Monthly Archives: May 2016

I feel a rant coming on…



I feel a rant coming on but it will have to wait until I have my facts straight. As some folk may guess, it is to do with Purdah – probably as expected…

I managed to get out of a day in the classroom this week as I had to collect Fergus from the airport and I have to say that I did not miss it;) On Monday I went shopping with Freya and was put down by the teeny-tiny assistant who informed me that their clothes were designed for younger shoppers when I asked how accurate their sizes were. To make up for a lack of purchases, I procured some goodies in the M&S food-hall to eat in the independent cinema where Freya and I frittered away an afternoon with two other members of the audience. The film was “Mustang” in Turkish and it was brilliant. The story of 5 sisters whose family attempted to tame them by arranging their marriages was heart-breaking, funny and stayed with us for days afterwards.

While Freya tried to motivate herself to revise for her last exam which technically she does not even need to pass as she already has her Uni place confirmed, I cracked on with at the semi-custom Dresden quilt. Although I am describing it as semi custom, it still took ages to get the “simple” ruler work and not-so-tiny fillers all done.


In between making a custom guitar pedal-board with Fergus (with the help of Mo and her jigsaw), rearranging the music room again to make more room for the drum-kit and constantly washing up because the dishwasher has broken down, I finished the African pancake quilt! It could do with having another row and column added to make it a more practical size for a bed but it would certainly make an indestructible picnic or beach blanket. It was pretty bulky at the intersections but definitely fun and colourful. It would be a good project to teach with beginners as it could grow to almost any size from table-mats to a bed quilt, depending on how much fabric and patience the participants have.

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I have had to close down my DIY and customer quilting diary for June as there is so much “stuff” happening on my calendar. My plan for the week ahead is to deal with my notebook which is bursting with paperwork, get on with the last customer quilts for the time being and possibly make a start on piecing Freya’s Uni quilt, which if I remember to take photos, could even be submitted as a magazine project… and just try to remember to turn up at all of the places I am meant to be!

On Your Bike!



I decided that after spending a morning virtuously catching up on emails and booking flights to Manchester to do some Bernina Q24 training, I deserved time to mess about in my workshop! The African pancake quilt is now taking shape and if I decide to make it larger I now have even more fabrics from Nigeria, hand delivered by Helene, who almost came straight off the plane to pick up her quilts.

AFpancakes  FSkit

I sliced the squares in my kit for the Feedsack Remake project into the required setting triangles, noting with trepidation that the cheap tartan frayed and stretched considerably.

On my “fun” day I also had a go at designing a possible layout for a basic quilt that could have fish prints stamped onto it, although the colours are not at all fishy, just using random scraps to see if it would all fit together.


A casual remark by a friend about Ebikes made me think how handy it would be to have a bicycle that gave me a boost on inclines. Weirdly, there was one that had just been posted for sale on a local buy/swap/sell website so I snapped it up before anyone else thought they might fancy it. It is in pristine condition, although when I took it for a spin, I realised that the tyres were as flat as pancakes. I have hardly ridden a bike in years as it is too hilly in Aberdeenshire for me to find it a pleasurable experience. The electric booster worked a treat so I may just make an effort to tootle around the countryside on rare sunny days which is better than no tootling at all;)

I had 2 ridiculously early starts over the weekend, dropping off the younger two kids at their school trip rendezvoux. They are so different to each other – one will have a miserable, character-building experience whereas the other one would happily go on tour with friends indefinitely. Freya and I decided that 4am was an ideal opportunity to drive around practicing her parking skills as there were absolutely no other cars driving around, or parked in the carpark or even on the streets in Banchory at that time of day! Our day was so much longer because we did not go back to bed. By 7.00am we had enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and also taken the dog for a long walk.

Freya was getting rather bored with her study leave as she only has one exam to go so I bought her a tin of cream paint to revamp the garden Yurt. Obviously, it has not stopped raining since. It will probably be brilliantly sunny tomorrow when we have planned to go into town with no schedule to return since we don’t have the other kids to pick up or transport until Wednesday. I don’t know when my next “fun” day or foray into dress-making will be – for much of the coming week I will be busy teaching and I have to tackle a customer quilt with significant bottom border issues…




To be perfectly honest I had no idea of the purpose of FIRMware as opposed to SOFTware until this week when both of my longarm machines had separate hissy-fits. The Q24 just decided to go on strike but after I downloaded an update and fed the new information into it via a USB it was as right as rain. The tablet attached to the QuiltPath on Millie randomly upgraded itself to Windows 10 while I was in the middle of a customer quilt, even though I was convinced it wasn’t even connected to the internet. Nothing worked after that until I was given excellent instructions by Angela Hugli Clark on how to update the “drivers”. I was thrilled when they both got sorted out so easily as it was all a bit Greek to me even though I like to think I can usually muddle my way along with computers.


I came up with a novel firmware solution of my own when forced to wear leggings while my only pair of jeans was in the wash. I loathe wearing leggings as I always feel like I am wearing tights and forgot to put on the rest of my outfit, unless I am wearing a frock and trying to look trendy. I was attempting to go about my daily business but the dreaded leggings kept falling down as there was obviously not enough spandex involved. Fed up with hoicking them up, I attached them to the underwires of my bra with bulldog clips,  wondering what had possessed me to donate my dungarees to the charity shop. The bulldog clips were not uncomfortable and certainly could not be seen so I think I should just keep a couple in my handbag just in case.

marineprintz  drumkit

The upshot of all of this jiggery-pokery with firmware and time spent teaching was that I did not “make” much. At least the custom quilt was completed and Fergus hung out in the workshop with me while I printed some seaside themed fabric with which to make some class samples. He sewed some scraps together which he has not done since he was about 5, broke 2 needles, and roped me in to customise his drum kit. This entailed me removing the plastic wraps, cleaning off the incredibly sticky residue then supervising the sanding and varnishing. There seems to be nothing that I won’t try and fix these days!




Because of the Mayday Holiday I had a 4 day week that felt as if everything was packed into 2 days. In addition to, a day in school, a DIY quilter and the usual kids’ activities,  I also had to attend evening meetings for their forthcoming school trips to London and Frankfurt. I have been trying to keep Fergus busy so he does not get so bored and fed up. We washed old bikes and advertised them for sale, stoked an impressive bonfire and attempted to cut back some brambles behind my workshop. He has been getting involved in the kitchen and taking Welly for extra walks and is definitely in a better mood having spent less time vegging out watching Youtube;)

I have not tinkered with anything of my own this week and have been working on a customer quilt. I don’t know what possessed me to quilt a LOT of half-inch grids but it does look really good. I need to finish it off then concentrate on making up samples for a series of requested classes with a fishy theme. Actually, updating my class-list has now been on my TO DO list for weeks and I feel guilty that this has not already been done but my calendar is becoming increasingly hectic which is good for business but not for my sanity!

Not the End of the Road



I spent almost an entire day completing entry forms for Festival of Quilts, UK. It made me think how useful it would be in future to measure a quilt as soon as it is finished and enter that information onto a spreadsheet. The biggest challenge was writing the blurb for each quilt in a mere 50 words and considering that I had written an essay on Purdah, this was not easy! Only 2 images are allowed for the Fine Art Masters entries – one of the main quilt and ONE showing a detail. This is impossible for a multi-layered piece like Purdah so I sent a photo of the quilts being pulled back. I honestly don’t know whether potential judges will be able to understand what a complex piece I have created just by reading a 50 word blurb and looking at 2 photos.


Amazingly, “Tartan Tattoo” and a colour brochure from Paducah arrived back here only 4 days after being dispatched from Kentucky. The $20 show catalogue was packed full of colour photos of all of the entries, their sizes and makers. If FOQ entrants had to submit a good photo in plenty of time then I can’t see why we could not have a similar, high quality show guide in the UK for Europe’s premier quilt festival.

The rest of my week was filled with DIY quilters, teaching, making another cube bag using the excellent instructions by Hunters Design Studio and starting to sew the African pancake quilt together. It is not large enough to be a bed quilt but it can easily be extended later.


Freya and her chums painted a huge banner for their last day as Banchory Academy pupils dressed up as festival goers, partying and having a BBQ in between late April snow showers. They celebrated the end of their school-days with some high-jinx followed by a ceilidh. After exams and summer travels most of them will be off to University to study all sorts of cool subjects.

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I was very pleasantly surprised when the Landy Man called to say that it had scraped through its annual MOT test. It does need a new prop shaft and more baler twine to hold the mudflats on but I had really wondered if my Defender was rattling towards the end of its road.

I met up with Ellen and Kay at the new Knitting and Stitching Show in Edinburgh. We were obviously too busy yacking to remember to take a group-shot-selfie. It was a lovely day out. There were a few really good exhibitions and plenty of interesting traders. The show felt spacious and there were even spare seats in the cafe area. I made a few unnecessary purchases including a multi pompom maker for Fenella, dress patterns that will be lucky to be taken out of the packet, and some fancy interfacing for all of the pouches that I seem to be manufacturing. I should hide my new purchases from myself until I have finished all outstanding customer quilts and ongoing projects…