Sunday, May 30, 2010

What I saw at Market: The Next Chapter

Okay, I've recovered from uploading the previous photos and am ready to try again. (Not sure why it's such an arduous task these days...apologies for the formatting, which leaves much to be desired.)

Codi and I walked the rows of Market very methodically the first day...all the way up one and down the next. We didn't actually finish them all the first day and so did the last two rows the second day. At that point we each had some people to see and things to do, so we split up for awhile.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First up is Marcia Derse's booth. Marcia's wonderful fabrics are based on her discharge dyed, hand-painted fabrics. I really loved her work in Houston and still do. There's not much else like it, for one thing, and for another, the colors are rich and warm. Codi looks very happy in this booth, doesn't she?

When I was a young'n (okay, so that was a long time ago) I was obsessed with embroidery. I spent hours  adorning a pair of denim overalls and a blue workshirt (yes, this was the 1970s) with lots of designs—butterflies, a cheerful worm, tiny flowers, and on the back of the workshirt an enormous tree that incorporated as many stitches as I could think of into it's greenery. I'm delighted that embroidery is making a comeback—handwork is so soothing and satisfying.  So I was tickled to come upon Alyssa of Penguin & Fish.

Her designs are so endearing: the hedgehog pillow and the pig dish towel are special favorites. Her quilt with the A to Z animals would be a real treasure for a new baby.

The Moda booth never ceases to amaze and this Market was no exception: the fabric reps sat in the center, with a big "building" inspired by a vintage metal dollhouse behind them. On the sides hung wonderful quilts made from their new lines of fabric. Surrounding this central area were booths of individual designers.

There were many more than those pictured here, but I did manage to get in some shots of the mother-daughter team of Bonnie of Cotton Way and Camille of Thimble Blossoms. Here Camille smiles obligingly for the camera. backed by some of her designs—so fresh feeling, the definitely put the spring in Spring Market.

Across the way were two people I was so excited to meet: Barb and Mary of My Sister and Me. About six months ago I interviewed them for a story in the current American Patchwork and Quilting and I don't know that I've ever laughed so hard during an interview. They teased one another back and forth during the entire conversation, affectionately of course, but it was hilarious—who had better hair, whose dogs were so badly behaved they scared the UPS gal, why did that design of a basket look like a diaper pin? Barb and Mary gave me big hugs when I introduced myself and then excitedly showed me the magazine, which I had yet to see. They are just as sunny and cheery and fun as their fabric and every time I saw them over the next few days they were joking and laughing. A total treat, these two.

Oliver & S has had great patterns for children's clothes available for awhile, and now great fabric, too. The quilt featuring her fabric was one of my favorites at Market. You can see it a little bit on the table in her booth. Her Market report has some more shots of the Moda booth, but sadly not of her City Weekend quilt. Her clothing samples looked fabulous made up in the fabrics, too.

Last Moda photo is the gals in the Moda Home booth. They were so good-natured about posing in their costumes and one of my favorite sights at Market was seeing them walking through downtown Minneapolis at the end of the day, still wearing these clothes.

Amy Butler's booth was lovely as always—didn't see Amy herself this time, but I'm sure SHE was lovely as always, too.
Tina Givens' booth really stood out: I loved the cocoa brown walls and white shelving. Her fabrics popped beautifully against that background and when Codi complimented her on her fabulous dress she told us it was something she'd thrown together at the last minute, but that so many people were asking about it that she might publish the pattern for it. Such talent! And very friendly.

My other favorite duo at Market (along with Barb and Mary of My Sister and Me) was Amy Barrickman and her mom, Donna. They both look so fabulous wearing clothes created from Indygo Junction patterns. Donna chatted with Codi and I, pleased that we were fellow Iowans (she's from Des Moines and used to own an antique shop in that city). I also got a chance to talk with Amy about her really stunning new book, Vintage Notions. Amy was inspired by the story of Mary Brooks Picken, a pioneer in domestic arts. (Donna explained she was something of the Martha Stewart of her day.) When the book hits the stores, check it out. Along with patterns, recipes, and great images of vintage notions and illustrations of times gone by, there's plenty to read in this book, which is something I always enjoy.

The Alexander Henry booth is always artful and unusual and their Matisse-inspired booth was no exception. Codi perused their fabrics and we sat down briefly with a rep. One of my favorite overheard moments took place at the Alexander Henry booth. A young, very hip woman was perusing fabrics with a young, hip rep. They were both from L.A. She had on a dress over leggings made of a bold and graphic Alexander Henry print. Codi and I both noticed her (and I complimented her on it), but it was her conversation with the rep I loved best.

She: When I heard this was going to be in Minneapolis I wasn't sure I even wanted to come. But some friends told me about this fabulous restaurant I ate at last night--it was totally amazing.

He: I know! And have you seen the Walker sculpture garden? It is absolutely gorgeous.

She: I know! Minneapolis--who knew?

I controlled my urge to tell them that much of the world knows. Instead Codi and I spent the rest of Quilt Market saying, "Minneapolis—Who knew?" As a transplanted Californian I rankle at that attitude of geographic superiority—what could possibly be worth seeing in "flyover land?" The people who think that, of course, have never actually been in the part of the country about which they make disparaging remarks. But that rarely stops them from making them.

I got a chance to talk with Anna Maria Horner and her crew a bit at the end of the first day. Anna Maria is such a treat to chat with—so upbeat, but so real, too. She's in the midst of life changing events, as her eldest daughter, Julianna, was graduating on Monday evening and heading to college in the fall. We talked a bit about a charity quilting project she's got planned, among other things. When I made it back the next day to take a photo, Anna Maria was gone and Allie was holding down the fort. I loved talking to Allie, who may be in for some transitions of her own.

Finally, I made a connection that was totally pleasing. I'd recently talked with Karen Snyder of Anna Lena's on the phone and found out that she was friends with Monica of Happy Zombie and Pam of PamKittyMorning. Karen and I exchanged digits before Market and I got to have coffee with the three of them. Poor Monica had been really sick, so we just air-hugged, but I think I managed to get my hands on everyone else. As we were chatting (and Pam was tweeting) Jill Abeloe Mead, my terrific editor at Quilts and More, and Elizabeth Stumbo, a graphic designer for Quilt Sampler and other publications, joined us. Although I live just 110 miles from the Meredith offices and have written for their magazines for more than four years, I typically only manage to see these ladies at Markets.

It was a such treat to see and meet everyone. I learned that Karen (who had an ab fab orange wheeled tote that complemented her shirt) and her husband were planning a post-Market tour of Iowa—just because. I gave her my card and said to call if she got in the neighborhood, but she sounded as though they had a full itinerary—it involved John Deere tractors and dinner with someone's grandparents. It sounded so relaxing!

Quilt Market left me the opposite of relaxed. Instead I felt totally pumped up, in the best possible way. I feel so fortunate to be writing about these talented and kind folks, and to get to meet so many of them. There's a real generosity (special thanks to Linda Lum Debono) about these people that makes me feel I'm in the right place, doing the right thing. And getting to spend time with Codi was terrific, too. Here's a shot of us at the end of our drive—tired and happy, but filled with ideas. So good to have yet another friend in fabric.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What I saw at Market: Chapter 1

Last weekend was Quilt Market and it was grand. It was my first time at spring market and I expected it to be much smaller than fall Market, but my feet didn't seem to notice the difference—they felt just as worn out as they do after a day in Houston.

This time I went to Market with my Codi Josephson, one of the owners of Home Ec Workshop in Iowa City. Home Ec is a fabulous place—fabric, yarn, embroidery, excellent coffee and sweets and a great workshop area where its possible to rent machines and workspace...perfect for a college town. It's a real gathering space for sewers and knitters and the classes they offer range from screen printing to doll-making to sewing clothing and projects for kids.

Codi had never been to Market, so it was fun to be her guide, just as Mary Lou had been for me my first time. Codi was blown away by all that was available (and Home Ec shoppers will appreciate her excitement in the months to come, as fabulous fabrics and notions and patterns roll into the shop). From my perspective, it was fun to go with a shop owner and see things from that perspective—it made me appreciate even more the effort that goes into independent businesses and quilt shops in particular. Making tough decisions, keeping the customer always in mind: owning a quilt shop is a dream for many of us fabricaholics, but I'm reminded that it's a lot of hard work. Remember: support your local shop—they work hard for you!!!!

Okay, off my soap box. Here are some of the fabulous things we saw:

Organic prints: In the very first aisle we came upon two companies with fabulous, fresh designs in organic cotton: Birch Fabrics and Cloud 9 Fabrics. We had a great time talking to the women who own each shop.

Here's Codi talking with Cynthia of Birch Fabrics.

And here's the Cloud 9 booth.

Next was a fun surprise for me: Codi had admired an owl quilt at Brandywine Designs and when we rounded the corner I realized that I'd interviewed Linda Hohag of Brandywine for American Patchwork and Quilting back in 2007. It's always fun to meet in person the folks I've only chatted with over the phone, but I was especially pleased to meet Linda because over the course of our interview we realized that our daughter's lived in the same dorm, in the same "pod" at the same college (St. Olaf) and knew one another. Linda and her husband (another St. Olaf grad) shared the news that their daughter was expecting a baby. So fun!

In the next aisle was Sandi Henderson's fabulous booth. She was signing copies of her new book, Sewing Bits and Pieces.

Her booth just felt like spring and I was especially fond of the chairs upholstered in her fabrics.

Then we came upon Michael Miller's booth: "a fairyland dream" as we used to say in college (don't ask me why, I don't for the life of me remember).

They were featuring ruffled fabric and there was one sales rep wearing a shirt with ruffled sleeves...wish I'd gotten a picture. He looked mahvalous!

And then there was the excitement of seeing Monica's Lecien fabric in the flesh...or maybe "in the cloth"? It was so cheery and the fabulous samples were designed and stitched by a group of women I was so lucky to meet in person (for that photo, you'll have to wait for Chapter 2).

Monica's responsible for the amazing lantern quilt Glow Happy.

PamKitty Morning designed Sugar Stars.

And Karen Snyder of Anna Lena's The HMS Twinkle sets off Monica's fabric with bright red stars. Those West Coast gals were busy this spring!

Codi was very excited by some of the Japanese fabrics available through Lecien and embarked on her first Market fabric order. Note the intense concentration on her face as she flips through the gorgeous samples. Watching her order fabrics again reminded me of the intense thought and planning that goes into creating a shop that makes us customers so happy!

And finally, a shot of everyone's favorite Japanese designer, Echino. I didn't see her in the booth this time, but her new fabrics are sensational—especially love the cameras and helicopters.

Codi and I knew that we were kindred spirits when that first night, rather than try to network the night away, we both were perfectly content to retreat to our very nice room at the Marriott, put on our pjs, and play with our fabric, patterns, and thread!

Monday, May 24, 2010


I've been trying to post some Quilt Market photos for a couple of days now, but have run into some technical difficulties...hope to have them figured out soon! I'm so sorry for the delay. Market was great and I can't wait to share it with you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Look what I saw at Market!

Just got back from spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis and thought I'd share a few of the sights. I had the pleasure of attending with Codi Josephson, one of the proprietors of Home Ec. Workshop. It was Codi's first Market and an eye-opener for us both.

Next up was a fun surprise for me. Back in 2007, I interviewed Linda Hohag of Brandywine Designs for American Patchwork and Quilting. In the course of the interview we had one of those six-degrees-of-seperation moments when we realized that our daughters not only attended the same college (St. Olaf College), but lived in the same hall and knew one another. So it was especially fun to meet Linda in person, as well as to learn that her daughter will soon bestow the titles of Grandma and Grandpa on Linda and her husband. Linda's sweet designs left Codi smitten...I believe a pattern or two of hers may be showing up at Home Ec.

In the next aisle or so—the booth of Sandi Henderson of PortobelloPixie. New fabric, new patterns, a new book (Sewing Bits and Pieces)—it's been a good year for Sandi. Her booth was gorgeous and springy. I was especially taken with the straight-back chairs, upholstered with fabric pieced with creams sashing and squares from her new Meadowsweet collection.

One of the more amazing big booths was Michael Miller Fabrics. They created a fairyland of glittered, frosty-white trees. I couldn't imagine how they hauled those to Minneapolis and the work that went into setting up that booth!
I'm going to call it quits for my first post. Many more photos to come!

Monday, May 17, 2010

She Gradumatated!

This weekend was the culmination of a long haul for my youngest daughter. Rebecca earned her BA and 10 family members came to help celebrate. We had house guests from California, Virginia, Minnesota, and Texas, and had a terrific time. Although it's been cold and rainy, Saturday was sunny and 70, perfect for the ceremony and playing bocce and drinking rhubarbaritas. All in all, it was an excellent day (and weekend).

I'm heading to quilt market later this week, so Pearl the Squirrel may continue to be quiet, but next week I should have lots of photos and tales of the city (Minneapolis, this time).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mom's the word

The craziness of the last few months has left me slightly out of touch with reality. I kept reading all the ads for Mother's Day without really thinking it was imminent. In a sudden flurry of consciousness, I realized that Mother's Day was nearly upon us and I'd done nothing about it. I also hadn't sewed for more than two months and decided it was high time to whip something up.

I got the idea for these from some fabulous placemats I saw on a blog...they looked very much like these in terms of the pieced borders, except that they were quilt as you go. (I have combed my regularly read blogs, the recent history on my computer, etc., but cannot find them again and so cannot give you the link and their creator credit—my apologies.)

I couldn't figure out how to attach the quilted-as-you-go borders to the center section without using something like rickrack to cover the seam, so I pieced the entire top and then quilted them. Given my time constraints, I also did not want to create a separate binding, so used the instructions from Lisa Shepard Stewart's batik table runner the Fall 2009 Stitch magazine for turning the backing fabric to create a border that looks like a binding. I used the zigzag on my machine (as per Lisa's instructions) to hold it down, figuring that utility was important in items that would be washed frequently.

The fabrics are all from my stash, and my mom may recognize a couple remnants from the quilt I made them for their 50th anniversary. I also pulled in an April Cornell blue-and-yellow floral, a batik, and a couple others I've been saving for...apparently for these placemats. Although I'm sometimes horrified by the size of my stash, it can be very gratifying to be able to create a gift with what I have on hand.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom and thanks for teaching me to sew all those years ago!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Paper Trail

Last month, the Combat Paper Project rolled into Iowa City to collaborate on workshops for veterans with the University of Iowa's Center for the Book. The folks at Etsy expressed interest in my "covering the event" (while writing for The Storque, I'm learning an entirely new way of writing a story—interjecting the personal) and although it was a bit of a last-minute thing, I decided to give it a shot. These photos are from the final day of Combat Paper's residency: there was a real assembly line feel as my friends Emily and Sara graciously shared their skills and helped print sections of books created during the workshop.

As with most stories, I learned so much. In a nutshell, the Combat Paper Project provides a way for veterans to reconcile their combat experience by taking their uniforms, cutting them and beating them into pulp to create paper. The paper is then used as a medium for creative expression: it's bound into books for journals, molded into sheets of paper for printing and painting on; and formed into 3-D elements. The Combat Paper guys—Drew Cameron, Drew Matott, and Jon Turner—travel constantly, providing workshops and engaging the public at each venue.

My Etsy post covered just a little bit about the project: as with all stories, so much gets left out. For example, I learned that uniforms make terrible paper—their 50 percent polyester/50 percent cotton composition posed a real challenge for Drew M., who tested it extensively before coming up with a useable formula. I learned that a military doc in Afghanistan who works with soldiers so badly injured that they're sent to the U.S. for further treatment realized the value of the Combat Paper Project. He asked the project to send him materials to share with the returning vets so that they might consider the importance and accessibility of creative expression/reconciliation as part of the their healing process. I learned that not all soldiers keep their uniforms: some people burn them, give them to Goodwill, or simply throw them away. So an officer in the Army supplies the Combat Paper Project with uniforms destined for the trash, so that those without their own uniforms can use them to make paper.

I'm always amazed by the way that combat soldiers of the past largely kept their horrific experiences hidden. There were always names for post-traumatic stress disorder (in earlier wars a soldier having trouble readjusting was "shell-shocked") and the symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction were acknowledged as one outcome of readjusting after war. It seems that helping veterans reenter civilian life is finally being acknowledged as much more funding is needed to create programs and provide education to make this transition as successful as possible. To paraphrase Drew M. in my Etsy post, war doesn't just happen in other places, it comes home with the vets and if we don't have compassion for their challenges, then we should at the very least recognize that they live among us and that if their experiences can be reconciled, our entire society benefits.