Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tattie Hols 2012




I feel slightly guilty about combining two weeks of holiday into one blog post but the “tattie holidays” have been pretty busy. Scottish schools traditionally have a two week mid-term break in October which originated when children would be expected to help gather in the potato or “tattie” harvest.

I travelled to Norfolk by train with my 3 children with fanciful ideas about typing or researching during the journey but trains are so crowded these days and there is not much space to move, store luggage or swing a cat. I was pleased that I remembered to take a flask of my own coffee since the buffet car was out of order. A young passenger asked her mother what century Fenella thought she was in as she was reading, rather than playing on an electronic gadget. The inside joke was that she was actually reading a book on a Kindle! It is quite educational travelling alongside other members of the population 😉

The weather in Norfolk was unusually wet but it was not particularly cold. Freya enjoyed cycling into the village to fetch a few groceries in a bike basket and we spent time with my family. My sister taught Fenella how to crochet and Fergus managed to survive for several days without the dreaded X-box. We had a fun day out in the rain at “Bewilderwood”, an adventure park of tree-houses, zip-wires and imaginary forest creatures. We did a lot of cooking, eating and experimented with the medieval looking contraption that I bought in Norwich for peeling apples.

When we returned to Scotland I had to rearrange Fenella’s bedroom for a sleepover, wrap presents and make a huge quadruple layer chocolate marble cake topped with rocky road icing. It was suddenly Thursday afternoon in the second week of the holidays by the time all of that was over and I still had to collect new business cards, finish off the house blocks and complete the third silver Viking helmet that I decided to take with me to the Quilt Festival, Houston in case anyone wants to buy it. I was also delighted to receive a complimentary copy of Machine Quilting Unlimited as an article about Scottish yurt panel, Willowbay Herb, featured on p78.

I bought travel gin in pouches instead of a heavy glass bottle and packed for my trip at last. I am struggling to get rid of a stinking cold and also keeping a close eye on USA weather warnings for “Frankenstorm”, which I hope will not adversely affect my transatlantic flight on Monday. Thankfully, the unseasonably early snow that settled here on Friday has now turned to rain. Perhaps I should make a a long quilty shopping list to keep me busy…

Highs & Lows




I made it just in time for my talk at Aberdeen North Embroidery Guild by the skin of my teeth as my sat-nav lady had a bit of a meltdown in the dark and could not take me somewhere perfectly straightforward less than 15 miles away from home. The ladies seemed to enjoy some of the quilts that I have produced in the last 6 years.

I attended an interview for a teaching job that I really believed I would get since I had already been teaching at the school regularly. Despite telling myself that I would be philosophical if a better suited teacher got the job, I was really fed up when told that I lacked “experience”. I was given sound advice on how I could improve my CV for future applications. After stewing about it all for a couple of days, I decided that perhaps the tarot cards were trying to tell me that school teaching is not my destiny after all. I had seriously considered putting my quilting business back onto the back burner and earning money the “easy” way by returning to the teaching profession but I now believe that I just don’t fit the mould required to be a permanent member of teaching staff. If I am honest, I like to plan things my own way without filling in reams of paperwork and I hate being told what to do. I spent a supply day in an infant class the next day where the children up to age 7 were all learning through play activities and I decided that I was actually rather bored. I even had time to jot down one or two new ideas for quilting projects.

When I returned home there was an offer to go and teach quilting in Texas next October if I feel like it so I ordered a celebratory new pair of green Dr Martens, poured myself a large gin and decided to feel relieved that I am still a free agent to travel to international quilt shows without having to consider school holidays.

On Friday Mo, Tania and I spent a long overdue day together. We started by dunking Cadbury’s Crunchies into very strong coffee, then went to see the new upholstery workshop in an old farm steading that Mo will share with Yurtman, a Canoe Builder and a Felt Maker. She is excited by the creative possibilities that could evolve from such a combination of artisans. We helped shift some rolls of fabric and shelves then treated ourselves to a late lunch at the Finzean Farm Shop. The heavy rain throughout the day caused the River Feugh to burst its banks but my trusty Landrover waded manfully through the deep puddles on the road. There was even a small waterfall gushing through the dry-stone dyke in my garden that caused a moat to form around the yurt and lap at the door. I will need to light the stove and mop up – after another winter I will probably need to commission a new roof canvas.

At the weekend I finally finished quilting the rejected then resurrected Viking helmet that I did on some inferior quality silver lame. Some of the shiny surface has worn off so I think I will give it a squirt of silver spray paint. This will also hide the fact that I changed thread colours halfway through. As this is now Silver Helmet Number 3 I think I will probably put it up for sale. I added more strips to the 25 house cushion/quilt blocks and prepared the back of a small customer quilt so I felt that I actually achieved something in my workshop this weekend, despite the pungent smell of spirit vinegar that I had used to remove some stains on a vintage wool blanket.

It is a good job that my Macbook has virtual “sticky-note” reminders – it is only two weeks until I fly to Houston and I have lots to do before I pack my suitcase!!

Full Week Leads to Empty Cupboards


I had three full teaching days this week covering all sorts of lessons from Vikings to autumn leaf prints so I decided to stick closely to my to-do-list. This included ironing and putting up another guitar bracket in the summerhouse before allowing myself time to make bias binding. In the end I chickened out of binding around all of Freya’s  giant hexagons. The sharp corners proved to be very fiddly and I decided that I would not allow myself the time or patience to faff around with it properly. The 3 Christmas quilts for my children are finally complete so maybe now I can think about a couple more Norse pieces?

I am delighted to have sold the Smart Car cover to the Uptown Arts Center in Blanco, Texas. They actually have a Smart Car and really wanted it on time for their show next week. I packed it all up but had to visit three post offices before it finally started its journey to the USA. The small P.O. couldn’t process it because their scales only go up to 10kg, the medium sized P.O. is run by a truculent woman and on this occasion she would not accept any more parcels for the day because she was closing early. The assistant at the High Street branch was very helpful and filled in all of the customs forms without any fuss at all.

After school on Wednesday I drove for 2 hours to Cupar in Fife to do a talk & trunkshow with a selection of yurt panels and show quilts. They were a most appreciative audience and were surprised by my casual approach to using whatever materials I like and letting everyone touch my quilts. I decided to drive back that night and had a clear run home by 11pm  with a good Radio 4 reception.

I was out again on Thursday evening at a long and heated meeting at Banchory Academy where the Parent Council met with the Director of Education to demand that 16+ age pupils should continue to be examined in 8 subjects rather than 6 as dictated by the latest decree from Aberdeenshire Council. This debate has been rumbling on with the rules of engagement constantly shifting for 3 years; the parents are not prepared to back down and the Head Teacher is caught in the crossfire. An agreement will have to be reached by the end of November with a considerable number of parents threatening to remove their children to private schools. It was an interesting, political meeting and astonishing that very little about these sweeping educational reforms has been reported in the media.

At the weekend I finally managed to produce a two-sided A4 flyer about the Quilted Yurt, USA. I managed to put it together in Pages on the Macbook which was actually easier than I had expected. I would like to print it in colour, although it will obviously be cheaper to produce black & white copies as long as the pictures look clear enough.

I had hoped to spend most of Sunday finishing off the wonky house blocks but I started clearing out the kitchen cupboards instead. I was fed up with plastic boxes without their correctly fitting lids and birthday candles that had melted down to stumps. I was ruthless, disposing of a huge jar full of ginless sloes and some vintage Christmas mincemeat. I hope this does not lead me to embark upon a full scale pre-Festive-Season clearout, otherwise I will not get any sewing done at all!