Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Best Present Ever

This morning I came in, and sitting in the middle of the desk was a stapler. Not just any stapler. THE stapler. A new brand new one.

It sparkled!

I could hardly believe it. I walked around the desk ....

and looked at it...

from every angle...

Don't look, Ethel!

I sneaked a look inside, and--I loved this--it had even came loaded with some staples!

The other staplers, which had looked just average before....

Somehow suddenly took on a sparkling light when their new friend was put with them...

And no one was happier than I when I gave my beautiful, new stapler its maiden stapling.

It is the best stapler a girl could ever have.

Thank you, dear Kelly. You made my day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Challenge

My friend Alice told me that her sister-in-law likes only neutrals. Like many of us, Alice likes bright colors--but she wanted to make her sister-in-law something. I thought that a quilt of all neutrals could be beautiful. One thing led to another, and soon Alice and I had set up a challenge for ourselves: We would use exactly the same fabrics, but make different quilts. The challenge is that we're not allowed to show the quilts to each other until they are done. It is a mystery for each other.

We're using a palette of creams...

A darker khaki for a bit of contrast...

Light grays....

Pure white (you can't see this)...

And a few dark grays for some contrast....

And of course, a beautiful, neutral focal fabric that has all the colors in it....

We have already designed our projects using EQ, but the sewing is not allowed to begin until October 31. This gives us time to work through a few other things. Our end projects may or may not look good, but if you never try something new, you never learn anything. Part of the fun of quilting is having a little risk.

What do you challenge yourself with to keep your life fun and interesting?

Friday, October 15, 2010


I love it when people bring in their finished projects. It's my favorite thing that happens around here. Today I was doubly lucky: I had two classes that had finished objects for showing off.

First was my Big Quilt class. I love this quilt. In its variations (BQ1, BQ2, BQ3), I have made about 5 quilts. (My BQ3 using Amy Butler fabrics and solids is hanging behind the counter at the moment.) The BQ quilts are quick, they look good, and they are just plain old fun. Roberta took the BQ class from me and quickly made this pretty Christmas throw:

She was so happy that she's about to make another for her daughter!

Today we also finished up a lot of knitting around here: The wraps (or the really, really close-to-finished wraps) from my annual wrap class. I do this class every year, starting in January. We end in October, just in time to wear them. It's kind of like a quilter's block of the month--two to three knitted blocks each month, and we end up with wondrous wraps. Thank you, Knitting at Knoon, for your great pattern!

I was especially proud of this group, who didn't let a mere knitting pattern stand in their way. When they wanted to change something, they changed it.

Laura Lee added more blocks along the edge and made a throw instead of a shawl:

Look at this. When she realized that she forgot to offset one of the blocks that was supposed to look like brickwork, she decided that she loved it and kept going:

Wouldn't that windowpane make a gorgeous sweater?

One more picture of this work of art, a close up:

Lesley ignored the instructions that you're supposed to have self-striping yarn. She wanted a wrap that was subtle so she could wear it every day: She used a semisolid olive, then added lime trim to jazz it up a bit:

The semisolid shows textures that will produce gasps when the lime catches people's eyes and they start looking more closely. I think she will wear it every single cold day this year. She made me want to do one in a semisolid. I'll mull. (Do I really need a 4th wrap??)

There has never been a bad wrap. This is Betty's:


I love the dragon's-tooth edging on hers. She accidentally added stitches, and it made the edging a little bigger. She decided it was a happy accident:

Did I mention that Irene is a bit of an overachiever? She also made a wrap for her sister while she was at it:

She is kind of hoping that she gets mad at her sister for something--anything--and decides to keep the wrap for herself.

Who can blame her for such thinking?

Carol's. You're going to see a lot of orange and gray this coming year. Start looking for it. It is a stunning combination:

Carol decided that the top edge of her shawl was "boring" since it was just garter stitch, so she added beads. I love that detail.

Here is Bonnie's. She wasn't sure about the pink, but if you take out the pink, it just wouldn't be the same. I think she is finally coming around to agree. How could she not?

How can anyone not be helpless in the face of this?

Nicely done, everyone. You made my day.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Day-to-Day Concerns

What you are thinking about when you come into the shop is perhaps something like, "Wow! Look at their new shipment of Kid Silk Haze! I must have some!"

Or perhaps (although this is less likely since you have yarn fumes affecting your brain), you might even notice our new yarn shelving:

Or maybe you will see nothing but the new Kaffe Fassett Ikats. Which I kind of forgot to photograph. So you should come in and see them.

But even before you come into our store, I am there, behind the scenes doing everything I can to make poor Kim go insane. This behind-the-scenes work means that I am thinking about something entirely different from what you (or Kim) would expect. I am always concerning myself with ways to make our business run more smoothly.

Like having the right kind of staplers.

It's true that I staple at work a lot more than I knit or quilt. And frankly, this has been a source of frustration. The not knitting and quilting I can deal with. It's the bad staplers that make me nuts.

I think this is because I am spoiled.

I love the stapler you see below. It is my own. It is about 20 years old. I got it at the Logan Valley Mall--long, long before the lizard-heater device in the pet store caused the fire that led to the rebuilding of the entire mall and made it better, but killed the poor hamsters.

I'm sorry, but if you remember this story, you are pretty old.

Where was I? My good stapler that I will not take to the store because it is mine and probably Kim would not want to touch it anyway, because this is not one of those kitschy "vintage" styles. It's just old.

As old as those of you who remember the tragedy of the dead hamsters.

While it looks a bit tattered, it's still going strong. So in my mind, this wonderful stapler looks more like this:

You will never believe it, but they don't seem to make staplers like this anymore. (And we ran out of that fabric you need to finish your quilt. And the yarn you need to finish your hat. The fabric and yarn, they are no longer made. Like this stapler.)

So I have been searching. This has led to our having 3 different staplers on our desk.

Stapler #1
Over the past few years, I've bought a couple of the staplers shown below because theoretically they are such a great idea that I continue to think that they are a great idea. They are "power staplers." You barely touch them, and they sound as if they could staple your arm to a bolt of fabric.

Doesn't it even LOOK strong and powerful?

But honestly, they don't work too well. The first one I bought simply died. This one is still on our desk, but unless you press on it really hard (I know, that is counter-intuitive), it doesn't staple properly. You're left with a partial staple that you have to pick out of the papers.

Stapler #2
The other stapler on our desk is this little number that I couldn't resist:

It actually works fairly well, but the little blue gems (do you think they might be real sapphires?) kind of hurt your hand when you staple with it. It was only $1.70 on clearance a few weeks ago. Apparently a lot of other people (who were not me) could figure out that it would hurt to use it simply by looking at it.

Stapler #3

(top view)

(side view)

This stapler is kind of interesting. I got it because it was made by Oxo, and I have had a number of Oxo kitchen utensils that worked well. I was hoping that the Oxo engineers would transfer some of their Paring-Division expertise into the Stapler Division.

It works well, but do you see how that thingee on the side slants? The way this stapler works is that when you press down, it comes forward toward you. It is functional, but frankly a little odd. It is okay if you staple while it's sitting flat on the desk. But sometimes I like to staple up in the air. And it makes my hand feel weird when I do that.

Business Take-Home Lessons from this Blog Report

1. People often think that our business just magically runs itself. I bet you never thought about how we need to staple your receipts together. I hope that now you can see we put a lot of thought into making our little operation run smoothly and seamlessly. I also hope you can see that staplers are more difficult than you think. Even though the other customer at the hairdresser that I discussed staplers with yesterday rolled her eyes indicating that staplers are actually not that difficult, and told me with a little bit of disdain in her voice to get an electric stapler.

2. The Rowan people are really cool because they have shipped us both Kid Silk Haze and a Kaffe Fassett fabric, all in the same week.

3. We are behind the scenes, working hard for you.

4. Yes, we are open Columbus Day. Only my brother Alex thinks it is a holiday.