Monthly Archives: November 2011

Techno Deja Vu


It has been hard to tear myself away from my latest fiction addiction and concentrate on writing my book about a quilted Yurt while I have been greedily devouring novels featuring DS McRae, set in a grimmer than life version of Aberdeen. These books are full of murderous characters, criminal gangs and far more bodies than normal but they are gripping because all of the places and people seem so real and close to home. Maybe my book needs some more action or a mystery to solve.

I made an effort to spend some time on the Yurt book draft, fleshing it out a bit and deciding what was most relevant. I referred back through the blog to work out what I have been so busy doing since the Yurt debuted at Loch Lomond last year. It would seem that I constantly suffer from angst that I am not fitting enough into my week to create all that I would like. It is interesting to review just how much has been achieved. There was more decorating than I remembered, along with brewing, baking, homework and trips. During that same period I have made several attempts to get my teeth into the book or promote the Yurt before being overwhelmed by guilt that I have spent hours on the laptop with no evidence of activity. At least if I am making a quilt it is easier to see it growing.

I was amused to read in the blog archive that I had been bamboozled by some of the gadgets that I thought would save me time but that simple tasks actually took longer to achieve because I had forgotten how they worked. A prime example of this was my attempt to interview Yurtman for his chapter. I could have used the SmartPen with its recording facility or the handheld voice recorder when I thought I would have time to write podcasts. It is all very well practising with the tape recorder and pretending to be a reporter when no-one else is there but I felt slightly embarrassed to have so much technology at my disposal to interview someone who is interested in living as “off-grid” as possible. Instead, I just wrote garbled notes with a biro.

I decided that maybe I should dictate parts of the Yurt story onto the tape recorder and get my speed typing friend to turn it into text. Getting the hang of the gadget was the easy part. I discovered that it saves the files as WAV’s which are too big to send by email so they would have to be shrunk. I spent an entire morning fumbling my way through cyber-babble trying to compress or zip or convert my recording into an mp3 file small enough to email to my friend. It would have been quicker and easier to a) type it myself, b) drive to her house with my notes or c) copy the file onto a usb stick and post it! I was annoyed at how much time I was wasting not quilting but determined to solve my techno-puzzle and I finally found a way to do it by sheer luck. Sadly my friend’s computer was too elderly to open the file but at least I know it can be done in theory.

By the time I made it into the workshop to quilt a hessian coffee bean sack that I thought would make trendy gadget covers, my sewing skills had obviously deserted me. I think I should just have stuck to straight line quilting. I wondered if it would improve the look of the piece if it was washed as it was a bit grubby and the hessian had a loose weave. This was not a good decision as most of the ink washed out. I could have made further attempts to remedy the situation by adding embroidery but decided that it would be quicker to start again so Bloody Mabel got a new dog blanket. Next I quilted two small pieces of Aboriginal fabric and a piece of oilcloth so at least I would have something to show for my week’s efforts.

Glasgow Twice



I made a trip down to Glasgow in the Landy to do a talk about my quilts and travels for “The Glasgow Gathering of Quilters”. The satnav on my phone directed me straight into the heart of the city without getting lost – all I had to do was avoid all of the pedestrians and find a parking space. Margo and Bonnie took me out for supper in an Italian restaurant which was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday evening, proving that I lead a very different life out in the boonies. The Glasgow quilters were most welcoming and their warm reception gave my morale a much needed boost. I had even been toying with the idea of getting a proper job and returning to quilting as a hobby. It does me good to meet up with like minded folk every now and then to bounce around some ideas. They gave me renewed enthusiasm for some forthcoming projects and it was even suggested that could I produce some small, mounted pieces for sale.

Home again, I determined to get as much done as possible in a short week so: I painted my plaster deer head blue, drafted out a dozen mini classes that I could offer for craft evenings or demos at shows, used up an off-cut of yurt roof to make a zipped bag, told Blue Cat she is not allowed to sit on show quilts that are waiting to be put back in their cupboard, AND cut out lots more blue and orange African fabric tumbler blocks for Fergus’s quilt. I think I have decided which “wholecloth” project to work on first but I need to figure out how on Earth I will mark it as I will not be using a sensible, pale coloured fabric…

Tania, Mo and I went on another trip to Glasgow on Saturday for the Country Living Christmas Fair followed by an obligatory trawl through IKEA. We did some festive shopping but also managed to buy a few things for ourselves. I bought a quirky tartan skirt to wear at Quilt Quine talks and a wicked pair of garden secateurs that I think I can use to mass produce wooden buttons. I resisted the urge to buy an ostrich leather pencil case and passed on purchasing a bottle of sloe gin since I already have several noxious, vintage bottles stashed away at home.

This week my priority is to do some drafting on The Book and fit in some piecing after I have done a bit of editing each day. I might also start drafting out one of the wholecloths, have a go at making some more zipped bags for Christmas and think about producing some works of “Art”. Unless I get called on for supply teaching or another, better idea comes along!

The Blues


I paid the ransom in customs and received the Accuquilt GO cutter that I had ordered ages ago from the USA. I was really impressed at how neatly it cut out a stack of tumbler shapes and how nicely they all line up because of their little notches. I decided to make a quilt for Fergus using a collection of vibrant orange and blue African fabrics but I just did not have enough; despite telling myself that I should use up every available scrap of stash fabric before buying anything new, I ended up buying yet more from The African Fabric shop.

Mo ran a very successful needle felting class during the week in my workshop and provided her students with home-made soup and bread for lunch. They were all thrilled with their super little animals, including a couple of terriers and a polar bear. We think we may offer occasional drop-in days where folk can get a cup of coffee and see us demonstrating some sort of sewing or crafting technique. This would be less of a commitment than signing up for a whole course. People have been very keen for us to run classes but less enthusiastic about actually signing up. I know that the run up to Christmas is a busy time but I can’t honestly work out when IS the best time?

Since I was not busy teaching, I decided to paint the sitting room for the first time in eleven years. It was really quite overdue as there were several old tester patches of paint that everyone had stopped noticing. It was not a thrilling job as I was not making a dramatic change from one shade of cream to another and the dreich weather made it difficult to see what I was doing in an old house with low ceilings. The only good thing about decorating is that I get to listen Radio 4 without a sewing machine drowning out part of The Archers.

Eventually the room started to look fresher but I was reminded that I have two very mismatched sofas and this room that is used by everyone in the family contains an awful lot of different “stuff”. There is a glass cabinet that contains odd ornaments and an assortment of books so I made a pair of curtains that would hide it all away. I bought a white plaster deer head but I have decided to paint it blue to match my collection of vintage, cracked Cornishware crockery. Everything got a rare and thorough dusting and I was fairly pleased with my efforts. I will really have to psych myself up to tackle the marathon chore of repainting the hall, stairs and landings – but not yet…

Thrawn Thursday


Things were not going according to plan on Thursday; maybe it was due to the tail end of Hallowe’en influences! First, three days’ worth of supply teaching was cancelled as the school administrator had double booked relief teachers, then the sour dough rye bread that was proving gently in front of the electric heater in the workshop started to cook in its bowl, my spaghetti Bolognese was destined not to contain a single tomato and the expensive advert for Quilt Quine classes in the local newspaper yielded only two calls from people who could not manage any of the dates on offer. I was extremely annoyed when I received a letter from the UK Border Agency that stated it was going to destroy the counterfeit sheepskin boots that I had ordered online in good faith from an authentic looking website. This gives me something else to sort out and rant about!

My increasingly bad mood obviously did not help when I tried to line up points on the new version of “Bewitched” as the gold lame refused to be teased into shape. The original quilt was just made up as I went along but this time I wanted to teach it as a class or maybe include it in a future book. I simply could not figure out what size to cut the large corner triangles and thoroughly confused myself by looking up various formulae. In the end I cut and measured by trial and error which seems to be the way I usually work things out. I have made 4 blocks and I think the colour combinations are coming along rather nicely.

Despite wasting a considerable amount of time on Ebay looking at VW camper vans, xylophones and Tupperware mugs instead of sorting out the draft of the Yurt book, I made a few zip up oilcloth bags that I intend to give to all of my friends and family for Christmas. After ordering some rather nice thick PVC fabric I decided that I could do with a Teflon foot for my machine so it doesn’t get stuck. I can see the potential for making all sorts of pencil cases, folders and wallets but I am not sure if I like the diary cover version yet.

I hosted a fun coffee morning in the Yurt in aid of Compassion in World Farming in conjunction with the local primary school’s Fair Trade Committee. We served ethically sourced tea & coffee with home bakes made from organic local produce and everyone jokingly suggested that it should become a weekly event. My hens will have to make a much greater effort if they are to contribute to any future local baking ventures or they may just find themselves being put to better use as stock for soup…