Saturday, June 11, 2011

Roswell Lavender Festival

I had a lovely Saturday morning with my mother at the First Annual Roswell Lavender Festival, which was sponsored by and held at Barrington Hall.  Just around the corner from Bulloch Hall, where the Roswell guild's show is held every March, Barrington Hall is another gorgeous historic home built by one of the city's founders.

There is an abundance of lavender in the serene gardens and, apparently, Evelyn Simpson, the last resident of the hall, made lavender wands to sell through the mail.  This is where they got the idea to hold the festival at Barrington Hall.

In addition to tours of the house and gardens, there was live music, barbecue, and vendors.  They were selling everything from jewelry to moss gardens to natural soaps and lotions.  Antiques in Old Town had a beautiful display of heirloom and antique pieces. 

The Pop Shop had their handcrafted ice pops to help beat the heat, including a honey lavender flavor that I can only imagine was created for the festival.

Amy Walsh from Shirt Off Your Back Quilts was there with a custom quilt designed just for the day.  A donation to the festival earned you a ticket in the drawing for the quilt.

The natural light behind the quilt showed off the incredible longarm quilting by Betty Alonsious.

There were also craft demonstrations and food tastings on the hour.  We got to try the honey lemon biscotti.  Sadly, the lavender ice cream tasting wasn't until 3 pm, so I missed out.  I got the recipe, though, in the cookbook.  I'll just have to try it at home!

Mom and I attended the craft session where they taught us to make the lavender wands just like Evelyn Simpson's.  I got lucky enough to be standing next to a woman who used to work as a docent at a historic home in Decatur.  She taught visitors and volunteers how to make the wands that were once used around the house as a natural insect repellent and air freshener.  She said that the wands could be hung in windows (before screens or air conditioning) or under the ladies' hoop skirts, tucked into drawers and the foot of the bed.

Here's how you make one:

Step 1 - gather a bundle of lavender stems with the leaves stripped off the bottom.  An even number is recommended.  18, 20, or 26 seem to work best. Get a piece of thin ribbon (thinner than shown here works even better according to my tutor) about 1 1/2 yards long.  Tie a tight knot just below the flowers.  One end should be shorter, just long enough to hang the finished wand.  Or you can weave it into the wand.

Step 2 - Bend the stems down over the flowers.

Step 3 - Start weaving the ribbon over and under each stem.  Starting is a little trickier, but once you get going it makes sense.

Step 4 - keep weaving until you get to the bottom of the flowers.  Then tie a knot or a bow.  Voila!

Here are some of the older wands after they've dried.  A couple of these are over twenty years old and still fragrant.  Aren't they beautiful?

Many groups participated and made this festival possible, including the Chattahoochee Unit of the Herb Society of America.  They sold different varieties of lavender and a "cookbook" that included tips on growing lavender and a list of that do well locally.

The herb society also had bowls of dried lavender and sachets to keep as a fragrant memento of the day.  I know it's one I will always remember.  Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Going to Guild - Thread Painting with Nancy Prince

Monday night was guild night, and our June speaker was Nancy PrinceNancy is the author of Simple Thread Painting and the newly released Thread Painting With Style.  

Since it's summer, Gracie was able to go with me.  Nancy was so gracious with her before the presentation started, asking if she were also a quilter and inquiring about her projects.   In addition to her sense of humor, clear presentation, and beautiful quilts, Nancy added to my list of important characteristics her generosity and charm with a young quilter.  After the program was over, Nancy also took time to answer questions and share her general techniques with the guild members.
Nancy told us about growing up in Asheville, North Carolina and her bold message on an Alex Anderson message board asking Alex how to rate a guest appearance on Simply Quilts.  Alex caught Nancy off guard by asking if she had considered writing a book.  As she would later when the owner of her local quilt shop asked if Nancy was a teacher, she tossed off a "Sure!" and, in Scarlett O'Hara fashion, figured she could worry about that tomorrow.  It was Alex's urging that convinced Nancy to complete her book, despite the fact that "I can't write a grocery list!  How am I going to write a book?"

She did write that book, and she did end up teaching at that quilt shop, although she assumed it would be difficult.  Much to her surprise, Nancy says, "When you teach something that you absolutely are passionate about, it's not hard at all."  

Nancy gave us a quick overview of her thread painting techniques both on and off the quilt.  You can check out a free video to give you a taste of it here.  She also has on demand videos that go into greater depth for a fee if she isn't teaching at a guild or shop near you.

Seeing the quilts in person is breathtaking.  I can't even begin to express how awe-inspiring they are, yet Nancy insists that she can't draw, doesn't use fancy tools, and anyone can do it.  
I'm not sure.  The quilt above, called "Longing for the Past," has details you keep discovering the longer you look at it.  Nancy shares a great story about standing near it at a show and overhearing a man who, after reading that the quilt took over 600 hours, said to his wife, "That woman's got way too much time on her hands."

I tried to take the shot below at an angle so you could see how the design was created and how much dimension the thread painting and the quilting add to the piece.  There are pieces, often miniature quilts, that are left to flap loose along the edges.  The horse's mane is fringe, and you can see the sleigh tracks in the snowy lane. 
During Show and Tell, we got to see the work in progress by those who were able to attend Nancy's class on Sunday.  I wish I'd signed up! Apparently, though, if you are a member of The Quilt Show, you can download the videos mentioned above that demonstrate Nancy's technique in more detail for free.

Ben also shared the exciting news that he had received the "fat envelope" from the AQS show in Knoxville!  His Sunbonnet Sue quilt is going on the road right after she gets a new binding, which Ben says the "quiltzillas" told him wasn't right.  

If only I ever get to a point where the quiltzillas notice my quilts! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SeamedUP - My Interview with Alison Rosen

This week I had the opportunity to interview Allison Rosen from

I first "met" Allison through her podcast, Within a Quarter Inch, and  fell in love with her twin stories, retail therapy, and adventures  with the GPS.  I also follow her blog so I can see the pictures to go along with everything from her latest project to her new house.   Allison has big dreams about an online quilting community to rival what Ravelry has provided for knitters and crocheters, so she got together with some of my other favorite podcasters to create the ultimate quilting site, SeamedUP.

“‘Where is the Ravlery for quilters?’  I kept hearing that over and  over,” explains Allison.  “But I didn’t know how to build a website.   Brye [of Sew ~ Stitch ~ Create] was my first phone call.”

Although Brye didn’t know how to program either, her podcast format is one in which she chooses a topic she’d like to know more about and researches it thoroughly.  Allison was sure that Brye could do the same thing with building a website.  And she has.  Brye taught herself  programming just for the site, which is incredible when you realize what they’ve already done and the long list of what is planned for the  future.

Allison says that trying to build this large, dynamic website with  absolutely no programming experience has been one of the biggest  challenges.  The other?  “Prioritizing,” she says, without hesitating.

“The future of SeamedUP is vast,”
says Allison.  While there are many  features that the team wants to add or improve, it’s still just the  two of them plus a few volunteers.  The next feature was originally scheduled to be adding book, notion, and sewing machine databases to the incredible fabric listing, but that has been temporarily put on hold so they can focus on the social aspect.

“What I love the most is, as the person who manages the social media  right now, seeing the SeamedUP logo everywhere, engaging and  conversing with people online.”

The Facebook-style feed they are working on will include updates about what your friends on SeamedUP are up to, who added which fabric to their stash, or which quilter is  using the same pattern you are.  Allison’s obsession with Google Analytics tells her that there is plenty of traffic to the site, but the social side is what she hopes will cause quilters to linger longer.

I asked Allison what unexpected benefit has come from building  the site.  For her, it has been seeing this dream become a reality.   “Listen,” she says, “I have come up with a number of fabulous ideas  over the years, but they don’t go anywhere.  So I’m actually surprised  that we’re still working on this.”  She attributes that to the  partners.  “We keep each other excited.  There have been so many roadblocks where we could have said, ‘forget it.’”  She’s proud of  herself and Brye for sticking with it through some really challenging  times.  And, although they haven’t met in person yet, she hopes to  have a face-to-face board meeting with Brye within the year.

Aside from the cohesive team, “acceptance by the industry as a whole”  has given Allison and Brye a determination to see the dream become a  reality.  “It’s really gratifying and it fuels the fire,” says Allison.  The key difference between SeamedUP and some of the other sewing and quilting sites is having fabric manufacturers on board so there is a pre-populated database of fabrics.  Moda was the first  early adopter - SeamedUP has already received over 50,000 lines of  their data! - but now virtually all of the fabric manufacturers are  participating.  This is a critical component for building your stash, trading with other members, and finding projects made with fabric you already own.

Allison explains that a lot of the information asked for when you  enter your own stash or projects  - How much was that fabric?  What  machine do you use? - will help build and interconnect the  pattern, book, notion, and machine databases for the future.

Some of the other capabilities that they hope to see live on the site  soon:
  • My Crafty Space - sharing workspaces and how they’re set up
  • Addicts - people on the site, friending, communication, and a Facebook-style feed
  • Events - quilt shows, classes, etc.
  • Quilt shop database from around the world - plan a driving trip and use Google Maps to find shops on the way!
  • UP for Trade - if you have older fabrics in your stash, you might be out of it and need more.  You’ll be able to search to find who has some they might be willing to sell.  You will also be able to sell your de-stash and your handmade items on SeamedUP.  While Etsy is all about the handmade, Allison and Brye hope that SeamedUP will be all about the handmade for the fabric crafting niche.  It should be an excellent source for both buyers and sellers.  You'll be able to link to any Etsy shop or other online personality you may have, and use all avenues to increase traffic.
Speaking of increasing traffic, SeamedUP is accepting advertising at rock bottom prices.  For a small business, like an Etsy seller, an ad can run as little as $5 per month.  Allison and Brye want the community to grow and support itself, and they feel that this will be mutually beneficial for both the sellers and members.

If you’d like to cushion your fabric budget and love sales, contact  Allison at to help spread the word about advertising space on SeamedUP on a commission basis.  She’s also happy to speak  with other bloggers, guild newsletter editors, and anyone else who would like to shout about SeamedUP.

Go set up your sewing room, add your latest project, and be sure to friend me - I’m QuiltinJenny there too - and help build the ultimate quilting website from the ground up!

Thanks, Allison, for a wonderful interview and for all the work you and Brye have put into this incredible site!

Monday, June 6, 2011

In Progress - Extra Wide Back

No, the title is not a reference to my rear end after spending so much time online and on the couch watching the Casey Anthony trial.

The Bear's Graduation quilt top is complete and I did not have enough appropriate fabric in my stash to piece a back, so I took a little road trip over to Tiny Stitches to spend my Mother's Day gift certificate.  When I walked in, the ever-helpful staff asked what I was working on and looking for.  I explained my quest, and was immediately pointed in the direction of a whole display of extra wide fabric intended for backs. 

Is there anything more perfect than this Timeless Treasures Tonga Batik in forest?  Only that it is already extra-wide so I don't have to piece the back.  The icing on the cake was, of course, the gift certificate so it didn't cost me a dime!

I'm off to baste my quilt.  I hope you have a day where everything goes your way!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Book List

I did a lot of catching up with the Elm Creek Quilters this month.   I think I am caught up on Jennifer Chiaverini's books now.  I read:

The Union Quilters
, which follows the Bergstroms and their neighbors during the Civil War.   Once again, Chiaverini weaves the story together with the two previous books set in this time period:  The Runaway Quilt and The Lost Quilter.  Reading from different perspectives gives you a rich storyline and adds depth to the characters. 

A Quilter's Holiday, which is all about the Thanksgiving traditions at Elm Creek Quilts, and catches you up on the lives of all your favorite quilters.  In addition to a wonderful idea for how to spend Black Friday (as opposed to shopping, one of my least favorite activities), the addition of Anna to the cast makes me hungry!  And now that I think of it, that's the book I'm missing:  The Quilter's Kitchen.  I'll have to hunt that one down as it's not in my library's database.

The Aloha Quilt, which takes place roughly at the same time as A Quilter's Holiday, was next on my list. This book is about Bonnie and her adventure with a new quilt camp in Hawaii.  I have never been in love with doing applique, so Hawaiian quilts haven't been on my radar; however, after reading this book I'm dying to try at least one.  Maybe a small wall hanging, like Bonnie does, to see if I'd enjoy it.  That was a great idea.  I love how Jennifer Chiaverini weaves a little quilt history/knowledge into each book without you feeling like you're being lectured. 

I also read My Husband's Sweethearts by Bridget Asher.  She's the author of The Pretend Wife, another book I loved. My favorite thing about Asher is that she gives you these outlandish scenarios and then makes you completely believe them and fall in love with her characters.  This one was touching, funny, and romantic all at the same time.

Ape House, by Sara Gruen.  Sara is the writer pal of my favorite Joshilyn Jackson and also the author of Water for Elephants.  Speaking of which, have you seen the movie?  Stunning, beautiful, true to the book...I loved it!  Anyway, Ape House is possibly even better - I feel guilty just typing that!  You just fall in love with almost every character, from each of the bonobos with their unique personalities to the green haired vegan protestor. 

Speaking of Joshilyn, I finally got around to reading Backseat Saints.  Interestingly this book also overlapped with a previous novel, gods in alabama.  That was the first novel I ready by Joshilyn and the one that made me fall in love with her work.

Then I picked up a Lincoln Child book from 2009 that we thought we had read before.  Terminal Freeze is classic Child (I wonder if he's related to Lee Child, another author I can't put down.*)  As always, the supernatural left undescribed is all the more terrifying as it lives in your imagination until the very conclusion.  I do have to say, though, that after reading so many of his books I am starting to be able to pick out who's going to die a horrible death by the 5th chapter!

Last, I finished The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. This one isn't about a specific piece of art like the others of hers I've read; instead, it focuses on a specific shade of blue used by the Catholics to represent The Blessed Mother.  Although this was Chevalier's first book and wasn't as well received as her later work, I found the historical scenes to be riveting.

That brings me to twenty-seven books in twenty-one weeks.  I am possibly on track to keep a New Year's Resolution for the first time EVER!

How's yours coming?

*apparently they are brothers, both using pen names with the same surname.  Interesting!

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