Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Working on the Chain Gang....

Tillie, my rat terrier, and BD (beautiful dog) surveying the painting progress.
Faye making the porch beautiful!
We've been consumed with working on our newold house in New Albin.  It seems an eternity to me that I've been re-glazing all the downstairs window.  You know how it is when you start a new project?  "Heck, I can get this whipped out in a couple of days!" you murmur to yourself.  If only....  I honestly thought it would take three or maybe four weeks to re-glaze the 20 downstairs windows - HA!  First you have to ever so carefully remove all the only glazing material with a heat gun - being cautious to no overheat the glass, which would crack it - then you scrape all the old glaze out - again easy on the glass, put new glazing points into the wood frame to hold the glass in place, clean and scrape all old glaze material off the glass, then apply new glazing compound into the window frame to make an air tight seal.  I have great admiration for those who are expert in handling glazing compound - that gift passed me by, although I did keep at it until each window at least looked like Frankenstein's Bride had NOT been in charge of the glazing.  And I only got 17 windows done!  That's my good friend Faye with the paintbrush in hand.  She came over on a brilliantly sunny and warm day last week to paint the front porch to match the aluminum siding.  Go figure, but when the house was sided long ago, they didn't side the porch (ok with me), so a miracle happened at Home Depot where I only buy Behr Paints, they managed to match the paint to the siding!!  I had been really worried about that.  Next summer the porch floor, ceiling, trim and posts will get a new coat of paint.  Faye!.....

Walking into the Sunroom from the kitchen.
How handy would this sink be close to a studio?
From the "new" bathroom into my studio.
Tillie follows me just about everywhere I go.

This is the sunroom which will become my studio.  I'm not particularly good at mentally envisioning space, so I'm not sure just how much of my current studio is going to fit in the space.  DH appropriated about 20sf to enlarge the half bath to a 3/4 bath, and I did pitch a minor hissy fit even though I understand having the shower will be a great thing.  I'd love to talk him into adding one of those small Kohler Guilford farmhouse sinks, but the price is prohibitive.  We've got a re-use, buy used budget, which is great....  If only wishes were horses!  I'm finding the most difficult thing for me is paying attention to how much work I can do - this poor body only has so much it can do before I have a crash and spend a couple of days dealing with serious pain.  I spent 6 to 7 days per week for a while because I didn't want DH to be there by himself all the time (and I do have to say he's been a real trooper getting things done).  But after getting sick for a week, I had to re-think my strategy.  Now I'm thinking maybe 4 days a week, but not consecutive, although if the sun shines and the air temperature is moderate I still have a couple of windows to go!  I do miss spending time sewing, but Amy has taught me some jewelry making techniques so on nights when we aren't passed out in our recliners I'm making some things I hope to sell on Etsy.  Hope you've all been enjoying this amazing fall we've been blessed with!
XOXO Angela

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thank You Cathy!

Dear Cathy,
Thank you for reading my blog and leaving your comment.  It meant so much to me to know that someone read what I had written months ago and then left a comment asking where I've been and would I blog again.  Well the truth of it is that I've been in a creative black hole, topped with worldly malaise.  Meaning we're flat out of currency and waiting for our farm house and business property to sell so that we can move along with life!  I wouldn't be blogging today if not for your comment Cathy.  So for those shy readers out there, don't forget to leave a comment even if it's just a "Hiya!".  It could make a big difference in someone's day.

The amazing booths on the left are from vendors at the HandMade Market at The Creative Connection Event  in Minneapolis during September.  We first read about the event just as we were winding up the closing of Yellow Bird Art, and thought it might be just the creative tonic we'd need after closing our quilt shop.  If the names of Amy Butler, Mary Jane Butters or Ree Drummond mean anything to you, then you should have been there since they were the keynote speakers.  We attended panels and classes about developing a business, building a website, the future of brick and mortar shops, and just about any other topic of interest to the creative crafter interested in developing a market for her products.   I can't tell you how inspiring this event was with creative classes by the likes of Kaari Meng of French General (just one of many!)

Amy took Kaari's class called Petite Couer - a darling velvet pincushion of a generous size stuffed with lavender which scents an entire room and just loaded with delicate jewelry.
I took Kaari's class for making a gypsy necklace, the exact name of which I immediately forgot when I saw Amy's pincushion out of nothing less than sheer envy.  This is very similar to the necklace we made in terms of the types of beads and charms, although our necklace had three strands of beads and chain, but no earrings or bracelet.  The really maddening thing is that I found an image of our project earlier today, but now for the life of me, I can't locate it again!
We learned a powerful lesson we should have already known, and I am ashamed to publicly confess this, but we had formed a rather negative opinion of  Kaari due to our business relationship with her when we first opened Yellow Bird Art.  We were purchasing her jewelry kits wholesale for our shop, and could only make small wholesale commitments.  She was in the initial process of closing down the wholesale portion of her jewelry business, and we just couldn't understand why someone with such spectacular items would raise the wholesale requirements.  Well..... it turns out she was packaging up all those adorable kits filled with teensy bits of this and that all by herself, while designing breath-taking fabric for Moda, building her business and living a successful family life.  Silly us.  We would have made the exact same decision if we'd been in her place.  How many times in life must we re-learn such an obvious lesson to not judge others harshly.  And I can tell you honestly that having taken a class from Kaari that she is generous, patient, incredibly kind and truly a humble soul who just loves doing what she does and sharing it with the rest of us.  Let's remind each other to be nice, ok?  BTW, visit her site at

Speaking of generosity, this lovely little sterling necklace was a gift to those of us attending The Creative Connection Event.  Check it out for next year if you love the creative aspect of life and are looking to expand your vision and perhaps, maybe, find a market for your own creative brilliance!
XOXO by Angela

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Modern Quilt Guild

I'm almost too excited to sit still to write this post.  Of course, my friends know that in general I'm easily entertained, so this may not have the same knock your socks off effect for you as if does for me.  So here's the announcement -  I'm starting a Modern Quilt Guild in NE Iowa - New Albin to be specific. 

I'm not generally a joiner, and I loathe (is that too strong a word?) group politics and sitting through hours of grueling group decision making (over the brand of paper plates!), and yes, even Robert's Rules.  I know a few of you have those rules memorized, and I truly do not intend to offend you and I'm sure there are some situations where they're swell, but having endured hours of meeting time spent listening to people argue about whether this Rule or that Rule is appropriate for a certain situation has just hardened me into what appears to most as an anti-social, meeting hater.  Well, fessing up, I guess I am.  Have you ever spent time in a meeting only to leave feeling really frustrated, and well, maybe a little ticked off?  And it's not fun and you can't remember why you came, anyway.

Tripping backwards on memory's lane (would that work as time travel?),  I do have incredibly fond recollections of early quilt guild meetings in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  We were the young moms then, in our 20's and 30's and hungry to learn about quilting and to simply gather with like minded women to explore our new art.  Our meetings were fun, light-hearted, and refreshing times that got us out of the house (and away from our young children) for a couple of hours.  We were excited to see what each other was working on, and to gain advice from other gals who had been quilting just a bit longer than us. 

SO - if you're wondering what a Modern Quilt is, or if maybe you might want to be a Modern Quilter, or if maybe you already are a Modern Quilt maker and just don't know it, or if the concept of just making fun quilts and getting together with other people who like to make fun quilts and just hang out and inspire each other intrigues you - here's what Modern Quilting is (taken from The Modern Quilt

What is Modern Quilting?
"Modern quilting is a new twist on the traditional art of quilting. This may mean something as simple as using a traditional quilt block and updating it in a fresh fun new way. That includes using modern fabrics, modifying the block arrangement or even the scale of the block.   The piecing could be improvisational and wonky, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your own. The quilting could be traditional stippling, clean straight lines or a very “free” have fun, quilt as you go style. Fabrics could be upcycled vintage sheets, custom digital printed fabric, a yummy selection from one of the new modern fabric designers, or an old fabric from an ever growing stash.

Modern quilting is sometimes difficult to define because in many ways the definition is as individual as the quilter – changing from quilter to quilter. In addition to reflecting the individual personality and personal style of the quilter it also reflects the current aesthetic of the day.

Modern quilting is also about the attitude and the approach that modern quilters take. It respects the amazing artistry and talent of the tradition of quilting, while allowing the quilter to challenge the “rules”. In fact, if there were one rule in modern quilting it would be that there are no rules.

The concept of modern quilting is not meant to divide or segregate. It is meant to welcome new quilters, of all ages, to the world of quilting in a style that they can relate to. In many ways, modern quilting takes us back to the basics of the early quilters, when women of the day used the colors and styles of their time to express themselves creatively."

If this sounds delightful to you, check out and take a look at the type of quilts they're making, read a little, and then shoot me an e-mail.  I don't have a real sense for exactly how this will all play out, but I'm pretty sure they're a lot of quilters in our geographic area - SW Minnesota, NE Iowa and the LaCrosse area- who might be ready for something else.

till later ~ Angela

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Just be Creative

I woke up the other morning feeling like a 12 year old on the first Saturday of summer vacation.  Do you remember how exhilarating  that was?  My first thoughts were of my studio and the amazing new fabrics I'd picked up at Quilt Market in Minneapolis and the ideas that have been floating in and out of my mind for their use.
I met Terrie Mangat, an artist from near Taos, New Mexico at Market.  Her booth was filled with her complex embellished and painterly art quilts and stacks of her fabrics from Free Spirit.  The fabrics in Terrie's booth were part of her display for selling her patterns and art quilts.  She was warm, open and friendly and she graciously sold me one yard cuts of the fabrics she had on hand after only a small amount of whining on my part.  I'm so intrigued by the colors and patterns she uses.  You'll recognize the Catholic images - Terrie was brought up Catholic, and she loves the richness of the traditional imagery.  If you're interested in more about her - will take you there!

As a backup creative option for the day, I thought I could work the the afghan I'm knitting for my son using Manos hand dyed wools.  I felt real good about my plans for the day!
Then reality took a huge bite out of it!  I don't know about you, but I've got this hang-up about "playing" when my "work" isn't done.  Lately my work has been getting our house ready for showing to sell, and then keeping it show ready during daily living.  You may be laughing at this point, but I have a plan I've named Operation Clean House.  I've been sorting and packing each room as I do a super cleaning.  Once that room is clean, Operation Clean House rules go into effect for that room.  I've only got three more rooms to sort, pack and clean for the whole house to be under OCH.  The rules of Operation Clean House are simple:  Put it back where it belongs when you are done with it, make the bed and no stacks on horizontal surfaces.
Today's room to be cleaned was my bathroom, darn it!  There went my creative dreams for the day.  I think a lot of that carefree joy we felt as kids was because somebody else was doing all the work.  My Big Goal is to get ALL of my house ready to show.  Then no one is going to find me because I'm going to be holed up in my studio just being creative!

If you'd like to see my house it's here.
I hope you have a lovely creative day without any housework!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blog Designs

Do you love to rearrange your furniture all the time?  My mother did, and I think it scarred me permanently.  Other kids were outside eating Twinkies and I was stuck inside pushing the heavy end of some sort of furniture.  The midnight trip to the one bathroom  (and we were darned glad for it ~ you coddled generation of three) in the house could prove deadly when you were half awake.  I think all my adult foot problems are truly related to the jammed toes I suffered as a child.  Really.

For the 40 years of renting or owning my own abode, I've become known for my refusal to rearrange any of my furnishings - ever.  Not for family parties, not for Christmas, not ever, don't even mention it in my presence.  I may torture my moving friends, but primarily my husband, for hours upon hours of moving this to there and maybe back again, or just a half a foot to the left, in a new house but I'll tell you what, once I've got the layout of a room just so, it's pretty darned good.  And that's just where everything is going to stay until I move or die!

But joy upon joy, Blogger has done a marvelous thing.  They've come up with some darned snazzy new templates and more backgrounds and color collections than I can hardly stand to think about.  I just spent the evening messing around with new designs and layouts while DH watched a thriller he swore he hadn't seen, but had, which he confessed as the credits rolled.  I barely scratched the surface of this new treasure trove for bloggers during those two hours.

So, be honest ~ what do you think of the new digs?  BTW, I'm sure I'll be breaking a mess of blogging rules, but dang it, I'm going to make up for all that furniture I never shoved around rooms and I'm changing the decor of this blog every time I get the itch for something new.  Without getting sweaty or stubbing my toes!

'Till later ~ Angela

Monday, June 7, 2010

Were There Rules?

I've determined to keep on top of this blog - to do it right.  When I was attempting to write the blog for Yellow Bird Art I found some major incompetencies in my ability to be consistent.  So in beginning Summer Kitchen Quilts I thought, in a vague, but well intentioned manner to shoot for improvement.

Yesterday, I decided to conduct a bit of internet research on ways to do just that.  Wow, did I ever get an eye-opener!  All, this time I've foolishly thought that writing a blog was a rather informal method of communication.  The blogs I've read and enjoyed give a snapshot of everyday life in such a lovely variety of homes and businesses not just here in the US, but around the world.  Visiting and reading my favorite blogs has been a delicious treat when the time was available.

What I learned was that there are hundreds, and I mean hundreds of rules about blogging.  I was horrified to learn that thus far I've been doing it all wrong.  Here are just a few of my gastly errors:
  1. The design of your blog should be completed before you push that little "Publish Post" button.  Silly me, I thought I could gradually make improvements as we moved forward.  One of my strengths is flying by the seat of my pants, so do I need to reform?  BTW, anyone know what that means?
  2. Select neutral color themes.  Oh, before I forget, my color scheme is too wild.  Huh?
  3. Your font sends a message.  I really blew it because I didn't consider the subtle message I was sending (elegant, serious, artistic, playful, etc.) through my choice of font.  You're reading this particular font because sure as shootin', I will forget between one blog post and another what font I had selected, which could probably imply some sort of serious psychiatric condition which isn't being treated, so I just use the default font.
  4. Give careful consideration to the name of your blog.  Again, silly me - I just thought since I'll have a workshop in the authentic 1896 summer kitchen at our new old house that "Summer Kitchen Quilts" would work.  You know, I could have hired people to develop my blog's name.
  5. Have a clearly defined theme for your blog.  To correct that mistake ~ I figured this one out easily ~ my theme is the story of a woman attempting to fulfill her artistic dreams while keeping clean underware in her husband's dresser.
  6. Plan the topics for each blog post in advance, and those topics should be related to the overall theme of your blog.  Cripes, if I was that organized (not that I don't wish I was, but at 61 you learn to gracefully accept some things about yourself) I'd know what I'm eating for dinner tonight.
  7. Blog posts need to be carefully edited.  Well, I do try to be diligent about this, but you know how that goes.  You read and re-read over and over, and until you post it, you never notice the fatal flaws. 
  8. You can use some photos or pictures, but don't over do it, it's visually confusing.  The blogs I adore have loads of photos!  It's what attracts me to them.  Exactly how do these "experts" become such experts?  Wasn't the point of blogs, the joy of blogs, supposed to be the freedom of creating a blog that reflects your personality?
  9. Be regular in your blog posts.  Ok, I'll go with this one - it just makes sense.  However, I really don't think it necessary for me to post every Sunday, regardless.  What if life has the audacity to get in the way?  Will you still love me if I post on Saturday or Monday that week instead?  Does your life ever seem to get out of control like mine?  My good intentions at this point are to post once a week.  But you never can tell, something exciting may happen before Sunday that I'll want to share with you, so be on the lookout for surprise posts!
  10. Don't post long lists.
I'd really love to hear some of your blogging tips.  What are some of your favorite blog features?  Do you have any pet peeves?

My best to you all and thanks so much for reading!
P.S. Thanking your readers and asking them questions is recommended.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Heart of my Heart

So, where on earth have I been as of late?  Why mostly right here at home, sleeping, or in the ER, ICU or in my doctor's office.  The past two months of my life have been a medical adventure which began this way...

For about three weeks beginning the end of March, I noticed that both of my ankles were swelling quite a bit.  By morning, the right ankle would look normal again, but the naughty left ankle still remained looking as though it belonged to an elephant.  Fortunately, the ankle was not gray or wrinkly.  It was just huge and puffy.  In the back of my mind I thought I ought to check it out, but my VBF, Val had flown from Indiana with her mother, my "little mom" Dolores, for a lovely 10 day visit, and I thought the clinic visit could wait until they returned home.  A little voice (there is a lesson here, so pay attention) in the back of my mind kept bothering me, so I decided to call my pharmacist to inquire whether any of my prescribed medications could possibly be causing this puffy ankle incident.
 My lovely pharmacist, Danette Gibbs (whom I now refer to as my "Angel Pharmacist") listened carefully to my description of the ugly and uncomfortable Puffy Ankle syndrome, and assured me that none of the medications I take could be the cause.  Then, with slow and clear ennunciation, and a very firm tone of voice, Danette told me that I MUST call my primary doctor as soon as I ended my call with her, and further instructed that I MUST see my doctor today, ASAP, because the swelling of one limb can be a sign of - HEART FAILURE!  Let me tell you, those two words will grab your attention and not let go!  So I did as instructed, and my doctor's nurse said I needed to get to the office ASAP - like NOW!  Which I did.

Another lesson for today, is that when you visit your doctor and notice that everyone at the office is hopping around you and a number of people are doing things to you simultaneously, something is not right.  I was shot up to Cardiology for an EKG and promptly returned to my doctor with the paper in hand.  Well, Dr. Kitty Howells (how can you not love a doctor named Kitty Howells?), explained, I had atrial fibrillation, which is an early stage of heart failure. 

That means that the atrial chambers of your darling heart, instead of beating with nice, solid, regular beats, spend their time making little fluttering irregular and fast beats.  Put your hands out in front of you and flutter your fingers around - that's sort of what's happening.  The big deal with this is that the heart is beating inefficiently, and blood isn't being moved around in your body the way God designed it to.  Those fat ankles of mine?  Pooled blood because my heart beat wasn't strong and regular enough to move the blood up my legs.  And the really bad thing is that you have a very increased chance of having a stroke because the blood can pool in the heart and form nasty clots that can shoot to your brain and leave you in a pitiful condition. You can look up atrial fibrillation on Google if you want to learn more.  And to make this experience even more fun, the following Sunday I had all the symptoms of a heart attack and was admitted to St. Francis Medical Center in La Crosse for a couple of days!  I even got to stay in the ICU.  Great nurses and care at St. Francis - it's the best!

So, I began taking coumidin (blood thinner - want to prevent clots) and metoprol (it reduces the rate of heartbeat - sort of like putting a governor on your kid's car so he can't drive over 50mph) to hold my heart's rate down (hopefully below 100 beats per minute) during the a fib incidents.  Jolly right, you say.  However, the 48 hour heart monitor I wore revealed that my heart is in a fib 41% of the time.  So, the docs say to increase the metoprol.  That was until I documented a weekend in **!l where I'd just come out of an a fib incident (mine last 2 - 3 hours or so) and then go right into another one.  By the way, a fib incidents leave you feeling weak, dizzy, a little sick, nauseous, headache.... awful!  These a fib attacks were so bad that my fingernails and toenails all turned blue..... over and over and over.  It was a bit unnerving.  Oh, did I mention that my husband was off in Canada fishing and I was at home alone - in the country - 30 minutes from the nearest town?  I think it must have been lack of oxygen to the brain (this also happens) because I was never frightened and never had the thought that I ought to call someone!
 My heart was having a party like a 17 year old when parents are gone for the weekend.  This is an experience you really don't want to share!

The Monday after the party, I called my doctor and fortunately, got right in.  None of us know how I managed to have the good sense to have my daughter, Amy, drive me to LaCrosse, but it did happen, thank the Lord.
And wouldn't you just know that as we walked into the clinic, I started to see stars and the hallway began swirling around, and someone grabbed a wheelchair and plopped me down into it and I got zoomed into the exam room.  I got to have the mother of all the a fib incidents of my big adventure, and my doc was able to get a lovely EKG printout of it - glory!  She called Cardiology and they said to give me some fast acting metoprol, get my heart rate stabilized and send me on home with a new increased dosage to further slow down my heart rate.  I'm glad a good doctor told me long ago that medicine is an inexact science and that much of it is trial and error.  Excellent reason for clean communication with your doctor!.

 Several people have asked me if I've been frightened throughout all of this.   I've not felt any fear throughout all of this because 30 years ago I asked forgiveness of my sins, and asked Jesus Christ to be my savior and I know that when I pass from this place, I will go to my real and eternal home with Him.  If you've wondered if Jesus is real, He is.  If you've wondered if He loves you, He does.  If you think your sins are so big that He can't or won't forgive you, He will and He does.  I want you to know and understand that God the Father has known you before time eternal began, before the earth and everything seen and unseen was formed and He has always loved you and will continue to love you.  He loves you so much that He has given you free will - the right to ask Him for forgiveness and eternal life, and also the right to turn your back on Him and live your life as you please.  I can tell you that having lived a life without Him and in sin (I matured in the 60's, your imagination can fill in the rest), that there is a huge difference in my life since I met Him as my Lord and Savior.  My life now is joyful, peaceful and complete.  This is not to imply without trial, because we all share that, but I have a source of strength, courage and love to run to in my times of trouble.  If you need hope and healing in your life, it is so simple.  With all your heart, ask forgiveness of your sins, ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, and then begin your new life.  Find a good Christian church, read your Bible, find a Bible study.  Contact me if you want more info!

Now, back to the a fib story.......

It's all about timing - heart timing in my case.  The new metoprol dosage was certainly doing its job of keeping my heart rate down.  My heart rate was so slow that I've basically been sleeping for the past two weeks.  Not kidding.  I'd get a phone call, and fall asleep listening to whoever had called!  I couldn't make it through a page of reading, or a bit of television.  What?  a blog called Summer Kitchen Quilts?  You gotta be kidding.  I'd have to head over to the bed for a bit of rest or find myself dozing off sitting up.  You could say my timing has been all off.
So, DH and I have been to see the clinic cardiologist who specializes in heart electronics, and I'm beginning a new drug which (hopefully) will deal with the poor rhythm of my heart.  I take my first dose tonight.  You should also know that atrial fibrillation is the most common heart condition, and normally easily managed.

I'm hopeful.  I'm positive.  I'm profoundly grateful.  God is wonderful and His love is boundless.  I'm not giving up on anything, but putting some plans on the back burner to just simmer for a bit while we get my heart back on track

With a heart full of love to you!

 If you want to know more about Jesus......

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So Easily Distracted

Aren't these roses wonderful.  Most of the time I can't smell a thing, but these were so fragrant, even I could catch a whisper of rose scent.  My darling daughter, Penny, sent me two dozen of these amazing roses.
Oh, my gosh, I  just came back to the blog - one more time to fix yet another error - and much to my horror, I see on the widget counter that I am FRIENDSHIP, WI, and it looks like I just visit myself ALL the time!  At least I leave quietly.... I may be dispensing with that gadget!
How many of you end up in some room of your home, twirling around in circles, trying with all your concentration to figure out what on earth you're doing in THAT room?

That sums up today for me. I started the day off all right - showered, clean underwear, teeth brushed, bed made, kitchen tided, then it all went downhill from there. While reading my morning e-mails, being conveniently on the computer, I decided to try my hand at designing a new pattern cover for Summer Kitchen Quilts. After hours of messing around, I finally got exactly what I wanted. Really.  Comfortably elegant, but not formal or fussy.  Maybe charming is the best description - but still with a clean feeling.  Like those roses Penny sent me.

If you know me, you know I love Old. All my houses have been old, and my new house is an old house. My husband is old, my children are now old. I'm even old. So while I wanted a "look" that evokes a lovely vintage type of image I'm not going for the "brown" primitive look. Not that there's anything wrong with "brown". I'm fond of brown but honestly, aren't there are enough designers out there already producing "brown" type patterns and fabrics, and that's just not where I want the look of Summer Kitchen Quilts to end up. So back to the pattern cover I designed this morning.

You can probably guess this one. All of a sudden my computer did something I can only compare to a giant burp, and it was all gone! Gone!  How many times have we all heard, read, screamed, "Save and save often"?  And then do we do it?  When do we ever learn? 

The charming little container to the left is a pill box Amy purchased for me last Friday.  I filled it with a few of my favorite vintage buttons.  I think they are infinitely more interesting than pills.  We visited the cutest shop in LaCrosse last Friday (after my fling in the emergency room for heart issues - I'm fine).  I believe it is The Painted Porch on Main Street in the downtown area.  The quilt in the background is just plain 5" patches, but of delightful vintage fabrics that are in fabulous condition.  It's a large quilt top - probably a double, but our plan is to share it - just to have the fabrics.  The most amazing thing is that it only cost $35.00!  Can you believe it?

That photo is part of my being distracted today.  I ended up in my studio because I wanted to check out the information you need to have on the back cover of your pattern - the legal stuff.   In the process of rummaging through patterns, I saw the pill box, and the quilt top, and my camera, and well, you can see the photo for yourself.

While I was in the studio putting together that little vignette, I glanced at the stack of fabrics I've pulled for a new pattern design I have simmering on the back burner in my mind.  Naturally, my first thought was that you all might enjoy seeing the creative process in action, and it only added to the random abstract quality of this day.  When it comes to designing everyone works differently.  I've know artists who visualize the entire project in advance and sketch or model it all out, and the final work of art looks exactly like the initial sketches or model.  It's amazing.  But I can't do that and for years I was frustrated and trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  Finally I realized that we all have our own style and method of working.  What a relief that insight was!  I get little inspirations here and there and see a fabric in my stash or a ribbon and then the design comes to life during the actual making of the new design.  The ribbons you see below are vintage French ribbons I've been saving for a special project, and I think this is probably the project!

These two antique needle cases are also part of the inspiration for my new design.  I'm going to make a sewing roll that is practical for today's seamstress.  After all, the tools and needs for sewing are a bit different today than they were 125 years ago.  So, give me a little help and make a comment on what you would want in a perfect sewing roll.  For me, it has to be easily portable, beautiful and durable.  What would you add to that list?  If I can ever find that random number generator gadget I've seen on other blogs (why didn't I write that down??), we'll use that to find a winner.  Did I say winner?  Yes, yes, and yes again!

Leave a comment letting me know what you consider essential in a sewing roll and you'll be eligible to win a little collection of some of my favorite vintage buttons, ribbons & trims and 3 fat quarters from my stash.  Put a link on your web site or blog for Summer Kitchen Quilts blog, and you'll have a second chance to win.  I'll make the drawing on Monday, May 24 at 5pm.  If we can't find the number generator by then, maybe I'll have Petey the cat earn his kibble by doing a little work for once in his pampered life.

Tomorrow we're off to Quilt Market in Minneapolis to become enthused, renewed, refreshed, revitalized, and most likely a bit overwhelmed.

Look for a market update later this weekend!
posted by Angela

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Control, There's a Problem

Well, of course, it wouldn't be normal to come up with some brilliant new endeavor and have everything work the way it's supposed to right from the start, now would it?  That's the human element.  We certainly do spend a lot of our life attempting to do things right the first time.......  Wonder what all else we could do if we weren't worried about appearing "perfect" all the time?  So, my apology for any confusion about the first class date here at the farm.
Come on out to my house on Saturday, June 5 for a class on my original handbag design "Precious Little Bag".  Our home is a lovely restored 1860 and 1880 log cabin nestled at the base of the rolling hills of NE Iowa on secluded road.  Just steps out of the front door is our artesian spring fed pond where sightings of eagles, herons, egrets and other water fowl is common.  This spring we have Mr. & Mrs. Fatbottom Goose visiting us with their 7 delightful little offspring.  Our location is beautiful, restful and inspiring. 

Sit on the front porch with a steaming mug of coffee or tea while savoring one of my delicious home made coffee cakes, or perhaps lunch will be served on the patio.  We eat healthy fresh foods here on the farm, and lunch might be one of my savory soups with a salad and crusty french bread, and a home made pie for dessert or some other culinary treat.  I do love to cook as well as quilt!  Our class will be held in my large dining room with plenty of room for six quilters.  You'll have access to the kitchen for a quick snack or another cup of tea.  You'll step back in time to enjoy a relaxed day of sewing that will be unique and memorable.

 Our project on Saturday will be this charming little handbag.  Your kit, which is included in the class price, will contain everything you need to complete the bag, rayon & silk brocade fabrics, ribbons, buttons & beads, lining & interlining, pattern and handle.

Also included in the class price is your beverages for the day (soda pop not included), snacks and lunch, as well as a small "thank you" gift for taking a class here at the farm!

You will be led through the construction of the bag with clear step-by-step demonstration.  Upon receiving payment of your class fee ($125.00), you will be mailed a packet containing directions to our farm as well as a wee bit of homework to be completed prior to the day of the class (cutting out your muslin interlining and fusing interfacings).  You should plan on arriving at the farm any time from 9am to 9:30am.  Class will begin promptly at 9:30!
Call Angela at 563-544-4480 with questions, or to reserve your space, or e-mail me at

With warm regards,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Textile Capers

Welcome to Summer Kitchen Quilts!
We're going to have a grand time, yes we are.

I am so incredibly excited about this new adventure in life, and I hope to include you in some of the wonderful things I've got planned.  I have a rich background in sewing, quilting and any sort of textile related art.  Well, except maybe for tatting.  My paternal Grandmother Jenny did her best to teach me - and I did want to learn - but that flying tatting shuttle just couldn't register in my brain.

My mother, Marilyn, taught sewing at a Singer Sewing Center, back in the 1950's, and made just about every piece of clothing my two sisters, Martha and Sylvia, and I wore as kids.  I don't ever recall not sewing, and by the time I was in high school, I was sewing most of my own clothes.  Of course embroidery was something almost all the other girls I knew did to pass time during the long summers.  We took it as our duty to keep pillow cases and dish towels adorned with the latest new embroidery patterns.  Not one to miss out on a good time, I acquired a knitting spool and spent endless hours cranking out miles of knit tubes.  Unfortunately, there was never clear instruction for what you were supposed to do with the knit tubes and my enthusiasm quickly evaporated.

My, AHA! moment, when I clearly realized that art - particularily of the textile variety - was going to figure largely in my life, occurred in a knitting shop in Santa Fe in 1970.  It was before the truly fabulously wealthy had taken Santa Fe over, and Old Canyon Road did indeed have many counter-culture artistic businesses scattered up and down its length, as well as some great galleries.  I recall the cool of the adobe building as I walked into the knitting shop and I was absolutely mesmerized by the 4 walls of color of every shade and tint.  I wanted to fall into all that color and become part of it.  That was the start. 

And like every start - it began small.  Crochet.  Baby blankets, baby booties, winter caps, little capes, and of course afghan blanket and afghan blanket.  A great friend of mine at the time was accused by her boyfriend of wanting to crochet a cover for her VW bug.  Wouldn't that have been something?

From there I learned to knit.  I still have the first two sweaters I knit for my children.  And one of them was a Fair Isle pattern!  Just goes to show you that ignorant bliss can work out just dandy sometimes.  Then I took a class in weaving, and found yet another use for all the wool I was stocking up in giant bags tucked into the dark recesses of unused closets.

I still have a lovely four harness loom that has been sitting unused for at least 10 years now.  I'm not to sure I agree with those organizational wizards who tell us that if we haven't used something by a certain period of time that we need to get rid of it...  Exactly who do they think they are?  Anyway. 

Then along came....
Our Bicentennial
My first inclination was that you had to just plain be crazy to buy yards of very fine fabrics, chop that fabric up into little geometric shapes and then sew it all back together again.  And then I made my first quilt.  I didn't know about 1/4" seams, or keeping points pointed, and there were any quilt shops anywhere, no rotary cutting tools, just scissors and cardboard and a good sharp pencil, and you were just darned lucky to find 100% cotton fabric to make your quilt with.  But I fell in love with the process and the absolute geometric magic that happened when two different block patterns came together to make a brand new pattern you never could have imagined.  The other thing I learned to love about quilting was the wonderful companionship of other quilters.  You could be on different planets when it came to politics or religion, but if you spent time with another quilter, the hours vanished quickly with the sounds of merry laughter.

This is the primary reason I'm going to start holding classes here at my farm outside New Albin, IA.  I think it does us (women) a great deal of good to get away from our everyday busy, busy life, to refresh ourselves a bit, learn a new thing or two, meet some other gals who have that same creative itch, and get a little pampering as well!

We are surrounded by nature here.  There's an artesian spring fed pond in my front yard that hosts Bald Eagles, a Canadian goose family (7 goslings this spring) and countless other water fowl.  The cabin is nestled at the base of a wooded hill which resounds with  bird songs all day long.  Your class here at the farm will include home made baked goods for the morning coffee break, a delicious and healthy lunch, and a kit containing the necessary items and pattern to complete your project.  You'll find a special little gift waiting at your table too.  Classes will run from 9:30 until 4pm, although I'd urge you to arrive as early as 9am so you can get set up and find the "necessary" rooms.  I am limiting classes to 6 so that you have plenty of room and access to my help. 
The first class at Summer Kitchen Quilts will be my original design, the Precious Little Bag (app. 8" h x 7"w), on Saturday, June 5, 2010, 9:30 - 4pm.  This is the first time the public will have access to my handbag designs.  I drafted all the patterns, and made one of a kind handbags for a wide range of uses, selling my work at  numerous art galleries and during local studio tours.  Your class fee includes the pattern and all fabrics, linings, interlinings, trims, button and handle.   I will take you step-by-step through my construction process.  This bag features silk & rayon brocade fabrics, a variety of trims and vintage buttons, a stamped metallic paint design and is further embellished with free motion embroidery patterns, which I will demonstrate during class.  With the purchase of the class I grant permission for you to make as many of the Precious Little Bags as you wish for personal use, or to give as gifts, and you can make up to 15 of the bags to sell at craft or fund raising shows.  If you wish to make more than that, please contact me. 

The class fee is $125.00 and due at registration.  Your fee will cover:
  • Coffee, tea, bottled water
  • Home baked rolls, scones, coffee cake, etc for morning break
  • Home made lunch featuring soups, salads and/or sandwiches, dessert and beverage.  We eat healthy, tasty food at our house, and you'll find the selections delicious.
  • Afternoon snacks
  • Complete Project Kit which includes the pattern, all fabrics, trims, buttons, lining, interlinings, handle, similar to the picture above.
  • A "Welcome to the Farm" gift
Registration is by phone, 563-544-4480, or e-mail me at
If you want to sit next to friends, please let me know.  Four people will be at one large table, and two people seated at another table.  Upon payment in full, you'll be mailed a packet containing "sewing homework" to be completed prior to the day of the class.  This is usually just cutting the pattern out of muslin and ironing on fusible batting or interfacing.  Complete directions will be included in this packet for driving to the farm.  If you have a GPS in your car, our address is: 2861 Blair Road, New Albin, Ia. 52160

I hope to hear from you soon, and look forward to a delightful day of stitching!
Check Back Often for Other New Classes at the Farm!

P.S.  For those who are allergic, we do have two outdoor cats, and three dogs who run the house - or at least they have trained their humans very well..