Friday, November 30, 2007


Ok, all your wonderful comemnts on my stashbusting posts have gone to my head... I just love it when people tell me I made them laugh,a nd really I have yearnings to be a magazine columnist, so I have created a brand new forum for you to be entertained in..

I have created Quiltland Chronicles

The site is only just created and will be updated and revamped in days to come. I intend it to have the same kind of amusing and surreal posts you have enjoyed in the past few days whilst I shall reserve this blog for real life rants and show off items.

Quiltland is my creation but you can of course all contrinute. Ithas its own email address and may well grow and grow in the future into a whole website. Or, I might get fed up of it. Eitherway please vist me because the more vistors, the less chance I'll get fed up! Please tell other people about it too.

Advent Present: Long delirious burning blue

Today my advent present to you is a novel to curl up and savour.

I have had the privelege of reading and commenting on this as a work in progress and even having some imput into the cover and recommend it. It is available direct from the publishers on pre-order now ( and will be available from all good bookshops as they say. Readers of my blog in Scotland (are there any out there?!) will be able to get it on the 3 for 2 tables in Waterstones after its release date

Here is the publisher's blurb:

The Long Delirious Burning Blue - Sharon Blackie
‘I have been asleep for forty years. This is what I need: this fear, this risk, this wind rocking my wings. This is what I have been missing. This is what it means to be alive – up here, on the edge of death.’Cat Munro’s safe, carefully-controlled world as a corporate lawyer in Phoenix is disintegrating, and she is diagnosed with panic disorder just before her fortieth birthday. In a last-ditch attempt to regain control of her life, she faces up to her greatest fear of all: she decides to learn to fly. As she struggles to let go of old memories and the anxieties that have always held her back, Cat faces a choice: should she try to piece her old life back together again, or should she give in to the increasingly urgent compulsion to throw it all away?
Several thousand miles away in Scotland, Cat’s mother Laura faces retirement and a growing sense of failure and futility. Alone for the first time in her life, she is forced to face the memories of her violent and abusive marriage, the alcoholism that followed, and her resulting fragile relationship with Cat. But then she joins the local storytelling circle. And as she becomes attuned to the mythical, watery landscape around her, she begins to reconstruct the story of her own life?… .
From the excoriating heat of the Arizona desert to the misty flow of a north-west Highland sea-loch, Sharon Blackie’s first novel presents us with landscape in all its transformative power. An honest and moving exploration of the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, The Long Delirious Burning Blue is above all a story of courage, endurance and redemption.
‘An inspirational literary d├ębut; empathetic and mature. Sharon Blackie vividly conveys the protagonist’s struggle to overcome her fear of flight to crack open the limitations imposed on her, not just by others but by the memory of others.’ Margaret Graham
‘Sharon Blackie writes with a real sense of truth and emotional depth about relationships between individuals, and between individuals and their environment. Her characters are figures in a landscape brought vividly, vibrantly to life.’ Nicholas Royle
ISBN 978-1-906120-17-7; £8.99. TO BUY THIS BOOK, CLICK HERE

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stashbusters appeal judgment




This matter came before me today for interim judgment as to whether the material posted on Ms Conway's blog on .25th November 2007 constitutes libel of the Stashbusters group. In fact, unusually the action has not been brought by a member of the group but by the potential defendant who seeks an advance declaratory judgment. I understand her motive to be that she needs to be sure, before she swells her own stash with a large amount of fabric, that the same funds she intends to expend will not be called upon for payment of damages in a libel action.

The first issue for determination is one of forum, that is the correct jurisdiction in which the action should be brought. It is clear - as Ms Conway pointed out with some glee - that her post has been read by many people around the world. That therefore raises issues of the domestic law of all the countries involved - so far including Australia, USA Germany, UK and the Nethelands.

I am of the view that Quiltland is the correct jurisdiction for her to choose, existing as it does to create a united state for all quilters. It is a fairly newly established legal contsruct ( yesterday in fact) but has as its purpose a safe haven for all international quilters to retreat into when the law of their domestic states is insufficient to meet their interests. I understand the primary purpose to be the establishment of a common currency and trade area. This of course stems from the need to protect quilters from the dangers of domestic bakruptcy laws being applied to them in circumstances where all, or the majority of their insolvency is textile purchase related. I understand that it was in fact some, if not all members of the Stashbusting group, who, because of their past, profligate behavor, lobbied for the creation of the QTZ (Quilt trade zone) in which one FQ (the main currency which in turn divides into 100 scraps) is equal to 1/1,000,000th of any domestic currency unit for purchase calculation purposes. It seems to be then, that benefitting as they do from the devaluation of their debts in the Quiltland jurisdiction, it is impossible for them to argue that the status of their group cannot be determined by recourse to the same jurisprudence. I am therefore satisfied that I have jurisdiction.

The main question before me for determination then is whether the material in question ammounted to libel. In UK domestic law the term libel means, "A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person's reputation."

As there is as yet no case precedent in Quiltland for that term, it is open to me to create such definition. It seems to me that law should reflect the composition of the community it regulates. I thus define libel in Quiltland to mean, "Would a quilter feel that the publication was so damaging to their reputation that they would be willing to miss a trip to a quilt shop, class or show, to take the opportunity to rectify the impression given of their character by the publication?"

The piece in question revolves around the fact that the group were called a cult and 'especially faddish' because of their adhesion to a principle of not buying fabric for a year. On first reading of the papers it certainly seems that, given the very purpose of Quiltland, it must be a subset only of the population who are not intending to maintain or indeed swell their stash. However, it is not a question only of whether it is incorrect to term Stashbusters as 'especially faddish' but also whether to do so would damage their reputation to a suficient degree.

It seems to me - and here I take judicial notice of my own experience in the quilt world - that given that is is seen as perfectly normal in Quiltland to have impassioned debates about, and even publish books which relate at least in part to the issue of, whether fabric should be pre-washed or not, all subjects of the land must be deemed to be faddish in that they fall in one camp or the other. Further, it appears perfectly normal for Quiltland subjects to have impassioned views on how to fold a FQ or whether to hand or spray baste. So, it seems to me that especial faddishness is in fact a national trait and thus cannot be libelous.

If I am wrong on that ( and I cannot be since I created this court and did not at the same time create an appeal court, but for accademic interest, if I was) then there is another consideration. The blog entry was based on an analysis of the Stashbuster's rule of No Buying. Since the blog post in question was written there has been additional evidence submitted to the court which is now appendixed to the original post in the way of comments. It is clear from that that the 'rule' is no such thing. For example, Sandy said, "Love the Stashbuster piece. But listen you CAN join us ... many of us don't join the NO BUY. LOL" Peggy B ( posting as anonymous) said, "no one has to go "No-buy". Greenmare said, "I can certainly testify that I am no WAY on no-buy,"

However, the most damming evidence comes in a private email from Del Jeanne Mathews who wrote,
"Even in the no buy challenge, it's allowable to buy backings, borders and bindings, and anything you have run out of that's absolutely required to finish a quilt."

It is clear to me that anyone wanting to finish a quilt for which they had no suitable material to start with would thus under this'rule' be able to buy everything required. Given the discretionary nature of fabric choice this rule is so open to interpretation that that the traditional coach and four might be driven through it all the way to Houston.

Ms Conway's complaint was of the sneaky seductive nature of the group. From the evidence I have before me it appears that the group portray themselves publically as stashbusting. However, in private the position appears more murky. Margeeth, for example confessed that having stashbusted she is now going to dye fabric to replace the stash. It is clear to me that this is a group of lovely people. However, I believe them to fall into one of two categories.

The first are deliberately portraying virtues which they know not to be living for whatever motive (possibly to enable a front for the purpose of maintaining relationships with spouses and children who cannot understand why Mum works full time yet there are no funds left to go to Disneyland for their birthday). The second having signed up in good faith, find the lifestyle of the group to be different to its publicity material. The first group need the second to maintain credibility with the outside world when they claim to be stashbusting for real. (For it has to be born in mind the levels of deceit common in Quiltland surrounding stash purchases. It is a fact of life that a non-quilting spouse, when presented with a quilt declared to be 'all from my stash darling. It cost nothing' has no chance whatsoever of proving that fabric was new simply by looking at the top. That being the case suspicious spouses may look for evidence in terms of the way the wife's friends and therefore the wife behave when moving as a group. If it appears that the group is stashbusting then the spouse will assume the wife is, likewise.)

The existence of such sub-groups within a Ring and the nature of the psychological tactics I have just described are, in my learned opinion, characteristics of a cult. Thus, being true, the original piece cannot be libellous.

I thus grant Ms Conway the impunity she requires to stashswell.

As to the question of the costs of the litigation clearly Ms Conway has won and the general rule in civil litigation is that costs follow the event. I see no injustice in making Stashbusters bear the cost of this important test litigation and thus I order each member to pay 1 FQ to Ms Conway. Given that such an order in fact meets the stated objective of the group I can see no reason to stay such an order or allow payment by installments of one scrap per week as suggested.

Order of Judge S.B. Sue
29th November 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Advent present 4 - Fat Duck food

Today my virtual present to you is the tasting menu at the Fat Duck restaurant run by Heston Blumenthal. Before you read on click on the link above, choose the site and choose 'menu' then 'tasting menu.'

Now you have seen the price you will understand why I have never actually been to this place. Indeed until I heard the chef being interviewed on Michael Parkinson's Sunday Supplement on BBC radio 2 last week( you can listen to the interview on playback here until the next programme starts on Sunday at 11am) I had dismissed what I had heard of his food as pretentious tosh.

However, you will see that your fish course is to be 'Sound of the Sea'. This is a glass platter with sand trapped between the sheets. Ontop a sand like base is made with tapioca, edible seaweed is added and frothed oyster replecates sea froth. The seafood you eat is served on top with a conch shell on the side. In the conch shell (and this is where I started to laugh) is an Ipod nano. You put the earphones on and get the sound of the sea while you eat.

Oh, Ho-Kay! But - bear with me. This stems from research they did as to how your taste and perception of a dish is affected by the sounds you hear when you eat it Suddenly I got it and now I want to go because really its just design and embellishment with food. Ok I accept there are moral issus with some pepole for using food as play ( and about the fois gras on the menu so skip that course if you like) but I do think it would enhance or quilt design processes to experience his art at a group meal, no?! I mean - what music do you think people should be listening to while they look at your latst quilt?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Advent present 3 - weekend away

Today my virtual gift to you is a weekend away on the edge of the English Lake District in the market town of Penrith.
You will stay at this lovely home from home bed and breakfast. After your traditional English breakfast you can wander around the village to see the aplpaca farm, or take tea in my favourite tea shop. Just down the road is the famous fudge shop and while you are there you might lie to take a Baltimore class at Morceau just three miles from your accommodation. Or, if you want a break from quilting why not check out the mountains and lakes?

learning to dye

This week at my City and Guilds course we did some dying samples. We didn't actually do anythng that I didn't do with more fun and interest on Magie Relph's indigo dying course except that this time we used Dylon cold water dye rather than an indgo bath. At first I confess to be rather sceptical as I was shown samples which frankly I ( in my arrogance) thought childlike and splotchy. Not what I had seen for sale or on blogs. I was also surprised to be using Dylon which I thought was a kind of general household dye for changing cushion covers - all the professional dyers I had read about seem to use Procion MX dyes.

However, I was quite pleased with the results when I got to rinse them out today. The colours are not 'me' as we had to use the primaries we were given inititally with no mixing but I like the outcome in pattern terms.

This one was folded and elastic bands wrapped around the strip at intervals.

This one was just gathered in a long tube from the middle of the fabric and bands tied around it.

This one had lots of little 'pinches' all over it held with elastic bands.
This was me breaking the instructions and mixing blue and yellow becaused I craved green.

Ironically it was at the point where I wiped out a tub with some scrap fabric and created this subtle pink shade (on the left)that I got interested! I started to mix left over dyes and got this range and then of course I suddenly had a desire to hand dye acres of fabric in a whole range of gradations..... I never do anything by half!
I found this fantastic site on dying and was even lucky enough to get a very speedy and lengthy response to an email I sent with a query today. As a result I now know that I was right about using Procion MX dyes (Dylon is a form of pre-mixed Procion MX and other types of dyes but its hard to get primaries and although each package is only a couple of pounds, per gram its expensive in comparison so I am told). So I am of now to research purchases.
If you hand dye and have tips for me please do post them as comments. Thanks

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On stashbusting

{I apologise for the length and silliness of this post ..., I got carried away!)

I have discovered that there is an invidious cult like group around called Stashbusters. They seem like normal people. Their blogs are wholesome and show cute babies and snuggly quilts. They have a button that looks like any other button and their doctrines as portrayed on their blogs look mainstream. They have bought a lot of fabric and they want to use it up. They want to support and encourage each other to do that. What nice, responsible people. When I first found them I thought, yeah, I'd like to join them.

But, lets look at their real doctrine. Not the stuff they are peddling door to door. The real theology as written in their Yahoo Newsletter group statement. Even that starts relatively anodine. Just a subtle shift from their blog statement about making quilts out of their stash. It begins:

"The purpose of this group is to support those quilters who wish to cut down on spending for one year, and reduce their stashes....."

but read on.

"You can join and start "not buying" anytime during the year..."

Not Buying? Now that sounds to me like it fits the definition of a cult I found online :

"A group generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner.....Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle"

I mean how many quilters don't buy? And not buying for a year. If that is not 'especially faddish' I don't know what is. So I thought it my duty to warn you to resist the false teachings of this group.

Their gospel sounds perfectly plausible, laudable even. They are right that you have bought lots of fabric that is sitting in your cupboard. Enough that you could quilt for years without buying more. You are more a fabric collector than a quilter. You are hoarding the stuff. Hear those sibilant arguments seducing you into joining them. Or, if you push it, watch them move to threats of dire consequences if you ignore them. That fabric is going to kill you. It will fall on you and smother you. OK, OK, you cry. I want to live. I repent my hasty purhases of Moda jelly rolls and Loni Rossi Fat Quarter packs. I believe.

But lets take this to the logical conclusion. You sew up all your fabric and then what? You don't have any left. So what are you going to do? Sigh, and turn to trainspotting for a hobby? No, you are going to go shopping and create a new stash. But before you do that you are going to go through the pains of de-programming. You are going to have shaking hands, which long for somthing soft ( or crinkly or silky) to stroke, you are going to have headaches from carrying around half baked ideas for quilts in your heard that you cannot translate to planned projects. You are going to suffer.

And don't let them con you that you will find the succour of companionship in their midst. Because whilst you sit at home trying to find a way to get your neon blue spacemen novelty fabric to fit with the Liberty Lawns, your real friends are out draping cottons at the local quilt shop and razzing it up, bags a-bulging at the international shows.

So what do the leaders of this invidious movement stand to gain from sucking you into their schemes? I believe a careful examination of their practices reveals all. I found a blog testimonay recently in which a senior group member praised a neophyte for managing, for the very first time, to delete emails advertising fabric sales without even reading them. Thats it! The Ring leaders are simply out to beat us to the sales. It is a fabric grab!

But getting rid of a cult is not that easy. I bet, even as you read this, a little voice on your shoulder is saying, "Ha, funny. But you know, I do have quite a big stash. Maybe I should join the ring..." See, that's how cults work. They start with a good point, a legtimate premise and present a flawed solution to it. So the best way to combat them is to find the true solution to the stash issue. To that end, I commend to you the concept of..... Stash Rotation.

Here is a parable from the Book of Stash Rotation

Once there were two farmers. Both of them had one more field than they needed. The foolish farmer decided to use up the field and built a log cabin on it with courthouse steps leading up to it and dormer attic windows. The first year he was warm and snug in his house and he bragged to his neighbour farmer that he had made good use of his field and had no need to replace it because he had an heirloom house with a label on the back for good measure. The wise farmer however, just kept his field empty. Everynow and again he would go and rub his palm over the soft grass growing there. In the second year he did the same whilst the foolish farmer took another of his fields and built a Schoolhouse block on it. The wise farmer went out and bought another field that he didn't really need but, becuase the grass in this field was so soft he preferred to stroke this crop and started to use his previously empty field. In the third year the foolish farmer decided that he could live on even less food and decided to build a railfence around another of his fields and donate it to charity. The wise farmer bought another field and started to use last year's field. In the fourth year the foolish farmer's crops began to fail. He paid an international field teacher to appraise his fields. The teacher looked at them through a reducing glass then took an arial photo in black and white.

"Oh Dear," she said, "you have value blight. You have failed to renew your fields. You should let one or two lie fallow so that when you need the hue or tones found deep in the soil they are available to you. That is why your fields have lots their vitality and become monocromatic and inspid. You should be like the wise farmer who rotated his fields, using some new and some old and always keeping a range of hues and values available in his soil."

The foolish famer wept and rent his clothes but yea, he was still low on fields. The wise farmer however, having to fund all these fields was also working overtime as a Good Samaritan and, seeing the foolish farmer in need of half a meter of hedgerow did donate it to him as, in truth, the foolish farmer was not evil but, as I have been saying all long, only foolish.

And so, my recommendation is that you by all means use your stash but that you replace what you use. Because quilting is about fabric as much as it is about sewing which is why we do not have stashes of plain white cottons to make duvet covers with. If you really do have too much of the stuff then by all means make quilts a little quicker than you replace but do not let your stash dwindle to the uglies and the unmatchable. After all, you may well need a sofa sized stack of fat quarters to hide behind when the pair of clean cut white shirted Stashbusters come to the door to sell you a copy of FabricTower.........

{To all members of Stashbusters. Do not sue me. (a) this is a spoof (b) being a professional I can sue better than you can and (c) I really did want to join you but then I started to hyperventilate at the thought of not being able to shop for a year ....}

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Advent present - buttons / quiltland

Today I am going to 'give' you a collection of buttons made in my favourite country South African and available from I am even throwing in this basket made of telephone wire and styled on a traditional zulu cooking pot to toss your buttons in.

For your further delectation there is a longer post from me today at Quiltand as well

Advent present 2 - aboriginal art

Today my Advent presents to you are these delicious aboriginal art pieces from

Cecily Wintiragu Yates

Rhonda Walkabout

Countdown to Christmas

It is too early for my husband to open the advent calender he likes me to get him each year. Which is a shame becuase he just likes to open the little doors and gives the chocolates to me!

However, seeing this Divine one sitting there waiting gave me an idea. I cannot give you all real Christmas presents so I am going to give you a series of links in my posts between now and Chrstmas in the hope that it will operate like a kind of virtual secret Santa/ advert calender and that you wil find something new you like online you might want to keep as a favourite.

Of course it is too early to start this reallly but extra presents never hurt anyone and it give sme chance to miss a few days!!

Today's Christmas Countdown link is this blog post for its well written amusement value:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Un-cranky university student

I actually didn't go to either shop in Southport, Maybe a little becuase I wasn't than cranky by the time I got there to find the client had decided to accept his wife's offer of settlement after all( after his solictors had told him to for months!). Made for an easy morning for me. Just as well as I arrived to realise that I had grabbed the wrong paperchase notepad off the desk this morning. All my cross examination notes in the lined notebook remained at home. I do have with me a number fo quilt designs in eth graph paper notebook though!!

The other two reason I decided not to go was

a) I am going to focus on making quilts with only what I have in stash until January when the big fabric sale is on at Nantwich. thay way I can shop with an easy conscience.

b) before I went to work I manage dto sign up for my first class at Quilt University... on printing my own fabric..... if I get into that doe sot count as a different stash?!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I am cranky.

Today, after I finished my day in court but before I did the 2 hour drive from Carlisle County Court I was presented with 4 lever arch files of papers to read and inwardly digest. One for tomorrow's contested trial in Southport, three for Tuesday's two day hearing ( not withstanding I am also in court on Monday.) The files were so big I actually couldn't get them all in the suitcase I use as a back saving brief case. So that's me not going to the Harrogate Knit and Stitch show this weekend then.

Blah. Pooh. Fiddlesticks.

I think I deserve to visit the two quilt shops in Southport on the way home in consolation don't you? I mean what harm can there be in buying more fabric in the hope that I might actually be allowed time to sew it?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Day off

A case of mine settled at the last minute and left me with a day off. What to do? The trouble is there was too many choices so I decided on a half -hour plan. Daft though it might be I wrote all my options on little scraps of paper and pulled them out of an envolope in turn allowing around 1/2 hour to enjoy each thing. (Ish!)

So this is what I did:

1. Worked on the 'Water' art quilt I am sharing with you. But in half an hour all I achieved was to workout some sizes. It will have three panels each with three panels and so I laid out fabric just to get the proportions. I drew a lovely neat plan then thought I'd better check the competition requirements - ooops! Too big. So I scaled down and then my half hour was up.

2. Worked on a Christmas quilt I started when I realised all my family were coming to us and the house would need decorating.... and I'd rather spend on fabric than new baubles! Here is a detail of the quilt in progress.

3. Curled up and read as suggested by Diane in her blog recently. I saved the last few chapters of this for bedtime.

4. Made mincepies for Dennis. (He bought a bucket of mincemeat home the otherday and presented it hopefully!)

5. Cleared up some financial paperwork.

6. Read some blogs and found this new one.

7. Took my exercise by walking to the postoffice. Got there and found I no longer had my Internet banking envelope with all my cheques in it. Fortunately I found it right outside. I guess I was distracted by listening to Annie Smith's quilting podcast as I walked.

8. Read the Cottonpatch catalogue. (Ok this wasn't on the list but it arrived in the post today!) They picture a lot of the quilts from Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in the Sun. All seem very simple designs - can't see why I need the book if I have pictures to work from!

9. Curl up and read. Hey, Its my game. If I want to cheat and repeat stuff I can!

10. Start some travel research. In 4 years we plan to travel the world for a few months and as the planning fo travel is one of the best bits in my view and as we need to trim down our aspirations it seems like a good idea to do a little bit of research everynow and again from now on. I started with Tasmania as that's where my Uncle is and seems a definate destination for us. I can tell you that this site lists all the quilting shops. (Well where did you think I would start?!

11. Made a lasagne.

12. Watched Property Ladder and Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend away / new blogger

The post below this one was in fact written some days ago but for some reason my computer has decided that me posting photos is cause for an instrusion alert on the computer which meant I couldn't post it until today. Its still a problem but I have found a way around it, if not a solution. I have been in Penrith for the weekend shopping with Mum for her winter clothes and starting a Christmas quilt at my Saturday class. Pictures later.

For now let me just introduce you to a new blogger Janet Bottomley - apparently she was inspired to start blogging by an article I write - so nice to know someone actually read it!. She too is doing a City and Guilds and is doing a better job of posting her samples than I did! Can you go and pay her a visit and say hi? You know what is like to be a new blogger desperate for comments!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What I did ( and bought) today.

Viewers of legal TV programmes will no doubt think that we lawyers swan around plush offices, litigating ( sucessfully of course) against evil multi-national corporations, righting mis-carriages of justice and having sex on the desks . Life is somewhat different.

On Tuesday a courier arrived at eight pm with my brief for yesterday. I was pleased to see that it was a simple ( albeitbeit very badly paid) five minute job. In essence my 16 year old male client may be the father of a child born to another 16 year old but there are several other contenders for that honour. So, DNA tests are needed before we can even talk about when and how he gets to see his (putative) daughter. Simple.
I drive an hour and a half to Lancaster where the court is housed in a dingy seventies block perched over a multi-story car park. My opponent is from my own chambers. He arrives and we agree at twenty to ten ( the matter is listed at ten) that we just need a standard DNA direction and relist the matter. I meet the monosylabic, multi-pierced client and explain the legal situation to him. He asks if he can go out for a cigarette. His father asks where the nearest McDonalds is.
It transpires that although I hoped to get on first as we would be very quick, there is an earlier matter in the list which involves a video link to the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Or it would if it were working and if the litigants in person had turned up on time. I repair to the staff cafe and drink builder's tea while I wait for my opponent who then tells me he needs more time as he is 'taking instructions on a fundamental issue'. Given the information in the papers and his demeanour I extrapolate that my client is about to be accused of rape. I decide to wait and see before I tell him this. I eat a bagel. I am then told that 'there is no longer a fundamental issue, but DNA is required'. I extrapolate that wild allegations have been made and advice has been taken as to the complete no-chance of proving them. We order another tea and start to draft the order we agreed an hour and a half ago.
The man who made the builders tea then burns a slice of toast and the fire alarm goes off. We are all evacuated and I end up hovering about in the drizzle on the pavement talking to the Judge ( who I know from his time as a barrister). He tells us that if we are agreed we will approve the order in his office not the court room so we need not be worried about the malfuctioning video link machinery. So, after the fire engine have arrived and two hefty men have hefted an equally hefty extractor fan in to the court and out again we draft our order and give it to the usher. It comes back signed without us even going in. I tell my client who shrugs. His father asks if I will pay his petrol for today. ( I will not.) Then - at half past twelve!- I get to drive an hour and a half home again.

Or, maybe take a little detour........First, to Lancaster market to the haberdashery stall for this selection of ('chocolate') buttons.....

....then to the cook shop for cookie cutters to make mince pies and this one shaped like a helicopter becuase it is the perfect shape for the applique shape I need to put into my water quilt ( explanation of that in a later post!) ....
....then onto the motorway and a side trip to Sticky Fingers in Chorley for nice-things-just-because.

Although how good is this material for my parched earth piece?

Then home. By then I knew that I was free tomorrow so paperwork could wait while I pieced a top for my sister. She is 34 but wheedled so much her husband gave in and said she could have a Paddington Quilt on the bed which she promptly requested for her Christmas present. I got the simple top done oK but then encountered tension problems whlie quliting so had to stop and call out a machine servicng man who is coming on my day off next week.
Yeah, just like it is on Boston Legal!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Water quilt

I am conscious that I didn't live up to my promise of blogging you through my city and guilds course so let me make ammends. Later in the course we have to complete five items, one of which is a wall hanging. Of course, being me, I have jumped ahead and decided to do it early so I thought I'd blog each step.

The motivation is that Trentham Gardens Quilt show' s special category in April is water. As soon as I saw that I had some vague ideas which have been percolating and are fast coming to the boil now. (I don't drink coffee - do drinks that percolate also boil?!) So I have decided to do all th design folder I also need to do for City and Guilds. I shall probably do it all in the wrong order but I'll get there in the end!

I'll show you sketches later but for now let me just say that I need to make a panel (or possibly two) that represents parched earth in a drought. This being my inspiration:

So how to represent this in fabrics? I need to make samples of different options before choosing one. Also, one of the five pieces needs to be 'mainly applique' which may as well be this one as other elements will need to be appliqued too. So, here are some samples. Which one do you vote for?

Reverse applique by machine with very narrow gaps.

Reverse applique by hand with wider gaps.

Onlay applique with raw edges

Onlay applique over freezer paper templates.

I have a favourite but I'd like your views.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quilty paintings

Officially I am working right now but you've got to do something while your papers print out off email so, ( for reasons I will share in the next post) I just googled for images for 'parched earth' and accidentally came across the art of Gail Altschuler whose paintings make for great quilt inspiration. Check her out! Unsuprisingly when I checked her biography I found that she originates from South Africa. I seem inevitabely drawn to all things from that country!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Broadband consumer tale

I am sorry to do it to you again but I have had another consumer experience. My parents are on a very slow dial up and accordingly ring us frequently and get us to do internet research for them. I keep telling then to get broadband but being on a limited budget they are rightly concerned about cost. So today Mum asks me to use my internet to research some deals for her. No problem.

I check her number on several sites and no one seems to provide broadband to her address ( which is 1.5 miles from a town with a population of 14,756). Talktalk however has a free broadband deal packaged with phone calls which is very cheap and which we use. It is not availble for her but they can at least get broadband to her for £15 per month. The web site says they are trying to get the free deal available to more areas and to ring for more information.

( you can see where this is is going now can't you!)

I Ring. I give the number and postcode of my parents's house and explain. I am told that if I check the number on the site I will be able to find out if broadband is available and, if it is not, there is a number to call to find out when it will be available.
"I know. I rang it. I am talking to you on it."
"No, There's another number."
"Fine. Can you tell me what it is please?"
"It's on the website."
" I don't have time to look for it I have other calls waiting. Its on the website."

I hang up. Try to find another number. Can't. Ring back. Get put on hold. Get cut off.

I ring again. I get a Scottish person. I have to give the number and postcode. I explain what I need. The woman is trying to be helpful, but doesn't know and will have to put me through to a supervisor who holds the schedule for the unbundling of exchanges. Fine. I go on hold.

Twenty five minutes later I get an Anerican man who says,
"Phone number." (Note- he says it. He doesn't ask for it. There is no questioning tone or indeed questioning word. He is rude. I decide to play back.
"Phone number."
"I don't understand."
"Phone number."
"Oh, you are wondering if you could please take my phone number?"
"Yes. Phone number."
I give it. I give the postcode. I explain the story and tell him I need the date the exchange will be unbundled, please.
"Right. Wait a second while I check your account."
"I don't have an account. I've just said, I am ringing to try and set one up."
" Just a second. You're right. You don't have an account."

I confess. I get snotty. I tell him he is the third person I have spoken to that I was on hold for 25 mins and could he possibly just answer the question. He seems to wake up then and read his 'Dealing with Difficult Customers handbook' and in a very over-patient voice says,
"Well I am a new advisor and so I need all the information to assist you m'aam but I am really wanting to help you whatever the problems you have had before. I am going to do my best to give you very good service from now on. So, can I take the number again?"
He is lucky he is not within slapping distance.

I demand a supervisor and explain again. I go on hold.

Eventually I get Ray in 'Retentions'. What we are retaining, I know not. The account I do not have? Water? Whatever, Ray knows his stuff. Turns out if you go to you can check all the phone exchanges to see what providers work from which exchanges. Its brilliant. The only one for Penrith is Sky. To get Sky broadband you need to get Sky TV. Mum and Dad don't, can't afford it and don't want it anyway.

I ring Mum and tell her to move house. Oh, and I get her permission to email her MP on her behalf and ask whether anyone is doing anything to ensure that people in towns of not totally inconsiderable size can get broadband. It's ridiculous!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Quilting books (yup more!)

Do you ever find that you have a great idea for a quilt but because you don't have time to make it right away you read more and see more and suddenly that quick quilt has got much grander?

Yesterday morning I was doodling a quilt I have had in mind for a while - a star based quilt inspired by the Paul Simon Song Under African Skies I was thinking Ohio stars with African fabrics and other nice simple square based ones. And then last night I read this book

and today between clients I browsed this book

and now I am planning irregular Mariners compass stars with a background of subtle but swirly flying geese as the sky. This may well be a good thing as the design in my head is way better now... and surely, as someone who has never actualy made a Ohio star yet I am not getting carried away am I? I mean the instructions don't look that hard.....!

But speaking of books, if you are UK based you gotta love the US$ exchange rate at the moment. I have been after this book for a while
because it is by the same author as this book which is just great. Beautiful quality pictures. I often browse it while I am drying my hair because it lives on the shelf next to the mirror I sit on floor to use and the book will stay open on the floor!

However the Threads of Faith book is only available second hand at a pretty high price - I keep scouring Abebooks and Amazon but have not found it for less than about £35. (For those not using UK currency by way of comparators a paperback novel here is about £7 or £8)

On a whim,I just went on Now normally the postage makes that a pointless exercise - might as well use the UK site. I But, I got the book for $33.09 which makes it just under £15 . Bargain. Plus it even comes from a bookstore I visited when in New York some years ago so I can even imagine it being taken from the shelf and wrapped up just for me. Plus, I also found that they have this book new for £25 including postage and it isn't even available yet in the UK.
Downside is waiting several weeks for it to arrive but, hey, I might have some of those stars done by then!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Developing a style

Great quilting minds often think alike. I have been piecing a commsion quilt today - lots of foundation pieced log cabins and flowers from Susan Briscoes book. Enjoyable, what the client ordered and in fact my design.... but somehow not 'me'. I was reflecting just this week on how I do not feel I have yet found my own style in quilting. I have made over 20 quilts in the last twenty months and the ones I like most are the ones which tend towards improvisational techniques but I do not think that I have yet found what would be termed my 'voice' in creative writing circles. Its somthing I want to focus on in 2008 now I have acquired at least a rudimentary knowledge of quiling techniques.

As I was musing on this two other blog entried cropped up this weekend. Jennifer on her 21st October post (Ok I am a bit behind) left a link to a quilter I had never before heard of but whose work clearly has a very distinctive 'voice'. She is Jane Burch Cochran and you can see her here.

Then today Brenda challnges readers to join her in her judging course homework to list 10 quilters whose style you would instantly recognise.

I have to say that the most recognisable things about my quilts from the last couple of months at the moment is that they are all half finished....!