road to knoxville

Yep, I made the 3 hour jaunt to Knoxville this morning for the Smoky Mountain Quilters’ 40th Anniversary Quilt Show. It was just what I needed to feed my creative soul. However, the 4 hour return journey was not!

Here are some of my take-aways:

  1. The competition quilts were really, really good (much better workmanship than the quilts at the KC show, in my opinion).
  2. Southern Stitches & Northern Needles lecture with Teddy Pruitt was entertaining and informative.
  3. Placing the charity quilt exhibit front and center as guests entered the exhibit hall was an excellent idea. Giving back to those in need is a big part of what we do. I’m so glad they shared their process for making the charity quilts. Creating a checklist and a quilt kit for each project are two things I can incorporate into my own practice. I was also inspired by the I Spy quilts based on variations of a 6-1/2″ block. Very fresh and much more visual impact than samples based on 4″ or 5″ squares appearing in the same display.
  4. The vendor area, while small, was well curated. It had all the quilty essentials covered. I smiled when I recognized some of the vendors I’d seen at recent shows in Atlanta and Kansas City. Those turquoise scissors and 3 yard bundles/Fabric Cafe books were popular here, as well.
  5. I was thrilled to see a “painted lady” (teal custom-painted Featherweight) in a booth and more than one booth selling FW accessories. I am curious, though, how one becomes a certified Featherweight technician as the purveyor of the “painted lady” had printed on her business cards?
  6. I gleaned some helpful tips regarding ruler work from a vendor demoing her custom ruler templates. I’ll certainly try setting my speed slider at 3/4 instead of 2/3 and rotate my foot pedal 180 degrees the next time I FMQ or attempt any ruler work.
  7. A cream colored 80wt Wonderfil thread might be a better bet than the Mono-poly thread I currently use for invisible machine appliqué.
  8. Pictorial quilts have officially been added to my “try it” list. This quilt blew me away. It’s raw edge appliqué using a straight stitch with the thread matching the fabric. I’ll have to learn about color placement, value, depth and all that jazz, but I can certainly handle the sewing part!
Quilt: The Lobsterman by Claudia Nicholson

The power of connection

What is it about making random, but real, connections with people makes me feel better?

Like meeting the local author of a children’s book while out walking Sadie and smiling with the fellow shopper at Publix who also talks to herself (complete with hand gestures) as she mentally runs through her shopping list. Or chatting with a fellow sewist at the fabric store who completely gets the reasons I’m shopping for a new sewing machine.

I’ve been a little glum this week. Teachers report to school on Monday. Hubby will also be at MD Anderson for his scans and check-in with the doctor. One of my favorite people at work has been hospitalized with uncontrollable seizures. The one year anniversary of a dear friend’s departure from this earth is also coming up soon.

Those simple interactions greatly improved my mood. It also confirmed my belief that most folks, regardless of race, religion or economic status (insert any other criterion) really do want the same things in life – not the incessant stream of crap coming from the media.

So shut off the TV and social media. Get out there and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and a friendly dog. Discuss a good book you recently read. Admire artwork at a local museum simply because it’s pretty. Share backyard garden veggies with a neighbor. Teach someone how to sew or cross-stitch. Join the neighborhood kids in drawing with sidewalk chalk.

Go connect with the people around you. That’s what we really need to get through this together.


Photo by Pixabay on

Boundaries are an essential part of self-care.

It is important that you stick to expectations you communicated. Too often, we “give-in” to assist the other person who requested our help. If it’s a genuine emergency, then absolutely help that person stat! Otherwise, you unwittingly set a pattern that you do not value your own time.

Case in point: I voluntarily spent 3-4 days at school in recent weeks helping a colleague and doing things that would benefit me if I took care of them prior to teacher pre-planning. Of course, once people realized I was in the building, people started sending all kinds of requests. I completed the last request on Wednesday evening and informed key individuals that I would be out-of-pocket until Monday at 8 a.m. (when the new contract year begins and we are finally getting paid again).

I wish people would read their email.

I received an email from a colleague with a request for help with a project that needs to be ready to roll Monday morning. It is an interesting idea. I responded with a couple of suggestions, but advised that I would not be available this weekend. Perhaps someone else on the email list will step up to assist.

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