Monthly Archives: May 2010

What does a press release look like anyway?

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 Gillian Cooper from Popular Patchwork Magazine told me I should write a press release about the Yurt so I came up with a single page of info and some pictures that I think will do the job until someone points out that it should be any different…

 

I have to say that I am sorry if I failed to mention that you called in the Yurt at LLQS like Mo, Joyce, Ann, Isabel, Norma, Nancy and Angela…! (this is just like the Oscars!) I really appreciate the effort made by everyone who came especially to see the finished Yurt.

 

I have had an awful lot to think about this week, trying to decide how to get Yurt bookings and sponsors, how to ship it, and where and when it should go to the USA if it is also wanted in Europe. I think I must be dreaming about all of these decisions since it feels like my brain is processing all of this even when I am supposed to be asleep in the middle of the night. 

 

I have clearly not been thinking about everyday things. I went to the Bank to complain that every time I try to use my bank card, the ATM tells me that the PIN number is invalid and I have checked it several times. I was informed that I had cut up the wrong card and was trying to use the wrong card with the correct number. They really shouldn’t make them all the same colour. When I got dressed one morning the first pair of knickers out of the drawer were those “hold you in” ones. I thought, “Blimey, these ones must really be working ‘cos my jeans keep falling down.” It wasn’t until after breakfast as I hoiked up the loose jeans that I realised I hadn’t actually zipped them up in the first place. While on the phone to the APQS factory in Iowa ordering some knurled nuts, I burnt the children’s omlette and they told their Dad that I was responsible for the cobbled bottom of the saucepan in which I recently burnt mashed potato.

 

I spent some time putting away all of the Yurty stuff so that it can travel more compactly the next time. The Chinese lantern fairy lights kept bouncing all over the studio and I took ages to unravel 56 metres of purple pompoms. I thought I would have a go at finally replacing my Milli circuit boards however, after opening the box and looking at a picture of circuit diagrams, decided to wimp out and wait until my husband could give me a hand. I failed O- level Electronics after all! Instead I spent a couple of hours removing broken and sellotaped items from Fergus’s bedroom. It had been my intention to do a bit of spring cleaning but that is as far as I got apart from scraping some bits of dead rabbit off the front doorstep that Bitzi had left there.

 

All in all, I did get a lot done. I took the Landy to the weighbridge at the quarry twice – empty and fully loaded with Yurt so I could find out the weight – 220 kg, actually. I arranged that the sawmill could treat the timber frame for ISPM15 compliance if I want to export it. I have typed out the programme for a longarm teaching weekend at the beginning of July but I still don’t seem to have sent it by email to the people who may be interested. I confess that I wasted a little while browsing tartan Doc Martens on the internet.

 

We did get Milli’s circuits and encoders all sorted so I did a simple customer quilt which featured tractors – it had one inch ” furrows” until I decided that it needed half inch furrows so that it would have great texture when washed. I helped to hang some of the Aberdeen P&Q group’s quilts at Crathes Castle – there were almost too many willing volunteers so progress wasn’t that quick. I attended an evening meeting for parents of pupils moving to secondary school in August. I was amused when our guide said, This is LIKE the library where you can borrow books AND STUFF…?” as opposed to an actual library, I suppose!

My parents arrived for the weekend in their caravan and I took them on an outing to Costco so we could do Saturday morning tasting and sampling. My Dad bought 2 toilet seats with amazing automatically closing lids.

 

Ipads are now available in the UK so it was exciting to be able to get a couple of useful apps. As an experiment, I have typed this week’s Blog on the ipad. It should be possible to save the text as a Word document or email it to my laptop. This will be great as I can easily fit the ipad into a bag and do a bit of typing in all sorts of places. Maybe I will even get cracking on THAT book…! 


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Yurt takes Loch Lomond Quilt Show by Storm!

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Visit www.picasaweb.google.com/thequiltquine
for LOTS more photos of the Quilted Yurt…

 It was quite a feat loading all of the yurt frame, panels, tools and wicker stag’s head into the Landy. The rear seats were all unbolted and removed. The door frame of the Yurt was too wide so we had to take all 16 huge wood screws out to dismantle it and the roof crown only just got wedged in. The 8ft long roof spars came right into the folded-down passenger seat – there was no room left at all but somehow I managed to wedge in my coffee pot and bottle of gin.

I arrived in Dumbarton at Riverside Parish Church Hall before midday on Tuesday and was met by Isabel and her son who were going to help me to erect my creation. I wished that I had brought one of my “experts” with me, never having taken sole charge of putting up a yurt before. It was not as easy as working on grass or gravel. The frame slipped around on the wooden floor and the roof poles kept falling down from where I had leaned them against the frame with an echoing crash. My helpers looked nervous. Isabel was called away to sort out a quilt crisis at another Church, leaving me to hope that Ross and I could manage get the roof up ourselves. A bigger team would have been far more sensible. Once I tightened up the tension band and put the ladder in the centre of the circle and decided that it WAS going to go up we got everything sorted out. There were a few hiccups such as the black strip that held up the panels snapping but I substituted that for a piece of blue nylon rope and got the wall panels velcroed into position. Although these had all been numbered at home, they had to be rearranged as the frame was obviously not the exact same diameter as it had been on gravel. The roof was man-handled on and attached by my willing volunteer who had never even heard of a yurt previously and he also did a great job of smoothing out the bunting around the crown. He later told me that it was far harder work than going to a gym for the afternoon. Thankfully, Tracy arrived to help me pin on the purple pompoms and interior bunting because my shoulder had ceased to function. She also figured out how to assemble the Chinese lantern fairy lights. Quite a lot of string was used for attaching all of these finishing touches. She brought the photo booklets that she had printed and bound for the show and we left the Yurt ready for the morning with photo albums, postcards, comments book, coffee pot and hid all of the junk under the table, concealed by a tartan tablecloth. She drove me to IKEA where we whizzed around buying circular rugs, colourful glass candle jars and a large bar of chocolate for emergencies.

I still cannot believe the response that the Yurt received over the next four days of the show. I am utterly amazed, humbled and delighted at all of the visitors’ comments. Almost everyone entered the hall and gasped then either could not say anything at all or simply said, “Wow!!” One lady became quite emotional. Another said she had heard she was going to see a Yacht, not a Yurt! I have never had to deal with quite such a lot of praise and admiration – it was gratifying, a relief, slightly embarrassing but absolutely wonderful and I wished that the Stunt Quilters could also have been there to see all of the amazed visitors. I kept being asked if there was a book. I responded to questions until I could hardly remember what the answers were. They wanted to know what gave me the idea, how long it took, who worked on the project, where did I normally keep the Yurt, where would it be going next, did I teach, would I bring the Yurt to Quilt Groups to do a talk, how long had it taken to put up, what would I be making next, would it appear in magazines… All the time I could hear cameras clicking, just like celebrity paparazzi photographers. It was exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I had thought I would be a bit bored in the gaps between visitors but there simply were no lulls at all. There was barely even time to pop out to the loo. Apparently, the Yurt was being discussed at all of the other quilt show venues, the Traders’ Village and people were phoning friends who had decided not to attend the show to make sure that they didn’t miss it. Several visitors said that the Yurt had, “Made their day!” Visitors had come from all over Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Singapore, Hungary, and America. I was offered all sorts of advice on sponsors and places where people would like to see the Yurt in the future including the V&A, Scottish Parliament, Festival of Quilts, The Edinburgh Festival and the Centenary of the Irish Craft Council. I was introduced to Pamela Mostek who publishes books with Martingale. Christine Porter was most complimentary – she said, “Who ARE you and why don’t I know you?!” Some of my other quilts were on display too and I could hear people discussing them. “That’s Kentuckii… I’ve seen it in a magazine!” I wasn’t wearing a name badge but visitors would say, “Oh, the Quilt Quine – I read her blog, you know…” “Are YOU Linzi Upton? I’ve been following your work for ages!” Actually, I was in shock – I couldn’t believe they were talking about ME!! The white-glove ladies found me a little worrying. I would encourage people to feel the tweed roof and when the hangers wondered how to display my children’s quilts without hanging sleeves, I broke all of the rules and employed my staple gun.

My parents were among the crowds and they were pretty impressed too. It was fantastic to see them lost for words and so many other friends who had made a special trip. Angie and Chris from the APQS forum came as did Brian & Carole Sowton. There were several quilty friends from Aberdeenshire. Ellen made it and we had a brief catch-up sitting inside the Yurt. Even weary husbands were impressed, particularly by the wooden frame. It’s a pity that Paul the Yurt Man of Highland Yurts didn’t hear all of the praise for his handiwork. I encouraged people to sit down on the borrowed deckchairs where they could enjoy a spell of quiet and calm and watch the flickering candles reflect the rainbow colours of the roof. Up until now I have been doggedly working to get the Yurt finished for the LLQS deadline but suddenly I seriously need to think about the logistics of what happens next. I have a few panels to finish and I am already thinking of making some sort of floor covering, also figuring out whether to re-cover telescopic deckchairs with quilted tweed. As everyone kept asking if I would bring the Yurt all over the country, I wondered whether I should make a second, smaller one that is easier to transport. I could have the big one off touring large venues and a half-sized one accompanying me to smaller Guild meetings. I have to look into sponsorship, a proper press release, advertising, transport costs, a schedule, a teaching syllabus and still leave time for customer quilts, representing a longarm machine company and Family-life! Unfortunately, they didn’t get to see the Yurt looking splendid at the show on Saturday as the high pressure water tank that feeds the boiler sprung a dramatic leak on Friday night and there was quite a lot of mopping up and fixing to do.

I must start drafting a Quilted Yurt book that has more profound statements about my sources of inspiration. If I simply put it all down to drinking gin or just deciding that it seemed like a good idea, it will be a very short book indeed. Even I was impressed when I saw the completed Yurt for the first time on Tuesday afternoon. All the months of working on sections of a project and carrying images in my head came together at last. Once I got all of my photos developed last week it was easy to see that the colours of the fabrics had been inspired by the bracken, birch trees, derelict farm buildings and Scottish landscape all around me. I have had one of the most amazing weeks of my life where I saw my crazy vision of a project come together at last. I would never have managed to pull it off without the trust of LLQS who believed that I would complete the project and the help of my very supportive friends – real and virtual who helped in practical ways, offered advice, discussed practicalities and poured me another G&T! Instead of sorting out the workshop or ploughing through my (patient) customer backlog on Sundays I will try to sit in the Garden Yurt to work on a manuscript and a Plan on how to become a professional quilter who puts money IN the Bank for a change. However, I must remember not to light the wood stove on warm days in summer months since it tends to have a soporific effect..!

 

 

Checking the Checklist

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There was a frenzy of finishing attaching velcro strips invisibly to the tweed connectors and backs of all of the panels so that we could do a dress rehearsal of the Yurt walls on Wednesday. There was a bit of shifting around to make sure that panels with similar colours didn’t hang next to each other and to check that the wall reached all of the way around the yurt without bulging or sagging. It was really exciting to see that it all fitted together and we had a taste of what it will be like once it gets to Loch Lomond. Mo did a fantastic job of painting the double doors so all I had to do was find the correct hinges that would lift off easily. This involved phone calls to a couple of yurt companies and trawling the internet for suppliers of antique hinges until I found “Band & Clasp” hinges that would probably support a drawbridge.

It was time to start drawing up lists… things still to do, items to collect, what to pack and where it would all go. I realised that I should have some postcards to sell so Vistaprint received some trade from me with priority postage that cost about as much as the printing. I moved all of the Yurt project pictures into one folder so that I could get some printed off for an album. I had to make a list of the Yurt panels with corresponding photos in order to make a mini guidebook for the show. Freya helped me with margins and text wrapping then I sent my document to Tracy for proof reading and tidying up. My panels have not got the most imaginative or airy-fairy descriptions because my brain simply can’t think of anything interesting at this point in the project. I realised that I had reached something of a hiatus with the project almost complete. I couldn’t quite get the bunting finished, I couldn’t sort the photos as they weren’t ready and I just couldn’t seem to get into the right gear for packing everything in bubble-wrap. I tackled a well overdue job of clipping winter dreadlocks off the dogs with kitchen shears. Mabel was half the size by the time she was all trimmed. A poodle parlour stylist would be appalled at the hacked look but at least Mabel’s wiry fur won’t break the dog clippers when she goes to Mo’s kitchen for a number two brush-cut.

I spent a couple of days driving around collecting the photos, looking for albums, finding cellophane packets for packs of postcards, choosing fake thistles, a spare glue gun and a staple gun, and picking up a large wicker stag’s head. I got Freya and Millie to scrub the cobwebby round picnic table, hemmed two tablecloths, attached all of the crochet doyleys and finished off a couple of areas of quilting that just needed a little extra detail. There are still 4 unfinished panels that will be completed eventually but they will go to the show anyway. I still have the hinges to screw on and the purple pompoms to hand-sew to the edge of the roof. There are even some funky feathered kilt pins to place at each roof intersection. Miles of bunting was finally finished and I am very grateful to my new neighbour, Michelle, for sewing all of the pennants together for me.

Some of the seats have been unbolted from the Landy to make room for the Yurt frame but I’m still worried that I won’t be able to fit everything in – including my other quilts and a step ladder. IF there is any room at all, I will try to squeeze in a wicker chair and some sheepskin rugs. I hope that it will all go up easily at the show so that I have spare time to pop to IKEA for a few small round rugs, and possibly even a chandelier!

 

Raising the Roof

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I may have returned from America at last but my children still have not seen much of me since I have spent almost every available minute in the workshop. The Yurt frame had to be put up in the driveway so that the roof could be fitted. Considering it is a year since I last watched the Yurtman put a frame up, it went up quite easily in about an hour. It rained a lot during the week but the wood won’t come to any harm if it gets wet as the spring sun and wind dry things up quickly. Tania and Mo came to help manhandle the quilted tweed roof sections into position for a rough fitting. It was at this point that it finally sank in how big this project really is. I listened carefully and made notes as Mo expertly explained where to attach the velcro on each section. It was a long and difficult job and there were areas where I was sewing through 2 layers of tweed, 2 layers of cotton and industrial strength velcro. I bent several needles and got thoroughly fed up with the velcro attaching itself to the tweed, itself, my sweater and the carpet. Despite the diagrams, I forgot what I was doing and attached rough velcro where fuzzy velcro had to go so that was a minor set-back. Fortunately, Mo came to the rescue and helped me to fix that when we did the final fitting and tweaking. It actually fits… and looks amazing!

Tania has been helping to handsew the fuzzy velcro in place on the wall panels after I machined down the bindings with invisible thread. Our new neighbour called in for coffee and was immediately roped in for making pennant shaped bunting for the inside of the Yurt. I sent her away with cut pieces of fabric, a template, sewing machine and scissors. She did say she was looking for a sewing project.

I made several enquiries about van hire and roofracks and realised that it was going to be rather expensive to transport the Yurt to Loch Lomond. I have now persuaded David to unbolt a couple of seats from the Landrover and it should all fit inside. I bought a couple of strings of Chinese lantern fairy lights at B&Q but the man was a bit bemused by my questions about rope and door hinges for my “tent”.

I keep rewriting my To-Do list…

I have not actually finished all of the Yurt wall panels but I do have enough to construct the walls – the rest will have to go along as Works in Progress. Ideally I would like to make a photo album to display at the show. I have to make labels for the panels and write a blurb about each one for a show guide. I need to gather together other quilts to make up the rest of my exhibition, including some that the children have done. I have to sort out what accessories will go to furnish the Yurt – rugs, chairs and possibly a table. I saw a fantastic wicker stag’s head in the local art gallery so I have asked the artist if she can possibly make another one in time as it would make a perfect feature. Mo suggested that I should add some pompom braid along the bottom of the Yurt roof. I ought to see if I can get some postcards printed on time that I can sell at the show. I am even wondering whether to raffle off “Pub Carpet” or another one of my panels to add to the overseas shipping fund. At least I have now finished reading “Breaking Dawn” that was keeping me awake long after midnight. If I can find any spare time I must try to reclaim some travel insurance expenses for my extended stay in USA and contact HM Customs to see if I stand any chance of reclaiming some of their extortionate charges for the yurt panels that stunt quilters have sent. They had to put a value on the outside and I have been charged import duty on that. I do now have almost all of them and each one that arrives is fabulous in its own way. Now I must stop blogging and sort out some digital photos…

The Wonders of Walmart / The End of the Road Trip

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I spent Sunday finishing off the quilting on my Yurt panel then decided to paint on some metallic lime green funky stars. I continued creating “departments” in Bonnie’s studio such as stationery and ironing… she will never be able to find anything again without emailing me to ask where I have stashed it. We made a short trip out in the rain for milk and Schweppes tonic and spotted an old chest of drawers at the side of the road so we made a u-turn and picked it up for Bonnie’s husband, Gene to revamp in his workshop.

On Monday we went back to Kingston and revisited Style Fabrics, Joann’s, Michael’s Crafts and Wal-Mart where we could pick up some half decent fabric for $2.44 a yard. I had to have a yard of Western bandana fabric just in case I have time to make an American a quilt when I have run out of other projects. Wal-Mart is an interesting place to watch people… there were various velour tracksuits worn by well endowed ladies, packets of ready meals that are not available in the UK, a vast choice of BBQ sauces, car tyres and air rifles.  Bonnie started to practice with her new Circle Lord that she picked up from the tiny post office in Elizaville and I gave my painted stars extra legs so that they looked like spinners then gave them all 3 coats of lime green lumiere. We also had great fun testing out the new Simplicity bias binding machine that folds and irons at great speed.

Bonnie had to dash into Albany to collect Siana from school for an appointment on Tuesday so we stayed behind to work on projects. Tracy pieced a wall hanging together for her new grandson and I faffed, trying to decide how to embellish my yurt panel. I just could not decide how to add definition to the green spinners. I used the machine to embroider around a couple of spinners then spent ages unpicking because it did not look right. If I had stopped prevaricating all day and had the right thread, I could have chain stitched around all of the spinners by hand. I blame the Internet for causing further distractions – there was plenty of table top space in the studio for all of us to be online and surfing at the same time. Sitting at the 1960’s basement bar with a Gin & Tonic was just like being at an Internet cafe. Supper that evening was tasty oven fried chicken legs with cowboy biscuits (like scones) and white gravy.

On Wednesday, after collecting a Yurt panel parcel from Kristina in Nevada from the post office, we drove the scenic route to Albany via Kinderhook where we passed the historic houses once inhabited by Benedict Arnold and General Burgoyne from the American War of Independence. The twisty country roads made Tracy feel queasy so we stopped at Cracker Barrel for an early lunch. We shared a burger and I had root beer because I think it is such an American drink that I would never have in Scotland. We found ourselves in Joann’s for the fourth time in a week and had to pick up a few more pens and hot fix crystals. We wandered around the mall for a while we waited to collect Siana from a homework assignment and Tracy even had a manicure at a nail bar. We packed cases during the evening and removed unnecessary packaging in order to distribute the weight evenly. Tracy actually had to buy an extra holdall but mine were OK. I was not sure how much my yurt panels would weigh so I was careful not to buy anything weighty. Tracy tried to buy the extra baggage allowance online but the computer messed her booking up so that she was not able to book ANY extra bags at all. She was concerned that she would be charged heavily at the airport.

After checking the Elizaville post office for Yurt packages on more time, we loaded the car up with our luggage and went for lunch at the 1956 fully restored Elizaville Diner where I enjoyed another splendid Pastrami Reuben with sauerkraut, coleslaw and French fries. It seems to have been rather a foodie trip for me – I think this is probably what I need to get me in the right frame of mind for serious dieting when I get back home! The traffic was busy for most of the route through New Jersey to Newark Liberty International Airport, a grandiose title for a miserable transit depot. We arrived early in case there was any hassle with excess baggage but we didn’t have to pay any extra since we got a dispensation for “being disrupted”. The British Airways terminal was being remodelled so there was very little there. We fancied a bowl of chilli before we boarded but the chilli concession had run out of chilli! To make matters worse, there was no Wi-Fi so we couldn’t even waste time surfing the Internet. I asked if it might be possible to charge up my American mobile phone so I could let Bonnie know that we were all checked in. To my amazement, I was waved into the secure section where all of the staff were chatting and face-booking on their Blackberries. I kept expecting a SWAT team to descend and interrogate me while I plugged my phone into a power socket surrounded by bored security staff. They said they liked my boots.

We dozed uncomfortably on the late overnight flight and arrived bleary-eyed at Heathrow more than 8 hours later after circling around for a while. Delays make me nervous – every time I have to land or experience any turbulence wobbles I grip the arms of the seat with white knuckles. This could be problematic if I start travelling more. I may have to undergo hypnosis or take a sleeping pill or just drink more gin. After wandering around Terminal 5 like zombies we boarded the last small pane to Glasgow. A noisy crowd pushed their way to the front.  Everyone tutted as there was no club or first class section on this aircraft. It turned out to be Whitney Houston and her entourage who were going to perform in Glasgow. Let’s just say that she is no longer as glamorous as she was in her heyday and she looked a touch glazed to me – maybe she doesn’t like flying either. I stayed overnight with Tracy and unwound with a G&T an epic 24-hour journey. She had quite a bit to unpack and fit into her sewing room…

The next morning I travelled back to Aberdeen on the very basic Megabus, surrounded by Rangers football fans all drinking Buckfast cider and vodka, discussing transfer deals, fights and getting “steamin'” drunk the night before. I was lucky that none of them threw up before they got off for their away match at Dundee. My husband, children and cat were all delighted to see me and very pleased with their American souvenirs, multi-coloured goldfish crackers and candy.

I unpacked slowly on Sunday and felt sick after eating Hershey’s chocolate with my coffee. I was only eating chocolate to perk me up a bit since I had still been wide awake at 1.30am but I should have stuck to Cadbury’s or my last bag of peanut M&Ms. It took me a long time to sort out all of my receipts and bills and I tried not to think too much about how hard I will have to work to pay for my extended trip. I don’t suppose travel insurance covers trips to Joann’s Fabrics. The best unwrapping of all was opening up the Yurt panels and letting them relax on my Milli frame after their long travels by post or plane. I will have to work very hard to get them all joined together but there are plenty of them now. It won’t be a disaster if I don’t finish every bit of quilting and embellishment for the launch at Loch Lomomd. It will be a project that continues to grow and develop. I have had a couple of new makers step up this week and ask to take part. I still have 3 to finish off but they can be added later and hang inside. I hung LSD in the studio with the ribbon from Cathy Franks and found places for my new thread, pencils and magnetic pin dish, as well as the other latest gadgets that every quilter “must” have. Now I have to write myself a long TO DO list for the week ahead.