To say things around here are a bit busy would be quite an understatement. At home, I have been busy working on my next line of batiks, adjusting the colors and patterns to try to get everything just right. Meanwhile in the Studio, we have the annual mad rush to get ready for the thousand quilters who will be visiting us during Quilters’ Quest which starts tomorrow.
Every “Quester” who comes into our shop and all of the participating shops receives a free pattern for that shop’s quilt and they have the opportunity to collect 10 inch squares used in each of the quilts. You have probably seen pictures of our design, Calliope. Not only have we been busy working on kits for Calliope but also making other quilt kits which fit this year’s theme, “Sunrise on the Potomac.”
We have several staffers who have been spending the past week doing nothing but making beautifully shaded fabric bundles. We also have some great new products that we picked up at Market. We can’t wait for you to see them.
We hope you’ll visit us during the Quest. We still have room on each of our buses if you’d like to join us as we visit all 10 shops. The Quest starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday, November 15. For more information visit www.quilters quest.org.
If you follow my blog, you know that every now and then I like to do a profile on one of my staff members. Today, I want to focus on a woman who I have known for 25 years. Please meet my good friend, Carole Nicholas.
Carole has been quilting since 1972. It all started when she was living overseas in Africa. There, the wife of the British High Commissioner invited her over one day and taught her how to English Paper Piece. A few years later, she was reading Good Housekeeping magazine and noticed the grand prize winning quilt in their “Great American Quilt Contest” which sparked her interest. Carole ripped out the article, saved it and decided to learn to quilt. Little did she know that she and I, the maker of that quilt, would cross paths and become the best of friends.
Anyone who has seen Carole’s work knows that she is a wonderful quilter. I loved her work, her energy and her enthusiasm so I asked her to join my Hilton Head Seminar staff in 1990. She later became the Seminar coordinator, holding that position for 15 years.
Carole is very active with Habitat for Humanity and, since 2000, has traveled around the world working on builds. Her quilts are inspired by her travels, the places she visits and the people and cultures she discovers along the way.
A member of Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends, Carole has the opportunity to explore new ideas and techniques with her fellow members and together they have shared their work with others across the country. She is also involved in organizing Sacred Threads, a biennial exhibition of quilts which touches viewers “on both spiritual and personal levels.”
Barb Hollinger, one of our long time employees at the Studio, has retired. She has been invaluable to the business and it is sad and nostalgic to see her go. We thought about the best way to send her off in style and, since she is a huge baseball fan, what could be better than an evening at Nationals Park to take in a Washington Nationals baseball game.
I have been a baseball fan since I was five years old when the radio station (KCOL) that my father built in Fort Collins, Colorado, announced the Brooklyn Dodger baseball games. I would sit in rapt attention listening to the simulated play by play with canned cheering and booing and fake ball hitting sounds, as the “announcer” followed the ticker tape, turned on the various sounds, as appropriate, and pretended he was at the game.
Then we moved to Pueblo, Colorado, when I was in elementary school and junior high. My father had another radio station that announced the Pueblo Dodgers (AAA or minor league) games live. He got season tickets and we went to almost every home game and sat right behind the dugout so I became friends with a lot of the players who eventually went on to play in the majors.
I continued to enjoy baseball, following the major leagues and had a huge collection of baseball cards, which my mother threw away when I went off to college, thinking I had no interest any more. (I’m still mourning the loss.)
My husband and I went to graduate school in Boston and became great Red Sox fans; then we moved to the DC area where we became fans of the old Senators. When they left the area, I mourned the loss of baseball season and just couldn’t get into the Baltimore Orioles. (Sorry Baltimore fans!)
Now for 10 years we have had the Washington Nationals and I have been in heaven.
If I’m not at the game, I am listening on the radio or watching on TV. I have an app on my phone that allows me to see the games when I am traveling.
So it was with great excitement that 12 of our Studio staffers went to the game last Thursday and it happened to be Ryan Zimmerman Bobblehead Night. Never mind that it had been raining for three days.
The weather was supposed to clear by game time. We arrived early so we could collect our bobbleheads and then proceeded to wait two hours as it continued to rain.
Finally, they started the game and we sat in the drizzle and rain during the game. Unfortunately, we lost to the Cubs but it was a good game and we had fun despite the rain and the loss.
Every three or four months, I have been stepping back and taking a moment to focus on a member of my amazing staff to give them the recognition they so deserve. Today, I would like to profile the invaluable Diane Kirkhart.
I do not use the word “invaluable” lightly. Diane makes the majority of samples for the shop and, in so doing, proofs the patterns. When we receive phone calls with questions about orders or piecing a quilt, it is Diane who often answers the phone.
Diane is also our notions “queen.” She places orders and hunts down interesting new gadgets to try always looking for the best prices to pass along to you.
Diane started sewing at the age of five. Her mom asked her if she would like to make a coat for her doll. When Diane answered, “yes” she said her mom “told me I should do it all by myself, so I did!” This was just the beginning of a lifetime of interest in arts and crafts.
In the 1990’s, Diane was teaching decorative painting when a student brought her along to a meeting of her quilt group. “I realized I could do my art in fabric,” Diane says. A quilter was born!
Applique and hand quilting are Diane’s favorites. “Thanks, Emily,” dedicated to her first appliqué teacher Emily Martin, won best hand workmanship for a wall quilt at the former Williamsburg quilt show, now the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival.
“Beauty Happiness, Family, Love,” began in a class with teacher Patricia McLaughlin where Diane learned to create a lifelike Japanese lady. From this, she created this beautiful and peaceful scene. She found patterns for the blocks from Kumiko Sudo’s Circles of the East with the Japanese symbols being found on the internet. This quilt was accepted into the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2012.
When asked what her favorite quilt is Diane didn’t hesitate to answer that it is usually whatever she is working on. It is the challenge of trying something new that she loves best.
Every now and then I like to do a profile of one of the members of my amazing staff. These are the ladies who keep the shop running on a daily basis and who supply an endless source of inspiration. This time let me introduce you to Barbara Hollinger.
Barb’s mom taught her to sew as a child. Her first quilt experience was as a young single woman when a friend suggested they give quilting a try. While she loved the precision of the piecing, she hated the actual quilting part. That changed later on as she developed a love of hand quilting and also discovered the joys of free-motion machine quilting. Now an accomplished machine quilter, Barb was a regular contributor to the magazine Machine Quilting Unlimited and teaches our machine quilting classes at the Studio.
Barb joined my staff over a decade ago. Her first career was as an engineer and you can see in her work the influence of her technical background.
Having done just about everything at the Studio, Barb recently left her job as Studio manager and currently serves as our “Quilt Project Engineer” proving to be of great help in my design work.
Having joined a group of contemporary quilters, Barb became involved in the project, “Healing Quilts in Medicine” which brings beauty and education to hospitals through quilts.
Barb is currently devoting much of her time as curator for the upcoming Sacred Threads exhibit. Held every two years, this exhibition is a forum for quilters who see their work as a source of healing and inspiration to others.
While the Studio bears my name, it is pretty obvious that it takes a number of people to keep it running. I am blessed with a wonderful staff that carries on the day to day operations. They allow me to focus on designing and teaching, yet I seem to get a lot of the credit for what happens behind the scenes. I want to take the opportunity to focus on my amazing staff by occasionally doing profiles to give them the recognition they so deserve. For the first profile, I couldn’t think of anyone better to start with than Linda Marcinowski.
Linda has been on staff at the Studio longer than anyone else, having started in the summer of 2002. Many of you have been greeted by her friendly smile and welcome along with her remarkable memory for customers’ names and their stories. While Linda learned to sew clothing from her grandmother when she was only seven years old, it wasn’t until years later, in 1998, that she took up quilting. As an Army wife, she was invited to a welcome coffee and joined a quilt group headed by the general’s wife. Linda taught herself to quilt to keep up with the others in the group. Jinny’s techniques were her favorites and she had learned much from Jinny’s books. Once her children were grown, Linda needed something to do, and started working at the Studio.
Linda, having started when the brick and mortar shop was fairly new and the business was smaller, has done just about everything. She worked on the newsletter, made shop samples, set up booths for quilt shows, been a member of the seminar staff, and even became certified in thimble fitter in 2005.
What she enjoys most, though, is meeting the customers, seeing what they are working on, and helping them with their projects. She says, “It makes my day. I love the amazing, different people I meet and the stories they tell.” One of her favorite things to do is play with Jinny’s border prints, figuring out more and more things to create with them.
Having been a military wife for many years and the travel it entails and now with her two daughters married, you may think that Linda and her husband lead a quiet life. Two years ago, her adorable little grandson, Andy, came into their lives and now there is a granddaughter due within the next couple of weeks. “Oma” Linda doesn’t have the quilting time she once did.
Stop by to meet Linda and the rest of my fabulous staff this summer. We have new fabrics arriving, exciting classes, and we’ll be participating in the Row by Row Experience shop hop.