Monday, January 31, 2011

Return from PALM SPRINGS Heather Ross Workshop

Finished Bag

I woke up this morning to a light freezing drizzle and temperatures in the teens.  Sigh.  Oh well, we'll always have Palm Springs!  So.....
Palm Springs Fabric Art
I just returned from the AMAZING Heather Ross Workshop weekend in Palm Springs, CA.  It was such a sensory overload for me; let's see, leaving the snowy Rockies for a respite in the desert, CHECK, leaving the insane stress of my job for 3 days, CHECK, meeting, socializing with, learning from and basking in the greatness and creativity of not just one, or two, but THREE wonder women (Heather Ross, Lotta Jansdotter and Gretchen aka Gertie from Blog for Better Sewing, CHECK.  We also had Melanie Falick from STC Crafts/Melanie Falick Books, publisher of many many many amazing and beautiful craft books INCLUDING Heather's Weekend Sewing, Gretchen's first book, coming out soon, Liesl Gibson's Oliver + S book releasing in a month, etc., etc.

Private Workshop
But not only that, every single participant in the workshop was a joy to meet and in a short 48 hours we were like a happy little sewing family.  OK, maybe that's going too far.  BUT it's very rare to be in room with 20 or so people who all have the same passion, while looking at a hipster pool, palm trees and J.Crew photo shoots, which for me was part of the passion.

On to the nitty gritty of the weekend....
Ace Hotel Private Garden Wall
We arrived Friday night and Heather hosted a lovely cocktail party in her private garden suite.  The Ace Hotel has different room types and the suites with the private gardens, well let's just say I did the math in my head to see if I could live there for a few months.  I just love the desert, the light and color and simplicity and beauty.  Anyway, it was dark so enough about the desert light.  We also had a yummy dinner at a long table in the garden; soft shell make-it-yourself tacos, got to know each other and then went back to our rooms to sink into the funky low beds with lots of white cotton sheets and down blanket and drift into a restorative sleep.  BUT NO, it was not to be.

 Ace Hotel
There was an all night party in our wing of the hotel and the party-goers were finally evicted but it was too late, about 6 of us got NO sleep at all.  However, the Ace Hotel manager was a love and comped a hot stone massage for me to make it up.

Ace Hotel Suite
Saturday morning I wandered early to the King's Highway diner off the lobby and ordered a latte.  I had met Lotta Jansdotter the night before and there she was having coffee too so we sat and chatted.  I have to say this now, I had a latte with Lotta.  OK, done.  She is the sweetest, kindest soul and asked about ME, in fact I think I just blabbed about my life too much.  She shared her breakfast with me as well, especially when I told her that we were having breakfast served in the sewing room. hee hee  The latte's were to die for, as well.  I really like Lotta as a person, and admire her tremendously as an artist.

Lotta Jansdotter Workshop
Saturday morning was divided into two groups; Lotta's fabric printing workshop and the sewing workshop with Heather and Gretchen.  LOVED the fabric printing and when we were done with that, I used my printed linens to sew into a bag and a table runner.
Lotta and Me
Most every other person in the group has a fancy schmancy clothing item to work on.  Next time I will probably bring one, I just didn't know how much time we had but there was plenty of time for sewing more than what I did.

Prints Drying on the wall
During the sewing sessions, Heather and Gretchen ran around and helped every single person with their project which started with sewing a muslin, which is a practice item that you make first to make sure the pattern fits and adjust it before you cut your good fabric, oh and I have to say, there was a lot of Liberty fabric running around our weekend, gorgeous and I left mine at home, silly me.

Both Heather and Gretchen worked so incredibly hard to make sure we were all having a great time and learning what we came for and ran around non-stop during the sewing sessions to help everyone.  I can't say enough about them.  And Heather, just a wonderful person all-around.  She has many reasons to be snotty and above-it-all but is SO NOT THAT AT ALL, not that I expected that but I think she was even more down-to-earth and personable and generous than I imagined.  AND she's expecting!    
Heather Ross
We were all women, including Butter the dog who was the sweetest little mascot for our sewing and sat on a different Butter quilt every day.  Butter's person, Jean, is a veterinarian and brought an amazing collection of quilts with her.

Saturday night was another amazing dinner, this time on the patio by the pool where it was downright chilly BUT we had heaters all over the place (and drinks) so it was cozy and warm.  Saturday night was silent and I slept like a baby.

Gretchen and Michelle
Sunday was kind of a downer, knowing it was our last day but there was plenty of sewing and finishing up this and that, getting last minute fittings from Gretchen and advise and autographs and photos from all of them. 

Lotta, Adrianne, Heather
I want to give a HUGE BIG FAT HUG and THANK YOU to all the people who organized this weekend:  Heather, Gretchen, Lotta and VERA,
Vera Extraordinaire
another wonderful self-less hard-working individual on the trip. She did all the behind-the-scenes work and Saturday was her birthday which means she was working really really hard on her day.  Anyway, I know, I didn't receive an Academy so I'll stop now.
Mary and Mary
Did I mention that it's drizzling ice in Denver?  And tomorrow the low is expected to -13, yes NEGATIVE 13.

But we'll always have Palm Springs....
Hazy Sky over Palm Springs

Friday, January 28, 2011

Little Brag

Photo Pillow

I am literally RUNNING out the door to catch my plane to Palm Springs for the Heather Ross super-cool sewing weekend when I get an email about this.

My pillow was featured in an article in the KC Times.  It was about Spoonflower, whom I love. 

MOST unfortunately, after two years, the boy on the pillow asked for a "break" from my niece, who is 17 and devasted, poor thing, young love SUCKS, sorry, glad I'm no longer there.  Anyway, I can't even show her the article now. 

I'll be back after the weekend to report on the FABulous star-studded weekend.  It might be more like a needle-studded weekend, hm, that doesn't sound right.  Well, I'm off to sit on my suitcase, way too many things in there....

Saturday, January 22, 2011



I got a Bernina 440 last year and today was the first time I was able to take the Quick Start class.  After working 10 hours non-stop yesterday (Friday), I was not really looking forward to sitting in a class all day.  But boy was I ever surprised.  I learned SO MUCH.  For example, did you know...

  • Thread made in Europe (Germany, Italy, not sure where else) has a left-handed twist and thread made in the US and Mexico has a right-handed twist?  And that Bernina's are calibrated to use the left-handed twist thread?  Huh.  So some brands I learned about today, besides Mettler/Metrosene and Gutermann which I have used before...Aurafil (Italian), Madeira (German) and Presencia (Spain).  So do I throw out my other thread?  I don't think so.   
  • There are different weights of thread, something I recently learned.  The bigger the number, the thinner the thread (all polyester thread is 100 wt.  I use 50 wt cotton thread for quilting)
  • I live in Colorado which is very dry.  Thread dries out if it's not used for awhile and should be lubricated, WHAT?  I had no idea.  There is a product called Sewer's Aid .  I bought some. 
  • Clean the lint from the bobbin case (take it apart) as well as under the stitch plate.  
  • Needles.  I learned a TON about needles.  There is a groove on the back (called a scarf), the hole is indicated by the numeric size, Bernina needles are made by Schmetz (just buy Schmetz, they're cheaper).  Only use Schmetz or Bernina (Organ needles are too long but you can use them for up and down sewing only (i.e. not zig zag or anything fancy), other needles aren't shaped right), Universals are not sharp, WHAT?  Amazing.
I learned more but I am really tired and my husband wants me to come up and watch Lost.  We just started watching them on Netflix, for the first time.  Yes we are really behind.  Later...
Things I learned

I forgot my class included the download of Mastering Your Bernina which is available for PDF download here. Look at the bottom left on this page and click on the 'Mastering Your Bernina Workbooks" link. It's a 200 page manual that includes EVERYTHING that I mentioned above about thread, needles, etc., applicable to all Berninas.

Monday, January 17, 2011

St. Francis Watches my Pond in Winter

St Francis overlooking the winter pond

The ONLY reason I am writing today is because I have the day off work for the MLK holiday, YIPPEE!  However, work has put me into overdrive stress mode so it's like when you run a motor at high speed for a loooong time and then abruptly turn it off, it lets off a little smoke and just might not turn on again right away.  Yep, that's how I feel. 

I made a nice body print on the sofa this morning, multi-tasking between reading a book, surfing the net, all while watching episode after episode of My First Place  on HGTV until I wanted to buy my first place!  I was gently reminded that I was living in my first place.  Whatever.  I had to turn it off, then. 

Speaking of lazy people on the sofa, my husband and I just started watching LOST, (yes we were on another planet for 6 years and never saw ONE.SINGLE.EPISODE).  Anyway, we can't stop.  Last night I think we watched 4 episodes in a row, yikes.  We stream them on our TV from Netflix, it's like drugs.  You can't stop.  No commercials, 150 episodes available at the click of little finger.  It is fun though, we were so into it last night that we couldn't make dinner and ordered pizza and wings for dinner, from the internet.  NO TIME TO MAKE PHONE CALLS WHILE BOONE IS DYING AND CLAIRE IS GIVING BIRTH.

Starflower Quilt Block
But aside from being hooked on TV, I finally managed to do a little catch up on bee squares.  A starflower pieced square for Krissy in my red and aqua bee.  I cut all her fabric too small and had to re-do using my own fabric but I really love how they turned out.

And a few weeks ago I got super creative and finally had time to experiment with my idea of making "fabric paintings".  I hope to do more but have a few kinks to work out.  I cut out fabric applique and fused it to 100% linen, then used my free-motion foot to "draw" with black thread.  I stretched the finished picture over a canvas frame.  It's really fun to do and you might notice I used one in my new blog header.
Dutch Clothesline Fabric Painting

Last but not least, I am SUPER EXCITED to be on my way to Palm Springs in two weeks for the Heather Ross workshopLotta Jansdotter (swoon, my design hero) will be at our weekend and I just can't wait to bask in the rays of these fabric stars.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!



It's 10 degrees outside at my home, a great day to stay inside and write some New Year's resolutions....
  1. Blog less - ha ha ha ha ha.  Seriously, could I really blog less?
  2. Stop being insanely jealous of some of my *favorite* bloggers who blog 3 times a day and make five quilts per week.
  3. Stop nagging my husband about the husband-shaped indent in our sofa. 
  4. Minimize my aggression toward Facebook friends who are constantly posting about how wonderful their life, husband, house and kids are.  Really annoying.  Oops, I already failed.
  5. Complain less about my parent's idiosyncrasies (because I have none?!) and remember more that one day I will be just like them.  
  6. Stop threatening my husband that I'm going to quit my job and start a puppy farm (hehehe, that one will be hard)
  7. Get rid of all the voodoo dolls of my co-workers and managers.
  8. Throw fewer temper tantrums in the workplace.
  9. Eat more butter and take longer naps.
  10. Be proactive and buy more fabric because you never know when some international boll weevil infestation could wipe out the world's cotton.

Well, that's just off the top of my head.  I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous New Year, just don't brag about it on Facebook!

Ah the life of a dog
(p.s.  I don't nag Rosie for making a Rosie-shaped indent, she's just soooo cute!)