Friday, May 26, 2006

An Abundance of Blessings

I'm tuckered out, ya'll. I am certainly suffering from an abundance of blessings (that's the politically correct way of saying "My plate runneth over...."). Since the Quilt Sampler magazine came out 2 weeks ago, we've all been running with our hair on fire. We have sold out of our first cutting of kits and have been cutting 50 more for the past 3 days. We've also sold out of kits for a quilt shown in our photo spread (which we cut 2 weeks ago....) and the phone won't quit ringing. We received about 25 bolts of fabric on Wednesday that hasn't even been logged into the computer and when I got back from the 5th grade march at Audrey's school this afternoon, UPS had delivered 11 more boxes of freight! We're throwing a party next Friday to celebrate and to show what all we picked up at Market and I'd like to have as many samples made as possible. Oh my! Where do I begin? All of this is fantastic, but I'm feeling a little bit scattered about where I should focus right now. So, what am I doing? Sitting on my front porch with my wireless laptop, drinking an adult beverage, and talking to you.

Today was the last day of school, and the 5th graders had a celebration where they march through the halls with the other grades cheering them on. I made Audrey's teacher a Lazy Girl Summer Tote bag yesterday and forgot to take its picture before giving it to her this afternoon (nothin' like waiting til the last minute....LOL!). One of Audrey's best friends who transferred out mid-year came to school today to cheer everybody on - and her mom took A. home with them to spend the night. Another blessing! I don't have to worry about cooking dinner!

One of the local nurseries has a big 1/2 price sale each year during the week before Memorial Day. I ran out there yesterday morning and went crazy! They had lots of great stuff at killer prices and you know me - I never met a flower I didn't like. I've got my work cut out for me on Sunday. But yet again - another blessing. All I have to do between now and then is to keep them alive...

I also found this little planter at Big Lots yesterday. When I asked Russ to water all the container plants while I was gone, I made the mistake of not pointing out each and every one.... many of them were in dire straights when I got home and that included Mr. Merle's Herb de Gato. So I picked up another one and it fits perfectly! How cute is that? I just couldn't resist.

Even though I am working Saturday and Monday, I am going to do my best to turn off the recording in my head that usually says "You don't have time to relax - there's too much work to be done!". Being a workaholic is a hard addiction to beat - but this weekend I'm gonna try.

I hope you all have a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend....


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quilt Market opened on Friday morning. Here's a view from the entrance to the left.

To the right.........

Down the middle.

Think the largest quilt show you've ever been to and then multiply. Twenty-eight rows, at least 40 booths per row. That's over a thousand different things to look at. Can you now see how 3 days is physically exhausting?

Here's a photo of me and Heidi Kaisand from American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. They held a nice ceremony for the Quilt Sampler shops, but my camera fritzed during the actual presentation. Heidi was kind enough to pose with me after the fact. And yes, she's really tall! They were handing out QS magazines, which was kind of fun because many of my vendor friends had yet to see it - so we sent them over for free copies.

Spent time visiting with many friends - Tricia Cribbs (Turning Twenty), Carrie Nelson (Miss Rosie's Quilts), Debbie Bowles (Maple Island Quilts), Mattie Rhoades (Quiltsmart), Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins (Piece O' Cake), and Mary Beth Hayes and Pat Mullen (Thangles)as well as many contacts we've made at the fabric companies like Andover, Free Spirit, and Moda. It's one giant networking event!

The Kaufman party was the first one we've ever been invited to - open bar and hors d'ouvres. We spent about an hour there and then headed to the Moda party. Picture the Hilton's largest ballroom with 4,000 of your closest friends. Open bar, buffet lines, a 70's theme with dancefloor, DJ, line dance instructor, and disco ball. We danced until they ran us out! It was one of the most fun Moda parties ever.

Saturday was spent at the show, and we went to dinner with Mary Beth and Pat from Thangles. They used to live in the Minneapolis area and took us to one of their favorite restaurants in St. Paul. The restaurant was in an upscale neighborhood and we took a stroll after dinner. It was fun to look at all the plants and flowers I can't grow here because it's too darn hot. It was a very pleasant and relaxed evening.

Sunday was spent finishing up our orders and I bought so much that Mary Beth and Pat agreed to ship a box back for me! I've heard horror stories about what the airlines charge if your luggage is overweight and didn't want to risk it. All the bags were full enough as it was.

So, that's Market in a nutshell. We did pick up some new patterns, but overall we realized that we are very current in our merchandising mix and we need to do a better job of sampling what we already have. The worst part about coming home from Market is the intense desire to sew and sew and sew! I'll get to some of it eventually....

Finally Home and Half-way Human

Well, I'm finally home and recovered - got in late Sunday night and worked a 10 hour shift at the shop yesterday. Let me tell ya - my synapses were about 18" apart yesterday. Nothing made much sense, but I was there getting it done.

Let's see....where did I leave off? Oh yeah. Market Research, day 2. Pretty much turned into SHOPPING. Debbie and I met up with some friends of hers from her treadle on-line group and they took us to a mill end place. Oh my...serious trouble. Current fabrics at bargain basement prices. I think I got 20 yards of fabric for about $3.80 a yard. Also picked up a hunk of really cool Alexander Henry fabric at another shop.

Do you sense a split perosnality here? Reproductions and mods - I like 'em all!

Cindy, our tour guide, took us to the Textile Center. It's a cool art gallery/workshop specializing in textile arts. They even had a special exhibit of Minnesota art quilters.

Behind the building was the Textile Mobile. This converted panel van was painted like quilt blocks and had all kinds of sewing things glued on to it - buttons, yarns, garment patterns, spools, etc. How fun would it be to tool around town in this?

We also visited Glad Creations. This small shop has published a gazillion patterns (think Faceted Jewels) and they had the most ingenious method for hanging bed-sized quilts - a rug fixture!

I want one! Just have to figure out where to find one and where to put it....

Thursday evening was Sample Spree. This is an event where vendors can preview their wares and where market attendees can buy single items to make samples with or you can even buy pre-made samples (on the Market floor, you have to buy minimum quantities to get wholesale prices - it weeds out the individuals who are shopping for their personal enjoyment....). What a nightmare this event is becoming! You have never seen so many rude and obnoxious women in one place in all your life! It's almost becoming more trouble than it's worth - yet I continue to go. Figure that one out. This is where I usually pick up fabric packs or single patterns or books to take back as gifts for friends.

I think this gets us through Thursday. Next post, Market itself.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blogger is not my friend today...

I just wrote this big long post with pictures and everything and blogger ate it. I don't have time to re-do it this morning - maybe this evening if we don't party too hard at the Robert Kaufman and Moda coctail parties.

Check ya later,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Market Research - Day 1

Thanks to the advice of my husband - who told us we really needed to leave at 5:30 for an 8:30 flight - we got to the airport almost 2 hours early. As we were boarding the plane, Debbie got a huge laugh out of this sign hanging in the gangway. We were punch-drunk before we even got started! It's even worse now.....

We arrived in Minneapolis about 11 and schlepped all our stuff from one end of the airport to the other looking for the rental cars. Checked in with them and then schlepped our stuff to the shuttle bus to the car lot. We were told we had a compact 2-door car - and ended up with a PT Cruiser! Sweeeeeet!

As you can tell from Debbie's hair - the day was lovely with a STIFF breeze...

Today's adventures were all about Market Research....Better known as quilt shop hopping! We hit 4 shops and our favorite shop was Eagle Creek Quilt Shop in Shakopee. It's a really cool shop located in an old train depot. This quilt from Terry Clothier-Thompson was hanging behind the register and just took our breath away. The colors just don't translate digitally - the cheddars were really CHEDDAR and the reds were really red. It was just awesome.

Here's a sample from another shop (The Sampler) - it's a mini-trips around the world done in Kaffe Fassett fabrics and black. It was stunning, and of course, the shop was sold out of the pattern.

My contribution to the quilting economy was pretty restrained - a fat pack of 10 Michael James zig-zag stripes along with a 1-1/2 yard cut, 3 half-yards of Martha Negley prints and a pattern. I've been looking for the zig-zag prints for over a year, so I didn't feel bad for spending the money.

We're pooped - so I think we may turn lights out soon after Lost. Tomorrow is another day of research with Sample Spree tomorrow evening.

This Little Piggy Went to Market

I'm up at this ungodly hour because I have a plane to catch to Minneapolis this morning! I'm going to Quilt Market - taking the laptop and the camera, but am making no promises on posts.....It will be very fun and very exhausting all at the same time.

I'll catch up with you later!


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Scraps, Scraps Everywhere....

After dropping Audrey off at 7:30 for her orchestra competition field trip, I voted and then went to work. I had a Strip Club presentation at 9:00, led our FROG (Fabric Reformation and Organization Group) meeting at 10:30, grabbed a quick bite for lunch, and then had a Liberated Piecing (aka "crumbs" or "mile-a-minute" blocks) class from 2:00 to 4:30. Class was a great success - each student made at least 6 blocks and had a great time doing it. I am slowly and insidiuously luring other quilters over to the Maverick side....(insert evil laugh here)....

After watering all the flowers when I got home, I even made 11 blocks myself. But why doesn't the scrap bucket look any smaller? I think there's unregulated breeding going on....

I hope all of you have a great Mother's Day tomorrow and get to do WHATEVER you want to do!

Friday, May 12, 2006

When Bad Things Are Done To Good Fabric

I am such a doofus. I took the bargello/brick top to work this morning to pick out borders. I put it on the classroom table first thing this morning and then completely forgot about it. By the time I realized that I hadn't cut any fabric for sewing tonight, it was too late. I had to rush out the door to take Audrey to rehearsal.

So, after preparing my materials for my liberated piecing class tomorrow, I dug around for something to do. And pulled out this. See, once upon a time (like 3 or 4 years ago), I got this new Lazy Girl flying geese ruler. And we had this new line of fabric. And I conceived this plan to make scrappy geese set with big squares. I made the center blocks and I hated it. My "vision" had cataracts. So I stashed it away.

So tonight, I drug it back out and pieced borders for it. Is it liberated, maverick or just plain awful? Doesn't matter - the top is done and I'll quilt it for Project Linus. I've even made scrappy binding for it. If nothing else, I can chalk one up for progress on another UFO.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Best of Intentions

After being chastised by a customer Monday night (hi, Martha!) for not blogging more often, I swore I would be more dilligent.

Tuesday night, we hosted the local chapter for Project Linus at the shop. I even took a picture! (part of the non-blogging situation is primarily caused by my inability to remember to use my camera......). As I left around 9pm, it was thundering and lightning - I was really hoping to get some rain. Really planned on blogging. Instead, I was mesmerized by the weather reports of the tornado just 15 miles north of us. Perhaps you saw it on the national news. No rain here - but I have a customer who watched it all from her front porch. It is May in Texas - Mother's Day weekend is notorious for severe weather in North Texas. However, no blog.

Sewing labels for Project Linus

I was all prepared to blog an entry yesterday morning - I got to work early and downloaded photos to my computer at work. Guess what! A sales rep showed up early and I ended up looking at fabric for 3 hours. I barely had time to eat lunch before leaving to take Audrey to the dentist. Came back to work and things were crazy. Got distracted by a new book - "Bundles of Fun" by Karen Snyder. It's my new favorite book. It's very basic - simple projects based on bundles of 12 fat quarters. It's clearly written and the text and photos have a very "clean" look.

So, of course I looked around the store, found a new fabric grouping that just happened to have 12 pieces in it, grabbed 12 fat quarters and began cutting and sewing last night. Didn't I say I was going to quilt my Buggy Barn flowers? Quilter's ADD strikes again. Decided I'd better blog - but oops! the photos are on my desktop at work. No blog.

Got up this morning (it's my day off - Russ had the day off too) and began sewing because it was too cool to work in the yard. Sewed for about 3 hours and then worked outside planting stuff that's been sitting around for over a week. Jumped in the shower around 3 so that I could get Audrey as soon as school was out. She has an orchestra field trip/contest on Saturday and she needs a pair of denim shorts and new sneakers. Hit the post office to mail some customer packages, ran by the shop to check in (and remembered to e-mail myself the Project Linus photo so that I could use it at home), hit Target (and spent over $100 - how does that happen?), grabbed a bite to eat, and came home to finish the quilt top I started last night. It still needs borders, but I'll pick that out tomorrow.

So, here it is 3 days later, and I'm finally posting an entry. Happy now, Martha? I really do have the best of life just keeps getting in the way.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Weekend Update

This past weekend was all about Audrey. The Spring orchestra concert was Saturday afternoon. Audrey performed so well at Friday's practice that she was designated Concert Mistress for this performance. Basically, what this means is that she got to sit in the first chair in the first violin section. For a child who acts like she'd rather do anything else but practice - she can sure step it up when push comes to shove. She's the blond with the ponytail sitting front and center.

They played 2 songs with 2 different conductors.

We then listened to 5 other groups. I don't know about you, but a lot of classical music all sounds the same after the first hour....or maybe the different directors' tastes are all the same. I know for a fact that orchestral music doesn't always have to be stuffy. Is it a snob factor? Is traditional classical literature deemed "better" than "pops"? Don't get me wrong - I still support the program and am proud that Audrey plays. But, if you're going to have families with children of all ages held hostage at a student concert for 2 hours, for goodness sakes, play something fun!

After the concert, we took Audrey out to dinner and the mall for her birthday (which is actually today - she turned 11). When we got home, we broke out the electronic piano we got her. When she asked for it, I asked her if she was going to want lessons to go with it. "Nope", she replied. Okey-dokey. She played on that thing for 3 hours Saturday night until I finally had her turn it off so that I could go to sleep.

Sunday morning we set out her new bicycle. She glanced at it, said "Cool.", and then wandered into the living room to play on her piano. She has played every piece of violin and recorder music she owns. She has memorized "The First Noel". I came home from work tonight and she was playing "Happy Birthday" for herself. I even caught her playing her Wolfhardt etude excercises which she HATES. What's up with that? I think this is the longest she has ever played with anything new. But I bet you money, if we invested in lessons (with real practice), she'd drop it like a hot potato. I think we are so much alike (but she's more stubborn) that she fights me just to yank my chain. And I let her. Oh vey. The teenage years ought to be a lot of fun around here......

I spent most of Sunday at the shop doing paperwork and cleaning my office. I needed quiet, dedicated time to actually FINISH a few tasks.

When I got home, I continued working on cleaning out my book case for the employee garage sale at the shop on the 19th and 20th. Here's a picture of the basket of books I am no longer in love with. There's a lot of classic titles by classic authors. Maybe I'll make enough money to buy myself an iPod.

Here's a look at the bookcase now. Didn't really get to the top shelf, but the rest of it looks much better. What's surprising is that there's not as much free space as I think there should be! Just ignore the basket of scraps on the floor waiting to be cut into proper sizes. I'll get to that sooner or later.....

I put my Buggy Barn flower blocks together tonight and maybe I'll get it quilted this week. Will post a pic when it's done. It was good to actually sew on the machine.

Must go to bed now -

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Silly Season

I don't know about you, but May is turning out to be the silly season here for me. Between all the rehearsals for our year-end orchestra concert (this Saturday), dentist appointments, orthodontic appointments, Audrey's birthday, Mother's Day, the magazine release, the employee garage sale and Quilt Market, it seems like I don't even have time to breathe. I've been waiting this morning for the cable guy - the gremlins in my studio TV appears to be a conked out converter box. I haven't gotten a whole lot of sewing done because I am such a TV addict that I can't miss my shows at night! I've been sitting in the living room hand quilting instead.

So, while I wait for the cable guy, I've begun doing some sorting for our employee garage sale in two weeks.

This is my book shelf. I love books. I am not going to live long enough to make all the projects in these books, but when I'm really tired, I can look through my books and design projects in my mind.

I have 4 Elfa towers filled with fabric (mostly FQ's or less), projects, odds and ends, etc. accumulated over 15 years.

I've sorted about 4 drawers and begun culling and re-organizing. Don't know if I'll get through it all in the next week, but anything is better that nothing! I look at this as a long-term project - but the garage sale is providing some semblance of motivation right now.

Some days I just want to get rid of it all and start over. How insane is that?

Today's Merle shot once again shows how he chooses to sit in containers that are half his body size. There's nothing like a 15 pound cat in the middle of a mess.

Why is it that I can't find him when I want him, yet he plops himself down in the middle of my stuff when I don't want him? Kitty Kat Reverse ESP?

The cable guy is here, so I gotta run!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Something New, Something Old

Look what I got in the mail on Friday! An invitation to a presentation by Quilt Sampler magazine at Quilt Market.

Didja notice the quilt on the cover?

It's OURS! Woo Hoo! Who'da thunk? Only two more weeks until release ..... wonder what my life is going to be like after that?

Took the day off Saturday and got the family up early to do a little housecleaning. Now, remember, this is not my favorite gig. Doesn't happen very often, and I'm sure not going to do it all by myself when everybody else contributes to the mess.

Started excavating my hall and sorted through a pile of quilts. Found this quilt - definitely my oldest UFO. I bought the top at Canton and began hand quilting it about 15 years ago. It's probably half done - and I have worked on it again the last two evenings. Perhaps I'll get it finished in 2006. Wonder if I can find the fabric I purchased for binding?

The orchestra gala was Saturday night and I got kinda screwed with the signature quilt. I'm still a little bit upset, and won't get into it until I calm down. Let's just say I probably won't do it again next year.

Gotta run - we have a Shop Hop meeting west of the airport this morning.