Monthly Archives: December 2013

De-Mob Happy!



I think that the Christmas term is a week too long! The final week is absolutely hectic when  most school children become over excited and over tired. My class party was an hour long sugar-rush of squealing and chasing until I made them do a ceilidh dance to my live fiddle playing medley that included The Dashing White Sergeant, Jingle Bells and something that I made up on the spot because I forgot what I was meant to be playing in 4/4 time. They fidgeted through their end of term carol service and could not sit still in the Muppets Christmas Carol DVD but they did seem genuinely sorry to say goodbye to me as I wished them all a Happy Christmas.

The pupils at Banchory Academy gave a magnificent music concert on Monday evening – the choir sang Skyfall and Winter Wonderland beautifully. The weather has not been particularly festive with gales and rain. I keep hoping for frost or snow but it does not look likely and I may just clean the BBQ just in case high winds bring power cables down again.

I tried to complete my Christmas shopping in Banchory but was unsuccessful in my search for nice socks so I substituted them in the only possible way by purchasing mini bottles of Gin and Tonic instead. My week whizzed by as I made several trips to the parcel depot, used yards of sellotape for wrapping and finally scrawled the last of the Christmas cards. On Thursday evening I helped myself to the bottle of Chablis that I had earmarked for Friday.

Mo, Tania spent a lovely evening together at the end of the week exchanging gifts and drinking plenty of Fizz. We had been so busy lately that we barely even caught up for a quick coffee in the past few weeks.


There was not much sewing activity in my workshop which becomes an elves’ grotto and festive food cold store over Christmas. I bound a quilt that is a present and admired two packages of fabric that arrived. I ordered a fat-quarter selection from Anna Maria Horner and some deers, thinking that I might get around to making some new cushions for my scruffy old sofa.


The other package came from Ani’s new shop in Kingsbridge, The Crazy Catt Quilt Shop. She put together a sample pack of hand dyed strips for me to try out for my Northern Lights project on the P&Q Magazine Cruise to Norway and the colours look perfect. I might have to sneak out to my grotto to see how it looks pieced together.

I hope all of you enjoy a Peaceful and Happy Christmas with plenty of mince pies and chocolate! xxx

Best Laid Plans and All That



I often wonder why I bother to make plans when they so frequently change or go pear-shaped! On a whim I decided to rustle up a simple quilt for my mother-in-law using squares that I cut long ago. Th idea was to test out the new longarm machine with its on-board computer. I am not at all sure that this has been my wisest investment. I bought it to do some really basic bread + butter customer quilts and bedspreads but it has been a bit of a struggle getting the software and hardware all co-operating. I got it all updated remotely by the Grace Company in Utah over the internet and it seemed to be doing what it was meant to except when it did things differently. It is probably my fault for not bothering to study the instructions – in the end it quilted some big spirals over the quilt and I just freehanded some swirls in the gaps that should not have been there.


My attempts at photography for a magazine article proved to be a bit of a disaster because I had inadvertently set the pictures to a low resolution so it looks like I will have to take most of them again. That is a bit of a pain but even worse is that I can’t go back in time and re-shoot some of the quilts that are no longer here or beautifully snowy scenes from 3 years ago.


Fergus decided to buck the trend for becoming a terrible teenager and start a year earlier on his 12th birthday. He did not behave very nicely and it all ended in tears with “the worst birthday ever”. At least that means things can only improve next year! He was very disappointed that we had another storm/powercut just before his friends were due to visit and play on the Xbox on Saturday so I had a last minute, expensive trip to the cinema with mountains of junk food at TGI Friday!

I completed online applications to be a quilt tutor at MQX Midwest and I am excited to report that it looks like I will be a member of the teaching faculty for Springfield, IL in 2014. Fenella wonders if I will meet “The Simpsons”? Surely there will be a drive-thru-do-nut shop!


As parcels continue to arrive or not be delivered on an almost daily basis in the run up to Christmas, I could not think what the enormous package was that was delivered by truck this week since most of the boxes contained books, slippers or music. Once I took off the outer cardboard, it was obvious that the coracle had been sent back from its UK tour. Now I just have to figure out how to store it tidily;)







It was such a cold week – we had temperatures well below zero and a fierce storm that brought down lots of large trees. I also succumbed to a streaming cold and ended up with a chest infection which dampened my resolve to get things done. The storm knocked out our power supply for 18 hours and I was reminded how reliant on electricity we are. I could not sew, iron, cook, use the internet or recharge any of my gadgets. I lit the wood-burner and tackled the Christmas card writing marathon. I was able to make coffee and heat soup with my camping stove which my children found it quite exciting. Power-cuts are unusual for them but they were common when I was a child growing up in the strikes of the 1970’s.

stollen loaf

I phoned in sick on Friday, feeling very guilty but I really could not teach while croaking and coughing. I attempted a festive stollen loaf that I decided was good enough to try again with a few modifications like not cutting it while it is still hot. I managed to join a few pinwheels for my shot-cotton quilt and I even remembered to take my camera out for a walk.

QQ piecing

Freya helped me to set up a few photos of my home and studio for an article that Generation Q Magazine wants to run on “celebrity” quilter’s homes! I daresay my scruffy sofas covered in blankets and quilts will look quite quaint in a very up-cycled kind of way. I refuse to invest in new furniture in case my husband bans the cat from the lounge. She has a habit of sharpening her claws on my junk shop finds.


There was a family debate about the type of Christmas tree we would have this year and the majority vote was for a real one. I decided that there are plenty of fallen or wonky trees in the scrubland near our house so Freya and I set off with a saw to see what we could find. We felt a bit like dwarves carrying it back over the fields but after giving it a trim, positioning its less attractive side next to the piano then be-decking it with silver and glass, we were absolutely delighted with our efforts.

Little but Plans and Lists


bunnies  pinwheelblox

It feels like I am not sewing enough but there is a lot going on – checking items off lists at least proves that some things have been dealt with, although a few of those seem to have  been on the list for rather a long time. I am really counting down the days in school, hoping to get SO much more done in the New Year.

Something that I fiddled around with fruitlessly over the weekend was trying to plan a quilt design on the computer. I have a copy of EQ6 on my old laptop but it is not terribly user friendly when you want to do a custom layout. I am eagerly awaiting the Mac version of EQ7 which is due out in the New Year. There are other ways of drafting shapes of course but I am not a graphic designer so in the meantime I have bought a pad of graph paper and I will simply colour the blocks in with felt pens.

I finished a charming appliqué quilt for a customer. There was a lot of stitch-in-the-ditching   around rabbits and flower pots followed by tiny background fillers. Since there are no more urgent customer quilts waiting to be done, my very patient friend, Tania, helped me to swap the longarm machines over and box up the one that is being sent back to the USA. That was a big job that I was glad to get done so hopefully now I will “bond” with my new generation Millennium. Maybe the first quilt to be done on it will be the shot-cottons that I have been working on as a side project.

I took the girls into Aberdeen for a completely frustrating trip. We were not allowed into my preferred carpark suitable for Landrovers as it was full so we had to drive around the city through manic traffic until we found another large, outdoor spot. The main reason for the trip was that we were meant to book train tickets to Norwich over the Christmas holidays but I discovered that I had left my family rail-card at home. The next stupid thing we did was to take Freya’s acoustic guitar to the music shop to get a new string fitted only to discover that the guitar teacher had already fixed it! After battling through the frenzied Christmas shoppers I most certainly do not intend to return to the City this year and I will complete my  gift buying in our small town or else courtesy of Amazon!