Thursday, January 29, 2009


It has been pointed out to me I have a rather entertaining pair of typos in the next (previous) post. I was going to edit it and fix them, but they seemed too funny to kill off. So "If you clock on the pictures you will get bugger images" should have read "If you click on the pictures you will get bigger images". It seems I can hit any key but the i :)

Customer Quilt

This is a quilt I finished a while ago, but that I really want to share. I had just watched Myrna Fickens DVD Just do it - Freehand Design. I had also spent a play day with a fellow longarm quilter. So my head was full of new ideas. I'd had this quilt a while waiting for it's backing to come in, and I had completely forgotten what the quilt looked like, so it was a surprise when I got it out.

Somehow I had been expecting a much simpler pattern so now I had to come up with something that would fit this quilt. It's a scrappy quilt and that inspired me, scrappy quilting. I know Myrna did say not to put all the patterns on one quilt, but why not on a scrap quilt. So that's what I did. If you clock on the pictures you will get bugger images and can see some of the patterns I used.

The thread is a bright variegated so it blends in and pops up quite randomly. All the stars are unquilted so they pop up from the background. I've used a continuous line pattern. I like this as it gives a similar feel to stitch in the ditch, but with a bit more interest. It is also a lot quicker to do so I can charge a lot less for it. It is especially good for stars as it somehow seems more starry to me.

In the background I think there is some of everything. The concentric circles was a new one for me. I've tried several of these echo type patterns and I don't like any of them. This one was unintentional and I love it. It's already appeared on a couple more quilts! Funny how these things happen isn't it.

The leaves with curly bits are very much from Myrna's DVD. I've looked at the little curls other quilters do and I hadn't thought that I was accurate enough to make them delicate. However with the confidence from Myrna I gave them a go. I was pleasantly surprised. I can do it. Also if I use my normal curls in with leaves they look good too.

Something else I tried for the first time here was a rolled fern. I've done quite a few curled feathers, but not any of my spiky ones. perhaps starting with one 2" in diameter is a bit odd, but it worked. It does show how well many quilting designs scale. I could imagine this one curl on a kingsize, it would look great.

So I hope you've enjoyed taking a close look at this quilt. I hope I will be able to take some full pictures of it once the binding is on. It will also be coming up as a class at Patchwork Corner, so if you fancy making your own keep and eye on their site.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The wanderers return

Nude with rope and guide me finally escaped US customs and made it home. They have obviously been well cared for on their tour of America. With them came Guide Me's new ribbon. It's very robust, well planned for a show with international entries. It's great to have them home and to be able to take them out to talks again. It also means I can retire the duplicate to my bed, well as soon as I bind it anyway.

Tax returns are like quilting

I teach quite a lot of machine quilting classes and it's become very clear that the biggest problem people have with quilting is other people. They've heard that quilting (the actual stitching three layers together bit) is hard, and boring. The tedious bit you have to do but wish you didn't. So my main job is to change that bit of programming in their head. I do tell students that getting started in quilting is a slight of mind trick. It's usually pretty successful. Most students leave vowing to quilt at least some of their quilts. OK they may all have different abilities and styles but they leave understanding that quilting isn't a big fearsome beast. Hopefully they will pass the message on and over time this glitch will be removed from quilters worldwide. I can dream right.

Anyway what does this have to do with tax? Quite a lot really. Every year I put off doing my tax return. In fairness it does come up in the middle of show season so time is tight, but I could do it in September easily enough. Yet I don't. Maybe that doesn't sound odd, after all we all know it's a real pain to do a tax return, or do we? Is it really that bad? Is it really bad at all? If I am honest I quite like doing it. OK the problems I had yesterday with their website weren't much fun. Being on hold for so long to report the fault wasn't the most exciting way to spend time either, but that was largely my fault (and that of many others I suspect) for leaving it till the last minute. The actual accounting and numbers though I really enjoy. I like having it done so I can review how my business is doing and knowing what I owe the tax man is good too. I don't have to worry about it once I know where I stand. So why don't I do it? I think it's because I know it is difficult. Yes I know it isn't, but everyone else knows it is and I seem to have bought the message. How embarrassing, caught by a dodgy message when I really should know better. I know there is a Heinlein quote along the lines of anything every one knows ain't so, I've read it several times and yet I still fall for it. Doh!

Beware the things we think we know.

Monday, January 26, 2009

An eventful day

I've managed to get my pattern for my new wholecloth together over the weekend and I am so desperate to get started on it. Sadly my machine has other ideas. It's having a strop. Quite an unusual one. It will sew perfectly with metallic thread but won't sew at all with masterpiece. I've had plans for a while to replace the hook assembly and this seemed as good a reason as any. A couple of hours later and a screwdriver to the face job done. Timed and new needle in place, it's exactly the same. Does this count as a good job? Well I replaced a major part with out doing any harm, and the old assembly does look like it has seen better days, but I had rather hoped this would have solved the masterpiece problem. I know I like machines with character, but I also like ones that do what I tell them when I tell them. I may just stick to customer quilts for a couple of weeks until it changes it's mind on thread again. I know it will, it always does. I did really want to get on with this quilt though....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Goodworth Clatford

As you can imagine my talks take me all over the place. Mostly to the back of beyond, just past the last habitation and often in the evening. This can make finding dinner tricky. So after a couple of talks where there was no chance to get a mean I thought I would leave extra early for last nights talk and stop on the motorway. Better an early dinner than no dinner. The plan might even have worked had not a chap in an Escort decided I would not be changing lanes and going into the services. No I don't know what he had against me, maybe he just doesn't like Capris.

Still that may have been for the best as there was a significant accident on the M3 and I spent well over and hour in mostly stationary traffic. Having left very early I arrived in Goodworth Clatford an hour before my talk so could go hunting a pub. Strangely for a quilting venue there was a sign indicating not one, but two pubs serving food. The first unfortunately was closed. This got me thinking, as it is a small village will the other pub either be closed or not serving food? Well the Clatford arms was open, but the kitchen didn't open until 6.30 too late for me. Still the chef wasn't going to have a stranger turn up at her door and go away hungry, so she got the kitchen up and running immediately for me. The stew she provided was stunning, and plentiful. The pub was also very friendly. Small village pubs can be a little uncomfortable as everyone in there knows each other, but not the Clatford Arms, I felt like I had been there for years by the time I left. More than I could have wished for, and it put me in exactly the right frame of mind for giving a talk.

Spratt and Winkle quilters were also very welcoming. Most quilt groups it has to be said are very friendly, but just sometimes you get a gem that really stands out. It's partly I think due to my quirks, I love being given a mug of coffee rather than a cup and saucer for example. I tend to loose the saucers and the cups seem terribly fragile. I arrived and although I was early I was met almost at once by the program secretary, who got the kettle on ASAP, fantastic. The hall was set up for me in very short order, and as each member arrived they offered to help. It's always appreciated even if I don't accept all the offers. My only concern was my introduction, it gave me a heck of a lot to live up to. Still the group seemed happy and there were some not only willing but fantastically directable helpers to pack away at the end. Again I think here I am looking for a group that fits my quirks. I often find English failing me when I try to give instructions so I need people who understand random words and waved hands. Whatever it is, Spratt and Winkle quilters have it. Of course this may just be a nice way of saying the are as barking as I am, but whatever, I had a great evening and I am looking forward to teaching them a workshop.

I have been meaning to post some pictures of what I have been working on. Unfortunately as it isn't essential to business or home life it isn't quite happening. I haven't forgotten though and will do my best to find some time to take pictures for this blog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ta da

Finally I can say what I am spending most of my time working on. I mentioned I am planning for a gallery show in 2009. Well it isn't just any show. It is for a gallery at the Festival of Quilts. I am hoping I can find other venues for it afterwards, but right now that will have to wait, I need to make quilts.

As you might expect, when offered large expanses of wall, I have big ideas. Who knows if I will be able to make them all, but I will have a darn good go. The dragster (yes it is a car, yes I did forget to post it) is hopefully going to be joined by a few more in the same vein. They are (for me) fairly small so I like the idea of having a few of them together. I have a few new ladies I would like to get done, the first of which is almost ready to become fabric. I am also working on the illustration form Cancertown, it's big, really big!

Now I am also looking for suggestions. Which quilts would you really like to see on display again? I am expecting to have room to hang some of my older work, and I would love to hang those that people really want to see. I do have some ideas as to which might be appreciated but you're the ones who know what you like.

I hope that this will be an amazing opportunity to display a large collection of my work, and to meet a lot of quilters. OK I know I will forget everyone's name (probably even my own) but it would be good to even briefly put faces to names. Also with the dollar so strong against the pound this might be a great time for some of you American quilters to come and sample the biggest quilt show in Europe.

The only downside is I may need to scale back on my quilting for customers. So if you do have work you would like me to do, please talk to me well before any deadlines you have. I will do my best to fit everything in but it will take planning and if I have a big art quilt on the frame I have to finish before I can remove it. So long as I know what is needed when I hope to be able to plan around this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Festival of Quilts - Viewers Choice

In Patchwork and Quilting Magazine this month there is the announcement that Ted Storm has won the viewers choice and the Festival of quilts. I can honestly say I am thrilled. Whilst I was really hoping Herd Mentality might have a chance, I did feel Ted had been short changed. So the viewers stepping in and putting it right is wonderful. Of all the quilts at the show Ted's was the one I most wish I had made and would most like to have taken home. If you didn't see 'Spring of Desire' you really missed a treat. It is a fantastic quilt which would only be possible with a lot of highly skilled hand work. The pictures really do not do it justice. Ted has a website, full of information about her quilts, the link will take you right to 'Spring of Desire". Well done Ted, it's an amazing quilt. Oh and it's not just that it's black that I love it so.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


As I mentioned a couple of days ago I've been trying to add a diary to my web site. It's brought home to me how much paperwork I now have, and how valuable it is to me. Bookings have just moved into their own file having grown rather thick (I now print out directions and notes when I get the booking form). What really struck me is how much I enjoy those groups who send me several communications over a period of time. I guess the best way to describe it is to say it feels safer. I take enough calls that I haven't got a hope of remembering who where or when, so having something repeated to me a few times really helps. As does the call a week before a booking. So if you are a booking secretary for a group, cursing the workload ( I can imagine how much work it is and I don't envy it) please pat yourself on the back and know your effort is appreciated.

This exercise has also taught me that I need to fill in a booking form of my own during the initial call, as otherwise I can't follow up when a booking for doesn't arrive. Doh! Why does hindsight have to be so good?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Perception of beauty

I was directed to this article from a mail lies I am on. It's long, very long, but well worth a read. It is about a rather unusual busker in a station. It says a lot about how we now live and what people value. Take time, smell the flowers and listen to the busker, you never know, they might be good. I can't say much more without spoiling it so, you'll just have to read it for yourself.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where, when and what.

I've started putting a listing of where I am teaching or speaking onto my web site. I am hoping it will be useful to my students and help with publicity for the groups who book me. So far January and February are up, but the rest is on it's way. Please do check your event is listed and if you would like me to include contact details for your group email me what you would like adding.

I also have a couple of free spaces on my weekly classes at Patchwork Corner. So if you would be able to come over to Hemel Hempstead once a week to join in the fun give the shop a call on (01442) 259000. We would love to meet you.

Special Bonus

I didn't notice last night (I think I was too excited) but another friend is in this month Popular Patchwork. Linzi a longarm quilter from Scotland has her quilt Botanica Kentickii on page 21. This is also part of the report on the Scottish Quilt Championship. How cool is that? Now was this just a cunning plan to make me phone people? Isn't that a bit drastic :) Yes I am still over the moon, but I have work to do, so back to the frame.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Oooh oooh ooooh

I am so thrilled. I made it onto a cover of a magazine. Well the title of the item about me did, and well, it's the first time I've made a cover at all so it's pretty thrilling. The February edition of Popular Patchwork has an article written by Tricia Revest. I am so chuffed with it. I still don't like this being photographed business, and I find being interviewed very stressful, but I think Tricia has done a very good job.

Oh and to top it off Sally managed to get her quilt in, not once, but twice. Well done Sally! It is her wholecloth 'Flying High', which was at the Scottish Quilt Championships. If I am reading it correctly it won the wholecloth award at the show. All in all a very good magazine to come home to.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Temporary email address

I now have a new temporary email address. It is I suspect that after posting it here it will get clogged with spam pretty quickly, but I am working on a more permanent solution. Hopefully this will mean that you will all be able to get in touch with me while we get email in house and remove our reliance on an ISP.

&*&$%#$#$# technology

I have had it with trying to communicate with people who aren't in the same room as me. I've known that my ISP has been a bit casual about email the last couple of weeks. It's a problem we are working on resolving. I didn't know know until tonight that it has been going on at least 3 months, and my email in both directions has been distinctly erratic. It would be a lot easier if it was all failing, because that is obvious, but when half arrives you assume it all has. Assume and you make and ass out of you and me, I know. So if you have emailed me and I haven't replied, either I have and it hasn't got back to you, or I haven't got your email. I will be sorting out a temporary email address and if you are feeling ignored (I am so sorry) please email that address and I will get back to you.

Having partly broken email is pretty bad, but I've found out today that Royal Mail have been letting me down too. I've been trying to do more by post as I thought it would be more reliable, ha ha ha. Post I sent in November is missing presumed gone. I am sure I have been putting it in post boxes not rubbish bins. Red with a slot and collection times is a post box still isn't it? So if you are expecting a letter from me and you aren't Judy (I have yours here) please let me know. If nothing else comments on here do get to me.

It seems the general rule is, if you haven't actually spoken to me either in person or on the phone assume I have no idea you've been trying too. Oh and if my number comes up as unknown please try again. BT don't seem to like me much either.

Frustrated, me? Yes! Anyone want to spend their time visiting everyone I need to communicate with? Poor pay but varied locations :)

PS. I had a lovely day playing with a friends longarm. I really have got stronger, I can now quilt one handed on other machines than mine. It may not sound like a big deal but I am thrilled. We each found some new patterns to do and I think she has actually managed to teach me how to do stars. I've had a real mental block with them but fingers crossed I have a way to do them now.