Monday, 2 September 2013

My week at Gartmore House

August 2013 - I decided to take an activity holiday quilting at Gartmore House, Stirling.  I wanted to blog this daily but couldn't work out the technology with my I pad so this is the diary I kept while there.

this is the front of the house where I stayed - impressive isn't it!!

this is the rear of the house and my bedroom was the turret room on the right of the picture.

Gartmore House Quilting Break Blog
Day 1. Arrival

After an amazingly long drive I found myself blown away by the scenery as I entered Scotland. I always thought the lakes were impressive but they paled in comparison to the majesty of the skyline here. Apart from the Glasgow bit the Scottish part of the journey was a pleasure and so after five hours of motoring I arrived at Gartmore House which will be home for the next six nights. I was greeted straight away by my fellow quilters and introduced to Clare, the leader of the group. We are four in number not counting Clare. We looked at some quilts which displayed the designs that we are hoping to incorporate into our week. Got out our fabrics and began to sketch out some proposed designs. It was only then that I decided to visit my room - it is huge and contains four beds, I shall enjoy being in these spacios surroundings for the next few days.  

The views from the window are fantastic, it is certainly a room with a view.

The evening saw a wonderful three course meal when I definitely ate far too much, must remember to ask for smaller portions or I will be suffering by the end of the week. I sat and chatted with fellow quilter Nan who lives in Skipton and knows of two groups, so maybe I shall find somewhere to go once I move to Clitheroe at the end of September. Always did say it was a small world!! I couldn't face tea and cake at 9.45 still being full after the evening meal so went up early to bed where I could read before trying to sleep.

Day 2. Morning

Strange not to wake to the sound of traffic but instead the sounds of animals and birds.

I did sleep, but not much so here I am writing this at 6.50 am before I get ready to go down to breakfast at 8.30. During one of my wakeful periods I re-sketched my design using my Ipad and calculated how many blocks I would have to make in each design.

I feel more confident about how my quilt will begin and am looking forward to 10.00 when we start in earnest. Mind you I shall probably get the fabric pressed before then, I am so keen to get started.

Day 2. Evening

A full day of cutting and still not finished. I feel exhausted. The evening we had a talk with slide show about the area. It was lovely but the scottish lilt of the speaker almost lulled me into sleep. I was glad I stayed awake though as the slides were amazing. The problem with quilting is that we get so immersed in what we are doing there is little time to break off and see the surrounding district so I shall look forward to Thursday when we have a free afternoon to go out and explore. Because I was so tired I went straight to my room after the talk and was in bed for 10.00 which is unheard of for me.

Day 3. Morning

Wow - I slept!! I cannot remember when I last woke to my alarm, usually I am awake hours before. Maybe it is the peace here, no road noise and more than anything no light either. This bodes well for when I move at the end of September as there is no road noise to keep me awake at night, I will have to see about the light but it surely won't be as bad as Rochdale. After my breakfast of porridge and toast I am now ready to return to the cutting table and hopefully I will soon be able to get going on my sewing machine.

Day 3. Evening

Well I actually managed to get the sewing machine out and completed the pieced patch pieces just in time for Clare to show me how to do the Roman stripe block. 

Pieced block and roman stripe.

I did have to re-size my triangles but still had the time to sew one block and ascertain how to speed sew the block before it was time for our evening meal. Once again the day seems to move from one lot of food to the next, no chance of feeling humgry at all.

This evening a few of us watched Pride and Predujice, it was the American version but I enjoyed it all the same. Tomorrow we have a free afternoon and I am looking forward to seeing some of the beautiful scenery that we saw in last night's slide show. And so to bed, hopefully to sleep again.

Day 4. Morning

A rather fitful night but keen to get on with the roman stripe blocks. I managed to get a good start during the morning but tiredness began to kick in and I decided that my free afternoon would be better spent having a rest. This was thwarted somewhat by the house staff deciding that this would be a good time to put new beds into rooms instead of waiting until the house was empty next week. However by 2.45 I was able to get to my room and managed about an hour of sleep before the afternoon tea at 4.00. I returned to my sewing after tea but the pile of wadding did not seem to diminish very much at all and all too soon it was time for dinner. (It really is all eating here!!)

Pile of completed blocks

Day 4. Evening

All the quilters decided that sewing was more important than taking part in the quiz night and I cracked on with the roman stripe blocks and managed to complete 29 out of the required 40. (I never make things simple for myself.) Went early to bed hoping to get some sleep.

Day 5. Morning

Another fitful night, ah well never mind. Managed to stitch two more blocks before breakfast. After breakast Jean helped me to cut some of the sashing strips, definitely a two man job and I was thankful for her help.

Then back to the sewing machine and those blocks, those never-ending blocks, would I ever finish them?

hard at it!!

4.30 and whoophee I completed the last block. Ok so my choice of design meant complicated blocks but it also meant that the laying out was simple and although it is a reverseable quilt the nature of my design meant that I only needed to look at one side apart from the four centre blocks.  

Laid out quilt, reverse side.

With Clare's invaluable assistance we laid the blocks out on the stage area and very little shuffling was required before we both felt good about the lay out. See those pics above, It will look fabulous with the very striking sashing fabric and that is the 'B' side - I can't wait to see the 'A' side but that will remain a mystery until completion. Began to sort my sashing strips and calculate the binding requirements so felt justly satisfied by dinner time.

Day 5. Evening

After another wonderful meal I decided that I would go to the talk about the history of the house and for the first time this week I got my knitting out and enjoyed learning some of the history of this rather beautiful building. I then opted for another early night as there is only one more day to go and I really do want to get close to finishing.

Day 6.  Morning

Ok this is it - an all out dash to finish as much as I possibly can so that I can transport it home. First  task is to get the first stage of the sashing completed.  The bunting method worked well and good progress was made. This stage was completed by lunch time.

First stage of sashing completed.

Day 6. Afternoon

All hands to the deck to join the blocks in rows with side 'A' sashing completed. I could not have done it without Clare's help but managed to finish the last row ready for laying out at 6.30 - dinner time.  

Clare helping Jean

Just got in to dinner in time to hear Ian's bagpipes as he piped us in to dinner. These magnificent pipes are over 200 years old and Ian pays them reglarly for weddings and special events, it was a real treat to hear him play.

The meal was lovely, with candle light and wine and the last opportunity to have deep conversation. After dinner was the chance to view everyones work.  The painting group had done some lovely work and if I can face the drive then I would certainly consider returning to Gartmore to attend a watercolour course.  I felt very pleased with the reactions of the art group to our quilting

Quilt laid out to show the 'A' side.

                                                    Displaying our quilts

All that remained to do was to pack up and load our cars ready for an early departure in the morning.  One last drama was when my keys went missing and after an hour of frantic searching they were discovered in one of the painter's bags, she thought they were hers after she took a group  photo for us.  Ah well all's well that ends well and so to bed.