Freebie Friday

It’s been quite a while since I sat down and shared some of the freebies with you that have come across my desk. I figured since it’s slow in the shop, today would be just as good a day as any. Some of these sites you might have already visited, but I hope at least one or two are new for you so that you can expand your horizons quilting wise.

Of course, Christmas in July has been a big theme, especially with crafty folks. We know that if we don’t get started on our handmade gifts now we won’t get them finished in time without pulling an all-nighter or two the week before Christmas. If you’ve ever done that you know that it makes for a tired wife/mom/aunt/sister/daughter, etc. on the actual day of Christmas. Getting done early isn’t always easy, but if you haven’t already started, or if you don’t at least start now, chances are you’ll be giving store bought gifts or IOU’s to some of those on your list. So, here we go!

Landauer Publishing is as good a place to start as any. They have a free e-book for you on binding. It came to me in an e-mail, but I think you have to go to their site and sign up for e-mails to get the free 12 page e-book on Quilt Binding Basics. After you’ve downloaded and saved the e-book, go to Quilt Books & Beyond and click on the “Browse Categories” tab at the top of the page. There you’ll find lots of free patterns, wallpaper for your computer, tips, and just tons of information that you’ll find useful. Be sure to allow yourself enough time, like a leisurely afternoon, to look through their site. Otherwise, you might miss the free pattern for that cute snowman wallhanging (under the “Free Projects” section) or the information about the Astronomical Quilts! Block Challenge under the “Quilting Inspiration” section. Yes, I do believe if you’ve never visited this site before you’re going to need a few hours and a pot of tea to get through all they have to offer.

Another free e-book that I ran across is The Beginner’s Quilting Guide which includes four quilt patterns. If you’re new to quilting you’ll definitely want to give this a look-see. If you’re a seasoned quilter, you might find the projects simple enough to use as relatively quick gifts. The projects are varied and touch on several different aspects of quilting.

Then there’s Jenny of Elefantz. I’ve sent you to her before. I love this lady’s work! This week she shared her seventh block in her The Lord’s Prayer stitch-a-long. If you’re new to this project, she has bundled the first five sections into one so you can download those and then the sixth and seventh sections are separate. She also shared a free stitchery about love that can be framed to make a sweet gift for your favorite someone(s). These freebies and others can be downloaded from her Craftsy shop. While you’re there, you might want to check out her newest quilt pattern, Under the Apple Tree. From now until August 1 you can purchase the pattern for $8.95 as opposed to $10.95 afterwards. I love the design, if for no other reason than those cute little birds!

If you’ve not already signed up for Jacquelynne Steves free e-magazine, The Art of Home, you need to go do that immediately if not sooner. I love these e-magazines, and they’re always packed with great ideas, not to mention yummy recipes. You can even look over back issues by going here! You’re going to be sooooo glad I gave you this information. Be sure to sign up for her blog too. She has been remodeling her new beach house that used to belong to her parents. Given that I love the beach as much as the mountains I could very easily give all this up for a little cottage on the beach…very easily. Her re-do has really made me do some thinking of late. Wonder if there’s a little beach town that would like a quilt shop? Like, say, maybe in North Carolina where my favorite beach just happens to be located…

Then there’s the Sew in Love blog by Benartex where they’ve been sharing tutorials all week for things to make and give this Christmas, or anytime really with a bit of altering. The tutorial for today was a large pillow using letters to spell out Christmas as well as small pillows with a single letter. I have some ideas for this neat project myself.

Like taking quilt classes but can’t seem to find ones that fits your schedule, or your taste? Well, here ya go. Creative Bug is offering you two weeks of classes FREE of charge. That’s right! They have no less than 300 classes on various crafty endeavours that you can try absolutely gratis. If you discover that the technique you’d wanted to try really isn’t your cup of tea, then you’re not out anything but a bit of time. If you like what you get for free, then you can subscribe for $9.95 per month and take every class they offer. There aren’t too many shops these days where you can take one class for less than ten dollars, much less 30, assuming you did a different class each day of the month. All you have to do, after you go to their homepage, is click on subscribe and type in your credit card number. Once you put in the promo code, QUILT, the cost on the receipt will change from $9.95 to zero. You will have 2 full weeks to take free classes. Go on, give it a whirl!

Think that will hold you for a while? I hope that by sharing these freebies you’ll not only find something that you can’t wait to make, but learn new skills as well. There are a lot of great quilters out there, but I think I can safely say that none of them, no matter how many ribbons and awards they’ve won, know it all to the point where there’s not even one little thing left for them to learn. If the saying, “Knowledge is power” is true, then you’re going to want as much quilting knowledge as you can gain in order to be a powerful quilter. Plus, I’m hoping that by finding new projects to do you’ll feel the need to come visit the shop. Did I mention that it’s been way too quiet around here this summer. Waaaaaaaay too quiet! In fact, it’s been so quiet that I think I hear the seagulls calling…

A Dog and Roses

As mentioned before, one of the questions I get asked most often by those who visit is, “What are you working on?” I never have anything large to show off, but I can manage a small something every now and then. My latest small something is a mug rug with Wilson on it. Wilson is a real dog owned by the pattern designer, Cindy Staub. In a recent blog post she revealed that Wilson has gone blind. You can read about him here. I had already started working on Wilson when the post was published and was just waiting on a new bolt of fabric to come in that I wanted to use for the binding. Of course, it took me a week after it was delivered to get around to cutting it and sewing it into place. You know how that is…
If you would like to make a mug rug with Wilson on it, I’ve made up a few kits which include the already cut binding. All you have to add is your favorite fusible web and a little bit of batting. This is a quilt-as-you-go project so once you have the appliqué stitched in place all you have left to do is bind it. I use rayon thread matched to the colour of each fabric piece when doing my machine appliqué because I like the look I get. I’m not big into the heavy folk art look which is why I don’t use black thread or floss on everything. The bonus to using matching rayon thread is that it tends to hid any bloopers I might make along the way. If I used black, those bloopers would stick out like a sore thumb, and I’d have to re-do the offensive area which would add the expenditure of extra time and energy to my project. Given that I have little of either I don’t want to take a chance by using a contrasting thread. I use regular silk-finish in the bobbin to match my backing fabric.

If you like handwork, you can easily do this design by hand as well. All you have to do is decide whether or not you want to go through all three layers like Victoria does when she’s doing her embroidery work, or just through the top layer and quilt the project once the top is finished. I think it would look just as good done by hand as by machine to be quite honest with you. Plus, you’d have the added bonus of portability since it’s only about 7-1/2″x10-1/2″ overall.

I’ve really gotten kind of hooked on mug rugs. I think because I like small quilting projects to begin with. When you add the fact that mug rugs are useful as well as decorative it just turns in to a win-win situation. If you’re looking for a small project to give someone as a gift you can’t go too wrong with a mug rug, a great mug that fits the recipient’s personality (look at TJMaxx, Home Goods, or Marshall’s for these), and some coffee or tea (which you can find there as well) depending on their preference.

Speaking of handwork, if you enjoy it as much as we do you need to go to Jenny’s blog and sign up to get her newsletter right this minute. Starting Friday, and I think she’s a day ahead of us since she’s in Australia, she will have a set of 10 new designs called Rosedaisy Designs to release as a PDF download for $24.95. If you hurry, you can save $5 on these designs. I bought mine yesterday! Starting on June 20 she will share a free tutorial each month for a project that uses one of the 10 blocks. If you want to make the projects, and her projects are always super, you’re going to have to have the patterns. So, go here right this very second, even before you finish reading this post, and get your set of patterns. They’re the first ones on the left that show up. There’s even an 11th pattern that she gives you as a bonus. She’s a very generous and gifted lady. If you don’t already have an account on Craftsy you’ll need to register. Once registered, you can buy her patterns, e-magazine, and even enjoy several freebies in her store as well as others. Like I said though, you need to do it quickly. Come 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, Australian time, those patterns will cost you $5 more. Even so, there are 34 pages to this one pattern set so they’re well worth it!

My last bit of time-sensitive news is for those of us who also enjoy crochet, probably even knitting if I were to take a guess. Don’t ask me how I ended up at this site because I really can’t tell you. I think maybe the good Lord had His hand in guiding me to it, as happens quite often you know. Suffice it to say, I was amazed that this site has information on a need that those of us in this area can relate to. Kristi Simpson of RAKJ Patterns is hosting a chemo cap drive. Go here and scroll down a couple of posts to the one on May 23 (that was my birthday by the way) to read all about it. She wants to gather no less than 550 hats to be given to children who are enduring the painful process of chemo treatments. The drive appears to run from June 1 to July 31 with hats to be delivered at the end of each month to the St. Jude Clinic at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, AL. When you sign up to donate hats, you will be sent two patterns that can be used, but as I understand it you can use any pattern that you might already have that would work for children sizes six months to 12 years. The site specifically mentions crocheted hats, but as I said before, I don’t think they would turn down knitted ones if you have some on hand already or can make them quickly. If you live far, far away you can still sign up, get the patterns, make hats, and donate them to your local cancer center. All you have to do is take a photo of your creations and e-mail it to the address given on her site to be included in the count. I’ve already told Victoria to sign herself up as she’s getting pretty good at crocheting. You should see the great pair of slippers she made me. They’re soooo warm…

So get your needles out, and let’s start stitchin’!

Tea for Tuesday

In addition to loving and being addicted to fabric, I have become somewhat addicted to tea as well. It all began when a friend of a friend visited us from England and brought with her a box of PG Tips tea. Up until that point I didn’t care for tea at all and would opt for hot chocolate when we had Sunday afternoon tea with the kids. Maybe it was because the tea we were using was a well-known brand from the grocery store as opposed to a tea of better quality from abroad. Once I tasted the difference, it was ‘Katie bar the door’ from that point on.

My tea stash has grown to the point that I’ve run out of room. Kinda like needing to live another 200 years at least in order to use up all my fabric, I’d have to drink tea all day long to even begin to put a dent in my stash. I’ve discovered certain teas that I really enjoy and others about which I don’t get excited. Sounds just like fabric shopping doesn’t it. There’s always fabrics that you love and others that you can live without.

The thing that often grabs me when it comes to buying tea though is the tins. I used to collect tins once upon a time for the artwork more than the contents, assuming there was anything inside. Sometimes I’d actually put something in the tins after consuming the cookies or chocolate, but more often than not I’d just sit them on the counter or on a shelf and enjoy looking at them. When collecting tins, all that mattered was whether or not I liked the artwork or color. I was not really concerned with its ability to be useful and earn its keep.

So the other day when I actually got to go to Huntsville and had a few minutes to myself in the Home Goods store, I couldn’t help but buy a tin of tea very similar, but still different, than several others that I have. This tin is of an elephant and contains tea by Williamson. The graphics are what caught my attention more than what was inside the tin. That’s because I already have some of the same flavor of tea already in another elephant tin that I couldn’t resist around Christmas time. The draw for me again is the artwork on the tin more so than the contents.
Pink Love Elephant
This particular tin is a limited edition one that was created for a worthy cause, the Breast Cancer Campaign. I found it interesting that on the elephant’s right leg are written the words, “Love conquers all!” You can tell I’ve watched too many movies with the kids when they were younger because the Disney Robin Hood movie came to mind when I saw that. I remembered the chicken saying those very words when Robin and Maid Marion got together. Anyhow, there are other tidbits on this tin, like the words from a Beatles’ song, “all you need is love,” that made this tin one I couldn’t pass up.
Williamson Elephant-Dusk Lilac-Solo
What tea did I have today? I had Duchess Grey from Williamson’s Dusk Lilac elephant tin. You know how much I love the color purple in all shades so finding this tea in a purple elephant meant that it too had to come live with me. Even though I’ve had this tea since Christmas today was the first time I had tried it. The aroma was lovely and the tea was perfect for late afternoon. I drank it from a Wedgwood Romantic England cup with matching saucer and sweetened it just a bit with some of Suzanne’s local honey. Sheer bliss!

There are several tea blogs online and some of them link up with each other to show off lovely table settings, beautiful china, and luscious food. If you’re interested in reading about more tea related things you can start with Rose Chintz Cottage. Miss Sandi is showing off some beautiful china and has several links at the bottom of today’s post that you can visit. I have one of the Royal Albert “Old Country Roses” cup and saucer sets myself and hope to have a whole setting of this china one of these days. I especially NEED the teapot for sure.

If you’re not a tea drinker but would like to give it a try, please feel free to give me a call for my recommendations. Like fabric, I can talk tea probably longer than you want me to so also feel free to tell me to stop if I wear your ears out.
Tea Fix
I’d like to end with this sign I borrowed from the Williamson website. I think it says it all. Agreed?

NOTE: Photos of tins borrowed from the Williamson website because my camera is on the blink.

Show Off Sunday!

Anniv Cake III
We’re still on the subject of Stitchin’ Camp here. You might recall that I mentioned I’d not been able to attend the show-n-tell portion of our camps this year. I did manage, however, to get a couple of photos of quilts that were done at the March camp and also have a few of projects done in other camps. I thought I’d post some of those photos today so you can see what our campers get up to. They really do a great deal of work in just three short days. They’re amazing!

Before I do that though, I do want to take a minute and give a heartfelt word of thanks to the vendors who helped put some of the fun in our camps this year. These vendors made donations that were used in either the goodie bags or were given as door prizes, sometimes both. Without their generosity and desire to help promote quilting, my job would have been much harder, not to mention more expensive. If you have an opportunity to purchase goods from these vendors I strongly encourage you to do so. Having said that, a couple of these folks are distributors who only sell to shops, but I don’t want to leave them out because while some are new to our camps others have supported us for many years now. If you see something on any of these sites that you NEED (or if you just want it that’s allowed as well), all you have to do is give me the item number(s) and I’ll gladly order it/them for you. Word of warning: Looking at some of these sites, the distributors especially, can be traumatic to your pocket book, but oh, so exhilarating to your creative spirit.

C&T Publishing
Checker Distributors
Hill Creek Designs
Leisure Arts
Marti Michell
Martingale & Co.
Moda Fabrics
Patch Abilities
Plume Books/PENGUIN
Quilt in a Day
Quilters Dream Batting
RJR Fabrics
The Pattern Peddlers
The Wooden Bear

Forgive the fact that these photos aren’t arranged in a nice, orderly manner. I’ll blame it on the software rather than the operator. I just know I did my part right.
Maggie 1
Maggie 2Miss Frances Asian Top Susans Tbl RunnerEdna's Christmas QltJanice -Basket Bounty TopPat -Lg TwisterSNT-Pat K-30s Aplq QltPic-ES-Bskt Sampler SA-Fan blk
Apple Dumplins Last, but not least, our delicious Apple Dumplin’s served hot with ice cream. Now you know why our campers keep coming back…YUM!


Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
~Ecclesiastes 11:1

We finished our third Stitchin’ Camp for 2014 this past Saturday. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and there were lots of projects finished as well as a few new ones that were started. I wasn’t able to be there on Saturday for Show-n-Tell, but the quilts that I saw before then were amazing.

The first camp that we hosted was held in January 2005, making this the 10th year that we’ve hosted camp. I remember that first camp well because I was so overwhelmed with owning a new business that I didn’t want to have camp. In fact, I had planned on not doing so, BUT I was told I HAD to have a camp and that there was no escaping it.

Camp was started by the original owner of the shop, Marie Cummins, and had become a tradition that the ladies didn’t want to give up just because a newcomer was now in charge, at least figuratively. Can you say pressure!? I felt it greatly because I had some pretty big shoes to fill given all the stories I’d been told about past camps and how great they were. Fortunately for me, I’d worked quite a bit in the hospitality industry and had been an administrative assistant to a president and three vice-presidents of a general contracting firm in my former life, so I knew something about organizing such events even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do so soon after purchasing the shop.

Based on a list that I still have from that first camp, we had 15 campers, three of whom have since passed away. Two campers that were at the first camp were at this past camp as well. While the names of our campers have changed over the years, the purpose of their coming has not. They come to spend three days with like-minded ladies who love stitching in all its forms, to get older projects (or one that has a looming deadline) finished, and to be inspired and encouraged by their peers without the fear of ridicule or quilt police. We’ve gone from as few as 15 to as many as 26 campers at any one camp and have settled on 20 as the best number for the space in which we meet. Of course, we do run over by two or three, sometimes four, if we need to in order to fit everyone’s friends in. We went from hosting one camp per year to two. Then we went from two to three a couple of years ago when our campers requested that we do so. Last year we added one in the fall which was greatly enjoyed by those who attended. This year, we’re going to add one in July and try to stress the need to get going on gifts for the Christmas season. We hope to host one in the fall again if it looks like there’s enough interest.

For Rick and me, this past Sunday was a day to rest and reflect on the camps that we’ve hosted so far this year. I’m guessing that after this most recent camp, he reflected on how he could do a better job of feeding the ladies because our baked potatoes were a little underdone on Friday night, while I reflected on the verse that began this post. Before I explain further, I must confess that due to the lack of visitors this past three months, I’ve become more and more concerned about the future of the shop. The cold weather has taken a toll on business—or at least that’s what I’m chalking it up to—these past three months. The camps have helped greatly and allowed me to bring in some new merchandise that I might not have bought otherwise.

As a shop owner who relishes enabling others to enjoy the art of quilting, I often find that my want-to-do list exceeds the available time and energy required to get the items on the list done. While I could easily make three very small people given my size, or at least two and a-half decent sized people, I’ve not figured out a way yet to split myself up in order to do so. Since I no longer have any employees it would be nice to have one of me downstairs doing the greeting and the waiting on folks part while the other remained upstairs doing the administrative part.

Over the years, we’ve had lots of ups and downs in the business. We’ve moved twice, and I’ve said the shop wouldn’t move again until someone bought it from me. I still hold to that decision. While the downs have been pretty discouraging and downright depressing at times, the ups have often made up for the majority of them. By casting my “bread” out in the form of time, listening, and caring for my quilters, I have gained so much in return.

The camps take a lot of preparation throughout the year which means that I am almost constantly thinking of my campers and what I could give them that would be different, useful, and appreciated. We have a lot of repeat campers who come to each camp so I can’t just buy one set of goodies in bulk for their goodie bag. Each camp has to have completely different items for those bags. Having multiple camps throughout the year has made my job more challenging but also more interesting. The hunt for new goodies is one of the parts that I enjoy the most about camp. You might say I’m one of those folks with a giving spirit.

At the first camp, the campers signed a piece of muslin, had it framed, and presented it to me at the end of camp. Needless to say, I cried—in part because it was a totally unexpected gift, and in part because I was relieved that we’d made it through. In preceding years, I wasn’t always given a memento by the campers, nor did I expect one.

In more recent years, a camper who also has a giving spirit started attending with a friend. She took it upon herself to rally the troops, so to speak, had everyone sign a card, and took up money which went to buy me something. Last year I was given a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel so my husband and I could go out for a nice meal. So far we’ve only used about half of it so we still have one more nice meal to which we look forward. This year, at the January camp, I was given a heat pack that has lavender in it, some honey from our local quilting beekeeper, and some lavender sachets. The heat pack was for putting on my poor, tired back and has been much appreciated by myself and by my youngest daughter, who also helps whenever she can. In fact, she’s become the official Apple Dumplin’ maker now that Miss Martha has retired. In February, they bought a new ironing board and outfitted the two old ones with new batting and covers. Last week, I was Pams Colorific Quilt Penpresented with a five pound jar of honey, again from our local quilting beekeeper, a lovely pen that comes from C&T Publishing. The extra cash that was collected was included in my card with a note to take Rick out to eat as their way of saying thanks to him. Since Victoria helped too, we might take her with us as well. We’re thinking about going to a great French restaurant up in Tullahoma, Emil’s. Hmmmm…our son helped set up and tear down this time so I wonder if we should invite him as well. It was truly a blessing that he was able to help because Rick has been having problems with his hip of late. The last thing we needed during camp was to have him limping about with a painful hip, especially since he was the cook and kitchen help.

I have a card from each camp signed by the campers with words of thanks and encouragement. I keep all the cards I’m given and tend to refer back to them from time to time when things aren’t going so well in the shop. It’s amazing how just a few words of thanks can turn my melancholy mood to one of enthusiasm and get me back on track for enabling those ladies to enjoy themselves at camp one more time.

Never in a million years did I expect to be so blessed from this yearly event. All the work we do way before camp rolls around pays off with happy campers who keep returning each year, some of them multiple times. As long as I know they are having a good time and getting some much needed concentrated time to sew, I will realize that my “bread” has not only been found but has been greatly increased.

It’s Not Just Me…

I live in a perpetual state of behindness it seems. Rarely am I caught up, much less ahead of the game. I’ve been called a procrastinator extraordinaire, but after taking a few psych classes to get my degree, I learned that I’m one of those folks who performs better when the pressure is on. Because of that, I tend to leave things until it’s almost too late to get them done and then in a flurry of activity everything that needs doing gets done and in my tiny mind I’m proud of myself because I actually got it done the day before, or more often than not the morning before, it was needed.

I’ve often wondered if it was just me not using my time wisely, but here lately I’ve noticed that several bloggers that I follow are apologizing for not having blogged for a month or two. Seems like mine isn’t the only busy life out there. To be honest about it, I think I’d rather they be creating something for us to enjoy than blogging anyhow.

Despite being behind on most things, I managed to post on our Facebook page the other day that Moda is having a designer blog hop. I did it the day it started rather than giving folks a heads-up so they could be ready, but at least I did it. I’ve managed to keep up for the most part but haven’t looked at the designers for today yet. I’ll get there…eventually. It’s been interesting to see what these creative minds have done with one simple letter of the alphabet. Be sure to check it out.

The other thing I meant to tell you about is a new BOM that started this past Saturday at Justquiltin with Denise Russart. It’s called From Head to Toe and is really cute. The patterns are on for just a limited amount of time so don’t dawdle on this one. A new pattern will be posted on the third Saturday of the month making it easy for me to remember because that’s the day we have our All Stitched Up meeting.

Last, but definitely not least, are the free designs by Jenny of Elefantz. One of her newest ones, The Sparrow has been saved and is on my to-do list. If you go to her Craftsy site you’ll find a few more freebies as well as some designs that are for sale. They’re all just lovely, and I bet you’re going to love them as much as I do.

Now I must dash on to the next to-do on my always long list. Oh, wait! Victoria just came home after spending last night in Huntsville. I think the next important item on my to-do list is eating an apple dumpling and ice cream with her while we catch up on the events of the last two days. YUM!

Merry Christmas!

Annalee Angel Ornnament
Have you had yourself a merry little Christmas? Are you still in the holiday spirit or are you all holidayed out? I talked with my sister this afternoon and she’d already taken her tree down and put the ornaments away. I’ve always thought it amazing how we grew up in the same house but ended up with two totally different perspectives on enjoying Christmas. I’d leave the tree up forever if I thought I could get away with it.

Since we celebrate Christmas over a 12 day period, we’re just getting started here. Last night Victoria opened her ornament from us and read the Christmas story out of the second chapter of Luke. This morning she checked her stocking to find a little something and will do that every morning ending on January 5. Yes, that’s a lot of stocking stuffers I have to come up with!

Tonight I read a Christmas story, one by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and we opened the first of 12 gifts. Since we give 12 gifts, sometimes a few extras as well, the gifts are typically small, but every now and then they can be a little more substantial. For her first gift, Victoria got a pair of socks, with cat faces, that hold little heat packs. She’s always freezing in this old house for some reason so I thought those would be just the thing to keep her warm while watching TV or sleeping.

Julia was here this evening as well and got a box full of goodies. We went ahead and gave her everything at once because she can’t be here every night. Nathanael visited this morning and got a nice set of wrenches. That should keep him from coming and borrowing Rick’s set every time he needs to fix something.

Our way of celebrating Christmas is probably different than any other you’ve ever heard of, but we enjoy doing it this way. We started celebrating Christmas over a 12 day time period when the children were very small. It was such a let down to have just the one day of excitement so we decided to stretch it out a little. It took a couple of years of trial and error to get the formula just right, but we finally got it down to a science and the kids were able to enjoy each gift they received before being faced with another gift. It taught them that good things come to those who wait and that good things can come in small packages. In other words, it helped to teach the children patience because they didn’t get to rip open the biggest box first but had to wait until they drew the number attached to that gift. We learned to number the boxes after the first year because that’s exactly what Nathanael did; he picked the largest gift first.

What?! No Santa Claus?! No, no Santa Claus. We didn’t want our children to focus on a non-existent figure with mystical powers rather than on the true reason for the celebration which is the birth of Christ. My sister thought we were nuts because our family didn’t do Christmas like we had done as children. I took some flack because of our “weird” way of celebrating Christmas. But that was all right, I’m used to being a bit out there on some issues.

When you spread Christmas out for 12 days you spread out the time you spend with the family and end up with more quality time than just one evening or day of paper ripping can give. When that 12th night comes you’ve had enough celebrating to hold you for a whole year. You’re ready to end Christmas and move on in to the New Year. I only wonder whether or not our children will do something similar when they have families of their own. Should be interesting to see. Only time will tell…

Another Year has Come and Gone

Time flies. Such a profound statement that. Be it whether you’re having fun or whether you’re not, time does indeed fly by. It seems like just a week or so ago that I was telling you about Victoria turning 18. Well, today she has turned 19. Where this past year has gone I haven’t a clue. I think the culprit is college. When your life is on a semester schedule it seems to go by quicker than on a plain old month to month schedule. If that’s not the reason why it seems like a whole year couldn’t have already come and gone, I don’t know what other reason there is.

So, what’s been going on in our little girl’s life—our little girl, who isn’t such a little girl any more? Mainly, much theChargerette same as last year. She’s still in college, a junior this year, still majoring in music, still coaching gymnastics, still a Chargerette, and still ballroom dancing. The new thing she’s added to her list of things to do is teaching harp lessons. She now has two students and is enjoying working with them and sharing her love of the instrument. I wish I could say she still helps out in the shop, but that doesn’t happen very often because she’s too busy doing all those other things. She has found a little time this past year to do some embroidery work on samples, but the majority of the time she’s studying if she’s at home.

She was invited to play with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble back in March because they needed a second harpist. That was a great learning experience for her, and she even got paid as a professional. Mileage and all! She’s played at more weddings this year than last, one of which was on the beach in Gulf Shores. That one was a bit tricky because of rain. We were told that rain on your wedding day was a sign of good luck, but rain on a harp is anything but good luck. She managed to get the guests seated and the bride down the isle before the rain came but wasn’t able to do the sand ceremony or the recessional. One of the young men who’d gone to help, held an umbrella over her and the harp the whole time so neither she nor the harp got wet. We managed to get the harp off the beach and under shelter without a drop of rain getting on the wood. Whew!

While she enjoyed having the opportunity to play at the beach, just going to the beach was her main objective. It turned out this summer that she went three times in all: once with Bonner, who you met in the post on her 18th birthday; once with our neighbor who needed someone to look after her grandson while she was in training; and then again for the beach wedding. She’s decided that after she graduates year after next she wants to spend that whole summer at the beach playing just enough gigs to pay her expenses but not so many that she can’t spend all day on the beach. We’ve discussed the problems with getting too much sun of course. After her first trip to the beach this summer where she returned fried, and I do mean fried to a crisp, she’s more cautious about what she puts on her skin. Normally she doesn’t really burn so she doesn’t put anything on, but after putting on suntan oil at the suggestion of a friend she learned what it meant to become burnt. No kidding. She was as dark as a piece of very burnt toast. Very burnt! When she peeled it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Is it hard to believe that she got that dark? Well, she was so dark this summer (how dark was she? Are you old enough to Dark legs - 2013remember that joke?), she was so dark that she was mistaken for an African American. Yes, I’m serious. One of our ladies asked Miss Martha if Victoria was still playing at Bridge Street. Miss Martha told her she was. Our quilter said she’d seen a young lady playing the harp there, but she was so dark that she thought it was someone else. No, it was Victoria. She’s the only dark skinned harpist there. Her friend who plays with her from time to time has a fair complexion and is blond. Of course, now that it’s October she’s lamenting the fact that she’s soooo pale and can’t wait until next summer so she can get out and mow the yard in order to get her tan back. Going to the beach again as many times as she can manage in order to deepen that tan will be on her to-do list as well I’m sure.

Back to her music… In the spring she’ll have her junior recital which she will share with another musician. If you live close by and want to come to the recital you’re more than welcome to do so. Just watch the calendar on this blog, and I’ll be sure to post it as soon as a date is set. She’s working up music for the recital at present and has some pretty impressive pieces under her belt already. Every now and then she’ll play those impressive pieces at Bridge Street, but for the most part when she’s playing there she plays things in the popular genre that everyone has heard.
Playing at Bridge Street

Her harp is back at the house now thanks to the generous donation of enough money by a local patron for the music department to buy a harp that can stay on campus. We’re back to getting to hear her practice a little every now and then. We just finished our first-ever fall Stitchin’ Camp this past weekend and some of our campers were able to hear her play for the first time in a long time when they visited the shop to take advantage of the discount given during camp. We’re mulling over the idea of having an open house at the end of the year and having her play. Early in our marriage we went to a B&B for music and light refreshments during the holidays. It was a lovely event and kind of what I have in mind. I just have to figure out how to hold the event without folks thinking the shop is open for business as well. An idea is forming in my tiny mind though. We’ll see if it works out like I want it to. Again, you’ll have to watch the calendar for the date, assuming that we pull the event together of course.

All in all we’re very proud of our lovely young lady who has enough wisdom about her to know that at present she’s far too busy to include a serious, or even not so serious, relationship with a young man amongst all that she has on her plate. She’s met several very suitable young men this past year, most of whom wouldn’t mind having her to call their own, but so far she’s kept them at arm’s length and stayed focused on getting through school. Of course, it helps that none of these young men quite measure up to Robert Conrad, John Wayne, Clint Walker, and other rugged and/or athletic he-men of days gone by which is what she’s looking for. On top of that, he must be a Christian first and foremost as well as have excellent manners and be a proper gentleman. Given the complexity of her list of criteria that a young man must meet, I really don’t think we have to worry about wedding bells for her any time soon. That’s a good thing because I’m not ready.

Her goal right now is to make it into an honor society where you have to have a 3.9 your junior year to be accepted. She’s close with a 3.82, but time will tell as to whether or not she’ll make it. She did make it onto the Dean’s List this past year and was able to get a couple of scholarships because of her academic standing. Needless to say, her dad’s quite glad of that. It’s not a full ride, but as he says, every little bit helps.
Belle in desk drawer
While it is on some levels intriguing to watch her grow into an independent young woman, it is also not something that I really look forward to. I’ve enjoyed having my children home with me, and given that she’s the last one in the nest I’m not at all anxious to see her sprout wings and fly. The saying that we give out children wings to fly on doesn’t work in my book. I’d rather clip those wings so flying isn’t an option any time soon. Thankfully, she seems to be content to live at home with her cats (her dear friends have dubbed her the old maid cat lady) and her fuddy duddy old parents. What this next year holds for her is anyone’s guess. Only the good Lord knows for certain, and I pray that He is gracious to her and that He keeps her safe, healthy, and focused on all the right things while removing from her life those things, or persons, that might cause her to stumble and veer from the path on which she’s currently traveling. If prayer is a part of your daily life, I humbly ask that you include her in them each day asking God to give her wisdom as well as sufficient strength to do what’s right. I don’t think it takes a village to raise a child, but I do believe it takes much prayer on the part of many who care.

A Word to the Wise…

It’s no secret that the current economic climate is taking its toll on quilter’s purses as well as on independent quilt shops. Seasoned quilters are pulling from their stashes as well as from those of friends rather than visiting the shops for new fabric as they have in the past. The trend seems to be that of using what has already been purchased and has been sitting on the shelf for heaven only knows how long. Fair enough. Shop owners totally understand that if you already have a great stash of fabrics there’s no need for you to buy more. We too are starting to follow suit and rather than buy new fabrics that are going to sit on our shelves forever and a day we choose to buy very little, if any, to replace what’s already been sold. Granted, there are times when we need to buy replacement fabrics, but buying whole new groups is less likely to happen in small quilt shops these days. At least it won’t be happening here for a while I’m sure.

Scrap quilts have always been a favorite of quilters, but they seem to be even more popular now. Using up lots of bits and pieces allows a quilter to make a beautiful quilt while getting rid of lots of fabric scraps. Unfortunately, as with all things, there’s a good side and a bad side to this method. The good side for quilters who use up their stash, or who have a group of friends with whom they can share fabric, is that they aren’t spending any more money out of pocket while still being able to create beautiful items with their hands. Maybe by doing so they are able to use that savings to get someone else to quilt their quilt making it a useable or giftable product as opposed to another UFO.

The bad side comes into play when a quilter finds a pattern of interest, starts pulling from their stash, starts making the quilt, and gets down to the end of their project only to realize that they do not have enough fabric, usually a background fabric but equally as possible a border or binding fabric. After having three calls/visits last week alone caused by this dilemma, it dawned on me that this may become a much more prevalent problem. In their enthusiasm to be creating, these quilters neglected to do what their carpenter counterparts do, measure twice cut once.

What’s a quilter to do?! Take background fabrics for instance. Rather than pulling a fabric from your stash and having at it, take the little bit of time needed to measure how much is actually in that cut of fabric and refer back to the materials list and cutting directions of your chosen pattern. Don’t just think to yourself that there should be enough there to get “X” number of blocks and start cutting into it, measure it first. If you have what is required, great! If you’re close then you need to do some calculating per the instructions and see if what is called for is more than you actually need or if it’s exactly what you need. Some patterns tell you to buy a little more than you’ll actually need to allow for cutting errors. Other patterns are exact in their measurements so you’d better really pay attention to the instructions or you won’t have enough fabric to finish the quilt. I’ve even seen a very few patterns that didn’t allow for enough fabric in the materials list. It really does pay to take that extra time and make sure you have what you need. You’d check your pantry to make sure you had everything you needed before you started cooking supper, so why not do the same before you start a new project.

We rarely go through a pattern with a fine toothed comb and do all the calculations before cutting, but I do recommend that you do a little bit of math before jumping into a new quilt project. Or any project come to think of it. That little bit of extra time up front will save you a lot of grief latter on. I also recommend that if you have even the slightest glimmer of a thought that you’d like the project to end up being larger than the directions call for, that you look before you leap. Maybe you have an idea for a change that you think would make the quilt even better. Unless you’re just a glutton for punishment, don’t start that project until you know for a fact that you have enough fabric to make it the size given as well as enough fabric to make it larger or change it up should you decide to do so along the way. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had someone looking for more fabric because they decided to make the quilt larger once they were about halfway through. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. I hate telling them we’re out of what they’re looking for, but it does happen more than you’d think.

OK, you’re a smart quilter and you’ve measured your background fabric only to discover that, alas, you do not have enough. You may want to try this option. Make your quilt using multiple background pieces. By doing this, if you run out it won’t matter because you can substitute something else and no one will be the wiser. Using various background fabrics also lends a touch of uniqueness to a quilt and makes it that much more interesting visually.

Another solution, should you find that you do not have enough of a background fabric and you want it all to match, is to go buy what you need before you start that new project and set the too small cut that’s on hand aside for a smaller project. That way you are not frustrated by trying to locate more fabric which, more often than not, is out of print and no longer available because what you started with had been sitting on your shelf for several years.

While basics, i.e. tone-on-tone or blenders, tend to be reprinted for an undetermined amount of time, fabrics that are released in a group have about a six month timeframe for reordering, if that long. Fabric vendors are also cutting down on the amount of inventory they have on hand and are not over-printing or reprinting as they once did. Two of the last full groups we bought had some skus that were sold out even before we got our order. This meant I couldn’t get more so once it was gone, it was gone.

I know you’ve heard the advice given by many seasoned quilters. If you find something you like, buy it when you have the chance because it might not be there when you go back. While fabric isn’t walking out the doors as it did when we first bought the shop, it does eventually get sold, so I do strongly recommend that if you see something you like when you visit a shop, buy it. Better to have to skip a dessert down the road because you bought an extra half yard of fabric than to never be able to find again that fabric which would have been absolutely perfect in your new project. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Tuesday Tidbits

Tuesday is one of those “eh” kind of days. It’s not Monday, where you’re trying to get your engine running and back on track from the weekend. It’s not Wednesday, which is historically known as Hump Day because you’re halfway through the week. It’s not Thursday, the day that gets your heart racing because you’re looking forward to the weekend, or it’s your payday. And, it’s not Friday which is the official start of the weekend for most of us once the clock strikes 5:00 p.m. Of course, the feelings assigned to Saturday and Sunday go without saying.

Some folks use Tuesday as their special tea day; myself included. There are tons of ladies, like Sandi from Rose Chintz Cottage, who blog about their Tuesday teas and show off lovely china and beautiful table settings. One of these days soon, we plan on having Tea on Tuesday and hope that many of our ladies will be able to join us. I’ve been working on a table runner just for this occasion. The plan is to have little lessons to learn three different piecing techniques over three sessions, a devotion time as well as tea and light refreshments, not to mention the social interaction for which we quilty types are so well known.

For now, I thought I might share a few things that have come across my desk in the past few days. Some of these you might have already discovered yourself and some may be new to you. If you have any tidbits you would like to share with us today please feel free to leave a comment doing so or e-mail me and I’ll share them with everyone.

Tidbit #1 – Jenny of Elefantz is celebrating her fifth year as a blogger. She is graciously offering her Shabby Roses ‘Bouquet’ quilt pattern to us free of charge. The first block, the chair, went on her Craftsy site yesterday and she will add a new block each day until Saturday the 15th. Today’s block is the bucket. Since Jenny lives in Australia it’s already Wednesday there, so you can get tomorrow’s pattern, the girl, today because it’s already been posted! These patterns will only be free through September 30 so don’t put off snagging them while you can. While you’re at the Craftsy site, be sure to look at all of her other lovely designs, many of which are free. She also has an e-zine that I’ve not yet subscribed to but am told it’s wonderful. I’m going to have to subscribe so I can get that off my bucket list (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Tidbit #2 – Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet has a cute flower tutorial on her blog. She used her Gracie Girl fabrics to make the one shown, but you could use anything you have in your stash. You only need a 2-1/2”x5” strip of something that would make a good flower petal. She gives great step-by-step instructions on how to make her flower so you won’t have any trouble duplicating it.

After reading through her tutorial, I would like to suggest that you use two layers of fabric when making the covered button. That will keep the metal from shinning through the very stretched fabric that is covering it. You might also want to fussy cut a cute little picture out of a novelty piece of fabric with which to cover your button. For example, I’m thinking a bee would look cute on that button as it sits in the middle of the flower.

If wearing it as a pin isn’t your thing, try putting a nice sized piece of magnet on the back and using it on your refrigerator or file cabinet. While it doesn’t look like the petals need it, I’d still be inclined to add a bit of Poly-fil to them just to make sure they don’t go flat over time. You could also use scraps of batting or what I call fabric shavings. You know, those little bits of fabric you shave off the edges of projects that just get thrown away because there’s not much else you can do with them except use them for stuffing inside of something. Just a couple of thoughts…

Tidbit #3 – Moda is having a designer blog hop called Size Matters. It began on the 4th and goes through the 16th. There are two or three designers to visit each day and a free quilt square on each blog to save. Instructions for putting the squares together will be given on the last day. In addition to free quilt block patterns, there’s a giveaway on each of the designer’s blogs. I know I shouldn’t tell you that because it will just decrease my chances of winning, but since I saw over 1,000 comments on Edyta Sitar’s blog I know my chances are just two, slim and none. Besides, hopping from designer to designer is enough of a reward as it is. There’s so much inspiration and energy to be gotten from each of them alone, so imagine how much of each the whole bunch of them together generate. Can you say, “Creativity overload?”

Tidbit #4 – Do you love pincushions as much as I do? If you do, you’ll want to hop on over to the Pin It blog hop headquarters where pincushions take center stage starting today through the 17th. There are over 100 participants and giveaways too. I can foresee a lot of computer time in the near future. It just so happens that the folks mentioned in the next tidbit are sponsors of this hop along with P&B Textiles (love their fabrics!).

Tidbit #5 – Bird Brain Designs, one of our favorite redwork designers, is having a Redwork Challenge. As I understand it, you can take any of their patterns, mix and match them, change their size, change the colors from multi to red only, whatever it takes to make something unique. There are prizes and a chance that your entry will be displayed at a special exhibit in January at the Road to California Quilt Show. Entries must be received before January 10 so don’t procrastinate on this one.

We have lots of Bird Brain patterns in stock, but if we don’t have what you want we’d be happy to order it for you and save you the cost of shipping. I’ve already told Victoria about the challenge and she says she’ll do it. Don’t know what she’ll do just yet, but no one will be surprised if cats figure prominently in the finished project.

Tidbit #6Studioe Fabrics is hosting a Colorful Peppered Cottons Challenge in which you must use at least 75% Peppered Cottons, designed by Pepper Cory, and any other recognizable fabrics from Studioe in the finished project. The challenge runs from September 4 through midnight EST March 31. Prizes are in both cash and fabrics for the first three place winners.

I wish I could say come buy their fabrics here, but we don’t have a single bolt of their Peppered Cottons and have no means to add them to the shop any time soon. You can get on their website and look for a store near you or call them direct and see if they can help you locate a store. I put in the zip for Fayetteville, looked within a 100 mile radius, and found that there was a shop listed in Huntsville, but when I called I was told they no longer carried Studioe fabrics. The shop in Ringgold, GA was also listed but they have gone out of business. So, if you want to take advantage of this challenge the first challenge you’ll have is just finding the fabrics. Given the state of the economy though where quilt shops are concerned, I’d say any shop you contact would be more than happy to ship whatever you want and/or need to participate in this challenge.

Tidbit #7 – Buy a Martingale, That Patchwork Place, book at your local independent quilt shop and get $10 back! That’s right! Martingale will give you a $10 rebate just for buying one of their books. All you have to do is buy a book between now and December 31, fill out the rebate coupon, and mail it to Martingale. If you’ve bought the fall issue of Quilt Sampler magazine there’s a coupon inside, or I have coupons printed out that I can give you when you purchase your book. You have to send a copy of the receipt along with the coupon in order to get the rebate so be sure to hang on to it. Limit one coupon per person. Offer not valid for online purchases.
little projects
Tidbit #8 – A new BOM program came in the e-mail this week and I’d like to get your take on it. Since Thimbleberries is no more we’ve been looking for something to replace it. We have an in-house BOM that we’re working on, slowly but surely, but in the event that we don’t get it put together in time for the new year we need a backup plan, or even an extra as the case may be. There are some particulars that I won’t go into right now, no sense wasting your time in the event that we don’t bring it on board. Just look at these small table mats please, 13″x23″, and tell me what you think. They can be made as seen or into a sampler quilt if preferred. Nothing is set in stone, just taking feedback at the moment.

Tidbit #9 – Our fall Stitchin’ Camp has filled but don’t despair. Victoria Clendenon and Janet Rose have put together a Between the Holidays Quilt Retreat at Petticoat Junction in Normandy, TN from December 5-8. The last word I had was that there are 10 spots available so if you’re interested give one of them a call and secure your spot pronto. It sounds like a lovely place to go and relax after the big turkey day and get yourself in gear for the last big holiday of the year.

Tidbit #10 - Last but not least, starting next Monday Better Homes & Garden will begin their 100 Days of Holidays program which will run through January 1. Can you believe that 100 days is about all that’s left in this year?! If you need some inspiration for the upcoming holidays, this will be one of the best places to go. Be sure to sign up so you don’t miss a day.

OK…ten tidbits should give you plenty to occupy yourself with for a while. Feel free to ask for clarification on anything, and as I said, share other needful tidbits that you might know of that I don’t. I’m sure there’s plenty out there worth sharing.

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