Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Good People = Good Business

Many of us would know this logo anywhere and have spent many happy hours perusing and shopping the Pink Chalk shop.  I'm sad and happy at the same time that the Pink Chalk team will no longer be one of my go to online shops.  Kathy Mack, owner, proprietor, mentor and model business woman has decided to change direction and forge a new path.  She explains her decision in this post.
I can't let this moment in time pass by without letting Kathy and her team know what they have meant to me.  I have enjoyed the support, encouragement, terrific customer service, not to mention quality products from the Pink Chalk team. I will miss the small and not so small bundles emblazoned with the Pink Chalk sticker. 

The title of this post is Good People = Good Business and Kathy is the epitome of that statement.   She has taught me and many others how to be a business woman and modeled for us all how to support others as makers.  I have appreciated her generous spirit, vast knowledge and her enthusiastic support of the making community.  

I wish her all the best in her new venture and want her to know that I'll be there, watching, learning and hopefully participating.  You go, girl!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Running Man

I'm home for a bit and I'm hoping to focus only on sewing.  It's so easy to let paperwork and other distractions get in the way of studio time. That means leaving the phone on the floor below so it's not tempting to check it.  It means limiting email to three 30 minute sessions, morning, noon, evening.  It's time to focus.  It also means picking one project and sustaining through to a finish.  That is not my forte when my head is swimming with ideas.

On the design wall right now is "The Running Man" quilt.  This piece is inspired by my husband.  I've tweaked the position of the prints to death and now I'm committing to the design and sewing it together.

I will say I don't need any more practice sewing and pressing LONG straight lines.  I'm pretty happy with how straight everything is staying.

Just in case you're interested, on Tuesday I'll be doing this Webinar for the MQG.  If you're still confused about how to identify a modern quilt, be sure to join me.  MQG members, sign up on the community site. See you there!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A New Place to Be - The KC Studio Reveal

Two moves in two months has finally brought me home.  It's been exhausting and exciting all at the same time. While we've been working hard to get settled it's been mostly boring work (foreclosure fix-ups) like electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, locksmiths, and trying to convince an internet provider that our place does exist and needs internet. It's all stuff that needs to be done but doesn't make anything prettier and isn't fun to blog about.  

I've built a pantry in the kitchen (since whoever designed this place didn't think kitchens needed cabinets to put things, added storage shelving in the under stairs closet to store quilts (doesn't every house need this?), and knocked out a wall and rebuilt it (with the help of my son) so that the built-in desk area would fit my sewing table.  We're getting a handle on what still needs to be done and that feels good.  

The priority for me now is to create an inspirational space to create and sew.  My studio is the "family room" space in our place.  It is 15' x 15' and has one true wall, one full wall of windows to the balcony, and two sides that are railings where I can see to the floors below.  Being scared of heights I tend to hover around the one real wall.  The great thing is the much light and high ceilings.  That all makes me happy.  It's the best part about our new place.

I took a bunch of pictures so you can see the studio as it is today.  In a few weeks its been rearranged about twenty times.  It's hard to find the right configuration especially in a room with only one wall and no closet or built in storage.  Quilters have lots of stuff and I like most everything at my fingertips, but put away.  I don't like clutter, so getting organized in this space was challenging for me. I've made use of the master bedroom closet to store batting, scraps, teaching materials and teaching sample quilts.  I don't have that many clothes so it works for me.

It may not stay this way, but for now, I'm ready to make things again.  Enjoy and hopefully finished pieces will be flowing out of the studio soon.

The studio from the top of the steps.

Rulers at hand in a letter holder I found at Target.

This is a studio/office space.  I do paperwork here in addition to making things.  

I love having a comfortable place to sit, to ponder work on the design wall, to curl up and read or sketch or to have a friend join me in the studio.  And yes, it's orange.

I have two machines set up.  This is my primary machine which I use for about everything.  I reupholstered my stool and covered my desk pad in fabric to match my chair.

I made a cutting station with two cabinets from Target and a piece of MDF from Home Depot.  I painted the cutting table a light aqua blue to add some color to the space.  The cutting table top is attached to the cabinets with industrial strength velcro so it doesn't move when I'm cutting.

The two Target cabinets are placed in an L-shape that gives me more horizontal space to put things and opens the space between them for more storage options and a more open feel in the room.

It's a bit crowded on my desk so I bought the blue cabinet to give me some extra office storage in addition to my file cabinet.

Vashon sits next to my desk.

One shelf is filled primarily with books, magazine and a bit of fabric.

I hit the new IKEA in Kansas City and got this clock.  I'm a modern clock collector.  My kids think I'm nuts to have multiple clocks in one room.  I disagree.  There can never be enough clocks.

Special things inspire me.  Want to go for a ride in my van?

I use my Pantone magazine holders to hold all sorts of things.  I hook on my water and best press so they're right by my ironing board when I need them.

Yoda watches over me.

Fabric is stored on these two shelves and in the Target cabinets.  I've reduced my stash of prints significantly in this move.  

Storage of all my solid color cards.

You can never have enough Yoda.

This is the built in desk area where my son Ben and I ripped out an ugly desk, rebuilt the wall to make more room and tada, built in sewing nook in the hallway.  We had to rip out the carpet too and look at the great job Ben did putting in a new floor.

I use the sewing nook area only for quilting.

The thread cabinet my dad built hangs over the sewing nook.

With only one true wall, finding design wall space was a challenge, but a priority.  I have an 8' x 8' design wall area with a great view from the orange chair.  The rug was another IKEA find, so cheap, but adds so much great color!

I painted the back sides of those Target cabinets with the aqua paint since they were ugly brown particle board.  Spruces it up nicely and adds more color.

The new teal cabinet gives me some hidden storage which I love and a place to put my printer.

The Target cabinets each have three drawers and shelves behind a sliding door.  They were easy to build and again give me lots of hidden storage for all those things I need to work, but don't want clutter up my space.  I've got some fabric in there too.

Fabric is organized by color with stacks of prints with stacks of solids.

Tools I use all the time are on my cutting table at my fingertips.

I'm back to traveling again after a few weeks at home.  I've updated my teaching/travel schedule under the Schedule tab.  Check out where I'm going to be in the next year or two.  I'm going lots of great places.  I might be near you. 

Happy to be back! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coming Back for a Cause...The Fifth Annual Action Kivu Fundraiser

Action Kivu is an organization close to my heart and that I've supported since I found out about its work from my friend and fellow quilter Alissa Haight Carlton.  For the fifth year, Alissa is holding a fundraiser on her blog to raise money for Action Kivu.  Each year I have shared this event with my readers because I would like all of you to join me, in whatever amount you can, in support of this amazing organization.  Our goal this year is to raise $15,000.  I know we can do it!
If you're new here, the mission of Action Kivu is to "provide the Democratic Republic of Congo's victims of violence the opportunity to rebuild their lives on a foundation of hope, dignity and economic self-sustenance." 

Hope, dignity and economic self sustenance come in the form of a sewing machine and a school book. Our money provides sewing machines and the opportunity to learn skills to make a living to women who have been victimized by unspeakable violence.  What we take for granted will change the lives of women and children in the Congo.  We can change lives.  We have changed lives.  We can continue to help women and children, but we have to give!  Every donation makes a difference.  

The faces of these women say more than I can about the joy and power that comes with making.

In case you need a little motivation to give, I have donated the Radiate quilt to the cause.  For a $100 donation, you'll be in the running to win this quilt.  It's a version of the Supernova quilt and is about 55" by 55".  
It's got some of my signature straight line quilting.
 It would love to come and live with you.  To have a chance, you need to give.  I'd love there to be lots of $100 donations this year to help that thermometer fill in all the way to $15,000.
There are many other prizes for donations that fit any budget.  Please head over to Alissa's blog to check them out , read more about the work of Action Kivu and to give.  Give generously.  Please remember what sewing and quilting have given to you.  This is a good time to pass those joys on to others.  
I'd also appreciate if you would help me spread the word on social media.  Share this fundraiser on facebook, twitter and instagram.  The more we involve, the more money we will raise!  Use these hashtags #akfundraiser, #sewing, #congo, #actionkivu

Friday, June 27, 2014

Essential Guide...It's a Good Thing!

Folks ask me all the time if I'm going to write a new book.  This one isn't all mine, but I wrote a chapter in it and I'm pretty pleased to be a part of a book like this, The Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making.

There are a couple of things I love about this book.  It focuses on technique and the "essentials" and it's a "guide" rather than a recipe for making modern quilts.  There are ten workshops in the book along with sixteen patterns.  The workshops are written by a group of well-respected modern quilt makers. 

My workshop in the book is on The Alternate Grid.  I'm pretty passionate about breaking the traditional grid structure and in my workshop I teach many of the ways I create quilt tops outside of the grid. Breaking free as I like to say.

My quilt in the book is "Burst".  It's a simple, black and white linear quilt with strong, graphic appeal.  It's so me.  

If you think this book is for you, now is the time to snap it up.  The Taunton Store will provide a 20% discount on your order with the code EGQM20.  The code is good from 6/23 - 7/21.  I think you'll love it.

Check out the tour and get the skinny  from the workshop authors. 
6/23 // Chapter 1: Principles of Color // Teacher: Kari Vojtechovsky
6/24 // Chapter 2: Working with Solids // Teacher: Alissa Haight Carlton
6/25 // Chapter 3: Working with Prints // Teacher: Dan Rouse
6/26 // Chapter 4: Improvisational Patchwork // Teacher: Denyse Schmidt
6/27 // Chapter 5: The Alternate Grid // Teacher: Jacquie Gering
6/30 // Chapter 6: Circles and Curves // Teacher: Cheryl Arkison
7/01 // Chapter 7: Paper Piecing // Teacher: Penny Layman
7/02 // Chapter 8: Large-Scale Piecing // Teacher: Heather Jones
7/03 // Chapter 9: Modern Machine Quilting // Teacher: Angela Walters
7/04 // Chapter 10: A Study of Modern Quilts // Teacher: Heather Grant

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It All Comes Full Circle

It all comes full circle

I left Kansas City three years ago and next week I'm heading back.  I don't call it home because right now Chicago is home.  Kansas City will be home again, but it's going to take some time.

When I arrived in Chicago, I was scared.  It was a new place, a huge city, an unfamiliar environment and I didn't know a soul.  My husband, because of his job had a built in circle of colleagues and soon to be friends.  I was alone in my little room with my sewing machine, but not for long.  Before I even moved from Kansas City I received this email:

Hi, I'm Beth, the current president of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild.  Sarah let us know that you are moving to Chicago. How exciting!  I've lived here 14 years now and love it.  If I can be of help in any way with your transition, let me know.  I am a stay at home mom for the next year and have some time on my hands.   I know you were in town looking for housing. Do you have an idea of where you will be living yet?  I'm looking forward to meeting you when you get settled.  Again, if I can help in any way, let me know.

When I arrived in the city I received another email from Beth inviting me to lunch with a few other members of the guild.  I said yes and Chicago was no longer a very big lonely place.  I joined the guild and those women were my first friends in the city and though I haven't been a very good member of the guild (or friend) since I work on weekends and we meet on Sunday afternoons, but I've made connections and have been supported by my guild in more ways than one.  I've missed more meetings than I've attended but it doesn't seem to matter.  I've met some amazing folks and I'm grateful to each of them for being a part of my Chicago experience.

Thank goodness our apartment didn't have enough storage space.  I illegally put the giant box that my Bernina 820 was packaged in, in the front of our car in our parking space in the garage.  My friend Tricia, who parked a few spaces down in the garage spied my Bernina Box and reached out and asked if I sewed.  I did. She did.  I invited her to guild and the rest is sewing history.  I'll miss her terribly.

The other day I received an email from the current Chicago MQG President, Sarah, asking if we could meet for lunch so she could say goodbye.  Again, I said yes.  We talked family, quilty things and guild business.  It's like I saw her yesterday.  I reminded her that years ago she asked me to come teach in Chicago and we couldn't work it out because at that time the guild was so young with not much cash on hand for speakers.  She was the Sarah that told Beth I was coming to Chicago. 

It's always amazing to me the difference that one small gesture can make.  We say it in Kansas City, "the modern quilt guild changed my life."  It did back in KC and it did again in Chicago and I have a feeling it will again back in KC. 

Thanks Chicago.  Hello Kansas City!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

QuiltCon Registration Day....Fast and Furious

MQG member registration opened for QuiltCon 2015 today and like expected it was fast and furious.  I'm so proud of our staff for their efforts to make this happen.  As you can imagine it is no small feat.  There are a lot of moving parts and overall it went well.  There were a few glitches, but that's to be expected when computers and humans try to work together.  We're working to do the very best we can.
QuiltCon 2013  Fun!!!

Workshops sold fast, but there are still a few that are open.  Remember, workshops are only a small part of the QuiltCon experience.  There is loads of room in lectures.  At QuiltCon 2013 the lectures were my favorite part.  I learned so much.  There is the Quilt Show, the vendor hall for shopping and of course, so many quilters to meet, connect with and learn from.  I'd love to see you in my lecture:  The Art of Teaching:  Advice from an Expert.  You might get a tip or two and laugh with me.

And's an amazing city...lots to do.  Tattoo anyone?

I can't thank our members enough for their patience and support.  See you in Austin!! (I'll be the one in the cape!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Finding a Nest

I know I'm a nester.  I don't like to be transient, I don't like not to be settled.  We've spent the last 24 hours in Kansas City on a marathon house hunting expedition.  I'm tired, it's hard, but I need a place to lay my head.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, but they lie too.  So many places are not what they appear to be.

I know I want it to be modern.  I'm not opposed to doing work.  We'd love to be in a neighborhood that is walkable, artistic and nut bread.  We want to be in the city.  We're not suburban people.  This is the one place we found that might work for us.  It's a foreclosure which is a risk and it needs work on kitchens and bathrooms but as you can see it's got an amazing view, some great spaces and the location is perfect.  Bruno will struggle with the stairs.

It's hard to pull the trigger.  Thought I'd share the possibility. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Because Dad Said.

It's Father's Day and I'm thinking that I'm a pretty lucky woman to have a great dad who reminded me today that I haven't posted in a long time.  Some times you do things because your dad says you should.  He's usually right. This is for you dad.

Can a life be updated in a few words in a blog post...maybe, but probably not.

Some of you know we're moving from Chicago back to Kansas City.  Long story, sad and happy all at the same time.  I love this city and I'm going to miss it, but what could be better than being close to your family?

We got the condo ready to sell, put it up for sale the day after Memorial Day and low and behold in four days it's sold and I'm supposed to be out of here in 15 more days.  It's hard to pack the studio I worked so hard to create, but I have to remember there's a new studio some time in my future.

No, we don't have a permanent place to live.  We're moving in with our children, though since they're on tour with the band, for a bit we'll have the place to ourselves.  No, they don't want to live with us either.

Since the last post I've...
Traveled to Newfoundland; London, Ontario; Asheville NC, San Diego, CA, Paducah KY, Wilmington, NC, and Orlando, FL
Met and taught so many GREAT people.
My new Craftsy class has gone from 0 to almost 7000 students since the last post.
Packed and unpacked a lot of quilts.
Spent a bunch of time in airports.
Saw my first iceberg.
Taught at Paducah and experienced The Quilt Channel in my hotel room.  Yes, they have a quilt channel on TV during Paducah.
Made a few quilts, but haven't had the time to share or write about them.  The quilt below is a variation on the Supernova quilt.  It's called Radiate and Jessica Levitt sent me this photo of it hanging at Quilt Market in Pittsburg.  Thanks Jess!
Had a new book come out that I wrote a chapter for, The Essential Guide to Modern Quilting from Lucky Spool Publishing.  I'm proud of what I wrote and the quilt in that book.  I'd share a pic, but the quilt is already packed and ready to move.  You'll see more of this book soon.
Oh, and I was named the 2014 National Quilt Teacher of the Year.  I'm pretty proud about that!

Had a really proud day today as a mom.  My youngest son, Jonathan wrote the freestyle music for his uncle and his dressage horse Zenith.  If you want to see something spectacularly beautiful and inspirational, watch Nick Wagman and Zenith perform here to music that Jonathan composed.  It'll make your day.  It sure did mine.

Speaking of kids, I've got two amazing ones and one of the reasons is that they have a great dad.

How did I do, Dad?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My New Class is Live

My new class on Craftsy is live today.  Use this link to get $10 off!  It's all about the quilting with the walking foot.  I'd had fun filming it and I hope you enjoy it too.  Hope to see you there!