This is one of my favorite times of the year. The Virginia bluebells are in full bloom along the Potomac River in Great Falls National Park. Our native redbuds are announcing spring with their brilliant violet flowers, the onions, potatoes and early vegetables are planted in my garden and we are already enjoying the early spring greens and winter onions in salads.
That is not to say we don’t get surprises. Last week, I was teaching my Diamonds class at my shop. We had just begun the class when all of a sudden our shop phone rang, I received one of those alerts on my cell phone and I received an urgent text message from my son-in-law in Oregon (who works on mapping at the U. S. Geological Survey)…all of these simultaneous alerts (including alerts on phones of the students) were telling us that there was a tornado warning for Great Falls and we were to seek immediate shelter.
Now we were all on the second floor of our building and could see the suddenly ominous black sky. We all hastily retreated to the basement of our building which houses the utilities. Space was crowded and we got to know each other up close and personal. It was amazing how, not only calm, but jovial the students and staff were in this cramped and dusty place.
Within 15 minutes the danger was over and we resumed the class. The two Canadian ladies, two from West Virginia, and one from California who had traveled here for the class along with the locals were quite excited to let all their friends know about our little adventure. We did learn that several small tornados did touch down not too far from us.
Working with diamonds is one of my favorite classes to teach and they all made great progress. It is a wonderful opportunity to work on both design and color. Here are some photos of them hard at work and some of the results.
Many of you are familiar with our annual shop hop we call Quilters’ Quest. What you may not know is that we start the planning for it as soon as the previous year’s Quest ends, meeting at least once a month throughout the year. We are always looking for new ideas and ways to make it even more fun for you.
Last week our meeting took place here at the Studio. Besides normal business, we decided to put together a little video for you about us and the Quest. More on that after I tell you a bit about the Quest itself.
Every November our ten shops, located in Maryland and Northern Virginia, join together and open our doors for ten days of fun, fabric and friendship. This year’s theme is “Lights, Camera, Action.” We have each selected a movie and will transform our shops so you can experience the magic of Hollywood!
From November 9th through the 18th, 2017, you will be able to participate in this FREE event that sends you on an adventure to explore each of our shops. You also have the opportunity to win fabulous prizes. If driving from shop to shop seems a bit daunting, you can leave the driving to us and take one of the buses leaving from various shops.
Hosting the shop owners at the Studio and preparing for the video involved meeting with the videographer, set design (aka, rearranging the classroom) and preparing lunch where I proceeded to nearly cut off my finger. (Don’t worry—it was only a pinkie finger and not needed for sewing.) Thankfully, I did not bleed on lunch.
Filming began inside with a script written by Amy from Material Girls and Kelly Ann from Kelly Ann’s Quilting. It can be intimidating sitting under the lights with cameras on you, text to read aloud with others watching but soon silliness erupted from our many flubs and miscues.
After lunch, we moved outside for more filming. I don’t know if it was the fresh air and bracing wind or that we had full tummies but everyone relaxed and the silliness increased.
Our color Palette is fresh and new and each of our shops has put together a unique set of eight 6” squares in the Quest colors. Collect them all and all 10 of our FREE quilt patterns. I think it is safe to brag a little and say that our shops design beautiful quilts each reflecting its own style.
Sign up for the Quilters’ Quest newsletter! In addition to staying up to date on our breaking Quilters’ Quest news (such as the premier of our video), bus schedules and sign ups and fun previews, you will also gain access to the monthly Quest Block of the Month quilt pattern. Stay tuned, the results of our fun day will be ready soon and we will share the video with you!
We continue to make kits non-stop here for our 2017 Mystery Quilt BOM, Moroccan Mystery. We’ve made so many that we have run out of the border. See video clip here that explains where we are with the BOM kits.
One day we sent out so many packages that our packages alone filled the entire postal truck.
In the middle of all this, we had a planning meeting for Quilters’ Quest at Traditions at the White Swan in Hagerstown, Maryland. Dick and Wendy, the owners, have a great shop and a new addition…three adorable miniature donkeys. How many quilt shops can boast that?
We are planning lots of new and exciting things for the Quilters’ Quest shop hop this year. We have decided to have a theme-based event and have selected “movies”. Each shop will choose a movie and will have fun things in the shop relating to the theme.
This week I also finalized my next batik collection, worked on the new replacement fabrics for the Palette collection and received strike-offs for a new collection that will be shown at spring market, Miyako. I also began doing colorings for another collection that is in the pipeline.
On top of all this, we changed our business email account from one company to another. This led to a lot of angst, but all is well now.
Not that I didn’t already have a lot to fill my head, there is always the antics of our dog, Luke. My husband made split pea soup for dinner the other night. I came home around 5:30, walked through the house, took one look at Luke and knew something was wrong…ears were down, eyes were practically shut and he was just sitting there looking miserable.
I asked if Luke had gotten into anything, and my husband said he ate some split peas. The two packages of dried split peas had been soaking for a while and John was getting ready to pour them into the broth when the pan slipped and half the contents went on the floor. As always, Luke was in the kitchen hoping something would fall to the floor. Sure enough, he was right there and cleaned up the entire mess. John didn’t realize that those peas would expand in his stomach.
Those of you who own dogs will probably know that when you need to make a dog throw up something he or she shouldn’t have eaten, hydrogen peroxide can be a life safer…literally. But did you know that hydrogen peroxide has an expiration date? I certainly didn’t.
We still had a bottle that we kept on hand when we had our Greater Swiss Mountain dog, Gretchen who ate everything. But a turkey baster of the peroxide down Luke’s throat didn’t do the trick, so we realized it might have gone bad and ran to the pharmacy to get more and tried again. Two minutes later, it worked and I had a big mess to clean up. I asked the vet about the peroxide and she said it has a certain shelf life and once the bottle is open it does not last long at all. Our bottle expired in 2010…oops.
This little tidbit of information might help someone else who has an animal that likes to eat things that they shouldn’t. Hopefully, the week ahead will be a little bit less exciting.
What an incredibly busy week I have had! We launched our new Block of the Month for 2017. We have been overwhelmed by the response and the excitement this has generated.
When planning for our Block of the Month we always think ahead as to how many kits we may sell. We make sure to have available fabric for that amount of kits. Because of the smaller size and the “mystery” aspect, we thought we might sell twice as many kits as last year and ordered accordingly. Well in just one week we have sold all the kits that we thought we would sell in an entire year!
We have reordered fabric from RJR but there was not enough border print so they are reprinting it. From the time we order it until we receive it is about three and a half months. So, our new border shipment will not arrive until the end of April.
As of this blog, we are out of border print for the Peacock version and will run out of some of the others very soon. Not to worry. If you like one of the colorways that is currently waiting for the border print, we are offering two choices – save on shipping by placing a backorder for the Complete Kit for end of April delivery, or begin working on the quilt now by ordering the kit in two parts: “Kit Without Border Print” to be sent now and a backorder for the 3 yards of border print to be sent end of April or early May. The border print is not used until August, so you could keep up with the clues starting in February.
Mind you, we are a very small business with all part time employees and limited space. This week we have turned into a kit making mini-factory. I have been at the shop helping out in every spare moment.
If you want to know more about the Moroccan Mystery quilt, here is a short video that gives more information.
My recent trip to Nepal this year and India last year was an eye-opening experience. I lived in that part of the world for nearly five years. At the time, I didn’t recognize the impact this region was having on me because I was not yet a quilter. Going back recently was like going home. I discovered how profoundly my time there has guided me throughout my quilting life.
Probably the most powerful influence was the borders you see everywhere, both simple and elaborate.
Simple can be seen as just a small edge to stop the pattern of a wall of bricks or a plain fabric in a different color to stop the eye around a shirt, sari, or pair of pants.
Elaborate borders abound as well whether it is one surrounding the window or doorway of a home or temple or borders around the outer edges of entire buildings.
Even the written language has a straight line across the top of the characters.
No wonder when I began quilting I wanted to add borders to everything. There was just a need to stop the design and give it a proper frame……sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate. It is like framing a picture. It looks so much better when the frame sets it off.
So at least from me, you will get borders on my quilt designs, sometimes elaborate, sometimes simple, but whatever is needed to stop the design and showcase it.
October was a whirlwind trip for me. With trips to Oregon, Nepal and then Houston, I was home the equivalent of a week and ended the month with my son Sean and me handing out Halloween candy to more that 1,000 children who annually come for a big Halloween party in the Village Green where our shop is located.
We worked hard to finish our preparations for our annual Shop Hop, Quilters’ Quest, which starts today! I finished hand quilting the inside of the quilt and a portion of the borders and will complete it after Quest. If you are in the area, please stop by and receive a free pattern for our quilt, sign up for prizes, see our demos, get some of our shop hop fabric and so much more!
The summer seems to have flown by. It is hard to believe that the regular baseball season is over, school has been in session for a month, that there is not much left in the vegetable garden, that our shop hop starts in less than a month, that Fall Quilt Market is in three weeks and that I leave in two days for two weeks in Nepal…Yikes!
Ok, I’ll take a big breath and give a few words of wisdom before I sign off and start packing. I have talked all summer about our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, and I have shared with you the progress as I have worked on the quilt for our shop this year.
When I finished the top a month ago I really wanted it quilted. Since I pieced it all by hand (while watching baseball games all summer) I wanted it quilted by hand as well. I am amazed at how fast the quilting is going. So far I have only been quilting on it for three and a half weeks but I already have two thirds of it completed. But I guess if you are a little diligent and do some each day it gets done! I work on it an hour in the morning when I first get up, an hour during the evening news and three or more hours during the baseball game. Since I have a lot of travel this month, I won’t get it completely finished before the shop hop but I’ll come close.
I want to share with you two of my favorite tools when quilting by hand. The first is TJ’s Quick Quilter Spoon. I have been using this for years. It helps me get even stitches and protects my fingers. The second tool is some long-nosed pliers. While quilting, I usually get five or six stitches on my needle at a time. I’m getting a little arthritis in my fingers and sometimes it is hard to pull the needle through. A pair of needle nosed pliers does the trick! I just keep it near me on the top of the quilt and use it to pull out the needle. It saves the fingers and makes the quilting go quicker since I can stack more stitches on the needle each time.
We just had our latest shop hop meeting a few days ago. All of the shop owners shared their quilts. What a spectacular array! When you participate in the Quest, you can pick up a free pattern at each shop for their quilt. That’s a total of 10 FREE patterns! I am at the Studio every day of the Quest to greet you and hand out our patterns. I hope to see you then!
This year Quilters’ Quest will take place November 4th through November 13th.
Participating stores will be open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-6:00pm and Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm. Visit www.quiltersquest.org for details.
Each year 10 shops from Virginia and Maryland join together during a ten day period in early November for our annual Quilters’ Quest shop hop. We plan a color scheme and each shop makes a quilt with those colors. As participants in the Quest go to each shop they can pick up a free pattern for that shop’s quilt.
Exactly two months ago I began hand-stitching Labyrinth, our Jinny Beyer Studio quilt for this year’s shop hop. I did all the sewing while watching the Washington Nationals baseball games on TV.
Along the way I have shown you bits and pieces of the quilt blocks. Now that the top is finished I want to share it with you. This year I chose a pattern that wasn’t as difficult as the ones from the past two years. Labyrinth has only straight-line sewing and no set-in seams. Even though I pieced it by hand, it is very easy to machine piece as well.
Here is a chart of the colors all the shops are working with. For Labyrinth I decided to leave out the oranges and teals and just use the blues, reds, purples and magentas.
We are also making a second quilt with only 16 blocks instead of 36. In this quilt we have left out the blues and teals and added the oranges. When it is finished we will show you the comparison. It will be fun for all of us to see the difference that one change of color will make.
It is not too late to make plans to join us for the Quest. All of the shops are planning two-day excursions by bus. Most shops still have openings. We get a lot of people from out of the area participating and hope you will too!
It is hard to believe it is almost the middle of August. I stay close to home this time of year to tend the garden, harvest the produce and catch up on projects.
Always during this time I am designing and making our quilt for the annual shop hop in our area, “Quilter’s Quest”. Each of the 10 shops designs a quilt based on fabric swatches that are collected during the Quest. Participants can pick up the free patterns at each of the stores.
I’m piecing our quilt by hand, although it is very conducive to machine piecing as all of the seams are straight lines with no set-in parts. I get most of my work done while watching the Washington Nationals baseball games. I finally finished all the blocks and am giving you a sneak preview here. I’ll have the top finished soon.
We had our shop hop meeting at the Studio this week and we are gearing up for this special event. In case you want to leave the driving to us, all shops still have space available on their buses including two buses from the Studio.
The Quest newsletter goes out the middle of each month from now through November. Be sure to sign up for it for the latest information and to get the free patterns for our Quest Mystery Quilt. Here are the first two blocks.
The patterns are only available through the newsletter. Shops have fabric kits for the fabrics they are using in their version of the mystery quilt. You can sign up for the Quest newsletter here.
The vegetable garden is consuming quite a bit of my time. I have never had so many cucumbers. I am constantly begging people to take some. I take them to the shop and when a customer comes in I tell them “Congratulations! You have just won a door prize.” I was not able to get to the garden last Friday and, by skipping just that one day, some of the cucumbers and zucchini got out of hand. I loaded up bags and took them as well as tomatoes and basil to the shop.
My favorite cucumber is a Japanese variety called Palace King. No matter how large they get, they still stay crispy and taste fantastic. The one in the photo is by far the biggest I have had. It measured 23”! The zucchini is 22”.
So, what do you do with all of that zucchini? One of my employees took one home and made delicious zucchini bread. I asked for the recipe. I hardly ever do a recipe exactly how it is given so I altered it a bit. I am on a self-imposed low cholesterol diet. I would rather regulate my cholesterol with diet instead of pills. So for this recipe I used 6 egg whites instead of 3 whole eggs. I used a half cup less sugar (and substituted brown sugar for the white). I thought cranberries would be a nice addition. I always like to sprinkle lemon/sugar zest on the top of the batter before baking so I included that as well. I served this at the Quest meeting the other day and everyone wanted the recipe, so I am giving it here for you as well.
No Cholesterol, Low Fat Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 loaves
Butter and flour for preparing baking pans
3 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3½ cups grated zucchini (you can use as little as 2 cups and as much as 4)
6 egg whites (After doing a price comparison on eggs vs. egg whites in a carton, I found that for $2.99 I could get a dozen eggs. For the same amount of egg whites I could get from that dozen it was more than twice the price. So I’d rather discard the yolks or save and microwave them to add to the dog food.)
½ cup applesauce
½ cup vegetable oil
1 ¾ cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 ½ cups dried cranberries
3 Tablespoons Smart Balance (similar to margarine)
3 Tablespoons sugar
grated rind of 1 large lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and lightly flour two 8”x4” loaf pans.
1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir gently to combine.
2. Shred zucchini, lightly packing it down as you measure it.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat egg whites, applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix very well. (You don’t want to over beat quick breads after the soda and baking powder are added, but since this is just the liquid part, and especially with the egg whites I think it helped to add air to the batter.)
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients (about ⅓ at a time) mixing as you go – then beat well to fully combine.
5. With a rubber scraper or wooden spoon, stir the shredded zucchini, cranberries and nuts into the batter and mix well.
6. Pour half of the batter into each prepared pan.
7. Melt the Smart Balance and brush on the top of each loaf.
8. Mix the sugar and grated lemon rind together and sprinkle on top of each loaf.
9. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. (The bake time will vary depending on how much shredded zucchini you add to the batter.)
Back in the beginning of May we announced a contest inspired by a box of packets of 10-inch squares from last year’s Quilters’ Quest. We challenged you to design and make a quilt (or quilt top) using these fabrics. Photos had to be submitted by June 18th.
What fun we had looking at your entries! Each member of the Studio staff, totally untrained in any kind of quilt judging, voted on his or her favorite. The quilter who got the most votes wins a $100 Studio gift certificate.
About a dozen people managed to finish their projects and submit them in the short amount of time given. There was a wide range styles and entries came from around the world.
And the winner is…Sarah Kirtland from Williamsburg, Virginia.
Sarah’s quilt, Here Comes the Sun, is based on the classic kaleidoscope block. She knew she wanted to do something with triangles after seeing my new Thousand Pyramids quilt. She spent four days simply drawing, working on the design. Sarah was at the Studio at the beginning of the month taking a class and picked up a few fabrics to supplement the 10-inch squares. Then the fiendish sewing began and didn’t stop until shortly before the deadline. She didn’t believe she had a chance to win but thought it would be a good exercise. I’m reminded of a saying by Mark Twain: “…you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.’
There were many other fabulous quilts. Here are just a few.
David Schulz took inspiration from local Native Americans who had different names for different parts of the Potomac, calling the river above Great Falls, where the Studio is located, “Cohongarooton”, meaning “honking geese.” He included flying geese blocks along with a variation on a block design from my Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns (Island Compass 380-11). He also used the Golden Ratio throughout the piece. Even the number of flying geese is included in the Fibonacci sequence. The finished piece measures 29” x 18”.
This Phoenix quilt came from Charlie MacDonald and we enjoyed his description of the process, the trials and tribulations. He loved the palette from the Quilters Quest. It reminded him of sunset/sunrise “and somehow the colors got him thinking of a Phoenix rising in flame from the ashes.” He used his Apliquick tools for the appliqué. Charlie said he learned a lot from making this and already has ideas for Phoenix 2.0.
Tom Dengler took an interesting approach. He writes: “I was inspired to find a way to challenge myself to use both sides of the fabric based on some ideas I had first seen used in watercolor quilts. The white gives the illusion of piercing the fabric by piecing the fabric backside. I learned that hand stitching the corner first gives a much neater appearance.” It is called Dos Rayos de Luz.
One thing that I particularly loved seeing was how many truly challenged themselves to try something new and, it seems, are very glad they did so. Here are more of the wonderful projects we received pictures of. We have no stories to go with them but I want to thank each and every one of you for participating and congratulations to all for your beautiful work.