Monday, 12 January 2009

If winter comes...

...can spring be far behind

I'm fairly cheerful, yes it's cold but spring is on it's way. My five year old is in mourning for Christmas, I swear she'd wear black if her school uniform wasn't green.

As ever I've been amazingly busy, a new project on the horizon, starting up a craft business for Augment, the user-led mental health charity in Abroath I try to get myself into once a week. We will be selling handmade bags, hats and quilts to raise money for Augment. We're going to be called Selkie, which brings in a lot of connotations we want. Firstly, transformation, Selkies are a Scottish myth, they are seals that transform into humans when they come onto land. We are transforming old unwanted clothes and curtains into beautiful hand made bags, quilts and hats. And in the process we will be transforming ourselves, from people who say they can't and have no confidence with a machine to people who know they can and, as quilters know, the action of working with the hands is just the best therapy. Selkies are Scottish and connected with the sea just as Augment is based in Arbroath, originally a fishing town still 'well kent' for it's smokies, and obviously Scottish!

I learned how to make my first bag from a class I attended with the wonderfully patient Fiona Brockie at the Seattle Quilt Company in Aberdeen, a place that it's just as well it's an hour and half away otherwise I'd be spending all my time there! It's run by the lovely Lisa Dinkelman from Seattle and is a real shop / workshop run for quilters by an extremely experienced quilter, fabulous fabrics that rotate often, lots of great notions, friendly enthusastic staff who are just as nuts about fabric as I am and a light airy workshop towards the back which is a great space for Lisa's packed programme of classes. There's also a long-arm quilting machine, hmm, temptation...

I had tried a bag before, made for my daughter, and it was okay, but Fiona really gave me confidence. The bag I've made most often is this little sweetie, called, appropriately, Little Charmer, which is made from charm (5 inch) squares. This one is my daughter's. She picked out the fabrics and buttons herself. I made the same bag three times, twice in pinks and once in edible batiks, for people at Augment for Christmas and (hopefully) will be teaching people how to make it for themselves tomorrow.

Although this was a commercial pattern I've written instructions out which take into account that the people I'm teaching have never sewn before, it's amazing how much, even after a short time, you pick up and don't need explained. Trying to think how to explain rotary cutting was fun!

Quilts also look like being fun, the grandmother (hah hah, she's going to love that) of the little girl this was made for told me said little girl was overjoyed with this doll quilt, not least because it had her name on it! Children just love to have something that's theirs. I made a cot quilt the same way, with simple patches, and it's a lovely way to mark a birth. I've pulled up the instructions for Isabel's quilt as a future project for when people get a bit more confident.