Sunday, 17 December 2017

Technowizard or Semi Domestic Goddess?



I have been flitting about all over the place this week and forgetting to take photos. On Monday I did an allover linear pattern on a customer quilt - it had multiple seams because it was pieced with dozens of small equilateral triangles so I had to watch it like a hawk. I made a good old-skool chocolate cake for Fergus’ 16th birthday and it was even shaped like a completely normal cake.

On Tuesday I oversaw 3 DIY customer quilts (with no photographic evidence!).

On Wednesday I took Fergus into Aberdeen for his Grade 8 guitar exam. We are hopeful of a high grade after the examiner escorted back to the waiting room and said he had been “outstanding”! Slightly daunted by the countdown to Christmas I had a frenzy of online ordering, hoping that it would all arrive on time. 

On Thursday morning I completed the festive shopping for my family in England then wrapped and dispatched their parcel. I even bought stamps and posted Christmas cards, despite swearing every year that this will be the last time.

I had to hurriedly put together proposals for longarm classes at FOQ 2018 to meet the December submissions deadline even though it is still 8 months away. 

It was lethally icy outside and I could not even get the Landy back into my driveway after skating up the track. Amazingly, Farmer Raymond appeared as if by magic and spread some sand to make life easier. 



Before I knew it, Friday came along and I had to make video demos for the new Bernina longarm echo clips. I did this solo with the GoPro camera attached to the machine. It took 4 hours to upload them so I hope they are useful enough that I can get away without major edits. My next challenge was to update the software/firmware for a major improvement of the Qmatic system. It all went swimmingly so I now need to carve out time to explore the new features. 



I achieved my major objectives of the weekend - wrapping the parcels so that job is done in the vain hope that I might get some piecing or cutting done at some point during the coming week;) I had a practice run at baking Maria’s white chocolate cookies. I would not win points for their appearance in a baking competition as they were not dainty but they tasted great. I plan to make Bumble the Scottie some dog biscuits for Christmas because she has not asked Santa for anything else. She gave me permission to buy myself some gin-filled Christmas baubles in case the shop ran out!






Sunday, 10 December 2017

Auf Wiedersehen Coburg and Fitlike Crathes



I spent my last full day in Coburg with Regina trying to learn all of the commands for Qmatic. We made good progress but did not conquer it completely, hoping that the forthcoming update will make it even more user friendly. We ventured into the city of Coburg to do some Christmas shopping which will have to remain a mystery for now;) And bought the most delicious Lebkuchen from the bakery, not at all like packaged gingerbread cookies. I only just managed to zip my purchases into my suitcase but decided that it would be safest to transport my glass “kugels” as hand luggage.

We made a detour to a Gudrun Sjoden clothing outlet but it was difficult to choose from so many lovely colours and sadly, after that it was time to head to the airport after an absolutely super trip.

I spent most of the next day unpacking, catching up on emails and attempting to add some  machine embroidery to the pleather piece. I abandoned that after a while as the piece was too big and too stiff to scrunch up under the domestic Bernina 710 so my collaborative friend, Christine, can chop it up and play with it when it arrives in Florida. 




Light snow and ice cause a bit of disruption to the school bus and I was frustrated by a conference call to Switzerland when the wifi dropped out so I got on with an allover customer quilt then swiftly prepared the next one as I have 3 to finish before Christmas. In addition, I thought it was a good idea to cut out a little side project in case I run out of things to do…



Things are becoming festive here - On Friday evening I went to a very nice Christingle supper with friends then on Saturday morning Nella had her choir Christmas concert. Later we headed into Aberdeen to attempt some Christmas shopping. The so-called Christmas market was NOT at all like a German one:P We only bought a couple of things as it was too busy to bother but we did at least get Fergus a couple of birthday gifts. I am hoping that I will get the rest of my shopping online or locally. 




Sunday was chilly and chilled out and Bumble seemed to enjoy her first outing in a smart, new fleece sweater. I even managed to write some Christmas cards which I must remember to post on time. I can forecast some multi-tasking in the week ahead!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Winter Wonderland in Coburg



I worked on a piece of blank, cream pleather for almost 3 days and finished quilting it before I packed my bags for my German trip. There is still a little stitching to add before I send it off to my collaboration partner, Christine Escanes. 



I did not anticipate the blizzard conditions on the way to the airport, early on Thursday,  before any other cars were on the road. The road was white with ice and snow and it took twice as long as normal with some scary junction approaches. Amazingly, the airport was clear and the journey to Nuremberg via Schipol went smoothly. 




It was great to meet Regina and head straight to a lovely supermarket in Coburg. Not only is there is vast choice of everything but the choice of fresh veg and deli items is amazing. The next stop was a beer shop which only sold beer!





For the next 2 days I had 3 lovely students who worked hard on two projects. It was challenging to complete both of them but they worked as fast as they could and all had great results. In between the quilting there was delicious food, some wine and chocolate and much chat. The students and machines coped admirably with a range of materials, threads and needles. 













On Saturday evening we headed into the centre of Coburg to experience the Christmas market and enjoy a well deserved mug of gluhwein. It was crowded with a great atmosphere but far too busy for shopping. The sights and smells were enough! This was followed by a late supper of traditional Bavarian food at a local brewery. 








The students all headed home on Sunday despite the snow that had fallen overnight. Regina decided that it was still safe to travel to the village of Lauscha in her reliable, old Volvo with snow tyres. The last part of the journey was uphill on snow covered roads but the Swedish car did not find this a problem. 





This rural town has been a centre of glass making for many years and there is even a series of novels in which it features. There were demos and sales at the glass blowing college then several shops, factories and stalls selling beautifully decorated artisan-blown ornaments (kugels). They were not nearly as expensive as one might imagine and the only thing stopping me from buying more was the challenge of getting them home in one piece. 






It was very festive but cold up there with a jolly Santa and some stalls selling local produce. We drove carefully back down to the main road later in the evening and enjoyed another simple but delicious German supper of rye bread, wurst, cheese and assorted accompaniments while the snow continued to fall gently outside.





Sunday, 26 November 2017

Denim Countdown

Wellington 2004 - 2017


It felt like I was playing a giant version of “Countdown” when I laid out all of my denim wordsearch letters to check that they were all there. I realised that I had completely forgotten about 13 letter I’s, and had a surplus of O’s. It took a while to sort, cut and stitch the missing letters by which time the whole lot was all in a muddle again. All I know is that there are some more than the required 121 or 11 x 11 squares. I masked off a slot ruler and cut them all into very neat 8” squares. I will probably have to use a larger than ¼” seam allowance because some of the denim is very thick.




I was not ready to start sewing all of the denim blocks together so I loaded a piece of cream fake leather onto the Bernina Q24 and randomly placed some of the my own Qmatic designs. I will add some more circles and freehand stuff later then post it to my collaborator, Christine Escanes in Florida to see what she wants to throw at it next. I even whizzed up a Fancy Forest Fox because he is so much simpler than the other creatures.






I checked that I had all of my supplies ready for my Coburg teaching trip in case I had to order any more pleather or felt. I am very excited to be going back and to visit a German Christmas market although I am not looking forward to my 3 am start on Thursday morning!

I offered to help Fergus do some research for his art history essay on The Impressionists but I was far more enthusiastic than him and got quite carried away, finding out obscure facts about Manet and gangrene, before launching into a second bout of research on “The Raft of the Medusa” to help fill in the many gaps in a previous assignment. I rather enjoyed my foray into homework - it’s a pity that Nell won’t get the same level of help from me with her algebra. I have often wondered whether I would enjoy being a mature student, studying something like Classics - maybe when I retire and have some spare time;) In the meantime, I have enough to do to keep up with a book group that I joined recently. I  mostly read in bed but sometimes don’t get very far before I fall asleep unless it is a thriller that keeps me awake past midnight. 

Sadly, Welly the Mad Spaniel, died this week. I always said he was so bonkers that he would just drop dead one day. It was almost like that: at 13+ he just became doddery and lost his appetite as if he knew his time was up, curled up in his bed and faded away. He certainly had quite a few adventures, including swimming across the river in full flood and pig herding. I will actually have to make an effort to go for a brisk walk every morning because Bumble does not exactly hurry and my cats are just not interested. 




Sunday, 19 November 2017

Marmalade and Jeans



The kids had two days off school for teacher training days so I took Nell to see “Paddington2” at the cinema. We laughed and cried at the small bear’s antics and wished we had taken marmalade sandwiches as our movie snack. 




I chopped up a pile of old jeans into squares and raided my stash for any additional fabric that could pass as denim. My arithmetic skills failed me when trying to work out how many blocks would be needed if cutting out a positive and negative letter for the giant wordsearch quilt that I have in mind. Despite making a list and crossing off letters as I went along. I seem to have a few extra that might end up in another reincarnation. On the whole the Scanncut made a good job apart from spitting out the cutting mat when the dodgy roller became dislodged. The biggest problem was that denim backed with Bondaweb would stick well but not cut nicely, whereas the fabric backed with HeatnBond cut nicely but hardly stuck at all, even when ironed. The tedious solution was to stitch all of the letters in place using a small zigzag and invisible thread, otherwise the letters will just fall off when it comes to sewing the blocks together!

In the middle of the week I wrote down a Plan of the Day in big writing and managed to whizz through several jobs without getting distracted. This included 2 customer quilts, both of which also had to be bound. 




One evening I sewed the second half of the Fancy Forest bunny block and had to concentrate not to muddle up the many pieces. It is cute when finished but I will definitely cheat and enlarge the sizes of any future blocks as I don’t want it to be a 5 year project. In fact, I reckon I could rattle off a DWR quilt more speedily. 




It was great to receive an acceptance email from the Road to California show for BzB - my friend, Bonnie in Oklahoma has kindly agreed to look after all of its deliveries while in the USA. I have entered it into a couple of AQS shows so I will just have to wait and see if it gets juried in. I think I have now settled on an idea for a new show quilt from my wacky list of potential ideas so I hope to have a crack at at test block in January and see how it develops…