Thursday, May 22, 2014

The world is so full

... of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings! - Robert Louis Stevenson

That's the truth. The world is full! Full to the brim. And when obligations stack up and keep you sleepless, it's too much. That's the way it's been the past few nights as I've remained in my sewing room until 12:30 or so, and then gone off to bed, sleepless until 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. A 5:30 wake-up makes for a short night. One of these days, my body will give up, won't it?

So what's been going on?

Last week/weekend saw me in Sebring, Florida (2-1/2 hours away from me), for four days/three nights, attending a modern quilting retreat hosted by Carole Lyles Shaw, president of Sarasota MQG. I haven't retreated since living in Iowa, so this was a fun opportunity.

Twenty of us stayed in the charmingly rustic, historic (1916), Kenilworth Lodge.

While the retreat was planned for Carole to teach about modern quilting - her demonstrations and help with modern design - my travel-mate/roomie/and sewing bud - Lora - and I did our own thing. Happily, we spent most of our time working on our own.
Lora and I are collaborating on a quilt for our June 3 "What is Modern Quilting?" presentation to Quilting Guild of The Villages, and I'm happy to say that our quilt top is complete. (No picture to share.) But that also means my work begins! Quilting it!

I did do quite a bit of quilting while on retreat, going there with two of these 20" Christmas Snowflake blocks completed. I was able to quilt them, backed with fusible fleece.

For the second time ever, I used the BSR (Bernina stitch regulator) to quilt one of these blocks... and I still don't like it. I'm an unregulated quilter, for sure!

Here are the blocks, sewn into a zippered and cording-edged pillow.

I've now replaced three of the four sofa and love seat pillows that came with our furniture. I'm keeping an eye out for my next 20" pillow design.

With fabric purchased in Kansas City, and using the Empty Bobbins "Cover Up" pattern by Shea Henderson, I made covers for both of my sewing machines - my Bernina Aurora 440...

...and my Pfaff Grand Quilter. Quilting designs on both are channelled lines at half-inch intervals, some pebbles, and free motion feathers in the white background sewing motif fabric.

The covers look very nice in my sewing room.

The last project I tackled was the "Sew Together Bag," by SewDemented. I'd like to recommend this pattern to you because it's darling, but in all honesty, the pattern was very difficult to follow. Just ask the quilters around me who saw me tearing my hair out while reading aloud to try to understand! They couldn't understand it either. I was so frustrated. I have many years of sewing and pattern-writing under my belt, so it wasn't just me who has a problem.
Linen and scrap fabrics
But the bag is design is adorable! Who wouldn't like a cute bag with three interior zippers for keeping little things? It was fun picking out these prints.

It's just too bad that directions weren't understandable. A re-write would help, and some diagrams too. If you already have this pattern, or want to try it anyway, I'd recommend following The Quilt Barn tutorial. Too late, I learned about the tutorial.

While I was away, a new clock arrived in my mail. It's an eight-inch wall clock I ordered from A customer can upload any picture for a clock face, and it seems my "Dandelion Clock" quilt has the perfect look. It's on my sewing room wall, and I really like it!

Speaking of "Dandelion Clock"... this week that quilt was returned to me from the Home Machine Quilting Showcase in Provo, Utah. In the box was also a pretty ribbon, a nice judge's critique, and a $50 check. Thank you, Bloc Loc, for sponsoring this prize!

The money, along with a birthday gift certificate from a dear friend, has recently been put toward an order of Terra Australis. I've been waiting for that fabric for such a long time!

One more picture... grandies. These are our boys in Texas - Austin, who's now four years old, and LJ. They're playing on an I-Spy quilt made by me. Check out those chubby baby legs! Oh how I miss my little boys - all of them. 

But back to my full life... and living as happy as a king. What's coming up? 

June 1 - I'm the June "queen" of the Mid-Century Modern Bee, and I have NO IDEA what to have them make for me!
June 2 - I'm a featured "Batt Girl" on the Quilter's Dream blog
June 3 - I'm co-presenting the "What is Modern Quilting?" program to Quilting Guild of The Villages
June 4 - Co-leading a modern, 15" X 15" improvisational block workshop with Quilting Guild of The Villages (We have room for more, if you'd like to attend!)
June 5 - My blog post is your Florida stop in the American Made Brand blog tour
June 10 - Instructing Bradenton Quilter's chapter: how to make a collapsible thread catcher
June 11 - First class of Beyond First Time Quiltmaking at The Villages Lifelong Learning College (We have room for more, if you'd like to attend!)
June 18 - Second class of Beyond First Time Quiltmaking

I'm also doing a book review of Heather Ross's memoir: "How to Catch a Frog," and interviewing her for an article in American Quilter magazine. Then, toss in a Central Florida MQG meeting, three doctor's appointments, a hair appointment, routine dance classes, church, and... Let's just say, I think I need a vacation!

Isn't retirement supposed to be relaxing? Linda

Friday, May 16, 2014

Made in the U.S.A.

How does it happen that whenever I leave home, something fun and exciting happens? Maybe I should go away more often! While in Paducah, I received an email inviting me to participate in a blog hop, and I'm tickled to be asked. This blog hop, or rather - blog tour - is all about American Made Brand.

Have you heard of American Made Brand (AMB) and its fabric line? A nice article, in the May issue of American Quilter is the first place I heard about the fabrics.

In case you're not familiar, AMB is a new solids fabric collection that's grown and milled here in the US. I, for one, am happy to know that we have an opportunity to purchase fabric that supports a 100% made-in-the-USA company.

As a blogger representating my state of Florida, I've been invited to use AMB solids in a block design of my creation. My block will be offered as a free pattern and will take it's shape from this picture.

Every blogger - all 50 of us, representing all 50 states - will host giveaways, beginning next Monday, May 19.

So start visiting other bloggers who are participating, two each day, Monday through Friday.

Day One is Monday, May 19. Here's where to go:

Then, please come back to my blog on the June 5 tour day. My giveaway will be open to all quilters. That means international too!

Have fun! Linda

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Family Catch-Up

If you aren't into seeing pictures of darling (of course, I'm not biased) grandchildren, then move on to the next blogger you follow! 'Cause today's when I'm catching-up with pictures of my family. We were together in Kansas City from April 28-May 7, and these are the best of the dozens of photos I took.

As you might imagine, with these four boys together, there wasn't much quiet time. They're ages 4-1/2, 4, 3-1/2, and 4 months.
LJ, Tay, Aesa, and Austin
The boys enjoyed watching a 3-D movie, wearing 3-D glasses.

They knew I was taking a picture...
Hogan (the dog), Dan, Lyn (our lovely daughter-in-law) and LJ
... so they decided to give me their best looks.

Before Uncle Evan's wedding, we took Austin to Evan's pet store - Olathe Pet Shop.

The day of the wedding, May 3, with everyone looking spiffy, I took lots of pictures.
Our son Brent (left), with his cousin Adam, the best man
My brother Alan, and sister Susan, mother of the groom
Our son-in-law, Maher, with his two sons, Tay and Aesa
My hubby, Dan
Me and my sister, Susan
LJ, Lyn, my Dad, and granddaughter Celina
LJ with his usual ready smile
Our daughter, Jill with her nephew, LJ
Bapa spent time with all three grandsons, giving them T-ball pointers.
Austin, our lefty
The boys liked the Despicable Me shorts I made for them, but decided they wanted to wear them to bed!
That face!
I love my family. Linda

Monday, May 12, 2014

QuiltWeek in Paducah

From April 22 through 26, I was in Paducah for the annual AQS (American Quilters Society) QuiltWeek. This was my third visit to the show, the last being eight years ago, but it was my first as an AQS staffer! I attended as a writer for American Quilter magazine. What a challenging, educational, and fun experience it was!
Outside of the Convention Center
To get to Paducah, I rode the golf cart from home to catch a shuttle van, to catch a plane to Nashville, to catch a ride with Jan Magee, editor of Quilt Life magazine. I arrived just in time to attend the Tuesday evening awards ceremony. Such a treat to sit and listen to shrieks of happiness as quilters learned that their quilts had won! After the ceremony, it was time to rush to the main exhibition hall at the convention center to preview the quilts. This is also where I got to work, introducing myself to winners and making interview appointments.

My task was to interview "Best of” and “First Place” winners - a long list of 30-plus quilters that I split with another writer, Marj Russell. Then, over three days, in person, by phone, and by email, I interviewed those quilters, hearing about their inspirations, techniques, tricks, and in some cases, their surprise that their quilt won quilts. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the friendly, yet knowledgeable “quilt speak.” Every quilter was as delightful as could be, and I felt like I’d made a new friend after each interview. Touching greatness - including the likes of Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry - among other American, Japanese, and Brazilian quilters was simply wonderful. I wish I could tell you about all of them! Well, I sorta did.

You'll find my write-ups in the July issue of American Quilter, right alongside pictures of the quilts. A few more of my pieces will appear in future AQS online newsletters, called OnPoint. I hope you’re an AQS member so you get the magazine! Or, you can usually find it at JoAnn Fabrics.

I had so many favorite quilts that I can't begin to show them all here, but this is one that made me happy. The "modern" category was new to QuiltWeek this year, and don't you think Sandi did a nice job with hand-dyed Cherrywood fabrics?

After mornings spent interviewing, by mid-afternoon and evening on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday you could find me writing quietly in my motel room. It was an intense writing period, putting together 17 pieces, but so good to write! Saturday morning I turned in the thumb drive of everything.
Me (looking tired, I think), and Michele Duffy, AQ editor
The last day of the show, Saturday, was when I got to spend time with Michele, the AQS editor-in-chief. Together we walked around the show, looked at quilts, and I did a little shopping. I found some pieces of Kaffe that I need to finish a UFO won more than two years ago (good grief!) in a blog giveaway, and bought several Marathon threads that a first-place winner used in her domestic machine-quilted quilt. 

A few other purchases: needles for my Pfaff grand quilter; a new pair of snips (as used by HandiQuilter longarmers); a Strip Stick, for pressing open seam allowances; and a 6-1/2" Bloc-Loc ruler, for squaring up half-square triangles by nesting the seam allowance in a groove on the bottom of the ruler. 

Oh! And one day I wore my “Name Dropper” selvage skirt! Wearing it was as much fun as I hoped it would be. I was asked to have my picture taken quite a few times. Well, not a picture of me, but my skirt was photographed.

Another special treat was discovering that four quilters I know from the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild - Mary, Kathy, Leigh, and Martha - stayed in the same motel (Fairfield Inn) as me! In fact, they were only two doors away! It was extra special to conclude two evenings worth of writing by knocking on their door just in time for their day’s “show and tell.” Being with them made me appreciate their quilting expertise and experiences. They know their stuff, so it was fun to talk shop.

If I haven't bored you with my tales, let me say only one more thing.

Each year, 30,000 quilters know what an great quilt show it is, so if a trip to QuiltWeek in Paducah isn't on your bucket list, it should be!

No quilt show is like it, not only for the quilts and the amazing workmanship, but for the all-round friendliness of the city. I've been to big quilt shows, and Paducah has the friendliest hometown atmosphere of them all. From the shuttle bus drivers, to the motel staff, to people you meet at the shows, and in an elevator - they're just plain nice. At $210 (includes all fees and taxes) a night for a room at the Fairfield Inn, it isn't cheap, but AQS has one show that's worth attending. By QuiltWeek 2015 a brand new LaQuinta will be another motel option. 

And you never know exactly who you might run into! 
Alex Anderson, and little 'ole me

Paducah is a quilter's mecca, and I'll see you there next year! Linda 

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Winner!

Thanks you to those of you who commented on my last post - the one with my "Love Links" quilt. I learned that the bride and groom opened gifts on Sunday, the day after their wedding, and that they like the quilt. Apparently they thought there was some special significance to the Ikea "Britten Nummers" backing. Nope. It told them, it's just a very popular, and inexpensive fabric.

So now I’m back at home after being away since April 22. So much can happen in 16 days, but I won't keep you here for hours telling you about it. My exciting news first!

On Wednesday, while traveling home, I received a phone call from Provo, Utah. Not actually knowing anyone anyone from Provo, and remembering that this weekend is the HMQS (Home Machine Quilter’s Showcase), I quickly became excited. In mid-April I entered my Riley Blake Challenge quilt, “Dandelion Clock,” in the show. I put it in the category: Conventional Machine (quilting).

I was asked, “Are you planning to be in Provo for the awards ceremony on Thursday?” When I replied, “No,” she said, “I didn’t think so. Will you please call me on Thursday between 4-6 pm so I can tell you what you won?” Oh my gosh, “Yes!” 
HMQS entry: "Dandelion Clock" with its ribbon
Dandelion Clock won Honorable Mention!

My friend ChristaQuilts attended HMQS and sent me an Instagram picture of Dandelion Clock hanging at the show.

AQS entry:"Colorful Chevrons" by Christa Watson
Modern category, 3rd place
A couple ironies here... I started following Christa's blog about six weeks ago. She's a domestic machine quilter too. When she learned I was going to Paducah, she asked me to look for her quilt entry in the modern category, and send her a picture of it (see right). Her design and FMQ are beautiful!

I did that and then was privilged to get to call her for an interview (for American Quilter magazine) about her third place win! We chatted like old friends. Oddly enough, the tables turned and she took pictures of my quilt at the Home Machine Quilter's Showcase. Neither of us can believe how coincidental this is!

Also, you must recall that in a previous post I was up front about sharing my imperfect quilting skills. And now I've won a ribbon for them. Go figure. It's worthwhile to keep trying!

By the way, if you'd like to see the entire list of HMQS winners, here's where to go.

This week, on May 5, Debbie of A Quilter's Table wrote a Sew Mama Sew post called Quilting Trends with Debbie. Happily, she included Dandelion Clock in the section about trendy "Spirals and Circles." I appreciate this recognition too!

Next post... all about AQS QuiltWeek (April 22-26) in Paducah. Now that was also pretty amazing! Linda

P.S. I paid for an appraisal for Bloom, the quilt in this post, and just received it in the mail. My jaw dropped to learn its value: $4,150! How many hidden gems do you have in your stack of quilts?!


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