Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dr Jekyll and Mr DHL

Well who knows, my package won't be scanned again until it gets on a plane, so maybe my quilts will go to the show maybe they won't and there is nothing I can do about it. I did call DHL first thing this morning and was told my quilts were help by outbound customs who needed a VAT number. I am not VAT registered, I don't need to be so I told them this. I was then informed that my quilts would be going no where until I got a VAT number. They can't be returned to me or shipped out. It's OK though you can get a temporary VAT number before you register. Erm, NO! I cannot afford to be VAT registered right now. I don't have the turnover to need it and it would either bankrupt me or make me uncompetitive. Not good.

So I tried calling my account manager, but whilst she is in the office she isn't in, so can't talk to me. Hmm. I did tell the story to the person who answered the phone though, in the hope he might tell her given they sit very close to each other. Well about 10 minutes later I have another call from DHL asking for my VAT number, so again I explain I don't have one, no problem we just had to check your package will go out tonight. Now that is interesting. I asked the first person I spoke to why they hadn't bothered to get in touch when there was a problem with my package and I was told DHL doesn't operate a pro active service it is up to me to call and check (which I had yesterday as well) and now I do get a call.

Paranoia now kicks in and I decide to call exports to see if the customs paperwork has been done correctly for a temporary export. Yes it has I am assured. Great at least that part is working. Then 10 minutes later I get a call, "Could I have your VAT number please?" No I am STILL not VAT registered. OK not a problem and I hang up. Then it occurs to me, wouldn't that question come up when you do the paper work? Which was done before I called? Hmm, I am not sure I believe this.

I have also been told the package will not be delivered until at least Monday (at which point I said don't bother return it) and it will definitely arrive tomorrow (OK go ahead and ship it then). It is being processed, and it is being held. It has never had a problem, and it has been very difficult. All in all I have no idea what is happening except that by the time I can be sure it will be entirely too late to do anything.

No one in DHL seems to have a clue, well not the same clue anyway. I have 3 different procedures I have to follow for a temporary export. I have several versions of shipping time and even more versions of what my responsibilities are in making sure my package is shipped. I can't take this level of aggravation. So either I need another shipping company or I need to give up the idea of entering American shows. Does anyone know of a courier who actually understands the process of temporary export for small businesses or individuals?

Oh yes, yesterday I was told by a DHL telesales person that he had only had to do 1 temporary export in 12 years. So he couldn't be expected to know the process, and DHL did it so rarely they didn't need to have proper documentation to explain to customers how to do it. Maybe this is my problem, I need to find a company who do this on a regular basis. When I said that he did entirely change his tune saying DHL do this all the time. I have the choice, do I believe DHL staff routinely lie (then I don't want to deal with them) or that DHL don't have much experience of this kind of business (then I don't want to deal with them).

If anyone for DHL reads this and would like to explain what their policies are, how this process is supposed to work, and why so many staff seem to be confused about it, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Am I allowed to be stressed?

I checked the tracking number for my MQS quilts this morning and although the driver thought they would have been delivered today they showed as sitting in a warehouse in the East Midlands, this country. So I thought I would give DHL a call and just check on them, and see if there was a problem. Nope no problem they just missed their connection. They will definitely arrive tomorrow. OK so why are they still sitting in the same warehouse then with a later time? Maybe the tracking system is broken and they really have made it onto a plane to America, alternatively have they been lost in the warehouse and forgotten about. I really have got to find another courier, this is just silly. It's not as if they are even cheap, this is the best part of 200 GBP ($400) to ship the quilts, and it doesn't look like they will make it to the show. I can't even phone them until the morning. Keep your fingers crossed that the tracking system is broken and that the quilts really are on their way. Thanks


Well I got my MQS quilts off today, and I managed to pick up the quilt that was waiting for me at the shop. I did fancy getting on with quilting it tonight but life wasn't playing that game. Nor the type up patterns game, or indeed the fill in entry forms game. Still my friend isn't badly burned and the car didn't run out of petrol.

I have in new supplies of patterns for those of you who were waiting for them. I've sent out all the pre-orders today so hopefully they will be with you tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Not what we had in mind.

Ho hum. O2 have changed their mobile email in some way so I can't blog on the go. I am writing this on paper to type up at home (actually I am typing right now :). When I get home I will have to try and find out how to fix it so I will be able to blog from the NEC again this year.

We have been trying to race. I was fairly calm when I found out that we were supposed to have rain on Sunday. I have a lot of quilts that need hanging sleeves, a job I find very dull. Perfect for the rain during racing. I've found that by folding down one of the back seats in the Capri I can make quite a reasonable workspace, which is also fairly easy to keep clean a dry even in a very muddy field.

There was a shower on Friday during which I got most of a sleeve on to a bed quilt. This was fine as we also managed a good amount of racing (more would have been nice but still). The Ugly stick is now behaving fairly well and we were hopeful for the rest of the racing. Sunday however seemed to have other ideas. We have had pouring rain all day, at 15:06 they cancelled the racing for the day.

OK so I did get a lot done, but we had paid to race. It did also give us a rare chance to socialize with the rest of the team. A plan was made to meet for pizza and then go bowling, both close to our hotel, what could possibly go wrong. Well, as soon as we tried to pull out of the hotel car park there was an interesting squealing noise. Not a problem with torrential rain the fan belt had probably got wet, it would be a miracle if it wasn't wet. This was quickly followed by more crunchy squawks and we decided ti was time to stop. The fan belt had shredded itself and wrapped around the fan in the process. Great, still we had a spare and most of the tools we required, the next door garage kindle lent us a big torch and soon we were on our way again. It was funny that having left the track clean we now were oily and grimy. Still we were back on our way, but no not quite that simple, for some reason the car was running very rough and kept stalling on us. The hotel is on one side of a dual carriage way, to get back to it we needed to turn around twice, once pretty much at the pizza place. So we thought we might as well press on, if nothing else there would be other people there with transport to help us sort the car out. So we find the first roundabout and turn, then quickly find a traffic jam, someone had managed to drive into the wall at the side of the road, they were fine, but the traffic wasn't. It is exactly what you don't want with a sick plane. Bizarrely even with the set backs, we got there and had a good time. The car wanted it's timing adjusting and was then prepared to get us home. I even won the bowling, I can't remember the last time that happened.

I have had a cunning idea. I don't have a lot of space in my house and I have a lot of bed quilts. Some of the hotel rooms we stay in have a good amount of space around the bed. Are you seeing where this is going? Yup I have a plan to photograph a couple of quilts each time we rent a decent size room. My quilts are a bit big for the hotel beds but it is better than i could manage at home so I am pleased. It also means I am getting better value for money from the room. It does surprise me the range of rooms you get for very similar money. Size, quality of bathroom and toiletries vary enormously. The room this time was a good size, but no toiletries supplied at all. There was a vending machine in reception for you to buy anything you had forgotten. We couldn't figure out a way to get any heating in the room either. Still the quilts look OK, which is the important thing, and it is close to the track and all the local facilities. It also has an American Diner next door which I would like to try sometime.

So here are the pictures I took this time. The upper one is 'My Fat Quarter of Paradise'. As you can see it is a big quilt and doesn't really fit a double bed. Still I think it looks pretty good on the bed in the hotel. I like the way the neutral decor works with the quilts, very handy. I bet they didn't think of it when they planned the rooms.

The second quilt is 'Road to Mondrian', I have now bought the fabric for 'Road to Mondrian 2' but I don't know when I will have time to make it. I should say the room walls weren't actually that strong a colour, maybe it is something to do with the camera focusing on the quilts. These pictures also gave me another chance to play with my new flash. I think I need to spend a bit of time with it to get the best from it, but it does very nicely remove the shadow of my wide angle lens, which was a lot of my reason for wanting it.

Friday, May 25, 2007


It's another race weekend at Santa Pod. Most people are very keen for it not to rain as we can't race unless the track is completely dry. As ever the weather hasn't listened and we are having a long spell of drizzle. That really annoying rain that makes racing impossible, but really doesn't deserve to be called rain. It certainly won't do anything for water reserves. Still I have made use of the break to sit (something of a treat in itself) in the car and sew hanging sleeves on quilts. It's a tedious job which seems a lot more appealing when you are bored and trying to stay dry. The forecast is for more rain so I see a lot of hand sewing in my future.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Big quilts don't half eat binding don't they. I made up 22 fabric widths of piped binding, which took forever, but I figured it would be plenty for the two quilts I need to do. Well, it was enough for the quilts but not by a lot. It seemed such a mountain of binding, but after the first quilt it was barely a hill. I really didn't think I was going get away with it. On the bright side once you have made the binding it does go on fast and looks good. I love this binding. Although I don't really know what I should this type of binding. I had been calling it a Ricky Timms binding but since I have found a lot of other people have documents essentially the same technique. Anyone know how long this type of binding has been around. It has the piping attatched before you put it on the quilt, you sew it to the back of the quilt first and then wrap it around the front. The stitching to finish is hidden next to the piping, it's very neat. I'd love to know who actually did start it.


I'm hoping you guys might offer me some more points of view on my previous post. I didn't intend to offend people in offices, in fact re-reading I still hear what I was trying to say, for me the point is the bravery is in working the 9-5 not in giving it up. Seeing people still stuck there made me certain that I had made the right move, I can't live like that and really I don't think anyone should have to. So please comment, I'd love to hear other peoples views on this.

Self employed - safe steady job?

Having made the decision to leave the nice safe world of working for others you sometimes wonder if you have done the right thing. Usually days when there are bills but no work, they always focus attention on the lack of a regular pay cheque. Today was not one of those days. Today in fact was quite the opposite. I went up to my local quilt shop, to drop off some work and to pick up a couple of pieces of fabric I needed. While I was there I got to meet some interesting people who may be able to help me further my business,. It was all very friendly and relaxed though, not an office or conference room in sight.

On the way home I decided to catch up with a friend. This meant I needed to walk past one of those big open plan offices. All these people crammed together at little desks, looking so miserable. Lots of shirts and ties, and 'proper' office clothes. There were a couple of people in one corner who had managed to kick off their shoes, but they didn't look any happier. I watched the people chatting outside, then seeing their faces drop as the break came to an end and they had to go back to their desks. OK they are secure (ish at least) but then so are caged animals. It was both depressing and uplifting. It reassured me that I have made the right decision, I don't want to be caged in an office. I don't want to be doing pointless jobs for people who don't know what they have just asked for but think it might make them money. I certainly don't want to be working silly hours to make someone else into a millionaire.

I love what I do, OK there are days when I wonder where the next months bills will come from. There are days when I need to work 18 hours to get everything done, but at the end of the day I am doing it for my future not for someone I don't even know. People have told me how brave it is to start a business, nope I am just more scared of being stuck in a normal job.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nude with Rope - Close Ups

I know it has taken a while but finally here they are. The close up pictures of my 'Nude with Rope' who is getting closer and closer to being renamed rope with nude. I can't help it, I keep getting it that way round.
Here is a close up of her head and neck. In all the photos the lightest fabrics haven't come out too well but I thought overall people preferred the lighter images. You will just have to believe me there there are several shades of light blue ending in white for the brightest highlights.

Here is her stomach and leg. I am really pleased with this picture as there is more shape here than I realised. It's funny but when I am working on these I am thinking about the value of the areas more than what they are so I don't see a lot of the detail I am adding. I only start to think about what the shapes are when I come to the quilting. For example the fabric from her leg runs straight into the rope, but the quilting doesn't. I have outlined the contours of each as appropriate to the object.

A slightly wider angle to give you more of an idea where everything connects. I like the way she looks like she is looking into the light. Actually the quilt is lying on my quilt frame so I could get natural light from one end to try and show the quilting better. Funny how these things sometimes work out.

Finally some context for the leg close up. Hope that has satisfied some of your curiosity. I will be trying to get it into shows so hopefully you will be able to see it in person one day.


For the first time the rust monsters have defeated us. Kdu is beyond repair, economic or otherwise. The rust which didn't look too bad on first inspection (even by the experts) has turned out to be fatal. Sadly I do trust these guys to know what they are talking about and as fellow Capri enthusiasts they don't make this statement lightly. They are certain the body shell is beyond help, and I am equally certain the running gear is. That leaves us with wheels, suspension and an interior, very little else. They are planning on checking over the running gear tomorrow so see if they think it is worth transplanting to a new body shell, but I am pretty certain it isn't. I suppose nearly 300,000 miles isn't too bad, but she will be sorely missed.

After spending some time looking for pictures I realised why I can't find any. I had this car before I had a digital camera so the pictures will be on paper in a box. Doh! We think I have had this car about 8-9 years and I have done well over 100,000 miles in her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wow, how many distractions can one day bring?

I had a plan for today, I've got a to do list and everything. I knew it would be a slow start as I needed to go and retrieve my big industrial machine from FB-FX where I was working last week, but I cleverly took some hand sewing with me in case I needed to wait for someone to help me. I did wait and I did get quite a bit of sewing done, yay for me. Hauling the machine back to my storage unit gave me a chance to chat to my boss at FB-FX which was nice, I like the chance to get to know the people I work for. It is also interesting to have the chance to pick the brains of someone else who has not only set up their own business, but quite a strange business. The machine mission went well and I picked up not only my payment but contact details of several other peoople there, so far pretty good.

Home for lunch, and sending out lots of emails. I don't think I will ever get used to the amount of communication a business requires. I never understood why it takes people time to reply to email, I do now. It only takes a second for one, but when you need to send 10+ it really adds up and you have to start actually scheduling it. Still I cleared most of my backlog and called DHL to arrange the correct pre-alert for my MQS quilts. I have to email two separate people every time to make sure I don't get customs charges on my temporary exports. Still at least I know and I remembered to do it.

While I had been networking earlier in the day I had noticed I was out of business cards with me. The box at home turned out to be almost empty too, so back to the storage unit again. It isn't the closest or the cheapest unit but they are so good to deal with. They remember me and are friendly, it's worth a lot. So as I was buying yet more boxes (I am going to have to make a custom box for the rolled quilts going to MQS) I thought I would give him a couple of my pencils, which I collected at the same time as the card. He was pleased but said a gift deserves a gift and gave me two pens in exchange. See why I like them, real people.

Then back home for the world to go crazy. I just wanted to choose my new quilting threads, not too much to ask is it? The gas meter reader appeared, which requires me to clear my under stairs cupboard. Then the phone rang, before I could deal with that the door went again, my next set of Makower fabrics, I almost got the door shut before the phone went. Boy this is not the way to have a productive day. Still somehow it worked. The two phone calls meant I needed to go an check on a friend and I would have company to do it. The friend has managed to trip and do something nasty to his back so couldn't get to his phone or his computer and had been unable to contact anyone for over a week. So after checking he was OK, taking the mickey out of him and then buying him dinner I have finally made it back to my desk. I think I will leave quilting until tomorrow.

On the subject of quilting threads, I have been using a lot of Madeira Tanne 50 when I want matching thread for things like my nudes. They work beautifully, and I love the colours, but they only seem to come on small cops, about 1100m. I am dangerously close to running out of the dark blue I am using on the background of 'Nude with Rope'. I am pleased to find I can still get the threads though in this country at a reasonable price. However I have wholesale accounts for buying my business thread (which this is) and they don't offer this particular thread. If I swapped to using Superior Masterpiece it would work out a lot cheaper and I would have it in big cones, so less risk of running out, but I would need to buy the whole range of colours again. So to the question, do any of you use a 50 weight cotton thread for your quilting, in a large range of colours? If so which ones and where do you get it? Does anyone know if Madeira have a web site? I can't find one. I will check the next magazine that comes in as I am sure they advertise in all the American ones. I am so torn between sticking with the Tanne or moving over to the Masterpiece entirely. I do like Masterpiece very much and I often use it in my quilting now. I just don't keep the huge range of colours I need for the more arty work. I suppose having the big cones in lots of colours would make finding the perfect bobbin thread for customer quilts a lot easier too. Oh this is too complicated to decide at this time of night. I'll think about it tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What's on the frame?

For once I am sewing something I am allowed to show you all, so I will. It seems to have been forever since I was last able to do this. Those of you who have been reading a while will probably recognise this. It is 'Nude with a Rope', although I have come very close to renaming it 'Rope with Nude' given that seems to be what people see as more important. It has been up on my wall waiting for me to get back to it for some time now, and the wall is looking very bare without it. I think I may make a design/blocking board to cover the wall as I would only need to move one sofa to get access to most of the wall and I would be able to block pretty big quilts. We shall see.

Still back to this naked lady. I am quilting her with contour lines in about 6 shades of blue thread. I am mostly matching the thread to the fabric, but there are a couple of areas I felt needed fine tuning where I have used the thread to subtly shift the shade of the fabric. The background is getting very small Decandant Swirls in a slightly brighter thread than the background fabric. It is just lifting the fabric a little and hopefully taking the slightly drab edge off it. I haven't seen the back properly yet but I am hoping it will have a fairly clear image on it as I am matching the bobbin to the top thread.I'll let you know on that one.

I have realised that I need more bobbins urgently. My machine only really likes the aluminium ones and they seem to be quite hard to get. Hopefully APQS will give me a call back soon and be able to help. I just hope they don't send me another 50 steel ones, which is what has happened with each of my previous orders. I do use steel in the PQ1500 machines, but the Discovery really doesn't sew as well with them. I can use them if desperate but I would rather wind the thread off aluminum onto steel to free up an aluminium one to use. We shall see. I guess I should figure out what else I might want given there is a $5 handling charge for placing an order.

8 Random Things About Me

No me ego hasn't suddenly gone mad, I got sort of tagged by Penny, and it seemed to fit my last post pretty well. So here we go,
  1. I am having cheese on toast for lunch, while watching the news and typing this with one hand. Yes I am always multi-tasking, I get bored if I don't.
  2. I always get dressed before I start work but you might not be able to tell. I have quilting pajamas that I like to wear when working. These are not things I would wear to bed.

OH my......the Cutty Sark has been on fire. The report isn't working so I can't tell you the details. It looks horrible. What a great shame.

  1. I may be IT literate but I find GUI's very hard to work. In this case I can't figure out how to change the numbers easily so just add 2 from here on.
  2. My car has just been delivered to the 'vets'. Our cars are part of the family so they have Doctor Bob and the vets, Tickover. I am looking forward to having her back. I will have to think about getting some vinyl logos for her.
  3. I am planning quilts to be made this time next year already.
  4. I really like cows, and moo to any we drive past. However bulls do need treating with a little more respect.
  5. I live in a small terraced house, don't let the longarm fool you. It is a very tight fit in the house but it does fit. So anyone who tells you you need a big house is wrong. I would have to say a bigger house would help a lot.
  6. I like blue food and drink. I know it is supposed to be a colour that isn't appealing in food but not to me. If there is blue on offer I will probably go for it, unless it is bubblegum, I don't like any gum at all.
For those who don't know the Cutty Sark is a famous ship and a landmark in London. Have a look here. It sounds like they think they can save what is left and possibly rebuild her, but it will take some doing.

As Penny said I don't really like tagging people, but would someone like to step up and take a go, Dormouse, Kate, anyone fancy a go?

Meet the Ferret

OK, so having come back from a show I have decided it really is time to bite the bullet and show you what I look like. I would like to start by saying I really don't like having my picture taken, I never have, but Digital Eye did a great job so I have a few pictures I like. It's kinda odd actually, even though I like the pictures showing them to others is still at least as scary as public speaking. Still I do that so here goes.

So there you are. These are multi purpose pictures, the photographer needed them for part of her photography course and I have been meaning to put up a picture on here for a while. I have also been told that people prefer to see the artist before they buy art, so I aught to have a picture on my main web site as well. Maybe it will mean a sudden rush of quilt sales. As soon as I get this post up I will try and add a picture to my profile. Wish me luck.

OK, so I won't be adding the picture to my profile until I add it to my main site as the profile requires a URL for the picture not an upload. Sorry folks but I will get there eventually honest. Probably just before I move my blog if I know anything about how these things work out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Woo Hoo

I've just come back from giving a talk to Mead Quilters in Wheathampstead. I think I am finally getting into the sawing of this, or maybe being tired after doing a days work else where sops me getting so stressed. Either way I am told it went down well, for some reason I never seem to hear applause, don't know why. Still Robin is more on the ball and he was helping out again tonight.

I had to pack very quickly tonight, as I didn't have long between jobs. When I arrived at the hall and started sorting the quilts I was amazed how many I had. When they are all here I really do have a huge collection. It does mean that I am guaranteed to have plenty to talk about, even if I forget myself and talk too quickly. I suppose it is good I have at last found a job where speaking loudly is an advantage. The end of the talk is still quite scary, you answer questions then invite people up to see the quilts. Then wonder if they will, then panic as you are mobbed. It is amazing how fast quilters can move when they want to. I am sure they were all walking slower when they arrived.

Anyway I have another long day ahead and I really want to be on site a little early tomorrow so I had better go to bed. Tired but happy. Oh yes, I have placed an order for more Turning Twenty and Turning Twenty Again patterns. I think they should be here in a couple of weeks. If you want to order now would be a good time, I don't seem to have them in stock very long.

Monday, May 14, 2007


The sooner we get telepathy the better. I need to be able to see what is in other peoples minds when they want me to make things for them. It would also be handy to show them what I can see in my mind as problems with their ideas. I found out this morning that all the work I did last week is no good. Everything needs redrafting and re-making. Oh and of course they would like it done yesterday. Ho hum. I am going to be very busy this week.

I have managed to finish my sample though. I just hope I have time to photograph it at some point. I know I should do it now but I am too tired. I need a bath then I can go to bed. Looking forward to my talk tomorrow evening though. Hope I can find the Mead hall again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

digital photo printing.

How hard can it be? All I wanted was to print some pictures, OK quite a few pictures but still it shouldn't be too hard should it. I tried online, it was tight but I could get it done in the time scale I needed. Then you have to sign various agreements. I don't want to give away my copyright. Nor will I accept that however bad the print I can't return it. How about we might ship in 2 days or not but we won't even discuss it until 30 days after you place the order when we might print or give you a refund, our choice which. I did find two river where the contract wasn't too bad so I tried to upload my pictures. One told me I didn't have their prefered browser so I would be restricted in how speed and quantity. OK a bit harsh but I was getting desperate, I tried to upload. After three attempts I accepted this wasn't going to work. So try the other site with a decent contract. Same problem I can't upload my pictures.
Well I have used Jessops instant printing before and it was good if expensive I thought I would try one of their more cost effective options. Fist problem they can charge me for 1 hour service but it will be 4 hours to do. Ok not great but I can live with it we can watch the grand prix then collect them. We turn up and being a careful sort I check my pictures. They have all been cropped and are useless. We complain and are told we should have known that would happen it's our fault. He can prove we should have known and shows up on the upload machine that if we had pushed 2 apparently irrelevent buttons it would have shown the cropped image. We pointed out we don't normally push random buttons and suggested there should be some sort of note to tell people. This has been suggested before but apparently everyone knows already so there is no need. After much arguing we persuaded the manager to reprint if we set the images up the way he wanted so I set to work. After 15 minutes the manager informed up there was no guarantee what he would print the second time be there would be no refund on them. Oh and they wouldn't be printed for 24 hours and we would have to still pay for one hour service. I don't think so. Instead I am sitting here waiting for the instant booth to do it's thing. It is slow and costs more but it is reliable, except for the pictures it has lost. Nearly time to get them to open the machine for us. Only took another 2 hours. Who would have thought it could be so tricky?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Another New Experience

So that was scary. If we have offended anyone please don't hunt us down, we didn't mean it. Today Robin and I judged our first quilt show. Boy was it nerver wracking. I think if we get asked again I will insist they have a lower standard. It is far too hard when the quilts are all good. It was made even harder by being told we could only pick one quilt in each category, though we did persade them to let us pick two in the end.

I've read my judging sheets and I have studied guides on how to judge but it doesn't prepare you for the reality of having to do the job. I felt that it was important I could justify my choices, I know it always says the judges decision is final and implies it is untouchable but I wanted to feel I could defend it. We were asked to start with teh challenge category, this was actually the easiest, there were only 17 entries (pretty impressive for the size of group) and you could see all of them at the same time. It makes it a lot easier to compare and contrast. Narrowing the field to 6 wasn't too bad, then it got hard. I don't like the idea that judges are nit-picking but what do you do when they ar all of approximately the same level? Well you start looking at the small details, tails (front and back), fullness of bindings, corners of binding and the absolute detail of the challenge. It was very hard but we found a winner, and I realised that in some ways I am an ideal quilt judge, I don't remember names. So I have no idea who any of the quilts belong to, I don't even notice when I see the same name several times. I can at least be impartial from that point of view.

Next we tried the wallhanging category, that was far harder. There are entries all arround the hall, and you can't see many at any one time, so lots of walking about to compare and re-compare. Luckily it turned out our top two could both be seen at the same time, but it didn't help. They were so close, yet so different. Even more funny, we each changed our mind at the same time so we were consistantly backing opposite quilts. I can't even remember what finally decided us, just believe me it wasn't a walkover.

Finally the bed quilts, I knew these would be hard, but it was even worse than I had expected. Again it was hard to see many at any one time. By this time we had walked arround the whole show several times so we were in a better position to start making an informed choice on the next lap. Each quilt was a case of is it better than the last or the best we have seen so far. It worked, well it got us to half a dozen quilts again. In all we spent just over 2 hours judging this show of about 100 quilts. From talking to people there, some agreed some didn't, those who didn;t seemed to follow the logic we had used to make our decision, which I found very encouraging. I wish I could be there tomorrow when the viewers choice is announced. I would love to know what others liked most.

If I do any more judging I will take some little slips of paper with me. I would love to have been able to leave comments for a lot of the entries. The standard was very good, and there were a lot of wonderful little details that I think people might think we missed. We did look at the backs and yes we did appreciate the hidden details we found. I've heard it is difficult to say something positive about every quilt, but I can't say I found that to be the case at this show, maybe we just got very lucky. I would have loved to have been able to talk to the makers, the few we did meet were so friendly and understanding whether they won or not, I do like quilters.

We were treated to tea and cakes with Edith, as ever the cakes were great (quilters can and do bake). She was a fun and interesting lady to talk to. We then had time to mingle and look at the traders, I was very good and only bought a wooden iron, which is something I have wanted for a while. The we were escorted up to lunch. Oh my, I don';t think I will ever get used to being the guest of a quilting group, it is a wonderful experience but I do always feel like I am on the wrong side of it. I feel I should be doing the setting up and carrying things. Still it wasn't allowed, we sat down and waited for things to happen around us. What happened was a fantastic lunch, cold poached salmon and salad, wonderful. As you might expect if you've read anything else I've written about quilters, there was mountains of food, far more than we could possibly eat. There was even a desert to follow, cheesecake and pineapple. Very tasty. To round it off we were presented with thank you gifts, I have a basket of plants. I will be taking pictures of them and keeping them as potential inspiration for quilts.

To round off a very quilty day, we went to Patchwork Corner for my birthday shopping spree. As if I hadn't had to make enough difficult decisions today. I had to choose fabrics for my personal collection. It is a lot harder than it might sound. I don't often buy fabrics for personal use now so it is a big deal. I am far more likely to buy fabrics for a whole quilt now rather than buying on spec to add to the stash, it's strange how I have changed. Today's purchases will translate into two quilt tops, one in shades of blue batiks and one in Loni Rossi's new collection. I think I will add some of her past fabrics to it as well, and it will be a black red and gold quilt again. Of course I have no idea when I will get time to actually make either of them. I hope that I may make a pattern from the design I have for the blue one, so that might get done sooner rather than later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Review of Trentham Gardens Quilt Show

This months British Patchwork and Quilting has a review of the Trentham Garden show, Quilts in the Garden. I was thrilled to see there is a picture of 'Nudes Triptych' and they got my name right. OK it isn't a huge picture but I still get a kick out of seeing my work in a magazine. The review was nicely written too, I enjoy reading about where my quilts have been.

The best news in the article was the winner of the viewers choice, 'Wreck' by Diana Brockway. It was hung above mine at the NEC last year, and I loved it. I felt it should have won the pictorial category then, so this seems a well earned award. I guess I wasn't the only one who felt it deserved recognition. I would love to know why the judges disagree with us. I am also amused that I was competing with it again.

On the subject of judging, I will be at the Amwell Quilter Exhibition tomorrow to judge there. It's quite scary really, I mean what a responsibility. I will do my best, but I am quite sure people will disagree with my decisions. If you aren't busy tomorrow or Sunday do come along and have a look, I believe there will be in the region of 100 quilts on display. The show is at The Drill Hall, Amwell End, Ware. I don't have a postcode for it, sorry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Home at last, but still working

So what can I tell you. The weekend was a race meeting at Shakespeare County Raceway, it wasn't our most successful event. The car wasn't really up for playing and just as we got it working the rain started. When we gave up on the racing I drove to a friends house for the night, managing to get sunburn. Go figure it was raining just before we left the track and the journey only took 40 minutes. The rain and the early mornings did give me time to do some hand sewing. I took 5 quilts with me and finished 3 of them. I was pretty pleased with that. I also managed to knit most of a sock.

The following day (Tuesday) I was in a studio having my picture taken. Those who have known me a while will understand what a big deal that is. I don't like cameras being pointed at me. I never have, I think it is mostly a confidence issue. I have been told several times recently that I really need to get a picture of me for my web site, so it is something I have been thinking about. Then my friend was given the task of photographing someone who might become famous. Well that's easy to find isn't it. After she had spent a while trying to find someone I offered, I figure I might get to be well known among quilters so I sort of count, and I did need to get some pictures taken. It was a surprisingly good experience. Maybe the photographer knowing how much you hate the idea of having your picture taken helps, or maybe them knowing you well in general is the key. Either way I would actually consider doing it again now so that is progress. I've seen a few of the pictures and I even like some of them. It's very odd.

Wednesday was another early start and off to a customers site. I wish I could tell you what I have been sewing. I am thrilled to be working on it, but it has to remain a secret for now. Believe me it is harder for me that for you. I think I will be there for most of next week baring other off site bookings. It does mean I am unlikely to make it to the post office soon. Sorry folks. I am working very hard at home to make up time as I hadn't planned to have this large job. There is no way I am going to miss working on it though, so somehow I will get everything done.

I was thrilled to get home and find I had post yesterday. Beverly it is beautiful. I don;t think mine stands up too well in comparison, but I do hope you won't be disappointed. I will put up a picture of her postcard (yes quilted) as soon as I have time to photograph it. Oh yes I will say that the reason I need to get to the post office is mine are a bit bigger than cards. You know me, when I work small it doesn't fit a bed.

So now I am back to working on the sample of my latest pattern. I came home to a message telling me my next project will be with me soon too. It's great knowing that there are more things coming up, but boy it is getting tricky to schedule the show quilts in too.

Argh I know there are lots more things I want to say but I can't remember and I really must get back to work. I'll try and get another update on tomorrow.

A Spare Moment

So what do you do when you are waiting for the boss? Blog of course. Hope you hadn't thought I had forgotten you, I just haven't been at the computer much. I've got some fun work to do but it means being on a customer site.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Busy Busy

Well I think this counts as a good day, although checking my diary I have missed one thing I intended to do. I've made and applied a mountain of binding. I have been collecting quilts that need traditional black bindings, not intentionally it's just worked out that way. I calculated I needed about 1000" of binding, but looking at what I have left and the quilts that still need doing I think I underestimated somewhat. Still I have three quilts to take with me to the racing and hand sew. I do wish I could find a machine binding that looks as good as a traditional hand finished, but I can't, and some quilts really do demand this finish. On the other hand while pondering this I think I have come up with a new (to my knowledge at least) way of binding quilts. Hopefully I will get to test it tomorrow on my next urgent project.

I have also managed to make some hanging sleeves for these quilts. It is a job I hate, so I tend to leave it to the last possible minute. It usually ends up with me sitting with the quilt in it's box ready to go to the show, as I apply the sleeve. I know it would be easier if I thought about it when I was doing the binding but somehow I can never convince myself at the time. I have one more sleeve I want to make tomorrow so I can take that with me for another quilt to hand sew. I doubt I will get it all done, but I would hate to run out while I have the time to do it.

Some of today's work has been on my meme quilts. I have two ready for hand finishing and the third is still drying pinned out. I can't believe how long it is taking. Still I know it will be worth it and I think it will be dry in the morning. So my first job will be trimming and binding it. After that I have to dig out my flame retardant thread, I have a pocket to repair on Tet's race suit, and then I can get on with the new pattern I am working on. This is where I plan to try my new binding technique. If I am right it could be really good for quilts where you need to align the front and back. I guess I will find out soon enough.

Finally there is another photograph I want to share. I missed it when I went through the pictures yesterday. I was so pleased when I saw these on the horizon. There are at least thirty wind turbines off the coast. I am surprised they are not in the way of shipping, but I guess they are closer than I thought and the ships further away. Either way it is good to see green power being used, I hope they will add more turbines over time and thus generate more power. I assume that being at sea they will be exposed to more constant winds and thus produce more power than they would on land.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mayday Pictures

Here is a view of Leeds Castle from the old fortified Mill. The mill itself if fascinating. It is made of stone and somewhat ruined. I have lots of pictures of stone that I hope will lead to a quilt at some point. I think this was the best view of the castle we saw. It is possible to walk round the lake which would provide more great views but as we had a deadline to work to we passed on that yesterday. It is one of the things on my list for next time.
This Ibis was taking full advantage of his pond and having a through bath. Take a good look at the black feathers on his wings. They are sodden and and flicking upwards. I didn't get any pictures that really captured how soggy this bird was but this was the closest. I have seen a lot of birds bath but none got as wet as this. It was fascinating to watch and the sprays of water he created where beautiful.
I would have liked to have got a picture of the whole of the maze but the central mound didn't get you high enough to do that. Taking any pictures was hazardous as it was full of French school children running and pushing. The building in the background is part of the breading center for the aviary. Among other things they have baby Eagle owls (who are huge). Unfortunately they are behind two fences slightly offset from each other so getting pictures was out of the question. The weather vane of a black swan which are also bred here.
I chose to show you this picture to give some idea of what is going on with these kite surfers. As you can see they jump well clear of the water (in fact this one is pretty low) and then do flips, spins and board grabs before landing. It is very impressive to watch but in most of my pictures you can't really see how impressive it is. We were standing on a spit that at low tide goes out about a mile. It is a lovely walk and gives you a very different perspective on the sea and the coast.
Here you can see a surfer with his kite. You can probably see why it isn't in most of the pictures. I mainly focused on the human, and the water. I didn't realise I had another picture of the windsurfer in the background.


Here are the second batch of pictures from yesterday. If you are looking at this at just the wrong moment they may look like the first batch but give me a minute or two and it will all make sense.

First we have the Eagle Owl. Yes everybody else had a more interesting camera. Still you can see his amazing ear tufts (nothing to do with ears) and his wicked looking beak. He was very much driven by food, I just wish I had been close enough to see him eating.

Then came the falcon. Sorry but I was right, I didn't get any good pictures of him in flight he was just too fast and unpredictable. I suspect with practice I might manage it, but not on my first try. Here he is still wearing his hood, and it really was the only time to get a picture. Once the hood is off he is very lively and everything is interesting. Apparently as a hand reared bird he has only ever hunted one live animal. That was actually during a show when an magpie strayed into the arena. Don't look like dinner when he is around.

After these two great fliers we got to see something land based, though still pretty quick. Apparently it is related to ostrich and emu. It runs very much like an ostrich (and maybe an emu, I've never seen those run). It can jump remarkably high but is not keen on flying. It only flies to escape danger or to roost overnight. When it finds a snake it picks it up and slams it into the ground repeatedly. She is a keen hunter and as well as the more obvious prey she likes painted toenails. Yes, they do warn ladies not to let her see painted toes, strange huh.

After the falconry display we went and played in the Yew maze. It was interesting, and I will go back when I have more time. Having got to the center we went down into the underground grotto. In the first cavern there is this amazing face. It does look a bit bland in the picture, which I think is due to it being very dark down there and having to use a flash. This is one of the images I think will end up as a quilt. Maybe not entirely in this form, but it just has so much potential and has given me a lot of ideas.

Finally at the cost I took several pictures of the surfers with kites and this one of a 'proper' windsurfer. I am quite disappointed as on the camera I thought I had go the whole board in. On the other hand I still like it in general. I like that you can see how sunny it was and the wake of his board looks great. I know that shooting into the Sun is generally considered a fault but I wanted to get silhouettes of the men. this one is almost exactly what I was looking for. I am certain I will have quilts with elements of this picture in.

What a day?

Well I think I would have to call that a success. It has been warm and sunny ideal for wandering about outside (other than the slight sunburn I have). We found Leeds castle easily and discovered the tickets are valid for a year. As we knew we wouldn't have time to see everything this was very welcome news. I had decided that I had to see the under ground grotto and the falconry today. Next stroke of luck, they are right next to each other and to get to them you visit a lot of the other attractions on the way. As we had arrived a little early for the falconry we had a chance to explore the aviary. I hadn't seen a toucan before. They are great. The star though had to be the talking parrot. "Hello, oh look at that bird" followed by a selection of giggles. Wonderful. It chatted non stop in a selection of languages then started calling like the peacocks. Had it not been for the falconry we would have stayed listening I think.

The falconry demonstration started with an eagle owl who was definately playing to the crowd. He gazed at the nearest camera, much to the frustration of the handlers who wanted him to fly, but delightful for the crowd. I hope I have some nice pictures of him, I won't be sure until I get home, which may be some time the way the traffic isn't moving right now. He was followed by a peregrine falcon, who was amazingly beautiful and impossible to photograph in flight. I did try for a while but I am almost certain I failed. Sorry you will just have to go and see them yourselves. Finally there was a serema. It is a very strange bird that runs about and hunts snakes. Completely mad, but quite keen on having it's picture taken so watch this space.

To get to the underground grotto you must first solve the yew maze. I think this would be more fun with more time but played for a while then took advantage of the assistance from the people already there. The grotto was indeed worth solving the maze for. It is full of images of myth and magic, and being underground delightfully cool and dark. I have so many ideas for quilts from the grotto.

This left us just enough time for a leisurely walk back to the taking pictures all the way. I had worked out that to get to Canterbury in time we had to leave the castle by 3pm and we pretty much managed it. We also made it to Canterbury on time collecting some R clips on the way.

I have to admit my main reason for wanting to go to Canterbury was to buy fudge. I went to university there and the fudge had been a great treat. I was so upset when the Fudge Kitchen closed. Since it re-opened I have ordered online a few times but it isn't the same. I was thrilled to find that not only had it re-opened but it is in very nearly the same shop. It was just like old times.

From there we headed north to the coast. I love the sea and take any opportunity to walk by it. It was rather chilly but great fun. I saw (and photographed) somethingp new to me. Wind surfing with very large kites. I am sure it has a propper name but I haven't found it out yet. It is spectacular to watch. They are pretty quick in the water which is fun, but the really impressive part is the jumps. They can really get some height.

Oh as I thought I did get told off for working on my birthday. I found a fabric shop so I had to look. Then I found some pink fabric that should make great borders for the pink quilt so I had to buy it. Then I got talking to the shop owner and before you know it, it is a business conversation. At least I didn't get told off until I was out of the shop.

We are taking the scenic route home through London. Past the Tower, along the Thames, past Downing Street, and Big Ben's tower. We have just come past Buckingham Palace and are heading into all the embassies, and I think it is time to get this uploaded. I will try and get pictures up tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Well would you believe it?

I've never needed to do a bias binding. Isn't that weird? I've just had to stop and play with different ways of doing a bias binding for a quilt I am putting into Sandown. It is the first time I have actually bound a curved edge, which I hadn't realised until I went to cut the binding and I realised I had no idea how wide it should be or how it worked. It's been fun playing and learning something new. I wonder if I will always end up learning new things on show quilts.