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..!