A bit of catching up to do!

I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post.  I’ve been a little busy – but there’s lots of good stuff to report!  It’s a little long, but if you hold out to the end, there’s some really exciting news to report!

First, our trip to Washington was really nice, despite my 9 year old’s bout with car sickness on the way down.  He’s OK in the car unless he’s really excited.  I think he gets a little too anxious for trips to places he’s never been.  He’s fine on the 12 hour car ride back and forth to Illinois.

We drove down on Thursday and came back Saturday night.  We had beautiful weather.  We just missed the cherry blossoms, but the capital was blossoming with other spring flowers everywhere.  We managed to get tickets to the Bureau of Engraving, so we saw money being made.  Unfortunately they weren’t handing out free samples that day!  Of course we went to the Air and Space Museum and tooled around the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials. 

We spent a few minutes gazing at the White House from behind the south lawn fence.  That is, until I saw someone walk out with the dog!  In my excitement, I started quietly shouting  “Its the dog!  There’s Bo!”  The next thing you know, the police are not only making us leave the fence, but wouldn’t even let us stand across the street on the Ellipse grounds.  I can’t imagine they clear that much area every time the first dog needs some fresh air, but I also couldn’t tell exactly who was walking him.  Bo was the only dignitary we saw on our trip!

The boys enjoyed themselves and there’s lots more to see, so we’ll be going back again, I’m sure. It’s wonderful to be back on the east coast where there is so much to see and do within a reasonable driving distance.

As for the quilting, I did manage to finish most of the quilting for Dandelion Wine before we left.  But of course, I found a bit more to do on Sunday morning.  I put the last stitches on attaching the label on Thursday night and it shipped to California yesterday morning.  Have you ever shipped a quilt?  It’s almost like sending a child away on a trip.  It’s bittersweet.  It’s going to have a good time where it’s going, but I’m nervous for the journey and after spending 3 solid months with it, it’ll be weird not having it around!   

Thursday was a glorious day here, so I took the finished quilt outside, put it on the lawn and tried to take a picture with it among the real Dandelions.  The colors were very striking against the green grass.  At one point, I had turned the quilt over and the sun hit the back in such a way that the quilting was really visible.  Of course the photo doesn’t do justice to what I was able to see, but I am posting the picture on the Dandelion Wine page on the website.  Check it out!  Sorry, you still have to wait a few more weeks to see the completed front!  What a tease!

From cutting to attaching the label, it took me 1 day shy of 3 months to complete Dandelion Wine.  Of course, if I didn’t have two children, a husband, and a house to take care of, it probably wouldn’t take quite so long!  But it seems that for the past few years, 3 months is my average to finish a quilt.  If that means I can finish 4 significant quilts a year in addition to everything else I need to do, I’m happy with that.

OK, now for the exciting news! Starting with the Pittsburgh Market in May (this is the wholesale trade show), my patterns will also be sold through The Pattern Peddlers, a pattern distributor to retail shops across the country!  I’ll spare you the details, but after having met the owner in Houston last fall when I was just getting my feet wet, we reconnected a few weeks ago.  She liked what she saw on the website and agreed to be my first distributor.  It happened very unexpectedly, so you can imagine the excitement and panic that ensued all at the same time when I realized I really had to get my act together in time for spring Market (May 15).  So, at Market, Dandelion Quilt will be hanging at the Island Batik booth and the pattern will be for sale at The Pattern Peddlers booth!  I get goosebumps just thinking about it!  I will also have the Christmas Candy wall-hanging displayed at The Pattern Peddler booth along with that pattern also for sale.  To say I’m thrilled would be an understatement!

I’ve got a lot to do in the next few weeks, so posts will be be sparse I’m sure!  Wish me luck in getting everything ready in time!


Quilting and Washington

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter or Passover.  Although it was a bit chilly here yesterday, it was still a beautiful day.  We hosted Easter dinner and enjoyed the company of my husband’s family as well as my mom.  Lots of food (ok, maybe too much food!) and good conversation. 

The kids have off for spring break this week and we are planning to take them to Washington, DC for a few days.  They are very excited to see the nation’s capitol.  Maybe we’ll even catch a glimpse of the new first dog!

Before that, I have lots of work to do!  I’m in the process of quilting “Dandelion Wine.”  As usual it’s taking a bit longer than expected.  Ironically, as much planning as I do for the piecing, I am not so good at planning the quilting.  I did better than usual and did plan a good portion of it, but then there’s a lot of ad hoc quilting as I decide that certain areas need more quilting.  I will admit that it’s also my most challenging part, as I do not feel as confident as I am at piecing the top.   Professional long armers would do a beautiful job, but, I prefer that the quilt be 100% my work.  On most quilts, whether it’s by hand or by machine, the quilting is what literally adds that extra dimension that truly makes the quilt a quilt.

I know there’s a lot of quilters out there, for whom the actual quilting is the most daunting part.  Sort of ironic, I think.   Machine quilting on a domestic machine can be quite intimidating, especially on a larger quilt.  Dandelion Wine is 65″ sqaure.  However, I have to say that there is no magic pill. Practice is the only way to gain confidence.  A fantastic machine quilter I knew in Illinois would always say “practice on something you care about, not just a practice sample.”  I believe she’s correct.  Baby blankets and charity quilts are great quilts to do just that. 

I am pushing to get the quilting done before we go to Washington, so I can relax and really enjoy my time with the boys!  I have to get the quilt to California by the end of the month, so that Island Batik can plan on where they will display it in their booth at Market in Pittsburgh.  I can’t believe Market is only a month away!  Shortly, I will have some exciting news regarding Helle-May Designs.  Let me dot a few more i’s, cross a few t’s,  and I’ll give you the scoop!

We have a loose plan for our time in Washington.  We’ve learned never to plan too much or too tight when travelling with kids, but any suggestions would be greatly welcomed!



In 24 hours, two things touched my heart in a similar way so much so that I just had to write. 

Yesterday, I was truly touched by the reception that our first lady has been receiving in London.  Between the queen’s gesture and the reaction of the girls’ school, it is so wonderful to see how the rest of the world is embracing our new leaders.  I don’t get involved in political debates, but I did follow the election and events leading up to it.  Somehow it didn’t really sink in that our new president and his wife are my contemporaries.  President Obama is only 3 years older than I.  Circumstances having been different, I told my husband last night, I could easily see myself having become friends with Mrs. Obama.  She is not unlike many of my friends – a well educated, confident career-woman, good mother and a wife in a mutually respectful and loving relationship.  She is real to me.  I liked how she put it yesterday in her talk  at the school, “…nothing in my life’s journey would have predicted that I would become the first lady of the United States…”  None of us really know what lies in store, but look how beautifully she has accepted her new role at the same time being true to herself.  I think that’s why she is being so welcomed- she appears genuine – what you see is what you get.   How refreshing!

The other thing happened when I dropped off my 9 year old son at school today (he normally takes the bus).   Last year as he started his new school, he nearly instantly befriended a girl in his class, with whom he has remained close.  She was being dropped off at nearly the same time this morning and I watched as she hurriedly ran to catch up with him with a big smile on her face.  I couldn’t see, but I guess that she was probably greeted with equal enthusiasm.  This little act may seem trivial on the surface, but it appears to me, as I’ve listened to how my son talks about his friend, that it is true friendship at its best – full of mutual respect and admiration.   In the life of a 9 year old boy, where playground friendships seem to come and go, as a mother I am just touched by the fact that he has made such an enduring and genuine friendship.  It gives me hope that he will be able to foster these types of relationships throughout his life.

I’ve said this in an earlier blog – be true to yourself  – it has to be a key to living a good and fulfilling life.

Thought for the day!  Now back to quilting!