Monthly Archives: September 2010

Pink Explosion




Apart from sorting out the breakdown of the washing machine, I have spent all of my time with The Team in the workshop producing the crazy pink patchwork car. The washing machine mechanics were clogged up with cherry pips, stones and what may have been dyed pink crochet doilies so it was replaced by an online model overnight.

The car project has proved to be a far larger and more challenging task than I thought. Mo has been there with me every day planning, cutting, sticking, sewing, redesigning, eating chocolate and cursing the demands of the PR Company in London. I believed that I had agreed to make a simple patchwork cover in a 2 week timescale and might add some features later if there was time left at the end. It became apparent that the car company had higher expectations from the start.

We started making a fun and funky crazy patch cover with silly pink wheels but were told that we HAD to make all of the features as exact copies. After 5 days working flat out on the project we could not take the risk of them pulling the plug so the only option was to agree to make all of the extras as accurately as possible. I was also extremely underwhelmed by the celebrity fabrics that had to be added. It is not easy to incorporate baby-gros and bits of T-shirt to a patchwork car cover that the car company already thinks is not uniform enough. If we had been given longer to work on this project we would have been able to argue for a more restricted palette and possibly have cut smaller patches. However, on a two week project I think we are doing remarkably well!

The biggest concession that I had to make was to agree with Mo (after a long discussion) not to quilt the satin windows but keep them as smooth and glassy as possible. All of the fabric for the features such as headlights and grilles has been quilted and is ready to be piped with custom made bias binding. This project has taught me yet again to get a written specification and contract in place before starting work. The problem from the start has been the almost impossibly short deadline. It has cost far more in time and materials than I originally budgeted but we are absolutely determined to produce an amazing piece of 3D patchwork by the end of next week before I have to return the car. I had to secretly admit that it was fun to take the little car into town to buy the satin and lurex in John Lewis. We are now in awe of people who make ball gowns from slippery dress fabrics that don’t like being ironed.

We have been running on adrenaline, coffee & Crunchies and working very long days but feel too fired up to get to sleep at night. On Friday evening we treated ourselves to Fish & Chips washed down with a large Gin & Tonic. We hope to end next week with pink champagne…

In the Pink



 I have been beavering away on a Beautiful Baltimore all week, trying to get it done before starting the Smart Car project. Since all of the blocks have to be micro-filled it has taken quite a while and I confess that it is not quite finished. I have had more than the usual distractions to contend with. On Monday evening I was invited to attend the Durris WRI to listen to a talk about 30 years of taking proficiency tests in crafts. I think I’ll just stick to quilting… Despite getting a good cup of tea with a “fancy piece” and winning a tin of soup in the raffle, I will remain as a Pay As You Go client for the foreseeable future.

I had to speak to a telephonist in India to complain about my crackly phone line and slow internet connection and was informed if anything was found defective with my phone equipment than I would have to pay, despite already paying line rental. I was very worried about the prospect of having no phone or internet so I ordered a mobile Mifi dongle just in case. The engineer arrived and did a whole series of diagnostic tests with his computer then eventually freed the wires that were tangled up in a tree but he couldn’t sign the job off until the computer let him go.

Shona challenged me to another crochet learning session. With intense concentration, I managed to remember the sequence for trebles until starting the next round. I was told sternly that I would need to practice if I wanted to progress onto circles but I think I may have an excuse for not doing my homework this week.

A batch of pink fabric arrived in the post from Judi Mendelssohn for the car project, followed by a parcel of celebrity offerings. There was not much to work with there so it was a good job that I had plenty of other Pinks lined up to get started. Friday morning was more chaotic than usual as the Smart Car arrived just after 9am, having been driven overnight from Milton Keynes. The driver, who normally delivers luxury cars to motoring journalists, was irritated that my postcode mislead the Satnav system as usual so I felt obliged to drive him to the station in Stonehaven while Tania workshop-sat in case the lorry arrived to collect the Festival of Quilts Lenni for delivery to Simon in Derby. In the meantime the mobile dongle arrived, closely followed by members of the Smart Car Quilt Team in time for coffee. Work started immediately on measuring up templates using wallpaper that was obviously very dirt resistant since the sellotape would not stick it together. It was not great trying to draw around a car with templates that were flapping in the wind. We had been given permission to take the little car for a drive so Mo and I made a quick trip to her workshop in second gear since we hadn’t a clue how to use a tiptronic gear box and didn’t want the gearknob to come off again. After collecting more wallpaper, we had to keep swapping seats until one of us found Neutral and were able to restart the engine. It is surprisingly roomy for 2 people and even has a glass roof, ipod dock and Satnav; it’s such a pity that we’ll be too busy to go off on any jaunts.

Over the course of the weekend we managed to draw and cut all of the templates, crazy piece and stitch 3 sections and make an incredible mess. Despite being such a tiny car, it is amazing how large the 5 flat patchwork sections are. I admit that I seriously underestimated the amount of fabric involved! We need to order thread, pink lining, a huge pink zip and lots of pompoms on Monday. I must finish off the Baltimore and start quilting as soon as I possibly can. We haven’t even begun to add the embellishments yet. I will try to get the car for an extra week if possible as it will be needed for the fittings. I hope no-one has any homework or needs to eat supper next week. I think I’ll even be hard pressed to answer emails!


Crazy Castoffs


Patchwork used to mean using up scraps but these days Quilters generally buy fabulous fabrics especially for their projects. I had a customer quilt this week that was made entirely from curtain and dress-making leftovers. The fabrics were all different weights but the simply pieced top was absolutely charming; it became a lovely quilt once it was all finished. I thought it was appropriate to use recycled packaging to post this quilt back to its owner in Somerset. I turned a heavy duty plastic dog-food sack inside out, wiped off the crumbs, wrapped the quilt in the packaging it had arrived in, stuck it all up with silver tape and delivered it to the Post Office.

I have had several email and phone discussions this week from a PR company in London that has requested a quilted car cover made entirely from pink fabrics donated by celebrities in honour of Breast Cancer awareness. This will be a wacky challenge with an impossibly tight deadline. The fabric appeal was only put out last week, no-one has any idea how much will be donated or what the original garments might be. I have stressed that if it looks like nothing useful arrives next week we will have to buy quilt shop fabrics if we are to stand the slimmest chance of getting something presentable done on time. I was originally going to tackle the project myself but as the deadline looms closer I have enlisted the help of an expert upholsterer and a production team is standing by. We hope to put together a crazy patchwork top on some sort of foundation since the fabrics could be a weird combination. I am very concerned about finishing on time but I daresay it will all come together at the last minute. Just so long as I get the car and fabric next week…

I drove down to Perth for the QGBI Scottish Regional Day to listen to Fiona Diaper from the Quilters’ Guild Museum in York and Tina Gravatt on miniature quilts. It was lashing with rain on the way down and I had to roll the Landy window down to clear the fug and wipe its mirrors before considering any over-taking. I adore my faithful Landrover Defender but I realise that the time has come to get a vehicle better suited to long distance driving. It was because I was browsing Volvo estate cars on the internet that I burnt the sausages again. I could quite fancy a gold one with sand coloured leather seats. My husband looked sceptical and wondered if I would soon take up smoking a pipe if I chose such a car. I was highly amused to find an old book about crochet on a sales table with just such a character on the front.

I was meant give longarm tuition on Friday using some long template boards but could not find the stylus anywhere at all. I had not actually seen it since FOQ, fearing the worst, that it had got lost. I had to apologise profusely and reschedule the lesson. I searched in every single box and bag that had gone to FOQ until I eventually found it wrapped up with the laser pointer.  Since I only had a short while left until the children came home from school I decided to paint one wall in the Purposeless Room. I really should have got a tester pot because it turned out to be a nice but uninteresting cream. I will save this huge tub of cream paint until I get around to repainting the family room that has had test patches on the walls for at least two years. I think I would like to choose a 1950’s shrimp pink for the new room with mad wallpaper or even crazy-patch wallpaper samples on one wall. The trouble with this featureless room is that it’s so easy to fill it with clutter from the rest of the house; maybe it will be easier to keep it junk free if it is decorated properly (in my spare time between projects!)





I started the week by attempting to take my own photo one-handed wearing my tartan tam-o’shanter hat. After around 25 shots I selected a couple that looked OK apart from the double chin. It took far too long to affix my new avatar to all of the forums and I ended up getting side-tracked on the internet as usual by browsing dehumidifiers for the workshop, Volvo estates, pens that can upload your handwriting onto pen casts and choosing heritage paint online for the Purposeless Room. I used to have lots of paint colour charts but they seem to have been filed somewhere. The colours on the monitor are not the same as in the tin but I could not be bothered to drive 20 miles to look at paint charts so I phoned and asked the Farrow & Ball sales girl to pick me a warm pinkish-creamy old fashioned neutral. I expect it will be fine – nothing else in the Purposeless Room matches after all. It is really a small sitting room that has been a bedroom, playroom, sewing room, junk room and now houses a spare bed and guitars. I want it to be more purposeful so that I can type in there during winter nights and keep a closer eye on children doing their homework. Mo has given me the most amazing old armchair that was hanging from some rafters. Its horsehair stuffing is bursting out and it smells very mousy but it will look fantastic after she has worked her magic and we have used a lot of fabric freshener.

One of the Stunt Quilters told me that she thought my new avatar would be a good back cover author photo and reminded me that I should be pressing on with the Yurt book. I decided that I had lost the flow so will need to reorganise the bits that I have drafted so far and schedule designated writing time into each week. It was a kind of relief to postpone Des Moines in the end. I could not realistically have gone without enough sponsorship. I will recruit a PA whom I will pay with a quilt; she can crack the whip and make sure that I get sufficient sponsors and bookings in the Spring for the Yurt to start its USA tour properly. I am going to construct an entirely new roof for the USA Yurt that can be shipped permanently to avoid complicated Customs issues. That is possibly what I should aim to do with the wall panels too if I can get enough made over the winter to cover 2 Yurts. I actually quilted one this week with a linen back. The back looks great but using linen as binding is challenging.

I will try to do a simple customer quilt this week as I have to fit in a day of tuition and possibly leave room in my schedule for a large project with a ridiculously tight deadline. I have a conference call with a PR company on Monday that will decide if the next 3 weeks get devoted to a slightly unusual commission.

I was asked by P&Q Magazine if I would like to design a simple project. I made several sizes of “Gussetless Pouches” for slim gadgets such as laptops, ipads, cameras and phones. Fatter gadgets make the pouches bulge so strictly speaking those ought to have gussets… I took photos of each stage and I wrote some Linzi proof instructions, imagining that I was going to make it myself. I also managed to complete the class sample “Pimp My Quilt” (aka “Wild Wholecloth” in more circumspect parts of the country.) It is essentially a machine quilting tutorial that is enhanced with fabric paints and crystals.

I was invited to judge a Women’s Rural Institute competition as a neutral outsider. I had to pick the most interesting and clearly presented schedule of events from each group for the forthcoming session. The programmes varied enormously with talks from the Air Ambulance Service to Head Gardeners and Sugar Craft Experts. I felt slightly under qualified for judging the efforts of ladies with more life experience than myself but they gave me a bottle of strawberry wine and sent me on my way. I made a mental note that if I want to fulfil my ambition of being in charge of a tea urn I should just buy one rather than join the ranks of the WRI, at least for another 30 years or so.

I had the Postie worried again one morning this week as Bloody Mabel shot past me out of the dog run before I managed to clip her lead on. She made a dash straight for Sooty the Rabbit with me sprinting after her in my wellies swearing profusely. Mabel doesn’t respond to any commands given in a pleasant voice and after I had done several circuits of the rabbit run trying to out-dodge a determined terrier, I sounded deranged. The Postie waved politely, looking slightly perplexed and signalled that he had left me a parcel.

We had a rare and unusual live creature on the doorstep where Bitzi usually leaves her disembodied mice. There was a little Common Lizard just sitting there. They are extremely unusual in this part of Scotland and I don’t know why it was there on such a chilly evening. Stunt Quilter, Terri from Wisconsin informed me that they are lucky! I decided that it meant that I should create another Yurt panel with a brownish tartan lizard to celebrate his appearance. A friend of mine spotted an adder when she walked her dog this week, another very rare occurrence. In fact, she sees lots of unusual things on her walks in the remote countryside. Last week it was a man jogging in the nude!

David and Fergus were away for the weekend spectating at a motor-racing event. The girls and I lit a camp fire, pulled up some old armchairs from the summer house, burnt some sausages and ate beans straight out of the pan with a wooden spoon. It was lovely watching the sun go down with a last of the summer Gin & Tonic until clouds of midges arrived. We went inside, sang along to DVD’s of “Mamma Mia” & “Hairspray” and shared a big bag of M&M’s  – it was a fun evening!