Bright Lights

deer crossingMy parents live in a rural area in Southern Utah, about 40 miles from…well…anything. It’s a lovely area, mostly nice and quiet, with the expected wildlife like coyote, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, pheasant, elk and of course, the deer that wander all over and sometimes visit the yard. When we lived in Las Vegas (and when I’ve returned to the area on vacation since then), it was always imperative to plan arrival times at their house for the daylight hours, at least for me. See, if I headed for their house in the late afternoon, I was always sorry, because I’d be driving through the countryside on these twisty, curvy, two-lane roads at twilight or after dark, sharing road space with the deer.

If I didn’t time it right, I’d arrive at their house completely stressed out with aching knuckles from gripping the steering wheel so hard, just waiting for that deer to jump out in front of the car from the side of the road. What a great start to a vacation, huh? I never hit one, but I was always just sure that at some point I would, and I’d be facing those scared, shining eyes across the hood of my car as I came around a blind turn and the headlights landed on a family of deer standing in the road. My parents’ house is great, except for the getting there part!

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve felt a strong kinship with those deer though. I remember the talent show in high school, where I stood there with my platter of cookies that I’d baked, because I didn’t sing or dance or act or twirl a baton, and baking was the only thing I could think of as a “talent.” Yep, I’m sure I looked just like those deer as I stood on that stage.

I remember standing on another stage, this time in Lyon, France at the Quilt Expo in 1996. There was a show and tell gathering, where you brought your quilts or wearable art to show to the audience gathered in this giant hall. Anyone could go up on stage and share what they’d brought, all you had to do was fill out a card and stand in line until it was your turn. Judy Murrah, of Jacket Jazz fame, was the emcee, and would read what you wrote on the card as you walked across the stage and showed your quilt.

I’m not sure what convinced me that I wanted to go up there since I’ve always had a major case of stage fright, but somehow I found myself up on that stage showing off my own Jacket Jazz jacket for all of the thousand people in the audience to see. My best friend Dawn was in the audience way in the back in the standing room only section, and even from there she could see that “deer in the headlights” look that I was wearing along with my jacket! I think I literally shook inside my shoes for a good hour after I clambered off the stage and made my escape.

And then there was last Friday. One of the things that happens when your book is published by AQS is that you are expected to teach at one of the AQS shows around the time the book is published, and I guess if all goes well, they’ll have you back for another round (or two, or more). I’ve been talking with the AQS show director about when this might happen, and she originally said that she had me on the schedule for the Paducah show in 2010, which sounded great since I didn’t have to panic about it quite yet. It was sort of “off in the distance”; in mind, but not right up front where I might start to get worried about it.

I mean, I’ve taught classes before obviously, but I think there’s a HUGE difference between teaching at the Gussy Goose in Stuttgart, or teaching for the local quilt guild, and teaching at one of the biggest quilt shows in the U.S! 😯 So yes, I knew I was headed for this major thing, and I’ve been working on developing workshops that are related to the subject material of my book, since that’s what I thought AQS wanted for the shows.

Friday night, I got an email from the AQS show director saying that I’d be teaching at Des Moines in October, 2009, instead of Paducah in April, 2010. Not only that, but instead of 3.5 days full of classes related to my book, the show director only wants 1.5 days of classes related to the book, and will look at other classes that I teach if I submit them. Eeeek! There it is again, that deer imitation that I do so well.

I sat here, staring at the email, truly wondering what the heck I was going to do. Could any of my current workshops be reworked to fit into a national show format? Is there anything else I have waiting in the wings that would be suitable? I want to teach the full 3.5 days, since it’s such a long way to go for me from here, so I needed to fill out my class offerings with other techniques. I tend to teach long classes with multiple sessions which is not what you get to do at a national quilt show. Three hour focused sessions is the mainstay. I’d been developing book related workshops, but now they didn’t want as many as I had, and oh, by the way, they need my class descriptions NOW, since the registration guide has to be ready by April!

Stuff for new classes

Since imitating a deer wasn’t going to fix it, I got to work. I spent the weekend pulling it together, and reminding myself that I really can do this! I worked on a couple of new workshops and reworked some current ones, so I’ll share some pics in the next few days. And of course, I’ll let you know how it all goes with the show director, but at the moment, I’m making plans to be in Des Moines in October! Want to join me? 🙂

2 x Nadine! Coincidence, or just great minds thinking alike?

Here’s a pic of my friend Nadine and I at the BFQ Guild meeting last Friday evening:

Nadine and Nadine, thinking of Bernina 440!

What was especially funny about this? We were probably both thinking “The meeting is fun, but I can’t wait to go home and play with my new Bernina!” Each of us had just purchased the Bernina 440 (me that very day, her exactly three weeks before), but we had not had any time together to share the news when this picture was taken! Nadine stopped by the blog to read the latest the day after the meeting, and was so surprised to hear that I bought the Bernina, that she said, “as we say in German – had problems to close my mouth again…” 🙂

Nadine took my machine quilting class a few years ago, and bought the Pfaff 2056 in December partly because I had it, and because of some of the features the machine had. She never fell in love with it for machine quilting, but I didn’t know it. So she made the decision to buy the Bernina 440, and she is now happy with both machines. I think I will be the same: using the Bernina for machine quilting, especially the free motion, and using the Pfaff for piecing and machine guided quilting since it has the IDT (or dual feed). I also bought the embroidery unit for the Bernina, to replace the Pfaff 2124 sewing/embroidery machine that I sold!

So, 2 Nadines + 2 Pfaff 2056 machines + 2 Bernina 440 machines = 2 great minds thinking alike!!

The promised pics of the UFO quilt from Quilt Retreat

Okay, here are the pics, finally. It’s almost done, well, it’s done really, except for taking out the last bit of quilting that I didn’t like after I did it. Yes, I really do pick out quilting every once in a while, if I don’t like how it looks! I started this quilt as a project for a book I thought I’d write and then the publisher didn’t want the book, so I still had this quilt as a UFO.

Winter Windmills

One of the things this publisher (AQS if anyone wants to know) always says about my quilts is that they’re too difficult for the majority of their market due to the complexity of the patterns, too many points to match, too many borders and other things like that. I designed this quilt in response to some of that, but then they still said there were too many points to match up, and therefore too difficult. Frankly, careful pressing makes this a not-so-difficult quilt to master, and with only the one border, it’s pretty quick to make.

Winter Windmills detail

I debated with myself while I was quilting this quilt about the fabric for the binding. The original plan was to use the same fabric as I used in the cornerstones of the sashing, but I really thought that was too predictable and boring. When decision time came around, I pulled a couple of other fabrics from my stash, then took a quick tour through my plaids looking for a red/green/black plaid that I’ve used for other bindings and been happy with. On the way, I ran across this lovely yarn-dyed plaid in shades of cocoa, tan, and off-white, with just one thread of just the right shade of burgundy in it. Perfect. I love plaid bindings!

Winter Windmills back

And the back? You may remember that it was a brushed cotton, and it is so, so cozy feeling. All in all, I’m very happy with this quilt, and happy to be back in my traditional box after the Grasping Reality quilt! I’m thinking of publishing the pattern for this quilt with all those tips and tricks for getting the triangle points to match easily. What do you think?

A funny thing happened when I started to quilt on Friday…

I had my day all planned out, but you know what they say about “best laid plans.” We’ve been hearing about our new carport from our landlord since sometime in April. First it was going to happen “in the fall,” then it was “before it snows,” and as it got further on toward the end of the year, it was “morgen, und morgen, und morgen” for about two weeks. Not that this was the landlord’s fault, that’s just how things are here, I guess.

Well, I sat down to hand sew the binding down on the UFO quilt that I took to the Quilt Retreat a couple of weeks ago, and I start hearing pounding and hammering from outside, and lo and behold, they’re finally here to put up the carport. So it was drop everything, move the car, then move the car again later, and my quilting day was punctuated with the sudden sounds of hammering, and the lilting strains of saws and whatever this thing was that they used to dig holes next to my driveway:

Carport building

I wasn’t even dressed when they showed up, so quickly had to do that, then move the car, and then repeat the dressing part after a quick shower. This was the view from my bedroom window at that point:

Carport building

The cats were hysterical. Hysterical as in funny, I mean. They just had to see what was going on, so they kept going to my bedroom window to see the action, but every new noise sent them running for another room. Curiosity would lure them back shortly, only to repeat the process moments after they got back to the window sill.

I did finally get the binding sewn, though not before time for the Guild Meeting, which I wasn’t able to attend at the last moment anyway. A crisis with my oldest daughter preempted the meeting; I really needed to be at home right then.

The carport isn’t finished yet; we’ll see what Monday brings on that front. The crisis isn’t finished yet either, and Monday ought to be interesting there as well.

Things that keep me from quilting #9: work and life in general

Well, mostly work really. After spending most of the week programming, I hope to really get back to my UFO quilt tomorrow just in time for the Quilt Guild meeting tonight! I thought I’d get on with it on Monday, but work got in the way. It’s been sitting there calling me all week “quilt me, quilt me, quilt me,” and from just across the room, no less. It does make it a bit difficult to stay on target with other things, when my computer is in the same room as my sewing machine!:) One the one hand, it’s good, because like I did yesterday, I can take ten or fifteen minutes and hop over to the machine and quilt a bit in between other stuff. The other side of it is having it calling to me all the time like a piece of yummy chocolate cake that I get to look at but not eat! Tomorrow I plan to eat it though, and not check my email so that I can have the binding on this quilt and have it ready for show and tell at the Guild meeting. If I’m really good, I’ll even get a picture of it up by Sunday!

Busy, but not quilting

After a busy weekend at the Guild Quilt Retreat, I came home to an even busier week! And NOT the same kind of busy, definitely not quilting busy. Car stuff, dental stuff, kid taxi stuff, and web design work stuff, all designed to keep me from quilting. I did get a lot done on the UFO quilt that I took to the Retreat to work on, and I hope to get a picture taken tomorrow to post. It was great to spend the better part of two whole days just machine quilting and completely inspiring to see what everyone else was working on. Stay tuned!