Thursday, 9 October 2014

Zen and the art of coat-making

I can't tell you how delighted I was the last time I posted - after months and months of silence - to find out that people were STILL HERE. The Internet, we're told, is an up-to-the-minute, fast-paced environment, which certainly doesn't wait around for half-assed bloggers to make good on promises they can't keep.

It seems we have all been misled, and the Internet is actually full of lovely, Zen-like people, quite happy to wave and smile whenever we briefly bob up on the horizon.

And in honour of all that, here's a picture of me holding a finished quilt in a Japanese garden.

Part English Paper Pieced, part machined, the quilt was a retirement gift - a very well-received one, thankfully - for a professional who has worked tirelessly (no kidding - I think the word was coined for her) with Eldest since she was very small. I'll miss her a great deal.

Tess took the picture. (In addition to helping me lay out and pin all the layers together, and coming up with a shortcut to binding the thing.)  I finished it during our craft weekend with Emma, Monica and Ali last month.

For ages I've been envious of some of the Australian bloggers I read, nicking off to Sewjourn for the weekend, having a fine old time with lovely people, and coming back with umpteen finished skirts. I wanted to do the same; and having stayed so many times at the Scargill Movement with my family I knew they'd be more than welcoming to us. For two nights and two days I sewed and sewed and sewed - occasionally stopping to eat cake, or laugh, or chat, or admire progress, or squish lovely new balls of yarn, or drink coffee, or make a stiff hot toddy (Eldest kindly gave me her stinking cold to take away with me) - until the quilt was finished and I'd made rather a lot of headway into sewing a coat.

It was amazing. It really brought home to me what those sewing blogs mean when they say 'the pattern came together in a weekend'. They mean an actual, whole weekend. They don't mean 'the pattern came together in half an hour after breakfast on Saturday, a snatched hour on Saturday night after loading the dishwasher, and twenty minutes after church on Sunday when everyone else is watching YouTube'.

Given time and the headspace to think, you can attempt something new without getting so tired it becomes impossible. Your brain actually works. You can get a big giddy and obsessive - and you can even, whilst hugging a friend to say goodbye, find yourself ripping her jacket off her shoulders to see how the facing is sewn in.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about time - or my lack of it - and the experience of the craft weekend has made me more forgiving of myself. Ten o'clock on a school-night is no time to get out the sewing machine. Craft becomes another chore to be fitted in, rather than a space for enjoyment, which on this occasion it truly was.

It was a lovely weekend in very good company. I hope we do it again.


  1. This is truly lovely and I am suitably impressed. A little bird had mentioned to me that you had an incredibly ambitious project and I was holding my breath waiting to see it.

    Congratulations on organising such an amazing weekend - I was so sorry not to be able to join you. Next time!

  2. I want to sew a quilt and display it in a Japenese garden (stamps foot and pulls sulky face, which if my Mum is correct will stay that way because the wind is howling in all directions out there).

  3. The quilt is absolutely lovely. I know exactly what you mean about trying to fit things in. I use the dining table for sewing, so everything always has to be got out and put away each time which doesn't help. Your Scargill break sounds wonderful. It's transforming to have all of that time to concentrate on something isn't it. So glad you enjoyed it. CJ xx

  4. Those fabrics are divine!! And I can't wait to see your coat! I love sewing, and I have always wanted to do a yarn or crafting retreat...maybe one day for me. :-)

  5. I bravely joined a local knit and natter group in our town over a year ago and through that have met likeminded friends. A small group of us recently had a weekend together in London at the Handmade Show. It was the first weekend any of us had spent with friends doing something totally for us for years. I mean lots of years..... and it was great..... and we are planning another (although they fancy baking type weekend and I am rubbish at baking). The great thing is when the baking was suggested they all laughed like mad because they know my baking skills.
    Crafting brings people together and a weekend with people who love the things you love is always going to be good.
    And your quilt is fantastic.

  6. Lovely to see you back again - you're right; we in the blogosphere area a patient lot who do wait for favourite bloggers, understanding that life can get in the way of blogging.

    Fabulous quilt and I so envy your being able to spend a whole weekend quilting - what bliss. Looking forward to seeing the coat. :-)

  7. That weekend was pure indulgence and I now have a super chunky baby alpaca problem. I am extremely fond of the cowl I made. I've called it Simon.

    Thankyou SO much for organising this. I am in true awe of your coat. For this read bloody envious. That quilt is a thing of beauty.

  8. wonderful weekend, wonderful quilt! so glad it was well received xxx

  9. That's lovely. I love the colours.

    I do sympathise about the time thing. The problem is that once the offspring leave home, the house is horribly, horribly quiet. Sigh.

  10. How very lovely - all of it. I'd love to go away and create all weekend...but WHAT?!

  11. Hello my lovely. Long time no see. Beautiful quilt. X

  12. Of course we are patient, we are mostly crafters and gardeners who know how to wait. Longing to see your coat.

  13. Hey you're still alive!! I thought you might have stayed in the Dales all this time! It was a wonderful time. we MUST DO IT AGAIN.

    Must. And next time I'll bring my sewing machine. (I'll never be brave enough to attempt a coat though!)

  14. It sounds like a wonderful weekend - I'm glad you're back and glad you've found some space and time for yourself

  15. Hello from Toronto Canada,
    This is my first comment even though I've been reading your blog regularly. The resonating chord today was your sewing classes because I'm taking a series of Quilting classes over the next six weeks--can't wait! My kids are grown and my house is still a tip....Don't despair.

  16. I am SO GLAD it came together and you all got away! The quilt is beautiful; such a lovely gift.

  17. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.


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