Saturday, June 28, 2008

I've got some great friends

Over the last 24 hours I've been forcefully reminded how many amazing people I know. Life has suddenly got very difficult for me but I have been innundated with support. You are all very much appreciated. It's when things get tough you really find out where you stand. With the amount of lift you guys are supplying I be back in the light in no time. Go send an email to an old friend, you know it makes sense.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ammersbeker Patchworkfestival 2008

Well I know where 'Winter Star' has been most recently. It was on display at the Ammersbeker festival last weekend. I'm going to have to improve my German before I can be sure whether people loved it or hated it, but I hope from the number of hits to my site this week it is the latter. So hello to all my quilts new friends in Germany. I guess I will have to try and find out a bit more about this show and see if there is a way to enter it next year. If anyone in Europe (or indeed further afield) has seen this quilt out and about over the last year I would love to know where it has been and what it has been up to. Of course if it has been misbehaving perhaps I don't need to know, but I think that is fairly unlikely.

Now back to my troublesome wholecloth for the NEC this year. I have worker out the new design, and hopefully it will play a bit better. Who knows? Still I have a couple of nice easy quilts I can do while I finish off the design, and several other tops I need to piece. I am starting to think that going to the Festival of Quilts will be a good chance to get some piecing done!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My quilts read my blog.

It certainly seems like they do anyway. Today the postman brought me a box. Odd, for once I wasn't expecting anything. It wasn't a small box either and had the feel of fabric to it. Weighty but no rattle. Nope still not ringing any bells. It had a customs declaration from Germany, and that really confused me. I can only think of one thing I would be buying from there and I have that planned for the Festival of quilts. So, perplexed, I opened the box and found one of my quilts inside! It's 'Winter Star' home from it's travels. See it must have read Mondays post.

I don't know quite where it has been, but it seems safe to assume it's last stop was Germany. If I had known it was on it's way back I would have entered it into Houston, but you can't win them all. I think it will be just young enough to try next year. I'd like to give it a go as several people have said they think it is the best quilt I have made. For now it is on display at Patchwork Corner, trying to get the creases out. I do find that my whole cloth quilts seem very prone to picking up creases. I will have to go over to wool wadding as soon as possible.

My final NEC piece is giving me trouble. I am especially upset by it as I actually made a prototype of this one. A first for me. It didn't help, I don't like the real thing at all. I think my main issue is the trapunto just isn't as crisp and even as I would like. So I have redesigned my quilt and will start again in a couple of days. I have some customer work I can be doing in the mean time.

and 4pm Sunday the 6 Next weekend is the Project Linus Quiltathon at Patchwork Corner. We have a good number of helpers signed up already but more would be good. If you can spare any time between 10am Saturday the 5thth we would love to see you. There will be plenty of sewing cutting and pressing to be done. Also if you would like to donate any fabric we would be happy to have more. We are especially looking for more fabrics for boys. I know they are trickier to find, but we must try to help both sexes evenly. As well as showing you some techniques for very quick quilts we will have a machine quilting frame set up. Perhaps this would be a good time for you to get some practice at using it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

All quilts home safe

Well that was an experience. Fitting a quilt that size on the tube (which was abnormally busy) was more interesting than I needed. By the time I got home I was not in the mood for calm detailed quilting so I went to fetch my Sandown quilts from Sally who had kindly given them a bed for the night (yes literally). I hear it took a lot of people to collect, fold and carry my quilts so thank you all. If you see me at the Festival of Quilts do come up and say hi and tell me you were one of the helpers I would like to thank you in person, and I know I won't be able to put faces to the names.

My quilts seem to have enjoyed their stay with Sally. Most of them have never tried a bed and seem much better for the experience. I suspect I am somewhat in disgrace with Sinclair (Sally's cat, or her feline owner depending on your perspective) as I caused him to be shut out of a room. Cats hate being refused access to anything and knowing there were some perfectly decent quilts to be claimed must have made it even worse. still I fussed him a lot today so I might be forgiven.

Despite the lack of awards, I might have to admit that was probably my most successful quilt show. I met so many lovely people, and got to catch up with many more. I got to see a quilt from one of my workshops and hear about several others. I've already had bookings for talks and a couple of enquiries about the quilting system, so from that point of view alone I would have to consider it a success. One of my most memorable conversations, and probably most interesting was with a lady who doesn't like raw edge applique. I am really pleased she had the confidence to actually say so, as really I don't either. I do use it a lot as it is the only way I have found to get the look I want, but I still don't really like it. Sadly as soon as I turn under even a very small edge I find it adds very distracting edges and shadows. Personally I quite like hearing other peoples opinions. Some I will never understand, but it is still fascinating to know how my work is seen.

Finally, for now at least, thank you Kate for the nicest complement I've had. Now I had better get back to my quilting. I need as much practice time as I can get if I am going to try and out do Mandy next year. I wonder if I will need to wait for her to retire before I get this one though :)


Well I made it through the weekend. Perhaps rounding off Sandown with a concert was overdoing it a bit, but I don't miss Queensrych. I do have some photos I wanted to share but in my haste to leave I forgot my camera. I will pick it up from the shop tomorrow.

It was a good show. I met so many wonderful people. A very special hello to the Russian quilters. It's so rare to find people who understand why I am careful about people photographing my work. Also a huge thank you to everyone who helped in collecting my quilts. I hear it was quite a team effort. People think I am crazy when I say quilting is a very physical sport. I suspect those collecting my work would agree with me. It is really appreciated. Now I am on my way to the RA to collect the piece that didn't get in, it is the same size as "Nude with Rope" but mounted on a rigid frame. I have to get it home on the tube, so wish me luck.

Friday, June 20, 2008


The awards are now up so I can answer the question you've all been asking. I won absolutely nothing. Not even a Judges Merit. I really am going to have to stick the US shows, they like my work. On the other hand we have found space on the stand to hang Nude with Rope, which I never expected to be able to bring here, which is great. So if you are coming keep an eye open for it and say hello.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Slow Progress

I've finally started quilting the last of my four entries for the NEC this year. It's been planned and even marked up for some time, but it just hadn't seemed like the right time to start.Now is. I would show you a picture but after several hours work there really isn't much to see. It's a little depressing to tell the truth, but I am sure it will get there eventually. Right now I need a break. I've discovered I can buy MP3 books from Blackstone Audio. They are great, a whole book on one CD! On the down side I used to mark an hours quilting by having to change the CD, and every hour I took a break of some sort. No break in the book, no break in the quilting. I think I am going to have to set an alarm or something because I need those breaks. On the other hand I am really enjoying hearing some of my all time favourite stories. Last week I was listening to Spider Robinson, and this week it is Robert Heinlein. Having had a break I guess I can do a little more quilting while I wait to find out where in London Tet is going to be stranded when the tubes stop.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The National Quilt Championships, Sandown

Well the car is packed and now I am at a bit of a loss. I am normally panicking right now. I guess this is the advantage of entering quilts you've already made. I have five quilts going into Sandown this year.(Why is it quilt shows are more often known by their location than their name?) 'Guide me' will be making it's last UK appearance before it heads off to the World Quilt Show. Perttu, the cellist has only been seen at my gallery show so this is his first competitive outing. I hope he will go down well, he does at least have some clothes on.

I've also put in "Where is the North Star?". This is a quilt I made for the theme category at Malvern a couple of years ago, and it hasn't been out since. I show it as my talks and it is a very popular quilt, so I decided I aught to put it in another quilt show. If It hadn't had such an amazing response in talks I would still be sitting in the storage unit.

This is "My Fat Quarter of Paradise" It is one of the quilts DHL failed to deliver to a show. It is HUGE. I have no way of getting a good picture of it at home, this is it in a Hotel room. I love the quilting on it but I don't like paying postage to send it to shows. So as I can deliver it to this one, it's going. The hanging sleeve isn't at the top of this quilt to keep the bottom of it off the floor. Hopefully this will work at Sandown.

My last entry is "Lily". This is another quilt I have entered because of other peoples reaction to it. I can't say I like this quilt, but I have to accept a lot of other people do. I would say it was the second most popular quilt in my solo show. I don't get it but I figure it has earned it's place in shows. If you are in Region 1 of the Quilters Guild you will have seen it in your regional magazine recently. Here is your chance to see it in the flesh. It will be interesting to see it the judges agree with my visitors, if they do I will be checking with more people before spending money on entering quilt shows :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

World Quilt Show

I got home to an email telling me that both of my quilts made it into the World Quilt Show. Just as well I didn't manage to enter 'Guide Me' into Houston as well. One of the really nice things about this show, is that you send the quilts to a local coordinator so you don't have to worry about international postage. No customs forms, no couriers. Just a very reasonable fee and Christine Porter deals with all the tricky bit for you. If you are looking for an easy way into showing quilts in the US do consider this show next year. I would have given you a heads up this year, but I nearly missed it myself.


We woke up to blue sky, not bad given the weather forecasts we have had. Could this be a promising start to the day? Over night the ladder (list of who races who) had been re-written, so we were no longer against the Weasel. We were now racing Dan Devlin. We had a long pause in the pairing lane while the track was cleaned, but managed to meet up with a friend who helped us push the car, which was much appreciated.

Before running we do a burnout. This is spinning the rear (our driven wheels) wheels to heat up the tyres, to help them stick. We do this by sitting the wheels in water so the lose grip then pulling the car forward a little. I was worried, the water was minimal and I've not had a lot of practice, but I thought I had done OK. The tyres spun a little then the car pulled forward and stopped. Did I miss? I wish it had been that simple, the throttle cable had broken and we had to push the car back. Our competitior obviously took the win and is through to the next round.

We managed to drive back to the pit by raising the idle speed (how fast the engine runs when you don't press the throttle pedal). On the way a lot of concerned racers came to see us. This is what I love about this sport. Most racers want to win on the track, not with a mechanical failure. So down to Halfords to look for a spare, without joy. They do have bycycle spares though, so we are using a bycycle brake cable instead. It might hold to get us home and if it brakes we will come to a graceful halt. I like things that fail safe. Even better I will be the car behind and I know it might happen. In case you hadn't gathered the race car is street legal and drives to and from the track. One of the race cars I have just seen leaving goes one better. It tows it's support caravan as well. How cool is that, a race car that can drag it's pit with it.

I guess it's time to watch some racing and take some photos before we head home.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Time on the board

Woo hoo, we have a time on the board and it isn't raining yet. Heavy on the yet. We ran a 13.97 on a 13.93 dial in. That's pretty good, oh and here comes the rain.

On a quilting note, I've designed a new class quilt today. My Thursday regulars have asked for a new quilt as you go project, which rukes out my second sampler quilt which is almost ready to run. So yet again I needed to come up with something special for them. It has to include some piecing and some applique. That's tricky as I don't normally do functional applique, but I think I have come up with a good solution. In between runs I've even managed to start writing it up.

Over excited fingers!

We ran 13.92 not 9.92. 9.92, in a street legal Capri I wish :)


So we are either thrilled or disapointed or maybe both. We do what is known as bracket racing. You predict the time your car will take to run a quarter of a mile from a standing start. You then try to run exactly that time without going quicker. This allows fast cars to race slower ones on an equal footing. As we aren't sure how many qualifying runs we will get we wanted to make sure we didn't run faster, breakout and not get a qualifying time.

Trogdor, the Capri has not run a 13 second quarter mile at any of the other events, but it has run very low 14s so a conservative 13.97 second seemed a good bet. The track is good and a lot of big cars ran before us (which helps). So a nice launch, a good reaction time, and by half track I was worried. This was looking good, possibly too good. Indeed 9.92 came up on the end board. So this is the fastest run yet, which is great, but a lousy qualifier. Let's hope we get another run today.


Well we made it through without any problems, sadly a lot of others had a much harder time. Apparently convertibles aren't supposed to be running, and there are so many rules about wheels I've lots track.

On the other hand they have sorted out the supplier of electricity. Cables are being supplied and the staff are working their socks off to make sure everyone has power. I wasn't here for the other events but I can tell it's a huge deal for those who were.

Hmmm rain... That wasn't supposed to happen yet.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer nationals

So I've made it to my first race meeting of the season. I'd got out of the habit having been very busy with work and not keen of sitting at a drag strip in the rain, but it's great to be back. Being able to pick up the pit pass and tickets without hassle was lovely, and getting to catch up with people I haven't seen for months was great.

I am now sitting in our pit while the car goes through scrutineering. Aparently they are being more strict than usual, and I know I don't deal well with authority so the most useful thing I can do is keep out of it. It's a shame I was quite looking forward to seeing what goes on, but it's more important that the car gets through. Our main concerns are all wheel related. Whether there is enough stud length coming out of the hubs and whether our wheel nuts are 'right'. Both have been fine so far, but others have been turned back, so we are worried. Watch this space for the result.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Speed Quilt 2

Strangely I was just putting the binding on this quilt when I got an email asking for a picture of it. I figured I may as well finish before posting. So here is Speed Quilt 2. I guess I would call it a large single, and most people should be able to pretty much complete the sewing in one day. It is a reversible quilt as you go project, and being quick is ideal for those people you aught to give a quilt to but you know they won't really get it. As you can see mine is quite soft colours on the front and something a bit more striking on the back.

If you would like to have a go at making one there are still a couple of places on my class on the 24th June. Call Patchwork Corner to book a place as they are running the class. Alternatively you could ask your local quilt group or shop to book me to teach it there. Sorry, but if you are not in the UK you will either have a large travel bill or need to find some other groups who will also book me.

For those of you booked already, I hope this will help with picking your fabrics, the quilt will be at Patchwork Corner as of tomorrow.

Faux pas averted

I normally keep pretty good records of where my quilts are when. yesterday I dutifully updated it and checked which quilts I could enter into the Houston show. Then this morning I spoke to Sally who happened to mention the World Quilt Show. Abut and hour later my brain finally kicked in and pondered what I had entered into that show. According to my records nothing! OK I know that is wrong and I have that sinking feeling. One of the quilts I had planned to put into Houston might already be committed. Fortunately Christine Porter, and her lovely husband are more organized than I am and confirmed my fears. "Guide Me" is trying for the world show so cannot be entered into Houston. The upshot is I remembered just in time to avoid committing a cardinal sin in the quilting world. Don't you just know it would have got into both shows if I hadn't spotted it. Of course I have probably jinxed the world show now but I think that is better than the alternative. I have just couriered my entry of "Herd Mentality" to Houston. Wish it luck.

A photo at last.

I finally got a decent picture of this quilt. I did get one of it straight on but it didn't show as well. So here it is lying down.

It is almost exactly 1m square (which I am finding stupidly satisfying). All the threads used are essentially purple. The lightest in the middle is a very soft lilac and the swirls at the outer edge are a dark purple. This quilt will be on display at the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham NEC in August.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Where I went for the weekend.

Also known as inspiration for abstract quilts. So this is the fine view I have this morning. Any guesses what you are looking at? Well the large grey (cleanish) bit is the new petrol tank that has been taking up so much of my time in good weather. We finally had good weather when we were at home to work on my car. I think I mentioned that her coolent leak has been fixed so this is all that is needed to get her back working. Yesterday I discovered that the muscles I've been building up with the quilting have a practical use, bench pressing petrol tanks. About 7pm yesterday we had the new tank in place and connected up. Great, just a trip to the petrol station and I'm ready to go.

You've probably never taken the petrol tank off your car, so trust me when I say the fuel takes what seems like an eternity to reach the engine. We have, and we knew this, but boy this particular eternity was getting to be a long one. Then it dawned on me, I couldn't hear the fuel pump. They are pretty loud on the 2.8i Capris you do normally notice them. After double checking and comparing with the other car we realised that the pump wasn't pumping and it did have power. I know we should have checked it before fitting it, at least before putting the petrol back in the tank,- but we didn't. So now we have to swap th pumps over. So right there in the picture you see the non working pump. We have decided a new piece of hose is in order so I am sitting looking after the car and tools while the hose is fetched. Some much welcome downtime in which I can blog.

I have also been doing a lot of sewing, and some designing. It seems ideas come more freely when I spend time under cars, which is great. Sadly I don't have time to make use of them right now, but I will get to them eventually. I currently have a long awaited quilt on the frame. It is for a customer I have come to know quite well over the months we tried to schedule this quilt. It started to seem that everytime we set a date some misfortune would strike. It really was getting rather disturbing. It's a great relief to have it on the frame. It's quite a tricky quilt to work on. Being both busy and plain at the same time. I had a few ideas but knew they weren't quite right, I asked a non quilter for a second opinion. The solution is very strange, but is working well. I look forward to being able to show you it soon.

I've had a lot of questions about my latest black wholecloth. It will be at the NEC this year and is about 1m square. It is a pig to photograph, which is why I haven't posted one yet. I've got several shots that look like I left the lens cap on. I guess this isn't going to be a famous quilt. I really should consider how easy a quilt will be to photograph before I make it. My other entries for the NEC are largely ready. herd Mentality has a facing rather than a binding, it was the best of a lot of bad options. I am going to try it in the Houston competition too. I an hoping it will be less challenging and more striking than the work I've tried before. Yes I know the deadline is looming. Couriers are at times very handy. I guess my hose should be almost here so I will sign off and be ready to get back to the car.