Monday, December 5, 2011

Helper Cats

Nathan and I have two cats. We adopted both of them from shelters and love them dearly.

Catcat, age 9 ish?

Friday, age 3

The cats like to "help" us do things here at home. Like sit in our window when we're trying to study because there is an oh so interesting squirrel. This is seriously the closet I've ever seen them sit to each other. Usually this proximity would result in hissing and flying fur.

Oh hai, squirrel in the yard...

Although I love both our cats equally, Nathan adopted Catcat before we were married, and she is definitely his cat. She's an intelligent, fairly thoughtful and exceedingly sneaky little best who always finds the most inconvenient times to insist on being in the way.

Just like Nathan (just kidding, dear).

Friday, on the other hand, is my baby. He sleeps under my arm at night and I hold his paws in mine. Seriously. Nathan didn't believe it either until he woke up in the middle of the night and saw it for himself. Friday runs into walls, always wants attention and has the most bizzaro fascination with stuffed hedgehog toys.

Oh hai can't get anything done today because I'm too cute!

Friday, more so than Catcat, also succeeds at "helping" me sew. He seems to have this magnetic draw towards the exact pile of fabric I need to work on a project. If I go want to go work on a project that's been sitting around for a while I will, without a doubt, walk into my sewing room to find Friday curled up on the pile of unfinished blocks. I'm also waiting to accidentally catch his tail in my sewing machine. 

 Le sigh. 

I like to tell myself this is good preparation for having small child helpers. Although at least those will have thumbs and can be put to work! (just kidding, mom, don't worry-the only person I want working in my fabric sweat shop is you!)

Do you have any special helpers?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Paducah Bound!

Last week was one of my favorite times of the year. And no, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving (although that was GREAT, too). I'm talking about the registration for the American Quilter Society (AQS) Paducah 2012 opening up! Woohoo!

The Momcat and I have made the annual pilgrimage to Paducah each spring since 2009, when the Nathan and I gave a trip there to her for Christmas in December 2008. Grammy (Daddo's mom) is the person who taught both the Momcat and I to quilt. And every year that she was able, she'd take the trip down to Paducah with her quilting circle from small town Indiana.

Paducah, KY 2010

Each year has brought it's own adventure and sometimes chaos, but each year this mother/daughter trip serves to re-ignite our passion for quilting and build our relationship. As we learned the first year, getting registered early is important, if you want to get the classes you want. It's also important to have a good balance of classes, lectures, and time for the museums, shows and most importantly-SHOPPING!

Paducah-the Damage: 2010

So drumroll please....Paducah 2012! 

(Don't worry, Momcat-Color coded schedule to follow.)

Special Shows:
-An Evening with Ricky Tims
-Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day (Eleanor does a new and FREE show each year! WE LOVE HER!)

Me, Eleanor Burns, Momcat: 2010

Classes and Lectures:
-Fabric A to Z (a lecture about building and quilting from your stash with Alex Anderson)
-Flying Colors: Designs with Free Form Shapes (this will stretch both of us!)
-Ready Set Go...Finish (I'm looking to build my skills to finish a quilt and the Momcat is always on the hunt for new techniques and shortcuts!)

Do you have any quilting adventures or events that you look forward to each year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hooked on Hexagons

I was first introduced to English Paper Piecing (EPP) at the American Quilter's Society Paducah 2011 show. Since 2009, the Momcat and I go down to Paducah each April for the show to take classes, meet famous quilters and shop for more fabric! Every year when the Paducah registration guide comes out, we each print it out and then have long phone calls where we plan out potential schedules and classes, trying to make sure we get a good balance of everything we want to do in the limited time of the show.

Last year, I talked the Momcat into attending a lecture and demonstration on English Paper Piecing. She wasn't too overexcited about this particular lecture, but went along with it since I was so interested. And then it happened. The thing I'd read about on so many blogs. We both were hooked on hexagons.

If you've never done English Paper Piecing-you MUST try it. It's relaxing, it's portable, it's creative and it makes use of all those little scraps of fabric that we all have hanging around. It's the next best thing since the Pumpkin Spice Latte returned to Starbucks.

When the Momcat and I were developing ideas and projects for our first craft fair using EPP I quickly realized that I'd need to find a way to organize and store the basted hexagons, especially since I wanted to have a lot made up ahead of time to provide lots of options for making projects.

Enter...the Card Catalog I purchased from the university surplus store for $25.

It currently sits in the family room because it's solid oak. When we moved in, I was informed that under no circumstances was it going to be moved up the staircase to my studio space. Since I do most of my EPP downstairs in front of the TV anyway, it is in the perfect location to store my hexagons!

I keep them sorted by color, one per drawer. I use some of the surrounding drawers to store paper pieces, cut fabric pieces, designed flowers (in Ziploc bags) and finished projects.

I probably have several hundred in the drawers already, with the left drawer below being the fullest. You can see there's still plenty of room in each drawer so I just keep on basting and adding to the collection!

Are you hooked on hexagons or other EPP projects? How do you store your basted pieces?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Craft Fair

We had our first craft fair this week, and our first ever sales! I didn't think sewing could be so exciting and so nerve wracking at the same time!

Look, Momcat! These are our things!

The fair was at Grace United Methodist church, where Prairie Sewn Companion shared a table with two other vendors (and friends!), Miss Adventure Designs and A Life Beloved. Sharing a table with friend was a great way to not only keep costs down by splitting the booth fee, but also to provide moral support for each other! 

McKenna of Miss Adventure Designs, me and Jane and A Life Beloved

The show was fairly slow, although each of us did sell several items. We spoke with some of the other vendors, who agreed it was a very slow show with no one making very many sales. It was still great fun to get out there and talk about the products that the Momcat and I have put together, and to hear kind comments from people about our workmanship. It was also great to have our friends come out to visit and support us-seeing friendly faces really made it an even better experience! 

Jane of A Life Beloved

McKenna of Miss Adventure Designs and Bob of....well, Bob

Despite the somewhat slow start to the craft fair scene, I came home feeling energized and excited about this adventure that I'm undertaking with the Momcat.  I learned a TON about things we still need to work on, and made some good connections with other Indiana crafters. 

Five Lessons Learned: 

5. People like to see lots of choices, so inventory is important.
4. Five dollar bills are your friend-bring more than you think you'll need in change. 
3. Talk about your work-people seemed to really like hearing about how the Momcat and I are doing this together. 
2. Reach out to other vendors-they can help give you ideas and network!
1. Five cups of coffee, a coke and a hot chocolate, while keeping you awake and caffeinated, will make you crash hardcore at about 6:30. It will also make your friends refuse to get you Starbucks for fear of adding to the caffeine frezny!