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January 2010

Primitive paradise!


If you're ever in the San Diego area, you need to make a trip to The Country Loft in La Mesa. I stopped there for a quick run through about five years ago and have been dreaming of the day when I could return and really spend some time looking around. I know a number of quilters who live in the area and am always so jealous when they talk about taking a class at the store or something cool they found there. So when I knew that we were going to Los Angeles  for CHA, we planned our arrival to California in order to drive down from the airport. Well worth the trip!!

With its braided rugs, benches and primitive quilts everywhere, the store is inviting from the second you step through the door!

Right inside the door was JoAnn Mallaly, the designer behind the new Wool Crazy book. She was just full of great advice for our groups at the Cottage. I knew I loved this quilt but seeing it in person again reminded me why. It's just a fun way to get creative with wool and I'm anxious to see how everyone's blocks develop. Look how cool they are!

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Stitching and wool applique are a huge part of the Country Loft. There were great projects hanging up or draped over open drawers and doors. I wanted to make every single one of them! Mountains of hand dyed wool ... drawers and drawers of thread ... kits all over the place. I have a huge case of shop owner envy going.



One of the things I find so interesting about this store is that they have patterns by area designers that aren't in the main stream ... patterns you won't find at many other stores. And how they display everything is total eye candy!



All those dolls peeking out behind purses and needle cases and stitcheries!




And then when you go out the back door you find this entire room of primitive furniture! I'd love to have those benches from the movie theatre ... or that cute yellow table stacked on top.


They have a great backyard too ... I know they use it for events and sales ... it's California ... you can do those kinds of things outside almost all the time.


If you're lucky you'll run into the 'locals' ... Joan from Bits and Pieces by Joan and Debbie from Little Stitches. It was fun to see them someplace other that Quilt Market ... they look different when they're in their natural environment!

I love love love this store ... go visit!!


Mission accomplished!


My colorful Cherrywood Fabrics quilt is off to the quilter ... maybe on her frame already! I love it and can barely wait to see what it'll look like when it's done ... we're using Cherrywood's variegated thread to quilt it with.

I decided I didn't like the teal sashing between the blocks so just jammed them all together and put a big sashng on two sides of the main part of the quilt. Then it needed flowers and leaves and vines so it was off to the die cut machine. After so fussing around it was ready to press in place. Our quilter is going to scribble along the raw edges and add details when she quilts it. Everyone at the Cottage loves the quilt ... hope everyone agrees when they come to the shop hop in April!


I drank the Kool-Aid.


And it was delicious! After a lot of hesitation, I was finally able to make a cut in my Cherrywood Fabrics bundle. And good thing I did because the deadline is looming! Gotta get my project to the quilter so I'll have it back in time for our meeting for the Twin Cities Shop Hop. The hop is April 29, 30 and May 1 if you need to circle your calendar.

It was a little hard for me initially ... there's no print on the fabric although there is a lot of mottling on some of the pieces. There's no right or wrong side. It was hard at first to color plan the quilt because of the solid color and brighter ones than I'm used to using. After a little false start, I was on my way though ... and I've learned alot about working with this cool fabric!

Some of the blocks I only used two colors ... others like this one I'm going to use lots of leftover pieces just to make it fun and interesting. I was surprised at how easily the colors worked with each other.  My biggest challenge was not to use my favorites and spread out the fun among all the others.

Once I got some blocks done, I had to audition them against the main part of the quilt. Do I want to add sashing betweeen them or just butt them up next to each other.

Leaning toward the sashing ... but then that means some more math and maybe a different border on two other sides. Time's wasting ... I've gotta stop looking and make a decision!

This fabric is a lot like the hand dyed wool I use ... I don't want to waste any of it. In fact, the scraps are being tossed into their own garbage can. You never know ... I might need that one inch piece on top!

It kills me to throw away the corner flips so for right now, they're hanging out together on the edge of the cutting mat. There were a ton of them ... seems like almost all the blocks had me stitching and flipping. They'd make a darling pincushion, wouldn't they? Hey ... look at that ... my scissors match the fabric!

Two things that have saved my life sewing this project ... Mary Ellen's Best Press and a lint roller!

I know you're anxious to see the whole quilt but you'll have to wait until closer to the shop hop. I'm eager to see what the other stores are doing with their blocks, too! One more block to sew and then it's time to decide on that sashing. Wonder what it'll look like finished!


My quilted home.


I've always known I had a lot of quilts but it wasn't until I began walking around the house one day with my camera that I realized how many I had. I've lost count ... didn't even begin to see how many are on the beds ... the ones we use every day. They have crept into my house one by one ... and I love them all!

These two quilts live on my couch in our living room ... the burgundy furniture really sets them off. I love the melon colored Grandma's Garden because its such a change from the traditional  backgrounds you see on this quilt. The cheddar and white quilt is a favorite ... first off because never in a million years would I piece together those blocks ... but also because it reminds me of the air raid shelter signs that were everywhere when I was growing up. (TG we never had to use them!!)

It seems like there are quilts stacked up at the end of every couch and bed. Hey ... it gets cold here in Minnesota! Our living room is painted a warm, antique gold and with our burgundy colored furniture its a quiet place in the Summer and the perfect, cozy place to read in the Winter. There's always a quilt to pull up for a cat nap.

This spool quilt is one of the first quilts I made ... I found the pattern for it when I was moving the store and was so excited about that! It's called Homespun Spools and was a pattern from That Patchwork Place. It is one of those quilts that has a lot of memories stitched into it ... first off ... I took it as a class with my sister Sue ... it was scrappy and I picked the fabric for both of us so we each have identical quilts. We learned how to use the Easy Angle and to insert prairie points into an inner border. But when I look at it I usually think about how it was where I met Debbie Bowles from Maple Island Quilts. She was teaching the class and was right at the beginning of launching her pattern line and when she found out I knew how to publish, she asked me to share my information with her. It has been fun watching her ever since as she's gone on to publish patterns and books and appear on quilting shows.  

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I've got this thing about rolling quilts and storing them in crocks. We have a lot of Red Wing crocks in our house! I seem to have a thing about lavender quilts too ... and very obviously vintage quilts from the 40's!

This was my quilt from when my store was in Quilt Sampler ... Rosebud's Cabin. It has the rosebud block bordered with log cabin blocks on point and flying geese. I made a second one in a lap size that's in the living room. I never get tired of looking at this quilt and remembering how much fun it was to be part of the magazine. And here's a little secret ... I have almost an entire bolt of the creamy background with polka dots on it! It's one of the things I refused to get rid of when I was purging during our move. I wish Andover Fabrics would print it again ... it is just the best piece around!

If you did the mini pillowcase challenge on American Patchwork and Quilting a few years ago, this is the one you saw! I made this pillow and the one behind it from the cut off corner flips of  Twist and Turn ... a project that I designed for the magazine. I made one more project ... a mat that was just half-square triangles sewn together. Three projects all from stuff I would have tossed in the garbage can! As I cut off the corners, I'd sew them up and then trim them so they were all the same size. I still do that with those cut off corners ... you can make tons of things ... like pincushions for gifts!

The top quilt was the first quilt I had published in American Patchwork. It was made from one of Pat Sloan's first lines ... Old Blooms ... and was made in October of 2003. It was in  Quilting Ideas ... a precursor to Quilts and More. Underneath it is Columbian Puzzler ... the prototype that was remade into Twist and Turn. It's huge ... hangs down on both sides of the bed ... and it's keeping us warm right now during the cold snap we've been having. That pattern is on American's Patchwork's web site but they've renamed it ... you can find it if you search.

It's a good thing we have a railing at the foot of our bed ... its an excellent quilt rack! Another one of those flower garden quilts again!  How can you resist them? The tourquoise quilt that is folded has six gigantic baskets on it ... and that's it ... no border ... just surrounded by that fabulous color. The Rose of Sharon quilt that you can see peeking out was the first quilt in the collection. Bob's family was from Pennsylvania and when the last of his aunts passed away, his cousin sent a box of things to the family here. The first item in the box was this quilt ... Bob kept it and gave everything else to his brothers and sister. He loved that it had part of my first name and my second name in the title of the quilt ... and he knew that I secretly loved it but wouldn't ask for it. I still love it today ... there's no secret about it!  The one next to it is an autograph quilt. Who were those women??

There are a lot more pictures of quilts! But this last one is one of my favorites. It was made by my friend Jane as a Christmas gift to me a long time ago ... it's a tree skirt meant for a table top tree. I've never used it that way, though. Did you know tree skirts are terrific tied around the base of a lamp? It fits perfectly in our folk art home. And here's my dirty little secret ... you don't have to dust under them ... you just untie them and shake them out the door. And now I can see you all scrambling back to the boxes of holiday decorations you just put away looking for your tree skirts, too! Just think ... less dusting ... more time for quilting.


Organized for fun!


A place for everything and everything in it's place. Love that phrase especially at this time of year! There's something about flipping the calendar to a new year that inspires us to tidy up and set goals. Or maybe it's the holiday let-down ... we figure we need to do something constructive. Maybe it's the cold days that keep us inside that make us settle down and get organized. Whatever the reason, I know that when I want to make something, I want to be able to put my hands on my supplies as quickly as possible!

Whenever I'm taking my stitching on the road, I always grab this basket first. I rescued the heart box from a Valentine's gift and inside I have a variety of needles, pins, and other small supplies. The basket also holds several sizes of scissors, Papermate pencils, Roxanne's Glue Baste, a little ruler, my Mighty Brite clip-on light and a book of embroidery stitches I've had for a million years. Love to hang little doo-dads off the handle ... just for fun.

Under one of my tables I keep this big wash basket ... it's one we all grew up with and somehow I ended up with it. At first glance, it looks messy ... but inside there are smaller baskets where I have commonly used tools organized by their use. The middle one is all adhesives, sanding disks and chalk ink ... these are basics that I use for any kind of papercraft. Ink pads and stamps in another ... punches in a third and fasteners in a fourth. Whenever I have a group come into the hideout, this is that basket I go to because everything I need is in it.

The organizing containers in my closet aren't that cute but they are functional. I bought a dozen of these small milk crates and have my stuff sorted by what they have in common ... adhesives in one, punches, fasteners, stamps, inks ... you get the drift. I found that by having a lot of crates I was able to categorize my supplies more and sort them so they'd be easy to use. They're easy to store because they're the same size and shape. They let me see what I have. When I'm working on something, it's easy to pull out a crate, find what I need and get back to my project. I always put things back in the proper place for next time. It's easier that way.

I like to keep all of the items that work together on the same shelf if I can. This one holds all of my Sizzix die cuts.

I store some of those bigger things that I don't use quite as often on a top shelf ... I like to keep them in their original boxes because there's usually some kind of visual instruction on them, plus it makes them easier to store. Yes ... even the Holly Hobby Light Up Drawing Desk is in it's orginal box! I love that light box ... use it all the time!!

Love anything I can see through ... especially if it has a lid on top.

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Love to find bargains on storage containers, too! This is a great time of year to search them out. I found these at the 'spot' in Target. Magazines are so much easier to search through if they're stored in holders so you can see their names.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have a bookshelf ... or two!!

When I'm looking for storage, function is important but so is cute! I hunt down items in antique stores or at the flea markets that I think will work in my studio. One thing that I love are those bed tables that were so popular in the 40's and 50's. They give me an extra layer to work with. I can put stuff on top or underneath ... plus they're adorable! If they're affordable, I always snatch them up.


The other things I like to look for are watercolor boxes ... and muffin tins ... and cake plates!



Those BakeLite dresser boxes that women used to put their hair into? Perfect for thread at the sewing machine. I use salt shakers to sprinkle glitter. Buttons and bobbins look great in bottles!

I'm a big fan of bulletin boards, display walls and anything else that helps me get my stuff out of a box and into my line of sight for inspiration and reminders.



Even though I try to stay on top of my stuff, I'm always surprised at what I find when I straighten up. I'm not even going to mention how many pairs of scissors I have ... or packs of needles! Sometimes opening up a box yields a pleasant surprise.

Other tricks I've learned over time is to cut small leftover fabrics into 2 1/2" strips and to pin them to a bulletin board by color. Or 5" squares given the craze over charm packs. In fact, because these pre-cuts are so popular, you should sort through your patterns and books and pull out those that are geared specifically for those cuts and put them all in one place. When you come across a jelly roll that you can't resist, you'll know exactly where to look for a project to use it.

Three ring binders are your friend. And so are page protectors and magazine holders that fit inside of them. I have all of my Quilt Sampler magazines from the very beginning in binders like this. Same with books and patterns from my favorite designers.

Fabric is one of the hardest things to sort and store. Everyone has a solution. I solved that problem by giving away my entire stash when I moved! Kind of drastic. But at one point,  they were sorted by color and texture. Flannels weren't mixed in with cottons for instance. Blues light to dark. Holiday and novelty and baby things separated. All folded to the same size. I remember when I did this intially ... it took some time but it was so worth it in the long run!

If you're blessed to love more than one hobby, there are even more challenges to keeping things sorted and easy to use. Whether its papercrafts or painting or beading or knitting ... each one comes with a convoy of stuff you need. But good grief ... they're so much FUN!

I don't feel creative living in a mess ... but I don't mind working in one when I'm making something. There's something about having all the 'stuff' laying on the table that is so inspiring. But when I'm done, I love clearing up and putting away ... and then I'm revved up to get going on the next thing!