Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home Again

Would those of you that believe in global warming please explain to me why anywhere I travel in the winter months instantly experiences unseasonably cold temperatures?

Our trip to Arizona was a wonderful. It was was a perfect visit with my Aunt, Uncle, Cousins and their spouses and we enjoyed every minute of it - but it was COLD. Unseasonably warm here in Pittsburgh and unseasonably cold in Arizona, the story of my life. You don't really need the "dry heat" to sit and talk, and talk and talk.... (my husband thinks that if they make "talking" an Olympic event, Aunt Jean and I are a shoe-in for the endurance event), but temps above 50 degrees would have been nice!

We did manage to leave the kitchen table long enough to go shopping one whole day. Naturally that trip had to include at least ONE quilt shop. First, you have to understand that I love my Aunt Jean more than anything. As a quilter herself, she is incredibly proud of me and has always been one of my biggest supporters. Aunt Jean tells everyone that will listen that her niece owns a quilt shop (including everyone at International Quilt Market, where there are almost nothing BUT quilt shop owners!).

Aunt Jean was very excited when we pulled up in front of A Quilters Oasis and asked me if I thought they might have any of my "things" inside. Maybe? I sort of hoped that they would have something of mine, so as to not disappoint Aunt Jean.

Jean was not disappointed!

Just inside the front door was this beautiful sample of the Structure project with The Quilt Company pattern pinned right to it! I pointed it out and immediately Aunt Jean started to gush.

Nobody gushes quite as well as my Aunt Jean.

I continued walking with Lindsay toward the back of the store and turned around just as owner Kathy Reynolds looked up from the register and recognized me from my talks at Quilt Market. With an entire line of customers in front of her she said "You're Karen Montgomery - oh shoot!" I think poor Kathy thought I was about to pull a surprise inspection! I don't care who you are, having another shop owner in your store makes you nervous! Sorry Kathy - honest, I was just another customer!

Kathy had absolutely nothing to worry about. She has a wonderful assortment of fabrics that are beautifully displayed and great assortment of books, threads and patterns... and enough "Karen Montgomery" around the store to make my Aunt Jean happy! The store was exceptionally neat and clean, especially since they were having a sale! Something that can't always be said about The Quilt Company!

Lindsay kept herself busy doing her own version of sight seeing, including snapping this photo of the "Lindsay" fabric line that was named after her.

If you are ever in Mesa Arizona I recommend that you stop by A Quilters Oasis and do a little shopping. You are going to love the place! ....... tell Kathy that I sent you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Little Different Christmas

We don’t have a Christmas tree at our house.

I have to confess that it doesn’t bother me one bit. It isn’t because we can’t afford one or that we are in some state of holiday denial. I’m not married to Mr. Scrooge and we are not Jewish. If I felt like schlepping all of that stuff out of the attic my family would certainly be willing to allow me to put it all up. (Isn’t that how it works in most homes?). For the first time in 31 years we aren’t putting up (or taking down) a traditional Christmas tree.

This year we are doing things a little different. This is the “every-other-year” that our oldest and newly married daughter is spending with her in-laws. The kids let us know back when they started dating that this would be an every-other-year agreement, one year our house and the next year with Jon’s family. I am in complete agreement with this little game (Until grandchildren arrive. Once that happens, I plan to renegotiate). Our son lives and works in Baltimore and he is single so he volunteers for holiday duty. Instead of Christmas he plans a trip home mid-January for his baby sister’s birthday. This year "family" amounts to just my husband, our youngest daughter Lindsay and I, and we have decided to fly to Phoenix to visit my favorite Aunt and Uncle.

Arranging a trip for all three of us with busy schedules is almost impossible so the holiday seemed like the perfect time. I’m sure we will have a wonderful, memorable holiday, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty about not having a traditional holiday for Lindsay’s senior year. To make it a bit more fun, I decided to give her one of her gifts each day for the twelve days before Christmas. (I realize that the traditional 12 days of Christmas happen AFTER Christmas, but this is more of a gift giving excuse rather than a biblical celebration of Epiphany).

Lindsay’s first gift was waiting outside her bedroom door last Sunday. Monday she drove to school and my husband stopped by mid-day and left one on the front seat of the car. Tuesday it was waiting at her place at the dinner table. Then we got creative. Wednesday her best friend presented it. Thursday her favorite teacher got involved. Friday my brother-in-law who was in town on business dropped by the restaurant where she works to make the delivery and Saturday the Chef and his wife at work did the honors.

I can’t tell you about the rest of the plans, because she sometimes takes a look this blog. What I can tell you is that it isn’t the gift that counts, it’s the giving. Lindsay hasn’t really cared about what is actually IN the package but she has LOVED the delivery. Having special people in her life enjoy the fun and be excited about the plan has “made” this Christmas for her. It has been fun to watch! Being a devious mom, I did consider having my husband make arrangements with our local police department (he has connections) to have her “pulled over” when driving to school and and have the officer, instead of giving her a ticket, hand her a gift. One of my customers pointed out that might not be a good idea; there is a good chance she will be in charge of selecting my nursing home some day. Good point.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe, joyous and wonderful holiday!

Karen

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Now That Christmas is Over...

OK, technically we still have that whole church, gift giving, tree thing to go through, but as a quilt shop owner, this holiday season is officially over. Our very last "Handmade for the Holiday" demo was at 10:00 am today and I'm officially calling this year a success! What great fun! We hosted several sessions of three different programs and really enjoyed every minute of it. It is nice to hear our customers saying "Oh, that is perfect for so-and-so" or "Won't whomever love this". We know you get as much enjoyment out of making those gifts as you do giving them.


Our button pillow projects were a big hit! You can see the patterns on our website at http://thequiltcompany.com/. Look for them on their own special page (not the regular pattern page). Our quick and easy apron is another favorite. One customer remarked that I can do more with a tea towel than she thought was humanly possible! If you are interested in the pattern for the tea towel apron, email me at mailto:qult@nauticom.net and I will send you a copy (using my newly acquired PDF skills!).


Speaking of the website, we are in the middle of a total overhaul of our site. Amy, our web guru is rebuilding the site from the ground up! Hopefully it will be up and running and ready to go January 1st when we are taking part in the Internet shop hop. If you have never done an Internet hop, I encourage you to give it a try. It's addicting - but it is FREE. You also have the opportunity to win gift certificates, the more shops you visit, the more chances you have to win. Click on to the link to our website above, then click on the bunny on the home page to register.


Now I have to get busy writing the winter newsletter, finish up my Valentine and St Patrick's samples and yes, do a little Christmas shopping. Our daughter Lindsay already received one gift this year. Debby bought her a sewing basket - a LINDSAY sewing basket! Timeless Treasures sold some of the Lindsay fabric line that I designed to a manufacturer who used it to make sewing baskets. Now THE Lindsay (who the fabric was named for) has a Lindsay basket to keep Lindsay goodies in! Naturally I had to run right out and buy one for myself too! They're being sold in stores all over the country, but I picked mine up at that store with the "J" name and used my 40% off coupon! They come in blue too! I might just buy one of each!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

one more thing....

Check out the new link to the Cotton Spice blog. (Another) Karen is featuring quick projects by an assortment of people on her blog. You will find a free download for my Presents Placemat on Dec. 3rd with a link to this blog and if you scroll back to Thanksgiving day there is a download for our Boutique Tissue Cover with a link to the www.myquiltvillage.com blog. Oh, and I've fixed the link to Brenda Lou, from Scotty Dog Quilts too!
Karen

We have a WINNER!

Congratulations to Gert Camp, the winner of our $15 gift certificate! Gert posted comment #9 and was randomly selected to receive the prize. YEA GERT!
"Congratulations on 15 Years of business at The Quilt Company!! Yours is the most inspiring shop and I hope you are around for many more wonderful years (because I have lots more quilting to do and your fabric is the Greatest)!!!!Best Wishes from Gert Camp"
I have long believed that I have the very best customers in the world. Our birthday celebration yesterday was the absolute best. It was great fun, lots of laughs and we really enjoyed being able to offer some wonderful savings to the real people behind The Quilt Company, because we wouldn't be here if it were not for you!
Reading your comments was a humbling experience. It is nice to hear from everyone far and near. We have customers that are "regulars" and more like family. We have some that have moved away that we truly miss and others that have never lived in our area but shop online often enough to become "regulars". We treasure each and every one of you.
Recently I read an article and the author described owning your own business as equal to "Having a 2 year old special needs child attached to your hip 24 hours a day". I can relate to that. When it is yours, it is yours. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. There is no off switch. I like my brother-in-laws perspective better. 15 years ago he was doing some exterior finish work on the building when we had our very first open house. We were packed. One husband had decided to wait for his wife in the parking lot and struck up a conversation with Bill.
The husband was amazed at the turnout for our Open House. Bill, who's family owned a bar and restaurant for years explained that he saw us as a "fabric bar". Women come in, complain about their husbands and kids, share their joys and sorrows, buy a fat quarter and leave. When the mans wife joined them and remarked about the crowd, the husband said "Yea, every woman in a 100 mile radius without a drinking problem is in that building".
Here's to keeping you off the streets!
Karen

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Birthday Goodies

I know that everyone is busy getting ready for the big turkey dinner tomorrow. Some of you are probably plotting your attack for the sales on "Black" Friday! I on the other hand am busy getting ready to celebrate the shops 15th birthday on Wednesday, December 3rd! (Lots of time for planning, my daughter is cooking the turkey this year!)

We have a special way for you to join in the birthday celebrating fun! Click on the "comment" button below this post, the one right next to the cute little pencil. Leave a comment about our store, the staff, a memory or mention a favorite class, teacher or project and you will have the chance to win a $15 Gift Certificate! We are looking forward to hearing from you. 15 years has garnered us an amazing amount of memories, warm customer friendships and more than our fair share of crazy stories!
You have from now until midnight December 3rd to leave a comment, which servers as your entry into the drawing for the prize. On December 4th we will use a random number generator to select the winner and post the winning name here on the blog. Don't forget to check back here on the 4th to see if you are the winner and provide contact information so that we can issue your gift certificate!
Those of you that shop our brick and mortar store will want to make plans to stop by in person. We have lots of surprises in store for you! Mark your calendar, Wednesday, December 3rd!
Happy Turkey Day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

FIFTEEN

Fifteen years.
Wow!
December 3 The Quilt Company will be celebrating our 15th birthday!

How is that possible? How did a divisible by 5 birthday/anniversary sneak up on me with so little planning? You can't possibly imagine how fast time flies when you absolutely love to go to work each day. But, fifteen YEARS? You would think I would have noticed.

Bad planning. That is the excuse I am using. The original plan was to open the store in September. That would have been perfect. Nice weather, no conflicting holidays, quilters are back in the swing of things after taking the summer off. A perfect time to hold a birthday/anniversary celebration. That didn't work out. We built the building that houses the shop from the ground up. If you know anything about construction I don't need to tell you why our birthday is in December instead of September.

No wonder our birthday gets overlooked. Sandwiched in between a "late" Thanksgiving and full blown Christmas festivities, squeezed between holiday concerts and cookie baking and hot on the heels of our annual Holiday Open House, we need to find a way to make it jump out and grab your attention! - without giving the entire store away!

Planning, planning, planning....... Hmmm. We really need to show our appreciation to those of you that support the store, subscribe to our email lists, read the blog and keep us in business. After all, if it weren't for you, we wouldn't be here! What better way to let you know about the promotion than right where you like to communicate - your e-mail!

If you are one of our in-store customers, make sure you are signed-up for our "Local" e-updates. Those messages are intended for people that can walk in the door of our "brick-and-mortar" store, feel the fabric, see the displays and take advantage of our programs and classes. If you are a long distance customer, log on to the website and sign-up to receive The Quilt Company updates. These email messages are intended for those of you that shop our web store and want to be informed when new patterns are published, my fabrics are released or featured in magazines or when we introduce a new block of the month program.

Sign-up soon and watch your mailbox for details of our birthday celebration and special saving, just for YOU! www.thequiltcompany.com.

Karen


Monday, November 17, 2008

I've been busy!

Last week was one of those weeks where I barely had time to breathe, let alone take the time to compose a coherent blog post. No matter how hard I try to plan, everything seems to happen at the same time around here.

A week ago (on Sunday) we had our Santa Bucks auction here at the store. Customers had been earning "funny money" along with their purchases for several months. The top 40 "earners" were invited to a live auction to spend their bucks on everything from stationary sets designed by Deb Strain, a Moda designer to fat quarter bundles and even a queen size quilt! Many thanks to Jim, our Store Managers husband who did a stellar job as our auctioneer and managed to keep everyone bidding and having a good time. It was great fun - lots of work, but we love our customers!

Tuesday and Wednesday I was in New York to present artwork for my next fabric lines. I spent Monday finishing up the details and left for the airport at 4:30am Tuesday to catch a 6am flight. Believe it or not, I had a collision with a deer on Greentree hill. We live in wooded suburbia and I manage to collide with a deer who decides to cross a 6 lane highway with cars traveling at 60+ miles per hour. Three cars were crunched by that deer. For the record, the deer hit me, but that made very little difference to my husband who pointed out that the deer does not have auto insurance. I made it to the airport and my gate, plopped my overnight bag on the floor, and was turning off my cell phone when the woman standing next to me drop her entire cup of coffee right into my laptop case! Deer ping pong and a soggy hard drive are NOT the best way to start a business trip.

Back in the shop for the weekend and our Holiday Open House. This year we kicked off our series of Holiday Demos at the annual event. It's always a fun time and I love sharing quick and easy ideas with the crowd and watching the "lightbulb" go off in their head when they realize "I can DO that - and GET IT DONE!". You can see the details of a few of those items on the joint blog where I work with other shop owners at http://www.myquiltvillage.com/. While you are there, post a comment on the site and you will have a chance to win one of our Old Man Winter button pillow kits! It is THAT easy! Just post a comment! You need to hurry, the comment has to be posted before midnight Nov. 20 to be eligible for the drawing.


To put a cap on my weekend, we hosted the cast party for our daughters Drama Club production of "Front Page". If you have ever wondered what your house looks like with 84 teenagers inside, here is a shot of just our entry hall.
The kids are great fun. They eat us out of house and home, like their music VERY loud and have more energy than I can ever remember having after midnight, but we really enjoy having them at our house. Lindsay is a senior and will be off to college out of state next year. It is going to be very quiet at our house.
Last night I was the featured speaker at The Quilt Company East Guild meeting. What a delightful group of men and women. Their meetings are well run and very welcoming. They have an excellent plan to include beginner quilters into the fold and an amazing success with community service both through the guild and by individual members. My favorite part is always Show-and-Tell and they didn't let me down! Kudos to the hardworking members of The Quilt Company East Guild!


Don't forget to post a comment at http://myquiltvillage.com/ and oh yea, thaw that turkey!
Karen



Monday, November 3, 2008

My Quilting Family

News from the cooking sister.

I received an email from my sister Paula, who is trying to finish a quilt she started 10 years ago. She has managed to add an inner border and 3 of the 4 pieces of the outer border to her quilt top all on her own. I'm so proud. It has only taken her 2 weeks. OK, 10 years and 2 weeks.

Then I got to this part of her message:

"I have some questions on having it quilted, I am not sure how to have it quilted on the plate pattern? The woman who has the quilt store has a machine and does quilting but it is like giving your baby to a sitter for the first time."

Plate? Funny, I though she said they were blue and white stars? I think the "plate" reference means that she is finishing a Dresden Plate quilt! This sister had issues with piecing when she took a her first class with me 15 years ago. Later, when we introduced the Dresden Plate in our block-of-the-month, she decided that hand applique was oh-so-much easier than sewing all of those pieces together. Further illustrating the differences in our DNA.

The funniest part of her message is the comparison of giving your quilt to a quilter and leaving your baby with a sitter. When you think about it, you can always get a new sitter, but once that quilt is quilted - it is all grown up. Too late for major changes. Wait until she hears my lecture on batting. I feel pretty strongly that a batting can make or break the look of your quilt. There isn't a right or wrong, you just have to know how you want to use the finished quilt to make the right batting decision.
Paula's finishing quest was spurred by the desire to make her grandson a quilt. His room is decorated in dinosaurs. I packed up a fat quarter bundle of Dino prints, one of our 3-6-9 patterns and a quick note and shipped it off to her before I left town for Quilt Market. Our 3-6-9 is a perfect beginner pattern and I thought it was something she could get finished before Ryan is more interested in girls than dinosaurs!
Out of the blue:
My youngest daughter appeared in the family room last night proudly displaying a cute little purse that she had made herself using the sewing machine in our guest room. The workmanship was excellent. The purse is lined, has french seams on the bottom and is totally reversible. Adorable! She had cut-up some old t-shirts to use for fabric and drafted her own pattern. Wow! I was impressed!
Lindsay is my crafty kid, but she has been working in the kitchen of a restaurant for over a year and I was pretty sure she had an overdose of those cooking genes. Now that she was finished she had a zillion questions about the process she used. For some reason she refused to consult me at the time, some foolishness about wanting to figure it out for herself, but she took notes for her next project. We discussed options and I did mention that I knew where she could get some wonderful cotton fabric.... and a magnetic snap closure..... and some interfacing......
There may be hope for my fabric stash yet!
Now I want to get my hands on that bag and turn it into a pattern!
Karen

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I should probably stop blabbering on about Quilt Market. It isn't really fair to keep talking about an industry show where unless you are part of the industry, you will never attend (nor should you). It's just that Market is such an important part of what makes our industry tick, that it is hard not to dwell upon it.



You don't need to feel completely left out, keep in mind that Quilts Inc hosts Quilt Festival in Houston each fall (following Market) a spring show in Chicago and another in California that are open to consumers. You could attend any of those and feel the same rush, the same excitement, and see the same products and people from the consumers viewpoint. If you have the opportunity – JUMP at the chance to attend. The energy in the air is enough to keep you excited about sewing for years!

I have snitched some photos from the websites of my friends to give you some idea of what the big deal is all about. This is a glimpse of the convention floor in Houston. This represents only a tiny fraction of the 26 aisles and 1000+ booths that we need to cover.
If you are going to be effective covering the sales floor, it helps to have extra sets of eyes and ears to help you find the treasures.

I always take Debby, my store manager with me. We work well together, but have different taste. Quite often one of us will point something out, only to be met with a totally confused look and all the other can say is "really"? At which point someone needs to take a second look!


In addition to Deb, I have a unique and talented group of friends that also own shops. They too are scouring booths to find the best-of-the-best. Luckily everyone in the group is willing to share all of their favorite finds.
Our stores are spread out all over the country and it is always fascinating to see what is attractive to quilters in different regions. This is Mary Wilberg checking things out in the American Jane booth. Mary owns Quilting Treasures in Rogers Minnesota. Mary's opinion helped me make a $1000 commitment to Aurofil thread. - what are friends for if they don't help you spend your money wisely?


Karen Snyder is another member of our group and her ears should be burning on a regular basis. I am using the International Mystery program she created in my BlockWatchers Club. We talk about her every month! She is a great friend and a fellow fabric designer. Karen specializes in 30's reproduction fabrics and I am thrilled to have her as part of the Timeless team.


Karen is in the process of closing her store in Long Beach, Washington and taking on the responsibility of being the spokesperson for Elna Sewing Machines. We are all getting a kick out of seeing "our" Karen's face plastered on posters, magazine ads and Elna's promotional materials.


We stopped by the Krause booth to support, .... ok, to harass her durring her book signings, but she was gracious enough to autograph a copy of her "Quilts From My Garden" book for us to use in our auction anyway.




Those of us that make up the stores at http://www.myquiltvillage.com/ had a "town meeting" to do a little town planning, select a block of the month that will start in January and discuss the new - and exciting- editions to the site. I think you are going to want to check in on the village often, right now we are blogging every other day, and it is fun to track what each of us are doing.
Now it is time to get ready for Christmas.
Yes, Christmas.
It's time to plan demo's and projects, sample gift giving ideas, decorate.......... ho ho ho.
Karen

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quilters from Mars?

Have you ever been out-of-your-skin excited about something in a room full of grumpy people?
That's the way I felt traveling home from Quilt Market last evening as Debby and I sat in the Houston airport discussing all of the wonderful items we had purchased for our store. Market was filled with great new product, wonderful new patterns, exciting ideas and color and excitement everywhere you looked. The airport was filled with grumpy people flying home to nasty weather, political polls and dire stock market reports. Looking around at the reaction to our excited chatter I think they were wondering exactly what planet we were from.


The world could use more quilters.



I took a quick photo of the Timeless Treasures display of my new fabric, projects, patterns and accessories before the festivities began. My fabric line is only about one tenth of their booth space but I was thrilled with the look and the "feel" of the display. Thankfully so were several other "important" people in the industry.
You can tell everyone that you "saw it here first" when the fabrics and patterns start showing up in catalogs and magazines!

I will be sending out a "News Flash" when the bolts of fabric arrive and are ready for sale both in the store and on the website. If you want to keep up with the news, log on to our website and sign-up for the E-Updates. http://www.thequiltcompany.com

One of the absolute BEST parts of Quilt Market is having the chance to meet in person with a wonderful group of shop owners that I am thrilled to call friends. We jokingly refer to ourselves as the "Village People" - maybe you have seen our page in McCalls Quilting? We also have a website http://myquiltvillage.com where we have created a virtual "town" of 8 wonderful quilt shops. To be honest, the best part of the site right now is the blog. Although we sat down together and planned some great new additions that will be added in the coming weeks, so there is LOTS more instore for the site, including free pattern downloads. The group includes fabric designers, pattern designers, top selling machine stores (assorted brands) and we stretch from California to New Jersey and Minnesota to Texas and our ideas and opinions are almost as varied! You won't find a better group of caring, sharing individuals with more deversified tastes.

You have heard the saying "Two heads are better than one" - just imagine the amazing things that happen when the 8 of us get together! It is exciting to be able to bring that energy and enthusiasm to our site, my store, my customers and my own blog!

Karen

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quilting by phone

My sister Paula called.

Paula is my older sister. She works in banking (proving she has a math brain). She and her husband are fabulous, innovative cooks, one of her daughters is a chef and is married to a chef. I on the other hand was usually asked to bring ice to the family dinners.

Paula lives in Atlanta and has just become a Grandmother for the second time this year.
She wants to finish her "old" quilt, that she started here in Pittsburgh, so that she can start new ones for her new grandsons.

I tried to explain to her that "real" quilters don't bother finishing an old project before starting a new one. She claimed that she needed to brush up on her skills before starting a new project. She also pointed out that she still has the first 6 blocks of the very first block-of-the-month we taught in the shop (15 years ago) in a drawer somewhere. That should count for something.

Naturally I agreed to help.

Our conversation went something like this:
Paula: You remember the quilt, it was blue stars with strips around the outside.
Me: Strips? Do you mean sashing?
Paula: Ok, if you say so. Now I need the stuff that goes around that.
Me: Borders?
Paula: Is that what comes next?
Me: Are the blocks sewn together into a quilt top?
Paula: Uh-huh.
Me: Then you are ready for borders.
Paula: How big are my borders?
Me: How big would you like them to be?
Paula: As big as you tell me to make them.
Me: Do you have fabric?
Paula: No, how much should I buy?
Me: How big is your quilt?
Paula: I don't know.
Me: 3 yards.

Sometime this week my sister is going to walk into an unsuspecting quilt shop carrying an unfinished blue and white Ohio Star quilt that she started 10 years ago as a high school graduation gift for her daughter. That same daughter is now married and has just had her first baby. My sister is going to drive the clerk crazy trying to match 10 year old fabric, having no idea what she needs or how to finish her project. My hope is that the clerk is not only kind and understanding, but that she keeps it simple. Paula plans to call me so that I can talk her through the finishing process. I know what she really wants is for me to say "just send it and I will finish it for you".

In our family DNA, Paula got the cooking genes.


Tonight, I sleep.

Done!

Not exactly completely finished, but pretty darn close! Close enough that I can relax, enjoy a glass of wine and get a good night's sleep. The quilts that have to be completed are stitched, quilted, bound, photographed and I've even written and illustrated the instructions. All I have left to do is press the "print" button on the big bad color printer.

WHOOPIE!

Here's a photo of the last item I finished. This is a 9 block project that was made using the technique in "Wonderful 1 Fabric Quilts" by Kay Nichols. I love the idea, and yes, the entire thing was made using just ONE fabric, the repeating stripe from the Refresh line.

Sure, there are still lots of "wouldn't it be nice" projects that I might be able to get done. I want my displays to look like those in an expensive specialty store. I want them to stand out in a convention center filled with color and beautiful quilts and wonderful displays. I like to add fun or interesting items like a big fluffy white bathrobe trimmed in the soft blue and white Counterpoint prints and a matching spa bag filled with bath products. ..... wouldn't that be cool!.... maybe tomorrow.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Look, I'm a Cover Girl

Here in Western Pennsylvania our local governments are townships. We live in a very small one, just 4 miles by 4 miles. Hampton Magazine is our version of the town newspaper. It is published about every 3 months, mailed to every home in the area and contains all of the important information (like when to sign-up for swimming lessons and which teachers are retiring and the water treatment report, which as you can imagine is spellbinding.). In every issue they write a feature on a local resident or business. The Quilt Company was chosen for the issue that was published and distributed on Monday.

When they contacted me to tell me about the feature, they said it was about the STORE. When they called to schedule the photographer they said that I would need to be in the photo. I hate having my photo taken. I love having my work featured, but photos of me..... not so much.

The first photo shoot was scheduled on the same Monday that hurricane Ike blew threw town causing major power outages. No power also means no hair dryer or curling iron. The photographer had the decency to not show up for that appointment. We rescheduled for Tuesday. He was busy taking school photos and ran late. We scheduled for Thursday, then Friday then the following Monday afternoon. By Monday morning I was pretty confident that there would be another cancellation and I would be off the hook and only a stock photo of one of my quilts would make the cover. No sooner had that thought entered my mind and the photographer, with a spare 15 minutes, walked in the door.


Now you would think that a woman that was going to have her photo taken for a magazine cover would at LEAST bring a hairbrush to work with her. Nope. I had planned to go home for lunch, change and get ready for the shoot. That plan didn't work. The publisher also had the idea that the photo should be in "fall" colors and as uncluttered as possible. As you can see, that didn't work either.


In an E-Update message that I send to my "regular" walk-in customers, I told them that the photo shoot had happened and I was having a bad hair day that day. I inserted this photo in that message. An amazing number of people assumed that the person in the photo was me. Even the people that see me ALL the time thought that this person was me - without makeup.
What on earth were they thinking? My eyes are brown.


I've been taking lots of friendly harassment from the clerks at the post office, the bank and the guys at the printer (who claim they like the idea of my being a cover girl, but were really hoping for a centerfold - I pointed out that I am old enough to be their Mother). Funnier still are the comments from the people in town that have known me my entire life. Most of them are like very proud parents. They've been stopping me in the store to tell me that they always knew I'd "do good". One older man claimed that I must be a genius. I've figured out how to make money doing something that his Mother and Grandmother did all their lives and all they ever got was "sore fingers."!
Ahhhh..... the glamor of it all.......

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tax plan

Yesterday didn't go exactly as planned.
Our meeting with the Sales Rep was cut short so that he could catch an earlier plane. The 3:30 bus didn't arrive until 5pm and it took 3 trips to the post office to ship all of the Block of the Month packets. We lived through it. I was exhausted and everyone is happy and that is what customer service is all about.
Now it is back to sewing for Market.
The endless sewing of strips and squares for simple projects gives me plenty of time to think. Usually I think about sewing, patterns and project ideas. Lately I, along with the rest of you, have been bombarded with political opinion. Almost 75% of the emails I receive are politically based. One reason is that my husband is an elected official. He is a small town council person, but it is still an elected position, so everyone in town knows which side of the fence we reside upon.
One of those political emails contained a laundry list of "pork" added to the economic bailout package. I wish I would have know about that sooner. I would have applied/lobbied for some major quilting "bacon". I think we could have qualified. With the right "spin" I can be pretty convincing. When you get right down to it, quilters in general can have a much larger impact than say, a wooden arrow manufacturer?
How is this for an economic plan:
I think the US Government should send you a check equal to the value of 20% of your unused fabric stash. A rebate of sorts. A little thank you from the Government for stimulating the economy and spending money on things you really didn't need in the first place.
When calculating the value of your stash to determine your rebate it would be important to be honest. Just include the value of your unused stash, don't include the cost of your U.F.O.'s. For my plan to work, we have to be fiscally responsible. We don't want to bankrupt the economy! We can account for the value of your U.F.O.'s in phase 2 of the plan ; ).
Each of us would be getting a hefty check in the mail. And what would you do with that check? Exactly. You would spend it. Probably on more fabric. Thus stimulating the economy. A direct infusion of cash right into the base of our economy, the retail sector. Wall Street would have to love that. Some of you may actually spend MORE than the actual rebate check. Lets face it, as a group, we understand consumer spending.
What's not to love about that plan?
It makes about as much sense as the one Congress came up with..... maybe more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday

Today is going to be one of those "everything has to happen today" days. I have tons of sewing to do to get ready for Quilt Market, but we run a store here and sometimes it takes everyone available to make it run well. Luckily I shipped the quilt on the left off to the quilter last night and the one I am currently working on only needs a few seams and the border added to finish it off.
The weather is cool and crisp and it is a school day, the perfect combination to spur our customers into stopping by the shop. We are normally busy on beautiful fall days.

It is the first Tuesday of the month, which means we will be shipping several hundred Block of the Month packets. We do that on the first Tuesday of every month. It takes hours to process them, stamp them and deliver them to the post office. This happens every month. It is more time consuming than difficult, but interuptions can drive you nuts when you are trying to keep everything straight. Canadian postage, sales tax, no sales tax, expiration dates, it takes total concentration to get everyting processed properly.
One of our Sales Reps is due here later today to show us the new fabric line. Normally we set those appointments for early in the morning before the shop gets busy. This time we have made an exception and alowed her to schedule her appointment later in the day because she is traveling with the National Sales Manager for one of the companies she represents. What that really means is that "company is coming". Keep in mind that I design fabric for one of his competitors. I buy his fabrics as a shop owner, therefore I am also a customer. The situation makes for an interesting dance. He wants to win me over, without giving me too much information, he wants my feedback, but doesn't know if he can trust me. I love the opportunity to discuss business, but I want him out of here by 3:00 at the latest.

If that isn't enough fun for one day, we will be topping it off with a bus trip of 42 (hopefully) happy quilters that are scheduled to arrive at 3:30. They are planning a 2 hour stop at our store to shop. We are providing a demo and make-it take-it for them. I believe the trip originated somewhere in the midwest. We are one of the many shops they are visiting on their tour. I hope they are running on schedule, have a few dollars left to spend and enjoy their stop here in western PA.
Today, timing is everything.

Monday, October 6, 2008

11 days?



I have a confession to make.




The sample yardage of my new fabric line arrived 11 days ago. UPS walked in with a very early morning delivery just a few hours before I left on a retreat weekend with customers. That's a photo of us having breakfast at the retreat center. Nice huh? There is nothing better than sitting down to a civilized meal then getting up, walking away from the dishes and clean-up to go back to sewing until the next meal is served!


You better believe I took that box of new fabrics with me! I've got deadlines! Sample yardage is at a premium. It is all that is available in the country until the bolt yardage arrives weeks later. You have to be careful not to "goof". Normally I would make all of the large and important samples first, but in the last minute rearranging of the projects I packed for the weekend I forgot to take some of the important elements (like notions and rulers) to the retreat. That meant I had to start with the scrappier pieces and work my way up to the big ones, without using any of the yardage I would eventually need for the large pieces, even though I had no idea what yardage I would need because I hadn't designed them yet! Are you confused? Me too.
I did manage to put the body of this project, which will be the free handout quilt from Timeless, together. The prints are positive/negative and it looks very peaceful in person. The white fabric for the large border should be arriving today.
I've also finished the "theme" quilt for the Refresh line and I am working on a combination project using the tan Counterpoint pieces in combination with the Refresh line. I will be photographing those later today before they go to the quilters and will post them, tomorrow? Whew, this daily posting thing isn't easy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To Market, To Market..... again.

Right around this time last spring I started to post daily updates on what it takes to get ready for International Quilt Market so that you could track the progress and see what is involved. Many of you have asked if I planned to do the same thing this fall. I could, I should, I probably will.

One problem. I'm still waiting for fabric.

Unless you want to see scans of some pencil sketches on graph paper, it is going to be a little while before I can show you anything new. I can't really blame this delay on Timeless. Their team works really hard. I was the one dragging my feet, vacationing and getting a daughter married. Now it is time to "pay the piper" so to speak and "clear the decks" so that when fabric does arrive, I can get right to work.

In my world, those decks are littered with paperwork. No really, the floor arround me is actually littered with papers! I'm in the middle of writing, or more precicely, re-writing instructions for my most popular free handouts. After one year the rights for the pieces I design for Timeless revert back to me and I am free to publish them as a regular pattern. The re-writing is necesary because the originals are fabric/size/color specific to a particular fabric line. For a pattern to have value, I like to provide size options, layout guides, cutting diagrams and more detailed step-by-step instructions with illustrations. That takes time. A lot of time. I'm also working on the art for my lines for next spring. There are 3 different ideas still swimming around in my head, all of them half baked!


I don't want you to think that I haven't been having ANY sewing fun. I've already completed 3 table runners using new Timeless prints and a Baby Bargello in their new soft shades of batik prints. With help from Polly (who did all the hand applique for me) we used the same batiks to make this applique quilt from the new "Applique Jubilee" book. The original looks ENTIRELY different in shades of reds, tan and brown. It is going to look beautiful in the batik display.

The table runners have been shipped to New York for photography, the batik items have gone off to the quilter. Now it's back to the paperwork until my sample fabric arrives..............

Sunday, September 14, 2008

An Unfair Bias

If you stumbled upon this blog because of a search looking for political bias, boy are you in the wrong place.


I want to discuss a different bias. Actually I want to discuss the bias against bias edges. Fabric bias edges.

Several posts ago (pre-wedding festivities) I posted a photo of a small braided sample that I made for Timeless Treasures using their new batiks that will be introduced at Quilt Market.

I just completed the larger version with scrambled colors and a nice wide border. The smaller piece was shipped off to New York for photography. Almost everyone that has seen the projects has commented about the fact that the edges of the quilt are bias and that is going to scare people. Some of the people that made those comments don’t even sew! They just “know” that bias edges are “hard” to work with.

I think it is time to stamp out the bias against bias edges.

Those of you that are reading this most likely own, and are obviously capable of, operating a computer. If you can handle that, I feel pretty confident that you can manage a piece (or multiple pieces) of fabric cut on a 45 degree angle.

People believe that bias edges are “scary” or “hard” or “too difficult” because someone told you that they were. Or perhaps nobody has ever taken the time to explain or give you suggestions on how to deal with them so you may have had a bad experience.

Here are a few of my favorite tips:

1. Spray sizing is your friend. It doesn’t matter if you pre-wash or not, adding some spray sizing (I prefer to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press or sizing to starch) to your fabrics will help to keep them stable. I generously size my fabrics before I cut out the pieces.

2. Bias edges stretch. That is a fact. Act accordingly. Do your best to sew and press with minimal distortion. NEVER sew with one hand behind your machine. You’ve probably seen people do this, one hand in front guiding the fabric and the other around the back pulling the fabric through. Pulling = Stretching. Your machine knows how to sew, allow it to do its job. If you are having problems with seams that pucker, change your needle, buy a good quality thread and try again. If they still pucker, take your machine for service. A good cleaning and some minor adjustments may be all that are needed.

3. The same advice applies to pressing, press without pulling. A large, flat, not too soft pressing surface will help you to have crisp seams and more accurate piecing.

4. If you are not adding a border to your bias edge project, heed the advice of your High School Home Economics teacher and “stay-stitch”. Mark the cutting line along the edge of your quilt and run a line of basting stitches just inside that line before trimming the edge. The stitching will keep the edge from stretching while the piece is being quilted.

5. If you are adding a border to your quilt it is especially important to follow good border principles when dealing with a bias edge. Measure and cut your border lengths to the exact size needed (Do NOT be tempted to use an extra long length, sew and then whack of the extra! Those bias edges will have your border waving in the breeze!)
Fold both the border and quilt in half and then in quarters and mark the segments so that you can align the marks to space the border evenly (mark eighths if it is a large quilt). Pin the border in place. Sew the border to the quilt, having the bias edge of the quilt on the bottom and the border strip on top. I know you like to watch all of those seams go under your presser foot so that they don’t flip in funny directions, but having the border strip on top is actually a help. Your machine is designed to ease things to fit by taking up more fabric with the feed dogs than the presser foot (that is why they invented the Even Feed Foot and if you have one, by all means use it.) In this case your machine will ease the bias edges to the border without stretching them.
By the way, take the pins out as you go, don’t stitch over them, your machine will thank you for it and your seam will have less wiggles or tiny puckers.

I totally agree with planning your project with as few bias edges as possible, but I don’t agree with limiting the patterns or projects that you select because you don’t think you can handle a little bit of stretch. For heavens sake, we are talking about fabric not nuclear waste!

You can do it, I have faith in you!

Any other questions?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Communication Issues

Most marriage councilors will tell you that one rule for a great marriage is to have excellent communication. On the 16th of this month my husband and I will be married for 31 years. We may be the exception to that rule.

I mentioned to my husband that I received a message from Debby. At this moment I can’t remember why I mentioned it or why I felt the need to tell him about it or why I started the whole conversation in the first place. It went something like this:

Me: I got an email from Deb.

Husband: Deb in New Jersey (a fellow shop owner)

Me: No, Debby

Husband: The one in Texas? (another fellow shop owner)

Me: No, let me finish.

Husband: Go ahead and finish, but how am I suppose to know which Deb you mean? Debbie from the restaurant last night? (someone that I went to high school with who happened to be having dinner at the same time)

Me: NO, stop guessing! Debby, MY Debby, the one that works with me.

Husband: Oh, why didn’t you say so? Did the kids call?

Me: Yes, Lauren & Jon called.

Husband: John? Bernie’s John?

Me: No, your son-in-law Jon.

Husband: The landscaper?

Me: NO, Jon, your son-in-law, Lauren’s husband. Remember the big party last week? You wore a tux.

Husband: Woa. Son-in-law? That’s gonna take some getting use to…… (and he left the room).
It's a good thing we took a vow.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wedding

We had a wonderful weekend!

I will try to be brief so that we can get back to the topic of quilting, but I know that many of you are anxiously awaiting details.
The official wedding events began on Thursday evening with the traditional rehearsal.

Jon and Lauren included lots of personal touches. To decorate the ceremony site they used old black & white family photos. They also had Lindsay (Lauren's little sister) sing durring the ceremony and she knocked their socks off!





Rehearsal was followed by the traditional dinner for both families at the kids favorite French bistro. That's Lauren's brother & sister, Brandon and Lindsay on the left and Jon's brothers Chris and Alex on the right. The six of them are one happy family already! Parents were there too and we all had a fun filled and delicious evening.

Friday was filled with hair, make-up and last minute details which included finding a new indoor location to take photos because the weather was not cooperating and it had started to rain. The crisis was overted and the bride was finally dressed and ready to go!


Luckily the kids are friends with a wonderful couple that work at the museum that is housed in an old train station. The Moony's not only helped them out, but allowed them access to wonderful settings that "comon folk" would never have the opportunity to use. The photographer took over 400 shots before the ceremony!


I was a bit too busy trying not to cry to take any ceremony photos.







After the ceremony they danced and partied with family and friends until the reception ended and the old folks went home. Then the bridal party and friends continued the festivities well into the wee hours of the morning at their favorite local hangout.







The late hour didn't prevent any of them from getting up to attend the brunch on Saturday for the out-of-town guests that was held at Chez' Nora, a great little restaurant in Covington, just blocks from their new home.
The skies had cleared and it was a beautiful day for exploring their little town.



After brunch many of the guests enjoyed the Octoberfest activities, food and craft vendors along the main street before stopping by the bride and grooms Open House to see their new home and have yet another bite to eat.

To top off the weekend Lauren and Jon joined 50+ of their family and friends to walk across the river to attend the baseball game at The Great American Ballpark. The weather was perfect, the company couldn't have been better and even the scoreboard congratulated the new and very happy Mr. & Mrs. Olson!




The newlyweds are off on their honeymoon in Montreal, the guests have returned to the far flung corners of the world, so I guess it is back to the real world and playing catch-up with that to do list.

Fortunately great memories last a lifetime!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wedding countdown

I am happy to report that the hours that I’ve spent watching “Ace of Cakes” on the food channel were not a total waste of time. I must have picked up some tips somehow because I managed to make my daughter’s wedding cake over the weekend and it went pretty well!

Don’t be concerned about the freshness; this isn’t the cake that everyone will be eating. The trend among young couples these days is to have a “dummy” cake that looks wonderful for the cake cutting photos but serve their guests from different cakes that are kept in the kitchen. It actually makes sense to me, because the trend is also to have these smooth surface contemporary cakes that are covered in fondant. If you have ever tasted fondant – yuck!

Years ago I worked as a craft coordinator for a chain of craft stores, part of that job included being certified as a Wilton Cake Decorating Instructor. I’ve done a few traditional wedding cakes for family, but this was my first attempt at a serious fondant project. I should have taken a video of the process, it was pretty funny! Imagine having this huge 22 inch circle of fondant that is centered over the cake and then as it drapes over the sides you have to mold it to fit. It has folds and ruffles and is entirely too large, but it works. Don’t ask me how, it just does. It takes a lot of smoothing and I recommend repeating over and over “I can do this, it is possible to make this happen, other people have done this, it must be possible”.

As far as the decorations are concerned, there are fresh flowers ordered for the top of the cake and the bride and groom requested that it be as contemporary as possible. I was oh so tempted to embellish it with a quilt block, but it is THEIR wedding. Lauren’s new last name will be Olson and her initials will be LJO and Jon’s are JLO, so the “O”s are a bit of a private joke. The good news is that I sent them a photo from my camera phone and they are happy with it – whew!

Monday, August 25, 2008

quilting?


From the looks of this blog, you would think that I wasn't getting much sewing accomplished. You would probably be right. I completed this project for Timeless and am shipping it off to be photographed today. I still have to make a larger version of the same pattern with borders. I’m thinking of scrambling the colors in the larger piece and having it shade from dark on the bottom to light on the top, but that is going to take some thought and I just can’t concentrate on anything that creative right now.

My oldest daughter is getting married September 5th in Cincinnati. Many of the last minute details are falling to me, like the wedding cake, decorations for the reception, helping with the food for the open house they are hosting. Don’t get me wrong, I volunteered for these details, it is just that they are all things that need to be done at the last minute and that “minute” is looming ever closer, but not quite close enough to get started.

For those of you that are wondering, no, I didn’t make them a wedding quilt. I considered it, but they are still in the “deciding” stage of combining their taste and figuring out what they want to live with. Their bedroom was going to be dark red, then green, now it is blue. Both of them favor contemporary, but not in an Amy Butler style, they prefer more of a minimalist look. Jon loves black and white photography, clean lines and has a very artistic eye. Lauren loves a classic uncluttered look (both of my girls wanted to grow up to be Audrey Hepburn). Jon may have been a bit concerned that his new mother-in-law might force a “granny quilt” of calico squares and triangles on him. I think he has gotten over that fear, but we are going to take this relationship one step at a time. I’m not planning to be a meddling mother in law – at least until the grandchildren arrive!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back To Work

Wow! That re-entry after vacation is pretty bumpy! I wake up each morning and before I open my eyes I cross my fingers and hope and pray that what I see will be aquamarine blue water, a sandy beach and a few palm trees sprinkled here and there. Moments later I am staring out at a mostly brown crunchy lawn, a garden full of weeds and I have to make my own coffee.

Oh well.

Getting back to work was hard enough, but I've been playing the Karen version of "Nothing in Life is Easy" all week. Because I had 10 wonderful days of vacation, I dropped my sewing machine and my laptop computer off to be serviced while I was gone. I have to say that my machine obviously enjoyed it's time at the Amy Baughman Sewing Center and Machine Spa because it is purring so quietly and clipping threads, winding bobbins like it was brand new out of the box. Ahhhh.

The laptop was entrusted to the Geeks at Best Buy. I love those geeks. They told me that it would have to be sent out to be cleaned and it would most likely be 2-3 weeks. (They have to send it out to get ALL the lint out. I doesn't have as much fuzz in it as my sewing machine - but it is close!) I could live without it for awhile. All I needed to do was transfer some info to the new shop machine and save all of the "important" stuff to a disk. Done. I’m cool.

Ha Ha Ha.

What I didn't realize is that the shop machine doesn’t have all of the fonts that I use. The first time I went to print out a pattern (so incredibly proud of myself for actually saving, finding and being able to print it from a different machine) I realized that not only were the fonts missing, but all of the UPC codes were being converted from their little black lines to a row of numbers. I had to find, download and install that info.

Hours later, when the software was accomplished and I pressed "print", the wonderful Xerox color printer offered me two options, black and white or “Enhanced”, the color option that should be called "Sucks up ink like a sponge". I very na├»vely called the Xerox help line. Ill spare you the details, but it took 24 hours, 3 phone calls, 4 emails and some stern words to Toby before I was able to print in “standard” format. I beg to differ with the words “award winning” when used in reference to their service.

Meanwhile, the machine was eating ink at an alarming rate. This fancy schmancy machine uses solid ink crayons that we order directly from Xerox. If the machine THINKS it is out of ink, it stops running. Three of the “crayons” I opened were cracked in half. That renders them unusable, unless you are willing to insert the “good” portion and then use a bent paper clip, T-pin and a chop stick to remove the unusable chunk when the machine stops. (If you work for Xerox service I have only heard that this is possible, I would NEVER stick a sharp object into my printer and void the warranty….) I HAD to print the items that we needed to ship orders. Quilters were waiting. Customer service was on the line. (Xerox doesn’t need to know about the paper towel crammed into the yellow ink slot to trick the machine into thinking that it had ink either.)

At the same time, the new laptop kept giving me this “warning” that the software was a “trial” version. Let me make this perfectly clear…… Bill Gates does NOT have a sense of humor when it comes to using his software. Once that man has decided your time is up – it’s over baby. I had to trash the trials, reinstall a very old version, update, update, visit the Geeks at Best Buy (whom I’m sure have great stories about the IDIOT that owns a quilt shop and doesn’t know squat about computers) I then keyed in yet another 25 digit product code which I calculated cost me about $6.76 per digit. There is nothing Visa cant fix.

But now we are back to normal. – whatever that is.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vacation!

Ahhh. I'm on vacation. Just my husband and myself on an island for 10 whole days! We have very limited internet access, so dont expect to hear much from me until after the 19th. It's nothing but R&R from now until then.


The plan is to do ALMOST nothing. It is amazing what thoughts pop into your head when you are floating around totally relaxed, face down in the water (with a snorkle of course!) just watching the fish. I've managed to mentally design the free handout project for the Refresh line and have an awsome idea for the Counterpoint line. I also have several great ideas for new blender prints for a line I'm working on for spring of '09......


Pam W, who named the Counterpoint line is an unbelievably talented woman. It occoured to me that maybe Pam should design a pattern to go with that line too. Pam, if you're reading this - put your thinking cap on!


In the mean time, as they say, here is your moment of "zen" so that you can enjoy our vacation too!




















Karen

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A clean slate.

On the off chance that you have been wondering what I’ve been up to instead of posting to the blog, I though I would fill you in.

I have been busy creating a “clean slate” in my kitchen. It’s been months since I took the first pieces of wallpaper down so that our new counters could be installed. I was pressed for time, so I just removed the pieces that were absolutely necessary for the countertop instillation. I intended to get right back to it…. As it turns out the next opportunity I had to roll up my sleeves and get to work was just a few days ago. I finished removing the border from the bulkhead last weekend. Needless to say the kitchen has been more “shabby” than “chic” all summer long.

In the mean time I was busy collecting paint and paper swatches for the big “re-do”. Numerous combinations were vetoed by my husband (who has a degree in biology) and our daughter (who is 17 and I’ve decided is not old enough to vote unless she agrees with me). Finally I just decided to JUST DO IT. Too much time had been spent fretting over color choices and possibilities.

Spa blue is beautiful, but not a kitchen color. Gold is nice, but there isn’t enough contrast with the cabinets. Green… we have too much green in the house already. I've been forbidden to paint anything else beige by the entire family. Combination after combination was stuck to the wall for a few days, then trashed and replaced with another. I lived with paper I really didn’t like for 12 years (My husband firmly believes that ALL kitchen wallpaper should have fruit or tea kettles on it. You are probably wondering why I would agree to something like that? Because marriage is about compromise.)

When you work with color all day, everyday, spending most of the time creating unique combinations, selecting just ONE to live with is actually very hard. The possibilities are endless. It’s been 12 years since we did the original decorating; the thought of selecting just ONE color to live with is daunting. TWELVE YEARS! What if we are too busy to redecorate for another 12? I could have several grandchildren by then – school age grandchildren! …. Well I hope they like red.

That is what I’ve decided. Red on the wall behind the sink to balance the fireplace, creamy tan on the other walls and a contemporary (at least it looks contemporary at this moment) paper for the bulkhead to tie the whole thing together. I ordered the paper, matched the swatches for paint and stripped, cleaned, scrubbed and made ready for the big re-do, totally satisfied that I was making the right decision.

My husband walked in and said “I like it white, let’s leave it this way”. That man would be perfectly comfortable living in a large sterile box. Too bad. The red is ready to go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A fabric by any other name...


The decision has finally been made! It’s engraved – literally, on the selvedge of the fabric. The name of the new blue/tan line is “Refresh” courtesy of a joint decision between myself and the art department and the tone-on-tone line will be named “Counterpoint” courtesy of Pam W’s suggestion here on the blog. I’m very happy with both of them. The blue/tan IS very refreshing and "Counterpoint" is the perfect name for the positive/negative prints.

Now all I have to do is wait. Wait for the engravings to be completed so that they can strike-off the prints in the colors I’ve requested. Strike-offs are small sections of fabric that are printed by hand using the engravings (or screens) to make sure that everything registers properly and that the colors are correct. These pieces are sent to New York from the print plant in Korea, divided in half and a section is sent to me. Then the fun begins. The Art Department at Timeless is so good at what they do that we rarely have to color correct anything more than one time. Quite often it is perfect the first time and sometimes it is exactly what you asked for – but not perfect. I will keep you posted as to the progress and let you know when the strikes arrive. Pam will have to wait even longer to receive her fat quarters of the finished goods.

I should have said that all I have to do FOR THIS LINE is wait for the strike-offs. I have the preliminary art for my next line on my desk, drafts for another line on the computer and I've been researching antique fabrics to base a home dec line on for next spring.

In the mean time I've been spending all of my spare time making things with zucchini! Our tomato plants look pretty sad, the peppers don't look much better. The cucumbers are taking over the garden and the zucchini..... let's just say they are VERY happy plants. We are going to be eating zucchini bread all winter long.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jingle Bells


Shhh, Listen. Do you hear sleigh bells? Are those reindeer hoofs up on the roof?

No, it’s just the staff and I getting ready for Christmas in July. It’s going to be in the high 80’s today and we are going to begin the process of re-arranging the store and sorting through the holiday fabrics for our Christmas in July event that starts on Monday the 21st.

When you own a quilt shop Christmas comes THREE times each year. The first event is in January when Sales Reps from every company clamor for your attention and request the earliest appointment to show you the “new” Christmas collections. You’ve barely finished packing away the garland from the previous Christmas and they want you to get all excited about doing the whole thing over again.

Christmas #2 comes in late May and June when all of those bolts that you ordered begin to arrive. In our store we take all fabric “when ready” meaning the company can ship it as soon as it is available. Almost all of our holiday fabrics are in the shop by mid June, right before our annual Shop Hop. This year we decided to do something different. Instead of putting them out on the shelf as the bolts arrive, we stockpiled them in our very small storage space (which is currently bursting at the seams). This allows us to present the entire Christmas assortment all at one time – beginning next Monday, July 21st. Our customers will have EVERYTHING to choose from instead of wondering what might be coming later. We also have all of the pieces that we ordered at the same time. No one has “cherry picked” the theme prints before the coordinates arrived.

While it might be hard to get into the mood to shop for Santas and snowflakes when the weather outside is screaming “take me to the pool”, it’s a good idea to crank up the air conditioning and concentrate on what you are going to need when Christmas #3 rolls around later this year. Just start humming Jingle Bells…… it helps.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wet, Wild & Wonderful

Deb and I spent the weekend in Bridgeport West Virginia
vending and teaching at theMillennium Quilt Guild Show.
I'm not sure that the department of tourism person that selected that catchy 'wet, wild & wonderful" phrase has ever been to Bridgeport.

We lucked out on the "wet", the weather was beautiful (although I spent most of the weekend teaching in the air conditioned Benedum Civic Center and Debby spent most of hers in the non-airconditioned high school gym).

Wild? Hardly. Bridgeport comes very close to quintessential small town America. This weekend they were also hosting a huge golf tournament, so the community plans lots of other activities for the people to participate in. The Lion's Club was roasting chicken and corn. There was a 5K run, a pet parade, a festival of games and food. We also got to meet the festival Queen with members of her court, the youngest of whom was about 9. They looked very cute walking around in their gowns and tiaras. It was small town America at it's best.

Wonderful.... Heres a glimps of the most wonderful thing I saw all weekend!

This quilt was judged "Best of Show" - for good reason. The 12 blocks feature unique baskets that are hand embroidered and embellished with silk ribbon and beads. Then the blocks are framed and sashed with an ombre fabric (it shades from one color to another).

If that isn't enough to impress, it's also hand quilted.
In a cross hatch pattern.
Every 1/2 inch.
It is wonderful.




Deb had a great time socializing with the other vendors and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to teach the classes and present the lectures that the guild requested. It's an honor to be asked to travel and teach and I always enjoy the opportunity to see what quilters are up to in other parts of the country.

Karen

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Soggy

I tried to be nice about the weather. I was being opened minded when I said that the sun and showers and temperature swings were a nice mix. Now I’ve had it – or we’ve had it, “IT” being too much rain. I think we are all starting to mold! Rain is one thing, but daily torrential downpours are quite another. Enough! I want it to stop!

Hopefully the weather this weekend will be nice for the Millennium Quilt Show in Bridgeport West Virginia. Deb and I will be vending there and I am the featured teacher. If you are in the area, stop by to say hello, we would love to meet you.

The official update on naming the new fabric line is “we haven’t decided”. We are close, I’ve narrowed it down, but once you select a few ideas you have to research them. We not only want to eliminate any unfortunate word associations but we also have to eliminate any confusion. For example, one suggestion was for “Brandenburg” which also happens to be the last name of Barbara, another fabric designer/author. If you Google the fabric name, I want you to come up with me, not another person that works for another company (although Barbara is a talented person and it would be a pleasure to be found in her company). It also takes quite a bit of time to research what names the other fabric companies have been using or have recently advertised You can’t just Google “Midnight Garden” and have it pop up “That was a fabric line designed by Karen Montgomery several seasons ago’. You have to actually tread through the major fabric sites, recent fabric history and really do some digging. You also need to eliminate any unfortunate associations. It’s the World Wide Web out there and those nasty porn people have a weird way of infiltrating things and making some word associations that any normal person would NEVER think of. It pays to be careful; I certainly don’t want a typo in your search for my fabric line to land you somewhere you definitely don’t want to be!

I do appreciate all of the great suggestions, both on and off line. I got a kick out of several of them. The person that suggested I name the floral group “Bernie” was my best friend Bernie from Florida. Sorry Bern, this art is a little too serene for your personality! If I every do a line with flamingos – you’re on!

Among other things Barb O suggested that I name it after a famous Pittsburgh person or perhaps my grandmother. I got a kick out of the grandmother suggestion; Barb had no way of knowing my grandmother’s name was Gladys!

The Monday deadline for the name was extended just a bit because of my request to resize a few of the pieces, but we have to let the print factory know by Friday (the name is printed on the selvedge edge) so that they can start the engraving. I will have a definitive answer for you by next week, after a fun filled weekend in the Bridgeport West Virginia High School Gymnasium. (April Cornell named her most recent line “Portugal” which I am certain had something to do with writing off her travels for business. You can rest assured I will not be calling the new line “high school gym”)!

Enjoy!

Karen