Sunday 21 July 2024

Who Wants to Buy My Stuff?

I am trying to sell all sorts of things on Facebook Marketplace. After some to-ing and fro-ing I have at least sold my caravan. This is both sad and a relief. I spent a lot of time and money doing it up but I have not used it at all this year and would only have gone on solo expeditions which I don’t think is as fun. The new owners want to go on occasional trips but mainly use it as a nail salon.

My second longarm machine is also up for sale because I don’t use really use it and could do with some extra space. The same goes for the electric piano! This house and my workshop is full of stuff that nobody uses and if I can make a little money from sales that would be a bonus. Except that nobody seems to be interested in any of my listings. 

Summer is going by in a bit of a grey blur with the occasional sunny day. I decided that I would try to finish the Tula Pink butterfly quilt to display on the Bernina longarm stand at FoQ but that means I have a week and a bit to quilt and bind it and I will have 2 days out of that in Glasgow this week as Fergus has his debut gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

I have basted the butterfly quilt on the frame, ready to start the complex digital quilting on Monday. I just hope everything fits correctly and fingers crossed, if necessary I can morph the designs to fit. 

Tuesday 16 July 2024

Not Summer in Norfolk


                                                 Late Summer in Norfolk, Sunlight After Rain - Ian Houston 1934-2021

I spent just over a week with family in Norfolk with very non summery weather. We did not do very much at all - we did not even go to the seaside! It was nice to see them but quite dull really;) I did not take a single photo or even make any amazing junk shop buys. The highlight of my week was attending a virtual speed awareness course after being caught on camera on my last trip, exceeding the motorway limit briefly. I decided not to drive all the way back North in one day so Nella and I stayed overnight with Fergus in Glasgow where it was far sunnier. It was nice to break the journey but because we arrived late on Monday night, I did not unpack the car or sort anything out so my working week won’t start until Wednesday and I will feel a bit short of time for the rest of the week until I “catch up”.

Sunday 7 July 2024

I probably will NOT get a job as a Van Driver;)


For 2 days I drove a big van around Glasgow helping Fergus and his pals move all of their belongings from the East End to the Southside. They were still shifting their beds from one top floor flat to another top floor flat after midnight. There was a fridge pickup in the middle of the evening after refuelling with a takeaway curry. The boys are delighted with the new digs which have been recently redecorated. Luckily, they are all respectful lads and will make an effort to keep it nice. I thought I was was a great van driver but would be unlikely to be employed in that role as I did not help move any furniture and had to get Fergus to do the parking;)

I did a little more piecing on the Tula Pink butterfly but most of my week was taken up with teaching longarm quilting in person and online. 

Freya came home to bring her tortoise on holiday so she can go trekking in Slovakia and inter-rail /backpack to a few European cities on the way. 

Nella and I have come down to Norfolk for the week which looks like it may be damp. I am regretting leaving Nessie’s raincoat behind. It took 11.5 hours which is longer than usual. It is really better to start off the journey in Glasgow but then it becomes a 2 day trip. I did not bring any craft projects with me - perhaps I will just watch some Youtube tutorials this week instead;)

Sunday 30 June 2024

Long Summer Work Days

Last Monday was a scorcher at 26 Celsius and I felt slightly guilty that my main activity of the day was spent inside on my computer, trying to sort out some messy digital quilt designs. It was only summer for one day because the rest of the week was half that temperature here in Scotland, which is OK for quilting. 

Nella went off to Glasgow to stay with Freya and spend time with Fergus so I felt that I could spend as much time in my workshop as I liked since we have such long, light evenings. I had a couple of Zoom teaching sessions and worked my way through 3 customer quilts.

While the machine was busy stitching I pieced together the blocks of the Tula Pink butterfly quilt into larger sections and completed 2 top wings. They are mirror images of each other and it is important not to get any pieces muddled up!

Sunday is being spent loading a van with Fergus’ stuff for his flat move on Monday. At least I am watching the van being loaded, staking my rights firmly as the Driver just to drive and not shift the gear;)

Sunday 23 June 2024

What is my Time worth?

The trouble with being a Maker is that I tend to think I can make something better or cheaper than buying something. For instance, I love linen bed sets but they are so expensive. I investigated buying wide linen to make Fergus a duvet set but it was at least £50.00 per metre just for plain colours which would not be as economical as purchasing a set. 

I went to a vintage shop this week and bought half a dozen old linen sheets for £30.00 altogether. I decided to washing machine dye them in different shades of green then tear them into strips and rejoin them with my overlocker. It took me about 3 days to dye the linen, cut it up and remake it into a reversible duvet cover, fitted sheet and 2 pillow cases. It was satisfying to do this but did not really make economic sense and if I am honest, did not make as nice a set if I had bought it in a really nice check. Perhaps I should have made something a bit more “patchwork” but that would have taken even longer!

At any rate, he thinks it looks nice - he is struggling with being away from home but I hope things will improve when he and his pals move into a new flat next week where he will have his own room, rather than dossing on their sofa. He has been going through a bit of an existential crisis, hating working in Cafe Nero. I hope he will find something more fun like an independent coffee shop when he moves from the East End into the Southside. He certainly had a confidence boost when King Tut’s in Glasgow booked his band for a newcomers’ session in mid July.

At the vintage shop I also bought a Turkish style rug for Freya’s flat for £40.00 which I thought was pretty reasonable.

I sent my pattern instructions and Youtube video to an experienced bag maker to look over. She came up trumps and made a pouch which looks great and said that the instructions and video were easy to follow which was my plan:)

The summer solstice this year was actually dry, which made a pleasant change and Nella took a lovely photo of a dramatic sunset. 

A customer quilt got done during the week. It was for a raffle so I kept the quilting simple and classic to suit all tastes and it turned out well.

Other than that, I did a Zoom teaching session, learned how to do a French seam (fitted sheet), got a puncture and made some sub-par shortbread (should have stuck to a classic recipe with a touch of ground rice). 

Sunday 16 June 2024

A Slow and Damp Summer Week


We had a pleasantly low-key and damp summer week here in N E Scotland. It was cold and I had to use my electric blanket at night. Freya was here to get her front teeth fitted at last then she worked from home for a couple of days while Nella crafted. 

Fergus sent a great photo of him with some pals at the Scotland vs. Germany football match in a Glasgow pub. He is very homesick but knows that he has to be in Glasgow to give his music career a decent shot. Hopefully he will feel better when he moves into a new flat next month and gets a room of his own.

I had a fun Elizabeth Hartman dinosaur quilt to do for a customer and I thought that the Monstera pattern worked well.

I uploaded a Youtube tutorial on how to make a stationery pouch with instructions. Hopefully I made it super easy to follow - I did make at least 4 prototypes in the end.

While the machine quilted lots of Swiss cheese plants, I bit the bullet and decided to get all of the dreaded curved piecing out of the way on the Tula Pink butterfly quilt. It was not all that bad with just a couple of dodgy seams overall. All I have left to do is a few straightforward blocks, then I have to try and get it all together without muddling up too many pieces!

Monday 10 June 2024

Five Go Mad in Devon


All 3 of my grown up children and Nessie came with me on a working holiday to Quilt Direct in Devon and we all had a wonderful time! I was so busy teaching and doing some filming that I did not take a single photo but the gang took lots of good ones on their travels  along the North and South coasts of Devon and Cornwall. I had a couple of days out with them to explore the area and enjoyed local delicacies, obviously! The weather was pretty good and we stayed in a delightful cottage in Tavistock, an historic stannary and market town on the edge of Dartmoor. It was quite a long way from Scotland but so worth it and I am sure we will do it again. It was wonderful that we all got along so well and all of us are keen to do more low key holidays with each other for as long as we can;)

Sunday 2 June 2024

I May Have Overpacked

I write this blog update from (so far) sunny Devon! I had a busy week - finishing off the now green chairs, trimming all of the Tula Pink butterfly HSTs to a uniform 2.5” square, filming how to make the stationery supplies pouch, under packing clothes and over packing on tech. My car was full on my way to Glasgow as I had a table and 4 chairs for Freya, one small dog and myself. After I finally got rid of the furniture at Freya’s new place on the Southside, I created a lot more space but had to put the seats back up.

Freya brought a medium sized backpack and her tortoise in a small box then very early on Saturday morning, we had to collect Fergus, who had been on a Glasgow subway pub crawl. When we finally woke him up he got in the car with another backpack and a guitar. We still had to collect Nella later from a small station in Cornwall with her suitcase! The journey down to Tavistock took just over 8 hours with both of my passengers sleeping most of the way. Freya was worn out after taking several days to move to her new flat and Fergus was sleeping off his epic night out.

I have rented a lovely little Duke of Bedford cottage (a Victorian social housing project) with its own garden which Nessie thinks is amazing, although she is not as impressed by the steep stairs inside. I am on a working “holiday” in Tavistock at Quilt Direct where I will be doing some tuition and videography this week. I will have Sunday and Wednesday off plus evenings, of course, and Fergus can drive the girls around or they can laze around if they prefer. I brought them a bag full of stationery supplies if they want to make scrap books. We are so happy to be together since the last time we all went on holiday together was with Bumble to Auchiltibuie in 2017. We hold that up as one of our most memorable holidays and so far the vibe of this trip feels similar:)

Sunday 26 May 2024

Chaotic Organisation


I like to think I am an organised person who puts things away so that they can easily found. I was determined to finish my ArtnStitch teaching slideshow but could not find the crucial USB stick with all the work I had done before amongst all my other USB sticks. Obviously, it should also have been backed up to a hard drive or the Cloud but it wasn’t. I searched high and low all day and looked on every single USB stick, thereby editing each one of those until I remembered that I took it to Norfolk with other tech in a green backpack. Phew - it was in a pocket! Now all of my USB sticks have been labelled with luggage tags and stored in a clear sandwich box.

I made art case prototype #4 to try and get the instructions spot-on. Each time I make it I work out a refinement. I have figured out how to make baggy pockets so the one I film for a Youtube tutorial will show that. I will not be offering alternative sizes - folk will have to work that out for themselves!

I have to confess that I own but do not use all sorts of cameras for my fantasy life as a travel vlogger. For ages I have coveted a drone but the one I wanted was very expensive because it had obstacle avoidance. This week a budget version of that drone was launched so I bought it and decided that I would just have to learn how to fly it without crashing. I took it for a tentative test-fly in my garden and realised that if you can avoid obstacles it is pretty easy. How much flying I will do remains to be seen but I think it will be fun to take on holiday.

I actually did some piecing on the Tula Pink butterfly quilt. I still think there are way too many pieces. I think I have worked out how to cheat at the Drunkards Path blocks so maybe I should tackle them next to get them out of the way. 

Freya is moving into a flat of her own next week so I offered her my pink ex-poo-brown chairs. They are lightweight Polish cafe chairs that I got in a junk shop years ago and were weirdly painted in hideous brown gloss. I have now painted them again in dark green chalk paint which took a liberal 4 coats. From a distance they look great but close up they would not win any painting technique competitions. I am delighted to get rid of furniture that I do not need. I could never be a minimalist!

Sunday 19 May 2024

Disconcerting Midweek Start

I was away at the start of the week, teaching and demoing at Barnyarns in NE Yorkshire. I had chosen to travel by train which was great because I could do some work on my laptop and read a book but not so convenient as having a car at the other end. The Premier Inn in which I was staying was a couple of miles out of town so nowhere to go out for food in the evening. The event was well attended by people keen to investigate purchasing a Q-Series machine or just curious or just tempted by Prosecco and M&S sandwiches;) It reminded me again that I really enjoy teaching people about the Bernina longarm machines. Unfortunately, I only took a photo of the folding table with one side down just to demonstrate how that works.

Starting my week here on a Wednesday was disconcerting. I had caught up with customer quilts before my trip so it became a bit of a busy but slightly off-piste few days. I took Nessie for a radical summer haircut. I was sad that she no longer had the classic Scottie haircut but she was full of knots and tangles despite my best efforts of daily brushing. 

I finally began the piecing for the Tula Pink butterfly quilt, starting with the easiest blocks. The Facebook group had made a big thing of using a scant ¼” seam so I used the straight stitch plate, #75 needle, 50 wt thread and foot 37D, with needle nudged a smidge to the right. I am a fairly accurate but not obsessive piecer so it will all just fit together somehow. I have already decided to do the Drunkards Path blocks differently because I don’t have enough fabric to waste messing it up. The pieces in this quilt are all ridiculously small and I don’t really have the patience for it!

Having drafted a pattern for an art supplies case on the train, I decided to have another go at one where the lining hides the zip. I have now made 3 and have used different materials and finishes on each one. The answer is to keep the lower zip band longer, do a “fitting” then cut it to size. I will have to make a video or step by step photos to be able to explain…

I thought that it was about time I took stock of  my travel journal supplies so I got them all out of the basket and made a short Youtube video. I definitely got carried away ordering stationery.

It was frustrating that I had wanted to make a video of the stationery hoard but none of the cameras were charged, ready to go. I have all of the gear, probably too much in fact. I pottered around for a whole day working out which camera setup to use and when. Now I have an overhead setup with far more lighting than you would imagine and I might even need to order another one. Cameras and lights need to suspend from arms or booms - if I use a tripod you can see the legs. If I leave the blinds open then the lighting changes if a cloud goes over. A microphone is essential otherwise the camera sound is tinny. I am going to type up all of my notes for the next time and make sure everything is all charged and set up beforehand!