Sunday, 24 May 2015

Remind me... less can be more;)

After the vintage hexie quilt was sort-of squared up and bound I decided to quilt more simple wavy lines on the deer bargello quilt and give it to Nell’s Headmistress when she retires at the end of term. I love the simple texture of the soft waves - I have an Indian bedspread waiting to be quilted that might just get the same treatment. 

It was an oddly expectant week. Freya was waiting for the “execution” of the her Higher Maths exam which most of the 17 year olds in Scotland subsequently complained was grim. She revised hard for that exam and also had a tutor in recent weeks so my fingers are crossed that she managed to perform well enough to pass. I am waiting for the Bernina Q24 longarm machine to be delivered at any time so I tidied up my workshop and tried not to start any major, messy projects. 

I began a major reorganisation of my digital photos. I have no idea how many there are altogether but my Mac is storing 93GB worth of pictures! There were Yurt photos in dozens of different locations and also photos that had been transferred from my previous laptop. I still have a lot more sorting to do but hopefully it will be far easier to find them the next time I need to write an article or pattern.

I decided to have a crack at the waistcoat pattern that I bought from Cherrywood Fabrics in Paducah. I managed the patchwork aspect easily but as usual my “pattern dyslexia” challenged me. I almost wished that I had just quilted some fabric, then sewed it all together and finished it all off with a binding. The finished example at the show was stitched with a few simple, vertical lines but I don’t know whether they did that before or after assembly. 

Obviously, I let myself get carried away and spent almost 2 days stitching and couching onto my patchwork fabric before even cutting out my pattern pieces. I enjoyed using my Indian wood blocks from Colouricious to print the plain grey lining fabric with red, grey and black paint. 

After reading then ignoring some of the instructions I finally had the outside and inside pieces all joined together along curves with 5/8” seam allowances. To accommodate my bust, I made the XL size as per the instruction leaflet but after a quick try-on while it was just pinned together, I was concerned that it might too baggy. I am hopeful that it will all fit more neatly after it is finished, otherwise I may have to buy a big padded bra. Putting the waistcoat together looks a bit of a palaver as the lining has to be “posted” through the inside-out outer part in some mysterious way. I must remember to use a generous stitch length in case I need to take it all apart. Perhaps I can adjust the side seams? I was annoyed that my tailor’s dummy was too skinny even when fully expanded so I may have to look into getting a more curvaceous mannequin!

Freya, whose gold prom dress sits neatly on the skinny tailor’s dummy, strutted her stuff on the catwalk at the village hall, looking fabulous in a vintage mustard yellow jumpsuit with a fur coat at a Red Cross Shop charity fashion event. The second-hand outfits modelled were all pretty fantastic and the audience enjoyed the novelty of drinking cocktails from china teacups;)

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bunking Off

The tartan quilt top for the Bernina stand at FOQ is complete. I could not figure out why I seemed to have two spare sections but the mystery was solved when I tried to join the 3 main sections together and discovered that one side was too short because I had missed something out! It is a bit larger than I had planned because I had not included the side borders in my rough sketch. I am torn between wanting to do some variation of traditional Welsh whole cloth quilting or sticking to the tartan weave theme and only quilting with diagonal lines. I expect there will some sort of mash-up of those ideas when I get the new Bernina Q24 machine set up and ready to quilt.

I was pleased that “Bifrost Bridges” was awarded a Judge’s Merit ribbon at Malvern. At least it shows that the quilt is skilfully made even if if does not wow the judges with its design. It is the only suitable piece that I have available for FOQ this year and I will probably enter it but at this stage I don’t intend to enter it into any shows overseas since the shipping is too expensive for a quilt that does not appear to be a “contender”.

While I was waiting for the painfully slow internet to upload my quilting photos I decided to do a simple quilt from my basket. Although I have a couple of quilts that have been waiting their turn for ages, I chose the Paducah hexie quilt. It was extremely stretchy and seemed to have different numbers of hexagons or half hexagons on all 4 sides but it was big enough that it could afford to have a bit hacked off. I was just going to quilt soft, wavy horizontal lines but when I noticed that some of the piecing was coming adrift, I decided to turn the quilt once I reached the bottom and go back the other way as well. I am delighted with how good it looks with its curvy ¾” allover grid. It looks even better now that it has had a good wash so all I have left to do is trim it to a regular size then find it some binding.

I thoroughly enjoyed a 2 day workshop with Jamie Malden from Colouricious that was organised by the Aberdeen P&Q Group. We had plenty of space and light in a large workroom at Papeterie, a paper-craft shop at the paper mill near Dyce. I have not taken part in a workshop for ages and it was great fun just to play with Indian wood block stamps and stencils for two whole days. We produced several fabric samples using a combination of stamping, stencilling and mono-printing using Gelli plates. Jamie was enthusiastic and got us working at a great pace. I already had a few blocks and paints that I had bought at quilt shows but I had never experimented with them before. It was great to learn the techniques properly and to be told about the best paints to use. Printing with the wood blocks was simple and serendipity played a large part, making it a great craft that children would enjoy. I think it is fantastic that Colouricious  is able to provide work for 40 traditional Indian carpenters and their families because of its successful online shop and textile tours of India. I came away feeling inspired, with a few more paints and blocks that I can use on some of my leftover plain fabrics. I just need to decide what to make with my samples. It would be easy to get completely carried away and start creating dress fabric, T-shirts, scarves and lampshades. Perhaps I should start thinking about making some Christmas presents;)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Taking Stock

Once the emails were answered and bills paid, it was high time to get back into the studio and do some quilting. This could not begin before I had a minor tidying session, making space for some new thread, giving the longarm machine a little TLC and setting the Bernina 710 up for piecing with the dual-feed 97 patchwork foot and single-stitch plate. 

I had two main projects on the go; one of which was stitching out quilting examples to send to Bernina and to use as “warts-and-all” photos in my Ebook. Usually, a quilter will try to match thread carefully to blend with the fabric but in this case I need a high contrast for photos so dark brown thread on white fabric showed up every wobble. I did not especially enjoy this task because it was a sample but I really needed the practice, feeling rusty as it seems to be a while since I did any tricky, custom quilting. I may consider adding paint and fancy stitches to the practice piece when I have time - it could be cut it up to make bags or wallets. 

I am on the lookout for jumbo suitcases to ship the Yurt coverings to Paducah, although it may be cheaper to buy new holdalls considering what charity shops sell junk for in my area. I made some progress editing the long-unfinished descriptions of the Yurt panels. When my original book about the Yurt got sidelined I never got around to finishing off some of the “chapters” and I certainly did not write patterns for every panel. I would love to come up with a children’s story based around the Yurt but I can’t just scribble it down in a couple of days. Life is just too busy to shut myself up in an ivory tower to work on ALL of the things that I would like to create!

I puzzled over my sketchy drawings of the Tartan quilt and confused myself over its dimensions. One of the diagrams showed a border but the other one did not so that would account for the difference. I made 3 blocks then could not figure out why they were not all the same size. After a bit of a panic where I almost cut one of the blocks down to a smaller size, I realised that the middle row is actually narrower. Although I love shot cottons, I was reminded how tricky they can be as the loosely woven fabrics fray and warp easily. The blocks are even bigger than I imagined so the quilt top should be completed relatively quickly. I just need to decide on some simple (Ha-Ha!) but interesting quilting. After quilting up my photo samples, I was beginning to feel that my quilting might be in danger of getting stuck in a rut. I guess I need to spend less time thinking and more time drawing, sigh…

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Nashvegas and the Windy City

On Monday morning we were amazed that we could fill the hire-car up with petrol for $25! We drove a little way out to Gruhn’s Vintage Guitars where we marvelled at the pricey instruments. Since I could not afford upwards of $2000 for a resonator guitar, I chose the kids a selection of picks, stickers, gadgets and T-shirts instead. 

We decided that the best way to tour Nashville was by trolley bus. The guide told us a bit about some of the city’s famous musicians and landmarks. We slightly regretted that we had not done the tour shortly after arrival so we had a better idea of where everything was. I now wish we had decided to visit Music Hall of Fame but we simply ran out of time. The trolley bus dropped us off at the Marathon Motor Works which was meant to be a collection of artisan boutiques and a junk store but we thought it was just a little naff. 

Back on the trolley tour, our guide pointed out Taylor Swift’s 2-storey condo and Reba McIntyre’s personal recording studio with private helipad. We passed studios that had recorded artists including Elvis, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. 

We spent a little time in the tattoo shop, admiring the artwork and being a little surprised that a young couple favoured matching beer mug tattoos as their Nashville trip souvenir, rather than inked cowboy boots or a guitar.  

We joined Ellen at the HardRock Cafe for delicious cocktails before heading to Rippy’s Ribs for the worst, most artificial margarita ever in a plastic cup. The food was pretty good and we had a great view overlooking “Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge”, a purple building that has hosted many rising stars over the years. 

We had a last wander around Nashville then returned the car to the airport unscathed. Kay had a dramatic accident on the escalator with 2 suitcases and a backpack - it was one of those dreadful slow motion moments where you can’t believe what you are seeing. She toppled over backwards on the moving stairs until someone at the bottom had the sense to hit the emergency stop button. She reassured a policeman that she was fine, despite receiving a scraped arm and a bashed finger. We really should have taken an elevator to the next floor but for some reason just did not think it was necessary. That was a lesson learned the hard way!

We jumped into a shuttle bus at Chicago airport and listened in on the conversation between two passengers behind us. One was a no-nonsense woman from Alabama who had reluctantly left her two corgis at home to attend a conference. She quickly made her strong Republican views very clear and then we found out that she was a judge who made the decisions on whether people should be eligible for social security benefits. She declared that almost all cases were wholly undeserving then she went on to give two examples of ex soldiers with PDST who were clearly shirkers who could easily work for a living. I was astounded that she was so indiscreet inside a public vehicle. I wondered what a scoop it could have been if I was an undercover journalist…

The Acme Hotel on Ohio Street turned out to be very hip and it was ideally located a block away from Michigan Avenue. We ate at Pizzeria Uno, where they claim to have invented the Chicago deep pie pizza in 1943. The old fashioned restaurant was packed and the food was delicious. We even took leftover pizza back with us in a box in case we fancied eating it for breakfast. 

We did the sensible thing on Wednesday and took an open-top bus tour of the city. It was a good job that we had jackets as it was pretty breezy on the top deck. We almost had to duck as we passed under some very low bridges and girders. The Chicago architecture was amazing - there were all sorts of styles and ages of buildings. The tour took us down to Lake Michigan, past the sports stadia, many museums and Navy Pier. We only had time to RUN around the Art Institute which houses one of the largest French Impressionist collections in the world. 

We all agreed that Chicago has a very cool vibe and wished that we had arranged to stay  and explore for a couple of days longer. The Cloud Gate sculpture, otherwise known as The Bean was incredible. It is a huge polished-mirror edifice in which you can take strange photos of the skyline and the tourists. A large Dick Blick art shop was nearby so we felt obliged to see what arty items we could add to our suitcases. 

We took a very circuitous route around several blocks before supper, ending up almost where had started. “Eataly” is an enormous, chic Italian deli with several cafes and fresh produce counters inside. If we had stayed one night more I would have headed to “The Goat Tavern” which is apparently famous for its cheeseburgers and the infamous curse that a previous patron had placed upon The Chicago Cubs baseball team. 

On our final morning in Chicago we waited for the shops to open so we could browse quickly in a 7-storey Macy’s and other high-end stores. It seemed that the shop assistants had been recruited according to their high level of campness;) A nice chap with stubble,  painted eyebrows and lipstick assisted me in the cosmetics department. 

We arrived at the airport in good time but despite having checked-in online, we had to join a ridiculously long queue for the bag drop. Are Lingus made no announcements or explanations and we stood in that line for almost 3 hours. Their computerised booking system had failed which meant that all of the boarding passes would need to be hand-written. They seemed to be incredibly inefficient. When we were really bored we started timing how long it took to deal with each customer. It could take anywhere between 7 to 17 minutes to sort each one out. At the security gate we were told to return to the booking desk since we did not have the correct boarding passes but after giving some stern Paddington stares, we were allowed to proceed. The passengers were loaded on board where we continued to wait ages before take-off. To add insult to injury, the captain informed us that cabin crew would start serving drinks but only water and fruit juice was free of charge. There were  loud mutters that British Airways would not treat its travellers so scornfully. 

There was further chaos at Dublin as Aer Lingus attempted to rearrange flights for everybody who had missed their connections. The journey home by train went smoothly although it was a struggle to stay awake. It was nice to be home and tell the kids about my adventures but I must admit that I missed my afternoon cocktail, my travel buddies and not having to do any chores. I gave myself the weekend to unpack, sort photos and update the blog but next week I need to make new lists to get back to real life, pay bills and meet deadlines…

Paducah 2015

The trip began after I only just caught the Stirling train to meet up with Ellen and Kay. We set out early on Monday morning to get the flight for Dublin but were rerouted via London. It was a long 8 hour flight squashed between a rather large woman and a man who had taken his own food. I was happy not to interact with my fellow passengers and just watch movies. So much for my grand intentions to make quilt sketches...
We arrived at the Chicago hotel at the equivalent of 3 am then excitedly ordered a pizza from room service.
 Wide awake at 4.30am USA time, I made cups of tea before heading back to the airport to fly into Nashville. Ellen bravely drove the automatic car onto the 5 lane interstate and battled with honking trucks. We made a slight detour and had to ask for directions at a seedy loan shark joint but the guy was very helpful and printed us off a map. There was a brief thunder storm with impressive lightning as we drove into Paducah 2 hours later and found the beautiful Queen Anne style house that we would be staying in.

We dashed straight to the awards ceremony after going to the wrong venue first, just missing a downpour. It was great to see the show quilts on sneak preview night before it became crowded. There were many stunning quilts and some more everyday ones but all admirable in their own right. Kay was thrilled to have had two of her quilts juried into the show, "Flower of Scotland" and "The Horse". She met many friends and fans over the next few days. Our British accents were much admired and we picked up as many local phrases as we could to use in conversation later. I loved "Robber's Roost by Joanne Baeth, Oregon. Some of my favourites were not prize winners.  As a quilter, I felt both overwhelmed by the skill on display but I also felt that I could create equally valid work.

It was lovely to meet online friends and friends whom we had met at other shows.
Despite having had a long day, I still woke at 5am to make cups of tea, keen to get to downtown Paducah! I enjoyed a Jesse James breakfast at the Gold Rush Cafe despite the copious, weak coffee and then enjoyed rummaging in one of the amazing junk emporiums where Kay and I bought 1930's quilt tops for $40. This turned out to be a great bargain as there were similar flimsies for sale in town ranging from $150-$500!

The next mission was to view all of the quilts and vendors upstairs at the show and in The Pavilion. It was really busy and after a while I glazed over as everything seemed to blur together in a massive quilt overload. It was time to wander back into town for a refreshing craft beer, mosey around town then walk back to our house. Later we walked back into town for a pleasant supper at The Italian Grill wishing that we had been wearing a pedometer to see how far we had tramped. Despite wearing my comfy Docs, my feet were aching.
The next morning we breakfasted at another local diner before heading out to Hancocks. 
It was packed with bargain hunters but the bolts were arranged by manufacturer rather than theme or colour. Kay chose some very nice batiks and flannels but I was so overwhelmed by choice that I only purchased one jelly roll of solids and a box of pins. A quick trip to the liquor store allowed us to restock on wine, sniggering at Kinky mixers and Knob Creek Whiskey. After a dash around Hobby Craft looking for notions, the next stop was the Rotary Club to view antique hexagon quilts and pick up a little something from Cherrywood Fabrics.
After a reviving ginger lemonade and Elvis cookie we visited the National a quilt Museum. It is a purpose built museum with temperature controlled archives. A selection of American Quilt Society prize winning quilts was on display in spacious, well lit galleries. SAQA's "Food for Thought" exhibition was in one wing; old and modern 9-patch quilts were in the other wing.
I had an impromptu meeting with representatives from the AQS Museum, tourist board and the Mayor to discuss my offer of donating the Scottish Yurt to the City of Paducah. They were incredibly enthusiastic and spoke about how they could use the Yurt for a variety of festivals and educational projects. It was refreshing to meet such visionary people who are happy to commission their own wooden frame and pay for me to ship the coverings. We briefly discussed the possibility of publishing some sort of book and patterns to recreate the panels. I am delighted to have found such an appreciative foundation at last that will curate and celebrate the Quilted Yurt. It really is amazing where that project has led me...
 After a deserved glass of wine we headed back into town, meeting a couple of re-enactment Confederate soldiers. The lower ranked soldier advised me where to look for Moonshine. He told us in broad Kentuckian that he was "packin' a drum cos his friend couldn't carry it for himself". We enjoyed an excellent supper with live music at JP's and by the time we walked all the way home we were so exhausted we could barely move. We decide  that it was because we are so unaccustomed to pounding pavements.

There was so much to fit into our last day that I felt obliged to wake up at 5 am again.
We encountered a Mrs. Overall at the Gold Rush who sloshed coffee and gravy all over herself and unwary customers. It was our last opportunity to catch up with folk from APQS and other online friends, before buying thread and other last minute purchases.
We drove to Nashville, rather wishing that we had a Satnav to direct us. We were met by "Indian Elvis"  at the front desk of the hotel the headed into downtown Nashville, flashing with neon signs. There was loud live music everywhere, cowboy boot shops and plenty of hen/stag parties.

My gold boots matched the shiny satin decor at our more basic hotel. Before even reading a whole chapter of my book, I fell asleep.
On Saturday morning we has a slower start, watching marathon runners from our hotel window. I thought it would be quiet downstairs so I nipped down to fetch some breakfast in my PJ's and boots. I had not expected to enter a crowded elevator, walk past some cowboys then negotiate a buffet full of fully dressed people. I felt like trailer trash!
The town was already heaving with people at 10am live bands competed with each other to be the loudest. We wandered around for a while, stopped for a reviving beer then took in the Tennessee State Museum which taught us much about the American Civil War. There were even a few vintage quilts and a reproduction settler's cabin. It became hotter and hotter so we felt that it was necessary to stop and drink cocktails and people-watch at the Hard Rock Cafe for a couple of hours.
 Eventually, we managed to haul ourselves to our feet and make it to an elegant, old building that housed a Spaghetti Factory restaurant. Because we enjoyed such a huge supper, we felt able to walk back to the hotel on Music Circle. Our feet were absolutely throbbing by bedtime!
On Sunday we headed to Franklin, a small town outside Nashville. There was a tremendous crafts and music festival in the Main Street. We all managed to buy some handcrafted souvenirs and enjoyed a generous slice of pecan pie in Merridee's coffee shop.

We had to stop and check out the Joann's fabric store on the way back to Nashville;) Yet again, we felt that a couple of glasses of wine at the hotel was well deserved.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

50 Shades of Pink

I should never have trusted the other paint guy who insisted that the mixing formula for gloss would be the same as emulsion - the result is that I have a different shade of pink at one end of my painstakingly painted workshop. I am trying not to let it bother me but in certain light it is very different. I finished the garage door, drips and all and it looks fine, unless I look closely. Let’s hope that the next time I think the building needs a facelift, I seriously consider getting a professional painter in to do it for me;)

The extra time required to freehand inside the Burgoyne Surrounded customer quilt baptist fan rings was typically more than I anticipated but I think it looks good. All I have left to do is apply the 400” of binding! 

I have been doodling away trying to improve my drawing skills but I think the answer will probably be for me to quilt my designs onto white fabric with black thread and take high quality photos. I have so many different notebooks, pencils, apps and gadgets for sketching  - all I need now is an actual ability to draw.

I have packed my bags for my trip to the USA with Ellen and Kay. In the event that I may decide to buy fabric, I will leave my old pyjamas behind when I leave. There should also be a space left after we have drunk the wine and eaten the marmalade that I have stashed away. 

I am very excited to be going back to Paducah 7 years after my first visit so next week’s blog-post will be a Travelogue of the trip. I expect we will see a few nice quilts on the way…

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Less of a Luddite

Taking advantage of marvellous Easter weather, I seized the opportunity to repaint my workshop before the impetus left me for another year. It must be more than 10 years since it was first done using watered-down leftover paint from the house. I almost has a set-to with the chap in the paint shop who refused to mix my original shade in masonry paint because that option was not available on the computerised mixing system. After a great deal of persuading, he reluctantly agreed to “tell” the machine it was just mixing emulsion and all was well. 3 tins later on in the week, I had built up quite a rapport with the paint-mix guy and he would greet me with a cheery, “Bongo Jazz 5?” I did not enjoy the task of covering the workshop walls that have been pebble dashed with granite chips. It takes ages to get paint into all of the crevices, it is hard work on my hands, I get absolutely plastered with pink paint and I detest climbing ladders. The only reason I did not quite finish the job off was because the paint shop actually ran out of paint and it will be a whole week until they get more supplies. The job that was even worse than painting the walls was attempting to paint the metal garage door a different colour when the weather had turned considerably colder and windier. I abandoned the chore in disgust, leaving a partly painted door that will annoy me until I get another warm, still day. My husband has suggested that I should smooth down some of the streaks with fine sand-paper but that will not be happening…

I dragged the EQ7 guidebooks out and muddled my way through a basic design for my tartan quilt. It does not seem like a very user-friendly or intuitive design program to me but I managed to produce a slightly wobbly diagram in the end. The useful thing is that EQ7 can calculate the approximate amount of fabric required so I placed an order with Oakshott, assuming that the online images would be similar to the shades that I was after. I love the fabrics that are shot with a different shade the best but 3 solids were also required. Hopefully there will be plenty left over to make some cushions of the Tartan Quilt’s simple central block in all of the colour combinations;)

I keep trying to find a straightforward way of producing my quilting sketches in a computer format. I think what I am actually trying to do, without investing heavily in expensive software, is a form of digitising. I find drawing with a pencil pretty challenging so using a computer mouse is even worse. I had taken photos of my quilt sketches for my book but these were ordinary Jpegs with pixels. What I would really like are professional-looking vector drawings. Muddling my way through tedious Youtube tutorials I downloaded free open-sourced drawing software called Inkscape along with the Quartz operating system. I managed to convert a photo of a sketch into an SVG vector file! I still don’t know the difference between a parabola and a spline but I was impressed with my efforts - not bad for someone who loathed computers when they first appeared in my school and proudly achieved an “Ungraded” O-level in Electronics.

What I have not yet managed to master is how to edit designs in Quilt Path. I can resize the designs but I cannot alter their proportions. I wanted a simple all-over Baptist Fan design on a customer quilt. Before I had completed the quilt, I decided that the gaps between the arcs looked too wide so I think that some additional freehand quilting will be necessary. 

I was not originally planning to start that particular customer quilt and just work on a small bed runner for a boat bunk. However, it has now been added to the list of things to do before I pack for my trip to the USA in a week’s time. It is quite a long list, still the school holidays and I might also have to factor in some painting!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Keep Calm and Ceilidh On

Finally… I corrected all of the typos that I could find, tidied up the photo files, figured out how to print contact sheets, stuck hundreds of cut-out pictures onto my draft and SENT my Ebook off to the publisher!! The internet has been slow here so I sent it as a parcel of printed pages and a USB stick. No doubt there will be some redrafting to do and the video clips to add, but it felt satisfying yet peculiar to have “finished” the draft at last.

I phoned Yurtman to ask him about finding a sail-maker to sew a new cover for the garden yurt but to my relief, he offered to do it himself. We measured up and discussed modifications such as a perspex roof dome and a porch. I hope he can manage to fit this job in soon so the kids can start using it again as the nights get lighter. 

I quilted Ann’s “Storm at Sea” quilt with a simple allover design called “Ebb and Flow”. It looked very nice when done and this just proves that not every quilt needs customised quilting. 

I didn’t want to start anything complicated during the Easter holidays or just before I go on my USA trip so I decided to have a go at using a piece of wool tartan that Mo gave me to make another Merchant & Mills trapeze dress. I knew what I was doing this time around except that I still managed to sew the neck facing and one of the sleeves inside-out! It is NOT perfect by any means but it looks pretty good and is a super colour. I almost matched up all of the tartan lines except around the hem where they went a bit skew-whiffy. I may have to think about fixing that eventually.

Tartan is a far more complicated fabric than you might think at first glance. I decided to have a go at drafting a quilt from a wool tartan sample. Where the weave changes there are overlaps of thread colour so a 3-colour tartan can have at least 9 shades. I tried using tiny graph paper but I think I might be better off using several sheets of ½” squared paper. Really, I should be using EQ7…!

My new tartan frock had an outing at Freya’s Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Team ceilidh. The team themselves made up the band and they managed to sell more tickets than they had expected so they are well on their way to meeting their target for canoe-training expenses and equipment hire. The dance floor was packed all evening with no awkwardness such as there would be at a disco. It was great to see so many young folk in T-shirts, kilts and converse shoes or Docs. 

Nell had a starring role in her last ever school show at Durris Primary. She played a great Blousy Brown in “Bugsy Malone” and many people thought it was the best school show that they could remember. The backdrop and costumes were super and the kids had put a lot of effort into learning their lines and songs. Nell must get her dramatic talent from me - except that I have never been able to memorise any speech or song words accurately!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Some Editing At Last

I can’t claim that I completed all that I had hoped to achieve last week but I did get a lot done - I did not start an irrelevant project and I even decided on the design of the quilt that I plan to make for the Bernina stand at FOQ.

In addition, I had a Longarm pupil one day, assisted Ann to quilt 4 “Eye-Spy” quilts using Quilt Path and I quilted a shot-cottons customer quilt in EVERY single ditch then every horizontal and vertical line. It had to be done just like the example in the book, which was very time consuming. There was also meant to be a ribbon motif in all of the navy squares but my mind wandered and instead I quilted weird shapes that look rather like lips and tongues!

Despite all of these goings-on, I managed to get some editing done on the Ebook. I decided on a fairly low-tech method. I have checked for typos and marked them in pencil on the draft print-outs. I have cut out thumbnail sized pictures and I am going to sellotape each one next to the relevant paragraph. This means that I can keep documents and pictures separately on a USB stick, yet show my editor where they belong on a hard copy. We still need to film the how-to video clips but the end may actually be in sight at last! 

Once again, I was asked to upload a lot of pictures into Dropbox and share them but my internet connection struggled. It took almost 2 whole days and I wondered whether to go to the public library to get faster broadband. I tried to watch “Outlander” via streaming with my 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime but it dropped out and got stuck after 5 minutes. It is frustrating when the internet chugs along or fails to load when we have all come to expect instant searches, uploads, downloads and streaming. If I can’t get the internet to go any faster I may not continue with Prime after the free trial, although Amazon’s free, fast postage is handy. 

One thing I did not manage to do was measure up for a new Garden Yurt cover. It would be great to get that job done over Easter so we can enjoy using it again. I have just one week to make sketches and talk to sail makers if that is going to happen…

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Linzi in London

Leaving home very early, I flew to London to launch the Bernina Q24 longarm machine to the UK dealers. It is always exciting to experience the hustle and bustle of the Capital. I love travelling on the Tube, even during rush hour. I chuckled and thought of Paddington Bear when I read a sign on the Underground, “Dogs Must Be Carried”. I don’t suppose I would actually want to live there though. Driving a Landrover and avoiding pedestrians, bikes and London cabbies on all sides would provide an adrenalin rush every day. 

The Q24 boxes were delivered to the basement of The Hilton at Woburn Place and immediately the Technician and I started to assemble the frame. We took our time, having never done this before and located all of the bits and pieces correctly. After tidying up the packing boxes and hanging some quilts, the machine looked splendid in the middle of the room. The rollers are configured differently to my APQS machine so I was a little worried at first that I had got things back to front. All was well and the red fabric looked really enticing. The machine was switched on, threaded up and stitched beautifully without the need for any adjustments. I got to grips with the functions quickly - it is possible to programme personal preferences into the toggle switches on the handles depending on whether you are left or right handed. 

I gave 4 presentations on the Q24 with a brief demonstration and then offered a hands-on session to a large number of UK Bernina dealers. I was so involved that I forgot to take any photos! They were very impressed with the handling of the machine so hopefully it will make good sales in the UK. I am now waiting impatiently for the machine that is coming to my studio so I can make something to show off at FOQ. It probably will not arrive in time to make a competition quilt but I can at least make something to display on the Bernina stand. If there is not enough room then I think I need to make something to wear;)

I am definitely experiencing sewing withdrawal symptoms. Apart from constantly being asked what I am working on, I feel the need to have some sewing on the go. I deliberately decided not to start any major pieces while the Ebook reaches the final editing stages and up until now have preoccupied myself with sorting beads, updating endless paperwork and reorganising computer folders. However, I think I might cut some large pieces of linen just in case the fancy takes me to rustle up an everyday sort of quilt. 

I am irritated when the same items keep appearing on my To-Do List each week and really must do something about finishing those tasks. “Yurt canvas replacement” has been on there for months, I want to make a set of rip-stop nylon storage bags for the Totems and the overdue Ebook edits are beyond a joke. I took the printed draft to London to proof-read during the evening but brought it back to Scotland without having looked at it. The pages are now in a box file with scissors, pencil and sellotape so I will take it everywhere I go this week until I have read every line and checked the labels on every photo. I also have to fit in 2 quilting pupils and a customer quilt so I must try not to get distracted…