Thursday, July 19, 2018

I Little Help from My Friends

(That would be you!)

As I mentioned last week, in late June, I vended at Vermont Quilt Festival. My booth was concentrated on two projects: Your Nest™ Organizers and The FLOCK.

Your Nest Organizers

Maybe you know this already, Your Nest Organizers are manufactured and warehoused in New York State - just down the thruway a bit from me. I don't keep inventory here in my home office.

So, when I drove from Syracuse to Vermont for the show, I stopped by the warehouse and picked up TONS of inventory to have available in my booth.

All well and good, right?

However, at the end of the show, I still had a few left, but only the FLAMINGO and HUMMINGBIRD colors. All the rest that I took with me were sold out! 

They came home with  me in a box. The other day, when I was running some errands, I was thinking about these PINK and GREEN cuties.

I thought: I should send those back to the warehouse. Then the next thought that popped into my head was that I'd rather send them to YOU!

So-o-o-o. It's time for a special offer.

Would you like to have a Flamingo or Hummingbird color YOUR NEST ORGANIZER with FREE SHIPPING? From now until Monday at midnight, I'm making them available from Hummingbird Highway (using THIS LINK) with FREE SHIPPING.

HOWEVER, you hafta use the link below (or the one in the paragraph directly above), or shipping fees will be added to your cart. And the shipping deal is ONLY on the FLAMINGO and HUMMINGBIRD colors ('cause that's what's sitting in my basement waiting for a new home!).

This special ends on Monday July 23rd at Midnight (East coast time)

(Domestic US delivery only.)

Stay cool and . . .

Happy stitching!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Catching Up and Catching a Breath

Since I haven't posted here in the last few weeks, I thought I would give you the whirlwind tour of my adventures. . .

For starters, I finished (that's an odd way to start a sentence!) organizing these two fabric shelves in my work room.

You can follow the steps I took here, if you've not already been following along with the Tidy Fabric Club.

From time to time, I may post some updates or stash-busting project ideas, so feel free to join the Tidy Fabric Club here. But just be aware that the regular monthly posts have ended.

At the end of June, I headed up to Essex Junction, Vermont for the Vermont Quilt Festival.

Last time I wrote, I was in process of making little mini quilts of each of the blocks from The FLOCK, so folks at the show could get an idea what they might look like in a quilt. They were all finished in time for the display!

My display (below) featured Your Nest Organizers and The FLOCK Community membership program. Both were very well received at the show and kept me really busy in the booth.

Two very enthusiastic FLOCK Community members, Patricia and Bonny came by and brought their infectious enthusiasm for the bird blocks. And Martha (I hope I recall her name properly) couldn't wait to take Your Nest Organizers home to get stuff organized in her sewing room!

And of course, there was time to look at a few of the quilts on display. I LOVED this entry in the "Happiness Is" challenge area. I love the way Monique did the shadows on each bird! And of course, they're BIRDS(!), so it automatically gets extra stars from me!

Got home from Vermont, packed up the casual clothes and headed to the beach! Cocoa Beach, Florida, that is.

In Florida, it was hot and steamy, with daily afternoon showers - just enough to make my hair unmanageably lifeless. This trip had a business focus - with plenty of room for a little fun on the side. Two days of masterminding with my marketing coach, Diane Conklin, and fellow business owners, shown below (Diane is second from the left) at a local seafood restaurant. Businesses represented in the group: catering, real estate coaching, personal care products, calligraphy and me (quilty stuff).

Florida highlights: Up before the sun to watch the SpaceX rocket launch (wow!), a trip to the famed Ron-Jon retail complex, sea turtle tracks on the beach - it's egg-laying season!

And then back home again where the water lilies were blooming in the front-yard pond.

In the office, The FLOCK duties were calling. . . . first the July bird was announced - Western Meadowlark! (top photo below) Each bird is officially announced about two weeks after the shipment date to make sure all FLOCK members around the world are likely to have received their kit before I let the bird out of the bag (we don't do 'cats' here).

And the August bird had to be prepped for shipment (middle photo). Envelopes stuffed and ready for 'migration.'

Here's a sneak peek of the resulting block from what's inside the package for August (bottom photo). Not giving it away yet! This is a close-up of one of the defining characteristics of our August bird. Do you know what bird it is?

If you haven't already, join The FLOCK here. The next exceptional bird kit ships on or around August 12th.

Last but not least, I made sure to leave a little extra time for my latest stitching addiction - biscornu - odd-shaped novelties that can be used just for fun or as pin cushions. These involve counted cross stitch or blackwork on linen, but biscornu can be made from a variety of materials.

I'm finding the patterns everywhere - charts on Etsy or Pinterest. . . If you haven't heard of these before (I hadn't until I found this book), just google 'biscornu' and prepare to have your mind blown!

They are great for summer stitching or travel.

For the rest of the summer, I'm looking forward to a little time to catch a breath, be boring, and stitch a little. No more travel on the calendar until September. *Yay!*

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Vermont or Bust!

Next Wednesday - yes less than one week from now, I'm headed to Essex Junction, Vermont. It's show time again . . .

Seems like I just did this!

This is me at Quilt Market, last month, in Portland Oregon. My friend, Rhonda Pierce, marketing director for Schmetz Needles stopped by my booth at Quilt Market and snapped this photo.

Have you noticed that Schmetz needles are kept handy on every single package of Your Nest™ Organizers?!

Anyway, I'll be featuring Your Nest™ Organizers and The FLOCK at the booth next week. Shows like this are the ONLY time you'll be able to see the FLOCK blocks 'up close and personal' from Hummingbird Highway without being a member of The FLOCK. So be sure to stop by if you're curious!

Before the show, I need to prepare a display. And I decided to make up each block released so far as its own little quilt. For starters, I'm adding a coordinated border to each completed block. It's really fun to see each of the blocks with real borders on them, in many cases, for the first time!

Then I'm going to complete each block, envelope style. In other works, stack batting, backing (right side up), and bordered block (right side down). . .

Then pin around the outside edge. . .

And sew a 1/4" seam around the border edge, leaving an opening for turning. So I don't go seam-happy, I pin the layers all the way around, then I like to put two pins where I need to stop for the opening. Can I tell you how many times I get lost in the sewing and wind up pulling out the seam so I can turn the quilt? Let's not go there.

Two pins=stop sewing, Joan.

Before I turn, I trim batting and backing even with the edges of the quilt top. And remove bulk from the corners. Since I know these pieces aren't going to be anything but display pieces, I trim back pretty severely at the corners before the piece is turned. I don't know that I'd trim the bulk this much if this was a utility quilt.

I save those wool batting bits for my biscornu addiction.

Then pin the opening closed. And pin around the perimeter, plus a few basting pins in the center to reduce the wool-batting-puff-factor while I quilt each piece.

This way, I don't actually hand stitch those seams closed, I'll choose a decorative top stitch that follows right along that folded edge, closing the opening quickly.

Unfortunately, my morning sewing time came to an end before I could finish up my eight flock block mini quilts. Between now and my departure next week, I need to edge stitch and quilt each one.

Think I'll get them all done in time? I'm not worried!

Going to the show? Come see me in Miller South, booth S-30! And check out my finished FLOCK pieces in my display!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

First Tuesdays

The First Tuesday of each month is a very special day. It's when I get together with three of my sewing girlfriends and share a meal, spend some time with hand-work projects (no sewing machines allowed), listen to a little background music, and a have few laughs and good gab.

This month, it was my turn to host. With my work table covered with stash organizing, and cruise kit materials for the last few months, my friends were kind enough to allow me to put off hostess duties while other projects took over my work room.

Even so, a little spiffing was required to get the area craft-ready.

We start with pot-luck dinner. The host usually provides the main course (this week it was was sweet Italian sausage and onions) then everyone fills in with sides and dessert. Once the dishes are cleared away, it takes a milli-second to get down to the 'business' of sewing.

Since we're all working on hand-sewing projects, there are no machines to set up and the projects come out of the tote and right into action.

There's Gail. She and Jen are both working on My Small World, a quilt pattern by Jen Kingwell. The pattern has some parts that are machine-friendly and some that are hand-work friendly. Both Gail and Jen happened to be working on the English Paper Piecing (EPP) part of the quilt two nights ago.

In fact, I'm the only one of our foursome that wasn't doing EPP.

And the aforementioned Jen. A second or two before I took this picture, Jen flashed a dazzling smile. Still beautiful, even without a toothy grin.

And Marcia, who was working on EPP hexagons. She was working with baby-themed prints in pink, taupe, and aqua. She started the project without an intended recipient in mind. Then she received the news that she's soon to be a first-time gramma! So, I guess if you want a baby to enter your world, you should start a baby-themed quilt!

And me. I was continuing my recent obsession with biscournu, as discussed last week. This time with a familiar subject matter. I found this pattern online and, unlike the other two biscornu I made from the book discussed last week, this one is strictly cross stitch as opposed to a combination of backstitching lines.

And of course, Peaches likes to join the rest of the girls. Although, she doesn't add much to the conversation, she likes to supervise, unless there is food involved, especially at dessert time. . . then she'll participate with enthusiasm!

And if the hostess is lucky, the person who brought dessert will leave some in the fridge. Makes a great breakfast treat! (Don't judge! So, okay, it's not your standard breakfast food, but Peaches made me do it!

Tell me, do you get together regularly with in a social sewing circle? 

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sorta Sewing Stuff

I love to sew and quilt. But sometimes, I'm distracted by something a little different but still within the needle and thread crafty category.

First a sorta quilt reveal. A sneaky peek of the Row project I'm working on for the local quilt shop, Calico Gals.

Row by Row Experience, the annual summer time shop-to-shop pattern collection contest begins June 21st! Shops across the country, in Canada, and in Europe are getting ready for your visit! This year the theme is Sew Musical. . .and the rows can be different shapes.

I'm writing the pattern for only one row this year (My FLOCK is calling me for attention!) And that pattern is for the Home of Row by Row Experience right here in Syracuse, New York. We know it's musical, but will it be the classic 9x36 row shape or one of the new shapes? The subject matter? I'll give you a little hint, it's inspired by a very special person well-known to this area. I'll leave the rest of the reveal to the gals at Calico Gals.

Moving on, over the long weekend, Dave and I jumped into the car headed for Rochester. We get the food for our birds at a shop in Webster (near Rochester), and while there, Dave and I both have some extra stops we like to make. 

On one of the cruises earlier this year, my friend Lynn introduced me to some of her beaded creations. I was totally swept in, and had to learn more.

I'm not very good at this beading thing, because I'm really just starting with this fun craft. (I don't even know how to finish the bracelet pictured above.) Yes, I know I can look up some tutorials on YouTube, but after spending lots of time on the computer each day, I'd much rather seek out some face to face instruction.

While in Rochester, I visited my favorite bead store, Let's Bead, and added to my delicas bead selection. Do you see any resemblance to quilting? As in, color, more color, and even more color - gotta have me some beads!

And then I have this bright thread collection. Some of it perle cotton, some of it 6-strand embroidery floss in really wild neon colors. They deserve something fun. . .

 . . A while back I found this book, Teach Yourself to Make Biscornu - I don't even remember where I found it - probably on one of my decorative box runs to Michaels. Biscornu are small, pin-cushon puffs with lots of corners. They are typically made with aida cloth or linen and thread - not necessarily counted cross stitch, but similar - the perfect small project for some bright and fun color combos.

In that same shopping area with the bead store in East Rochester, Golden Thread Needlearts offers lots of different linens for cross stitch. I treated myself to some fun colors.

I'm addicted to these biscornu puffs! I spent a good portion of my relax time on Sunday making the biscornu shown below, left. And I can't wait to get back to that one on the right with the neon orange thread. Wildly detailed little critters!

So, you see, I'm easily distracted but not all that unpredictably. Needle, thread, color, are all present in these "sorta sewing" projects that have distracted me from all quilting all the time.

And it's quite fun. Do you find yourself distracted by sorts sewing stuff, too? Oooh, do share!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Roses and Rainbows

Portland, Oregon is known as the City of Roses, and man-o-man do I ever know why!

From the moment I stepped off he plane in Portland last week for Quilt Market, the twice-annual quilt industry trade show, it was nearly impossible to go anywhere without seeing beautiful roses in full bloom.

Portland's rose-scented reputation dates all the way back to the late 1800s. Portland's first annual Rose Festival was held in 1907 and continues today.

Although I stopped to smell the flowers along my five-block route between my hotel and the Oregon Convention Center, my Quilt Market home-away-from-home for the next few days, sadly, I wasn't able to experience a whole lot more of this lovely city surrounded by rivers and abundant foot trucks. 

The evening before the market floor opens, Sample Spree is well attended by shop owners hoping to make some early wholesale purchases. The long lines start forming at the entrance a few hours before Sample Spree opens for business.

I didn't have a table at Sample Spree, but did go in and wander about for a short while after my booth was set up. It was sure crowded - as busy as I've ever seen a Sample Spree event! 

No big purchases for me, but I did manage to find a little bird in all that chaos. This needle keeper came home with me for my hoops-and-hand-stitching projects. I know, a bird, right? You know I had to have it!

My booth was pretty basic. My main focus was making Your Nest™ Organizers available for broad distribution to Quilt Shops throughout the country. That stack of Your Nest packages on the table was gone within an hour or two of the show opening. Shoulda brought more!

(After I took this photo, I noticed that my bright yellow rain coat on the back of the chair grabbed all attention from anything else in the booth. I tucked it away after that!)

Each day before the show opened, I wandered around a bit. If I noticed any sort of 'trend' it was COLOR! . . . Big BOLD color. . . All the colors of the rainbow! (Allison Glass booth)

Little bitty flashes of color. . . (Granny's Legacy Booth)

Colorful birds . .

(I didn't grab the booth id on this one, sorry!)

Even color hanging from the sky! Booth: Valori Wells

Whimsical color, too!

Booth: QT Fabrics

Since I was there promoting Your Nest™ Organizers, it was fun to see them sprinkled about the convention center in various booths!

At CutterPillar, for example.

In Deb Tucker's booth, Studio 180 Designs. And in the BlocLoc booth. You know I love these tools!

In the Olfa booth - have you seen the new pink splash rotary cutters, and bright blue and pink cutting mats? Perfect companions for Your Nest Organizers!

And in Sue Pelland's booth. She has exactly seven curvy rulers, and exactly seven places to store them on Your Nest! Talk about perfect match!

And, of course, there were quilts. Unlike Fall Quilt Market's huge Quilt Show adjacent to the exhibit hall, the quilt display in Portland was much smaller, but still very impressive!

The hand work on this one (Marchen (Fairy Tale) by Kayoko Hibino) was stunning. Take a close look at that border! Aside from the beautiful stitching, the border fabric is wrong side out! You can see in the close up shot below, a touch of the same fabric used for the binding has a more distinct polka dot. By placing the border fabric wrong side out, the dot pattern added a subtle texture to the highly textured quilting pattern.

I hope you enjoyed my short and sweet Quilt Market travel diary!

Happy Stitching!