hordes of bargain hunters were sifting through the sale rails. Beautifully groomed assistants hustled for customers from their perfume and cosmetic counters. It was a high-end version of the sales pitch normally experienced in markets or bazaars. I was encouraged to have my eyes made up by a girl who admired my gold boots. She covered my eyelids in black eyeliner, sparkly powder and some “badass” mascara. It was not my usual unstructured look!

We booked tickets for the journey to Providence RI at Pennsylvania Street Station in Madison Square Gardens then set off on a mission to find a Chinatown street vendor selling serving noodles in a cardboard bento box. We actually ended up in a very nice Chinese restaurant and shared 4 delicious dishes between us. The subway back to Brooklyn travelled overland briefly and gave us a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We poured large G&T’s when we got back to Marilynn’s house and chatted late into the night. I have left her the rest of bottle of Gordon’s gin and Schweppes tonic to share with Dana as she acquired a taste for it! As it was so late and I have not had time to practice with the tape recorder, I never got around to Marilynn’s interview. I have warned her that I will send her some questions by email as her stories are so fascinating. She was always happy answer my questions about her childhood on a farm in Georgia and what life in New York is really like. She showed us antique quilts made by her great grandmothers from Feedsacks and Indian Head cotton. We talked about Southern recipes, quilt patterns and Marilynn’s travels around the USA and Africa.

Marilynn was the most warm and generous host with a soft accent that is a mixture of The South and more than 40 years in New York City. She must be one of the modest people I have ever met – she offers classes to new quilters, cooks traditional African American food for her family after Church on Sundays and says very little about her long service at the New York Fire Department. Early on Monday she wanted to cook us up a “heavy” breakfast of eggs, bacon and grits to set us up for the train trip to Rhode Island. She accompanied us to Penn St. Station. We were very sorry to say “Goodbye” to Marilynn and very much hope to meet up with her again on a future trip to New York – we would love her to visit us in Scotland. We really have appreciated the unique opportunity to stay in a New Yorker’s home and be guided around the city by someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of trains, fabric shops and the best traditional restaurants – THANK YOU, Marilynn!!



Taking a Bite out of the Big Apple


On Wednesday I hopped on the Megabus in Aberdeen with my luggage on the first stage of my epic journey to the USA. Tracy met me at Glasgow bus station and after dropping off my bags, we went on a special tour of a nuclear submarine that she had manage to organise since she works at the Faslane base. I had to scramble up and down ladders and climb through round hatches. The naval officers all admired my sensible (gold) Doc Marten boots!

The next morning we began our long day travelling to New York – first to London Heathrow and then on to Newark where we had to wait some time to clear immigration. The Border Control Officer was very dubious about why we wanted to go to Brooklyn to visit a Quilter but eventually he must have decided that we did not pose a security threat. We found the transit train eventually and finally reached Penn Station and met up with our wonderful hostess, Marilynn. She led us to the subway train for Brooklyn and welcomed us into her fabulous old brownstone house with architectural features and creaky stairs. I will interview Marilynn in more detail later… After a long-awaited G&T we went to bed at what our bodies thought was around 5am, far too excited to sleep much.

On Friday morning we found ourselves walking along the street in Brooklyn past old building with iron fire escapes and boarded the first of many fast and noisy subway trains into the New York City’s Garment District landmarked with a huge needle and button monument. As I dashed over the pedestrian crossing, I felt that my decision to wear leggings in an effort to look fashionable had not been a wise one as they started to slither down and I had to hitch them up on more than one occasion. We quickly found an Italian wholesaler of dancewear where I managed to procure a new pair for $7 after a bit of banter with the Italian proprietors.

The first fabric store that we entered via an antique crank elevator was Moods, as featured on TV’s “Project Runway”. There were 3 storeys of tweed, spandex, ribbons, buttons and trimmings. I found 2 giant buttons for the Yurt’s door handles. After the thrill of seeing all of that fabric, we had coffee in a wonderful Deli with beautifully presented counters of cookies, cheesecakes and salads. I have made up my mind that I need to eat a bagel with cream cheese, pastrami on rye, a giant pretzel, cheesecake and a fried egg sunnyside up while I am in New York.

We emerged from the coffee shop to gawp at the sky-scrapers, yellow taxi cabs and all sorts of people. All through the day I received admiring glances and comments about my gold boots since Docs are not available in the USA. Next we visited a tiny Jewish fabric shop piled to the ceiling with rolls of suiting and lurex. In the beautiful patchwork shop, City Quilter, we bought some NYC fabric to make tote bags. Rosen & Chadick was an expensive wholesaler that we entered to be fascinated by top quality shirting and imported Italian wool. A store called Peron had a beautiful piece of metallic gold leather. After a tuna melt sandwich in an Italian cafe in Soho, we visited Purl which was 2 tiny shops – one sold unusual Japanese prints and the other was filled with colourful yarn for knitting and crochet. I almost bought a purple crochet hook, thinking that it would benefit my crochet dyslexia.

At Union Square in Greenwich Village Tracy was in girlie heaven in make-up shop, Sephora. Women were primping and preening in every available mirror. Tracy appeared with a hand striped with several colours of sparkly eye-liner. We had another cup of coffee and root beers in a huge Barnes & Noble book store where we browsed through all of the patchwork books and magazines.

Our final destination of the day was 42nd Street for Times Square, lit by huge neon billboards advertising all of the Broadway shows. It was amazingly bright and colourful and tourists were all busy snapping away at all of the sights. We shared a delicious giant pretzel dipped in mustard from a street vendor. We rode the subway and bus back to Brooklyn again, not realising that it was already after 10pm. After a couple of gins we slept more soundly but still woke up bright and early before heading out to look for breakfast bagels before visiting the Empire Quilters guild meeting.

On Saturday morning we rode the subway back into the Garment District, managing to walk straight past City Quilter on the mission to find genuine bagels. There was a tiny coffee shop on the corner that served great coffee and nova lox (smoked salmon) with cream cheese on sesame bagels. We were far too full after that to do anything other than admire the beautifully frosted cupcakes. Next we wandered around the flea market inside a large parking garage, browsing through vintage couture and ephemera, pausing to discuss a wonderful mid Victorian log cabin quilt on sale for $1200.

We walked over to FIT, the Institute of Fashion Technology, marvelling at how green and open New York feels. The streets are wide and the many trees are covered with cherry blossom. The skyscrapers are not as high and dominating as I had expected; most areas have brownstone buildings with beautiful architectural features.

We attended a Guild meeting of Empire Quilters and were made to feel welcome by a large and diverse group of quilters. The business part of the meeting felt very familiar with the discussion on how the fees would have to be raised in order to pay for the rent on the venue, just like any meeting of quilters in the UK. The speaker was Betty Pillsbury who had brought her collection of crazy quilts. We had a rare opportunity to study and photograph her work. Speaking to her afterwards, we discovered that she had been to Scotland and had visited Helensburgh and Dunottar while she was there. As there were around 300 quilters at the meeting, people with Show & Tell items had to take a ticket and wait to called forwards. There were all sorts of projects including journal quilts and class samples.  The most memorable was a surprise quilt featuring cupcakes that one sister had been working on secretly with a group of friends. The recipient was so overwhelmed that it left her speechless. I showed the Empire Quilters an unfinished yurt panel that I had brought with me and explained the project in brief.

After the meeting we decided to explore the Garment District again to look at trimmings. There were entire shops filled with haberdashery – shelves and boxes full of zips, buttons, feathers and elastic. Remarkably, I only bought a piece of ribbon, deciding to concentrate on the project in hand. I was tempted to buy 60 horn toggles to add as a trimming on the Yurt roof but somehow I didn’t, deciding to eke my dwindling funds out as far as they will go on absolute essentials. I could not believe how many shops in one small area could be stocked with such a massive range of spandex and sequins. It would be amazing to design a very glitzy project but the choice was simply overwhelming and I bought no fabric at all, despite being sorely tempted by some shot silk that would make a gorgeous wholecloth.

A train ride across town to the Lower East Side took us to Katz’s traditional Jewish restaurant. It was a large, cafeteria style diner retaining its original 1950’s decor. The noise and bustle was amazing. This was where “Harry met Sally” and adverts read, “Senda Salami to a Soldier”. It was so popular that the queue reached back out onto the street. I ordered pastrami on rye with pickles and a potato salad. The meat was cut thickly but hot and tender and it was easily the largest and most wonderful sandwich that I have ever eaten! We needed a stroll around the district afterwards, passing designer boutiques with no price tickets, jostling for space with trendy bars – these shopfronts are gradually replacing the old “Mom & Pop” businesses of the area.

We spent the later part of the evening at Marilynn’s house looking at quilt patterns and books and felt most privileged to be able to ask her all sorts of questions about what life is really like in New York. We discussed healthcare, the impact of Nine Eleven on the neighbourhoods, the myths of the Underground Railroad, architecture, food, and her amazing collection of African American quilting history books, fabrics, dolls and paintings. She has been a most generous and welcoming hostess and we feel that we have made a true friend in New York.



New York, New York!


It rained then snowed midweek so the Yurt frame did not get put up for the roof fitting. I was a bit disappointed but decided to get on with piecing the last panel instead. I cut lots of sashing strips, rapidly running out of fabric then realised that I had cut half of them too short so had to substitute with leftover pieces of backing instead. I quilted Charlotte’s “New York Beauty” Yurt panel which was fun because there were lots of different areas to fill. I counted all of the finished panels that I have done and was slightly disappointed that there were only 14. On a good week I can quilt 3 panels so I couldn’t see why there weren’t far more. I need to remember that I have also done piecing, a roof, some writing, and various other things as well. Terri sent pictures of her “Sun Lizard” which is amazing. The Yurt panels are all going to look fantastic when they are all finally assembled. They are all different but do tie together because of the fabrics and themes, just as I had hoped. I have been sent some book submission guidelines for the Yurt project so will be even busier after the Yurt is complete, catching up on customer quilts to pay the bills and drafting potential chapters.

Freya was delighted to receive a union jack electric guitar for her 12th birthday and some spending money for a shopping trip. She bought all sorts of trendy t-shirts and earrings – when I was 12 I was only interested in stationery and books.

I was interviewed by British “Patchwork & Quilting” Magazine this week which was great fun. My interview was conducted in the Yurt over coffee with the wood stove roaring away. I was very excited to be describing my big project to a proper magazine so I hope it doesn’t all come out as gibberish. It should appear in the July copy so that finished pictures from LLQS can be published and people may decide to come and see me on the APQS stand at Festival of Quilts in August.

I decided to pack for the New York trip over the weekend so that I could do some last minute piecing and quilting in between getting my hair cut, visit to the bank, and children’s holiday activities. The plan was to fit a smaller suitcase inside a large suitcase as I will be bringing quilting goodies, the LSD quilt and Yurt panels back with me from the USA. I could hardly lift the suitcase which weighed 22kg. The airline limit is 23kg in total so I had to unpack and start again using one suitcase. I have not put in many clothes, will leave an old pair of pyjamas behind and will drink the litre bottle of gin so just have to hope that I have enough space to bring everything back without exceeding the limit. I might buy a very cheap and lightweight holdall for the return journey but I will have to keep a constant check on the weight of the bags or go to the Post Office. It has made think how useful the Amazon Kindle would be so that I don’t need to carry books, although the books will be going in my cabin bag with all of my gadgets. I tried out the newest gadget, the voice recorder and LOVE it. I did a few pretend introductions to my future podcast and felt just like a BBC Radio 4 presenter. It will be tricky keeping an interview flowing professionally, not forgetting what to say, saying “er…”, or sniffing loudly! I am hoping to use it in New York to record some genuine NYC buzz for a podcast in the near future. I will try to blog more often during the USA trip so that I can keep you all up to date with all that goes on over the next couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to seeing the sights and meeting some of the Stunt Quilters, amongst many others!