Thursday, August 25, 2011

What kind of quilter are you?

 What kind of quilter are you?  Do you work on one project at a time or do you have several on go at the same time. In the old days (prior to owning my longarm quilting machine) I would usually work on 3 at a time. I would have one quilt at the piecing stage, and one quilt at the quilting stage, and another I was planning.  By having several projects  I would never get board. If  I got tired of working on one project I'd just switch to another. It worked really great!  But once in awhile I would feel the need to finish everything I was working on before I started a new project. I think it was the fear of ending up with lots of those UFOs I kept hearing about.

 Since I bought my quilting machine in 2001, things changed. Much of the time I used to spend on my own projects are now spent on my client's quilts.  I love working on other people's projects. I learn so much from them. But I still have the need to do some of my own things too.  I've learned over the years that I need to do some of my own projects in order to get inspiration to do the best work on my customer's quilts.

  So how do I fit in my own quilts when I work full time, run a machine quilting business , keep up a house, volunteer at my church, etc. Well this is how I do it.

 I quilt for my clients from 5:00 am until 8:00 am. I do my best work when I am fresh. So morning is the best time for me. There are no phones ringing or people knocking at your door at that time of the morning.  I turn on my MP3 player and listen to books or music while I quilt. It is fun and I get a lot done.

  On my lunch hour at my day job, I have a long term project I am working on.  It is called the Family Tree quilt. I've mentioned it in an earlier post. I started it last year and it will probably take me five years to finish all the appliqued and embroidered blocks, It is a slow process. But I'm finding I am really enjoying it. I'm not in a hurry! There is no deadline and no pressure.

 I like to do my cutting in the daylight and then piece my quilts in the evening. So on Saturday afternoon you will probably find me cutting my pieces and putting them into baggies so they will be all ready for me to put together during the week. I good friend of mine is a nurse and she gave me some Placenta bowls that work great to keep the baggies or small pieces  in. (Don't worry they haven't been used.)

 I try to find time whenever and where ever  I can.  For example,  I take my sewing machine with us when my husband and I go camping. It is so fun to sit out in the fresh air and stitch away. I usually get a few stares and often meet the neighbours because they are curious what I am doing. I have a project that I work on only when I am camping. It is a block of the month Christmas quilt that I signed up for a few years ago. I've got 9 blocks done now. It will only take another few years of camping trips to have the rest completed.

 When I am ready to quilt one of my projects I put myself on my waiting list. So, yes I do know how long it takes to get to the top of the waiting list. The only bad part is if I get behind I take my quilt out of the waiting list and put it back on the bottom of the list.
I also plan quilting holidays .I like going to a big quilt show like MQX or HMQS at least once a year. I get so much inspiration from taking classes and learning new things. I also take a sewing machine with me and I can usually  find a few hours to piece the lastest project I am working on. One year my sister and I went to MQX in New Hampshire. The hotel we stayed at was full of quilters. So, one day I asked the manager if I could use one of the unused conference rooms to work on some projects we had started at the classes we had taken. To my surprise he said yes. We had the desk staff let other quilters know that we had the conference room and they were invited to join us. Before long the room was full of quilters. Each one showing off what they had learned. We had so much fun!

A couple of times a year our local Quilt Guild plans a retreat. I've been lucky enough to be able to attend a few. What treat it is to have hours of uninterrupted sewing time. The company is great! We are pampered by a massage and spectacular food. And the best part is that there are no dishes to do. I am always amazed at the amount you can get done when you have a day or two dedicated just to quilting.

We are all so busy! But take some time to do what you love. Find a way that works for you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A couple of hours and a few good friends

A few months ago, someone I know was diagnosed with breast cancer. I really wanted to make a quilt for her but didn't have the time to do the whole thing with out help.  One Saturday, I called a few of my friends together and  and in several hours we had the quilt blocks, sashing and first border done.

 One of the women took the quilt home and added the outer border.  The next day she passed it on to me to quilted it. When I had completed the quilting, I passed the quilt on to another lady who put the binding on and made a label.

We had so much fun working together and I was totally amazed what you can do with a few good friends and a couple of hours!

Thank you to everyone who helped!  I delivered the quilt on the weekend and the recipient was so touched.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cranbrook Girls Bugle Band

When I was growing up, every girl wanted to be in the Cranbrook Girls Bugle Band.  Joining was like a right of passage.  When you went into 8th grade you were allowed to join. Most of us girls could hardly wait.

The band was started by a man by the name of Pop Price during the second world war. He was a military man so the band was set up military style.  My aunt Eleanor (Armstrong) Hayward was one of the original members.  She is the drummer in the front row, 2nd from the left.

Since her time, we have almost always had a family member part of the band.  My cousins were in it and both of my sisters and I spent a number of years in it.  And now one of my nieces are in it.  We had a great time, we met new friends, and travelled to many places in the USA and Canada.  In my youth, families didn't travel like they do now. But if you were in the band, you got to go lots of places. We travelled in school buses and slept on the floors of school gyms or church halls. It was great fun!

 My cousin Bonnie played with the band at the Montreal Olympics and was able to see the Beatles in person while she was there. My sisters and I played for Queen Elizabeth at Fort Steele. We went to the Calgary Stampede yearly. The band has won many awards there. We attended the parades in places like Spokane Washington, Seattle Washington, and  Vancouver, B.C.and of course our local towns.

 One of my favorite trips was when we went to Victoria. We took a ferry from Vancouver B.C. to Victoria. And no sooner had we arrived on Vancouver Island, the ferries went on strike. The trip was supposed to be a couple of days on the island but soon turned in to a couple of weeks. Can you imagine taking 100+ girls for a few days and having it turn into a few weeks? What to you do with that many girls for that length of time. We went site seeing. We saw the Buchard Gardens, the Wax museum, we saw the parliment buildings and saw the Giant Redwood forest. And we played for whoever we could. It was amazing!

This past weekend, we had a reunion. All members from those early days until now were invited.  Did it ever bring back memories. We marched in the Sam Steele parade along with the present day members. Some of us played our old instruments or twirled our battons or flags. It took a bit of practise.

At first I was a little hesitant to join in. When I was a member of the band I was a Flag Majorette. I was slim and trim back then. I really didn't know if I could do it.  But the band no longer has enough members to have Flag Majorettes so if we didn't do it, there would be any. With a little encouragement a group of us made up a simple routine and we joined in. I'm sure we didn't look as good as we did twenty or thirty years ago but we had a great time. Our families laughed so hard when they saw us coming.

My two sisters are the blond women in the second row and I am the flag majorette that looks like she is going to have a heart attack.

My niece Derrien plays in the band today. She is the smiling blond. They still play those original bugles. (They haven't been made since 1940.)

We missed all of you who couldn't be there!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cranbrook Quilter's Guild Quilt Show

The Cranbrook Quilter's Guild is hosting a quilt show June 3 and 4. They are a talented group of ladies so I'm sure you would really like it. I hope to see you there! The quilt on the poster was the winning quilt at their last show. It was made by Ileane Sampert and was quilted by me.

Here are a few quilts that I recently completed for one of  my clients. Ev made this beautiful sampler quilt to improve her skills. She completed all the block in a Fons and Porter book to learn all the different techniques in it. Then she used her imagination and made up a few of her own blocks. She made guitar block to honor her husband who is a musician (among other things) and fills their home with joyful sounds.  The dog quilt was also made by Ev. It is so cute!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


A quilting trip to Salt Lake City is not complete without my two good friends Stephanie and Laurie. We only had to drive an extra 5 hours to pick up Laurie. (My husband seems to like that is a big deal.)

HMQS was fantastic! I had the opportunity to take some wonderful classes.

My first class was "Quilting in the Dark" with Dustin Farrell. Believe it or not, the class really was in the dark. Dustin quilted with the aid of a black light. It was amazing! He is a very talented fellow and he opened up my eyes to try something new. Dustin encouraged everyone to play and he made that play so fun. Imagine turning off the lights, listening to your favorite music and doodling on your longarm. (I was lucky enough to be able to take home part of his sample.

One of Dustin's quilts recently won best of show at MQX East.

The thread just glowed under the black light.

Dustin also likes to draw in a sketch pad. Can you imagine doodling like this?

Irena Bluhm makes some wonderful whole cloth quilts that she colors with pencil crayons and seals the color with some kind on medium.. Often she put bugs on her quilts. Not your average everyday bugs, but beautiful stylized ones from her imagination.

I took at class from Irena and learned how to make my own bugs. My first attempt was a scary but it turned out alright. Now I will have to try it using my quilting machine.

Many of you have made a "Disappearing Nine Patch" quilt. My next instructor, Mary Anne Ciccotelli added a twist to it. She called her quilt " Disappearing Rainbow" Can you guess why?

This quilt is so bright and cheery! And so easy to make. Mary Anne also did a presentation on 6 generations of her family and the quilts that they made. It was great!

Every year I try to take a class from Carmen Geddes. She is wonderful teacher and her classes are relaxing. She is never in a hurry even if she has 30 people in her class. This year she taught a class on using QuiltSmart. QuiltSmart is a foundation that allows you to make difficult patterns very easily. We made this Black Eyed Susan design. Can you believe curved piecing can be fun!

I also took a class from Vicki Shetter. She makes some wonderful family history type quilts that contained photos and other memorabilia. They were almost like scrapbooking with fabric. I was so interest in the class, I forgot to take pictures.

The quilt show was amazing. Here are a few quilts that I really liked. There are so many talented quilters

Well Sue McCarty did it again! Her quilt took best of show.! It is thread, all thread. She does amazing work. 

The quilt show had a section of pictoral quilts that were very beautiful.

This quilt is a picture of someone at the Hawaii Temple.

This farmer quilt was really large. It looked about 7 or 8 feet wide. When you looked at it, it almost looked like a photograph. I really liked this one.

This was my favorite pictoral quilt. I would have sworn that the seals were real. I wanted to reach out and touch them.

Of course there we traditonal quilts too.

No trip is complete without doing some research. As a family history buff, I like to visit cemetaries in the cities I visit. This time we went to the Salt Lake cemetary. where I looked for prominent LDS leaders.

I saw the nicest headstone that included the decease's family history. If I was doing family history on this family it would have been a great find. There definitely was some thought put into this marker.

After a week of fun, it was time to head home. Good bye HMQS! See you until next year.

I don't think we shopped quite enough. We still had a bit of room left.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Only one more sleep!

I am so excited! It is only one more sleep until I leave for Salt Lake City to attend HMQS. HMQS is a machine quilting conference and show. It is absolutely wonderful! This is the third time I've been able to attend. For me it is a week full of learning, a wonderful quilt show and merchants with every quilting supply you will ever need. To me it is almost heaven.

This year I signed up to take classes with Dustin, Farrel, Irena Bluhm, Mary Anne Ciccotelli, and Carmen Geddes, Vicki Shetter.  I love learning new things!

Each time I go I am so amazed at the talented people there are. I love looking their work. Several years ago there was a quilt made by Sue McCarty that honored J.R.R. Tolkien (the author of Lord of the Rings series) It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  And the design was only thread. It was the show winner that year. Here is a picture of it.

Last year there was a display of quilts made by David Taylor. I just love his work.

I think it is wonderful that we have conferences like this that get the best teachers in the quilting world together to share their talents. It allows a quilter like me to learn from the best.

I also like spending this week with two very good friends. Stephanie and Laurie are the best! We have so much fun laughing, quilting and site seeing,  Oh did I mention we talk? Boy do we talk! It starts the minute we get in the car and doesn't stop until we hit the pillow at the end of the day. Good friends are the best!

I don't know whether I'll sleep tonight or not. I'm so excited!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

When life throws you a curve ball

Have you ever wondered what you would do when life throws you a curve ball? You know what I mean. Life just doesn't turn out the way you wanted it to. You wanted something and you got something else. Life takes you down an unexpected path.Well, I would like to tell you about an acquaintance of mine. She is a beautiful young women about 30 years old that goes to my church. She is a wife, the mother of three wonderful children and she likes to decorate cakes. She has the best sense of humor and finds joy in the simpliest things in life. She laughs a lot.

She recently found out that she has breast cancer.  Her unexpected path. She has decided to share her journey in a blog. I have been reading it and I have to say, I'm glad it is not my journey.  But, I have been so touched by her candidness. She is just starting her journey but I can tell that she has amazing strength. And I've never laughed so hard. She counting the number of people that have seen her breasts and is having a bit of a contest, like counting the number of jelly beans in the jar.

I can honestly say that I have always been terrified of breast cancer. A very good friend of our family died of it some years ago. I saw the suffering that she went through. My Mother-in-law had breast cancer and had a scare when the doctors though she had it a second time. My husband's aunt died of it. A good friend of mine is a survivor, It seems it is everywhere.

So I'm going to face my fear and I'm going follow her journey. I'm going to laugh when she laughs, and probably cry when she cries. And hopefully I'll be able to lend a helping hand.

I'v been trying to come up with some ideas to cheer her up when things get rough. If you have any ideas, I'd love here from you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I've been up to

I thought some of you might like to see some of the quilts I've worked on recently.

 This quilt was made by Helen Etherington. Helen recently passed away and she left some wonderful quilts for her grandchildren.  I'm sure the recipient of this one is going to appreciate it

My husband loves to do Sudoku puzzles. So I made this quilt out of one of his puzzles. This quilt is a sample for a class I'll be teaching at the Cotton Tree Quilt Shop.

This quilt was made by Bonnie McKinnon. I just love that fabric line.

Bonnie's Christmas Quilt has a wonderful array of Christmas fabrics

This lovely Crown of Thorns Quilt was made by Diane Bjorgaard.  It is just beautiful.

This fun quilt was made by Helen Ball for her husband. It is so bright and cheery that I'm sure he is going to love it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beginners class excitement

Recently a good friend of mine and I offered to teach a beginners quilting class at the church we go to. We both love to made quilts and wanted to share our skills.  We send around a sign up sheet and were surprised to find that we had 14 people interested. In my mind, I expected about half of those who signed up to attend the first class. But to my surprise, most of them showed up.

At the first class I did an overview of the course and I told them of some of the things they could expect to learn. We talked about some of the supplies they would need and we talked about choosing fabric for their projects. Then Stephanie and I did a show and tell of some of the quilts we have made. We also included some of the quilts that the ladies who took the class the last time I offered it had done. As we showed the quilts we told them the stories of why we made the quilt and some of the things we learned doing the project. It was so neat to see the excitement in their eyes. I could tell that they really wanted to learn. We planned to meet once a month for six months and at the end of the classes the students would have a small project completed. As I was talking with the ladies it was neat to hear of some of the reasons each wanted to learn. One lady mentioned that she was struggling with a smoking addiction and she really wanted to stop. She thought that she might be able  to quit by having something to keep her hands busy. Another wanted to make a quilt for her daughter. Another just thought it would be a good skill to have. Another felt that she needed to get out of her comfort zone and learn something she new nothing about. One lady remembered a quilt that was made for her by a family member out of clothing her family wore. Since she made a lot of clothing for her children, she wanted to make a quilt with memories like the one she had been given.

We just had our second class. To my surprise all the students were there.  A couple of ladies even brought friends and another her mother. Our small classroom was full to bursting.  At this class we talked of quilting terms and they learned how to find the 1/4" on their sewing machine. They learned about using a rotary cutter and about strip piecing. And we had a lesson on pressing. The time just flew by. It was really nice to see some friendships starting.  I loved how when one student grasped a concept, they helped another who struggled.

When one of the ladies announced that she didn't have a sewing machine but really wanted to learn to quilt. One of the visitors said that she liked to hand piece and she would be please to show her how to do it. The visitor had come for moral support. But, she had brought a hand piecing project to work on. She showed her project and many were truly amazed that she had done it all my hand. So this evening, when others were wizzing away on their sewing machine, these two ladies sat peacefully in the corner piecing by hand.

I've spoken to several of the students since that second class. The lady who didn't have a sewing machine came to see me. She found an old sewing machine.  Her friend's husband fixed it up and her friend was going to show her how to use it. Others were meeting sometime in the month to work on their homework. And several others just told me of their excitement starting this journey into quilting.

I am hopeful that these ladies will not only learn a new skill but will make some lasting friendships.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Closed Shop

Several years ago we had four quilt shops in our small town of 20,000. One was a home based business that specialized in batik fabrics. One was a regular fabric shop that carried a huge supply of quilting fabric. Another shop featured the newest Moda collections. And the last one carried quilting fabrics, several brands of sewing machines and gave classes.

I never really appreciated all the selection we had.  If I needed a particular kind of fabric I just checked the shop that carried it. Well over the last while, one by one they have closed. We are now down to one. I've been thinking about this a lot. Why is it that they have closed? Each shop had its own reason.  Retirement, or family reasons were what they told their customers. But I think the biggest reason is that we quilters didn't support our local merchants.

Our town is a short distance from the Canada/ USA border. In a couple of hours you can be at numerous quilt shops that carry the same fabrics and supplies that the shops in our hometown carry. However, there is one big difference. The cost of the fabric and such is dollars less in the USA. So for many people, a short drive would save them a lot of money.

I've really struggled with this. I like a deal ,so yes, I have shopped across the border. But I've also struggled with the fact that if I don't support my local shops, they aren't going to be there. I usually try to purchase what I am looking for at a local shop. Then if I just can't get what I am looking for I would go elsewhere.
I remember the days when we didn't have a quilt shop and I sure don't want to go back to that time.

It really makes me angry when I hear quilters say that the local shops are just ripping them off . That they are charging more for goods just because they can. It wasn't until I started my machine quilting business that I discovered that you can purchase many goods in a USA quilt shop for less than what a merchant can purchase the same product wholesale here is Canada. And I also discovered that a lot of big wholesalers make it almost impossible for a small business to purchase from them. They make it so that you have to order a certain amount of goods before they will accept an order from you. Often times those minimum order limits are so large that a small shop can't afford to buy from them.

Most quilt shop owners aren't in business because they want to get rich. They love quilts, quilting and quilters. They want us to have a place where we can go for inpiration, for help and for friendship.

So, if you want to keep a quilt shop in your community you'd better support them!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is a quilt?

    A quilt is more than fabric,batting and stitches, It is a rare and wonderful creation of the soul which expresses our personal statements, our likes and dislikes, feelings, thoughts and loves. It is a bridge that encourages friendships. It supports our need for recognition,as we dislpay it proudly to the applause of admirers. It links us with those who've stitched before andwho will follow as it gives a wordlesss but meaningful description of who we are and what we feel. A quilt is all these-and more: it is the emodiment of love. (Diane McClun and Laura Nownes)
    Quilts give us a chance to express our need for giving. It always amazes me how a quilt comforts both the giver and the recipient. A number of years ago, I made a jar quilt. It was a simple quilt that I made as a joke for my sons. At the time, this was a popular pattern and most people filled their jars with bugs and other creepy crawly things that young people collect. In my jars, I decided to put different kinds of fruit and vegetables in my jars to relect my goal  to have some food items on hand for hard times. Since we have limited storage space, most of my canning went under the beds. It was a joke or fear of my sons that one day they would come home and their beds would be high off the ground (like the princess and the pea story) due to the number of canning jars beneath them.
    My sister loved this quilt and begged me to give it to her. Instead of parting with mine, I gave her the materials to make one of her own. Since she was not a quilter at the time I thought is was a perfect way to spend some time with her doing something I loved. She worked very hard to finish that quilt. I helped her cut out the fabric and she sewed. When she left my home she had a completed quilt top but it was not quilted yet. She enlisted the help of an older lady in the community she lived. This lady took her under her wing and showed her how to sandwich the layers of the quilt together and to quilt it.
    Several months after the quilt was complete, she called me. She said "You'll never guess what I did with the quilt?" "I gave it away!" One of our cousin's sons was in the hospital having a very serious heart operation. She had taken her quilt to the hospital and had given it to him. He was so thrilled. During his recuperation, it was his constant source of comfort. It is funny, my sister wanted that quilt so bad. Yet, she gave it away. This quilt gave my sister such joy making it but I think it gave her greater joy giving it away.
    The next quilt my sister made was for our father. She collected fabrics for months to have just the right ones. She just finished the quilt and was planning a triphome to give it to him but before she could, my father passed away. She was very disapointed that Dad never got to feel the warmth and the love that went into that quilt.  She decided that Dad still needed his quilt. It was a touching moment in th funeral home when she placed the quilting lovingly over my father. The joy in her eyes was a priceless gift.
    Ask any quilter why she made a quilt and there is always a story. I made this quilt for a new grandchild, or for a daughters wedding or as a gift for a son coming home from his mission or for a friend who has cancer.
   What ever reason you decided to learn to quilt, I'm glad you did! May you find as much joy in the process as I have.