Serendipity: good luck in discovering unexpected things

Yesterday was a good day. It was my birthday, and I love birthdays. A friend gave me a big bunch of springtime balloons, all pink and yellow and green and purple. Every time I looked up, I smiled. As it was also Administrative Professionals Week, my boss gave me a flower arrangement with pretty yellow and red tulips. Mom and I went out to eat (is it called going “out” if you eat at the same place you work?), and the meal was wonderful. I planned to use our birthday discount ($10 off on your birthday), but instead they comped out entire meal. Too bad I was too full to have dessert! Another friend was trying out new table decorations, so when Mom said she was going to JoAnn Fabrics I tagged along to see what might be available. When I arrived, Mom was already deep in conversation with two ladies and an employee – something about freezer paper. I joined in and discovered they were planning to make a wedding signature quilt, but they had no experience whatsoever with quilting. Score! I so love to tell people what to do help people. We chatted for quite a while and Mom and I offered to help them with the project. Melissa (the bride) wants a quilt made of pink, red and maybe some other bright 4″ squares, possibly with black sashing. The squares will be at her wedding so people can sign them (that’s where the freezer paper comes in), then her mom (Deborah) will sew them together into a quilt. When I got home I jumped on EQ6 (!!) and put together several options.

Black Sashing with Orange White Sashing with Orange No Sashing with Orange

Black Sashing with Aqua White Sashing with Aqua No Sashing with Aqua

Black Sashing White Sashing No Sashing

Today I’m off to see a cat show (it should be …interesting), visit my grandmother, have lunch with my cousin and then see the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. John Cusack! 1986! (It’s the year I graduated from high school.) What’s not to love?

Tomorrow I’m off to the second meeting of the Milwaukee-Madison Modern Quilt Guild, and we get to sew. Woohoo! Uh… oh, crap. What am I going to work on?! Too many options…


EQ… wait for it… 7!!!

Yes, The Electric Quilt Company will begin shipping EQ7 on June 7! You’ve probably noticed that I love EQ6, but some of the features of EQ7 make me want jump right on it. Here are some of the highlights:

– It’s extremely photo friendly.

Digital cameras will become a quilter’s best friend. EQ7 has dozens of ways to turn everyday photos into quilt ­­art images. Or crop and edit scanned fabrics right in EQ7 in minutes.

– Activations are a snap! I’ve been fortunate with my EQ6 that I’ve never had to transfer between computers, but with EQ7 I wouldn’t even have to worry about it.

You’ll never run out of EQ7 activations! Activation and deactivation is as easy as two clicks of the mouse. Install on as many computers as you like and quickly transfer activations from computer to computer. This new policy gives you complete freedom to manage your own activations — and no dongle to worry about!

– It’s even easier to use than EQ6, although I don’t know how they’ll manage it – I think EQ6 is super user friendly… which is great because they use the same interface for EQ7.

Exactly the same friendly interface, plus loads of new user-requested features.

* 5000 copyright-free blocks
* 5000 new scanned fabrics, plus grayscale textures
* 120 new pre-designed quilt layouts
* Snap blocks to a Quilt grid
* Instant border blocks with greatly expanded Auto Borders
* Print multiple photos on fabric
* Create original fabric designs from photos, then print on fabric
* Mirror and use myriad symmetries on photos
* Use dozens of artistic effects, making everyday photos look like watercolors or Impressionist paintings
* 79 new features in all

– I don’t HAVE a netbook (there is some lust in my heart for one, though), but if I ever get one I can use EQ7 on it, too!

And here’s the kicker – they’re giving it away free to a few lucky bloggers and their readers! Seriously! On May 3 Electric Quilt will randomly choose 10 lucky bloggers to win a copy of EQ7. Winners then get to host a giveaway and Electric Quilt will ship the winner their own copy. Now THAT’s a contest I’d like to win!

Okay, maybe I overused the exclamation point a bit during this post, but I’m really feeling the excitement here.


(Besides, it’s my birthday today and I can exclaim if I want to!)

Inspiration from the unlikeliest places

Today we went for a walk. It was a good walk – not a great one, because we still can’t seem to make it past about 3/4 of a mile before backs and feet start hurting. We’re consistent, anyway. We’ve walked every day for two weeks except last Saturday and Sunday, and Saturday we walked all over the Donald P. Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. So what if we were really just strolling as we looked at the quilts and booths – we were on our feet from about 10 am to 6 pm with just a couple of short breaks. And Sunday, well, that was recovery.

But today we walked. As we neared home, I spotted some petals from our neighbor’s tulip tree (aka saucer magnolia) on the sidewalk. It’s a messy tree, but for a few days it’s beautiful with its creamy pink shaded petals. Someone had ridden a bike over the petals, and I noticed that they had perfect brown impressions of the tread pattern. It reminded me of thermal paper, the way a crease creates a dark mark. I scooped up a petal and showed it to my mom, who commented that it would make a neat quilt. Idea! Inspiration! Best of all, it was early enough that I popped onto EQ6 when we got home and I drafted this quilt:

Tulip Tracks

I even made it to work at 8:50, 10 minutes early, which is a big challenge for me.

And when I gloated a bit to my boss about being early, he asked if I could start coming in at 8:30.


International Quilt Festival – Chicago 2010 part 2

Let’s hope this works…

Here’s a slideshow of quilts from the IQF in Chicago. It isn’t everything, but it’s a good start. These are all in my Flickr photostream, and if you don’t want to watch the slideshow you can view the set here.

I have included the name of the quilt and the quilt maker on the Flickr page for each quilt. You can click on the photos to see this information, and to see the photo in greater detail. On the Flickr page, click “All Sizes” above the photo, then select the size you want to view.


Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “IQF Chicago 2010“, posted with vodpod

International Quilt Festival – Chicago – 2010

I’m going to miss this show. It’s moving to Cincinnati next year, and there’s no way I can swing that trip. This was our seventh year (we missed the very first year), and it’s been a good run. There are a few things I would have changed over the years – better food is definitely one of them! There’s tons of parking and indoor walkways, but even then you have to trudge for approximately 18 miles to go (essentially) across the street. My biggest gripe was the predominance of country, folk and primitive vendors. There was a LOT of rust, navy, and tan in that building. Quilters come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages, and color palette preferences. I just wish there had been more available for the other side of the spectrum. We eventually hit pay dirt in the last three or four rows, and I scored a few great fabrics (and petted a lot more!). I was on a strict budget, but I’m pretty happy with my purchases.

IQF 2010 Purchases

The four big cones are Bottom Line thread, a super fine thread we use in the bobbin on our Janome 1600P-DB. This stuff lasts forever, which is nice when you’re doing a larger quilt and it’s hard to get to the bobbin area. The fewer bobbin changes you have to make, the happier you’ll be. It’s so fine that it does require adjusting the tension, though.

The three smaller cones are Aurifil Mako 50 wt thread. I piece with this thread, and absolutely love it. It’s cotton, very thin, and doesn’t seem to produce as much lint as others I’ve tried. Last year I stocked up on this same thread – 2 spools of white.

I’ve wanted to try making a bag that uses a frame for a handle, and when I saw one that allowed you to unscrew the ends and slip the bag off the frame, I had to have it. Quick change bags, gotta love ’em! I couldn’t justify the $12 for a pattern, though, so I’m going to have to figure out how to make the bag. Shouldn’t be a problem.

If you haven’t tried Honey Guy Waterblocker Skin Cream, you’re missing a wonderful product from a wonderful company. Their customer service is phenomenal!

I first saw the fabric on the left in the Hancocks of Paducah catalog, and was thrilled to run across it at the show. Does anyone remember the Little Golden Book called “The Saggy Baggy Elephant”? I loved that story, and had to snap up the last two yards they had. (Thanks for the buck, Jeanne!) Apparently Quilting Treasures is coming out with a whole line of Little Golden Book Fabrics. I saw “The Poky Little Puppy” on their website, and I’m hoping they come out with fabric for “The Tawny Scrawny Lion” and “The Little Engine That Could.”

The dark blue fabric is my first ever Amy Butler purchase. Some of her fabrics are a little too wild for me, but I fell in “Love” with this one the moment I saw it. Yes, the line is called “Love” and it’s from Rowan/Westminster Fabrics. (I’m not sure what the whole Rowan and Westminster thing is – both names are listed on the selvage.)

Finally, we have “Spotted Owl” from Alexander Henry. This one called out to me, too, and when the lady working the booth said that it was particularly popular with girls “your age” (indicating Jeanne and I), and she had sold her other cut to a girl about 22, I had to buy it. Anything to reward the woman who thought I was in the same age group as a 22 year old and a 29 year old – I’ll be 42 on Friday.

As for the magazines, well, these were a truly unnecessary splurge. They’re nice enough magazines and the price was okay ($10 for all three), but I really bought them because the guy in the booth was so pretty. And he had a lovely British accent. And he was polite to the crazy woman digging in her bag for the preprinted address labels that I was CERTAIN I had but could not find. But mostly because he was pretty. Really pretty – blond, blue eyed, twenty-something, nice shoulders… We giggled a bit after we left the booth. And the giggling continued when we sat and put our feet on the tickley vibrating foot massager thingies in another booth.

I spent a great deal of time in the quilts area, and I hope to upload lots of photos in the not too distant future. First, though, I need to take a nap.

April Quilting Day, Part 1

Saturday was our quilting day, and as usual it was full of food, silliness, and sewing. I haven’t been so good about posting about these quilting days, in part because there are so many photos to edit and upload. I don’t like just slappin’ ’em out here, but it takes a little while to review, select, crop, adjust brightness, upload to Flickr, then insert into the post. I’m going to to do it in pieces this time, and hopefully it will work better.

The first thing I HAD to post was from our show and tell. We have two Pats, my mom’s sister and a friend of Becky’s (who is my mom’s sister Pat’s daughter’s husband’s mom – ha! follow THAT!). Pat 2 is crazy. Good crazy – she’s our court jester. She keeps us all laughing and happy, and some days we really need that.

Meet Pat 2:


Do you think she’ll kill me when she finds out I posted these?

Here’s a photo of the (gorgeous!!) quilt she made:

Pat 2

And here’s the pattern. It’s called Spice Cake, and it’s a Cake Therapy pattern by Cozy Quilt Designs:


And some more of our motley crew:

Jean has been busy lately, but she still managed to make a cushion for Mickey:


Mickey admiring Pat’s very bright, very fun quilt:

Mickey & Pat

Pat with her table topper.

Pat 1 Table Topper

I’ll be back with more… I hope!

Weird Things

Have you ever been thinking about something, and a day later it happens? Or you talk about an old movie and the next day it’s on tv? Or you meet a neighbor when you’re on vacation 3 states away? My cousin calls these “weird things” and I’ve had a bunch of them the past few days.

1. A UW-Platteville alumni group was meeting at the restaurant the other day. (I don’t know why they chose to meet here – it’s 100 miles away.) I grew up about 15 miles south of Platteville, so I stuck my head in to see if I knew anyone. The group organizer came over and I mentioned the small town that I’d grown up in. She was surprised, and said she grew up in the same small town. I told her when I’d graduated from high school, and she said her aunt had graduated the same year. I asked her aunt’s name – and discovered it’s the person who now lives in the house I grew up in.

2. I was passing through the kitchen at work Tuesday morning and I saw a giant tub of peeled and sliced potatoes in the sink, with water running over it. I knew that they were for our homemade potato chips, and I wondered if they’d ever considered serving sweet potato chips. The chef wasn’t in the kitchen, so I didn’t have a chance to ask. The next day he emailed next week’s specials to me so I could write the menu and program the POS, and he had included homemade sweet potato chips.

3. I posted about the March of Dimes walk I’m participating in to raise money for research to help prevent premature birth. The next day I was reading my daily dose of Pioneer Woman, and she posted a moving story about the smile and wink from a stranger when she was in the hospital after her son was born five weeks prematurely.

4. Today I read a post from Grendelskin called Coulrophobia. She talked about the creepy clown doll she found. Then I turned on the television and watched Ghost Whisperer. The show was about a ghost clown, and clowns were the only thing that creeped out Melinda. Her psychiatrist friend said to her, “It’s your Coulrophobia. Your fear of clown.” Not just the subject, but the actual word?!!

I’ve had weird things happen before (especially in concert with the cousin who coined the phrase, like the inflatable mattress I “saw” on the floor in her room several hours before she bought the thing), but never so many so close together. It’s a little disconcerting.

Okay, I need to get back to quilty things. This makes three posts in a row that are completely unrelated to quilting – it just won’t do! Well, tomorrow’s the family & friends quilting day (aka Stitch & Bitch), so I’ll have photos to post. Of course, I still haven’t posted the photos from the last one…