Questions from My Readers

I enjoy reading the comments folks leave about my blogs.  I answer most of them I give no feedback to smart alecks.  So if you left smug, smart butt comments, you didn’t receive a reply. Totally not worth my time.  I do receive quite a few questions along with comments.  I collect these.  If I have a question which merits a lengthy reply, it becomes a blog.  The other questions I tuck back and twice a year I answer them.  This is one of those times.  I’ll probably do this again in November or December.   

  •  How much time a week do you spend quilting and how do you manage it?  Not as much time as I would like.  Ideally, my perfect day starts with me rolling out of bed about 6:30 a.m. and starting the coffee pot.  After the coffee brews (I have one of those fancy-schmancy ones that grinds its own beans – it’s wonderful), I fill my Minnie Mouse coffee cup, add two creams and two sugars and go to my studio. I quilt until lunch, go out with friends, come back, answer a few emails, and quilt some more.  Bill and I go out to dinner, I come home and settle in on the couch with some seriously good Netflix or Hulu and some handwork.

May I also add, this ideal day has never happened.   I am 61.  I still work full-time at our business.  If my world laid itself out like an ideal day, I could probably quilt around 30 hours a week.  Maybe 40, if I was pressed.  However, in my real world, I’m really lucky if I get 10 to 12 hours in a week (more if Bill is out of town on a job site).  I do much better if I can get in a few stitches (and words for my blog) before my workday starts, but that seldom happens.  We own a service industry, and the nature of those beasts is they begin early.  I tend to work through lunch, so I’m finished by 2 or 3 p.m.  I can take care of what household chores I need to do and I’m in my studio after dinner.  An hour or two is usually spent writing my blogs and then I sew for another hour or so.  On weekends I sew more.   

I stay fairly organized.  I keep everything I need for a project together.  I also keep my sewing supplies grouped together.  All my fabric markers are together.  All my scissors are in one spot (meh…pretty much).  I struggle with corralling my hand applique supplies together because hand applique is portable.  I literally stitch this all over the house.  I’ve often had to shut down a project just to find my Perfect Circles or beeswax.  This semi-organized state does save time, because except for a few rogue hand applique supplies, I know where everything is. 

However…this next organizational step is the one which helps the most:  I always leave something unfinished under my needle – either the kind I hold in my hand or the kind in my sewing machine.  This way, when I do step back into my studio, I know exactly where to start, and I can begin without any hesitation.  This is exactly what I need to keep working on a project.  I don’t have to begin by re-reading instructions or figuring out what to do next.  It’s there, waiting on me, and quite often just the act of sewing a few stitches in a part of the project I’m familiar with is enough to propel me to take the next step. 

  •  Do you do anything else besides quilting?

I’m assuming work doesn’t count with this question.

  I’m an avid reader.  I read a minimum of 20 pages per night.  I do give myself a caveat with this.  I give a book three chapters to catch and hold my interest.  If it can’t do this by the third, I discard it and move on to the next one on my list.  Call it a side effect of graduate school.  I had to read so much then, and some of it was more boring than watching paint dry.  I vowed once I was through, I would continue be an avid reader, but only for knowledge I wanted to gain and for entertainment. 

  However… I do have a person in my life who has piqued my interest in a new hobby.  I think all your friends have the innate capability of expanding your knowledge about life, it’s just up to you how much.  Our business has a wonderful CPA.  Lynn is more than just my accountant.  She’s a good friend.  Lynn is also extremely creative.  Her art centers around miniatures.  Gorgeous, filled with details, working on a 1/8-inch scale miniatures.  I have ahhed and ooohed over her work for years.  Then last year, I saw this on Pinterest.  

I immediately knew I wanted to make two – one for each of the grand darlings.  After I purchased the lanterns, Lynn invited me over to her studio to “give me a few things to get started.”   

“Don’t buy a thing,” she said, “Until I see you.”  

I left her art studio (which rivals any quilt studio I’ve ever seen) that day with three bags full of “stuff” and a new interest. 

These are the two finished lanterns. I got such a kick out of personalizing them for each granddaughter.
Here’s a close up of some of the details.

After I finished the grand darlings’ lanterns, I tackled my daughter’s old dollhouse.  My mother made this for Meg years ago, and when she outgrew it, I carefully tucked it back for her.    

The original doll house. All it really needed inside was a thorough cleaning and some paint. I did retain the upstairs paint that Mom did and the outside of the doll house was pristine and didn’t need any paint

A few coats of paint, some new flooring, and a Christmas house was born. 

Cherry wood floors and lace curtains.
Installed a new window on this side. The original was a plastic contraption which had long since disappeared. This window opens and closes.
Personalized the front door. I also changed out the original door knob to something a little fancier.
Hung a few Christmas wreaths…my daughter is a Christmas fanatic.
Then I added some Christmas flowers in a flower box on the new window.
The completed inside, both upstairs and down. It does have working lights. The pictures which follow show more of the details.
The porch light is a working light, too.
Could not resist the tiny Amazon packages…

The chair and the couch downstairs are the last two original pieces of furnishings Mom put in the dollhouse before she gave it to Meg.  

This Florida miniature is a work in progress. My son and his wife enjoy being outside, so although I had originally planned something similar to the lanterns I did for my grand darlings, my plans changed. I want it to reflect them. I have some fake grass ordered for the bottom, because the rug is doing nothing for me. The grill and tiny beer bottles were irrestitible. I have one more mini-dog on the way.
Instead of the tradition Christmas tree, I have a group of palm trees I’ll string running Christmas lights on. He’ll get a kick out of this.

I’m currently working on a Florida miniature for my son (above), and I have plans for a Christmas one for my mom.   

I set aside a few hours on Sunday morning to work on these and I’ve found it’s a wonderful “head clearer.”  It makes me think in an entirely different way.  And unlike quilting, where once the quilt is cut out you could feasibly sew nonstop until the top was complete, there are stops and starts with miniatures to let paint or glue dry, or have items delivered.  

Will it replace quilting?  No.  But I am enjoying this new creative path.  

  •  I know how you got started quilting.  How did you get started writing?

I have played around with writing for as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, I’d draw pictures and then write a story to go along with them.  In high school I served as editor of the newspaper and as one of the two copy editors of the yearbook.  Flash forward to college, and I also was editor of its paper (and the first female solo editor). Along with all this “extracurricular writing,” I was still churning out all those papers you do for undergrad and grad school.  Eventually, through another series of karmic “accidents” I found myself writing and editing some curriculum for a publishing house.  And then after frustrating call to a pattern children’s pattern company about the quality of their directions, they asked me to re-write quite a few of their pattern instructions.  Overall, I’ve generated a lot of words in my life.  And like quilting, I can’t imagine a time in my life when I won’t write.   

About 15 years ago, another North Carolina quilt blogger decided to “retire” her blog.  She became a grandmother and wanted to help with her brand-new grandson.  A void was left.  After a lot a bit of nudging from a few gals I have quilted with for years, I began my blog in an effort to add another North Carolina quilter into the blogosphere.  It began in 2008, first on Blogspot and then on WordPress.  WordPress isn’t perfect, but it’s a little easier to manipulate.  I will probably update the look of my site next year.  It needs a little freshening up.  

  •  How’s the book coming?

Oh oy-vey.  Some of you know, but a lot of you don’t, I do have a beginner’s quilt book in the works.  The problem with publishing houses nowadays is they expect you to do all the work (graphics, pictures, etc.) but offer no assistance.  If I was fully retired and could devote about three to five hours a day on the project, I could tackle it without any issues.  However, that’s not the case at the moment, so the best answer to this is S-L-O-W-L-Y.  I really need to find a graphic designer to help with the illustrations.   

  •  If you could only use one technique in your quilting from this day forward, what would it be?

Hands down, it would be applique.  With applique you can do so much and convey so many feeling that regular squares, rectangles, and triangles cannot.  I do like to piece, but applique has my heart.  It can convey happiness and whimsy but turn on a dime and express great feelings of fear, grief, and dismay.  Applique can tell stories and forever freeze a moment in your life in fabric.   I know some quilters don’t like the technique, but if I only could own only one, applique would be it.   

There are a few more questions left, but I want to save them for later in the year.  If you have a question, leave it in the comment section of a blog.  I file these and when I get enough, I write a blog like this or if the question needs a lengthy answer I’ll devote an entire column to it.   

Until Next Week, Remember the Details Make the Difference!  

Love and Stitches,


10 replies on “Questions from My Readers”

Oh, my. There are no words. The miniatures are the cutest thing EVER! Would love to make some. Your friend is so sweet to launch your new adventure, love,love,love. Where did you find the lanterns?

I did not know about your book, but I’m not surprised. Your writing is so easy sounding-like you and I are sitting with coffee, having a conversation. Thank you for being so smart and giving with your gifts.

Thanks for continuing to blog! I don’t comment often but just know how much your readers appreciate you. Your blog is always filled with a wide variety of interesting and useful information. Your devotion to the art of quilting is inspiring!

You are an inspiration! I understand your frustration with publishing these days. I think it so unfair that you are expected to be an expert in the book subject, but also graphic design, illustration and photography!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: