Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just a Little Update

I actually have 2 days off in a row!

That is almost unheard of in my life. I have printed the foundations for the second quilt I need to make for publication in a magazine and will attempt to get as much done in these 2 days as possible. This quilt is the one that some of the fabric isn't available for yet. But that fabric goes in the borders, so I can make the center of the quilt and wait for the other fabric to arrive.

When this quilt is finished, I will start working on my new designs and class samples for 2010 classes. Some of those, I plan to post pictures of when they are finished.

I haven't gotten a new camera yet, but found out something interesting when I went to the camera store. Most digital cameras have a feature where you need to tell the camera what type of batteries you are using, because different batteries behave differently in your camera. Here's the problem, though--using alkaline batteries (which is what I have available at the moment), because the camera isn't on the alkaline battery setting, the camera tells me the batteries are low and shuts off immediately without giving me any time to change the setting! What a pain. But, that may mean I don't need a new camera right now. If you start seeing pictures show up on my blog again soon, you'll know I figured it out. Just don't hold your breath for that!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Back to work

Now that Christmas has passed, its time to really get to work! I finished one quilt top the weekend before Christmas for a magazine that needs to be ready for photography around January 8th. I Fedexed it on December 23rd to Colorado to be quilted and hopefully bound. I have another quilt to make that another magazine wanted for the third week in January, but one of the fabrics won't be available until the second week in January, sooOOOooo I don't think I'll make that deadline. Fortunately, the editor likes the quilt so much, she's willing to wait.

Since my teaching proposal was accepted for Chautauqua Institution's Summer season, I need to get my sample made asap. And then there's Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis. I plan on having at least 3 new designs ready for that, but I also need to make travel plans as well. One of my sisters lives in Wisconsin and has agreed to come to Market to help me, so I am planning to fly to Wisconsin and rent a car and drive the 5 hours from there with all of my stuff and my sister.

Its going to be a busy year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sorry, too busy to blog!

I think it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted (I'm too lazy to check for sure), but I thought I should put in a quick appearance before the holiday rush truly begins around here. My kids have a couple more days of school before Christmas break, so I still have to get up with them and get them to school.

After I drop them off, I have almost an hour to work on a quilt that I am doing for a magazine (due for photography Jan. 8th), before I have to get ready to go to my job.

At work, we are dealing with all the husbands who wait until the last minute to find a sewing related gift for their wives. The hard part is getting a machine, that has to be ordered, in time for the holidays. And if it doesn't arrive in time, guess who's fault it is? Not hubby's, that's for sure.

Thankfully, my husband prefers to do the shopping for our kids and the rest of our families. I think he's afraid I'll spend too much. Which is probably true, since I shop from the heart not the wallet. I don't check prices. If I see something I think someone will like, I buy it and worry about how much it cost later. Not the smartest way to shop, but its the only way I know!

Anyway, I am looking forward to the calm after the storm, so I can get back to work on the things I truly love--designing and seeing my designs come to life in fabric. I have lots of things planned for next year and I can't wait to start working towards those goals.

One of the things I am most looking forward to is the opportunity to teach at Chautauqua Institution next summer. I got the confirmation email a couple of days ago that my teaching proposal was accepted and I will find out the schedule in mid-January and can start planning around it!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Confession

A week from today will be my last lecture for 2009. I am doing a trunk show for the American Sewing Guild in Pittsburgh. I have a special way I like to prepare for public speaking--I try not to think about it until I am standing in front of my audience!

I have no problem teaching a large group because of all the "give and take", but being the center of attention can be a little nerve wracking. Once I get going, I really enjoy showing my quilts, but that first 2 minutes can be torture.

I did a trunk show for a store a few years back, that was scheduled for 2 o'clock in the afternoon, but as I was arriving in town around 1 o'clock, my cell phone rang. It was the owner of the store asking if I was close. I told her I was about 10 minutes away and would be there shortly, not realizing that, according to her schedule, I was late. I walked into the store still expecting to be able to take my time and set up, when I turned the corner and saw what looked to be about 100 people (but in actuality was probably less than 50) waiting for me to arrive.

I just had to jump right in and it was probably my best and most candid lecture so far. Fortunately for me, several more ladies came in closer to 2 o'clock and were shocked to see that they had missed my trunk show (I did a private showing for them). It turned out that the original notice that had been sent out had the 2 o'clock start time, but in the reminder notice, the time had been accidentally changed to 1.

I am looking forward to the day when standing in front of an audience is "no big deal", but I don't want to lose the excitement that comes with being a little nervous.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trying Something New

Well, I guess I'm gonna go for it! I gonna put myself out there and see what happens.

I teach and lecture close to home, but I think I am finally ready to leave the nest. Starting in 2010, I am going to make myself available to guilds and shops farther away than my tri-state area (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York). I have 2 young children, ages 9 and almost 12, but my husband's schedule has become a lot more flexible, recently, so one of us can always be here.

I am a homebody and would prefer to be here than anywhere else in the world, but am starting to realize that I would like to, at least, visit some other places!

If you belong to a guild or own a shop, and you think you might be interested in having me, or even just my quilts, "visit", drop me a line at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com and I will send you my Trunk Show and Lecture Fees brochure.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

Wow, what an amazing experience being included in Quiltmakers 100 Blocks issue turned out to be! I have had the opportunity to work with a few of the talented women who put Quiltmaker magazine together before, and I know they are very good at their jobs, but since this was a special issue, they still had to do all their regular work on top of all of the extra work they did to put this issue together! Thank you June, Carolyn and Diane for making this so much fun and making me feel so special. Thank you, also, to all of the people at Quiltmaker that I haven't had the opportunity to meet just yet!

I also wanted to thank all of the people who commented on my blog or visited my website and signed my guestbook! For those of you who replied with their email address visible, if I haven't already replied to you, I will soon. For those of you whose email addresses weren't visible to me, I want to thank you for taking the time to visit my site and/or blog and invite you back anytime!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And last, but hopefully, not least--me




Well, its finally my turn! Although I have already blogged about the blog tour this week, today is officially my day. I've had all week to read what everyone else has written and think about what I want to say and guess what? I've got nothing! At least nothing as interesting as everyone else seemed to have to talk about, so I guess I'll just tell you a little bit about my block.




My block is #27 on page 25 and is called Art Deco Star. My New Year's Resolution was to design one block per day for an entire year. Well, I only got to the beginning of April before I finally gave up. (Longer than I've ever made it with an diet or exercise resolution, so I consider it a successful resolution.) Anyway, this is one of approximately 90 new blocks I designed this year. It is a paper-pieced block and much simpler to piece than it may appear. I did find that one section was numbered incorrectly in the magazine, so the editor has made a correction to the foundation and made it available on the Quiltmaker website, so make sure you download the new foundation. http://www.quiltmaker.com
And while you are cruising the web, check out my website, http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com and leave me a message in my guestbook for a chance to win a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. Those of you that have already contacted me about winning a copy of the magazine will be included in the drawing when I pick the winner.
Follow the 100 Blocks Blog Tour daily Nov. 9-13 at quiltmaker.com/quiltypleasures for inspiration, ideas and giveaways galore! Look for 100 Blocks from Today's Top Designers in your local quilt shop or purchase it at http://www.quiltmaker.com/100blocks

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks from today's top designers

What a powerful tool a blog can be! (insert evil laugh here) And when you have Quiltmaker promoting your blog, how can you lose? It is possible to reach MILLIONS with or without help, but on Friday the 13th, I am participating in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Blog Tour and am looking forward to connecting with even more quilters from around the world!

I'm not sure what I will write about yet, but I will have one copy of QUILTMAKER'S 100 BLOCKS FROM TODAY'S TOP DESIGNERS to give away to one lucky winner. Make sure you check Quiltmaker's blog for links to the other featured designers' blogs and for inspiration, ideas and giveaways galore! http://www.quiltmaker.com/quiltypleasures

Monday, November 02, 2009

SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION MAGAZINE GIVEAWAY

The Fedex truck stopped here about an hour ago and dropped off a package. I don't know why, but I always try to figure out what's in a package before I open it. The return address didn't offer any clues, but when I put my glasses on and read the small print under my address, it said "QUILTMAKER SPECIALS, 100 BLOCK". So I tore the package open and found a special issue of Quiltmaker. The official title is Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks from today's top designers. And you'll never guess who has a block in it. Lil' ole me!!!

Oh, and there are a couple of other quilt designers you might have heard of before such as: Carol Doak, Eleanor Burns, Pat Sloan, just to name a few. Their names made the front cover, but I am thrilled to just be included! This collector's edition is set to be on the newsstand November 17th, but it could show up sooner, so keep your eyes open for it. In the meantime, I have one copy to giveaway, so if you'd like a chance at it, leave me a comment and a way for me to get back in touch with you if you are the lucky winner! Heck, I might even autograph it if you're lucky!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some good news...for me!

What a nice surprise to open an email from McCalls Pattern company and see one of my designs featured! I have had several friends tell me they have gotten a couple of emails with my patterns shown, but this is the first one I have received. http://www.mccall.com/newsletters/BM200910Quilts_2/newspage.html

It is so exciting to FINALLY see some of my hard work paying off. I'm not even close to where I want to be in this business yet, but I think I am headed in the right direction.

I also got an email reminder yesterday, about an event coming up in December, at which I am the featured speaker. It is the American Sewing Guild's Holiday Luncheon being held at The Priory here in Pittsburgh. It is open to members and non-members. If you'd like some info on this event, check out the Guild's website: http://www.sewpittsburgh.org

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Mary from Lake Pulaski and anyone else who might be interested!


Mary from Lake Pulaski, you'll be happy to know I have finally started to piece my design Chocolate Raspberry Torte! I have decided to attempt to make it in miniature and have completed one block so far. The block will finish at about 3" in this format. Most of the block can be paper pieced, which makes it easier, but the center square will have to be cut with a template because it is an odd size. When I produce the pattern for it, I will include a foundation to make the quilt in miniature as well as bed-size, depending on whether I lose my mind making the miniature version or not!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Dilemma

I'm curious about how other people keep their studios. Are they neat and organized or pure chaos? At the moment, mine is complete chaos, which I can handle, (I don't like it like this, but I can handle it). But I have a friend coming to work on some projects with me that we want to have ready for Spring Market, so I need to have everything put away so there is room for both of us to work. My time at home is limited because I work about 30 hours a week for a local sewing machine dealer, where I teach quilting and machine embroidery classes, as well as a few purse and home dec classes. One of my days off is Tuesday, but every Tuesday, I take out my aunt/friend who has MS to doctors appointments or run errands with her. Sunday is my other day off, but my husband works 12 hours that day, so it is up to me to take care of our 2 children all day. So most of the time, I have to choose between trying to clean up my mess or working on a new project. Fortunately, the batteries in my camera are dead, or I might be tempted to post a picture of my mess!

I live in a small 3 bedroom home, that has a familyroom, so I have been able to take over the diningroom and the livingroom for my business space. But both of those rooms are in the front of the house, so if someone comes to visit, they have to walk through or past my mess to reach the familyroom. It would be nice not to have to apologize for the condition of my home, but is that more important than doing something creative? According to my mother, YES! I don't expect to get rich from quilt designing, but I hope to get to the point where I can build another room onto the back of my house for my studio. One with a door that can be closed and locked!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not in the mood to post


It has been longer than usual since I have posted, due to some things in my personal life, but I will be getting back to work and hope to have some quilty things to show you soon. I plan on finally producing some patterns for designs that I have been sitting on for awhile, like SPRING SHOWERS. Let me know what you think about this one.
I have been told that I will have a block in the 100 EASY BLOCKS magazine from Quiltmaker, which is due to arrive on the newsstand in early November, so I am very excited to see that. I believe Quiltmaker will be giving me at least one issue to give away, so if you want to have a chance to win it, leave me a comment and mention 100 EASY BLOCKS. Make sure I have a way to get back in touch with you in the event you are the lucky winner.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

OOPS!!!!


I missed my deadline to have this quilt shown at Fall Quilt Market in Houston because I had my dates wrong! I thought I had a couple more days to get this to the fabric manufacturer, but...time's up. Maybe they will want it for Spring Market. I work really well on a deadline usually, but if you have the date wrong, I guess there's no hope of finishing on time, unless you think the deadline is earlier than it is! I'll have to give permission to SOME people to lie to me. Not everyone, mind you, just a select few.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

WARNING

There is a certain evil person out there, who, I think, checks my blog regularly to see if I'm going to tell you all of the evil things she does. Well, I'm going to put her mind at ease, (sort of)--yes, I am going to tell you ALL about her, just not yet. But she is put on notice, that it IS coming.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Chautauqua Residences


These pictures are just a few of the beautiful homes in Chautauqua Institution. Most of the summer residents are gone by this time of the year and a lot of the cottages have been winterized. They have custom-made tarps (I'm not sure if that's the right word for what I am describing, but its the best I can come up with at the moment) that are attached to the balconies and porch roofs to protect the houses from the snow and wind that will be coming soon to this region. They are usually striped and match the exterior of the house and are beautiful in their own way.
I just completed 2 course proposals to teach at Chautauqua Institution next summer, so with any luck, I might actually get to spend some time there when the season is in full swing!
If there is anyone out there who has been fortunate to have the opportunity to spend some time at CI, I would love to hear from you about your experience.




Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Pics from Chautauqua



This is a picture of my friend Cathy putting together kits for my OH CHRISTMAS TREE quilt (that isn't in this picture, unfortunately). In the background, you can see CARTWHEELING CLAUS, GINGERBREAD BOY, NIGHT JEWELS (which was in the controversial issue of Quilter's Home) AND IN THE MEADOW, BUBBLE BATH, THIS LITTLE PIGGIE and NOVA. I have a few more pictures that I will post later of the hall we were in and some of the other vendor's booths. I also got some pictures of some of the houses in Chautauqua Institution. Unfortuately, it was a little gloomy that day, but I think you can still get an idea of what a beautiful place it really is. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the hotel that I posted a picture of recently, if you click on the picture and enlarge it, look carefully on the right hand side near the tree trunk, and you will see my friend Darla. And, no, she's not a "little person".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Fun Than Work

This is the Anthanaeum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution. I practically had to stand in the lake to get the whole thing in the picture! It is an amazing place on its own, but when it is filled with quilters and quilt shop vendors, it is a dream come true (for a quilter, anyway). If I could find my brochure, I would tell you how many vendors there were, but I haven't completely unpacked my car yet. It was a rainy and chilly weekend on Lake Chautauqua. Perfect for a quilt show, if you ask me. That is, if your vendor space isn't outside, like mine was 2 years ago. We were lucky that year though, since the only thing we had to deal with was the wind coming off the lake blowing my business cards away. This year and last year my booth was in Bellinger Hall, which you could reach via the shuttle from the hotel in about 5 minutes. I've already reserved the same spot for next year, since my "neighbors" and I have such a great time hanging out all weekend. Sunday mornings are usually a little slow until the lecture is over, so this year, we had a little party in our corner. I brought a cake and shared it with the vendors and some of the lucky customers who happened to be in the right place at the right time! If it wasn't so much work to get ready for a show, and someone could promise that they'd all be as fun as this one, I would do this every weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Favorite Patterns

This is it, the last day to get anything done for Chautauqua. I have a couple more things to print and fold, but I will have to wait until I hook up with my friends in New York before I can put them in pattern bags, 'cause guess what I forgot to order! Normally, I have only my own designs in my booth, but with all the teaching I do for the local sewing machine dealer, I have found a few patterns from other designers that I really like. One of them in particular, is for a purse called The Smart Handbag. You make the entire bag and then you make covers for it that are secured with hook and loop tape. I just finished a Steeler cover for the one I carry and I'm really excited about using it. There are so many wonderful fabrics out there, that you could have a different cover for every holiday, hobby, sports team, you name it, its out there. If you're going to Chautauqua, stop at my booth and see my samples.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quilting Around Chautauqua

I still need to do a lot before I head to Chautauqua Institution on Friday, but I am SO looking forward to the weekend, I don't mind doing it. I plan to drop off my children at school at 8:00 and leave from there, so I should be there by 11:30 am, at the latest. I am hoping that will give me time to walk the grounds and take lots of pictures this time before the event really gets rolling. It is such an amazing place, that everyone who has the opportunity, should visit at least once. During the summer, if you want to come inside just to look around, there is an admission fee, but in the off-season, it is free. The "cottages" there are mostly Victorian in style and not what I would consider a cottage. The hotel that sits at the side of the lake has a huge front porch filled with rocking chairs and I would love the opportunity to occupy one of those rocking chairs for just a little while! They have big name performers all summer long and lots of educational programs, too, but even if you don't get the chance to attend one of those events, it is still worth the visit. Nancy Zieman is the featured speaker this year, so attendance to the quilting event should be high. I wish I had some digital pictures to post, but the last time I had the time to take pictures, I didn't own a digital camera. This time, I will make sure I have my camera and extra batteries and should have some wonderful images to show you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nature's Jewelers

I took this picture on the last day of the Quilting Around Chautauqua event in 2007. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and my friend and I were treating ourselves to breakfast before heading to the show. This railing led up to the porch of the restaurant that looked out over Chautauqua Lake. I took the picture intending to make a spider web quilt and wanted to use crystals for the dew drops. If you click on the picture, you will be able to see more detail. Right now, it is just one more thing on my to-do list.
Maybe this photo will inspire someone else to give it a try. If you make the attempt, I would love to see your efforts! And I intend to take a lot of pictures of Chautauqua Institution this time, so you can see what an amazing place it truly is!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chautauqua Bound!

In a couple of weeks, ...no...wait, make that about 11 days, I will be heading to Chautauqua Institution for a wonderful event called Quilting Around Chautauqua. I look forward to this every year since the event began. I think this is the fourth year and it gets better each time. This will be my third time vending and although I am shy by nature, I LOVE getting to spend a weekend with other people who are as excited by quilts and fabric as I am. It is like a reunion of sorts, since I get to see people I haven't seen since last year. People that I met when I was a fabric rep for a short time and people that have taken classes with me, or attended one of my trunk shows in the past. It really is like a party. If you haven't been before, but have the chance to go, GO! Make sure you stop by my booth and say "hi".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another First!

Turning what you love to do into a profitable business, isn't easy. It is a long, and sometimes difficult task, and at times, you consider giving up. But each time you have something happen for the first time, it is so rewarding and exciting, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. While looking around on the web yesterday, I happened to check out the Clotilde website and found my design, BUBBLE BATH, in their virtual catalog. Now, this wasn't a complete surprise, as I had been emailing with them for a few months about this very thing, but to finally SEE it, was amazing! But this is only the beginning. I know its there, but now I need other people to know its there. I tried really hard to post a picture of the actual page of the catalog here, but in truth, I am not that good with the computer, so the best I can do is give you a link: http://www.clotilde.com and tell you to go to the Virtual Catalog. From there, my design is on page 71, bottom, right-hand corner. I would love to know what you think about it!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Not quilty, but important all the same!

Rather than embarrass my stepmother-in-law and cause another family feud, I will let go of my frustration here. My SMIL is constantly forwarding emails to me and expecting me to blindly send them on to my email list without checking them out first. The one I just received claims that Target has banned the Salvation Army from soliciting in front of their stores for some ridiculous reasons. Although it is true they no longer allow the Salvation Army to set up their kettles in front of their stores, it is not for the reasons mentioned in the email. They actually have a very good reason and have come up with other ways to support the Salvation Army's causes. People think if they see "Snopes verified" at the end of the email subject line, it MUST be true. In this day and age, it is so fast and easy to check things out, please, please, take the time to verify the information you receive before passing it on. Jumping off the soapbox now and hoping SMIL doesn't read my blog!

WARNING: Do not call me before 10:00am

Very rarely do I ever sleep past 7:00am. Most mornings, I am up before my alarm goes off. But just because I am up, doesn't mean I'm UP. I would NEVER call anyone before 10:00am especially on a weekend or holiday, unless it was an emergency. That being said, my phone rang this morning at 8:33am and, let me tell you, it was no emergency. One of my students called me to ask me how to find an embroidery design on a website I showed her in between classes on Saturday. She claimed she search this website for hours and couldn't find the design I had found for her. I found it for her in about 30 seconds and she let me get on with my morning routine: 2 cups of coffee, answering emails and enjoying a few moments to myself before the other early riser in my house, my 8 year old son, joins me. I really don't mind helping people and I often go out of my way for my students, but if you want to talk to me before I am really awake, don't expect me to be my usual helpful and friendly self. You also might find yourself mentioned in my blog...Regina!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Quilters Corner and Quilt Sampler!

Well, its official, I picked up my copy of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler yesterday and my local quilt shop is there in all its glory! Quilters Corner is on page 86 and I have to say the pictures don't do it justice. It is such an amazing place to walk into and the people are so wonderful. When I started quilting, I used to go at least once a week. It is about a half hour drive from my home, so it was the perfect length of time to get my infant son to fall asleep. I would take him out of his car seat when we arrived, (because he would wake up if it wasn't moving), and Carson would sleep the entire time I shopped lying on my shoulder. It made it difficult to carry bolts to the cutting table, but Mary Beth and her staff were always so helpful. My daughter Caitlin, 3 at the time, loved to pick out fabric for herself, carry it to the cutting table and ask for a fat quarter. I choose to go to the quilt shop without her most of the time now because I can't afford to take her with me! I think I've created a monster. They have watched my children grow up and I hope to be able to shop there for their wedding quilts someday. If you are ever in the area, it is well worth the trip.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Deadlines

Nothing like a deadline to spur me on. The self-imposed ones are easy to ignore, but if you've got a pattern for sale on someone else's website, it better be ready! This pattern has been "just this side" of ready for months, but I finally put the finishing touches on yesterday. It is called Checkered Repast, and it is a table runner. I have been teaching it for about 4 months locally, so I was able to find any problems with my directions from my students. I haven't added it to my website yet, but it is available if anyone is interested. And I will be putting kits together for it using Hoffman 1895 Watercolor fabric. Contact me for the price and any other info you'd like. larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

I love my students, (most of the time), but some of them can be really challenging. I have been teaching this wonderful purse pattern, by another designer, for about 8 months now. I have made the purse myself about 4 times, so I have been able to work out any potential "bugs" along the way and have given these tips to my students. When someone is interested in signing up for this class, the very first thing I tell them is that it is a very "involved" project. During our third and final class, this very sweet lady said to me, "If I had known how involved this project was, I wouldn't have signed up for it." I assured her that I know I would have explained that to her before she signed up for the class and she told me, "I know, but I probably wasn't paying attention." Does anyone know of an IQ test or an ADD test for quilters?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quilt Shop Horror Stories-The Other Side of The Coin

Now that I've told you about the worst quilt shop I've ever been to, maybe we should visit the other side of the coin. Do you have a favorite quilt shop? I have been to so many wonderful shops, that it would be nearly impossible to pick one favorite, but one that is near and dear to me is one that the rest of the quilting world will be hearing about very soon!

One of my picks for best quilt shop will be getting the recognition it deserves in the next issue of Quilt Sampler. I am so excited for them since it is the shop that introduced me to quilting in the first place. I am so lucky that the first shop I had ever been to, was such a wonderful place to learn and shop! The staff is an amazing group of women and the owner is just about the smartest, classiest woman I have ever met.

Sadly, another of my favorite shops will be closing, but until the "official" announcement is made, I can't say anything else about it.

I can't wait to get the new issue of Quilt Sampler, so I can say, "That's where I shop!".

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quilt Shop Horror Stories

I used to think there was no such thing as a bad quilt shop, but after almost 9 years of quilting, I'm finding that's simply not true. I guess if the owner isn't a good person, then it follows that their shop wouldn't be a very nice place to visit. Quilt shops can be very competitive and some owners go out of their way to hurt their competition.

But even after putting that fact aside, there is one shop that I am surprised is able to stay in business. I have to admit that I didn't witness this behavior on my two visits to the shop, (where, thankfully, I didn't buy anything) but these stories have been related to me on several occasions, by more than a few different people. There is a shop in Pennsylvania, where the owner allows his dogs to roam freely around the shop and building, sleeping on the fabric bolts and sometimes chewing on them, pooping wherever they please and engaging in sexual acts in front of the customers. On top of that, his wife has been known to change a dirty diaper on top of the cutting table. Any one of these things would make me find another way to buy my quilt fabric if this was the only game in town, but combine them and it makes me think about health issues being a problem.

Have any of you ever been in a shop that you vow to never visit again? I would love to hear your quilt shop horror stories!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Free Pattern response

I got a lot of positive responses about the free pattern I offered yesterday, so I have decided to go ahead and produce a printed version of it. But until the pattern is ready and a new sample is sewn, so I can get a better photo of it, I have decided to offer it for free for a little while longer. I am too lazy/busy to figure out how to make it available by download, so if you want it, you will have to email me at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com Feel free to check out my website to see my other designs available. http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com

I will be adding at least 3 new patterns in the next month or two, so check back soon to see them or send me an email to be added to my mailing list. I only send out an email when I have a new pattern to show or a new design in a magazine.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Free Pattern

This isn't a very good picture, but this is one of my very first quilt designs. I made this quilt for a friend's daughter and have never produced a pattern for it, but I was asked recently to do so. It is one of a very few of my designs that are not paper pieced. I will offer it as a free pattern for a limited time to see how much interest there is. I am able to email the directions, so if you'd like the directions to make Megen's Quilt, contact me asap. Make sure I have a way to respond to you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Time to work


I am sitting here in the Westfield Library again, trying to keep up with emails, and blogging, while waiting for my laundry to dry at the laundromat around the corner. Here is the latest picture of my design, Carson's Star. I have 3 more blocks to finish before I decide whether to sash this or not. Tonight I am doing a trunk show for the Westfield Quilt Guild at one of the local wineries. And my in-laws are driving here from New Hampshire to stay with us at our cottage for a couple of days. I think its a long drive for a 3 day visit, but it will be nice for them to see the kids. It has been a busy week, but lots of fun as well. I will have to leave earlier than planned, since I have a class to teach Saturday morning back in Pittsburgh, but my husband and kids can stay awhile longer. Well, I guess I better go check on my laundry!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Westfield, New York


I am fortunate to have a cottage on Lake Erie at which I get to spend one week a summer. This is that week. Our cottage is in Westfield, New York. It is a quaint, quiet, pretty, little town, with more than its share of antique shops, wineries and art galleries. I was asked by the local quilt guild to do a trunk show for them while I was here and it just so happens that we are meeting at one of the wineries! I have been there twice already and have found my new favorite wine. The winery is Noble Winery and their most popular wine is called Cat Rouge and I can't wait until my presentation is over so I can have more than a taste.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vacation?

Why is there so much work involved in going on vacation? I still have to finish the laundry so I have clothes to pack for my kids and myself while we are away at our cottage. Along with all of the clothes, I am packing fabric and quilting tools and all of my quilts since I am scheduled to do a trunk show in the area while we are there. My friend, Kourtney, is coming for a couple of days at the beginning of the week and since there is no such thing as nightlife, as far as I can tell, in Westfield, New York, we should be able to get some quilting done. I am not complaining, mind you. The fact that the town is so peaceful was one of the reasons my husband and I were attracted to it in the first place.

Kourtney and I have big plans, which she calls, "Planning our Divahood", so being in the same place for a couple of days will be a good thing. We have several ideas for books we want to publish, retreats we'd like to hold and shows to prepare for. Meeting Kourtney, in the first place, was a stroke of luck. There are people you just click with the moment you meet them and know that you will know them for the rest of your life. Who knows, maybe we can be the next Fons and Porter, or Alex and Ricky! Well, why not?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Great weekend!!!

What a great weekend! My friend, Kourtney Kenzie, fellow quilter/designer, came to stay with me for a couple of days of sewing, laughing, planning, and wining (not a spelling error)! We had our own mini retreat. Although I still had to go to work and still had to deal with my husband and children, it has been very energizing. We made lots of plans for the future and have lots of new projects to work on! I also got my first order from a catalog company this weekend! I'll tell you more about that later, since I'm a little superstitious and don't want to jinx it! I should also have more pictures to post soon of some of the projects I'm working on, so check back soon! Its a good thing their isn't rationing on exclamation points, because I think I would have used mine up in this post!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kits available!

Another version of my design, Oh Christmas Tree, appeared in QUILT IT FOR CHRISTMAS 2008. Since that publication, I have redesigned the quilt, and in my opinion, improved it! I am now able to offer the pattern and a kit with the pictured fabrics. The fabric line used is, Moda's Glace. The only picture I have right now is a computer drawing, so the scale of the fabrics isn't correct, but I will have a picture of the actual quilt soon. If anyone is interested in getting a head start on a Christmas project, leave a comment here, including an email address so I can reply, or send me an email at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com and let me know.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

3D Quilts

Here is another new design I came up with. I like designs that look 3 dimensional even though my brain knows they are actually flat. How do others feel about that effect? Is it worth the time to find the right fabric to get that effect? If you choose the right fabric line, it isn't difficult. If you happen to have a friend who hand-dyes fabric, it can be downright simple! I would like to know others opinions on this so I can decide whether its worth it to work on designs like this or not. Are there any pattern testers out there who would like to sew out something like this or one of my other designs? So many questions!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Moving on!

I haven't posted in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working! I've got lots of new projects in the works. I think I've finally gotten all the fabrics for my Carson's Star quilt and need to get that finished. I've gotten my first international order. Ok, so its from Canada, which is only about 4 hours away from me, but it counts! I spent last weekend helping my friend move her inventory out of the quilt shop she shared with her business partner. It was a lot of work, but I think it was a good move for her. She worked so hard at the shop, it didn't leave her any time for herself or her own designing. Now she has a lot more time and we can work on the projects we are planning to do together! This is a new design I am working on that I may sew out at some point. Opinions welcome!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

T.G.I. Fridays update

Well, it took a week to get a response from the district manager, but he was very apologetic and admitted that we had been mistreated and the situation had been mishandled by the server and the manager. I still can't believe the server tried to blame us for the delay by ordering the "wrong food" (i.e. burgers versus pizza, shrimp, flat iron steak and fajitas) I think that bothers me the most, that it seems like no one wants to take the blame these days when things go wrong.

The DM asked for my address to send me something (he didn't say what) to make up for the bad experience, but having him call and apologize meant the most.

At least I can put this behind me and try to get back to what's important in my life. Its amazing how little things like this can drag you down and keep you from doing what you love to do. I'm thinking about designing a two color quilt...maybe, red and white....oh, and with stripes. What do you think?!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Getting something off my chest

I have had so many things on my mind lately, that its been hard to be creative. A recent disagreement with two of my family members has bothered me to the point that its all I think about. When do you just walk away completely and decide to go it alone? All the other problems then seem magnified and you start to think the whole world is against you. It makes it hard to think about anything else, so in an effort to get at least a little of this off my chest, I decided to blog about one recent event that I'm not happy about.

My birthday was last Tuesday, so on Wednesday, my family took me out to dinner. I got to choose where we would go, which is usually a big hassle, since my husband doesn't like the chain restaurants. He thinks they are too expensive. After our experience, I'd have to agree. I chose T.G.I. Fridays, so that's where we went. The restaurant wasn't very busy, so we were seated right away (one benefit of the economy, I joked to my husband). We gave our order to the server, and 15 minutes later, my husband finally stopped her on one of her many trips past us to ask if his salad was coming soon. She went and got it from the kitchen. My two children and I waited patiently while he ate it, with me telling the kids that ours would be coming soon. I should have checked my watch at that point, but didn't, so I had no idea just how long we had been waiting. It wasn't until the two tables that were seated 20 minutes after us, started having their meals arrive, that it finally occured to me that there was a problem. I walked up to the front counter and demanded to see the manager. He came out from the kitchen and I explained the problem to him. Less than 5 minutes later, our meals arrived. My shrimp was cold, so it was obvious it had been sitting for a little while, but we were so hungry, I didn't complain. Our waitress tried to tell me that the table next to us was served so quickly because they only had burgers. It was not a valid excuse and I told her so. At no point, did the manager come back and check on us or apologize for the problem. We were not compensated in any way, no discount or free dessert to make up for their mistake. Nothing. No response from my complaint to their corporate office. They can't be doing so well in this economy to be able to ignore complaints and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had a bad experience there.

Anyway, at least I've gotten this out of my system and I can try to get back to work on what's really important. And I hope my next post is of a more creative nature!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Carson's Star update

Here are 3 of the blocks for my design Carson's Star. There have been so many things to do since Quilt Market this past May, this had been put on hold for awhile. But now that I see it coming together, I want to keep working on it. There will be 9 blocks total, each one a different color. The hardest part is finding 3 values of the same color to get the 3D effect, but I am very happy with the progress so far.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS TO QUILTESSENTIALS!!!

I just got a phone call from Kourtney Kenzie, co-owner of Quiltessentials in Pittsfield, PA, that her and Melanie Barrett's shop, was voted favorite quilt shop in the Renegade Shop Hop! Now, I'm not surprised by any means, but it is great that they are being recognized for all the work they have done to open such an amazing place. I wish them lots of continued success and when I get there the next time, I promise to take lots of pictures!

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Post for Melanie!

Well....I got in trouble for not posting for a couple of weeks. My friend and quilt shop owner, Melanie Barrett of Quiltessentials in Pittsfield PA, told me she checks my blog all the time and its been the same for a couple of weeks, but I just haven't had anything interesting to talk about!

That changed this weekend. I spent the last 3 days at hers and Kourtney Kenzie's shop helping out with their shop hop. What could be better than spending a weekend in a quilt shop talking with other quilters and fondling fabric! The turnout was amazing, and Kourtney's and Melanie's shop is so wonderful, I know they have gotten a lot of new customers.

Now their shop is about 2.5 hours from my home, so I can't just jump in my car and head up there any time I feel like it, but when I do get to go, I get to stay with my friends, eat well, drink well and talk quilts to my hearts content. When I come back, I am tired but inspired and ready to go on to my next project!

If you are ever in their neck of the woods, it would be well worth your time to stop and check them out. They are located in beautiful "downtown" Pittsfield PA in a 200+ year old building right on Main St. Their phone number is 814-563-9798.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My husband is a packrat

My husband thinks if something comes into this house, it has to stay here. I have tried to throw things away and have found them back in the house somewhere else. For example, I use a tabletop ironing board, and the one I had been using was made of particle board. It was falling apart and turning back into sawdust. I put it out by the curb for the trash collector to pick up and thought it was taken care of, but found it about a week later sitting in the garage. I asked my husband, "why?" and he told me he could make something out of it. My husband can't "make" a bed! His idea of fixing my son's bed frame was to pile books up underneath the box spring instead of taking the mattress and box spring off and screwing the bed frame back together. He lets the kids bring "treasures" back from the cottage. This last trip, my son brought home half of a bowling ball he found on the beach. He has no need for a whole bowling ball, I can't imagine what he thinks he can do with half.

We had an argument just the other day about throwing away things we don't need, and his response to that was, "If we throw everything away that we haven't used in the last two years, we'd have nothing." What he doesn't know, is that 2 days earlier, when he wasn't home, I threw away at least 5 bags of old toys and magazines that had been sitting around for awhile unused. No one has noticed.

I think I need to do the same thing with some of my fabric since my tastes have changed from when I started quilting 8 years ago. The fabrics that I couldn't live without then leave me cold now. I'll probably hang onto then a "little" while longer, but at least, when I say, "I could make something out of it", I'm telling the truth!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Toasters

Does anyone make a decent toaster? You'd think making a piece of toast would be simple. We have had a least 3 toasters since I got married 13 years ago and not one of them has been worth the price we paid! Plus, we each had our own toasters before we got married and they probably didn't work well either. My Mother's Day gift earlier this month was a toaster oven, more of a family gift, but still better than the king size chocolate bar I got last year. I will have to destroy it before my husband will admit defeat and look for something else, but the thing that I have noticed with the toaster oven is that you don't really get toast from it. You get a piece of bread that is still mostly white, but has sort of a biscotti consistency with all of the moisture leeched out of it! If anyone is enjoying a good piece of toast this morning, please let me know what brand toaster you have. I will have to hide it somewhere in the house and will only be able to use it when my husband isn't home, but I don't think a good piece of toast is too much to ask for!

Maybe a toast quilt is in order to justify this silly post!

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Latest

Why do people assume just because you quilt, you can or would want to sew anything? I spent the day yesterday making 5 pierogi costumes for my son's field trip. For those of you that might now know why anyone would want a pierogi costume, here in Pittsburgh, after the 5th inning at the Pittsburgh Pirate games, there is a race called the Great Pierogi Race. Look it up on the internet, if you're curious. My son's class is going to PNC Park for their field trip but afterward they are going to a park close to the school for a picnic and games.

Now it was much simpler than I expected, and I don't mind doing things for my kids, but I would love to know why people think if you quilt, you can sew ANYTHING else! Does anyone else run into this?

BTW, what do you think about my latest design? I really need to quit my day job so I can sew all these designs out! I'm back to trying to design one per day again now that Market it over, so at some point, I will start sewing some of these out and publishing patterns. If anyone has an opinion on which one/s I should start with, I would LOVE to hear it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gym or blog--Which would you choose?

You can tell by my posting what my choice was. Tomorrow I have to get back into workout mode, but I'm going to take one more day off from working out to work on all my post-Market stuff .

My "studio"(dining room) is a wreck. And even though I know where everything is, I still have to rearrange everything to get any real work done. I have patterns everywhere. Fabric piled on top of fabric. Works in progress waiting in line.

My friends decided I need to move my whole operation to my living room, which doesn't get used, and give the dining room back to my family. Why can't I have both? The only problem with that is my living room is the only room in the house that looked like it was finished. Before long, my husband and 2 kids will be living in an apartment. I remember the blissful days when I didn't have to share my space, somedays I really miss them.

My comfort lies in the possibility that someday my "hobby turned occupation" may make it possible for me to have a real studio. One with a door that can be closed and locked and where I won't find school papers and insurance bills on top of my ironing board!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Whew!

Spring Market ended here yesterday in Pittsburgh. What an amazing experience! I'm not sure when I'll be able to wear heels again though, as every muscle in my body aches from standing around and walking the length of the exhibit hall in the shoes I chose to wear. I think I'll treat myself to a massage the following Monday after Market next time. Unfortunately, I didn't plan well and have to get back to teaching today at my "regular gig". I hope no one notices my tennis shoes.

I got to meet so many people that I only know via email and Facebook it was like a big party! And since Market was in my hometown, I got to see a lot of people that I already know in real life. In fact, I was talking to a lady in my booth on Saturday and noticed her name tag. I looked at her and said,"That's not your name." She was shocked and said, "How did you know that?" Because I know _______ ________ and you're not her. (Left blank to protect the GUILTY but you know who you are and I'll keep your secret for a fee)

We had a good laugh and I'm expecting an email from the real _______ _______ very soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Booth!


I just got back from setting up my booth at Market and I have to admit it doesn't look as finished as the other booths I looked at, but it will have to do this time.
The coolest thing about Market is getting to see people in person that you've seen a million times before on TV shows, in magazines and on the covers of books. The first famous person I saw today was Eleanor Burns. I am so used to seeing her all over the place, that it didn't even faze me that she was ELEANOR BURNS. I saw a few more familiar faces, but most of the booths stood empty. I guess all the big names will be there tomorrow.
Here's something I found strange today. When I arrived this morning and tried to find my booth, it didn't exist, so I found someone who worked in the convention center to tell them about the mistake. They came to the row where my booth should have been and realized they gave my "neighbor" a whole booth instead of dividing it in half. They could have put a wall in the center of the booth, which would have been really simple, but instead, had to bring the back wall of the booth forward 4' and THEN divide the width in half. So in between the back wall of my booth and the booth behind mine, there is a 4' deep unusable space.
It reminds me of the time my brother went to buy his then girlfriend-now wife roses for Valentine's Day. The clerk asked him if he wanted long stem or short. After asking what the price difference was, my brother decided on short stem, so the clerk took the dozen roses he had in his hand and cut the stems off right in front of my brother. Wouldn't it make more sense to charge more for short stem roses since there is extra work involved?

Spring Market

Well, as soon as my kids are off to school, I will be packing up my car to head to the convention center here in Pittsburgh to set up my booth for Market. This will be my first time vending, so I'm really excited about it, but also a little nervous. I have been designing things all my life, but I only started my pattern company 6 years ago. Six years isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things, but if my designs aren't "well received", I think I need to make some tough choices. Unfortunately, I don't have the desire to do anything else, so if this doesn't work out, I don't know what I'll do!

Hopefully, I'll have some really exciting stuff to tell you about next week after this is all over.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Do you dream about Chocolate?


I SHOULD be working on getting ready for Market, but when inspiration strikes, you just can't ignore it! If and when I sew this one out, it will be called Chocolate Raspberry Torte and I'm pretty excited about doing it. I don't usually use brown much, but there is something about brown and pink that makes me think of dessert. In all honesty, a lot of things make me think of dessert, but this color combination in particular does.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Too much?

While I have been busy trying to help my friend with her fabric sale and getting ready for Quilt Market, I haven't been designing too many quilt blocks or quilts, but I came up with this and thought someone might have an opinion they'd like to share. Is the border too much? What do you think about the colors? What do you think about the layout? Do you like quilts on point? Do I ask too many questions?

BTW, my friend's fabric sale went okay. It could have and should have been much better, but I think with the economy the way it is, people are afraid to spend very much money, even when they are getting something at half price.

As soon as Market is over and I decide whether I will vend at Fall Market or not, my friends and I plan to work on a book! I have never done this before, but I figure with the help of good friends, you can do anything, right?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Time's up

Well, this is it, tomorrow is make or break.

We just unloaded a truck with nearly 300 bolts of fabric that we hope will be almost empty by this time tomorrow! The owner of the store where I teach, offered her shop as a place for my friend to have her fabric sale. My friend didn't want to have her sale too close to home or negatively effect her partner's sales in the shop, so she was going to have to rent a conference room, or something, somewhere in a big city and do it all on her own.

I'm so glad that's not the case and I pray it will be enough to pay her health insurance bill.

There are less than 3 weeks to go until Quilt Market and I'm hoping between now and then, that I won't have to worry about my friend so much.

If we have good luck tomorrow, I will try and post a message about it. If the news isn't so good, I don't know if I will write about it at all. I've really tried to get the word out and do as much as I can, but you always wonder if you could do more. I know that money's tight right now for almost everyone, so I feel a little guilty about asking people to buy fabric that they don't necessarily need, but I'm hoping they do it anyway!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Its official

I am finally confirmed as a vendor at Quilt Market. Whew, that was a close one!

I tend to wait until the last minute to do the things I need to do. I have been talking about vending at Market since last year and now its only 3 weeks away. This will be my first time and, I hope, my "big break"! I have been at this for 6 years now and it would be wonderful to be able to do this full time instead of having to work a "real" job and design on the side. There would be nothing better than being able to make a living doing what you love to do!

I am trying to be positive but I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Its alway something!

For those of you who have been following my posts about the predicament my friend is in, I want to give you an update. She is still taking orders, but she can't fill them right now or return emails because she is in the hospital at the moment. She hopes to be back in her shop and able to answer emails tomorrow, so hold tight. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at: larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I am not a crook!

I spent this last weekend at my friends' quilt shop, cutting fabric and boxing it up to send out to those of you who have contacted me about the sale. We had quite a few orders, but because she is practically giving the fabric away, I'm not sure how close she is to meeting her goal.

I have done all I can, including sending a message to a new Yahoo group that I just joined about 2 weeks ago. They all think I am a scammer! And since my messages are still on moderation, I can't defend myself. In my "real" life, I don't think I know anyone that DOESN'T trust me, so its hard to listen to people talking about you as if you're not there and frustrating since I can't respond to their comments in a timely manner. I didn't join the group for the purpose of asking them for help, but my friend needs help NOW, so I stuck my neck out. I don't think I'll be doing that again anytime soon!

There is still a lot of fabric available and it is gorgeous, so if anyone else is interested in a great deal, PLEASE contact me! Make sure I have some way of getting in touch with you. My email is: larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Michele

Hi Michele,

Thank you for wanting to help! I have no way of reaching you since I don't have your email, so if you see this post, comment again and put your email in or email me at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

Sue

THANKS!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lost in the shuffle?

Yesterday, I posted an incredible offer, and to my surprise, I only had two takers! If you like great fabric at a REALLY great price, you should check out yesterday's blog post.

Thanks,
Sue

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Have I got a deal for you!

People can be so cruel, even people you thought you were in love with and were once in love with you. I have a very good and generous friend who is going through a divorce to a man who has had a girlfriend for the past 8 years and now thinks his wife should walk away with nothing.

He made it almost impossible for her to find a lawyer because he knows all of them in town and they were all afraid to take her on as a client. She finally found someone who didn't care who he was or what he could do to them. Now another problem has come up.

Supposedly, he was fired from his job in February and lost his health insurance. She has health problems, ( I am being vague to protect her) that make her uninsurable if she loses the insurance she has now. And she, literally, cannot live without her medications. He neglected to tell her about losing his job when it happened and now a couple of months later, must come up with the money to pay for COBRA starting from the day he stopped working.

She has no savings to draw from since she started a new business back in November and things have been so slow with the economy the way it is. And since there usually isn't any profit to speak of with a new business anyway for a couple of years, she has been forced to sell some of her "stock" at or near her cost to pay her bills.

"What is this stock?", I hear you saying to yourself. It is first quality quilter's cotton fabric from 2 of the most well-known fabric manufacturers. She is not trying to liquidate, she is only offering to sell as much fabric as necessary to pay her bills and keep her insured, so the offer is limited and will end as soon as she raises enough money to pay her bills. These are hand-dyes and hand-dye look fabrics that normally sell for $10 to $12 per yard she must sell for $6 per yard.

I'm sorry this post sounds like an infomercial, but I am talking about life or death for my friend. If there is anyone interested in getting in touch with my friend, please leave me a comment including your email address and I will get her contact information to you. I can also tell you which lines of fabric she has so you can check them out at the manufacturers' websites.

This could happen to almost any one of us, so I hope you'll consider helping her. Please feel free to let others know about this offer.

Thank you,
Sue

Monday, April 13, 2009

Enough is enough




What a world we live in!


I wish there was another punctuation symbol to use when the point you're trying to make isn't a happy one. The exclamation point makes any statement look like a positive one and, unfortunately, my initial sentence isn't a positive one. I am so angry about the recent piracy situation, I could scream! How dare these criminals try to make it sound like they've been wronged! They brought this on themselves. Its not like they were "in the wrong place at the wrong time". They put themselves there, they caused their own deaths, and WE didn't go looking for them until THEY broke the law.


Ok, I feel a little better now.
On a more quilty note: "What do you think about my latest design? Should I sew it out? Is it too busy? Are you bored with this stuff yet? Is my sister crazy for taking her 16 year old daughter to get tattooed? (not quilty, I know, but I would love to hear your opinions anyway)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Killing two fish with one piece of stale bread?

Trying to figure out how to pick up two of my quilts that have been hanging in my friend's quilt shop, a couple of hours north of home, I hit upon the idea of meeting my friend and her boyfriend at the Spillway in Linesville, PA. I hadn't been there in at least 20 years, and my children had heard of it, but hadn't gotten to see it for themselves. It took us about 2 hours to get there, and my friends, about an hour and a half. Its amazing how much fun your kids can have throwing old bread to thousands of huge, ugly fish! Some of the fish aren't even in the water when they gather to fight over the food.

It was something I wanted to show my children for awhile, so I was glad to be able to combine my errand with something fun for them. We hung out at the lake for a bit, went for lunch with my friends, then headed home. We got home early enough there was still enough daylight left for my 8 year old son to get some time in at the skateboard park. He's embarrassed to have me sit in the park and watch, so I had to sit in the car with my daughter, who was getting annoyed every time I gasped over a fall or a jump he made. This is usually my husband's job, he's used to it and he can have it!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Marquis Star Quilt


In between planning for Market and my regular teaching schedule, I am still attempting to keep producing new blocks and quilt designs daily. Every once in a while, I think I come up with something unique. I might be wrong, of course, but I think this one is pretty cool! I just wish I didn't have to wait until after Market before I can sew any of these designs out.
Speaking of Market, if anyone out there has any advice for a newbie, I'm all ears. I have several good friends helping me out, but I could always use more help.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Paper Piecing Class Spy?

I spent the day at the Quilting and Sewing Expo in Cleveland yesterday and took a class in paper piecing to see if I could pick up any tips from the teacher. I thought her method was interesting because she didn't use any tools other than glue and scissors (and a sewing machine of course), but I still prefer my Add-A-Quarter ruler and greeting card. I don't like the idea of my seam allowances not being even and straight. I know that that is MY problem, but it took all I had not to try and take over the class! I guess I have always been a little anal-compulsive, (and if I have the wrong term, please, by all means, correct me). Always having to put the same shoe on first, is one example that comes to mind, and when I used to do cross stitch, stitching in such a way, that the back looks almost as nice as the front. If only some of that would rub off on my housekeeping!

Anyway, the class got me thinking that I should start teaching more. The only problem with that is I don't like to travel much. I don't like to be away from "my stuff". My kids don't like it when I go away either, so maybe this is something to think about for the future. I guess I'll keep teaching locally and concentrate on adding new designs to my line and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My First Pattern


This design was the result of my taking a paper piecing class. Once I learned the technique, I thought about what could be done with it. One of my sisters owns the first quilt I made from this design. It's very primitive compared to this one. I used all scraps because I didn't want to waste any fabric if my design wasn't going to work. I added the houses in the corners where the first one had trees. The scarf is 3 dimensional and the nose is a button that I originally made with polymer clay. I sent one of my original buttons to a button company and had a resin button made so I don't have to walk around for a day with my hands stained from the dye in the clay! If anyone needs a carrot button for a project, I may have an extra one or two (hundred).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Venting

I don't know how many of you teach, but some days I wish I had never started. Something that comes so easy to me can be nearly impossible for someone else and that frustrates me. I don't understand how some people can't sew a straight seam to save their lives, even with pins and a foot with a guide. The machine could probably do a better job if they would push the start button and walk away!

I'm exaggerating, of course, but after a class like I had yesterday, I wonder why I bother.

There was one woman who, even after I matched all her intersections and pinned, sewed down the wrong side. I don't know what else I could have done for her other than sew it myself and I did that on several occasions. This went on all day, since the class was the result of 4 people asking me to teach them a project they wanted to have finished for Easter, so we planned to work as long as necessary. We started at 10:30 and went until the store closed at 5:00. I knew the original 4 people would be no trouble at all, but as they were talking about the upcoming class, a few others asked to join. I would never turn anyone away if I have room for them and think the project is something they can handle.

I am totally exhausted. I have the WHOLE day to recover before I have to do it all again!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still Playing Around


I'm still exploring the possibilities of this layout and creating new blocks. But I think I would have a hard time sewing some of these blocks out, they have so many pieces. I don't like to sew the same thing over and over, so if I have to make a quilt like this, I call in my friends! I prefer paper piecing over any other method of piecing, so it is easier to have multiple people working on the same project. I have a project coming up that I'm gonna have to call the friends in for!
My internet friend, Karen Gass of Cotton Spice, wants to publish one of my designs in her online magazine. She has chosen a design similar to the one pictured, so unless she doesn't mind waiting FOREVER, I'm going ask for help. Thank God for good friends!

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Maybe Someday"


This is another one of my designs I have been sitting on for awhile. I'm not sure how much interest there would be in this design, so I have hesitated putting any more time into it. I enjoy designing quilts like this, but I don't know how many other people out there would like to sew it out. There is still a lot of work to do on this design, so unless I get some feedback, I will probably put it back into the "maybe someday" file.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Now For Something Completely Different

About 20 years ago, I shared a duplex with my best friend. The place was falling apart, but it had STAINED GLASS WINDOWS! When we were looking for a place to live, we came across this place that was pretty run down, but we fell in love with the windows and the wooden banister, and lived there for 2 years. When we moved out, we joked about taking the windows with us, but settled for pictures instead. I had planned on having a copy made for my friend someday, but when I became a quilter, decided I would make a stained glass quilt for her instead. I got as far as drawing the design and buying the fabric, so maybe I will actually be able to give her a stained glass "window" sometime in the near future.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Can't Help Myself


I'm on a roll. In my continuing effort to design a block a day, I have been using the same layout over and over, so I hope those of you who have been paying attention aren't getting bored. The fun part for me is to design the block. Then, if I use the same layout, I can compare the new design to previous ones and decide whether they are worth putting any more work into. I can't possibly sew all of these out, nor would I want to, but it will give me a lot to choose from, if the day comes, when I am so inclined to make one of these!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quilter's Home

Is anyone else following this story about the controversial quilts in the March issue of Quilter's Home? I have been very interested since I have a quilt in that issue. Not one of the quilts in the article but one of the featured quilts.

I am amazed at the reaction of some people who refuse to look at the magazine or read the article and yet feel compelled to make a judgement about it. On lemondrop for instance, people are up in arms about the Jesus with a gun quilt without ever wanting to hear the story behind it. Shawn Quinlan, another Pittsburgh quilter, is known for his controversial quilts, but if you talk to him and find out about his motivation in creating certain designs, you will find a very sensitive and intelligent man whose quilting is actually therapeutic for him. The quilt in question, was the result of his filming at an NRA convention where he saw a man holding a sign saying, "Jesus for Guns". People think he is mocking Jesus, when he is actually mocking people who choose to use the name of Jesus to promote their own cause. I honestly don't think Jesus would join that cause!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just Playing Around


In an earlier post, I said my New Year's Resolution was to create a new block each day of 2009. I have to admit that some days I didn't even open my quilt design software, BUT on other days, I have designed MORE than one block, so I think, all in all, so far this year I have stuck with my resolution. I have been using the same quilt layout when I put the new blocks in a quilt and have really liked the results on some of them. I don't know which ones I will actually make into quilts or publish a pattern, so if anyone has an opinion, I'd like to hear it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Other Peoples' Patterns

Some days go so well, I feel I've got nothing interesting to talk about. Today was one of those days. I have some regular students that have taken so many of my classes that its like hanging out with friends. We have been working on a purse pattern that is pretty involved but worth the trouble. I like to teach other people's patterns but I have a habit of editing them, sometimes to the point where I have redone the entire design.

Recently, I found a table runner design that is really cute, but the designer wrote the instructions for the runner to be done using 2" squares when it could easily be done with strips. She has the maker cutting fabric into 2" squares and then sewing the same fabric back together in rows. Does that make sense to anyone? I contacted the designer to ask if there was any reason it had to be done in squares and her response was that they just like the look of squares. This will be the last pattern I buy from this designer. I hope no one out there feels this way about any of my designs and if they do, I hope they will let me know!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

What I'm Working On


This is my latest design. It is a tablerunner that will be called Checkered Repast. I am still working on the cover sample for the pattern, but I hope to have it ready very soon. I just need a couple more hours in the day!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Biggest Fault

I am a procrastinator. There, I've said it. I wait until the pressure is really on before I start a project. There were so many nights when I was in art school that I didn't sleep because I had something due the following day.

When I used to do portraits, I was commissioned by the owner of the art supply store where I worked, to draw a portrait of his son as an anniversary gift for his wife. I finally got started the day before I was supposed to deliver it. My roommate came home from work and when I showed her my project, she said, "Oh Susie Wan (another story), can you start over?"

Well, I stayed up all night and continued to work on it. The next morning, my roommate couldn't believe it was the same drawing. I really knew it was good when the mother started to cry after opening the gift.

Anyway, my reason for bringing this up, is that Spring Quilt Market is here in Pittsburgh this year and I haven't done anything to get ready for it. I'm not even sure if I can still get a booth. I don't know if I am afraid of success or just lazy, but I have always been this way. Is there a pill for this?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Art Deco Star Quilt


Here is what the block will look like in a quilt on point.

My New Year's Resolution


With the start of the new year, I decided to design one new block each day of 2009. Of course that lasted about one month, but that means 31 new blocks in January alone. Although I have attempted to keep it up since the end of January, I haven't always succeeded. But I think I have added at least 50 new blocks to my library this year so far. I haven't sewn out a single one yet, so I'm not sure how they will work or look in fabric, but I will try to share a few of them with you and maybe include the pattern somehow (when I figure out how to do that).

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Difficult Students

Like most people these days, I have more than one job. I have my passion which is my pattern company, Larkspur Lane Designs, but to pay my bills until I hit the "big time", I teach for a local sewing machine dealer. I love my job, but some days it can be really hard. Each month, I have to come up with 3 new projects to teach. Each class is supposed to run about 2 hours. This means the projects must be small, but how many pillows and embroidered towels does one person need! I do get to teach more involved projects that can be more than one class. I get to choose these, so I get to learn a new project or technique as well as my students.

Most of the time my students are really open and try very hard to keep up and follow my directions. But recently, I had a student that I wanted to ask why she signed up for a class when she obviously didn't want to do this particular project. From the moment she walked in, she wanted to change the design. I have done this class at least 6 times and made at least 5 samples, so I know this design inside and out. This lady refused to listen to instructions and ruined about a 1/2 yard of fabric before she would let me show her how to cut it. She then asked me how we were going to finish the project in two sessions when she and her friend weren't even finished cutting their fabric. I reminded her that I had said earlier, she didn't need to cut all of her fabric at once. At this point, she looked at her friend and said, "Let's finish cutting our fabric."

I gave up at that point. She's coming back for the second class next week, so I think I will have more to tell you then!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree


Well, it was so easy to add a photo yesterday, so I'm gonna do it again! This is addicting.
This is a redesign of a quilt I did for Quilt It For Christmas 2008. I simplified the design a little bit and changed the fabrics. This is a just a drawing at this point, although I have the fabric ready and waiting for me when I have the time. After the magazine came out last August, I was vending at a quilt show, and had a lady walk up to my booth and blurt out, "I hate that star!". Well, I was shocked, but I agreed with her, because I had already told the editor of the magazine before I sent the quilt, I wasn't happy with the way the star looked in the original quilt. I sent extra fabric along with the quilt in case they wanted to applique over the center block, but they published it "as is". And I have had a lot of requests for the pattern, so I guess it wasn't all that bad.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jumping In


Well, I'm going to try and keep up with this and add things regularly. I am new to this, so I hope you'll bear with me as I try to figure this out. This will be my first attempt to add a picture, so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope this works! This picture is a block that I am working on called Carson's Star. My son Carson sat beside me as I worked on it and made suggestions about color, scale and orientation. I am really happy with the way it turned out and plan to make 8 more in different color combinations. I will post another picture, if and when, I ever get to that point and maybe a few along the way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm baaaack!!!!

Wow, it took me awhile, but I finally fiqured out how to get back into my blog! Can they make this stuff any more difficult?

Anyway, lots of stuff has happened since my last post. I was published in Quilter's Home magazine for the first time last year in the March/April issue. As soon as it hit the stands, I was contacted by an editor from another magazine under the same corporation and was published 3 more times last year. So far this year, I was published in the March issue of Quilter's Home and I have to say, its just as exciting as the first time! Now I just need to find the time to sew out all of the designs I have saved in my computer so I have something to sell when people see my name in a magazine. I wish I could sew as fast as I design.

I also met a wonderful designer at a local quilt show that I hit it off with right away. Her name is Kourtney Kenzie and she is a force to be reckoned with! She lives about 3 hours north of me and opened her own quilt shop, with her friend Melanie Barrett, in Pittsfield PA. I swear, there is nothing this girl can't do. I'll put her website address in a future post as soon as she it set up.

I did my first Trunk Show/lecture in about 4 years in Beaver PA and actually enjoyed it. I am very shy by nature and have a difficult time standing up in front of a roomful of women who have probably been quilting 4 times longer than I. The ladies were so nice and made me feel so comfortable.

This is starting to sound like a Christmas Brag letter (which I hate), so I'm going to end for now, but with any luck, it won't be 3 years before I post again!