Monday, September 29, 2008
Of course doing this much quilting is cutting into my time to play with the computer, so this site and my main website may not get updated as often. Sorry, but getting quilts back to my customers has to take priority. Although right now I think I am going to have an early night and try to see off this cold.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
To give me a bit of a break from the longarm I've been putting together a sample quilt. I managed to cut it out in about half an hour while I was waiting for a class at the shop on Thursday, and it is now ready for quilting. It's made from the "Turning Twenty - Just got better" book, and it is even quicker than the "Turning Twenty Again" which I love. Tet, who has been helping sell patterns at my talks, felt it was time for me to get samples from the other books. I have to admit he is right, but somehow it hadn't seemed urgent until someone else pointed it out. Strange how these things work isn't it. So here is the first of my samples from the other books. I am really pleased with it. The fabrics for the center of the quilt were pretty much the first 20 fat quarters I pulled from the batik display that the shop. I say pretty much as I did put one back, but other than that I just grabbed the 10 darkest and 10 of the lightest. It's a good illustration of how forgiving this pattern is. I don't think you could quite walk into the shop blindfolded, pick fabric and be guaranteed a good quilt, but I suspect even that would work out fairly often.
Also I can finally show you my Hever challenge quilt. I wasn't overly inspired by the fabrics but after they had sat on my desk for a few months I realised they reminded me of one of my screen savers. So that is what I did with them. I would like to try a similar design with circles instead of rectangles, but that is going to be such a pain to stitch, I keep putting it off.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Well I've had a few very hectic days and boy has a lot happened. On our last night in Scotland (Monday) we were taken on a tour of Aberdeen. I don't know about you but I do find it frustrating when you fly into a place but never see it. I seem to spend a lot of time saying, well I've been to X but I didn't actually get to look around, we just flew into the airport. I am so glad I did get to see Aberdeen. They aren't kidding about the amount of granite used, and personally I think it looks great. I can see that some might find it a bit grey and drab, but not me. I really liked how you find a whole row of very plain functional buildings followed by one that has every architectural feature they could think of. Ornate granite buildings are just amazing.
As our guide works in the oil industry he also showed us the harbour and the rig anchors. I am sure I can get a quilt from the docks, possibly several. I loved all the metalwork there. Especially at night when the lighting is really interesting. Obviously the light is intended to help the workers but some heads upwards illuminating cranes and storage tanks, and it is just so inspiring.
The flight home was largely uneventful, although I did enjoy seeing the South as we flew into Heathrow. There are some amazing buildings on they way in. I would have loved to take some pictures but sometimes other passengers get really concerned about someone with a camera, so I tend not to bother. It's a shame as you see some wonderful sights, but most of the time I can't be bothered to deal with people worrying about it.
As I mentioned we have been having a lot of computer troubles. So when Twisted Threads sent me the pictures from the awards I couldn't get at them. It's been very frustrating as I really did want to share. However, when you come how exhausted, what better time to sit at the computer and get photos sorted. Thanks tot Tet I can now share these with you. Now rather frustratingly the winners list, which I have to hand, doesn't tell you who the sponsors are, so I can't tell you. I will have to have a look for the show guide and see it that does. I can tell you that the lady with the black and white skirt is Beryl Cadman, who is the Gammill longarm sewing machine dealer. She sponsors the long arm quilting award. The other lady is the sponsor of the pictorial award and I believe it the editor of Quilt Mania. She is fascinating to talk to and introduced me to the European Art Quilt Foundation. Then I have to look very embarrassed, I can not think who sponsors the contemporary quilt award. Please do comment if you know as I can't find my show guide to look it up.
Yesterday I taught my first class of the new term. Well actually my first two classes of the new term. I now have groups Wednesday morning and afternoon. It went pretty well, although I will need to fine tune the change over. I had planned to start on sampler quilt book 2 with Wednesday morning, but they had things they wanted to finish, which was a blessing. Wednesday afternoon though, boy was that manic. They are so quick and lively, they are really going to keep me on my toes. Most of them have chosen to work on my round robin sampler, and in the first lesson they finished the first chapter. They are all ready to move on straight away next week. I am very glad I have this all ready to go, or I would be in trouble. I might see if they will let me take some pictures next week as their quilts all look very different to mine already. I find it fascinating how classes get their own style a well as the styles of the individuals.
Today I am pretty certain I will be starting the new book with my evening class. I've had several requests for requirements so I know they are keen. Hopefully they will like what I have planned for them. Tonight we will be starting with a Carpenters Wheel. It's a block I have been wanting to do for a very long time, so I have used it as the center piece of this quilt. I like to try and get one of my loves into each design they ask for, and so far it seems to have gone down well. I'll let you know later if it has worked out this time too.
Finally, I have to brag. I found out last night that I have won best machine workmanship in the traditional category of the world quilt show. I cannot begin to say how utterly thrilled I am. It is another award for Guide Me, which I still think is one of the best quilts I have ever made. I've been so disappointed by the response to it in this country, so it's successes in the US are even more important to me. The full list of winners is here.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I had a great group today they were very keen and worked amazingly quickly, with good results. I did get the impression I wore them out though as they drifted off quite early. Still they seemed to have a good time and really did achieve more than a lot of classes I've done. Perhaps the Scots are just a lot more efficient with their time. I am really hoping some of them will send me pictures of their finished work, as a lot of them managed to put a lot of personallity into their work. Bear in mind they were working with my designs and in many cases my kits, so managing to make a unique and characterful piece is quite an achievement.
As we got away earlier than expected we had a shopping oportunity. Milton Studio is a lovely quirky little shop. Actually thinking about it, I am not so sure about little, maybe compartmentalised would be more acurate. If you would like to take a look they do have a web site, www.miltonstudio.co.uk. Parts of the shop were originally used for storing two carts and as a hay loft, and the shop in split into different stock in these different areas. Next to the cart garage you have a selection of quilting fabrics and thread. Coming into the garage there is the till and lots of goodies, from chocolate and ice-cream to art and crafts made locally. Heading up the stairs there is a small gallery with more from local artists (they are good and the prices are very reasonable) then you head on up to the hayloft. I would know more about the history of the building but I got distracted at this point. The hayloft is full of knitting yarns, beads, embelishments, books and well generic goodies. I think it would have been a very expensive accident if I hadn't had to get all my purchases on a plane.
From here we went to meet up with Mo. She was our tour guide on Friday, and is very passionate about the area. She took us for a walk along the the river Dee. It is a very beautiful river. Stupidly I didn't take my phone with me, so I can't share a picture. Think a wide fast flowing river, occasional rocks, pines and bends. If you've seen a picture of a Scottish river, it's probably very similar. I realy have been spoilt for inspiration the last few days. I've been spoilt food wise too. My goodness do they do hospitality up here. Last night we were at a very fancy private club, with stunning and reasonably priced food, tonight Mo made us a traditional roast dinner. Traditional here (with chicken at least) is an oatmeal and onion dish, which hopefully someone will remind me of the name of. It was a big hit with Tet, so much so I suspect I will be finding out how to make it. I think I would like i but I need to find a sauce it will work with as I don't eat gravy and I think it wants something moist with it. It was good to have a chance to try something so obviously part of life here, yet new and exciting to us. Round off the meal with an apple and bramble crumble (with ice cream) and I am in heaven. Honest solid food, perfect.
Tomorrow is my last booking here, at Touched by Scotland. It will be intersting to see a different area as this gallery is a little further afield and in a direction we haven't been yet. Who knows what we will see tomorrow, or who we will meet? Whatever happens I am sure it will be fun and probably give me yet more inspiration for quilts.
The morning speaker was Barbara Weeks. She gave a very interesting presentation on what show categories a given quilt could fit into. The talk was illustrated with many well known pieces and was very infomative. I hadn't actually thought about the lack of entry forms for the Festival next year. Apparently this is because they are looking at making some changes, and I will be interested to see what they are when they send the forms out. She is a very interesting lady to talk to if you ever get the chance.
After a fabulous lunch (even Costso in Scotland have the idea of proper hospitality, I had thought th sandwichs for my opening were generous) we got ready for my talk. It was the most imposing venue I have spoken in. Good, but imposing. There is something about tiered seating that makes a place look more official. The talk seemed to go OK, but the audience was very quiet. It was a little unnerving until I was told this is normal for here. It was interesting to see how peoples reaction to me changed after the talk. Before hand most people had no idea who I was, and I think were a little confused by me lurking. Afterwards they could not have been more warm and welcoming. I only wish I could have brought them more quilts, as they so obviously enjoyed playing with them.
A very fast clear up was followed by a good amount of driving arround. First we delivered some ladies to the train station, then off to hunt highland cattle. We were successful. I think I have arround 100 photos, so hopefully I will have at least one I can quilt from.
Friday, September 12, 2008
After breakfast we were collected by Mo and delivered to Cowie. This is a small fishing village next to Stonehaven. We headed up the cliff with instructions to turn arround at the graveyard. After days of rain an gloom we were treated to a warm sunny morning, the best way to see the sea in my opinion. The Kirk is a ruin but very beautiful, perched on the top of the cliff. Hopefully I will have some good photos from it. Apparently the cliff is very fossil rich, but I didn't find any, we did find an amazingly black slug and some very pretty snails.
Now we are sitting in a very nice little cafe bar on the seafront.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The people are pretty amazing too, boy do they do hospitality. I couldn't have asked for more. Met as soon as we got off the plane, navigated arround the airport then deliverd to a lovely house. The longarm workshop and yurt didn't hurt any either. We got to meet some more natives over tea who have offered to take care of us tomnorrow. How cool is that? It's looking like a full day of castles, landscapes and extra shagy cows. Yes I am hunting more subject matter for quilts, who wouldn't in such a fabulous place.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
I'm finding I am more nervous about doing talks and teaching so far from home, than I have been about closer ones. I should say that close is a relative term but somehow this feels further. I guess it is to do with having to fly to get there. The daft thing is I am not sure why this should be any different to working closer to home. I will have to be a lot more selective about what I take with me, but I really aught to be able to do that. I don't know where I could puck up emergency supplies if I do forget something, but as I will be staying with a quilter, I can't imagine what I might need that I can't borrow. I can only assume this is one of those things where the human mind is not entirely helpful. Maybe this nagging (but irrational) doubt is why a lot of people don't like working further afield. I suspect that once I have done it and proved the voice wrong it will give up. I will let you know.
I guess I aught to get some sleep. Tomorrow I have to try and figure out how to write lesson plans without proper computers. I am sure I will figure out something, but it may not be elegant.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
This delay, and chatting to the very helpful friend kept me busy a lot longer than I had planned, so I haven't got all the borders on the quilt yet. However I have now got the last pieced border on which is all stars. I really like where this quilt is going. I am trying to decide the best way to transition from the patterned black area to plain black. I need the outermost border to be plain as I am going to put more applique on it and I want my work to be visible. I just think than going from one to the other might feel a bit jarring. On the other hand it worked well enough in the center. Sorry the picture isn't as clear as usual. I was working on my phone and I guess I was shaking more than I thought (and I suspect the background fabric is quite tricky to photograph as well). It looked OK on my phone, but not so great here. Still I am sure I will have my computer back soon and then I can put up a better picture. As yet if you need to get in touch please do phone me.
I had been going to reply to a couple of my Scottish students. Yes I do have kits and will be bringing them with me. if you search here for swan and rose (separately) you should come up with some pictures of the samples. Tropical Punch is one of the samples for the Touched By Scotland class.
I really should be working on samples for next terms lessons. I think I have come up with two new to me techniques which, if they work out, I will be able to share. Obviously I need to take time to play with them before I teach them. So many ideas, so little time.
The trip to Ikea turned out to have a quilty flavour. I managed to find a frame big enough for one of my prints (without needing a mortgage) and it turns out to be accomodating enough to take actual quilts. Large deep frames are generally too expensive for me to play with so I am very happy with this find. Also they have plastic containers with a hook designered to hang in the kitchen. They are 49p each and are very handy for scissors in my fabric room, and pens at the drawing board. They may also find a place at my new cutting table when I get that far.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
I guess without the computer to distract me, or indeed let me do any more paperwork, I can get on with sewing. I spent a lot of yesterday working on finishing the sample from my book. Maybe today I will get it done. At least I managed to check my quilts had arrived before it all went wrong.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I also delivered the last of the wedding quilts today. Another happy customer and hopefully another happy couple.