Monthly Archives: October 2015

Meanwhile, not in Houston



Quilt Market and the IQA show in Houston is the USA equivalent to our UK show, FOQ Birmingham in that many American quilters make their pilgrimage there every year while the international quilters only visit every few years. I have been jealous of all the Facebook status updates of the preparations, journeys and meetings of old friends. The weather over there is wet and windy while we have had a mixture of glorious sunshine, gales, rain and frost.

In between taxiing the kids around and getting spare beds ready for visitors, I put together the bright log-cabin style top for the Purdah quilt and make very some progress on the red and black section. I upcycled Nell’s fairisle sweater into 2 hot water bottle covers in case it was going to be chilly for the visitors.

purdah2   hotties

The Landy is in desperate need of a new clutch – it can be embarrassing at traffic lights when I just can’t get into gear and have to switch off the engine to fumble around with the gearbox. I was on my way to pick up my guests from the station in Stonehaven when I found that just 10 minutes away in an area with no phone signal the twisty road was blocked by several stationary vehicles. A lorry driver took charge of the situation and decided that the Landy would have to tow the the car that had crashed into a stone wall off the road with the aid of a 100ft long rope. Obviously, this was a daft idea as towing is done best on a shortish rope but I let him work that out for himself. There was a worrying burning smell until I put the Landy into a low-diff gear and he heroically cleared the road until the Police arrived. My visitors were wondering whether I had forgotten to collect them and my two little nephews were jumping around like grasshoppers by the time the rescue was complete.

refugees  icecreamgals

We spent the next few days visiting castles, parks, the seaside and making constant pots of tea. The kids carved some mushy pumpkins and the cats kept a very low profile. The dust may have resettled by the middle of next week;)


It’s a good job that Real Life isn’t measured in photos!



It’s a good job that Real Life isn’t measured in photos otherwise it would look like I had not been participating much. I always “do” less in the school holidays by getting up later, catering, taxiing about, and feeling guilty for spending time in my workshop.

I wasted hours on the phone and on a thrilling online live-chat (not) with O2 after Fergus broke his phone, losing the will to live while trying to decide whether to fix it, replace it or cancel the contract.


At least I managed to complete a small, simple customer quilt that will be raffled for a local golf club. Its maker was thoroughly sick of it – she said she simply had not enjoyed making it for some reason. She did not know whether she had gone off the colour scheme or whether it was because it was not intended for a particular recipient. I think it looks rather good now that it has been quilted so I hope she is relieved and manages to sell plenty of tickets.

IMG_2888   IMG_2889

Freya and I had a great day out visiting St Andrews University. We both loved the town, the seaside, the buildings which would not look out of place on a Harry Potter set, and the lectures about the courses. In between guided tours we visited lovely cafes and eclectic shops. She has chosen one of the most popular courses at one of the Scottish Unis that is hardest to get into. The downside of no tuition fees for Scottish students is that no-one seems to mention that there are often far fewer places available than those for fee-paying students from England and Overseas. In addition to having amazing exam results she will need a blindingly good personal statement on her application form and possibly a lot of luck.

I did eventually sneak off to do some piecing and it looked like I may have been making some mini Ninja inspired shapes. I almost wore my fingertips out pressing the seams but it saved me making 576 trips to the ironing board! I am looking forward to getting some quilting done after footering around with all those “wee bits”.

IMG_2899   IMG_2901

Sew, Press, Repeat


IMG_2885   IMG_2886

Part of my week was spent putting the Bernina Q24 longarm through its paces with Tracey Pereira who will be available for Q24 demonstrating and tuition in the South of England. She flew up to Aberdeen and the rain did not stop for 48 hours. It didn’t bother us in the workshop where we fiddled with threads, feet, changed all of the settings then changed them back just to get to really know how the machine works. The BSR works slightly differently to the APQS so we were deciding on the best way of teaching how to use it for ruler work. It was great to experiment with another experienced longarmer, discussing showing a customer the easiest ways of loading a quilt and how to take the plunge with quilting. We were so engrossed that we forgot to take a single selfie!

Vivienne phoned to apologise for the slight delay of the publication of Deviant Quilting. Vivebooks has never tried to squeeze so much video into a single Ebook before. It won’t be too much longer and I still need to get a couple of quirky intros uploaded onto Youtube anyway. She asked if I would like to think about a future book so I have already started making a list of ideas…

I enjoy a bit of piecing now and then but I began to get rather fed up with my variation on a log-cabin block for part of the Purdah Quilt. Each of the 49 x 6” blocks had 21 pieces which proves that I haven’t got the patience required for a “Dear Jane” complicated type of quilt. At least I got to listen to a lot of BBC Radio 4 as I added to my slowly growing pile. I had “forgotten” that the kids would be starting a 2-week break from school next week so it is just as well that I got the most time consuming piecing out of the way. There will be other piecing to do after rather a lot of preparatory cutting has been done. I did wonder if I should be doing yet more time consuming wonky, modern free-piecing but then I told myself to get a grip otherwise this more-complicated-than-it-should-be-side-project simply won’t get done!

Thinking Like an Artist



I have been attempting to think like an artist to work out how I am going to pull off the Purdah Quilt. I don’t seem to have enough patience to wait for a Muse to come along and  just one day spent indecisively drives me mad. While I was thinking I tried some more couching yarn out that I may or may not use when I eventually pluck up the courage to start quilting BzB.


I could not decide whether to keep things simple or make them more complicated but I remembered that elaborate does not seem to be the key to the Fine-Art-Master category at FOQ. Next I wondered whether I should be improvising or sticking to something more traditional. The whole point of the Purdah Quilt is that will be layers of some sort so I guess that means I will making more than one quilt. I made up some test blocks to see if they would work with what I already had bouncing around in my head and I think I know sort of what I am doing now…


I spent 2 fun days at Newport Sewing Centre in Wales doing staff training for the Bernina Q24 longarm. They were enthusiastic to learn and try out new ideas but I have to confess that yet again I was too busy to remember to take any action photos. It is always interesting that no matter how many times you have taught a class or used a familiar machine, you can always find new or better ways of doing things. I left my pupils keen to work on new projects and pass on their knowledge to customers. I enjoyed seeing a great display of sewing and embroidery machines in the shop and even learned a trick for telling my Bernina 710 that I am using a straight stitch plate so it remembers when I forget so I can’t break a needle by zig-zagging.


I was annoyed that the little car I hired proved to be defective. When it refused to start at the airport I was told that I was not operating it correctly and by chance it fired up when I went back to it. However, when I made it struggle up steep, narrow lanes it started to make clunky noises. My B&B proved tricky to find because none of the hedged lanes were labelled and the road signs were in Welsh. I flagged down a farmer and a dog-walker and they explained that my destination had a completely different name on its gate than the one advertised on the internet. I had a very pleasant stay in a barn conversion and a lovely home-cooked breakfast. However, the crappy car would not start the next morning so I called the rescue service, then got it started and cancelled the AA truck which would never have found me anyway. There were warning beeps and flashes from the dashboard and a stern warning to stop and get the car fixed as there was a problem with the brakes or suspension. I made it to back to Newport without breaking down and called the rescue service again. The problem was quickly diagnosed – the battery connections were hanging loose which had confused the computer. My Landy, which works hard despite making various clunking and rattling noises, thankfully doesn’t have a computer telling it what to think;)


We have had glorious Indian summer weather this week with colourful sunsets and warm sunshine. I had an unusual visitor to my workshop – I found a tiny common lizard hiding under my wellies. It is a bit of a daft and uninspiring name when these lizards are quite uncommon in Northern Scotland. He was too quick for me to take a good photo and I was worried that he would get lost so I put him back outside. I wonder whether he would have found enough spiders to live off if I had not discovered him – maybe he fancied hibernating in a fabric drawer!