Christmas started for me on December 23rd when Mo, Tania and I exchanged gifts that included socks, cushions, home-made damson gin and sketches. We always seem to choose perfect items for each other. I have a new set of little nesting boxes printed with London Underground stations…
Our family Christmas was relaxed and involved lots of cooking spread out so we could digest a new course every few hours. It created more washing up but at least we were not stuffed by gorging on all of the festive food in one sitting. Our days were slow and started off with frosty dog walks, followed by eating chocolate then watching utter rubbish on TV. We went to a family ceilidh to burn off a few calories except that stoves were served at 10.30pm. It was fun watching everyone get in a muddle on the dance floor and definitely more enjoyable than a disco. I was not at all co-ordinated and it made me realise how difficult it must be to be a contestant on “Strictly”!
I took the girls into Aberdeen to return a couple of things and browse the post-Christmas sales. We did not make any successful bargain purchases, deciding that the shops must have stored away all of the good stuff and dragged out unwanted stock. We really enjoyed the “Paddington” movie which did not veer too much from the original character of a marmalade-loving bear. Having worn our duffle coats to the cinema in Paddington’s honour, we loved the scene when the Browns present him with his own duffle coat with “sandwich compartments” (deep pockets).
After a couple of days I was weary of doing nothing so decided to tackle last year’s business spreadsheets. It took me a while to get all of the columns to tally because I had not selected everything correctly but I am now virtuously ready to complete my tax return. I am keen to something useful next but can’t decide whether to make a frock, cull my wardrobe, reorganise my workshop or crack on with book edits. To decide where to start I had better make coffee and finish off my stash of chocolate…
Radio 4 got me through the boredom of completing the unpicking and de-fluffing of the “Quilt that nearly stole Christmas”. There were still a good two days worth of quilting to complete and because I had been cursing it for so long I wondered if its maker would even be pleased in the end. There were hundreds of thread ends to tidy up and it had to be bound on both sides so I became irritated by all of the cheery enquiries as to whether I was “all organised for Christmas yet?”
I wrote my Christmas cards very scruffily on the last second-class posting day and hurriedly sellotaped the parcels to Norfolk to get them sent away. I did not write an impressive end of the year family newsletter with colour photos and I did not create a hand-made holly wreath for my front door. The postie and various couriers delivered everything that I had ordered online and I wrapped all of the kids’ parcels in a slapdash style without bows or labels, simply using colour-coded paper for each recipient. Maybe a touch more sherry will give me some much needed Christmas spirit…
I decided to make a couple of last-minute gifts for friends so I have run up two cushions and quilted some fabric for notebooks – all I have to do is get them finished off on time!
The most exciting event of the week was Freya’s much anticipated Senior Prom. Thankfully, Mo and her daughter took charge of the glamorising and Freya looked fabulous. She was astounded at all of the compliments that she received. Nobody could believe that her dress was home-made and they thought her gold Doc Martens were awesome. The boys all scrubbed up beautifully in their kilts. Parents watched as young ladies in fancy frocks and incredible shoes tottered their way to the buses that would ferry the kids to a posh hotel for Christmas dinner and ceilidh dancing. Most of them commented nostalgically that they had only gone to crummy school discos at that age where the only catering was a can of coke and a bag of crisps;)
I attended my 11th nativity service as a parent and was very proud as Fenella played violin in her last Christmas concert at primary school. I still need to run a few errands before Christmas arrives, sourcing a large roll of corrugated cardboard and brussel sprouts. There will also be some cooking to do, mince pies to eat and a festive catch up with my two best-friends. By the end of next week I will be dying to reorganise my workshop and itching to start some new projects!
I could no longer deny that Christmas is fast approaching so I decided to do as much shopping as possible in John Lewis, Aberdeen so I could make use of their “collect it later” service. This did not prove to be such a good idea as they lost half of my packages. I waited for over an hour along with several other irate customers who had missing or incorrect goods. Two days later the missing items arrived in the post after speaking to a clueless and rude person at customer services.
I decided that the most efficient use of workshop time was to crack on with the last customer quilt. It was not a thrilling job since I had been asked to reproduce exactly the same quilting that was in the project photo in the book but it was enjoyably straight-forward. In between times I continued to unpick the top section of the other quilt, making painfully slow progress. There were many interruptions that kept eating away at my time such as a parents’ evening, Fergus’s birthday and cinema trip, Fenella’s school book launch, the girls’ piano concert, and being asked to whizz up 3 fabric notebook covers.
Freya and I went foraging for our Christmas tree from some rough, boggy ground a couple of fields away from the house. We had to give it a bit of a trim but it looks quite forest-like in our family room. I let the girls have carte-blanche with the decorations since I was making gingerbread so Nell has dressed it with the pink tinsel that I had banished to her room.
This week I MUST finish the last customer quilt and wrap the presents that I have stashed away before the kids finish school for the holidays. Then maybe I can rustle up one or two cushions as gifts before the festive catering frenzy begins…
There are times, like in the run-up to Christmas when it would be advantageous to persuade customers that their quilts would look perfectly lovely with a simple all-over quilt design like Baptist Fan. I have two large customs quilts to complete by Christmas and I have not yet written a single greetings-card or ordered a turkey.
I worked for 4 days solid on one quilt, putting flowers in every single small and tiny square then free-handing stitch-in-the-ditch around every single slightly wonky patch. The brief was to keep the quilt unfussy and simple but it has been tricky to execute. I decided that my freehand flowers and loopy lines in row one were not what the customer had in mind so they would have to be painstakingly ripped out – stitch by tiny stitch. I am in two minds whether to load the second quilt which is simpler before I have finished unpicking or whether to just sit with the seam ripper until the first quilt is ready to fix.
At least I am pleased with a wonderfully simple customer’s baby quilt. It looks super with its appliquéd yo-yos although the gathered sections on some of them were bulky to quilt through.
Things will be getting hectic in the next couple of weeks – we attended the girls’ choir concert – the first of several festive shows, parties and pantos. I could have done without an afternoon spent racing around trying to find someone to fix my Landy’s headlights before it got dark and I could definitely do without the constant battle of wills between Fergus and everyone else in the household/world!
My plan is to go Christmas shopping at 9am on Monday morning. If I don’t fulfil my mission in John Lewis, Aberdeen then the rest of my Christmas purchases will have to be sourced online or bought locally.
Apart from that, I will be spending some quality time with my seam ripper…