Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Utica Bound!

Last weekend I traveled to the historic brewery district in Utica, New York! Yes, this is indeed the home of Schultz and Dooley - do you remember the beer steins that chatted to each other in the old Utica Club beer commercials?

Not only is Utica the home of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, known for their seasonal Saranac ales and lagers, and Utica Club beer (the first beer sold after prohibition) but it's also the home of a very fun quilt shop - Tiger Lily Quilt Company.

Located in the historic brewery district in Utica, Tiger Lily kicked off their ScrapTherapy program on Saturday. I was their guest speaker with a full house of anxious quilters ready to get their scrap fabric organized! The weather outside was cloudy and rainy, but inside, it was just perfect to work on preparing fabric scraps to make ScrapTherapy quilts and projects!

After a trunk show with lots of inspirational ideas, we got down to work, pressing and cutting scraps. Everyone had a great time!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Time to Sew!

Seems like I just got back from the trade show in Houston and turned right back around and headed down the road to Dutchess and Ulster County, New York for a trio of ScrapTherapy workshops with the Wiltwyck Quilters Guild.

What a fun group of quilters! We started on Friday at the Esopus Library (pronounced ee-SOAP-us) with a double workshop. Trunk show on Saturday in nearby Red Hook at the guild meeting and then another workshop after the meeting. Made a quick stop at the Village Fabric Shoppe to say 'hi' to Diana Louie who runs "Therapy Thursdays" at her store once a month.

On Sunday, it was back to the library for another working session. The featured pattern on Sunday was 'Something Fishy' - everyone enjoyed making (and showing off) their fish blocks!

Just outside the classroom at the Esopus Library, a small gathering of ducks kept us company and made a lot of noise when anyone went in or out of the classroom. Maybe they were 'cold ducks' . . . yuk-yuk!

My hosts for the weekend were Carol and Tom Natoli whose home overlooks the Mohonk Preserve near New Paltz. What a view, eh?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A few more Market notes

I've been home from Quilt Market in Houston for a couple of days now and it feels like I'm still catching up on my rest! After an early start on Tuesday, travel was uneventful. That's good.

Before closing the Quilt Market chapter completely, it may be worth noting that I taught a "Take and Teach" class on Sunday morning to help introduce the Skinny Mini Kits (see earlier post). A "Take and Teach" class is a hands-on opportunity for quilt shops to learn a new technique or start making a sample that has potential for a product or class offering in their stores back home.

Brewer Quilting and Sewing Supplies provided the tools, including Skinny Mini kits; Bernina supplied the sewing machines; YLI supplied the Soft Touch thread. And I was the 'instructor!' It was a good time.

These ladies are smiling because they're almost finished with their Skinny Mini samples! And the class was only 90 minutes long! Many quilt shops stopped by the Brewer booth to ask about these fun, easy skinny table runner projects. Watch for them at your local quilt shop!

With all the activity on the market floor, it's sometimes hard to remember there's a big international quilt show going on in the convention center. I managed to see a small part of the quilt show and snapped a picture or two to share. This mariner's compass quilt is amazing with 128 points! What makes it even more amazing is that the entire quilt is only about 12" square! This project was an entry from Kumiko Frydl of Houston, Texas in the "Miniature" category, sponsored by Pellon.

Now, I'm told there's snow coming our way from the south. I'm headed to Kingston, NY tomorrow for a full weekend of ScrapTherapy workshops with the Wiltwyck Quilters Guild. The fall foliage might have hint of white, though! I hear it's snowing in parts of southern New England right now!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Notes from Houston

Janet Wecker-Frisch is a fabric illustrator. She is in attendance here at Fall Quilt Market in Houston to promote her new fabric line, "Animal Alphabet Games" with Quilting Treasures.

When I asked Janet to talk about her craft, she said, "I've tried to describe my art and it's difficult; it's not quite whimsical, although lots of people have described it that way, but I'd rather view it as 'classical' with a sense of humor."

To provide insight into how she works, Janet brought several pieces of original art from the 'Tiny Tailors' fabric line, which is available in quilt shops now. Each new fabric line starts with many individual watercolor illustrations like those pictured here.

One of the things I like best about coming to Quilt Market is connecting with friends and colleagues from the quilting industry.

Even more inspiring is getting to see new patterns and ideas. This quilt display includes a pattern named "Merry Christmas to All" from Daisy & Dell, and is a perfect example.

Take a close look at one of the blocks in this amazing quilt! The detailed embellishments are really something! Designer Pat Bruce is here promoting this project to quilt shops as a 'block of the month' pattern. Look for it at your favorite quilt shop and in a few short months, you can have your very own quilt just like this one!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's a Skinny Mini?

A Skinny Mini is a kit that is available at independent quilt shops. It's new (designed by me!) and it will be introduced at Quilt Market (a big trade show for fabric retailers and quilt shops) in Houston over the weekend.

A Skinny Mini is like a quilted table runner, but is a little bit narrower and a little bit shorter, so it's perfect for those places in your home where a table runner is too long or too wide. All finished, it's about 6x40". Window sills, plant shelves, sofa tables. Hang them on the wall to brighten a tight spot. Cheer up even the most plain powder room by placing a Skinny Mini on the toilet tank top! 

The kits are unique in that all the fabric needed to make the Skinny Mini is included in a handy little zipper bag. The patterns are named after friends and customers. Who wouldn't want to be a Skinny Mini?! The first pattern in the series to be released this weekend is named Roberta. And she's a doll! Fast and easy to make in time for the holidays.

If you are a quilter, ask for Skinny Minis at your favorite quilt shop! If you're going to be at Quilt Market in Houston, stop by the Brewer Quilting and Sewing Supplies booth to see me. Brewer is the exclusive distributor for the Skinny Mini kits.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fabulous Feast

Dave and I headed to Minnowbrook Conference Center on Blue Mountain Lake in the center of the Adirondack Mountains in New York. The flaming fall colors, crisp, cool air and morning mist that rises above the mountain lakes and embraces the trees on the hillsides more than hinted at the change of seasons and the coming winter.

The featured event for the weekend was a five-course dinner served exquisitely paired with wine selected specifically for the ultimate dining experience.

Gary Decker, proprietor of Vinomania in downtown Syracuse, NY (315-422-8466) selected five wines from Italy. Each course, prepared under the expert supervision of Minnowbrook's Chef Kevin Callahan, was perfectly matched to enhance the complete dining experience.

Our journey of Italian tastes started with a white bean and sausage soup paired with a crisp white Pinot Bianci, and was followed by wild mushroom ravioli with pecan pesto (pictured), served with a Salice Salintino red. The third course featured broiled salmon with calamata olives, capers and tomato paired with Col de Bacce from Morellino de Scansano. My favorite course was the filet mignon with spicy peppercorn brandy sauce served with Chianti Classico Riserva from Rocca Del Macie. *Yum!* And last, but not least, came dessert: canoli with orange zest and tiramisu served with a 1999 Vin Santo (wine of the saints).

The event truly was an adventure served in the elegant and rustic surroundings of the main lodge at Minnowbrook. Out of reach to most service providers, cell phones were gloriously silent to allow every diner to enjoy the feast uninterrupted! With fall foliage at peak color, every vista was more beautiful than the last, revealing around each bend in the road, another riot of brightly-dressed hardwood trees and mountain lakes, all picture-perfect.

Our journey back home on Sunday morning included a stop at The Donut Shop on Route 28 just south of Inlet, where they serve old fashioned donuts in two flavors - plain and cinnamon. 'Just like grandma used to make!'

Certainly feels like my creative energies got a delicious boost this weekend!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

There & Back Again!

For the last two days, I was off to Connecticut to lead a couple of ScrapTherapy workshops at Bear Hollow Quilt Company in Colchester, Connecticut.

The enthusiastic group was ready to get their scrap fabric organized. Everyone seemed motivated to start putting those scraps into lots and lots of quilted projects! And you can't have a ScrapTherapy workshop without leaving a little time for shopping therapy. Quite a collection of patterns to choose from at Bear Hollow!

Holly Potvin, the proprietor, has a beautiful home in a 100-acre forest preserve in rural Connecticut, southeast of Hartford. Just steps away from the perfectly decorated house is the Bear Hollow Quilting Company where Holly offers long-arm quilting services to her clients on a by-appointment basis. She also holds a variety of quilting classes in the bright, sunny new building.

It's that time of year! The leaves in Connecticut are just starting to turn. As I drove home along route 84, I could just imagine the riot of fall colors that will be at full peak in a week or two. There's nothing like fall in New England!