Monthly Archives: July 2015

Without Deviation, Hesitation or Repetition…


Vivienne and Trevor from Vivebooks spent 3 days in my studio with me filming video clips and taking stills to complete “Deviant modern machine Quilting” which should be ready to sell at the end of September. Amazingly, we only needed to do one or two takes for every demo, deciding that we would leave in the odd mistake as it seemed more realistic. The quality of the sound and light in the playbacks was excellent. My only problem was that I absolutely cannot remember a script so every ad-libbed quip was slightly different. This is why Radio 4 could employ me but I would be hopeless as a TV actress;) I do not appear glamorous in my YouTube introduction but Vivienne reminded me that it looked natural, as if I was about to get stuck into some quilting or go and feed the chickens. They managed to take some great photos of me and my local area which they have generously allowed me to use for publicity.It took a while to get my workshop back to normal after filming the demos, finding projects to photograph and shifting most of the furniture out of the way to make room for photography brollies. Ann came over with 6 Linus quilts which we completed on a production line – one of my machines quilted automatically, while we freehand-quilted on the Bernina Q24. It stitched very nicely and Ann was most impressed by how easy it was to use.
I spent Friday faffing about making sure that Freya had all of her documents in order for her Tallship Race next week and packing minimally to take Fergus and Nell to visit my folks. We travelled by train for 9 hours, giving me plenty of time to read for hours and eavesdrop on the other passengers. I completed “Go Set a Watchman” which I enjoyed – I certainly did not hate its sequel/prequel as some critics had warned. I noticed a man drinking a whole bottle of red wine before midday, tutted at families who shouted at each other from one end of the carriage to the other, and glared at children who played noisy computer games without headphones. The married woman behind me informed a total stranger that she visits an old flame 4 times a year to carry on a long-standing affair and a young woman chattered nervously in anticipation of meeting a man face to face in Newcastle with whom she had met on the Internet. I could imagine myself as Agatha Christie, sitting on trains, making notes then constructing convoluted murder plots!
Norfolk is meant to be the driest region of the UK but we always seem to bring Scottish weather with us. While my Mother was out, I took over her kitchen to rustle up a Sunday family supper. I could not find anything so there was a bit of improvisation and some essential ingredients were swapped for substitutes. A bottle of wine wrapped in cling film stood in as a rolling pin for a plum (nectarine and cherry) and marzipan tart. Mini tortillas replaced Chinese pancakes for the slow cooked shredded duck but it all worked out tastily enough. My sister has handed me a bundle of 6″ squares and if I might whizz up a small quilt by the end of the week…

What I Actually did when I was Meant to be doing Other Things



I am glad that I made myself attach the hanging sleeve and label onto the Tartan quilt at the start of the week as I have become sick of the sight of it now. It took me days to get around to tidying up the hundreds of microscopic thread ends on the back that I am paranoid the judges will scrutinise with a magnifying glass. The last major operation will be to de-fluff it from the fibres of wool wadding and to pin it out damp again in an attempt to get its wayward edges to hang straight. I may eventually decide to make another everyday version in different colours but I will definitely quilt it with a utility pattern instead.

FeughSpate   wetTent

The summer holidays continued with typically dreich weather and monsoon rains. I bought 4 new tarpaulins to weather proof the garden yurt but just can’t get dry and still weather to take off the roof canvas and make the repairs. Everything in the garden is growing out of control and I almost can’t get into my workshop past the overhanging greenery. It took days for Freya’s tent to dry out because it just kept on raining.


Fenella and I made a determined effort to sell some clutter on Gumtree. I feel that our house is bursting with unused “stuff”. She did very well as a Sylvanian Family estate agent but she still has the equivalent of a city to relocate, having inherited Freya’s extensive collection. This week I am planning to list 2 redundant coffee machines and my Kindle 3 which will free up a tiny space. I would also like to get rid of folding tables that I only use occasionally and I think it could be time to try and get rid of a couple of seized antique Singers.


One afternoon, while avoiding snipping loose threads, I rustled up a quilted book bag for Fenella to use at The Academy to protect her textbooks from getting too battered.


I was given a promotional canvas bag when I ordered the “new” Harper Lee novel and I decided to make it into a cushion. I used a Japanese linen printed with retro specs to make a border then quilted it with a wavy grid. I took it into a local furnishings shop to buy a cheap cushion pad and the shop assistant was really impressed and asked if I would consider making more cushions. The bookshop Lady was delighted and immediately added it to her window display. Apparently. she often gets printed canvas bags with new book titles so maybe I could make a few more?!


I have cut up lots of strips, squares and mini-quilts ready for the Ebook videography session this week. Vivienne asked me if I would prepare a rough Yutube clip to launch the book. I tried to film myself using a webcam but I just could not look at the camera and read my script at the same time. I am useless at memorising what I want to say so will have to rely on ad-libbing without fluffing up my lines. I wonder if I really speak like the posh scruffy woman with a peculiar accent who over enunciates every other word in the video clip…

Bernard and the Tartan Quilt



After a successful test run and showing off to some studio visitors, I put “Bernard” to work finishing off the Tartan Quilt. He was superbly smooth, although I think I need a little tweak somewhere since there was a tiny bit of vibration through the handles. I had to switch everything off for a whole afternoon while we had a Scottish monsoon with lightning so I fiddled around making striped bias binding instead.

TQinWash   TQcatchers   greyhole

I decided to throw the entire quilt into the washing machine to get rid of the markings and I am glad that I put in 3 colour catchers to soak up rogue red dye. It survived the wash but was rather distorted so I pinned it all out flat onto some large foam insulation boards. The needle-break hole did not improve with washing. It is really small and sometimes I don’t spot it but I am tempted to paint that entire section with pewter fabric paint just to seal in the fuzzy blobs of wadding that only I can see. I have started to attach the binding before I start trimming tiny stray threads or painting. I can see that the edges seem to be warping so the whole thing will need to be starched and steamed before it can be seen in public. I wonder if this quilt will ever live up to my expectations?


The Landy and I made another marathon trip to Strathallan Castle with Freya and Friends to the largest music festival in Scotland, “T in the Park”, loaded up with tents, snacks and wellies. I was secretly glad to drive away from 80 000 revellers, inadequate toilets and camping in the rain but I expect they will have had a great time;)


I took Nell and Fergus shopping for shorts and was met with their resistance and mortification in Gap. I bought them anyway and was relieved when they conceded to wear them when they got home. Fergus much preferred the visit to the guitar shop and Nell was thrilled to purchase her first pair of new Docs that had not previously been worn by anyone else. She glared at the assistant who informed her that they would take a bit of wearing in as if she had never clumped around in Docs before. I decided to quit while I was ahead and put off the school uniform shopping for another day.

The second most important item on the week ahead’s To Do list is to prepare for the videography session for my Ebook. I need to get some mini projects ready and try to remember what I plan to show off. But first, I need to get that dreaded Tartan Quilt ready to hang at FOQ…




I was in Cardiff again last week and it was even hotter at 32 Celsius! I think I bonded thoroughly with the Q24 there with a spare afternoon to fiddle around with the settings and different threads.

It was considerably cooler and more comfortable at home in Aberdeenshire until Banchory Academy Prize-Giving when the temperature inside the church was uncharacteristic of old buildings. Nell said goodbye to Durris Primary in an emotional end of term service due to the retirement of the Headmistress who taught all 3 of my children. She was delighted with her gift of a travel-sized quilt and a bottle of champagne.

On the morning of the P7 BBQ the rain was torrential and the grass was squelching. I checked the forecast, held my nerve, delayed the start time, and lit the Yurt stove. Lo and behold, the sun came out, the midges stayed away because of my smoky fire-pit and we had a super evening!


Freya’s logical understanding of written instructions helped enormously with the assembly of the Bernina Q24 which finally arrived safely. It all fits into the workshop neatly and I have managed to store its huge boxes under the other quilt frame. I will have to suspend the Coracle from the rafters to get it out of the way. The new machine is called “Bernard” and will be put through its paces this week as I have a quilt to finish…