Friday, February 25, 2011

I Won!

Is this cute, or what?

I recently entered a giveaway on Eileen's blog, Ladybird Lovelies.  I don't enter giveaways too often, but I have been lucky and won a few over time.  Eileen made this little "Possibles" bag.  It's full of little pockets and hooks and has a nice handle and an easy hook and loop closure.  And look what she put inside it for me....

Thanks so much, Eileen!  It arrived on a snowy day- just the thing to perk up my day.  You do beautiful work.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why is the price of fabric going up?????

This is a fairly long post with lots of words and no pictures.  But it's important stuff.  Be sure to click on the link that explains the reasons for fabric prices going up.

 Most quilters have noticed that the price of quality fabric has been skyrocketing lately.  At Alderwood Quilts, we are committed to selling high quality fabrics, even if that means increases.  Sadly, increases are inevitable.  Every shop is making their own decisions about how they market their products.  I just wanted to give you some food for thought, as you decide where to shop and how to spend your fabric budget.  Above all, please don't take out your frustration on the nice person cutting your fabric.  Believe me- they dislike the increases even more than you do!

You may have heard that cotton prices are going up.  If you'd like to understand more about it, here are some statements by some people who manage the top fabric manufacturers.  This is a link intended for shop owners and is one of the best documents I've seen to explain the reason for the price increases.

I recently heard someone say that shop owners must be happy that the cost of fabric is on the rise because it means more profit per yard to us.  WRONG!  In the first place, we actually care about our customers and we're not happy when friends are in pain.  But from a business standpoint, this is not working out to our favor.  Higher wholesale costs mean that we have to spend more to maintain inventory.  Customers often have a dollar amount they can spend (as opposed to just buying whatever they like).  Assuming that a customer is going to spend the same amount that they always have, this means that she will be purchasing fewer yards of fabric per month.  In order for the shop owner to have the same selection (number of bolts), she will be spending more for that inventory and getting fewer sales (purchases) with slightly higher profit per sale.  At best, this adds up to a break even.  At best.  Please don't take this as me "whining".  Being in business means challenges.  That's the way it goes.  Fabric retailers have to step up to the plate and be creative about how they market fabric.  They need to step up the customer service.  They need to maintain a good attitude.  It's what it takes to stay in business.  I'm just letting you know that we aren't raking in the money just because the price of fabric is going up.  Believe me- we're just as upset as you are!

So waddaya do?  Our budgets are pinched and prices are going up and we just LOVE to quilt! You love that new fabric but your wallet doesn't love it... what's a girl to do???
*Consider buying some fabric from a new collection as a focus fabric and using fabric from your stash to coordinate with it.
*Consider alternating projects... buy new fabric for one quilt and then use fabric from your stash for the next... alternating back and forth throughout the year.
*Why not swap with a friend- "shopping" at each others' stashes, and then fill in what you need by purchasing new fabric to go with it.
*Consider selling some of what you make, or selling your services as a quilter.  If you don't feel that your skills are strong enough to quilt for pay, maybe you can do sewing repairs, sew on scout patches, buttons, do hems, etc.  Ask around and let the word out that you will do small repairs for a reasonable fee.  Then stash that money away to pay for new fabric.
*Consider purchasing kits.  The fabric for kits is cut to the amount needed, with less leftover fabric than if you purchased yardage.  The price of a kit is sometimes (not always) a tad bit higher to compensate the seller for cutting time. But it still generally more cost effective because of the efficient use of fabric.  Of course, it means you aren't making your own fabric selection, but it may work for you sometimes.
*Keep your eyes open for sales at your local quilt shops and share the news of deals with your friends.  Sign up to receive newsletters from your favorite local quilt shops and online shops so you will be notified of sales.

***Important***  Buy the best quality fabric you can afford.  It's better to make one quilt with quality fabric than 3 quilts that are going to fade and fall apart.  Your time is worth the cost of quality fabric.  Send the fabric manufacturers the message that we don't want them to compromise on quality!

Please do consider all options for purchasing fabric.  All fabric retailers- the large fabric and craft shops, the small independent local quilt shops... large and small online shops.. are feeling the pinch these days.  Many local quilt shops have been closing in recent years, and I have to believe that the new price increases are going to cause even more to close down.  That's very sad.  I'm not telling you how or where to shop.  But do consider that when you make a purchase, you are supporting THAT business and that business model.  Do you want the large "big box" stores to grow bigger and have a great selection and always be there for you?  Do you want the small local quilt shops with teachers and knowledgeable staff to assist you to stay in business?  Maybe you want both?  You vote with your dollars.  Just as every vote counts in a political election, so does every purchase count (no matter what you're buying).  There's a woman (the fab shop hop lady- the find-the-bunny shop hops) who says we should promote spending at regular portion of our quilting dollars at our local quilt shop.  Even if you regularly shop with the big stores, spend a portion of your dollars at small independent stores if you want to see them stay in business.

I know-- it still stings.  I wish I had better news for you, but the sad truth is that quality fabric is going up.  (Don't shoot the messenger, please!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Website Changes

I'm a happy camper!  My "web guy" is making some changes to the website.  We met with him a few months ago and we're gradually phasing in some upgrades to make shopping on the Alderwood Quilts website easier and more inviting.

Since we've had the website up and running (3 years, now), we have loaded 10 products per page, and customers have had to "page forward" and back to view 10 products at a time.  Now (YEA!) you can just scroll down to see all of the products in that category.  This will make it easier to look up and down through the options to make your selections.

There are more upgrades coming, including a new look to the homepage.  This is fun!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's all fun and games until somebody ends up in a cone

My grand-dog Cooper was running with a little too much gusto and split his nail.  Lots of blood.  Yuck.  Most dogs make yellow snow, but Cooper made red snow. (Sorry).  His mom and dad took him to the new vet (they just moved a few weeks ago).  The vet used his magic potion to convince Cooper to take a little nap while he removed the nail.  Then Cooper, with more energy than sense, thought he should continue running.  His mom and dad have more sense than energy, and kept him confined to the house. Cooper was not happy.  Cooper was bored.  So he redirected his energy into licking it.  And licking it and licking it and licking it.  Infection.  Back to vet.  Antibiotics. Cone. Try convincing Cooper it's his own fault that he's wearing a cone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Westside Quilters Guild Fall, 2010 Retreat

This is a "catch up post".  Our guild had a retreat last fall right around the time that I fell off the blog wagon.  It was several months ago, but I thought you might like to see what my friends made.  This was taken on the last day right before we cleaned up to go home.  I'm on the top row- second from the right- bleary-eyed from sewing all weekend.

Our guild offers speakers at each monthly meeting, and several classes and workshops throughout the year.  For our retreat, we have some little mini-demonstrations, but no real classes or instruction.  It's simply a time for each of us to bring our own projects and spend the weekend in the company of friends, working on our quilts.  It's something I look forward to.  I get to sew all weekend, talk with friends while I'm sewing, and somebody else makes my meals.  Doesn't get any better than that!

On Sunday before we left, we had a "show and tell" and shared what we made.  My apologies to a few of the ladies- I managed to accidentally delete a few pictures.  If you're not on here, it isn't because I didn't like your quilt.  It's because I was camera-challenged that day.  My bad.

Shirlene is always so focused.  She has everything planned out and she's super organized.  She just gets down to work and sticks with it.  She always accomplishes a LOT.  This is one of her "Lullaby Quilts" which is a charity sub group of our guild.

 Shirlene also made this one for a baby shower she was going to the NEXT DAY!
 Another one of Shirlene's quilts- a Schnibbles quilt called Roundabouts.

 Cathie drafted this herself and made it from a Moda Jellyroll.

 This is another one of Cathie's.... a batik Rail Fence.  Close- up below.

 Close-up of the Batik Rail Fence.  The fabric selection is stunning!

 Diane made some cute smaller projects.  She made a welcome banner and a snowman square....

 And a Fall wall hanging....

 .... and a redwork snowman (which I LOVE).  Ahem... Diane.... did I ever tell you that I collect snowmen?

 Marla made an amazing tote bag.  It's called the "Professional Tote".  This thing is chock full of pockets.

 Muriel's blue and orange tessellations.  The picture doesn't do this one justice.

 Jamie made this one for a friend, called Amish Boxes.  Gorgeous!

 Betty made this Log Cabin for her grandchild.  Lucky kid!

 Carolyn made this for her mother-in-law to use for her church raffle.  She drafted it herself.

 This is one that Carolyn has as a UFO for a long time.  She was happy to finish it.  It was from a McCall's magazine.

 This is also Carolyn's.... super cute.

 Jean is a real "cut up" (look closer at her head).  Here are some blocks made to start a One Block Wonder.

 Jean drafted this block and used it as a challenge for our guild's art quilt sub-group.  It's called Jumpin' Java--- coffee cups blocks and the border is coffee label fabric.

 Jeans Convergence quilt.  Stunning!

 Patty made these 2 quilts (above and below).  Her sister got the blocks from a flea market.  Some of the blocks are pieced and some are appliqued.  Great find!

 This one is so cool... a very bright art quilt.  Love the parrots!

 This one is mine.  The flowers on the right and the koi in the circles along the bottom are fussy cut.  Aside from mumbling to myself cutting out the flowers, it went together pretty fast.  It's supposed to be a wall hanging but you need a huge wall to display it!

 I made this for my son.  The border is license plates and the background is a map.  I don't have it quilted yet, but I'm going to use license plates for the backing.

 Paula is just getting started here on an art quilt that she was commissioned to make.  She's off to a good start!

 Polly made this cute lady bug quilt.

 .... And isn't this one eye-catching?

 ... And another one!  She was on a roll!

 Julie organizes our retreats.  She does a fantastic job!  We all appreciate her hard work.  Thanks, Julie!

 Julie designed this with EQ.  She spent the weekend getting started on the blocks.  Beautiful, Jullie!

Gail's handiwork.  Pretty colors!
 Bella was working on blocks for her Link to the 30's quilt.  Nice block....

 Look how many she got done!

 And she worked on her Thimbleberries BOM.

 Carol holding a block for her "Take 5" pattern.

 And Carol with a pillowcase....

 ... And Carol with blocks for another quilt.

We have another retreat coming up in April.  I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who's playing with her new AccuQuilt GO! ???

I'm sure lots of people are!  Do you remember Teresa, who won the GO! giveaway on this blog?  She exercised impressive self control, and finished up the project she was working on before starting one with her GO!  What can I say- she's an accountant.  She probably has a tidy sewing area and knows where to find all of her patterns, too.  But I like her, anyway.  :-)

Teresa is starting on Bountiful Baskets and she says they are going together really fast.  That's how it is with the GO!  You still have to sew- the quilts don't make themselves.  But cutting takes a lot of the time when making a quilt, and the GO! slices that time way down.  We can't wait to see this when it's done, Teresa!

Teresa's blog... It's All Good.

And ME?  Well.... I've gotten back to my blogging and now I'm getting back to quilting.  I'm working on several projects right now (I'm sure I'd drive Teresa nuts).  I haven't forgotten that I promised you a detailed tutorial on the Double Wedding Ring quilt.  I was working so hard on the wedding quilt, right up to the last minute and didn't take as many photos as I would have liked.  But the good news is that i am going to make another one- for my other son and his wife.  They got married 2 1/2 years ago and I never made them a wedding quilt.  I want to get working on it and spend some dedicated time each week so it can (hopefully) be done for their anniversary this summer.  I'll blog about it as I go, and I won't be as rushed so you'll get plenty of detail.

The black and red DWR that I gave to my younger son and his wife for their wedding a few days after Christmas is actually not totally done.  It looked done in the pictures, but the longarm quilter wanted to do a little more on it, so I gave it back to her after the wedding photos were taken.  And of course, I don't have it bound yet.  As soon as I get it back, I'll show you close ups of the quilting and show you how to make bias binding and bind a quilt with a scalloped edge.  We'll be doing lots of DWR tutorials over the next 5 months or so.

Planned for this year with the GO! are a Dresden Plate, a Hexagon quilt, and a Chisel quilt, for starters.  I'm going on a few quilt retreats this spring so I should be able to take a good bite out of my project list.  My quilt guild has a "UFO Contest" going so I'll be doing a big push to finish things up for the next few months.

Speaking of retreats.... well.... I think I'll save that for tomorrow. :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

6 Bittersweets

Just a quick post- I thought I'd share with you one of my super favorite blogs.  It's mostly food-related with great photos.  The above photo is from today's post.... Brazo de Mercedes cake.  It's an ice cream/ custard/ meringue creation that looks like it wouldn't last very long in my house.  I lifted the photo from the 6 Bittersweets website, which I thought would be OK since I am not posting the recipe.  But you can have the recipe (and lots more) if you go here.

If you like to cook, be forewarned.... toodling around on 6 Bittersweets can suck you in.  You won't come up for air for hours!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Back to Blogging- New Socks, Scrapbooking, and the Big Move

I've been away from blogging for a few months.  It's hard to believe it's been that long!  I was busy in December making the wedding quilt, preparing for Christmas and the wedding, and enjoying lots of guests.  We had several relatives in town for the wedding and it was a real treat to enjoy their presence.  I opted to enjoy the moments and not spend time on the blog or Facebook for a while.  Then- after it was all over- I was exhausted and decided to take it easy for a while.  But I've been missing blogging- so I'm back to it!

I thought I'd just show you a few things today.  These are my latest socks.  The pattern is called Hedera, designed by Cookie A.  Cookie is a sock guru!  She is a prolific designer and her socks are wonderful.  I joined a group on Ravelry of knitters who are working their way through Cookie's latest sock book- Knit.Sock.Love.  The idea is to make a pair per month for 19 months to get through the whole book.  Well.... we'll see.  One down, 18 to go.  The yarn I used is Malabrigo Sock.  It's a beautiful hand-dyed wool blend.  

This is my current sock project.  The pattern is called Chirality, designed by Star Athena.  The yarn is Sock-aholic, hand-dyed byWendy Gaal of Knitters Brewing Company.  The red is actually a lightly variegated yarn- with many different close shades of red.  It's really rich looking.  The knitting technique is called mosaic knitting.  It's done by alternating knit stitches and slip stitches.  Each row is actually only done with one color yarn.  The variations come by slipping the stitch from the different colored row beneath.  I actually took this photo a while back- I'm farther along now.
 Last weekend, I attended an all day marathon scrap booking day with a friend of mine, Tamara Sandwisch, who is a Close To My Heart consultant  selling stamps and scrap booking supplies. 
I've been wanting to organize my pictures and also help my kids with their photos and Tamara is encouraging me.

 There were about 20 women at the event and it ran from 9 am to midnight.  (That wasn't a typo!).
As you can see, it was held at a Christmas shop!  Sleighbells, in Sherwood, Oregon, is a u-cut Christmas tree farm during the holidays and a Christmas store year- round.  They also have this large room that they rent out for parties and events.  What fun!  We each got a large table to ourselves, in a room lined with Christmas Trees.  It wasn't a class- we just chatted and worked on our own projects.  For lunch and dinner, we brought food, went out- whatever we wanted.  They are planning more of these days and I can hardly wait!  If you're in the Portland (Westside) area, and might be interested in future dates, send me a private email.  No purchase necessary and cost to attend is very reasonable.

And another big event for our family- our oldest son Paul, his wife, Cady, and my grand-dog, Cooper moved to Utah a few weeks ago.  We miss them very much, but we are thrilled for them as they start new jobs and seek new adventures.  And, hey, this means we get to take lots of road trips and explore all of the wonderful scenery and parks between Oregon and Utah!  I'll be asking all of you to recommend quilt shops and yarn shops along the way!

When I took my little blog break, I started getting calls and emails from people asking me if I was ok.  I was genuinely touched- surprised that my blog would be missed.  Thank you guys (you know who you are).
After not blogging for several weeks, I wrote my first posts last night.  WOW!  So many wonderful readers (friends!) were right there, with many kind words welcoming me back.  It gives me goose bumps, I tell you!  You guys are awesome!  I have lots of random photos that I took from events of the last few months.  I'll share them with you over the next few weeks.

It's good to be back.  :-)