Monthly Archives: April 2015

Paducah 2015



The trip began after I only just caught the Stirling train to meet up with Ellen and Kay. We set out early on Monday morning to get the flight for Dublin but were rerouted via London. It was a long 8 hour flight squashed between a rather large woman and a man who had taken his own food. I was happy not to interact with my fellow passengers and just watch movies. So much for my grand intentions to make quilt sketches…

We arrived at the Chicago hotel at the equivalent of 3 am then excitedly ordered a pizza from room service.  

Wide awake at 4.30am USA time, I made cups of tea before heading back to the airport to fly into Nashville. Ellen bravely drove the automatic car onto the 5 lane interstate and battled with honking trucks. We made a slight detour and had to ask for directions at a seedy loan shark joint but the guy was very helpful and printed us off a map. There was a brief thunder storm with impressive lightning as we drove into Paducah 2 hours later and found the beautiful Queen Anne style house that we would be staying in. 


We dashed straight to the awards ceremony after going to the wrong venue first, just missing a downpour. It was great to see the show quilts on sneak preview night before it became crowded. There were many stunning quilts and some more everyday ones but all admirable in their own right. Kay was thrilled to have had two of her quilts juried into the show, “Flower of Scotland” and “The Horse”. She met many friends and fans over the next few days. Our British accents were much admired and we picked up as many local phrases as we could to use in conversation later. I loved, “Robber’s Roost by Joanne Baeth, Oregon. Some of my other favourites were not prize winners.  As a quilter, I felt both overwhelmed by the skill on display but I also felt that I could create equally valid work. 


It was lovely to meet online friends and friends whom we had met at other shows. 

Despite having had a long day, I still woke at 5am to make cups of tea, keen to get to downtown Paducah! I enjoyed a Jesse James breakfast at the Gold Rush Cafe despite the copious, weak coffee and then enjoyed rummaging in one of the amazing junk emporiums where Kay and I bought 1930’s quilt tops for $40. This turned out to be a great bargain as there were similar flimsies for sale in town ranging from $150-$500! 


The next mission was to view all of the quilts and vendors upstairs at the show and in The Pavilion. It was really busy and after a while I glazed over as everything seemed to blur together in a massive quilt overload. It was time to wander back into town for a refreshing craft beer, mosey around town then walk back to our house. Later we walked back into town for a pleasant supper at The Italian Grill wishing that we had been wearing a pedometer to see how far we had tramped. Despite wearing my comfy Docs, my feet were aching. 


 The next morning we breakfasted at another local diner before heading out to Hancocks. It was packed with bargain hunters but the bolts were arranged by manufacturer rather than theme or colour. Kay chose some very nice batiks and flannels but I was so overwhelmed by choice that I only purchased one jelly roll of solids and a box of pins. A quick trip to the liquor store allowed us to restock on wine, sniggering at Kinky mixers and Knob Creek Whiskey. After a dash around Hobby Craft looking for notions, the next stop was the Rotary Club to view antique hexagon quilts and pick up a little something from Cherrywood Fabrics.

After a reviving ginger lemonade and Elvis cookie we visited the National a quilt Museum. It is a purpose built museum with temperature controlled archives. A selection of American Quilt Society prize winning quilts was on display in spacious, well lit galleries. SAQA’s “Food for Thought” exhibition was in one wing; old and modern 9-patch quilts were in the other wing. 

I had an impromptu meeting with representatives from the AQS Museum, tourist board and the Mayor to discuss my offer of donating the Scottish Yurt to the City of Paducah. They were incredibly enthusiastic and spoke about how they could use the Yurt for a variety of festivals and educational projects. It was refreshing to meet such visionary people who are happy to commission their own wooden frame and pay for me to ship the coverings. We briefly discussed the possibility of publishing some sort of book and patterns to recreate the panels. I am delighted to have found such an appreciative foundation at last that will curate and celebrate the Quilted Yurt. It really is amazing where that project has led me…

 After a deserved glass of wine we headed back into town, meeting a couple of re-enactment Confederate soldiers. The lower ranked soldier advised me where to look for Moonshine. He told us in broad Kentuckian that he was “packin’ a drum cos his friend couldn’t carry it for himself”. We enjoyed an excellent supper with live music at JP’s and by the time we walked all the way home we were so exhausted we could barely move. We decide  that it was because we are so unaccustomed to pounding pavements. 

There was so much to fit into our last day that I felt obliged to wake up at 5 am again.

We encountered a Mrs. Overall at the Gold Rush who sloshed coffee and gravy all over herself and unwary customers. It was our last opportunity to catch up with folk from APQS and other online friends, before buying thread and other last minute purchases. 

We drove to Nashville, rather wishing that we had a Satnav to direct us. We were met by “Indian Elvis”  at the front desk of the hotel the headed into downtown Nashville, flashing with neon signs. There was loud live music everywhere, cowboy boot shops and plenty of hen/stag parties. 


My gold boots matched the shiny satin decor at our more basic hotel. Before even reading a whole chapter of my book, I fell asleep. 

On Saturday morning we has a slower start, watching marathon runners from our hotel window. I thought it would be quiet downstairs so I nipped down to fetch some breakfast in my PJ’s and boots. I had not expected to enter a crowded elevator, walk past some cowboys then negotiate a buffet full of fully dressed people. I felt like trailer trash! 

The town was already heaving with people at 10am live bands competed with each other to be the loudest. We wandered around for a while, stopped for a reviving beer then took in the Tennessee State Museum which taught us much about the American Civil War. There were even a few vintage quilts and a reproduction settler’s cabin. It became hotter and hotter so we felt that it was necessary to stop and drink cocktails and people-watch at the Hard Rock Cafe for a couple of hours. Eventually, we managed to haul ourselves to our feet and make it to an elegant, old building that housed a Spaghetti Factory restaurant. Because we enjoyed such a huge supper, we felt able to walk back to the hotel on Music Circle. Our feet were absolutely throbbing by bedtime!


On Sunday we headed to Franklin, a small town outside Nashville. There was a tremendous crafts and music festival in the Main Street. We all managed to buy some handcrafted souvenirs and enjoyed a generous slice of pecan pie in Merridee’s coffee shop. 


We had to stop and check out the Joann’s fabric store on the way back to Nashville;) Yet again, we felt that a couple of glasses of wine at the hotel were well deserved. 


50 Shades of Pink



I should never have trusted the other paint guy who insisted that the mixing formula for gloss would be the same as emulsion – the result is that I have a different shade of pink at one end of my painstakingly painted workshop. I am trying not to let it bother me but in certain light it is very different. I finished the garage door, drips and all and it looks fine, unless I look closely. Let’s hope that the next time I think the building needs a facelift, I seriously consider getting a professional painter in to do it for me;)


The extra time required to freehand inside the Burgoyne Surrounded customer quilt baptist fan rings was typically more than I anticipated but I think it looks good. All I have left to do is apply the 400” of binding!


I have been doodling away trying to improve my drawing skills but I think the answer will probably be for me to quilt my designs onto white fabric with black thread and take high quality photos. I have so many different notebooks, pencils, apps and gadgets for sketching  – all I need now is an actual ability to draw.

I have packed my bags for my trip to the USA with Ellen and Kay. In the event that I may decide to buy fabric, I will leave my old pyjamas behind when I leave. There should also be a space left after we have drunk the wine and eaten the marmalade that I have stashed away.

I am very excited to be going back to Paducah 7 years after my first visit so next week’s blog-post will be a Travelogue of the trip. I expect we will see a few nice quilts on the way…

Less of a Luddite



Taking advantage of marvellous Easter weather, I seized the opportunity to repaint my workshop before the impetus left me for another year. It must be more than 10 years since it was first done using watered-down leftover paint from the house. I almost has a set-to with the chap in the paint shop who refused to mix my original shade in masonry paint because that option was not available on the computerised mixing system. After a great deal of persuading, he reluctantly agreed to “tell” the machine it was just mixing emulsion and all was well. 3 tins later on in the week, I had built up quite a rapport with the paint-mix guy and he would greet me with a cheery, “Bongo Jazz 5?” I did not enjoy the task of covering the workshop walls that have been pebble dashed with granite chips. It takes ages to get paint into all of the crevices, it is hard work on my hands, I get absolutely plastered with pink paint and I detest climbing ladders. The only reason I did not quite finish the job off was because the paint shop actually ran out of paint and it will be a whole week until they get more supplies. The job that was even worse than painting the walls was attempting to paint the metal garage door a different colour when the weather had turned considerably colder and windier. I abandoned the chore in disgust, leaving a partly painted door that will annoy me until I get another warm, still day. My husband has suggested that I should smooth down some of the streaks with fine sand-paper but that will not be happening…



I dragged the EQ7 guidebooks out and muddled my way through a basic design for my tartan quilt. It does not seem like a very user-friendly or intuitive design program to me but I managed to produce a slightly wobbly diagram in the end. The useful thing is that EQ7 can calculate the approximate amount of fabric required so I placed an order with Oakshott, assuming that the online images would be similar to the shades that I was after. I love the fabrics that are shot with a different shade the best but 3 solids were also required. Hopefully there will be plenty left over to make some cushions of the Tartan Quilt’s simple central block in all of the colour combinations;)

tartanQlayout   oakshottredz

I keep trying to find a straightforward way of producing my quilting sketches in a computer format. I think what I am actually trying to do, without investing heavily in expensive software, is a form of digitising. I find drawing with a pencil pretty challenging so using a computer mouse is even worse. I had taken photos of my quilt sketches for my book but these were ordinary Jpegs with pixels. What I would really like are professional-looking vector drawings. Muddling my way through tedious Youtube tutorials I downloaded free open-sourced drawing software called Inkscape along with the Quartz operating system. I managed to convert a photo of a sketch into an SVG vector file! I still don’t know the difference between a parabola and a spline but I was impressed with my efforts – not bad for someone who loathed computers when they first appeared in my school and proudly achieved an “Ungraded” O-level in Electronics.

What I have not yet managed to master is how to edit designs in Quilt Path. I can resize the designs but I cannot alter their proportions. I wanted a simple all-over Baptist Fan design on a customer quilt. Before I had completed the quilt, I decided that the gaps between the arcs looked too wide so I think that some additional freehand quilting will be necessary.

bigBF   boatQ

I was not originally planning to start that particular customer quilt and just work on a small bed runner for a boat bunk. However, it has now been added to the list of things to do before I pack for my trip to the USA in a week’s time. It is quite a long list, still the school holidays and I might also have to factor in some painting!

Keep Calm and Ceilidh On




Finally… I corrected all of the typos that I could find, tidied up the photo files, figured out how to print contact sheets, stuck hundreds of cut-out pictures onto my draft and SENT my Ebook off to the publisher!! The internet has been slow here so I sent it as a parcel of printed pages and a USB stick. No doubt there will be some redrafting to do and the video clips to add, but it felt satisfying yet peculiar to have “finished” the draft at last.

I phoned Yurtman to ask him about finding a sail-maker to sew a new cover for the garden yurt but to my relief, he offered to do it himself. We measured up and discussed modifications such as a perspex roof dome and a porch. I hope he can manage to fit this job in soon so the kids can start using it again as the nights get lighter.

I quilted Ann’s “Storm at Sea” quilt with a simple allover design called “Ebb and Flow”. It looked very nice when done and this just proves that not every quilt needs customised quilting.


I didn’t want to start anything complicated during the Easter holidays or just before I go on my USA trip so I decided to have a go at using a piece of wool tartan that Mo gave me to make another Merchant & Mills trapeze dress. I knew what I was doing this time around except that I still managed to sew the neck facing and one of the sleeves inside-out! It is NOT perfect by any means but it looks pretty good and is a super colour. I almost matched up all of the tartan lines except around the hem where they went a bit skew-whiffy. I may have to think about fixing that eventually.


Tartan is a far more complicated fabric than you might think at first glance. I decided to have a go at drafting a quilt from a wool tartan sample. Where the weave changes there are overlaps of thread colour so a 3-colour tartan can have at least 9 shades. I tried using tiny graph paper but I think I might be better off using several sheets of ½” squared paper. Really, I should be using EQ7…!


My new tartan frock had an outing at Freya’s Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Team ceilidh. The team themselves made up the band and they managed to sell more tickets than they had expected so they are well on their way to meeting their target for canoe-training expenses and equipment hire. The dance floor was packed all evening with no awkwardness such as there would be at a disco. It was great to see so many young folk in T-shirts, kilts and converse shoes or Docs.

Nell had a starring role in her last ever school show at Durris Primary. She played a great Blousy Brown in “Bugsy Malone” and many people thought it was the best school show that they could remember. The backdrop and costumes were super and the kids had put a lot of effort into learning their lines and songs. Nell must get her dramatic talent from me – except that I have never been able to memorise any speech or song words accurately!