Monthly Archives: March 2014

Purple Haze



My list of things to do got worked on pretty methodically and I was very satisfied by what I managed to achieve this week. I attended to all sorts of things that I had been putting off and managed to book my travel to Southampton for the Norway cruise, update my dreaded business spreadsheets and order some new Quilt Quine postcards.


I got a customer quilt done at the beginning of the week and then quilted the toffee coloured sheepskin leather. It behaved differently to the goatskin ones and seemed to want to tear or perforate but hopefully the dense stitching will hold it all together. The beading is coming along slowly on the other two despite Bluecat deciding to sit on the green skin if I leave it lying around. The weeks are whizzing by and I sometimes wonder whether my totems will be finished in time to enter any of this season’s shows.


I let my hairdresser have carte-blanche so she dyed it purple for a change. It has been magenta before so my kids were not at all shocked. I take the attitude that hair just grows so I can do anything with it since it won’t have to stay like that forever.


There were some successful attempts at creating quilt diagrams on the computer. I downloaded a simple app called Quiltography which helps to draw up simple layouts. It is a bit limiting as I have not been able to design a quilt with more than 10 vertical rows but it was only meant as a stopgap until I can get EQ7 for my Mac. I surprised myself by reading the instruction manual for the EQ6 program that is on my old laptop and managed to get basic diagrams drawn up for some of my book projects.


For ages I have wanted to put several pictures onto a page to create a sort of photo-story of quilt instructions. I found a nice app that lets me put photos into hexagons so I gave it a dummy run with the pictures I used for the Generation Q article on “The Quilt Quine’s Hoose”. I think they look appropriately quilty but I think I may need to add some descriptive text or even some arrows. While I was in designer mode I arranged for a final-year media studies student to do the videography for the Ebook in the Easter holidays. Now that I have set a deadline I will need to make myself decide on a plan or script of what I will actually demonstrate.

beehive collage

The weekend was more than the usual whirlwind of activity as we also had to squeeze in Freya’s birthday, a choir concert, and making a cherry-marzipan cake. Fenella and I felt pleased with ourselves after we managed to turn Mo’s ex purple bunny hutch into a hen house by adding a different floor-plan-kit and reattaching the wire run that had been a bit squashed by a falling tree. All we need now for fresh eggs are some point-of-lay pullets and a new bag of layers’ pellets.


Taking the Scenic Route



Apparently, my science lesson on the circulatory system was the most awesome demonstration ever. I had managed to source a deer’s thorax, heart and lungs and then proceeded to dissect it on the teacher’s desk, wickedly warning the kids that if it had been a badger or homeless person then we would have needed face masks as a precaution against TB. One child went a little green but the rest declared that they would like to become surgeons.

I pootled around for the next two days packing and unpacking for a Quilted Yurt talk in Stirling. I foolishly decided to take the scenic route and missed the conventional turn-off to Stirling so ended up going cross country and only just arriving on time. I missed supper but my talk went down very well. The ladies were stunned at how much work had gone into the yurts and surprised that I had decided to drive home the same evening. Actually, the return journey was easy as the roads north were dry and clear. By midnight I was an expert in all of the post Spring Budget debates on Radio 4 but I also enjoyed listening to The Book at Bedtime.


Not a lot of sewing went on but I spent some time uploading and sorting photos for The Book and trying to decide whether to include another piecing project. I had a chat with the publisher in the end, discussing the proposed video sections and how to try to organise all of the material that I felt was becoming overwhelming. I managed to run up a “Wee Bag” so I could take step-by-step pictures.

My folks made an impromptu visit and had to camp out in the summerhouse under several blankets and quilts because we don’t have a spare room. My Dad tried to help me out with a couple of long overdue DIY projects and my Mum got me to cut her some blocks to take home and make a charity quilt. We even had an outing to Costco where I was sorely tempted to buy a beehive. It was nice to take time out from my self-imposed crazy schedule because the late nights seem to have been catching up with me. They were most impressed by my interview in Generation Q Magazine. Jake and Melissa did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of “The Quilt Quine’s Hoose”!


At the weekend I ran a taxi service for my girls’ activities and collected an ex-rabbit hutch from Mo so I can get a couple of new laying hens. I almost bought an old caravan from Gumtree that I could take to festivals but someone else made an offer first.

More beads were added to the leather skins while I was hanging around at Fenella’s swimming and dancing lessons and while I watched the terrific BBC series, The Great British Sewing Bee. People are fascinated to see me sewing on all of the embellishments  but I am finding it tricky to explain what I am making.

pinkbds1  pinkbds2

A list has been drawn up for the forthcoming week but there is no guarantee that I will “follow the map” – it is far more likely that I will decide to take the scenic route;)

Never Ever



I think I may have said, “Never, ever…” a few times this week. I left Fergus in charge of a slow baked rice pudding but he forgot to tell my husband that it was in the oven and 4 hours later it was welded to the dish and had dried to a brown paste. I made again the next day, leaving one of the girls in charge which was far more successful.


My other cooking foray this week was trying to replicate a 1950’s style sweetcorn-relish. The recipe I found tasted pretty good after I added some chillies but the liquid was too runny whereas I wanted something more jammy. Everyone complained that the house smelled of boiling vinegar so I wondered if there is a way of making a corn relish conserve and adding the vinegar later. Perhaps I should have trained to be a Home Economics teacher. I am thinking adding some arrowroot to stop this batch of sweetcorn-relish falling off my sandwiches. Maybe if it was a stiffer mix I could stuff it into home-made ravioli?


One of my friends has suggested that I keep deviating into culinary experiments to avoid doing the work that I am really meant to be doing. However, I spent almost the entire week working on a double-wedding-ring quilt and swore that I would never, ever do one again with such a tiny background fill. After stitching traditional pumpkin seeds around all of the rings then surrounding them all with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, I stood and quilted tiny plumes and swirls for 25 hours! I know this is what the customer really wanted but it was rather frustrating that it took so long when I have 4 other customer quilts and a myriad of other projects that need to be done within the next month. I didn’t even waste time day-dreaming about my linen project even though some vintage strawberry printed fabric arrived in the post from Singapore;)

cushion done

I took an afternoon off to make up a Northern Lights cushion so I could check the quantities and take step-by-step photos for The Book. I felt that it was done in rather a hurry but I am pretty pleased with the finished project. It will not be a class for slackers as I was hard pushed to complete the project by teatime.

I hand-sewed a few beads onto the leather skins in my “spare” time but realised that I still did not have enough so I ordered even more from Ebay. It has been suggested by another of my friends that I use the random left-over beads to fill up one of my fancy empty gin bottles…

Pirate Ships and Beads



Contrary to my decision to concentrate on quilting, I was in school for two days again. One day I was the visiting Science “expert”, ad-libbing lessons on the human circulatory system, magnets and the senses. Two days later I was muddling along in an infant class, reading pirate stories.

Freya successfully applied for a tall-ship expedition from Amsterdam to Aberdeen with deaf and hearing teenagers from UK, France, Germany and The Netherlands. Since the trip is only a month away, there has been a flurry of sourcing sailing gear and making travel arrangements. I decided that I will fly out with her and visit a few museums in Amsterdam before waving her off on her adventure.

We visited the Great Tapestry of Scotland at the Art Gallery in Aberdeen after shopping for Freya’s thermals and were very impressed by the interpretation of the drawings and skilled stitching. There were many other enthusiastic visitors and it would be well worth a second visit to notice more of the clever details.

I spent much of the rest of my time quilting a large, modern customer quilt and getting the a large double-wedding-ring ready to start next week. I am getting a steady stream of quilts in at the moment without even doing any advertising. I could probably give up school-teaching altogether but it just seems a prudent idea to keep my teaching skills up to date.


I decided that I would need to sew beads onto the leather skins that I have quilted in odd gaps of time that I have. Some of the tiny stone chips take around an hour to sew onto relatively small circles!

Bonnie McCaffrey posted a link to a video-cast interview of me that she filmed at FOQ last year. I actually thought that she may have forgotten about it… I come across as quite bonkers, to be honest. My accent is a peculiar mix of posh Radio 4 with the odd very Scots word.

A Facebook friend posted a picture of the front cover of Generation Q Magazine which mentions the article about “The Quilt Quine’s Hoose”. I hope that they send me a copy because this magazine is not available in a digital format and it is not currently on sale in the UK.


I tried to crack on with my E-Book on Friday but I felt a bit like a headless chicken, having not looked at it properly for some time. I will try to do far more with it this week although I have an additional project to squeeze in for a ruby wedding table runner and I am being tempted by some very funky Japanese linen that I want to use in a quick and simple “just because” quilt. Although I have seen a very clever square-in-a-square layout online that creates a secondary star pattern, with no instructions or dimensions, of course;)


Northern Lights



Despite promising to concentrate on quilting, I ended up teaching for two days of the week but as it was for two nice, local schools, it was not too much of a hardship;)


I managed to find time quilt a lovely, simple strip quilt for a customer’s grand-daughter and get the quilting done on the green leather skin. I have started hand-sewing some beads on which is when it really starts to look exotic. I dyed the plain linen pieces for the background of the leather clad columns – I’m sure it was sheer coincidence that the little-used workshop loo overflowed with magenta water when the washing machine did its final spin.


I tentatively used the mended Kitchenaid to mix a sponge for a version of apple and bramble Eve’s pudding then really put it through its paces on a large batch of sourdough bread followed by Toulouse sausages made from a joint of pork!

pud    sausages

Midweek, I decided on the spur of the moment to ask my hairdresser to give me a new look and asked for a cut in the style of a Japanese manga-cartoon character. She was not at all phased by this request which was really for a very jagged, rough cut. Obviously,without a hairdryer and styling product, I will be unable to keep my hair looking trendy but I at least I don’t even have to comb it any more.


When I drove Fenella back from Girl Guides one evening we just happened to spot a fantastic show of the Aurora Borealis. They were not intense for very long but there were distinct pink and green flashes in a navy sky. The stars were really sparkling and I was delighted to see that local photographer, Vhairi Walker, posted some super pictures onto Facebook since we did not manage to capture any images on camera. It was really exciting to witness this rare sight which is the inspiration for my Northern Lights quilt project.

I drove to Perth on Saturday to show the Coracle off at the QGBI Region 16 meeting. I enjoyed catching up with Scottish quilters, bought a book I didn’t really need and listened to an inspiring talk by the artist who designed the Tapestry of Scotland which I hope to visit at the Aberdeen Art Gallery next weekend. I ended the weekend ordering a selection of bright pink linen prints online, having spontaneously decided to make a quilt for the daybed in the music room instead of dutifully sewing on more beads…