Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sewing A to Z! Review and Giveaway!

Sewing A to Z is pretty much everything you wanted to know about sewing in one book! Written by Nancy Zieman of PBS's Sewing With Nancy fame, this book is filled with sewing info for quilters, everyday sewers and especially for those once and awhile sewers.  It's like having Nancy right there next to your sewing machine!
The book is organized alphabetically by technique which makes finding the information you need quick and easy.  I love quick and easy.  I sew more than just quilts and some of that sewing I don't do very often and frankly, I forget things.  This book helps a sewer like me who doesn't sew a zipper all the time and who needs a quick, clearly written refresher.
There are quilting techniques so quilters will find info they need.
There is lots of general sewing information that I found very helpful.  Needles can be so confusing...what do those numbers mean anyway?  It really is good to know.  Choosing the right needle can make all the difference in the quality of a project.  Nancy explains each topic clearly, briefly, and with effective illustrations.
Sewing A to Z is on a month long blog tour and Nancy kicked it off here.  Check out her post for a chance to win this fabulous prize package worth $450!  Wowsers!
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of her book.  Tell me what sewing skill or technique you need to brush up on!  The next stop on the tour is tomorrow at True Up. Be sure to drop by the rest of the stops on the tour to read more about Sewing A to Z!  I'll do the random number thingy on Friday!
August 15         Nancy Zieman
August 16         Whipstitch
August 17         Sew Mama Sew
August 18         Diary of a Quilter
August 20         Amy's Creative Side
August 22         Quiltville
August 23         Crap I've Made
August 24         Eileen Roche's
August 25         I'm Just a Guy Who Quilts
August 26         The Free Motion Quilting Project
August 27         Sew Serendipity
August 29         Lazy Girl Designs
August 30         Pat Sloan
September 1      True Up
September 2      Sew News
September 6      Off The Cuff Sewing Style
September 7      V and Co
September 8      The Cottage Home
September 9      Colette Patterns

PS....I did draw a winner for Mary Lou's book.  Sorry I didn't get around to posting about it.  Lisa was the winner!  Has your book arrived?  Hope so, you lucky gal, you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coming Up for Air!

3 days and counting until the truck arrives and all my furniture and all those boxes I've been so carefully packing will be on their way to Chicago.  I've saved the studio (and the garage...aaaak!) for last on my packing agenda.  I've had my nose to the grindstone, fixing, painting, and sprucing.  The house looks amazing.  It's ready for a new owner (hopefully someone will want to buy her), and I'm ready to say a fond farewell.

I was able to come up for air a bit last week.  I spent a few days in beautiful northern Arkansas talking and teaching with the lovely folks of the Q.U.I.L.T. Guild of Northwest Arkansas.  It was great to get out of the house and back to doing what I love to do.  I had the pleasure of talking to their guild and doing a trunk show as well as teaching a full day workshop on improvisational quilting.  We had a big group and so much fun.  A few friends from the KCMQG came down (thanks guys!) and then there was a bunch from the Arkansas guild.  What wonderful open, willing to try, jump out of the box and totally talented.  We had a ball!
Carmen posted this on facebook...I was so excited to see it.  My freelance writer friend, Linzee McCray, wrote an article on Modern Quilting for the French magazine, Magic Patch.  It was pretty cool to see my quilts published internationally.  Congrats to Alissa, her quilt is in there too.  Thanks to Carmen for allowing me to use her photo.  I'm hoping my copy will arrive soon!

A few more weeks and I'll be in Chicago permanently.  I'm ready to be settled with my hubby and back to sewing!   Won't be long now!

Be sure to drop by tomorrow for a review of Nancy Zieman's great new book and a chance to win a copy for yourself.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Action Kivu - A Little Goes a Long Way

Today I have an opportunity to share with you my support for Action Kivu. I found out about the work of Action Kivu through my friend Alissa and her sister Cate, who is the workhorse and one of the driving forces behind this effort. I was happy to be reminded that everyone doesn't have the opportunities and safe environment that we do, and best of all that we can help make that possible for others.
Action Kivu provides some of the Eastern Congo's victims of violence with the opportunity to rebuild their lives on a foundation of hope, dignity, and economic self-sustenance. Their approach is spearheaded through two programs. First, they run a sewing workshop that teaches women who are victims of the conflict to sew. This leads them to be able to support themselves and their families. Secondly, they pay for children to go to school which is not free in Congo.
Action Kivu is all about changing lives with sewing machines, fabric and thread.  As we all know, those things aren't cheap.  It is through our donations that Action Kivu can do its work.
Alissa has set a goal of $15,000 this year and earlier in the week she told me that many people were coming to her blog, but weren't giving.  I know times are tough and money is tight, but I also know that a lot of caring, generous people read this blog.  There are prizes for donating (some really great ones), but the biggest prize is a woman who can live with dignity and a child who is educated and who will live a better life because of it.
You can read more about Action Kivu on their website.  You will be impressed by the work they do. Please head to Alissa's site and click the donate button.  It's simple, quick and most importantly it makes a difference. If each of us donate even $10 Alissa will make her goal.  Give more if you can, but please give.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stupid Is As Stupid Does...#? or Sometimes Improvisation is the Only Way!

I've been working like a dog getting the house ready to put on the market. I'm making lists and tackling things systematically room by room, painting, fixing, packing.

We have this 12 x 12 foot screen porch that jutts of the back of our house. It has a beautiful view and is a nice area to sit and relax at the end of the day. Next on the list was to sweep and spiff up the porch. I swept and had a nice pile of dirt ready to hit the trash, but no dust pan. I walked to the door to go inside and get what I needed. I was so excited to check another task off the list.

I grabbed the handle and turned...nothing happened.  I knew instantly that I was in trouble.  The door was locked and I was on the porch without a key.  Not only without a key, but without a phone, without another human in earshot, without hope of escape.  I was alone, locked on the porch with my neat pile of dirt.

Like an idiot I wigged the doorknob, secretly praying that Schlage made a faulty lock and the door would somehow magically open.  Bruno sat quietly on the other side of the door, looking at me, wondering why I was asking him for help.  Again, hope springs eternal and a quick thought flashed through my mind.  Maybe Bruno could unlock a door.  It was only a fleeting thought.

As I stood on the porch that deja vu feeling welled up in my chest.  This isn't the first time I've been in this situation.  Sad to say, I didn't learn my lesson.

So, it was time to figure out a solution to my dilemma.  It was time to improvise!  I looked at all the screens on the porch and chose one in the corner (it had a post directly underneath and had the most space below so if I took a big fall maybe I wouldn't hit anything else.) I didn't want to, but I knocked out the screen.  As I stood there making more work for myself, I said a few choice words.

With the screen out of the way, I steeled myself, took a few deep breaths and climbed over the railing. I stood on the ledge, gripping the railing, my heart racing.  After a few seconds, I thought better of what I planned to do and I climbed back over onto the porch.  It's a full story above the deck and to add to the drama, I'm afraid of heights.  I calmed myself down and told myself I had to do this.  

So I looked over the side and made a plan.  There was a towel hook screwed into the post below.  I thought if I could lower myself down and get my foot on that hook, well, I didn't quite know what I was going to do then, but at least I had a plan.  So, I climbed over again, grabbed the rails and lowered myself down and my foot found the hook.  Success!  But in a spit second the hook broke, my hands slid down the rails and I was hanging there for what seemed minutes, but I knew was only seconds.
I instinctively wrapped my legs around the post with the gutter with nowhere to go but down.  I slid a bit and then dropped to the ground.  I hit the deck and fell backwards.  The thought that ran through my mind was that I had probably broken something.  I got up, dusted myself off...a little humiliated, a lot bruised, but very happy to be walking back up to the house.

Sometimes, improvisation is the ONLY way.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mary Lou and Melanie Write a Book!

The internet is a wonderful place and I've met such kind and talented people.  Mary Lou Weidman is one of those people.  She and Melanie McFarland have written a book and Mary Lou asked me to tell you about it.  These ladies have bottled the joy of quilting and put it in a book.  When I read in the introduction, "Who wants to do things like everyone else?....Be a stray once and awhile!" I knew they were my kind of quilters.
I'm a self taught quilter. I like to learn on my own and I'm always looking for new ways to do things. When I looked at the quilts in the book I told myself, I know how to do that. Then I read the technique section.  These ladies have shared some interesting, unique techniques for making the blocks and shapes they use in their quilts.  I learned new improvisational techniques that I can and will apply to my own work.  I love a book where I actually learn something!
Mary Lou and Melanie are into letters and word in their quilts.  It's such a great way to personalize a quilt and again, more good technique information here!

This book is about making quilts, but for me it's also about attitude, doing your own thing, stepping out of the box, and viewing quilts from an artist's perspective.  Mary Lou and Melanie provide instructions for projects to make, but more importantly they offer great techniques that you can learn and use in your own original creations.
My favorite project in the book is this purple cow.  It's funny I don't like purple, but when I saw this cow I thought about the cow that blocked the road as I drove home the other day.  I just may have to make a giant purple cow, hang it in my new apartment to remind me of Kansas.

Mary Lou and Melanie have given me a signed copy of their book to give away. Just leave a comment and tell me your thoughts on you do it? Would you like to?
I'll draw a winner on Thursday! Don't know what time, so comment early!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Do I Do With A Giant Moose?

Thanks so much for all of your well wishes. It was hard for me to write that last post. Saying it out loud makes it real for me. I never liked being the new kid at school, (which I was way too many times) and it feels a bit like that, so I truly appreciate you reaching out and your welcoming comments.
As some of you know I live in a rural area outside of Kansas City.  I have to spread out and when space is available, things tend to fill up that space.  About 10 years ago my sons and husband decided that I needed a sculpture to accent part of our land, so for Mother's Day, I received a giant iron Moose.  Who doesn't love a moose on the Kansas prairie? I adore my moose.  Aren't his antlers simply fabulous! He watches over me and guards the entrance to our property.
I've been cleaning out every room and deciding what gets tossed, what someone else might want, and narrowing down what will come with me to Chicago.  If I haven't used it in a year, it's out of here!

But then there's the moose.  I'm wondering if there is an iron moose adoption program, or better yet a moose on loan program.  It takes a special person to adopt a giant iron moose.  There would need to be an interview of course, and a site survey.  My moose won't live just anywhere.

It's a lot easier to find homes for excess quilts.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Can you Move a Prairie to the Big City?

Well, I hope so!  The big news around my house is that Tallgrass Prairie Studio is relocating.  Windy city here I come!  My better half has taken a permanent job in Chicago and so, it's time for a change.  As I type there are a few tears welling up because I love Kansas City.  My guild, my first real quilting friends and my family are here.  Those are hard to leave behind, but this is a new adventure, new opportunities, people to meet and an amazing city to explore and enjoy.

The best part, my hubby and I will be in the same city 7 days a week.  We haven't had that for many years.  I'm not sure what it will be like having him walk through the door each night instead of only on weekends.

I spent the last four days scouring the city of Chicago for a place to live.  It's not easy to find a place within a budget and that will welcome a big, sloppy black lab.  Yes, Bruno is going to be a city boy.  His only request, an elevator.  He's not much for a third floor walkup!

Turns out, with a little hard work, it's possible.  This will be the view from the balcony of my new apartment.  I'll have a little bedroom for my studio,  but as long as I have fabric and a sewing machine I'll be good.  I'm worried, overwhelmed and excited all at the same time! My hubby will move in a week.  It's going to be a few months before we're together again, but knowing that it's going to happen is what will motivate me to get all the work done that it will take to move.
Wish me luck!