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..