Wednesday, March 22, 2017


That I needed a new sewing machine was clear. Instead of bringing me joy, I fought with and cried over that stupid Kenmore, the one that I'd paid good money for (more than $200 in 1990, a lot for the time) and expected so much from. Sewing was my haven from the insanity of raising four hyper boys, my quilts were the only thing I did that stayed done.
I asked around and everyone said I should get a Bernina. I didn't have a clue and about fainted when I saw the price tags for the first time. We were a single income family back then, more than a thousand dollars for a sewing machine was just unrealistic. But, I'm stubborn (actually, I prefer tenacious) and I had a very supportive spouse, so I started a little business of stenciling and faux painting, something very much of the times. After overhearing a quote of five hundred dollars, plus fabric (!), to make very simple valences, I hiked up my big girl pants and offered to do them for half that. Done and dusted!
My first Bernina was a used 1530, purchased in March of 1994. I was so thrilled with the precision that I took my first piecing project back to the store to show off what that magic machine let me do. They offered me a job! I credit that machine with giving me the right tool to get my career in quilting off to a great start. That machine would do anything I asked of it, leaving me free to explore new techniques and even create some of my own.
I have been trying to think of how many different Berninas I've had over the years and it made my head hurt. I've been blessed to be included, from time to time, in the loaner program, which has given me the opportunity to exploit the features of the newest machines. 
I've been a part of the Ambassador program since almost the beginning. It's a cool gig. We don't work for Bernina, but we do get perks, like loaner machines. But what I like most about being an Ambassador is having direct input on the development of new machines, their features and feet. (There are a couple of feet out there that I've had a hand in creating, cool beans, eh?) They really do listen to us (and you) as they work towards bringing new products to the market.
The old 1530 that launched my career, now more than twenty years old, is still chugging away, being loved my one of my sisters. Another sister sews on a 930 that I took in trade for teaching at a friend's shop (I really got the best end of that deal!) I helped one more of my sisters buy a Bernina of her own. (The other two sisters still have no interest in sewing, but hope springs eternal.) My two daughters-in-law, and my mom, sew on 707s that I found on ebay. (That's Amanda putting in a zipper like a pro.) Boy, those machines are little sweeties and they've been warned that I get first dibs if they ever decide to get rid of them.
If anyone had told me, back then, on the day I bought that machine, that I'd have an international career as a quilt teacher, that I'd publish several books, that I'd be on a national television show (more than once!), I would have laughed and laughed. I was just a mom who liked to make quilts, a little bit of a perfectionist (okay a lot, but I'm better now), pathologically curious, short on time but willing to find ways to make the most of those minutes. It all began with having the right tool for the job. Thanks, Bernina!
It's been an honor to be included in this blog hop. Be sure to check out the other BERNINA Ambassadors taking part. They are a stunningly talented group of crafters. (Don't quite know how I got in, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can!)
Monday March 20
Lynn Carson Harris
Kelly Ashton
Diane Doran
Melody Crust
Tuesday March 21
Kathy Delaney
Christa Watson
Mandy Leins
Wednesday March 22
Sandy Fitzpatrick
Beth Ferrier
Cheryl Sleboda
Thursday March 23
Annie Smith
Lori Kennedy
Kari Carr
Catherine Redford

Friday March 24
Joanne Sharpe
Cherry Guidry
Jenelle Montilone

Monday, March 6, 2017

Blissfully off-task

It is a true blessing to be able to say that I have very few regrets in my life. Not going to France with French club my senior year in high school is one of them. But not taking art classes in high school, college and beyond has to top the list.
I've always been creative, yes, but I've never felt like an artist. It was decided for me, early on, that my talent was being smart, so I was funneled into math and science classes, with very little consideration given to what I wanted. Shoot, I was just a kid, what did I know? I was good at math and science, who doesn't like being good at something?
There's always been a yearning, though, to be able to translate what I see onto paper with pencil and paint. But like so many, I just want to be good at it now and I'm very frustrated that I'm not. This is where I get to repeat to myself one of the mottoes I fling at my students: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly for as long as it takes. Ouch. No one likes to be quoted back!
I signed up for a terrific class by my buddy Joanne Sharpe. I've been playing along with her on her "Artfully Inspired Life 2017" workshop. It's been tons of fun, and slightly terrifying! We're making a mixed media (yikes) art journal (shiver), using tools and techniques that are solidly outside of my wheelhouse. Just to double down on the challenge, I also signed up for Joanne's Fountain Pen Follies mini workshop. I can highly recommend them!
Joanne's (rightfully so) requested that we not post pictures of the actual lessons, so what I've shown here are my version of the exercises, and proof that I am inherently incapable of actually following instructions, no matter how good my intentions.

In addition to the on line workshops, the Fiber Artisan group I've joined here in Green Bay (lovely folks, second Tuesday of the month at 10 am), is working on playing with paints and other embellishments on fabric.

Since everything I do seems to relate back to applique in some way, my project from last month is a painted background. When I can decide what color the table cloth should be I'll get the rest of it done. Blue seems to have usurped red as my favorite neutral, but I'm pushing back a little on my desire to make everything blue. I'm open to suggestions!

It's taken me quite a while to get used to freedom from deadlines, and the expectations of being a responsible adult and business owner. The time to make mistakes is a glorious luxury that I can finally appreciate. Suddenly I'm doing things badly and having the time of my life!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Busy girl

I don't know whether I feel like a new woman, or my good old self, or if it's just the sun coming back after the darkness of winter, but either way, life is good. After a couple more doctor visits in January my heart has been declared healthy, the new arteries are fully compensating for the one that was lost. The irregular heart beat was found to be benign, and has been decreasing in frequency. Best of all, I'm off the strongest of the medications. I feel like the fog has lifted.

Even though I've been ignoring the blog, I've been a busy girl. I knit a bunch of stuff, fingerless mitts and socks, for my kidlets, which went off to their new owners without photographic documentation. I've been embroidering like a mad woman, and I'm taking a couple of online classes about art journaling. I've even been doing a little bit of applique, which I'll show you soon.

It's been a lot of fun to be "off task" for a while. I've had time to reacquaint myself with hand embroidery. The local embroidery guild has made a crazy quilt to raffle as a fund raiser. It was such a joy to work on that I almost went into mourning when I finished my block and had to turn it in.

We were each given a base block, already pieced, to embellish. Since this is way outside my normal comfort zone it was both scary and exciting to make the decisions for each space. I've been pouring over books on crazy quilting for ideas.

The hardest part for me was knowing when I had done enough. I think my normal style is a little spare. I like space. But spare is not commonly associated with crazy. Overall, I am rather pleased with the outcome. The block holds its own with the rest of the blocks. I'll be sure to post a picture of the full quilt when I get one. It's stunning.

I had originally planned to do a long post with little bits of everything I've been up to, but I've reconsidered. It's time to jump start the blog, get back into the swing of things. I've even started booking workshops again! Just wait until you see all of the neat stuff I have to show you!