Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Here!

My fabric packet arrived late Thursday afternoon, just as Debby and I were getting ready to leave for a charity fundraiser. I had to wait until early Friday morning to really get down to work. I've been known to work non-stop to do what has to be done when things get down to the wire, but this time things are a little different.

In addition to dealing with normal Market frenzy, this season International Quilt Market is being held here in Pittsburgh. The entire industry is coming to town for this wholesale event. Many of them, including the sponsored bus trip, will be stopping by my store. Needless to say, there is a lot of primping, cleaning and general organizing to prepare for that kind of company. If you were in the store over the weekend, you are probably wondering how that is going to happen! I have piles and heaps of fabric, snips, scraps, discarded blocks, instruction notes, rulers, you name it, strewn everywhere!

Outside of the store we have been working with our landscaper since last fall, planning when he needs to be finished with spring clean-up and fresh mulch. My husband also asked him to re-rock a drainage area along our driveway. All last week there was a pile of stone in my parking lot taking up 3 parking spaces. Our landscaper is having employee issues, his wife just had a baby..... I can relate..... but I wanted the rock gone and the mulch DONE. So far I'm one for two in that department.

I didn't sew until the wee hours on Friday and Saturday because we were attending the local high school musical production of "Anything Goes". My daughter is starring as Hope and I did not want to miss a minute of it. I always see it at least twice, the first time I usually hold my breath each time she starts to sing, the second time I really get to enjoy it. This year they are performing for two weekends and I plan to see it Friday too! Saturday I will leave at intermission so that I can get home and warm things up. For the last few years we have hosted the cast party after the final performance.

This is Lindsay's senior year and in addition to all of the hoopla that normally goes along with graduation, her prom is the Friday night of Market. Sometime between now and then I have to find time to adjust her prom dress. She selected a black and white (mostly white) chiffon dress with a slit and she is not leaving the house until I line the skirt! This morning she informed us that her group of friends are planning to take photos at OUR house.

I have to go drop this quilt at the quilter and call a guy about mulch!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Food Supply

My fabric hasn't arrived yet, so instead of whining about it, I thought I would tackle another important issue. Someone has been messing with my food supply. Not the food supply to our nation, just one small area that I personally concern with myself, namely M&M’s.

I am a hard core M&M addict. Some people think mash potatoes are comfort food, others crave meatloaf or fried chicken. My personal preference is M&M’s. When I am under stress there is nothing like a giant bag of candy coated chocolates to get me through to a deadline.

I have to admit that I am an old school M&M connoisseur; I preferred the color mix before the blue ones were added. That tan, brown, orange, yellow, green and red combo was a classic. If someone had shown you paint chips of those same shades, you would have immediately thought M&M’s. It was recognition that only happens in an advertising persons dreams – until they messed with perfection. I understand the need for change, I can accept the fact that blue had been slighted for years, but why did they have to select THAT shade of blue? It is just not a preferred color for food unless you are under the age of 5. Therefore I eat them first.

The color of my favorite food is not the main concern of this rant. As you all know, -I’m going a little crazy as I wait for the sample fabric of my new fabric line to arrive. (Update: The ETA for fabric is Friday or possibly Monday, but probably not later than end of day Tuesday. They faxed me a shipping notice that it left the print plant yesterday, keep your fingers crossed!) Once it gets here I literally have to sew like a crazy person to get the quilts finished for Market. As a bit of pre-frenzy planning I invested in an extra large bag of my favorite treat. I opened it, dug in and noticed something very strange….

Not all of my precious M’s are perfect.

A large portion of the yellow ones are disfigured. Many of the yellow, green and orange ones have shell damage. A good many brown ones are underdeveloped. It looks like all of those #$%^ blue ones are perfect. I’m thinking communist plot. The M&M factory needs a government bailout NOW. Their factory workers need to be retrained! Quality control has gone out the window! How in the world do we expect to solve the credit crisis and jumpstart the economy when we can’t even get M&M’s right?

For the love of God, someone needs to tell Mars Inc. to stop imposing personalities and putting arms and legs on food and get back to the basics! The next time I open a bag I expect each and every one of those orbs of candy coated chocolates to be exactly the same shape. Make America proud.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.

Today was Community Service Day at The Quilt Company. We have agreed to contribute 50 quilts to the Bethlehem Haven House to distribute to the women to whom they provide services. Fifty finished quilts between now and October, I'm thinking we must be nuts. This is a sizable project (even for us) but we feel very strongly that an important part of our business is to provide opportunities for local quilters to give back to the community. We tackle some sort of charitable project every three months and these quilts are the project that we have selected for the next several months. Now we had to get organized.

I have been accused of being a control freak. I prefer to think of it more as having uncompromised standards. I am willing to admit that we sometimes don’t play well with others. I am an extreemly busy business person. I have very low tollarance for comittee work, especially committees that can't make quick decisions. When the Directors of Haven House ask for 100 quilts, we offered to provide 50 if we could do it “our” way. “Our way” means that I control the quality of the fabrics, the workmanship, the patterns and the finishing of the projects. I also feel very strongly that I don’t ever want to give away a quilt that I would not want to keep for myself.

We advertised that we needed help between 10:00 and 3:00 today to cut as many kits as possible for the donation quilts. The plan was to cut quilt kits from our HUGE overflowing scrap basket. Haven House is hosting their major fundraiser next week and they would like us to bring fabric blocks for all 350 attendees to sign and write messages of hope. Those signature blocks will then be inserted into the quilts. Our group of volunteers selected and sorted fabrics from the scrap basket then used our AccuQuilt cutting machine to cut squares and triangles and rectangles into individual quilt kits. Each kit will be given 1, 2, 3 or more signature blocks of the appropriate color and size to be inserted into the patchwork pattern.

As you can see, we had a wonderful turnout of sewers, pressers, sorters, cutters and even cleaner uppers! By the end of the day we had coordinated, cut, pressed and packed a total of 41 quilt tops in assorted patterns! AMAZING!!! What I found even more amazing is that with 41 quilt tops removed; our scrap basket STILL looks like THIS!

Next week we will have the blocks signed and insert them back into the appropriate kits. Then we will set up sewing days here in the store and ask volunteers to help us put them together. Those people that don’t want to sew here at the shop will be able to sign-out a quilt top and take it home to assemble it.

At 8:00 am this morning I couldn’t help wondering what kind of mess I had gotten myself into this time. Now less than 12 hours later, with such wonderful volunteers, I’m thinking “50 quilts, no problem”!


P.S. No fabric yet.................

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting....

I still have not received a thread or even a piece of lint from my new fabric line and the clock continues to tick. I whined to Timeless yesterday and they are working on it (and about a million other things). My contact person told me that she would get right back to me if she had good news. I haven't heard from her. That isn't a good sign. Keep those fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, here in the shop, we have been very busy with customers that are happy that the weather is starting to turn and they are glad to be out of the house. I've been keeping busy constructing my version of the Western PA Shop Hop quilt. There are 13 stores in our hop and in addition to many other things we offer a progressive quilt. Several years ago we wrote in to the shop owners agreement that each shop is required to have the blocks from all of the stores made and sewn into a quilt top. One owner designs a pattern to use and everyone is free to use that or create their own variation. As easy as it would be to duplicate someone else pattern with my fabric selection, I always end up making enough changes that I have to write my own instructions. The hop is in mid June. When it sneaks up on me I will be very thankful that I have the bulk of the work on this project done!

Most of my evenings have been spent stitching down binding on the batik quilts for Market. I finished this one last night so that I could take the photo first thing this morning. I really like this project! We are calling the pattern "Diamond Mine" and it will be available mid May (right after the instructions are proofed). Don't let the diamond shapes scare you, the pattern will include a Plexiglas template to cut the dark diamonds from strips and the colors are just strips that are added like a log cabin block. The bright fabrics are 12 of the new batiks that Timeless is introducing this spring. They aren't even on the market yet and I can't wait to get my hands on more of them. The background may look black on your monitor, but it is actually a deep green. The color name is Malachite. Rebeca Stahl did a beautiful job with the quilting. She matched each of the colors so that the quilting lines do not distract from the dimensional illusion.
Now instead of twiddling my thumbs, I think I will go write the instructions for the batik applique quilt and check one more thing off of that to-do list!


Monday, April 13, 2009


Ok, I will admit that it has been awhile since my last post.

I have an excuse. I’ve been busy keeping my mouth shut. My father-in-law passed away and we had a longer than average family funeral. As with many families, my husband has a “blended” family. His parents divorced years ago and both remarried. In the case of my husband’s father, he and the “new” wife (they were married for almost 30 years) had a total of 7 sons. Over the years those seven boys have accumulated an assortment of wives and children which makes for a very large family. Funerals tend to either bring out the best or the worst in people. Thankfully this one brought out the best in everyone. There was however a wide variety of ways that individuals felt they should pay their respects or say good-bye. It took a little over a week to accomodate those wishes, which in my book is about a week too long. Therefore, in an effort to be nice, I kept my mouth shut and served a lot of food. People that know me also know that if there is one thing that is difficult for me to do, it is to keep my mouth shut.

There is also a little tempest in a teapot brewing in the quilting world. It involves a mean spirited person that in my opinion is doing more harm than good in our industry. Then again, that is just my opinion. I don’t have the time or the desire to enter into a battle with someone that is destine to self-destruct, so once again, I am keeping my mouth shut.

The stress level has been a bit high around here. We are quickly approaching “crunch time” and there are a few things that haven’t exactly fallen into place. No, that is not steam that you see coming out of my ears….. I prefer to think of it as my creative engine. Grinding noise? What grinding noise? Oh, that is nothing to worry about, it is just me strengthening my jaw muscles. No, I don’t want to talk about the yardage mistake in the magazine. Yes, I do realize that I have to have 4 large quilts finished in less than a month and NO my new fabric line is NOT here yet and YES I DO KNOW THAT QUILT MARKET IS ONLY 28 DAYS FROM NOW!!!!!!!!

This is Karen, keeping her mouth shut.
P.S. I do want to thank all of the people that have helped me finish everything possible up to this point. I am eternally grateful for your heroic efforts. I also want to appologize in advance to those same people for the abuse I am about to heap on to you to get everything completed in the next few weeks.... rest up and keep your fingers crossed that fabric arrives this week!