Friday, October 31, 2008

Friends at Festival AND exciting news!!

First the news! Drum roll please (smile). As of midnight Thurs 10/30/08 I am now an A-1 Professional Longarm Authorized Dealer for Texas! Actually it was 11:59 PM when A-1 President Stewart Plank called to confirm his offer to represent his wonderful longarm machine and join his network of dealers. (I know that sounds like a weird time to call someone, but believe me, the days are long when you work special events -- it was a midnight call that certainly bore good news!)

I am soooo excited to be a part of this family! I have had my A-1 for three years now -- love it dearly -- and have recommended it to many many quilters who have been in the market for a longarm -- now I not only recommend it, but I will be installing the machines and training new longarm quilters! What a privelage. Thank you Stewart for your vote of confidence by asking me to join the A-1 team! And what perfect timing -- it was sooo much fun to work in the A-1 booth today and visit with folks who are considering purchasing a longarm as well as those who just want to test drive and see how a professional quilting machine works. Quilters are such nice folks -- I met soooo many wonderful people today! Say hello to my first customer, Susan! We are both sew excited about her new A-1 -- the beginning of a new friendship, she and I, but more importantly, the beginning for a long and happyy quilting relationship between she and her new professional longarm! What a wonderful journey!

One of my favorite things is running into friends at Festival -- some I haven't seen since last year's festival - some are friends that I've only known over the internet and now have a face to put with the name. Several quilters from various longarm groups met up for lunch and enjoyed getting to meet each other. Two of these ladies had quilted quilts that were jurried into the show -- their quilts are in my webshots album. Talk about nice to put a face to a name! ow 'bout putting a quilter to the quilt! I loved the treasure hunt of finding "their" quilts later that afternoon. Beautiful jobs ladies - congratulations!

Yep, yesterday was truly "friends day" -- forget the shopping, just meet up with friends and look at the beautiful quilts! Thank goodness it's a 4 1/2 day event -- so many friends, so many quilts, and soooo many vendors!! Thursday I took over 300 photos! Check out my webshots for all the's a few of my favorite photos so far...

Here's my best friend! Sorry gals, he's taken! What a guy to spend his day off with his wife at a quilt show! Couldn't ask for anything better. One of the ladies at lunch asked how involved he was with my quilt business, he just smiled and said "pretty involved" -- I love telling the story of asking once if he thought I had too many quilts, his reply "not yet" (smile). I've got a keeper don't ya'think?

We stopped by the A-1 boot to say hello to Jamie Wallen -- thought it was a great a photo op to get a double of Jamie (that's him in the poster ad above). He's an A-1 dealer as well as a nationally known longarm quilter and much sought after teacher. We had the privilege of hosting Jamie in our home last spring for a several longarm workshops. My whole family loves Jamie. Hum...I think I could say the whole quilting world loves Jamie! You'll never meet a more wonderful person, or a truer friend. Did I mention he was a fantastic quilter? And Pixxie loves him too, so what more can I say!

And of course there's amazing Renae! That's her beautiful quilt in the background -- an award winner several times over. Her current quilt, Beauty from Within, captured a first place ribbon at this year's Houston International Quilt Festival, as well as it has ribboned at other national shows. She's so much fun to be around! Perpetual smile -- that's the beauty from within bursting out -- and so gracious to talk to folks that come to the A1 booth and want to look over her shoulder and ask about her current project. Her work is truly amazing. I wish I could take her home with me and her talent would just rub off!

Next we ran into Stan and Dee, of S&D Stitches, the masterminds behind the CompuQuilter. They are always good for a smile and a hug each year when I see them at Festival.

Time for some local friends! This is Virginia -- a member of my local guild and a wonderful "bag lady" who got caught without her Quilts 'N Kaboodle bag (gasp) I think that's the first time I've ever run into her that she didn't have it...for the "rest of the story" visit my website and read about my bag ladies. She's a great lady and I have truly appreciated her being one of my walking advertisements (grin) - she's has been most supportive of my longarm quilting. thank you Virginia!

While visiting with Jodi Barrows at her Square in a Square booth up walks two of my dear friends and students of the square - Annette and Donna. These ladies have fallen in love with the Square in a Square technique and promise to keep me busy next year with classes -- they've already picked out what quilts they want me to teach next (grin). I call them my cheerleaders because they are always so encouraging and up lifting to me. I'm glad they were able to meet Jodi and tell her first hand how much they enjoy her patterns and method of never cutting or sewing a triangle! Stay tuned gals, new classes are coming up in the spring! Did I mention that Jodi's a Texas gal? (smile)

No doubt many of you will recognize this famous lady -- Sue Garman -- not only did she design a special block of the month program for The Quilt Show but she's a local!! She's a wonderful teacher (I took an applique class from her and actually understood and did a little handwork!), a masterful designer, and a most dedicated quilter. She's an officer in one of the local guilds and gives so much of her time and talent. Truly a remarkable, down home, lady whose work just inspires me.

This is my longarm friend Connie, yep, you guessed it, she's local. And yes, she's a happy camper! My hubby was taking the photo with my camera and didn't realize it was still on zoom from the previous closeup on a nearby quilt -- so guess you get to meet Connie up close and personal. She's been a wonderful supporter of our local longarm group and has attended some of the national quilt teacher workshops we've hosted. It's always fun to bump into Connie! We enjoyed looking at the detailed quilting of a beautiful quilt -- with that never ending question of "how did they come up those designs?" I tell ya' quilting is an unexhaustable subject to study and try to master! That's why we have our longarm group -- to grow together.

Do you recognize Trish from the postings about market?? Well, she's not shopping I can tell ya' that -- nope, this week she's working at the Quilts By the Bay booth. Ah ha, some of you are saying! If you've been to Houston, been to Chicago, been to Paducah or been to Nashville then you've seen Trish! She gets around...or at least used to. She's retired from the road trips now and hangs around Houston. And yes, by the end of the day yesterday she told me "about 4 PM you could put a fork in me, I'm done" She said she never looked up from cutting fabric all day. It took three photos of her to get this one where she actually looked up! Does this lady know her fabric lines! She can look at a piece of fabric and tell you from what collection and what year! She knows quilts and quilt shop business! And besides that, she's just so much fun to be around!

And this is my friend Sara. I sent out an email this morning to the local longarm gals "announcing" my new role with A-1 before I came to Festival -- Sara said that she had a blackberry and got the email while at Festival and made a bee-line to come over to the A-1 booth to congratulate me. If she looks extra happy it's not because of me -- Sara is still on her honeymoon and several friends concur that she "just glows".

By the way....did you notice my Halloween costume? That's numbers on my apron...1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, makes a statement...can ya' figure it out?? Give up??? You can COUNT on me! A little corny, but it made for some good laughs today. But I'm serious! I hope I can be the type of person you can count on...that's important to me. Part of finishing the race well so to the end hoping folks would say "we could count on karen" ...

So there ya have it, a few of my favorite photos with a few of my favorite friends -- I plan on seeing more tomorrow, just hope I can remember to pull the camera out of my pocket! I forgot to today cuz I was havin' so much fun! Quilters are such fun folks, don't ya'think? I do. I'm happy in my little world of quilters, with my fabric, my square in a square patterns, ALL that wonderful thread, my A1 longarm....oh and my puppy (who really isn't a puppy just the size of one)...and of course, my bestest friend who has been putting up with me for over 28 years.... is good.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Short and Sweet

I've been running full throttle these past few days...after midnight....up before the crack of dawn...soooooooooo much to tell....but it has to wait a day or so...for the record I early voted yesterday (smile) so want to encourage all of you to exercise that right.

Fun fun fun at the Quilt Festival today -- hubby joined me for an ALL DAY adventure...I'll blog about it later, it's taking too long to upload over 300 photos -- yep! you heard me right -- OVER 300 photos taken today alone...visit my webshots for all the fun details in photos...commentary from the quilt rambler will be tomorrow...I'm the QUILT rambler, not the MIDNIGHT rambler (smile)

more later!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Final Day of Market

Today was the final day of Quilt Market - the wholesale event that retailers attend to find out the latest and greatest in the quilt world bringing home these finds to their shops to share with their customers, you and me! The fabric rep booths are always wonderful to behold -- sample cards of the new lines of fabrics are there with the reps as they lay out sample, after sample, after sample for the shop owners to narrow down their purchases. Goodness, most of us quilters have no idea what our local quilt shop owners must go through! Oh the choices! Um...I want one of EVERYTHING please! (smile). As a longarm quilter I'm the gal that's getting up close and personal with the shop samples made from the new line of fabric that hang in these fabulous booths...I want to see how it's quilted! (I do get a lot of funny looks, but hey, I'm used to that) by the way, did ya'know that most of the fabric companies have free downloads on their websites? they love to have you print their PDF patterns to use with their new collections. Next time you are surfing the net check it out!

If you've been following my webshots you've probably noticed my friend Trish. She's been my side kick all through market. We went to schoolhouse together on Friday, hit the vendor mall on Saturday, took Sunday off, and went together again to day. Here she is visiting with Renae Haddadin in the A-1 booth as well as Janet, a fellow longarm quilter we met today from up around Dallas/Fort Worth -- who, by the way, showed me photos of some of her award winning quilts! Wow, what talent there is in the longarm community! Enjoyed meeting you Janet, hope our paths cross again.

Renae brought her own A-1 so she could work on one of her personal projects. It's amazing to me that she can quilt with so many distractions! But as she said, she'd rather be working on something than just doodling as she demos. But I did catch her ~ found evidence of her doodling...she was "testing" a new thread from YLI, a silk metallic and here's a look at her doodles.. Wish my doodles were half as good! What an imagination, I would have just tested with loops and swirls (sigh) double click on the photo to make it larger, really cool quilting if ya'ask me. Oh, and did I mention that several of her award winning quilts are hanging in the booth? She also has one in next week's quilt show which I'm bettin' is a winner! We'll know in a few days!

While I was sneaking photos I found a "Jamie was here" mark -- easily recognizable Jamie Wallen design element- haven't captured him on film yet this week, always too busy talking to think about taking a photo!! But he's here and he loves to doodle as he demos the machine. Jamie and Renae will be in the A-1 booth this next weekend for Festival, so if you are coming to H-town be sure and stop by the booth and say hi -- tell'em karen sent ya'

Well, as I mentioned, Market is the wholesalers buying mecca. And since I'm a longarm quilter I'm in the market for tools of my trade -- namely thread, batting and where else do longarm quilters gather besides the Superior Threads booth? How 'bout batting booths! Here we are at FiberCo.

And yes, it was the end of the day and we got a little silly. We asked Gary if he would mind to take a photo of us and then we said we needed him in a photo too and that we'd be his Vanna Whites...

How'd we do? Would you buy batting from us?? (grin) By the way -- did you know that FiberCo has a Soy batting?? Trish went home with a sample of that to quilt up and I went home with a roll of Bamboo/Cotton blend. Quilters are "going green" (smile) so I think I'll jump on the band wagon and give it a whirl. Ohhhhhh did I mention how soft this batting is???!!!!!!!!!! The Soy feels like cashmere and the bamboo is luscious. They had quilted samples for us to touch and feel -- of course my question was how did it hold up to washing -- and they showed now it's up to me to do my own test in the Quilts 'N Kaboodle studio....but it won't be tonight (sigh) stay tuned I'll have a bamboo batting report soon --- hum....Dangling Carrots is almost finished being pieced , just have borders to go...perhaps I can use the bamboo on that one! Again, stay tuned!

Well my's been a long day in the saddle. I'm holding up better than I thought with my hip/leg problem...but I really need to put up my goodies and call it a night. Tomorrow morning I'm joining fellow longarm quilters off campus at Diane 's Quilter's Cabin Retreat Center for a workshop on my Machine Quilters Business Manager software program. Looking forward to additional learning on the "business" side of quilting. Then I hope in the evening to photo the newest Quilts of Hope - Blankets of Love ....received a big box today from Ginny & Torrie that I haven't even opened yet (sigh) don't shoot me's a wonder I don't fall asleep on my 35 mile ride home each night ... but I betcha' your bottom dollar that I open the box before my tootsies hit the bed! Again, stay tuned and I'll report in soon!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trick Question - At What Booth Will You Find the Most Longarm Quilters?

If you are at the Houston International Quilt Market then the answer would have to be Superior Threads! That's where I ran into Debbie, Julie, Cindy and Rosann.

The vendor mall opened today. I'm not sure how many vendors are here this week - but there are rows numbering from 100 to 2300 and I only made it to 1100 isle today -- will go back on Monday and check out the booths I missed and probably go back through the first isles to make sure I didn't miss anything the first go around.

I wish everyone could come to this, it's so much fun to walk through the booths and see the new patterns, new notions, new fabric lines. I meant to take more photos today but I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot (sigh). Here's a look at Jacqueline de Jonge's booth Be Colourful -- that's her brother Harm in the lower photo. They traveled all the way from the Netherlands to be at Market. He was kind enough to allow me to photo their booth and was a bit shy when I asked to include him. I truly enjoyed Jacqueline's trunk show earier this week in Galveston, such beautiful quilts by an equally beautiful lady, both inwardly and out. She has already had a busy week with teaching workshops for Quilts By the Bay in Galveston, this week is market and next week she'll be in the QBTB booth at festival. Guess if you travel all the way from the Netherlands you have to make the trip worthwhile (smile) I hope they have enjoyed their visit.

I don't think I can even begin to describe the fabulous booths and displays -- hopefully I'll have more photos when I go back on Monday. Today my shopping included Superior Threads and Choice Fabrics as well as a few new patterns that I hope will be future quilts and perhaps future classes. I spent a lot of time at the A-1 Booth visiting with Jamie Wallen, Renae Haddadin, Gerald the Texas Dealer (Sandy, his wife, was out shopping and I missed seeing her today), and Stewart Plank owner. It's like a family reunion for me cuz I dearly love these folks! A-1 is a good family to belong to! Hands down, Stewart has built the best longarm on the market. Couldn't ask for better folks to be associated with. Renae was working on a project in the booth -- she has a quilt in the quilt show next week -- can't wait to see it, I'm sure there will be a ribbon on it! She's so amazing.

All too soon the day was over. I didn't get there as early as I had hoped (sigh) but I knew there would be another day. I won't be going on Sunday but plan on being there when the doors open on Monday, the final day of Market and the first day of classes at Festival.

I have to admit, that it's been a wonderful Ike-stress-release for me. I am not pressured to be anywhere at a certain time, I can meander down the isles and take in all the sights at my own pace. When I run into one of my friends I have time to visit -- for us locals it's been our time to share our Ike stories -- you have to remember how large of an area that this storm encompassed -- many of the longarmers in our Bayshore Longarm Guild live miles apart and this was the first "reunion" since Ike, which effected us all in one way or another.

Speaking of Ike, I received another box of Quilts of Hope. Perhaps tomorrow I will be able to pull them out to photo and add them to webshots. Thank you Annis from Arlington TX -- one of my Square in a Square buddies. Can't wait to show off your beautiful quilts -- more importantly can't wait to find them a new home with someone who needs the love you stitched in your quilts!!

Yes, it's been a good weekend. I've needed the eye candy, the inspiration -- can't wait to pull out my new tools, patterns, and fabrics and BE CREATIVE!! Sew much fabric, sew little time (grin)

Time to unpack the shopping bags and find places for new purchases in the studio and time to put up my feet and recoup so I'll be ready to go again!!

Hail Hail the Gang's All Here

Today was the first day of Quilt Market! And what a day it was!! Here's a photo of a few of us about 8 PM after we'd been there at least 12 hours!!! I'm in the purple stripe -- kinda known for my purple -- have to do something to be recognized by my friends whom I haven't seen in a while -- some since last year's event. Can you tell we were having a blast!!

This is the SHORT VERSION -- Trish (cute little blond at the far left) and I arrived at 7:30 AM to take care of some final registration details and then gathered our things for Schoolhouse. We were actually the first people in the big hall -- I have photo on webshots to prove it (kinda dark but it was early). School house is a full day of 15 to 30 minute classes by the various vendors, designers, and such who are introducing their new books, patterns, notions, fabric line etc. It's jam packed with information on how shop owners can merchandise, teach, etc these new products. We changed classes 15 times today between the hours of 10 and 5:30!! Each session had over 15 classes to choose from. I attended everything from Scrap Therapy (seriously, this was the name of the classs) to how to teach EQ6. One of my favorite speakers is Debbie Caffery -- I always see what she has new.the best trunk show was by Maggie Ball -- you've got to see what she's done with Bargellos!! By far the best speaker was the man from Olfa -- I learned some very interesting facts about the history of the rotary cutter...perhaps another time I'll share (it's already after midnight and I got up at 4 AM this morning). Oh! did I mention the door prizes? Generally each class will have a drawing from the business cards of those present for wonderful give aways. Shirely B will tell you I have the best luck! Every year at schoolhouse I manage to win one or more door prizes -- usually when she's in the same class as me, so I ought to tell her she's my good luck charm -- only I don't believe in luck (smile). Well today was no exception. I won a very nice rotary cutting set from Olfa -- cutter, ruler, and mat -- as well as an addon Stash program for EQ6, so I do feel very blessed.

We had a short time to rest and eat before getting into line for Sample Spree -- the photo above was taken while in line. We were pretty tired and a bit giddy then someone started passing around chocolate...well, we just got hyper then (grin). Finally at 8 PM the doors were open for this two hour feeding frenzy -- this is where shops can purchase samples as well as individual patterns, notions, fat quarter bundles, etc. I totally forgot to make a photo of our surroundings. I'll have to do better next year! Just imagine any major quilt sale and you'll picture the crowd!

Needless to say it was a fun filled day. I was able to run into some longarm friends I haven't seen since last year, bumped into someone who is a reader of my blog (that made my day!) and hope to meet up with others from the online longarm list I belong to. Today was hard to really visit -- remember high school? only 5 minutes between classes? well imagine a group of quilters flooding the halls all trying to get into the same room -- some speakers were so popular that they had to limit attendees. No time to talk, but tomorrow will be different!

okay...this ramble needs to wind down...tomorrow the true shopping begins -- the vendor mall is open! Stay tuned and please check out my webshots album as I will update photos daily...


Monday, October 20, 2008

Sew Much to Tell!

I've finding that I'm "behind" in my blogging -- even though I'm trying to stay current there is just soooooo much to share and it takes time to sit down and do this...but a true rambler just has to share (grin) so take a deep breath, pour yourself a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or a big glass of sweet tea (depending upon your location and preference), get comfy in front of your computer and hang on cuz I'm fixing to ramble!!

Will do my best to be step back in time a couple of days to this past Saturday....want to share a photo from my Square in A Square class at Cactus Quilts in Texas City. The pattern of the day was Ohio Star, using the basic option #1 (square in a square) and option #3 (flying geese). I just love the ah-ha moment when my students "get it" and they are then true converts to this fabulous method of piecing. It was a great class, as was the sister class last Saturday - we all needed the "Ike break" and an opportunity to share with others our experiences. Without too many details, one of the ladies shared that she had lost a co-worker due to Ike -- a couple died from carbon monoxide while using a generator during the power outage. I was at a total loss for words - this was the first I'd spoken with someone who experienced this type of loss. A reminder that stuff doesn't matter, people do. Even though we were sharing our stories, many serious, we all had a wonderful day laughing and learning together. My idea of teaching is to emphasis that quilting is our therapy so we are not going to be in bondage or be stressed over it. We relax, have fun, and go home with a newly acquired skill. Too many times I've been in classes (as a student) where the ladies were almost in tears because they were so hard on themselves in trying to be perfect as they were learning. I tell my students that this is not allowed in my class - that they are there to have fun and to learn, but it will be done without pressure. Typically I teach in a step by step demo method but I tell everyone that they do not have to keep pace with the "smoking needle" gals, that where they are is where they are suppose to be. I gauge my demos by the "average" speed setter and will always always be willing to repeat myself and assist anyone at the point they find themselves. I truly believe in individualized teaching. Doesn't matter the size of the class, it's my goal that each student feels like she got as much of me as she needed to accomplish her goals. Oh, and did I mention that there's no ripping out in my classes? I call it "frogging" - rip it rip it...I tell them that if they find a need to unsew that they pass that piece over to me -- I'm the queen of frogging and can do it pretty darn fast thank you very much. In my class you aren't there to unsew, you are there to sew, so frogging is part of my job description if necessary (smile). I hope this small service makes a difference to my students, it truly is my goal for everyone to have a good time and to go home with at least one completed block of the technique they are learning so they can duplicate it at home...These ladies all made three blocks and I hope went home feeling like they got their money's worth from the class.

Last night was "date night" -- my husband and I have a favorite Mexican Resturant just up the road that we try to frequent regularly, we consider it our escape. I believe I've mentioned it before when we were so pleased to be able to go out to eat after Ike and NOT have Spam and macaroni at home (smile). This establishment has outdoor patio dining which is our favorite - just as soon as they open it up in the spring we are out there! Even in the winter months they will sometimes have big heat blowers and we are out there -- we'd much rather be outside, we're just wired that way I guess. Well, on Sunday nights during the "patio season" they have local bands so we try to go as often as our schedule permits. After Ike many of the resurants in the area where these bands play have had to close due to damage, we were pleased to learn that our favorite spot decided to have bands on Wednesdays and Thursdays to give these displaced bands a venue. I told our friend Amanda, who cordinates the bands, that they (as a resturant) would be blessed for reaching out like this. I truly believe they will be.

Well, back to last night. Since we go there so often we know many of the servers, oh not really by name, just by their smiles. Once or twice we've been other places and recognized someone and said hello. Seems since Ike we've been becoming closer to our familar faces and learning names and their Ike stories. We feel like these people are our community, they are our normal, and right now it just seems right - and important - to know them not merely as our servers but as our friends and neighbors. I can't tell you how blessed I felt last night when one of the young men that waited on us last week came up and shook our hands when we came in for dinner. Another of the young ladies we visited with last week gave me a hug when she passed through the patio area (she said "I'm working inside tonight" as if she were disappointed that she wasn't working on the patio so we could visit). When our server for the evening came to take our order I commented "we haven't seen you in a while, were you okay in Ike?" to which she replied that she had to take a week off to clean up -- she lives in San Leon, where we had just driven through earlier that afternoon. I "knew" this young woman had a family since we'd met one time at McDonalds -- a beautiful little girl -- and I asked her if they needed anything. She said someone had given them a mattress and she had been given clothing. She said she was so touched by the things people were doing for her and her family. I then told her about the Quilts for Hope and asked if she would like a quilt for her little girl. She said she would and gave me her address and phone number. Well....we enjoyed the band, we enjoyed visiting with Amanda (the owner's daughter who helps run the place) and I can't tell you how thrilled I was to have this opportunity to get to know some of the servers - all due to Ike -- the silver lining to a dark storm, truly finding my community - a wonderful sense of belonging, after three years of living here I'm finally meeting my neighbors!

To keep the story flowing "in order" I'll share now about my morning....can't tell you when I've been more excited about a Monday! For today I would get my second chance at water aerobics. Okay, go ahead and laugh - but I got so much relief from the pain in my hip and legs after just one workout of Friday that I couldn't wait until today! I wasn't disappointed. It was a tad cooler this morning and I don't think the pool was really "heated" but that didn't dampen my spirits.

My husband was off today and I hated leaving him at home for the duriation of my is my habit I usually call him when I'm on my way home. The phone rang and rang. Hum. That's odd. A little while later my cell phone rang and he said that he and Pixxie were busy and didn't hear it -- I couldn't imagine what they were doing -- then he shared that Pixxie was actually on the couch watching him vacuum. I thought wow am I blessed or what! I had figured we'd spend the morning doing chores and I find that he's already working ahead of me! He also told me there was another surprise! That I'd received a large box and he was pretty sure it had Quilts of Hope in it.

I couldn't wait to get home and open the box. Indeed, it was packed with love and contained some of the most beautiful quilts -- all in my favorite colors!! Thank you Barbara from NC for your generous offer! I enlisted Pixxie's assistance and we photographed each quilt. Be sure and frequent my webshots for what I hope to be a growing collection of Quilts of Hope. Here's my favorite one -- Barbara, I'd love to know how to purchase this pattern, I'm just in awe of it!

We had made arrangements to meet with our new friend from the restaurant after lunch today. With the addition of the larger quilts we were able to offer her family not only the beautiful small quilt for the little three year old, but a quilt that will serve as bedding for the couple. Smiles and hugs abounded. I wish you all could have been there to see this precious family. With your generous donations there will be many more families snuggling up in homemade quilts covered in love.

Each quilt has a "letter" attached - it reads something like this:

Quilt makers nationwide are reaching out to families affected by the devastation from Hurricane Ike by offering their love through quilts that they have made -- what we are calling "Quilts of Hope". It is our collective wish that the quilt presented to your family will let you know that you have not been forgotten. Please know that people are praying for you. This quilt is our way of offering you hope during your time of rebuilding and recovery. Quilts are being collected by Quilts 'N Kaboodle in Bacliff and being distributed throughout Galveston County as they arrive. Your quilt was made by....
wouldn't you love to have your name here? knowing that you were making a difference, one quilt at a time?

Guess what! A new quilt shop opened up today! We stopped by to say howdy after we delivered the Quilts of Hope. The grand opening had been delayed by Ike, but today was a day to celebrate! Meet Peggy, owner, and Dawn, manager (seated) of Pinwheels and Poises located in Dickinson Texas at I45 and FM 517. Lots of fun exciting days are ahead for this beautiful shop -- I love Peggy's antiques used with her displays. As you venture down south you've got to check out Pinwheels and Poises! Tell them Karen sent ya (smile)

Told ya there was sew much to tell! Tonight was the first gathering of the Island Quilters Guild (Galveston) since Ike. We had a special guest....but that will have to wait until I throw in a little ramble...

See this quilt? It's part of a display inside Moody Methodist Church where we meet. It's on the second floor level....viewable as you walk into the door....

Well, it happens to be one of my personal quilts. Not that it's anything special mind you (well, to me it is, its the first big quilt I ever made and it's the first custom quilt I quilted on a longarm)...but basically its just a quilt...but a quilt with a unique story! This quilt was on my bed when we evacuated in 2005 with Hurricane Rita...even though our area was spared the brunt of the hurricane this quilt was not. See, we were looted. And the looting took place prior to the hurricane. The theives broke out our bedroom window to make their escape, thus letting IN the hurricane which ruined our bed. The quilt sat wet on the bed for the several days it took us to be able to retun to the area. It was washed, "saved" and continued to be used until our guild was asked to provide quilts to be on display at Moody Methodist...a week prior to IKE!!!! yep, you guessed it - this quilt has now survived TWO hurricanes -- but with Ike it was hung high enough not to get damaged....who says quilts don't tell tales!

Well, the main attraction tonight was not the sharing of Ike stories or even the hugs that abounded due to some of seeing each other for the first time since the storm....nope. The starlet of the night was Jacqueline de Jonge, of Becolourful. Jacqueline is from the Netherlands and was here on the island as a guest of Quilts By the Bay. She will be doing workshops this week prior to teaching next week at the Houston International Quilt Festival. A delightful woman. And very talented! Her trunk show was a sight to behold. Nothing like getting to see the orginials up close and personal! What a feast! What a welcomed Ike-release. What inspiration! I took several photos but wanted to share this one tonight. I believe the pattern is called The Colourful Quilt.

I wish I were taking her workshop...but there's just not enough hours in my day...If my clock is correct there's only 3o minutes left in THIS day, so I'd best sign off and get my beauty sleep. Tomorrow is another busy day.....perhaps they'll be something to ramble about...or perhaps I'll give you the day off (grin)

Thanks for hanging out with me!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Sunday Afternoon Drive

After lunch my husband and I decided to drive down to San Leon - furthermost point is not quite 5 1/2 miles from our home. We were again overwhelmed with sorrow and unbelief for our near neighbors and once again extremely grateful that we were spared. It's nothing short of a miracle, divine providence as well the sobering recognition that our Creator God put a little cliff in Bacliff (pronounced BAY cliff) that made our area just a little higher above sea leval than our neighbors in San Leon to the south and Bayview and Kemah to the north.

The photos speak for themselves, now 5 weeks post Ike in Galveston County...

This home has already been "gutted", the upside down roof was on the same property but we couldn't tell where it originally belonged. Many places were just empty debris cluttered lots where once stood a home.

This home was on stilts, but appears to still be gutted. I don't know how high the water came in this area, but obviously pretty high as the lingering debris was high in the tree line - can you see the top of a bobbed wire fence below the stuffed bunny? We saw clothing and bedding among the remnants of someone's life before Ike in the trees.

This building was pushed off its foundation as it was broken in two by the force of the water.

The sign above reflects the spirit of the community as well as a reminder.

The following are lyrics to a song by the Newsboys
Stay Strong

You're in the moment now
A bitter root
A wandering eye and then
The ties that bind start wearing thin, thin

You're in the moment now
When all you've been blessed with
Is not enough
Here's where the ground gets loose
Here's where the devils call your bluff

Stay strong
You are not lost
Come on and fix your eyes ahead
There's a new dawn to light our day, our day
You've gotta stay strong
You and I run
For the prize that lies ahead
We've come too far to lose our way, our way

We've seen the tragic flaws
The tortured souls
The saints with feet of clay
Here's where sin becomes cliche'

We've come through wilderness and watched
The cloud by day
The burning sky into dawn
Have you forgotten who you are?
Did you forget whose trip you're on?

Stay strong
You are not lost
Come on and fix your eyes ahead
There's a new dawn to light our day, our day
We've gotta stay strong
You and I run
For the prize that lies ahead
We've come too far to lose our way, our way

Get up, there's further to go
Get up, there's more to be done
Get up, this witness is sure
Get up, this race can be won
This race can be won

We've gotta stay strong
You are not lost
Come on and fix your eyes ahead
Our Father's dawn will light our day, our day
Come on and stay strong
His grip is sure
And His patience still endures
There'll be no letting go today, no way

Come on, and stay strong
You and I run
For the prize that lies ahead
We've come too far to lose our way, our way

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time For Some Fun!!

For the past 5 weeks or so every time I'd see one of these signs it would just crack me up and I kept wishing I could get a photo - well yesterday on the way to guild meeting I saw a sign and a "safe place" to pull over to take my photo. What's so funny about this you say? Well, for one, this is Texas - SOUTH Texas, where today's "cool front" brought a big chill of 67 degrees. Yes, this is the MIDDLE of OCTOBER. Okay, so that's the obvious crack up, admittedly corny, but what has had me rolling for the past few weeks every time I passed one of these signs has been in reference to Ike -- and all the hollering for ICE, where can we get ice? -- so when I'd see these signs I'd think "new POD" (point of distribution) and could just imagine everyone scampering to the nearest bridge for the much needed cool refreshment that a bag of ice promised. In reality not funny, but I can't help myself, I just have to laugh when I think of FEMA setting up a POD on the bridge and instructing everyone to "watch for ice"!

Well, the FUN part of this post is coming, so don't think it's all about Ike again...I saw this sign ON THE WAY TO GUILD so that's where the ramble will start...I mentioned yesterday that we voted on the rodeo quilt, but that's not all that went on yesterday...we had a schoolhouse and went around to several stations for demonstrations -- here's two of the fun ideas that were shared with the group. How to make praire braids and cute little santas.

We have a really nice group of ladies, and it was fun to be out among quilting friends. Our big excitement coming up is a bus trip to the Houston International Quilt Festival in a few weeks. We all need festival!

Have I mentioned I love show and tell? Well, here's some fun stuff....I've finished a couple of quilts this week - one is a raffle quilt for a guild in North Houston - Kingwood Area Quilt Guild. I know they were probably relieved when I called them a month or so ago to tell them that their quilt top was safe (and dry) after our battle with Ike -- being a northern guild I can only imagine a few of them say "why oh why did we take our quilt to some longarm quilter near Galveston Bay!!" A group of the ladies came to pick it up today, once they do the binding I know they are eager for it to make the rounds and start selling tickets. Before long I'm sure they will post information on their website if you are interested in tickets. Here's a few photos - the applique was fabulous! And I loved working on the bright colors. I think they have a good opportunity for a successful fund raiser don't you?

The photos are a tad clearer on my webshots - perhaps I'll get around to updating the current quarter's album this next week or so...well, probably "or so" as I'm now in the mad dash of quilting for festival - quilts that will hang in the vendor booth of Quilts By The Bay. Here's the first of three that have to be finished by next Thursday (I go to Market on Friday). All are "full service" binding, which means I will machine attach the binding to one side and hand sew down the other side...hum..I really ought to be doing binding tonight instead of blogging (sigh)...well, it IS rather I think I can take the rest of the night off (grin). Anyway, here's some photos of this pretty little 51 x 51, I had the pleasure of "doing whatever I wanted to do" on this one, so I played around with feathers. I love doing feathers in a border! I hope it's successful in helping her to sell the kits at her booth.


This really was a fun day today. I got up early and headed to the local YMCA to try out a water areobics class....perscribed by my chiropractor and massage therapist --- seems I'm good at getting myself injured...who would have thought quilting was such a dangerous profession! I could ramble all night about some of my injuries -- Dec 2004 cutting off the tip of my left index finger with a rotary cutter, resulting in a 4 hour emergency room procedure to try to stop the bleeding -- March 2007 loosing range of motion in my right shoulder causing excrusiating pain and being unable to quilt for several weeks (not to mention several visits to Doc) -- well, seems I've now blown out my hip. When I commented to Doc how it reminded me of my shoulder going out he simply said "hip, shoulder, same thing just two feet apart" (smile!) What has added insult to injury was that the final straw of it going out on me was the day after I 'worked the truck' to assist in food distribution the first Tuesday after Ike -- it was so painful I felt like I was in a body cast because I couldn't move my leg or hip. Well, I'll spare you all the whine, surfice it to say I've been seeing Doc and Maria about every other week and believe I'm going to live. (grin). And today I was most encouraged!!

I checked out the YMCA, didn't even know we had one anywhere close, thought they were all "up into Houston" - wonderful surprise! This is a new one, only a year old and less than 10 miles from home (can you tell I don't get out much!). Indeed they offered the water aerobics workout three times a week, so I decided that today was the day to take the plunge - pun intended! You may or may not know, I'm not really a water person. Love being around it, but I'm not a swimmer...the last time I was in the water was my birthday this summer when we rafted on the Salmon River in Idaho (before that was several summers ago when we stayed with some church friends at a rental beach house) -- indeed, my "swimmies" (shoes) still had river rock sand in them when I put them on this morning! But I was determined to give this a try - anything to try to build up strenght in my lower back, legs and hips prior to the potential of blowing them out to the extent that I couldn't enjoy Market or I packed my towel and away I went to the YMCA....(anyone singing about now...Y....M....C...A...)

What a pleasant surprise to find a friendly face in the crowd -- Raynita is a lady I used to go to church with about 5 years ago. I've seen her a few times when we've gone back for weddings or funnerals, but unfortunately we haven't really kept up. She was sooooo good to me, showed me where things were, stayed pretty near me in the pool and explained some of the exercise we were doing and how to do them. I was pretty uncoordinated and she was kind enough to say "since everything we do is basicly under water, no one knows if you are messing up or doing it wrong!" What an encourager!! I was so thrilled that the movements were basically painless, they say that water exercises are easier on your joints and offer a good strength training and workout. I do believe they were right, I found that I could quilt longer today without the pain setting in. And I'm not limping around like an old mule tonight -- seems the pain would somehow always "freeze up" in the evenings. So I'm encouraged! There's hope! Always hope. Anyway, more than I'm sure you wanted to know about my worn out bod -- but going to the Y sure added to my fun. I'm eager for the next opportunity...oh, did I mention it was 67 degrees this morning? considering that last week was almost 80 you'll have to understand the next comment...did I mention that it's an outdoor pool?!?!? Only in Texas! Only would someone goofy like me sign up for water areobics in the middle of October in an OUTDOOR POOL! Makes for a good ramble don't ya think?

Hum, guess I'd best be signing off, have a Square in a Square class to teach in less than 10 hours - somewhere in between here and there I need my beauty rest. Until the next time...think of your crazy Texas quilting buddy when you see "Watch for Ice on the Bridge" and have a chuckle!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things to Look Forward To

1. Houston International Quilt Market
2. Houston International Quilt Festival
(more on these later - they are just around the corner!)
3. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo


Yep, I'm looking forward to the annual rodeo -- oh, I know it's not until Feb/March 2009 but golly gee-don't ya' know there's a quilt show and entries need to be decided months in advance???

This is a TEXAS SIZED RODEO and there are entrants from all the counties in various events -- oh I love to watch the wrangling, the bull riding, love the country music, but those don't get me excited months in advance like the quilt show does!

See, here in Galveston County we have a unique way of deciding what quilt gets to represent us in this annual one of a kind event. Let me enlighten you on the "ways things are done 'round here" (grin)

Up until 3 years ago the Galveston County Go Texan Committee chairperson over the quilt entries asked the Island Quilters Guild (Galveston) if they would provide a quilt each year for the competition. The guild typically had members bring a quilt they would like to be considered to a specified guild meeting where it would be voted upon - the one with the most votes went to the rodeo. Three years ago a second guild was formed in Galveston County, the Mainland Morning Quilters Guild - you guessed it, they are are the mainland (Texas City) and they meet in the mornings - same day as the Island Quilters, third Thursdays. We decided to be sister guilds and offer a discount to duel members as well as shared events like sew-ins and retreats. In addition the board of the Galveston guild decided to share the responsibilities and privilege of providing a quilt for the annual rodeo on a rotating basis with the Texas City group. ... and today was the guild meeting where members brought in their entries to be voted upon by those present to represent Galveston County in the 2009 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Quilt Show.

Drum roll please!!

If you've been following my blog "pre-Ike" then you may recall my urgency to deliver a customer quilt prior to evacuation....well, THAT quilt will be representing Mainland Morning and Galveston County in this year's rodeo! Yee-haw!!

The quilt was pieced by Dawn Larsen, she said the eagle in the middle was from a pattern but the rest of the design she just put together herself. When she brought it to me to quilt she said that she hoped "we" would have an entry in the rodeo! I'm so pleased for her. I know it will hang proudly and be a ribbon winner!

Sigh. It's a long time till February. There will be lots of things to ramble about between now and then, but that's okay - it's still fun to celebrate today and have something to look forward too!! Nothing like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo! and the quilt show is pretty good too (grin)

Ya'll come now, ya'hear!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Today was our first visit to the island, Galveston Island. Not exactly the way I remembered our favorite vacation land – the place we’d go for a casual lunch and a walk along the sea wall. No, it resembled nothing of the sort.

As we neared Harborside Exit off I45 we noticed the boats tossed along the side of the causeway, we’d seen photos of this - but nothing prepares you for the real thing. Hard to imagine the force of nature that can move a vessel much like a child playing with a toy boat in the bathtub, landing it at a whim where it doesn’t naturally belong.

Everything seemed in sepia tone – reminding me of the movie Waterworld and others where things in the future after mass destructions were all brown and dull looking. Here it was hard to recognize familiar spots due to the amount of debris piled up on the curb. Everywhere you looked there were piles – around the many businesses that still sported their boarded up windows we saw piles of office furniture, cabinets, chairs, desks, sheetrock, etc. Going down Broadway I caught a glimpse of a business, barely reading the sign on the wall due to the height of the debris…but unmistakably a vacuum store…their previous inventory of vacuum cleaners were neatly arranged on the curb – if you didn’t know better you’d think they’d been so displayed for a special sidewalk sale, obviously the owners still reflecting their pride in their business. The type of Texas tenacity that tells you “we will be back”

The ever popular Strand looked like a ghost town, or perhaps a movie set for the 1900’s era – the buildings are still beautiful with their historic architect but the windows are boarded, the streets covered with dirt, and the sidewalks empty. Where are the actors? Where are the colorful coastal cruise-line destination shops? How long before they will be back?

We made our way to the seawall, where we didn’t SEE some of the familiar sights – noticeably missing were the piers. One place we frequented was Murdoch’s – in the early 1900’s it was a bath house and a popular spot on the water. In recent years it was a gift shop. A few years ago they added a section that connected two of these buildings on piers together which formed what I call a breezeway decking over the water– it was an opened covered area with rocking chairs placed where you could enjoy the water and perhaps have a cool soda or frozen drink. Many memories associated with rocking while enjoying the sound of the waves and the sea gulls. Oh, and we did purchase our fair share of island souvenirs throughout the years – especially when the tropical shirts would go on sale (smile). This is how it looks today. Only the breezeway is standing. It will probably not be rebuilt as city ordinances prohibit new buildings on piers. A piece of history gone, gone with the wind and gone with the waves.

The quilt shop in Galveston was having a customer appreciation sale today - she had over 3000 bolts that had been salvaged, washed and dried and on sale for way below their value. The store which has previously held over 8 years of memories for me was not much more than a shell of its former grandeur. Gone were the colorful quilts on display covering the walls, gone were the book shelves full of inspiration, gone were the neatly arranged bolts of fabric beckoning to be taken home and added to a stash, gone were the displays of notions, giftware, and trinkets. Instead, tables with flat folds of the salvaged fabric, shelves with "free items, limit one per customer" of patterns, charm packs, and other items damaged by the water but still useful. A strange unfamiliar sight.

Yet among the visual rubble were smiles, hugs, and well wishes. Everyone was sooo glad to gather at the quilt shop that had been closed now for well over a month -- a time to run into quilting friends, a time to share Ike stories, a time to wish the owner well in her recovery and future plans -- for you see, the strip mall where she is located will be torn down by the owners to rebuild a grocery store so the shop as we knew it will be no more. This is the shop that inspired my quilting, this is the shop that believed in me and encouraged me to teach others to quilt, this is the shop where I used to work on Saturdays back in the day when I still had a "real" Mon-Fri job, this is the shop that gave me an opportunity to be a longarm quilter of shop samples. This shop is where friends gather. At the end of the month, this shop will be a precious memory. As the owner said, it's not hard to let go of stuff, it's just hard to let go of the memories associated with the stuff. She's been there for her customers - both locally, the ones that come to her booth at Festival and other venues, and through the internet. For now, there's nowhere on the island to relocate. Items are in storage on the mainland and it's "one step at a time" Decisions will be made after Festival as to the future of this shop - indeed, it's a hard pill to
swallow -- but we are not without hope down here. Hope comes in all sorts of ways - from seeing the squirrels and birds return, to seeing new growth of the leaves on my trees in the backyard (sounds strange to you folks further north that are enjoying FALL but around here the only falling of the leaves is generally if they are blown off during a storm ), hope comes in a hug from a friend and hearing how they are rebuilding, and hope comes in the mail - how I do so look forward to facilitating the distribution of Quilts of Hope! And hope comes in looking forward to future events as this billboard on the way home reminded me!!!