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Hello and welcome back,it has been a while since I last checked in with you,and I hope this finds you well, one and all. January flew by, like a misty morning landscape as seen from a fast-moving train:I know I went past a lot of stuff along the way, but missed a fair bit too. But to quote Willie Nelson – “You were always on my mind”. I have been smidgen pre-occupied you might say, but now we are into February, the evenings and mornings are significantly brighter, and all the better for that.

After a couple of months of near hibernation, I find myself on the far side of a winter that involved quite a few long lonesome journeys and quiet stormy nights (like last night) spent alone with my own thoughts, I have come to realise that, like Mary Poppins, the wind has yet again changed direction, and is time to take that change into account and to focus on it.

A wall of fabrics – all €10.00 per metre, plus some at €6!

I have taken a long hard look at my “working”(I cannot and will never regard sewing-related activities as work!) life and come to a stark realization! I am not, and never will be, a shop-keeper. I strayed into the realms of buying and selling fabric nearly twenty years ago, when it was difficult for all of us to find fabric to use to make our quilts – especially good quality fabric. In the intervening years, a lot of new players have come on the scene and the internet has transformed our world, so I am bowing out of the retail race, in order to free myself to concentrate on what I loved to do all along; sew, design, make and teach.

All pre-cuts, threads and notions greatly reduced

The Fennel Shed “Shop” will continue until the end of March, after that I will revert to just being me, my studio, and quilts. Of course I will be there most of the time, and always willing to help students and clients to source or find the fabrics they need, from other suppliers or from websites, I just won’t have hundreds of bolts of fabric on the shelves any more. Those bolts, much as I love them, have recently become something of a shackle tieing me to the floor, and like Freddie – “I want to break free”. Free to concentrate on really good events like Sew North – to encourage more people to come visit this neglected North-west corner of Ireland that I love so much, free to make commissioned quilts for special occasions and memories, free to travel – even to teach maybe in a few far-flung places, always with my design notebook under my arm and a little pouch of hand-sewing in my bag.

So there you have it, my big news. Those with a nose for a bargain will realise that there might be a few in store, and there will be. All remaining stock will continue at sale prices, so come nab some while you can. Pre-cuts too will be appropriately cut in price. Nothing drastic, just a nice calm turnaround spread out over the next weeks and months as I chart a new and only slightly altered course. I think I have included enough mixed metaphors and dodgy misquotes now to confuse you all, but it will become clearer as the weeks go by.

One of the first beneficial effects of this change will be more teaching time – click here for this season’s classes.I will also, from April be able to travel (within reason) to any group that would like or need an occasional, seasonal, or regular teacher. It is what I love to do, and I would love to do more of it. Over the coming weeks and months I will be adding a menu of favourite classes that I provide onto the website to choose from.

Then come the patterns – sadly neglected this last while due to a whole mixed combination of circumstances, from broken printers, broadband issues, graphic artists on maternity leave etc. As a result there is a bit of a log-jam of designs in my head and scribbled into notebooks. They too will gradually be taken out and knocked into shape just as soon as I get the time. One of the first the “Pickwick Quilt” is already partly made, The name reflects that it will be very easy to quickly pick the fabrics required, because they never come into direct contact with each other. There are loads of versions out there of this type of quilt, I am working on the cutting and layout so you can use mine as a means to make quick quilts AND use up orphan fat quarters.

I don’t intend to make a lot of quilts on commission, but there are times when in the past I have had to say “no” when I would like to have said “yes” more often. If I am lucky, I will be able to make the time to sit and sew some of these special occasion / memory quilts, that can mean so much.

In anyways as they say in Donegal, I have rattled on long enough. The sale continues through February, I am not going to disappear in a puff of smoke, and there will be LOADS of lovely classes through the year.

For bookies – I am today ordering two new books : “Millefiore” – strictly just to look at, and a new one from Martingale – saw it on Facebook this morning, now canny find it. It will come back to me, 12 lovely quilts – ones that I will or would make. Author’s name is Rosie – released yesterday, the press release has mysteriously disappeared (did it like so much upset someone in a big white house somewhere???) As for reading, I am 100-odd pages into “Barkskins” by Annie Proulx,about loggers in Canada and the Northern US. Right now I am in the early 1700’s. Pure fascination and escapism!

New books to read and enjoy

Literally have to dash, pull on me and get myself to the hairdressers. Today is our usual Open-House First Friday, and tomorrow sees the beginning of our “Saturday Sampler” informal Block-of-the-Month series for 2017. See you there!

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