• Category Archives Events
  • Ruminations on a sleepless night

    For those of you who have asked me how I get so much done, I often operate on only about 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night. On some nights it’s even less (though I will confess to occasional catnaps on such days). Last night was one of those sleep deprived nights. Perhaps it was stress and anxiety – Tax time is here and I’m not quite ready for the accountant, I also have to create my first ever You Tube video later today as a self introduction for a new teaching event that I am teaching for that will take place in Portland in March of 2019 – the Art and Soul Retreat. I’ve been wanting to try video production for awhile so I guess this is as good a time as any to roll up my sleeves and take the plunge (wish me luck!) but I don’t like being in front of a camera. Perhaps the cat leaping on my chest at 3 am was responsible for waking me up or even my husband screaming in his sleep from a bad dream… whatever the blame I’m awake now.

    The anxiety is also partly based on economic concerns – we just lost two quilt shops here in quick succession – A Common Thread and The Pine Needle are gone. In both cases the owners say it was just time to retire but I can’t help but think these tough economic times are also partly responsible. The news proclaims that the economy is booming and that might indeed be the case if you are a luxury car dealer, or a diamond merchant, or a or a travel agent… but the little folks are still really hurting, particularly quilt shops. I’m sorry to be blunt but Melania Trump and her ilk do not quilt. Among my students the most common professions are school teachers, nurses, secretaries/office workers and some working in the high tech industry. Many of them are retired and watching their pocketbooks as food, rent, gasoline, insurance, heating, water and health care costs skyrocket; this leaves very little to indulge in hobbies like quilting. It’s not like the old days when you had to make quilts to keep warm, quilting is now a choice not a necessity.

    And so, the quilt shops struggle. Many people blame Amazon for stealing sales from small businesses and to an extent, that might be true though many small businesses are on board at Amazon as third party sellers so that purchase you make may actually be supporting a small business person somewhere. Your local quilt shops need you however. They need you and you need them if you want to be able to go in and peruse and touch the latest fabrics and get help with planning and picking materials and tools for your projects. Let’s face it – Amazon is not going help you lay out and compare fabrics, nor help you calculate how much yardage you need to buy for a border, or demonstrate how to use a particular tool, or even recommend one brand of fusible web over another. Amazon is also not going to give you a referral to a good local long-arm quilter to finish your quilt; for all these – you need a quilt shop.

    When is the last time you visited your local quilt shop and not to just say hello but actually buy something? Your local quilt shop needs you and not just to buy something at 10% above cost when they have an occasional sale, they need the routine retail sales to pay their rent, buy their product and keep their staff gainfully employed. Show them you love them – go buy something. Otherwise, they may not be there for you when you finally need them and believe me, looking at fabric swatches online is NOT the best way to buy fabric or judge thread color. Plus –  the last time I checked Amazon’s ‘help’ page, calculating yardage was not one of the help topics and I’ve heard ‘from the horse’s mouth’ (fabric manufacturers) that the quality of the fabric sold to Walmart is not the same greige goods that the quilt shops buy.  Besides, you are going to have to go in person to really see my new Northcott fabric line – Maplewood – to be released this May.

    Go visit your local quilt shop and tell them I sent you.

    Printed wholecloth panel from my fabric line – Maplewood by Northcott Fabrics

  • Half-Square Triangle Exchange

    Do You like Half-Square Triangles? I LOVE Half-Square Triangles, there are so many things you can do with them. I started my obsession with HSTs about 20 years ago when a friend was discarding the ‘ears’ she had cut off from the corners of some Melon Patch blocks. “Don’t toss them”, I said, “I can use them” – and so it began. That first project which is still ongoing, involves HSTs that are painstakingly pieced the old fashioned way – along the bias edge and the resulting half-square triangle trimmed and squared to 1 5/8″. Why that bizarre size? Because it was the largest size unit I could get out of those pieces. Would I do this again – NO WAY!

    That being said, I’ve made too many of these blocks to quit now, I’m going to make enough of these to do something really spectacular and from then on go for more regular sizes; this is what I’m making with my ditzy little half-square triangles:

    My ‘ditzy’ half-square triangle project, you can see from the cutting mat that the basic ‘raw’ block measures slightly less than four square inches

    I also like ‘Scrappy’, I’ve never met a scrap I didn’t like (OK I do toss some of them) but I love the challenge of what I can do with what most people would throw away, consider me a born recycler.

    Now, onto my latest news, I am participating in a Half-Square Triangle exchange with Steve Lennert (formerly of One World Fabrics and a member of my small quilt group). He has launched an online Half-Square Triangle exchange and it might not be too late for you to get on board if you are interested in this exchange. Don’t worry – no weird sizes here, he has thorough instructions to use Triangles on a Roll™ or pre-printed cheater triangle templates to guarantee that all the half-square triangles are consistent in size and accuracy and ‘finish’ at 2″. Visit his blog for more details and to contact him to participate.

  • Something to Crow About

    OK gentle readers, the proverbial ‘cat’ is out of the bag. I am proud to announce that I have now joined the ranks of fabric designers with a new line of fabrics produced by Northcott to be featured at Fall Market in Houston at the end of this month.

    Northcott approached me this past spring about using some of my quilt designs to produce printed panels with some coordinating textures and supporting fabrics by Linda Ludovico to create the line we are calling Maplewood inspired by one of my Garden Window quilts. Those of you who know me well have been aware of this but for my general followers, I have had to keep a bit mum about this until Northcott was ready to present the new line on their website, this has been a bit hard to do as I’ve been so excited about it. You can view the collection at Norhtcott’s Maplewood page along with some stunning quilt patterns made by their pattern designers utilizing the fabric line.

    Several of the local quilt shops where I teach are already planning to pick up some of the fabric and have even asked if I might come do an autographing the fabric panel event, I will keep you posted if we do that.

    The Garden Windows quilt that has been reproduced for this is my latest one ‘Clothed in Crimson’ and  I’m posting a picture of it here; if you visit Norcott’s page you can see the lovely reproduction they have created of it, I am truly amazed how well it has turned out. Meanwhile, I have self published a pattern for the quilt, which is available at a couple of the local quilt shops – A Common Thread and Pioneer Quilts, these are also shops where you should be able to find my fabric very soon.

    'Clothed in Crimson' my quilt that has been reproduced as a printed panel by Northcott Fabrics.
    ‘Clothed in Crimson’ my quilt that has been reproduced as a printed panel by Northcott Fabrics.