The start of a new adventure!

Now that Pittsburgh is just a memory, I am starting to get ready for my next adventure! 

It amazes me that I have only briefly mentioned my heritage to this point because it is a very large part of who I am.  My family emigrated to this country after World War II from a little country called Estonia.  I was the first one in my family to be born in the U.S.   These days many of you may have heard of it, because in 1991 it regained its independence after being annexed into the Soviet Union by means of the Yalta Conference  in 1945.  (That’s a history lesson for another day!).   But as I was growing up, the usual response was, “What and where is that?” See #15 on the map of Europe below. 


Caught between two sides of the war, many Estonians were forced to flee their homeland.  But Estonians are a fiercely proud people and even during occupation, never lost hope to regain their sovereignty again.  This was probably most true for all the Estonians that took up residence in the U.S. and other countries that gave this group of displaced people a home.  In the 60’s and 70’s, the Estonians, here and abroad lived in pockets of concentrated areas and formed social communities in which to keep connected and to instill a sense of national pride in their children.  I was one of those children.On my mother’s side, only my mother, her step sister, and my grandmother made it to this side of the world.  My father was the only one in his family to make it here.  My mother and father met in this country.  Unfortunately, we lost touch with my mother’s side of the family. 

However, my father managed to stay completely connected with his and so it is with his side that I still have family ties.  Once Estonia regained independence, my father made lengthy annual trips back home until his death in 1996. Fortunately, I was able to join him in 1994, when I met my extended family for the first time.  I have been back in 1996 to carry his ashes home and again in 2003 to introduce my new family to everyone.  With each visit, I become closer to the relatives, that in my childhood were only names in a very strange land where no one was free to move about.  Not anymore!

Once my children were old enough to make the trip, we decided that we would make the trip every three years.  Unfortunately airfare is so very expensive due to the low demand.  So here we are 3 years later, tickets in hand!  The best time of year to visit Estonia is in June.  Estonia is on the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska.  The summer season is very short, but if the weather cooperates – perfect.  Low humidity, moderate temperatures in the 80’s.  And the best part:  virtually no darkness!  The sun sets only for a brief period around 3:00 a.m.  It’s like getting two days for every one! 

In 2003, we were especially lucky with the weather, when the bay of Riga, with its beautiful sandy beaches and shallow water made for a perfect beach vacation.  Very unexpected!  We have our fingers crossed for more beautiful weather!

I could go on and on – but suffice to say, we will be gone June 17 to July 9.  I am hoping to be able to post from Estonia.  Technologically, they are on par with the rest of Europe.  My cousin had broadband on the farm, before we had it in the suburbs!  There’s something to be said for coming in late on the technology curve – you start right with the latest advances, instead of struggling from the beginning!

Anyway – I have more to tell you about the trip before I leave, so stay tuned!


Postcards from Pittsburgh

Here are a few pictures I snapped while at Spring Market.

I passed this guy on my walk to and from the Convention Center.  He was made of the bridges that symbolize the city – my guess he was about 20 feet tall.  I took this picture for my boys, of course!


Here is an overview of the show as seen from the catwalk on Sunday morning before the show opened.  This is just half of the show floor!


I tried to focus in on the area where the Island Batik booth was.  The arrow in the next shot shows my quilt. It was hard to get photos on the floor becasue the the entire ceiling was open to natural light.  This made fo a verywell lit and airy feeling to the whole place, but when the sun was shining in just the right spot, a bit too bright!

sm-overview-with-ib.jpg     dw-in-booth-web.jpg    island-batik-booth-sm-09.jpg  That is one of Judy Niemeyer’s beautiful paper pieced quilts acting as the backdrop to Dandelion Wine.  The 2 quilts complimented each other nicely. 

Now that you’ve seen how big the show was, you can imagine how surprised I was that Mark somehow noticed my quilt!


Life is full of the unexpected!!!

Got back from Pittsburgh yesterday just in time to attend our monthly guild meeting.  George and Virginia Sicliano were the guest speakers and I didn’t want to miss that.  Have you ever seen any of his quilts?  Simply beautiful and amazing!  He makes (and wins lots of awards for) foundation pieced miniature quilts primarily based on the log cabin and twisted log cabin blocks.  We’re talking 2,000 – 3,000 pieces or more in a 12 inch square or smaller quilt! OK – got a sense of how small those pieces are?  Now picture the man making those quilts: George,  a retired ex-Marine, a man in his 60’s maybe, at least 6′ tall.  Very serious, but very funny!  Very unexpected!

This weekend was full of the unexpected!  As you know from 2 posts ago, I had been very focussed on having everything ready to support my first pattern that would be showcased at Market.  On the 5 1/2 hour drive to Pittsburgh, I thought about how I would spend my time at Market.  I would visit the Island Batik booth to see what kind of reception the quilt was getting, I would drop by the Pattern Peddler booth occassionally to see if there had been any sales, and I thought I’d drop by the CK Media booth (the publishers of Quilters Newsletter)  to invite any of the editors to take a look at Dandelion Wine to see if there might be some interest (they had published/patterend Treasure Chest and Christmas Candy in 2007.)  Beyond that, I was just going to play it by ear and see what other opportunities might be out there.

Best laid plans of mice and men….   We (my husband came along this time to see what market was all about and check out the area golf courses)finally got to the Convention Center at 3:00 on Friday.  We headed straight for the Island Batik booth so I could see my baby.  As we approached the booth, I saw the quilt draped nicely between and over some other very nice quilts.  I thought to myself that it might not get too much notice hung that way, but at least it was displayed in this great venue.  Evidently I was wrong – very wrong!

As soon as we got close enough to re-introduce myself to Moira (the owner of Island Batik), I couldn’t take the news in fast enough – customers who had already been by the booth, loved the quilt and at least one had purchased the entire line of fabric that I had used.  If that wasn’t enough good news – Mark Lipinski, editor of Quilter’s Home Magazine and ambassador to the show (Pittsburgh is his hometown, afterall!) had also stopped by, fell in love with the colors and said he wanted to publish/pattern the quilt in the October/November issue and could he take it with him at the end of the show!  If my husband had not been there with me to take that all in, I think I might still be standing there with a dumb look on my face.  “Did I just hear what I think I heard?  This is amazing news, but what do I do now???”  My husband pulled me out of my stupor and said, “We have to go find Mark.”  Now ironically, on our way into the convention center, I had just seen him chatting with a few people (Mark was never not chatting or hugging someone!) and I had pointed him out to my husband – who knows how much I love reading his magazine.

Sure enough, we had heard right – Mark was interested in publishing the quilt.  He would need to take the quilt at the end of the show and keep it until the end of September to have it photographed and patterned for the Oct/Nov issue.  I couldn’t pay for better publicity than that!  Of course with things that good, there is often a catch.  Despite the great publicity, I would have to withdraw the pattern from the market until 6 months after the magazine was published.  Which means I can start re-selling the pattern again in April 2010.  Disappointing as that is, I’ve been down that road before with Treasure Chest and Christmas Candy, so it wasn’t a complete surprise.  However, at that time, I wasn’t up and running with my own pattern/website business.  Unfortunatley, I also had to tell Pattern Peddlers to take down the pattern.  That was the most difficult thing I had to do, since the owner also really liked the pattern and Island Batik had already started sending people over to order the pattern.

The rest of Friday, my feet never touched the ground as Greg and I perused the remaining 26 aisles of wholesale vendors!  What a great way to start the weekend!  I didn’t round up a whole lot more business during the weekend (What offer could possibly top a magazine spotlight?)  except to accept another offer to design a quilt for Island Batik’s fall market booth.  So, I spent a good part of Saturday, working up a design and selecting fabrics for their next quilt.   I am already excited about this next new design!

I guess I better start working on some of the other patterns in the line-up! 

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!”  I think I got the cherry this time!


P.S.  I took some pictures at Market that I will post as soon as I can.

Wish me luck!

I met all my deadlines, everything was shipped in time, and tomorrow morning my husband and I drive to Pittsburgh for Spring Market.  Of course, I’m excited and nervous all at the same time.  I’ve heard from several different sources that despite the economy, the quilting industry is doing well.  So hopefully quilt shop owners will be there in force ready to stock their stores with new fabrics and patterns (mine included!)   We will be back Sunday night and I promise to have pictures! 

Having experienced Market only once, I can tell you it’s a vastly different experience from the retail shows put on by Quilts, Inc.  Essentially, the space that houses the retail vendors is filled with wholesale vendors.  In Houston it was vast.  I don’t know exactly how big the Spring Market is but I have to imagine it’s still pretty big.  Whereas Fall Market is always held in Houston, Spring Market is in a different city each year.  The biggest, noticeable difference is the noise and crowd level.  Much quieter and much easier to navigate the aisles!  There is just as much eye candy – but there’s the rub!  There’s very little cash and carry, but there is a lot of money changing hands!  A survey in 2006 found that approximatley 26 million million people participate in the $3 billion industry!  That’s billion with a “B”! 

Keep your fingers crossed!  Back to report on my experiences in a few days!


Like being back in college!

Whew!  I did it – I made all my deadlines! There were some really late nights this week as I worked to finish the pattern for Dandelion Wine.  I had flashbacks to writing papers back in my college years.  Ony this time, I had a computer instead of a typewriter.   Remember those things!   You don’t even see them at garage sales anymore!  Computers sure make editing a lot easier – I used to hate those white out cartridges!  OK – I’m dating myself now!

My kids experienced a new side of Mommy – a bit more stressed than usual – a bit more lenient than usual – due to standardized testing at school they had no homework – so “sure, you can watch TV until Daddy gets home, just don’t bother Mommy!”  I reassured them it, hopefully, wouldn’t happen too often.  I think they mixed feelings!  They managed and as a reward we all went out to dinner on Thursday night and had a very enjoyable evening.

In any event, there’s nothing like a deadline to get things done.  With the help of my husband and two dear quilter friends who agreed to edit and proof during the last 48 hours prior to meeting the printer’s deadline, I got it done!  I’m pretty confident that the directions are clear and that we caught any errors.   I dropped off the files on Thursday and much to my surprise picked up the pattern on Friday!  I have to give a plug here to my printer – Cornerstone Printing and Imaging in Flemington, NJ.  They have become a wonderful partner to this novice entrepreneur, dealing with my inexperience when it comes to printing related software issues as well as understanding a my business concept.  I highly recommend them for your printing needs if you are in the area.

I will ship the patterns to The Pattern Peddlers on Monday so that they have them in their warehouse for any orders they get next weekend at Market.  A lot, I hope!   Then I have a few days before driving to Pittsburgh on Friday to attend myself.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and pick up another job!   The pattern will also be available from my website by the end of the weekend.  Yeah!!

One last thing – Hope everyone enjoys a Happy Mother’s Day!!  I’m glad that mine will be stress free.   My mom and I will enjoy our annual tradition of going shopping!  I’m not really a shopper, but for as long as I can remember, Mom and I have gone shopping and bought each other something new to wear on Mother’s Day.   Afterwards, we’ll come home and enjoy a relaxing dinner with my husband and the kids.

Enjoy your weekend!