Monthly Archives: January 2013

Half Life

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I have not actually been thinking about how long it takes radioactive isotopes to break down but it occurred to me on my birthday that I have now lived more than half my life in Scotland. Local school children have been busy learning and reciting Scots poems to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns and wearing tartan to school. Although I have a very unplaceable accent, I must be more than 50% Scottish by now since my Mother is a Scot, and 2 out of my 3 children were born in Scotland! Anyway, I enjoyed my haggis, neeps and tatties on the 25th.

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At the age of 45 I am probably now at least half way through my lifespan and I still have a lot more that I want to do. It would be a good idea if I stopped wasting so much time faffing around on the computer, trying to get Stupid Skype to work. It is meant to be simple – a fun way of contacting friends and family around the world without the connection dropping out, crackling and showing nothing but a blank screen. All I wanted to do was take a screenshot of me talking to the Stunt Quilters for a magazine article but it proved to be extremely frustrating. The final straw was when I lost my wifi connection, having told everyone that a group call was about to be made…

My whole week had a slightly frustrating undertone. There were two school snow closure days even though there was not really a huge amount of snow here. I spent some time working on BzB making lots of curvy blocks to put in between sections. I joined almost two thirds of it together and need to figure out how the rest will connect. I might have to create some spiky sawtooth borders if it is not quite wide enough. BzB is nothing like the “anti-wholecloth” that I had in my head. I will simply have to make that one another time!

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I can’t spend all day in the workshop when everyone is at home. I had to do catering, fire stoking and supervise the homework that had to be done since the children were at home all day. My husband commandeered the Landy to go to work since I did not really need to go out but I kept thinking that I might just want to nip out to the Post Office or buy cat food.

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It was a quite a keep-fit workout taking the dogs out in such wet snow. Mabel kept sinking up to her armpits and I had to carry her. Welly, the spaniel had to be defrosted in a warm bucket of water as he had huge ice balls stuck to his hairy legs. He then received an emergency haircut to remove the parts that had turned into wet felt.

I am making myself enjoy a tea drinking renaissance as I am trying to stick to my no wine rule. I bought a super new teapot with a sieve inside. I have been trying to tell myself that bespoke tea is just as satisfying as a full bodied glass of red (it really is not, for the record).

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BzB: Bits n Pieces

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Despite the guilt I felt at not being able to teach my class and the thought of losing 3 days’ pay, the unexpected bonus of having one of my children off school with ‘flu was that I could spend the whole week making gradual progress on the BzB project. It seems to be taking shape slowly as I added wide strips to “finished” sections so that they can be added to other pieces with curved joins.

I was pleased with 3 large strippy kaleidoscope blocks even though the silk ones are a little bulky in the centre. There are also lots of quarter squares that will become strips that punctuate larger areas. I think I spent much of my time just looking, thinking and wondering why on earth I wanted to make this project so complicated.

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One of the things that is adding to the stress level is that the silk blend fabrics are very stretchy and slippery. I still hope to use some pieces of dyed linen but these are much heavier than some of the lightweight fabrics so I am not sure that this will be feasible at all! The next challenge is figuring out the puzzle of how all of the sections will fit together. I have used a lot of fabric already on this quilt and I am concerned that I may run short of large pieces. I suppose I will just have to join all of the offcuts together or dye some more cotton sateen.

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It has been a cold and snowy week but we did not have as much as the rest of the UK. It made dog-walking hard work as the wet, muddy ground was covered with slushy snow and it was impossible to see rocks underfoot. I have been sticking to my “diet” of no wine or snacks but I cannot say that I feel slim or fit yet;)

Driving cautiously on icy roads, I made it to the Aberdeen Patchwork & Quilting Group on Wednesday evening and gave a talk with quilts and slides on my 2012 trip to Houston and my Norse series. The turnout was pretty good, considering the wintry weather and my talk was well received. In turn, I was intrigued to hear about Valerie’s 365 photo journal. She intends to take a photo every day for a year to make more use of her camera and to improve her photography skills. I wondered if I might find the time to start one of these but in the end I persuaded my daughter, Freya to have a go and submit it as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. Already it has got us both thinking about what constitutes an interesting image.

One of the things that I hope to do this week is to Skype several Stunt Quilters at once to see if we can take a novel group photograph. It has taken me a while to set this up as our Internet connection has been terrible for weeks. I am beginning to wonder if the modem needs an upgrade as we are now trying to run so many different wifi devices. There was a point earlier this week when I declared that technology was actually slowing my life down as I struggled to copy music files onto an SD card for Fergus’ guitar amp and find documents that were being stored on a cloud. Sometimes I miss writing things out in longhand. I may just have to dust off one of my old fountain pens and do some handwriting practice…

Miserables

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I finally spent time on working on BzB but after two days I had very mixed feelings about what I had managed to produce. I have deviated a long way from the original idea of a simple not-quite-wholecloth into a collection of pieces that may or may not blend well together in the end. The hexagon section is the most troubling. It just looked like a part of something else so I forged ahead regardless and curve pieced some big sections of probably unsuitable green sateen and shiny purple-blue silk. In fanciful light it could be said that it looks like Scottish hillsides but in others it looks like a bit of a mess. I laid the other blocks out to see if that improved matters. I just have to hope that by the time that all of the sections get curvily joined to each other, it will all look like it was meant to be. A box of gorgeous Oakshott fabric arrived which may just tie it all together. If not, I can start again more simply with my bracken coloured collection.

Just when I was making progress with my project I had to go into school teacher mode. I admit that I found this week after the holidays hard as there has been some challenging behaviour and it was also confirmed that the temporary post is due to end in early February. I have to start making plans for how much supply teaching I am prepared to do as Spring approaches. I would love to concentrate on being a textile artist and do a few talks but realistically I also have to make some money as well.

I made up my mind to try and stick to a minor diet this week so I had porridge for breakfast, no snacks because I was a bit bored and most significantly, no wine. That one has been the hardest! Herbal tea is no substitute: I don’t know how Temperance League Ladies managed to make headway with reforming the gin drinkers of Victorian London.

My internet connection has been an absolute pain this week. It is either frustratingly slow or does not connect at all. It took 4 days to upload some photos into a Dropbox so goodness knows whether I will be able to Skype a group of stunt quilters this week to meet the deadline for the Quilting Arts article… I suppose the upside of having no internet is that I can spend more time sewing for a change!

BzbmessI took Freya and Nell to see the movie version of “Les Miserables” at the weekend. It was spectacular and very emotional – it really deserves its many award nominations.

Cracking on with 2013

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Obviously, I soon began to enjoy the lack of excitement of the Christmas holidays and I relished getting up late, taking the dogs out then having coffee, followed by minor pottering about. As a family we watched all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films with popcorn.There is not normally the luxury of a woodburner in the cinema and instead of the usual rustling from the audience, we had the ticking and cuckooing of our long-dead cuckoo clock resurrected by a liberal dose of WD40.

I decided that I really had to sew something so I made half a dozen new drawstring gadget bags for new charger cables in the hope that their owners will actually use them. I amazed myself by completing my tax return 3 weeks before the deadline and tidying out my baking cupboard after discovering microscopic critters in the flour shaker. Luckily, I had not used it recently for rolling out biscuits…

I have been set the challenge of Skyping all of the stunt quilters to get an unusual group photo for Quilting Arts Magazine. This proved challenging – I had to download and test Skype with an intermittent Broadband connection then take a photo to see if it was going to be clear enough. I also set up a new wifi printer and even got it working with most of the devices in the house.

I considered ordering the smallest Horn cabinet to bring a sewing machine back into the house so that I could just fit in short bursts of sewing in the evenings. What stopped me was that they are around £350 and I would have to find somewhere else to put my antique treadle machine table that I use for my laptop. In the end I have just lifted out the side flap and put my machine on top of the old treadle even though it is not sunk flat into the table which I prefer. I had actually forgotten how good my original made-in-Sweden Husqvarna is and I plan to use it to add decorative stitches and rickrack to the BzB blocks.

I always hesitate to come up with New Year Resolutions but two things I aspire to will be to make an effort to stick to a healthy diet and to get That Yurt Book back on track, either to be accepted by a publisher OR to self publish it. Now that I have put that in print I had better make an effort!