Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 is Wrapped Up


African Customer Quilt

The week before Christmas went by in a blur. I quilted non-stop so that the African quilt would be ready for special delivery Christmas post. I am relieved to report that it made it on time and its new owner was delighted.

Banchory Academy put on a super musical concert on Monday to get everyone into the festive spirit. I filled in a form that I thought was for a prize draw, not realising that the compere would read out all of the anecdotes for the amusement of the audience in between numbers.

I taught all day on Wednesday after driving the Landy like a rally driver to arrive as the bell rang – again as it was pitch dark, lashing with rain and I had to follow a tractor for miles.

I stocked up on dog and hen food, finally got around to writing wrote some Christmas cards and eventually got most of the pressies wrapped up after I managed to track down the remaining rolls of wrapping paper available within a 10 mile radius.

Tania, Mo and I had a generous amount of Christmas coffee/sherry/treats together and exchanged gifts that sadly didn’t include socks and that marked the official start of the festive period. The children were a bit disappointed that the first day of their holiday was Christmas Eve – there seemed to be very little time for anticipation before Santa’s arrival. We did some cooking and preparation; gammon in cola worked surprisingly well and the black pig pancetta ham was excellent with Brussels sprouts. Fenella made Santa some chocolate truffles and she left out some porridge oats for the reindeer.

Christmas day started early but it gave us plenty of time for unwrapping and cooking. Nothing got burnt or forgotten and there were no tantrums. Everyone was delighted with their haul; I am planning to puree everything I can think of using my new Kitchenaid blender. I expect I will even be able to make Brussels sprouts soup without being discovered if I add enough ham stock. I managed to stay out of the workshop until Boxing Day when I felt compelled to go and make a quilted case for the kids’ new mini netbook computer. I hope to potter away all week on small projects and eating up all of the goodies so that we can eat salad in the New Year… 😉

Last Minute


I know there are 52 weeks in a year and I could plan early for Christmas but it never happens. Maybe one year it would be fun to do all of the buying and wrapping for the following year during the previous year’s Christmas holidays. I cut and pieced the borders for the huge African customer quilt and prepared its binding but I had to wait all week for the postie to deliver the backing fabric as he was busy with other parcels, apparently.

I also joined the blue and orange quilt together but there is no way it will also be quilted in time for Christmas. The next project was an ipad cover but the thread had a tangle and upset the whole of the bobbin case mechanism. I stripped it all down, cleaned it out, replaced it all several times, tweaked a screw and got it stitching again but it is making a racket and really needs to go to Stirling to be fixed properly.

I taught in two different schools this week – both days were very icy and there was even an overturned Landrover on one of the back roads. Someone had jokingly turned a signpost around in an unfamiliar area so I made it to a new school just as the bell rang.

I decided to support my local High Street and did some Christmas shopping on Friday before returning to a long list of sewing items for gifts.  I had to make another ipad cover, two ipod pouches, an iphone bag, three oilcloth homework folders and two cosmetic bags! I still had not written any Christmas cards or wrapped any of the parcels. Somehow I also had to fit all of the usual chores around all of these extra activities.

We collected a fabulous Christmas tree from the forester at the Glen Tanar estate near Aboyne and decorated it tastefully in silver and white with blue glass baubles that I managed to find in the Red Cross shop. The Farmers’ Market was festive with carol singers, plenty of fresh Brussels sprouts and light snow flurries.

After a hearty venison curry, I settled down to watch the spectacular final of “Strictly Come Dancing” and ploughed my way through a pile of Christmas cards. We marvelled at the skill of the dancers and the frivolity of the frocks and thought that all of the finalists deserved to win the Glitter Ball trophy.

On Sunday I packaged up my parcels for posting, finally started quilting the African bedspread and went to the children’s annual Christmas piano concert, where they all performed really well. The week ahead is looking a little hectic – more shopping and wrapping, customer quilt, two concerts, two parties, teaching at a school, longarming pupil, remembering to buy groceries, catching the last special delivery post and wondering when I will fit in any cooking. There are also emails that I must respond to and classes to organise so I hope there will be SOME time left to enjoy the run-up to the festive period and eat a couple of mince pies!





I had originally planned to cut off the awkward edges of the African tumbler blocks but that would have been taking a shortcut and I conceded that they would look far better if they fitted together as zigzags. Set-in seams are not easy by machine and progress was a little slow; some hand stitching was necessary to fill in a couple of little gaps. It means that this quick quilt is far from finished and now I have a king-sized African quilt to create for a customer by Christmas (fingers crossed.)

I some work on the Yurt book by dictating some notes that I hope my speedy typist can turn into text. I never learned how to touch type and although a few of my fingers can go quite fast, I still have to spell out every single word.

During the week we had gale force winds – snow fell in many areas but missed us for a change. A few trees came down and blocked local roads for a while but there was surprisingly little damage here. The garden Yurt was unscathed but the roof of the henhouse blew away. The chooks were completely unruffled and are steadfastly continuing their egg laying strike.

I spent two fun days teaching in a country school and we went on a trip to a Curling Festival in Aberdeen. The children were a bit apprehensive when they first stepped onto the ice but they very quickly became confident and were soon tactically knocking each other’s stones out of the target areas, whizzing up and down with their brushes. I had a go too and it is far trickier than it looks, getting the crouch and release right with a plastic bag on one foot while balancing using a broom. It is like a more exciting version of bowls with the addition of undignified wobbly sliding, although the pros made it look smooth and effortless.

I took Freya down to Glasgow on Saturday for her acoustic guitar exam. Road conditions and weather forecasts were predicted to be variable so I packed the Landy up with sleeping bags, blankets, coats, fluorescent jackets, torch, shovel and bucket. The motorway around Stirling was snowy and foggy but the traffic continued to speed past. We trundled along steadily, did a bit of Christmas shopping on the way and now just have to hope that she gets good results. Fenella remembered to record the semi-final show of “Strictly Come Dancing” and plenty of M&M’s were bought for decorating Fergus’s chocolate birthday cake. It looks like another week of cramming in as much as possible and I must do something about writing Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping. By Wednesday I should think I will deserve a mince-pie and a glass of sherry at coffee time!

Write Off


My whole schedule went by the wayside this week as I was under the weather for a couple of days. Being ill is such a waste of time so I after one day of taking it easy and guzzling ibuprofen I decided that I was better. However, I was not very productive, only managing to prepare a few zips for oilcloth bags – I even BOUGHT the fancies for my Coffee & Craft morning. A few folk came along and I managed to sign a handful up for one or two forthcoming classes. It was useful to discuss exactly what courses people would like to do and when they would find it most convenient. It looks like machine quilting and absolute basics could be popular. My friend, Miche, offered a present wrapping demonstration and she had wonderfully simple packages of pot-pourri and ribbons for sale.

I taught in a small country school during the week, basing my teaching around Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and some simple quilt block designs as a maths exercise for the older pupils. Deciding that supply teaching is so unpredictable, I have now officially applied for a part-time teaching job. The application was done electronically so I will just have to wait and see if I am offered an interview. The downside of actually getting a “proper” teaching job would be having to plan a major programme of work during the Christmas holidays when I would rather be drinking sherry and popping into the studio occasionally. I guess I will have to cross that bridge if and when it happens!

I took Fergus into Aberdeen for his Grade 1 Rockschool guitar exam. It was held in the basement of a slightly seedy building that bands can hire for jamming sessions. He seemed to think that it went well so we went for coffee afterwards and checked out the new music shop that has opened in the city centre. I was most impressed by the staff and the choice of instruments. I bought Fergus a fun travel sized banjo for his 10th birthday. After I delivered him back at school I spent the rest of the day making it a quilted bag. This involved quilting the fabric, working out the shape, deciding how to attach the handles, and even fitting a zip now that I think I have finally mastered that method of fastening. There was a certain amount of trial, error and remodelling involved but I was pleased with my invention. I think I will have to make another one for the kids’ ukulele.

I ran part one of a class on the “Silent Movie Star” quilt on Sunday which went really well. By the end of the class everyone had completed a whole tricky corner block and cut all of the pieces for the other three. I have rewritten the original draft so that the instructions are easier to follow. I still prefer step by step photos for my instructions so I will have to work on the clearest way of setting these up so that they look professional in case I ever write a quilt book that is not about Yurts.

I will try to get what I had planned for last week done this week – then I will have to admit that Christmas is coming and I had better consider writing cards and maybe doing some shopping…