Thursday, February 26, 2009

Schoolhouse

I'm not exactly sure who is responsible for creating our calander, but I want to thank them for only putting 28 days in February. It must have been someone that had experienced snow, dreary grey days and cold that suggested shortening this month.
As much as I want the worst of winter to be over, having a few less days in a jammed packed shop schedule means that Sundays (normally my only day off) is used to catch up or host events. Other than Superbowl Sunday (which technically counted as work because I spent the entire day sending "good vibes" to the Steelers) I haven't had a day off this month.

Sundays in the shop are special. We aren't open on Sunday so if I am here, I'm all by myself, surrounded by 5000 square feet of fabric, thread, notions, cutting space, accucut machine, books, patterns, and I can help myself to anything I want, make a mess, spread out.... yea, it really is that good. Monday morning before we open I have to clean-up, put everything back in order, record everthing I use to keep the inventory straight, but it is worth it!

Every so often we open on Sunday for a special event. Customers have the same feeling when they are here when we are normally closed, it is like getting away with something, a special treat. Last Sunday was no exception. We host our Schoolhouse event once per year. From 10:00 to 3:00 thirty customers attend 4 different class lectures, a try-before-you-buy session, a make-it take-it session, enjoy a buffet lunch and take home a great goodie bag. Here's a slide show of some of the events (Thanks Amy for sending the photos!)

video

The sessions are educational and informative. We try to give the attendees as much information as possible and pack it into a 30 minute session. This year they received indepth information on batting (Bamboo may not be as environmentally friendly as you think!) They learned several fun finishes for quilt edges. We discussed embellishing and included a kit for them to try their hand at beading. We also covered purses, beyond the tote bag. These metal frame bags are a few of the samples we shared. Before lunch they had the opportunity to Accucut and try out 8 different marking devices. After lunch they made beaded bracelets using pre-felted wool beads from ArtGirlz. It was an action packed day!


To finish off the month, I'm flying to Florida tomorrow. The trip is really a college visit for Lindsay. She is considering the University of North Florida. If all goes well we may just find the time to take in a quilt shop or two along the way! I'll keep you posted.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kids

Kids can drive you nuts.
Kids can get on your nerves.
Every now and then they do something to touch your heart.
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Sandy Brawners invitation to join Facebook prompted me to create my own page, just so I could join the "I bet I can find 1,000,000 people that love quilting group" - (I was #91). Having my own page also allowed me to become "friends" with people, including my daughters. Looking (although Lindsay would call it snooping) around her page, I read some of her attachments. I have always enjoyed Lindsays writing, but the willingness of my 17 year old to express these thoughts on her facebook page really amazed me. I couldn't resist sharing them with you.
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Do you remember letters?
I used to write letters to my friends occasionally… from time to time I’d send a note to my Aunt Jean because she liked to hear from me, and I loved to get mail, especially from her.
I started saving the Hallmark greeting cards I got for my birthdays and holidays one year a long time ago, just because it felt like such a shame to throw them away. And when I open this plain white box that they’re all shoved in, I remember those birthdays.
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I have a letter from my grandmother that she wrote me when I was six years old. She made me a present just to show that she was thinking of me. For weeks, she clipped an ongoing story about a rebellious raccoon and her brother… “Keep Your Eye on Amanda” was what it was called... out of the newspaper. She photocopied all of them for me and put the pages in laminated sleeves so I could read them all together as a little book. All of the original articles are tucked in the back. She bound it all together with key rings in a Tweety Bird folder. After the end of the story, the next page is just one paper. One off-white piece of lined paper with her printed handwriting, neat and double-spaced for her elementary-school granddaughter.
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Dear Lindsay,
This story was printed, a chapter a day, in our newspaper the “St. Pete Times”, and I thought it was cute. So I decided to make a book out of it, and hopefully you will like the story too. This is not a Christmas present, just an in-be-tween present, because you are beautiful and sweet. Of course, it is also because I think of you and I love you. I wish I could be there and we could read it together, but you have lots of family to be with to read. So I’ll just be a little bird and sit on your window sill and watch you.
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Tell your Mother and Dad, we got the Thanksgiving flowers. They are very beautiful. There are fall colored Mums, yellow mums, two large red roses and two large red carnations, and small yellow carnations, greens and dried oats, with a red candle standing up in the middle.
Give everyone a kiss and hug from Great Grandma, Grampa George, and me. Take care of each other.
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Keep smiling,
Love ya,
Grandma
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She sat and wrote those words on this piece of paper for me. Five years later she died of liver cancer, and eleven years later, I still have her words. Her handwriting. The little piece of time when she was alive, thinking of me, and sending her love. Their love, actually – and through the years, my Great Grandma and Grandpa George passed away as well.
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I really love the convenience of email and text messaging. Progress is a beautiful thing, and technology continues to enhance our lives in ways I can’t believe we’ve managed. Everything has its place, though. I still believe the most important things deserve a pen and paper. Handwriting. Smudges, creases, your own letters, your own spaces, your own mistakes.
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Aileen, my father’s mother, never typed her grandchildren anything. And when I look at that piece of paper, all I can think is thank you, thank you, thank you...
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Is she a great kid or what?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Better World?

Will somebody please stop this technology merry-go-round so that I can get off?

I already have far too many gadgets in my life that do far too many things that I don’t really need them to do. My kids insisted that I get text messaging on my old phone. According to my youngest, verbal communication is for emergencies only. I guess I should be happy that I hear from her mostly in short typed sentences. As a member of the “way over 40” age bracket, it was almost impossible for me to type out a message on my old phone (which also did plenty of things that I didn’t need it to do, like take photos of my dashboard when I tried to answer it while driving).

My new phone has a keyboard. That allows me to type a complete sentence, period, space, space. Just like us old folks were taught to do in school. Gone are the days of simply calling my daughter and asking her if she will be home for dinner. Now I send her messages like “ARE YOU GOING TO BE HOME FOR DINNER? I AM NOT YELLING AT YOU. I PUSHED SOME STUPID BUTTON AND I CAN’T TURN THE CAPS OFF.” My daughters reply “LOL C U @ 6”. I had to call her to ask her what that meant.

I already have a website, a webstore, this blog, a community blog over on the
www.myquiltvillage site, YouTube instructional videos and now my friend Sandy Brawner has asked me to link my Facebook account to her “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who love quilting” group, which I would happily do, except that I don’t have a Facebook account because I just cant bear to memorize yet another password with 6 digits and at least one letter and one number that is case sensitive. If you have a facebook account you are welcome to join Sandy in her quest to link together 1,000,000 quilters.

Right now I am too traumatized by having to change my email address. My TWELVE YEAR OLD email must change. Twelve years. That address is on everything I own, all of my publishing, all of our handouts, business cards, all of ….. everything. It is with every friend, vendor, supplier and customer. Now I have to remember everywhere that I put that old address and make the change. I’m longing for the good ole days when you just dropped that little card off at the post office and your mail found you.

I feel the same way about trash. Remember when trash was trash? We are going green at the shop and now have a recycling dumpster. In it we can put cardboard, office paper, metal, plastic and glass. Office paper must be separated from the other items and in a clear plastic bag. Metal, plastic and glass can all be combined in the same plastic bag – but it must be clear. Even though opaque plastic bags are recyclable, if I have a hundred of them I want to get rid of, I have to put the opaque bags in a clear bag to throw them out. Now I’m buying bags to throw away my bags.

My great grandchildren better appreciate this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stress Relief

Technology and I did not have a good week last week. Our charge machine at the store lost an entire day of sales that had to be recovered. The phones went out for some unexplained reason. I thought the battery in my car died, but when we took it in to have the mechanic look at, it turned out to be the starter and the brake pads and the……. $800 later I needed a little stress relief. Guess how I relieve stress?

I promised that I would show you snapshots of what I have been working on as soon as I had the chance to take the photos and muster the strength (and brain cells) to whip them into a suitable posting format.
These projects will be new patterns under The Quilt Company name THIS SPRING. Consider this your sneak peek; the patterns won’t be ready for months. The fabrics are all shades of “solid” batiks. Each of the quilts uses – or will use 10 fabrics when finished.

The first groups of fabrics that I chose to work with were the bright. I love this woven log cabin idea. The block is simple and easy to assemble, but you have to carefully plan the color placement. Some of the blocks “spin” to the left and some “spin” to the right to create the illusion that it is woven. This project makes me very thankful for our color printer. Writing and following instructions without color illustrations for this project would be frustrating. Yea technology! (I’m just trying to get on the good side of the tech gods).

I split the pastel group into a “boy” and a “girl” assortment. The blue quilt has the narrow border option, which allows you to use one width of fabric for the back of the quilt. I like the wider border, but let’s face it; sometimes a single width of fabric for the backing is a better choice. These quilts will definitely be kits in the store. The pieces are cut from 2½ inch strips – jelly roll anyone?

You may notice that this jewel tone project has only 9 fabrics. The tenth fabric is a beautiful shade of lapis blue that will be the accent in the pieced border. Right now I have 2 plans for the border. I haven’t decided between a simple easy strip and squares idea or another one that is absolutely beautiful, but looks like brain surgery. I’m leaning toward simple. The blocks are so fast and fun to make that I hate to frustrate someone when they get to the border instructions.

Last, but definitely not least, these are the center blocks for the appliqué project. This photo was taken with them stuck to the design wall. In the actual quilt they will have dark blue stars surrounding them and an absolutely killer woven border in three shades of gold. I started to hand appliqué these blocks, then reality set in. I have to finish this quilt along with the others and one more that is still in pieces and write the instructions before spring Market. These blocks are fused. I spent all day yesterday doing the machine stitching…. all 3 layers of all 4 flowers, 32 buds and 96 leaves, I'm feeling a little better now.
Karen

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friends

It was so cold last evening that I decided to snuggle up on the sofa with my laptop, clean out some files, back up some long over due folders and catch up with the blogs that my friends write. I have some strange friends.

Take Karen Snyder for example. Karen is an absolutely delightful person. She is lots of fun to be around, has a wicked sense of humor, but not much of a singing voice (Don’t worry Karen, I won’t tell them about Delta Dawn. What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico). I also credit her with introducing me to Lemon Drop Martinis, for which I will be forever grateful.

Karen has just closed her retail quilting store in Washington (The state of Washington. Karen LOVES when you clarify where she lives by adding “state”) Now that she is no longer running a retail store and making fudge every day she has plenty of free time. Yep, her retail store sold quilting fabric and fudge. (If my store also sold fudge, you could lay money on the fact that I would weigh 300+ lbs – Karen doesn’t). Karen has decided to fill her leisurely retirement days by writing more quilting books for Krause Publishing, designing fabric for Timeless Treasures and acting as the national spokesperson for Elna sewing machines. If you ever have the chance to meet her you will probably never suspect that she is also a nut case.

I can prove my point.

These are photos of Karen’s sewing room. I snitched these photos directly from Karen’s blog, not some fancy schmancy glossy paged magazine. If you want to see more of her room, there is a link right over there on the right under “My Favorite Blogs”. You can scroll through Karen’s posts and take a virtual tour of her sewing room. Despite the fact that Karen obviously has an affinity for the color orange, can you honestly believe that any normal quilter is THAT organized? My friend Debbie, from New Jersey (also a state) has actually been in this very sewing room in person and claims that it really is that neat. As far as I can tell there are only 2 possible explanations.

1. Karen’s real last name is Stepford
2. There is a fake wall hiding the mess.

Both of us are named Karen. Both of us design our own line of fabric. Karen writes books, I publish patterns. This is Karen’s work area…….. I’m not going to show you mine.
Karen - the messy one.

Monday, February 2, 2009



Wasn’t that a great game????

I just love those Steelers. It is easy to love a group of down to earth, team players that never give up, love what they do and are very thankful for their fans. The Rooney family has lots to be proud of and the Steeler Nation is exceptionally proud of our home town family.

There was no Super Bowl big party for me. I like to actually watch the game and I can’t do that and socialize at the same time. Not to mention, if the party were at my house I would have to be the hostess-with-the-mostess and spend my time filling drinks and serving food. Nope. Dinner was served in front of the TV and then it was just my husband (whose comments during the game should not always be voiced in public) my daughter, who understands then need to “send good vibes”, me in my #7 jersey and these Steeler M&M’s! Aren’t they adorable? Lee Ann, taught a mystery class that included lunch in the shop on Saturday and I loved these M&M’s so much she gave me the leftovers.

The Mystery class was great fun. The students arrived with fabric rectangles cut from their stash and the first step in the mystery process was to run the rectangles through our AccuQuilt machine to cut the required squares. They certainly didn’t see that coming!

Looking over the past posts, I’ve pretty much kept what I am working on a secret. That isn’t intentional. I just haven’t had the time to photograph the finished pieces. I have 5 new quilts to create and 5 new patterns to publish. The projects are to compliment an “auto ship” of batik fabrics for Timeless Treasures. The requirements are that each quilt must use 10 of the “solid” fabrics from the Tonga batik line. There will be five quilts and each of the quilts must use 10 different fabrics. Ten, no more, no less. There must not be any overlap in color. Once I have used a color in one quilt, I can not use it again…. Talk about a Mystery!

One last thing, they must be beautiful, easy to make and finished as soon as possible…… no problem, I’m from The City of Champions!
Karen