Monthly Archives: June 2020

A Jolly Good Sort Out

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I caught up with all of my customer quilts this week! My customer’s cheetah quilt looked amazing, just simply quilted with an all-over pattern called “Heatwave”. The pattern is by Violet Crafts and involves very intense paper foundation piecing. I was secretly relieved that I did not have to do custom quilting since it would have taken FOREVER to do stitch-in-the-ditch. 

 

I spent an evening searching my computer’s external hard drive for files. Instead of the well organised files that used to be on my laptop there is just a random dump of files. Some go back years but I have lost all of my family photos, all of my blog back-ups, many projects and some accounts. It seems that there is absolutely nothing to be done. I will keep the faulty hard drive just in case but I am not hopeful. I spent a lot of time searching through notebooks and bank statements in order to re-enter all of last year’s accounts onto a fresh spreadsheet. 

The new dehydrator was used several times to dry out mushrooms, rose petals and rather more stinkily – pieces of liver for Nessie. She knows perfectly well that she should “come” when called but if she fancies doing a bit of cat or hen chasing she goes into terrier mode. I decided that something more tempting than basic dog treats would be necessary. The dried liver is like billtong and she thinks it is amazing. 

 

The dehydrator is bigger than a microwave and could not take up space on my work table forever so I ordered a meccano type of shelf for it and its accoutrements. This meant that I would have to shift my tea & coffee dresser which is too tall to fit in the yurt. All in all, it led to a major game of workshop tetris trying to make space where there is no more available. 

This snowballed into a full-on “sort-out” where I realised that I had a ridiculous amount of wadding scraps that would take ages to sew into useful pieces. The mess that I made was quite stressful and it took two more days to get it back under control. I decided that I might as well go all-in and sort through everything. I have been ruthless with fabric, getting rid of project leftovers that I have not used in the past 10+ years so am unlikely to use in the future. I even ditched the dried up leather scraps that I once had in mind for a project. I am not sure what I will do with a very large amount of gold spandex but I will be hanging onto that for now. 

I am determined that I will not deviate until everything is completely sorted. It is certainly a chore but so satisfying when everything looks neat and tidy. I cannot say the same for Nessie who somehow rubbed herself all over the wet white paint where I covered up a damp patch behind the dresser.

 

Becoming a Prepper?!

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Nella and I watched several YouTube videos by “Preppers” in their Doom Rooms in a quest on how to use our new food dehydrator. I do not actually intend to lay down stores for the End of Time – I just want to dry some berries, dog treats and make crisps. The machine is bigger than I anticipated and I could do with some major Feng-Shui to create space in my workshop for this new “hobby” and the produce it creates. We practised on raspberries and thin slices of sweet potato and got good results. It can even help to rise bread which is a bonus because some on some wintry days we just don’t have enough warmth to get it going.

A strange childhood food favourite of mine is Sweetcorn Relish. We used to get a jar of Bick’s but I hardly ever see it in shops. Sainsbury have their own version but I have only found it once. I tried making it a couple of years ago but was not impressed by any of the recipes I found online. The kind I like is quite sweet and gloopy without additional unnecessary vegetables like cauliflower or cucumber. I found one recipe that looked basic, read the label of my empty jar, added more sugar, turmeric and used a small amount of arrowroot as a thickener. Success! – I have recreated my favourite pickle without making the whole house smell like boiled vinegar.

 

I had 3 customer quilts this week and after clearing off my table entirely I laid out the foam boards to block Rainbow Warriors, having attached the last few crystals. It was not the most thorough process, just enough to flatten it out for a photo so I could pack it away for a while. I have not even inspected it for loose threads and it needs a label but it is more or less there. Amazingly, for a quilt that was not that accurately measured or pressed, there was only 1.5” extra width down one side. None of the colours ran after a good spray with water – there was no way that I was going to attempt soaking it in the washing machine or bath. It is a bit odd that there was no feeling of triumph once the job was one. There are no shows to enter and no deadlines to meet this year. I suppose 2021 should be a good year for quilts as everyone shows off what they produced during Lockdown. I usually write about the process of making my grand projects so I ought to get on with that before I forget what I did;)

I dropped off my broken laptop to be fixed locally and was told that the hard drive was dead. The guy fitted a new one but was unable to retrieve any data. Because it was not working properly, it seems that even though I used an external back-up drive nothing was saved for over a year. I am trying not to get upset about the files that I have lost and I now have the crappiest chore of manually re-entering all of my accounts using notebooks and bank statements. I had planned to chill out at the weekend by making log cabin blocks but I need to get the boring stuff over with first.

Filling My Time

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I made great progress on some customer quilts this week and have them all trimmed, ready for collection. I have had an enquiry about custom quilting a great quilt – I would love to do it but I know that it would take me well over 10 hours which puts it well above the customer’s budget. It will look perfectly nice with a suitable all-over pattern so I guess it comes down to whether it is to be used as an every day bed quilt or a pride-of-place wall hanging.

I have finally sewn on all of the tiny bells onto the Rainbow Warliors quilt! I applied all 600 more hot-fix crystals into the tiny squares but I was about 25 short so had to order yet more. That will make almost 1000 little sparkles. I also managed to attach a few mini hot-fix mirrors onto some 2” squares using an appliqué iron on a low heat setting. I have the label to do, threads to tidy, later on it will be blocked but for now it has been shelved until I get around to hanging it up for a photo. 

During the week ECT Travel published a Zoom interview that Kristell did with memory Instagram. It came across better than I expected despite my dodgy lighting and scruffy, long hair. I have decided to sign up for some online classes and typically, instead of just seeing how it goes it has got me into researching equipment that might be useful for streaming future lessons. I have been watching YouTube demos on how piano teachers set up overhead cameras. I drove Freya mad asking her to practise Zoom with me. I wanted to sign in on a laptop and a phone to see how using different cameras might work but I got weird echoes, even when the device was meant to be muted. Apparently, using headphones might help. 

I am quite “Techie” up to a point but wish I really knew what I was doing. I dropped my laptop off to be looked at and was told the hard-drive is dead.  I have decided to get it fixed and use it if I venture into filming and recording. Otherwise, I have found that I can get by using my IPad and the old, family IMac.

I expect that when Freya comes home with her first car-load of stuff from her student flat she will think Nessie looks bigger. Nessie thinks she is pals with Thistle, who is amazingly tolerant but her idea of playing nicely is not really cat-friendly. She is now developing the Scottie characteristic of ignoring me calling her if she is having fun cat chasing. I need to work on that… maybe I can make some jerky using the food dehydrator that I have ordered. Nella and I thought that if Freya ever manages to grow excess cherry tomatoes in her long-awaited poly tunnel we can preserve them. Perhaps it will be a novelty item but if it can dry soft fruit that is in season locally now for winter then I think it is worth trying.

The Bells, The Bells

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Freya went back to St Andrews this week to start packing up her student flat, having come home for a few days in March and staying with us throughout Lockdown. That is the longest we have seen her since before she started Uni and even then, she never spent 24 hours at home every single day. The house seems subdued without her. I miss discussing news and politics over breakfast, Nessie misses her extra morning walk and Nella misses her company. At least she managed to slap some red paint on the old yurt doors so now we don’t have to worry about gusty winds catching the tatty canvas and tarpaulin. 

I have been working my way through half a dozen customer quilts. It is beginning to look like people are feeling braver about venturing out and have been asking me to quilt the projects that they have been working on at home. We do a weird exchange of bags and have a chat at a 2m distance outside my workshop. 

It has been taking ages to sew all of the tiny bells onto my prairie points with ridiculously fine invisible thread. I have sewn in the thread ends as best as I can but I reckon they would all slither off if given a gentle tug. I am officially OVER sewing tiny bells on now – at least I am now half way through the 4th side:) There is still a bit to do before the Rainbow Warliors quilt is complete and I really don’t know what projects will come next. My screen-printing came to a grinding halt after the Grays Student Exhibition was suspended. In theory I could be printing tote bags or something useful for sale but really I have no idea. 

I have been putting off worrying about what the future will bring because I think it is too early to decide. I might like to experiment with offering some patchwork and quilting tuition over Zoom. I intend to take some Advanced Qmatic classes with a tutor from Bernina of America so I will see how well that goes.