Monthly Archives: August 2014




Quilt City

My main mission for the week was to find and book rooms in Paducah 2015. I emailed and phoned more than 20 hotels but was thwarted by being told that they were already fully booked or did not accept bookings until January. I appealed to one of the original Stunt Quilters who very kindly passed on the contact details of someone offering B&B who had not advertised anywhere else. I was relieved and excited to be able to report back to Kay and Ellen that the Paducah part of the trip was organised. We just have to co-ordinate the other internal flights and decide what to do in Chicago and Nashville. For an unplanned  trip that evolved out of the MQX cancellation, it looks like we will have a lot of fun!

After convincing myself that I did not have any more urgent organising to do, I assembled all of the bits and pieces to finish and photograph the final 4 book projects. I discovered that gold spandex does not make good bias binding. I needed a teflon piping foot as the metal one would not travel over the slippery surface. Rummaging around the local fabric shop, I discovered some lurex bias tape that may not be very durable but it looked perfect.


Somehow I forgot that the instructions in my book were for vertical quilting lines for the circumference of the foam cylinder so now I can’t decide whether to cut and rejoin the piece of quilted spandex that I quilted with horizontal lines to make them go up and down instead. I suppose it depends on whether I want it to look like a Greek column or a walnut whip… I quilted the squares that will form the top and bottom circles and made the piped lurex binding so the next step will be to assemble and write comprehensible instructions for the project that I am calling “Spandex Pouffe – Not For Cats”.


I actually quilted a small customer Lonestar quilt this week. Since I had not really quilted anything since the end of June, I faffed around for a while while deciding what designs to use. I had intended to keep it simple but I got carried away as usual. I even added machine embroidery stitching around parts of the star and the inner border to add definition. I reminded myself that I have an unquilted Lonestar of my own tucked away – Silent Movie Star 2 was made as a class sample but I never liked the fabrics as much as the original version. However, since my quilting has improved since 2008 maybe I can make it look less brown with some funky designs. There are a few quilt tops that I have abandoned in a basket that I really ought to get done. They don’t need to be fancy – they just need to be finished;)

Cyber Sorting



For once, I stuck determinedly to The Plan to make updates to my website. I set the laptop up in the kitchen to keep an eye on the kitten and started editing or updating pages for my website. This was a much larger undertaking than you might think since it led to updating my Flickr photo gallery then relocating files photos that seemed to have disappeared into The Mysterious Cloud. I can never quite work out what happens to some of my photos with the Mac but I think I have now got them all under control and filed in sensible places.

All of this prompted me to shape at least 3 old drafts of the Yurt Story into one article and produce blurbs about the Smart Car and the Norse quilts. I need to extend one on the Coracle and collate all of the research on Celtic seasons and customs into a coherent explanation about the Quilted Henge. It seemed like it would be a good idea to have pre-written basic articles about my large projects before the next time I am asked to do an interview or piece for a magazine.

Once I was in a sorting-out-zone, I got rather carried away and continued with lots of chores that I had been putting off. My business spreadsheets were given an overhaul and I even re-wrote the Constitution for the Parent Council that I had been meaning to do for well over a year.


Freya worriedly enquired whether we were moving house when I started sorting out books, old school photos and DVD’s. I explained that I had just reached the point where I thought the house might burst if I did not do some serious clearing-out. I hate not being able to find something as soon as I think about it and I am sick of opening random cupboards and discovering a spaghetti of forgotten earphones and chargers that belong to various family members. There is a chest of drawers upstairs full of naked Barbie-dolls that I have earmarked to clear and re-home some of the offending electronics.

In my workshop I emptied 8 folders of paperwork that were duplicates of instructions or filled with projects that were never going to get made.

I sold the kids’ climbing frame on Ebay with the intention of moving and recovering the garden yurt which has not been used since we discovered an enormous wasp-nest. An exterminator dressed in a Ghostbusters outfit sprayed chemicals everywhere and everything inside is in a mess.

The only sewing that I did all week involved cutting a couple of inches off the bottom of Fergus’s new school shirts and making a slipcover for his French homework book.

Once I have stopped myself from purging the contents of shelves and drawers, I should have a nice tidy space to concentrate on completing the final projects for The Book. I was delighted when a school secretary called to apologise that I was no longer required to teach during the coming week. I can do a customer quilt instead while thinking about what junk I can sell off or give away next;)

Thistles and Thorns



storedtotems  sleepythistle

I mostly managed to dodge a storm on my journey back from Birmingham but it made me rethink how much I wanted to own a caravan. It took two days to unpack, find a space to store 12 totems, put everything away and catch up on a backlog of emails. I am pleased with the Bernina’s Sewezi table but I have not allowed myself to do any sewing as it is my mission to make major changes to my woefully outdated website before I do anything else.


This type of task is worthwhile but I always feel that I have nothing to show for spending several hours in front of my laptop. In the process I have relocated “lost” pictures and found at least 3 different copies of the Yurt Story in various stages of editing. This work should also be relevant to the book that I am trying to complete and at the same time it will be useful to have updated information when I apply to teach at quilt shows.

I was hugely disappointed to be informed by MQX that they had decided to cancel my workshops in September.  Unfortunately, Ellen and I only booked our flights to Chicago 3 weeks ago but we decided to make ticket changes in order to visit Paducah next spring, rather than cancel our trip altogether.

DunesDuet low res

Better news arrived when Ann Long and I were told that “Dunes Duet” had won 3rd place for the Innovative category at The World Quilt Show. She has agreed that we can squander our prize money on some celebratory bespoke gin;)

It was obvious that the summer holidays were coming to a close when the weather turned autumnal, school uniform needed to be sorted and replaced and we started picking prickly brambles. The freezer is full of bags of fruit waiting to be transformed into jars of jam. Once I worked out how to assemble my new jelly-bag contraption, I stewed up rowan berries and apples in an attempt to make a sauce that will go well with game.


There has been a very entertaining distraction in my house this week since Thistle, the fluffy-tabby kitten has moved in. She is one of Mo’s kittens which was feared lost for a couple of weeks before turning up safe in an old barn. Bluecat is not impressed at the newcomer and is determined to sulk. The real reason for me turning down supply teaching next week is that I will be kitten-sitting for Fenella while continuing to edit my website and book. I daresay that resolve will last for approximately one day before I decide to start a new project…


FOQ 2014


APQS team14

FOQ gets bigger and better every year! Ani, Kay, Sally, Ellen and I set up the APQS long arms and dressed the stand knowing exactly what we were doing since this was the third year that we had worked as a team. We had fewer people who were amazed to see a long arm machine in action for the first time and more who were doing thorough research into all of the available brands and features. We were petty busy most of the time apart from a couple of afternoon lulls when I would scatter M&M’s onto the quilt top and chase them around for a while before eating them.


I was disappointed that The Quilted Henge did not receive any judges’ accolades but it was greatly admired, although most people had not bought the expensive show catalogue that explained what it was all about. Kay Bell received 2 Highly Commended awards for her painted whole cloth and a customer quilt. A beautiful quilt that the judges over-looked was voted Viewers’ Choice by the public!


As a quilter I can’t help myself muttering about a number of the entries not really being quilts or even quilted. This was not confined to the Art Quilts, some of which had minimal stitching and only 2 layers of chiffon. In the Quilt Creations category were 3D items that were felted or machine embroidered. These were all fabulous pieces of textile art but I wonder whether the Festival of Quilts should be rebranded.

Getting up early allowed us to have a look around the show quilts and exhibits before the crowds arrived. I was inspired to join SAQA after chatting to Sandy Snowden. It would be great if a museum or gallery would house some of my pieces for a while as it is getting tricky to navigate around my workshop.

Meand BonnieH

It was fun to meet up with friends and colleagues from all over the world – apparently it is actually called “networking”. We were thrilled to meet Bonnie Hunter who had been on a tour around England with Jim West. I had one or two brainwaves and mad ideas at 3 am, one of which was a plan for my second book, even though technically the first one still needs to be completed;)

I had a super chat with Aggy and Sarah from Bernina and they helped me to make a list of essential feet for the B710. I bought a large Sewezi table for it as I hate using a sewing machine that sits on top of the table, particularly for free-motion quilting.


After a week of late nights, early mornings, rather a lot to drink and a couple of great curries, it was time to make the 11 hour drive home, unpack and decide what colour to dye the white shirt that I unwisely wore while eating a Balti with chilli and turmeric pickle.


Instructions for Dummies Like Me


gardentrolley deckchair

It took me almost 3 hours to figure out how to assemble a garden cart using barely translated from Chinese instructions with a bizarre exploded diagram. I fared better with fixing the legs onto a mini BBQ and it got me thinking that if I ever had a stab at writing a school text book for primary school maths it would be a huge volume of blow-by-blow demonstrations and explanations. The garden cart and BBQ came with us to the beach laden with blankets, deck-chairs and sausages but the gale-force winds made it impossible for the kindling to catch fire then we ran out out lighter gas. I was chastised by my kids for not taking a backup box of matches as we valiantly tried and failed to use a jam-jar as a magnifying glass substitute in the brief snatches of sunshine.

Spurred on by my Book’s draft cover, I continued to number the many photos that I hope to include and I started to review the clarity of instructions for the completed projects. I  have written the instructions assuming that everybody is as hopeless at interpreting written procedures as me. Freya read the hand-out for the Festival of Quilts workshop on Mini Metallic Wholecloths and reckoned that she could follow it successfully.

goldsample2  goldsample1

I decided that I needed to make a sample piece for the FOQ class from scratch using my small domestic machine. I discovered that the new gold spandex is rather challenging on a domestic machine but if it is very heavily stitched any imperfections should be impossible to detect. My quilting skills on a small domestic machine were rusty but I needed to experience any problems that my students may encounter. That included not being able to use a machine that was sunk flat into the table and my left shoulder certainly ached afterwards. Personally, I would far rather longarm-quilt even the smallest projects but there are more opportunities to teach domestic quilting, particularly in the UK.

My workshop table gradually became cluttered with kits, gadgets, paperwork and supplies for FOQ next week to which I added several bottles of wine and some posh crisps for the APQS team to enjoy in the evening;) The progress of my preparations was impeded by a page-turning detective novel by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling. It is a good job that she has only written 2 of these novels so far otherwise I would get nothing done!