Sunday, 25 July 2021



I reorganised a corner of my workshop to accommodate the new filing cabinets, instead of figuring out how to make trolleys for them so they could be shifted about. Obviously, this led to a game of furniture Tetris to try and fit everything back in. There was a filing cabinet sized gap that was too tight by a few mm so I chiselled some lumps of concrete off the wall and prised off a section of skirting board. This was quite a feat for a muggy Monday afternoon but hopefully there won’t be any more rearranging to do for a while.

Another time-wasting activity for me currently is perfecting the ingredients and cooking time for no-knead overnight bread. I have a new cast-iron tin with a lid, as well as a ridiculously over-sized Dutch oven for a goose. I feel that I have to get good use out of the baking gear or else find somewhere to store it other than inside the oven where I tend to forget about it until I need to cook something.

Apart from a couple of dodgy offers from Facebook Marketplace on my Landy that seem to involve cash and blurry photos of obviously stolen cars, I currently have an interested party who is a Landrover enthusiast. The major stumbling block is that as usual, it needs work for its MOT, which could prove costly. In the meantime I have been boring myself looking  online for a Volvo estate car that is affordable, reliable and not ancient. 

I plan to get 2 customer quilts done at the start of the week then concentrate on packing for FOQ. So far I have printed out all of my paperwork, gathered together all of my threads and gadgets, and got a face-visor. Freya is travelling to Birmingham by train to be Nella’s chaperone and I need to take some supplies plus a microwave. I can see myself making a few checklists lists in the week ahead!

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Poo Brown to Pretty Pink Transformation


Ages ago I bought a set of old, Polish bentwood chairs for £2.00 each. I like to imagine they were made in pre-war or Cold War era Krakow;) Somebody had painted over the original wood in what can only be described as poo-brown gloss. I kept meaning to repaint them but never got around to it until this week. It has been very hot here and we really had to be outside in the shade so I decided to start on a couple of the chairs. I used a pale pink chalk paint which did not require any prep since I hate sanding. The paint dried extremely quickly and is not the neatest finish by any stretch of the imagination but since the old poo-brown gloss was already drippy, I think the end result is an improvement. It is funny how painted or stripped furniture goes in and out of fashion. As a student I painted some hideous Victorian furniture with yellow gloss. I daresay someone has now covered it all up with ubiquitous French grey chalk paint by now. 

I finally finished all of the ruler lines on the cat quilt which looked very smart when it was all done. 

I got a small all-over quilt done and thought I had caught up with everything in time to get super-organised for FOQ when 5 more quilts got dropped off - I am certainly not complaining! 

I gave another Zoom lesson on Friday which worked fairly well but I am still not happy with my camera setup so I spent a long time on Youtube trying to figure out how to get 3 camera views showing at once with only one audio source. It is not easy to find the exact information that I want. I hope to get it sussed so that every time I arrange a lesson the sound and video works seamlessly from the beginning - no camera dropping out. I had previously managed to add an extra camera by joining my own meeting by phone but for some reason this time that mucked everything up. I intend to spend a whole day on this until I get it to work consistently. 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Old and New Tech

I made a big decision that it was time to let the Landy go to a new owner. I have advertised it for sale since I can only ever just about afford to scrape it through its MOT each year and not spend any money doing it up. Even I have to admit that it is not suitable for long trips. It has served me well over the past 15 years and it is now time to look for a new-to-me car that is more comfortable.

I got two all-over quilts done while having a custom job going on in the background. The customer requested straight lines, avoiding the appliqués, which takes more time than you would think. 

My other major achievement was giving a Zoom lesson on how to use the quilt machine with computer. My pupil is very much a techno beginner but a most diligent student. I used my GoPro camera behind me to livestream while speaking to her using my phone AND sharing my computer screen! I decided that it would be useful to make a video without interruptions of how to get started so I hung a camera from the ceiling then discovered that if I have a Zoom meeting by myself, I could talk via a web-cam, share the screen and record the whole thing. I will get Fergus to edit all together and fast-forward through the quilting. I have already thought of improvements for the next video… 

Sunday, 4 July 2021

More Quilts


I have been chipping away steadily at customer quilts. They have all been straightforward, even though a couple were pretty big. The next one is to be custom straight lines, avoiding areas of appliqué so that may take a while.

Nella and I had a midweek trip to the cinema to see “The Heights” - a Lin Manuel Miranda musical about a Latin community in New York. It was very clever and really enjoyable. The outing helped to break up a mundane week and it is important for Nella to realise that she can do all sorts of things if she re-engages with Life.

I remembered that I had to label, check and pack “Rainbow Warriors” to send to FOQ. Fortunately, I had already done the blocking so I just needed to flatten it out after a year in the cupboard. It is quite large and I have the issue of the giant sequins so fitting it into a box could be a challenge. If the prairie points get squashed they may stick out at odd angles. I just hope it hangs nicely at the show!

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Still on Holiday Mode

We had a lovely few days in the New Forest catching up with cousins whom we have not seen in 16 years. There were picnics, movie nights, walks and even a tortoise buying experience. My cousin has 3 tortoises, one of which she inherited. Timothy is at least 50 years old! I have always fancied having a tortoise - elderly spinsters who lived next to my Grandmother had one. Freya is now the keeper of a one year old tiny tortoise. I suppose it is the perfect pet for a vegan and can easily be transported. I expect she will take it to the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.

Nella got on really well with her penpal from the next generation of cousins and it was lovely that she could spend time with someone her own age. Hopefully we will visit again next year, although we will not stay in the same apartment which felt like an institution, with handwritten, stern notices about how to wash the teacups properly. 

After such a busy few days and a long drive north, I did not feel like getting straight back into work mode. It took a whole day to unpack and do laundry so I decided that I would still be “on holiday” until Monday. Nella and I did so little on Saturday that we got quite bored. I really need a background project but I don’t know what it should be. I have decided to get a small Horn cabinet for the Nova to keep in the house so hopefully that will make me more inclined to potter away at something. 

It is clear that we need to plan outings and trips to keep Nella going. She is feeling flat after her big trip and also stressed that CAMHS has reduced the frequency of her appointments. People suffering from anorexia do not usually want to recover so they are not pleased by positive progress. She still has a very long way to go and the urge to relapse is strong which is I have to keep her motivated with trips and projects.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Holidaze 2021

 This week we have been on our holidays for the first time since 2019. We hired a van and drove down to visit my family in Norfolk. It was far more comfortable than rattling for more than 500 miles in the old Landy. We had a couple of scorching hot days, followed by some unusually heavy rain. We did our usual thing of rummaging in junk shops but did not find many exciting things. Mostly we just sat around in the garden and Nessie enjoyed barking at the passers-by in her Dundee accent.

Instead of heading home at the end of the week we drove down to the New Forest to visit cousins whom we have not seen in 16 years. It was lovely to see them and have the children’s heights updated on their kitchen wall. We went into the forest to see the sunrise just before 5am but it was misty and murky. It did not really matter as we had taken thermos flasks of tea and coffee and it was fun anyway. There are more forest based activities planned for the rest of the weekend and Nessie has been amazed at encountering wild ponies...

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Peacock Paradise


A peacock arrived at my house this week - there are peacocks 2 miles away and across a river so I wonder if he had been kidnapped and dumped. I have always fancied keeping a peacock so if he hangs around that is fine by me. 

Freya came home on Wednesday and we spent the week mostly pottering to get ready for our trip to see family in Norfolk for the first time in 2 years. We hired a minivan for the 545 mile trip south instead of rattling down in the Landy which has certainly seen better days. Even with the extra luggage space we had a lot of gear, including a Scottie dog who hates travelling. 

The trip took around 10 hours which is good going. For the first time in our history of Norfolk holidays, we booked an Air BnB just down the lane from my folks. It means that we can come and go and don’t need to take over their entire house. Nessie is amazed at all of the people and dogs going past because she can see them out of the floor length windows! Our plans for the week are to mooch around junk shops and go to the beach. Hopefully, everyone will have a chilled-out time:)

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Are you Busy?


I am getting quite a few calls from quilt customers that start off with, “Are you busy?” I am busy enough;) On a very productive week I can probably do up to 3 simple customer quilts, depending on where else we have to be. Lately, I have just about been catching up when 2 or 3 more quilts arrive so I always have a mini backlog. I always used to have a couple of other projects on the go but nowadays I can only just about manage to fit in some German practice or tidy up my virtual island on Animal Crossing. 

I had thought that I might make a quilted cover for the Nova sewing machine but I went off the idea and bought one instead. I had planned to replace the rotten canopy on my swing chair - I did start it but did not feel inclined to finish it. I am actually quite worried that I am not excited by sewing at present. Maybe I need to buy a super easy quilt kit to get me in the mood. 

Nella and I have been having short outings to reintegrate her into society. This week we have had lunch out and visited the art gallery in Aberdeen. She needs to be reminded that Life after Covid and Anorexia is worth living. 

Sunday, 30 May 2021

A Mini Break

 Don’t tell Nicola but we paid Freya a quick mid-week visit in Glasgow... Nella’s doctor said it was a good idea since she had never seen where Freya moved to last September. We were very careful to avoid busy areas. Nella and I have both had two doses of Covid vaccine and we always wear face-masks. The studenty flat is great, although on the top floor, up 77 steps and counting when you have to take a Scottie dog out for a wee. It is in the West End and even has a Waitrose about 2 minutes walk away. The surrounding streets are actually quiet and rather posh. There are super cafes and shops, selling everything from organic veg to vintage clothes. The Botanic Gardens are close by, which is where we went three times a day with Nessie. She encountered a bold squirrel and a bagpipe player for the first time. 

There was an exciting parcel waiting for me when I got home. I felt compelled to copy a Facebook friend who recently purchased a 1980’s Bernina Nova machine. I just happened to look them up on Ebay, put in a bid and bought one myself. I am delighted with my purchase. It is a simple, small, mechanical machine and it arrived in a clean, well maintained condition, although it was missing a few of its original feet and the outer plastic case had yellowed in the sun. After a little internet research, I discovered that you can coat the plastic with peroxide solution, cover it with clingfilm and “develop” it in sunlight. Amazingly, it has lightened quite a bit so I will give that method a go on other suntanned plastic, such as my overlocker. I would like to keep this handy machine in the house so I need to think of a small, easy project;)

I hosted a Zoom lesson for a Qmatic customer which worked without any technical hitches. I was able to screen-share my Qmatic computer and let her see the whole quilt frame plus my rear view using the Go-Pro on livestream. I expect I could add another camera to talk to the pupil face-to-face. I would like to record some basic processes such as setting up a quilt so the participant can re-watch those sessions later. 

This week I hope to keep up with customer quilts, enjoy the better weather and take Nessie for a pre-summer hair-do. If I can also fit in some German practice and some sort of mini project, it will be a good week:)

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Business as Usual-ish

 This week felt almost like the old “normal”. I got 3 customer quilts done with all-over patterns and sent a box of quilts back to Frances in Cardiff.

I did a basic longarm lesson by phone for a new Q24 owner, just so she could have a little play before our official Zoom lesson. 

I have tried to keep on top of my online German courses. I have now reached the end of Babbel but hit a bit of a wall with Busuu as all of the grammar explanations are now in German and I haven’t a clue what is going on. I know a lot more German than when I started but would probably still speak German like a two-year old who knows a few big words. I could really do with a visit to Germany to get some proper practice.

It has rained and rained all week here. I think the jet stream is stuck and spring/summer is on hold. I had to order Nessie a waterproof jacket because she was getting muddy every time she went out. I cannot believe it is almost June weather-wise and indeed, where has 2021 actually gone so far...?

I still have no projects on the go, just dealing with day to day stuff and chipping away at a few customer quilts. I am painting Nella’s room one wall at a time so I don’t have to move all of the furniture at once. The room has very low ceilings so it is quite easy. The original ceiling paint is white and shiny, whereas the new paint is white and matt so it is obvious where I have missed bits. Still, anything is an improvement after 14 years of blu-tack and drawing pins have left their mark!

Sunday, 16 May 2021

A Good Week

 Freya has been home this week and it has made such a difference having her around. We had a trip to Rosemount in Aberdeen where we trawled a couple of charity shops, visited a niche houseplant shop and had coffee in a vegan cafe. Nella has become a little braver at going out for coffee and having a snack with her sister instead of just me. It is all a practice for venturing to Glasgow, where we hope to spend a couple of nights in Freya’s flat. In the charity shop I was sad to see a collection of pieces by a local textile tutor who died. It really made me think about what might happen to all my “stuff” when I am no longer around!

I was able to knuckle down and catch up with a few customer quilts while Nella and Freya did some sisterly things together. I have now completed all 6 of Frances’ colourful quilts. Normally she visits her sister in Aberdeen a couple of times a year and brings her quilts to me for DIY quilting but due to Covid she has sent them up from Wales in a big box instead.

I did a test Zoom call with a new Qmatic user, successfully sharing my computer screen and had the GoPro live-streaming a view of the quilt frame. This could be an absolute game changer for me as it could mean that I will not have to travel in order to teach the basics. What I need to do next is record some sessions so the pupil can re-watch them later. Despite having all the gear throughout last year, and the whole country doing Zoom quizzes,I had not got around to any Zoom lessons while Nella was so ill. 

I even entered Rainbow Warliors into FOQ which is scheduled to go ahead at the end of July. I had been putting it off as I had not come up with a blurb but in the end, the online entry form only allowed 130 characters which is only a couple of sentences. I have not achieved so much in one week in ages;)

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Mundane is Great


As I sit to write my weekly blog during this long Pandemic, I wonder what I have been up to all week. My life is not as busy and chaotic as it once was. I have not posted anything on social media for weeks. I don’t have any competition quilts under construction. 

BUT for the first time in 2 years Nella and I are enjoying going to the supermarket and having coffee in a cafe. She is still tormented by anorexia but seems far more positive about the future and is engaged with her recovery process. AND I am pretty content with such a slow life if the eventual outcome is normality for Nella.

Apart from our little outings this week, I have also managed to complete 2 customer quilts. The patterns I chose stitched out a bit slowly but I think they are worth it. I have half a dozen more quilts to do so if I get 2 done each week I will be “busy” until the summer.

After a whole year to get my act together with Technology, I have finally committed to giving a Zoom lesson to a Bernina longarm customer. I want to do the sessions using 2 cameras so I tried to do a dummy run before the actual lesson.Typically, the internet was not functioning in the workshop and the camera battery was flat so I am glad I decided to iron out the kinks before scheduling a real lesson. I seemed to have spent Lockdown buying cool recording equipment that I have not yet used so it is high time that I got  it all sorted;)

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Mini Milestones

 It may still feel like winter here but otherwise things are looking sunnier. Freya has been home for a visit for the first time since Christmas and Nella managed to order a drink in a cafe in Aberdeen!

We had a lovely few days just hanging out with each other and it gave Nella a boost to look forward to a trip to Glasgow.

I got 2 customer quilts done with simple all-over patterns, kept up with my German exercises and paid off my virtual mortgage in “Animal Crossing”. 

Apart from that - I am trying not to feel any guilt about the slower pace in my life and just concentrate on Nella’s recovery journey:)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Everyday Life

It’s all very well sitting on the sofa criticising contestants on the Sewing Bee on TV for making silly mistakes but if I was ever selected then I would definitely be sent home in the first week. I did eventually get my oversized wool dressing gown finished. It is probably too big in the shoulders, could be even roomier elsewhere, is not made quite according to the instructions but I think it is a success. It does not need to be tailored as a garment for taking Nessie for a pee in the garden first thing in the morning - it just needs to be warm and substantial. 

My lovely, new clicketty-clacketty keyboard arrived this week. This means that my new computer system is complete. I had to tidy up the many trailing cables and wires. According to Youtube I should now film a “productivity desk tour”. Apparently, people (myself included) watch that sort of thing.

I managed to get 3 customer quilts done this week. These days I am pleased if I can get a simple one done in a day and set up the next one. 

Nella and I have have decided that we need to schedule in little outings to ease ourselves back into real life and to give her a purpose. This week we went on jaunts to Aberdeen’s underwhelming IKEA hub, the open day for a new zero-waste shop in Banchory and a dog-walk in Duthie Park. Non-essential shops in Scotland re-open next week so we have planned a short trip into town to visit a couple of our favourites, hopefully making some small purchases to keep them open for business.