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  • Writer's pictureSarah Campbell

Blind optimism

Firstly, let me thank all of you wonderful commenteers for your words of warmth, support and encouragement which helped see me through my momentary lapse of cheer last week. Alongside your comments were also a number of emails from supportive crafters, a telephone call from a concerned dad on the other side of the world and an equally concerned sister. It’s times like these when I recognise that I might be building nests in precarious places but you guys are the forest within which I build. Always there to sustain and support and provide everything needed to go on. Thank you!

Now…blind optimism. Can you remember Mia’s blind? The one with the wisteria cut outs which I was working on last December?

This is not the design she went for but it was cream and with cut outs

This is not the design she went for but it was cream and with cut outs


Eventually Mia decided to go for a cream wool blind with wisteria cut outs and an embroidered mesh of stems. I was exited at the prospect of trialling a new design and cutters were ordered and received in the shape of various wisteria petals. This was back in December.

I was fairly nervous about  making a 212cm x 220cm blind as this was far wider than I would normally accept. However, I had managed to talk the blind company (who laminate the fabric and attach  the mechanism) into working with me on this new approach. This would involve cutting the wisteria shapes into three panels of fabric (two side panels and a wide central panel). Then they would be sent down to Bournemouth for laminating  and sent back up to me to zigzag the panels together and embroider the stems. The fabric would then be sent back down to Bournemouth for  finishing and on to customer. Phew!

Well I only wish it were that simple.

The roll of cream fabric arrived the day before the Christmas holiday. No I was not going to deal with it then and left it to whistle in my studio while my subconscious chewed over the new design process and Christmas turkey. On my second day back in the studio I tackled swathes of cream fabric and drew out placement for the wisteria cut outs in disappearing ink. The cuts were made…nerve wracking as one dud cut would mean a lot of wasted fabric, expense and time delay, but thankfully the design emerged looking good. Fabric was carefully rolled and sent down to Bournemouth. A week later I receive an email from Mia asking where her blind was. I reminded her that this was a far more convoluted process than normal and that the fabric still had three more journeys to make before arriving at her door. However, I would phone the blind company and urge them along. Phone call to blind company: “Hello Lianne, do you have the fabric from Mogwaii yet…you do have it, good! Can you please work on it NOW!! as I have a customer anxious to receive it. Thank you”. Lianne told me I was lucky to have caught the factory just before closure for stock taking, blind would be shoved to front of queue and sent the next day. Great!

Two days later I receive a rather panicked call from Lianne. “Sarah, you are going to receive a blind in the post. It will not be your blind…your blind has gone to Northern Ireland”  WHAT? Three days of increasingly irate phone calls and emails ensued between the courier company, the blind company, Mia and myself. The fact that I lived on a small island with a courier that doubled up as a builder who delivered and collected only twice a week wasn’t helping.

Eventually, the rolls of fabric arrived the day before I was due to head to Glasgow for the trade fair. I contemplated approaching the hardest and most nerve wracking part of the process on that day but knew that I would not approach it with due consideration and calm on a day when I needed to attend to one hundred and one last minute trade fair tasks and befuddled with PTFT (pre trade fair tension). I emailed Mia to explain, fortunately she understood.

On returning from the fair task no. 1 was the blind. Laminated fabric is a little like corrugated cardboard or thin perspex. It is tough…and I was faced with the task of zigzag seaming, with even tension, three pieces the size of walls. I contemplated calling my neighbours whom I’m sure would have happily stood to attention behind me and beside me feeding fabric at an even pace while I sewed. However Sarah, ever the stoic decides to attend to this task single handedly. A roll of fabric the size of a bridge girder on one shoulder and a small ocean of fabric on the other and me in the middle wishing I had a sewing machine designed for sail making. However, in the end, by some miracle I managed the seams. I then had to scrunch and squirm the fabric into all sorts of contortions in order to sew the stems and hoped to god that ironing would flatten the creases after the event. It did…kind of.

So then the fabric was tightly and evenly rolled onto a cardboard tube and covered with plastic packaging and instructions for finishing  A.S.A.P.

Mull builders (the courier) picked it up the next day and I nervously watched Paul fling the precious package, plastered with FRAGILE,  into the pick up in a manner not dissimilar to a beefy highlander tossing the caber.

A week later I received an email from Mia who , by this point was becoming increasingly agitated and desperate for her blind to arrive and understandably so. I telephoned the blind company (for the fifth time), to find out what was happening. This time Mel was my point of contact. Mel said she would go down to the factory, find out whether they were working on it and report back. One hour later…no phone call…two hours…no phone call…three hours later and I decide to contact the head of the company whom I have met and spoken to on various occasions to discuss a design project but who is astoundingly hard to get hold of. Lo and behold, he picks up his mobile. After a while discussing the design work I ask him whether he knows about this very large blind. A short silence and then he tells me he has some bad news. I feel myself recoil a little as though from a grenade about to land on my head. ” The blind has a rip in it…it must have happened in transit” At this point I go a bit blank and then a rage boils up within me not dissimilar to that of a rabid dog. I gnash and grind my teeth and throw all sorts of accusations and threats including pulling the whole design job which we have been planning for half a year. You see, my immediate hunch was that the blind company had made the rip and this was why they had taken so long to attend to the job. I asked Mel to send me a photo tout suite so that I could assess the damage. On seeing the rip it was fairly obvious that it had happened in transit and memories of Mull builders and their Godzilla approach to postage added weight to this argument. I sent a grovelling apology to Jason for my tantrum and we spoke in a more even tempered manner as to what could be done.

My proposal for Mia was that a shorter blind be made for her (avoiding the ripped bit) as an interim while I made up another free of charge. She emailed back with the preferred option of full length blind with rip.

The blind arrived with Mia last Friday and guess what…she loves it and can hardly see the rip. I am SO relieved. She’ll inform me when it’s up as to whether she can live with it as is (with discount obviously) or whether a new blind is preferable.

As for Mull builders…well, of course they deny all responsibility but I haven’t paid them yet!

So…after  three months of stroppy Sarah ending in operatic style last week I am sick to the back teeth of strop and revel in the peace and tranquility of bird song and gurgling brooks and the quiet life of Tweedies.

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