Friday, November 30, 2012

Gracie takes me for a walk

It's been six weeks since Gracie came to live with us. She is just a couple of days shy of three months old. She makes me laugh, a lot. She's making great progress on housebreaking, but she still hasn't figured out a way to tell us when she needs to go out. Or, perhaps, we haven't figured out when she's telling us she needs to go out.

I've been outside more in the last six weeks than I was all last summer. (It was hot, super hot, and I mostly hid out in the ac.) And, surprise, surprise, it is good for me, just like the doctors have been telling me.

We have this land, not quite fifteen acres, that has lain fallow for decades. From the very first summer we moved here, Kent has cut walking paths in the field. It's lovely to watch the seasons change, savor the wildflower blooms, enjoy the rustle of the tall grasses. But I'm a big scaredy chicken, there are snakes in the field. Okay, so they are just garter snakes, and mostly no longer than my forearm, they are snakes. I'm with Indiana Jones, anything but snakes!
But now that I have Gracie, the wonder dog, (and the snakes are all hibernating), we have been enjoying our daily walks through the field.
These trees weren't even here when we moved in, almost twenty years ago. Slowly what used to be a fallow field is becoming, once again, a forest.  While Gracie is busy playing food/not food, I am also busy enjoying the sunshine, and studying the way shadows give dimension to a monochromatic landscape.
Gracie has changed my life. She makes me so happy, even when she is being her destructive puppy self. But how on earth do you look at that face and stay angry for long? Sure, some days I suffer from puppy fatigue, but she's learning so fast, and wants to please. We'll get there, Gracie, we'll get there together.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

On the Radio!

To all of Pat's faithful listeners who have come to visit, welcome!

For my regular visitors, tune in (click HERE) at 4 PM Eastern time, on 11-19-12, to hear the broadcast live. It will be archived, and available for listening anytime.

Pat and I met very early in our careers. We started out just about the same time. I have enjoyed her sense of humor, talent and drive from the very start.

It's been fun to watch as we've each developed our styles and focus, criss-crossing paths every few markets.

Honestly, I have no idea how Pat gets it all done, but she does, and with great verve!

For those new to me, hi!

I'm the oldest of six girls, the mother of four boys and grandmother to two, a boy and a girl. And I'm a new puppy mom. But that's a story for another time.

I married my high school sweetheart as a sophomore in college, one year after I finished hand piecing and hand quilting my first quilt. My theory at the time was "the bigger the stitch, the sooner I'm done." I understand now that poor quilt was basted together.

It's always been my goal (even since I was a little kid), to do things as efficiently and effectively as possible. Perhaps my love of science pointed me that way. Sneaky Piecing is a compilation of all the tricks, tips and techniques I've discovered in my loooong, almost 40 years, (I started prenatally), quilting career.

For a nice little taste of some of my favorite Sneaky Piecing tricks, I've created a pattern for you to download. The block, called Christmas Star, was designed to illustrate more than a dozen different Sneaky Piecing tips. Yeah, this one block. (Imagine what you'll find in the book!)

To download the pattern, click HERE.

The truth is, I'm a teacher at heart. Or perhaps it would be better to say that I'm a pathologically curious student. Finding out how things are made is a joy for me, and then to teach it makes everything complete.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quilt Market Swag

One of the cool things about Quilt Market is all the goodies to be found. Companies anxious to debut new products often give out free samples. How do you say no to that?

And then there's Sample Spree. Oh yikes! (These fat quarters are just part of a huge bundle of Jinny Beyer's newest fabric collection. Yummy!) The spree opens the evening before the official start to market. Originally the idea was to offer samples, already made up, for purchase, to be used in a quilt shop to help sell the new product. Over time it became a way for shop employees to decorate their homes. And now it is an all out free-for-all with companies (especially fabric companies) selling individual items at wholesale (or less!) prices. Attendees line up more than an hour in advance to be the first folks through the door. Being shopping impaired to begin with, I like to show up about an hour into the event and just breeze through the doors. Hey, what's left is way more than I should be buying anyway.

This is the delightfully huge button we are given to wear while at Market, to advertise the newest issue. (Congratulations to Kathy H. She'll be receiving the newest issue! Thanks for all your terrific comments. We are going to be busy quilters this holiday season!) The fabric shown here is Mary Engelbreight's newest line. It's a-dorable. Lots of happy colors.

There are the free magazines to pick up. I've only read through a couple, the ones geared to the "modern" quilter. While well done, they are not for me. First of all they made me feel ancient (which I am at least ten years away from!), most definitely geared to the younger crowd. And, I have to say, the content was so simplistic (even childish) that I felt myself getting stupider by the minute. Still, I'm so happy to see young folks taking up the rotary cutting and making quilts. (Uh, did that last comment just confirm that I am ancient?)

My last great find came on my last shopping day, the first full day of Festival. These are pearl cotton from Lizbeth. They are gorgeous! The packaging says that they are for crochet and tatting, but you'd better bet I'm going to try working with them as both bobbin and hand embroidery thread. And the cool bubble thing? It has a little spindle inside, and a hole in the top, a perfect little carry case to keep the thread clean and ready for travel. I think it might be very handy for filling bobbins from balls of thread.
I have no intention of talking about the fabric that may be finding its way here. Suffice it to say that I've found a couple of new fabric manufacturers with terrific collections who are willing to play with me. I didn't go crazy in my requests, but I'm already worried about where I will put it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

100 Blocks Blog Tour!

Welcome to Applewood Farm. It's so nice to see so many new faces here! It's my turn today to crow about having a block in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks series. (Check in with Quiltmaker to see all the cool designers taking part in this year's blog tour.)

This is my fourth time to have a block included, and it's still an ego rush to be part of the magazine. My name is on the cover this time, too. Double cool.

I'm amazed at the originality with these blocks. Some are lovely, some are graphic, some are silly, and others are just plain cool. Every issue contains interesting and appealing blocks, which tells me that quilters still have lots to say!

This time it's Little Red Posies from me. I love the polka dots, they are just so happy. For applique artists, perfect circles are just plain showing off. But with three simple ingredients, perfect circles are easy to achieve.

Gather up a glue stick, a circle punch (it pays to haunt scrapbooking stores), and a sheet of Wash Away Applique Paper. Well, and some fabric would come in handy about now. The circle punches come in all sorts of sizes from teeny-tiny to honkin' big. I find that I use the 1/2, 3/4 and 1 inch sizes the most frequently. The Wash Away paper punches most cleanly through two layers at a time.

Press the shiny side of the Wash Away paper to the wrong side of the fabric. The smaller the circle, the narrower the seam allowance needs to be. A heaping eighth inch is all we need for half inch circles, a scant quarter inch will make three-quarter inch circles a snap.  Use the glue stick to turn the seam allowance, voila! perfect circles!
Here are just a couple of layout suggestions for our Little Red Posies. Two blocks together make a darling table runner or wall hanging.
I totally am going to make this. Cut the green border strips at 2 1/2", we can get all four borders out of two strips, cutting a 12 1/2" segment and a 28 1/2" segment from each strip. I cut my bindings at 1 3/4" to 2" wide, we'll need two to three strips for the bindings. Cut the bias stem strips just a couple of inches longer to span from one block to the next to complete the inner circle. Shazam!
Isn't this darling? Just four blocks, rotated around the center and it's a nifty little wall hanging or maybe a doll quilt.
This is where I tell you to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the latest issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.  Since I'm feeling all Christmasy, how about you share your holiday sewing plans?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


It's finally After Market. All of the weeks of preparation have paid off, and I was successful with my Schoolhouse and Take & Teach events. Well, at least all of the folks to spoke to me afterward told me I did a great job. If someone was unhappy they chose not to share that with me. Works for me!

Market is a funny thing. In a lot of ways it is all business, all the time. There are formal times to "see and be seen", in lectures and workshops. And, then again, I've had some of my best opportunities presented at a chance meeting over breakfast. You just never know who you might be sitting with.

I'm finally learning that, while good things happen when I'm being a serious, grownup businesswoman, some of my best opportunities have popped up when I was totally off, and just being my silly self.

When I went to my first quilt market (in 1997), I was a shy housewife quilter, with a "line" of six patterns. I was totally star struck. All around me I saw the television quilting stars just walking around like regular people! Now I can call some of them good friends. (But standing between Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims gives me the giggles!)

To promote the new book, I was scheduled for two book signings. The one at market was for free copies. The line was pretty long when I showed up, great ego boost for sure. But the moment the numbers for the freebies were distributed, most of the folks disappeared, a much needed humbling experience. Market is full of highs, when folks actually get star struck with me (who knew?). And then there are the reality checks, when you realize that all the folks lined up for your demo are actually waiting for the next free book signing. Sigh.
One of the many highs of this trip happened at Festival, the retail show that follows market. At a book signing where people actually purchase the book (where the real honor lies), I was seated next to Sandra Dallas! Yes, that Sandra Dallas. For someone who keeps saying she wants to write a grown up book (no pictures), I was star struck once again. We didn't have much time to chat, which was sort of a good thing, since we were busy signing (and selling) books. But Sandra was lovely, and interesting, and gracious. Having learned how much fun it can be to have folks fawn all over you, I did everything but kiss her ring. (And I would have, if she had offered her hand. Better yet, I bought her two newest books and she signed them!)
This market was pretty fantastic for me. I may have several new opportunities to work with magazines. A couple of teaching venues may come knocking. Relationships with my favorite manufacturers were cemented. All that good business, and, it was like old home week. Celebrating with friends who are doing well, commiserating with some who are struggling. And generally laughing my face off for seven days.