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.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008


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”)!



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name

I promised to keep you up to date on the design process for my next fabric line. We are working on a very tight time line; the next line will be introduced in October at Quilt Market in Houston. That is a very short time frame to take the designs, put them into repeat, have them engraved, produce strike offs, color correct and go to production. It will be hectic, but think it might be fun for you to follow the process from the very beginning. It all started last week when I took several ideas to New York. I met with the team at Timeless Treasures and we discussed, pondered, considered and looked at the other ideas that they are developing for the in-house line before selecting one of the ideas that will be the best all around fit. (drum roll please).

The winner is…..

The floral graphic line! (Applause).

I love this concept. It’s hip in a very mainstream way. The colors are softer than most of the contemporary designs on the market and the color pallet is based on shades of light blue and beige with a bit of soft green tossed in. I also requested that we add some lavender, but that might end up on the cutting room floor. What looks lovely in paint chips sometimes doesn’t work so well when you layer the colors. To my way of thinking this softer color scheme means that many of you will be able to live with the fabric line. You will be able to decorate your room around it, not just add them to your stash.

There are a few multi-color coordinates for the main print, but I had my heart set on doing some tone-on-tone pieces. Luckily everyone liked the idea well enough to move the tone-on-tone pieces into a separate group. Now we will be doing both groups for fall market. There are 5 designs in the second group. Each of them will be printed in a positive/negative format for 10 total pieces in the group. Two of the tone-on-tone prints will be direct pull-outs from the floral graphic line. That way the lines will work well together and it should give me plenty to work with for the quilt projects.

While the art department works on sizing the prints to the proper scale and puts everything into pattern repeat, I have to come up with a name for the collection. …….. Any ideas? Naming the fabric collections is usually the hard part. It has to be something catchy, something fresh, and something non seasonal, not too long, not currently in use and…… perfect. Because we are marketing these as separate lines, I have to come up with names for BOTH of them. It was easier to name my children than to come up with a name for a fabric collection. Actually, the last line WAS named after one of my children. I wonder if one of the other two would want these named after them? – Too easy.

Luckily while I was typing this, Jerry, our ever diligent UPS guy delivered the preliminary artwork. Here's a sneak peek at the first round of art. I've already typed up a page of adjustments so don't fall in love with anything yet! What would you name this fabric line? Remember there are two different lines represented here. And the stripe didn’t make it into the photo – it may be my favorite piece! If you do make a suggestion and I end up using it, Ill happily send you a fat quarter of every piece in the line as soon as the fabric arrives. Remember, we are under a time crunch here. I have to make the corrections and name this line before Monday! It isn't ALL fun and games!