I spent a whole day restocking, revamping and blowing away the cobwebs in my virtual Etsy shop then I made a new Quilt Quine Facebook page with the intention of selling dome of my everyday quilts. Freya’s Ebay shop did a little steady trade but much of her profit was wiped out in postage fees. I would love to clear all sorts of junk and tat out of the house but it might be better to hold an old fashioned “roup”, the Scottish version of a yard sale.
I drafted flyers for a series of pre-Christmas craft classes but I am not holding my breath that I will fill them. Just when I was beginning to think I would have to accept lots of teacher supply days leading up to Christmas, 6 customer quilts got booked in.
The second week of the holidays was spent on little jaunts including Fenella’s 11th birthday. Freya and I saw techno-pro-rock band,”Mogwai” at the Music Hall in Aberdeen. We recklessly stood right at the front, beside the speakers, noticing later that everyone else was wearing ear plugs. I could hardly hear a thing for days afterwards, rather like being underwater. I rustled up an alternative toddler highchair from quilted scraps in readiness for my little nephews coming to stay. It held the naked cabbage-patch doll in place so I think it should do the job…
Freya worked on the gold spandex for her Higher Art project and decided to make some bunting for a charity stall at school. Visiting small cousins arrived over the weekend and we visited castles and play parks in the rain. Unfortunately, a vomiting bug claimed some victims from the family. Freya was desperate to get back to school whereas Fergus hoped to prolong his illness and avoid school altogether.
It is a pity that the sun did not shine for our visitors as the autumn leaves were glorious. I had planned a scenic trip to Ballater, following the River Dee but it was really dreich. It is also typical that we had a good forecast of seeing the northern lights but it was far too cloudy! Luckily, they were happy to look around Crathes Castle, go out for coffee and play with our naughty kitten;)
I will need to get the school Hallowe’en party and Fenella’s birthday tea with friends out of the way before I can really continue with projects, book and customer quilts. Now that the clocks have gone back for the winter, the days seem even shorter. The shops are full of Christmas stuff and to quote “Game of Thrones” character, Ned Stark…”Winter is Coming!”
As the kids get older they seem to be happy to spend a day at home doing homework, baking and creating then have a little jaunt to a coffee shop the next day. It does not need to be anything terribly exciting – buying pumpkins or getting a new bag of chicken food is enough to relieve the boredom or just spend time off the internet for a while in the case of Fergus. We even managed an amicable trip into Aberdeen by only visiting 3 shops to browse music, books and stationery.
The girls made a couple of simple teddies from a pattern in “Love to Sew” magazine and Freya made great progress on her piece of quilted spandex for her Art and Design Higher project. I pretended to “help” with her French translation while I attached binding onto “Dunes 2”.
In spite of the holidays, I managed to get some quilting done. A scrappy Ebay quilt was quilted, washed and bound. An unfinished baby quilt was completed and I spent a considerable amount of time embroidering around the binding and round a couple of rings on the bed version of “Dunes”, although I’m sure no-one except for me will even notice.
I cracked on with the in-between project that was meant to be a Tuesday night quilt and it went together very neatly using the integrated feed option on the Bernina 710. I was a bit irritated that the deer all ended up next to each other. I should have put the second deers in the middle of the row rather than at opposite ends!
I find it difficult to think about writing for the book or project instructions during the holidays so I found my mind wandering onto one or two potential projects. A friend nagged me that I should be offering some Christmas craft classes and I was thinking about the competition theme for a new Scottish spring show instead of planning how I should tackle “BzB”. I have also been looking for an excuse to start using a collection of bright pink Japanese linen prints. If I call it a holiday-sanity-saving exercise then I may be able to persuade myself to start something easy with big blocks;)
I am convinced that the heavy rain which made the internet slow down contributed to my week of flitting between tasks. All sorts of things were attended to but nothing was actually completed satisfactorily. Really, I should not have started Monday morning off by looking at drum-kits and loud-hailers online.
It always amazes me how long it can take to quilt a large piece of spandex. Even though I did a fair bit in the Lake District retreat, it took me most of the week to complete it. I want to replace the gold totem if the Henge is exhibited anywhere else because the original one has a few spots where the stitching has given way.
Because I got a little bored working on the gold piece, I forged ahead with the simple trip/bargello quilt that is meant to be a minor distraction. I wasted a couple of hours trying to change the recommended layout using EQ7 software but I was frustrated by not being able to work out how to shunt the blocks along in each row and ended up by clicking every single one to vary the layout. There are definitely times when colouring pencils and squared paper may be quicker and simpler!
I worked on the “5 Bar Gate” wall hanging that I will send to Bernina for sponsoring the 710 machine. I fiddled around for a while reducing stitch widths and lengths. The 710 does super 9mm embroidery stitches but I only wanted tiny ones around the painted rings. I rediscovered a spool of Madeira FS 20 thread to add definition around some of the inner rings and had a go at couching a fine braid using a cording foot. I think this version of “5Bar Gate” should look pretty fancy when it is eventually finished.
For some reason I volunteered to co-ordinate the school Hallowe’en Party and called a meeting with an organising committee. It has always “just happened” in the past but I wanted to make it easier for a group of new parents to open up a file and follow some basic guidelines. Some of my ideas (like potion making) were thought to be over-ambitious for a 2-hour party but I intend to get some feedback afterwards to discuss how it all went.
Tania and I had a rare day out… After dropping off some prints and a small quilt with a picture framer, we went to a posh fund-raising event at the Coo Cathedral. There was a great selection of stalls selling everything from Madagcasar vanilla, recycled cashmere sweaters and leather wellies to artisan gin. I chortled when a man asked very seriously, “Is this gin Vegan?”…
Proof that I was dabbling with too many things at once came on Friday afternoon while I was still quilting the gold spandex and remembered that after making a quick phone-call I had wandered off and left the Kitchenaid kneading pizza dough for 45 minutes. Luckily, the mixer and dough survived their ordeal and the children declared that the results were delicious;)
Secretly, I enjoyed myself in a school classroom where I learned 24 names, kept the pupils busy, tidy, enthused and behaving themselves without any prior knowledge of the mixed age-range class. Admittedly, learning fractions with the aid of a giant melon and bars of chocolate was a blatant bribe, but the kids asked me when I would be coming back to teach them again. Unfortunately, there always one who likes to tell tales about the supply teacher at home – the parents of an unco-operative pupil phoned to complain that they did not approve of me saying, “Tough!” when their child did not get its own way. Despite all of the successes of the week, that is what stayed with me and made me wonder why I continue to turn up in unfamiliar classrooms when I could be working on quilts instead. I have been asked to teach again this week. I will feel guilty if I say that I am busy but I feel am falling behind on my schedule; my kids will have their October Holidays soon and I certainly won’t get much done then!
I started a simple “Trip Around the World” type of quilt just so I could do some easy piecing and I drafted ideas for my next book despite not having finished the one that I am meant to be finishing. I received the first of 3 Ebay quilt tops and realised that I must buy a bolt of basic backing fabric and some white fabric for dyeing from Whaleys. I really want to sell off a few quilts to make my business look a little more profitable;)
“Dunes 2” was quilted using a computerised design that I downloaded from Sunstone Quilting. It was a bit tricky deliberately overlapping the rings and working out when the bobbin might run empty in such an intense all-over pattern. The plan is to embroider around a few of the circles and attach some sort of “fancy” binding.
Much of the weekend was taken up being a nagging Mother: sorting overdue laundry, nagging about homework, music practice and superficially tidying Nell’s disgraceful bedroom while she was out. Fergus and Freya both played in an informal guitar concert on Sunday afternoon which gave me time to reflect on whether to cave in to teaching guilt or selfishly work on a few of my quilt projects. I think I am going to choose quilting until I run out of backing fabric although I may have to reconsider those options because the kids have just asked me for a drum-kit!