Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new year.

It's tradition now. I blog at new year. This year though is a lot more sedate and no fire. Hope you are all doing something you enjoy. Have a great new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free quilt patterns

Being on several mail lists I get a lot of messages suggesting sites and blogs I might be interested in. I look at a lot, but few really grab me. This one however I think is great. Cindy has several quilt patterns available for free, in a nice range of complexity. Take a look, you might fins something will tickle your fancy too. Quilt patterns from Seattle, by Cindy Carter.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Can you guess what it is yet?

What on Earth would induce someone to stand outside in their pajamas in the middle of winter? Spray baste! It was a piece too big to do in the house so I do them on the hedge outside. All my neighbours already know I am nuts so I don't have to worry about what they think.

So any ideas what my latest piece is going to be?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Christmas Quilts

I am sure you remember me saying I had two Christmas quilts on the frame. Well I have finally had time to upload my photographs so I can share them just in time for Christmas.

The first one I felt was the easier one. If nothing else it told me what it wanted, but it also has larger pieces which I often find easier to quilt. The star blocks are all quilted with a continuous curve. I kept all the stitching on the background of the star so they pop up. I wanted the stars themselves to come forward as much as I could.

The Santas are all quilted in the same way, but not the same. Each is outlined and then the back ground filled in with feathers and pebbles. The pebbles take a while to do, but I like the effect that the figures have something to stand on. The background of the figures are pieced, in a churn dash pattern. This gave me a good starting point, and I only quilted some parts of the block, hopefully making the block clearer.

The second of the Christmas quilts was O'Tanenbaum. I've been looking at this quilt hanging on the wall at the shop for a while and I've often wondered how you would quilt it. Well it finally became more than an academic question. This quilt has come closer to stumping me than any I've had before. I was torn between doing some sort of all over and not doing anything that would take away from the huge amount of work that went into piecing it.

Working with the piecing won out. OK no surprise there. The problem was then trying to do it quickly. I didn't want this to take too long and get too expensive. I decided that the houses needed a lot of attention, mostly because I couldn't think of a quick and sympathetic way to quilt the half timbered house. Each house I quilted in a way that added detail to the building, so roofs got tiles and walls got bricks. To make the applique flowers and tree pop up I needed some pretty dense quilting. As I don't often stipple I went for that in those areas. It is a good pattern for holding down an area.

The stars have the same continuous lines that I used on the first quilt. It works, and I guess I had it on the brain at the time. This just left the log cabins. I would normally like to quilt along the logs, but in this quilt they are only 1/2" wide. I also wanted to add some more flow to the quilt, to draw you around the big star. To do that I've put feathers into each of the triangles in log cabins. As the thread is quite a close match to the fabric it doesn't fight with the piecing, but when light falls across the quilt the texture does flow.

So there you go, two quilts just for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why do longarm quilters want so much backing?

Ever wondered? Well there are several very good reasons. Longarm University has a great video that talks you through some of the issues. If you would like to have a look it is the first video on this page. It is intended to explain to new quilters why they might want to have more backing, but I think it will make sense to everyone who has had (or is thinking of having) a quilt longarm quilted.

Do I get my domestic goddess badge yet?

Over the weekend it struck us that it was time to get a tree, but it's really hard to buy a proper tree now. What do I mean by proper? Well a tree that smells like a tree, and ideally looks like one. Not a short fat tree a proper triangular tree. Apparently these requirements mean we need either a Norway Spruce or a Norway Fir. OK, so now we know what we want all we have to do is buy one right? Wrong, everyone (who are these mythic every ones?) now wants a tree that will not drop it's needles smell and shape aren't important. We looked at a huge number of trees on Sunday but none would do for us.

We did however find two silicone cake pans. I'd been after them for a while, but when Tet put in a request for a Christmas cake it seemed a good time to get them. So two pans and a lot of hard stirring later, we have two cakes, (one with peel cherries and ginger) iced and ready to go. There are some advantages to not liking alcohol on your Christmas cakes, I don't need to feed the cake so I can get it done over a shorter time. Also the paler cakes I make don't need to mature in the same way as the darker ones.

In between baking I continued the search for a tree. I eventually found a garden center who did understand the difference and had a whole range of trees. I don't have as tall a tree as I would like, but it smell great. I also managed to pick up some plain silver tinsel to go with the black ornaments I picked up at Ikea a while ago.

So, I've finished the two Christmas quilts, baked and iced two cakes, caught and decorated a tree and made a batch of biscuits. I think that's pretty good going really.

For a while I've been feeling a need to play with my longarm. Just spend some time messing about and trying out new things. In between batches of biscuits I finally managed it. I've had some new rulers I wanted to have a go with for a while and boy they are good. I am going to have to design a quilt that needs lots of little circles. They are fun and much quicker than I had expected. I am also quite taken with the chain of hears ruler. It's great and again much quicker than I had feared. While I've got the big test panel on I am also making up some samples for the shop, illustrating quilting patterns. I'd like to do a sample of my new wholecloth class too. When I get a chance I will take some pictures and post them. I don't have space at home to hang the Christmas quilts so I have to wait until I return them to the shop.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Feeling Festive

The Santa quilt is now finished, but as it is sharing a back with another quilt it is still on the frame. I can't wait to see it hung up so I can see all of it. I really enjoyed it and I think it's come out pretty well. The other quilt it is paired with is another Christmas quilt. This one is even trickier from the quilting front. It has an amazing amount of intricate piecing and plenty of applique. I don't like doing anything that takes away from the top when I quilt, so it is taking a lot of work to quilt it. I think it is coming up OK, but even with sitting down to quilt I can only work for about an hour at a time. I will try and remember to post pictures when I get these two finished.

Monday, December 08, 2008

finally, a quilt I can share

This is the quilt I have on the frame today. I was a little daunted by it. It had 6 applique Santas on it. Now I've started I am really enjoying it. It is a shop sample for Patchwork Corner that has been waiting for quilting for a while. I just hope Jenny likes it as much as I do.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've been quite recently for a couple of reasons. I've not been well, it seems that once I get a bug I keep getting new ones. I know it makes sense and working with people it's an occupational hazard, but it really does slow me up and I get so bored when I can't quilt. Still I seem to finally be on the mend so keep your finger crossed for that.

Other than that I seem to be working on an increasing number of projects I can't talk about. I know that at some point I will be able to post about them, but right now I just have to work away and not say anything. It wouldn't be so bad if I had time to do things I can share as well, but I don't. So much pouting is in order. Rest assured as soon as I can share, I will.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Herd home safe and sound

I got a very exciting package this morning long and skinny. I guess being excited by your own quilt is a little odd, but I was guessing it would have it's ribbon with it. As you can see it did. Very well wrapped too, my cats are thrilled with the bit pf tissue it was wrapped in. Yesterday evening I came home to find their cheque had arrived as well, so all present and correct. I was a little disapointed that there weren't more picutres in the show guide, but I am so thrilled they sent me one with my quilt.

The judges comments were also in with it, and they pretty much agree with each other which is unusual. One even complemented me on my binding. Maybe not thrilling to anyone else but having and the reverse comment for the other quilts I have sent to America I was very pleased with that. All commented that they would have liked to cows rro be clearer and more distinct, which is fair comment, but I like them as they are. I see coments about colour coming up again for me :)

For the next week they will be hanging at Patchwork Corner if you are near Hemel Hempstead and would like to see them. It's the only wall I have access to that they fit on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bryan Talbot talk

I'm guessing most of my readers won't have come across Bryan Talbot. It's a shame he is a fantastic writer and artist, but as he writes (and illustrates) graphic novels he hasn't reached as many people as I feel he deserves. As part of the year of reading, libraries have been organizing events to encourage reading. Last night Cheshunt library played host to Bryan, who was largely talking about 'The tale of one bad rat'. This graphic novel was very unusual when he wrote it, as it was intended for a mainstream audience not a comics audience. It was fascinating to learn how many comic book tools he chose not to use to make this book as easy to read as possible. It worked too, I had tried several comic books before this one and found the impossible to read, this was the first that really grabbed me. It is a rather unusual subject for a comic book too, the psychological after effects of child sexual abuse. No it's not a laugh a minute, and he worked very hard to avoid anything cartoon like in the book, but it isn't grim either. It's a good, fairly serious read.

In his talk he explained a lot about the things going on in the background of his work to set scenes and get you to feel what he is telling you. It is amazing how many very subtle things he does to change the feel of the story. Things you would never notice but do respond to. Having been working for many years he had a huge catalogue of work to draw on to explain how he makes a story work. One thing that really struck me about the talk is he delivered it as a story. He spent a long time filling in back story and giving us all the clues to understand what he had really come to say, and yet I didn't see him do it until afterwards. That's one heck of a skill to have.

The biggest surprise for me is how much I learned that applies to my textile art. One piece I have been planning will now be redrawn. What I had done was OK, in fact I was pretty happy with it, but now I know how I can make it better. Somehow in all my reading about composition and drawing the eye I hadn't got it, it took a story to show me how different lines and directions work. I went to be entertained, and a learned a huge amount. If I get another chance to see this talk I will be going again, I know I missed more than I got, and it will take another couple of tries before I come close to getting as much as I can from it. If you get a chance to hear him, do take it. You may not get all his comic book references but he explains things so well you don't need to, and who knows, you might find a whole new literary genre opening up to you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some Quilts!!

There are some quilts that I put on the frame, quilt and take off. I like these, and I do get a fair number of them. Then there are the others. They fight every step of the way. They don't want to load properly, they could fit the backing either way around, almost. They wriggle, they move and generally cause trouble. The worst bit is I don't seem to be able to spot these trouble makers in advance. It's nothing to do with the quality of the top, or indeed any of the materials used, there are just some that will not co-operate. As you can guess I have one of these on the frame right now. It should have been a really fun quilt to work on, but it is doing everything in it's power (and a lot I would have said that wasn't) to make things difficult. The latest (and by far the most annoying) is taking up wadding far faster than it should. I measured before loading and I had loads of wadding, now it looks like being a couple of inches short. I have spare and can join it, so it isn't a disaster, but it shouldn't have happened. I can't even say I've learned from this and won't do it again as I did check everything before I started and I don't really want to ask for any more spare on the wadding it's getting daft. Rant over, I had better go and convince this quilt to behave, and people wonder why there are longarm quilters? Who would want to deal with these monsters if they didn't have to :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

New quilt to share

I've been dying to share this quilt on here, but I wanted to wait until the model had seen it. I had been asked to take a photograph for his web site, but this one struck me as too good not to use as a quilt. Fortunately he is quite obliging and gave me permission to use it, but I did feel that gave him the right to see it first. He only ran screaming as much as you would expect anyone suddenly meeting a large portrait of themselves so I figure I've done OK.

It isn't quilted yet, and that will be a challenge, I find faces very hard to quilt, but I guess I had to tackle that problem sooner or later, and as this is part of a triptych I should get a fair amount of practice. The tattoo will also be a challenge. I normally like to quilt in the contour lines of the body, and I like to match the thread to the fabric, so I guess there will be a lot of starts and stops there. Well it will be fun I am sure.

Yesterday I got to help a friend make her first quilt. An advent calender. I would like to point out we even made it in time. That's pretty impressive given the idea was only formed at the NEC this year and we a are both stupidly busy. She would like to add more quilting (it already has more than most get) but will probably leave that to be done in time for next year. I wonder if you would have one which you added to every year so it would be both an old friend and something new each time. I guess that will be one of those ideas I have to kick about for a while as I think it would be quite a nice thing to do. Now I need to go and work on a customer quilt and a clever idea I had an started yesterday. People really should start saving me from myself. I have far too many ideas.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh Wow!

I've just had it confirmed that 'Herd Mentality' won the viewers choice award at the Houston Festival. I am so thrilled, thank you very much to every one who voted for me. It's an award that means a lot to me as this is the opinion of quilters, with no agenda and who mostly have no idea who I am. I feel pretty happy that this was won by the quilt on it's own, and to me that is the best sort of award I could ever hope for. I am celebrating with a new heat pack for me neck. It's from John Lewis and is so good it works without me actually heating it :) I promise I will stop grinning at some point, honest. If you would like to see a picture of the quilt with it's ribbon take a look here. I haven't got hold of the owner of the picture yet so I can't put it on my blog. If I do get permission I will later. Thanks again to all those who voted for it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fabric boxes

On another blog I read regularly I found a post about making fabric containers, and how time consuming it is. I have a different method which I found a lot quicker so I will try to share it with you. Having had a go at doing this in just words, I've taken time to make a sample so I could photograph it. It is easy, but quite hard to describe.

As I hadn't planned on making boxes I have had to improvise. The thickest stabiliser I had was thinner than I would like so I have used two layers. You need to cut pieces for the base and the four sides. I used 6" squares in this sample, but you can make any size you like. I find larger is easier, but see what you can come up with. Also there is no reason for the boxes to be cubes. You can use rectangles, just make sure that sides that join to each other are the same length.

Roughly zigzag the sides to the base. You can see in the picture that I am treating the two layers are one. Had I been being careful with this I would have spray basted the two layers together, but I don't worry for a test piece.

When you have made a cross use it to cut two layers of fabric that are the size of the outer edges of the cross. I actually layered it up and then felt for the edges of the cross to position the ruler. Again if I had been trying to make a great box I would have spray basted the layers together, but pins will do the job.

Now you start to form the box. Pinch two sides together at a corner. You will have a big ear of floppy fabric, this is good, it will strengthen the corner later. You now need to sew down the corner to hold the sides together. Use a straight stitch and a thread that matches the outer fabric. You will find that you have to bend the box quite a lot as you sew the seam but it will bounce back when you have finished.

Sew all four corners then fold the ears flat around the corners. The point of the ear ends up exactly in the corner. If you have an overlocker this is the time to dig it out. It will trim the top and overlock it at the same time. If you don't have an overlocker go around the top with a zigzag, then trim the top flat. Stitch around the top again with the zigzag stitch to make a really firm edge. There you go one box. My sample took me about 30 minutes and I was taking pictures as I went which does slow you down, so hopefully you should find this pretty quick too. I think with a bit pf playing you will be able to come up with lots of interesting shape boxes with this technique.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quilt mountain depleated

Well after quilting every hour I could fro weeks I've got the mountain down to two quilts. It has meant that some have gone back so fast I haven't had time to photograph them but I am feeling much better with a smaller pile to work on. So if you have quilts that have been waiting for me (and thanks to hanging on to them for a while) now is the time to pounce.

The charity quilt for Macmillan Nurses went back to the group that made it yesterday. Once they have the binding on it will be displayed at Patchwork Corner for about a month. I will get a picture of it while it is there. If you get a chance please do go and look at it, you might even like it enough to buy a raffle ticket for it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I can't believe it. I missed the deadline for Road to California. I know I have had a lot going on, but this show is important to me and I really wanted to enter again this year. How could I miss something like that? Still nothing I can do about it now, so I will spend some time checking all the other shows I might want to enter and making sure I don't miss them. I think I either need an assistant or some software to warn me of impending deadlines.

I've had an enjoyable but very tiring weekend manning the Patchwork Corner stand at the Wye Valley Quilters show. Sadly you will have to wait 5 years for their next exhibition, it was a good event, well attended by a very friendly bunch.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quilt japan

Magazine out now with my work in.

Whups, I had intended to send that to myself. Oh well. now I've said it, I've heard that Herd Mentality and my large whole cloth are in it. I don't know how to get a copy though. I guess this is proof I can't multi-task. Well not to the extent of sending an email and serving a customer at the same time. No I wasn't actually supposed to be working I was just trying to be helpful.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Silly things to get excited about.

OK, I'm sad. Very sad, but a friend's book is out to pre-order on Amazon, and I am really thrilled. They haven't got the image up yet, but I am sure it won't be long.

I've been having a weird day all in all. I got up to find my necklace had broken again, so a trip into town was required to get it fixed. With a whole stack of work to do that wasn't ideal, but I figured I could at least make it to the bank as well so it wasn't entirely wasted time. So as I was heading out of the door the post came. Including a cheque I didn't expect. Well that makes the trip into town more worthwhile. So I go to the bank, put my necklace in the the jewellers and have lunch while I wait to get it back. Even though the weather has been getting colder I am still living in my Crocs. A lady came up to me and asked me if they are as comfortable as people say. Strange, but not a problem and we get talking. It turns out that she would like to get into quilting. Her mother was really good at it and now she wants to try it. How strange is that, well it gets stranger. She was most concerned about getting the layers together. Her relatives had told her about people in other countries that will do quilting for others, but had no leads on anyone in this country. Now what are the odds of us just happening to run into each other? It was a very cool lunch and I think she left inspired to start working on a quilt. I can't believe a day that started to poorly could work out so well and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't broken my necklace in my sleep.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Just for the record I have been quilting. Unfortunately it has not only been customer work, but it's been going back so fast I haven't had time to photograph a lot of it. I will try to do better.

I am also working on a new pattern. A couple of weeks ago Jenny at Patchwork Corner challenged me to come up with a pattern for some black and white and red and white prints. Fortunately this really appealed to me and an idea came very quickly. I hope I will be able to share it here sooner rather than later. I've only been able to work on piecing this new quilt in down time before classes at the shop, so it hasn't gone as fast as I would like, but hopefully today I can finish it.

Once I have this top made I want to do a second from the same pattern as I think it will look great n a very different colourway, and I can't wait to see it. So expect this project to be taking up my 'spare time' for a while.

One of the customer quilts I have waiting, that I will definitely get a picture of when it is done is a fund raising quilt. It is a fairly traditional bed quilt that I will be adding feathers to, which will be raffled to raise money for Macmillan Nurses.

I am also making good progress with my second book. Apparently my students are enjoying it so they are working faster than I expected, which means I have to as well. Unfortunately this is stopping me finishing my quilts from the first book. How embarrassing is it when your students are finishing your quilt before you do. Oh well at least one has been kind enough to lend me her quilt for talks, so if you do come to one you will see at least one finished example. It also looks like I finally have a title for it. I want to try it out on a class or two before I share it here, so watch this space.

Something to see in London

If you are in London before the 19th, try and find time to get to
Gallery Forty-Seven. It is 47 Great Russell Street, and is currently
home to "Dreams and Visions". This is an exhibition of work by six
artists, Marlene Cohen, Claire Crocker, Margaret Jarvie, Alicia Merrett,
Christine Restall and Stefanie Rickard. These ladies work together under
the name Colour FX Textile art and have a web site I was
lucky enough to be invited to the private viewing on Tuesday byt Stefanie,
who won the guest book prize from my show.

I managed to get there, in the middle of a very full day and I was
thrilled I had. I have to admit that I like that area of London anyway
but I don't often go there, so that in itself was a treat. The first
thing that struck me was the windows. How dumb does that sound. I don't
think I have ever seen textile art displayed in a window like that, and
well, it's something else. It made me look at it in a different way, and
was attracting the attention of passers by. Not bad going on a wet
evening. Inside the gallery has three separate areas. I like not being
able to see everything at once. I'm not sure for me it is so much a
journey as having to hunt for things to look at.

As I am terrible at names (and faces) I went without any idea what I
would see. I was very happy to discover some quilts I had seen before
and enjoyed. Had I the money I think 'Rainbow Fizz' would have had a new
home. I loved this quilt when I saw it at the FOQ, but hadn't got
arround to looking up who had made it. It turns out to be one of
Alicia's. I was also really taken with Solaris 2. It just is. To me it
has everything a sun should. Heat, light, dark and flares. The funny
thing is I don't really know how it had flares, but I could see them,
and I liked them.

I can't do these quilts justice here, so if you are arround London in
the next few days, do try to get to see them. If you can't make London
then they will also be on display at the Cowslip Workshops, Launceston
August 2009. I suspect details will be the Colour FX web site.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blah blah blah

Another weekend another talk. Today's was near Wantage, and I was paired with Kim Shaw. I don't envy people the job of booking speakers. Not only do you need to find people who won't bore or offend your audience but you also need to consider how well they will fit together. I felt Kim worked stunningly well with me. We both have something of a slack attitude. Perfection is for other people and quilts are to be handled. Yet we also come from very different angles, she does a lot of hand quilting and I claim hand is a four letter work (well it is). I think people had a good time, I hope so, I certainly did.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Long time no time.

I haven't forgotten you all, but I don't seem to have time to think at the moment. Since I last had time to blog I've been out and about again, it seems mostly collecting colds. Last Saturday I spoke at the Quilters Guild Region 7 regional day. It was a lively meeting. I was amazed to find the hall fairly full when I arrived well before opening time, and it just got busier. I really could get used to this being treated like a celebrity, but maybe that wouldn't be too healthy. At least one of the audience did leave feeling inspired, which is my goal, this is her blog, Master of Patience.

I wish I could have stayed for the afternoon talk, the quilts I saw looked amazing, but I had to run off to the Birmingham Comics Convention. We made it to the convention center before it shut, although we weren't helped by Birmingham's one way system and the lack of hotel car parking, and arrived just in time to find our friends had completed their goals for the day and had time to show us around. It's interesting seeing the different comics shows. Much like quilting shows they each have their own feel. This one was very smart and professional, but not quite as friendly and lively as Bristol. I would put it as my next show of choice though. I like slightly quieter, especially when I am trying to have a look around. Over the weekend I managed to meet a quilter, and buy fabric markers, thus proving that I can work anywhere. We did also buy a few graphic novels. I was particularly taken by some adaptations of classics. I went for Macbeth, Christmas Carol and Frankenstein. They have lovely black on black covers and from a quick flick through they seem very well thought out. They are apparently being bought by schools to encourage reading so I am hoping they are well done. We did go for those with the original text which I think will help for me, but they do produce versions with different simplified text for children. If you would like to read more about the convention, Cy has put a few posts on his blog.

Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to quilting. The quilt you see here is the first I have done with this sort of edge. It is more effort, as I had to mark the curves before I could start, but I do love the effect. I really hope someone will need it again. I am also thrilled with how well the triangular feathers came out. I've been doing quite a few of them recently and it looks like the practice payed off. If you would like to see this quilt in the flesh, it will be at Alexandra Palace for the next four days. It will be hanging on the Patchwork Corner stand, which is the only reason it got done this week. I don't like doing customer work when I am under the weather, but I think I got away with it this time. I am still very busy with customer quilts but rest assured, I am working my way through them as fast as I can.

I am also making faster than expected progress with my second book. I can't claim this is down to me however. My students seem to be enjoying it (either that or they hate it and are trying to get it finished and out of the way) and are working through it far faster than I expected. This means I have to write faster to keep ahead of them. I have so much more respect for authors who can make them selves to write regularly without this kind of motivation. I know I wouldn't have the discipline to do it. Heck there are days when I would love to bunk off even now. Still I am pleased to say I have managed to write three chapters this week and hopefully that will keep me ahead for a little while.

Monday, September 29, 2008


We had a great weekend off. The weather looked poor with thick fog as we drove up to Santa Pod, but as we arrived it cleared and we got two lovely sunny days. Not too hot just right. OK the evening did get cold but that is to be expected. Unfortunately I seem to have picked up a cold somewhere. It's slowing me down which is frustrating, but things are getting done. After last weeks mass quilting I was feeling pretty smug, and we know what happens when we feel smug, someone brings us back to Earth. Well in this case several someones. I think I now have more to do than I did last week. I wonder if it is related to the very bad weather this summer. I think we had about 2 sunny days, so people have stayed in and sewn. Now everything needs quilting. No I am not complaining. Actually I am rather enjoying having so much variety to work on, but I has slowed my turn around down. Rest assured, that if I have one of your quilts (or more in some cases) I will be getting to it just as fast as I can.

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

Quilting like a mad thing

Wow, it's been a mad few days. I've discovered that having too many quilts waiting (more than 10) is bad. It makes me very uncomfortable. For some reason that is the point where things feel out of control to me. So since my last post I have quilted 6 customer quilts. I feel much better now, if utterly exhausted. It's a little concerning that I still have as many to do (to say nothing of three of my own) but it feels manageable now.

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

Where do I start?

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

Manic day part 2

So I had to leave off quite abruptly this morning as I needed to get out to my next engagement, teaching 'Art quts by numbers'. The hall this time was very close to where we have been staying, which really does make things easier. From the outside Crathes Hall is very functional looking. I can't claim it was the most attrctive building from the outside but inside is a great village hall. The 16 tables fitted nicely, neither cramped nor rattling around. There are a reasonable number of sockets and heating that works. We arrived about 9.30, the hall was cold. By just after 10 we were able to turn the heating down, then by luchtime off. If you've ever had to teach in a chilly hall you will appreciate not only how impressive this is, but also how rare.

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, 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.

Manic, but fun

It wwas a packed day yesterday hance no blogging. We had an early start to get to the enue andd set up. You would be surprised how long it takes to decoate a venue, st up stands and put up signs. Still by the time the visitors were arriving everything was ready. Boy are people keen up here. It was an earlier start than I am used to, 9.30, but the crows was there on time keen to get at the traders. Frankly once the visitors got in there was no chance for me to get near the ales stands, I suspect the traders had a vry good day. Fortunately a very kind lady told Linzi and I we had to buy a copy of Quilt Mania and founr them for us. Both of us have had a quilt featured fron the Festival of Quilts. How cool is that?

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

Cowie and bathrooms.

First thing in the morning I find toilets have a storng pull, however not strong enough to distract me from the amazing view here. How mean is it distracting someone like that. OK not very mean, just rather wonderful.

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

Oooohh, ahhhh, wow!

Is it a good thing or bad thing when you are coming in to land and ealise you aren't going to be somewhere long enough? I suspect it is a good but frustrating thing. This area has great bones, the land undulates beautifully and is punctuated by hills and rivers I can see why so many artists are inspired to create here.

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

Don't you just love it when a plan doesn't come together?

Yes I said doesn't, and yes I did mean it. I had a plan. It seemed like a very good plan, I did a test and everything. I wanted to have the first of the outer borders onto my quilt before it went to Scotland and I am going to use my new technique for doing it. However when I pinned it on (or tried to) it was too short. I was very upset but headed to the bath to console myself. As ever, my best ideas are had in the bath. Had it been the right length, the way I have quilted it would mean I couldn't get the last two borders on. It would have been a real disaster. As it is it will work perfectly. How weird is that? So I will very proudly show my latest quilt, very unfinished and in two pieces as the talk on Saturday. At least it gives me something else to talk about. For those of you who can't make the talk (and why not Scotland is lovely and it really isn't that far) I will post some pictures either while I am there or when I get back. I am hoping to find lots of inspiration while I am there, I think if I am very lucky I might get to two castles which would be great. I am told the landscape in that area (Crathes) is good too, so who knows what I might find. I wonder if there are any local shaggy cattle. I would love to do a quilt of them.

Quilts on display in America

I finally got access to some of my email, although outgoing is still a problem, and I was amazed to find people have seen my quilts. I knew I had quilts in America (you do tend to notice) but I had not expected these two to be on display for a couple more weeks. Apparently "Node with Rope" (they renamed it for me :) and "Guide Me" were on display at Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Harrisburg. It is the first stop of the World Quilt Sow this year. How cool is that? On the other hand neither of them were wearing ribbons, so it could have been cooler. Still I have a picture of my nude at the show and "Guide Me" was too popular for them to be able to get a picture. That's a fantastic thing to be told. At least as good as it's got a ribbon. So thank you to the ladies who sent me the reports, if you would like to send me your postal addresses I would like to send you a little something each.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I've finished one of the outer borders for the quilt I showed you, and I am thrilled with it. OK I couldn't go far wrong in my eyes given I am using silver bias tape on black background to make knots, but still, I am very pleased with it. I also found time to make a test piece (yes really) for the quilt as you go technique I have thought up. It worked exactly as I expected and I like it. I think it could be very versatile, and I have to admit I am going to use it got the outer border of this quilt, even thought it won't appear until my next book. The technique I had been going to use would work fine, but I need the very fine strip anyway so I might as well do it this way. I can't see me getting all four outer borders on before I go, each knot takes nearly 2 hours and I will need 12 of the on the long sides plus 4 corner knots (these should be a lot quicker). Still I should have one on with will be enough to give people the idea. I have decided that I will take this quilt with me for my talk at the regional day. I am not going to be able to take as many quilts as usual so I want try and take some special things to make up for it. Besides they really need to be pieces I can talk about for a while, or I will run out of things to say.

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

Server still down

Our server has eaten it's power supply and our spare. I will be fetching it another one today but I will not be back up and running until at least tonight. This assumes that the mother board is OK, which we won't know until we can get a power supply to work. You can contact me by phone.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Shopping should not be exciting

At least not just going to the supermarket. However when your car won't start and you have under an hour to move it before collecting a 50 pound fine it does get more thrilling, and no not in a good way. I decided that I could push it out of the car park on my own, however I couldn't then stop it rolling down a steep hill onto the main road. Fortunately a local friend was home and able to come and give me a hand. Of course I managed to get the car started once help was on it's way. These things certainly have an interesting sense of humor.

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.

Sneak preview

Well I think I've been hiding this for quite long enough. I have been working on this quilt (on and off) all year and so far it's been hiding. Now it is almost done I've just got to show someone. This is the sample I made for my book. Most of my students have stopped at this stage, but I want this one to be bed sized so I am adding another couple of borders before the final one. It does mean I am going to have a lot more work in my outer border but I think it will be worth it. Hopefully I can get at least the next border on tomorrow, maybe I can get all of them on if not finished.

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

The place to be in London on a Saturday night

I'll admit I'm weird. Sometimes I get a craving for Swedish meatballs and their sauce. I live reasonably close to Ikea so it's something I can at least fix without flying to Sweden. Usually the food shop can supply me but it's been out of stock recently. I thought about coming for lunch today, then sanity kicked in. You don't go to Ikea in the middle of a rainy Saturday, that would be very silly. However my need for meatballs hasn't gone so I figured by dinner time the store wouldn't be too bad. After all anyone less sad than me would have a life and many better things to do on a Saturday evening than have dinner at Ikea right? Wrong, very very wrong. I have never seen it so busy. Apparently this is where you take your loved ones for dinner now. Still I suppose it will mean my dinner hasn't been sitting keeping warm for hours, if and when I eventually get it.

Dead computers everywhere

Just in case anyone is trying to get in touch, I have a very sick network. We think one of our servers isn't talking but it isn't a simple fix. So I am largely out of touch until at least late tomorrow. If you need to get in touch more urgently please phone me. My number is on my website there is a link to the right.

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

Herd Mentality

Yay, it's arrived. Well at least Fedex are showing it as delivered in Houston. So until and unless I hear otherwise I am going to assume it is reasonably safe for the moment. Now I've just got to keep my fingers crossed for a few weeks. Also I think the world quilt show starts soon, so I need to cross another set of fingers for that.

All quilts shipped

Well they've all gone. On time too, just. Yesterday the two for Edinburgh left and Herd Mentality headed for Houston. Today my entry went off the Hever. Sadly I think I will miss the show at Hever. I think I will be in Scotland, so I will be looking forward to a picture of the other challenge quilt. This is a very small challenge that was set to me last year. A grand total of two of us entered. I hope mine will look OK. It;'s somehow a lot more scary with with only two of us in the class. As far as I know it isn't judged, but I am very curious as to the other entry. So please do feel free to send me pictures from the show. I will confess that mine would have had more hand sewing if I could have managed it, but I am very slow by hand, even slower than I had thought, so it has gone as is.

I also delivered the last of the wedding quilts today. Another happy customer and hopefully another happy couple.

Monday, September 01, 2008

One more quilt done

You've got to love piped bindings. They may not be the solution to every problem but for some quilts (especially those you need yesterday) it's great. If you haven't tried it you might like to get yourself a copy of Grand Finale a DVD by Ricky Tims. I was going to point you at his online shop but apparently he is filming at the moment so his shop is shut. Anyway it's a great technique which allows you to complete the binding by machine. Even better the piping looks like a much harder and more time consuming binding even though it is quicker and easier. Neat huh. Now I need to get back to quilting my Hever entry. I would like to have the binding on that today as there is some hand stitching I want to do before it goes. Yes you did hear that right. I want to hand sew!

International Shipping

Argh. Maybe I should just give up on entering quilt shows. I can't believe how complex it is to ship a quilt through customs and back. OK it is being made harder by me wanting in insure it for more than $45 and the show wanting me to use that as it's value. I've talked to so many people about how to do this, and frankly I am none the wiser. I could spend about 1000 pounds to get it a passport. I may then be required to pay the full value of the quilt to US customs to get it into their country, although I might get it back when it comes home. I can't afford that. I could send it out on a temporary export, exactly like I have done every other time, but then I would need to give a sensible value on the customs form to insure it. The show doesn't think that is a good idea. I could ship it with no insurance and hope. Oh and I've been warned that when you tell US customs something is of no commercial value they like to cut the corner off just to be sure. Guess what I am supposed to put on the form. So send it uninsured with an invitation to cut it up. It's not sounding like something I want to do. Of course I don't have anything better to be doing, I love trying to figure out a way to get around three different sets of rules at the same time. No really I do.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Too busy to post

I am quilting everything in sight. I have my quilt for Hever to finish, and several urgent customer quilts. Of course I still need to get everything ready for Scotland too. Yes I am looking forward to it but I have a lot to do before I go. I have to get my new quilt at least drafted and the first section written, ideally I would like the quilt finished. What do you think? Will it happen?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Out first round

We lost in the first round to a previous champion. In a very close race, he crossed the line first by 0.004 seconds, and won by virtue of having the smaller breakout. Still, the 13.82 at over 101mph (albeit on a 13.88 dialin) set new bests for both ET and speed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


For a while there it did look like we would get a second qualifier. However, it's now pouring with rain and there is a 5pm curfew. I think it is safe to say we have finished for the day now.

We had entertainment in the pit today. A balloon modeler. I did try to be grown up, but he taunted me for long enough and I had to have a penguin. It's very cool isn't it. I've included a picture of his URL so you can go and have a look at his work. Apparently he does a lot of more complex sculpture when he can sit and work. The things I've seen are just the quick bits. I found it interesting how much he manipulated the balloons. Some of them seem to yank and twist and hope. Billy doesn't he seems to persuade the balloons to do what he wants. It was really fascinating how many ways he could shape the balloons.


That run was our first over 100mph run. Woot.

Run 1

Well we made it. We have a run on the board. A touch red, but still we will be racing tomorrow. We dialed in 13.75 we didn't want to break out, and we ran 13.87 so that much worked. 0.127 break out though. I am hoping he has that out of his system now and we will get a ood run later.


We made it to the track late yesterday evening after rewiring most of the front of the race car. Front in this case is defined as everything in front of the battery, -which lives over the rear axle. There wasn't a fault, but several, some were not actually implicated but were fixed anyway.

Hopefully we will get two qualifying runs today, the whole field will go through to eliminations so any run will do. Realistically we are in the hands of the weather. We woke up to torrential rain, but now we have clear sunny skies. Hopefully this will last. Now I had better get signed on and we will be ready for our first run arround midday.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Progress. Slow

Well, the race car doesn't have a faulty starter motor, and we are about to get the alternator tested. Apparently it is a likely suspect given our symptoms. If it isn't that we are back to tracing wires. Not our favourite sport.

On the other hand I did find and fix Joker. Her coolent expandion tank had developed a crack. Quick theft from our other 2.8i and we should be good to go. Now fingers crossed on fixing Trogdor.

Friday, August 22, 2008

poop, poop, poop

No that doesn't cover how I am feeling but I do try to keep the language clean here. So what am I doing blogging when I really should be at least half way to the track. Well, as you may know, our race car is street legal. Not only does it drive to the track but we can also use it as transport. In the last week I think it may have done more miles than my street car. It's been running great, better in fact than any of our other cars. So tonight we prepare to set off, it turns over once and dies. Dead deadity dead. Auto electrics are not our favourite subject at the best of times, and this isn't the moment. So we are now planning an early morning to try and fix it in the light, and hopefully only miss one round of qualifiers.

Of course, never a household to have only one sick vehicle, the bike broke down earlier (which is why we are so late leaving) and my car has become incontinent again. I swear they talk. How else could the all manage to get sick at the same time every time? I suppose I may at least have a chance to tape up my hose before we go now.

Lots of progress

I think I mentioned I have a rush of wedding quilts to do for customers. As I am trying to take it a bit easy after the festival I am doing an hour of longarming then an hour of something sitting down. I am loving the drawing board. Not only does it make drawing my designs a whole lot easier I can use it to support the applique block as I make it. I didn't quite finish it yesterday so no picture yet. I guess I did about half of it and a test of of the stitching as well. I also made about half the blocks for a quilt that is now stuck in my head. I want to finish the top before I share that one, sorry. It is inspired by Ricky Tims, which is kinda why it is impatient and quick to make. I am pleased with it so far.

Today has also been productive. I have the top for my Hever quilt made, I just need to quilt and bind it now. It will be quilted on a domestic machine so I can do it along side the customer work. I might have got further but I had to unblock a drain. Never the most glamorous job, but not usually a big deal. Take the ubend off, clean it out job done right? No, take off the next joint, clean that too, still no good. Eventually after two hours work with poky things and acid I have a clear drain. Great but I would have rather been quilting.

Still I have a few days away from the studio now. I am putting on my crew hat for the weekend. We are off to Shakespere County Raceway to play with car. Hopefully the weather forecast will be right and we will have dry days with the rain restricted to the middle of the night. I can't honestly call it time off as I do intend to do some more work on my second book while I am way, and maybe find time to try drawing again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Proud to be sticky!

I know at least one reader will understand. I have been playing with glue stick and I am actually sticky. To me this is amazing. I went and bought a brand new glue stick earlier and it is working great. I was really good. They had a great deal on 6 sticks but I only bought two. Given we think my problems in the past have been down to old sticks I am determined to only try to use fresh. Oh and it is working for what I am trying to do as well. Maybe later I will show you.

I wonder what strange searches will lead here today :)

Back in the real world

I've almost recovered from my five days at the Festival of Quilts. It was great to meet so many of you there, and welcome to all the new friends I met. I had a lot of fun at the show, and surprisingly spent very little. I did get a lot of hand dyed fabric, from both Ricky Tims and Heide Stoll Weber. I want to have some more interesting backgrounds for my wholecloths, although it is going to make it trickier selecting threads.

I can finally show you some better pictures of my quilts, and the awards you get from the Festival. I know a lot of people have very strong views on ribbons. Love them or hate them, personally I don't mind what form the award takes. I can display certificates just as easily as ribbons, and they all have their own character. I guess if pushed I would most like trophies, but there are plenty of those I don't like the look of, so I'll just enjoy anything I get. I am, probably excessively, pleased to have the little plaque with the judges comment on. I think it is a really nice touch to give them their say actually on the winners plinth. Even if you don't agree with the judges you can now see some of their reasoning. The other thing I thought was really good was that the judges are named on that plaque too. I was very lucky, the first show I ever entered I met one of the judges, who told me she had judged my quilt. She was happy to tell me what I could have done better, it made sense and I haven't forgotten her advice. That was so helpful. I don't know if I am thrilled or petrified that Sandy Lush judged my wholecloth, but I am glad I know.

I've mentioned that I am working on a couple of projects with people from the comics industry. Well some of you net them over the weekend, and if you would like to have a look at Cancertown there are some sneak previews here. You might also like to take a look Raggedman in the links section to the right.

Finally, if you haven't already had a look there is an article on my web site from Canadian author Lorina Stephens. I met her many years ago when I was looking for costuming patterns. She used to run an amazing web store with everything you might want for period costuming. I was very disappointed when she gave it up to write. However she turns out to be a very good writer, so I guess I have to forgive her. I also love her art work, so when you've read her article do go and take a look at her site.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Virtual Book Tour

I am the third stop on Lorina Stephens Virtual book tour. Take a look at the article on my web site. She is a very creative lady who has self published several books. If you would like to check out the second stop on the tour you will find it here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

He get's it.

Wow. If you ever get the chance to see Ricky Tims do. He is very entertaining. However, never offer him salmon, and especially not salmon sandwiches. He finds they like to get cozy in his sleeve, and they really don't flush well.

My favourite quote of the evening is "however bad things are they could always be worse". It's so true, and when people forget it, it often makes itself felt. He also reminded us that freelance is a fancy way of saying unemployed. It's something I have often felt so it was good to hear someone agree with me.

I enjoyed hearing where he has come from, and where he wants to go. It was great to see his dogs, hogs and buildings. I would love to be able to go on retreat with him, if nothing else the landscape there is so inspiring.

Finally, I have to mention his music. His first couple of pieces were not to my taste, but I could see why he chose them. As he went on he played a lot more of his own compositions, and those I loved, especially when he played the flute, it seems to push so much more emotion than the piano. Sorry Ricky, the piano was great, but for me the flute was better. Sorry the picture isn't better, but there is a limit to what I can do as a small image on a phone.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Workshop at the FoQ

So, when I wasn't wandering about like a stunned fish yesterday I was in a workshop. It was a lot of fun marbling fabrics. I know I can't spell the tutors name without it in front of me, so rather than butcher it I will leave it for now. She is a very bubbly german lady, who had brought over everything we needed, all we hhad to do was turn up. It made it a ver relaxing experience, something of a holiday before the main event. We mostly worked in small A3 ish trays. I think I did about 13 small pieces of fabric, some of which I think are lovely. In the afternoon she showed us how to work on larger pieces, which is even more fun, and I suspeect highly addictive. The pictuure shows her removing one of these larg pieces from the tray. i would highly recommend her classes.

Today I have been out and about in the show and helping on the Patchwork Corner stand. It's been busy and we seem to be selling out of things fast. i hope this means packing up will be easier, but I am not holding my breath for it. i suspect however much you sell it always feels like you have more to take home than you brought with you.

I am now on my way to an evening with Ricky Tims, who's name I have spelled wrong forever, sorry Ricky. I finally managed to meet him today nad he is a lovely guy. I thought he would be from his DVD's but you can never be sure. It's good to know I was right. I might let you know later how it wen't, depending on how late it is and how tired I am.


There is a disadvantage to going around the show early the first morning. The awards aren't all up. So my last report wasn't entirely accurate. If I've got this right (and it is late) my final tally is,
Judges choice - Herd Mentality
Highly commended - Radience
Third place - Contemporary Small - Heat
First place - Pictorial - Herd Mentality
First place - Longarm - Flying Feathers

Yes I am thrilled, and somewhat stunned. I did decide I had to go to the gala dinner, and actually the food was very good this year. I don't know what has happened but I am impressed. Strangely I found it far more nerve wracking to go and collect prizes that to give talks. I guess it is a control issue, but it was interestinmg enough to slightly distract me from how scared I was.

When I got back to my hotel I ran into some guys here for another conference, Magic the Gathering. Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't like it, but I do, and I think they have learned something about quilting too. Hopefully I can catch up with them tomorrow night. I am going to be exhausted at the end of this.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Festival update

I thought I could skip the gala dinner this year. It's expensive and I don't enjoy it, so last night when I got a call suggesting I go I told them I had other plans. I did too. Fortunately quilters understand that when you win awards you might have to stand them up. I think the pictures tell the rest of the story. Heat is wearing 3rd in contemporary small in case you can't read it. Sorry the white quilt isn't clearer, it is hard to photograph with a phone.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Excited - I think

I've just had a phone call suggesting I might like to change my plans for tomorrow night. Perhaps I would like to go to the Gala dinner, it might be to my advantage. Hmmm, I really don't enjoy the dinner, but maybe I should be there. I will look at the list tomorrow morning and make a decision I think.

Wow, a stand and a good hotel.

I am stunned, I've got an amazing room and it was the penultimate room on site. It's not a cheap room, although it's full price is less than the other hotels full price rooms. I wish I had had room to bring some of my quilts with me. They would look great on the huge high bed and in front of a purple faux leather headboard.

I arrived at the NEC before 11 this morning. The van had already been unloaded and the shelves assembled. We have been working pretty solidly since and we still have a few small things to do. Well actually Jenny has a few tweaks to do. I am on a workshop tomorrow. I think the stand is looking pretty good. It is I20 near the back of the hall. It's also close to the longarm gallery. Do come and say hello.

I had a little time to walk around this afternoon. There are some wonderful small galleries, I can't wait to have a better look at them. I don't know why but I was very surprised to see a Ricky Timms quilt. Thinking about it, it isn't surprising given he is speaking and teaching here, but I hadn't thought about it.

Hopefully I will have some time to look around tomorrow, but if not I will on Friday.

and off we go

I am about to head off to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham. Today is set up day for the traders and I will be helping Jenny get the Patchwork Corner stand ready. It's an odd day at the show. You'll just have to take my word for it that it will look very different by tomorrow. Today is also judging day, but no the results don't go up until Thursday morning. I guess someone has the job of typing and printing results sheets tonight. It can't be much fun and they must have to do a pretty big print run overnight to give a copy to everyone tomorrow. So bear a thought for the huge team who will be putting your show together until pretty late tonight, and indeed for the teams doing all the shows around the world, it's a big job. Hope to see you over the next few days. I will try to keep you updated.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Progress report - Block of the Month

I managed to get a reasonable amount done yesterday on the block of the month. I think it is starting to look like the picture on the pattern now. Always a good sign. As you can see I finished the feathered star at the centre of the quilt, which makes a huge difference.I already had a lot of the border pieces finished, or close to finished which meant getting to here was pretty quick.

This morning I have added two more stars already, and I have all the pieces cut to fill in the area at the bottom between the centre and the pinwheel border. The pinwheel border to the right needs extending by a couple of blocks then that will be ready to go on as well.

To the left I think the next border is flying geese, so I should be able to get those on as well today. I do have all day Tuesday to work on it so you never know I might get it all together. I certainly think I will have a good amount of it done. I guess I had better stop gossiping and get back to work.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A third Woo Hoo!

Yesterday should have been a three woo hoo, kind of day. Well it was but I needed to take overnight for the last one to sink in. Herd Mentality has been selected for the Houston "Quilts: A World of Beauty" exhibit. I am so excited. I've been trying to get into this show for a while without success, and I really didn't expect to do any better this year, so when I got the email I had to read it several times to be sure. It was lovely to be able to tell the group I was speaking to last night too. I was feeling a bit guilty as so many of my quilts are off doing their thing at shows and galleries. I've realised this is the hardest time of the year to do talks, although I do now have enough work to be able to do it. I guess this will get easier every year too, but still I felt bad about it. Somehow being able to give them the news first helped a bit.

Honebee Quilters are a lovely little group, surprisingly close to where I live. They also have a nice range of quilters from absolute beginners to really experienced. It was nice to see so many people actively sharing their skill and knowledge, this is what we need if quilting is to have a long and exciting future. They are also a very open minded group. They loved the idea of punk quilting, drag racing and collaborative projects with other areas. I've now got the source artwork for my first cross over piece, and after the shows I will be getting started on it. I think it is safe to say my first foray into this new area will be large and eye catching. Possibly also rather challenging, what a traditional artist can do fairly easily with a pencil will be very tricky to replicate with a longarm, but I do like a challenge.

On the subject of challenges, I am trying to complete a quilt top before I go to the Festival Of Quilts. I am going up Wednesday, and I will be out all day Monday. It is the block of the month that Patchwork Corner are running. I fell in love with it because I think it will be great to quilt. Oh boy! It has a lot of pieces and I am finding working form someone else's instructions, and in their way quite a change. Still I think I am over half way, and accelerating. I have month one finished. This is the corner triangles that go around the center block. The center block is about 3/4 done, I needed a change last night so I did month one to get a breather. I've also made several pieces of border, only some of them have made it up to the design wall though. I've decided that rather than make the pieces in month order I will work from the center of the quilt outward. This is partly because I know I am motivated by seeing progress and I think it will look more like I am getting somewhere if I have a large piece of top together rather than lots of smaller pieces. Also if I don't quite finish on time I will have something that can be displayed, where lots of disjointed parts can't. My final reason is it will give me a chance to adjust things if I find my sewing isn't as accurate as I hope, and I will be spacing the adjustments in between other sewing. I don't find the adjusting and fiddling terribly exciting so this will also make things easier for me. Now wish me luck I have a lot of piecing to do and not a lot of time to do it in.