Monthly Archives: August 2012

Crazy New Term



I arrived back from FOQ late on Monday evening glad that I had sorted out school uniforms and stationery before I went away. School started the next day and I had to unpack and return the van. My workshop looked like it had been ransacked and I had to find space for the extra longarm machine boxes until they are sold or go to another exhibition. Meanwhile, three schools phoned requesting supply teaching commitments from me. I had hoped to have a few days to sort out my correspondence and workspace but I found myself unable to turn them down. I have to remind myself that these wages can go towards Houston or a new laptop since my red Dell is being so temperamental but I also need to keep plenty of time to work on my projects.

I taught at my own children’s school for the first time and they eventually managed to ignore the fact that I was related to them after a while. I laughed when I could not identify the owners of a couple of unnamed sweaters and the younger children suggested that I should smell them to work out who they belonged to. I actually enjoyed teaching such pleasant and well mannered children. The day passed very quickly; they really seemed to enjoy my maths, art and PE lessons.

I had a DIY quilter here for several hours day to complete a wedding quilt using a tricky stencil board. In the end most of the correspondence got done but the blogging was neglected for the week until I caught up with myself again. I still have a term’s worth of PE, RE and sex education lessons to plan. Luckily, the schools have given me some guidelines…

I took Freya into town on Saturday; we had fun browsing at ukeleles and went for a lovely lunch. She has promised that she will help me to put the summerhouse back together now that it has  all been freshly painted. I want to make curtains to go inside an old glass cupboard that has seen better days. Yet again, I wish that I could stop time or clone myself in order to get everything done that I want to do in as little time as possible so that I have plenty more time left for quilting!

Festival of Quilts UK 2012


I collected an enormous white van then spent the whole day pacing up and down worrying that all of the longarm machines & frames would arrive on time until I finally received a call from the international shippers to confirm that the German on loan from Claudia Pfeil would be delivered direct to Birmingham. In addition to a machine from Ireland, three from the USA and one of my own, the van was packed up with just about everything I could think of that may come in handy at the show. I went shopping for essentials such as chocolate, painkillers and a few bottles of wine.

There was a dramatic thunderstorm with pink lightning overnight so I did not get much sleep and I set off early on the first leg of the trip to collect Kay from the Scottish Borders. The van radio was pretty useless so we caught up on quilting gossip, latest book purchases, projects in progress and we discussed various quilt blogs.

Wednesday was set-up day where “The Team” met for the first time. As well as Kay, I had help from Ani and her sidekick, Lilian, who kept us in stitches with her irreverent comments about all and sundry. Mark Caraher flew in from the USA to represent APQS and help out with sales and technical queries. It was great to have someone so expert at assembling these machines quickly for a show as it took all day to get the stand ready. As we had the luxury of a large trade-stand, we hung an enormous stage backdrop that made it look like we were in a quilter’s studio, as well as three blue and white bed quilts, bunting and garlands. The generous amount of floor space allowed us to demonstrate two Millenniums on a 12 ft table, a mid-range Lucey on a short table and two smaller Lennis on another 10ft table.

Over the next four days our impressive stand was much admired by existing longarmers, traders, quilting teachers, and beginners alike. We received many compliments about the information that we shared, the explanations of how things worked, the friendliness of our team and the work that was on display.

There was very little time to explore the quilt show except for a quick run around first thing in the morning. I had a very brief look at the show quilts and exhibits. Kay took many great photos and posted them on her blog, I have included a few of my favourites here. The Quilted Baby was a little barmy ;)I managed to buy just what was on my brief shopping list except that no-one had any gold lame on sale!

It was a fun but hard working week: the team gelled really well, we ate far too much good food in the evenings where we discussed the day, flummoxed ourselves with taxes and dollar conversions and we nicknamed one member of our team,  “Algebra Ani”.

The show ran really smoothly until the final afternoon where the NEC traffic supervisors held all of the vans in the queue for over two hours and we almost missed our deadline for getting the German machine picked up by Schenkers.

Kay and I had a long drive home on Monday as we made a detour to IKEA then sat in crawling traffic for almost two hours. When we stopped for a cup of tea we opened and read our quilts’ judging comments and I really could not decide whether to feel indignant or embarrassed. My score was the lowest that I had ever received from FOQ judges. One said that the series “lacked cohesion” which I did not understand. I was not upset whether the judges did not like my choice of materials but I was concerned that by now I should be attaining “excellent” for skill at the very least. I admit that I sulked and worried for most of the remainder of my journey. That evening my Facebook friends were all very encouraging and generously boosted my morale but I still wonder whether my work reaches the standard required by QGBI trained judges. I guess The Ostrych needs to go to another show to be judged again; I can always sell the panels off to fund a quilt trip if unsuccessful.

Zeitgeist Apparently



It was great that the journey home from Denmark was short and it went smoothly. It was nice to catch up with the Olympics on the BBC although it had been rather fun to watch handball in a foreign language. It looked like the atmosphere in the stadium was electric and it would seem that London has hosted a very successful Games. Freya was incredibly fortunate to have been invited to London 2012 by Millie’s family to see athletics events, including the 4 x 100m relay final with the unstoppable, legendary Jamaican runners on the penultimate day of the Olympics and she had a fantastic time soaking up the atmosphere in the incredible Olympic stadium, especially when the huge crowd celebrated Mo Farrah’s gold medal for the 5000m.

One of the packages in my pile of unopened mail contained a complimentary copy of C June Barnes’ latest book, “Exploring Dimension in Quilt Art”. I was a featured artist on pages 114-115 and it felt thrilling to see The Quilted Yurt mentioned in a book, even if it was not my own long overdue publication. I really admire June’s three dimensional work and the projects by the other guest artists were truly inspiring.

I felt that it was strangely ironic to read that Audrey Critchley had worked on a series of Aboriginal burial posts and that the British Museum has recently been running an exhibition involving textile horse armour while I have been considering two similar endeavours of my own for some time. My new neighbour who is a bona fide artist tried to explain that it was all to do with “Zeitgeist”   meaning “the ideas prevalent in a period and place”, rather like collective ideas buzzing around in the ether, I daresay. It has certainly made me rethink what I may choose to work on next. I think I will try to keep very quiet about it but I have a notion that I would like to revisit dwellings as a theme…

I organized most of the gear that I will need to take to Birmingham to represent APQS at the Festival of Quilts. There were frantic phone calls and emails to track down the overdue delivery of machines from Ireland, Germany and the USA. They all have to clear customs and arrive here by Monday if I am to leave on time with my hired van. It is far from ideal that they are still in transit at this late stage but I would probably get bored if I had nothing to stress about up until the last minute. I even found time to piece two of the borders that I will add to the Oz version of “Bewitched”. I can’t do any more to it until I get some more gold lame and get my studio back to normal when I return from FOQ in just over a week’s time!




We flew from Aberdeen to Esbjerg in Denmark to begin our family summer holiday. After collecting a hire car, we drove for about an hour through countryside very much like Suffolk. Our home for the week was a functional lodge fitted out like a room-set from the IKEA catalogue.

We headed straight to Legoland, Billund the next morning. Fenella was unexpectedly sick in the car on the way so we had to stop and buy a new outfit. Legoland was very crowded and there were long queues for the loos, food and rides. We rode on a Lego train, monorail, observation tower, and Viking boat. I got soaked on pirate ships equipped with water pumps and I kept my eyes shut on the roller coaster. The model villages were fantastic so we stayed late and had a picnic supper.

The next day we explored the small town of Middelfart and visited the medieval house that was a museum. We sat under a huge umbrella at a street cafe in a heavy cloudburst before going back to the resort to try out the chilly unheated outdoor pool. Later in the evening we walked along the narrow strip of beach at Fanoe Sound where there were hundreds of jellyfish and Freya found an antique ceramic Carlsberg bottle top which was decorated with a pre Nazi version of a swastika. Using shrimp nets, the children caught a few small crabs then let them go. There was a beautiful sunset and we even glimpsed porpoises gliding through the water.

On Friday we visited Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark. It was very attractive with many old buildings and large weirs. The cathedral had been decorated with modernist mosaics, stained glass windows and paintings by Carl-Henning Pedersen. I was intrigued to notice that an ancient stone sarcophagus was carved with curved lines similarly to how I had quilted two of the Odin’s Trilogy pieces. We sat outside a busy cafe to enjoy ice cream, waffles and coffee. There was a super amber shop and I bought a couple of strings of amber beads that I intend to use on my forthcoming Viking leather project. There was a very good museum of Viking and Medieval Life with plenty of interesting artefacts and we had a go at the quiz by working out the gist of the information in Danish however, there were not any Viking bog bodies. Amazingly, I spotted a small burial mound and dolmen across the road from the ice cream kiosk just outside Middelfart.

There was a jazz festival in Middelfart on Saturday and the town was busy with visitors. We managed to book train tickets online at the public library even though it was all in Danish. We stopped at the popular ice cream kiosk and almost felt confident enough to attempt ordering in stilted Danish.  I guessed that it should be something like, “Ein vaffel med to kugle…?”

On Sunday we took the bus and train to Copenhagen. The city was much busier and a bit scruffier than the small, quaint Danish towns. There seemed to be a lot of renovations going on.  There were many impressive buildings, several of which had been commissioned by Carlsberg magnate, Carl Jacobsen. We visited the art gallery with an impressive and priceless collection of French paintings and many ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman statues. From the roof terrace we could see some of the adrenalin fuelled rides at the oldest funfair in the world. We took rather a long walk to see the Little Mermaid statue which was far smaller than we expected. There was a more impressive Valkyrie bronze sculpture nearby. We walked back along the historic harbour front where old warehouses has been converted into trendy apartments and had open sandwiches at one of the terrace cafes. One day was not nearly enough to explore Copenhagen: we did not even have time to visit the Carlsberg brewery museum, Tivoli Gardens or The Danish Design Museum. We stopped for drinks at The Hard Rock Cafe then headed back to the station. The train was very comfortable and spacious; it was definitely an easy way to travel to the capital city.

 On Monday we awoke to torrential rain and Fenella was not feeling well so she and I stayed behind while the others went back to Legoland. The sun came out, she watched Harry Potter with Danish subtitles, followed by The Olympics with a Danish commentary and I picked rhubarb from a patch in the garden to make a crumble.

 On our final day in Denmark we mooched around Middelfart looking for small souvenirs and Danish pastries. In the evening we had a simple but delicious supper at a family owned roadside cafe where the staff only spoke Danish so there was a bit of guesswork involved with the ordering. Everyone agreed that they had really enjoyed the holiday and would be happy to make a return trip in the future.