Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to everyone! Just so you know, we finally got back our electricity and then a few days later lost it again for another day. So tonight it's snowing outside but I have electricity, a big fire burning in the wood stove and I'm reflecting about 2008 and planning 2009.
When you turn on the news all you hear is how everything is BAD. I've always lived my life as a Pollyanna - I'm usually a very positive person and think how wonderful it is to be alive each day. I especially don't get hung up in negative thinking when it is not in my power to change whatever it is that's going on. A couple of nights ago I phoned an old friend of mine because I hadn't gotten a Christmas card from her. She is one of those people who remembers everyone's birthday and never, ever forgets to send cards. (I only wish I were as good as she is) So I found out that she had been deathly ill, and was in the hospital for 30 days. It made me think about relationships. I think about friends and family every day, but with my incredibly hectic life I don't always tell them that I'm thinking about them. Not that I think they are psychic and will know I'm thinking of them, but I just think I'll get to it later. I have WORK to do .... so if you are like me, maybe it's time to tell each and every one that you love and hold dear to you just how much they mean to you each and every day of the year, not just birthdays or holidays, and that every single day of the year they are in your heart. So here is my resolution for 2009 (and I never make resolutions so this is new for me), I'm going to call and write to friends and family more often just to tell them they are special. I think with my friend's brush with death it made me realize that we need to actively participate in friendships and don't take it for granted that they will be there always. So give your friends and family a hug for me.....Mary Jane

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Iceman Cometh!

If you've listened to the news lately, I'm sure you've heard about all of the ice we've had in the Northeast. We have been without power since Thursday night. But I thought you might like to see a little of what we've had in our yard. I know that this storm has brought troubles to many residents throughout the area and I don't want to make light of it, but you also have to admire the shear beauty of Mother Nature. This little weeping cherry in my front yard is just covered in ice (in fact you can't find a tree that isn't completely covered).

Then there is this beauty right by my front door. Both of the enormous rhododendrons are covered in glistening crystals of ice. Who needs diamonds for Christmas? We have all the bling we need right in our own yard.

And last, but truly not least is this giant beech tree that I see from my kitchen window. It is the first green I see in the spring ... a lovely soft spring green. But right now, it is a frozen statue. I took all of these photos over the week-end. Yesterday we had temperatures in the 60's so all of my lovely ice sculptures are gone - and hopefully we'll have electricity again real soon. Now they are predicting snow tonight and who knows what else lurks on our weather horizon.....

In the meantime I'm going through sewing withdrawal. I was sewing borders on a quilt when the power went close to having the top done that it is driving me crazy. I used the first day to clean one of my sewing machines. A good use of your time, right? I even put in a new needle. But by now, I've used up all of my "non-electric" ideas and I've done so many Suduko puzzles it's not funny. Plus who knew that it gets dark so early in the day this time of the year? So wish me luck and hope that our electric company can bring back the light....Mary Jane

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is It Halloween At Your House??

This past week-end it was Halloween at my house. While most people are getting ready for Christmas, I was busy working on Halloween! No, I'm not really that far behind in my life.....but my friend, Jackie Paton, needed a little quilt made from her new fabric line and asked me to help. This is the cutest panel with witches on brooms, bats, pumpkins and my favorite part - the moon. So look for this Red Rooster fabric line that will be available at your local quilt shop around May 2009. In the meantime, Red Rooster will take this little design and make a free pattern so you can make one for yourself.
If you've ever wondered what Quilt Festival in Houston is like .... well, here's a look at a little part of my booth. It was overflowing with lots and lots of just released patterns and much more! These patterns were so hot off the presses that I picked up the quilts and patterns from the designers at the close of Quilt Market and then hung them the next day in my booth! So this was their first debut to the public!

Well, I'm off to the post office to mail out orders so enjoy the day! Mary Jane

Friday, December 5, 2008

WHEW! I've Finally Added Some Pictures

If you've read my posts in the past, I'm sure you know about my "camera phobia". I don't know what it is that keeps me from taking photos. I love looking at blogs with pictures. We're quilters, right? We love the visual. So I'm starting on my New Years Resolution right now .... do more posts with pictures. Here is a wonderful photo taken by Gregory Case, so I can't take credit for it. It is a picture of "Gentle Violet" and it is the cover photo for the pattern. Greg is not afraid of cameras, so he is the man to call when I need a cover photo done.

"Gentle Violet" was named after my Mother, Violet Hopkins. The pattern has a special place in my heart and I hope all of you who have purchased the pattern since it's debut in October have the same love of your quilt as I do of this one. And if you complete yours, please e-mail me a picture.

I've come to realize that I LOVE ribbon and rick-rack. I just recently purchased LOTS and LOTS of beautiful ribbons and rick-rack. My head has been swimming with the possibilities of where they should be used. This is the time of the year that I get to be creative and I so cherish this time. No quilt shows to pack for ... just the sewing machine and I in harmony (at least, most days).

Here's a look at two ribbons I think are really fun. The one on the left is a brown ribbon with pink FUZZY dots! The dots are so soft and cuddly .... I'm thinking it would be really fun to use this on a baby's quilt. Maybe as the binding?? Who knows what will come of it, but maybe you'll find a picture on a future post. The ribbon on the right is a satiny explosion of beautiful stripes in fuchsia, pink and a soft green. I'm looking for the right fabrics to go with this one.....

The last photo today is a small view of "Santa's Winter Wagon". Again Gregory Case was the photographer so I have to give him all the credit. I'm designing a series of seasonal patterns with wagons. So far the Winter quilt and pattern are done. The Spring and Summer quilts are partially done. My goal is to have them both ready for February when I go to Hampton, Virginia for a quilt show. So I'll keep you posted on my progress.

My task this weekend involves a box of fabric I received in the mail yesterday from my friend, Jackie Paton. Jackie designs fabric for Red Rooster. You might remember my post awhile ago about "Happily Ever After" which was her first line for Red Rooster. It has been a HUGE success. So the fabrics I received yesterday are from her Halloween line (It will be out next year). There is a great panel and Jackie wants me to come up with a design that incorporates the panel and some of the other fabrics. So I've got to put on my "Mathematical" head and figure out what triangles, rectangles, squares, or strips to use. I love this part of quilting. Well, maybe not all of the math but the creative part where you can just put together what you like. And then when it's complete (and if it's wonderful) you feel so great! Who needs drugs to make our day better? We have fabric and lots of ideas for our "high". So put your "creative" spirit to work and see what you can do. Enjoy and I'll talk with you soon. Mary Jane

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm An Underachiever!!

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since my last post! Since then I've been to Santa Clara, CA to vend at Pacific International Quilt Festival, to Houston, TX for Quilt Market and vending at Quilt Festival, and then back to California to sell my handmade items at a boutique! And that's not to mention Thanksgiving thrown into the mix along with my 2 grandsons coming to visit for 3 days. So I guess I haven't been sitting on my laurels, but then I look at my friend's blogs and there are wonderful pictures and postings almost every day and I feel like such an "Underachiever"! Where do the hours go each day?? And to think that the BIG van still has boxes in there that were sent home from Houston. I've decided it is a perfect place to store boxes ... and now I'm not sweating where to put all of it. Who's going to need drapes for a booth right now? Or table covers even? Of course I do have a few boxes containing bolts of I will have to deal with it at some point when I need to get to them for orders. So tomorrow when I drive the BIG van in for it's oil change I'm sure the mechanics will be suitably impressed with these boxes ( all 50 something of them). Just think if they could see the rest of my quilting life too...they would be in for a surprise.

So I'm going to make an effort to get some of my photos posted here in the near future so you can see some of what I've been up to. I had a great response to my 2 newest designs - "Gentle Violet" and "Santa's Winter Wagon". I had a wonderful call from a woman in California who said she hardly ever buys patterns and never kits, but she couldn't get "Gentle Violet" out of her head after she saw it at PIQF in California. So she ordered the kit over the phone, and who knows, maybe she's busy making her own right now.

My other big news is I bought over 6,000 fat quarters (actually fat fat quarters because they are cut metric so you gain a little bit over US fat quarters) from Lecien fabrics. They are the most beautiful fabrics. Lots of basics - tone on tone, small stripes, checks and dots- and then 2 big boxes of the Durham Quilt Collection! That is one of my all time favorite designs from this great Japanese fabric company. The colors are so soft and romantic. I'm working on a new design right now - I'm thinking about naming it "Sweet Adeline" after my wonderful Aunt who was full of life and always surprised me with her humor. So that's in the works...and hopefully by spring it will have hatched off the paper and onto fabric. I wish you all a wonderful Holiday season and I'm going to try and get back here more often to talk with you. Mary Jane