February 24, 2009

Arizona in February

Next I was headed for the Thumb Butte Quilt Guild in Prescott, AZ. We have a rather mild winter in Atlanta, but I must admit when I booked these events some time back, I thought longingly about Arizona's February sun. Before I left the hotel in Vegas, I got a phone call from my hostess in Prescott, Susie Martin, saying, "It is snowing in Prescott - but we expect it to melt!" To get a decent airfare, I had to fly from Vegas to Salt Lake City to Phoenix. I could have driven this trip in about 5 or 6 hours, but one-way car rentals are very expensive, so I decided to fly. Susie, who used to travel a lot on her job, graciously offered to pick me up, so I did not have to take the shuttle 1 1/2 - 2 hours to Prescott.

A Long Sunday…
8:30 AM Leave hotel to allow extra time for the broken Tram at the airport.
10:40 AM flight. Leave gate and sit on tarmack 20 or 30 minutes before departure. Wonder if I will make the connection in Salt Lake?
1:30 PM (Mountain time) Land in Salt Lake at Gate B-6 and have 10 minutes to get to E-73. Yes, they were as far apart as they sound--further!
1:40 PM Miss my flight, it just left the gate! Call Susie. I'm on standby for the next flight in another hour and a half. The flight will depart from—-you guessed it--Gate B-6!
3:20 PM Make the flight.
4:30 PM (Pacific time) Land in Phoenix but only two bags are there. My third bag with my clothes will be on the next flight to Phoenix.
5:00 PM Susie and I soothe frazzled nerves at the Cheesecake Factory while waiting for the third bag.
6:30 PM Rescue the bag and start the almost-two-hour drive to Prescott in patchy rain and snow.
8:30 PM Get to hotel in Prescott. Whew!

A More Fun Monday
Prescott is a wonderful mile-high town (meaning its elevation is one mile above sea level). One friend described Prescott as a wonderful place to live year-round, but added her neighbor on the right was from Wisconsin and only came for the winter, and her neighbor on the left was from Phoenix and only came for the summer! Susie picked me up at 8:30 AM and we headed for the guild meeting and my trunk show lecture. The weather was looking rough and many of the people who live further up the mountain were not able to get to the guild meeting :( but we had a really nice Seven Sisters Simplified class. These are just a few of the blocks.

By the end of the day there was enough bad weather that we canceled plans for dinner, but the next morning was picture perfect!

Who would have guessed 8" of snow at the hotel and 18-25" the higher up the mountain you went! Only about half the class could get out of their driveways, and several straggled in as the streets were plowed. I have to tell you, I was looking forward to sunshine and 70, not snow and 30!

In spite of the weather, Susie and two of her friends, who had all participated in the Saturday Sampler program at Odegards in Flagstaff, managed a neat surprise for me. The program featured the blocks from a block-of-the-month quilt that I had designed. All three had set their blocks in a different way, and different from the arrangement in the BOM quilt -- Susie even duplicated four to make her quilt bigger -- and they all brought their quilts to show me! How cool is that? And aren't they beautiful:

Quail Country Quilters Guild
By late afternoon, the roads were clear and Mary Lou Evans, my hostess for the next guild, picked me up. She took the low road to Cottonwood, not the high road over the mountain. (Good move, Mary Lou - no snow!) Mary Lou is the Quail Country Quilters Guild program chairman, driver and hostess extraordinaire! She and her husband Mike have a lovely home and wonderful guest cottage. It was so pleasant and charmingly decorated that I threatened to stay!

In addition to another very good class group and a trunk show lecture, Mary Lou treated me to a visit to Jerome for a little shopping and dinner with some of the guild members. Jerome is a unique town hanging off the mountains. It's home to a store called Nellie Bly:

This has to be the world's best Kaleidoscope store, and I love Kaleidoscopes. Jane Lloyd, the manager, was informative, charming, patient, cheery and a good salesperson, everything a manager should be! She showed me how easy it is to take a picture through the eye piece of a "teleidosope", which has a clear glass marble at the end. She said she sends teleidoscope pictures to her grandmother for quilt designs! (Maybe she said her mother. It seems like whenever anyone relates anything about quilting, a grandmother is in the story!)

Of course, when I got home, I took a picture of my fabric collection with my new teleidoscope!

After class on Thursday, we went to beautiful Sedona for lunch. I can never see enough of the red rocks.

Later in the afternoon, we visited with Mary Beth Groseta, who owns Quilter's Quarters, and after a quick fabric fix, we were off to Phoenix. I was taking a red-eye home (flight time 12:50 AM Friday morning) and took advantage of a little free time to have dinner and catch up with my longtime friend Dee Lynn. Among other things, Dee and Audrey Waite run Quilt Camp in the Pines in Flagstaff. I have taught there so often, I've lost count, plus I taught on three wonderful cruises that they organized to Alaska, the Panama Canal and Australia & New Zealand. We had a good visit and soon after, I was headed back home to "refuel" for my next trip.

Home for Valentine's Day

Now I have a short bit of time in the office to catch up, start new projects, repack suitcases, do laundry, etc. We even had plans to go to Richard's Rotary Club's Valentine's Day dinner party, but that got jinxed and instead we had a visit to a doc-in-the-box! Final touches on preparation for the big Sewing and Stitchery Show in Puyallup, WA, was the main focus of my week. One big truck shipment had left while I was out of town, and we put together another shipment on Wednesday that included the class handouts for my lectures there.

February 20, 2009

Las Vegas Strip Quilting

What a trip! Thursday morning, Feb.5 I was off to Las Vegas. It was an easy flight, but repairs are being done on the tram between the D terminal where Delta lands and the main terminal. There is no walking option, you must take the tram. In addition, I think there must have been several planes unloading at the same general time. It took almost one hour to get from the plane through the long lines to the tram to the terminal. At least we did not have to wait for bags at the luggage carousel!

This was a store event. I had been invited to teach at Quiltique, a beautiful store in Henderson, NV. Here I am in the shop with Jan Tabesar, one of the owners.

Quiltique is a unique store with four owners: Jan and her husband Bob and their daughters Jennifer and Kara. Each of them bring special and unique talents to the mix for one beautiful store.

We had an evening trunk show event and then two days of classes. The first was Not your Grandmother's Hexagon which featured a rather new class, Interlocking Hexagons, inspired by our new multi-size Hexagon ruler.

What I can't stop talking about is the Four fat Quarters Log Cabin class on Saturday. This version is shown in my book, Log Cabin ABCs:

The fabrication technique works like a charm if you follow the instructions and this group was spectacular! No one made a major mistake—well, we hate to call anything a mistake—no one chose an alternative method! I felt so lucky! It was probably a signal to hit the strip, but Sunday morning I left town without even dropping a quarter in a slot machine! However, I did hit it big with some new fabric (of course!).

February 11, 2009

From Marti Michell's Spring Show Schedule

The hard part of doing shows is all worthwhile when quilters stop by and say "Hi!" It is even better when you say "I love your templates!" or have a story to share with us about quilts you made using our tools or patterns. When you ask for something we don't have, we call it informal market research. We hope to see you - and hear from you! - at one of the following shows. Click on the show name to go to its Website.

February 26 - March 1, 2009
Sewing and Stitchery Expo
Puyallup, Washington

If you live in the Great Northwest or can get there, we would love to meet you face-to-face in our booth #936-938 in the Showplex. Every year, 30,000 enthusiasts confirm that this is a fabulous show for classes, inspiration, entertainment and shopping! Check out the schedule - I'll be giving two 45-minutes lectures on "How to Build a Log Cabin (Quilt)" and "Why Use Six Fabrics in a Quilt if You Could Use Sixty!"

It is very cool for Richard and me that our daughter, Stacy, is a second-generation entrepreneur in the quilt industry. She "is" Shades Textiles, and she will be vending in the adjoining booth. People love her hand-dyed fabrics, but now is also known for her fusible applique designs and Shades SoftFuse. This paper-backed fusible web is so soft, you can't even feel it! Come by the booth and try!

April 17 - 19, 2009
International Quilt Festival
Chicago, Illinois

Booth #1743

From Marti Michell and Shades Textiles will be vending side-by-side once again. We are both teaching, too, so maybe we will see you in a class or at the evening Samplers.

April 22 - 25, 2009
AQS Show
Paducah, Kentucky

Booth #1935, Expo

You guessed it - the very next week, we are side by side in Paducah. Please stop by our booth and say hello.

"Partying" at Home

I have a week at home to catch up on things that happened while I was gone and prepare for events coming up. We're finishing up the block instructions for the next Patchwork Party. The new Patchwork Party starts on March 15 and runs through June 15. We actually made the blocks in December. We have to work ahead so the shops can place their fabric orders. My team includes graphic designer Patti Bachelder and Harriett Fox, who assists with the sewing, writing and proofreading. This is the sixth set of blocks we have designed since Debbie Luttrell came up with the idea and organized the Party. I wish I could post pictures, but everything's a secret until the Party kicks off! But you can see previous Parties here.

Stacy, our daughter, had left on January 12 for the Tokyo Dome Quilt Show while Richard and I were returning from Charleston, SC. When the Dome show was over, she went on to South Korea to teach. I was happy to pick her up at the airport and trade travel stories. It is a small quilt world - it turned out I had seen two people in Holland who had been to the Tokyo Dome show and seen Stacy.

Of course, I watched the Super Bowl. We kinda wanted Arizona to win, since they had rather unexpectedly knocked Atlanta out in the first playoff game and they were the underdogs. But then we kinda wanted Arizona to lose because they knocked Atlanta out in the first playoff game! I like to say I really watch the game to see the ads and the half-time show, but I found both of those disappointing this year, and the game was great! That's the kind of game you like to see in championship playoffs. The game could only have been better if it had gone into overtime!

We got things shipped out for February events in Las Vegas and Arizona, and I went on to repacking the quilt suitcases and my clothes so everything will fit into two checked bags and one carry-on. Because I fly Delta so much, I'm a "medallion" flyer and it used to be that I could check three bags and carry on one. Now, since they joined with Northwest, it is just two checked bags. I admit it makes the traveling easier, but it sure makes the packing more difficult!

A Quilter's View of Cologne Cathedral

(We've edited this post to add the church and now if you click on the images, you'll go to larger pictures.)

Sonja's husband, Phillip, took the train over to Arnhem late Monday and on Tuesday, the three of us drove to Cologne, Germany, to see the famous Cologne Cathedral and then back to Amsterdam. Cologne Cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world and it was hard to photograph from our vantage point. You can easily find information online about its history, but, ever the quilter, I was as interested in the floors as anything else!

When quilters look at this tile floor, we see Square Within a Square and Variable Stars:

The floor came first, but in my book Six is for Hexagons, a design similar to this tile floor pattern is called Stars Among the Tumbling Blocks:

Below is a cool version of Jack's Chain. When we introduced the multi-size hexagon ruler, one of the quilts I planned to make was Jack's Chain. I've made several other quilts using the hexagon ruler, but Jack's Chain is still on the back burner.

I saw many beautiful "appliqued" mosaic floors like this one:

and some amazing mosaics that would make terrific border patterns:

Cologne Cathedral is huge, and I took many more photos than I can share here. But, to give you some idea of how big the church is...

Sonja stood by a nearby statue so we would have a series of photos to show scale. See the signs going around the statue?

This is what they say:

Now, imagine that "statue" perched on top of one of the church spires! And putting it up there in the 1880s. Amazing!

Patchworkdagen in Holland

Our two patchwork days were packed and hectic, but very gratifying. The people were wonderful. We had participants from Holland, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium, and probably other countries, as well.

Willy Alers and her daughter-in-law Janine from 't'Quiltgebeuren were in the first class. They claim to be the greatest fans of From Marti Michell templates in Holland! I say thanks! What I know for sure is that they make some wonderful quilts with our tools. Janine had shown me a wonderful piece last summer in Birmingham, England. What I loved is that the patchwork part is a mystery quilt of ours. She reduced it and made it with Set N of the Perfect Patchwork Templates, framed it and added the stitchery. This trip they had some other quilts and I did not have a chance to get pictures; I've asked if they will send them so I can share them with you here.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Mieke Duyck from Belgiuim. She is a teacher at The Patchwork Studio and was one of my translators some years ago when I was invited there to teach.

Mieke is an enthusiastic template user and she brought a terrific project she is working on with our Set F Sunburst templates.

I have done a two-color Sunburst, scrappy traditional Sunburst and even my "Provence Memory" quilting using Set F, but I don't think I would have ever thought to use Kaffe Fassett fabrics for the Sunburst. They are beautiful blocks!

When the show was over, I experienced another first. (Isn't it great that we can still have firsts?) We were treated to dinner with the Rhinetex staff at a restaurant that was attached to a riding academy and stables! Our table looked directly into the riding ring!

April Update
Meike sent us photos of her beautiful finished quilt!

Shopping in Arnhem

I had part of Saturday off, so Sonja and I walked and shopped in the city of Arnhem, where we were staying. I got a kick out of seeing the little Smart cars. We have some in the U.S., but they have always been more popular in Europe. Here is Sonja next to a vehicle that is really designed for city living, especially for the handicapped. It is so cute, and would be perfect in our American golf cart communities. Bicycles are more popular in European cities, too. There were dozens of bikes parked across the street.

It was sale day everywhere in Arnhem. Two store windows really caught my attention - mannequins had been dressed in shopping bags! They were eloquent. And they made me think it could have been a challenge on the Project Runway TV show, to create a garment out of shopping bags!

Then it was back to business, and quilting. Some of you may know that I am the U.S. spokesperson for Aurifil thread. Since I was in Holland, and Rhinetex distributes Aurifil thread, Elena Gregotti and her assistant Davide Moro flew up for a meeting. We usually get together in the States when they are over for Quilt Market, but that is always so hectic.

Now that this wonderful Italian-made thread is readily available in the U.S., I use the Mako Cotton 50/2 exclusively for piecing. Some people believe in piecing with a scant quarter-inch seam allowance; I think this is because they are using a coarse, thick thread. I say, use Aurifil and sew an actual quarter-inch seam allowance - your patchwork will be flatter and much nicer to quilt. This thread is virtually lint-free, and you can also get more on the bobbin. I love it!

February 3, 2009

Seeing Old Friends in Holland

One of the wonderful things about my life as a quilting professional is the joy of meeting so many quilters around the world. Some I only know briefly and others become good friends. My latest adventure took me to a wonderful show in Holland, where one of my special treats was visiting with some long-time friends.

In the spring of 2004, Sonja Eerhart was inquiring by email about our Drunkard’s Path templates. Sonja and her husband live in The Hague (Den Haag), and it happened that the International Quilt Festival was going to be there a few weeks later. After a couple of emails, Sonja discovered that I would be coming to the Festival to teach and she offered to pick me up at the Amsterdam airport.

Oh, my gosh, don’t say it if you don’t mean it! I travel with large suitcases of quilts! Which means trains are not fun. Coincidentally, Katie Pasquini Masopust was on the same plane. Sonja had a big car and was able to give us both a ride to our hotels. It was tulip time in Holland, and Sonja stopped the car so Katie and I could enjoy the spectacular tulip fields.

The next thing we knew, Sonja was taking us to the famous Keukenhof Gardens. Keukenhof folks claim the Gardens to be the most photographed place in the world. It was definitely one of the highlights of all my travels and I was happy to help with the photography "statistic"!

My original plans were to meet my friend Liuxin Newman, the Thimble Lady from Australia, at the airport but there was a problem with her flight. She didn't get to share the beauty of the Gardens, but on the last day of the show, Sonja and her husband, Philip, drove us around so Liuxin could see some of the tulip fields.

Over the years, Sonja and I have had several occasions to spend time together and there is always email in between.

All of that to say, once again, Sonja met me at the Amsterdam airport. We drove to Andalst to meet with Rhinetex, one of our wholesale distributors of From Marti Michell products. I would be giving 4 classes/day for shop owners and teachers, and Sonja is fabulous at keeping me organized! After getting everything set up for classes on Friday, Sonja and I had dinner with Alex Rodriguez, who is the Sales Manager of Benartex, Nancy Halvorsen of Art to Heart, and one of the Benartex fabric designers, as they were also in Holland for the show. I had never met Alex and had only visited with Nancy briefly in the past, so there was another bonus.

I was happy for the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends, and looking forward to sleeping late the next morning to catch up on the time change.