Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Keeping a Ferret


I worked hard to get Jenni's Dresden Plate fans covered in small shells to tuck in all of the appliqué neatly. I cancelled putting the Yurt up in the forest for its outdoor photos because the weather forecast was awful but in the end Wednesday was glorious, just to remind me to look out of the window in future instead of searching the Met office on the ipad. Yurtman thinks he may be able to persuade a groundsman at one of the castles near where he lives to let us put the Yurt up somewhere scenic. It happens to be in the area where The Queen has her summer holidays...

The Loch Lomond Quilt Show ladies, Ruth and Patricia came to interview me for their forthcoming book on contemporary Scottish Quilters. We chatted for 3 hours about my quilting life, experience and inspiration. I expect I burbled on and will have said something controversial or daft. Luckily, Ruth left her tape recording pen at home (a clever gadget called a Pen Scribe that will upload spoken word and handwritten notes onto a computer) so maybe she won't have remembered all of my inane comments. I actually had great fun talking to them and it really started to make me think about my ideas and techniques. I have to submit a project for the book by the end of July so may write out instructions for a Yurt panel.

I had a flurry of washing bedding and sorting out spare beds ready for the weekend. On Friday morning I collected Janette from the airport, whizzed around Tesco, made coffee, then Tracy arrived and later Kay. We chatted away about quilting like we had known each other for ages even though we mostly communicate via email. I collected Ferret from the station early on Saturday morning as she had travelled up by sleeper train and we had plenty of time for breakfast before we were joined by Sue & Jenni and classes could officially start. The main class of the day concerned Feathers, some of which were informal. There was much doodling, discussion, demos and some hands on with my Millennium. There was non-stop sharing of information and experience. Ferret had brought a few of her fabulous quilts that featured feathers, including the leather pieces. We discussed ideas for quilting a variety of quilt tops and did a Yurt panel show & tell session. Supper was local produce at the Woodend Barn and Mo joined us later. We had fun marching the salt and pepper pots up and down the table demonstrating some Ceilidh dances. Ferret was excited at the prospect of sleeping in the garden Yurt after the heatwave in London and the South of England. We had actually lit the stove during the day to make sure it was all warm and dry and the weather had been great so it was really cosy.

On Sunday Tracy presented a comprehensive lesson on rulers and templates, attributing all of her excellent longarm teachers at MQX. We made use of the white-boards to draw out stars by sectioning off squares and circles. I had to demo the use of rulers even though I don't particularly have the patience for them and I managed not to be too cack-handed. We went on to show off the Quiltazoid and a few other useful gadgets and even discussed machine maintenance, threads and tension. By the time we came to talk about bindings I was becoming a bit vague and the other experts declared their methods easier than mine. However, I have tried the other ways and my way works for me so I'm sticking to it! I daresay we actually tried to cover too much general information. We could have worked in more detail in some areas so I will review what was taught and fine tune it for another time. I think we all learned something valuable from each other. Janette was very informative on the subject of small business taxes and book keeping. Ferret even rattled off a simple Yurt panel during the evening at maximum speed using her signature curls filler. She and Tracy gave me a jolly good talking to over the weekend about spending far too long on customer quilts and not charging enough. They were encouraging me to become more efficient so that I could make a bit more money to put back IN the bank. I did lie in bed and worry about having to quilt larger patterns. It is a bit like someone telling you to make your handwriting much, much bigger.

The whole weekend went very smoothly. It was relaxed and fun but a lot of teaching went on too. Everyone had a comfy bed and managed to operate the cranky old shower. It was agreed that being on site for the evening was much better as it meant that discussions and machine practice were unlimited. I had 2 bottles of very nice gin to sample – one from Shetland and Ferret brought me a bottle of Hendricks. We had large bars of Cadbury's Dairy Milk, good strong coffee, a spacious studio and plenty to do. Ferret and Tracy found some pleasing fabrics in Meg's Attic and Milton Studio on Monday morning. She was delighted to buy a box of Edinburgh Rock to take home in Banchory's old fashioned sweetie shop and I thought I would sample some boiled sweets called "Horehound" – a rather interesting flavour, like cough medicine. I am glad that everyone made it home safely and already have had favourable feedback so that I need to start planning a January event now so that people can look out for cheap flights or trains. All of the journeys were uneventful, the weather was very pleasant and I think a good time was had by all – Phew!

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