Saturday, June 30, 2012

ATCs: Technology

From mechanical to digital, our life, work and play have evolved through innovative and inventive applications of various technologies. The ATC theme for June was "Technology" and the ATCs were quite elaborate this month. ATC artists portrayed various aspects—and eras—of technology from the invention of the manual typewriter in 1868 to its replacement with the personal home computer in the 1980s.

For me technology is a love/hate relationship. I love it when it works, and hate it when it doesn't. So, enjoy the evolution, or should I say "revolution"?
Left: "Technology. It's a love/hate relationship."
Right: "Technology"
"Technology: Wireless"
Sunspots (below) are thousands of times bigger than earth and millions of miles away. The National Solar Observatory (NM) uses high resolution photography to study their lifecycle.
"Seeing Spots?"
The development of the camera obscura produced this vintage piece of technology. Today we use digital technology to take and share photos.
Oh, and the advancements of the telephone. What would Alexander think of voice-directed, wireless mobile phones with built-in GPS and internet capabilities?
This is a great flip-up ATC (below). Sooooo... what's behind your nice neat desk? Can you relate???
"Technology. (It can get messy.)"

Friday, June 29, 2012

My Fabric Rep Trek: Decherd Needleworks

Decherd Needleworks
Located in the small, middle Tennessee town of Decherd is Decherd Needleworks. Don't let the unassuming exterior and simple, yet straight-forward signage mislead you. This quilt shop is home to a glorious selection of quilting fabrics from 20s, 30s, civil war and other reproductions to bright prints, novelties, holiday prints and contemporary staples like batiks, Kaffe Fassett and a colorful collection  of stripes and plaids... all at very economical prices.

20s and 30s prints, stripes and plaids.
With its exposed brick walls, Decherd Needleworks has the charm of an old time mercantile. Here is Jim Warf, the owner, at the check-out and cutting counter. A wall of quilting and sewing notions is behind him. Jim also offers machine quilting services on his computerized Gammill long arm and says he's quilted over 600 quilts so far.
Jim Warf at the cutting counter.
Casually stroll the aisles of fabrics in the calm, tranquil atmosphere.
Bright cotton prints.
An amazing selection of reproduction fabrics.
Rows of beautiful batiks.
Wander through the archway, past the tables of fat quarters into the large, open classroom that spans the length of the building. Jim hosts sit-and-sews as well as classes and says groups of traveling quilters often reserve the classroom space for a day at this destination shop. Quilters bring their machines, shop and work on projects while a local restaurant caters box lunches so you don't have to wait for a big table and quilting can continue uninterrupted! How wonderful is that??
Classroom with boxes of color-themed fat quarters.
Adding to the quaint ambiance of the shop are framed needlework samplers that hang along one side of the classroom.
Framed needlework samplers hang on the classroom wall.
The note on the classroom chalkboard sums it all up, "Quilting—it's not a hobby, it's a lifestyle!" 
"Quilting—it's not a hobby, it's a lifestyle!"
So, if quilting and fabric is a big part of your lifestyle, get a group of your quilting friends together for a road trip to Decherd Needleworks. It's about 1 hour and 20 minutes northwest of Chattanooga, TN (and you will gain an hour on the way up). Make a day of it and get lunch delivered. Contact Jim at (931) 968-0808 to reserve the classroom and he'll let you know what's the tastiest item on the local lunch menu.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cool Cotton Vest knitting workshop

Cool Cotton Vest with pockets
The simple cotton vest… classic, easy-going and versatile. It’s the perfect summertime knit.

Several of my knitting students requested this workshop, so here it is! We''ll be knitting a simple vest, a basic ingredient in everyone's wardrobe. The ribbed slip stitch pattern and side vents provide interesting details that make this piece enjoyable to knit and fun to wear. 

This vest has a casual style and can be worn open or the pattern provides an example of a top button closure. Students will learn how to add a lined pocket to their vest as we work with soft cotton yarn.

For this vest, we'll use Cotton Supreme by Universal Yarn. Students will select their colorway and the yarn will be available at the workshop. Cotton Supreme is a smooth and sumptuous worsted weight cotton yarn. A dream to work up, this yarn comes in a wide selection of vivid solids that will show off the texture of the stitch pattern. Machine washable and dryable, Cotton Supreme softens as it washes—making it a great choice for this versatile summer vest.

Getting a Good Fit
When knitting garments, one of the primary factors (in addition to your gauge swatch) is having current measurements so you can get a good fit. We'll have two meetings devoted to taking measurements and working the calculations for fitting.

If you are interested in joining me for this knitting workshop, contact me at

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Fabric Rep Trek: Olde Time Fabric Shop

Cool fabric at the Olde Time Fabric Shop.
A sign announcing, "Cool Fabric Inside!" is a like an oasis in the dessert to a quilter during these hot and humid days of June... or any time of year, for that matter. I saw this sign propped up on the sidewalk outside the Olde Time Fabric Shop in Knoxville, Tennessee, and what I found inside did not disappoint.

For a shop that just opened at the beginning of this year, Rebecca, the shop's owner, has stocked the shelves with a wonderful selection of quilting fabrics—including great blenders and basics such as Blank Quilting's Fusion IllusionSplash and Spirals that complement her myriad focus fabrics. Threads, notions and patterns round out the selection geared toward quilters of any level.

Rebecca, an avid sewer, also offers apparel fabrics and sewing patterns such as Butterick, McCalls and others as well as sewing notions. This shop's selection and ambiance is anything but "old time." The circular customer service counter in the middle of the store provides a good vantage point for store personnel to greet, assist and direct customers and offers easy access for customer checkout. The space is open, comfortable and well lit.
Brittney, Rebecca's step-daughter, provides customer service.
During my visit, there was a store-sponsored contest going on. Small wall quilts with a patriotic theme were on display on the large round column behind the customer service counter. Stop in and vote for your favorite! Rebecca is also talking with prospective teachers and plans to offer a range of quilting and sewing classes in the near future.
The shop has an easy-to-spot corner location in the Western Plaza Shopping Center.
The Olde Time Fabric Shop is located in the Western Plaza Shopping Center in the Bearden area of Knoxville. The store's large outside sign and corner location in the shopping center makes it easy to find. There is plenty of parking and Fresh Market is located in the same center.

Front winder of Olde Time Fabric Shop.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Fabric Rep Trek: Hyderhangout and Sew Notions

I'm on my Blank Quilting fabric rep trek and recently visited two Chattanooga area quilt shops. Hyderhangout, Quilts, Fabric and More, located in Cleveland, Tennessee and Sew Notions, a Quilt and Material Shopin Jasper, Tennessee.
Hyderhangout, Cleveland, TN
You can't miss the large "Quilt Shop" sign above Hyderhangout in Cleveland, TN, a town northeast of Chattanooga. This quilt shop has an eclectic selection of quilting and needlework notions, quilting fabrics, sewing fabrics, patterns and books. Susan, the owner, started off small and is now in her second retail location, outgrowing the previous one. She offers a range of classes and supplies for traditional quilting, surface embellishment, a Go Cutter club, Sit and Sew sessions, projects for fabric strips [jelly rolls], and a Summer Art Camp for kids. In addition to making quilts for family and friends, the staff of Hyderhangout told me about the charity quilts they make, including Clown Quilts, for several organizations.

Fabrications pre-cut fabric strips from Blank Quilting will be arriving soon at Hyderhangout for an upcoming fabric strip event in July. Contact Susan for details. Within a block of the shop, you'll also find The Museum Center at Five Points, which holds an annual Stitches in Time quilt exhibit from January through March.

Heading northwest on I-24 from Chattanooga is Sew Notions, in Jasper, TN.
Sew Notions, Jasper, TN
Conveniently located in the Ingle grocery store shopping center, Sew Notions has plenty of parking outside. Michelle, the shop owner, and her staff greet customers that enter the font door and the quilts adorning the walls and hanging from the ceiling provide a welcome setting.
Quilts hang on the walls and from the ceiling at Sew Notions.
Michelle eagerly provides assistance to customers who are looking for specific fabric prints or colors, and answers questions they may have about the quiltmaking process. For the non-quilter, she offers quilt making services such as making T-shirt quilt tops and flannel baby quilts that can be purchased at the store.
Brianna helps at the cutting table and the register.
Michelle is assisted in the shop by her sister and niece. Brianna, her niece, recently made her first quilt and was proud and excited to show it to me. During my visit, the staff was making plans for a booth at an annual arts and crafts fair in Bell Buckle, Tennessee this fall.
A selection of solids, novelties and prints are found at Sew Notions.
Michelle's propensity toward bright, lively colors is evident in the fabric offerings in her shop. Prints mingle on the shelves with florals, dots, stripes and solids. She is also mindful of her customers' preferences and will ask for opinions when deciding on a fabric purchase for her store.

Look for some fun, colorful novelty prints at Sew Notions in the near future and the ever-so-popular Fabrications 2.5-inch fabric strip collections from Blank Quilting. Do you have a Lasagna quilt in your future??? You should!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Big News!

I won't make you wait too long, but want to give you a few hints about my latest, and very exciting news. Can you guess?
Gorgeous Prints.
Luscious Batiks.
Basics and Blenders--a generous array of supporting cast members.
Have an idea?
Festive Holiday prints.
Wide Backs at 108".
Figured it out yet?
More Blenders covering the full color gamut.
And, here's the total give-it-away hint... (from a beautiful and thoughtful card I received from my good friend, Vista.)
Coming to a quilt shop near you...
Say hello to the new fabric rep for Blank Quilting
That's me! 
I'll be covering Tennessee, northern Alabama, southern Kentucky and bits of Georgia. The boundaries of my territory are still being worked out but I'm looking forward to visiting all the shops, meeting the shop owners and all you quilters out there.

So, tell me what you like to see in your quilting fabrics—prints, designs, colors or projects. Let me know what's missing. Tell me what's  hard to find. And, what you want more of. I have a direct line to the people making the decisions and I'm more that happy to pass along your thoughts, wishes and ideas.

I'm excited to be part of the Blank Quilting Team. Blank Quilting has a full service line of prints, florals, batiks, basics, neutrals, blenders and wide backings. The color palette and undertones are consistent across the lines so you can combine prints, solids, florals, blendersgeometrics from different Blank fabric collections and they all enhance and support each other. My students have often heard me preach that I adhere to the quilting philosophy, "Why use 5 fabrics when you can use 50??"

Go out, support YLS (your local shop), and buy Blank Quilting fabrics! I'll be letting you know the stores that carry them through this blog.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Knitting the Sky—May skies

Sky Scarf: January through May skies.
The 5 month Sky Scarf project is now over 21 inches. In the last two weeks of May, gardens and lawns benefited from light gray skies and periodic rain storms. The last few days brought us 90-degree weather and pale blue skies with scattered clouds. Summer is on the doorstep.
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