Saturday, May 31, 2008

One Block Wonder

Do you take Quilting Classes? You should. Now, I know that coming from a Quilt Shop Owner, that sounds like I am giving a sales pitch for my own benefit. BUT....there is so much that goes on, so much to learn, so much FUN in a Quilting Class that you SHOULD take one.

Today Margie taught from the book, One Block Wonder. The classroom was full to the brim with ladies who started out with raw yardage, cut it up, sewed it back together into fabulous hexagons and then fit it back together into magic. Don't Denise and Paula look like they are having fun? They know the full value of taking classes.

Here's Connie, hard at work fitting those hexagons.

I was only at the store long enough to pick up little Sydney (and sample some of the fabulous lunch they were all having) and take her grocery shopping with me, but the energy in the room made me grab the camera and shoot a few pictures.

Here's a picture of Donna busy pressing her hexagon blocks. Margie has them pressing all seam OPEN. Not something you would do on all blocks, but they learned today why it's a good idea for this quilt.

When you take classes you do learn specific techniques, skills, patterns and blocks. Your teacher imparts her experience and wisdom. But you also learn from your neighbor.....her fabrics are ones you hadn't considered...her eye for color is different....she uses a ruler you've never seen before.....Plus you meet new quilters; perhaps a new best friend! You laugh, you hear a new joke, a review of the latest movie, what new restaurant in town has good garlic and shrimp pasta.

Take a class, learn something new, grow, make a new friend, tell a's good to get out in the quilting world! PS---This class was full but Margie will teach One Block Wonder again August 30. Call the shop to sign up!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Grateful Threads

Do you belong to a small quilting group? I've been part of a wonderful group of friends for years now. We call ourselves The Grateful Threads. Thread Heads, GT's. We meet Thursday nights. We used to rotate between our homes. I liked that...every several weeks I KNEW I'd get my house cleaned up. For the past seven years, since I opened Scottie Dog Quilts we've met at the store on Thursday nights. There is a class that meets on Thursday nights so I "babysit" the store and we get to do our thing.

What do we do? We used to sew every time. We all brought hand work and were quite productive. Now it's rare that we sew. Oh, I've done a few bindings this year. Bev was crocheting tonight. Lynn has done some buttonholing. But generally we eat dessert (as every quilter knows this is a VERY important part of getting together!), and we chit chat. We've solved the world's problems many time over, we talk about kids, pets and husbands. We laugh together. We worry over parents, siblings, friends and the state of affairs. We share our grief--we've lost parents, friends and children. We share vacation photos (and sometimes we go on vacations together!), birthday dinners--sometimes up to 4 months late....but that's ok, because we're Grateful Threads......Grateful we know each other, Grateful we meet together, Grateful to celebrate together. Who cares how late we celebrate birthdays...we know how to celebrate!

Members have moved out of the area and others have moved into their places. Some, like Bev, moved away 7 years ago, but she now returns every couple of months as she travels through our area on business. Some friends come and go...GT's are my BFF's.


It's just after midnight. Earlier I got a phone call from a friend about 10:30 PM. "So sorry to call so late," she said, "but I thought I should call." "Did you know there is a huge fire across from Scottie Dog Quilts? I think they've kept it from the store."

My mind raced......"Thanks for calling," I said, "I'll get right down there."

Fire, fire, FIRE! When you own a quilt shop and your retirement income is sitting on shelves in the store smoke, water and fire would render it a complete loss. I had heard a shop owner experiencing a fire had been told to wash all the fabric since smoke couldn't truly ruin it all! You and I know that you can't wash and iron your quilt store fabric and sell it as new. It would then be "washed." Now some quilters would like that....pre-washed fabrics. But others don't pre-wash. It is one of the BIG questions quilters love to argue. To pre-wash or not. Kind of like to press to one side or open. 100% cotton batting or blend. Hand quilting or machine. Paper or plastic, oops....wrong question. Anyway....the insurance adjuster found out that smoke and fabric don't mix.

I woke Mr. Scottie Dog and we drove down to the store with tarps and duct tape. I wouldn't have thought of that. He's really smart. If there was going to be smoke, we'd cover the doors and duct tape them so no (more) smoke could get in the store. We took the back way since we weren't sure which streets would be blocked off. Going down Elk Rive Road we could see a big cloud of smoke in the distance, still a few miles away. It was then that it really hit me.....What if the store burned? What if our entire inventory had water or smoke damage? Would we have the energy to clean it all up and start over? How long would it take? Or would we just take the insurance check and walk away?

As we wound through the neighborhood labyrinth we could see the the flashing lights reflected in the smoke plume. We were several blocks away when we could see that the fire was actually one half block away from the store. Whew! Most likely there would be no fire damage, no water damage. But what about smoke? We were surprised to be able to park in front of the store. The side street was blocked by vehicles with flashing lights. An ambulance was parked across the street and we could see three fire trucks. We'd passed a couple of others around the corner. Well, God was watching over us as the huge plume of smoke (white right now) was blowing away from the store! We went in and no smoke smell. We sniffed and we sniffed but no smoke at all. Then we walked a couple of houses down and were amazed how close we could get. It seemed that the fire was out and they were just wetting down the roof. First storey windows were blown out or melted. Then flames burst out of the upstairs. Fire could be seen underneath the roof in a couple of spots. We watched for maybe a half hour. While another part of the roof flared up and they cut holes in several places, we could see that the fire was under control. Eerie to see a woman in pajama pants, a T-shirt and barefoot. She had a dog on a leash. Turns out she lived across the street. About 25 people (other than firemen, police) milled around in various stages of dress. One guy had shorts, flannel shirt over undershirt and un-tied dress shoes on. It was odd, I thought to see how many people had pets with them. Also two babies in carriers. One gal wanted to talk to everyone, "I always follow the fire sirens. The last time it turned out to be a friend of mine's house."

One last check on the store and it was back to home. I think I'll go to sleep now. Hope I don't dream of fires.

10 am update: The fire trucks are still there. Mopping up I guess. Liz says the family is gathered on the sidewalk. There was no sign of them last night. I'm sure the house is a complete loss. I hope they are insured. Still, no smoke in the store and for that we are grateful.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Final Market Report

Quilt Market lasted 3 days plus a day of School House so here is installment #3. I missed Amy Butler's School House presentation, but Liz made it. Liz and Amy met last Fall and had so much fun chatting and getting to know each other. She is such a gracious young woman and so talented. Her fabric has been made into bags, clothing, home dec items such as pillows, draperies, upholstered furniture and more. Ask any young woman in the 20-30 range who Amy Butler is and they'll know. I guarantee she'll be the next Martha Stewart excepting she's really really nice. Her "Midwestern Modern" movement is fresh and fun. She and Liz had another time to chat this Market and I know they'll meet up in the future. I had a great talk with her Dad who is so very proud of her. We have a lot in common: smart, talented daughters who have the world at their feet!

Here's another friend of mine: Kris Gianetti from Cozy Cottage Fabrics ( in Brea, CA. We met up at 7 am on Thursday for a meeting of our Shop Owner's Group. We are 11 shop owners from all across the United States and we've been meeting together for about 3 years now. We've done some advertising together in McCall's Quilting Magazine, we share marketing tips....we even went on a cruise together. It's kind of funny how it began with business but now we are the closest of friends and chat daily with each other. Hats off to all of you!
Market ended on Sunday and we left Portland for Eugene, OR to spend the late afternoon and evening with my brother Denny and his lovely wife Carey. They are so very gracious and we had a great time. Carey fixed a fabulous Mexican meal and we even got to try Wii's got to be fixed: I bowled a 168! Anyway it was fun and great to see them. Then it was off early Monday morning....I missed my hubby and I know Liz was missing her darling girl and hubby.
Now to implement all the great ideas we received, wait for the fabric and patterns to arrive and make some new samples. Wow! Come into the store and see what's new!

Now you can subscribe.

Now you can subscribe to my filling out the form on the right side of the blog, you can have it emailed to you, you can send it to Skype, to your phone and more. It only took me several days to figure out how to get the FeedBlitz subscription service hooked up. It was actually easy, but of course for the uber technologically impaired it takes a bit to figure it out.

By the way, do you Skype? Skype is free as in no cost, nil, nada, cheaper than cheap, FREE! It is a way you can use a web cam (short for camera) and your kids & grandkids can not only talk to you free, but they can see you and you can see them. The camera is between $20-25 and you can get it at Staples. I taught my grandson Jakob Itsy Bitsy Spider over Skype! I can see when he gets a haircut, he can show me his trains and I can see how big Merceds is getting and watch her giggle. Daughter Beka once set the camera to show the kitchen and it was just like being there with her as she bustled around making banana bread. I don't know what I'd do without Skype. When my kids were in Kiev, Ukraine for a year we were able to chat nearly every day. Just go to and follow directions.

You can also make phone calls from your computer with it, but there is a small charge. Come on, Skype with me!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones

Ok, I admit it, I'm an Indiana Jones fan! I didn't see the first one until it came out on video and I've seen the 2nd one twice (twice too many times I think!) but I own a set of the first 3 films on Video Tape AND the complete DVD set with one disc just for extra fun stuff. Last night Bill and I went to the opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
I used to think it was Harrison Ford who made my heart pitter-patter, but I think it's Indiana Jones....a very human hero who is perhaps a little bit shy and believes that treasures of the ages belong "in a museum."
The theatre was full (and our Pastor in the seat in front!), filled with fans hoping against hope that Harrison Ford, George Lucas and Steven Spielburg wouldn't disappoint us. Cate Blanchet stars as the Bad Guy, oops girl. There's also a new kid in town, Shia LaBeouf, a 21 year old with a duck tail hair do (in one scene he dips his comb into a preppy guy's coke!).
The familiar music came up, we all held our breath and we were off on a ride only Indiana Jones can offer. Chases, duels, crashing jeeps, waterfalls, even an atomic bomb blast..... Of course some of it was improbable, some of it was even hokey. But that's what it's all about. These movies and the characters are 1930's movie serial characters. You know it and I know it. And we find Lots of fun. Bill and I both enjoyed it and I know what I'm getting for Christmas (family listen up!). I'll be getting my very own Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

More Market Glimses

Quilt Market is always fun, especially when you get to see the wonderful friends you've made over the years in this business. Fabric & Pattern Designers, authors, sales reps, teachers and more. Here I am with Karen Snyder, quilt shop owner (Anna Lena's in Long Beach, WA), fabric designer for Andover Fabrics (Washtub prints---and several other 1930's reproduction lines) author of several books like Bundles of Fun, Fat Quarter Fun and her latest, Quilts from My Garden. Karen and I meet up at every Quilt Market and trade show we can and were cabin-mates on a Mexican Cruise for shop owners last year. Not only is she a very talented woman, but she's a lot of fun too!

The booths at Market are quite elaborate. Here are a couple more. Jackie Robinson of Animas Quilts has her booth on the left. The Scottie dog Quilt Club used one of her patterns (Glory Be!)
one year for it's Block of the Month. Her booth is always beautiful and the colors in hers were predominately cream, greens and watermelon reds.

Moda/United Notions always takes up a large section of the Market Floor. They divide it into three very distinct sections. One if for fabric---lots of tables for all their sales reps to show the samples and sell the fabrics (lots of quilt samples shown there too), one section for books, patterns and notions, and another large section for Moda Home. Moda also sells duvet covers, sheets, aprons, baskets, and more. This shot is of a small section of the Moda Home booth. They built a Farmer's Market shed right into the booth. It was so big several people could go inside at once! Of course we were tempted and you'll see more of Moda Home in our store in the future.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Working the Market Floor

Working at Quilt Market is a lot of hard work! Not to mention tired feet, aching backs and even chocolate overload (every booth seems to have a bowl of chocolate out, enticing even the most staunch intentions!). But there is time out for fun! Here we are with Eleanor Burns aka Rosie the Riveter. Eleanor has a new book out called Victory Quilts. As usual it is full of great patterns to make a sampler quilt or several quilts from the blocks provided. There's even a Scottie Dog block! The theme of the book is quilting during World War II and there are glimpses into the lives of those who lived through it. Liz was especially touched by some things Eleanor shared about her parents. Always gracious and upbeat, during her School House presentation Eleanor soon had 200 people up on their feet singing God Bless America!

Lots of familiar faces at Market. Here's a familiar face at the Blank Quilting Fabric booth. None other than Bev Harrison, now of Eugene, OR. Bev is a sales rep for Blank and calls on me regularly. This is just a small peek at the Blank Booth. At Market you can make prior appointments with your sales reps. We would sit at the table and the rep would show us samples of their new fabrics (delivery time is usually months in the future). The Quilts in each booth are to show the fabrics off in quilts. Booths can be very elaborate.

Turquoise and Tangerine---these were the hot new colors as shown here in Sandy Gervais' booth. Sandy is so cute, she even dressed to match her booth. Her couch is from IKEA, just a very short jaunt from the Portland airport. I'd heard that many of the exhibitors had furnished their booths with IKEA. One place rented antiques from a local antique dealer. Sandy Gervais designs fabrics for Moda and you'll be seeing more of her in the future at Scottie Dog Quilts.

More next time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We're Baaack!

Liz and I are back from Quilt Market in Portland, OR. We left bright and early last Wednesday morning, met our friend Marie Duncan in Grant's Pass. Marie is opening a new quilt shop next month in Citrus Heights called Runs with Scissors. Then we drove together to Portland. Big thanks go to my brother and sister-in-law, Pat & Debbie McNally, who graciously let us stay in their home. The view is incredible from their home so many snow-capped mountains.

We had to leave for a meeting Thursday morning at 6 am! What a long and exhausting day we had. My meeting was with several shop owners I chat with daily by email and we share marketing ideas. Many of them are famous authors, fabric designers, pattern designers and all are successful shop owners---all very talented and savvy women. I am proud of all of us.

Then we rushed to School House...from 10 am till 6 pm we ran from class to class, some 10 minutes long, some 30 minutes. By lunch my head was spinning, my notebook was full and we shared what we'd learned and ran back to our next class. I had classes in folding fat quarters, decorating tips, introduction to new fabric lines, all about new books, programs and patterns. I learned ways to manage inventory, bookkeeping tips and new quilting techniques.

At 6 pm Liz, Marie & I met up and prepared to go to dinner. We were excited to see Kim Speath from Fortuna Fabrics & Sally Frey of Kenmar Farms registering and then Susie Burkhart from Ocean Waves and Susie Freese showed up to register too! We walked to Red Robin and had teryakki chicken burgers and back to the Convention Center for Sample Spree. There was still a half hour to go and the line was 4-6 wide and wound around the center, down two staircases (the escalators were off for some reason) and around again. It took 10 minutes for the line to allow us to enter the front doors to the exhibit hall. You must show your ticket at the door...yes, it costs to go to Sample Spree and you must register early to get a coveted ticket. Imagine a Bazaar with 1200 frantic women trying to get the best of the best. The prices are wholesale and about 200 of the vendors of Quilt Market offer single items...fat quarter packs, jelly rolls, patterns, books, AND already made samples of quilts, vests, wall hangings, skirts, aprons, stuffed animals and more. Most vendors only take cash so I'm always nervous about holding all that cash. Come in to see the cute apron we got for Sydney.....oh yes, you can also get a pattern for children AND adults.
Tomorrow: Market begins and Liz and I rub shoulders with the best of the best!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Week

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I feel as though this past week was Mother's Week. For an entire week I had all my kids and grandkids around. I loved it! I pretty much played hooky from Scottie Dog Quilts much of the week. On Thursday Sydney's Preschool class had a field trip to the Sequoia Park Zoo. We packed up all the kids, put 3 car seats in the car and went off to the Zoo!

Jakob was fascinated with the washing station at the petting zoo.

Sydney was happy to introduce him to her special friends, the flamingos.

Mercedes spent most of her time in a sling. She's 3 months old now and such a darling pixie. She smiles, coos and likes to snuggle.

It was an idyllic week. More next time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Customer Emails

Yesterday I recieved an email from a savy young Mom. She'd been in for curtain fabric since she painted her kitchen and her old curtains just wouldn't work. She chose some beautiful Amy Butler prints.

Her email read, "I have to just tell you that Mary Ellen's Best Press is the best invention since Spray Baste--I don't think I will ever iron without it again!!"

Both Mary Ellen's Best Press and Sullivan's Spray Baste are products I use so much that sometimes I think everyone knows about them. For years I struggled with that pesky fold down the center of yardage off the bolt. I tried spray starch, steam, drenching the fold with water and then ironing, even washing didn't take it out! Just a light spray of Mary Ellen's Best Press and the fold is gone. The scents are lovely (comes in unscented too!) and I like the crispness it adds to my fabrics.
Sullivan's Basting Spray is by far (in my humble opinion!) the only way to go when you need to baste a quilt, tablerunner, etc. Just a light spray and you don't have to worry about gummy needles or your layers shifting. It is repositional for a period of time if you find a wrinkle too!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Three Hundred, do I hear Three twenty five?

Last Saturday night we went to a Luau....looks like we might be in Maui, but we only drove to Arcata! Sydney's Preschool ....part of Arcata Christian School (where all three of our girls attended K-8) held their annual dinner and auction. We had a wonderful time.

Liz and I make a quilt every year for the live auction and they usually go for about $300-500. This year we made a Merry-G0-Round, 1930's reproduction quilt and were pleased with the winning bid. It was great to see lots of old friends.....many of those in attendance now have their grandchildren at ACS, just like us. We sat with friends, Nick and Bev Harrison who now live in Eugene, OR. Their 3 girls went to school with our 3 girls and Bev was school secretary for a long time. Their daughter Rachel, our daughter Liz and her friend Larissa filled out our table. The food was fabulous, the kids entertained us and I'm hoping the auctions (both live and silent) raised a ton of $$$ for this great school.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bumbo, anyone?

BUMBO? What is a Bumbo, you ask? Well, this pretty, blue, rubbery item is a Bumbo. OK, so what do you do with a Bumbo? Silly, you set a baby who is able to hold up her head into it and they can sit up in it fully supported. Even as little as 3 months. Mercedes, my Minnesota granddaughter is now 3 months old. She and Jakob (2) will arrive late Monday night with her parents, our daughter Beka & Jason. Waiting for Mercedes is a blue Bumbo.

Yesterday I picked up Sydney from preschool and on the way home asked if we could stop at Target. "Yes, Grandma, we can! What are we going to buy, Grandma?" I told her we would look for a Bumbo. "What's a Bumbo, Grandma?" (I love the way she always says Grandma) "We need a Bumbo for Mercedes." "But I want a Bumbo, Grandma!" I told her that her bum was too big for a Bumbo. "But why, Grandma?" Long story short we found the Bumbos, chose the pretty blue one and then got some trucks and a couple of other things for Jakob. Most of the toys we have at the house are kind of girlish. Doll Houses, baby dolls, etc. He will love the puzzles we have. I promise some pics of all three of the grandkids next week.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I'm a big girl now!

My just-turned 3 year-old granddaughter Sydney told me in THAT voice, "Oh Grandma, I'm a BIG Girl! I wear Big Girl panties." I'm certain her mom, Liz, is sure Sydney will never be totally "trained." It's been a long road with lots of well-meaning older Moms giving lots and lots and LOTS of well-meaning advice on Potty Training. But of course, we all know that every child and every situation is different. I had three daughters and they were trained in three differing ways and at three differing ages. Sydney is mostly dry, most of the time. I don't think Liz realized (nor any of the rest of us) that at first WE are the ones who need to be many times do we have to ask them if they have to go many times they'll say no, look up at you and then pee on the floor. But the fact is that nearly all of us went to kindergarten trained (!) and I've never heard of a bride who had to slip into her diaper for her wedding day. Mother's Day is coming and I'll tip my hat to all those young moms who have so much to do each day.
Last night was our local Quilt Guild meeting. We had a fabulous speaker/program. Steve Allbright and his wife collect quilts. She favors the 1930's and he favors an earlier era, about 1840-1890. I think they have more than 200 antique quilts. But what sets the Allbrights apart from some collectors is that they also collect finished quilt tops and blocks. I think he said he has over 1000 antique blocks. When they travel they keep their eyes out for vintage fabrics. Why? Because they form a great team. She takes blocks, stitches them into tops and Steve hand quilts them. I like their dedication to keeping with the time period both in settings and quilting. I've known Steve for many years and when I opened Scottie Dog Quilts he began to come in and buy reproduction fabrics for backings and bindings. Steve's program was fabulous. It's been 4 years since he's done one for us....I'm hoping he'll consider doing another soon.
At the meeting my daughter Liz volunteered me to be 2nd Vice President. I've held that office for 2 two year terms previously and helped out the current VP. Thanks so much Liz!
Overheard at last night's guild meeting: "Now that I'm a big girl, I can make up my own designs." Hummm, full circle. Toilet training to quilting.....we're always trying to become that BIG GIRL.