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Windows

Jinny’s Windows quilt, made to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

 

As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I want to share with you once again, the quilt I made to commemorate that tragic day. I wanted to honor all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. My goal was to have at least one piece for each of the victims. There are 4,777 pieces in the quilt. The one in the center is for my friend, Barbara Olson, who was in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

I began the quilt that week of September 11 and hoped to finish it just one year later by September 11, 2002. (I was one month late and finished it on October 11.) It is entirely hand pieced and I used more than 100 different templates and about 150 different fabrics all from collections I have designed over the years. I wanted to capture the spinning and chaos that surrounded those first days and to capture the colors I was seeing in the gray smoke and dust with the occasional, proud American flag standing tall. In the center is the Statue of Liberty which stands in New York Harbor and is repeated surrounding the center along with American flags.

 

 

 

In choosing the colors, I referred to an image I had been using in my color class where I took an image of the American flag, pixelated it and took out the colors using them in my quilt.

 

 

I am often asked how did I get the border print to curve? In the free tips section of my web site is a tutorial on how I achieved those curved effects. Here is a link.

And where did the name come from? I knew from the start that I wanted to call it “Windows.” Everyone was looking at windows that day – windows from planes, windows of televisions, people looking out windows from the top of the World Trade Center where sat the famous Windows on the World restaurant.

Probably, though, the most common question I am asked is if there is a pattern for the quilt and a kit available. Obviously with so many templates and fabrics used that would be impossible. Furthermore, it is a very personal quilt to me with lots of memories stitched into it.

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Thread for Hand Quilting

My first quilt was a grandmother’s flower garden made with Indian hand block printed fabrics. It was done with all dark colors. When it came time to quilt it, I went looking for thread. There were no quilting stores in my area in 1972, only quilting areas in other types of handicraft stores. I went into a predominantly needlework shop and asked for navy blue thread for quilting. I was told in no uncertain terms that you never quilt with colored thread. Quilting is done in only cream or white and if you ever used a different color thread and entered a competition, the quilt would be disqualified. I said I had no intention of entering this quilt into a competition and wanted a dark colored thread that would blend with the fabrics I used in the quilt. I knew quilting thread was slightly thicker than standard sewing thread and went to a decorator shop where they recommend using heavier thread for the heavier fabrics. I found a company which made a 40 weight thread that was perfect. It came in a wide variety of colors and I used it for years until it was purchased by another company and the manufacturing of the thread was outsourced to a foreign country. It was no longer the quality it had been.

 

 

I have learned a lot of my quilting lessons the hard way. When I was quilting one of my early quilts in 1976, I had chosen a poly-cotton quilting thread in white. It was a patriotic themed quilt designed for the bicentennial celebration. After about two weeks of quilting, I decided to take it out of the frame and check my stitches on the back. Much to my horror, where the quilting was done in straight lines along the grain of the backing fabric, there were small cuts that were made by the thread. The places where the quilting was done on the diagonal were ok. Polyester has a sharpness to it and it is also slightly elastic so if the thread is pulled too tightly it stretches and is even more apt to cut the fabric. I learned it is best to quilt with a thread fiber content that is compatible with the fabric used in the rest of the quilt.

I ended up taking out all the quilting I had done, replaced the backing and started over. Needless to say, that is the last time I used poly-cotton thread for either hand piecing or quilting and use only 100% cotton thread.

 

 

What color thread to use. For my early quilts, I used the same color thread throughout but as the years went by, I discovered that I liked using different colors depending on the color of the fabric I was quilting. It is not unusual for me to use three or four different colored threads in one quilt. I find I have certain “neutral” colored threads that blend with the fabrics that I often use such as light tan, grey/blue, dusty rosy red, grey/green, etc.

To wax or not to wax the thread. A lot of people ask this question. Waxing is where the thread is pulled over a piece of beeswax before sewing. I think it is a personal choice but I do not wax it. If a quilting thread is used it is already pre-waxed and my problem with waxing a non-quilting thread is I find that the waxing causes pieces of batting to be pulled out along with the thread, causing a “bearding” effect.

So much of the quilting process from beginning to end comes down to personal choices that we discover, as I have, along the way.

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Tropical Paradise

In my last blog I talked about taking a block design and making it with multiple fabrics for a scrappy effect. That blog has information that is helpful in understanding how I placed the fabric in the blocks used in this blog as well.

 

 

I was so excited about this painting my niece, Tanis Rovner, painted that the colors in the image inspired our Tropical Paradise bundle. Since this is such a popular color scheme, I decided to show how you could use all of the 14 fabrics we put in the bundles in a block that would normally use six or seven. This is just what I did in Desert Star and can be done for any quilt that could be made with only three fabrics.

Both of these blocks are free patterns that are in our Quilters’ Block Library on our web site. I chose the 12” pattern for 1904 Star and the 10” pattern for Attic Windows

Beginning with 1904 Star, notice that the light, medium and dark value placement is the same in each of the two blocks I created but most of the fabrics are different between the two. I was able to use all 14 bundle fabrics between the two blocks and then I alternated them in the quilt.

 

 

 

 

I created these blocks and quilt digitally but if I were actually sewing them, I would find it boring to repeat the exact same blocks throughout. For me the fun part is experimenting with lots of different fabrics that fall within the same color scheme. It is a good lesson in color and value placement to make each block different. If you like the colors in the Tropical Paradise bundle, begin with it and then go to your stash and find as many colors as you can within the same range.

TIP

If you can’t find as many fabrics as you want in a certain color, did you know that you can sort fabrics on our website by color? You can go to this link and then advanced search and select the color range you want and click on “GO”.

 

 

The second block I experimented with is Attic Windows. While this particular design can be made with just three fabrics—a light, medium and dark—it is perfect for a scrappy looking quilt. All fourteen fabrics in the Tropical Paradise Bundle have been used in these two blocks and then the blocks alternated in the quilt. Once again, as with 1904 Star, I would make each block with a variety of different fabrics to add to the scrappy look. I try to get a good balance of value and color within each block, so the colors just meld together, and the blocks disappear when they are assembled.

Please note that even though there are three values, each of the darks do not have to be very dark and the mediums do not all have to be the same value. Depending on the effect you want you can also use different lights for the lightest value in the quilt. As long as the medium piece is lighter than the dark next to it, it still reads as “medium”. Same with the mediums and lights. Sometimes one fabric might be used as a dark in one block, but a medium in another.

 

 

 

 

I always like to add a border to finish off a quilt. It is like adding a frame to a painting or piece art. Borders can be all one fabric, more than one fabric, border prints or pieced or appliqued. Some people prefer no border at all. In any case, the borders should carry out the colors from the inside. The colors of the border can drastically affect the color image the entire quilt portrays. You can see the no border options above and two different options below with these two quilt designs.

 

 

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Scrappy Quilts with Traditional Style Blocks

Growing up, we had a scrap bag. While I didn’t start quilting until I was an adult, as a child I was always sewing something. My sisters and I made a lot of our own clothes and there were always leftover pieces. I would look through the scraps searching for the right piece for various projects, including doll clothes, which I made by the dozens.

So naturally when I began my first quilt I automatically went to my scrap bag. I was living in India at the time and had fallen in love with the Indian hand-block printed fabrics. I had made clothes, bags and other items as gifts and for my own use and all the scraps went into the scrap bag. My first quilt, begun in 1972, was a Grandmother’s Flower Garden made with fabrics from that bag. Although I have to admit I made a few trips to the marketplace to purchase a few more fabrics for my quilt.

I “organized” the scraps so that I would use the same fabric in individual flowers, but then each flower would be put together differently. There were a few repeats.

 

 

From that point on, I have loved making quilts with lots of different fabrics. To me, the more fabrics the better.

I often am asked, “I understand how to use lots of different fabrics in quilts such as Baby Blocks or Thousand Pyramids, but how do you do it with block style quilts?”

First and foremost, you have to select a block design, shade it in grey scale, and determine where you want the lightest, mediums, darks and darkest tones.  I will illustrate with the block used in my quilt pattern Desert Star but the same process is used for all of my designs.

Here are two different ways you might choose to shade in the block, Desert Star.

 

Version A

 

Version B

 

I selected version A and then decided how many different value groups to have in the quilt. You can see here that I have six different values. Number 1 is  the lightest fabric. Fabrics 2 through 4 are light to dark with light in the center. Number 2 is not as light as the background fabric, number 1. Fabric 6 is a medium value and could be similar in value to fabric 3.

 

 

Once you have the block design and have decided on value placement within the block, the next step is to select a palette of colors. If you are at a loss for colors that look good together you might want to select one of our shaded bundles to start with. To get as many fabrics as possible, fill in with colors from your stash that fall within the same general color range as those in the bundle.

Next sort the fabrics into color groups. Here are the color groups I used when I made the quilt from the Sonoran Spring bundle:

 

Group 1, lightest fabrics for background

 

Group 2, star points light

 

Group 3, star points medium

 

Group 4, star points dark

 

Group 5, darkest fabrics for small triangles

 

Group 6, medium blues/blue grey for large corner triangles

 

Here are four different blocks made up of those color groups.  It is fun to see how many different blocks you can make using the same “formula.” Since this is a digital image, I have only used the four different blocks in the quilt shown here, but if I were making the actual quilt, I would follow the same formula. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be strict with the colors. For instance, depending on the other fabrics used, a fabric used as a dark star point in one block might be a medium point in another block. Just have fun and relax!

 

 

Stay tuned for another blog on how to incorporate border print fabrics in this design.

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Getting to Know Jinny Beyer Part II

Jinny Beyer blog

We received an email from Jan about a postcard she bought on eBay from a woman in Latvia.  Included was a photo of this card and she was wondering if we could tell her more about it. Shown here is that card. Yes, that is me from very long ago.

 

Many of you may know that, besides quilting, one of my other interests is amateur radio. When my father was a young boy he got his first ham radio license. To confirm a contact with another radio operator “hams” send out QSL cards. My father’s interest passed to me and I got my first license in 1957  (K6RQB) when I was in high school. I continued my ham radio activities until 1984.

I had quite some adventures along the way. Shortly after getting my license, Russia launched the first satellite to circle the earth. My father and I got up in the middle of the night so we could hear the first morse code signals the satellite emitted.

A few years after I was married, my husband, John, got a job in Nepal and right after that in India. My husband and I and our two young children went to live Nepal in 1968. I had been an active ham in the States and I got a license there.

Once in Nepal, I was one of only two hams in the country, and the only one who operated in both voice and morse code.  I was able to talk with my father almost every day. One of my frequent contacts was with King Hussein of Jordon who was also a ham. The American ambassador to Nepal was married to the ambassador of Viet Nam and the only way they could contact each other was by radio and Madam Ambassador would come to my house once a week to talk with her husband by way of a ham in Viet Nam.

Just like quilting, there is a bond among hams around the world. When my sister died and I made arrangements to fly home, obviously anyone listening knew my plans. At every single stop on the way home, a ham radio operator was there to greet me and make sure I had no trouble with my connections…New Delhi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Honolulu and Los Angeles.

These days we are very lucky to be able to easily communicate with almost anyone, anywhere, but back then, this was quite a handy hobby to have.

To read more about this, my story appeared here on the web page for ham enthusiasts and their history here.

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Getting to Know Jinny Beyer

I have been very lucky to have been quilting, teaching, writing books and designing fabrics for quilters for more than forty years. This past year, while there have been many things I haven’t been able to do, the Studio continues to operate, as an internet only business.

One positive we have found in the past several months is an influx of new quilters and others who have just “found” us. We welcome you all!

Since many of you are not familiar with me and my work, we have decided to add a feature to our newsletter called “Get to know Jinny Beyer” and each month I will answer a question you may have about me or my work.

One question I get asked all the time is “How did you get into fabric designing?” My answer has always been that I got in through the back door, not the front.

I have been sewing all my life and lived for several years in Malaysia, Nepal and India where I collected batiks and hand block printed fabrics. I began quilting while living in India and used scraps from all my sewing projects for quilts. Of course, I had to buy more specifically for quilts!

 

Jinny’s first quilt made with Indian hand block printed cottons, Grandmother’s Flower Garden

 

Upon returning to the States in the early 1970’s I was very disappointed in the fabrics that were available….mostly cutesy calico prints done in primary colors. After a few years of disappointment in what was available I decided that maybe I could tell fabric companies what kinds of fabrics quilters would like. I took it upon myself to put together a portfolio of prints and colors that I liked and how I would change them and made appointments with three different fabric companies. I took the train to New York full of optimism and came back home full of disappointment. At each place I got basically the same questions and the same treatment before they even looked at my portfolio. “Where did you go to design school?” “Were you a textile major in undergraduate school ?” “Have you studied color and color theory?” and on and on. I had never had that kind of an education. I had a master’s degree in special education.  I felt like a little kid getting a pat on the top of my head as I left through the front door of each place.

I decided fabric designing was not in the cards for me.

 

Ray of Light

 

Then out of the blue one day in the late 70’s, I received a phone call from Nancy Puentes and Karey Bresenhan, the founders of the International Quilt Market. By this time my quilt, Ray of Light, had won the Good Housekeeping Magazine’s “Great American Quilt Contest” and my name was becoming known by quilters outside my own area.

Nancy and Karey were concerned that independent quilt stores were struggling to stay in business because they were competing with large fabric chain stores who could buy the fabric in bulk for better prices and offer them at a discount.

They had approached VIP, a New York basked fabric manufacturer, and asked if they would be willing to create a line of fabric that would not be sold to chain stores and that was exclusive to independent fabric retailers. They felt a quilter’s name should be associated with the collection and thought of me. Thus, their phone call.

I worked with VIP for three years, but in the early 1980’s they decided that quilting had reached its peak and they were going to get out before the interest waned and they dropped my line. That is when RJR contacted me and the rest is history. I have been working with them ever since.

My textile education has been learned through being immersed in the actual designing and creating for more than 40 years. I have yet to take a design or color course. As I like to say, “I got in through the back door, not the front.”

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Selecting and Placing colors and fabrics for scrap type quilts, Part 2 Assembling the Quilt

In my last post, I discussed my Day Lilies quilt and how to plan fabric and color schemes for this and any “scrappy” quilt. Today, I’m continuing that discussion.

 

 

Step 1.

For any scrappy quilt, I think it would be impossible to try and plan the placement of every piece in advance. I like to work in units, making sure that the balance of color and fabric placement within each unit is satisfying to me.

For Day Lilies, my unit was one petal. I made stacks of brown, red and purple petals, using a wide variety of different fabrics.

 

 

Depending on your pattern, you may have just random placement of dark, medium and light within the units such as is done with Thousand Pyramids.

 

 

Or you may have colors shaded light to dark within each unit such as Day Lilies above or Urban Sunset shown here.

 

 

When working with shaded units, I have a little trick to make easily get several different units. Lay out a group of fabrics in a “run,” light to dark. Here I have such a run which I might use for Day Lilies. There are 11 fabrics.

 

 

I only need seven fabrics for a Day Lilies petal so I could make one unit using in order fabrics 1-7, for another petal I could use 2-8, then 3-9 and so forth. This will yield five different petals. Continue doing this with different runs of shaded colors.

For Urban Sunset, some of the nine-diamond units are shaded light to dark lengthwise and some are shaded light to dark sideways as seen above.

For these units, I did the same thing as shown above on Day Lilies. I arranged several “runs” of fabrics such as this one which contains nine fabrics shaded light to dark.

 

 

Since only five fabrics are needed for each unit in this quilt, there are five possible units that can be made shading them lengthwise and five sideways for a total of 10 different units. The lengthwise shaded ones are shown here.

 

 

When I find a unit with colors that I like, I will make at least two of the same colors. They will be used in different parts of the quilt so that the same units are not adjacent to each other. The Urban Sunset Pattern shows how the smaller units are formed into the increasingly larger units.

Once I have a good amount of what I call the “base” units, I will start arranging them into larger units. For Day Lilies, it is the large flowers by color – purple, red and brown.

 

 

For Urban Sunset, it is the larger units that are built according to the directions in the pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Thousand Pyramids you will make two sets of units one with the dark triangles at the bottom and one with the light triangles at the bottom. These are then alternated in the layout of the units.

 

 

 

 

After the larger units are sewn together then is when I finally like to lay them all out on either a design wall or the floor and arrange them to my liking. You will find that if you are satisfied with the base units and then the larger units, you will be pleased with the overall arrangement.

I find that if all the pieces of the quilt are decided upon in advance, it does not allow for the quilt to “speak” to you. Some of the spontaneity is lost and for me part of the pleasure of making a scrappy quilt with lots of fabrics is the discovery along the way.

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Selecting and Placing Colors and Fabrics for Scrap Type Quilts, Part 1

We had a huge response to my quilt, Day Lilies, when we placed it at the top of our Facebook page. There were many requests for a pattern and kit to make it. There is a pattern available. It is in my book Quiltmaking By Hand, along with several other patterns. But I will tell you why there is no kit and give you hints on how to plan color schemes for any “scrappy” quilt.

 

 

First and foremost, I used more than 120 different fabrics in Day Lilies and most other scrappy type quilts I have made. It would be impossible to make kits with that many fabrics and have them at an affordable price. Furthermore, some people want to know the placement of each and every fabric. It is better to understand how to do it than to try to copy something exactly.

Selecting the Colors

Why so many fabrics in Day Lilies, for example? The base design is a hexagon which means that If you look carefully at the quilt you will see that there are three colors of lilies—reds, browns and purples. Because of the hexagonal arrangement, the lilies are arranged so that no two flowers of the same color touch, thus the three colors.

 

 

Now, a closer look reveals that each lily is made up of six petals and each petal has seven pieces. Those pieces are shaded light to dark.

Even if you used exactly the same fabric in each petal of a color you would need 21 different fabrics—seven reds, seven purples and seven browns.

 

 

Then you would have “spotlights” of colors without any blending or variance of the pieces once they are assembled.

A closer look at my quilt shows that within any one flower each petal is different. Sometimes a red petal might shade into a hint of brown or purple, or a purple might shade into a hint of red and so forth. This achieves a better blending of the colors in the final quilt.

 

 

So how do you select the colors in the first place? Rather than repeat myself and write it all here again, I urge you to watch the two following videos which explain my basic philosophy of color and how I put fabrics together. Go to the “Tips and Lessons” page of my website and choose “Design and Color.”  Then watch these two videos:

  • “Jinny’s Color Secrets”
  • “Choosing Quilt Colors with the Portable Palette”

Now try these steps in selecting a palette of colors for your scrap quilt.

  • Select the colors you would like to use and have several values of those colors ranging from light to dark.
  • Add whatever additional colors you need to shade those colors together.
  • Make sure you have a “deep dark” fabric, an “accent” and several neutrals.

If you are uncertain where to begin, take a look at the pre-cut section of our web site.

https://jinnybeyer.com/product-category/fabric/pre-cuts/

There you will find several bundles of 30 or more color coordinated fabrics that are shaded together.  Find one that appeals to you and once you have those fabrics, go to your stash and pull out any fabrics within that color range, the more the better.  Here are some that I recommend:

  • Desert Dawn
  • Emerald Isle
  • Indian Marketplace
  • Moon Glow
  • Protea
  • Rainbows End
  • Urban Sunset
  • Zinnias

Indian Marketplace is a good start if you like the colors in Day Lilies. Urban Sunset is the one I used for the Urban Sunset quilt.

 

 

Take some time to look through your fabrics and make selections.  Next week, I will talk about placing those fabrics in the quilt.

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Quarantine Quilts Part V

For the past few weeks, we, the staff, have taken over Jinny’s blog on several occasions to let you see while the staff is keeping to home when we are not at the Studio.  Today we have for you our last installment, at least for a while, on Quarantine Quilts. 

JJ

 

 

Even though she is in the middle of moving to Ohio, before she left us at the Studio, JJ made sure to send us photos of her latest projects with the note, “Everyone is showing off more quilts than me so I look like a slacker!”  Just looking at her Moon Glow quilt,  finished and quilted, we think you will agree that this woman is no slacker.

 

 

JJ also sent a picture of this adorable quilt, also finished and quilted. Sewology is a BOM from a quilt shop in Utah and we are sure it is going to look wonderful in her new sewing room. 

Cathy

 

 

Just in time for Easter, Cathy finished this lovely Easter Cross by Martha D-Zines. The second photo shows how it started. The method is pinwheel twist using the Lil’ Twister tool.

 

 

Cathy also has been working on this simple but adorable pattern called Ebb Tide by Villa Rosa Design. The fabric is Home Sweet Gnome by Cotton & Steel (Sarah Watts). Her daughter happens to love gnomes and Cathy wanted a mindless and relaxing project.

Dana

 

 

In addition to the masks she has been making, Dana has been working on her Lemur quilt, an Elizabeth Hartman design.  There is a total of 20 lemurs and she has made her way through four!  She is using Jinny’s fabrics, a mix of palette, some collections and batiks.  She is also using C See’s Portable Design Mat because “it is totally perfect for small pieces!”

 

 

Dana is trying to keep a sense of normalcy even working from home and tries to dress up as much as she can for work…but with slippers.  For a “comfy” outfit to change into when work is done, she made this quarantine top some knit fabrics that she had with cats to enjoy the comfort of her home. The quilt behind her is the one her grandmother made for her, quilted entirely by hand.

 

 

And since she and her husband, Alen, are using this time to decorate their house.  Wanting to wallpaper a wall in our dining room, they ordered this peel and stick wallpaper from Spoonflower. Dana says “it is divine and super easy to work with – it even feels like fabric.”

Rebecca

 

 

Since the retail shop is closed to walk-in customers, Rebecca took home the Border Play sample she made and machine quilted it.  She loves the color combination!  Now she just has to bury threads and bind it, so it will be hanging up whenever we are ready to reopen.  She basted five other quilts including this Labyrinth, so there will be lots of quilting in the days and weeks ahead!  She has also made 60 masks for family, friends, neighbors, and hospital workers.

 

 

You’ve gotten a glimpse into what we are up to during this strange time. Now, we’d love to see what you’re doing. Share your pictures on our Facebook page.

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Quarantine Quilts Part IV

When we first had the idea of showing you on the blog what the staffers are working on at home, we had no idea that it would be enough for several posts.  Today, we continue on with our look into their sewing rooms.

Lura

 

 

Lura has been working on her lovely Rose Star quilt blocks for a while and now they are all done. She chose this gray-green background fabric of Jinny’s from her Coventry collection and is on the hunt for a little more to do the borders. She wonders if any Jinny Beyer fans can help?

 

 

In addition, she is another member of the staff to do the “Quarantine Quilt-along” by Gudrun Erla.  Lura’s “Elvira” was done in done in Charley Harper fabrics.

Elaine

 

 

Elaine finished the quilting on her husband Dan’s penguin quilt, made in commemoration of his trip to Antarctica last year. The design, “Penguin Party” is by Elizabeth Hartman.  How adorable is that!

Nancy

 

 

Nancy recently finished quilting this Feathered Star the night before it had to be photographed for a quilt show so the binding was only glued onto the back. This was quickly sewn down when the quarantine began.  Jinny’s Aruba fabric is the background and the deep red Delhi fabric is the perfect border.  The quilt was inspired by her favorite piece at the “Infinite Variety” quilt show in Manhattan in 2011.

 

 

This second quilt goes way back to the 2013 Quilters’ Quest. It was called “Potomac Charms” and the top was a sample for the Studio.  Working on the hand quilting this winter with a “big stitch” it reminded her of an Alpine sunset seen while hiking this past summer and the quilt was renamed “Mont Blanc Sunset.”

 

 

And finally, the step-outs for Nancy’s “No Tear Paper Piecing” class were getting a little ratty so she just sewed them all together.  The quilt is filled with Jinny’s fabric  and Palette #122 makes the perfect background.  She’s now working on a pieced border with 100+ flying geese.

We hope you’ve enjoyed looking into what the staff has been up to.  At the rate they are sewing away, we will be back with more soon.