My act of rebellion this week was disobeying Satnav Lady’s instructions. She had determined that I needed to drive from Bristol to Cardiff in a hire car avoiding ALL major roads in order for me to sit in as much traffic as possible. It was quite fun driving a nippy little car with a steering wheel that was half the diameter of the Landy’s, except when the buttons on my cuffs got stuck in a weird groove that contained the airbag.
I gave two basic training workshops to UK Bernina technicians so they could get a new customer up and running. They will be able to opt for more advanced lessons later if they need to. The Q24 frame machine and sit-down Q20 are lovely machines and they both stitched beautifully, using a standard size 80 needle and all sorts of threads, including metallic and monofilament. Luckily, I had a full afternoon to familiarise myself with the controls as my machine is still “in transit”. I really liked the ratchet rollers which held the fabric perfectly with no slipping. There are so many super features, including basting stitches and couching! I think I will be able to have a go at all sorts of things…
The Tartan quilt has frustrated me – I detested the sight of it and it could even swear me off using stretchy shot cottons in future. I decided to use the Bernina 710 for some of the long lines but I wished I had made a much smaller quilt. Even though I have a generously sized domestic machine, it still struggled right in the middle. The sheer weight of the quilt made some of the stitches too tight and I accidentally knocked the stitch length button a couple of times. The job that was even worse was adding embroidery stitching to all of the ditch lines. All I could see was every wonky line and too many missed stitches. I might have been tempted to give up except that I had already spent a ridiculous amount of time on this project. I have no idea how it will flatten out and eagle-eyed judges are bound to find all of its faults. Kay reminded me that quilting is meant to be FUN as she described how she had wasted hours skinning an entire quilt. I still have a long way to go before the Tartan quilt is ready to display at FOQ and although it will look pretty good, it is not the show-stopper that I had imagined.
I loaded Freya, her pals and their canoe gear into the Landy and drove them to a bunkhouse near Aberfeldy via Braemar. It was a damp, grey evening but the scenery was still stunning. I wished I had asked one of them to take some photos as we avoided sheep and a herd of red deer on the road while lapwings flew overhead. The road was narrow and winding and seemed to go on forever with very little traffic. One of the girls felt a little queasy after 2 ½ hours so we made a quick stop and checked the map. The other car which had taken the sensible main road route got lost so we both arrived at the same time.
I took a different cross-country road home yet my journey time was exactly the same. I did question my judgement as we crawled slowly up and over the Cairn O’Mount at nearly midnight through low clouds but despite some ominous creaky groans, the Landy got me there in the end.
Most of my week was spent in my workshop or making official complaints of some sort. I really had to give a courier company based in the south of England “what for” when they failed to deliver the Bernina Q24 yet again. They wanted to deliver it next week while I am in Cardiff so I need to get a babysitter in otherwise I will have to rejoin the queue and may have to wait up to 3 more weeks. I don’t believe they will be asked to transport to the wilds of Scotland again. I called Fedex to arrange for the Quilted Yurt to be sent to Paducah and they picked it up the very next day. So it is on to its way to a deserving new home in the USA, complete with its textile visa. I would love to visit it there and tell its story!
Without the Q24, I had to carry on doing some quilting on the Tartan quilt with Millie otherwise it will never be done in time for FOQ or for OEQC. Obviously, I must leave a good proportion so that the Q24 can do a fair chunk. I will certainly let it do all of the lines – my clumsy longarm brake kept slipping and the woven shot-cotton fabrics were nowhere near as taut as they could be so I spent a frustratingly long time unpicking some of the unsatisfactory, wobbly lines.
I came across a couple of creative writing journals from College. It was funny to come across a script and some short stories written longhand in fountain pen well before the days of word-processing. I had completely forgotten the doomed play and the dysfunctional cast members. Some of it was obviously written in a hurry the night before the deadline but some showed promise – the tutor’s comments were either full of praise or downright offensive;)
In my capacity as Chairperson of the Parent Council, I attended a meeting with a representative of the local education authority to put forward my objections about cutting a teacher from Durris Primary because the school roll has dropped slightly, particularly when a new Headteacher has not yet been appointed. Our concerns were duly noted and ignored despite my attempts to bamboozle her with some impressive big words. I think she may have been slightly intimidated by my Paddington stares.
Thistle has been busy murdering creatures and is obviously so satiated that she can’t be bothered to eat most of her victims. The canny cows escaped a few more times but we managed to alert the farmer before they wandered onto the main road. Freya enjoyed her first driving lesson and impressed herself by driving along the High Street in Banchory. Less impressive was my made-from-scratch custard which may have curdled just a little. By the time I added more cream and rhubarb and churned it in the ice-cream maker the slightly grainy texture was almost imperceptible.
I took the female half of Freya’s D of E team to another canoe practice on the River Dee and the Canoe Guru was most impressed with the girls. She is now fully kitted out with neoprene trousers, thermals, a handful of carabiners and a 122 decibel rescue whistle, ready for an expedition on Loch Tay next weekend.
I will be in Cardiff most of this week, doing Q24 training with some of the UK Bernina dealers. Luckily, I will have a whole day to familiarise myself with the machine before they arrive and when I get home my Q24 should be waiting for me. However, I’m not sure whether I will manage to unpack it before returning to Cardiff the following week since I have to take the D of E team to Perthshire and drag Fergus to his guitar exam!
Despite telling myself that the Tartan quilt should have simple and minimal quilting, typically and as expected, I seem to have let myself get carried away with rather a lot of ruler work and tiny, tiny spirals. I decided that I needed to continue quilting on my Millie until the Bernina Q24 arrives and I can swap the quilt over onto the new machine otherwise it would never be anywhere near ready to exhibit at FOQ in August. This was the only project that I worked on all week yet I only managed to complete 8 inches across the quilt! There was an element of changing my mind as I went along and some time-consuming unpicking so maybe I will get faster now that I have decided what I am doing.
There are a few small rectangles that I am not happy with but picking out the offending micro stitching is not feasible. I have to confess that I am not always successful at quilting truly straight lines. Mind you, I really wanted to quilt lines that were ⅓” apart but the hopping foot and rulers are marked in ¼” increments. I tried to mark a ¾” grid but this did not fit nicely into the blocks. I don’t know why I always seem to want to over complicated the maths! The thing that I found most annoying was that my ruler base does not feel big or stable enough for long diagonals and curves. I also wish I had chosen a printed fabric for the back rather than plain, pale grey because every snaggy thread and wobbly line will show unless I have time to disguise them with paint.
Fergus has been warned by his guitar teacher that unless he concentrated on playing scales and working on technique, he will not pass his forthcoming exam. Instead, he downloaded the latest Muse album and played for 6 hours solid until he had worked out all of the riffs. I don’t suppose I can blame him for inheriting a lack of concentration. I looked at some old blog posts to remind myself about the inspiration and techniques used for some of the Yurt panels in order to complete their descriptions and I kept coming across myself going off at tangents and never getting to the end of my endless To Do lists…
We had a few days of glorious summer weather that I missed by stitching away in my workshop but one evening I drove Freya’s D of E team up to Aboyne to do some more paddling practice for their Gold Expedition. It is unusual for us to be able to sit outside in shirt-sleeves beside the river in the evening but the weather was perfect and the kids were even getting sunburned after 8pm.
The next morning was typically grey and foggy. While the kids waited for the school bus, they spotted escaped cows wandering towards the main road. Some of the calves had jumped over a tumble-down dyke so the whole herd followed and tramped around the gateless barley field. I shooed them back in the right direction and just as the farmer arrived to sort them out, they trotted back off back to their own field pretending that nothing untoward had happened. It was rather nice to pretend to be a Lady Farmer for 10 minutes without any of the responsibility;)
My Mac almost had a nervous breakdown this week but after several hours on the phone with Jack from Apple Support, things have improved. The Mac had decided to do some massive indexing task after my photo spring-clean and just went into a kind of memory overload meltdown. I am hugely relieved that I managed to back everything up – I had feared that a total crash was imminent. At some point I may have to take it to the Apple Store and add some more memory and get a real person to check it over. It was annoying how much time this all took as I had planned to complete the Yurt panel descriptions.
My new friend, the dress-making dummy, whom I have named, Daphne, arrived in the post and she is now modelling my waistcoat. She still looks very slim as I have not adjusted her dimensions to match mine. At some point, I will have to select a suitable garment to construct so I can justify her existence.
Freya and I gutted the garden yurt, heaving out the soggy carpet and disposing of the wasps’ nest. There were rather a lot of bugs to remove and the stove contained 2 dead greenfinches plus a bat corpse. We wrapped up the sailing dinghy that had been stored inside temporarily two years ago and swapped it for my cable-reel table. The roof still leaks but the yurt is no longer cobwebby or full of wasp-killing powder so the kids will be able to use it over the summer (which does not show any signs of arriving yet this year).
The Bernina Q24 longarm is on its way at last; I am hopeful that the courier who estimated up to a 10 day delivery period to Scotland was over being cautious! I was getting anxious about completing the Tartan quilt in time for FOQ so I decided to go ahead and do all of the invisible stitch-in-the-ditch on the Millie. I have now made several sketch plans for the quilting of this project. I think it would look “authentic” if I only quilted diagonal lines for the whole thing to look like woven wool but the purpose of this quilt is to demonstrate what the Q24 can do so it really needs a variety ruler work and freehand quilting. My problem is keeping it simple, achievable, a bit Welsh/Celtic and showing off a bit at the same time! It looks like I will be changing my mind as I go along…