Monday, December 27, 2010

Warning

This has absolutely nothing to do with quilting but this is the only blog I write and I think it is important information so I will post it here. My friend's step-father just died last week and he had one of those policies that would/should pay for his funeral. Most people think you can sign the policy over to the funeral home and all the expenses will be covered. Maybe some work that way but this one didn't. They had to sign the policy over to an agency that will pay the claim in a couple of weeks but they had to pay the funeral home up front. They didn't have the money to pay so they were forced to borrow it from the agency at 40% interest!

This doesn't seem legal, moral or fair to me in any sense but when it comes to a dealing with the death of someone whose final arrangements must be taken care of in a timely manner you don't have many options. Funeral homes know this and I feel they take advantage of  the family of the deceased. This is just my opinion but it makes me wonder how some people can sleep at night.

Read the fine print is all I can say.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Newest Angel

This is the latest version of my Angel pattern that I have sewn out. I have gotten such a wonderful response to the earlier version that I decided to work on the original design and have made some changes. Anyone that got the earlier version and would like to have the newest version can send me an email and I will send it out.

Anyone else that would like to make a donation to The Cleland Family Fund and receive my Angel pattern as a "Thank You" from me would be much appreciated.

Nicole Cleland is a friend of mine who was involved in a car accident earlier this month with a drunk driver. Her 7 year old daughter Lexa was killed in the accident and Nicole has more surgeries ahead of her and about 5 months of recovery. There is no telling when or if she will be able to return to work.

The Cleland Family Fund is set up at The First National Bank:
2550 Brownsville Rd.
South Park PA 15129
412-831-4800

Send me an email after you make your donation and I will email you the pattern for Lexa's Angel. larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

Thank you!
Sue

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kate's Angel

This is my new friend Kate's version of my design, Lexa's Angel. My post about my friend Nicole's situation struck a chord for Kate as she has had her own family tragedy to deal with and she generously made a donation to help a total stranger. My friend Nicole was involved in a car accident a couple of weeks ago in which she lost her 7 year old daughter, Lexa.

I don't have any new information about Nicole's condition right now but I know she made it through her most recent surgery. I'm not sure how many more she will have to endure but she is holding her own at this time.

Nicole's car was struck head on by a drunk driver when she and her 2 daughters were on their way to pick her husband up from work. Her 11 month old daughter is being cared for by family members until Nicole is well enough to do it herself. There has been no indication as to when that might be, unfortunately.

If anyone would like to help Nicole and her family, there is a fund, THE CLELAND FAMILY FUND, set up for them at The First National Bank, 2550 Brownsville Rd, South Park, PA 15129, 412-831-4800.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chautauqua Institution Summer Program 2011

I got an email confirming my proposal to teach at Chautauqua Institution has been accepted! This will be my second year on the special programs faculty and I am really excited to be participating. This year I will be teaching 2 weeks instead of 1. My class will run the first week and again the sixth week and will be open to daily students as well as those that want to take all the sessions. I don't have all the details yet but will post them as soon as I can.

Last year my class was three sessions, 2 hours each and I taught my own design called Lakeview. It was a paper pieced design in which I had the opportunity to show how to get a directional piece of fabric into a quilt. I haven't decided what the project or projects will be this time around but I want to show the technique for directional piecing again as well as a paper pieced "Y" seam.

If you've never been to Chautauqua Institution you owe it to yourself to check it out. It is one of my most favorite places in the world! Their website is http://www.ciweb.org/

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snide or Truthful?

There has been a discussion lately on a Yahoo Group for quilt designers about quilt magazines and whether they are worth buying anymore. Someone had criticized the magazines for lacking design inspiration. Another designer commented that if we, as designers, are looking to the magazines for inspiration we aren't working very hard at coming up with original and innovative ideas. Another designer took great offense to this statement and after I added my two cents (which maybe I should have kept it my pocket) personally emailed me and told me my reply was "snide" and she was leaving the group because she had had enough of snide comments. I simply stated that there are designers out there who change the color of a design and call it their own and there are designers out there who know a great design/idea when they steal it. But I think the kicker was when I said, "If the shoe fits, put it on." She took that as a personal attack, I think. I certainly didn't mean it that way and after we emailed back and forth several times, with me trying to apologize for offending her, I gave up. After all, the only people who would be offended by what I said are people with a guilty conscience or a lack of confidence in their design abilities.

I sent an apology to the group just in case others thought my reply was "snide" but I have gotten nothing but positive replies. I didn't apologize for what I said but more like how I said it.

Anyway, I'd love to hear what others outside of the design industry think about the quilting magazines. I think one magazine, in particular, has stepped up its game. The latest issue of Quiltmaker has some amazing quilts in it and their special issue, 100 Blocks From Today's Top Designers, is genius. I may be biased since I had a block in the first issue and might have one in the third, but either way, I think the concept is really great.

Do you still subscribe to magazines? Have you dropped some and picked up others? Are you more likely to buy a book or a pattern over a magazine? Do you scour the internet for free patterns? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Christmas Angel is born

In a season that should be filled with joy a tragedy is especially hard to understand. This past Saturday night, my friend Nicole and her 2 daughters were on their way to pick up their father from work when a 23 year old man who had just left a bar on the South Side of Pittsburgh crossed the yellow line and struck Nicole's car head on. Her 7 year old daughter, Lexa, was pronounced dead at the hospital later that night. Nicole's other daughter was treated and released to her family as Nicole is in critical condition and has several surgeries and about 5 months of recovery in front of her.

This young man was able to get out of his car and run away. He was found hiding behind a building not far from the scene of the accident. There are so many labels I want to give this "man", but it would be useless and a waste of energy since his own guilt and whatever punishment he is given by the courts will have to suffice until he is judged by God.

I have decided to try and help Nicole and her family instead of focusing on his lost soul. There is a fund set up for Nicole and her family that is accepting monetary donations and I am offering to send anyone who donates to that fund an emailed copy of my design, LEXA'S ANGEL, pictured above.

Donations can be sent to:
The Cleland Family Fund
c/o The First National Bank
2550 Brownsville Rd.
South Park PA 15129
412-831-4800

I know quilters are very generous people by nature so I hope if you are able to send anything, you will. I will be honest and tell you I have no way of knowing if someone actually sends a donation but I trust that people are generally good.

After you make your donation, send me an email at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com and I will email you the pattern.

Thank you and God bless you,
Sue

Friday, December 03, 2010

Paper Piecing using the card method


Madame asked me to post a picture using the card method for paper piecing so that's what I am doing! This picture shows the card (blue) which I placed on top of the foundation covering the number 1 segment and folding back the paper on the line between the number 1 segment and number 2 segment. I then line the 1/4" mark on my rotary ruler with the fold of the paper and trim the exposed fabric.

The next picture shows the same thing but using the Add-A-Quarter Ruler instead of a rotary ruler.
I hope this helps Madame.

Quilting Gallery Contest-VOTE NOW!!!

Voting is open for the Quilting Gallery's weekly contest. This week's theme is stars and there are some amazing quilts being shown. Its worth checking out just to see these beautiful quilts. http://www.quiltinggallery.com/

This is a picture of my own entry called Chocolate Raspberry Torte, and although I am very proud of it, I can't honestly say its the best one there, so go take a look and see what you think!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Are you afraid of paper piecing? Here are some of my tips.

So I admitted yesterday I don't know my way around a ruler very well (although I do have students who would disagree with that statement because I can fake it when I have to) how many of you are willing to admit you are afraid to try paper piecing?

When I teach paper piecing I call it quilting by numbers. The number sequence is so important to successful paper piecing. When I design a paper pieced pattern, I try to make the number 1 piece the biggest piece in the unit. It doesn't always work out that way though and I think that confuses people sometimes. They naturally want to start with the biggest piece and add the smaller pieces afterward. There are times when you can ignore the numbers a little bit but those times are not the norm. So my first piece of advice is to make sure you start at number 1.

The first piece of fabric always goes right side up on the blank side of the paper and should be cut larger than the space it needs to fill. It can be pinned or glued in place. I prefer flat head pins because it bothers me when I can't get all the paper out when the block is finished. I like the flat head pins best because I can lay a ruler on top of them and the ruler doesn't "seesaw".

The ruler I like to work with for most of the project is the Add-A-Quarter Ruler. When I first saw it, my thought was, "I don't need ANOTHER ruler!". But when I tried it, I knew I had to have it. It has a lip that measures a 1/4" so I don't have to worry about putting the 1/4" mark of my rotary ruler is the right place each time I have to trim.

After I have my first piece of fabric secured to the foundation, I turn the foundation printed side up so I can place a card on top of the number 1 segment lining up the edge of the card with the line between the number 1 and 2 segments. I fold just the paper back over the card right on that line. Next, I place my Add-A-Quarter Ruler on top of the foundation making sure the lip of the ruler catches on the fold of the paper. Now I can trim the first piece so it has a 1/4" seam allowance. The next piece of fabric is placed right sides together on top of the number 1 piece lining up the edge of the number 2 piece with the trimmed edge of number 1. I can pin this piece in place if I feel the need, but if I use a pin I make sure it isn't close to my sewing line. All of the lines drawn on the foundation are sewing lines so I make sure my pin doesn't touch the one I am getting ready to sew on. I lower my stitch length so I am getting about 15-20 stitches per inch. On my Bernina I set it at 1.5. On Babylock machines, where you have to choose between 1.4 and 1.6, I would choose 1.4.

The shorter stitch length serves a couple of purposes. The paper takes up some space so when it is removed you don't want your stitches to be loose. The shorter stitch length makes them a little tighter. Also, with more stitches per inch, the paper is more perforated and will be easier to remove later.

Now its time to sew! Turn the foundation over, printed side up, and sew on the line between the number 1 and 2 segments. Start stitching at least a 1/4" before the line starts and end at least a 1/4" after the line ends. It is impossible  to sew too far in paper piecing because any extra stitches and fabric will be trimmed off before adding your next piece. This second piece of fabric needs to be pressed open and trimmed before adding the number 3 piece. If the sewing line for number 3 piece intersects the first sewing line, when you fold the paper back on the line the first 2 pieces of fabric will fold back with the paper. Simply grab the fabric and gently pull it away from the paper so the fabric will lie flat on the cutting mat and the foundation folds back neatly on the line. Use your Add-A-Quarter Ruler or rotary ruler to trim the exposed fabric to 1/4" and continue adding your pieces in numerical order.

Paper piecing is really a simple process and can give great results without making you want to tear your hair out. I have been able to use directional fabrics and make sure the design ends up where I want it. I can also get every piece of fabric into the project on grain if I think it is important to the success of the finished piece. I know of one quilter who won't take a paper pieced top because the grain line is all over the place most of the time. That isn't the case with mine. I can also paper piece a "Y" seam very easily. I will talk more about these techniques later so check back!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I LOVE PAPER PIECING!

Ok, I admit it, I am math-challenged. I hate having to figure out measurements and worry about an accurate seam allowance. I'm a "ruler tapper". I don't trust the numbers I see so I have to count the squares with my finger to be sure. After 10 years of quilting, I can sew an accurate, or at least consistent seam allowance, but with paper piecing I don't have to worry about it.

The last class I took was about 9 years ago and was a paper piecing class. From the moment I learned the technique, I KNEW this was how I wanted to make every quilt for the rest of my life. Even if I want to make someone else's design, the first thing I think about is whether I can paper piece it or not. Then, if I decide I can, I redraw the design in my computer, print out the foundations and off I go. Most of the time, the design is actually simpler and can be done with less pieces by paper piecing than by rotary cutting the shapes. For example, I saw a pattern that was done with half square triangles that looked like diamond shapes when they were pieced. The design resembled the flights on an arrow, but by doing it with half square triangles, there were twice as many seams. That means more fabric, more matching and more chances for bad intersections when matching.

There are some patterns that really can't be sewn using any other technique unless you enjoy driving yourself crazy. Consider the Mariner's Compass. Can you imagine cutting all those points out with a rotary cutter and templates and thinking you will ever get it together right? I can't. Or the New York Beauty block? I love both of those designs but would never attempt either if it weren't possible to paper piece them.

What about miniatures? The quilt I posted a picture of in my last post had pieces that are less than 3/8" square. There might be someone out there who would be able to put that together with templates, but I can assure you, it wouldn't be me.

I think you owe it to yourself to at least try this technique. Its not for everyone, I suppose, but if you have a good teacher and the desire to learn something new, it might end up being your favorite technique, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quilting Gallery Contest

I have entered my miniature quilt called Chocolate Raspberry Torte in the Quilting Gallery's weekly contest. This week's theme is stars. If you like it I hope you'll vote for at:  http://www.quiltinggallery.com/ Voting starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Pattern available soon

While I was teaching at Millcreek Sewing and Fabric in Erie, PA recently, I got the chance to shop a little and found some great plaids which inspired me to create another version of my star-shaped Santa quilt. Instead of his old-fashioned hood and red suit I gave him suspenders, blue jeans, a flannel shirt and work boots. I still need to find some small buttons for his shirt but he is nearly finished, so I wanted to show him off. The quilt is only 4 blocks so it goes together quickly. You could also use the blocks on their own and create 14" pillows. I don't have a printed pattern ready yet with the beads, buttons and bells, but if you want to find your own embellishments, I can email the foundations, instructions and assembly diagrams for only $10. You can use Paypal and send me an email at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com if you are interested in this design. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thank You

Wow! Thank you to everyone who commented on my blog or sent a personal email to me! I was blowing off steam yesterday and I am so relieved that I am not the only one bothered by the lack of manners in the world today. I guess I will continue to try and "educate" people as nicely as possible about their lack of manners even at the risk of being punched in the nose. (I worry about that too, Staci!) And I will continue to teach my children by words and by my own example how others should be treated.


Do any of you remember that old commercial (for shampoo, I think): you'll tell 2 people and they'll tell 2 people and so on and so on.... Maybe we can start a revolution!


Today is my only real day off this week so I am working on a new quilt design that I need to get back to, so hopefully my next post will be "quilty" and not whiny (whiney?).

Monday, November 08, 2010

This drives me CRAZY!

Can someone please tell me what is SO difficult about saying thank you? I am so tired of being treated like a doorman when I hold a door for someone and they can't even be bothered to say thank you! Even if its your job to hold the door you should still be thanked. What has happened to manners? Aren't children being taught them anymore? I know its going to get me in trouble some day, but I am one of those people who say "You're welcome" when I haven't been thanked after I've done something for someone. I keep hoping it will embarrass that person that a complete stranger just did them a favor and the next time someone holds a door or picks something up off the floor for them they will remember their manners.

I have had to stop and wait for my children because they have stayed at the door of a store or restaurant to hold it open for other people and I am very proud of them, but it bothers me that I haven't seen too many others take the time to do it, adults or children.

Is it because most young adults were brought up in daycare because their mothers had to or chose to work? I'm sure daycare workers do the best they can but don't have the time to teach something that isn't being reinforced at home. If that's the case, then these young adults won't bother to teach manners to their own children because they weren't taught them themselves. So it will only get worse from here, I think.

I know we all get distracted at times, but even at my most distracted, I don't think I have ever failed to thank someone for a kindness. Am I the only one bothered by this?

I know I must sound like a miserable, old lady but I needed to get that off my chest!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Great Day!

What a great day! I spent today and am spending the next 2 days doing demos at Millcreek Sewing and Fabric in Erie, PA during their holiday shop hop. What an amazing place to hang out. The shop is wonderful, with an incredible staff and is such an inspirational place that I look forward to just walking through the front door. The samples that fill the store make you want to make at least one of each.

I was able to work on a new pattern today in the shop as I showed people how to paper piece and am so happy with the results that I can hardly wait to show you! But I will force myself for now. Soon, I promise.

If you are in the area, though, you can stop in and see what I'm working on!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Class?

I have been teaching for a local sewing machine dealer for about the past 5 or 6 years. A job which I've loved and made lots of friends while doing, but I am in the process of branching out and teaching in other cities and other states. I would also like to teach more locally and have been trying to find a room somewhere that isn't too expensive to rent for a day. I'm not sure how many local people read my blog with any regularity, but if there are any out there who would be interested in learning my techniques for paper piecing or know of a place I can teach that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, I would love to hear from you.

The project I want to teach is my Bell Door Hanger, pictured above. It is a project that can be pieced in less than a day and finished quickly. It would make a great addition to your holiday decorating or a wonderful gift!

I am teaching this class in Erie and also Uniontown, PA but would love to teach it in Pittsburgh as well and possibly Columbus, OH or Westfield or Jamestown, NY. These happen to be places that I either have a friend I can stay with or some other arrangement where I wouldn't need to pay for lodging.

I would be happy to hear from anyone in these areas to try to get something scheduled before the holidays! You can email me at: larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com if you have any questions or suggestions.

Thanks!
Sue

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sorry...And Thanks to Julie

For any of you who have tried to comment on my blog lately and have been unable to, I apologize. Julie was kind enough to send me an email to let me know she tried to post and was not able to leave a comment. I had changed my settings on my blog to keep the spammers from being able to comment and leave embedded links in their comments and also so I wasn't constantly having to moderate comments. I have changed it back and anyone who wants to comment on anything will now be able to once again. I will still moderate all of the comments to try not to let any of the junk get through. I hope to hear from anyone with a serious (or not so serious comment) soon!

Thanks Julie!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Which do you prefer?

The quilt on the right is my design named PRESSED FLOWERS. This is the color way I chose when I originally made the quilt but I am considering re-doing it in fall colors. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seams Like Home Retreat

This is my new friend Carolyn and her almost finished version of my design SPOOKY LANE. I got to spend the past weekend once again at Seams Like Home B & B in Vanderbilt PA. This visit was even better than the last and makes me look forward to my next visit in November. Even though I am teaching when I am there I still manage to get some of my own projects done. There's just something about having someone else doing the cooking and cleaning up afterward that gives you the energy to really get things done! We had a great time and sewed to our hearts content.

Next month I am teaching my design CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING in Donna's quilt shop, Sew Special, on Saturday November 20th, but I get to spend Friday and Saturday nights at the B & B. I am getting to be so spoiled!
The class is filling quickly, so if you're interested, sign up soon at Sew Special in Uniontown, PA! If you need more info contact me via email at larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quilting Around Chautauqua 2010

This past weekend was my annual trek to Chautauqua Institution for Quilting Around Chautauqua. This year was a little different. My friend and I had the same spots and were surrounded by the same wonderful group of vendors as in the previous years and at least one new person whom I hope to see again next year (welcome to QAC, Peter!). But normally we have a couple of friends join us who help out in our booths and drink wine on my porch in the evening and they couldn't make it this time.

Needless to say, neither of us was able to leave our booths except for a restroom break, so there was no shopping for us this year. Call it a blessing in disguise. I was also unable to take very many photos this year but I have posted what I have. The photo at the top of this post is from my newest pattern called CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING. There are 3 projects in the pattern: Table Topper, Tree Skirt and Door Banner (shown in photo).

Show attendence was good, but purse strings were being held very tightly this time. Something simply MUST be done about our economy! What is the world coming to when quilters can't afford to buy the latest fabric and patterns?

We still had a great time and are already planning for next year so its time to look ahead.

Also regulars at the show are Donna and Rick Eicher who own Sew Special, in Uniontown and Seams Like Home in Vanderbilt, PA. Seams Like Home is the new bed and breakfast they opened and have begun hosting quilting retreats like the one I am teaching October 8th, 9th and 10th. For their show special they were offering a $75 discount off the price of my retreat and $50 off of any other retreat coming up. DISCLAIMER: I AM WRITING THIS FROM MEMORY OF A HURRIED CONVERSATION AT THE SHOW, SO YOU CANNOT HOLD DONNA OR RICK RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING I MAY SAY IN ERROR! Check their website for details or call their shop: 800-572-7570 or

This house made me pull over and snap a pic. I think its my new favorite.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Quilts, Wine and Chocolate!

What a great weekend!

I headed to my cottage in Westfield, New York, Friday evening. On Saturday, after a wonderful day of teaching at Millcreek Fabric and Sewing in Erie PA, my friend and I stopped to watch the sunset over Lake Erie at Noble Winery. We shared a bottle of wine and relaxed with the owners of the winery as the sun set. Saturday night was the last bingo of the season in the park where my cottage is located. My friend was a big winner with a total of 32 candy bars. Believe it or not, we actually had some left when we headed back home Monday morning! Westfield has such a small town, old-fashioned feel that it is a nice change from my "real life" in Pittsburgh.

We slept in on Sunday then headed out to visit a couple more wineries in the area along with some of the great cheese stores in the area. We also stopped at Bemus Point to see what was happening the last official weekend of the summer. There were a lot of sales and some live music on the floating stage. Our last stop was back at Noble Winery to discuss with the owner what type of quilt she wanted made to hang on the wall of the tasting room. I am so excited to be doing this project for her and can't wait to get started. It will be a collaboration between myself and one of my best friends so I think will be a lot of fun. I will try to show some pictures as the project moves along.

I usually don't make quilts for other people unless they are for family or friends or for a magazine, so this will be a totally new experience for me. I'm pretty easy-going about most things, so I think the process will be fairly painless. Has anyone reading this ever done a project like this? Was it as much fun as you thought it would be? Are you still friends with the person or people you worked with?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Designing?

I think designing is coming up with something that hasn't existed before. I don't believe that taking an existing block and changing the colors or fabric used should be considered designing. I also don't believe a designer should design around a fabric line. A good design will work with many different fabric lines not just one. I'm not sure what to call people who do this sort of work, but I wouldn't call it designing. Marketing maybe, but not designing. I, for one, am tired of picking up a magazine and seeing the same quilt made over and over again and I would love to hear from others about this subject, even the "marketeers".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comments?

Feel free to send me an email if you'd prefer not to leave a public comment on my previous post at: larkspurlanedesigns@yahoo.com

What would YOU do?

Imagine this-- You have found someone you think you can trust with whom to open a business. The business is essentially 2 businesses in one where each of the "partners" buy their own stock. They each have their own code to ring their merchandise through. The hours the shop is open are split between the partners unless there is a special event and more than one person is needed in the shop, such as the opening of the shop. Now imagine that one partner has decided she needs to get her hair done before the opening the following day and doesn't show up until late in the afternoon the day before. The other partner has realized long before the opening that she is going to have to do more than her fair share of work to have the opening be a success, so she calls a couple of friends who drive almost 3 hours to help her get ready. The friends put in a full day's work staying until about 1:30 in the morning to get the store ready while the other partner has left hours earlier after working only about 4 hours and are back the following morning when the shop opens to help some more.

Fast forward a month or two. Things have fallen into a comfortable routine and only one person at a time is necessary to run the shop. When one of the partners is working alone, the sales are fairly even, but when the other partner is working, sales are severely skewed in her favor. To me, that would be a red flag that something is wrong, but would be very hard to prove.

Along comes another special event and the two friends that helped with the opening are asked to come back and help out again. The have to take off work from their own jobs to be there, but they make the trip. After working for 3 days and losing 2 days pay each from their regular jobs, they are ready to make the nearly 3 hour trip back home. Knowing they don't have enough gas to get home, they ask for gas money. Their request is met with a blank stare from one of the partners, while the other partner manages to scrape up $30 of her own money since she is not "allowed" to get it from the cash register before the other partner goes over the receipt tape with a fine tooth comb.

What if one of the partners finally had enough, decided to leave the business and take her stock with her. Stock she ordered herself and was responsible for paying for directly to the companies they were ordered from. The companies the merchandise was ordered from would have the right to contact her for payment but that should be the end of the parnership with no further need for communication between the former partners, in my opinion. But, what if one of the partners were so vindictive and bent on revenge, she managed to find a lawyer that would take a case that has no merit. The kind of lawyer who would sue the family of a child hit by a car for damages to the car. I know its hard to believe there are people like that out there, but I'm told there are.

What if the partner who left the business now finds out that the other partner has decided to go after her house, which is the only thing she owns other than her car.

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn't it. But what if it wasn't, what would you do? If you were friends with the non-evil partner what would you suggest your friend do?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trunk Show at Millcreek Sewing and Fabric

I will be spending most of the day tomorrow at Millcreek Sewing and Fabric in Erie, PA showing my quilts and demonstrating paper piecing. If you are in the area stop in and say hi. I will have at least 4 new designs with me to show and will add them to my website http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com/ as soon as the patterns are ready.

Unfortunately, I have had to change some of my settings on my blog as far as comments are concerned. If you want to comment on a post you will need to become a follower of my blog. I'm sorry for the inconvenience but I have been receiving so many SPAM comments lately and I think this might be the only way to stop them. They come from a "no reply" address, so I can't block them as far as I know, but they often contain a link to another website that I am afraid to click on so I don't know where they would take me if I did.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Coming Soon!

Just so y'all know I'm not sitting around playing Freecell all day, which I do play a lot, but it helps me think, (at least that's the excuse I give my husband) this is a picture of some of the new designs I am working on. Clockwise from the top are CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING, HAUNTED HALLOWEEN, PAPER SNOWFLAKES and CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TORTE. The Halloween quilt will be the first pattern available and will go to print next week, followed shortly by the bell table topper/tree skirt. I will be making a 16" square single block pillow of the Chocolate Raspberry Torte design and will include the foundation in the pattern for a bed size quilt. These designs will be added to my website http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com/ as soon as they are ready but feel free to bug me about them if there is anything you are interested in right away. (I work best under a deadline)

Friday, July 30, 2010

You Just Have to See This!

I saw the most amazing crazy quilt pillow the other day made by a customer at the sewing machine store where I teach that I just have to share! Unfortunately, the only camera available at the time was the one in my phone, so the pictures aren't the best quality, but I'm going to post them anyway.


Janine Franc did all the embellishments by hand and it only took about 2 months to complete the pillow. She had a contest deadline, so she really pushed herself, but it was worth it because she said she won.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sewing Room Horror Stories

When I teach a brand new quilter who has never touched a rotary cutter before, I make sure they know how dangerous a tool they can be. First I show them my scars and tell how I got them, then I proceed to tell them the horror stories I have heard or been witness to over the last 10 years. For instance, I have a friend that another friend has nicknamed "Nine Fingers". NF travels with my other friend and I on occasion to shows and helps us by cutting fabric for customers when we are busy. Within 3 months, she had cut herself 2 times. On the second accident is when she received her nickname. After we had her bandaged, she returned to the cutting table and picked something up. It was the tip of her finger.

I have left my rotary cutter open on the table, and since I am barefoot most of the time when I am home, when I knocked it off of the table, it landed on the top of my foot and cut me. From this experience, I now have a rule in the classroom. If I come by your table and your rotary cutter is open and you're not using it, you owe me a quarter.

I had one student who told me she left her cutter open on her table in her sewing room and her grandchild walked in and picked it up thinking it was a lollipop. I have forgotten the end of this story, unfortunately(maybe I blocked it out), so I don't know if she caught them in time or had to make a trip to the hospital.

I heard about a nationally known teacher who cut herself during a workshop she was teaching and asked for a needle and thread to sew her hand shut. Fortunately for herself and the workshop participants, the cut wasn't as bad as it could have been and the shop she was teaching for had butterfly bandages which did the trick.

Rotary cutters aren't the only dangerous tool in our studios. We have all seen or maybe own a tomato pincushion. How many needles do you think are lost inside of them? I'm betting close to 100. A friend of mine knocked hers off her sewing table and didn't notice until she stepped on it. She pulled about 80 needles out of her foot before she stopped counting.

Do you have any sewing room horror stories you'd like to share that I can include in my rotary cutter safety speech?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Room at Seams Like Home!

This is the Hydrangea Room at the Seams Like Home Bed and Breakfast in Vanderbilt, Pennsylvania, where I was scheduled to teach a quilting retreat this weekend. I was lucky enough to be able to bring a friend with me to enjoy all the ammenities at this brand new B & B, so I am sharing this room with one of my best friends and having a wonderful time sewing away. I have known the owners, Donna and Rick Eicher, for about 5 years now, so I almost feel like family anyway, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they will make all of their guests feel that way.

The building has been completely re-done from its former life as an office building, so EVERYTHING inside is brand new. This is the view from the balcony down into the entrance. See the quilt block in the floor? The next picture is another view of the foyer from another angle.


You can see pictures of all of the rooms, including the lounge, on their website http://www.seamslikehomeretreat.com/

I have to admit I started quilting simply because I wanted a quilt for my bed and after 10 years, I still don't have one, but every guest bed has a quilt made just for that room. If they'd just let me move in, I NEVER have to make one for own bed!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Chautauqua Institution

What an amazingly creative place! I taught my first class yesterday afternoon and have 2 more to teach this week before I head back home to my regular teaching job. I am so inspired by everything else going on here, that if I could figure out a way to spend the entire season here, it would be a dream come true. I have so many new ideas that I can't wait to get back to my studio and try them out.

If you are ever in this area, even in the off-season, you would be so impressed with even just the grounds of Chautauqua Institution, it would be worthwhile to stop and check them out!

The people that volunteer here are friendly and helpful they make your visit even more enjoyable. The Special Studies classes being taught here are so diverse, you can come here and learn about almost anything, from Middle Eastern belly dancing to bridge, knitting to life casting, investing to yoga.

If I get the chance to take any new pictures while I'm here, I will post them soon.

Does anyone else have a place they know of that they consider "magical"?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

My New "Toy"

I am mainly known for paper pieced designs, which I love to do, but I am starting to venture into some applique. My most recent applique design is the mermaid I have been working on. Because of a recent event at the sewing machine dealer where I teach, I have purchased an Accuquilt Studio Cutter and have inquired about having a custom die made to cut out my mermaid pieces. I should get a quote today to see if it is possible for me to produce my mermaid as a precut applique and offer her for sale without having to remortgage my house first!

I didn't buy any dies with the Studio Cutter, since I only bought it to do custom dies, so it is set up in a corner of my studio, just waiting to be put to work. I hope it isn't waiting too long. I have a lot of students who want to purchase my mermaid applique and put her on all sorts of things, like tote bags, jean jackets or make a small wall quilt like my sample, so I am hoping I don't have to disappoint them or make them wait too long.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lakeview

This is a picture of the project I am teaching at Chautauqua Institution this year. It is a simple, paper pieced design I call Lakeview. This will be my first time teaching there and I am really excited! I hope I get the opportunity to teach there many more times.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mermaids, mermaids and more mermaids

My family and I stopped at a roadside shop and saw this amazing fountain. The best I could do is take a photo since I don't have any place to put her or any money to buy her. I also have a small mermaid in my cottage, here in New York, where I got to spend the weekend, but I will have to add her later, since this isn't my computer and I don't know how to edit my photos in Paint. I had a friend meet me here at my cottage, so I was able to drink some wine and talk quilting for the whole weekend. What a great time. Next time, we bring sewing machines and no husband or kids!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Adding Details

Last night, I got brave and started stitching in a couple of details on my mermaid. She is only about 10" tall, so the most difficult part is deciding the scale of the details. I shortened the stitch length for the hair strands to 1.5, down from the default setting of 2.5. I also found a stitch on my machine that I thought mimicked fish scales and stitched some highlights on her tail. I think I will vary the width on the highlight stitching as it goes around curves when I re-do her, but for now, I am happy with the effect. Her face will be the most difficult part to do and I haven't decided if I want to stitch it or paint it yet. Any suggestions would be welcome!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mermaid quilt started!


I got to spend the weekend with one of my best friends, who happens to be an amazing art quilter, so I was inspired to start working on my mermaid quilt. I drew my mermaid on Saturday, then started to play with different fabrics on Sunday. She is done with fusible web applique and I am pretty happy with the progress so far. My husband told me my original sketch was "comic book" good, which I took as a huge compliment coming from him. You can't see any details yet in the actual quilt, but I am planning to do some thread painting and beading and who knows what else!
This is so different from anything else I have done and I hope I continue to be inspired by this project and will post pictures as I go along.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilting Gallery Contest


I have entered antother quilt in one of the Quilting Gallery's contests. It is called Spring Showers and would really appreciate your votes! http://www.quiltinggallery.com
Thanks!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I have the best friends/students!

I really do! Yesterday, one of my students surprised me with a gift. I have a lot of wonderful students that I now consider friends as well, and very often they bring me little gifts. It might be a fat quarter they think I'd like, a pack of needles, tin of buttons, or some little notion they picked up they thought I should try. But yesterday, this friend really went above and beyond. My friend Barb, had been in a couple of days after Mother's Day and we had been talking about the gifts we received. I got a lot of homemade gifts from my children, that I will treasure forever, and my 9 year old son even gave me his favorite "silly band" and held my hand out in public! My husband took me to the local nursery and wanted me to pick out a hanging basket of flowers but I couldn't find one that I liked that didn't cost and arm and a leg. So as we walked around the nursery, I saw Hydrangea bushes, which happen to be one of my favorites. But again, they were small and very expensive, so I left almost empty handed (my son was still letting me hold his hand).

Barb was in yesterday, finishing up a purse class with me and said she would leave when I did because she had something in her car for me. When I walked out to the parking lot and saw her standing there beside my car with a Hydrangea bush, 3 times the size of what I saw at the nursery, I couldn't believe my eyes! We stood there in the pouring rain trying to get it in my car and then I had to rush off to pick my children up from school, but not before I tearfully thanked her for her wonderful gift!

When we arrived home, my son brought his little red wagon up the driveway and helped me get the bush from the driveway to a spot where I think I want to plant it. If it wasn't still pouring, I would have made him pose for a picture with his wagon, but hopefully, I will be able to get a picture of the bush blooming later this summer! I might even be able to get my kids to stand next to it.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to know how much people appreciate what I do!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Summer Plans and a Request for a Favor

I have several teaching jobs this summer, away from home, that I am REALLY looking forward to. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather be home than almost anywhere else, but this is a big step forward for me and I am really excited about the opportunities.

The first one is at Chautauqua Institution in July. I will be teaching a brand new design in paper piecing. At the moment, I am waiting for my fabric to arrive so I can make my sample. I will post a picture or two as I go along.

The second one is at a Bed & Breakfast near Uniontown, PA. I only live about an hour away from Uniontown, but if I have the opportunity to stay at a B & B, I'm taking it! The B & B is called SEAMS LIKE HOME and the owners are wonderful people, so I think the name is fitting.

I will be teaching there in October, as well, and if Donna and Rick ever need someone at the last minute, I'm their girl!

I will be vending at Quilting Around Chautauqua again in September. This will be my fourth year there and something I look forward to as I get to see a lot of familiar faces each time.

One last thing: I have been getting some strange comments on my blog lately, but I'm not sure if it is intentional and I can't tell where they are coming from. If someone could post a REAL comment on my blog and it shows up as normal, I will know whether there is a problem with my blog or a problem with the person or people who are commenting. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Beginning

For those of you who have never visited my blog or website before, I thought I would give a brief history of how I got into quilting. Well, it all happened by accident! I have always loved the look of quilts and when I was furnishing a new apartment, I came across what I thought was a quilt at J.C. Penneys, that I absolultely fell in love with and had to have. A few years later, I found out it was actually a patchwork comforter, which didn't make me love it any less, but lit a fire in me to acquire the genuine article.

I wasn't brought up around quilts, so I had no idea the work that went into making one, but decided I wanted one for my bed when my husband and I bought our house. We started pricing them and I realized, after seeing the look on my husband's face, that I was NEVER going to own a handmade quilt unless it was my hands that made it! To be totally honest, I would have failed sewing class in high school if it weren't for my sister sewing my projects at home for me, so I didn't know if this was something I was capable of or not. But I decided to check the phone book for a local quilt shop. As luck would have it, I found a great one not too far from me, Quilter's Corner in Finleyville, PA. The first class I took was a hand quilting class, since I didn't know there was any other way to quilt a quilt and I figured if I didn't like that part of it, there was no point in going any further. I liked hand quilting but knew I would probably not finish too many quilts if that was my only option. Fortunately, the quilt shop had so many beautiful samples that were quilted by machine and I realized there was more than one way to skin a cat.

My next class was a beginning quilting class, for which I needed a sewing machine. I thought a low end model would serve the purpose, since I was having flashbacks of my high school sewing class and didn't want to spend a lot of money on a machine I might never use again. I walked into the store, where I now teach, and walked out about an hour and a half later with a brand new sewing machine. It wasn't exactly low end, but I deserve the best, don't you?

I fell in love with piecing, but since I am math challenged, I didn't enjoy having to measure everything and having to be accurate so my stars have points. So my next class was a paper piecing class. If you have never tried this technique, Piecing By Number, is the best way to describe it. With this technique, you use a big piece of fabric, sew it in and trim it down to the right side afterward. Brilliant!

Soon after this class, I started thinking that I could design my own patterns using this technique, so I bought a tablet of graph paper and went to work. My first design was AND IN THE MEADOW and featured a snowman, tree, and star with a rail fence border as well as a polymer clay carrot nose and 3d scarf. I was thrilled with the result and when I took the quilt with me to the quilt shop to find a fabric for the binding, the employees told me I should publish a pattern for the quilt. So I did!

Larkspur Lane Designs officially came into being in 2003 when I started the company with a friend of mine. She and I have known each other since we were children and since our birthdays are one day apart in July, we named the company for the flower for July. Although we are still friends, Colleen left the business in 2005, but because of all her help in the beginning, I was able to keep it going on my own.

At this point, I think I have about a dozen patterns on my website, and have been published in magazines ten times, (including 3 times in Quiltmaker!). My patterns are sold by Clotilde and McCalls and also through my website: http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com

I have probably a hundred designs in my computer waiting to be sewn out and just need to invent a time machine, so I can keep resetting time to get them all done!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Counting my blessings

I guess the best time to count your blessings is when you start to feel like you don't have any. That is the point I am at now, so time to start counting.

1. I have 2 wonderful children and a husband who is an amazing father...when he is around. Regular readers of my blog know he has had to go to work in a city 2 hours from here and we only get to see him one night during the week, (if we have the money for him to fill his gas tank). He also comes home on the weekend if he doesn't have to do a personal appearance for the radio station where he works, which have been scheduled much more frequently as of late.

2. We have a roof over our heads in a nice, safe neighborhood.

3. We have food to eat, even if it is just grilled cheese sandwiches and noodles (which my kids happen to love, so they have no idea when we are broke!).

4. I have several jobs, that I love:
Teaching sewing, quilting and embroidery classes for a local sewing machine dealer. Most of my students end up being my friends, so that makes the job even more enjoyable than just sharing my love of sewing and quilting.

I have an aunt who has Multilple Sclerosis, who I help care for and am paid by the state. Its not much, but every little bit helps. My aunt is 2 years younger than I am and I have known her and have been very close to her her entire life. We have always spent at least one day a week together since she was diagnosed 16 years ago, but when she was told she could hire someone to help her, she chose me and one of her sisters. Between the 2 of us, we run errands for her, take her to her doctors appointments, clean her home, make sure she eats and do whatever else she needs done that she can't do for herself. She is an inspiration to me, since she is the one person I know personally, who has reason to complain about her lot in life, but NEVER does.

Then, there is my pattern company--LARKSPUR LANE DESIGNS. I started my company with a friend in 2003 with one pattern and at this time, I think I have a dozen on my website for sale. I have had 10 other designs published in several different magazines, which at some point, I would like to publish my own patterns for and add them to my site. It is such a joy to be able to do something you love and get paid for it! I wish everyone could have that.

5. I have great friends, who are there for me even when I'm not being a great friend in return.

6. My relationship with God. Even when things are really bad, I know they won't be for long because He is always watching over me.

I think I could go on forever with this list, but I have to get ready to go to work at one of my blessings!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One UFO down!

This is my Cartwheeling Clowns quilt that was on display recently at the Three Rivers Quilters show in Pittsburgh. I called it Clowns For Gayle and was meant as a gift for the outgoing President of the guild,....oh, I guess, about 2 years ago. Now that it is finally finished and I got to talk to Gayle at the show and know that she really likes it, it is a load off my mind! She asked me, "Are you REALLY going to give me that quilt?" I told her, "Its YOUR quilt, Gayle.", and I could tell she was happy about it. That makes all the work I put into it worthwhile. I'm not sure where this quilt or the other one I had in the show are, at this moment, but I am sure they are safe. I had to work yesterday, so I was unable to make it to the venue to pick up my quilts and asked someone else to do it for me. Hopefully, I will see my quilts again tomorrow and be able to personally give the clown quilt to Gayle.

Do you think I should pattern this design?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Still Waiting

I am still waiting for that elusive cover quilt, but I have just had my 9th and 10th designs published in magazines! This time around, I have one quilt in Quiltmaker, in which I have been published twice before and one in Quilt Magazine for the first, but hopefully, not the last time.

I haven't gotten a copy of Quilt Magazine yet, which features my Bubble Bath design, but I have seen the photo of my quilt used in the magazine. I am really excited to see it in print though!

Plus, my friends are tired of hearing me ask, "Have you seen this yet?" when I bring out my advance copy of Quiltmaker!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Doesn't this sound heavenly?

Not the part about taking a class with me, but having someone else prepare all of your meals while you relax and sew for an entire weekend?! Even though I will be working the whole weekend, it still seems like heaven!


Seams Like Home Retreats with Sue Cook from Larkspur Lane Designs

Christmas in July Gingerbread Man Paper Pieced Wallhanging
July 17-19

Haunting Halloween
Paper Pieced & Appliqued Wallhanging
October 8-10

Cost: $300 per person

Check-in is 3pm on Friday and check-out is 3 pm on Sunday. Cost includes dinner on Friday, breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. After dinner on Friday, Sue will help you cut out and get organized and prepared for class on Saturday. You will have some free sew time later in the evening, or play some fun sewing and quilting games, watch TV or play pool in the lounge. Snacks are available in the evenings. On Sunday you can finish what you may not have completed on Saturday, have free sew time, or just sleep in! Sue is a very talented and creative quilter and teacher. This is an opportunity to master the paper piecing technique and learn from a pro. No phones, no kids, no cooking, JUST FUN AND RELAXATION! More detailed class descriptions and photos will be posted on the website www.seamslikehomeretreat.com in May.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things


This past weekend, I spent the day at a quilt show and got to see someone else's version of one of my designs. I found it interesting to read her comments on the label, where she said she bought the pattern and then wasn't sure she wanted to attempt paper piecing but now she's a fan of the technique. That made my day!
I took this photo with my phone, so its not the best quality, but if you want to see a picture of my sample, you can go to my website and check it out: http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com/
I tried to meet the woman who made this quilt and tell her how much I enjoyed seeing hers, but I missed her. Maybe she will see my blog!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Forget about spring, its Quilt Show Season!

Its finally here! Quilt Show Season!

Beside my pattern business, I also teach for a local sewing machine dealer and, on occasion, get the opportunity to spend the day in her booth at local quilt shows. This is about as far from WORK as you can get! I love being around other people who get as excited as me about fabric, new techniques, products and projects.

The show started yesterday, but I had to work in the store since I had a class to teach. But today, I get to go to the show! One of my co-workers called me from the show to tell me there was a quilt in the show that was done from one of my patterns. I always love to see how others interpret my designs and can't wait to see it. I will take a picture if I am allowed and post it soon.

Next Friday, instead of being in the store, I will be on a bus trip to the Sewing and Quilting Expo in Cleveland! Could it get any better?!?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Intellectual Theft?

There was a message posted to a Yahoo Group I belong to about "possible" copyright infringement, that I found to be very disturbing. A fabric company obviously "borrowed" (stole, in my opinion) images from a card designer and then refused to admit or acknowledge or reimburse her in any way for her intellectual property! They told her SHE NEEDED TO GET A LAWYER!

I am so sick of big companies thinking they can get away with anything just because they have more money or resources backing them up. Below, you will find a link to this designer's blog about the situation, as well as images of the designs in question. Check it out and see what you think.

Are they her images they used in their fabric? Personally, I don't think there is any doubt, but I am afraid she won't get any justice because she is just one person fighting a big company. But, I think if this company began to get emails from people who will no longer buy their product until this matter is resolved, they might change their tune.

http://kimberlyshaw.typepad.com/my_weblog/protecting-.html

Sunday, March 07, 2010

UFOs and Bad Habits

I wish I could say I don't have any UFOs but that would be a lie. I have never finished my very first quilt, although I don't think that is a very big deal.

I wasn't happy with the fact that my stars had no points, so I had a hard time putting any effort into finishing it. I did make a "second" first quilt using almost all of the same fabric that I did finish, using the skills that I learned from making mistakes on the other one.

I am always so excited to get started on a new project and am so focused on it, but then real life gets in the way and its hard to get back to working on it. Deadlines help a lot, but some projects don't have deadlines or, in all honesty, I choose to ignore them.

One of these projects was a gift for a past president of the guild to which I was a member. She has a thing for clowns, so I designed a quilt with that theme in mind. I finished the blocks fairly quickly, then when it wasn't finished by the time I had planned, I put it aside and quickly forgot about it.

I ran into this lady at a function last fall and since she was aware of the quilt, it came up in our conversation. I promised her it would be in the guild's next show, if accepted, and she could have it after that. Do you think I went home and started working on it again? Nope, not me. The show is in mid-April, so I have plenty of time to finish it in time if I stop fooling around!

I'm curious about how others work on their projects. Do you make yourself finish one before starting another? Do you have multiple projects going at the same time? Why does a project end up in your UFO pile?

This has been a bad habit of mine for my entire life and any advice you could give me would be much appreciated. Not sure if I will take any of it, but I am definitely willing to listen!



MESSAGE TO M:
Yes, I am aware of the terrible thing you are doing to my friend. I am also aware of how often you check my blog to see if I am going to talk about it. That is more of a question of "when" not "if". I am simply waiting to see how ugly this gets.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Trying to get my act together again

I've got a million things I should be doing, but because of some personal problems, I can't seem to wrap my head around any of them. One thing I have never had to deal with before was feeling like a single mom. I say "feeling" like one because I am not actually a single mom. I have been married for almost 14 years and have 2 children, ages 12 and 9. Recently, my husband had to accept a job in a town about 2 hours from home. Fortunately, we have a small, 2 room cottage close to this town that he can use and not have to rent a place or force us to pack up and move right away. But this means he can only come home one night a week, if he's lucky, and on the weekend. My husband is a radio DJ and has been for the entire time I have known him. Radio can be a very scary business to be in. You can have a job one day and not the next. Ask me how I know. So I am in no hurry to sell our house and move to an even snowier part of the country any time soon!

On my To-Do List are: shows I want to enter, patterns I need to finish for market, plans I need to finalize for market and I am sure lots of other things that I can't even remember at the moment.

But I have been able to cross a couple of things off my list recently. They are two quilts that I designed and made, with a little help from my friends, for 2 different magazines. One is for Quiltmaker May/June issue and the other is for Quilt Magazine June/July issue. Seeing one of your quilts in a magazine is something that never gets old, so I am really excited about these issues coming out! I hope you will check them out when they are available and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mermaids

Ever since I mentioned the book I loved as a child, I have been seeing images and hearing about mermaids everywhere. I think they might be the next "big" thing. This picture was taken onboard the Carnival Destiny in one of the stairwells. I also overheard someone talking on the ship about someone wanting to buy a gift for someone else and they were looking for a mermaid. I think there is a new Barbie Doll that is a mermaid as well. Not that Mattel hasn't done that before, but I think this is a new version or maybe a new story.

I think its a sign that a Mermaid quilt is definitely in order. I'm not sure if it should be a "one of a kind" art quilt or a pattern though. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Friday, February 05, 2010






















My in-laws just treated my husband, me and our 2 children to a 5 day cruise to Mexico, which was very generous. It was also very stressful.

Ok, I admit it, I'm not good at vacationing. I don't enjoy being away from home and I don't enjoy being with my family 24 hours a day for days at a time. I have always enjoyed my "alone time", but on vacation, you rarely get "alone time". I also think I miss my sewing machine and my computer...a lot.

We did see some wonderful things, though, and had some amazing experiences as you may be able to tell from my photos. One thing I didn't get enough of was just sitting on one of the decks and watching the ocean go by. I think I had a grand total of about 10 minutes doing that.
This was my third trip to Mexico. The first two, I took before I was married, with a girlfriend. We were more like exchange students then, living with a non-English speaking family, and going to school to learn Spanish for 5 days each time. I would be afraid to do it now, but what an amazing experience that was! It was one of those things that I did on a whim. My friend couldn't believe that I said yes when she asked me the first time and when she asked if I wanted to do it again a couple of years later, I jumped at the chance. This was "real" Mexico, not tourist Mexico. We were in a little town called Cuerna Vaca. We went to class during the day and out on the town at night. I probably learned more Spanish in the bars and in the zocalo than I did in class. My friend and I made such an impression in one of the bars that the waitstaff still knew our names when we walked back in 2 years after our first visit!
My son was impressed when I got the chance to use a little bit of the Spanish I had learned when we were shopping in the market in Costa Maya, but I wish I remembered more.





Getting back to normal

I just returned from a cruise to Mexico, but now I have to get back to every day life, so I will post some photos later today when I come home from work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Favorite Book?

Do any of you have a favorite book from childhood? Mine is A BOOK OF MERMAIDS by Ruth Manning-Sanders. I borrowed that book week after week from the local library and read it over and over and over again. On a whim this morning, I did a search on Amazon and found two old copies for sale. The lesser expensive one was $120. My 12 year old daughter said, "You should buy it since you want it so bad." Knowing that its just not practical right now, I put the book on my wishlist and logged out.

A few minutes later, my 9 year old son asked if he could sell hot chocolate out in the front yard. I thought it was an odd request until I asked him why he wanted to do it. His answer was, "So I can buy you that book."

Both of those responses were worth more to me than the book!

I know I have a mermaid quilt in me somewhere, so I might have to get to work on that soon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Buy 2 Get 1 Free Pattern

Some days I struggle to find SOMETHING... ANYTHING to blog about because I feel guilty if I don't do it regularly. This is one of those days.

There are a lot of things going on in my life right now, but some of them NO ONE wants to hear about and some I can't talk about yet for fear of jinxing them! I have 2 quilts, so far, that will be published this year in 2 different magazines, but I can't tell you any more about those until they go to print. I have several new designs I am working on for Spring Market, but my friends tell me not to post any pictures of works in progress, because someone else might "steal them". So I am very limited right now in what I can talk about.

I did get a very nice phone call this morning from a lady in Omaha, Nebraska. She said her group decided to use one of my designs for their raffle quilt! What an honor! I told Linda that I would post a picture of their finished quilt in my blog or on my website, as well as information to purchase a ticket, so check back for that. It will be a little while for that though, since I am just sending out the pattern today.

Here's a thought:
How about a pattern sale on my website? http://www.larkspurlanedesigns.com
Market can be a very expensive undertaking and in an effort to NOT run up my credit card balance any higher, I will make a special offer to those that read my blog:

Purchase 2 patterns and I will send you another one of your choice for free. I will charge for the 2 higher priced patterns.

Feel free to tell your friends about this offer!

I will be out of town the first week in February, but will do my best to get out any orders that come in before the end of this month and the first thing I will do when I get back will be to fill any orders that come in while I am away.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quilting Gallery Contest

The Quilting Gallery is running weekly themed contests. This week's theme is snowmen. This is the quilt that I have entered, but there are a lot of REALLY cute quilts in the contest! Check them out and vote for your favorite. http://www.quiltinggallery.com

Voting starts today and runs through Sunday (I think)

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Experience

Yesterday, I took a break from quilting and did something I have never done before. My daughter's Girl Scout Troop volunteered to serve food in a soup kitchen. Because our girls are young (12 and under), the moms were asked to come along and help. The high temperature yesterday was around 14 degrees here, so the people that came, not only came for a good, hot meal, but to get out of the cold for 45 minutes. They were so appreciative of the girls' effort and were very forthcoming with their praise. It was a great experience and one that I hope to repeat in the near future. Our girls got to see how fortunate they are and how, with a little effort, they can make someone else's life better, at least for a little while. Its a shame we have homeless people at all, but it was a very rewarding experience to have had, and one that I hope others will take advantage of, if the opportunity to serve ever arises.

QUILTY SIDE NOTE: The man at the camera store was right about the type of batteries I was using in my camera. Now that I have the right kind in, my camera is working again, so I will be posting some new pics very soon!