My mother’s mother, better known as Grandma, was from Scotland. She and Aunt Alice lived in my hometown, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Grandma never lost her brogue even after more than 60 years living in the States. I’ve been to England a few times, and even to Ireland, but I’d never been to Scotland. Bucket list!

Grandma holding me, “a number of years” ago.

Earlier this month, my science-writer husband Dana was invited to cover a statistics conference in London. I had a quilt show booked at the same time, so I flew out to meet him after both our things were over. We spent a couple days in London.

No museums for me this trip! SHOPPING was high on my priority list!

Give me Liberty!

The major stores do not appreciate photography inside, but not knowing that, Dana took an illegal shot of some installation art looking down from the top floor.

My haul from the famous fabric department…. soft cotton lawns.

The unmistakeable purple bag.

Also on the agenda: Cath Kidston. Picadilly Line to Covent Garden, anyone? Again, no photography, but let me just tell you, for someone who loves color and floral prints, it was a feast of eye candy. Here are my small souvenirs.

We shopped along Oxford Street and visited the Topshop. Upstairs is the mens’ department, Topman. Just two weeks earlier they had installed a system whereby you could design your own tee shirt on a computer screen and have it printed on the spot. Of course Dana jumped on that!

We designed the following shirt which makes me laugh every time I see it. A prancing kitten, on the moon, with astronauts.

We visited the fun and funky Camden Market. This little owl jumped into my purse.

I can’t go to London without visiting Harrods. Dana and I were there on our honeymoon trip 25 years ago and I just love it. It’s like 50 large department stores on steroids, with customer service agents everywhere to willingly help you with your smallest requests.

All lit up for Christmas, and Dana even got one of those iconic red double-decker buses in there.

Carnaby Street (makes me think of Twiggy) had a special holiday lighting party one night. We took the tube over a little early and did some strolling and shopping. In a card store, we each picked out charity cards, and they both had robins on them!

It was right about then that we started to notice robins everywhere. Carnaby Street had huge robins strung across the sky!

We asked a very friendly shop clerk what was up with the robins. She held her hands up as if to say “Obvious” and replied, “It’s… Christmas…”

Apparently robins have become a symbol of the holiday season in the U.K. Our shop friend admitted that she didn’t know exactly why. We explained that in the States they’re more of a herald of spring. Later Dana looked it up. Here’s a blog post that gives a couple of theories:

Celtic Lady’s Legend of the Christmas Robin.

I also always seek out Marks & Spencer. Nowadays seemingly more known as M&S (or at holiday time, Magic & Sparkle), there’s always one close by so not too hard to seek. Their tea bags are properly strong enough to stand up to the milk and sugar that I add courtesy of the partly Scottish upbringing.

Spotted some more holiday cards that seemed perfectly printy and decided to come home with me.

To Euston Station in the evening to catch the Caledonian Sleeper to Aberdeen. This was fascinating and fun. We booked a private double sleeping car that was tiny and cozy, with bunk beds, and we even managed some sleeping! The conductor woke us up about half an hour before arrival, with orange juice for Dana, coffee for me, and Walker’s shortbread for us both.

We stayed at the Skene House Whitehall. After the cramped quarters of the plane, the small London hotel, and the train, it was a heavenly surprise to open the door and find an entire living room, kitchen, and bedroom. I’d highly recommend the Skene House if you ever venture to Aberdeen. There are three of them.

The next day was our highly anticipated visit with my second cousin Jane, a relative I’d never met. Our grandmothers were sisters. Jane and Sandy live in nearby Stonehaven, and they invited us for lunch. We nattered nonstop for hours, exchanging information about our respective branches of the family tree while Jane fed us a delicious lunch of hot smoked salmon, with treacle duff for “afters.”

Sandy, Jane, and yours truly, in their lovely home.

The next and last day of our trip was my whole reason for going… a visit to Inverurie, Grandma’s hometown. I didn’t want to dive deep, I just wanted to be there, look around, and walk where she had walked.

We found a couple of addresses where the Manns had lived.

1 Souterford Road

38 High Street (red door)

High Street was the main drag, so we strolled up and down a bit.

In one of the shops I found a precious wee robin to put on our Christmas tree. He has a piercing gaze.

You know how we have the dollar store? In the U.K. they have Poundland. I made a fabulous find!

Reading glasses!

Sometimes it’s the little things.

Back home a few days ago after an 18-hour trip door to door. Still trying to catch up with jet lag and and an eight-hour time difference, but getting there. And one important thing off my bucket list. Grandma, I hope you felt me there in Inverurie, walking in your footsteps.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the drawing to win a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Volume 8!

The lucky winner is #130, Nancy A. Congratulations!! The staff at Quiltmaker will be sending you your magazine. Enjoy!

Many of you suggested putting apples or flowers in the basket. Absolutely! Go wherever your creativity leads you!

If you didn’t win a copy of the magazine and you’re craving one, I have Volume 8 up on my website now, on the patterns page.

I’d like to welcome new subscribers and those who’ve said they’ve bookmarked the site. Excellent! Be sure to take some time to poke around the blog. We celebrate all forms of appliqué here, and there’s tons of great information. Check out the appliqué bookstore, the categories, and the keyword search in the left sidebar. On the righthand side, you’ll find links to tons of designers and pattern companies.

I just got back from a trip to England and Scotland, and I’ll be posting some photos soon. Let’s just say… I went to Liberty. And Cath Kidston. :)

Whilst I was abroad, the staff at Quiltmaker put up a post on their blog Quilty Pleasures featuring my Basket of Oranges block, and my book Scrap-Appliqué Playground! Very cool! Go check it out on the November 18 post.

And there’s an earlier post over there at Quilty Pleasures that I wanted to make sure you saw if you use Electric Quilt: Getting to Know My EQ Boutique.

Back soon!
By Kay Mackenzie

A great big welcome to you!! It’s Day 5 of the 100 Blocks Volume 8 blog tour! I know you’ve been having a blast and a half on the tour so far!

I’m Kay Mackenzie, a designer and author in Santa Cruz, California. My website is By Kay Mackenzie, which has all of my books and patterns on it, plus select notions for the appliqué enthusiast. If this is your first time visiting my blog All About Appliqué, I’m glad you’re here! You’ll find a wealth of information about appliqué — all kinds — here on the blog. If you’re a regular reader or you’ve been here before for one of these hops, welcome back!

I’m delighted and proud to say that this is my seventh time having one of the 100 Blocks. I just love participating in these special issues!

My block this time is traditional in nature. Baskets of fruit and flowers abound in our appliqué heritage. Here’s my Basket of Oranges.

One of my very favorite color schemes is the complementary combination of orange and teal. Putting oranges in the basket led me very naturally to choose a tealy blue for the basket!

There are many other possibilities of course.

Brown is a natural choice for baskets.

Making a bright quilt? How about a purple basket?

I hope you enjoy this block and all the other ninety-nine scrumptious and varied designs in Volume 8.

The editors of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks are sponsoring a giveaway of a copy of the magazine! If you’d like to enter to win, please leave a comment here on this post before 12:00 noon California time on Wednesday, November 20.

Good luck in the drawing, and remember that if you are subscribed to the blog by email, clicking “Reply” will not enter you in the drawing. Come to the blog on the internet and leave your comment there. :)

Many thanks!

The lucky reader who came up the winner of the Quilt Art 2014 Engagement Calendar is… No. 1, Carolyn! Congratulations Carolyn! May it help you stay very organized and quilty in 2014.

Before I talk about what’s coming down the pike, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who chimed in on the subject of an appliqué self-help brochure. Your very thoughtful observations are all going into the pot as I think the subject over. I’ll revisit this in a later post.

Now: Some fun things are coming!

My last show of the year is put on by the Pioneer Quilt Guild in Roseville, California, November 9-10. I really enjoyed this show the last two years and am looking forward to it once again. It’s a nice facility, and a really nice group of gals.

Next: Volume 8 of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks is coming out soon!

To celebrate the release of this newest block collection, Quiltmaker is throwing a big party in the form of a blog tour with lots of prize-winning opportunities along the way.

The tour goes Monday, November 11, through Friday, November 15. Start each day at the Quiltmaker blog Quilty Pleasures and they’ll send you on your way to visit the blogs of many of the designers who have blocks in the issue.

My day is Friday, November 15. And here comes another fun thing… I’ll be auto-scheduling the post to go up that day, because DH Dana and I will be in the U.K.!

Dana’s attending a statistics conference in London.

You knew that it’s The International Year of Statistics, right?

As soon as my quilt show and Dana’s conference are over, I’m flying out to join him. We’ll spend a few days in London and then travel north to Scotland, from whence my Grandmother Logan hailed. I’ll meet a second cousin and tour Inverurie, the ancestral homeplace.

Inverurie is just a little north of Aberdeen. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.

See you when I get back! I’m hoping to visit some fabric and quilt stores while I’m across the pond.

By Kay Mackenzie

Courtesy of the American Quilters Society, I have a copy of the Quilt Art Engagement Calendar for 2014!

Klaudeen Hansen has been curating these calendar quilts for many years. Once again there is a spectacular quilt for every week of the year, beautifully photographed and documented, facing a calendar page where you can jot down all of your stuff that’s happening that week.

What a great way to keep on track! The spiral binding allows the calendar to lie flat for easy access to your notes and the gorgeous quilt of the week.

2014 will be here before we know it. If you’d like to win this beautiful and very quilty engagement calendar, leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 6.

Drawing open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. And, as always, replies to email feed do not enter the drawing.

Good luck to you!
By Kay Mackenzie