The new-old sofa in the workshop has been a great success – I have been heading straight out to my workshop after a morning cuppa to get started on customer quilts for an hour or two then Nella can have an after breakfast snooze while I continue. That is how I got 5 customer quilts done this week, nothing custom – just utility but all very nice. Since it is officially half-term we have not felt obliged to keep up with school work but I will have to mug up on Hamlet before the new term.
I had a go at screen-printing foil glue and applied gold transfer foil to my doilies. One was a bit splodgey but the other was quite crisp. The gold foil is rather a yellow gold and would probably look better on hot pink fabric but I bought 6 metres so I will just have to use it somehow. I have decided to go with the doily theme now that I have started. A fellow student wondered why I did not just sew doilies onto cushions instead of printing them but I never actually said I was simply going to make cushions;) I do have another, separate idea in mind as well so we will see what happens. I invested in a few blank screens and one ridiculously large one so I really need to come up with a project to use them on.
I made a couple of bolster cushions from some African wax fabric that Freya brought from Tanzania. The Youtube videos on how to attach zips to bolster cushion covers were useless but I figured it out. I foolishly decided to ignore the advice about Pi when measuring up the cushion tube but I winged it and produced 2 piped cushions that look acceptable.
I took Nella for a pre-birthday hair colour and cut. We started off with the mirror covered but she managed to relax and enjoy the experience. I enjoyed a fringe benefit and persuaded the hairdresser to cut mine so I can actually see out.
Our week was generally mundane and of a strict routine but at present that is fine. Bumble is still my best canine pal, despite having lost a lot of weight due to cancer and she sleeps most of the time. Even the vet is amazed that she is still around and since she does not appear to be in any pain I hope that will be for a while longer!
Just when I thought things were going well with re-feeding Nella, I was told that she had lost another 1.2kg by secretly exercising, panicking that she was putting on weight. I was furious and told her that if I find out that it is continuing I will pack her bag and drive her straight to hospital. She was genuinely sorry and scared so I have had to be even more vigilant, stepping up the quantity of nuts and swapping low calorie almond milk for a fortified coconut milk. I read a book called “Brave Girl Eating” where the mother battled with her daughter’s anorexia for a year, somehow getting her to consume 4000 calories per day to restore health. I have no idea how I am even going to get close to that on a strict vegan regime.
By getting up earlier I managed to fit in 4 customer quilts in bursts before breakfast and during the afternoon while Nella worked on school assignments. I showed her how to do free motion stitching and she took to it straight away so she might put some examples into her Art portfolio.
Nella is utterly exhausted most of the time and struggles to sit at the table in my workshop for long so I decided to look for a second-hand, small sofa or a “fainting couch”. I found one on Facebook and collected it in the back of the Landy with the door open, strapping it in with ropey granny-knots. It fits perfectly and looks great covered in an old quilt so hopefully I will be able to get a bit more quilting done if she is warm and comfortable.
I went to my evening class on printed textiles and developed the acetate that I had drawn of a crochet doily onto a photo-emulsion screen. I really could not decide on a theme so I thought this could be a good starting point to get back into screen-printing. I was amazed at the detail of the print using opaque white printing ink on white cotton and rough, organic linen. It looks like this will definitely be the theme that I develop this term so I have drawn out 2 more doilies and plan to draw one that has a diameter of 28 inches. It will take ages – I have no idea what I will turn it into but I think it will work.
The grand tidy-up has now made its way out to the summerhouse which is now Fergus’ music studio. He is obviously incapable of organising it himself so Nella and I will supervise. The part we like the best is the IKEA pegboard with all of its neat accessories. I have put one up in the kitchen in an attempt to get clutter off my worktop. I think it is wonderful and would love to put it up everywhere there is a spare piece of wall!
It is unbelievable that we are already a week into October! I got into a new routine of getting up early and managed to complete 6 utility quilts during the week for a customer but forgot to take photos for my records. It is tricky to really get stuck into anything with all of our medical appointments and the meals regime but I gradually tackled all of the disordered downstairs cupboards, making a substantial mess before ruthlessly getting rid of cloudy glasses, chipped mugs and taking posh glasses out of boxes to be used. I rounded up DVDs from all over the house and put them all in one place which makes it look like I could own a video shop.
Books still need to be sorted – I don’t think I need a 1999 road atlas or any decorating manuals from the 1980s. I was especially pleased with the curtains that I made for the TV cabinet to hide boxes of cables and Nintendo games. It is satisfying to know that everything is now better organised, rather than stashed in multiple locations. Next I have to deal with a disastrous linen closet which is probably home to mutant spiders;)
Nella has been getting anxious about how much school she is missing and we have been working on a little of each subject on most days. We had a go at making a PJ top using leftover stretch jersey. We did fairly well and produced a wearable item. It is definitely better on the seams where we used the overlocker but even after using a stretch stitch and dual feed, the stitching on the hems seemed a bit taut. I think the answer is to construct cuffs and attach them using the overlocker.
The homework for my screen-print class was to draw a design onto acetate that can be transferred onto a photo-emulsion screen. I just could not decide on a theme so I have a temporary one which is crochet doilies. I spent ages doodling out a lace effect which is probably far too intricate but perhaps I simply need to enjoy the process of the course without necessarily requiring a finished product!
Since I had I finished up the last 3 “easy”, all-over pattern customer quilts, I had to move onto a custom quilting job. It was not a major, over-the-top custom quilt, more like low-key custom. I find that deciding what to do in the first place takes a while then it is just a matter of getting on with it. The pattern is a Lynette Anderson seagull pattern but the gulls are not like great big “skerries” that steal sandwiches in Aberdeen – they are more petite and because of their colour sometimes reminded me of pigeons, except for the webbed feet.
Somehow, the cartoon adventures of Dastardly and Mutley come to mind when they repeatedly attempt and fail to catch the secret-agent pigeon that carries messages. I sympathise with their efforts. Despite making good progress with Nella eating just a little more, we were told that her health parameters remain poor and the weight loss is continuing. It was a hard week for both of us as I had to increase all of her intake in a last ditch attempt to avoid hospital admission. She felt very low as it feels like things will never get back to normal. Every meal and snack almost rolls into one and I am very aware that she is not taking in enough calories in her restricted vegan diet for her health to improve. She has become really bored with not going to school and finds it hard to find any joy in life.
In an attempt at another easy craft activity we have started a scrappy rag-rug which has got off to a promising start but will take ages to complete. However, we felt very pleased with ourselves when we managed to make a pair of pyjama trousers without making any boo-boos!
Against all the odds, Bumble is still just about in the land of the living. She is not eating much, sleeping most of the time but not complaining so has been keeping me company for a bit longer than I had expected.
Happier news was that I was informed that a member of the QGBI, London Region, Jaclyn Horton, had award me an alternative prize at FOQ – “I Want That Fabric!” I was particularly thrilled because the fabric she meant was the Warli figure fabric that I designed and screen-printed for “So Many People”. The write-up that she gave the quilt was really complimentary which made me feel proud of my work:)
I have to keep a food diary for Nella, adding a range and quantity of foods each day if possible. She has so many fear foods that this is a difficult task. I blended together dates, coconut and walnuts to make energy balls and introduced some weird grains such as freekeh and red quinoa to try and increase her protein. This weeks blood results were marginally improved so she had another stay of execution from hospital admission. She feels like a fake anorexic for eating anything at all but I keep telling her to repeat the mantra, “I am doing this to stay out of hospital!”
Poor Bumble is not doing too well and had a visit to the Vet this week. I know she is not herself when she is not eating. He could not pinpoint a particular problem but thinks her mammary tumours have probably spread to her lungs. She has been put on a course of antibiotics but to be honest, I think her time will be limited. She does not seem to be in pain but her back legs are wobbly, she sleeps most of the time and only eats little bits of chicken if I feed her by hand. I have to remember that 12 years is a good, old age for a Scottie but I will be heart broken when she pops her clogs.
Food preparation and the painfully long time that every meal takes use up most of my days but I have managed to fit in one or two crafty projects to keep us both occupied. Over the weekend we have tried out rag-rug making, shrink plastic and printing notebooks with a gelli plate. On weekdays when we are not attending appointments, Nella works on school stuff in my workshop while I try to carry on with customer quilts.
I even managed to stitch a few eyelets and sort though the rainbow warily blocks that I have already got to see how many more are required. I think I probably have enough to make a double sided project except that I can’t actually stitch through the large mirror sequins. I still don’t know whether I am aiming to make a tent, a canopy or more sensibly, a one-sided quilt – it will be a while before that becomes clear.
Earlier this year I bought an iPad thinking that it would take over from my 2012 MacBookPro but for some tasks it just does not perform the same way and I crank up the straining laptop to do spreadsheets, online banking or resize pictures for printing. I expect the iPad can do these things but I don’t know how to make it so I either have to figure that out or consider whether it is time to trade in the laptop.
Having become a bit of a Marie Kondo convert (Tidying Up and Spark Joy), I decided that it was time to let go of the old school desk that I have had for 30 years since rescuing it while on teaching practice. The school rabbit hutch had sat on top of it so it had been out of classroom use for years. It had inkwells and lift up lids but was designed for small children who only had minimal stationery and books. I decided to offer it free to a good home on a Facebook buy, swap, sell site and it was quickly snapped up by someone locally who has a small child, so far with minimal stationery. Nella and I took a similar approach to 2 bookcases of children’s books and donated 5 boxes to charity so others can enjoy them. Getting rid of stuff that is no longer being used or enjoyed is cathartic. I really must work through the entire house (at some unspecified future date!)
Keeping my youngest under close supervision has not been easy – she had to spend some time in my workshop this week while I worked on 4 customer quilts then I had to spend afternoons in her room working on Higher English. Luckily, it is Victorian melodrama which I studied at school and uni but my understanding of modern textual analysis and citing references is sketchy. Having rediscovered some of my cringe-worthy old essays, written in fountain pen I don’t think I would be awarded a degree today!
Freya returned home in one piece from her trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, having had incredible experiences and adventures. She brought me some gorgeous fabrics which I have put away until I decide what sort of projects they are for. I made her a welcome-home vegan carrot cake with cashew “cream-cheese” icing – which was much better than I had expected.
While she was home to help keep an eye on her sister I managed to fix the faulty needle threader on the Bernina 710 to stitch a few eyelets onto plain fabric so I can layer it up with silver lame to make mock shisha mirrors. The quilt that I am making of so far unspecified size either has far too many blocks or will need many more smaller units. I won’t know until I lay it all out and see.
Sadly, Freya was only home for a couple of days before packing up her plants and books to begin her final year at St. Andrews. We filled a surprise box with treats to start the year off and left her at her flat to cope with a washing machine which has duck tape to seal its door.
Over the weekend we cajoled a little almond milk and pieces of tangerine into Nella to see if that is enough to stave off the threat of hospitalisation but this huge effort may just not be enough to avoid that fate. It really is a game of cat and mouse…
The one thing that is essential when dealing with a child with Anorexia is maintaining a positive outlook. Even when it seems that there is no improvement, the only thing is to keep trying and keep hoping that the vicious cycle can be broken. On Thursday we were warned that a hospital admission is looking increasingly likely if the medical checks show up increasingly failing health and weight continues to drop. We were given the weekend to turn things around, even the tiniest amount. Her friends visited and gave her a brave and loving “talking to” which I hope struck a chord deep within.
I now have to provide almost 24/7 supervision so there is no opportunity for her to exercise and I must insist that some food is at least tasted 3 times a day. Everything revolves around mealtimes and the issue of food, even though my daughter will only touch one piece of fruit and a few spoons of home-made soup each day.
We kept ourselves occupied by building an IKEA desk and bookcase, getting started on some school-work and trying not get sick of each other’s company. She had to sit in my workshop while I had a DIY quilt customer for a morning. This new regime will curtail my DIY work since I usually work through lunch but I will have to figure a way of keeping going with some quilts otherwise the business will just disappear. I have not worked on my Rainbow Warli quilt at all and I really want to make some progress towards getting all of the pieces finished, even if I don’t know what sort of quilt it will become. I almost decided not to proceed with Year 2 of my textiles printing evening class but I will do it anyway as a lifeline for my sanity or at least a change of scene.
I used the little Elna sewing machine that now lives on my daughter’s new desk and finished piecing the “Positivity” quilt. This is a pattern by Christa Watson using the fabric that I won as a door prize in her class in Florida, mixed with a few extra scraps and multi-coloured squares instead of neutrals. I got the Bernina Q-matic to quilt spirals all over it for texture and backed it with an Indian mandala cotton bedspread. While she made a short visit to her friend’s house I got the binding on and made up her bed. It is bright and cheerful – she loves it and IF she has to go into hospital this is something that she can take from home that I have created especially for her.
You hear about people dropping out of Uni or Life all the time but I have never thought about what that actually meant. I feel as though I have temporarily dropped out of Quilting, certainly when I look at social media and think that Everybody Else is beavering away, teaching, launching new patterns or inventing new techniques. I have barely had time to think about quilting, let alone actually do any.
We waved Freya off on a Grand Adventure to Tanzania where she will be staying with a university lecturer whom she met on the way back from her trip to Egypt. Her journey of 24 hours ended up in Mwanza where passengers on the 8-seater planes can either carry hand-luggage or a bucket of fish. She will explore Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar with her host and probably foster a desire to do an internship there in the future.
I have been able to work on some basic customer quilts using Qmatic in between medical appointments and school meetings. I chose the same pattern, Flower Child, in various sizes because it was straightforward and suited several different quilts.
I finally finished piecing the Positivity blocks over the weekend so it will be fun to put them all together with my youngest daughter. We have been spending a lot of time together, not only in the battle to get her to eat but also because she is currently unable to attend school. I persuaded her that it would be calming if I helped to sort out her messy room so we looked up how to fold clothes the Marie Kondo (Japanese) way so they take up less space and it led onto a major clean-up. She is actually thrilled with how ordered everything now is.
The knock-on effect was that we moved the piano out of her room then shifted all of Fergus’ music gear out to the summerhouse so he has a space that is more of a studio. This involved moving a sofa-bed into the ex-music room via a tight front door and ridiculously small hallway – if I move from this house I swear most of the furniture will have to stay behind to avoid a repeat of those shenanigans. Hopefully those 2 siblings will now clash less over practise, noise and taste in music! The rest of the house would also benefit from a major declutter but really I would rather sew;)
One of the really hard things about living with my daughter’s Anorexia is the not knowing what will happen day to day, each week, months or even years ahead. I had to make the enormously difficult decision to cancel a planned teaching trip to Bernina India because in January she could be at the same stage, in hospital or hopefully maybe in recovery but there is just no way of knowing.
I have to confess that I am finding it difficult not to be “busy”, trying to fit as many multiple projects and thoughts into 24 hours as I possibly can. All of my work is suspended apart from customer quilts that I can fit in when convenient. I do not have the luxury of time to continue with my Rainbow Warli quilt at present but I am trying to do a few little sewing projects to retain my sanity. I made a small bag for the Elna Lotus plug, shortened some trousers, completed a small customer quilt and found myself becoming an Art Therapist rather than an Artist.
I have been providing opportunities for my daughter to create in my workshop as a distraction from her mental torment. We have had a go at soy wax candle making, vegan food covers, bunting and screen-printed a duvet cover. We also put together an IKEA Raskog trolley to organise some of her art materials as she hopes to be allowed to study Higher Art even though she is not well enough to attend school which resumes this week.
The team at CAMHS (Child & Adult Mental Health Service) has insisted that she should be told her weight at every session twice a week but I think she should be weighed blind since this fixation is a major stumbling block in convincing her to eat to improve her health. The CAMHS service does not provide any counselling until some weight gain has been achieved but she has started to see a private therapist just to help calm her mind and provide some relaxation techniques so she may be able to shut down some of the Anorexia some of the time.
I suspended my daily vlog snippets because I did not have any work to report on and I found it difficult to come up with any silly or quirky comments of my day. Consequently I was spending less time checking in on social media so it was not until I received a message from my friend, Kay that I discovered that Iconoclast had won “Best in Country – UK” at the World Quilt Show. I was delighted and it was a lovely boost to my confidence, particularly when the quilt seemed to have underwhelmed judges in the UK. I had so many wonderful congratulatory messages and it reminded me that it is actually a very nice quilt that took me a long time to complete:)
By this time on a Sunday evening I would normally review what I hoped to achieve in the week ahead but in my new role the priority is to make a note of appointments and work out what sort of soup to attempt each evening. Thinking positively, at least she is still at home with me where I can only try my best to keep her going mentally and physically.
Life is far from normal at present – it is challenging trying to not make everything about my daughter’s struggle with Anorexia. We are attending medical appointments at least twice a week in a desperate attempt to keep her out of hospital. Normally an ill child should be getting well in hospital but in the case of this illness that could be the worst thing. It could mean being sent to a secure unit away from home with limited family visits and fed forcibly under sedation without taking into account my daughter’s strict vegan diet.
We had to attend a session where the family had to go through the motions of having a meal that she would not eat and became very distressed. The family based treatment is to make insist that the child eats 3 normal meals a day plus 3 snacks when they want to eat nothing at all. I am finding it frustrating that counselling is not recommended until weight is restored so we are unable to break the cycle of becoming increasingly unwell and the illness means that she cannot think rationally. She is freaked out every time she is told her weight and feels compelled to eat even less and exercise even more.
It is emotionally exhausting watching a child suffer and knowing that the only medicine is food which she cannot allow herself to eat. She is suffering from fatigue, hypothermia, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low white blood cell count and it is amazing that she is even able to function at all.
I have been trying to make soup that she will eat and it is a triumph if she will eat a few teaspoons. My older daughter and I have been trying to distract her with activities including making a dress from an old shirt, wax food wraps, artwork and even patchwork. We have to approach each new day as a new one and hope that our strong will can break the deadlock.
Life is a long way from normal – everything is on hold. My family and friends worry that they cannot do anything to help but just hearing that they care is enough to give me the strength and courage to keep going. I simply have no alternative.
Life is not always a beach so it is good to have an interest such as patchwork and quilting that offers an escape from worry. We had our first Eating Disorder appointment which did not wave a magic wand but at least got my daughter accepting one tiny meal of vegetables per day. This is a small step in the right direction, mainly due to the threat that she will not be able to go to Latitude if she is not fit enough.
I took Bumble to the vet because one of her mammary tumours had opened up. She is not actually unwell but we were told that she had half a dozen tumours, some of which could be surgically removed but that they would come straight back. I decided that my beloved 12 year old dog would not be put through any further operations and just asked for antibiotics for the wound instead. I am sad that Bumble can’t come on holiday with us but I can’t leave her with my folks for too long and I would have to go back to Norfolk from Birmingham to collect her so I just have to hope that she is OK staying with friends for almost 3 weeks.
One of my friends had a nasty road accident – she was badly shaken, bruised and her car was a wreck. I gave her a couple of lifts in Fergus’ little car which was making an alarming squeaky noise like a constipated hen. Hopefully it is just a dirty brake and won’t be another expensive fix.
The last customer quilt before the summer holidays begin was a cream quilt for a Golden Wedding present. It was quilted with a Qmatic pattern then I had to attach a row of slippery bridal lace. I made a thin strip of folded bias to hide the raw edges then sewed it down with a decorative blanket stitch.
A delivery van dropped off a package that I had forgotten about which was a Bernina eyelet kit. I spent a morning fiddling with settings and thread and was impressed at how well it performed. My plan is to make eyelets then layer them over silver lame fabric so they look like Indian mirrors to add to my rainbow Warli quilt.
Another parcel contained my new Bernina style trolley-rucksack. I have designed a name badge so it looks like one of the bags that I coveted at BU and I need to find someone to embroider it for me.
I decided that I needed a therapeutic “just because” patchwork project so I cut up the Christa Watson layer cake that I won as a door prize in her class. One of her patterns , “Positivity”, called for neutral greys in the background but I swapped that part for plain coloured fabrics from my stash. I really enjoyed some mindless patchwork where all I had to do was simple chain-piecing. I can just pick up around 5 blocks at a time and allow my brain to switch off.
This week we will be working through my pre-holiday/packing lists and hoping that everything just ticks along without any drama.
In theory I am meant to be starting a family holiday on July 12th that will lead me straight into FOQ so I decided that it was time to make preparations as the end of the school year is looming. I prepared my teaching materials and notes and packed them into a suitcase. In reality, parts of the family holiday may have to be abandoned since my youngest daughter has developed an eating disorder and we had several medical appointments last week. I cannot say more about it here, other than it is extremely difficult to deal with.
I gave up on the idea that the kids would sort out the summerhouse which they had used for several parties and sleepovers so it was down to me to wash the bedding and clear away debris. They were also not thrilled that I dumped all of their items into their rooms instead of leaving them strewn around the house but there comes a point when a major tidy-up is good for the soul.
I waited all week for Amazon Prime to deliver packaging for my show quilts and I admit that they did not receive my usual scrutiny so I just hope they hang relatively straight. Iconoclast is being sent to the World Quilt Show with another 20 UK entries and So Many People is off to FOQ for an airing.
For a change of scene we drove down to St Cyrus on Saturday for a rummage around the junk-yard. It has always been scruffy but on this occasion it seemed particularly derelict. There were smashed LPs, broken shards of mirrors, headless figurines and I was convinced that there could be funeral urns full of ashes somewhere amongst the bric-a-brac.
We went for a wander along the stunning beach afterwards and encountered a weird atmosphere. Crackling static electricity made our hair stand on end! The light was ethereal, the sea calm and the air still until we heard rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning. A storm rolled in and we decided that it was best to head back across the dunes. Bumble seemed confused – she was either fazed by the size of the beach or knew that a storm was on its way. I am actually worried that she is becoming too frail to enjoy such trips. She seems fine most of the time, bumbling along in her usual fashion but it is either time to consider having yet another operation to remove tumours from her under-carriage or leave them alone and let nature take its course.
I really have no idea what to expect from the week ahead. My Bernina 710 arrived back from Cardiff with a new CPU unit/brain so maybe I should cut out a mindless patchwork project to work on in order to keep myself preoccupied.
By the time I went to bed on Monday evening I had been on the go for 36 hours. Luckily, I don’t seem to be bothered with jet-lag after USA trips, maybe because I just need to keep going and get back to normal. It took some time to unpack, even though I had not bought much then I had to sort out my expenses and file paperwork which is a job that I loathe.
I had 2 DIY quilting customers this week – one was a long bed runner done using Qmatic but the other was a large Gravity Quilt which the customer bravely chose to do entirely with ruler work, never having done any before. It took her 2.5 days to “simple” designs on her quilt and it looked great when it was done.
While she was busy I decided to make a couple of By Annie Clam-Up bags to control my ever increasing cables. I feel like I am always coming up with cable storage solutions yet every time I go on a trip I open up my bag to find a tangle of spaghetti wires. I can’t believe that I went to the trouble of cutting 2 pieces of quilted fabric which was directional then ended up with one half of the bags upside-down. I realised that I had flipped the template for the second half when I should have cut two pieces the right way up. I will just have to pretend that I am not an idiot and used a single piece of folded fabric. All of this was done on my Singer Featherweight because the Bernina is still in Cardiff. I have noticed that you don’t actually appreciate a machine until it is not available so I feel that I need to get a sturdy, back-up machine without any computerised parts. This might be the Elna Lotus after it has had a thorough service or maybe I need to find a mechanical Bernina 1008 before they are discontinued.
We went to see Fergus at a gig in Aberdeen in a post-punk, metal line-up. The crowd sang along to his lyrics and chanted his name which was great. I think some of the crowd wondered what I was doing there when the mosh-pit and feedback really got going but I have actually experienced the frenzy and noise of a live gig in similarly seedy venues, albeit 35 years ago!
I had a bit of a panic when I looked at the calendar and realised that there are only 3 weeks to go before I go to Norfolk with the kids and all of my FOQ stuff has to be ready as it is a week earlier. Once I go away I will stay away until after the show which means almost a month away from here. There is a lot to organise from sending off 2 show quilts, getting teaching materials sorted out and checking our camping gear. Things are going to be hectic…!
There was much that did not go according to plan this week! I downloaded a pattern for a pair of dungarees/overalls from Helen’s Closet and set to making a toile to check that I had picked suitable size. I traced off the pattern a size bigger than my dress size but the fit was too small. Rather depressed by my measurements I then made a much larger size to accommodate my hip measurements but found that this time the fit was enormous. I will have to either make a size in between or work out how to adjust the pattern. It feels like a job beyond my dress-making capabilities, particularly when it is meant to be a simple unstructured garment.
I decided to twin-needle stitch the organza Warli figures prior to quilting so I could burn away some of the organza with a soldering iron. The next day when I went to finish the job my Bernina 710 would not start up as normal. It came on, then switched itself off then attempted to restart. I tried updating the firmware but the problem continued. After calling Bernina UK for advice, it was decided that it had to be sent to Cardiff for a fix, potentially having suffered a CPU failure. I wanted to finish off the twin-needle stitching but was hit by the realisation that I had recently sold my solid Husqvarna and Freya’s Brother is away at Uni. I had a go with my vintage Elna lotus but it looks like the tension spring needs replacing and the Singer Featherweight only has a straight stitch plate. I felt bereft without the Bernina that is normally so reliable and copes with everything. I now see the need for an emergency machine that will do basic sewing but has no electronics to go wrong so I am watching several mechanical 1000 series mechanical Berninas on Ebay.
I had the bright idea of personalising my luggage for my forthcoming trip to the USA for Bernina University so I used the Scanncut to cut out my name onto heat transfer glitter vinyl. I balanced my big suitcase from India under the heat press and successfully printed my name but I had more trouble with my trusty Kipling cabin bag with bulky zips. To my horror I discovered that the metal zips must be coated in plastic because I completely melted them and have now ruined the capacious, sturdy, small bag that has been all over the place since 2008. An identical model is no longer made and they are rather expensive so I wasted much time on Amazon choosing a new cabin bag which I hope will arrive on time.
I was beginning to think that the whole week was a write off. I was struggling to hand-stitch the shisha mirrors onto small squares of fabric but in the end I found that perseverance pays off and I have now worked out how to build up a couple of layers of stitching so I can get up close to the mirror with the longarm without hitting the metal ring. Spurred on by that small success, I had one more attempt at woodblock printing with silver ink. I mixed silver powder and metallic binder with opaque silver Speedball ink and spread it into a dense sponge. I coated some of the fabric squares with Odicoat gel to create an impermeable, waxy barrier and found that folded kitchen paper was better than a foam pad underneath when pressing the stamps down. Finally, I had some prints that were crisp and now I am impatient to start joining the blocks together just as soon as I can decide how the finished quilt should be displayed.
My suitcase is packed, complete with travel kettle and gin, I have made an instructional video on to to use the washing machine, there is plenty of pet-food and once I have printed off my tickets I will be all set for my next adventure to… Florida!
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” 🙂