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;)

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The Trouble with Time Travel

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Knowing that I had a custom quilt job to deal with before I would allow myself to work on my DWR project, I decided to swap Monday and Tuesday around, pretending that I had already made some progress. This idea backfired slightly when I got around to actually checking the measurements on the customer quilt and discovered that it was too small on the back and I would have to buy more fabric to give it wider borders so in the end I did not actually start on it until almost the end of the week.

At least I made progress, albeit rather slow progress on the DWR pieces. I cut all of the melons and pinched squares carefully with sharp scissors then added a stay-stitch around all of their edges to prevent the organza coming unstuck or fraying.

The weird thing was that the small arcs were way too small for the melons. The test block had worked pretty well but after at least 3 undos I knew that I had a problem. It also occurred to me that the melons had absolutely no give. I fiddled with the arcs and worked out that I would have to add an extra wedge to the middle of each arc with ⅛” shaved off each side. If I had attempted something like this even a couple of years ago I would have tossed the entire project away in disgust but I have determined that it will not defeat me – although I have not yet tried to join any melons to any pinched squares so that still might happen!

  

I have been giving some thought on what to do once I have got 9 rings done. I originally planned that would be it but I am aware that a potential show quilt needs more impact like fancy borders. Some DWR quilts are appliquéd onto backgrounds but that would either be too easy or a recipe for disaster. I think I may have to add some half-melons and half squares to to make a quilt with a straight outer edge to which fancy borders might be added. But I dread the thought of cutting out another 1000 or so mini eggs.

One idea that I have been toying with is using Decolourant paste to remove the dye from fabric, leaving a ghost image. I spent quite some time online looking for images of significant historical Russian women and trawling second-hand sites in the vain hope of finding a reasonably priced thermal copier, wondering whether I should invest in a tattoo stencil making machine. There are companies in the UK that make excellent thermofax screens but they are quite expensive and I would love to be able to make my own. I had a go at using decolourant on a photo screen from Freya’s school art project but the effect is not subtle enough so I need to go back to the drawing board.

No wonder a week goes by so quickly here. The customer quilt got started in the end and so far I have the outer borders done and appliqués outlined. BzB has been juried into Paducah and I am thrilled that it is the third of my quilts to have been shown there in the past 10 years. I will be giving a talk at Thistle Quilters in Edinburgh in a couple of weeks so it will be time to revisit some of the show quilts that are packed away and give some of them an airing:)

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;)

  

Bumble’s Busy Week

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With a mid term break looming I had to fit in lots of projects to get ahead of myself. I made a second Mutant Hot Cross Bunny and cut out all of the Russian DWR pieces out in kit form.

  

Bumble had a very smart trim, not the traditional Scottie Dog style as all that hair just collects twigs. She was in and out of my workshop all week, snoozing while I completed 2 customer quilts, supervised 2 large DIY quilts and made a vegan avocado cake. I made the cake at Nell’s request – the texture was good but it needed far more sugar which I reckon defeats the object of it being a healthy option.

I ordered a cheap roll of orange organza from Ebay which I was annoyed to discover incurred an additional postage charge since the seller decided that my postcode was in The Highlands. When it eventually arrived it was not what I had hoped so I called Rainbow Fabrics in Old Meldrum where I got the burnt orange crystal organza for my practice piece. They posted my package first class and it arrived the next morning which I think is incredible!

I took Nell and Bumble to St Andrews for the day to catch up with Freya and we had a lovely time on the beach, meeting lots of friendly dogs, even another Scottie called Hamish. We took a drive out to the picturesque village of Crail, just along the coast and walked around the bay and harbour in bright, chilly sunshine. When we got back to St Andrews Bumble even managed to trot all the way to the Deli, deciding she might quite like to be a town dog as it was so exciting. No wonder she snored loudly all the way home.

 

 

I randomly selected from my box of green/blue DWR pieces and constructed 48 basic arcs which will also need to have angled end pieces attached. My friend, Angelika, managed to find some of my favourite gold lamé which seems to have been discontinued so I should get the arcs completed next week then begin work on the amber sections. I am trying to persuade Freya to paint a custom back for it IF she can find the time while studying, kayaking and socialising;)

Trials and Errors in my Studio

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I secretly relish when business is slack and I can spend time experimenting in my studio. The trouble with running a small business is that it is easy to get caught on a treadmill with customer quilting, leaving little time to create. I had a go at making a Fancy Forest fox double its original size but my maths was not up to the challenge the first time around so Mr Reject Fox will probably become a cushion. Before long I made 4 correct giant foxes which equals 16 of the mini foxes. Next I made a mutant bunny block and he is huge so I will only need 2 instead of 8. I am such a cheat!

I was going to say that I don’t really enjoy working with small pieces then I remembered my latest idea…

Bumble and I went on an expedition to Rainbow Fabrics in Old Meldrum so I could choose fabrics for my Russian Inspired Quilt Idea. The shop is quite small but jam-packed with sewing goodies. Bolts of fabric are stacked 3 high and a step ladder has to be used to pull out the top ones. I eventually picked out a good selection that I thought looked like lapis lazuli, malachite and amber and asked for long, skinny cuts. I hope the extremely helpful assistant went for a strong cup of coffee after she tidied up my mess.

  

I roughly chopped up a few pieces of the amber colours to see if I could produce something that reminded me of the Amber Room. I wanted to see what would happen if I applied a glaze or a sheer fabric using Misty Fuse. The prototypes came out quite well so the next move was to cut a few egg or nugget shapes out using the Sanncut machine. I did a very rough calculation and decided that I would need more than 1000 so having decided that the project could work, I spent a whole day fusing, cutting and scraping sticky stuff off the cutting mats.

I pieced two DWR arcs to see whether the blues and greens looked good with the amber and quickly dismissed the option of making the easy version.

  

The other thing I worked on a little was adding denim patches on the reverse of the denim quilt where the rivets had caused some damage. They were Bondawebbed on but I knew they would also have to be stitched otherwise they would eventually fall off. This was not as easy as I might have hoped. The denim quilt is far too big and heavy to make life easy so I came up with the idea of adding rustic sashiko stitching – sewing right to left is fine but going back the other way involves a bit of contortionism and my hand gets cramp. I will just have to do a couple of patches at a time.

My much abused iron took yet another tumble off the ironing board but because I was fiddling with tricky organza, I did not pick it up immediately and it melted the carpet. There was brown gloop all over the iron and a terrible smell. Amazingly, the melted nylon mostly scraped off quite easily so I may be able to resurrect it by scrubbing with bicarb. There is absolutely no non-stick surface left anyway but it is such a heavy, hot iron I would hate to try and replace it. I almost repeated the exact same accident with the backup iron so I will need to think of how to add a sturdier iron rest. I wonder whether I could use a slate roof tile and a couple of strips of elastic? Or maybe just move the ironing board out of an awkward corner, except that may lead to reorganising my whole workshop on a horrific scale!

Blooming Birthday!

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My week started off with my Bloomin’ 50th Birthday! My kids made a great effort with balloons and flowers and a some very special gifts, including a black Scottie dog lamp which looks like Bumble is sitting on top of a chest of drawers. My two BFFs were away but sent a helium balloon in the post. I am not into parties but hope to plan some kind of special trip later in  the year.

  

Freya ran a taxi service in her Beetle, getting plenty of driving practice clocking up miles by ferrying her siblings around. It was the last week of her long Christmas holiday so for fun we went out for lunch a couple of times and decided to unscrew the filthy glass lampshades in the kitchen and run them through the dishwasher. It was amazing how dazzling the lights were when they were clean so we decided to clean the oven as well. There is plenty of other Spring Cleaning to do but there is no point in doing it all at once:P

I squeezed in 2 customer quilts – a lovely log cabin and a baby quilt with boats. Feeling virtuous, I completed the blasted rivets on the denim word search quilt and discovered that jeans buttons are far easier to attach. The hanging sleeve was sewn on securely and I even sewed the corners of the binding shut. The only job left to do is some mending on the reverse where some of the rivets have caused a little damage.

 

I decided that I was allowed to spend Saturday afternoon and evening making 8 thistle blocks for the Fancy Forest quilt. I realised that it it is easy to put the stalk in the wrong way around which made the leaves look completely different. After that I made 4 correct blocks and 4 deliberately wrong blocks to make it look like that was what I intended all along.

Before Freya left for the new semester at Uni I discussed ideas with her for my next Big Project. I need to do a bit of experimenting before I launch into it and will actually need to buy some fabric unless I decide to do something completely different. I saw something the other day that I want to figure out which could be interesting…

Rivetting!

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I decided to try and finish off the denim quilt before starting on anything new so I trimmed and blocked it, made binding, a label embroidered onto a jeans pocket and a hanging sleeve. There were several jeans pockets left over from making the blocks so I was able to have a practice run using the Bernina 710 alphabet and some thick yellow thread.

It is a very heavy quilt to deal with so I shifted my sewing machine table to join up with the big table, supporting the weight while the binding was being sewn onto the front side of the quilt. I find sewing binding onto the back by hand very tedious but it is necessary if considering entering a show.

I abandoned the idea of highlighting one or two words with yellow thread. It would have been very difficult to make a neat job on such a bulky quilt and I reckon it will be more fun to search for all of the words without any clues.

  

A test-run of hammering in a rivet was pretty easy so I hoped that adding rivets to all of the block corners would be a quick job. Let’s just say it was a good job that I ordered far more rivets than I needed because quite a lot of them failed. I decided that it was better if I hammered the seam flat first then poked a hole with an awl. Some of the rivet tacks were a tad shorter than others so they were hopeless, simply getting squashed. I broke a couple of finger nails trying to extract the reject rivets (should have used pliers). I even made a sizeable hole in the quilt where one rivet not only failed but also cut right through so I patched it with denim and ordered some larger jeans buttons to deal with such disaster areas. Bumble was not impressed by all of the banging and swearing. That job is yet to be finished as I am waiting for more rivets and buttons to arrive from Ebay.

The middle of the week proved to be lucky – BzB was awarded 3rd place at Road to California, Fergus was offered an audition for Music College and Freya passed her driving test!!!

One of Freya’s first trips in the car as a driver was to go and collect 3 ex-battery hens that she had decided to rescue. The hens are 18 months old when “retired” and are either adopted by a charity or slaughtered. They are in a dreadful state – almost bald with no idea how to drink or forage. Sadly, one died overnight but the other 2 have lasted 24 hours with the help of encouragement, a hot water bottle, porridge and fleece jumpers that I made for them. If we can keep them hydrated and warm over the next few days they stand a chance of a far better life…

  

Just when I was on the point of caving in to supply-teaching offers, the first customer quilt of the year came in. I had to piece together some small, embroidered squares and add  spotty fabrics until it was big enough to become a cot quilt, hopefully without having to purchase much additional fabric. It is now ready to quilt and another 2 customer quilts are on their way so I should be able to stay out of school for a wee bit longer;)

Just Jeans

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I worked on the denim word-search quilt for the entire week! Firstly, I had to complete the vertical lines with the Bernina 710 using a walking foot, going cautiously over the ridiculously thick seams. When that hefty job was done I put the quilt back onto the Q24 longarm to stitch around all of the letters.

I decided that each letter should be outlined 3 times with thick cotton thread, freehanded with no rulers and in manual mode which gives me greater control. Once I had found the best speed and tension for the denim I programmed it into the Q24 to remember the next time it was switched on. (The machine wants to run in BSR mode by default but once I clicked the manual button it also remembered that I like to stitch at 350 which is 30% slower than the default manual speed.)

Some letters were faster to outline than others but it still took quite some time – 121 letters x 3 outlines = 363 outlines and quite a few of the letters had insides too.

I was not happy with how some of the seams looked really bulky so I couched over all of the vertical and horizontal seams with a denim-look yarn to help flatten them. By Saturday afternoon I could not listen to anymore political analysis on Radio 4 so I downloaded an audio book instead which seemed to pass the time very well.

I am trying to decide whether it would be a wise decision to wash the finished quilt or not. Some of the denim is from well-worn jeans but some was crispy and new so it could shrink at very different rates. I wonder whether a wash would give it a good scruffy look or just make it look scruffy?

My plan was to highlight a couple of the word-search “answers” with thick yellow thread but that will mean more wrestling with the domestic machine/walking foot so I may drop that notion. The quilt is very large, stiff and heavy – so I could easily talk myself out of that.

However, I am keen to add rivets to all of the block corners so I have ordered some (maybe a hundred or so!) from Ebay, which will all have to be hammered on. Apparently you can get a hand-held rivet gun but I don’t know how often I will actually need to apply rivets to any future quilts. This denim word-search quilt could well be a one-off;)

I hope to get the entire project finished next week. I had intended to apply a facing but the quilt is far too thick to turn and get a neat knife edge so a conventional binding will have to suffice. It will also need blocking, a hanging sleeve in case it is ever exhibited and a label which I plan to make from a jeans pocket. Then I will have to decide what to do with it…

2018 – A Slow Start

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I always find the first week of January a bit of a drag – I feel that I should be zooming around productively yet it is still the Christmas holidays. It would probably be better if I was away from home so the guilt could not set in and I would not have to contend with a fridge full of uneaten cheese.

I did manage to get some boring admin out of the way such as my tax return for the previous year but I was peeved to find that the school teaching that I had done to prop up my quilting business took me over the tax threshold so that was a bit of a nasty sting.

I occupied myself by completing next year’s diary with dates on my phone, 2 paper calendars and a planner so there will be no excuse for being disorganised;)

I received great news that BzB has been accepted into the AQS Lancaster Show but there was a minor panic when I realised how tight the shipping deadlines were following Road to California. Both shows were very helpful at changes to my shipping preferences meaning the quilt will not be going back and forth to Bonnie in Oklahoma for TLC so I hope it does not start to look crumpled!

We had fun at an open-mike night to end the holidays when Freya and Fergus both performed on guitar and piano with a super group of their friends.

I may have met my match with my denim quilt. I had it all ready to longarm in neat lines but the seams were so hopelessly thick that the foot could not get over the bumps. In the end I stitched in the ditch, missing out the worst seams then had to resort to using the Bernina 710 with a walking foot. It is doing a great job but the quilt is really big and heavy so it is an incredibly slow job, with needles dulling quickly. There are a few wrinkles here and there but I hope to disguise those later with some couching and long-arming. I still plan to freehand around the letters with the longarm since there won’t be any lumpy seams to contend with in the centre of the blocks.

As usual, it is a more complicated job than planned and I had hoped to make a start on some sort of Russian inspired project during January. I expect that will also become something I regret. So much for telling myself after every major quilt that the next one will be simpler. Who am I kidding?!

Looking Back on 2017

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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.

Denim Countdown

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It felt like I was playing a giant version of “Countdown” when I laid out all of my denim wordsearch letters to check that they were all there. I realised that I had completely forgotten about 13 letter I’s, and had a surplus of O’s. It took a while to sort, cut and stitch the missing letters by which time the whole lot was all in a muddle again. All I know is that there are some more than the required 121 or 11 x 11 squares. I masked off a slot ruler and cut them all into very neat 8” squares. I will probably have to use a larger than ¼” seam allowance because some of the denim is very thick.

   

I was not ready to start sewing all of the denim blocks together so I loaded a piece of cream fake leather onto the Bernina Q24 and randomly placed some of the my own Qmatic designs. I will add some more circles and freehand stuff later then post it to my collaborator, Christine Escanes in Florida to see what she wants to throw at it next. I even whizzed up a Fancy Forest Fox because he is so much simpler than the other creatures.

I checked that I had all of my supplies ready for my Coburg teaching trip in case I had to order any more pleather or felt. I am very excited to be going back and to visit a German Christmas market although I am not looking forward to my 3 am start on Thursday morning!

I offered to help Fergus do some research for his art history essay on The Impressionists but I was far more enthusiastic than him and got quite carried away, finding out obscure facts about Manet and gangrene, before launching into a second bout of research on “The Raft of the Medusa” to help fill in the many gaps in a previous assignment. I rather enjoyed my foray into homework – it’s a pity that Nell won’t get the same level of help from me with her algebra. I have often wondered whether I would enjoy being a mature student, studying something like Classics – maybe when I retire and have some spare time;) In the meantime, I have enough to do to keep up with a book group that I joined recently. I  mostly read in bed but sometimes don’t get very far before I fall asleep unless it is a thriller that keeps me awake past midnight.

Sadly, Welly the Mad Spaniel, died this week. I always said he was so bonkers that he would just drop dead one day. It was almost like that: at 13+ he just became doddery and lost his appetite as if he knew his time was up, curled up in his bed and faded away. He certainly had quite a few adventures, including swimming across the river in full flood and pig herding. I will actually have to make an effort to go for a brisk walk every morning because Bumble does not exactly hurry and my cats are just not interested.

 

(Wellington 2004-2017)