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
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
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.
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
Saturday, December 03, 2011
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
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
Saturday, November 12, 2011
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
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
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
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
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
Thursday, October 27, 2011
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
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
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
Monday, October 17, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Saturday, October 08, 2011
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.