Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas one and All!

It's December 24th, and I hope this finds you enjoying the spirit of the season! Christmas is progressing on schedule here, and I'm off to get the Christmas roast now.  In the meantime, I thought that you'd all enjoy a cat-s perspective...

Athough if you had described me before last Thursday night if I was an applique person, I'd have asked you how big you wanted that lump of coal to be, I completely LOVED my class with Elly Sienkiewiz last week. If you are going to learn a technique, it's always best to learn from the woman who pioneered it.  She demystified the dreaded needle turn applique (something that's intimidated me for years...never saw myself as on of those people) in a class that was FUN, entertaining, enlightening - a perfect time out for me in the run up to Christmas.
That second picture is Elly, her granddaughter (and namesake Elly) who took the class, Sue Chiappini (who owns Twill, the great new downtown store that hosted the event) and Wanda Makela, who owns Bunkhouse Quilts in Lyndeboro...I'm sorry I don't know the woman in the pink vest - but she had as much fun as the rest of us. Not pictured is Sarah Glenfield, my applique buddy - if you're taking someone as shotgun, take the best!
Here's Elly explaining something from one of her original books, written almost 30 years ago - that block was drafted by her in celebration of the Industrial Revolution.
Well, I'm off to get the shopping done before things gets nuts - but I definitely have some updating to do for my "Ten Quilter's you Should Know" lecture - since Elly is on the list.  This wrapped up what has turned out to be an unbelievable year for me, and I can't wait to tell you more. Soon!
Best wishes to all this Holiday Season...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December's Grace

Good morning to all.  Like many of you, I'm wondering where December went - amongst deadlines, shopping, gathering with friends, renovation decisions - I blinked and it's December 20th. Like many, I stopped to watch the news from Newtown Ct last week, and have found myself thinking about the losses at odd times. I saw a 6 year old in the market this week and wanted to hug him - and saw the look of understanding in his Mom's face. I watched a commercial about a dad talking about the best burger he ever had - right after his son's game. And I thought about all the milestones never to come for those that have gone (and their families), and it made me cry.

Then I started listening to the interviews with the parents of some of the littlest victims - and I found their grace inspiring. Emilie Parker's dad talking about his last morning with her, and Grace McDonnell's mom talking about how they colored her casket with sharpies because she was full of color and life.  I am in awe of their strength and their grace.  Their children were lucky to have picked them as parents. I have a feeling that I'll be taking them into my heart as I move forward about my regular day - and hope that I can become a little more patient, a little more tolerant of others. I believe that's what we need.

Today, I get to do something that is totally outside my comfort zone - I'm taking an applique class with Ellie Sienkiewicz - something I never thought I'd be able to say. More later...

Friday, December 7, 2012



Happy Friday! I have a very special edition of my One Quilting Circle blog today (which is either really late or really early) to share with you. How often these days do you find TWO (count 'em) new quilt shops in the area?  Well, I have - and I've got some information about exciting new events coming up that I want to share with you. Hopefully, you'll share the news with others...

The first brand new shop is Twill, which is at 100 Main St in downtown Nashua NH.

Twill's new owners (Sandy and Sue) are taking over  a retail space previously occupied by a yarn shop, and expanding it to include quilters and sewists. I was there yesterday (having heard about it from one other LQS and 2 different guilds), and I wish I'd had more time to soak in the atmosphere. It has a welcoming couch which just beckons you to make some tea and pull out some knitting.  Mind you, I don't knit - but I just want to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

That atmosphere is likely to become more energized when Sandy and Sue host quilting legend Elly Sienkiewicz for a tea and a special class. Yes, you read the name right! One of my Ten Women You Should Know legends is coming to my home town on Thursday, December 20th from 6:30 to 9:30PM, with a Tea and Book signing from 4:00 to 5:00.  I am very excited to be one of the lucky ones who has a ticket to the event, and I am so looking forward to it.

For more information about this special event (and others), please contact either Sandy or Sue at 603-718-1454.  Twill's website is

But wait, there's more...

A few miles down the road from Twill, in Amherst NH we have the other new shop in the Area, Quilting Away.  Bette Belanger's dream of opening a shop was realized last Summer, and I often find a warm smile waiting for me when I drop by. 

Quilting Away has a Nolting Longarm Fun Quilter 17 available for rent once you've taken a class with Bette to find out about proper operation.  I havne't tried it yet, but I have watched when others have worked with it.

Quilting Away has generously offered to host my next event on Sunday Afternoon, January 6th from 2 to 4. The Patchwork Pearl is once again hosting  A Downton Abbey Quilt Challenge - but Challenge II will be based on inspiration you find from the Downton Costumes.  Join me and Bette at the shop for refreshments, trivia, give aways and all kinds of Downton excitement. That's the day that the show premiere's the third season in the US, and we'll need something to keep up occupied!

Quilting Away's phone number is 603-721-2356, and their website is

Monday, November 19, 2012

What I'm thankful for

The third week of November is set aside for a day of Thanksgiving, and to count your blessings.  Several of my facebook friends have been posting daily reasons to be grateful - which is a wonderful concept, and which can be started anytime of the year; it's equally applicable to either your family life or your business life. Given that this is a OQC post, I'd like to start off with a shout out to the ladies who have given me so much professional support throughout the years.
- Beth Helfter, the owner of EvaPaige Quilt Designs - did you enjoy her guest post blog last week, while I was recovering from A Quilter's Gathering and from the UnTangle Holiday Retreat? I've truly been amazed to watch her star rise, and am proud to be a card carrying member of her Quilting Hotties. The fact that I'm president of the Confetti Toss Fan Club only makes it sweeter.
- Sandy Steen Bartholomew - the original UnTangled girl herself, who has shown me that there is a little girl inside of me who loves to play with drawing...even if, sometimes, she has to pull me out of myself.  And she is stubborn!
- Kate Sussman, Sarah Glenfield and Marie Geary - my great friends and cheerleader squad who are responsible for the magic that it "A Quilter's Gathering".  The three of them are part cheerleaders and part
s a winning combination.
I am blessed with more than I can count here, but I wanted to start the week of Thanksgiving with a shout out to you all.  You'll always have a seat at my table.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

If they ever develop the Oscars of Quilting, and if I ever win in the category of "Least Likely to Care if All My Points Match", my speech would leave out tons of people who have helped me as my quilt design career has gone from "Hey, this is a cute design. Maybe I should publish it." to the 24+ patterns and several lectures and workshops that currently comprise EvaPaige Quilt Designs. The saving grace would be that I would of course look amazing while leaving everyone out.

As the calendar barrels toward Thanksgiving, and Facebook is full of people giving thanks on a daily basis for the basics and the extras, I think I'll take some time today to thank some of the many people I might otherwise leave out on Quilting Oscar night. But first let me insert a photo of myself so you can picture me standing in front of you while I give my speech. I'm even wearing this same shirt today so it is almost like real time. Almost.

"First, a thank you to Linda Pearl. Had she not asked me to guest blog today on The Patchwork Pearl, I might never have crossed paths with some of you. Linda and I have known each other for about 13(!) years, having joined our guild on the same evening way back in 1999, and our friendship was able to continue into the new decade when the world did not explode with Y2K insanity as had been predicted. Linda was one of my testers for my very first pattern, "Feelin' Hot Hot Pink", and I will never forget the look on her face when I handed a very traditional, country colors-loving, homespun quilter the test packet. Another early pattern, "Confetti Toss", was definitely more her style, and to this day Linda remains CT's number one fan, surpassing even myself. Every time I sell one I think of her. I thank Linda for her support of my crazy ideas and even for sometimes asking my advice, which makes me feel for a few minutes like I have a clue what I am doing.

Second, a thank you to the ladies of New England Quilt Designers Cooperative.

Left to right Barbara Chojnacki, me, Kristi Parker, Judy Damon, Terri Sontra, and Cary Flanagan. Perhaps you've heard of us. We were featured in the April 2011 issue of The Quilter magazine, and we will ride that 15 minutes of fame like bunch of  "Bachelorette" rejects for as long as we can. Our group was formed in 2006 with the purpose of sharing ideas, splitting vendor fees at regional shows, and cross marketing our wares. I have become a better quilt designer because each of these ladies has taught me new things and inspired me to keep going. We get into spirited conversations via our private yahoo group almost weekly, and have great fun together whenever we have a show to do or a group lecture to give. Without them I would have even more UFOs, not to mention be paying a lot more for booths at shows. They are amazing.

Third, we have to thank the husband, whom on my Quilting Hottie Haven blog I often refer to as "Mr. Quilting Hottie". Without him, I would not have been given the name Quilting Hottie to begin with, and thus I would not spend at least five minutes a day kind of annoyed that I can't come up with a way to put that on a six character license plate like we have here in MA. Having started EPQD exactly three months before finding out we were having an oops baby (and while we are talking about him, we should probably blame him for her) and not being sure how I would continue what I had started with two preschoolers PLUS an infant, he committed to helping out on weekends as much as possible in those first few years, not only because he truly believed I had talent, but also because he knew I was going to go out of my mind if I couldn't do something other than clean and feed small people. The girls are older now, but he still does all he can to avoid our having to pay too much in childcare when I go out of town, and is always the first fan of any new design I come up with, even if he has to fake it a little. It also doesn't hurt that he doesn't ask too many questions about the purchases I make in the name of EPQD, and recently figured out how to get a 30" machine through a 26" doorway with only one major oil spilling incident. He's pretty cool.

Finally, I want to thank the people who make me feel like what I am doing is worthwhile, whether it is an email saying "Hey, I made your pattern - here's a photo!" or a quick note on my EPQD Facebook page, or a compliment after a lecture or workshop....I definitely don't want to sound like I mean I need constant back-patting and reverence, but without the interaction I get with quilters who are doing things with my patterns I wouldn't be quite as inspired to keep going, and you'll never know how much you can make my day with some of the simplest things you all share."

So there you go. My Quilting Oscar speech. I can already think of 6 people I should have included but time is short and the band is playing.


Beth Helfter is the CEO and Chief of Everything at EvaPaige Quilt Designs, a pattern company dedicated to creating designs in her "fun over fuss" style to appeal to a wide range of quilters; machine applique, embellishment techniques, scrappy with a twist, and simple elegant designs are all represented in the pattern line. In addition, Beth gives lectures and workshops wherever modern transportation will take her and has unofficially crowned herself the "Jewel-it Queen".

You can find her on the web at her website, which she'll be honest she has a hard time updating, her Quilting Hottie Haven blog, which she updates a few times a week and is a better resource for everyone, and her EPQD Facebook page


Friday, November 9, 2012

What we can ALL do to help the victims of Sandy

I'll be back to my regular posting next week, but I wanted to get this post out this morning. All weekend at A Quilters Gathering, we ran into quilters who came up to the conference from the mid-Atlantic for a slice or normalcy in an otherwise chaotic situation. Truth to tell, I missed a lot of the news on this between working show set up and the actual show. What I've seen on the news this week (and have come to understand from conversations with some others who are working on other relief efforts) has shocked me. How can an event like this have had an effect on such a populated area?

For quilters who are looking for a way to help, I hope you've heard about the combined efforts of EQuilter and Timeless Treasures Fabrics...they have put together an effort to provide 5000 (that number still stuns me!) quilts to people who have lost everything in this tragedy. (please click on the link to learn more - they explain it so much better than I can) has mobilized quilters after disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan, in addition to others. They have also partnered with Timeless Treasures fabrics (their web site appears to be down so I can't link you to it) to serve as a collection point for the effort. 

If you are interested in assisting in the efforts, or want more information about this, the best place to get updates and details for now appears to be the page I linked to above; please take the time to read carefully through the details page. If you would like to help but don't feel you can commit to a quilt, you'll be happy to know that has also pledged to donate a % of sales to assist in relief efforts.

Thanks to my friend, Cary Flanagan of Something Sew Fine Designs for posting this on her FB wall this week - that's how I found out about it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Quilter's Gathering finds new home

Good morning from New Hampshire. I've been working with the ladies of A Quilter's Gathering here at the Manchester Radisson all week to premiere the show here starting yesterday. I didn't get to post the video yesterday, but I'm going to be working more with camera today to bring you the sights and sounds of the Gathering. So maybe think of this brief blog post as 1 of x number. Not to mention experiment time - this is the first video I've tried to post through blogger.

I will tell you that the quilts are (as always) amazing, but it's the people who make the show the special event that it is. More coming...

Monday, October 29, 2012

I fell in love....the story behind the Downton Abbey Challenge

...with a TV show this past year, Downton Abbey. I don't know whether it was because of the storyline, the costumes, my long denied love of soap operas, or because I love Maggie Smith.

I first became aware of the show at an open sew for my quilt's rare these days that you hear such enthusiasm for a show as I heard, so I looked it up and watched an at first view.

Because I heard about it through quilters, and have asked several groups I've spoken with since then if they were fans - many are - The Patchwork Pearl  launched The Downton Abbey Quilt Challenge earlier this year with the idea of using the pieces as part of a fundraising auction to benefit NHPTV - which brings Masterpiece Theater to us.  The challenge prompt was for you to make a quilt which relates (somehow) to the story line.

The Challenge has been an interesting exercise to run, and  this past Tuesday I mailed the completed pieces to Durham NH to be featured in their online Winter Auction, which will run from Nov 9-23.  To see the auction items, please visit, click on ‘Browse by Category’, then click on ‘Downton Abbey’.

I know several pieces which are in process, but which did not get completed in time - but I would like to share with you the pieces which were donated.

This first quilt was made by my sister in law, Nancy Cote of Manchester, and her inspiration was the hats often seen on the sisters in the series. Nancy's a very enthusiastic quilter, and this was the first entry I received.


I knew right away what I was going to do - my entry was based on a star tat was part of the detail from the grand salon of the Titanic. 

Either of these items is available to bid as part of the auction - I hope that my small contribution will be successful. 

I'm looking forward to Downton's return on January 6th here in the US - and I'll have a big announcement on that date!

So truth be told....are you a fan of Downton Abbey? 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What happens at the retreat...

First of, I'd be remiss if i didn't mention my sincere thanks to Sue West for being my very first Guest Blogger. I always appreciate Sue's point of view.   You will see them pop up from time to time - some from the world of quilting, some from outside.


Anyone who has been on a quilting weekend knows the rest of the saying - it stays at the retreat. I had the chance to attend my guild's fall retreat this past weekend - and I didn't know until I got there how badly I needed a getaway weekend.  Our guild has recently adopted a new retreat home up in Waterville Valley NH - our previous location closed due to financial issues, and we were fortunate to find this haven. I think that they know they're never getting rid of us.  They met us at the door - and the rest is history.

The best gadget found at the retreat!

I'd forgotten how nice it was to just sit and work on a project - or two! Me, being me, grossly overpacked for this 3 night event.  The good news is that there are projects never touched - and ready to go on the next adventure.  I agonized (here) over how many projects to pack - and which ones. Being me, I went with a list of projects - and due dates - ready to be tackled. I know that's counter intuitive with the concept of a retreat, but it's how things for 2012 have been working out.  I actually took 2 out because I knew I wasn't staying a month - but took 7.

And amazingly, 3 and a half got worked on! Not finished (that was exactly one) but the others were moved along the line enough for me to feel satisfied. Monday's One Quilting Circle blogpost will have the details of the one project I HAD to finish - and pretty much did.

I also packed a lot lighter than I usually do for weekends, and I think I'll continue that practice. I can survive without my own chair, iron, board and extension table. Gee, maybe I could have bought a smaller car.

There was wine, chocolate, demos, fabric swapping, laughter, experimenting (some worked, some did not)...I played with 3 new tools and 2 new shapes that I'd never done before.  And the best thing was the friendship and comraderie that I get to experience with my own dear Squanicookies.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crazy Schedules - How Do You Keep Organized?

Crazy busy? We all get overwhelmed sometimes; it happens. But if it happens too often for you, then here are some questions to answer for yourself plus six practical suggestions so you can begin to make some changes.

Let's start down the path:
    • What will it mean when  you get more organized?
    • What IS more organized? What is "organized enough?"
    • Do you enjoy having lots on your plate? Or are you after a change?

How does it feel to say you need more time versus "I need more time because I want to spend more of it with my grandchildren" ... or on quilting, or taking care of ME, or on fun, like apple picking at this time of year.

Staying organized with our time is about knowing ourselves: what it takes to get us started, stay motivated, finish, be on time and so forth. It's about our own habits, foibles, discipline.

And mostly, it's about commitments and choices.

After answering these questions above, the next step is awareness to diagnose where your own tough spots are. My first suggestion addresses this. And then I've chosen five other suggestions for you. With some tinkering and tailoring, you can make these work in your own life.

Five Suggestions
Awareness: For the next few days, don't change anything about your schedule. Just notice and write down what happens to your time. Begin to diagnose the specific problems and answers will be easier to find. Be your own time doctor; get specific about the problems.

Create a time map: When you frequently shift between personal and business tasks during the day,  it's difficult to figure out where your time goes. Is each getting enough time? Designate business hours if you work for yourself. Put your "me" time on your map, so you know that you're taking care of yourself, first. Add in other obligations; organize and consolidate just a little bit and you'll notice a difference in your focus and energy levels as well. 

Daily AND Weekly Review. Look at the week ahead. Who is where and when? Evening commitments - enough, too many? Plan quick meals for those busy nights. Any double booking? Enough travel time? Did you work in quilting, exercise, meditation? At work, are you moving your bigger projects ahead?

Create time anchors.  At 4 p.m.. the day just flew by! Create ways to notice what time it is. Add more clocks and timers in your environment. Use appointment times to remind yourself of how much of the day has gone by. Have an office mate get you at lunchtime. Stop at 4 p.m. to wrap up the day and start transitioning your energy and focus to your personal life.

Learn to let go and invite assistance.  Stay involved in your committee but not as a leader. Teach your kids how to help with laundry or give your teens a chance to cook. Hire a virtual assistant for a few hours a month. Let go, monitor how they do, but also - let go of your own high standards. "Good enough" is a phrase to define for yourself, so you can ask involve others in your success more often.

Give yourself permission to live more simply and based on your core values. By that I mean to use and organize your time based on what's truly important to you at this stage of your life.

Take your time seriously and others will, too.

Sue West is a Certified Organizing Coach and ADHD Specialist, as well as the author of Organize for A Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life. Sue works in homes, offices and by phone. Her clients have called her "insightful, wise, inspiring" and together, they achieve results quickly.

Learn more or schedule your 1/2 hour, no charge phone consultation with Sue at 603.554.1948 or More about her book or sign up for her organizing blog: Advice newsletter and more about her services at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn contacts are on both the blog and website, too! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Technology Is our Friend (Repeat 100X)

       I have been trying to post 2 times a week - once under the One Quilting Circle tag, where I address items relevent to SOHO creative arts professionals, and other posts which are more genereal in nature on Thursdays. So it's Wednesday afternoon -  where's she going with this?

       Well, this blog post has been burning a hole in my brain for a couple of weeks now, but I couldn't post earlier because of Technology issues. There are times, especially when you are fulfilling all the jobs on your org chart, when you have to bite the bullet and make technology work for you (even as you don't want to fall into the trap of buying every new 'toy' in town.

Another instance of do as I say, not as I do!

Truthfully, I held off on getting a new phone for a lot longer than I should have...I know that this one has capabilities (like my email and GPS) that the old one didn't. My laptop had to go into the shop for repairs (that's why this is posting now, instead of on Monday)  - but I was able to access email reservations for an upcoming retreat on the phone.  And I've got some interesting plans afoot (which involves video and YouTube) in the short term - it's amazing what you can do.

One thing I'm going to be trying (and I want to hear how you like this) is that periodically, I'm going to be having guest bloggers post here - and on Monday, Oct 22 you'll see a post from my friend Sue West, an organizational expert who owns Space4U Organizing. I've learned a lot from Sue, and I've never met a quilter who wasn't on a quest for tips and tricks...

I'll be back online on Thursday the 24th...I'm off for some R&R this weekend with my guild. Nope, I'm not running it - so we'll see how many projects make it out of the bag.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So many projects, so little (?) time

My name is Linda and I'm a retreat-aholic.  I began organizing them as part of my business because I love the concept! I got the email today from the woman who's organizing my home guild's retreat next week - and this is a rare treat because this is the one retreat a  year where I'm one of the masses, not the Julie McCoy of the retreat. I cherish this weekend - but now to get back to the issue of packing.

Clothes - not much of a problem - comfortable, clean and serviceable - oh, since I have a roomate, better drag out the retreat PJs. Yes, I own a set. Machine, cords, lights, chair, bed risers - all pretty standard faire. Wine - check. Now the big issue...

How many projects can I bring to work on? How many can I finish off my PhD (Projects half done) pile? Which deadlines are due first?  My dear friend Kate tells me that I have a touch of ADD on this subject - and she may be right.  In 5 minutes, I assembled 6 projects to take...

Orphan block challenge - due Jan
Downton Abbey Challenge for NHPTV - yes, that's a given!

My next handwork project -
How long can it take to finish the placemats? Ask
me when they were started!
And, of course - should I have any time left for relaxation...there's this pile...

With any luck, this'll be a computer bag!

Maybe I'll just enjoy the jacuzzi and the wine  -  check back soon to see what (if anything) gets done on this weekend!


Monday, October 8, 2012

OQC 10/08/12 - How are you celebrating?

October is here - the official start of  Q4 (and the holiday shopping season - if you don't believe me, check out any retail store, and sandwiched between the clearance patio furniture and grills, you'll see (gasp!) Christmas trees and ornaments.)  Personally, I have always held the concept that I want the shopping done by Thanksgiving, and the decorating done the weekend after  - but I'm guessing the decorating is there for a reason.  It's a good excuse to get outside in nature and enjoy the beautiful foliage.

October is a busy month here at TPP world headquarters, filled with a lot of  celebrations, activism, planning and preparations  - for me, this seems to be the start of a wild roller coaster ride which ends on January 1. I'm never bored or at a loss for things to do this time of year. But today I want to take a moment to talk about something that you don't hear about - and how I'm taking part this year.

The celebrating is actually for National Women's Small Business Month. The National Women's Business Council reports that women own 7.8 million business in the U.S. and generate 1.2 trillion dollars in revenue in all avenues of commerce.  I'm celebrating by paying it forward and helping out a budding entrepreneur fulfil her dreams.  Said budding entrepreneur is 11, has a product, a business plan, presold orders, and is working on her website and her Facebook page. I'm encouraged to know several young ladies that are similarly inclined (entrepreneurial), and I believe it's my responsibility to nurture such creativity whenever I can.

You can too - by following and her facebook page, Meredith's Marketplace.  I can't wait to see how this takes off!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Joys of Partnerships - OQC, 10/01/12

As of this morning, we're three quarters of the way through 2012, and we can see January from here.  It's a good time to take a moment and evaluate where you are and what you want to accomplish between now and the end of the year. It may seem as if this quarter is intrinsically shorter - and more jam packed - than the others, so this might be a good time to try something you may not have considered before.  Remember last week's post about stretching the comfort zone?
Joint partnerships have a long history within this industry - one of the first instances I remember is when Eleanor Burns became a spokesman for Elna machines.  Facebook and Pinterest have made it a lot easier for people to connect laterally, and if you want to see a good example of this, take a look at Aurifil's Alex Veronelli. Alex is partnering with both professionals and recreational quilters to bring new awareness to Aurifil's brand, adding his own personality and risque humor to the mix.
There's a lot of natural synergies available, whether  you're trying to build your brand nationally or locally. As long as the alliance seems like a natural fit between the parties, and the responsibilities are clearly delineated, it can be an effective way to increase your visibility (and your customer base) for all parties - it doesn't have to be just 2 people combining.  I have a specific example of that which I'll profile in the coming weeks.
In the short term - this might be a good strategy for both short term and long term growth - 2013 will be here before you know it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When is the mojo coming back?

For some of us, the school bus and the familiar schedule that goes with it brings us back to deadlines and details that often leave for summer vacation in June. For others who are no longer bound to observe those summer rituals, fall comes in quietly, closer to the date on the calendar than the start of school. 
But how do you get the mojo - the to do list - the groove back?  Ten weeks is a long time to put things aside, and it's HARD to dive back in.

Sometimes that break can be liberating, allowing you to step back and take a look at what's still on the to do list. 

Can I re-arrange, remove (oh, the shock!), re-prioritize?

What about cooping with other quilters to have a stash busting kickoff to fall?

Try not only looking back at what was still left undone, but also look ahead to see what's coming up before the next hard deadline.  After all, lamenting about time lost isn't nearly as productive as planning ahead for what's the most meaningful way to spend your time.  Meaningful isn't necessarily measured in how many blocks made...


Along the way, I've walked this path enough to have learned a few things.

If you want to start a quilting project as a Holiday present, now you understand why there are Christmas in July sales.  Life got much more tranquil once I accepted that no matter how I tried, if the gift wasn't done by Thanksgiving, forget about it. Why was I the last one to get that memo?

Maybe others are different, but I can work successfully and productively at one project at a time. Everytime I try to tackle too many things at one, I get 'stuck' and paralyzed.  I think I've finally got it! (There is a major exception to that rule - when planning for a retreat, always bring more than one!).

I work best with a deadline. Put it on the calendar, and then back into what needs to be done.

Never, ever enter a quilt into a show if it's not done.  See item above.

Fall will come soon enough, then winter, then spring.  The cycle repeats.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone, OQC 09/24/12

          People who read this blog  know that I'm a huge advocate of doing what you do absolutely better than anyone else. There does come a time, however,  when leaving your comfort zone is the way to go.   It's doesn't always mean a complete re-write of the business or  life plan, but editing it a little to open other avenues can be a very good thing. Creativity is very important in business - especially if you're a SOHO or a solopreneur (as so many of us are),  and sometimes it's like looking at the same photograph from a different angle - you see things that you've never seen before. Fresh eyes - yours, or someone else's - should never be underestimated. Within the last several weeks, I've heard of several exciting twists on this theme within my own circle, which caused me to look at the bigger picture.

           - Has technology advanced in a way that you can modify an existing product to release a 'new' version?

           - Is there a new tool that you can leverage to take something that had been 'shelved' and get that project moving again? 
            - Has someone asked you to be a speaker or a mentor on a subject, but you find that you just don't have the time to cover that format adequately? 
            - Is someone offering to pay you for your time as a consultant?

         If several people are coming to you asking for your expertise, leverage your time (and cash flow) by standardizing enough information to help them out (getting you recognized as an expert in the meantime), and then see about a daytime event or a pay per view webinar. It's flattering to be asked, but several people asking at once is a sign that you have something that people want to buy. 

         And that new product or service may be the incentive to move you further outside the Zone.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

A comment from LinkedIn made me think

One of the groups I belong to asked it's members the question - Why do you Quilt?  The answers are far ranging - everything from artistic expression to variations on "It's finally My time" to healing from personal challenges. It's probably a question that will have a different answer for everyone, because everyone's journey is different.  This might be a good time to unearth the time capsule from the mid-80's, and talk about my journey.

I began to quilt when my oldest went off to public school, and I really had time to myself for the first time in a long time - his brother didn't arrive for another couple of years.  I found myself in a quilt shop, and before I knew it I had signed up for a beginners class in quilting, based on a handmade sampler. I unearthed it this morning - the colors make it almost too painful to look at. I'm pretty sure that was the last dark background I used. I don't think it'll need a quilt appraiser to date it - it screams '1980's' to me. Or maybe it's just the voices in my head.

The second quilt I made - shortly after beginning membership in a guild - was this one, that has become my logo on my business card and website. It's also the first of the Challenge quilts - make a star, but nowhere in the rules did it say make a star with 200 pieces...that was my own special type of insanity.

Neither of these pieces have proper names - which seems a little sad. Oh, and there's that beautiful harvest color again - was I decades ahead of Tangerine Tango?

So fast forward a couple of decades, and many quilted pieces, and this is the one that I'm finishing today...

It's actually off my design wall and quilted - I'm off to a doctor's visit and will finish back tacking the binding there.

So now that I've shown you mine, what was your first quilt? Do you still have it? Confession - my first quilt is still intact, but each of my son's first quilts have long since bit the dust.  I had a lot to learn about construction...and more to learn still...

Friday, August 31, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation

Well, it's the last official weekend of summer, and I can already sense a chill in the air.  I noticed it first this past week as I went out on my screen porch - usually referred to as the summer office! - for morning coffee.  At 6AM, there was still enough dark out that I had to turn on the light - not something I'm used to having to do. Sigh.

Coffee in the AM on the porch is my time - whether to read a book, a magazine or to work on handwork.  It's just not the same inside - is it OK to sigh twice in one blog?

Still it's been a good summer - full of lots of surprises (mostly good, some not so much), and time to just chill out. We were fortunate to have 4 major shows up here in the northeast, and I was fortunate enough to make it to all 4! There was a lot of inspiration and motivation out there...

On the what's on my design wall front, you might recognize some of the blocks in the picture from my design wall earlier this summer.  That's a project that Linda Lum DeBono designed for American Patchwork and Quilting (Dec 2006), called Be Merry.  You never know what you'll find in the sharing box at Guild meetings.

Here's the wall today - one last row to finish.  I hope to get to it before next week's rounds of Show and Tell begins again. 

How was your summer?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Breakfast with a Legend...

Those of you who are fans of mine on Facebook saw an entry early on Friday morning saying that I was off to have breakfast with a Legend.  I can tell you know the details of that breakfast, the Legend...and the other wonderful Legends-in-waiting that I met.

 I was priveleged to  attend a very interesting panel discussion, entitled "Quilting with a Crystal Ball: The Future of Our Craft", which was hosted by the Lowell Quit Festival in Lowell, Mass.  The panel cut across the creative spectrum and was (IMO) very well balanced.  Kudos to the Museum and Festival Staff for putting something so cutting edge. The panel was comprised of Pam Weeks, Curator of the NEQM who served as moderator; Marianne Fons, host of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting on PBS stations nationwide; Mary Fons,  co-host of this season's LOQ and the host of online website "Hey Quilty"; Martha Sielman, the Executive Director of Studio Art Quilt Association;  Laurie Matthews,  the President of the Boston Modern Quilting Guild, and Rachel May, Vice-President of the Boston Modern Quilt Guild. 

The panel, which took the form of an informal conversation with the audience, started with the findings of the most recent Quilting in America survey from 2010, which indicated that the average quilter is aging slightly.  It's a sure bet that with such a cross section of quilting styles represented, there was plenty of room for debate.  The average age for the Boston Modern Quilting Guild is in their early thirties - a dramatic shift away from the official results.

The conversation covered a broad range of topics, and there were points of agreement (the role of community that quilters usually fnd with one another) as well as points of disagreement amongs the panelists and the audience.

Marianne Fons (above, with me) made the point that having come from a place where there wasn't a lot of fabric available for use, it's important that we buy it now and use it...there is the possibility that if we don't use it, we won't have it to use because the manufacturers will move onto something else.   But her best line of the morning was the point she made about the stereotypes (and haven't we all heard it - I remember my grandmother quilting!)...even Librarians are sexier than quilters.   It's up to the next generation of quilters to change that.

Speaking of Legends in waiting - pictured (L-R) here are Mary Fons, Rachel May and Laurie Matthews - responding to a point made as part of the panel discussion.

This morning's lecture was my first introduction to the Modern Quilting movement per se, and I learned a lot about where they fit into the story of the current generation of quilters.

Thank you, New England Quilt Museum for bringing this panel discussion to life.


Monday, August 6, 2012

25 Years of Gathering Magic Challenge

This past week, I was pleased to be part of the launch of a new quilt challenge, with some old friends as well as some new ones. A Quilters Gathering, which has been a mainstay of the quilting world in New England for many years, will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2013, and several of us have been brainstorming ways in which to celebrate this milestone with them.

One of the ideas that has been adopted is the first Challenge that has been held, the 25 years of Gathering Magic Challenge.  The link to the challenge page on their website is here. You can also follow the challenge on Facebook by searching for 25 Years of Gathering Magic, we've set up a community update page here.

We have several wonderful - and unique components to this challenge - which are laid out in the challenge statement: "...This challenge is designed for you to make a quilt that shows and tells us about one of your magical moments at A Quilters Gathering..."

In order to play with the challenge, we are very happy that one of our oldest and dearest vendors, Marianne Elizabeth of RJR fabrics, has been chosen as the challenge fabric - her brand new line, Arabella Rose is perfect for this theme. We've put together 3 unique colorways to play with -

Kate's Roses

Marie's Medley

Sarah's Thyme

We designed the challenge so that you can have plenty of lead time to create something magical - the quilts are due at the 2013 event next year.  We'll have the packets available for sale in November, or you can pre-order the challenge packets (6 FQ's for $25.00) through A Quilter's Gathering.

Let us know what you think by emailing me at or joining the community at 25 Years of Gathering Magic on Facebook.
There's a lot more coming...stay tuned!


Monday, July 30, 2012

         I took a ride up the Maine Turnpike over the weekend to take in the sights, the sounds - and yes, the quilts, at Maine Quilts 2012. I took that same ride almost every summer as a little girl to visit relatives and enjoy the many lakes of Maine, so when I go to this show there's almost always a strong sense of nostalgia for me - even just getting there. When you've got a good traveling companion, a great day and a snazzy car, Life is very good.

        When I got home Saturday night, I will confess - I was pretty tuckered out. I'm not used to driving that many (fun!) miles all in one day, so when Mike suggested Chinese take out (with a margarita on the screen porch!), I jumped at it.  Does it get better than this?

       Sometimes I get fortune cookies at the end of a meal and feel gyped - some just don't apply even when you add cryptic words to the end. On Saturday night, however - this was what I got.  I framed it. 

      One good dose of life affirmation, and I'm hungry again for more - in an hour.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The VQF trip ...

I've long been a fan of the Vermont Quilt Festival, but living as I do in southern New Hampshire means a long drive to get there. I've been able to go to VQF several times in the past, and I've come to the conclusion that this is the kind of trip made for a bus ride. And when you take a whole bunch of other quilters, many of whom have never been to the show before - you have a great trip to Vermont.

VQF does a first class job of encouraging young quiltmakers to enter the show, and I've long been impressed with both the quantity of quilts and the diversity of what these young people can accomplish.  This picture above is one of my very favorite pictures from the was taken in the vendor mall area, and this little girl (who has a shopping bag over her shoulder as big as she is) was really concentrating on working with the machine...she was not just playing around.  She attracted quite a group of admirers watching her stitch her flower pattern.  I love that Vermont is the kind of a show where this kind of creativity is encouraged!

Janome USA and Bittersweet Fabric Shop of Boscawen NH are two of the platinum sponsors of the festival, and this year they (again) worked together to acknowledge this very special group of young people. At the Opening preview, each Young Quilter (defined as aged 17 or younger) was awarded a brand new Janome sewing machine.  I think this is extraordinary, and I love the fact that I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

I think this photo was posted on Facebook by Pat Sloan originally, and it captures the excitement of the evening.

More coming later this week...I'm still unpacking!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The calendar in the quilting world has it's own steady rhythm, and today's mail brought with it confirmation that summer is in fact, here.  One of my favorite summer morning activities is to pour over  the A Quilter's Gathering brochure, trying to decide which (or how many classes) I want to take.  And with the brochure in hand, the online registration is sure to open shortly. 

This year, we're excited to be moving to the new venue, Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown to explore all that city has to offer.

This year's teachers lineup looks fantastic...time to head to the porch for a cold beverage to read the brochure and make my notes...

Oh, wait a minute - there's that other shoe dropping now:

Wait...wait...wait...I don't think so...

Sad, but true...this is most likely a Gathering shoe for me now...Dropping.

Contest deadline to submit an entry is Sept 15th...I best get off the porch and finish something!