Monthly Archives: December 2017

Looking Back on 2017



I’m glad that what goes on during the Christmas-New Year week is not a reflection on life as a whole. Otherwise nothing would ever get done, we would be constantly ill and not know what to eat, despite a fridge full of food. I had planned to make myself some kit blocks for the Fancy Forest quilt but did not get around to it.


To be fair, I have not been lazing around the whole time. There was a 2-day stovie-making frenzy for Freya’s fund raising ceilidh. Peeling, chopping and cooking 30 kg of spuds was no mean feat. Pulled beef, onions and black pepper were added and neatly ladled into 12 large foil trays. These had to be unceremoniously dumped back into whatever pots and pans we could find at the Scout Hut which did not in fact have an industrial-style oven. The ceilidh was a great success and the stovies were declared excellent, although we do have a few leftover portions in the freezer.

I spent one of my lethargic days putting dates into next year’s calendar/diary. It looks like there are not enough trips planned in 2018, unlike 2017, a very good year for quilty travels to St Petersburg, Savannah, Steckborn, Coburg and Ste Marie aux Mines.


I don’t feel that I actually sewed that much in 2017 apart from a major push to complete BzB in May/June. All of those insane hours paid off and it won Contemporary Quilts at FOQ, the premier quilt festival in Europe. It has now gone for an extended stay in the USA to see how it gets on over there. I do have a sort-of-plan for a new show quilt in 2018 but whether it works out or whether it gets shelved remains to be seen.


I made 2 new friends in Ste Marie aux Mines with whom I hope to collaborate in some form. I have sent some quilted faux leather to Christine Escanes to cut up and experiment on and I have made a denim word search quilt inspired by the work of denim artist, Ian Berry.

I met many new friends in the Quilt World and happily reconnected with old friends this year. One of the more unexpected non-quilting friends that I made was a hairy one – my new best friend, a 10 year old Scottie Dog called Bumble. We have become inseparable and miss each other when I am away. My cats were decidedly unimpressed by this new member of the family but if I light a fire they decide they can be pals.

I had 2 lovely holidays with my kids, getting away from it all in Achilitbuie then camping at the Latitude Festival. My old Landcover took us to all of those places, despite being long overdue for an overhaul. It was a little nerve-racking, hoping that it would not rain on the way home from the NW Highlands because the wipers had conked out.


In 2018 it will be 10 years since I won the Loch Lomond Quilt Show, became The Quilt Quine and started blogging. I have made a lot of quilts and travelled to many places since then. I wonder what will happen in the next 10 years?!


A Fairly Festive Week


All things considered, it was a fairly festive week, apart from my last DIY Quilt customer of the year. There was the superb Banchory Academy Christmas concert, then I collected Freya from her Uni digs in St Andrews going via a posh farm shop on the way home. We stocked up on chicken feed for the holidays and bought red cabbage from a farmers’ market then spent most of a day perfecting Maria’s white chocolate cookies and a batch of glittery dog biscuits.


In between celebrating Christmas with Mo and Tania and preparing food for Christmas feasting, I enlisted Freya’s help to lay out my denim letters in their correct word search order. I was determined to at least join it all together this side of Christmas, even though I forgot that I had told myself to make ½” seam allowances because some of the denim was so thick!

I don’t hold out much hope of festive sewing as I will be be busy preparing stovies for a charity ceilidh on 27th December for a yet to be confirmed number of people. At some stage I plan to tidy my desk and do some pre 2018 planning. Apart from that, I hope to spend some time eating, drinking, reading and doing very little – well for a day at least;)


Technowizard or Semi Domestic Goddess?


I have been flitting about all over the place this week and forgetting to take photos. On Monday I did an allover linear pattern on a customer quilt – it had multiple seams because it was pieced with dozens of small equilateral triangles so I had to watch it like a hawk. I made a good old-skool chocolate cake for Fergus’ 16th birthday and it was even shaped like a completely normal cake.

On Tuesday I oversaw 3 DIY customer quilts (with no photographic evidence!).

On Wednesday I took Fergus into Aberdeen for his Grade 8 guitar exam. We are hopeful of a high grade after the examiner escorted back to the waiting room and said he had been “outstanding”! Slightly daunted by the countdown to Christmas I had a frenzy of online ordering, hoping that it would all arrive on time.

On Thursday morning I completed the festive shopping for my family in England then wrapped and dispatched their parcel. I even bought stamps and posted Christmas cards, despite swearing every year that this will be the last time.

I had to hurriedly put together proposals for longarm classes at FOQ 2018 to meet the December submissions deadline even though it is still 8 months away.

It was lethally icy outside and I could not even get the Landy back into my driveway after skating up the track. Amazingly, Farmer Raymond appeared as if by magic and spread some sand to make life easier.

Before I knew it, Friday came along and I had to make video demos for the new Bernina longarm echo clips. I did this solo with the GoPro camera attached to the machine. It took 4 hours to upload them so I hope they are useful enough that I can get away without major edits. My next challenge was to update the software/firmware for a major improvement of the Qmatic system. It all went swimmingly so I now need to carve out time to explore the new features.

I achieved my major objectives of the weekend – wrapping the parcels so that job is done in the vain hope that I might get some piecing or cutting done at some point during the coming week;) I had a practice run at baking Maria’s white chocolate cookies. I would not win points for their appearance in a baking competition as they were not dainty but they tasted great. I plan to make Bumble the Scottie some dog biscuits for Christmas because she has not asked Santa for anything else. She gave me permission to buy myself some gin-filled Christmas baubles in case the shop ran out!

Auf Wiedersehen Coburg and Fitlike Crathes


I spent my last full day in Coburg with Regina trying to learn all of the commands for Qmatic. We made good progress but did not conquer it completely, hoping that the forthcoming update will make it even more user friendly. We ventured into the city of Coburg to do some Christmas shopping which will have to remain a mystery for now;) And bought the most delicious Lebkuchen from the bakery, not at all like packaged gingerbread cookies. I only just managed to zip my purchases into my suitcase but decided that it would be safest to transport my glass “kugels” as hand luggage.

We made a detour to a Gudrun Sjoden clothing outlet but it was difficult to choose from so many lovely colours and sadly, after that it was time to head to the airport after an absolutely super trip.

I spent most of the next day unpacking, catching up on emails and attempting to add some  machine embroidery to the pleather piece. I abandoned that after a while as the piece was too big and too stiff to scrunch up under the domestic Bernina 710 so my collaborative friend, Christine, can chop it up and play with it when it arrives in Florida.


Light snow and ice cause a bit of disruption to the school bus and I was frustrated by a conference call to Switzerland when the wifi dropped out so I got on with an allover customer quilt then swiftly prepared the next one as I have 3 to finish before Christmas. In addition, I thought it was a good idea to cut out a little side project in case I run out of things to do…


Things are becoming festive here – On Friday evening I went to a very nice Christingle supper with friends then on Saturday morning Nella had her choir Christmas concert. Later we headed into Aberdeen to attempt some Christmas shopping. The so-called Christmas market was NOT at all like a German one:P We only bought a couple of things as it was too busy to bother but we did at least get Fergus a couple of birthday gifts. I am hoping that I will get the rest of my shopping online or locally.

Sunday was chilly and chilled out and Bumble seemed to enjoy her first outing in a smart, new fleece sweater. I even managed to write some Christmas cards which I must remember to post on time. I can forecast some multi-tasking in the week ahead!

Winter Wonderland in Coburg


I worked on a piece of blank, cream pleather for almost 3 days and finished quilting it before I packed my bags for my German trip. There is still a little stitching to add before I send it off to my collaboration partner, Christine Escanes.

I did not anticipate the blizzard conditions on the way to the airport, early on Thursday,  before any other cars were on the road. The road was white with ice and snow and it took twice as long as normal with some scary junction approaches. Amazingly, the airport was clear and the journey to Nuremberg via Schipol went smoothly.



It was great to meet Regina and head straight to a lovely supermarket in Coburg. Not only is there is vast choice of everything but the choice of fresh veg and deli items is amazing. The next stop was a beer shop which only sold beer!

For the next 2 days I had 3 lovely students who worked hard on two projects. It was challenging to complete both of them but they worked as fast as they could and all had great results. In between the quilting there was delicious food, some wine and chocolate and much chat. The students and machines coped admirably with a range of materials, threads and needles.




On Saturday evening we headed into the centre of Coburg to experience the Christmas market and enjoy a well deserved mug of gluhwein. It was crowded with a great atmosphere but far too busy for shopping. The sights and smells were enough! This was followed by a late supper of traditional Bavarian food at a local brewery.



The students all headed home on Sunday despite the snow that had fallen overnight. Regina decided that it was still safe to travel to the village of Lauscha in her reliable, old Volvo with snow tyres. The last part of the journey was uphill on snow covered roads but the Swedish car did not find this a problem.


This rural town has been a centre of glass making for many years and there is even a series of novels in which it features. There were demos and sales at the glass blowing college then several shops, factories and stalls selling beautifully decorated artisan-blown ornaments (kugels). They were not nearly as expensive as one might imagine and the only thing stopping me from buying more was the challenge of getting them home in one piece.


It was very festive but cold up there with a jolly Santa and some stalls selling local produce. We drove carefully back down to the main road later in the evening and enjoyed another simple but delicious German supper of rye bread, wurst, cheese and assorted accompaniments while the snow continued to fall gently outside.