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!