When snow is forecast before Christmas in Scotland we don’t usually pay much attention since it is usually only a short-lived dusting, or so I kept telling Marjorie who came up to learn about longarm quilting. We had a busy couple of days looking at gadgets and techniques and I kept dismissing the flurries as being too early to take seriously. I had to take her to the airport on Wednesday evening while weather conditions became serious and none of the roads had been treated. It was an eventful journey on icy, white roads, with cars sliding off or getting stuck. The local radio news kept announcing fresh accidents and blocked roads so I had to make several detours. It took twice as long as it should have and the airport was even closed for a while to clear the runway.
Obviously, schools were closed for the rest of the week as we were hit by the worst pre-Christmas snowstorm for 17 years. We had pink sheet lightning, thunder, blizzards and the roads were unusually quiet. The children arranged a sledging party so I lit the Yurt stove and made a large flask of hot chocolate. Over the weekend we had a lengthy power-cut which meant that we had a full day without heat, hot water and worst of all, technology. Thankfully we were able to light the wood stove and warm up one room downstairs; it is amazing how reliant we are upon electricity even to make a cup of tea. We have got candles lined up and a flask of hot water ready in case we get cut off again since there is no sign of it thawing just yet. I could do some sewing using the hand crank machine but when the workshop heaters are not working I would rather do something else. I will make sure that the laptop and ipad is fully charged so I can do some writing at least. I could even write the dreaded Christmas cards if I get really desperate.
At least I have made up my mind that I will now be keeping my trusty Landy since it is definitely the only way to get about with caution in these conditions. I did some internet research on roof-racks and made some calls to find out what alternatives there are to the over-priced Landrover branded ones. I already have a ladder, so will have to practise standing on the wheels and doing lorry-driver knots to hold on my cargo. I will manufacture some sort of heavy-duty canvas bags to transport the Yurt roof poles. The other option is to get a trailer but if I get lost somewhere I don’t fancy reversing more than is strictly necessary.
It was not until halfway through Monday morning that I finally realised that I was a week ahead of myself again and did not have a visitor coming to spend 2 days longarming in the studio. Instead of getting on with my customer quilt, I decided to spend two days making the curtains for my new room and remembered why it has been around 10 years since I last made a decent pair. Even though I now have large work table it was still a lot of fabric to measure, cut and sew straight. I am very pleased with how it is all turning out and glad to be finishing a room off properly for a change. I do still have to fit in the new digital piano as I can’t bear to scrap the Victorian one and I can’t find a grateful home for it either. I suppose that having two pianos should mean that that there is every opportunity for the children to do plenty of practice.
I heard one of the Monday Quilters say the words “Blue Cat” and happened to mention that I have wanted one for a very long time. She was very sad to be re-homing Pepper since her grand-daughter is so allergic to cats. I was completely amazed when my husband said we could take her on a trial basis as long as Bitzi wasn’t too annoyed. Since then we have had an interesting few days as the cats get used to each other. On the first night there was much hissing and hiding from both of them and both hissed their disgust at me. The next day I was really worried that I may have lost both of them. The Blue Cat was shut in the kitchen but had completely disappeared and Bitzi seemed to have gone off into a wet and windy day and didn’t look like she was coming back. This made me feel doubly guilty and wondered if I had done the right thing at all. Much later on Bitzi sauntered downstairs from having spent all day sleeping in someone’s bed and Pepper’s eyes gleamed out from a tiny space behind the microwave, much to my relief. Since then they have spent most of the week avoiding each other and generally being pretty huffy with the humans but overall, things are fairly settled.
Sheena Norquay came to the Aberdeen P&Q Group this week and gave an interesting talk on hidden images in her work. There are so many of her quilts that I have never seen and they are all terrifically symbolic with references to Norse folk-tales, cats and runes. I attended a workshop where we printed circles onto fabric using everyday objects. I foolishly decided to experiment with linen which did not absorb the paint as easily and I used two colours where everyone else sensibly stuck to one which I thought looked beautifully simple. I remembered how to free motion quilt on a DSM which was actually good fun on a small piece so I hope to finish it off as a cushion cover for a Christmas present. I was particularly interested in how many ways circles can be used in quilting since they seem to have been motifs that I have used many times on Yurt panels.
I eventually got the customer quilt done and binding cut just before we went to see the latest Harry Potter film on Sunday afternoon – it was deliciously dark; much closer to the book than previous films with plenty of action and tension. It is a thoroughly British film where London looks great and the heroes appear so ordinary. I hope we don’t have to wait too long before Part 2 is released…
I deliberately left the Landy encrusted with mud when I took it to the 4×4 garage to be valued for a possible sale. Despite it looking well used, the guy still commented that it had, “- a lovely clean axle!” He asked me why I wanted to sell it to which I replied that I did not want to sell it at all but thought I should go through the motions of looking for a roomy estate car such as a Volvo to shift Yurts or longarm equipment around. After checking the Yurt for storm damage at the beginning of the week, I drove to the west coast of Scotland to do a talk and workshop for Helensburgh & District Quilters and was delighted that I had a sturdy, dependable Landy as gale-force winds raged and the rain lashed relentlessly. And because I was on my own, I could turn Radio 4 up as loudly as I liked. I made a leisurely detour on the way via IKEA to get some rather unusual curtain fabric; the pattern is much bigger than I expected but the beetrooty-raspberry pink colour is good.
My talk about my quilting adventures seemed to go down well and the workshop went without a hitch. It was a stress-free class on machine quilting where I tried to impart as much useful information as possible and still leave enough time for a project. The class was called “Wild Wholecloth” but I think it should really be entitled “Pimp My Quilt” as it involved random quilting followed by embellishing with paint and bling. The hospitality that I received was great and I was made very welcome. I’m not sure whether everyone believed the anecdote about me having coffee with Mo this week and observing casually that there was a duck with an injured wing swimming around in the bathtub.
When I arrived home on Friday night, I unloaded one set of fabrics and quilting gear from the Landy and reloaded with stuff for the Aberdeenshire QGBI Area Day. This was officially my last one as area rep after 3 years in the post. I really have enjoyed the opportunity to meet many other quilters at meetings from all over Scotland. We had a relaxing day in good company with a mini Mola hand sewing project or easy-peasy machine projects at my end of the long table. Mo helped me out hugely by being the “caterer” for the day. She had made 2 delicious soups and a wicked selection of fancy-pieces.
On Saturday evening I went to a Ceilidh at the Scout Hut with Tania and some other friends. There was a really good band called “Celidh Stomp” with a caller who explained the dances such as “The Witches Reel” and “The Flying Scotsman” extremely well. I actually managed to figure out where I was meant to be most of the time and only had one major collision with a burly kilted man (who did not look much like a film-star version of a Scotsman) which is probably why I feel a bit stiff today. Supper was a hearty plate of stovies and pickled beetroot. It was super fun and I really hope that it is a tradition that will still be going strong in another 100 years.
I was suffering from guilt for most of Sunday because I kept thinking I should catch up and get on with a customer quilt that I really need to get done by early on Tuesday as I have a visitor coming for some longarming tuition. However, I sorted out most of the stuff that I had taken to my various quilting activities, did some washing, accidentally felted my favourite rainbow striped woolly jumper, and pieced a very basic but satisfying window sill runner. I decided that paperwork could wait and I will either have to work flat out all of Monday or simply take the waiting quilt off to do later in the week; this is the sort of time when I could really do with two machines.
After another week of crossing things off a list that never actually gets torn up, I think I am finally getting back on track. The Purposeless Room feels full of potential so should be a nice place to write or research on winter evenings IF I can put a stop to internet browsing that is quilt related but not necessarily essential. After giving serious thought to making a new quilt for the daybed, I decided to save time and bought a vintage Welsh blanket instead. I have one that I acquired as a student that was at least 30 years old 25 years ago so I reckon they are made to last. This means that the curtain fabric will probably have to come from IKEA so hopefully that is another decision made. I even got my haircut since the fringe was so long that I had resorted to wearing a Minnie Mouse hairband. I think I am ready for a Talk & Workshop near Glasgow at the end of this week. I have all of the pre-quilted kits ready, a list of things to remember and a recently organised slideshow of quilts.
There were some of the usual frustrations that beset my quilting life these days. I have a parcel that I cannot retrieve from the depot after paying the Customs charges online and stupidly not printing out the evidence. The faulty Sky TV box was eventually replaced but not until making several time-wasting phone calls. I went to see my Business manager at the bank for a demonstration on online banking. I know it is meant to be easy but had never got around to setting it all up. I made some half-hearted enquiries about estate cars to replace my beloved Landrover if I start having to travel more. I quilted a small, jolly quilt top for Joyce who helped on the Patchwork Car project. She had given it to me as a piece that could be cut up but I couldn’t do it and it has now been given a second chance. I was reminded that I keep promising to run weekly beginner’s patchwork classes so I really must just announce 3 taster sessions for December that could include a basic cushion, festive bunting and maybe a very basic set of tablemats using leftover Christmas scraps. A load of logs was delivered for the winter and that prompted me to remove all of the cobwebs in the Garden Yurt, light the stove and give it a good airing.
There has been a lot about the International Quilt Festival in Houston on Facebook this week that has made me determined to go and experience it for myself. I have made a new list of what I need to do to finally sort out the Yurt Tour of USA. Once a list gets made it means that action needs to be taken so that things can get scored off, as long as the list remains somewhere prominent and doesn’t get filed away to be forgotten. I seem to have been volunteered to write letters to members of Parliament questioning the new 16+ exam system in Scotland in my capacity as Chairperson on the School Parent Council. I was only meant to be steering the meetings this year…!