Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Off I Go Again

I won't say my husband or Mick the dog are really happy about me leaving again tomorrow AM since I just got back from CA only a week ago, but what can I say??? "Duty calls!" So tomorrow AM bright and early, well, actually it will be dark when I get up at 2 AM, I'll on my way to Fall Market in Houston. This will be my 2nd wholesale show for Holly Hill Quilt Designs - I was in Minneapolis in May for my "debut" and now Houston. I still have 1 quilt that needs the binding finished up but other than that the 6 new quilts are D-O-N-E! Of course I won't tell you all of the other things that need to be finished up because it is too early in the morning to think about that.
I'm hoping to meet lots of new people at the show and also see old friends too. Can't wait to get there. My sister, Judy, is meeting me there to help with the show. My friend, Marianne of Vintage & Vogue, is flying with me and then we'll all room together once we get there. It will be one big slumber party - except sometimes we don't get lots of sleep. We do a lot of laughing and we all know that laughing is good for the soul so we should be just "heavenly" after this trip.
And some more BIG news - the block that I did for 100 Quilt Blocks by Top Designers Vol. 2 is on the cover. They emailed me a file showing the cover blocks and lo and behold I found mine there. I haven't seen the magazine yet, but hopefully they will have it available at their booth at Market. So needless to say I'm very, very happy.
If any of you are coming to Market, then please stop by and look me up. My booth is #2057 - look for the shiny pink Christmas tree and the chicken rug. Yes, you read correctly - I am having a really shiny pink tree and I bought a very adorable chicken rug for the floor!!! So don't think I've flipped out - they are actually really cute together. And then to top it off - my friend, Joanie, is making me table covers and pipe "socks" out of a green with pink polka dot fabric. And then a pink, yellow and green plaid table topper. So look for the "wild" woman in Houston - I'm sure to get some attention with all of this stuff. Plus I bought the cutest vintage green chairs at a flea market in Sacramento when I was there for PIQF so they are going to be there too. I'll try (can't promise miracles though) to take photos of the booth and post them. If you read my blog you'll know that I am the world's worst one about publishing photos. My pictures from the booth in May are still in the camera - just can't seem to get it done! Anyway I hope you are enjoying the fall and talk with you soon. Mary Jane

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Here At Last

I've been watching the mail. Every time the postman delivers our mail, I wait, somewhat patiently, to see if he will bring the issue of Quiltmaker Magazine that features the snowglobe Christmas stocking I designed for them. And guess what - IT ARRIVED THIS WEEK! I was a little apprehensive about the cover since Quiltmaker liked the snowglobe design so much, they asked if they could use it to design a cover quilt. I had asked about making the quilt myself since I am so darned picky about colors, but they had already decided on a line of fabric so there wasn't any choosing to do. So I held my breath and VOILA it appeared on the cover and it looks really cute. I guess I really don't have to do everything myself (REALLY???) so maybe I should just lay back sometimes and let the chips fall.
I have all of the 6 new designs for Fall Market in Houston in various stages of completion. 2 of them went off to the photographer in Colorado, Gregory Case, yesterday. I hope they are smiling pretty for the camera. Another one is with Cathie, my machine quilter. I'm still doing the hand sewing of the binding on the BIG quilt - I've made it 1/2 way around so far. Once that is done I'll send it on to Gregory too. So there are 2 that are moving a little slower. Both of them are with Nancy, my incredible applique and embroidery genius. She promises me (even though I've about killed her with 6 designs in about 2 months) she will give both of them to me when we meet at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA. I'm leaving on Wed. for the show. I fly to Sacramento and meet up with my sister, Judy, who has so graciously let me have boxes and more boxes shipped to her house. Right now her house looks like a warehouse, just like mine does every day. So if you don't hear from me for a little while you'll know I'm basking in the sun (HA) in sunny California. Mary Jane

Sunday, September 26, 2010

There Should Be More Days In The Week

I had a very special day yesterday and it didn't involve work! As you probably have gathered from previous posts, my average work week is over 100 hours. With this schedule it doesn't allow for much "down" time. But yesterday we had more than 30 people here for a barbeque. It started with one friend, Dave, asking my husband to make chili like he made about 45 years ago when my husband was about 21 and the rest of this group of Boston friends was about 17. Now I'm not sure if it is the never ending appetite of 17 year olds that made this chili so famous, but my husband doesn't really cook. So here we are planning this event around Dan's famous chili. The short version is my daughter, Allison, and I made the chili. We were sworn to secrecy and promised not to reveal that he didn't make it. I'm not breaking a promise here because in the end he told everyone that he didn't make it.
But the lead up to the party was all thanks to his working non-stop to clean the house and get things organized! I didn't get back from the Oaks, PA show until late Monday night so that didn't leave much time until guests arrived on Sat. and I had so many things to get done for the next show and then Quilt Market right after that I didn't start helping until Friday night. But I must give him credit because he cleaned and polished so things looked really good (that is unless you looked in my bedroom because I moved a bunch of junk in there). Luckily we had to lock our cat, Roxy, in there since she is an indoor cat and we didn't want her to accidentally get out.
Now today I have to get one last design worked out so my wonderful applique person, Nancy, can be stitching away on it while I'm vending in Santa Clara, CA at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. And it's time to mail the next My Garden Button of the Month out so I've got to get these envelopes ready to be mailed tomorrow. And I still have to get the binding on the BIG quilt (82" x 102") so it can be mailed to the photographer for the picture for the pattern cover. So it's off to work for now..... Mary Jane

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Here We Go Again

Just wanted to update everyone on what's happening at The Christmas Shoppe & Holly Hill Quilt Designs. I leave on Tues. for Oaks, PA to vend at the Pennsylvania Extravaganza Quilt Show. If you are planning on attending, look for us there. We have a 30' booth that will be filled with lots of wonderful new & exciting things. I've been madly cutting & folding (about 16 hours a day / 7 days a week).
I'm also getting merchandise ready for Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA in Oct. I have a 30' booth there so I've got to get goodies for there too because my friends, Trish & Dave, will drive my boxes from PA to CA at the end of the PA show. Nothing like working on two BIG shows at once! And if that isn't enough, I also signed up for a booth at Fall Quilt Market in Houston. I'm working on 6 new designs that will debut there. (and they are coming out really cute!)
So now you know why you haven't seen new posts here for some time. I also heard from the editors about the upcoming issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks From Today's Top Designers Vol. 2. The issue will be on newsstands November 16th so look for my block there.
Well it's back to cutting & folding .... hope you are enjoying your week-end. Mary Jane

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Feel Guilty

I have so many friends that post on their blog almost daily. It makes me feel so guilty because it seems I write a new post every few months. Not to say I don't THINK about doing it, but somehow so many other things get in the way that I just don't get it done.
So let's see ...... back in April I wrote about going to Minneapolis for Spring Quilt Market in May and showing my line of patterns under the Holly Hill Quilt Designs name. Well, May is long gone so I'll give a quick synopsis of what happened there. First I took pictures like I said I would, but they are still in the camera so you'll have to use your imagination. Picture taking (or at least downloading pictures) might be lower on the list than creating posts for the blog. At Market I ran into lots of friends and I also met lots of new people too. I was approached by Quiltmaker Magazine to design two projects for them. One for their 100 blocks magazine and one for Quiltmaker. I will confess here that the projects didn't go to the bottom of the list and they were completed on time and delivered! (WHEW) In fact, they are using my project inside the magazine and then also using parts of the design for a cover quilt they made for the Nov./Dec. issue. This is truly exciting for me. I was also approached by a fabric company to design fabrics for them - BE STILL MY HEART!! Now even though I've done some sketches I am running into trouble. I can't paint!!! (that is unless you want your living room painted, then I'm pretty darned good) To try and remedy this, I bought a new computer. It looks like it came right out of Star Trek. Incredible machine - love it, but now I have to master using a computer to draw. In my brain it sounded really easy - just draw on the screen with a paint brush and VOILA you have beautiful fabric designs - NOT!!! If you've ever tried this you'll understand that using your hand flat on paper is so much easier than using it up in the air on a screen. And if you touch the screen with more than the paint brush you have a whole different picture than you envisioned. So each night I'm taking a few minutes or hours, depending on my schedule, and practicing. If I'm lucky then maybe I'll get something usable before my 100th birthday.
June was even more of a blur. We went to Chantilly, VA for a quilt show, then had a week off, then off to the Vermont Quilt Festival.
July was a little vacation time. Went to the Cape with the grandkids for a few days. Took some really beautiful pictures there (still in the camera too). Then when we got home went right back to work making quilts, designing new patterns and generally working 24/7. My quilter (who is remarkable, by the way) can't believe how many things I've been bringing over. I took 4 last week and when I picked them up had 2 more to bring. Now I already have 1 more to bring on Monday and who knows what else I'll get done since I have 2 more days before I go. But I also have to really get busy if I want to go to Quilt Market in Houston in Oct. The designs that are in my brain need to get on paper and sent to Nancy (my wonderful applique and embroidery person). Without her I'd be lost. She just did 12 embroidery blocks for me and they are a masterpiece. Even my husband noticed the beautiful SMALL perfect stitches.
August is fast approaching and in August we will be vending at the New England Quilt Museum's show in Lowell, MA. This year they are having it at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium so if you are coming, please look for us there.
Well, I better sign off for now. I have 4 quilts to get the binding on. Mary Jane

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thank You

Thank you, thank you to all of you who voted us "Best Exhibitor Booth" at MQX in Providence, RI! It was such an honor to receive this ribbon. To know that you picked us #1 from all of the other exhibitors is a tribute I will cherish.
Right now I am getting ready to make the wholesale debut of my pattern line, Holly Hill Quilt Designs, at Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis, MN. I have about 3 weeks left until I leave - can't believe I am driving there! It is a 2,800 mile round trip. I won't say I'm looking forward to the driving, but I have a vision of my booth that requires bringing the big van, or as I call it "the boat". Luckily my friend, Jackie, is going to ride with me. I don't think I could drive there alone so I'm really glad she volunteered to ride along. I have been madly working on the very latest designs - still need photos of 1 quilt, pattern covers of 3 quilts and then the time to sit down and write four patterns. Here's what is new - Autumn's Arrival, Good Morning Sunshine, Mary E's Christmas Cottage Tree Skirt, and Snow Is For The Birds. So if you have a favorite quilt shop, ask them to stop by my booth (#2700) and see what's there. I'll try and take a few photos for you so you can see the booth from start to finish.
Hope you are enjoying your spring. Mary Jane

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hello Lancaster, PA

Sometimes I think I'm the luckiest person in the world. I LOVE what I do!! We work incredibly hard setting up booths, working for long hours at shows on our feet the whole time, and then there is the take down. Some vendors think I'm completely nuts (and they are probably right) but I tell them that set up is like going to the spa - you get tons of exercise and work up quite a sweat! Then we have 3 or 4 days of real joy - working the booth and getting to meet all of the wonderful quilters. We just finished up a show last night in Lancaster, PA (got out of the convention center at 11 pm). Thanks to all for making this an incredible show for us! We love to see you.
Today we took the day off - slept until almost 9 am, then went for a leisurely breakfast, made a stop at the outlet stores (said a quick hello to Harry and Davids for some english muffins to bring home), then went to the BIG mall and had a pedicure. After at least a million hours on my feet they were begging for mercy. Now I'm sporting some bright pink toes so maybe that means spring is right around the corner. Forget the manicure - they always try and talk me into it but with the abuse I give these hands it only lasts about a day. I can't justify the expense for one day of beauty. The toes are a different matter - lasts a really long time and it is oh so pretty.
But I guess I got off the subject - that's what happens from a day off .... back to Lancaster, PA. I love this area. Now we do 2 shows around here - the AQS show that we just finished and then we are back in Sept. for the Mancuso show in Oaks. I loved the downtown area. It was the first time I'd been downtown Lancaster. What incredible buildings - I wanted to photograph a wrought iron fence and some windows I found around the corner from the convention center, but somehow I just didn't find the time. Oh well - I thought it might make a really interesting applique design.
Speaking of applique designs - I just got my 2 newest quilts back from the machine quilter right before I left. I did "Autumn's Arrival" which is a fall quilt with a layout similar to "Welcome Winter". There is the cutest little brown squirrel - plus some pumpkins and crows and other fall goodies. I think you'll like it. The other quilt is "Good Morning Sunshine". I've gone a little outside my "box" and used some brighter primary colored fabrics from American Jane. There is a center design with a sun, barn and silo, some fencing and a few really cute sheep grazing in the meadow. I'm hoping to have the patterns done in the next 3 weeks so I can debut them at Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis. My last one to finish up is "Mary E's Christmas Cottage" - it's a red tree skirt. But unfortunately some of this week is going to be spent on taxes - I have an appointment on Friday and need to get a years worth of receipts itemized and sorted for then. UGH - I hate that part of business. God bless the ones who are good at it and like it. Give me fabric and my sewing machine any day - but take away the dreaded bookkeeping!
Anyway I better run. We have to drive home tomorrow and have a few last minute things to get done. I hope you are working away on a wonderful project - Mary Jane

Friday, February 26, 2010

So Glad To Be In Virginia

As I've posted previously, I really do love New Hampshire! It is beautiful and peaceful, but right this minute I'm glad I'm in Virginia. Haven't talked with the hubby tonight but I think it's been snowing quite a bit today. We drove to Virginia on Tuesday - started out with snow in our area, then changed to rain for most of the rest of the drive, and then when it finally stopped raining we had BIG traffic. So the 11 hour day turned into 13+ hours of driving. Our behinds were definitely numb by the time we arrived here at the hotel. But after the set up (don't even want to tell you all about this except to say it took 10 hours) we've had a great time here. Still 2 more days to go, but everyone has been so nice and complimentary. We've heard over and over again how much everyone loves our goodies and we're their favorite booth. So thanks to all for your kind words. It really does make it all worth it for us!
Now it's off to the room to make a quick call to home and then I've got to find the ice machine. The knees are not what they used to be and I think they are needed a little ice to make them happy. If you're near Hampton, VA stop by and tell us hello. We're here until Monday morning. Mary Jane

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Back In NH (For Now)

I've been to California and back since my last post. The Road to California show was incredible and thank you to all who helped make it a success for us. I was asked by so many people while in "Sunny" Southern California, "Don't you love our weather?". Well, yes I do but I also love New Hampshire. Now that's a lot to say coming from someone born in Los Angeles and living in California until I was 20. I lived right outside of downtown Los Angeles until I was 15, then we moved to Northern California. I remember thinking I was going to freeze to death when we moved "north" - little did I know that wasn't freezing! In 1970 my husband, my newborn daughter and I moved to Massachusetts. Now that was freezing. We moved in November and in January the thermometer never went above zero. I thought I was crazy for moving there. But now that so many years have gone by and, of course, there was nature's thermostat change a few years back - I actually enjoy the cold. Now it's my husband who thinks we should turn up the thermostat. So even though California is fun to visit, I truly love New Hampshire. I love the fact that our town has only 1,200 people - that we don't even have a signal or our own zip code. Our only store is a tiny corner store where you can get some basic food items and gasoline. Some would think of this as a hardship, but I call it quiet, beautiful country.
On Tuesday I'm flying back to California to vend at the Folsom Quilt Guild's annual show. So if you are thinking of a day of quilt viewing, and you don't live too far from Folsom, stop on bye and say hi.
I finished up 2 new designs right before leaving for the Road to CA show, but unfortunately I didn't get the patterns written in time to bring them. They are currently visiting the photographer in Colorado and I expect them back by the end of the week. Then it's hurry, hurry to get the patterns written and printed so they can come to Folsom with me. We had a little contest that we held in our booth in CA to name the quilts and I'm still thinking about all of the possibilities. Right now I'm seriously thinking about Pumpkin Sorbet, Polly's Pumpkins or Papa's Pumpkin Patch for the (you guessed it) pumpkin quilt. For the red and green quilt (which has turned out to be somewhat harder to name) I've been thinking about Devonshire or Wisconsin Red Oak. So what do you think? I've got a few days left to figure it out and then it will be set in stone (or should I say ink??). I think it was harder for me picking names this time because of being sick for so long. I felt lucky to get the quilts done and then the brain went dead. Now the next one is going to be a tree skirt and I hope you'll like it. I think it's going to be titled Mary E's Christmas Cottage. Well it's time to get back to work. Enjoy your day, Mary Jane

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Year In Review

I've been reflecting on 2009 and all of the happenings - boy, what a year! Here's a little look back -

Just think snow, ice & cold. That was it in a nutshell!
In the beginning of February I had the pleasure of vending at the Folsom Fiber and Quilt Guild show in Folsom, CA. No snow there - but they did have some incredibly beautiful peacocks right next to the parking area.
Only in California could you find peacocks at a quilt show - and a llama was out front but I didn't have time to take a picture.

And directly across from my booth was this beautiful quilt done by one of the guild members, Judy Danes. What a masterpiece. And she's published a book so you can learn her techniques.

The end of February I was in Hampton, VA to vend at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. It is a wonderful show showcasing quilts from around the world. I have a 30' booth there so I have the opportunity to fill it with incredible designs from so many talented people. I also debuted my newest quilt design there - Heavenly Home.


Vending at shows is such a blessing. Yes, it is incredibly hard work - it can take up to 8 hours just to set up a 30' booth, but the response from the you, our customers, can make it all worth while. We love to hear your "ooh's and aah's". MARCH brought me to the Hands Across The Valley Quilt Guild show in Amherst, MA. I love doing this show - it is a small guild but they are such a talented group. And the really big benefit is I get to come home at night and sleep in my own bed. APRIL was lots of fun. First I vended at the Quilters Heritage Celebration in Lancaster, PA. I absolutely love the Amish country so it feels more like a vacation than work. The day after the show we take a little time to stop by some of the Amish businesses. Of course, I like the ones where they have food. I came home with so many jars of jam, it was crazy. And a case of peanut butter to go with the jam. And of course, I had to buy quite a few molasses cookies (my favorite) and did a little sampling of them on the drive home. Later in April I was at Machine Quilters Expo. This was their last year to have the show in NH so 2010 will bring us to the new location in Providence, RI. I'm looking forward to it because I've never been to Providence before. It is supposed to be a really beautiful city.


Talk about a busy month ..... First off I went to vend at the Pioneer Valley Quilt Guild meeting. They had a wonderful speaker and lots of goodies to eat - so it was a great night out. Then it was off to Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, PA. My friend, Jackie Paton, and I drove there and there was so much to see. Lots and lots of new things - just incredible eye candy. Then the end of May we took a little time off and went to our cottage on the lake for a little 4 day getaway. JUNE I was off and running again. The beginning of the month I went to Chantilly, VA to vend at a show. It was my first time there and the show far exceeded my expectations. Can't wait to go back again this year. June 13th found me in Los Angeles to attend my friends wedding. This is a friend I've had for 55 years so there was no way I could miss the wedding. It was a fairy tale wedding - she married her high school sweetheart. Then right back from LA I left for the Vermont Quilt Festival. This was my first time there too. The end of June brought us back to the cottage again but this time with the two grandsons. We always take them the end of June or beginning of July. It is our time together with them and they love the swimming all day long. A few years ago we bought them a big inflatable raft so they have had lots of fun jumping and swimming. To be young again!


In July I didn't have any quilt shows so I spent time working on new quilt patterns. It's funny how a design can come about. I was waiting at the lab at the hospital for my name to be called and thought about a concept - Good Morning Sunshine. So rummaging around in my purse I found a tiny little tablet and started drawing. Now here is it 6 months later and the design is complete. The quilt is almost done and I should have the pattern completed by February.


Two shows in August so it was a busy month. First was the New England Quilt Museum show in Lowell, MA. This is always a great show and even though we froze to death this year - it is held at the Tsongas Ice Arena so you get the picture - it was well attended and as always the quilts were beautiful. Then the next weekend was the Mancuso World Tour of Quilts in Manchester, NH.


We were off to the Lancaster, PA area again for the Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza in Oaks, PA. The show had been in Harrisburg for a few years but this year was it's return back to the Philadelphia area. What a show! We were so busy it was crazy. And of course since it wasn't that far to the Lancaster area we had to take a side trip on the drive home to buy up more food. You can never have enough food, right?


Back to California for the Pacific International Quilt Festival. This is a very big show held in Santa Clara, CA. It is doubly fun for me because I get to vend at a terrific show and I also get to see my sister. So we mix fun and work - come to think of it, I think that my work is fun too - so I guess I just have fun and fun. I debuted 2 new quilt designs there - Hoppy's Spring Wagon and Teddy Stevens Comes to America. These are 2 fun little quilts! I also brought along another new design - Welcome Winter - which you can see on the photo below.


Hard to believe the year is almost over - but November had some surprises! First off I was lucky enough to get a booth at The Quilters Gathering in Nashua, NH. I've wanted to vend at this show for years, but I was on their waiting list. So low and behold I received an e-mail and they had a booth for me. Now the down side of it is I usually have a 10' x 30' booth at most shows and this was a 10' x 8' booth. After my initial heart attack I decided that I could somehow make a tiny booth work. You'll see from the photo below that I was able to pack tons of beautiful things in this small space. I just decided to focus on red and green since my holiday mood was in gear at that point. It was a very busy show - I guess other people were in the holiday mood too. Then the end of November I was back to California again to help my sister do her annual Holiday Boutique. It is my biggest workout of the year - we set up most of her very large house with handcrafted merchandise from 20+ crafters. So the merchandising is a huge job. Unfortunately after I came home from this show, I got sick and I've been sick ever since. I did manage to make Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people, but haven't gotten much else done since.


Oh December - my favorite month of the year. Even though I was sick through all of December - so it was doctor visits, taking medication, etc. - I still love Christmas. I also worked on 3 new quilt designs. One quilt is totally done, another is at the machine quilters right now and the 3rd is being appliqued as we speak.


Okay - so it's 2010 now. Here's what to look for - I'm leaving next week to vend at The Road to California show. Now this is a real feather in my cap because this is a very difficult show to get in to. I am so happy that they chose me to vend this year so I'm trying to get merchandise ready to be shipped on Monday. Still not feeling that well, but now the pressure is on. I also made 2 more sample quilts from other designers patterns so I have to get the binding on them too. Let's see - it was 6 degrees below zero here the other day and the weather in Ontario, CA was 74. Guess I'll need to bring my shorts along. Anyway, I hope your holidays were wonderful. Mary Jane