Monthly Archives: July 2012




I took the Quilted Yurt up to Fochabers for the Speyside Quilters Exhibition in Bellie Church. The Speyfest Folk Festival and Craft Fair was also on at the weekend so the small town was buzzing with visitors and it was even possible to buy freshly cooked noodles or sushi from a food stall on the green. I did not see the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in action but I heard a rousing cover version of “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers. Seeing folk in wellies dodging downpours, a large marquee and the smell of a beer tent is so typical of a summer event in Scotland.

The quilt show happens every two years and a vibrant collection of work was hung beautifully inside the Bellie Church on the main town square. The Yurt was put up quickly in the adjoining Church Hall by the most efficient team that I have ever had and it was admired by many appreciative visitors over 3 busy days. The Hare panel was much admired and reminded me that it should have a companion piece such as a fellow hare or even a stag. It is always a wonderful to see the Yurt fully set up in a good space. It stays packed up in my workshop most of the time and I had not even thought about it since it was at Newcastle Racecourse in March. I am always taken aback at how large it really is! I enjoyed speaking to many different people; some who had been dragged along to a quilt show by quilting enthusiasts somewhat reluctantly were pleasantly surprised and curious about the yurt’s structure. I was made most welcome by Speyside Quilters and spent a very pleasant night with Kate and her husband at their house on a nature reserve near the Moray coast.

I managed to put all of the Oz version of Bewitched together so far then fiddled about with different ideas for the borders. I even started a distracting mini project using up some of the scraps. I had to order more of the main feature fabric and will need some more hand dyes to finish it off but it is coming along nicely.

I battled with my computer a bit this week – it seems to be getting rather temperamental about emails. I purchased a saddle stool, wadding and a porter’s trolley for Festival of Quilts then nagged the shippers about how long it has taken for them to clear the Irish longarm through customs. This experience has made me worry about getting all of the other machinery here on time as one machine is coming on loan from Germany and yet another from America.

I enjoyed the creative and splendid spectacle of the Olympics Opening Ceremony. The children did not fully understand the significance of references to The Industrial Revolution but they loved the scene when James Bond met the real Queen and parachuted into the stadium. I wonder what gadget was used to make the duvets light up…?




Wednesday was a day when the tension mounted as quilters from around the world awaited the news from Houston as to whether their quilts had been juried into the IQA competition or not. Throughout the day news filtered through via Facebook of rejection notices and surprisingly, many were from renowned quilters. By the evening I was hopeful that I may have been successful, applying the adage, “No news is good news”. Just after 10.00pm, after obsessively checking my inbox every few minutes, I was thrilled to receive the email from Crystal Battarbee that began, “Congratulations! Your entry, Odin’s Trilogy, has been selected as a finalist to be exhibited at the 2012 International Quilt Festival/Houston in the annual IQA fall Judged Show, Quilts: A World of Beauty.  This year’s jury selected 54% of the submitted entries for display.”

This is a huge honour for me: it has been a long held ambition to see my work exhibited at Houston and even more exciting since this is the first time that I have entered. The quilts have to arrive for judging by mid August so I have already packed them up and arranged for UPS to come and collect them in good time. I think it almost goes without saying that I will now be planning a trip to Texas at the end of October!

It was high time that I sent off “The Ostrych” for Festival of Quilts, Birmingham so they have also been rolled, wrapped and posted so I am relieved that everything has now been dispatched. I am considering leaving “Odin’s Trilogy” in the USA as it is so expensive to post it back if I want to enter another show so I may ask one of my American quilting friends to be its custodian.

I finished piecing all of the 25 main blocks for “Oz Bewitched” and I hope to turn it into a top this week. Then I will have to come up with a border plan.

The school holidays have interfered with my normal sewing output. There was a trip to the swimming pool and another outing to the beach, complete with guitars, BBQ, raincoats, wellington boots, wind-break and shrimp net. It was enjoyable, despite the strong breeze that sent the wind-break flying across the beach and the crunchy texture of sand in the burgers. The children always enjoy collecting driftwood for the fire and toasting marshmallows on sticks; if it had been a hot day this would not been such fun.

We had a couple of guys in to clear some of the rampant weeds that have gone wild in our abnormally wet summer. They also brought in a mini digger to clear a corner that was always full of rubble. There is now a new space the size of an average garden on which Freya wants to keep micro pigs. A more economical plan would be to keep normal sized pigs that could be “replaced” with new piglets when they reach the size of porkers. She is not keen on that version of the plan…

I went back to Inverness at the weekend to complete the setup of a new long-armed quilter and despite, my inability to understand technical instructions, it all seemed to be working nicely when I left the new owner practising her loops & swirls.

The plan for the coming week is to get ready for FOQ, take the Yurt to “Speyfest” and to make sure that I have bought enough cat food for our trip to Denmark next week. Perhaps I should clarify that the cat is staying behind – we are not taking cat food with us 😉




Because of its wet climate, North East Scotland is always lush and green. After two damp weeks of grey skies during the summer holidays I have to remind myself that we are lucky to have a climate where we are never short of water. It occurred to me that despite being surrounded by all of this green I have very little green fabric in my stash and I rarely use green in quilts. This prompted me to make a list of some of the things that I like or dislike which are green:







school uniform

bathroom suites




gorse bushes


kitchen appliances

gin bottles


garden sheds




mint chocolate chip ice cream


cutting mats



Mum's Windmill Quilt

  Oz Bewitched Blocks

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list but it proves that I don’t actually dislike green altogether and I even struggled to find green things that I really did not like. Perhaps I will challenge myself to make a predominantly green quilt. I am still struggling to decide which Cherrywood fabrics to choose for my “to-be-made-one-day-not-necessarily-wholecloth quilt”. If I wanted to take inspiration the countryside this summer it should be a combination of many greens, greys and the odd splash of magenta or yellow.  I still don’t know whether this will comprise regimented traditionally pieced blocks or something more freestyle and contemporary or even when I think I will make it. I think I will keep myself guessing for a while longer.

I have made good progress on the “Oz Bewitched” quilt. I was unsure about whether the feature fabric would steal the show and I have not yet decided what borders it needs. There was some fudging going on as I squared them up. They have ended up approximately 12.75” square which seems an odd measurement but as long as they are consistently inconsistent, I don’t suppose it matters. In some ways I think that this quilt is taxing me because I want to create something less geometric which I never thought that I would admit. The quilting either has to be wildly Aboriginal or very traditional. I originally intended it to be a show quilt bit now I am less sure about that. Unfinished, it seems to be a bit of an enigma!

I quilted and bound a throw for my Mother that she gave me months ago and I made a three kindle covers and a laptop sleeve. I only intended to make one kindle cover but the first oilcloth version ended up a smidge too tight so I made another fabric one then I decided to make a third oilcloth one that matched the laptop sleeve in case the customer wanted a matching set. Any that are spare can be offered for sale at exhibitions I suppose.

Another week of the school holidays drifted by with friends visiting, a chilly trip to the beach, some baking, outings to the supermarket, bookshop and dog walking in the rain.

Guilty Pleasure


My workshop was wonderfully tidy and there was no excuse about lack of time yet I still did not manage to get as much sewing done as I would have liked because I was too busy feeling guilty about READING. It was just like when I was at school and failed to complete my homework because I was devouring books instead. I read the “Shades of Grey” trilogy because I wanted to know what all of the hype was about. Frankly, it could all have been condensed into one novel. There was at least a plausible plot by the third book but I have to be a literary snob and declare that it was mostly uninspiringly written repetitive porn. Obviously, I could have given up during the first book but I do like to finish what I have started reading! By comparison, I found “The Hunger Games” trilogy absolutely thrilling and just could not put it down until I had finished all three books. The calibre of writing, characters and post-modernist plots were stunning. I almost hope that I can’t find anything else quite so diverting for a while otherwise I will fail to achieve anything all summer holiday.

Setting aside the fiction periodically, I forced myself to sew sleeves onto the remaining “Ostrych” panel, “Norse Capercaillie” and the tricky continuous sleeve for “Odin’s Trilogy”. It was a tough job on my fingers as most of these panels have been painted on the reverse and they have been very densely quilted. I was relieved when that chore was over.

I cut out the pieces for the rest of “Australian Bewitched” and decided to enlarge it from a 16 block quilt to a more useful 25 block quilt. It has felt good to continue with an abandoned project at last and I am working on it a couple of blocks at a time. Each Ohio star will have setting triangles to make it larger then I will have to decide on a border design. It is nice to be working with colourful fabrics on this project but the gold lame is being its usual non co-operative self and not all of the points are beautifully matched. At least this time I have made a note of the sizes of pieces that I am working with so that I can write a proper pattern for it. I have even worked out a different sized block using pre-cut charm squares.

I took Freya with me on a day trip to Inverness in the pouring rain to set up a new longarm machine. She was a tremendous help as the instructions for the hydraulic lift system were somewhat confusing. I need step by step photos so I will bear that in mind when I produce my patterns. Frustratingly, there was a crucial small piece missing from the kit so I will have to make another trip to complete the job when the replacement parts arrive from the USA.

According to the BBC, the reason for our continuing bad weather is that the jet stream is unseasonably low. It rained for most of the week so in the end I lit the yurt stove and cooked outside one evening despite the black clouds. Freya went off to Guide Camp at Crathes Castle in waterproofs and wellies and was not really looking forward to pitching an old fashioned canvas tent on the mud. I’m glad I managed to persuade her to take an extra blanket and a box of sweets. I expect she will have fun as long as she stays dry and at least she won’t be creating mountains of washing-up making cakes all week 😉

School’s Out for Summer – despite the rain!



The ground was so waterlogged that Sports Day was cancelled so I used the chance to crack on with the huge bargello quilt so that I could bind it and post it back to the Isle of Skye. I fitted in a DIY customer who wanted to put large spirals onto batik & black quilt and by the time that project was complete, I was itching to do a little piecing for a change. I decided to make a few sample blocks using a new curved cutting ruler. It is a good job that there were Youtube video demonstrations since I could not figure out the written instructions at all. I am sure they were perfectly clear but I was totally lost. I eventually worked out what to do then felt obliged to make some modifications in order to simplify the process. One day I must challenge one of my quilting friends to see if they are less fazed by patterns than I am. I really liked the resulting blocks in the end and they may be contenders for the Not-So Wholecloth that is in my mental list of quilts to do one day.

The week whizzed by with a school prize-giving ceremony, piano exams, end of term Church service and we even managed to book our family holiday at last. We will be going to Middelfart in Denmark at the end of July. The plan is to visit Legoland, eat smorgasbord and visit a Viking museum or two. There is no guarantee that the weather will be sunny but surely it cannot be much wetter than it has been here in Scotland?

I refolded and reorganised all of the fabric in my workshop in readiness for catching up with one or two projects over the summer. I find that I can’t concentrate if my workspace is messy as I can’t figure out what I am supposed to be working on. I want to tackle the Australian Bewitched blocks first then use some more of the Aboriginal fabrics to experiment with the curved ruler or possibly freehand cut some curved blocks. I would really like to sort out all of the paints and beads that are hidden in a drawer and rehome them in a vintage kitchen cabinet that I have not yet repainted but if I start on that I won’t get anything else done…

Mo gave me a sack full of distressed leather that she had stripped off some old armchairs. It looks perfect for my new Norse project as it has been aged by being sat upon for years and it even has a few holes. I have no idea exactly what I will do with it or even if it will co-operate but weirdly, it reminds me of the preserved Iron-Age bog bodies which is apt as I have been looking for images of Viking burial posts online.

The sun made a brief appearance so I decided to remove cobwebs and mop up in the summerhouse & yurt. I am hopeful that we will use both of these during the holidays even if we have lousy weather. Some of the cushions and rugs in the yurt were damp and mouldy but as soon as I finished the job it started raining yet again. I hope to find a couple of sofas in the junk shop so that the children can at least pretend to be outside in the fresh air. Maybe they will take their guitars outside for a jam or have a go at learning the harmonica and cajon drum that arrived this week. Although we have a 7 week holiday I know that it will go quickly and before I know it, I will be packing up to go to the Festival of Quilts!