To add to the stress of a mid-term holiday, I also had to contend with new dog-owning neighbours, a flock of sheep in the field that was empty last week and a ban on walking down by the river since it is now the salmon fishing season. Wellington has never been terribly interested in dog biscuit bribes for coming back promptly and the increasingly geriatric Mabel gets lost in the undergrowth if we explore anywhere new.
I knew that a planned quilting schedule was out of the question but nevertheless, I completed some useful tasks. I am mightily impressed to report that my business spreadsheet is up to date and I finally got around to adding some more photos to my Flickr photostream. I’m sure there are hundreds more photos hiding in my my computer somewhere but at least my Flickr page is a little more organised than it was;)
I worked on a log-cabin star medallion quilt for a customer who wanted me to “keep things simple” – it may look simple but stitch-in-the-ditch on a long arm is far from easy and Because I forgot to use invisible thread, I had to be extra careful not to wobble off-course.
Rather than put away the leftover Drunkard’s Path blocks in a drawer never to be seen again, I sewed them together, added some strips, quilted it with freehand lines and rustled up a quick cushion. Because I didn’t bother with piping it was ridiculously easy and I wondered why I don’t make cushions more often.
Fergus and I installed the Apple TV gadget without too much trouble then Fenella had great fun interrupting repeats of “Top Gear” with Youtube video clips of fluffy animal from her Ipad in a different room. Just to keep me grounded, I dutifully waited in the school car-park for Freya to finish one of her mock-exams for half an hour before I realised that I had not read the clock correctly and had arrived over an hour too soon.
I spent an entire day and evening quilting the dark pink leather skin for one of the summer totems. The edges would not lie flat and where bulky wrinkles formed and I broke 3 industrial needles. I had to trim off the offending sides in the end and will just re-cut an approximate sheep outline when I am ready to bind it. Now I just have to patiently wait until all of the gems and crystals arrive in the post before I start sewing them all on with my bendy beading needle.
Since my husband still had not got around to fixing my broken Kitchenaid mixer, I decided that I should just try and do it myself. The instructions were excellent except that they failed to mention how much brute strength and forceful hammering would be involved to take the body apart. It took me several hours to replace the chewed worm gear, repack it with grease and get the awkward little pin back in its correct place but I got there in the end and felt triumphant. It seems to work again but the true test will be kneading bread dough. I think if it goes wrong again I will simply order a new one!
Nobody will be surprised to be told that although I started the week with a plan, I only stuck to it on Monday. I set aside the entire day to make and photograph the Northern Lights project. I soon discovered that it was beyond my capabilities to talk, sew, press record while remembering to turn off the radio and washing machine in order to make a video clip. Taking a photo after every single step is really time consuming and somehow the project was more convoluted than it need to be. It took me the whole day to draw that conclusion but I won’t count it as a wasted day. I decided that the strip-set looked too fancy and also took too long to be feasible for a half day class. I am pleased with the final piece but the class and book chapter needs to be simplified. Northern Lights will have to become an ordinary square cushion and the bolster cushion can be made from the metallic whole cloth project instead.
The rest of the week became a bit interrupted because I had not really thought about picking Freya up in the middle of the day after her mock exams and the mid-term break started on Thursday.
She persuaded me to take the double wedding ring customer quilt off the frame after I had done the background so that I could finish Sam’s quilt in time for Valentine’s Day. The 120 large drunkard’s path blocks went together quickly after a while and we had fun arranging them into different combinations of whole and partial circles. After we got home from the entertaining Lego Movie, I raced to get the binding on just before we experienced thunder, lightning, snow and a powercut. He was delighted with the funky pattern and novelty fabrics that included guitars, lizards, Pokemon and cats.
Trixie’s Golden Double Wedding Ring quilt got finished off in the end. I had been asked to “keep it simple” so it had piano key and wishbone borders, plumes in the background and pumpkin seeds around the rings. The navy reverse looks nice too as I used a gold thread in the bobbin.
I have a couple of other customer quilts to do but I am being tempted by the gorgeous, soft leather skins that arrived by post this week. They are much more supple than the original white leather goatskin that I used for the Imbolc totem. Hopefully this might be easier to sew all of the beads and gems on!
I am going to blame the rain for scuppering my book projects this week. It seems to have been raining non-stop all year so far. I am fortunate to live on high ground and am not at any risk of flooding but there has been a lot of water draining off the surrounding fields, seeping into the walls of my workshop and leaking its way under the door. I had been soaking the puddles up using hessian sacks but after a wet Wednesday when I was in school all day, not checking my workshop, I discovered that my carpets were soggy and some boxes that were stored underneath my quilt frame were very damp indeed. The Landy smells “foosty” since it leaks dreadfully and every time I went out I had to get a cloth to dry off the terrible condensation inside the windows and the switches on the dashboard. I bought an old fashioned mop to tackle the puddles and I decided to order a VAX to try and get the rest of the water out of the carpets before I end up with a serious mould problem.
Obviously there were other distractions but I did get some useful jobs done in between. I ordered a new batch of business cards so I can scatter them at quilt shops with the intention of undertaking more customer quilting. The leather skins and a selection of beads has been ordered online so I can keep up with the next 3 totems and I decided to crack on with piecing and quilting the seasonal stripsets. They are looking really colourful and I like the simplicity of the quilted straight lines.
I went to Rainbow Fabrics in Inverurie to buy some fabric for a project that I hope may tempt Freya back into quilting. Even though some of it was on special offer, I was surprised at how expensive it has become to purchase fabric for an entire quilt. I am using my Go Cutter large drunkard’s path die and she has agreed to help with the layout and she will sew some of the completed squares together. We may use the computer to quilt it with specific motifs but she has already hinted that she prefers my hand-guided swirls!
My MacBook was driving me mad with unwanted popups that arrived uninvited when I downloaded my patchwork font. I called Mac Support which took forever and they did not even manage to fix the problem. In the end I figured out which app had caused the virus and uninstalled it.
I did a really stupid thing this week when I excitedly tried out my new pasta-making attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer. For some obscure reason I decided to follow the instructions which advised me to use the beater instead of the dough hook to begin with. I then forgot to switch to the dough hook and caused the mixer to work too hard, shearing a worm gear! Faced with the prospect of spending £150 to send it for repair or over £400 for a new mixer, I ordered spare parts on Ebay and am hopeful that watching a Youtube video will enable me to fix it myself. In the meantime I will have to knead bread by hand or even resort to buying it!
In this part of the North East of Scotland a common greeting is “Fit Like?”, meaning “How are you doing?” and the standard reply is “Chavvin’ Awa” which means just getting along fine. This was just such a week of chugging along, making generally good progress on my projects.
I accompanied Nell’s class on a visit to a larger primary school to attend an animation workshop. I found this experience quite frustrating actually since the equipment was not all working properly and I soon found that my IT skills were probably more advanced than the course leader. Mostly I muddle through computer stuff, figuring it out in the end. I am now a fairly confident spreadsheet user and this week I downloaded a simple patchwork font and used a basic painting program to fill it with colourful patches. I wondered whether to use that sort of font for my book chapters but the process was a bit long-winded. I really don’t think I have enough time and patience to design a whole new alphabet with fabric filled patches like on birthday cards…
It rained almost constantly all week and everyone I met wished it would snow instead as that would at least mean that the light would be brighter. It was finally dry enough on Sunday for me to hang my Peppered Solids quilt on the field gate to take an outside photo. I was very glad to have my adhoc photo lights when I spent a day setting up photos for the opening chapters on sewing equipment. I am still not totally sure whether they are exciting enough to use but I have at least made sure that they are all set to 300dpi for printing. I am sure that some publishers must use stylists to fill jam jars casually with pins and ribbons so I hope that a few of mine are passable!
I tackled an enormous customer quilt in aubergines and taupes, free-handing an Amish type of swirl all over it. It was so big that it took a couple of days before it even got rolled on enough to clear the floor!
The Beltane/Spring totem was pieced this week and I found that it went together faster than the autumn one as I had got back into the routine of alternating the curved joins. I intend to do the berry-coloured Summer one next and see if I can get them all quilted this week. Considering how long it took to sew the beads onto the Imbolc set of 3, I really need to order the leather skins and some more lamé for the remaining 9 totems!! However, I also need to factor in time to do each of the book projects step by step so they can be photographed. Perhaps I should consider banning myself from the computer for a couple of weeks so I can catch up 😉