Category Archives: Adventures with Animals

Normal4Me

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I might have known that Monday would turn out unexpectedly when a vole strolled across the kitchen floor, freaking Bumble out, before disappearing behind the dishwasher. It was tempted out briefly with a piece of vegan cheese but when Thistle appeared it went to ground, never to be seen again. My newly fixed Landy conked out and had to be towed back to the garage, requiring a new alternator and some other remedial work that had not been covered by its MOT. I might as well send all of my earnings straight to the Landy Man by direct debit!

I had a DIY quilter and a simple automated pattern then I spent far longer than I probably should have on a Christmas quilt for a customer. I seriously under-estimated the size and time that would be required for a dense snow flurry freehand and I quilted for a marathon 8 hours in one day, trying to get it finished. It does look great so I hope the customer will not mind that I went just a little overboard;)

 

I did all sorts of things in between such as having a crack at 2 test blocks for a charming hen quilt by CluckCluckSew.com – I would like to make a wall hanging in blue and white to co-ordinate with  my vintage Cornish striped crockery but it will be a long-term background project. There are quite a few pieces in each block and I am seriously tempted to enlarge the pieces to make a couple of mutant hens. 

 

I am still trying to find the perfect silver ink and sponge combo to print my mini Warli woodblocks. They print beautifully in black but I can’t get the silver to be both crisp and sparkly. 

I sketched a very rough diagram to figure out an approximate finished size and layout for the Rainbow Warli Quilt, trying to calculate how many small squares might make sashing to connect it all together. There is a set with small coloured circles, tiny thermofax print Warlis, 1” glitter circles, and I will keep some aside for my dodgy hand-sewn shishas and some blank so I can sew colourful pompoms on later (or not!) I still don’t know if I will make one conventional flat quilt or whether I can work out how to hang it as a canopy. The only difficulty is how an exhibition might cope with that…

 

 

I other news, Nella celebrated the end of her exams, Fergus released his first single and Freya accompanied me on a knicker buying trip to M&S so all in all, life here is completely “Normal” 🙂

Some Work, Some Play

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I tried to balance out the Work and Play this week, getting quite a bit done. I had 2 very large customer quilts, both of which were to be quilted with a dense pattern, “Raindrops on the Pond”. It is a super pattern with densely nestled spirals but it takes ages and there is quite a lot of back-tracking. It is definitely a pattern that I have to watch like a hawk. While the machine was occupied doing that, I trimmed back all of the wadding behind my giant sequins and doilies so now I have a cardboard box filling up with blocks for the M.O. quilt. I actually thought of a really good proper name for it the other day but before I remembered to write it down I forgot what it was!

I worked on a custom Christmas quilt, getting all of the S.I.D. and block detail done. That took some time and I still have to do snowballs and flurries in the background. The texture will be lovely because the wadding is wool and the quilt will be lightweight but warm/cool!

A brand new Scanncut machine arrived and I was keen to use it immediately. I was a little nervous since I had read online that the new model’s mats could be temperamental. The other new feature is that the cutting blade is automatic so theoretically no settings need to be changed when using different materials. I ironed Bondaweb onto my Indian cottons then put them onto the cutting mat with the Bondaweb facing up. My Warli figures were cut out beautifully except for the very fine cottons. I switched to the fine fabric blade and they were also cut cleanly. I ironed the figures onto contrasting coloured squares then wondered how on earth I would manage to stitch around the skinny arms and legs without causing damaging puncture wounds. 

Remembering the amber eggs that I made for Iconoclast, I ordered coloured organza for the Warlis. I could have used white organza but that would have paled the colours – the coloured organza matched the colour of the figure then made the contrasting colour look a bit like shot silk. I wondered whether it would be possible to remove some of the organza to reveal the bright colours underneath so I made a test block, quilted it with a twin needle then used a soldering iron to melt away some stripes. Considering that my soldering iron is a basic one with a screwdriver type end, the results were not bad, just a little gooey and scorched because there was a fine adhesive web (Mistyfuse) behind the organza. 

It was definitely a week for experimenting… I wanted to know whether I could sew shisha mirrors on using my longarm machine without a needle. I could but felt like I was living dangerously – I like to work with my fingers close the project AND the shisha mirrors have a metal ring inside so there is virtually nothing to stitch into. The other option would be to sew them on by hand either before or after quilting then add further stitching using the longarm. The other alternative will be to sew them on by hand after quilting if I also add pompoms;)

So far I have not had any success stamping clear wood block stamped images with silver paint, even using metallic screen print binder so I need to keep working with different formulae of paint mixtures to see if I can get that right. 

It turned out that I had falsely accused a fox of picking off my hens when a mink was spotted running up and down near the hen run, probably having snorted the chilli powder that I had sprinkled liberally. A humane trap has been set but so far it has avoided capture. Mink are not native to Scotland but were released after fur farms were closed so they are considered an invasive species, encroaching on the indigenous otters. In the meantime, I have to make sure that I round up the hens every night and shut them in to avoid providing free meals for mink. On a positive note – the new hens have produced one small egg so far:)

 

I collected my Landrover from the garage after extensive remedial work on the chassis for it to pass the MOT test. I was asked to sit down before being presented with the bill. It cost me the equivalent of 20 customer quilts so I had better keep very busy over the coming months to pay for it!

Fowl Playing

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I took advantage of a lull in customer quilts to make headway with my so-called “Magnus Opus” that does not have a fixed plan at this stage. I made a very rough calculation that if it was going to end up 80” square, which yet again is bigger than necessary, I will need around 173 x 6” blocks. Luckily, the large silver printed Warli spirals have the same area as 4x 6” blocks. I still don’t know whether there will also be a few star blocks or whether I will stick to Warlis and circles and I guess there will be some sashing to get everything to line up but that can be decided later. 

It would have been easy to stick bondaweb on the back of the glitter Warlis and raw-edge-applique them onto a background square but I decided to make life harder by making portholes where a circle is drawn onto a square on top of a second square then turned inside out. It was labour intensive as the seam allowance of the circle had to be clipped. The pressed porthole was then placed on top of a glitter Warli, blanket-stitched and THEN the original Warli square had to be trimmed back so it did not show through. 

The crochet / sequin blocks were easier. First the sequin was attached with invisible thread to an oversized coloured square, sandwiched with wadding and a backing so it can be trimmed back later making it trapuntoed. The crochet doilies were then laid on top of the sequins with a straight stitch and invisible thread.

The plain, giant sequin blocks also took a while – firstly they were triple-stitched upside down using the circular attachment with silver dazzle-dazzle thread in the bobbin. Even the big bobbins ran out of thick thread quickly and had to be changed after sewing 4 squares to be on the safe side. The giant sequins were then blanket-stitched to the right side, again using wadding and a backing which will have to be trimmed back. There was only one boo-boo where I accidentally sewed 2 squares on top of each other from my pile. I made all of the squares bigger than necessary so they can all be squared up to a neat, uniform 6 ½ inches. 

Towards the end of the week the floor in my workshop was strewn with rainbow coloured trimmings and lots of thread so it was actually very satisfying when I eventually got the hoover out. 

All of that activity kept me busy for 4 days and most evenings except for a midweek talk that I gave to the Aberdeen Patchwork and Quilting Group as a stand-in speaker. I rattled on for an hour about some of my show quilts and travels which the audience seemed to find amusing. It was lovely to receive compliments on my work after hearing that Iconoclast had not thrilled the judges at the Malvern Quilt Show. Unless I can find a show in Russia that might appreciate the St. Petersburg inspiration or get it into the World Quilt Show it will probably retire as yet another vanity project. 

I had one of my prolific DIY quilters in on Friday so we used the Q24 with Qmatic and the freehand Q24 to do one big quilt and 3 small ones! The last one of the day was a delightful baby quilt with two Elizabeth Hartman swans which looked super with a watery panto. 

My friend Mo “egged” me on to accompany her on an early Saturday morning jolly to the Rare Breeds Livestock and Poultry sale. We did not go too much over our budgets and resisted the urge to buy emus and peacocks. I took home 3 everyday brown pullets plus a light sussex and a bluebell. When I got home I was really disappointed to discover that someone (not me) had omitted to shut the henhouse up the night before so the long-lasting Maran hen had been the most recent victim of the F*****g Fox!! The new hens were securely shut in with food and water and I will personally endeavour to be more vigilant about night-time security. I could not resist downloading a PDF pattern for a chicken quilt from Cluck-Cluck-Sew which can be a new background slow-burn project:)

Supply and Demand

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I was at a bit of a loose end on Monday morning because I could not get started on the next customer quilts until some wool wadding arrived by post and I could not launch into the Big Project because I was I did not have everything for that either. To make myself useful I cleared out the store cupboard in my kitchen, discovering several small packets of opened pearl barley and at least 2 kilner jars that might be semolina, chickpea flour or some other pale yellow powder that had been there far too long. 

With a clear conscience I stitched a couple of big sequin samples to see if Razzle-Dazzle thread in the bobbin looked good and I wondered whether to try trapunto using the reject wool wadding that beards but won’t be able to poke through the sequins. At the end of the exercise I had to go and order yet more supplies such as embroidery stabiliser, a clear Bernina foot, circular attachment, and yet more silver thread. 

Several packages arrived during the week and I amassed a colourful selection of doilies, pompoms and shisha mirrors. I had better make sure that I make use of every single one of them!

I got a customer quilt done by Qmatic but it took a while because halfway down the quilt the narrow outer borders started to ruffle so I had to stuff them with extra wadding and spray copiously with starch in an effort to shrink them down. 

The next customer quilt that I started is a Christmas one which I am doing totally freehand and with rulers. It is coming along slowly but I am enjoying it. It is one of those quilts that could be have been quilted with a panto but is really fun to do custom.

Over 2 nights we had foxes in the chicken run and lost 3 hens! That is relatively uncommon here as we have a walled garden and there are usually plenty of rabbits and pheasants to keep any foxes fed. With one old hen left to protect my kids were puzzled when I told them that I was going to use a tray and a fork as my last line of defence. A garden fork was used to wedge the rear hatch shut and a large tin tea tray was used to block up a gap at the front of the shed. I don’t tend to shut the hens in overnight because in summer it gets dark so late and light so early that there does not seem any point. I will reinforce the fence, wait until the fox has moved on then get some more hens because there is nothing like collecting eggs from your own hens. 

I am probably going to sign up for Year 2 of the textile printing evening class so I can get access to the Art School equipment. However, that will not start until September and I wanted to screen-print silver foil onto fabric, maybe incorporate it into the new project. I had tried using an iron but found that the foil did not stick properly so I decided to order a budget heat press aimed T-shirt printing businesses. The other idea that I wanted to try was using heat transfer vinyl shapes that I could cut out using the Scanncut. I ordered 1m pieces of basic white, red flock and silver glitter in the colours of my Warli quilt. The heat press arrived and is a hefty item at 27kg which cannot be stored easily. The instructions were minimal but it was quite straightforward and I even managed to cut the vinyl without any problems. I cut and printed some 3” Warli figures as test pieces and I was really pleased how well they transferred onto fabric, especially as the shapes were so small and intricate. I think this new gadget has a lot of potential if only I can decide what to do with it;)

A Stitch Too Far

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The balmy late Easter weather allowed me to soak up some outdoor Vitamin D and hand-sew kantha stitches onto my quilt binding. Despite making an effort to pull the stitches fairly tight, because they were not anchored into the outer edge of the binding, I could see that the stitches might not all stay neatly in position. The long-winded solution would be to add a clear glass bead to every crossover of red and white thread. I underestimated how long this would take to anchor every single bead using beading thread and a very fine needle. There will be somewhere over 600 beads in total around the binding but it feels like thousands. So much for my disapproval of the current trend for over complicated bindings!

I was very pleased with the label that I made for the Warli quilt. I cut a piece of freezer paper to A4 size then starched a piece of red dyed fabric which measured half an inch less  all round then ironed it onto the freezer paper. I ran it through my printer on the basic settings, deciding that it did not need any extra ink that might bleed if I used photo settings.  Next I printed a Warli stamp into a gap that I had left. It took me a while to notice that I had printed 2018 instead of 2019 so I had to repeat the process to get it right. I stitched the label onto the back of the quilt by hand and even added a quilt show “modesty flap” to cover the label to obscure the details during judging. 

I had 2 nice crazy quilts to do for a customer this week – one in batiks and one in African fabrics. I used Qmatic to quilt circular patterns which I thought complimented the angular patchwork. The quilts were small wall hangings so I was able to get them back to the customer within a couple of days. 

I sold one of my utility quilts to a friend this week which felt a bit weird. She could sense that I was reluctant to let it go and I tried to explain that it is a difficult process to sell a quilt, even to a friend because coming up with a sensible price for the materials and time is so hard. At the same time it is better if the quilt goes to a loving new home instead of languishing in a cupboard.

Poor Bumble was poorly this week and had a visit to the vet. She had blood in her pee and was off her food. The vet had previously told me that Scotties are very prone to bladder cancer and she is 12 years old. However, antibiotics have worked wonders so hopefully it was just a simple urine infection. She was most impressed that I tempted her appetite back with some posh dog food so if that keeps her happy I will keep spoiling her. 

I have placed orders for all sorts of trimmings that I plan to use on my Next Big Project so once they all arrive there should be no more procrastinating. The trouble with allowing a long deadline on a quilt is that there is no urgency to begin, especially when the plan is not quite fully formed. However, I do hope to explore some ideas soon, even it is just to alleviate the boredom of hand-stitching umpteen beads.

Hogmanay Hiatus

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Instead of moping in at home on New Year’s Eve we went to a ceilidh at Crathes Village Hall. The place was packed with people of all ages and we joined in most of the dances, our ineptitude no worse than anyone else’s. The band leader called the dances so there were not too many collisions or bruises. Afterwards we were invited for more drinks and board games at one of the “new” houses and all in all we had a jolly time.

I always feel that New Year’s Day really is the end of the festive period and I like to put the Christmas decorations away before Twelfth Night. The house looked a bit bare without its extra glitz and I decided to fill some of the space with a new wall calendar. I made my own version of pages for my Planner, even though I only used it up until April last year before resorting to scrawled lists in notebooks. I can at least start the year off feeling organised;)

On Thursday I took my girls to the cinema to see “The Favourite”, a bizarre dark comedy about Queen Anne which was really good but also bonkers and tragic.

There were many things that filled my days last week and kept me out of my workshop. Bumble had to go to the vet and have a lump removed and we were amazed at how perky she was after a general anaesthetic, most annoyed that she had missed breakfast. We had a go at making Tofu with soya milk which is a similar process to making yogurt but not as tasty in my opinion. I am not entirely sure why but I decided to soak and cook a one-pound bag of chickpeas to recreate a salad that I had had bought in M&S to eat in the cinema. I had enough chickpeas to make a large salad, a sizeable batch of hummus and enough spare chickpeas to make at least 3 more meals, thus proving that dried chickpeas are more economical than tinned ones and can be used sparingly!

Nella roped Freya and I into helping her work on her part for her drama exam. She is a main character in a play called “Tally’s Blood” about a Glaswegian-Italian family during and after WW2. Some characters are Scottish, some Italian and some are hybrids so figuring out how to do the accents is a challenge. We will record it to help her learn it off by heart but I don’t believe we would blend in at all in Glasgow’s Italian Quarter, Merchant City!

I found myself editing Fergus’s music essay on a Metal band. He is an excellent guitarist and knows all sorts of stuff about music but writing it down is a chore. I untangled it, advised on presentation and learned a lot about Math Rock, just in case I should ever get asked about it in a quiz.

I was determined to tackle at least a couple of tasks on my To Do list so I decided what I will teach at the Bernina Longarm Academy FOQ in August – I “just” have to whip up the samples. I also watched some Youtube clips on how to use “ArtAndStitch” software. I felt brave enough to have a go at some exercises but discovered that my version of the software needed an update because I have had it for ages without using it. In the meantime I printed off all 200 pages of the manual because quite honestly I find it easier to flick through file than search for help online. 

It will be a hard slog getting up early every day next week but good to get back into a routine of sorts. I will probably soon look back at the lazy holidays with longing…

Lazing Around Over Christmas

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I like to spend Christmas Eve cooking so there is not much preparation to do in between watching the kids open presents and trying not to eat a whole chocolate orange before breakfast. I discovered late in the day that everyone actually did want red cabbage so I had to make a list minute dash to the shop to hunt for a vegatable that will most probably end up as hen food before the holiday is finished.

We had a very lazy few days with leisurely walks, glasses of sherry at any time of day, and inventing ways of making vegan turkey into appetising leftovers. After 48 hours I felt guilty that I was not busy doing something, trying to avoid being anti-social out in my workshop. I kept finding myself pointless little tasks including stripping the flowers off a basket of dried lavender. I had hoped that I could just whizz the whole lot in the Magimix but it made a mess and the motor got rather warm. 

At least I managed to run up a couple of mini-makes for a workshop in February where I will have no access to sewing machines which I will find a major challenge. I downloaded an entry form for the Scottish Quilt Show competition but the maximum size permitted is 60” x 80” so Iconoclast is not eligible. 

  

I took my girls to see “Mary Poppins Returns” which we really enjoyed a it was a similar format to the original with some great songs and animated scenes. I admit that I did doze off at one stage but I will put that down to too many late nights. 

I obviously thrive on deadlines and a bit of stress so once we have sen in the New Year I need to write myself a great big list of things to do then worry about how I am going to achieve everything. Before that happens I guess I will have to finish off all of the sherry;)

Christmas Buildup

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It has been a fast and festive week from the Banchory Academy Christmas concert to an impromptu show at the Deeside Dance Centre. My quest to find do last minute shopping was skewed by a puncture in the Landy on the same day that I collected it from the garage with a new starter motor and steering pump. To be fair, even a brand new car could have picked up a hefty nail.

I determined to complete the Fancy Forest quilt without doing any serious sums and ended up with a patchwork top that measured 72” x 109” so I pulled off the bottom row and reattached it to the side so it was 90” ish inches on all sides. Admittedly one corner was almost 3” wider than the top corner after the impromptu additional piecing but it will never hang on a wall so I decided that it was not important. I lined up lots of rows of the honeycomb pattern on Qmatic and let it run while I got on with the chore of wrapping presents. 

  

I used offcuts from the backing fabric for the binding so now it is complete and looks very bright and jolly even though it does not yet have an owner or bed. It may end up in the summerhouse for sleepovers when the kids push the 2 sofa-beds together. 

  

There have been a few late nights, waiting up to collect Fergus from the bus stop after the last bus home from Aberdeen and a great Christmas party/Housewarming at the newly completed barn conversion of one of Nell’s best friends. I had my annual festive coffee with Mo and Tania and loved my selection of personal gifts which included gin and Scottie dog gaffa tape. 

Bumble was not hugely impressed when the girls made her have a pre-Christmas bath to make her smell fresher but now any malordorous festive pongs can be blamed on sprouts or stilton. I have dreaded doing the final festive grocery haul and my strategy for avoiding crowds is to go late on Sunday evening when it will either be a feast or famine…

Quilter and Roadie

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It’s a good job I don’t currently have any significant quilting projects of my own since it gave me time to catch up on mundane but essential tasks like buying chicken feed, getting my headlights fixed and dealing with software updates. My friend, Mo helped me out with a tricky and secret soft-furnishing commission, much to my relief since I would have made it far more complicated than it needed to be. 

It is great to get friends on board to help out and Catherine helped me to piece 2 customer quilts made from old shirts that would otherwise have taken me 22 hours to work on by myself. 

 

The textile printing class involved adding metallic foils to screenprints so I now have some silver Warli figures to add to my growing collection of patches. The last two sessions of the semester will allow the students to further explore the techniques covered so far so I will print and discharge more fabric that can be made into a Warli inspired quilt. 

I decided to “risk” using Qmatic on a real quilt instead of a practice piece and I felt very pleased with myself when I managed to program in an edge-to-edge pattern and get everything to line up in the correct place, even fixing a broken thread. The Bernina Qmatic system is totally different to my more familiar APQS system and I am glad that I am working it out and becoming more confident since it has far more capabilities.

 

 

Fergus and his band, “Angry Man Carpark”, had a recording session here at the weekend so I used my time out in the workshop to make prototype templates for the antique quilt that I have been commissioned to restore. The original hand-appliqued diamonds vary considerably in size and it would be an endless task to make individual templates for every single patch. I have cut out freezer paper diamonds and ironed these onto starched fabric. These will be machine stitched down over the original pieces. 

I was the Chief Roadie for the band on Saturday night. The gear was loaded into the Landy and schlepped to Captain Tom’s Studios in Aberdeen. “Angry Man Carpark”, which styles itself as an Indie Rock band was supporting a series of heavy metal bands. Their set was cut short and some of the studio equipment malfunctioned but they rocked on anyway. I was relieved that the venue had areas outside the main performance room since I am not really into screaming grunge metal in the key of Drop C. Things got a bit rough later in the evening, someone even lost  tooth in the “mosh” and there was certainly a strong whiff of teen spirit. It was all very RocknRoll;)

I spend most of Sunday putting the music room back together to Bumble’s relief as the boys had pinned up blankets and sheepskin rugs from the sofa to deaden the sound and she had felt obliged to lie pathetically on the floor instead. She was not impressed by the hoovering that went along with the tidying process. When I eventually found my desk again I wrote out a fresh To Do list for next week and I can assure you there is not yet a line that mentions the dreaded “C” for winter festival word…

Pottering Around in the October Hols

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Holidays make for a very different week to normal. Nell and I went to see “A Star is Born”  at the cinema which we both enjoyed then we went to see Fergus’ band play for the second time in one weekend. It was a late and loud Sunday night as I tried to blend in with a student crowd, grateful that there was battered sofa at the back of the venue. 

I finished the DWR quilt after 20 hours of ruler work and freehand quilting and the customer was thrilled. 

Freya had Reading Week so she came home from Uni for a few days to celebrate Nell’s 15th birthday. The kids really get on well when they are all together – we made a birthday banner, carved pumpkins, cooked, made a vegan birthday cake, took Bumble for walks and went on little outings like rummaging in charity shops and buying unnecessary stationery items.

  

In my textile printing class I used a screen blocker and transfer dyes with silkscreens. I was not so keen on the more freeform results, preferring screen prints to be sharp and crisp. My attempts were no worse than anyone else’s and I am enjoying the opportunity to explore different techniques. I had probably hoped for a more technical course but there is only so much that can be covered in a 2-semester foundation class. I guess it is just as valuable to decide which methods to ignore as the ones which to explore further. 

 

I have not done any quilting projects apart from a few more rows on the small Kantha piece because I am forcing myself to face up to the chore of editing my website which I have not done for 5 years. It started off as a daunting task but just doing a bit at a time chipped away at it. I have many photos to add and lots of text to alter. It made me realise just how many competition quilts I have made in 10 years (21 I think) in addition to Yurts, the Smart Car, Coracle, Henge, HM The Queen’s Quilt, customer quilts, workshops and personal projects. 

We dropped Freya off at Stonehaven Station then the Landy just died. Luckily the Landy Man was still at work, diagnosed that the 16 year old battery was dead, towed us to his garage and lent us a Banger. This allowed us to go to Aberdeen and see the fantastic film about Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The songs were still echoing in my head the next morning and Fergus tried to work out the piano chords. 

I spent Sunday tapping away on my computer keyboard but in order to feel like I had also done something “useful” I mucked out the hens and unblocked my workshop sink. 

I have 3 DIY quilting days next week, must try to complete the website edits and have  challenged myself to work my way through the Qmatic Training manual. That should keep me busy but I also need to think of something to SEW!

Costa del Norfolk

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Packing for a trip is always quick and easy, especially if taking the car to a family house. It left me plenty of time to drink what was left of the explosive ginger beer then rustle up 4 mini versions of BzB in case my FOQ pupils prefer to work on that rather than a Dreamcatcher. I used wood-block stamps to create most of the motifs, some fancy fabric paint and will add some Derwent Inktense pencils when I have 5 minutes to spare.

All 3 of my children came along for the 550 mile drive south in a noisy Landrover Defender. They counteracted this by playing “Bangin’Tunes” all of the way and I had some of them stuck in my head for most of the next day. I hope Bumble is as deaf as she sometimes pretends to be.

I felt a bit guilty that the kids were not getting an exotic holiday or going to a festival but they all decided to make the most of what we could find to do in Norfolk. It was actually a pretty packed week. We caught up with old friends in Suffolk and watched England get knocked out of the World Cup at their house. Obviously, we trawled through as many junk shops as we could find. I had to find a replacement coffee pot after I accidentally melted  the entire handle all over my camping gas stove. Fergus was keen for me to buy a 1970’s electric organ with many amazing special effects but I was not sure that it would actually fit in the back of the Landy. 

 

We visited Great Yarmouth (which I reckon can only be done every 5 years or so) and bought hideous sticks of rock, ate chips on the market and the kids gambled a pile of 2p coins in arcade machines. This was followed by sand-castle building, swimming in the sea and ice-cream cones.

We had a lovely wander around the alleys and back streets of Norwich and a super lunch at the Waffle House which was a pleasant blast from the past. The rest of our time was spent going to the pub, visiting an outdoor swimming pool and eating outside with Family in the almost tropical heat. Our short week was soon over, everyone had a good time – we made some new memories and even got a little bit of a suntan:)

The Answer to Everything is Usually 42

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Faced with a long list of admin tasks I did everything I could to avoid them, dabbling and experimenting before finally facing them head-on at the weekend. 

I completed a simple customer quilt, hosted 2 DIY quilters and threw a crappy piece of practice quilting into the washing machine with some blue dye. It was a piece that I had used with students learning long-arming so some was stitched with doodling and some was computerised therefore not evenly quilted. I added some more quilting in the empty parts and decided that after it was dyed and printed randomly it would make a useful piece for chopping up and using for my wee bag class.

Freya persuaded me to go with her to the Grays School of Art degree show in Aberdeen. It was great fun with such diverse work from squirty foam and cement blocks to concepts, fashion and even what looked like a concrete quilt. 

I managed to scrape together enough strips to make 42 striped blocks for the Deckchair Stripes quilt but could not rustle up any backing fabric – I have no wide backing left, no sheets to dye, nothing suitable for piecing on the back so I have ordered an old fashioned candy striped bed sheet.

  

Still avoiding my paperwork, I tested the Bernina couching inserts for Foot 72. They were really successful and because they now have much smaller holes than Foot 43 I can use far more yarns. I just gave a selection of yarns a quick test but next I need to come up with an actual project. I have been thinking of what to prepare for my FOQ Masterclasses and what I hope to offer in Germany in November so I have been looking into doing more work with organza and special effect paints, incorporating fancy yarns and threads.

  

Instead of knuckling down to that I decided that Bumble would like a quilt made from charm squares so I went right back to basics, completing an easy-peasy quilt in less than a day start to finish. It was a lot of fun to do that, with no thinking required!

Junketting Around

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It’s a jolly good job that I travelled to Norfolk by train to visit family rather than driving the Landy, otherwise I would have come back with so much junk! I was accompanied on this trip by Nella, Fergus and Bumble and we spent so much time raking through vintage, charity or bric-a-brac shops that by the end of the week, even I had seen enough “brocante” to last for quite some time. I could have bought a Cornishware flour crock, yet more chairs or even an antique set of dentistry equipment. In fact, all I actually purchased was a wool beret and a very cheap guitar.

   

The weather was foul over the Easter weekend and our trip to the seaside was very brief since the beach cafe did not cater for dogs. After the sun came out we enjoyed some pleasant riverside strolls and the kids had fun on their grandparents’ bikes on nice flat, empty roads.

Bumble was not in the least bit phased by her train journeys. in fact, she was quite an attraction as Scottie dogs seem to be quite unusual in England. She has now travelled by car, boat and train so she only has a few other modes of transport to try before she can call herself a professional canine tourist.

I was excited to open a couple of packages when I got home. I had won a unicorn quilt kit from Purple Stitches by posting photos of my Fancy Forest creature blocks on Instagram. I was so desperate to sew after a week away that I spent all of Saturday carefully following the instructions to make a Lisa the Unicorn mini quilt. The instructions are really good – I did not muck up at all and she looks great, especially since she has a gold lamé horn;)

 

She will have to wait to be quilted because I currently have 3 customer quilts to do and must get on with the DWR unless I decide to rustle something up for my nemesis competition, the Fine Art Quilt Masters at FOQ…

Almost Like a Zombie Apocalypse

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I paid attention to the weather forecast and sensibly stocked up on essential groceries before it started snowing. It was very cold and I kept the wood stove stoked all day but it was almost sub-zero out in my workshop. I have seen more snow in my part of the world in past winters but some parts of the UK were badly affected. However, the TV news could hardly have been more sensational if there had been an actual zombie apocalypse. My kids had 3 days off school which they enjoyed, despite the bickering. Bumble was definitely happy to wear her fleecy jumper!

  

I never feel as though I get much work done during a snow week but luckily the power stayed on and I made good progress on a really jolly seaside quilt which received lots of ruler work and whimsical fillers. I even managed to fit in a straightforward flannel quilt, complete with binding.

 

 

When I was not chopping logs and making hot chocolate I worked on the dreaded DWR quilt. Its main issue is that the orange sections are like cardboard. I don’t know why it is freaking me out so much – perhaps the lack of a plan for finishing it with ambitious borders when I originally thought it would just consist of the 9 rings. It is causing me considerable angst! Maybe once the rings are connected I will decide.

 

I bought a Gocco printer from Ebay on a bit of a whim. I want to make my own thermo-fax screens but can’t find an affordable way of getting my hands on a machine and supplies. I have “researched” extensively online and am tempted to get a tattoo stencil machine and some Riso film but I need to know if it would work first. The Gocco is actually a Japanese toy and I hope to try it out as soon as I have an image that contains carbon ink or has been Xeroxed.

I may have to do some serious bread making next week – I could not resist the free offer of a sack of flour from the supermarket. I can only assume that the in-store bakery must have short use-by dates. Maybe it was a goodwill gesture to make up for the lack of fresh veg, bread, and many other empty shelves caused by an apocalyptic event;)

An Eggsellent Week

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During a week of spells of heavy, wet snow and bright sunshine, my hens laid at least 50% of the time. There was even an unusually white speckled one. I decided that it was time to make lemon curd. I am pretty good at that these days, having made notes to myself in my hand-written recipe book that refer to past disasters and how to avoid them.

  

Much of the half-term week was filled with customer quilts, re-drafting the Fancy Forest blocks so I can make giant animals, and an outing to a junk shop where Nell convinced me that I did not have room for another cheap, beaten-up chest of drawers even though it was a bargain.

  

I listened to Carrie Fisher’s autobiography on Audible while I pieced together the lapis/malachite DWR arcs and by the time I cut out the amber coloured pinched squares I was onto Stephen Fry’s “Mythos” but I had to pay close attention to the complicated relationships between all of the Greek gods. I fused some of the 1500-odd egg shaped pieces of “amber” onto the skinny melons and realised that I would have to make yet more to be able to fill up all of the large pinched squares. I dread to think how long it will take to quilt around all of the amber pieces, at least 3 circuits each…!

  

I have restored the indestructible iron that fell onto the nylon carpet so I will use it to weld the misty-fuse and organza onto my DWR amber sections. The major challenge will be joining the curved arcs on without having a tantrum;)