Sunday, 30 October 2016

What a Hoot!

I had a house full of visitors this week and I entertained them with hot soup at a waterfall, visits to my local junkshops and a trip to the Bird of Prey Centre near Huntly. We were the only visitors right at the end of the tourist season so we had a great time pretending to be owl and eagle handlers. The birds are all hand-reared and some have even gone on to starring roles in Harry Potter films. I really think I should get a pet owl…;)

My 2 days in school had a Hallowe’en theme which involved some research, artwork and maths with a seasonal theme. The children scooped out pumpkins then made soup and roasted the seeds in the oven. They had a go at carving jack o’lantern faces or decorating them with glitter and feathers in a homage to “Day of the Dead” masks.

The weekend got off to a cracking start when Tania and I went to a tiny, wooden village hall to see 3 modern Scottish folk bands jam with each other. The next time they are on tour up here I will be the first to book tickets! Not only was the music fantastic but they were all great story-tellers - some funny, others tragic - explaining the inspiration for their tunes and songs.

It was time to do some serious catching up with customer quilts at the weekend, while Nell’s 13th birthday/Hallowe’en sleepover was going on. She had a delightful group of girls here in fancy dress and they organised all of their own entertainment. All I had to do was cook for them - I think they enjoyed their breakfast waffles:)

I managed to do a quilt binding, baste a shot-cottons quilt for a hand quilter (pity the stitches are half an inch long because it looks fantastic), and fit in a rush job using a digital pantograph and deal with/fix an unscheduled Windows restart right in the middle of the quilt. Theoretically I should have cleared the decks enough to start quilting “Shield Maiden” at last…

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Been Busy - Honest;)

I have absolutely no photos to prove that I have actually had a pretty busy week. Lots of things were ticked off on my list and I finished almost 3 out of 4 customer quilts then promptly received 3 more! I started and finished a quilt top that should have waited until everything else got done but once I got started I just wanted to finish it. There are deliberately no photos of it as it is a Christmas quilt for Freya at Uni;)

After 16 years of working with a progressively dysfunctional cooker, a new one arrived on Monday and we have watched in amazement as cakes rose without burning in a pristine oven that even lit up. As it has a shiny ceramic top I felt that it needed a quilted tartan cover, at least while it is new!

I printed out plenty of worksheets to keep my school class going until Christmas but my children were not impressed when they had to print their homework on green paper because I had used up all of the white. 

In fact, all sorts of admin got done and after some dithering over routes and prices, Ellen and I have now booked flights to Savannah for QuiltCon in February 2017. I am also excited at the prospect of teaching on a Bernina Q24 in Bavaria in April - I just need to work out which classes to offer:))

I will have family staying for a few days this week and sadly, the school holidays are over so I daresay another week will flash by in the relentless rush towards (sshh!!) … Christmas!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Keeping Busy During Wet School Holidays

It has rained almost constantly during the first week of the Tattie Holidays but my kids have kept themselves reasonable busy. There has been some baking, making, music and an unenthusiastic trip into town. Fergus even helped me to fix the spooky bathroom ceiling. He scraped off the loose bits, sanded off the flaky stuff, swept it up and helped me to paint, splashing even less than I did myself. It is not a very professional job but the bathroom no longer looks haunted. I paid Fergus for his efforts with a new crash cymbal so now he is actively seeking out jobs to do!

I got 2 customer quilts done using Quilt Path and have set up a custom job. My plan is to get all caught up so I can crack on with Shield Maiden after the holidays… 

I decided to give Nell the Drunkard’s Path quilt for her birthday which is on the 24th. As she loves Hallowe’en, I used sugar skull fabric for the backing and used the QP to quilt the “Charlotte’s Web” panto by Anne Bright. I could not decide which colour to go for with the binding - cactus green or magenta - so I used them both by inserting a skinny flange! Nell has only glimpsed the quilt in passing so I have warned her not to read my blog until after her birthday;)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Dealing with a Flawed Plan

I had the luxury of 2 whole days without any commitments in my studio so I managed to reverse applique the raw linen onto the woad wool shawl by using lots of pins, going very slowly, turning the piece gradually at the curves and using the walking foot. I am relieved now that all of the easily frayed linen is tucked under with no lumps. My “only” problem now will be how I should proceed with the quilting.

The Tuesday night quilters were visited by Mel’s friend, Lesley, who showed us how she creates bowls and baskets from cotton clothes line. It is incredible how much rope gets used up in one small bowl but they are so pleasing to look at and hold. I made one straight away the next morning then dyed it blue so it could act as a bread basket in my kitchen. It was quite an addictive process so I can see myself aimlessly sewing round in circles more often.

On Saturday Nell and I took the train to Edinburgh. She got off at the station in Leuchars to spend the day with Freya in St Andrews. They had a fun day wandering around meeting Freya’s new friends and having beans on toast in her student flat.

I met up with a fellow SAQA member, textile artist Michele Lasker. Michele had already spent a few days exploring Glasgow and London before group a tour of weavers on an Outlander inspired tour of Scotland. We had a lovely lunch at Brown’s Brasserie, discussing what we got up to in our studios then went for a wee mooch around the city. Michele creates multi-layered pieces from freeform knitting, felting and stitch - her website is vibrant and fascinating…

While I was in Edinburgh I dashed into John Lewis to buy yet another piece of black fabric to finish off the Drunkard’s Path quilt that begged to be finished off because it was so easy and pleasing to put together. It was not until I laid the blocks out to make the “snake-in-the-grass” border arrangement that I had planned that I realised there was a large FLAW in my plan. When I cut out another 64 units I continued to use half pink and half black blocks just like all of the others except that I should have made sure that all of the Pacman shapes should have been pink and all of the bite shaped pieces should have been black - oops! I wondered whether to have a pink snake down 2 sides and a black snake around the other 2 but eventually decided on quarter circles. I had to be really careful when I picked up the pieces to take them to the sewing machine in case I accidentally got them muddled up. The finished quilt top looks pretty cool and Fenella will be its recipient. I will probably just do utility quilting on this one but I wonder whether I will manage to make do with backing fabric in my stash or will I “need” to buy something that matches better?

I used a random number generator to choose which blog commenter would win a copy of John Kubiniec’s “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” book. I have emailed the winner so when she replies I can announce who that was;)

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Little by Little

It is not often that a customer gets muddled and does not turn up for a quilting session but when they do I am secretly delighted as it is like having an unexpected day off. I caught up with my paperwork then decided to make a giant Drunkard’s Path sample block that I would use for John Kubiniec’s Blog Hop to publicise his new book, “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path”. My blog-hop post will appear on Tuesday 4th October My sample block appears to have led to an entirely new, unanticipated quilt for which I have had to purchase additional fabric to make the groovy “snake in the grass” borders! This quilt will have to wait in a queue as I also worked on my Civil War tumblers quilt in between DIY customer bobbin changes then found myself ordering a batch of Scandi-Style Christmas fabrics in case I have time to run up a festive quilt for Freya at Uni!

I attached the freezer-paper template for Shield Maiden and sewed a heavy duty straight stitch all the way around. The linen looks like a crumpled mess when it is not actually on the ironing board and as you can see in the photos, there is not much to look at so far. The next challenge on a day without interruptions is to cut out the openings and hope it is actually possible to iron the raw edge of the stiff linen under to form a reverse appliqué edge.

I ran up some cute bags for the computer mice at school to stop them all getting tangled up together then decided to do the same in tartan for the iPad chargers. I have also reduced the size of the hanging pod pattern that I decided would look better as a small gourd than a melon but I have not made it as a prototype yet, reasoning that I had other more urgent things to do. However, I am looking forward to attending a mini workshop on washing-line baskets which I can imagine might become quite addictive…