Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Afterglow

My middle child - a second grade teacher - gave me a very sweet gift for Christmas. This little book was meant for children, but it brought tears to my eyes. She confessed later that she got teary as well when she read the book.

It is the story about a quilt made for the quilter's daughter. Abigail’s quilt kept her warm on cold nights, comforted her when she was sick, and served well as a gown during imaginative play. This is a charming story. I highly recommend it as a gift for yourself and your quilting friends.

Our three children have grown up using quilts in the same way. Once, when invited to a sleepover, my daughter didn't understand why her friend had a sleeping bag on her bed. Having been raised with hand made quilts, she had never seen a comforter! My children are truly sheltered.

So as not to lead you astray and let you believe that our children are totally wonderful, I need to share the gift our daughters made and gave to me and their daddy. They decided that we truly needed gnomes to complete our home. Our eldest painted her dad's gnome and daughter #2 painted my lovely lady gnome. The gnomes were painted to depict us. So papa gnome got brown eyes and dark hair, while mama gnome got green eyes and orange (red? blond?) hair that was shot through with gray! Those little stinkers! Perhaps I once again need to become friendly with a dye bottle. When all is said and done, I will likely cherish those silly gnomes.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I ran across this You Tube video while searching for Christmas carols. O Holy Night is my favorite song during the Holiday Season. I hope you enjoy this rendition as much as I have.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

You know you are awfully spoiled when your husband doesn't know what to get you for your birthday.

One week prior to the big day he suggested a trip to commemorate the event. He was considering a rather chilly destination. Not being a huge fan of winter, snow, ice...I suggested a trip to Hawaii would only cost a couple extra hours on the airplane...why not be warm and relaxed?

It is rather disconcerting for this cold climate girl to hear Christmas Carols being accompanied by ukuleles! What a treat to spend a week on Oahu. We ate at a few favorite restaurants, read a bunch of books and watched old movies. Yes, we walked the beach as well. Being pasty white Alaskans, we are careful to not overdo the beach time.

Due to an Atlantic storm, there were high surf warnings during our visit. We had the great fortune to be able to watch talented surfers brave the big waves. What a treat! Beyond the fact that I have never seen such large waves before, the surfers put on a really great show!

Needless to say, we returned to snow and cold. Anchorage has been blanketed with ice fog causing the trees to be covered with hoar frost.

This afternoon, the bohemian wax wings came by for a visit to devour any remaining berries from the May Day tree in our front yard. The front shades had to be closed after a few of these lovely birds flew into my windows!

This week will be spent working on the quilts for Strip Therapy 5. Two tops have been completed, #3 has been started. Quilts 4 - 6 are drawn up and waiting for their turn. I expect Strip Therapy 5 will also include a bag or two as well. Keep posted for updates.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The DVD is in the Warehouse!

The DVD has arrived at the warehouse just in time for Christmas! We will begin shipping immediately. The small quilt on the left is the project that you can make as you watch the DVD and follow along with the workshop.

Where has this month gone? One moment it was Halloween, and the next time I looked up from my computer it is almost Thanksgiving. I don't think I slept through it so I expect my personal whirlwind has absorbed the month when I wasn't paying attention.

I have been looking forward to November all year. I am not scheduled to travel again until mid-January when I will be teaching at Road to California. Until then, I am anticipating a few uninterrupted hours bonding with my sewing machine once again.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mastering the Mariner's Compass

Remember the DVD that I taped this summer? I received the final edit while I was on my three week teaching/quilt market trip in October. After review, it is deemed ready for replication. I am so excited!

The DVD is perfect for those quilters that would like to make a mariner's compass but are intimidated by the process, as well as a refresher for the quilters who have sewn but would like a few pointers how to make the process more enjoyable.

In this one-on-one workshop, you will learn how to foundation paper piece a mariner’s compass at your own speed - play, pause and rewind. I have added my favorite tips, hints, and secrets to success. I will tell you what tools I use to make piecing easier.
Most importantly, I have included a printable PDF pattern so you can work along with the DVD. It's just like a private lesson, but better - you can work in your pajamas!

Friday, October 30, 2009

It is never boring in "Brendaland"

At least, that is what my hubby would tell you! I took a few moments in September to order a long arm! The machine was delivered in multiple large boxes and today the sales rep arrived at my doorstep to set-up the new toy.

My sister-in-law, who has blanket permission to always say what she is thinking, asked me very sweetly, "Honey, when will you have time to do that?" Well, I am not sure. Frankly, the refrain from a country song has been running through my mind... "What was I thinking?"

Actually, I am thrilled! I purchased an A-1 Quilting Machine. After talking to many quilters in my travels, I am confident that I purchased the correct machine for me. With that said, I do expect to spend a good bit of time just learning how to quilt. Trust me, my beloved long arm quilter is in no danger of losing my business.

So, now on to the next question...can anyone tell me where to begin? I feel rather like I did after giving birth to our first child. I was in the hospital bed, our daughter was fed, burped, diaper changed and all I could think of was "Now what do I do?" I am capable of loading a quilt, and even keeping it rather square. I can make it go, and balance the tension to my liking. My hubby is now a trained long arm armorer - he can time it. Now what do I do to build skill.

Is there a dvd or book or something that I can do to become reasonably proficient? If you have some clue where I should begin, please feel free to educate me. Thanks in advance for your insight!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Creation of a New Book

After a flurry of activity, my latest book Strip Therapy 4, met me in Houston at Quilt Market. Many people ask, or wonder, how long it takes to put a book together. Well, due to the wonder of being self-published, this book took two months! A little longer than 2 months if you include the stolen moments when I drew up the designs and wrote the rough patterns.

The quilts were started while I was retreating with friends during the first week of August. The girls took pity on me and helped sew a few of the quilt tops. With their generous help, I was able to return home with 4 completed quilt tops. The completed tops were passed off to my beloved machine quilter who loaded them on her machine immediately.

While the remainder to the quilts were being quilted, I flew to California for a teaching engagement. The completed quilts were packed along so I could bind them during my down time. The remaining quilts were collected and bound after my return home.

My copy editor was proofing the manuscript while I was in California.

When all of the quilts were bound, my hubby built a new photography backdrop for the quilts so we could shoot the quilts inside. We are usually working in the driveway. Unfortunately, this time, we had rainy weather, so a day was spent collecting the stuff necessary to create the pin-able quilt wall.

With the digital photos in hand, I was able to complete the manuscript edits, drop in the quilt images, add the final touches to the book layout and send the file off to the print shop in Minnesota. The book was printed very quickly - due to great timing that was purely accidental - and delivered to my warehouse.

While the book was off to the printer, I went on another teaching run before going to Houston for Quilt Market.

While it is easy to say the book took two months to create, there is no way that I could have done this without the terrific, generous people that are willing to become a part of the whirlwind that seems to surround me. To them I say Thank You!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall Colors in Alaska

My beloved and I have lived in Alaska for 27 years, and we hadn't to this point taken the time to train trip to Fairbanks. Visitors have raved about the trip, but our schedules have never allowed for it.

We decided, at the last minute, to take a quick trip north to visit our son who has just moved to Fairbanks to begin school at UAF. What a gorgeous trip! The leaves are in full color - for Alaska, which means various shades of gold with a bit of orange. The sun was shining and our "little" boy was waiting at the other end.

I would recommend the train ride for anyone who comes to visit our fine state.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer is Flying By!

The days continue to fly past. This summer I was fortunate enough to spend most of the month of June in Alaska. We have enjoyed one of the most beautiful summers that I remember.

July was a different story, with only 5 days of the month at home. I will have to spend some time in my flower garden before it goes totally to weeds.

The lowly fireweed creates one of the most spectacular summer displays you might see in Alaska. The flowers are a deep magenta. During the mid to late summer weeks, you can see entire hillsides blanketed in purple.

Fireweed is also one of the harbingers of the coming winter. When these beautiful flowers start going to seed, I know that my summer is coming to an end.

This not so lovely photo was taken while walking my dogs. It is time to consider locating the heavy coats, mittens and boots that we will need soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Label Label Label

I am a firm believer in labeling quilts. After a quilt top is completed, I take a quick digital photo of the top. Nothing fancy - just a quick shot.

The next step is to transfer that image to my computer. The image is then cropped to just the quilt image. The resulting image is resized to fit an 8 1/2" x 11" page.

The image is imported into a word document, and a white circle is drawn on top of it.

All of the text that I want to appear on the label is typed onto the circle at this time.

This label is printed onto a prepared fabric using my inkjet printer.

This fabric label is attached to the quilt backing before the quilt is layered and quilted. The quilting securely attaches the label to the quilt. My quilt will be permanently labeled with my name, all information to allow for quilt return if being displayed, or all care instructions if the quilt will be gifted.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sewing Like a Crazy Girl

August is upon us and I have to get some sewing done if I ever want to have a new book finished by the time of Fall Quilt Market. Market is in Houston Oct 10-12. So if my beloved long arm quilter is going to have time to quilt my projects, I have to hurry right along.

The new book will be titled Strip Therapy 4 - Bali Pop Frenzy. I have been working on the patterns since April. Due to my schedule I have been waiting for a break in action so I can begin sewing. I have had the pleasure of spending the past few days retreating with friends, sewing like a fiend. What fun! Good food, lots of laughs and 4 quilt tops being sewn together when I am not eating or laughing too hard. The two remaining quilt tops will be completed in the next week.

This quick snap is the cover quilt from Strip Therapy 4. More about this lovely photo job a bit later.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Show Time!

The "Brenda Movie" is in the can. At least my part of the filming process. The video is on the way back to Bonnie's office for production. Three days of video taping for a 1 - 2 hour dvd. I'll keep you posted and let you know when the dvd is available.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No Rest for the Wicked...or is that Weary?

After disembarking from the wonderful cruise, I immediately jumped into another project. A friend and I are filming DVDs this week in sunny Seattle. We will soon be stars of stage and screen. Okay, that is pushing it, but within a few short months I will be the smiling star of a quilting DVD that focuses on paper foundation pieced mariner's compass construction.

The divine Ms M - aka Melody Crust, has been taping with Bonnie McCaffery for the last 3 days. I am up tomorrow. How exciting!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Quilt Camp at Sea

I had the privilege of teaching on a cruise ship to Alaska for Quilt Camp at Sea. What a treat! My beloved hubby joined me as we sailed into the sunset. The ladies in class had a terrific time creating their own mariner's compass blocks.

Cruising is a great way to sample bits of Alaska. My husband and I especially enjoyed Juneau. We took the path less traveled - a side street near downtown - and saw a bear cub! Being the sourdough Alaskans that we are, we quickly left the area for fear of the wrath of a cranky mama bear.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Santa Clara Valley Quilters Guild

Well, I am finally back at work. This week I flew to California to teach for the Santa Clara Valley Quilters Guild. We had a wonderful time. The ladies created a beautiful selection of mariner's compass blocks. Gifts arrived in the form of chocolate! What an unexpected treat! Thank you Sue.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wonderful Alaskan Summer

While recovering from the joys of hosting a wedding, my husband and I spent a few days traveling around Alaska. Showing off our fine state to family members. This has been a record breaking beautiful summer.
We were able to thoroughly enjoy the scenery from the comfort of a boat. We made appointments with a few whales and even some Stellar sea lions so they would make an appearance and wow our out of state guest.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wedded Bliss!

If anyone is wondering where I have been for the last few weeks, this picture should provide a bit of explanation. My eldest daughter got married. I didn't realize how much grey matter a wedding could absorb. The wedding was beautiful. The bride was divine and I now have another son. How could it get any better?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ciao Bella

While Obsession is at the printer, I am running amok in Italy with two girlfriends. What a great place to burn off a little steam. The scenery is gorgeous and the art and architecture are glorious. Perhaps I could lie and say that I am here to study textiles - but that would truly be a lie as I am here just to have fun.

We have seen the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, St Peter's Basilica and countless churches. By the time we return home, my once new walking shoes will need to be thrown away. If only we had thought to bring a pedometer!

This picture is of an apartment at the east side of the Piazza Navona in Rome. Flower boxes of this nature are not an uncommon sight along the streets and alleys of Rome.

Strip Therapy 3 ~ Bali Pop Obsession is at the printer!

The quilts are bound, the photos are shot and the book has been sent to the printer! I am so excited. I love the projects in this book.
I will email when it does arrive. Pre-order the book and it will ship as soon as it hits the warehouse. Obsession is my favorite of the Strip Therapy series to date! I had a lot of fun putting this collection together. The work will soon begin on Strip Therapy 4 ~ Bali Pop™ Frenzy.

Once again, I chose to add bags to the mix of quilts. Why leave scraps on the table when I can make something fun and useful? Obsession includes the patterns to make 3 unusual bags that will utilize scraps and house your quilting toys.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Bali Pops™, they are sets of 40 strips of batik fabric cut 2 1/2" wide, available from Hoffman Fabrics. I have a long standing love for Hoffman Batiks and now that they are available as pre-cut strip sets, I cannot seem to get enough of them.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On The Road Again!

I was able to dodge the ash plume from Mt Redoubt and fly out to Colorado for a few days of classes in Grand Junction and Montrose, CO.

The ladies in Montrose enjoyed two classes. Thursday the ladies constructed Hunter Star quilts. Friday, they got a good start on Fireworks quilts.

Why is it that quilt classes often look like sweat shops?

Saturday brought two classes at the Quilter's Corner in Grand Junction. What a day! Awesome quilts were the reward for a day of class. Gorgeous!

Thank you ladies for allowing me to take your photograph. Yes, I did ask if any were in the witness protection program before taking their picture.

After much angst, I did arrive home in Anchorage on my scheduled flight. Mt Redoubt has been sporadically erupting and the airlines have been canceling flights as necessary to avoid the ash cloud which can destroy jet engines.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

They're Here!!

I am so psyched! My book was sent off to Steve at the print shop and he got it turned around in no time at all!! Confession time again. The books have been delivered to my warehouse in Minnesota. I hope to see the first box on my doorstep in Alaska tomorrow. That FedEx dude is always welcome at my house, it's like Christmas when books arrive. Rather like a new baby without the physical pain!

The books were delivered late this afternoon. If you have pre-ordered books, they will start leaving the warehouse tomorrow.

The projects in this book differ from the first Strip Therapy book in that a larger yardage of accent fabric was used when constructing each of the quilts, resulting in larger quilts.

The bags introduced were so fun and so fast! Strip Therapy 3 ~ Bali Pop Obsession will also contain a couple of bag patterns.

The first two quilts from Obsession are being bound. Progress is made. I am hoping for delivery of Obsession May 1.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Eye Candy

It is time to take a break an look at something beautiful! This gorgeous color fan is from Hoffman Fabrics and contains all of the current 1895 batiks. What an awesome tool to use when selecting and color matching fabric. Mine is on order and in the mail. I can't wait to play with it.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I stole the picture (with permission) from Cookie at Batiks Plus. Click on the picture above and you will be linked to Cookie's website where you can purchase one of your very own.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Strip Therapy 3 Bali Pop™ Obsession

My beloved husband says that I am obsessive! Can you believe that? Okay, he's probably right, after 26 years of wedded bliss he knows me better than my own mother. I seem to be eating and sleeping Bali Pops™. They have taken over my quilting hours. The quilts for Obsession are in the trusty hands of my favorite machine quilter. I am planning for a May release date of this book.

If you are hoping that the fabrics above are the second generation of Hoffman's Bali Pops - NO they are not! But, boy aren't they pretty!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Burning the Candle at Both Ends!!!

Strip Therapy 2 is at the printer! WooHoo! I am expecting the book to be delivered to my warehouse March 10.

I will post when it does arrive. In the mean time, you are welcome to view the projects in the book. Pre-order the book and it will ship as soon as it hits the warehouse.

Click on the book cover and you will be taken to my website where you can view all the projects in this book.

Strip Therapy 2 contains 6 quilt patterns and 2 bag patterns. Yes, I am branching out. Bags are a girl's best friend and I just couldn't help myself, I had to make a couple bags with the leftover fabric bits and pieces. I had so much fun making the bags that I expect there are more in my future!