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:

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!!!