I flew down to London this week to be at the APQS technical training course in Surrey. Despite being "Europe's Oil Capital", Aberdeen airport is accessed via twisty country roads and it is decidedly compact compared to Terminal 5. I have been through Heathrow before but I had not actually tried to meet anyone there. I did not even occur to me that there would be more than one way out. Luckily, Yvette managed to phone me and find me! On arrival at her house I was delighted to be offered a large gin and introduced to Boris (Johnson) the golden retriever. Yvette dropped me off at Chris' studio for the class the next morning after ploughing through traffic hold-ups caused by school runs, commuters and roadworks. It was great to meet up with several APQS owners and to refresh my memory on machine servicing with experienced technician, Mark Caraher. After the class Yvette and I assisted him with major surgery on Ferret's hard working machine, replacing many of its moving parts. I joked that it would now be bionic and that she might have to "bond" with it all over again.
I spent the next day discussing the stand that Yvette and I will run together at FOQ 2011, she demonstrated the capabilities of her Intelliquilter system and we paid a visit to her shop in Horsley High Street, Woking called "Needle & Thread". It was encouraging to see several customers popping in for fabric, haberdashery and cards. There were a few simple quilts hanging up and I took a fancy to the Tanya Whelan collection and some other Fabric Freedom fat quarters. I decided that I will make Freya and Fenella a new bed quilt each using charm squares; maybe I will sneak a Featherweight into the car in the Easter holidays if I can wait that long before cutting it up. I think it is probably therapeutic to run up something easy now and again.
My flight home was delayed due to high winds in Scotland. In the end, the turbulence was not quite as bad as I expected but I was very relieved to arrive in Aberdeen. I had left the Landy at the airpark where they had warmed it up for my late arrival – it was like being met by a big, green, friendly dog with a waggy tail. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip down south but it felt great to be back home with bright stars overhead and virtually no other vehicles on the road. It looks like I have become a teuchter (Scots word for a country bumpkin).
I cut up fabric for a couple of so-called-simple Yurt panels involving circles. I wanted to run a wide bias binding around some 6" circles. I got extremely frustrated with the bias binding machine and even tried making the bias without it simply using the iron. Both methods kept missing an edge or crumpling everything. I watched several YouTube clips on bias binding making. I had cut the binding from a large square as shown in the Fons & Porter book. I think that the width of my strips must have been variable and certainly some fabrics co-operated better than others. I even got the gadget to behave eventually. Once I had made the wide bias, I then had to work out the circumference of my circle, add a bit for the end join and pin it into position by matching up some pinpoints. Explanations in books never seem to cover all of my questions. Should I use the outer circumference or an average midpoint so everything got covered properly? Should I use a tape measure or do calculations involving pi? In the end I seemed to get it all fudged in and pinned down without using any stupid pinpoints. I decided that a trapunto layer of wool wadding would help to bulk out any misfitting.
I experimented with the dyeing method that I use for yurt backs. I wondered if the dye would work at lower temperatures so I don't have to use the hot cycle of the washing machine which takes ages. I just filled a large bowl with hot water, salt and vinegar and let it soak in for a while. The colour was absorbed fine but it took so long to rinse that I'm not sure whether it all got "set" properly. I don't really need to wash yurt panels; there was a lot more effort involved in doing the dyeing by hand. I could have done with a mangle to squeeze out the excess water. I will definitely dye the new roof sections in the washing machine.
I have finally made some rough notes for Yurt Book projects and I will have to decide whether to include this one. I have to work out whether to attempt badly drawn diagrams or take lots of photos. I expect that many of my ramblings will have to be edited out since most patchwork books have to conform to a set number of pages. Perhaps it would be better to write a (quilt) recipe book instead as they seem to be pretty thick. In the meantime, perhaps I could produce some patterns to sell as it could be some time before the book is finished.