Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quarter Jack quilters, Upton House

I have been trying to find time at home to post these pictures of last Sundays talk at Upton House, but I admit defeat so you will just have to see them in whatever order my phone decides on. Sorry. I think this has to be poshest venue I've spoken in. It is a magnificent house, if a very odd layout with strange shape rooms. Decorated it is very festive and has a lovely atmosphere. I haven't had a chance to reseach it's history but maybe google would help out if you are interested.

My talk was in the Drawing room in front of the magnificent fireplace. It meant I needed to come up with a new strategey for laying things out but we got there. Fortunately the group offered helpers to look after the quilts as my tables were very spread out, and they made me up a plate of afternoon tea before the food all disapeared. It was a very good party. The weather played with us at paking up time, pouring with rain until we got the vehicles loaded then stopping. Still a bit of rain doesn't really hurt does it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Worthing Patchworkers and van pictures

I hoped to get to blogging last night but a good dinner, gin and tomic then a warm bed won out. Worthing Patchworkers were a dream to work with. We arriced and we offered tables refreshements and help. They didn't take offence when we turned down all but the tables. As we set up they started bringing out food, and we started worrying. There was a lot of food for not many tables. Quilt groups really know how to[ cater, and they won Tet over by having lots of fruit juice.

It was another day when I got everything set up in time and could go and socialise, which really works well. We even got lunch. The whole day was low stress and easy, thank you so much for the patience while we packed. I do take a while toset up and pack, but I hope it's worth it. Having teased the chairman I have to mention her speach, it was fine if indeed short. Love the flamenco attention grabbing.

Folks have been asking for pictues of the new van so while we were unloading and loadin I took some. Excuse the mess I am still not totally moved in. At the back of the van there is a corner sofa. I use this as a storage area when I am doing talks. Every thing fits neatly in there and still leaves me access to the bathroom which is to the other side of the rear of the van. Then there is the wardrobe and central heating, I love the heating. In the middle of the van is the saloon with the table and chairs, my prefered spot to relax, I can sew or rad or anything else I fancy there. Next to that is the kitchen with the cooker, grill, oven, sink and fridge. It's nice beimng able to make tea without moving :) Finally over the cab is my bedroom. Yes it's high up and you have a ladder to get into bed, but it's warm and it's always ready to use. I know I am lazy and after a talk I wouldn't make up a bed, with this I don't have to I just get in, simple.

So there you are my new home, which currnetly is sat in a diveway in Dorset. Today is another Christmas party and another talk. At least I got a lie in, love the van.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Getting better

Well several groups will be pleased to know I am feeling a lot better than I was. I'm not 100% yet, but I'm functional (mostly). Thursday was hectic, and rather stupidly I forgot to take any pictures. On the other hand I would have been tempted to a picture of their loo (it was stunning) so maybe it is just as well. It was an early start as I was the before lunch speaker for a local group. Travelling at rush hour in London isn't much fun. The venue though is a very rural looking church hall. It's amazing how close the country is to the edge of town. I managed to get the new van there OK, it's not a lot bigger than the old van but it has a huge turning circle, so it is taking a bit of thought in small hall car parks. I am sure I will get it sorted soon.

I was lucky to be able to get into the hall in good time so by the time the members turned up I was unloaded, set up and ready to chat to the members. I don't often get enough time to do this and I really enjoyed it. I hope the group did too. The talk ran to time and I found a few great helpers who made sure I was packed and out on time. Perhaps the promise of lunch helped encourage them, it certainly smelled good. Sadly I couldn't stay as I had a class at 1.30 in Hemel Hempstead.

My regular classes are largely free form with students choosing their own projects to work on. This means I tend to get a mixture of very quiet lessons and manic ones. It just seems to work out that everyone needs help at the same time. typically the week I would have really liked a quiet class, I got a busy class. It was quiet fun though especially as one of the needy students was trimming up a top from one of my patterns to put on borders. The quilt she is making is "Where is the North Star?" a quilt I made some time ago for a theme category in the Quilts UK show.

Usually when you make a quilt the most work is in producing the blocks. The assembly is usually quite quick and easy by comparison. Like much of my work this quilt does things differently. You start by making the borders, they need the largest pieces of fabric for the border so it is safer to do them first. Then making the blocks is pretty simple and once you get into the swing of it quite quick. The work actually starts when you get to putting the blocks together. there are no rows and columns in the quilt all the blocks are put together using partial seams. It's not really hard but it is awkward and time consuming. Then comes the trimming. The blocks are all at an angle so you need to trim quite a lot off your top to get the right size for the borders, and you don't want to make any mistakes at that stage. Measure twice cut once? Not likely. I think we measured 4 or 5 times to be certain we had it right. It is looking stunning and I may have to get a picture of it soon.

While I have been ill I've spent more time on the computer than usual and I've been looking at quilt patterns. I've had a few inspirations for new patterns and I like to know they aren't already out an about. It is amazing how often two (or more) people think of the same thing at the same time. In my lessons I've come across some really terrible patterns but there are some good ones out there and even some free good patterns. I'd like to share a couple I think would be good for people to try. These are patterns that I think would be forgiving and at the same time help improve your piecing skills.

A lot of ladies struggle both with accurate cutting and 1/4" seams, so I am always on the look out for ways to cope with this but give you the chance to spot your issues. The first one that I spotted is Dueling Personalities, by Rebecca Silbaugh. The pattern talks about making two quilts but you don't need to make 2, just work with 20 fat quarters and off you go. It gives you a fair amount of cutting to do but don't let it put you off, the patterns talks you through it very nicely. I also like the way she makes her half square triangles, slightly over size then trimmed to perfection. All in all a lovely quilt and a great learning experience.

Another pattern I really like is Apple Crate by Angela. I like the fact that this quilt will give you a lot of scope for checking both your seam width and your pressing, but again will be quite forgiving. My only reservation is in using a jelly roll to make it. I think that you won't get a block A with matching rings from all jelly rolls. I think you need two strips of the same colour. Please check my logic as I am still not quite with it but as a quilt from yardage or fat quarters as suggested in the pattern it should be fantastic and quite quick.

The last quilt that caught my eye was this one. Birchbark Lodge by Stacey Carey. This is really a quilt for someone who either has their 1/4" seam down perfectly or who is confident changing some methods used in a pattern. For me I would also make it bigger, but I like big quilts. I love the pattern. It's got a traditional feel and it's scrappy. What is there not to like? It has some interesting ideas in it and I can't wait to have a go at this one.

Hopefully some of these will inspire you and you will forgive me for giving you somewhere to waste a lot of time. I think I need to head to bed. I've got an early start tomorrow for another Christmas Lunch. Worthing Patchworkers here I come.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Can anyone help me

When I taught in Middlesbrough recently I met a lady with a Brother sewing machine. I wanted to send her some bobbins so she gave me her address. You've guess my problem haven't you, I've lost it. I've now had a good enough look that I am confident I'm not going to find it. So please if anyone can put me in touch with her, or point her at me I would really appreciate it. A comment here or the contact button to the right will get a message to me. Have bobbins and a jiffy bag, I just need to know where they should be going.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

That was a very long week

When I know I have a lot of bookings in a row I really don't need to get ill. The universe generally seems to think it's the perfect time. Somewhere I picked up a cold, but I thought I was going to keep on top of it and I managed to pick up the new van and head over to Cambridgeshire. It was a bit daunting heading straight out to stay in an untested van but everything went well and the group were great. I hope at some point they will send me some pictures over. We worked on faux trapunto flowers for the workshop which went great guns until lunchtime :) After lunch things were a bit more laid back. What can I say, rural area with good food. Not only was my pack lunch fab (thank you so much for the piece of pie) the diner the night before was good too. I got very lucky and was staying with a motorhome owner. It might sound odd but if you haven't tried it you have no idea how much we love our homes on wheels and yes they really are homes. When I say I will stay in my van it isn't any hardship at all. In fact it is closer to being a treat. This particular household could even offer me electric hookup. Unfortunately not being familiar with the van I had to pass this time.

The next event was Art Quilts by Numbers at Patchwork Corner. That was a lot of fun. It had gone from undersubscribed to nearly full in the last week before the class and as I thought it would be a quiet class I had a couple of students doing the class for a second time. This means people trying other techniques and ideas which I hope makes for a more exciting class for everyone. It makes for more work too, but that wouldn't normally be a problem, when ill, it's not ideal.

Since then I've mostly been ill. I've managed to get a few customer quilts done, the rest needed for Christmas will be done ASAP.  I actually had to cancel a regular teaching day, which  is rare but if I can't breathe or think I'm not much use as a teacher (or driver). Today is the first day when I have felt able to string words together that might make sense. I have managed to do some design work, I can colour in squares when ill, although the maths is a bit interesting and I am now largely redesigning the quilt.  I'll probably be a bit quiet again till Thursday as I have a lot of paperwork and quilting to catch up with but then I will be taking the van for a better trial. I have 3 Christmas event s over 4 days. I can't wait. The van is now clean tidy and loaded up ready to go. We just need to get the gas cylinders changed from butane to propane and I am ready to hit the road. Of course that is proving to be one of those simple jobs that is a lot harder to actually do. Although the new van uses much bigger cylinders than the old one did, they are still too small for our local suppliers. I know we will find some it's just a matter of time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mead quilters, start of a long week

The picture today is from my talk on Tuesday night at Mead Quilters. This is one of the groups local to Patchwork Corner so full of ladies I know and work with. Having been to them before I was desperate to show them something new and I had a particular somthing in mind, the new wholecloth. Of course that meant I needed to finish it. I thought I would get it done over the weekend but other things had to be done and by Monday I was worried. Monday night I admitted defeat. Then I realised the van was pretty much loaded, and the talk was fairly close to home. Back to quilting. I had about 10 minutes to spare but the quilt came with me. One of my friends even held it for me during the talk so I got to see it as well.

As I said this was the start of a long week. Wednesday and Thursday were regular classes which pretty much fill the day. Today I'm heading north to collect a new to me motorhome. When I get back tonight. I will probably be preparing it for the weekend when I am giving a talk in Cambridgeshire followed by a workshop on Sunday. Monday is seeing a supplier then Tuesday-Thursday I am at Patchwork Corner teaching again. I'm hoping to fit some customer quilting in around that lot somehow. Tuesday is good news, I will be teaching Art Quilts by Numbers, and last week I ws sure it wouldn't go ahead, then suddenly it's almost full! Cool, it's a fun class and one of the repeat students is doing something a little different and very exciting. I hope I will be able to share a picture or two.

I've also really enjoyed the cathadral windows classes. The idea was to teach an in depth technique class, but we've all learned so much more. Last night I was really pleased to hear people planning ways to use the techniques, which iswhat I was aiming for, but there were also people adjusting their cutting and 1/4" seams. They were spotting their own problems and fixing them. I think that is great, becuase it tells me they have the problem solving skills they need when they are at home. I hope some of them do play with their ideas, and that they share the results.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The ugly duckling

I thought I should share a picture of the ugly quilt I mentioned. I couldn't get all of it in but this probably gives you the idea. No it's not a great looking quilt. I do think it will be a handy teaching tool as it would have looked far better if it had at least been random rather than ordered. It will also be warm once it is finished and on the bed. I took the picture with it laid out on the bed tonight. On top of a quilt made from 30 least loved (OK actively disliked in most cases) batiks. Which I made to test a pattern I though looked horrible. That quilt is on the bed because I love it. It's one of my all time favourites. Under that is another test quilt. That one wasn't such a success. I was playing with patterns for jelly rolls and found the result was too random to really work. So I then used the quilt top to test out a new wadding (bamboo, I love it). It works fine on the bed and keeps me warm at night thus making it a good and successful quilt. I love my show quilts but I have no problem with those who don't really make the grade. I get something out of all of them. You never know once the ugly duckling has borders and quilting (maybe applique?) we may all feel differently about it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Productive day

Today has almost gone to plan and we have achieved a huge amount. I didn't get to go and see any potential new vans because most of the sellers were out of contact. We did however go and pick up our van which is much happier now. In fact the work seems to have solved several problems we hadn't been able to track down, which is a great bonus. I think the garage were glad to see the back of it. They did an awful lot of work for the money they charged us.

I also managed to pick up a second thermal t-shirt. Every year I look for them and for women you mostly get cap sleeves or vests. I really wanted a proper t-shirt. I found one that works well at Go Outdoors. It's not a store I really like but they do have a few very useful items. These thermal shirts are now on the list. They were a bit more expensive than I would have liked but they save on fuel bills so in the long run I think they will prove to be a good investment.

I've also made good progress with my wholecloth. I am really getting desperate to get it off the frame but it is so close to done I want to finish it first. I think there is a real chance I will have it as as finished as it is going to be by the end of tomorrow. It may well get one more visit to the frame as there are a couple of areas I may add more stitching to but I want to get a good look at it before I decide. In fact I will be heading down to get a bit more done before bed tonight. I am getting quite excited about seeing it now.

There has been progress on the fractal quilt patterns, which I am hoping to launch at Quiltfest in February. We have been looking at what extras we can add to the patterns to cram in as much value for the quilters as we can. We have also changed format in which should make them easier to use. Of course that change means a lot more typesetting work for Tet to do, but hopefully it will pan out in the end.

Anyway, I've finished dinner now (yup I I have to multi task if I am going to get this wholecloth done) so I aught to leave this computer alone and get back to the longarm. Keep getting in touch with cheap ways to have fun while we wait out the economy. I'll try and share some more ideas soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shock headline

You may not have noticed but times are hard. People are short of cash and businesses are struggling. The real shock is complaining about it isn't going to change it. Unfair I know but life isn't often fair so I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Feeling more positive may actually help though, so what plans have you got for getting through tough times with a bit of fun and creativity?

I'm planning quilts, I know, you're surprised, but think about this. One of the problems with less cash is paying the bills. Fuel of all kinds has gone up so using less is a good plan. More quilts helps that. I am trying to keep the heating down while wrapping up warm. However spending money on lots of fabric probably isn't on the cards either so time to use up scraps and recycle old textiles into new warmth. I'm not thinking these will be show winning quilts, but they will be fun, quick and serve a purpose. In fact I already have one ugly duckling nearly ready to quilt. I was testing and idea, and I've learned a lot from the test. Some of my students who have seen it are surprised I intend to finish it and sling it on the bed, but when I'm asleep I can't see what it looks like so who cares? If it really bothers me I will put a prettier one on top of it. Warm is warm whatever it looks like.

My scrap boxes are pretty big and very full, so I think they may need to turn into a quilt too. I think they would like to be a smaller quilt suitable for the motor home. I don't have many small quilts and I don't really want to make a huge one with tiny pieces. I may be crazy but there are limits right? The other source of fabric that is looking really tempting is old clothes. I never manage to wear out all the fabric so I may as well put the good bits to use. It's been an idea on the back burner for a while but two things recently have got me thinking about projects for old clothes. Firstly a friend was considering what to do with old but much loved t-shirts. She doesn't sew much and wouldn't be looking to invest much money in it so a traditional t-shirt quilt isn't going to work for her. Then I got a magazine in the post, called Cloth, which has lots of simple projects in it and got me thinking about non sewing approaches to making things. Now I have a head full of new designs I want to try. I'll be sharing how they go as I try them out. OK if they are a disaster I may not share so much :)

Now it's your turn. What have you got planed to keep busy and hopefully happy while money is tight?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Frayed, I'll show you frayed!

Well cathadral windows have been interesting. I was expecting the idea of hand sewing to get mixed reviews and it did. I hadn't expected the fraying competition though. The most interesting part however has been the cutting. A lot of my students have been surprised how long cutting out takes them (why do you think I try to hide it in most of my projects?) They have also noticed for themselves that it isn't easy to be really accurate. Even though we have been starching the fabric before cutting, material moves, and where exactly you line up your ruler matters. Interestingly two of the beginners have had great results, so I guess when we start out we think more about what we are doing. From my point of view it is great to see so many of the students can spot when a square is off now. That too is a skill and for quilters it's just as useful as knowing how to cut well in the first place. The quicker you can spot an error the sooner you can fix it. We have also fouid some fabrics that shrink a lot. Most quilt fabrics I've worked with recently have been pretty good but one lady forgot to starch beforew cutting so did it after. That should have been OK she is a good presser but none of her blocks were square. The 6" squares were consistantly 5 3/4" x 6". So she assumed she had miss cut them all. It can happen. Then we realised it couldn't, well not in this case. She used the shape cut plus ruler to cut her squares. It's a fantastic ruler with slots in that makes cutting a lot quicker and easier, but it only cuts in 1/2" increments unless you reposition your fabric for each cut. You can't accidently be 1/4" out. It turns out that her fabric shrinks 1/4" over 6". That's 4% shrinkage, over something like a quilt back that could really cause a problem. I think I will be starching more of my fabrics just to encourage out the shrinkage. I suppose it's a good reason to buy batiks and multicolour prints too as they will have been processed enough to shrink them as much as they can.

Now I am just waiting for my second class of the day who are onto the machine sen sample tonight. Hopefully last weeks practice will have got them really precise and not having to use the four letter word (hand) will make them much happier. I'm looking forward to it, I wonder if they are?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fuax Trapunto workshop

It seems this photo didn't make it through email so I am putting it up here for my students. There are three pieces to this class which I made up as a wall hanging. It has proved quite tricky to photograph and this is the best I've managed so far. Hopefully it will be good enough to give an idea of what we will be doing.

Somewhat Frustrated

I feel I've been neglecting you guys but I can't think of anything to blog. I've mostly been working on my big wholecloth which I am trying desperately to get finished. I know the unveiling at Quiltfest will be the best option, I know that photos won't come close to capturing this quilt but given it's what I am working on what can I share.

You could take a look at motorhomes on ebay :) I've done a lot of that recently but it isn't very exciting, well not when you have a budget and need a petrol one. Our van is still awaiting parts and it's surprising how much I miss it even when I am not travelling. The number of time recently the answer to where is, has been in the van. Still it should be a much happier van when it comes home. It's the lack of heating and the 2 weeks in Wales in February that really have me looking for another one.

I've also been working on a new series of classes for textured blocks. My Thursday classes are currently working on cathedral windows blocks and each term we will do another set of three technique blocks. Some of them will just make samples, some will make cushions and the rest of us are aiming for a quilt. I think my one will take me a while as the hand sewing really doesn't agree with my shoulders at all. I haven't quite decided what these classes will become. They make be patterns or workshops or I suppose another book. I guess I will have to wait and see.

As well as a stack of customer quilts awaiting my attention I am also planning new quilts for Quiltfest. I can't go to Wales with only one Dragon can I? I'd like to have another 3 made by February but even by my estimates that is going to be tight. I will just have to see how far I can get I suppose. At least I know I can fill the space whatever. In fact the bigger problem we are having is how to fit my quilts in :) I will learn to work smaller one day honest, just not today.

I also have new toys I want to sit and play with. There are cutting needles for my sewing machine and two new ranges of fabric just begging for my attention. You can see why the blog is having a hard time can't you? Oh well back to the current pressing problem, finishing Promtheus.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Village quilters - I hadn't forgotten you

I have been slow getting this post written and I hope you will forgive me. I made great time getting home thanks to being sent off a little early to miss rush hour. I also got some extra traffic news from a professional driver in the area which kept me out of the worst jam. Having a box of munchies for the trip home didn't hurt either. I wish I had got a picture of the lunch table before we attacked it. It was impressive and this group has several very good cooks. The mince pies were really special and I look forward to trying Ruth's carrot cake on a future visit.

Despite the warnings about the area I was struck by the obvoius effort being made in the community. I'd head about the boarded up estates and imagined the desolate council estates I've seen elsewhere. That's not the case here, the estate I drove past has clearly been a good place to live but no jobs means no money and ultimately no people. It's very sad. The hall I was teaching in was the first community center I've really seen working for the community. People were popping into other rooms for coffee and a chat, the place felt alive, I wish more did. As you can see it's a great venue. Large, light and with heating that is possibly too efficient.

The workshop was my tulips class again (what are the odds of two groups so close together doing the same class?) and the ladies did really well with it. They quickly settled into the rhythm of the technique and were keen to try editing their designs as they went along. Something I like to see in my classes is students helping eacxh other, it usually means at least some of them are confident with the technique. It's quite funny to hear your words repeated word for word and often with pretty much the same intonation but the best thing is when another student can convince someone their work is good and help them out when I've not been able to. That sometimes needs a friend to manage it and I really appreciate when it happens. Quilter seem to be very hard on themselves. They expect to master new techniques instantly. Fortunately they don't have such high standards for their friends and that can make all the difference. I'm hoping that some of the ladies will sent in some pictures of their finished pieces, the quilts were coming along well on the day so who knows, maybe some are finished by now.

Thanks for the great day and I hope I will be back up there sometime soon. Next trip I will have fish and chips too. I can't believe I was so close to the sea and didn't get fish and chips. Hopeless. I will do better.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stockton on Tees

Sorry for the delay, I've not had much down time. i made it back home OK last night but I was too tired to blog. This picture is from the workshop in Stockton on Tees where we were mostly making tulips on Dubai time, except when we were discussing knickers or making passion flowers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Royal - Bridlington

Just a couple of pictures from yesterdays class, and to be honest, it's amazing I managed that. Fortunately Fiona remebered and that reminded me to take pictures. We both forgot in the afternoon though. We were making Autumn leaves yesterday in the style of my quilt Golden Storm. Students are always surprised that we start the day by quilting the quilt, but it is easier to do when you're fresh. From there we bind, using an all machine sewn technique. Thanks to an intrepid experimenter we can confirm the binding can be made on soft slipery silk and it looks great. It's a pig to do ;)

There was a really interesting selection of leaf fabrics yesterday. Which led to some more interesting discoveries of what could be fused. I think we even managed to keep all the glue under control. I think most of the students had come for lunch as much if not more than my teaching and I don't blame them. The food was good and there was plenty of it. Just when you thought you couldn't eat another thing desert turned up. Of course I had to have some. I didn't need to eat again yesterday after that. Really I should have paced myself better because come afternoon tea I couldn't sample the cakes and scones. My hosts were kind enough to send me on my way with a goody box.

Some of the quilters arrived early enough to take a stroll on the beach before class. It certainly looked inviting in the morning but as I had work to do I didn't join them. Apparently Bridlington had the best sandcastle sand in the North and second best in the country! Pretty impressive to me having grown up with shingle beaches. I guess I need to try and go back with time to play on the beach.

Today I am in Stockton on Tees, where I will be teaching Tulips. As ever I will try and get pictures but I do get very engrossed in teaching so I often forget.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Well there are some advantages to bringing the car out for this trip, the journey was so much faster than I expected. I guess an extra 20 miles per hour really does help. It also meant that I got to go and see the sea when I arrived as it was still light. As you can see the sea here is good. The waves are wonderful and the pictures don't really do it justice. I am very pleased with the picture of the harbour arm doing it's job. You can clearly see the size of the waves on the sea side but within the harbour there is hardly a ripple.

On the way to Bridlington the sat nav took me through Beverly. It's not somewhere I had heard of and I'm glad I've now seen it. It is lovely and if you like churches and minsters it is well worth visiting. I also loved the long tree lined road between there and Bridlington.

Tonight I am staying at The Royal. It's rather posh, not at all my usual stop. It's a lovely building very nicely decorated and you can really see a quilter lives here. There are quilts on many walls in the public areas. There are also some stained glass windows just begging to become quilts too. It sounds like tomorrow is going to be great. It's amazing what having extra facilities will let you do. I'll let you know how it goes but this is looking like a great quilting holiday option especially if you like the sea.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Speed quilt 4 - Bath

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up. I thought I would quilt during the day yesterday then blog when I got tired. Great plan except my internet connection evidently got tired too. So when I came to do it I couldn't connect. After a night off it seems fine this morning :)

I spent Friday afternoon driving to Bath. It is only a 2-3 hour journey but if you hit Bath around rush hour it can become a lot longer. I do love Bath, but I would strongly suggest taking the train, not driving. The up side of leaving so early was the views. I really got to appreciate the A46 on the way in which has the most amazing views. However all the parking places are at points where you can't see anything. Yup I did try most of them to get a picture for you guys. I think the best way to see the view is to be driven up and down the A46 by someone else. Maybe one day I can take Tet with me and video it.

Saturday a select group settled down to make my Speed 4 quilt. One of the ladies had been to a class with me before and knew what to expect. She had also taken full advantage of the shop being open a little early for people to come and cut out. She was in and ready so sew before the official start time, and being a slave driver I set her to work straight away. This seemed to lay down a challenge to some of the other ladies, which wasn't what I had in mind (I don't think that far ahead that early in the day) but it worked out pretty well.  I think several of the class hadn't appreciated that we were really going to be making a speed quilt not a speed top but by lunch time they were all well on the way to having a quilt.

For various reason a few of the ladies had to leave early but as you can see a lot was achieved. These are the hardy ones who stayed to the bitter end. I suspect the pastel flowery one will be finished by now as she only had 2 more pieces to sew on and they were prepared ready to go. I actually thought she might have completely finished it in the class, it was a very close thing.

As ever, no two quilts were the same, the fabric choices make a huge difference.  Also the quilts are reversible although this group all seem to have gone of subtle variations between the front and the back.

Tomorrow I will be driving north again, lots of north all the way to Bridlington. It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun and even the local paper has picked up on it. We will be making autumn leaves there and I will try really hard to remember to take pictures during the class. Maybe if any of my students are reading this they can remind me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Waverley - Engine

I've finally persuaded blogger to put up one of my videos. This one is of the Waverley's engine. Sorry it has taken so long to do. Hopefully now I've got it to work once I will be able to do it again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heroes at Highclere

 After dinner on Saturday, Tet asked if I had plans for Sunday, yes the usual, quilting. Would I like to go out....Hmm.....He had just found out the Vulcan was due to fly over Highclere castle on Sunday. Well I've been trying to catch the Vulcan flying since she got back in the air so it was something of a no brainer. We were going.

Highclere Castle is near Newbury, surprisingly close to where I broke down on Thursday, maybe the van was just trying to get to the front of the queue. Not that there was a queue to get in. It was a very busy event but the marshals got people in and parked very smoothly. Sadly when we arrived there were no tickets left to actually go around the castle, but there was plenty going on to keep us busy.

The event was instigated by Lady Carnarvon, who's home it is. In 1915, the 5th Countess Carnarvon converted the castle into 'Highclere Home Hospital' so Heroes at Highclere aimed to raise money for military medical causes. It looked like it was pretty successful given the number of visitors.

While we had gone to see the famous vehicles there were apparently a lot of famous people there. Downton Abbey was filmed at the castle and the cast and crew were there to help with the fund raising. I have to admit I only found that out from the internet after we got home. I kept seeing things about Downton Abbey but I had no idea why the building might have two names. Oh well I guess I wasn't the target audience for that part of the day.

I did like the helicopters. We didn't queue to go in them (just on the ground, no flights) but we did get to wander around them and peer in. By then end of the day only the Chinook still had a queue, so I did get to hear what the crew were saying about their aircraft. We also left late enough that we saw the Apache leaving. I don't think it's the most attractive beast on the ground, but it does a good line in purposeful once it is airborne.

As you can see in the background of the lynx there was a fairground there. In fact there was everything you would expect from a summer fete. With the weather playing along it really did feel like an old fashioned summer. It makes sense too, as a lot of the silly attractions you find at fetes are very good at raising money. The fairground rides were all donating their profits to Horses Help Heroes, which surprised me as I would have expected those at least to be running for profit.

 Around the grounds there were a lot of historic displays. Tents and equipment from many different eras of warfare. Being a sad textile geek I did have to spend a lot of time looking at the clothes and tents, but then what else would you expect?

 For me the stars of the show were the air displays. The Spitfire arrived later than the commentator expected. He had been listening to the radio so had a good idea where it was, until it was within about 5 minutes of the show ground, then it went quiet. They paused and asked people to listen for the engines. Nothing. A bit more chatting then they offered a free meal to the first person to spot her. A young lady got the prize a couple of minutes later. It was well worth the wait. The Spitfire stayed and played a lot longer than was planned. It was a lovely day, why wouldn't hang about as long as you could when you have a toy like that to play with?

 I had to wait until 3.15 for the Vulcan to come over. I was getting a shade excited by then. Again she was a bit later than expected and the commentator again said to listen for her. The club members felt you would see the clouds of smoke first. Actually they were both wrong, she came in very quietly and from the direction where she was hidden by trees for the longest. Suddenly there she was. You wouldn't think something that loud (and relatively large) could sneak up on you but she can. In fact she was very quiet through most of her display, only getting loud in the turns furthest away from the castle. I did wonder if health and safety had anything to do with it, but then I am quite cynical.

After a couple of passes she headed off, returning about 30 minutes later. Again confusing the commentators who were sure she would approach from a different direction this time. She didn't. It was the same sneak approach as the first time. Well why not it worked so well. On her second visit she stayed longer and gave people plenty of time to get photos.

 As ever the Vulcan is in need of funds to keep flying. If you would like to help you can donate on her website.

The show was officially closed by the Blades display team. We saw them at Santa Pod earlier this year and I really enjoyed them. Though they aren't ideal for Santa Pod as they actually take the rules about flying over crowds seriously. Highclere Castle was a much better venue for them and the acres of lawn to lie on and watch didn't hurt either.

It was a fairly early end to a day out so I even made it home in time to get some quilting done. Not bad for the spur of the moment really.

Thanks all round

I've had two lovely letters recently from groups I've given talks to. Thank you so both Region 7 and Region 15W. Despite my journey back being rather longer than I had anticipated I would love to come back to Cumbria, so any suggestions for sharing the booking around several groups in that general area would be much appreciated.

I would also like to thank the RAC. The guys they sent out did a great job (the phone staff were rather more of a challenge). The first chap correctly diagnosed the problem, the van had blown its main rear oil seal. It was more than I had done. Though I had looked at how fast I had lost oil, where I had oil and concluded it was a recovery situation :) The van engine bay is soaked in oil. Really, everywhere. However the technician managed to clean it up enough at the side of the road to spot a leak. The driver of the transporter was really good too. I am a bad passenger. OK, lets be honest more like a VERY VERY BAD passenger. He was a careful securing the van and drove well enough I didn't even think about the van the whole way home. It was safe I was safe and all was good. Those who know me well will understand how rare that is, and why I am impressed.

Now I will get some more quilting done before looking through yesterdays photos for you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

This was what I was doing Thursday. I was supposed to be at Emerson Green Quilters, instead I was getting a piggy back home. At least the driver stopped at the first services we came to so I could use the facilities and get a picture of the van on the back of an RAC lorry. It took about 6 hours to get me recovered. I had wondered if it could be done quickly enough to get me into another vehicle and still make the talk but it turned out I was right to cancel early as accidents held up the recovery vehicle. It looks like the van has lost one or more oil seals so it is in need of some TLC.

Today I am at Threads and Patches in Bletchley. A much less eventful journey this morning so I am early. Still gave me time to blog, right?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day off?

I guess that technically, I've had a day off today. I say technically as I have been lying in bed most of the day at motorway services. As it goes, I would rather have been at home working, but I can't get there. The wind is throwing the van around too much to get through the roadworks. It's rocking enough when parked that typing is tricky and sewing or rug making right out. So I will read and play games until it's safe to go home and have dinner. I just need to convince myself this is exactly the holiday I was looking for. Then again, at least I'm not out there playing with the emergency vehicles which have been very busy today.

Penrith workshop

This is where I was teaching yesterday. We were in thw workshop above the shop Just Sew. It's a big sewing shop (so big I couldn't get it all in) and a real treat for me as they sell dress fabrics and supplies as well as patchwork fabrics. I was restrained yesterday, but I am certain I will need to go back and shop at some point.

I did forget to take pictures of the class which is a great shame. They ladies did really well with the quilting despite not feeling they were up to the task when thwy arrived. Hopefully they will send me some pictures when they finish their quilts. I suppose I should try to finish driving home. I got just south of Birmingham last night, an decided to wait for rush hour to clear before I moved on.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Just a quick one

I think the M6 was named for the average speed on it. I've lost more than 3 hours on my projected arrival time and I am not half way yet. Not looking like I will make it home tonight.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

What a place to wake up.

As it was dark when I arrived at the services so I could only guess how good the views were. This morning I got to see some of it, it was quite misty still but clear enough to see the fantastic scenary. The first pictures aren't a mistake they were taken a couple of spaces down from my van. She was just getting some fresh air. Tebay really isn't your normal services. Even the breakfast was good. I don't often have breakfast but it was just too tempting. I really liked being able to choose the n items to make my own breakfast, and I can't see why other outlets couldn't do the same. I'll be stopping in on my way home too.

Today was fun, although by the end yesterdays drive was catching up with me. I don't think I have ever had so many people offer to get me a drink, and don't mention knicker elastic. This is a small region with a very low population density so it's hard for quilters to meet up. They certainly made the effort today and we had more peopl than expected. I got so engrossed with talking to the members I completely forgot tohave lunch and I missed the demonstration I was going to look at. I did manage to buy som fabric though. I was also given a lavendar bag, as I love lavendar that works for me.

I got a great helper for the talk and several ladies stayed behind to help fold pack and carry. That was really appreciated and let me save some energy for the drive back tomorrow evening.

During the day tomorrow I am teaching Autumn Leaves. I'll try and remember to take photographs. Right now it's wet and windy and time to charge the phone.