Sunday, 17 September 2023

Some Glasgow Adventures

 This week was rather busy as I got myself organised to teach 2 workshops in Glasgow. I had 3 customer quilts to complete, hand-outs to prepare and some samples to produce. I drew several examples of quilting designs and laminated them until my aged laminator decided to swallow some whole. I tried taking it apart but I decided it was a lost cause. I think in future I might actually stitch the examples as well for reference. 

I stopped in Dundee on the way to Glasgow to visit the Tartan Exhibition at the V&A. It was a really diverse collection and I am glad that I went. 

I taught a day’s workshop for the Glasgow Modern Quilt Group on domestic machine quilting, covering walking foot, free motion and ruler quilting. The participants said that they learned some good tips and enjoyed their time experimenting with the different techniques. I took some of my quilts along to show them off;)

When I was booked to teach 2 separate workshops in Glasgow, I thought it would save travel costs to stay in the city for a few days. I stayed in Freya’s flat but she was actually away camping so I had to entertain myself. I walked to the University and wandered around the Hunterian Museum which houses fossils and gruesome medical exhibits, amongst other artefacts. Next I visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery which houses amazing paintings and many different collections. There was a special Mary Quant exhibition and I had hoped to take photos for Nella but photography was banned and the guidebook was £30.00!

I fancied some lunch after all that culture so I found myself at a street-food warehouse called Dockyard Social, where I had a pick-n-mix of pakoras. 

It was raining on my long walk back to Freya’s flat near The Botanic Gardens and amazingly, I managed to find some curtain hooks in a wee shop, suitable to fix the hideous curtains that were clinging on by 2 hooks. I had an afternoon of hoovering and furniture shifting because obviously I could not just fix the offending curtains - I felt compelled to get stuck into the entire room while left to my own devices. Her flat mates came home just before I had finished but luckily they did not mind the changes and were glad that the curtains looked more respectable, even though I don’t think anyone should actually attempt to draw them!

Tomorrow I plan to visit a National Trust property on my way to stay with Ellen. Hopefully it won’t rain constantly and we will find interesting things to do. 

Sunday, 10 September 2023

No Biggie


After another epic drive north I spent the next day trying to get reorganised. My workshop could do with a big sort out but I am trying to remind myself that it does not all need to be done at once. Indeed, the universe does not even care whether I do it at all. I have a mega customer quilt to get done before I leave to teach 2 groups in Glasgow next week. It was frustrating that the Qmatic system kept stopping with an error message that there was a problem with the sewhead. On closer inspection, I discovered that the wiring sleeve was disintegrating through wear but I managed to fix it with insulting tape and have ordered some new parts. Tempting as it is to speed the quilting up on a big quilt, more haste gives less speed if something goes wrong. I am having to keep a close eye on this one as there is a lot of back-tracking and if there is a hiccup it can be tricky to find the right place to restart.

In the garden I picked another batch of blueberries and managed to find some non-waspy plums so even though the kids are all away I should make a crumble.

It would have been easy not to make the effort to drive almost 3 hours to Stirlingshire to attend a Scottie Dog meet-up but I am glad that I did. Nessie behaved impeccably and did not join in with the cacophony of barking. She won the waggiest tail competition and charmed the judges with her fairy wings, taking second place in best of show. 

I have picked up a forgotten project and while Qmatic stitches the customer quilt I am adding some more hand-stitching to my quilted coat. It is one of those projects that I could declare finished enough or just keep going ad-infinitum.

Sunday, 3 September 2023

Another 500 Miles


 On Wednesday last week I clocked up another 500+ miles driving down to Norfolk but without a caravan it seemed easy to get up some speed and drive for 10 hours. 

Just before we arrived in Norfolk there had been a summer thunderstorm - warm humid conditions were perfect for fungi and I spotted a fine specimen of Chicken of the Woods growing on a willow tree by the river. Freya was very impressed so I have put some in the freezer so I can take it home for her. When cooked it is firm and actually tastes like quite like chicken.

Since I joined the National Trust in the Peak District, we decided to visit Horsey Wind Pump which had been used for draining the marshes in the early twentieth century.

Years ago when I was a student I could not wait to pack up my Uni room and move into my 2nd year flat but Nella was happier just moving a couple of boxes every other day. I really wanted to buy her something nice for her privately rented student house but she was irritated by my interference and frequent texts from junk shops, wanting to organise everything by herself. Fergus and girlfriend, Ellie came to stay in Norfolk for a few days which was great but he and Nella lapsed back into a bit of sibling rivalry. Between them and my folks who have decided that they are “old”, I could do with some time to recharge my batteries. I plan to head back north on Wednesday and get stuck into a huge customer quilt and get ready for my forthcoming Glasgow workshops.

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Off Grid in the Peak District


I have been “off-grid” in the Peak District for a few days. Earlier this year I agreed to meet up with cousins who are hard-core caravaners. I was looking forward to it but also dreading it. Nella and I took 6 hours to get as far as Lockerbie, partly because I took an unnecessary detour. We stayed overnight in a farmer’s field and I was relieved that I did not have to unhitch. One of the most stressful aspects of towing a caravan is stopping - whether it is for fuel or the loo because you don’t know how tight the parking area will be unless you have been before. It took another 6 hours the next day to reach our hill top field  without electricity in Ilam. I do not drive above 50 mph when towing, the traffic was slow and the satnav took me on the most convoluted cross-country route up steep hills and around twisty bends on single-track roads. 

The Peak District is beautiful! The landscape is hilly and green because it seems to rain a lot. We had a lovely time with our cousins and went on a big walk around Hartington with them plus Freya, her boyfriend, George, and his family who are from the area. 

We visited a National Trust property called Quarrybank which is an 18th century cotton mill. It was a vast site and grimly fascinating. Two thirds of the workforce were unpaid children from the age of 8-21. They were recruited from far away workhouses (so they could not run away easily) and were fed and clothed minimally. The “apprentices” could earn a penny an hour if they worked beyond their 12 hour day. 60 girls slept in one dormitory and they bathed once a year. The factory owners were considered to be fairer than most from that time but really those children were treated like slaves. Of course, another reason that the factory owner was one of the richest men in England was that he was a slave owner with cotton and sugar plantations in the Caribbean. It was such an interesting place to visit and we spent the whole day immersed in the factory and its surrounding landscaped gardens. 

We decided to make for home in one long day as we needed a whole day to unpack and repack the car before driving down to Norfolk for Nella to start her 2nd year at Uni. Twelve hours towing a caravan is not ideal but I’m glad I did it before doing another 500 miles only 36 hours later!

Sunday, 20 August 2023

Another Busy August Week

My main mission for the week was to catch up with customer quilts that I had not done in the lead up to FoQ. I like to keep on top of them as I find having a queue of quilts a bit stressful!

True to my word, I have been making an effort to test out my cameras so I get to learn all of their features. It does not mean that I have necessarily made any decisions to trade any of them in but the exercise has been worthwhile to become more familiar with them. I have also tried sorting them into designated bags for which I made heat-pressed labels.

Nella and I had a big day out in Edinburgh by train. I don’t think I have ever been there at the height of Edinburgh Fringe Festival before and it was very busy. We had pre-booked to visit 2 exhibitions. I really enjoyed the Grayson Perry exhibition at the National Gallery. I had no idea that he had created some huge tapestries. They are designed using a computer then digitally woven in Belgium in a modern version of tapestry making. The ceramics and maps were also fascinating.

At the National Museum we saw a special exhibition called, “Beyond the Little Black Dress” and Nella was thrilled to see examples from some of her favourite designers. I particularly liked one that  looked as though it had been constructed from 3D leather boxes. I wonder how that could be done as a quilt?

Sunday, 13 August 2023

Post FoQ Reset


                                                                        Modest FoQ purchases

After all of the excitement of FoQ, this week was spent low-key pottering. Nella had also been away at Freya’s and visited her cousins in The New Forest. Every now and then I decide that my house and / or workshop has reached saturation point and has way too much “stuff”. I like to think that I am organised until I can’t find something. I know that I had some strong magnets which came out of a magnetic pin dish that smashed but I honestly don’t know whether I threw them out or whether I put them in a safe place. I have hunted for them high and low and realised that I need to have a bit of a reset. The problem is that although I need to get rid of some things, in the past I have been over zealous and got rid of things that I have wished I had not!

My current obsession is cameras… I started out with a biggish camera and a camera for snaps then I got a GoPro for making sewing videos. At some point I started watching techie Youtube videos about Action cameras or vlogging cameras and acquired a couple more and a few accessories. The issue is that that sometimes I can’t remember what the controls do and Nella still gets annoyed if I start filming in public so I don’t practise enough. My current mission is to take each one of my cameras out on a daily basis to familiarise myself with them and to decide if any of them should be sold. I jokingly told friends at FoQ that I was considering getting a drone camera which would be fun in theory but would I really use it?! I think I have now worked out what I really don’t need and started to tidy up the tangle of cables on my desk. 

                                                        Some pics taken during the week to test out cameras

It was nice that Freya came for a visit and we went for a wander with Nessie, picking edible mushrooms on the way. I wore long dungarees to avoid getting ticks from the bracken but I ended up too hot. It was a typical Scottish summer day in that the weather was unpredictably cool, hot, sunny and wet. 

I have a list of major upcoming things that I need to do which include making teaching samples for September, preparing for a caravan trip, getting Nella back to Uni and a new student house, becoming an “expert” in Art and Stitch, and doing more filming. There are minor things too that I must do before I forget and I jot them down on a sticky note as it is satisfying being able to cross them off at the end of the day, even if they are simple tasks like “brush Nessie”. 

When I went away last week I made a determined decision to leave my Nintendo Switch behind. I needed to break the unnecessary habit of maintaining my imaginary Animal Crossing island for up to an hour each day. I could be finishing the crazy quilted coat for instance;)

Sunday, 6 August 2023

Festival of Quilts UK 2023 - Quilt Left Behind!

 Well, Festival of Quilts 2023 has already been and gone! I arrived at lunchtime on Wednesday for set-up after an overnight stop in Glasgow. It takes quite a team effort to set up a longarm stand where we had 2 Bernina Q-Series frame machines and 6 sit-down machines. Things can be a bit fraught until everything is all sorted out. When you finally get dinner and a long awaited beverage you wonder if you will be able to get up bright and early the next day. Of course, you always do;)

Imagine my surprise the next day when people said they had been to look for my quilt in the show but it was not hanging where it should be. It had been moved to the Winners’ Wall! Readers will know that I always put my all into show quilts but it is fantastic when the judges recognise that effort. One of the judges was Linda Seward who is a legend in the quilt world for her expert books and columns in The Quilter. She awarded me a perfect score sheet and I could not actually believe it. I am so thrilled - what a comeback! Everyone was so complimentary and it was lovely to meet some long time readers of the blog. I had put an Apple AirTag into the quilt label and it was funny that Ehen I left the show my phone notified me that an item named Quilt had been left behind as it will go on to be displayed at shows in Harrogate, Dublin and Alexandra Palace.

The Bernina UK longarm team taught 16 one hour quilting classes. We had all been secretly dreading it since we are all stand-up frame quilters but I pretended to be an old fashioned school PE teacher. They would put on the tracksuit, blow the whistle and make everyone jog around the field without breaking into a sweat as they just had to stand and “supervise”. The sessions were not designed to turn out master quilters after one lesson. It was an opportunity to experience the machines, pick up tips and techniques, and have fun. 

As a team we also had fun during the show and afterwards, uploading our photos into a Barbie generator, having a pizza pyjama party, going out for a posh dinner and keeping each other going with good humour. 

I caught up with old friends and made some new ones. I love seeing everyone, even if I am teaching and only manage to wave. 

As per usual I brought a selection of cameras and whizzed around the show. I have not had time to see if any of the footage is any good. I will attempt to make a YouTube tour when I get home. I wish I had taken one of the small video cameras with the gimbal head as well as the novelty camera that films in 360 degrees that I am not entirely sure how to edit. The internet connection at the show and hotel has been poor so any short videos that I had hoped to upload got stuck so they may crop up after the event. 

I wore 3 new outfits at the show which was fun because at home I live in dungarees ALL of the time. Maybe I should just unpack then repack for the next event.

For months I have been putting various things off until after FOQ but now that is over I will actually have to get them done. I definitely hope to make more YouTube videos, even if they are just quick tips. I will always keep weekly blogging though - after 15 years how could I possibly stop?!