August 7, 2009

Catching up with technology, as well as the 1850's at the Wisconsin Fiber Arts & Quilt Museum.

Catching up with technology … or trying! That is, we took these pictures in May at the Wisconsin Fiber Arts and Quilt Museum University Days, but between internal memory, lost connecting cables and you don’t want to hear the rest of my sad story, this is the first time I have had all the pictures together and it was such a fun event I can’t resist sharing.


The fledgling museum has acquired property in Cedarburg, Wisconsin on which many buildings from the 19th century still stand. The plans are drawn and most of the money raised for a major renovation of an1850s barn that will be a first class textile museum with climate controlled storage, research rooms and galleries. In the meantime, the small farm home has been refurbished for shows that change quarterly and the barn is used for large events in its current condition – rustic, but wonderfully rustic!

Luella Doss, a long time friend and a pioneer in every aspect of Wisconsin quilting affairs (i.e the state quilt search, the Wisconsin State Guild, etc.) was the person who asked Stacy (our daughter and also a quilting professional) and me if we would put together an exhibit for the museum and also teach at the University Days. As the time approached, they begged Richard to come along as he has volunteered printing of brochures for the Museum, among other things.

It was crisp, but clear and beautiful as we arrived to be greeted by beautiful poppies that would become our landmark for the correct corner for the museum.

Tents and extra “facilities” were already in place around the museum grounds when we arrived, including a display of the drawing of the future museum.

In the meantime, our classes would be held in the barn. Now I knew Luella had said classes would be in the barn and as an Iowa farm girl I have a real fondness for barns, but, I admit, I didn’t really envision this degree of BARN! Here is Stacy standing in front of the barn as we got ready to unload.

After the initial surprise I fell in love with the whole concept and was envious of the imagination that would say, “We’ll hold classes in the barn, have a potluck lunch and raise some more money for the museum ." 
This is a view of my kaleidoscope class. 

There was lots of good food  -- just like there would have been at an old-fashioned barn-raising and quilting bee.

Look how beautiful this quilt looked against the barn boards:

Yes, those are openings between the boards – built that way to prevent spontaneous combustion, I’m told. Fortunately, it did not rain. 

As a bonus, we three Michells got to spend time with my sister and her husband, Mary and Dave Fuchs and their son Mark and his family who all live in the Mequon/Cedarburg, WI area.

Klavon's In Pittsburgh

If you like ice cream and you are nostalgic about the "good ol' days", you'll love Klavon's

We discovered it when we were in Pittsburgh for Quilt Market in May, but had temporarily lost the pictures. 
I hope you will enjoy seeing the Michell Marketing crew enjoying.

Brenda Asmus, Marti Michell, Diane Gabb, Stacy Michell, Mary Huey - Richard Michell took the picture. 

Check out the phone booths. 

The drug store originally opened in 1923. The original Art Deco soda fountain, the fixtures, inlaid Terrazzo floor and even the banana split dishes are all in place. 

The store was recently reopened by the Klavon grandchildren and here I am clowning with one of the Klavon grandsons.

See and enjoy at Penn Avenue and 28th Street in the Pittsburgh Strip District. 

June 23, 2009

What's a Blog without Pictures?

I finally had to admit my camera was lost and I didn't think it is ever coming home! Unfortunately, I had not yet downloaded pictures from Spring Quilt Market or University Days at the Wisconsin Fiber Arts & Quilt Museum. (I'm trying to get some photos from other people.) And I didn't have a camera for the Heartland Quilters Retreat in Illinois or my visit with the Smoky Mountains Quilters Guild in Franklin, NC. :(

But here is my first picture with my new camera! Stacy and I took Richard to see "Jersey Boys" at the Fox Theater on Father's Day. Oh, what a night - we all loved it! Since you aren't allowed to take pictures at the performance, this playbill cover will have to do. Or, to paraphrase a theater saying, "In today's blog, the roles usually played by live actors are being performed by a still picture!" This is a scene close to the end of the first act, where the actors are cleverly positioned with their backs to the audience and the bright lights flood the audience to simulate the "blindness" performers experience from stage lights.

Of course, Richard and I remembered how much we loved the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons the first time around, so it tickled me that Stacy was marking some titles she wanted to add to her iPhone!

I baked TWO cakes!

For most people, baking two cakes isn't news. For me, I'm sure it was the first time I'd done any baking in this century! I actually had to buy cake pans! The 9" x 13" Pyrex™ pan, acquired by my mother when I was a mere child, broke about 5 years ago and it hadn't been replaced yet.

Last February, when I was in Arizona, my hostess, Mary Lou Evans, took a chocolate cake to the guild meeting, It drew rave reviews. I flinched when she said it only had four ingredients, as I prefer limiting my recipes to three! However, I took the first opportunity to stretch my culinary efforts for one of the office parties - my hand shot up to bring the cake for Kathy's birthday party. I discovered chocolate is not her favorite cake, so I went out on a limb and decided spice cake mix and apple pie filling should work as well as chocolate mix and cherry pie filling. I looked at a few recipes on the Internet to bolster my confidence and plunged in! Both cakes tasted delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Mary Lou!

These are not "dump" cakes; they are actually stirred. Also, I read a hint for adding a Tablespoon of maple syrup to purchased frosting for the apple spice cake - an excellent tip. To make the apple spice cake, substitute the ingredients shown in [brackets].

Cherry-Chocolate [Apple Spice] Cake
1 package fudge cake mix [spice cake mix]
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie fillling [apple pie filling]
1 Tbsp almond extract [vanilla extract]
2 beaten eggs

Combine the four ingredients and stir until well mixed. Pour into a greased and floured 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting [purchased, add 1 Tbsp maple syrup, or use recipe with substitution]
1 C sugar
1/3 C milk
3 Tbsp butter
6 oz. chocolate [butterscotch] chips
Ground nuts, optional

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter and milk. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chips until smooth. If using nuts, stir in now. Pour over cake while still warm.

(I actually cooked the frosting and put it on warm as recommended, too!)

June 4, 2009

Do you quilt in inches or centimeters?

I quilt in inches, but a lot of students in my classes both here in the U.S. and abroad are metric quilters. After many years of observation and conversations about quilting tools, we came up with what we think is a very usable "universal" ruler. It's now part of our My Favorite Ruler line and is available in two sizes.

One end of the rulers shows measurements in inches and the other end gives metric measurements. In between are additional measurements to make it easy to convert from one system to the other. We think this configuration will make it easier for metric-thinking quilters to use books and patterns "written in inches" and vice versa for Americans using European patterns.

Stacy made a little movie about the rulers at the Spring Quilt Market. If you quilt in centimeters, please ask about the Universal Rulers at your favorite quilt shop and let us know what you think.

May 28, 2009

I'm heading Down Under soon

I'll be teaching in New Zealand and Australia late this summer. I've taught at events in both countries almost annually for many years and am looking forward to seeing old friends and teaching new quilters.

Here are some photos from one of my recent trips to New Zealand. I love the flora and fauna, and we made some fun quilts in class.

New Zealand is home to a living fossil called a "tuatara." It's a lizard-like creature with some unique characteristics whose descendants go back 200,000 years. You can learn more about them on Wikipedia.

May 18, 2009

Nancy's Notions Warehouse Sale

Around the beginning of May, I was in Beaver Dam, WI, for presentations at Nancy's Notions. The groups are large (50-200 people), so the room is equipped with a camera and several monitors to make it easier to include how-to demo's and visuals. The best part was my camera operator and even hostess was Donna Frenske. Donna has been part of the creative and production team for Nancy Zieman's "Sewing with Nancy" TV show for 25 years, and she made it very easy for me.

Jinny Beyer was another one of the speakers. We are long-time friends. I was a speaker at her third or fourth Hilton Head seminar. Jinny and Carol Porter and I had dinner one night - what fun! If you've heard a rumor that Jinny is retiring, don't believe it! It seems people got confused because she just held her 29th and final seminar a few weeks ago. Jinny was proofing some pages of an unbelievable book project she's been working on for several years and I got to see a few pages. It's beautiful, and amazing!

Carol and I became friends about 10 years ago and we bonded instantly, but as long-distance friendships are, we never get to see each other often enough! Many quilters connect Carol with her company Heatherworks and her best-selling colorwash quilt designs. Carol, however, is multi-talented in many needlework areas and she has been snagged by Clover to develop project design and educational materials.

Here I am with Carol on the left and Nancy Zieman and Mary Mulari on the right. Mary is very talented. those of you who watch Nancy's shows will know she is a frequent and popular guest.

As a bonus, I got to have lunch with my sister Mary, her husband Dave, and their son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Dawn Fuchs, who all live in Mequon, WI. There will be plenty more "family reunion-ing" when Richard, Stacy and I return to Wisconsin in a few weeks. Stacy and I are both teaching at Quilts & Fiber Arts University on May 29 and 30, quilts that we have made are being displayed in the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts now through July 19, 2009.

I really like this photo of Stacy and me from the museum brochure. Stacy looks great in pink! The quilt is called "Magic Steps" and is from my book, Log Cabin ABCs.

Michell Family Day

My best Mother's Day present came a few Sundays early. It just happened that all the Michells (Stacy, Richard and I) were going to be in town the same Sunday that our son, Jeff, would also be in town. Jeff lives with his wife and boys in Seattle and would be passing through Atlanta on his way to a bridge tournament in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Neither Stacy nor Jeff had been to the Georgia Aquarium yet. Richard and I had been twice with out of town guests, but we still wanted to do the behind-the-scenes tour and everyone was up for it. We had a ball! And it was a real treat to be just Mom and Dad and the two kids for a few hours. It had been years since we'd done that.

The Aquarium is beautiful, and we couldn't have had a better time. Our tour party consisted of our guide, Tyrone, the four Michells, and a very nice couple from San Jose, CA. We couldn't tell if they were naturally quiet or just overwhelmed by us! We asked a lot of questions and learned a lot about how the fish are fed, how the tanks are cleaned, how the heaters work, etc.

Our aquarium is the world's largest, with over 8 million gallons of water. It houses 500 species, some of which you won't see anywhere else in America, in 60 habitats. It has over 12,000 square feet of viewing glass.

Here I am with a friendly grouper:

The Aquarium is home to many whale sharks. They're called whale sharks because they can be as big as some whales, but they don't have bone skeletons like whales do and are a true shark. Ours are just kids. This little guy could be as big as a school bus one day.

If you ever get to Atlanta, put the Georgia Aquarium on your list of things to do. And take the kids if you can!

April 29, 2009

I went to Chicago but did not see the quilt show!

The back-to-back Chicago and Paducah shows created travel and logistics nightmares for many quilt show vendors, and we were no exception! Our solution was that Stacy drove most of her product for both shows and all of the booth paraphernalia to Chicago in a cargo van. Then, between shows, she would drive to Paducah on Monday. Meanwhile, I flew in to Chicago on set-up day and left early to fly home on Sunday so that I could drive to Paducah from Atlanta on Monday! Whew!

Our booth was the second booth from the convention center door, where we unloaded the cargo van. The same door was directly across the road from the hotel. Even the restroom was conveniently located at the end of our aisle. We didn't even get to see much of the show as we walked to our booth. In addition to being vendors, I taught two classes and Stacy taught one, and between us, we did three of the evening Sampler presentations. Thank goodness for Diane Gabb, who lives in Chicago. She is one of several show staff we really depend on. In her regular life, she is, among other things, a quilter, certified quilt appraiser, CPA and From Marti Michell educator. At shows, her steady demeanor and attention to detail keeps us balanced!

For the record, my students said it was a great show. If you visit Flickr and type "Chicago Quilt Festival" into the search field, you'll find many fun photos of quilts that were on display. The attendance seemed very strong, although I did not hear official numbers, and our sales were as good or better than last year. As always, the best part is the communication with quilters from around the world!

Speaking of Quilters Around the World
Back in February when I blogged about my trip to Holland, I showed a few photos of Belgium quilter Mieke Duyck's Sunburst blocks. She recently sent us a photo of the finished - beautiful! - quilt and I thought I would share it with you here. Click on the quilt for a larger photo.

Spring Day in Atlanta

Atlanta is blessed with perfect weather and climate for azaleas and dogwoods. Blossoms begin to peek out the last week or so of March and any time after the first of April, become magnificent! On Monday before Bettina had to catch her plane home, we toured some of the beautiful residential areas and then had lunch outside in the sun. She missed the show by just a few days!

Bulloch Hall Quilt Show

On Sunday, Bettina and I went to the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show. Bulloch Hall, in Roswell, Georgia, was the childhood home of President Theodore Roosevelt's mother, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild meets there each month and holds an annual quilt show. It is always a very nice local show in a lovely setting.

A special treat this year was the exhibit of two of the six sets of the Vintage Revisited challenge quilts organized by Mary Kerr. "What would happen if a set of [antique] blocks was divided among a number of quilt artists and each was left to create a quilt in her own unique style?" I had seen three of the sets at the New Jersey State Convention when I taught there last year and really liked the concept as well as the results.

Here are two of the snapshots I took at Bulloch Hall. Click on the photo to go to a larger version. You can find the makers' names and see more quilts at the Vintage Revisited Website.

Bettina is the originator of the "quilt challenge" idea. She arranged the first quilt challenge that I ever knew of when she was coordinating the National Quilt Festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The reason I remember it so well is that the challenge fabrics she selected were from the first Richmond Hill line that I designed for Springs Industries in 1986. (In case you are wondering, the Hoffman Challenge did not start until 1986.)

Atlanta was hopping when Bettina came to town

For some years, six or seven traveling quilt teachers, including Bettina and me, got together for a December slumber party in Iowa. It was a treat to travel without suitcases of quilts, share like experiences and enjoy our friendship. All of the others were within driving distance, I always flew in. I'd always say, "When is someone going to fly down to Atlanta and see me?"

So, a few weeks ago when American Airlines had a good sale, Bettina called and we picked a weekend for her to visit Atlanta. There was no agenda, just a planned get-together. we can't remember for sure our very first meeting, but our friendship goes back around 30 years. From 1978 to 1985, Bettina was a quilt shop owner in Columbia, Missouri, where she and her husband still lives. Richard and I owned Yours Truly, Inc., from 1972 to 1985.

The Terracotta Army
The day before Bettina arrived, Anne Dawson, my secretary, reminded me how much she had enjoyed the special exhibit of nine soldiers from China's Terracotta Army at the High Museum of Art. It was closing that weekend and became one of our non-scheduled events. I picked Bettina up around 1:30 and we drove past the Carter Center and the Martin Luther King Center to meet Richard. He took MARTA (Atlanta's rapid transit system) to Art Center Station and we had just enough time to appreciate both the Terracotta Army and the final of three exhibits from the Louvre.

We had dinner at Atlantic Station, a new live/work/shop area near midtown that was built on the site of an old steel mill.

The Greater Atlanta Shop Hop
Saturday was a busman's holiday*. Bettina and Stacy and I went on the Greater Atlanta Quilt Shop Hop. It was a first for all of us! The theme was Remembering Childhood and all of the shops created their own memory. Nine shops participated, but we were able to visit only five. It was a lot of fun, and, of course, we added some things to our fabric stashes. *free time spent much the same as one's work.

Tiny Stitches' theme was "Read Me A Story and tuck me in with a quilt!" and Maetha was the Princess with the pea:

At Little Quilts, Mary Ellen was the ringleader for Under the Big Top:

Intown Quilters celebrated Summer Vacations. Here's a photo of Cheryl with her new Aurifil thread display. Aurifil is my favorite thread and I am the U.S. spokesperson for Aurifil. All but one store we visited had Aurifil, but Cheryl had the most!

At Sweet Home Quilt Co., in Conyers, it was time to dress up in Grandma's Closet. Here is owner Melisa holding a picture of her at the age of four doing exactly that!

At our last stop, Karen and staff at A Scarlet Thread were celebrating a Birthday Party.

I'm sorry we didn't get to the other shops - Quilts and Fixins, Jonesboro; Red Hen Fabrics, Marietta; Patrick's in Covington and Heritage Quilts & Fabrics in Newnan. But I'm sure a good time was had by all!

Visiting Tifton

I left the office in time to drive to Tifton, GA, for dinner with some of the members of the Wiregrass Quilters Guild. Even though it was early spring, the azaleas were in full bloom in South Georgia, so beautiful!

My hostess, Caroline Benefield, had invited a few ladies over for dinner, and Margo Martin brought a really good baked bean dish. I asked her if I could have the recipe to share on my blog, and she photocopied her recipe card for me (it has the notation "very good" in a corner, and I can attest to that!). The recipe pushes my limit of 5 ingredients, but I don't count ingredients in cans or bottles! Thank you for sharing, Caroline. :-)

    Ranch-Style Baked Beans
    2 Tbs vegetable oil
    1 lb ground beef or 1/2 lb ground beef + 1/2 lb sausage
    1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
    2 (1 lb) cans pork & beans
    1 (1 lb) can kidney beans, drained
    1 Cup catsup
    1/2 Cup cold water
    2 Tbs mustard
    2 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar

    Brown the meat in the oil. Drain off the fat. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!

I was happy to also have time to stop and have dinner with Suzanne Leimer, who owns Suzanne's Quilt Shop in Moultrie, GA. Suzanne has been one of our customers for a long time. I design the blocks for the online Patchwork Parties, and Suzanne's has been one of the 12 participating shops since the Party began in 2006. We talk on the phone, but it's all business, so I really enjoyed our visit.

Unless you live in the area, or are a fan of wild Burmese chickens, you probably don't know about the town of Fitzgerald has the largest population of these birds. They roam the streets at will. The Wild Chicken Festival, with antique cars, crafts and a rattlesnake roundup was the same weekend I was teaching in the area.

April 28, 2009

Friendship Quilt - Photo Update

There are now larger pictures of the quilt and 30 of the blocks on our Website. I hope you enjoy them!

April 21, 2009

My Very Special Friendship Quilt

In 2004, I was selected to receive the Silver Star Award at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I was very flattered to be chosen for such an honor. The award is presented annually "to a living person whose body of work has positively influenced, promoted, and developed the art of quilting." The banquet was attended by about 500 quilters, many of whom I've known throughout my career, and it was a wonderful evening.

What I did not know was that many of the people in attendance had also made a block or sent a signed a brick for a friendship quilt that was hanging to one side of the stage under black curtains. It was so dark in that corner, I didn't think there was anything there at all. Just when I thought the banquet was over, Richard went to the microphone and Patti and several others left their tables to go toward the side of the stage. As they wheeled out the quilt frame and removed the curtains to reveal the surprise, Richard talked about the friendship quilt and how happy everyone was that the secret was never found out! There were dozens and dozens of phone calls, letters and packages going back and forth for months - I never had a clue! Nor did I have a clue that Richard was making me a quilt, too - his first quilt!

We recently hung my Silver Star Friendship Quilt in the stairwell at our office and everyone stops to look at it, but not as often as I do. It's so special to me, for many reasons.

It was the best surprise ever. I was so happy my family and so many friends involved with the making of the quilt had attended the banquet. They were able to see the quilt in person and I was able to say hello and gather hugs and enjoy the evening even more. I was so touched by everyone's thoughtfulness in designing their blocks. There are blocks depicting book and pattern covers from our Yours Truly days, even blocks made with YT fabrics, and lots of my favorite colors and block patterns. I can't list everyone here who participated in making the quilt, but the whole story and many more close-ups will soon be on our Website. Click on each block for a larger view.

This is Sally Paul's block. Sally and I have enjoyed a long friendship and I miss spending time with her. She is a high school art teacher.

Gudfinna Helgesdotter, who doesn't prefer applique, made a beautiful depiction of Iceland's volcanic landscape. We have been friends with Gudfinna and her husband for many years. They have a lovely shop called Virka.

Rita Weiss and Linda Causee at American School of Needlework put the cover of "Quilting for People Who Still Don't Have Time to Quilt" on their block. I did a series of "...Don't Have Time to Quilt" books with ASN.

The quilt is large and we didn't have a place to hang it, but we took it out whenever we had visitors who wanted to see it. It has always been fascinating to look at! We recently relocated our offices and the stairwell was the perfect place to hang the quilt - the way the stairs are built, we have a wonderful view of the quilt from upstairs and downstairs. I see it whenever I walk out of the sewing studio, and the variety of block styles, techniques and colors makes it "new" over and over again. I <3 this quilt!

hope you enjoy these pictures of my friendship quilt. And if you're in the Cedarburg, WI area, you can see the quilt in person at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts, through July 19.

I just discovered an online quilt festival and posted this quilt there. To see over 400 quilts (!) visit Parkcitygirl's blog: