Setting a record

Yes, I’ve set one all right…but it’s for length of time between blog posts. Not such a good thing! So herein is a quick rundown of what’s been up since mid-October.

Finished some backs and took quilts to Linda Duncan for long arming!

I was thrilled to finally get three quilts off my stair railing and to the quilters. One is back, another is ready for pick up. Here’s the first (used the six Farmer’s Wife blocks I made on the back).

Interviewing authors for my upcoming book!

Yup, I’m working on a book about art quilts and have had the great pleasure of talking with some of the  artists whose work was selected for inclusion. Can’t say too much about that just yet, but it’s an exciting project that you’ll hear more about in coming months.

Quilt Market!

Had my usual wonderfully-inspiring-and-thoroughly-overwhelming-time. All the usual suspects, plus Cotton and Steel’s debut, a stroll through Market with my Stitch editor Amber Eden, quick meet-ups with Lisa, Jennifer, and my other wonderful Meredith editors, dinner with my friends Mel and Mary Lou, a hug from Carolyn Friedlander, a quick chat with Lissa from Moda, and travel with Codi and Greta.

Brigitte Heitland for Moda
Anna Maria Horner’s booth (Free Spirit)
Carolyn Friedlander’s booth (Robert Kaufman)
Lakehouse’s Holly Holderman and PamKitty Morning, with @szyhomemaker, @frecklemama, and Greta Songe
Laurie Simpson of Moda’s Minick and Simpson demoing big stitching
Smilin’ Vanessa Christenson and her booth for Moda

Austin!

A quick visit with my wonderful daughter Maggie and her beau, EJ. We took walks, bought boots, saw adorable babies, and ate great food.

Maggie and EJ’s backyard grotto
Coolio chair at Austin’s Nannie Inez
Coolio daughter

Surgery!

Had a small skin cancer removed from my nose. 18 stitches. Kind of a shock at first, but a month later it doesn’t look half-bad. And they got all the skin cancer in one fell swoop, so hooray! (Reserving photos of this one)

California!

Went with my husband, who had a meeting. Saw old friends in Sonoma and Berkeley, a hike across SF that ended in dim sum, and Thanksgiving with my folks in southern Cal. A highlight was my first  face-to-face meeting with fellow Etsy contributor Karen Brown, with whom I’ve corresponded for a few years. Wish we lived closer…there’s a kinship there, for sure.

Karen in her alpaca jacket
Bay view from the Presidio
My awesome dad, his awesome pumpkin pie, and Paul
Santa Barbara pelican

And now home, where I made a few bibs for a baby shower.

One other thing I did was work on a story for a new (to me, but you’ll know it) publication that will be out in January. Looking forward to sharing that exciting news soon!

Happy Holidays…hope things are going well for you and yours.

Wiksten’s Jenny Gordy: A Stitch magazine profile

 I just got an email saying that the Fall issue of Stitch is coming off the press soon, and it reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned the profile I wrote for Stitch with Style, the special issue of Stitch that came out in May.

I’d heard that Jenny Gordy of Wiksten fame had moved to Iowa City and pitched a profile to Amber Eden, Stitch’s fantastic and very enthusiastic editor. Though I turned the profile in last fall, Amber thought it would be great for Stitch with Style, which focuses on sewing clothing and accessories, so it wasn’t in print til this May. But the great thing about that is that since the interview Jenny and I have gotten to be friends, which is a lovely outcome! (She was part of my Quilt Market posse in Portland.) So many of my profiles are written from phone interviews, rather than face-to-face talks, and I rarely get to follow up in person.

A quick bit about Jenny: she started by sewing a line of clothing herself—yup, designing clothing and then stitching an average of ten pieces of each style. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy, but she did it quite successfully for several years. Though she still sews and sells occasional pieces, she’s turned her focus to creating a line of patterns to accompany her Tova and Tank tops. (We called them “nearly iconic” in the Stitch story, but at Quilt Market I realized we could have omitted the “nearly.” It seemed that in everyone’s booth there was a Wiksten tank stitched up in their latest fabric line.) Not only do I admire Jenny’s determination in making her business work, but I’ve learned that she’s got a great sense of humor.

At any rate, there are lots of great things in the issue. I, for one, intend to use Jenn Mason’s “A Shirt that Fits…Finally!” article to make adjustments to my Sorbetto top. I am feeling kind of excited about sewing clothing…just need to find a little time to do so. So if you haven’t yet checked out Stitch with Style, now’s the time!

Spring Quilt Market Update #2

The adventure continues…

By the time we got our act together to organize our trip, hotels near the Portland Convention Center were full. But Greta got us a lovely condo across the river and each morning we got to cross this bridge. It enabled us to see geese, rowers, bicyclists, and a section of the Portland marathon. (The biggest challenge was crossing the morning of the Heartlandia walk. Literally thousands of people were walking in the opposite direction, but we managed to part the sea of humanity and cross over.)

Here’s more of what I saw at Market:

Echino bags in the Seven Islands booth
Loved the subtle piecing on these Seven Islands aprons
Neons from Michael Miller. I was standing next to one of the women from the Portland Modern Quilt guild who had stitched two of the quilt’s blocks but never seen the completed top. She was so excited to see her work on display.
Tula Pink’s booth
Super-excited to meet Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life. We both blog for Moda’s Cutting Table, but had never met in person. She’s a real sweetie and was helping Camille Roskelly with her booth (and had sewn some quilts for her, including the one she’s standing by, above).
Fig Tree Quilts booth
Each fabric collection shown in Free Spirit’s booth included a piece of clothing stitched from the collection—garments were a true trend at Market.( That’s Amy Butler on the left, checking out a visitor’s bracelet.)
And not exactly part of the garment trend, but this incredible selvedge dress was the star of RicRac’s booth 
Iowa, represent! We join our other eastern Iowa buddy Vanessa Christensen, in her Simply Style booth (and check out her dress—she added a strip of her fabric to the bottom of a Target dress—she’s not just cute, she’s’ clever). 
Loved the big stitching on this quilt by Jen Kingwell
The garment theme continues at Monaluna’s booth
Butterflies flit across the walls of the Art Gallery Pure Elements booth
Nobody uses color and pattern quite like Sandy Klop of American Jane (for Moda)
Another Market trend was pink and orange. Here, Kanvas fabrics did it up with festive tissue-paper flowers.
When Market ended, we treated ourselves to a day-and-a-half of play in Portland. One of our first stops was Cargo, in the Pearl District, which offered an incredible array of Asian antiques and imports, with prices that ranged from less than a dollar to thousands.

Cargo whistles

We sampled the beer at a couple of brew pubs, including Deschutes, where we stopped for lunch.

We stopped at Front Porch, which has a sister store in Des Moines, and ran our fingers over the blankets.
The next day we had some fantastic Indian food at Bollywood Theater

And we ended our day at the Rose Garden.

Thanks, Portland, for a lovely week! And thanks, too, to the folks who work so hard to make Quilt Market happen. It was great to go, and great to be home.

Spring Quilt Market update #1

Thanks for waiting! You may have seen similar photos elsewhere, but I’m sure I’ll have a few that are unique, so I hope you enjoy them.

My Quilt Market entourage has expanded since the days when Codi (center) and I went to include the super-talented Greta Songe (on left, who’s gone with us the past two Markets) and this time Jenny Gordy (right) of Wiksten. Since I interviewed Jenny for the current issue of Stitch with Style she’s started working at Home Ec and we’ve gotten to be friends and she was ready to check out Market in relation to her patterns. Greta had some great conversations regarding her fabric designs and Jenny was a veritable celebrity, as shop owners told her how much they loved her patterns and her Wiksten tank showed up in numerous designers’ booths.

Our arrival was delayed by a day due to tornadoes in Texas. Our night in the hotel-from-hell could be a post in itself, but I’ll spare you the drama. Suffice it to say, we were darned happy to make it out the next morning, but it did mean we missed most of Schoolhouse. Got this one photo of this Quilt Market’s “it girl,” Tula Pink. She has definitely hit her stride—the session was SRO.

The first booth that caught my eye was Deep South Fibers, a knitting pattern distributor that was looking to move into the sewing pattern world. The owner (I think Donna Higgins, but not 100% sure) had some examples of things knitted with Deep South Fibers patterns, including these adorable kids clothes of her own design. If you knit, check them out. Really elegant items.

Next up was a stop at Penguin and Fish (mentioned yesterday). I covered Alyssa for True-Up, so check out lots of photos here.

Just across the aisle was Carolyn Friedlander, talented designer of Architextures fabrics (for Robert Kaufman) and very cool quilts (and we spotted her teaching at Portland’s Modern Domestic when Market was done). I love the quilt behind her.

I had the pleasure of talking with people I’ve interviewed for past and present stories, as well as meeting with editors, including Amber Eden of Stitch. She took this photo of us all (who have all appeared, or will appear in the pages of Stitch), along with Stitch contributing editor (and a former American Patchwork and Quilting profile subject of mine) Kevin Kosbab. (You can see a shot of Amber here.)

Now, in no particular order, are more Market photos. I’ll be breaking this into two posts. In addition, over the next few days True Up will be including my coverage on Cloud 9, Rashida Coleman Hale, and Camelot, so I won’t duplicate them here. (Except for these fabulous ties, below, from Sarah Watson’s Dem Bones line for Cloud 9—love ’em.)

Riley Blake’s cleverly titled “Gingham Style”—love the varied sizes of checks
Deb Strain’s fabrics for Moda
Kaari Meng’s mood board
Not a great photo, but the only one I managed to snap of the vibrant Heather Ross. We’d “met” via phone when I interviewed her for Stitch, and she was kind, complimentary, and a great story-teller.
Jennifer Sampou’s stripes
Minnick and Simpson’s fabulous ikats for scarves (Moda)

Cluck Cluck Sew offered more great patterns
One of the loveliest booths belong to Leah Duncan for Art Gallery. She was also extremely lovely, herself. Check out the two photos below for more.

And then we ended the day—yes, ended rather than started—with a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts. Everyone raved, but I for one was not going to be taken in by doughnuts that featured bacon or cereal…seemed gimmicky. But I was so wrong. The plain ol’ chocolate glazed doughnut and blueberry cake doughnut I managed to eat were amazing. Plus, we got a great trip phrase out of our visit. When Greta was contemplating trying the maple bacon doughnut, the cheery server offered “Zero reasons not to!”which quickly became our Portland motto.

Quilt Market update coming!

I promise, it’s on the way. But I also covered Quilt Market for True Up and Quilt Country and I have a few deadlines I need to hit. So while you’re waiting, check out my post on True Up about Penguin and Fish, longtime favorites. Alyssa’s designs captivated me the first time I saw her at Market and she and her husband Jon are great people, too.

One of my favorite designs of Alyssa’s was this cheerful budgie, which prompted some memories. When my husband and I were first married we got a blue parakeet and named him Floyd, (after the barber on Andy of Mayberry, of course). I’d never had a bird and couldn’t imagine they’d have much personality, but boy was I wrong. Floyd would perch on our shoulders and loved to play fight with my pen when I was trying to pay bills or write letters. One sad night we left both his cage and a screen-less window open and in the morning Floyd was gone. I posted Missing signs on telephone poles and walked around the neighborhood for days, calling “Floyd, Floyd” up into treetops. Unfortunately, it rained for three days straight after his escape and we figured he wouldn’t have lasted long in that, although he was so friendly I thought he might land on someone’s shoulder. We consoled ourselves by thinking about the incredible rush he must have felt when he flew out that third floor window and soared for blocks.

Thanks, Alyssa, for reminding us of Floyd.

Heading to Quilt Market

In a couple of hours I’ll be on my way to Quilt Market in Portland. I’m experiencing that last minute packing mania: Does this green go with that grey? Will TSA find the tube of toothpaste that won’t fit in my plastic bag? How many knitting projects will I realistically finish? Do I want my computer (and if so, where the heck is the cord)? What bag looks good to carry it in (since I neglected to make one)? Etc. etc. etc. Of course, all eyes will be on the fabric, not on me, so I should just lighten up!

I’ll be covering Market for Etsy, Quilt Country magazine, and also for True Up! (I’m super-excited to help Kim out with that and hope to meet some of the other bloggers who are filling in for her, as well.) And I’m traveling with the Iowa City talent team of Greta Songe (fabric design), Codi Josephson (Home Ec Workshop owner), and Jenny Gordy (Wiksten). So fun to get to focus on fabric and sewing for five whole days!

Back to School: The Pleasures and Purposes of Taking Craft Classes

The newspaper pattern we created to make a-line skirts

 I am one of those people who can’t resist things. I cut out myriad recipes, planning to try luscious-sounding new foods; I get intrigued by threads of conversation that lead to story ideas and want to follow through and write them all; and of course, I’m a sucker for every new crafting idea that comes my way. As someone who writes about artists and designers, that’s a heck of a lot of ideas.

Granny square class

For me, taking classes is one of the best ways to give in to my multi-crafting urge. I can buy books and materials, but actually sitting down and committing a several-hour block of time to use them is hard. There is something about paying for a class and putting it on my calendar that gives me permission to devote the time to trying something new.

South African embroidery in progress

In the past couple of months I’ve taken two classes taught by Alisa at Home Ec—one sewing a skirt (from a pattern we learned to make ourselves!) and another on crocheting a granny square (something I’d done in college, but not since). Also at Home Ec I took a class on South African embroidery (taught by Catherine Redford), and knitting a hat (taught by Jenny Gordy). I’ve done all these things previously in one form or another, but in each class I was reminded of what I enjoyed about that particular craft and I learned something new (last week in my hat class Jenny taught us a cool way to join stitches while knitting on circular needles). I get to handle new materials and use some old ones (I’d bought the fabric for my skirt at a Quilt Market six months ago, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.)

Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) hat with bobbles

So here are photos from my classes—I finished the skirt the same afternoon I started it, but the other projects aren’t yet finished. Those resulting UFOs are probably one of the biggest problems with taking classes. I sometimes question whether flitting from craft-to-craft is wise—after all, I have at least five unfinished quilt projects in my sewing room just waiting for me to devote time and attention to them. But I tell myself that some day these skills will all be waiting for me, as will the time to use them.

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers! Hope you find some time to sit and stitch this coming weekend.

Quilt Market Houston 2012

Codi and Greta at Quilt Market

Made it home on Monday from Quilt Market (unlike many folks from the East Coast, who had their flights canceled). It was, as always, a visual whirlwind, as well as a time to reconnect with friends old and new. I especially enjoy meeting in person the people with whom I’ve had email and phone relationships. This time around I met Amber Eden, the editor of Stitch. We bonded over our journalism backgrounds and agreement on who was might be Quilt Market’s newest “It” couple (Julie and Eric Comstock).

I traveled and roomed with Codi and Greta and spent quality time with Mel and Mary Lou. It felt a little rushed this year, as though I had a day less than I usually do. Here are photos of some of my favorite things this time around.

Marny of Modern Quilt Relish talks about their new BOM (while Jill holds it up)
Michael Miller’s fashion forecast included jewel tones, pastels, and neon
Alexander Henry‘s booth was a little simpler this year, but still lovely
Amy Butler‘s new line for Renaissance Ribbons rested in vintage cigar boxes
I was in love with Anna Griffin’s Blend lines—so many outstanding designers and a partnership with designers and Etsy shop owners—want to make a project with their fabric? Just ask. 
Designer Jessica Swift’s Blomma line–one of the lovely Blend collections from Anna Griffin
I liked Brigette Heitland‘s Zen Chic Juggling Summer collection for  Moda even more than her last. These quilts were outstanding
Carolyn Friedlander and her Architextures collection were one of the biggest hits of Market. The quilt is from a Jaybird Quilts pattern
Echino eye candy at the Seven Islands booth 
Detail of some of the Echino bags at Seven Islands‘ booth
Fairfield created a natural wonderland entirely from batting and interfacing
Greta Songe’s Studio 37 collections for Marcus Fabrics–Adorable!
Benartex’s Kanvas Studios fabrics won a ribbon for their bright booth
Lisa Bongean’s luscious wools. Always so tempted, but I’ve yet to figure out what to make with them
Have long loved Marcia Derse’s fabrics for Troy, and she’s so much fun to talk with—fresh, honest, simply who she is
Moda brought in a vintage Airstream to celebrate designer Mary Jane Butters Glamping line
I thought Melody Miller’s booth should have won an award…such vintage good cheer
Moda’s well-deserved blue ribbon hangs on their booth-of-many-colors featuring hundreds of paint-dipped stirrers, paint cans, pantone tablecloths and “paint”-dripped chair covers, along with fantastic sample quilts. 

Time to Sew

Just returned from Lake Tahoe, site of a retreat I’ve attended the last few years (here, here, and here). I’ve so enjoyed getting to know and learn from the women in the group. While it feels more than a little indulgent to travel across the country (with 49 pounds of fabric in a check-on bag and my Featherweight in a carry-on), the opportunity to get input and insight on technique, color, scale, block placement, etc. is invaluable.

This group is super-experienced and there are both teachers and students who have attended many workshops with a variety of instructors (everyone has taken a class from Mary Lou Weidman, who was also in attendance) and I learn so much from them each time. The sad truth of my life is that while I get to talk with and write about passionate stitchers, I don’t have much time for my own sewing these days. So the time to just focus and sew, surrounded by friends who would stop what they were doing to provide suggestions and commentary (when asked for, of course) was fantastic. It was also a little bittersweet, as Lynn passed away this summer and her ready laugh and talents were greatly missed. But we were blessed to have De and Sue back with us, along with Sue’s niece Linda. They’d been in a terrible car accident just before last year’s retreat and their return marked a year of recovery. They were both stitching up a storm.

Strips cut in preparation for my hexagon quilt

So here are some photos of the week. There are so many that I’ll spread them out over two posts.

I leave tomorrow for Quilt Market, so expect some posts about that very soon, too!

Debby’s quilts, inspired by a Gwen Marston workshop

Kathy’s finished story quilt about her dogs, who bark at the Blimp!

Linda’s completed quilt
Mel‘s witch blocks surround a haunted house she based on her son’s drawing. Note her flying geese/witch hat border and the name quilt—she stitched one for each of us!
Yes, we saw a bear, although if Debby hadn’t shouted “Look!” we probably would have missed it as our heads were all bent over our sewing machines.

Quilt Market Take Two

Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! shares quilts from her new book

Can’t believe it’s been nearly a week since we left KC and Quilt Market. I spent some of the time writing a post for Etsy about a quilting icon I had the good fortune to meet at Market and it should be posted sometime late next week.

Until then, here are a few more shots from Market. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Dear Stella reps take lots of orders
Echino creations
Codi pauses to soak up a bit of that Montana vibe
A bit of embroidery at Anna Maria Horner’s booth
Denyse Schmidt talks at Schoolhouse about the quilts in her new book
Moda’s Ducky with the quilt she whipped up (appliqué and embroidery) just before Market
Love this Creative Sewlutions pattern (left) using David Butler’s Parson Gray fabrics