Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Houston and the Quilt Festival

If you're like me, I'm sure you have been glued to the Weather Channel, the news and Facebook with all the heart wrenching images of the flooding and devastation in Texas. I have been through many a hurricane here in Eastern, NC, some of which had massive flooding and destruction. However, none of them come even close to what has happened in Houston and the small towns like Rockport and Port "A".

I've been thinking about when the water recedes, the rescues are over and the news media goes away. What most people don't see is how long and how much work it is to get things back to some sense of normal. In 2011, my dear friend Lydia, had her home destroyed by hurricane Irene in our small town of New Bern, NC. Her house was flooded in September and it took until the end of March to get it fixed. Six full months on one house that had flood damage. People don't realize that dealing with contractors, FEMA, insurance agencies and the nasty scam artists who turn up are also part of this, not to mention the places of employment that have been destroyed.



I write this post thinking about the Quilt Festival that is coming in just 8 short weeks. It's something I've been looking so forward to, not only because of my dream being realized as an instructor there, but also because of the wonderful friends I will finally get to meet in person, as well as, my dear friend, Sallieann who is coming from England.



The festival is held in the same convention center that is now housing thousands of displaced, homeless, people. The hotels, restaurants and businesses downtown are flooded. It is one giant mess. As of today, the festival people are saying that the show will still go on. For the life of me, I can't wrap my head around how it will. Again, just knowing how long it took for Lydia's house to get fixed with not nearly the amount of water that is in Houston.


Plus, the festival brings in 55,000 to 65,000 people. I know the city can really use the money, but with all the people who are currently homeless, not to mention all the volunteers and emergency management people, etc. where are they going to put everyone, let alone feed everyone?

Now I don't mean to sound like "Debbie Downer" or "Negative Nellie," but I guess knowing first hand how long and awful the recovery can be, my heart is with the people who are suffering. I would rather have the festival cancelled so people can have a chance to grieve and start rebuilding their lives. I would much rather go to the Houston Quilt Festival next year in celebration instead going this year in the mist of sorrow.

We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

Hugs,
Michelle

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Two days of Crochet

Wow oh wow! What a great response to our invitation last week to join the Fellowship of Fibers and Threads group on Facebook. We have 100 new friends! Jules and I are really looking forward to seeing what everybunny has to share.

Today I wanted to share a little adventure I recently had. You see, sometimes one just needs a little break from their work to go and do something different. Don't you agree? I'm one who never tires of learning things. There is so much out there to do and see. Plus, it really clears my head and gives me fresh eyes on creativity.

Here in Wilmington, NC, we have a wonderful shop downtown called The Noble Thread. The owner, Caroline, is just the sweetest and kindest lady. Plus, she is Parisian, and is simply delightful to listen to. ;)

I have been drooling over the high quality yarns in her shop for a long time and decided to take a crochet class. My Grandmother showed me how to crochet when I was a little girl and my mom loves to crochet, but I haven't touched it since I was about 7 years old. Also, I knew I would be better at it than knitting because all my friends said it is much easier to rip out a mistake in crochet than it is in knitting. Well, that had me right there. ;)

I still have all my crochet hooks from when I was a child, so with them in hand, I set out for The Noble Thread. Caroline had me create a sample piece with single, double, half double, some ridges and some post crochet. Here's how it turned out.



I love how the yarn looks. It's all hand dyed and sooooo soft! Caroline then showed me how to block my finished piece to make the edges straight, which I still have to do. Then I'll add a big button and turn into a cowl.

Caroline said that normally the two classes are to teach the stitches, but she said I was a natural and must have remembered everything my Grandmother taught me. So instead of another week of learning stitches, she taught me how to read a chart. FUN!



Here's the next piece I'm working on. It's a long shawl, but I will make it into smaller wrap as Caroline laughed and said, "You are so tiny. You should make it smaller or you will look like a child carrying a blankie." LOL! She also recommended I use a finer yarn. This is what I chose as my wardrobe is black, white and grey tops with bluejeans. ;)



Once I finish this, I will try to tackle making some sort of cardigan sweater. Caroline has open stitch days at her shop where friends can gather, chat and get help on their projects. Sounds perfect to me!

Hugs and see ya next week!
Michelle

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gifts from Jules and an Invitation

I want to start off this week by thanking you for all your kind words and support regarding my post last week. I was truly overwhelmed and your words were giant hugs to me. Thank you so very much for understanding and even more for encouraging me to continue down this rabbit hole. Your friendship is truly a gift I treasure.

Speaking of gifts, I received a surprise "parcel" as my European friends say, in the mail today. Doesn't parcel sound so much nicer than package? ;)

Jules sent me the most wonderful treats all of which are handmade or vintage! First is this beautiful rabbit pin, which was made by Jules' friend, Valerie Greeley. Isn't it wonderful? I love all the colors and details.


Next is this beautiful bookmark made by Jules. Perfect timing for a new book I just purchased by Neil Gaiman called "Norse Mythology."


As you know from our Briarside Lane adventure, as well as, the many original pieces Jules has gifted me, that I adore her work. I love how she painted on this linen and then added embroidery details. It makes my heart go pitter pat! :)


Next, she sent me this gorgeous card made by Karen Davies of Mustard Cuts. Jules knows that I have a HUGE love of papercut art. It is how most of my designs start out. This is so beautiful!


Of course, who can resist some ric rac and green beads? Not me! I also love that the beads are in a little glass container instead of plastic. So sweet and special!


The last gift, in the parcel of pressies, is this ivy leaf pendant, which is hand painted leather. It is such a thrill for me to receive this.


You see, I am a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE stalker fan of Jinny and Chris of Skyraven Wolf. These two incredible artists live on a Narrowboat in England. Remember the narrowboat block from our Briarside Lane adventure? Yep, they live on one of these!


Anyway, I learned that they aren't very far from Jules and there was going to be Summer market. Well, Jules and my dear Sallieann went to the market and met them! Was I totally jealous? That would be a big giant YES!!! lol! This is Sallieann and Chris!



This is the sign on their boat, which Jules told me they are still trying to finish painting. The old shoemaker and shoes story.



Well, like I said, I LOVE their work so very much. I am actually on a waiting list to get on the waiting list to get this handbag. Yep, you read that right, a waiting list to get on the waiting list! Patience is a virtue.... I CAN'T WAIT!!!!



Thank you Jules for all my pressies!!! I love them all so very much and love you even more!

Finally today, Jules and I would like to invite you to join our Facebook Group called "Fellowship of Fibers and Threads." There has been so much bad news, hatred and awful things going on in the world and frankly, Jules and I wanted to create a peaceful place where we could go and spend time with creative friends.

We are so inspired by all the incredible talent out there and felt we wanted a group that was inclusive of things encompassing all Fibers and Threads. So if you stitch, quilt, work in paper, embroider, crochet, knit, make dolls, etc. we invite you join our group and share. Designers, teachers and Shop Owners are also encouraged to share as who doesn't want to know about a fun place to shop? Here's the link to our group. We hope to see you there!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/613117075463739/?ref=bookmarks

Love and hugs to you. I'll see you back here next week.
Michelle


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Not Sold in Stores - 5 reasons why I don't wholesale

Hi ya!

Last week I mentioned that I don't wholesale my designs. This week I thought I would share my reasons behind the decision I made last year.

No. 5: I'm a Rule Breaker.

  I've never been one to follow rules, but rather use them as guidelines for a way to get started, or as a basis to make things better. Most designers go into this business to get picked up by a distributor and have their designs in shops all around the world. After attending Quilt Market several times, I quickly learned it was not my cup of tea. All it did was stifle my creativity and put a ridiculous amount of pressure on me to "pump out" another design. I felt like I lost my creative voice and the reason I took the whole "hop of faith" in the first place. Plus, my designs don't follow the rules for wool applique. My style, techniques and materials don't fit into the wool applique status quo. I rather like that. It's kinda fun being a rebel. hee,hee,hee.



No. 4: Brick and Mortar shops are disappearing.

  Now, I know from teaching around the country that there are lots and lots of shops in the Midwestern states and some big ones out West, but here in the East, there really aren't that many and those that are here, don't sell wool. Also, since my designs aren't primitive or traditional, and I use wool blends instead of 100% wool, many stores are not interested in what I have to offer. Thus the reason I spent a fortune to open my own online shop. There is an exception though. I do offer my designs to ONE brick and mortar shop and that is because the shop owner, Lana Dunkerly, is a really dear friend of mine and is also a fellow bunny mama. Lana's shop is It Seams to be Sew. She is in Texas and you should visit her. Just say'in. ;)


No. 3: Some people are just naughty. 

  Well, there is always the ugly side to things isn't there? I tend to see the good in people and believe that they will treat me as good as I treat them, but that doesn't always happen. I have been burned soooooo many times now by shop owners, guilds and individuals. I had one shop owner order three patterns from me and then take them to the copy store where she proceeded to make copies and sell them in her shop. Another shop owner purchased my book and then taught classes out of the book making copies of the pattern pages for all the students. Then don't get me started on the guilds who copy hundreds of patterns for guild members, or the shops in other countries who steal because there is no way to press charges against them. Now I know you might be thinking "well it's not that big of a deal," but for me it is. This is my job. Let me give you an example. Let's say twelve students took a class and didn't buy my $19 book, twelve students didn't pay $12 for my pattern and 125 guild members didn't pay $12 for my pattern. That comes to a whopping $1,872.00 that was stolen from me and the bunnies. Honestly, I don't know of anyone who would want to keep working if their boss said, "I'm taking $1,872.00 from you this month because I don't feel like paying you. You should just continue to work and do a wonderful job making things for me to enjoy for free." Ok, enough on that as it makes me so upset that I cry. I just keep repeating this to myself.  "I deserve to get paid for my work like everyone else, I deserve to get paid for my work like everyone else, I deserve to get paid for my work like everyone else."





Moving on...

No. 2: My patterns contain lots of color photos and details.

  I'm a visual learner. I don't always understand what a person is trying to relay in written form. I know a lot of people are like this and thus, my patterns contain lots of color photos to back up my written instructions. This is especially nice with digital formats as you can zoom in to look at tiny details that don't always show up in a paper format. It also allows me to give you more information because you only have to print out what you need. You can store the patterns on your computer instead of adding clutter to your sewing room. In addition, the cost of printing my designs is ridiculously expensive. Not to mention, I love trees and try not to contribute to the death of them.



No. 1: You're my family.
 
   I will admit it. I'm selfish in the respect that I want you all to myself! LOL!!! I have a certain love and fondness for my customers. You become part of my bunny family. With all the choices out there, you find my designs worthy of spending your pennies on and you enjoy the challenge of making something different. Like me, you enjoy doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Also, working alone can be, well, lonely. Receiving emails and notes from you about what you have made makes my entire day! Plus, when I wrap your order and tie it with a ribbon, it's a little love and a hug I send along to you and it can only come from me.

So there you have it. I know a lot of my designer friends think I'm nuts for not wholesaling, but that's okay with me. Sometimes, you just have to follow where your heart leads you.

Hugs and I'll see you right back here next week!
Michelle

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Who Needs a Play Date?

There is nothing that brings me greater joy than spending a creative day with friends. I love the fun energy in the room, the laughter and all the happy smiles that come from my students when they complete their own personal masterpiece! Thus, I don't call my classes "Workshops," I call them "Play Dates."

My "Beekeeper Pincushion" play date has been lots of fun and I realized how much I, in addition to my students, enjoy making smaller projects. Being able to spend time adding details to something and enjoying every minute of the process is much more fun knowing there won't be hours and hours of work at home to complete it. Plus, it's nice making something that can be given as handmade, heartfelt gift to those we love and care about.

That being said, I have been working diligently over the last month to create another Play Date to offer my students. These are my "Heart Felt Notes." They are 4" x 6" postcards, using my Folk Art Fusion technique and they can actually be mailed!



Like my "Beekeeper Pincushion," students only have to bring two pair of scissors to class. Yep, that's it! No schlepping a sewing machine, no trying to find impossible supplies, no frustration from bringing the wrong things.

I bring the designs, wool felt, Valdani thread and loads of embellishments to play with. I share different stitching and embellishing techniques and bring plenty of samples to spark your imagination.

Here are some before and after photos.


Also, these designs are EXCLUSIVE to my classes. I do not sell them in my shop and they are not available in other shops as I don't wholesale my patterns (more on that in another post).



So, who needs a Play Date? Hop on over HERE for more information and for my calendar. Oh, and if you don't belong to a group or guild, I'm going to be teaching at the Houston Quilt Festival this year and at the Mid Atlantic Festival in February.

I look forward to meeting you and having a day of play!

Hugs,
Michelle